My four reasons to blast referee Oliver

I know it’s already been done to death, but such was Mr Oliver’s performance last Saturday night I feel he deserves another blast.

There are at least four reasons why he messed up with Grant Holt’s red card in my opinion.

One – he wasn’t afforded the chance to review the incident at the time. So not his fault on that score. But once again an absence of video technology has ruined a game of football.

Two – he allowed the incident beforehand whereby the uncertainty of the dropped ball caused tempers to be raised to impede his judgment. Definitely his fault in this instance.

Three – he got caught up with how things are in the game at present regarding bad tackles.

Clamping down on bad or reckless tackles is flavour of the month right now, isn’t it?

We’ve had Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce and Mick McCarthy all having to publicly defend their players recently, after some of them were accused of putting careers at risk with the excessive aggression they have shown when competing for the ball. And then there was Danny Murphy’s outburst condemning his fellow pros, who in his opinion over-commit in challenges when it simply isn’t necessary.

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All this has naturally led to other managers complaining that their teams are often the victims of – to borrow the terminology used in American Football – “unnecessary roughness.” And it has put referees under pressure to clamp down. Mr Oliver thought it was yet another one of those dangerous tackles.

Accordingly, and without stopping for a second or two to gauge the reaction of the players – which always gives a fair indication of exactly what has happened (there were hardly any complaints at all from the Reading players, by the way) and buys him a bit of time to make a better assessment of what he thought he had seen – he couldn’t wait to pull the red card out to show his authority. So partly his fault.

Finally, and most importantly, I don’t think he is a good enough referee.

Completely his fault. Plus, of course, the fault of those that have put him under the spotlight by allocating him such big games at just 25 years of age. I suppose we can now all understand what made Stoke City boss Tony Pulis feel compelled to publicly state a couple of weeks ago that maybe referees should be accountable for their performances with a system of promotion and relegation too?

After all, some of their decisions can have a direct bearing on a club’s destiny. If City miss out on the play-offs by a couple of points, say, I reckon that Mr Oliver’s name might crop up in any debate.

I think Pulis’ idea is an unrealistic proposition, but I’ve no doubt that everyone here in Norfolk shares his frustrations.

Because like I said at the time, they may have overturned Holty’s red card, but the two points that one ridiculous decision ultimately cost City on the day aren’t going to be given back to us, are they?


Two final words on the whole Reading fiasco – Grant Holt.

Now even by the big man’s own admission, he hasn’t played as well as he knows he can at times this season, and because of having missed out on some essential pre-season work he hasn’t been as fully match-fit as he would have liked.

But his display in that first-half at the Madejski Stadium was proof if ever there was of why he is an absolutely essential part of the Canaries’ front line.

I’ve said it many, many times already this season, even if he isn’t playing well, Holt’s mere presence on the pitch just adds something to the team. He always gives it his best shot and can make something happen.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the opposition would rather have him sat in the dugout or in the stands rather than breathing down their necks for 90 minutes on a match day, regardless of how well he’s playing.He’s already scored six goals this season which, although not prolific, still means he will pass the 15 goal mark even if he continues at the same rate from now until next May. If that is Holt not performing at full tilt, well, let’s just say the future looks bright.

At Reading last Saturday though he was outstanding, and he certainly looked back to his best to me.


Until the game was completely spoilt by what can only be described as an abysmal refereeing decision – see elsewhere – the Canaries were absolutely magnificent at Reading.

The way that City ripped the home team apart when they were attacking was reminiscent of so many occasions from last season when the opposition that they were facing simply weren’t in their class.

It could easily have been four, five or six in that first-half.

The tempo of Norwich’s play was impressive, as was the standard of their approach play which was patient and accurate when it needed to be and incisive and menacing at other times.

And defensively – aside from conceding from yet another set-piece – the team looked solid, compact and disciplined.

I think the level of dominance that City were exerting on their hosts was best summed up by the Reading crowd themselves, who still felt compelled to voice their displeasure at what was unfolding in front of them only seconds after their team scored. Norwich were that impressive.

Grant Holt and Chris Martin were running the Reading defence ragged, and they were admirably supported by an energetic midfield and forward-thinking full-backs.

Russell Martin in particular has been providing an impressive attacking threat down the right flank for some weeks now, and he fully deserved his goal at the Madejski Stadium, while over on the other side I thought Simon Lappin was doing an excellent job at keeping Jobi McAnuff quiet and providing support for the attackers – until he blotted his copybook somewhat by giving away the penalty in the second-half.

Goalkeeper John Ruddy was in terrific form, Elliott Ward and Leon Barnett were as good as they always are. You just couldn’t see how anything could go wrong. There was only ever going to be one winner in this game.

It’s hard to be positive when a crucial refereeing decision like that is continually nagging away at you, even though you know you’ve played really well.

But one thing is for sure. Although the immediate games ahead are sure to prove a big test for the Canaries, if they can maintain these impressive standards, they will be absolutely fine.