Andre Marriner, the Birmingham-born official who drew Sir Alex Ferguson’s ire during United’s defeat at Liverpool Sunday, stands accused of gross-incompetence. While Ferguson will receive an FA ban for questioning a referee’s fitness, Marriner will not face any punishment despite a series of inexplicable decisions during the Anfield match.
Mr. Marriner, Rant accuses you of being guilty of the following charges:
- Count 1: failing to send off Jamie Carragher
- Count 2: incorrectly showing Nemanja Vidic red
- Count 3: failing to award a penalty to Michael Carrick
- Count 4: ignoring the spot kick claims of Ryan Giggs
- Count 5: being soft on Lucas.
The Evidence: 87th minute, Michael Owen, set free with a clear run on goal, was deliberately hacked down by ‘Dipper Jamie Carragher. With no covering defenders, Owen would surely have been able to shoot undeterred.
The Verdict: Guilty. The rules say that denying a clear goalscoring opportunity is a crime punishable by red, so why didn’t Carragher see crimson? Former referee Graham poll says Owen didn’t have the ball under control but a striker of Owen’s class and pace doesn’t need to ball at his feet for control of the situation.
The consequences: The game finished in the 97th minute – that’s 10 crucial minutes United should have gained a man advantage.
The Evidence: Vidic saw red for a second bookable offence deep into injury time, hauling down an opposition attacker on the half way line. His first yellow, shown earlier, gained for tackling Fernando Torres, twice.
The verdict: Guilty. There is little argument about the Serbian’s second yellow, with only 60-yards distance between the player and a straight red for a professional foul. But Vidic only saw yellow first time out because he didn’t hear the whistle. That he took the ball cleanly only mitigates the crime.
The consequences: Vidic will miss United’s match with Blackburn Rovers in a week’s time.
The Evidence: Carragher tackled Michael Carrick inside the area, got a toe to the ball but clattered the player in the same movement.
The verdict: Guilty. It has long been a tenet of football’s laws that if a player takes the man with the ball a foul is given; unless it’s at Anfield’s Kop end. Commentators and – even – ex-referees have said the defender made contact with the ball. Factually this is correct but it makes little difference to the decision Marriner should have made.
The consequences: A successful United penalty with the game all-square could have completely changed the game.
The Evidence: Ryan Giggs, running into the area, received a shove in the back causing the Welsh winger to hit the deck.
The verdict: 50/50. It was a foul but a soft penalty, if given. Not a black and white decision for Marriner, who can be given the benefit of the doubt.
The consequences: A penalty might have been tough on Liverpool but who cares?
The evidence: Lucas Leiva commited nine fouls during the match; three in succession early in the first half.
The verdict: Under the totting up procedure Lucas should have seen at least one yellow card in the first period. That’s to say nothing of the merits individual fouls, which could have brought added yellow cards. More than that, Lucas’s treatment is the flag-bearer for Marriner’s general attitude on the day.
The consequences: Liverpool’s aggressive stance affected United’s play on a day when the visiting side failed to include a combative midfielder. Marriner’s lenient decision-making played into the home side’s hands.