Tags Posts tagged with "premier league"

premier league

    All appointments have been sourced from the Premier League, Football League and the FA.


    All the match officials for upcoming fixtures in England will be displayed as and when they are they released. Click below to view a league/cup's fixtures.

    Premier League

    Tuesday 25th April

    Chelsea v Southampton
    Assistants: H Lennard, D Cann
    Fourth official: K Friend

    Wednesday 26th April

    Arsenal v Leicester City
    Assistants: A Garratt, M Scholes
    Fourth official: B Madley
    Middlesbrough v Sunderland
    Assistants: I Hussin, S Long
    Fourth official: P Tierney
    Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur
    Assistants: S Bennett, A Halliday
    Fourth official: S Attwell

    Thursday 27th April

    Manchester City v Manchester United
    Assistants: S Burt, A Nunn
    Fourth official: N Swarbrick

    Saturday 29th April

    Southampton v Hull City
    Assistants: I Hussin, S Long
    Fourth official: P Tierney

    Stoke City v West Ham United
    Assistants: S Beck, D Eaton
    Fourth official: C Pawson

    Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth
    Assistants: S Child, S Ledger
    Fourth official: A Taylor

    West Bromwich Albion v Leicester City
    Assistants: D Cann, R West
    Fourth official: R East

    Crystal Palace v Burnley
    Assistants: A Nunn, M Perry
    Fourth official: A Marriner

    Sunday 30th April

    Manchester United v Swansea City
    Assistants: G Beswick, M Wilkes
    Fourth official: M Jones

    Everton v Chelsea
    Assistants: E Smart, A Halliday
    Fourth official: M Atkinson

    Middlesbrough v Manchester City
    Assistants: H Lennard, A Garratt
    Fourth official: L Mason
    Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
    Assistants: S Bennett, J Collin
    Fourth official: A Marriner

    Monday 1st May

    Watford v Liverpool
    Assistants: C Hatzidakis, P Kirkup
    Fourth official: R East

    SkyBet Championship

    Friday 28th April

    Cardiff City v Newcastle United
    Adrian Holmes and David Bryan
    Fourth Official Andy Davies

    Saturday 29th April

    Barnsley v Burton Albion
    Adam Matthews and Shaun Hudson
    Fourth Official Darren Deadman

    Birmingham City v Huddersfield Town
    Mark Scholes and Michael McDonough
    Fourth Official David Coote

    Blackburn Rovers v Aston Villa
    John Flynn and Billy Smallwood
    Fourth Official Andrew Madley

    Brighton & Hove Albion v Bristol City
    Mark Russell and Neil Davies
    Fourth Official Andy Davies

    Derby County v Wolverhampton Wanderers
    James Mainwaring and Michael George
    Fourth Official Mark Heywood

    Fulham v Brentford
    Matthew McGrath and Geoffrey Russell
    Fourth Official Simon Hooper

    Ipswich Town v Sheffield Wednesday
    Nigel Lugg and Darren Blunden
    Fourth Official Nick Hopton

    Leeds United v Norwich City
    Paul Hodskinson and Christopher Akers
    Fourth Official Stephen Martin

    Preston North End v Rotherham United
    Steven Meredith and Akil Howson
    Fourth Official Scott Duncan

    Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest
    Daniel Robathan and Robert Merchant
    Fourth Official Robert Whitton

    Reading v Wigan Athletic
    Ian Cooper and Dan Cook
    Fourth Official Craig Hicks

    Sky Bet League One

    Sunday 30th April

    AFC Wimbledon v Oldham Athletic
    Matthew Lee and Kevin Howick
    Fourth Official Stuart Butler

    Bolton Wanderers v Peterborough United
    Adam Crysell and Philip Dermott
    Fourth Official Graham Salisbury

    Bristol Rovers v Millwall
    Ian Smedley and Danny Gratton
    Fourth Official Timothy Wood

    Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town
    Rob Smith and John Law
    Fourth Official Nicholas Cooper

    Fleetwood Town v Port Vale
    Matthew Jones and Paul Marsden
    Fourth Official Gareth Mellor

    Northampton Town v Gillingham
    Alan Young and Nigel Smith
    Fourth Official Joe Clark

    Oxford United v Shrewsbury Town
    Carl Fitch-Jackson and Thomas Ramsey
    Fourth Official Andrew Hendley

