Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has spoken exclusively to CaughtOffside about two questionable moments from referee Anthony Taylor in yesterday’s big game between Manchester United and Liverpool.
The Reds ended up strolling to an emphatic 5-0 victory at Old Trafford, but the game wasn’t without its moments of controversy either, even if the electrifying Mohamed Salah stole the show with a sublime hat-trick.
Halsey admits that, having officiated games between United and Liverpool in the past, it’s not always easy to keep a cool head due to the passion of both the players and the crowd.
Halsey admits he was surprised by Taylor’s initial decision not to send Paul Pogba off, though this was overturned by VAR, whilst also suggesting Cristiano Ronaldo could’ve had a harsher punishment for kicking out at Curtis Jones.
“It’s always a big game for referees, the passion of the crowd and the players makes it one of the toughest games to referee,” Halsey said. “I’ve had a few of them myself. You’ve got to judge your level of involvement, set your tolerance levels on challenges.
“The first big talking point was Cristiano Ronaldo’s challenge on Curtis Jones – the ball was on the floor and very close to Curtis Jones. Is he kicking the ball into the player? You can see he’s kicking it very hard and some would argue he was lucky not to be shown a red card. Had he been shown a red card for violent conduct, it wouldn’t be too surprising.
“You take the ball away in that situation and it’s violent conduct. VAR looked at it and didn’t get involved because it’s subjective. Had Ronaldo been sent off I don’t think too many people would’ve complained, but Anthony Taylor saw it as a yellow card for adopting an aggressive attitude and VAR didn’t intervene.”
He added: “With the Pogba challenge on Keita, as soon as I saw it I thought it was a red card. I was a little surprised Anthony Taylor initially showed a yellow card because I would’ve thought someone of his calibre would recognise that straight away, there shouldn’t be the need for a VAR check. He should be recognising the extent of that challenge – it was totally out of control, over the top of the ball, and endangered the player’s safety.
“It’s a good thing VAR overruled it, and he was correctly sent off. It was a clear and obvious error by Anthony Taylor.”