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Day: March 6, 2011

Mark Halsey is the best referee in the game but even he can have a bad day

It is not exactly a secret that Mark Halsey is in my opinion the best referee in the British game. I have thought this for the best part of the last decade. He lets the game flow and seems to realise that it is a man’s game and allows games to get physical. He isn’t overly officious and seems to understand the game better than most. Having said all that though his performance in the Wolves v Tottenham Hotspur game this afternoon was disappointing and when the best is making big mistakes then we have a problem.

How Alan Hutton wasn’t sent off for pulling a Wolves player down when shooting on goal in the six yard box is beyond me. Halsey saw it and gave the spot kick therefore he had to send Hutton off. It was without a shadow of a doubt a clear goalscoring opportunity, which is what it says in the laws of the game but only a yellow was shown. Halsey told Sky at Half-Time that he didn’t think it was a clear goalscoring opportunity. Well when a player is shooting from six yards with only the keeper to beat isn’t a clear goalscoring opportunity then I’m puzzled to put it mildly.

Later in the game Wolves seem to have equalised but a foul on the keeper was given and the goal chalked off. A poor decision again. Following his off the field physical problems though I was disgusted by the Wolves fans chanting, ‘You’re not fit to referee.’ I thought that was in very poor taste.

The thing is though that referees are deciding games and livelihoods. In the past week several high-profile referees have made pretty awful mistakes that have potentially impacted who wins the league and who stays up. It isn’t good enough. I watch a lot of north American sport and the level of officiating is far higher over there all in all. Having said that I was watching Daryl Harper the other day and the Australian umpire had an absolute shocker. His knowledge of the LBW law seems to be shall we say lacking.

As an aside I just typed in ‘Daryl Harper’ on google and the first option was ‘Daryl Harper worst umpire’ – hilarious.

Going back to EPL refs. Mark Clattenberg is seen by many to be our #2 behind Howard Webb but his decision to not send Wayne Rooney off last week when he saw the incident was mind-boggling. Martin Atkinson’s decision not to send off David Luiz on Tuesday was nearly as bad and the assistant referee in the Arsenal game yesterday flagging Arshavin offside when he wasn’t coupled with not seeing Titus Bramble’s two-handed shove in the back of the same player when clean through and in the box was woeful.

Referees will not be right 100% of the time. We know that and we always go through phases of high-profile mistakes but these are not hard ones. These are incidents the referees are seeing but not making the right decision and that it where the worry comes in. Let’s be blunt here. In the early game Phil Dowd should’ve flashed his red card on more than one occasion in the first half of Liverpool v Manchester United but seemed scared to do so. He saw all the incidents and gave three yellows when two were dead cert reds and one was a nip/tuck red/yellow.

The refs are seeing the big game-changing incidents but are not acting on them accordingly. That isn’t good enough for full-time officials and something needs to be done about it – and soon.

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