Michael Oliver pulled out the plum tie but was left sticking out like a sore thumb after souring an otherwise fine weekend for Select Group referees in the FA Cup and Premier League.
Oliver became the central figure in an unwanted sense at Stamford Bridge after controversially sending off Manchester United’s Ander Herrera in their 1-0 Cup quarter final defeat to Chelsea.
It was not an isolated error according to the Ref Cam blog of You Are The Ref’s Mark Halsey, who provided a running analysis on how the official could have contained a fiery encounter rather than coming close to letting it run out of control.
Indeed, PGMOL have kept faith in Oliver with the latest round of Premier League appointments putting him on the Sunday late afternoon kick off between Manchester City and Liverpool. YATR has pinpointed the learning points from the game at Stamford Bridge and hope the North East born referee takes on board the advice.
Halsey and his YATR colleagues rate Oliver highly as a contender to take over the mantle of the departing Mark Clattenburg. However, they feel he can learn a lot from failing his latest high-pressure examination.
“In my opinion the sending off changed the game completely,” said Halsey who felt Herrera’s second caution did not warrant the yellow card that triggered his first half dismissal, a careless rather than reckless challenge.
It was not the first or only time that Oliver failed to make the distinction according to Halsey, who pinpointed an early cautionable offence by Matteo Darmian on Eden Hazard that aggrieved his opponents.
He added: “Michael was lacking in game management, player management and awareness. And he failed to slow the game down when it was running away from him.”
Halsey also asserted that United’s Rojo was “lucky not to have been sent off for a stamp on Hazard” later in the game, although this was more the responsibility of assistant referee Stuart Burt in standing close to the incident but not reacting to it.
Keith Hackett commented: “Sadly Michael got caught up in the emotion of the occasion. He needs to demonstrate more authority by ‘putting his foot on the ball’ and slowing things down.”
Oliver’s performance was in contrast to the many praised on The Ref Show from across the weekend.
However, it was a game of much higher demands, for which Oliver was specially selected, and Professional Game Match Officials will be disappointed that Oliver did not bring the round of games to a totally successful conclusion.