No English referee at the 2018 World Cup would suggest to most that Premier League refereeing is in its worst state ever. Long gone are the likes of Word Cup 2010 final referee Howard Webb and Mark Clattenburg who two years ago was in charge in Paris for the Euro 16 final, so it begs the question, why does England, the home of the best league in the world, not have a referee in Russia this summer?
I’ve said plenty of times this year on this platform, to many in the game and to broadcasters across the world, that the PGMOL simply have failed to train and develop their referees correctly over the past few years and that has led, inevitably, to no representative in Russia.
One man who perhaps may have come close is Michael Oliver. He was a worthy winner at the top of my rankings list this season with an average rating of 7.57 and for me it’s no surprise. He’s been nothing short of outstanding throughout the season, and bar a few minor errors, he has been by far our best referee. Case in point would be his performance in the Champions League last month, so I would fully expect him to go and make great strides in seasons to come in the UEFA elite group and be our representative at the Euro’s in 2020.
Martin Atkinson and Andre Marriner complete the top three and these are two referees who show experience and consistency in their performances. The PGMOL generally rely on these guys in the big games and again, and like Michael, it is doesn’t surprise me that they are towards the top of the rankings. They’ve been on the list for a number of years, players know and trust them and they have the big match experience which makes them trusted and reliable officials, and I’ll be expecting the same next season.
On the other hand, finishing fourth was Paul Tierney who has been on the list since 2016. He only refereed sixteen games in total, but the way he does so is in a quiet and efficient manner, whilst not making too many key match errors. Keeping those to a minimum has helped him deservedly receive consistently good ratings. Next year I imagine we’ll seee him given more matches, as his form deserves, and then we can distinguish if Paul can be one of our top referees when he’s in action on a consistent basis.
Anthony Taylor and Mike Dean complete the top six with average ratings above 7, as you would expect from two experienced referees whilst in seventh newcomer Chris Kavanagh can look back on the year with pride in what I would consider an excellent debut season. He’s another one who deserves to be given more games next season but you have to question PGMOL’s progression planning.
It hasn’t been their strong point in recent years, in fact you could point to the examples of David Coote and Andy Madley who were both were given their debuts in 2018 and did not look out of place. Why they weren’t given more appointments I’ll never know, we need to get more talented and naturally gifted referees on the group and drop the guys who have lost their edge. I’ll discuss one in particular in part 2 later this week.
In 8th, and the last referee with a score above 7, we saw Lee Probert have a respectable season, especially considering he has only recently just come back from a serious injury not long ago. So with a season under his belt, he might be one we see push on next year and perhaps be given more demanding fixtures, given his role as one of the more experienced referees. Kevin Friend rounds up the top half of the rankings in a steady year for the Leicester based referee.
Check back here later this week for part 2 of my season review looking back at who finished from 10-18th in the rankings and what I expect next season in the Premier League