Keith Hackett, the former head of professional referees, has come out in criticism of the Football Association (FA) for selecting Mancunian Anthony Taylor as the official for the English Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United on October 19.
Conflict of interest?
Taylor hails from Altrincham, which is in Greater Manchester and is just under 10 km from Old Trafford. Hackett believes that appointing Taylor is unfair on the referee as he would feel the pressure of officiating at Anfield, which is never an easy place for any referee.
“No-one is questioning Anthony’s integrity or his ability to handle this game. You could argue it’s testimony to his unflappable character and capacity to focus that he’s been appointed to it,” Hackett said.
This will be the first time that Taylor is officiating a match between the North-West rivals. Although the 37-year-old referee is a fan of the non-league side, Altrincham, it will bring a lot of pressure on Taylor to not commit any blunders that might lead to more scrutiny.
“But what if something goes wrong for him on the day – as it can for even the finest referees? That’s when the focus on him would be intolerable, especially if a controversial incident has gone in favour of Liverpool and it influences the result,” Hackett noted.
Other options to pick from
The former chief of referees also felt that the FA could have chosen a different referee for this match considering there were options available to pick from.
“If that happens then it would be those who appointed him who must take the blame for taking such an avoidable risk – on a weekend when Mark Clattenburg, the 2016 Champions League final referee, is holding up a board as the fourth official in another match,” Hackett said.
A certain number of Liverpool fans have expressed their displeasure at the appointment, expecting the Mancunian to be partial towards Man United. However, Taylor, who was the referee in the Man United game against Southampton at Old Trafford earlier this season, had been booed by the home fans.
Hackett meanwhile, hopes that the game would an uneventful one, with respect to the officiating. It remains to be seen what will ensue next Monday night when the two rivals lock horns at Anfield.
Liverpool last defeated Man United in the EPL during the 2013/14 season. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his team can continue their good start to the season and finally break their jinx against their rivals. Both Klopp and Jose Mourinho will not want any refereeing decision to influence the result of this crunch fixture.
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