Was Bruno Fernandes lucky not to be sent off in Manchester United's loss at Liverpool? Should Arsenal have had several penalties against Bournemouth? Were Everton wrong to be denied a second spot kick at Nottingham Forest? Dermot Gallagher has his say in the latest Ref Watch...
Monday 6 March 2023 13:18, UK
Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher dissects the flashpoints from a weekend where there were questionable calls in Liverpool's 7-0 win over Manchester United, across the rest of the Premier League and in the Scottish Premiership.
INCIDENT: Bruno Fernandes demands for the ball back from Trent Alexander-Arnold to take a throw-in for Manchester United. The midfielder is briefly stopped by the linesman before Fernandes appears to nudge the official in the back as he enters the field of play to go and retrieve the ball.
DERMOT SAYS: "I actually have mixed feelings about it. You don't want a player to be manhandling an official, but I think the linesman manhandles Fernandes more than the other way round.
"I think once the official does it first, Fernandes is almost fly-swatting, 'get out of my way' I want to get on with it.
"I don't condone it, and I think the referee is in a difficult position, because if he goes over then Fernandes is likely to say 'well he grabbed hold of me first'.
"I don't think it's wise [for the official]. I watched a game years ago at West Brom where the assistant grabbed hold of a player and they swiped round not knowing who it was.
"If he'd then caught him in the mouth, he's looking at a 12-match ban. So you've got to be mindful of wanting to prevent things happening, but we can't make a big thing of Fernandes pushing out at him when he's received it himself."
INCIDENT: Scott McTominay tackled Cody Gakpo in the middle of the pitch. The Manchester United midfielder got the ball then caught the Liverpool attacker high on the leg.
DERMOT SAYS: "I think a yellow card was right, he did win the ball and made a genuine attempt. Yes, he brought his leg up but would you have been surprised if a red card had come out? I would. It was a good feisty game at times, it's what people want to see and a yellow card was enough."
INCIDENT: Bruno Fernandes and Andy Robertson went down under separate challenges holding their faces, when the ball or any player did not go near their faces. Both players were accused of simulation.
DERMOT SAYS: "I think the referee has to be mindful of watching what's actually happened. In big crowds, it ramps up the crowd when they see a player go down holding their face.
"They think he's been whacked in the face when he hasn't, but it brings a reaction. The referee has to detach himself from that and not get sucked in.
"On all of those incidents, none of the players got hit in the face but they all went down clutching it. The referee dealt with it well, didn't get involved, didn't over-react. That's the key - not to over-react and get sucked in."
INCIDENT: Referee John Brooks awards a penalty after Dwight McNeil goes down under Jonjo Shelvey's challenge in the area. Demarai Gray scores the resulting spot kick to give Everton a 1-0 lead.
DERMOT SAYS: "This is a penalty isn't it? It is right in front of John Brooks and he can't have a better view. The only way they can check handball is if it's a deliberate handball as it didn't lead to a goal. The tackle is a foul. Dwight McNeil moves the ball, as soon as he does that then Jonjo Shelvey has to get the ball, or back off.
"He doesn't. He catches McNeil and the referee can't have been in a better position."
INCIDENT: Seamus Coleman goes down under Jack Colback's challenge on the right of the penalty area. Referee Brooks decided not to give a penalty after VAR took a look at the decision.
DERMOT SAYS: "This going to divide people. I think this is actually not a penalty. I think Coleman catches Colback's foot as he is about to shoot. And that is what throws him off balance.
"It wasn't an outstretched foot from Colback. The McNeil one was a tackle.
"It is what it is. I spoke to loads of people who thought it was a penalty. When it's such a tough, tough call, then VAR won't get involved."
INCIDENT: Chris Mepham is accused of handball after missing his header in the Bournemouth penalty box, with the ball striking him on the upper arm. VAR looks at the decision but opts not to give a penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "I think it's too high up, when you look at it. Maybe he gets lucky because his arms are out, but it does hit the top of his arm.
"Not the best way to jump in the modern game, because like it or not - arms out, massive risk."
INCIDENT: Marcos Senesi is accused of handball whilst blocking Martin Odegaard's shot from inside the box. Again, VAR looks at the decision and opts not to give a penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "Senesi would have been very unlucky, wouldn't he? If you look at this, his arms are tucked in and his elbow is low down and close to his body.
