Referees and linesmen probably have the worst or most difficult job in football. Whenever a fan is talking about an official after a game it’s generally because that official has had a stinker yet when a referee has a blinder of a match, he never really seems to get any praise. Brendan Rodgers has expressed his concerns over the quality of officials this season but why?
To begin with, major decisions have not been going Liverpool’s way so it’s only natural for the manager to come out and start questioning why. Three big decisions that have gone against Liverpool in recent memory all happened during the Premier League fixture against Manchester United.
Firstly, there was the red card awarded to midfielder Jonjo Shelvey which could easily have been a red card the other way for Manchester United defender Jonny Evans. The pair competed in a 50/50 tackle for the ball and Shelvey was given his marching orders because he caught Evans with a slightly raised right boot.
The second and third decisions that went against Liverpool were penalty related. Luis Suarez was not awarded a penalty after a foul by Evans and then Glen Johnson was penalised for swinging in around the side, from behind, on winger Antonio Valencia. Every single decision could have gone the other way so it’s a simple case of giving the referee a little bit of leniency.
“I rang Mike Riley on Thursday morning. I think he was expecting me to call him a bit earlier. Us being a sporting team, and going by the letter of the law, decisions seem to pass us by. We've had a few sendings-off, a few penalties given against us and absolutely nothing we've been given at all. We would hope we would get better decisions over the next few weeks,” Rodgers said as on the BBC Sport website.
The other area where the Liverpool gaffer has reportedly been unhappy is the lack of protection given to his younger players by referees. Liverpool fielded a much changed and very young team in the League Cup match against West Brom. One way of dealing with talented and quick players in the opposition is to be physical and knock them off the ball.
Looking at the bulk of referees’ decisions so far this season it’s probably fair to say that not a lot has changed. The majority of the time they get the big calls right so the referees’ body has to take Rodgers’ comments with a pinch of salt because if one or two more decisions had gone his way then he wouldn’t have made these comments.
Mike Riley has a very difficult job to do because he has to tell his officials to operate by the letter of the law while factoring in the growing concern of managers everywhere. It’s a fine line but overall they’re doing a decent job.