The good, the bad and the ugly... my review of the season

With the curtain coming down on arguably the most dramatic season in Premier League history, Sportsmail's refereeing expert Graham Poll takes a look back at the decisions that have shaped the campaign...


Best decision

The FA Cup final and Liverpool are pressing for an equaliser at 2-1 down. Andy Carroll headed towards goal and somehow Petr Cech clawed the ball away but Carroll, convinced he had scored wheeled away to celebrate as did strike partner Luis Suarez, rather like former Liverpool legend Roger Hunt in 1966 also at Wembley.

Assistant referee, Andy Garratt, was not convinced and stood firm despite massive pressure. Given the importance of the game and the time of the incident this one stands out for me, oh yes, and it was correct!

Close shave: Cech claws back Carroll's effort at Wembley

Close shave: Cech claws back Carroll's effort at Wembley

Shocker: Attwell sends off Cahill

Shocker: Attwell sends off Cahill

Worst decision

At White Hart Lane last Bolton defender Gary Cahill was dispossessed by Scott Parker and reacted by grabbing Parker. It was definitely a foul.

However, Parker was not heading towards goal, he was 45 yards from Bolton’s goal and, while with luck he might have had the possibility of scoring, it was not an obvious chance to score.

Stuart Attwell thought differently and wrongly dismissed Cahill.

Best referee

This has to be Mike Dean for his strong but consistent approach – he was appointed to the most Premier League games so his bosses must agree. When he takes to the field, you know what you’re going to get.

Like any referee Dean is not perfect but when he made an error, failing to dismiss Chelsea’s David Luiz after just four minutes at St James’ Park, he recognised it and apologised after the game.

A close second was last season’s winner, Andre Marriner, excellent in the pivotal Manchester derby, and Mark Clattenburg is returning to top form, one to watch next season.

Must do better

Martin Atkinson went into this season widely tipped to get the nomination to go to the European Championships ahead of Howard Webb. Whether that pressure was too much for him I don’t know but Atkinson must look back on this season with disappointment and regret.

Poor season: Martin Atkinson didn't have the best of campaigns

Poor season: Martin Atkinson didn't have the best of campaigns

Sending off Jack Rodwell in a Merseyside derby, giving the goal for Chelsea in the FA Cup semi final when the ball did not go over the goal line and missing a clearer one for QPR at Bolton when Clint Hill’s header clearly did are just a few examples. He is a good referee who needs some R and R.

Wishlist... 3 things I’d like for next season

1) Fourth officials to be in an isolated area watching the game and helping the active officials, rather that just taking a verbal lashing from managers. They won’t deal with the managers’ excesses as they might be refereeing them the week after.

2) An open assessment system of referees that is made public so that we can all see how they are rated. It’s all too cloak and dagger and too often referees appear not to be accountable for errors.

3) The communication ban on match officials to be lifted. Let them speak and educate the public and show how hard they try and how much they care about what they do.

Most bizarre incident

Andre Marriner appeared to commit the basic error of taking his eye off of the ball as Blackburn prepared to take a corner against Wigan.

In doing so he was not able to see that Yakubu missed the ball he was trying to touch and so Morten Gamst Pedersen was allowed to take the kick and play the ball a second time and set up Blackburn’s second goal.


Good week for

Mike Riley, who at last has a weekend where the main talking point isn't the referees. The best team won the Premier League and the worst three were relegated irrespective of refereeing decisions throughout the season.

Bad week for

Joey Barton, whose actions demonstrated his character perfectly before his tweets post match showed that he is a deluded prima donna who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. He is all that is wrong with the modern game.

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