Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed Premier League rule changes aimed at letting game flow risked game turning into "wrestling" and "rugby"; former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher responds and runs the rule over VAR and penalty incidents
Monday 23 August 2021 23:45, UK
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher runs the rule over the big incidents from the weekend - and disagrees with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jurgen Klopp.
Klopp watched his Liverpool side earn a hard-fought 2-0 win over Burnley but was unhappy with some of the Clarets' challenges during the game and hit out at rule changes, which while aiming at letting the game flow, he said risked the game descending into "wrestling".
Solskjaer echoed his sentiments after Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton, warning football must not turn into "rugby" after being aggrieved Saints' opener came after a perceived foul on Bruno Fernandes.
"I'm a bit surprised," Gallagher said during Ref Watch on Sky Sports News.
"We saw how everyone embraced the Euros and how they were played; I think the Premier League have learnt so much from the Euros and adapted a lot of things. Last week it was full of praise for how the game was played and I didn't see that much difference this weekend.
"There was a higher tolerance to physical challenges, penalty shouts not given that would have been given last year. I thought that's what people wanted."
On the incident at St Mary's, when Fernandes was adamant he was fouled by Jack Stephens prior to Fred's own goal, Gallagher said: "It certainly wasn't a foul in the context of how the game was refereed.
"From minute one to minute 90, that's how the referee allowed the game to flow; he allowed that kind of challenge.
"This one has just been identified because of the consequences rather than the challenge itself. By and large, I think Craig Pawson adopted a very, very good threshold and balance.
"It's how you win the ball; you can come into the back of someone and win the ball and it's a clearly a foul. But I don't think this was a foul.
"If that had been in his own penalty box, I don't think a foul would be given. Everyone would be saying that's really good strong defending."
What about the other big incidents under the spotlight in the Premier League this weekend? Read on for Dermot's take...
INCIDENT: Aston Villa are awarded a penalty after Jamaal Lascelles is penalised for handball, with play being pulled back after a VAR check.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I think it's a penalty. I think it falls into the bracket where we said we will never get the grey area eliminated but we are trying to narrow it. One of the things we said was that if you put your arm out that far from your body and the ball strikes it, a penalty is going to be given. You know you are going to run that risk. It was not a surprise to me that the VAR told the referee to have a look.
INCIDENT: Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez felled Callum Wilson in the penalty area but VAR deemed the Newcastle striker offside.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: The lines did not overlap, firstly, and therefore offside was given. Once the offside was given, it did not eliminate the goalkeeper because he committed an act of recklessness; he was given a yellow card by the on-field referee. I think it's right that the tackle is still subject to disciplinary action - otherwise it's a get-out-of-jail card because the player's offside and that does not sit well.
INCIDENT: Everton are awarded a penalty by VAR after Liam Cooper is punished for a foul on Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: Could he have seen red for this? Possibly. I think what's saved him is that the ref felt [Calvert-Lewin] was not in possession of the ball. But if Cooper had been sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity, I do not think he could have had a lot of cause for complaint.
INCIDENT: Patrick Bamford goes down under Yerry Mina's challenge but no Leeds penalty is given.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I do not think this is the same foul. I think the players are intertwined. Without doubt, Cooper wraps his arms around Calvert-Lewin but Bamford is going into Mina; I think they are both culpable.
INCIDENT: Tottenham are awarded a penalty when Dele Alli is brought down by Jose Sa.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I thought it was. The goalkeeper rushes out, does not get the ball, and Dele Alli's clever; he moves the ball away and by doing that, collides into him. That was always going to be given.
INCIDENT: Wolves want a penalty of their own when Nelson Semedo goes down under the challenge of Oliver Skipp but nothing is given.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: You ask for consistency and I think in different instances in different games this weekend, referees came to the same conclusion - that there was a coming-together but not necessarily a foul.
INCIDENT: Bukayo Saka goes down in the box under the close attention of Reece James but no penalty is given.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: As soon as I saw this, I thought 'penalty'. When I saw the replay, I thought, 'Maybe not'. I look at it again and think, 'No, it's not'. It is a coming-together. James is in front so he's got the advantage. Saka almost comes into him. There's a tangle of legs but I think that's the same as the one before [at Wolves].
INCIDENT: While Klopp was unhappy with some of Burnley's tackling, Sean Dyche thought Trent Alexander-Arnold should have conceded a penalty on Dwight McNeil.
DERMOT'S VERDICT: Again, Alexander-Arnold is on the ball-winning side and they are shoulder-to-shoulder. It is not really a tackle, it is holding ground. No foul.
INCIDENT: Man City have a goal disallowed when Bernando Silva is penalised for a foul in the build-up to Ferran Torres' goal. Was there enough contact?
DERMOT'S VERDICT: I thought there was. I think the VAR does well here. The Norwich players think it's a foul straight away and once the ref is sent to the screen, it's clear there's a trip.