    Rochdale v Bradford City
    Jonathan Hunt and Andrew Fox
    Fourth Official Michael Salisbury

    Scunthorpe United Coventry City
    Steven Rushton and Barry Cropp
    Fourth Official Christopher Ward

    Sheffield United v Chesterfield
    Ricky Wootton and Neil Sharp
    Fourth Official Joe Hull

    Southend United v Bury
    Marc Wilson and Thomas Harty
    Fourth Official Nigel Lugg

    Walsall v Milton Keynes Dons
    Robert Atkin and Peter Gooch
    Fourth Official David Benton

    Sky Bet League Two

    Saturday 29th April

    Accrington Stanley v Luton Town
    Bob Roberts and Iain Siddall
    Fourth Official Natalie Aspinall

    Barnet v Grimsby Town
    Adrian Waters and Gavin Muge
    Fourth Official Elliott Kaye

    Cambridge United v Crawley Town
    Ian Fissenden and Amy Fearn
    Fourth Official Andrew Aylott

    Carlisle United v Newport County
    Matthew Bristow and Graeme Fyvie
    Fourth Official Danny Markham

    Cheltenham Town v Hartlepool United
    Lee Venamore and Christopher Husband
    Fourth Official Daniel Leach

    Doncaster Rovers v Exeter City
    Ian Rathbone and Michael Webb
    Fourth Official Tony Peart

    Leyton Orient v Colchester United
    Lisa Rashid and Joe Simpson
    Fourth Official Anthony Da Costa

    Mansfield Town v Portsmouth
    Richard Wild and Anthony Moore
    Fourth Official Marvyn Amphlett

    Morecambe v Wycombe Wanderers
    James Bell and Wade Smith
    Fourth Official Chris Isherwood

    Notts County v Blackpool
    Matthew Parry and Paul Thompson
    Fourth Official Declan Ford

    Plymouth Argyle v Crewe Alexandra
    Simon Knapp and Adrian Tranter
    Fourth Official Mark Derrien

    Yeovil Town v Stevenage
    Adam Bromley and Ravel Cheosiaua
    Fourth Official John Farries

    The FA Cup Final

    Arsenal v Chelsea
    Gary Beswick and Marc Perry
    Fourth Official: Robert Madley

    EFL Cup

    Winners - Manchester United

    EFL Trophy 

    Winners - Coventry City


    Friday 28th March

    Toronto FC v Houston Dynamo
    CJ Morgante and Joe Fletcher
    Fourth Official: Geoff Gamble

    Saturday 29th March

    Montreal Impact v Vancouver Whitecaps
    Logan Brown and Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho
    Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica

    Orlando City v Colorado Rapids
    Adam Wienckowski and Frank Anderson
    Fourth Official: Caleb Mendez

    Columbus Crew v New York City
    Nick Uranga and Jeremy Hanson
    Fourth Official: Younes Marrakchi

    New York Red Bulls v Chicago Fire
    Kermit Quisenberry and Jeffrey Greeson
    Fourth Official: Rubiel Vazquez

    FC Dallas v Portland Timbers
    Corey Parker and Cameron Blanchard
    Fourth Official: Marcos DeOliveira

    Minnesota United v San Jose Earthquakes
    Peter Balciunas and Jason White
    Fourth Official: Kevin Stott

    Sporting Kansas City v Real Salt Lake
    Anthony Vasoli and Jose Da Silva
    Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi

    Seattle Sounders v New England Revolution
    Apolinar Mariscal and Andrew Bigelow
    Fourth Official: Dave Gantar

    LA Galaxy v Philadelphia Union
    Matthew Nelson and Felisha Mariscal
    Fourth Official: Daniel Radford

    Sunday 30th March

    Atlanta United v D.C. United
    Jonathan Johnson and Kyle Atkins
    Fourth Official: Mark Kadlecik

      Author: Alan Brazil

      What a shocker that penalty débâcle featuring Newcastle and Burton Albion was. I honestly just do not get it... how you can get four guys getting it so very, very wrong, and not one assistant has found it in himself to say, “Hang on, ref”.

      Were these guys simply too embarrassed to put a flag up or tell Keith Stroud what he had done? It's part of their job, so I see no reason why they should have been.