INCIDENT: In the next move, Bournemouth midfielder Philip Billing is accused of handball after blocking Gabriel's header on the goal line. VAR looks at the decision and decides not to give a penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "Does he handle it high? Does it hit him? It's difficult to see and the referee has the best view and he says no. VAR looked and said no so you have to accept that. But it's not the easiest rule to apply."
INCIDENT: Carlos Alcaraz puts in a late challenge on Leicester's Timothy Castagne and is booked by the referee. The Southampton attacker's foot planted on Castagne's.
DERMOT SAYS: "Yellow card. I think he goes in and he's low and you wouldn't want to be on the end of one of them. But it is low, he hasn't flown in, come a long distance and had the intensity. I think had a red card come out, I'd have been more surprised."
INCIDENT: Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma goes down under Jarrod Bowen's tackle in the first half. The referee awards the penalty and Alexis Mac Allister scores the resulting spot kick.
DERMOT SAYS: "You can't argue that it's not a foul, the only thing I'd say is the new approach we have, it seems at the very low end of a foul.
"But the referee thought it was a foul. What I'd say is there is a much better level, I think, of physical contact and such like. If that hadn't been given, I wouldn't have been surprised."
INCIDENT: Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure unfairly tackles Calum Chambers high on the leg whilst already on a booking. The referee initially gives an advantage before Villa kick the ball out of play. The referee then pulls the play back and sends Doucoure off for a second bookable offence.
DERMOT SAYS: "It's got to be one where you go: It's worth sending him off. Doucoure had just had a yellow card for a bad foul five minutes earlier and when that happened, the only surprise to me was that the ref played on. Aston Villa kicked the ball out and as soon as that happened, I knew he'd be sent off. I think it is a second yellow card."
INCIDENT: Greg Taylor is accused of handball after Alex Greive's flick hit his arm. The referee opted not to give the penalty on the pitch, but VAR Andrew Dallas told the on-pitch official to look at the monitor, before awarding a penalty. Mark O'Hara scored the resulting spot kick to put St Mirren 1-0 up.
DERMOT SAYS: "This is why I say the rule is so difficult to apply - if you look through that at the referee, he's got the perfect view.
"He's gone to a screen, and he's now looking at a picture of what he looked at already.
"It was a penalty, he moves his arm to the ball but it's a good VAR intervention."
INCIDENT: Ryan Alebiosu is accused of handball whilst pressuring Ryan Kent in the Kilmarnock penalty area. Referee Willie Collum decides not to give a penalty in real time, but is called to the pitchside monitor and awards a spot kick.
DERMOT SAYS: "The referee clearly can't see where the ball struck him. There's no doubt about that. Only the VAR can. My only surprise is when the VAR shows it, I can't see whether it hits him on the hand.
"That was my surprise. I wasn't surprised that he was sent to the screen but I was surprised he gave it. He doesn't have to give a penalty but it hit his chest."
INCIDENT: Allan McGregor is accused of fouling Rory McKenzie in the penalty area. The referee opts not to give a penalty.
DERMOT SAYS: "Kilmarnock will feel that they've been penalised twice because they'll argue the one given against them wasn't a penalty and this was.
"As a referee, you've got to be mindful of treating every incident in isolation. Unfortunately for them, both incidents have gone against them."
INCIDENT: Jack Fitzwater is sent off for bringing down Hibernian's Matthew Hoppe, who was through on goal. The referee awards a free-kick to Hibs and sends the Livingston defender off for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
DERMOT SAYS: "It's a trip and a red card because the second player is a red herring. If the attacking player is not tripped then he can take a step forward and score a goal. The other player only arrives because the player is on the ground.
"It's a goalscoring opportunity which is a free shot at goal, which he has."
INCIDENT: CJ Egan-Riley is accused of putting in a lunging challenge on Ayo Obileye. The Hibernian player is not sent off for the tackle.
DERMOT SAYS: "This is a difficult call. He gets the ball, it's not a nice tackle because he lunges in and shows his studs, but he does get the ball.
"He doesn't go over the top of the ball. It's not a nice tackle but it goes back to two from earlier - it's a yellow card. We can't just throw around red cards like confetti for the sake of it."