It’s been a poor weekend for the elder statesmen – fifty-year-old Martin Atkinson and Jonathan Moss – of the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd.
On Saturday, Atkinson was VAR sat in front of broadcast screens at Stockley Park for the game between Manchester City and Southampton, whilst Moss was the referee.
In the 60th minute of the game, Moss had to make a big decision when City’s Kyle Walker committed a careless challenge on Southampton’s Adam Armstrong, bringing him to the ground.
Armstrong had sprinted into the penalty area with the ball and was in a position to get his shot on goal away when he was fouled.
Moss didn’t hesitate and pointed to the penalty spot, then approached Walker and handed him a red card.
It was a good decision from an official who was well positioned.
Then, to the amazement of the many fans in the stadium, those sat in front of television screens around the world and to me, Atkinson intervened and advised Moss to go to the monitor to review his decision.
He had no right under the CLEAR AND OBVIOUS VAR criteria to intervene.
Moss then displayed weakness by deciding to put his trust in his colleague, taking only a short glance at the monitor before deciding to overturn the red card and penalty kick award to Southampton.
The pair of them getting a key match incident wrong impacted on the result.
On Sunday, Atkinson was the referee for the West Ham United v Manchester United game and his performance was well below the standard that you would expect from an official of his experience.
Was he still carrying the weight of his previous day’s involvement?
Manchester United will feel aggrieved that a foul on Ronaldo was not penalised with a penalty kick that left the United player looking bemused.
Where was VAR, because in my opinion this was a clear and obvious error and he should have intervened.
The spot kick to West Ham for a deliberately outstretched arm by Luke Shaw for some reason required the intervention of VAR when it was plainly obvious to anyone, even on first viewing, that it was a penalty.