Please don’t guess | Keith Hackett

Please don’t guess | Keith Hackett

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By Keith Hackett

If referees are going to dismiss players then they can’t afford to guess. It seemed to me that this is what happened on Monday night in the Premier League. An innocuous coming together between Kyle Walker of Manchester City and Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton saw referee Bobby Madley issue a second yellow card to the City player.

This left me and TV viewers generally baffled. If Bobby believed that Walker had deliberately used an elbow against his opponent then a straight red should have been issued. Whilst Madley does not have a second chance, as afforded to armchair viewers and pundits, he appeared to guess and sadly for the player got it wrong.

The reaction of Walker’s opponent did not help either and I wonder if the panel looking at acts of simulation might review this one to see if it had a bearing on the decision by the referee. However, that would come as a surprise after years of the Football Association not allowing appeals on yellow cards.

It really is unfair that a player cannot contest a clear and obvious error. Referees are human and will make mistakes.

Bobby Madley is a strong referee similar to Peter Willis in my era of officiating. The difference in my view is that Peter had terrific man-management skills. He would be constantly communicating with players and using the step process of verbal, visual warning techniques to control some aspects of aggression.

Yes, that stare from Peter said enough is enough! When he issued a sanction it was rarely questioned.

So Bobby Madley, soften a little and talk more to prevent an escalation of problems. Put your foot on the ball and change the tempo of the game, slow things down. In my opinion you could have had a word with both Walker and Calvert-Lewin and not issued an incorrect red. Walker did not deserve to be dismissed.