Manchester United v Liverpool


RH at 2017-01-15 19:16:53

So the Refereeing talking points in this game were

  • A well executed game plan by the Referee as he delivers a ‘big game performance’
  • A hectic finish but the Referee kept his composure and bought it home!
  • First half key match incident correctly results in a Liverpool penalty
  • Second half key match incident incorrectly called as the  Assistant is not level with play in the build up
  • Cautions well timed, but Wayne Rooney fortunate not be amongst them for a reckless challenge on Milner

The importance of devising a game plan and sticking to it was one of the main Refereeing headlines from this game. Michael Oliver kept it tight and clamped down on illegal contact for the most part of this game. He kept calm looked completely in control throughout and played it safe, the only moment where he got wrong was Wayne Rooney’s 69th minute reckless challenge on Milner, but lets place that remark in context, it was a missed caution in a United Liverpool game, we would all have settled for that as the only significant advice for the Referee. I agree with his caution of Firmino for the two handed push as it was to the chest not the head.  The real point of concern revolves around Mick McDonough’s role in United’s equaliser. During the build up the Assistant allowed himself to become detached from play to such an extent that he was unable to identify that Valencia was offside before the ball was crossed as he was not in line with play. A significant error in such a big game which was a blemish on he overall team effort. The signs were there as the same Assistant flagged Rooney offside minutes before, fortunately the United man didn’t score, but the decision looked suspicious on the grounds that Rooney appeared to be onside. Mick was doing well before this but needs to reflect on his performance and consider how the pressure affected his decision making. But lets finish on a positive note, a superb spot by Michael Oliver resulted in Liverpool being awarded a penalty when Pogba needlessly handled during the first half. Putting aside my comments on one of his Assistant Referees, this was a big match performance from Michael Oliver, he was the calmest man in the stadium and he proved that he can handle big games such as this!

RH at 2017-01-15 18:51:38

Full Time

Summary to follow!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:50:43

Michael Oliver still looking the calmest man in the stadium, just keep it going!

RH at 2017-01-15 18:49:36

A minimum of 4 minutes additional time to be played!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:49:22

Yellow CardYellow CardCautions for Herrera and Firmino, the United man for the shirt pull and the Liverpool player for a two handed push in the chest!

RH at 2017-01-15 18:45:46

We’ve got some cracking Premier League games to cover next weekend! On Saturday 21st we’re covering more North West action when Manchester City host Tottenham at 5.30 pm, another must watch game that one! The following day Sunday 22nd we have two matches for you, the first being the South Coast game between Southampton and Champions Leicester at 12.00 pm and then Championship front runners Chelsea entertain Hull City at 4.30, what a weekend!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:44:31

I’m sure we’ll get another look at that United goal, but Mick McDonough positioning in the build up looked poor, was he level with play at the vital moment?


RH at 2017-01-15 18:43:05

We talked about a grandstand finish, looks like we’ve got one!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:42:08

There was an offside call in the build up to that United goal that looked suspicious, was Valencia offside?


RH at 2017-01-15 18:41:09

GOAL! Ibrahimovic levels for United!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:39:57

Mick McDonough flagging Rooney offside at that last strike, I’m not sure that his call on that particular occasion would stand up to scrutiny


RH at 2017-01-15 18:38:15

United just beginning to signs of frustration with silly challenges, the Referee quite rightly still keeping it tight and playing it safe, no reason to change now!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:36:33

Great midfield advantage as Pogba was shoved late, well done!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:34:47

With Fellaini on I fell that this could up the stakes at set pieces!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:33:35

With around fifteen minutes of normal time left its all important that the lads redouble their efforts and keep this standard of officiating up! They’ve done well overall so far, but I suspect that we’ll have a grandstand finish from United and elements of game management from Liverpool!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:29:47

Fair play to Milner, he’s back on feet and carrying on with it, lets hope he’s not biding his time!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:27:45

Wayne Rooney can count himself fortunate to escape a caution as his goes in late on Milner, lucky boy!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:23:28

I must also praise the Referee for his reading of play, he’s reacting well to changes of direction, and moving in well to where the action is, important though that he’s not getting caught up in play!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:21:05

Yellow CardWijnaldum picks up the second caution of the game!



RH at 2017-01-15 18:17:59

As we approach the first 15 minute mark of the second half, the Referee seems to be adopting the same game plan as the first half, and why shouldn’t he? Its working well for him, but as United ring the changes the tempo is steadily rising, I suspect that he hardest part of the game to Referee is yet to come!