      People seem to have settled on some consensus that justice was somehow served because Newcastle won the match, but try telling that to Brighton if a goal makes all the difference to their survival on the last day of the season. Try telling that to those with bets on the score and any number of combinations of matches and goal difference.

      They say it would have been replayed had Newcastle not won, but that's no solution for me and there could yet be implications.

      Such a collective breakdown may well have been a one-off, but as I have used this platform in the past to call for bans of various lengths in the cases of players and managers, it would be wrong not to give my opinion on the punishment these boys deserve. And I'd say six games, minimum.

      Don't get me wrong, I am no expert on the Laws myself, but men in this position should not hold their position if they do not know the rules!

      Another subject of intense debate was the red card given by Craig Pawson to Sebastian Larsson in the Sunderland -Manchester United match. I could actually have easily seen that decision overturned, because it was such a harsh one given that the player used to be a winger and everyone knows forwards can't tackle!

      I was actually astonished as I watched on TV and could well understand David Moyes going crazy on the touchline. I really felt for him, even though I don't honestly feel the decision particularly influenced the outcome of the match.

      There was no violence in the tackle, which was reckless at best, and I agreed with the Jamie Carragher comment about Herrera's history being a factor because I myself remember going in higher if I felt it would save my tendons and stop me being dumped in the treatment room for a long stretch. You had to protect yourself in a 50/50 because the likes of Graeme Souness or Jimmy Case would literally take no prisoners.

      Referees, just like players themselves, should do their homework and in this case I am sure that would have resulted in a yellow card.

      Of course that can go for and against a forward, as my old colleague Eric Gates would find only too often when he would be denied a penalty after the officials got it into their heads he was going to ground too easily.

      Eric had a low centre of gravity and had a way of twisting that gave refs the wrong idea, but players know players and referees should make it their business to get the same kind of feel for the game. Any touch and they will go down now, and heaven knows that does not make the ref's job an easy one.

      Even so, I think that, had Pawson prepared better and taken into account the characters involved, we would have kept 11 players on each side and witnessed a better spectacle all round.

      Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.

        Joining Alan Biggs this week is former footballer and current BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson and ex Premier League and FIFA linesman Glenn Turner to discuss all the action from the weekend in the Premier League and the Football League. Robert Madley was in charge at Goodison Park where Everton defeated in form Leicester 4-2, his performance was under scrutiny, as was Craig Pawson who was on duty as Manchester United beat a Sunderland side who suffered their third defeat in eight days. There's also a mention for Chris Kavanagh who took charge of his first ever Premier League game, how did he get on? All that and more as the panel also delve into the Football League with incidents up for discussion across the country.....

          Author: Rob Harris

          With the refereeing spotlight being concentrated on events at St James Park last Wednesday evening (5th April 2017), that little matter of the Premier League Championship destiny and the significance of a season defining game at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed. But make no mistake the Chelsea Manchester City clash was by any standards a big game, Rio Ferdinand speaking on BT Sport commented before the kick off that should Chelsea have won the match, that ‘ they would have one hand on the title’ . Ok then scene set, so it’s fair to say that there was immense pressure on the match referee and his team to deliver a ‘big game’ performance. I was pleased to report on Ref Cam that this was exactly what we got from Mike Dean and his colleagues!

          We are often told by the experts that various creations, performances or works of art are masterpieces, world class or peerless. We take these things as said because they seem good enough to us to earn such praise, but more importantly because ‘experts’ are telling us! Well here at ‘You Are The Ref’ we are the experts on refereeing matters and regarding Mike Dean’s management of this particular game, we are telling you that this was an excellent performance by any standards which could only have been achieved by a few referee’s!

          So I hear you say, why is that? In refereeing everyone starts at Park Level, for some referees that is as far as they go, it may be that commitments, injury or other factors, including the possible limit of their ability to officiate at that level, determine that this is as far as they go .But for others they progress to the next level of competition, although they would already have mastered the basics of the trade they will have then tested their ability to perform at that next stage. Invariably the skill level will have risen, but so too will the intensity and speed at which events are unfolding around them, not to say increased expectations and recriminations also, so this process continues at each new competition level that the aspiring referee will find him/herself officiating at. This process whittles down the number of referee’s the further up the pyramid that we go, right up to the Premier League itself.

