If anyone deserves Liverpool man of the match award, it’s not a Liverpool player. Instead of the honor going to Fernando Torres, that award should be awarded to the man in the middle Mike Riley.
Every time I see Mike Riley as referee to any game, my thoughts immediately change from how the game is going to turn out to how Riley going to ruin this one. It’s probably not the best thing to admit, but that’s how I feel. Mike Riley in my mind is the biggest reason the respect campaign died a quick and disastrous death and after the job he did in the Liverpool v Chelsea match I have a feeling we’ll never hear the words respect and referee again used together.
Riley’s decision on the hour mark was simply incorrect. Alonso and Lampard going after the same bouncing ball, Lampard sliding and Alonso just looking to punt the ball forward. It was Lampard who got the first touch to it and it was Alonso who was late in getting the ball. The key moment to me was Alonso’s follow through. The follow through is a kick right onto the shin of Lampard. Both player’s studs come together and Alonso decides to make a meal out of the challenge, staying on the ground longer than he had any right to do. Riley spends approximately zero seconds thinking about it and sends Lampard off.
Nothing dangerous, nothing malicious, just two players doing their job and one of them is wrongfully punished for it. The color commentator for TWI on this match (I didn’t catch his name) said it perfectly ‘Alonso is as least as guilty if not more guilty than Lampard there.’ It was a red card that was never a red and in fact, play should have simply continued on.
What was even more embarrassing was the cameras picking up the laughter of Riley not too long after the incident in question. Hopefully the FA makes him explain why that was. With the game threatening to boil over after the red card, laughing was not the wisest thing to do.
How many more games have to be played with the laughable decisions Mike Riley make? His refereeing of big matches this season has done more harm to the Premier League than the quality of the league has on a whole. The sooner we see fresh blood refereeing big matches so they can get that kind of experience, the better off the Premier League will be.
But that said, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Chelsea were not going to win this game. Their football was nothing to be proud of and in fact before that red card, only had one shot in the game. Liverpool can be thankful that Alex decided to take the last two minutes of the ninety off so that Fernando Torres could give them the winning goal. Petr Cech while not playing a stellar game, came through on a few crucial saves, but it was never going to be enough.
All in all Liverpool were worthy winners on the day, it’s a pity one Mike Riley red card will end up over shadowing it.