RH at 2017-01-15 18:15:06

United are counter attacking at speed, which will test the Referees movement and final third positioning, Michael Oliver has the motor to cope well with that!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:12:25

That United corner seemed to be more evenly contested!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:10:09

Martial goes to ground, the Referee arrives on the scene and decides that the United player slipped, i’ll go with that!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:08:38

Mick McDonough proactive as Origi makes a careless challenge, good teamwork


RH at 2017-01-15 18:07:01

Michael Oliver being pro-active at that Liverpool corner, I’m pleased about that as corners a potential source of conflict in this game!


RH at 2017-01-15 18:04:41

Great call by Mick McDonough as Mkhitaryan catches Milner late after the ball was played upfield, superb awareness by the Assistant, well done!

RH at 2017-01-15 18:01:56

The second half has commenced!

RH at 2017-01-15 17:54:04

A great first half from Michael Oliver and his team, one key match incident and it was called well. He clearly has set a game plan to keep it tight and not take any chances with careless contact. He has clamped down and so far only needed to caution once as Lovren went in hard on Martial, who admittedly made a bit of it. I’ve noticed that the Referee is not not going overboard on the verbal exchanges with players but choosing instead to earn respect with the quality of his decision making, which to be fair to him is working well. Both Assistants look sharp, the only thing that is carried over from the first is that pushing and shoving at United corners, the Referee will need to be aware of that

RH at 2017-01-15 17:46:43

Half Time


RH at 2017-01-15 17:46:06

A minimum of 1 minute additional time to be played


RH at 2017-01-15 17:43:42

As we approach half time, despite the award of a penalty to the away team, Michael Oliver’s profile has been low, this is in no small way down to his game management and policy of taking no risks and penalising careless contact and not gambling with his match control


RH at 2017-01-15 17:40:06

Valencia goes to ground and looks hopefully at Gary Beswick, nothing doing, spot on!

RH at 2017-01-15 17:38:16

We’ve got some cracking Premier League games to cover next weekend! On Saturday 21st we’re covering more North West action when Manchester City host Tottenham at 5.30 pm, another must watch game that one! The following day Sunday 22nd we have two matches for you, the first being the South Coast game between Southampton and Champions Leicester at 12.00 pm and then Championship front runners Chelsea entertain Hull City at 4.30, what a weekend!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:37:17

Firmino showing frustration at the award of that free kick against him, but I’m ok with the decision as the Referee is keeping to his game plan and playing it safe


RH at 2017-01-15 17:34:50

At that last United corner was a bit of pushing and shoving going on, something for the lads to watch out for!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:32:37

Yellow CardLovern earns the first caution of the game for a rash challenge on Martial



RH at 2017-01-15 17:31:36

Tactically Liverpool are pressing hard, it was Firmino’s pressure on the United back four that led to the corner which resulted in the penalty. The Referee will have to be ready to react to sudden changes in the direction of play!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:29:27

That correctly called penalty will have  done Michael Oliver’s confidence and credibility no harm! But what about the match tempo now?

RH at 2017-01-15 17:27:51


Milner converts 1-0 Liverpoll


RH at 2017-01-15 17:27:18

Penalty as Pogba handles, great call!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:24:58

Great advantage as Can was fouled in that last Liverpool, attack!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:23:18

Mick McDonough signalling that Pogba had grounded Origi, which looked a decent call!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:21:16

Looking back at that defensive slip by Liverpool with the short back pass, the Referee stayed alert did not comitt himself positionally and recovered his position well to close as Ibrahimovic chased the ball


RH at 2017-01-15 17:16:04

A cautious opening 15 minutes, a bit of a chess match as both teams are finding their way, the Referee’s game plan is to keep it tight early which is paying off so far


RH at 2017-01-15 17:13:30

Martial goes to ground in the penalty area and Michael Oliver is unimpressed! fair enough!

RH at 2017-01-15 17:10:46

Mick McDonough with the first offside flag against Firmino

RH at 2017-01-15 17:09:38

Not that frenzied opening that we talked of, but the Referee is playing it safe at the moment and clamping down on the careless contact!