          I was fortunate enough to have officiated as an assistant referee and as a referee on the Premier League. In my days of running the line I was proud enough to have been appointed to the FIFA List, I say this not on grounds of vanity, but only to make the next point. Because I worked with the very best referees of the day I learned about the concept of ‘Time on the Ball’. This is a quality that all of the best sportsmen and women possess. That extra amount of time to play the next shot, make a wonderful pass, be aware of which team mates or opponents are around you. The principle is not exclusive to ball games it extends to motor sport and other competitions, martial arts to name one. Ever wondered why Messi is that split second ahead, why Murray, Djokovic and Serena Williams can play those shots, why Joe Root can play such exquisite stokes when facing a ferocious pace attack. It doesn’t end there, how the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Mark Marquez can hold onto the throttle that bit longer before braking? It is because these sportsmen and women are at the top of their game, they have the ability to create that extra fragment of time to ensure a more successful outcome in the heat of battle to take decision making to another level. Their cognitive skills are stronger and more durable when tested to the limit.

          Refereeing is no different, currently in my opinion there are two Premier League referees who are in this category of sportsmen and women, Mark Clattenburg and Mike Dean, two others are getting there but have not mastered it just yet, namely Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor. That’s not to say that other well respected referees are not good enough to officiate at Premier League Level, but in the case of Clattenburg and Dean you got the best chance of witnessing a ‘big game’ performance when you need it most, which is exactly what we got at Stamford Bridge last Wednesday (5th April 2017)!

          You can read again in detail what I said about Mike Dean’s performance, the minute by minute comments are archived in Ref Cam https://you-are-the-ref.com/ref-cam/chelsea-v-manchester-city-3/ But I can best illustrate what I mean by describing an incident in the first fifteen minutes of the game. I can be that precise because in a game of such importance, it was fifteen minutes before the first careless challenge took place. During that period four players converged on the ball between Mike Dean and assistant Jake Collin, two of them went to ground, it could have proved an early banana skin for the referee, because you could have tossed a coin on which way a resultant free kick could have gone. But at that precise moment Mike Dean’s ability to refrain from penalising and squeeze that extra fragment of time from the incident suddenly saw the ball break free and the game moved on, all the players involved simply got on with it, a moment of refereeing excellence barely noticed, and why? Because Mike Dean took the pressure off himself and he continued to do that for the remainder of the game, as I commented on Ref Cam he allowed himself a higher threshold of player contact before he penalised careless challenges. He made it look easy, when it was anything but that. The point is this particular referee had created that extra element of time at his disposal to make decisions. I’m sure you’ll now be thinking, that’s good then for Dean and Clattenburg but what about the rest of us?

          When I was coaching referees I always introduced the subject of ‘time on the ball’ for discussion. Let’s face it, moving up to officiate at a new level happens all the time, but here’s the thing, if we are conscious of this aspect of our game we can develop our cognitive skills to create that extra time sooner than it would otherwise naturally occur, to become aware of the benefits to our game and of the competitive edge that it will deliver us. Dean and Clattenburg are both supremely confident when they are officiating, that presence that they exude is there for all the players to see, it creates credibility in the minds of the players and a confidence in what they as referees will do. This can be achieved at any level of the game, every League competition played anywhere in the world has its respected referee’s, those who are trusted with the big games.

          It wasn’t always this way for the likes of Clattenburg and Dean, they were Premier League rookies at one time and had to earn their stripes, they worked their way up to the position in the game they hold now, as I commented earlier there is no reason to suppose that Oliver and Taylor won’t join or succeed them. But on a night when events on Tyneside drew much comment, it was a masterclass in refereeing some 247 miles away that for me was the most encouraging and enduring talking point of the week.

            When I first got into broadcasting, not long after my retirement from playing, there was no way any of the big hitters would have considered employing a referee for his perspective.

            In none of our ITV Premier League editorial meetings did the idea of bringing in a ref get so much as a mention. We did not see the need, to be honest, whereas pretty much every broadcaster now makes sure they have access to a referee's opinion.

            I don't recall who had the idea first or if it was imported from a foreign broadcaster, but I'm certain it's been a positive development and that refs should be on hand to explain interpretations that sometimes stump everyone from fans to players and even managers. Anything which helps spreads education when it comes to the Laws surely has to be a good thing.

            I was talking to retired ref Chris Foy about this recently and he felt that the pressure has increased an enormous amount since he himself was promoted to the Select Group, starting at exactly the time as me on ITV way back in August 2001!

