In a rare interview, Michael Oliver admitted that he should have sent off goalkeeper Jordan Pickford following his challenge on Virgil van Dijk in October’s Merseyside derby.
Oliver Admits Pickford Mistake in Merseyside Derby
Referees Must Improve
The referee told the Daily Mail: “The thought initially was, ‘it can’t be a penalty because it’s offside so we need to check the offside first’. I think I said to the VAR, ‘if it’s not offside, I’m going to give a penalty’.
“I have watched it back so many times. I genuinely don’t think Pickford has done anything apart from try to spread himself but he did it the wrong way, as the injury has shown.
“We have all, myself included, not thought about the challenge as much as should have done. We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off. What I was surprised about looking at it afterwards was that nothing was expected on-field in terms of a red card. None of the players were asking for that.
“We got sucked too much into going step by step as opposed to thinking of the bigger process, which was considering the challenge as well and not just the fact it can’t be a penalty. We should have restarted with the offside, as we did, but with a different punishment for Jordan Pickford.”
Oliver was right to admit the mistake and should be praised for doing so. But the problem is, whether it is Oliver or another English referee, the same error will be made time and time again.
The lack of initiative from referees in the Premier League is there for all to see. They have become over-reliant on VAR– a piece of technology which is yet to prove its worth- and are failing to do the basics.
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