On a weekend which saw one of the worst refereeing performances of all time from Captain Cock-up Mike Dean in the Arsenal v Manchester City match, Manchester United very nearly found to their cost the difference a poor referee can inflict on their Premier League chances.
Howard Webb is regarded as one of the best referees in the world, but today he got a number of key decisions wrong. A lot of people think that Sir Alex Ferguson was trying to intimidate Webb with a pre-match warning about watching diver-in-chief, Luis Suarez. However, sometimes this tactic can backfire and the referee takes an opposite viewpoint, albeit subconsciously.
From the outset, Ashley Young was the victim of an orchestrated attempt to cause him injury by repeated fouls from behind. Webb seemed to ignore this, waving play on. Then, when United were two up and cruising, he allowed a blatant foul from behind on Michael Carrick by Steven Gerrard which floored the midfielder. Incredibly, Webb waved play on!
United were still appealing when the ball was put in the net and Liverpool’s equaliser stood. Even after that injustice, the onslaught did not stop. Young was taken off at half time for his own safety, but then the target of the Liverpool physical assault was Kagawa. I lost count of the number of times he was upended from behind without any reprimand from Webb.
At the end, Glen Johnson deliberately fouled Valencia from behind and it was a stone-wall yellow card. He had already been yellow carded earlier, so would have been sent off, but Webb just gave the free-kick?
All-in-all, it was a desperately poor Sunday for refereeing decisions and performances. People like to moan about La Liga and the number of petty free kicks, but in the UK, it seems that the referees decide before the game that they will allow one side to kick the other off the park without reproach! Fortunately, justice was done and United won the game, but the FA needs to urgently address the standards of our referees and look at some of the decision that were given today in some one-sided refereeing displays.1011486