            Something you might have got away with, or simply run off while regretting it for 30 seconds in the old days, you would find yourself hammered for now, without question and without mercy, what with 20-plus camera angles and this new spider cam thrown in...

            Anyway, we agreed that it's just what the new refs have to live with, and there is no putting that particular genie back into the bottle!

            Chris, I felt, was always one of the “good ones”, in other words, an official who never failed to show an appreciation of key moments in a match and who could be relied upon to apply common sense.

            When it comes to ex-players I feel Jamie Carragher is one of the most fair and hopefully that will continue now he has had his initiation with the top refs, as shown on Sky! The days when anyone who did not play professionally (or ref for that matter) is employed as a pundit as as opposed to a commentator, have long gone, and Jamie shows you why.

            Analysis is something you will we find most of us reluctant to try while still playing because it is hard enough playing, without making extra enemies you might come face to face with all too soon!

            Paul Scholes is another who can say he has been there and done that, and they let you into not just what happened but why players made the decisions they did, too.

            For the record, personally I am totally against referees getting themselves an agent and giving their views while they have still got that black kit on, or whatever colour it happens to be.

            Don't get me wrong, I am all for them carving out income streams of their own and taking full advantage of their various experiences, but they should just hold on until the people they are discussing are no longer to be found on the same pitch during the course of the season.

              A poor midweek of refereeing performances was eclipsed  by the worst sin of all - the incorrect application of law by Keith Stroud at Newcastle.

              The home team scored from the penalty spot only to see complete confusion reign when the referee disallowed the goal and awarded an indirect free-kick to visitors Burton. This was after he detected encroachment into the penalty area by players of both teams.

              Law states that in these circumstances the penalty kick should be retaken. It is amazing that none of the other three officials came to the aid of the referee to advise him that he was wrong in law. It is one thing to misjudge a decision, another to appear not to know the basics of the job.

              The PGMOL were forced to make a public apology for the error and now should take action by introducing an annual test for all its officials on the laws of the game.

              Meanwhile, in the Hull City v Middlesbrough game we had an assistant referee making a huge mistake in failing to detect a clear offside goal in the closing minutes. Following consultation between Michael Oliver and an assistant the goal was allowed to stand. It was an easy decision and difficult to understand why the assistant did not raise his flag.

              In the Arsenal v Bournemouth game Martin Atkinson, an in-form referee, was at fault by failing to award two clear penalty kicks to Arsenal.

              In the Southampton v Crystal Palace game the unfortunate Roger East produced what was sadly a typical performance littered with mistakes. First he failed to award Southampton a penalty for deliberate handball and the referee also made another later mistake. Crystal Palace's Zaha had just gained possession when he was fouled from behind. Referee East unbelievably waved aside any claims for a foul and then, from a cross, Southampton scored.

              It was frankly an easy decision which saw the manager of Crystal Palace Sam Allardyce rightly asking why a free-kick had not been awarded. When teams are in a relegation battle it is so important to appoint your top performing officials to these games. I have questioned in the past this referee's ability to officiate at Premier League level.

              Just a reminder to the PGMOL that Mark Clattenburg is still available for them to use before his departure to Saudi Arabia.

              Finally, the team at You Are The Ref send our very best wishes to Ray Olivier,  a very experienced educator with vast knowledge of law application who will be taking up a new role with the Japan FA.

              Despite appearing to have been marginalised by the PGMOL management, it is sad to see another expert with great knowledge and on-field experience leaving the family of English officials.

              Ray would have been the right person to set the annual test in the laws of the game.


                On the The Ref Show Alan Biggs is joined by former referee Mark Halsey and ex Sheffield Wednesday player Gary Megson. This week the panel discuss Micheal Oliver the big game referee of the weekend, Manchester City v Liverpool, huge games from the Championship and a suggestion of a bust up in the tunnel!

                  Back at the start of the 2014 Premier League season, RefCam was created to not only provide live text commentary on televised games, but also, primarily, to give a unique expert referee insight into the big decisions that take place live during games.

                  It provides an informed voice to all match officials and fans alike, on the key incidents within games, and whether the law has been applied correctly, all from a refereeing perspective.

                  The aim is to strengthen and improve the level of training currently being offered by the referee administrators of national federations and to look at the issues facing referees across the globe, providing exclusive match analysis of refereeing performances in the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and MLS.

