Don’t waste your time calling me biased, because, as anyone who has ever heard me get started will tell you, I make no attempt to hide my allegiance when it comes to Glasgow’s famous footballing rivalry.
Celtic were more than just my boyhood team, I played for them as a kid, too, and I follow their fortunes to this day. Those childhood memories, however, extend to the refereeing situation, so I would insist that all the fuss over the most recent Old Firm game really is nothing new.
It’s no less annoying, however, when you see Bobby Madden let a two-footed Kenny Miller challenge go, which was a disgrace, and then underline that lapse of authority by failing to award what was an obvious penalty in the game’s closing moments.
I have always been doubtful when it comes to these appointments, but what can you do? There is a valid case for the Scottish Football Association taking a leaf out of the PGMO book and asking each official to register whatever team they support, because human nature would lead us to expect that on the majority of 50/50s, that preference can make all the difference.
I know there have been teething problems with the policy south of the border and that there will always be anomalies, but I have no doubt that we should know who the referee supports, even if it does not automatically bar them from taking charge.
If they were all barred, then the problem is you end up with the 12th, 15th, 20th best man for the job, and that is obviously no solution, either.
The spoils may well have been shared and I don’t mind admitting how well Rangers played last time out, but what we saw from the man in the middle I have seen time and time and time again. It was there for all to see in fact, and I’d like to see something done about it.
I was disappointed in the performance of Michael Oliver at Stamford Bridge, too. He let the game get away from him, although one decision I did agree with was the dismissal of Manchester United’s Herrera for a second consecutive foul on Chelsea’s Hazard.
Herrera was plain dopey, while Valencia and Rojo were lucky to escape similar punishment. That said, United did not share their fortune in general and put in a defiant performance.
This year’s quarter finals passed without the need to resort to extra time following the decision to scrap replays at this stage. So it’s had no effect… yet, but I still disagree totally with that decision. Just imagine if United had held out for a draw with those ten men, only to face extra time?
The quarter final is a crucial stage of any cup competition and, make no mistake, it’s already a massive advantage to be drawn at home. In my opinion United should have been playing for the reward of taking the league leaders back to Old Trafford for another crack at them.
I was part of the Ipswich side which played Manchester City in the first FA Cup semi-final to go straight to extra-time, back in 1981. My team-mate Eric Gates had taken his boots off and was headed for the dressing room when Paul Power had to tell him to get ready for another half-hour!
Of course, City’s Power it was who curled in the winner ten minutes later with a long-range free-kick which ended up knocking us out. And I can’t really blame the ref for that!
Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.