John Aldridge has expressed his doubts as to Howard Webb’s suitability for the role of PGMOL chief refereeing officer, following a spate of controversial incidents in recent Liverpool matches.
The Reds have had four players sent off in the Premier League already this season, two of which occurred during a hugely contentious 2-1 defeat to Tottenham which was also blighted by a shambolic VAR incident surrounding a wrongly disallowed Luis Diaz goal.
Jurgen Klopp’s side also had a legitimate grievance during yesterday’s 2-2 draw at Brighton when Pascal Gross got away without being carded for a neck-high shirt tug on Dominik Szoboszlai which could easily have been deemed denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity.
In his latest column for the Liverpool Echo, Aldridge raged over the litany of controversial incidents which have been going against his former club and insisted that Webb either has to help improve refereeing standards in the Premier League or risk his job becoming untenable.
The ex-Anfield striker wrote: “What I would say is Howard Webb’s return to England to become chief refereeing officer has not solved all the wrong calls being made on a weekly basis.
“Is he the man for the job? If I was managing him, I would tell him he’s got until the end of the season to sort it out or he’s sacked. Absolutely.
“He is the figure above all the officials and if any manager has a bad team, they lose their job. It should be no different for him. If he can’t sort it out, he has to go.”
Webb isn’t to blame directly for present-day Premier League referees and VAR operators making inexplicably bad decisions during games, but Aldridge is right in saying that refereeing standards haven’t exactly improved on the 52-year-old’s watch as PGMOL chief.
Many English broadcasters like to trumpet the country’s top flight as the best league in the world, but unfortunately it’s inundated with contentious officiating calls every week, with little sign of any discernible improvement any time soon.
You’d hope that the Yorkshire native would be frank and honest in his assessments of the performances of the officials of whom he’s in charge, as the stakes at this level are simply too high to accept major errors being written off with whataboutery.
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Personal abuse of referees obviously can’t be condoned, and nobody wants to see them being defamed, but we’d certainly like to have a lot more transparency around key decisions in Premier League games.
That should start with conversations between the on-field officials and VAR being publicly transmissible during a match. If, as we’ve been told, the laws need to change for that to happen, so be it. Change the laws then.
Aldridge has every right to be frustrated at the standards of officiating in the English top flight and to demand greater accountability from Webb.