Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Tottenham on Saturday showed how Premier League referees are “losing their nerve”, according to BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
Giovani Lo Celso was highly fortunate not be sent off at Stamford Bridge, having produced a horror tackle on Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta that somehow went unpunished.
Referee Michael Oliver initially decided against awarding a foul, before VAR officials chose not to overturn the decision despite watching Lo Celso’s poorly-timed challenge on several replays.
And to add to their embarrassment, Stockley Park chiefs later admitted they had made a mistake in not showing the Argentinian a red card.
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Crooks was left seething with Oliver’s decision not to send Lo Celso off in west London, launching into a furious rant on BBC Sport about the incident.
“Anyone who has played the game of football, and I am not the sort of person that wants to see players sent off. I’m not,” he said.
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“But anybody who knows anything about football sees that tackle and does not know that is a sending off, a straight red, I’m not sure has the competence to referee a game.
“The man in charge of that game is Michael Oliver. He should be making that decision. If he’s unsure, he now has technology at his disposal. Go and look at the replay.
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“It’s nothing to do with anybody else. The man in charge of the game is Michael Oliver.
“And let me just say this. One of the reasons that we are in this situation in my opinion is referees have abdicated their responsibility.
“‘Oh the game’s too fast! Oh the game’s moved on too quickly!’
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“They’re bottling it! It’s one of the reasons that FIFA don’t have them at World Cups anymore. Referees in this country are losing their nerve.
“We need referees who can go in a football match and referee a game.”
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard was equally livid with the match officials, telling BT Sport: “It's not good enough.
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“I am sorry but it is two VARs now in two games. It's obviously easier to speak about it when you have lost but maybe you need to shout because that is not good enough.
“At the end of the day, everyone in the world who knows football saw that.
“It was a red – and it was too late. The game should have been over.”
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