                  The RefCam team is made up of vastly experienced coaches with many years’ standing gained from their roles as professional match officials, referee coaches and assessors. The text commentary is very much similar to the type of notes produced by a referee assessor, and forms the basis of their performance review of match officials.

                  During the recent FA Cup quarter final between Chelsea and Manchester United, a game that saw a number of key incidents, RefCam provided live text commentary through Mark Halsey. With years of officiating experience to his name, Mark was able to provide a top expert refereeing analysis of all the incidents, in real time.

                  Gianluca Rocchi will be under scrutiny tonight when Man City face Monaco in the Champions League

                  The sending off of Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera was one that caused much debate among pundits and fans. Halsey, seconds after the card was produced said: "I believe Michael could have managed that second yellow card, in my opinion it was just a careless challenge."

                  He went on to say in his match report, "In my opinion the sending off changed the game completely. Looking back on Michael's performance I felt that his game management wasn't what it should be, his player management wasn't what it should be and his awareness wasn't what it should have been."

                  You can view his full report by clicking here.

                  RefCam will continue to provide unrivaled referee analysis throughout the rest of the season, beginning tonight in the Champions League where Manchester City look to continue their European journey.


                    Author: Alan Biggs

                    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.

                      Since my last column Mark Clattenburg has resigned from the Premier League's Select Group, and this very weekend will add another unlikely chapter to a jet-setting plot-twist which surprised many, if not all of us.

                      It's a great pity he has chosen to leave the UK at such a young age and take up the post of Head of Refereeing at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and while I'm sure he can remain his pro-active, confident self for the remainder of our domestic league season, he must guard against those looking to jump on his case if he should fall even slightly below the fabulous standards he has set.

                      As a player you do look to exploit anything you could remotely perceive as a weakness, and having one eye on the next destination is probably an even greater danger for officials than it would be for players and managers.

                      Talking of the need for total concentration, I don't think there was necessarily any particular lack of focus due to the sunshine trip some of our top referees reportedly undertook earlier in the same week.

                      In Anthony Taylor's case, when he wrongly awarded a penalty against Swansea after cameras showed the ball hitting the hand of Burnley's Sam Vokes, I think he can be permitted some leeway.

                      The ball skimmed over so many heads and at such speed that any referee is entitled to make what he did, a bad call, without us looking any further into it.

                      As for Kevin Friend, I'm afraid his performance at Old Trafford only confirmed what I have long suspected, and that is simply that he lacks the presence required to convince enough of us he can handle proceedings at the very top level.

                      It really was spectacularly bad, with a mistake compounded by a mistake compounded by another mistake.

                      One of my reasons for diagnosing his problem as personality-related was demonstrated by the sheer amount of players who appeared to be able to have their say, whether it was Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or all the other players who almost engulfed Friend at times.

                      The impression was given that it was the giant Swede giving the lecture to the referee at one point, not the other way round.

                      Don't get me wrong, I would like to see Kevin react positively and his fitness is certainly not a problem. He has to use his authority on the field at the first opportunity instead of behaving in a way which will only encourage players to take a chance on getting away with more and more nonsense.

                      Let's not forget, he has been in the Select Group since 2009, so he's been full-time for eight years, while he is still only 45 and hopefully has a few years in him yet.

                      The best of our referees in the Premier League era, guys like Graham Poll, Paul Durkin and Howard Webb, all possessed that presence I am talking about; that demeanour that comes from being in total, unassailable control.

                      Yet even they all had their moments, remember, with Poll and Webb having particularly memorable meltdowns with the eyes of the whole world upon them, in 2006 and 2010 respectively.
                      In those matches between Croatia and Australia and Spain and the Netherlands, play clearly developed beyond their control, yet presumably no one has ever seriously suggested these were not entirely qualified men with the experience to have earned their appointments.

                      You could argue that, last Saturday, Friend might also have reasonably expected more support from his assistants than the one very obvious example which saw him eventually dismiss poor Andrew Surman.

                      That doesn't matter any more. No, he has to take the experience and the reaction on the chin, front it up and overcome what was a very bad day at the office. Only then will he earn back the trust of fans, players and managers alike, so that the next time he gets a big game, the news is not met by millions and millions of raised eyebrows.

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