Probably one of the toughest jobs on this planet is being a referee. All those you work with scrutinise, verbally abuse and try to deceive you. Millions of other people dissect your work and criticise your performance. I understand that as an observer, we have many chances to review an action and draw a conclusion on what occurred, as opposed to the referee who has one chance to see it and make a decision. So I do sympathise with them, but not after last night.
I am the first to admit that I look through Red favouring glasses, but I believe those with a neutral view will agree with me. Kevin Friend last night was incompetent to extent of me wondering whether or not the FA should look for any unusual betting activity. Let’s review a few of his calls. He blew for two fouls for Luis Suarez the entire game where I could pick up at least another 4 incidents that should have been blown up. I am the first to admit that Luis Suarez has a tenancy to go down often. My home country was a victim of such an incident during the World Cup, however, I believe the referees are turning a blind eye to fouls against him. Perhaps his reputation precedes him (although I can think of many players who dive more than him who do not raise an eyebrow from the media or officials) but fairness should always prevail. The referee needs to call what he sees, and last night he was not. The anguish and frustration in the face of the Uruguayan master was clear for all to witness.
Then to add to that frustration, there was his goal that was disallowed for offside. Again, it was tight decision but Suarez was onside. On it’s own, perhaps an error with a tight call like this would be understandable, but not coupled with the rest of the decisions made.
Then there was the penalty that was not given. Initial contact was made outside the box, this is true, but the initial contact in my opinion was not a foul. The contact in the box however was a penalty. The way Senderos dived at the ankles of Charlie Adam had me wandering just how good a Swiss Rugby team could be. Yet again, a decision against us. A free kick and a yellow card flashed in the face of Senderos. A few minutes later, Adam was making a run down the middle of the field and was pulled back by the already booked Senderos. A perfect re-enactment of Ballotelli’s first yellow card against Liverpool last week. Foul given, but no second yellow card.
Then there was the numerous handballs the referee failed to see, which are only eclipsed by the numerous fouls for nothing given against the Reds. But all of this fails in comparison to the travesty of the red card against Spearing.