Clearly you need to have a lot of confidence and thick skin to be a referee at the top level, but we never really look at what happens to an official if they make a big mistake.
The natural reaction as a fan is to demand the official is banished and never heard of again, but there aren’t that many top level refs to choose from so we’d have a crisis after three weeks of the season if that happened.
The match officials from the Merseyside derby have taken a pounding over the past few days, specifically when it came to the VAR review and the decision to not punish Jordan Pickford for his challenge on Virgil van Dijk.
READ MORE: Keith Hackett confirms offside flag is “immaterial” and Pickford should’ve been sent off for Virgil van Dijk challenge
That’s been done to death so there’s no need to go through the whole incident again, but a serious error was made so it’s interesting to see that the main referee Michael Oliver will be taking charge of Spurs vs Burnley next week.
The same officials from the Merseyside Derby were also involved in a game two days later with a reversal of the VAR roles, but that didn’t go brilliantly either.
Caught Offside spoke to former Premier League referee and PGMOL boss Keith Hackett about this situation, and it’s clear that he’s surprised about the decision to appoint Oliver, but confirms it’s the right call to overlook the VAR official David Coote for the next round of games:
“After last weekends debacle in the Merseyside derby where David Coote was VAR and a far from convincing performance two days later at Elland Road, I am not surprised that Coote is overlooked for another Premier League referee appointment.”
“I believe that Michael Oliver had a poor performance in the Everton vs Liverpool game so this is an indication that there’s no accountability when a referee produces a below standard performance.”
He was keen to stress that Oliver has had a good season apart from that one game, but it led to some interesting points over how these situations should be handled:
“Referees are like players and they can have a sudden loss of form or become involved in a high profile incident”
“The team of officials should have been taken off the Leeds United game where the VAR and referee roles were reversed. I Would have taken them off the Monday game to ensure that a full review and appropriate operational advice was offered to the pair.”
READ MORE: Exclusive: Former ref Keith Hackett would support two major rule proposals from Arsene Wenger
He even suggested that they could be given a Football League game this weekend to ease themselves back in, much in the same way an out of form player will play with the reserves as they try to find some confidence and form again.
It all makes sense because everyone knows what it’s like to try and do a job when your confidence is gone and you start to second guess yourself, so there’s no reason to think that referees will be any different.
In theory it also heaps more pressure on Michael Oliver and his bosses because serious questions will be asked if something goes wrong in the Spurs game, while it’s probably important to factor in Jose Mourinho here too.
He’s infamous for using any excuse to deflect attention from a bad result so even if Oliver has a good game it could backfire if Mourinho finds a way to turn the attention towards his appointment instead,
Hopefully the game passes without incident, but it will be worth watching what happens to the officials if other incidents like this come up during the season.