When Anthony Taylor was announced as the referee for today’s match at the Etihad, there was mild uproar from Liverpool fans on social media.
Taylor is from Wythenshawe, Manchester, and the VAR for the game is Paul Tierney from Salford, Manchester. On the face of it, those slightly troubled Liverpool supporters might have a point. But the irony is that some City fans were equally annoyed. There has long been a conspiracy theory suggesting Taylor is a Manchester United follower.
But we have all heard those type of conspiracy theories – they have existed since the beginning of football. Taylor is a competent, professional referee and it should be taken as a given that he – and every other referee – is 100 per cent impartial. But, it is still not a great look.
And, of course, it is eminently avoidable. Taylor has been chosen for this particular game because he is one of the more experienced and highly-rated referees. But as big a game as this is, why does it get preferential treatment?
In other words, why are referees chosen for particular matches? Surely, if you are a Premier League referee, you are deemed and competent as the next Premier League referee? So why pick and choose? Have a pool of refs, draw them out of a hat each week to see what game they get. Easily done.
Klopp’s “problem” with VAR official
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp does not have the warmest relationship with today’s VAR official Tierney. Tierney angered Klopp earlier this season by failing to award Liverpool a penalty during their match against Tottenham in December after Diogo Jota went down in the box.
Liverpool dropped two points in the 2-2 draw, while another decision also incensed the Reds as Harry Kane escaped a potential red card for a high challenge on Andy Robertson.
Klopp was left infuriated at the interval, and confronted Tierney at half-time, with the Liverpool boss receiving an explanation for why the official did not award a penalty to Jota.
“It is always helpful when you play football yourself,” Klopp said. “When you see the situation back, the VAR is there. Why is he stopping? I don’t understand. The draw is fine. We are not crazy enough to think we cannot draw at Tottenham but these situations are crucial.
“I was a bit more emotional in the game but he gives me a yellow card but it is not allowed in a situation like this? He comes over and gives me a yellow card but I’d have preferred the right decisions on the pitch.”
Klopp added: “Just an objective ref who sees the situations and judges them. He told me he thinks he stops on purpose. It is incredible. He had the best spot on the pitch and doesn’t give it. You will have to ask him what his problem is with me.”