In an exclusive with the Daily Mail, Michael Oliver revealed that the refereeing team for the Merseyside derby made a mistake by not sending off Jordan Pickford for his reckless challenge on Virgil van Dijk.
The tackle left the Dutch international with damage to his knee ligaments, with the defender not looking likely to return to the side until the latter end of the season, at best.
“We have all, myself included, not thought about the challenge as much as we should have done,” Oliver admitted. “We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off. We got sucked too much into going step by step as opposed to thinking of the bigger process, which was considering the challenge as well and not just the fact it can’t be a penalty.”
Reliving the incident in which Van Dijk received his long-term injury, the referee’s honest hindsight on the matter, though commendable, will come as little reprieve for fans who’ve had to do without their talismanic centre-half since mid-October.
Caught in the distance of 2020, as it is, the decisions made in the tie are still are hard to come to terms with, not least of all for the fact that it also cost Liverpool Thiago Alcantara for a significant period of time.
We accept that officiating is an almost thankless task – and we certainly don’t condone the horrific abuse that has been sent Oliver’s way – but these are decisions that will always matter a great deal to fans and clubs.
Fortunately, however, we’ve managed to cope pretty well during the No.4’s absence; hopefully we can still make the most of the season without him.
Have a look at the image below, courtesy of the Daily Mail: