Friday 14 December 2018

Ref's view: Absence of red card for Young shows why English referees aren't rated


Ashley Young challenges Sergio Aguero in an incident which wasn’t deemed to be a foul by referee Martin Atkinson.
Ashley Young challenges Sergio Aguero in an incident which wasn’t deemed to be a foul by referee Martin Atkinson.

Keith Hackett

If you want proof of why no referee will be representing England at this summer's World Cup Finals in Russia, look no further than Martin Atkinson's performance at the Etihad on Saturday.

I like Martin as a referee; he is our most experienced official and he is generally a good man-manager of players, as he showed at the end of last season. However, there were moments in the Manchester derby when he completely lost control, with the result that players were put in danger.

Ashley Young should already have conceded a penalty in the first half for a handball, but his challenge on Sergio Aguero in the second-half was not only a nailed-on penalty, but also a definite red card. It was a shocker - reckless, out of control and a foul that endangered the opposing player.

You could not get a clearer case for a sending-off and I simply do not understand how Martin did not see it as such. He also seemed to be cutting his assistant, Stephen Child, out of the decision-making process, but given the positioning of Child, he should have made a point of consulting him.

This failure to act by Atkinson threatened to tip the match into outright chaos. Fernandinho completely lost control shortly after the Young foul and should also have been given a red card for his own reckless tackle on Jesse Lingard. Instead he was shown a yellow.

This was Atkinson's worst performance in two years and it is alarming that it came in arguably the biggest match of the season, one which will have been watched by millions of people the world over. It sends a bad message about the standard of refereeing in England generally and makes it harder to argue with Fifa's decision to cut them out of the World Cup.

Top-level games such as these - and World Cup ties fall into the same category - demand a high standard of refereeing, with player welfare the top priority at all times.

The fact that players were put at risk by some of the tackling at the Etihad was in no small part down to the referee's performance. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Keith Hackett is the former manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited and resident expert for You Are The Ref.Com

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