RH at 2017-01-15 17:07:26

Michael Oliver did well in that last United attack, in not stopping play as Martial was bulked on his way through


RH at 2017-01-15 17:03:30

Origi wins the first corner of the game for Liverpool


RH at 2017-01-15 17:02:02

Can concedes the first free kick for a shove on Pogba


RH at 2017-01-15 17:01:09

If you are watching the game on TV, Mick McDonough is operating on the far side and the other Assistant Gary Beswick is running the nearside touch line.

RH at 2017-01-15 17:00:36

Our match Referee Michael Oliver gets us underway!

RH at 2017-01-15 16:59:54

A minutes applause for Graham Taylor

RH at 2017-01-15 16:58:59

The teams and Match Officials have entered the field of play!

RH at 2017-01-15 16:52:33

Game planning

I expect Michael Oliver to have given much thought to his approach to today’s game, here are some of the factors that I feel he should have already considered

  • A frenzied opening, yes we know that the previous meeting at Anfield earlier this season, was wasn’t an edge of your seat affair, but that doesn’t mean this will happen again today?
  • Establishing a contact threshold on what is acceptable as opposed to what is careless, games such as this amplify this aspect of a Referee’s game! Other than key match incident decision making and communication, this is one of the most skillful arts of Refereeing at any level!
  • The next stage of contact is reckless and then endangering the safety of an opponent, I’m really hoping that Michael is on top of this today, as others have struggled in this aspect of their game in the season to date
  • Tempo management the ability to raise his profile when the energy rises!
  • There are some strong personalities out there today, I expect Michael to be aware of who he needs to work that extra bit harder with, I’ll be looking for him to be pro-active early in the game in order to build up that rapport and banter with those concerned
  • Game management, when one team is looking to run the game down to protect what they have, a top Referee must know how much slack to let out, get this right and he lowers his profile as the game arrives at a satisfactory conclusion, get this wrong and the crowd will be on his back and this in turn will wind the players up and we’ll be riding a roller coaster to the final whistle!
  • Finally Michael Oliver has all the component parts to his game that could open up the world of Refereeing to him and deliver the games top Honours, the last time I watched Michael on a Refcam ‘big game’ was the North London derby in March of last year, I commented that day about his undoubted potential, however his failure to send off Dier for a second caution was a defining moment, although he demonstrated much class in that match, his failure to show red at that pressurised moment left me to conclude his game was ‘work in progress’ . I also said in my summary that day, ‘moments such as that will come his way again on a similar stage’ today is that stage, will he be tested in the same way? and if he is, I’ll be delighted if we get the correct outcome!


RH at 2017-01-15 16:47:35


The following is an extract from Jason Pettigroves excellent ‘Runners and Riders’ piece that can be found on the ‘You are the Ref’ website ahead of each weekend’s Premier League action!

Michael Oliver:  Manchester United v Liverpool                                                                                             

Assistants: G. Beswick and M. McDonough                                                                                  Fourth official: C. Pawson

Saving the best until last with one of the real classic EPL fixtures.

 With bragging rights and so much more hanging on the result of this one, Michael Oliver needs to make absolutely sure that he doesn’t contribute in any way other than positively to this match.

Jose Mourinho’s side are finding their feet and are in their best run of form this season. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are one of the finest attacking teams in the division but have a tendency to believe their own publicity, leading to the odd reverse to bring them crashing back down to earth.

 With United well clear of seventh-placed Everton, a defeat isn’t a disaster, but a win against one of their fiercest rivals may give everyone the belief that this could end up being a successful season after all, at start of play, the Red Devils are sat only five points behind their second-in-the-table opponents.

 Mourinho has already blamed Oliver for a defeat this season – to Watford. It’ll be interesting to see if the Portuguese keeps his own counsel here if the game doesn’t go his way.

Michael Oliver – all you need to know                                                                                                     Matches in 2016/17: 18 (12 on TV) Fourth official appointments in 2016/17: 5 Football League appointments in 2016/17: 0







RH at 2017-01-15 16:41:09

My thanks to Refcam’s Andy Hogg for taking us through part one of today’s Merseyside Manchester clashes, for this next instalment the Match Referee is Michael Oliver His Assistant Referees are Gary Beswick and Mick McDonough. The Fourth Official is Craig Pawson

RH at 2017-01-15 16:37:48

There is everything to play for here! A United Liverpool game always ignites passions in the North West let alone that little matter of chasing Chelsea down for top spot! With United at last beginning to deliver on their potential and the Reds on a roll also, this encounter is one of those ‘must watch’ games!