“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.”
Michael Oliver has admitted his mistake in not sending off Jordan Pickford for the Everton goalkeeper’s tackle on Liverpool’s Virgil Van Djik.
Widely regarded as one of the best Premier League referees, Oliver has spoken for the first time about not sending off the England goalkeeper for his tackle on Van Djik.
The tackle on the PFA Player of the Year 2018/19 has left the defender out since October with an ACL injury. His return date is still unknown but he is expected to miss the rest of the 2020/21 season.
Michel Olivier on Van Dijk injury.
“The thought initially was, ‘it can’t be a penalty because it’s offside so we need to check the offside first,'” Olivier told the Daily Mail.
“I think I said to the VAR, ‘if it’s not offside, I’m going to give a penalty’.
“I have watched it back so many times. I genuinely don’t think Pickford has done anything apart from try to spread himself but he did it the wrong way, as the injury has shown.”
Oliver felt that he got distracted by the offside and didn’t pay enough attention to the Pickford’s tackle on Van Djik.
He explained: “We have all, myself included, not thought about the challenge as much as should have done. We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off.
“What I was surprised about looking at it afterwards was that nothing was expected on-field in terms of a red card. None of the players were asking for that.
“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.
“We should have restarted with the offside, as we did, but with a different punishment for Jordan Pickford.”
However, the UEFA referee does believe that VAR has helped the Premier League make more accurate decisions.
“I know VAR has become an obsession. But I am for it,” Oliver continued.
“There is all the clamour about it changing the game. But if you scrapped it tomorrow lunchtime, all you would hear all weekend would be people shouting ‘that would be a pen with VAR’. As soon as you moved it away, people would want it back.
“Ultimately, even with VAR, it’s still my decision. I’m the one who makes the decision on the field. And if I get it right first time around, there is no reason for VAR to get involved.”
"I've had my leg broken, I nearly broke Nani's leg…"@Carra23 defends Jordan Pickford after it was confirmed that Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery for a knee injury after a reckless lunge from the Everton 'keeper… pic.twitter.com/1ib5W1paFT
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 18, 2020
An aspect not often talked about when it comes to VAR is the decrease in abuse to referees, at least on the pitch.
Oliver believes this is a great benefit and has stopped referees getting surrounded by players after making big decisions.
He stated: “It’s helped with the abuse we get, too. Players are not complaining persistently about decisions that happened 20 minutes ago.
Regardless of your view on Michael Oliver, it’s great to hear referees come out and explain their thought process for big decisions.