Last night we saw Wigan Athletic unleash the magic of The FA Cup with an inspiring 1-0 win over Man City producing one of the great cup shocks in recent times. But once again we’re having to discuss another controversy involving the referee, this time Anthony Taylor is the man under scrutiny.
In stoppage time of the first half, Fabian Delph was dismissed for a heavy challenge on Max Power. The issue here is that Anthony was originally issuing a yellow card before changing his mind. Clearly there was pressure from the Wigan coaching staff and players towards him and his colleagues, and perhaps one of them has given him additional information. That should never happen, once you’ve decided on your decision to pull out the yellow, you have to go with that.
Now when I first saw the challenge I thought you would say it’s one of those which is a strong yellow, maybe an orange as we call it in the business. Anthony has to decide whether it’s reckless or reckless with excessive force endangering the players safety with brutality. Straightaway Anthony decides it’s a reckless challenge.
So he pulls out the yellow card, beginning the process of issuing a caution. He starts to write Fabian’s name and number on the bit of removable tape on the back of his card and it’s all but done in that he’s issuing the Man City midfielder a yellow card.
I don’t disagree with that decision. It’s all about that judgement call and that said, if Taylor had gone for a red, immediately, I also wouldn’t have had an issue with that either.
What I do have a problem with is what happens next. The Wigan bench are in uproar at the decision, and you can’t knock them for that. They’ve a chance to get to the quarters of the FA Cup in a game where they are up against it already; a red card would of course massively aid their cause.
But as a referee, you don’t change your mind in that situation, you have to stay mentally tough. If you’re the assistant referee or fourth official, you don’t get involved with any additional information when the referee has already begun the cautioning process. Anthony should, rightly or wrongly, carry on with his original decision.
The learning point for Anthony here is he was perhaps a bit too quick to pull out his yellow card. He should have given himself more thinking time, replay the incident back in his mind, receive his colleagues feedback, and then he would be better placed to make an informed decision.
So Anthony I imagine will be very disappointed with that particular incident and I warn him now that, as he has just been promoted to the elite group of UEFA referees, if he did that in the Champions League, under Pierluigi Collina’s watch, he wouldn’t get a European game again this season.