The ‘Official’ Review: A look back at midweek’s controversial decisions

Midweeks fixtures provided goals, drama and even comedy in the form of a Charlie Adam corner kick. In the heat off all the action were the Premier League officials who were under the spotlight as always.

Join us each week as we analyse the controversial talking points.

Manchester United 1-1 Everton
Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Tuesday night saw another disappointing home draw for Manchester United against a resurgent Everton side. United manager Jose Mourinho was left frustrated by a decision that could have seen his side take all three points.

Ibrahimovic Goal: Offside?

With United trailing 1-0 following Phil Jagielka’s opener they thought they had equalised through a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header, only for the flag to go up for offside.

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The decision was extremely tight and the assistant referee was brave to raise his flag in front of the expectant Old Trafford crowd. The speed in which the opposition players switch positions as the ball is delivered makes its incredibly difficult for the referee to be sure whether Ibrahimovic was offside or not. However, upon closer viewing it appears that the United man was marginally in line with Ashley Williams.

Mourinho shared his thoughts in his post match interview with BBC Sport, “With the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) we win this game 2-1 because its not an offside, but a difficult one for the linesman. I’m not critical of him at all, I just say, when the VAR comes it will help everyone, especially them, especially the linesman and the referees”.

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Mourinho was rueful in his post match comments.                                                               Source: BBC Sport

Whistle Blower Verdict: Onside. An incredibly tough decision for Neil Swarbrick and his team, and Mourinho is right in saying that VAR technology would help referees make the right decision in situations such as these. Ibrahimovic is marginally in line with Williams and the advantage should lie with the attacker. The Swede was unlucky to see this legitimate goal ruled out. 

Mirallas and Young drop ball situation

A strange incident at Old Trafford saw Ashley Young booked for a poor tackle on Kevin Mirallas following a peculiar drop ball situation.  Neil Swarbrick restarted play with a drop ball in Manchester United’s favour, however Mirallas had other ideas. The Belgian unsportingly took the ball into his stride before being hacked down by Young.

Manchester-Uniteds-Jesse-Lingard-in-action-with-Evertons-Kevin-Mirallas
Source: Reuters

Young was shown a yellow card and a tussle between both teams ensued, before tensions eventually cooled.

Manchester-United-v-Everton-Premier-League
Source: Getty Images

Whistle Blower Verdict: It’s a definite yellow card for Ashley Young for the tackle on Mirallas, however the debacle could have been avoided completely had the referee had taken more control in the initial drop ball situation. It was a strange decision to restart the play with no Manchester United player in the vicinity of the ball. Yes, Mirallas’ actions were unsporting, but Swarbrick should have been more clear with his actions. 


Watford 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Referee: Paul Tierney

Should Mazzarri have been sent off?

A bizzarre incident at Vicarage Road saw Watford manager Walter Mazzarri react furiously to Miguel Britos’ red card. Britos was sent off, somewhat harshly for two yellow cards, which prompted his manager to launch a tirade at one of his assistants.

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The argument dragged on before the fiery Italian petulantly kicked the dugout. It was an unprofessional and petty act which has landed managers such as Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho in trouble in the past.

Whistle Blower Verdict: Perhaps Tierney was preoccupied with the sending off of Britos, however his fourth official should have alerted him of Mazzarri’s appalling and childish reaction. He was lucky not to be sent to the stands.


Burnley 1-0 Stoke
Referee: Kevin Friend

Charlie Adam corner kick incident

Stoke midfielder Charlie Adam was left red faced at Turf Moor following a shambolic corner kick attempt.

The Scotsman slipped as he ran up to take the kick, coming into contact with the ball in the process.  He then placed the ball back on the corner with his hand, not realising that play was active.

Referee Kevin Friend took the advice of his assistant and awarded a free kick to Burnley for the comical infringement by Adam.

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Whistle Blower Verdict: Kevin Friend was right to follow the rules and award a free kick to Burnley for handball by Adam. An unusual event, and something which everyone saw the funny side of, including Stoke manager Mark Hughes. 


READ MORE: The ‘Official’ Review: A look back at the weekend’s controversial decisions
READ MORE: The ‘Official’ Review: A look back at the weekend’s controversial decisions
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Author: George Vines

Football Business & Media Studies; UCFB Wembley

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