Clattenburg returns to the middle… and he'll be under extra scrutiny
07:30 GMT, 21 December 2012
Referees perform under massive pressure and very close scrutiny every weekend. I cannot think of another job where every single piece of work is analysed and rated with a mark.
There are two people who are in the stadium to assess and rate the team of match officials performance.
One acts as a referee observer and is usually a former top level referee who has the task of ensuring that the referee applies laws of the game as well as give feedback on the technical aspects of the four officials' performances.
The second is in attendance as a Professional Game Match Officials Match Delegate and they are former players, managers or administrators who are asked to look at the game from the ‘users’ perspective.
Back in action: Mark Clattenburg returns this weekend and takes charge at Anfield
This weekend Simon Barker, Kenny Hibbitt and Iffy Onuora are among the former players and former manager Peter Shreeves are on duty.
They are supposed to give the referee a balanced approach; too lenient and the former referee will pull him up, too slavish to law and the former player will question the impact on the game.
It is an interesting system which I think applies too much pressure on an already beleaguered referee, who really just needs a friendly ‘coach’ who he can open and honest with.
They need to be able to develop their skill and overcome difficulties rather than two people there to award a mark, who will highlight deficiencies and will affect their grading and possible future appointments.
Ones to watch this weekend…
Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City (Saturday, 3pm)
Referee: Lee Mason Games: 10, Yellow Cards: 29, Red Cards: 0.
WHO'S IN CHARGE…
Man City v Reading – Mike Dean G11, YC39 RC1
Newcastle v QPR – Kevin Friend G9, YC33, RC1
Southampton v Sunderland – Howard Webb G12, YC45, RC2
West Brom v Norwich – Martin Atkinson G14, YC57 RC0
West Ham v Everton – Anthony Taylor G11 YC20 RC3
Wigan v Arsenal – Jon Moss G8 YC23 RC1
Chelsea v Aston Villa – Phil Dowd G11, YC34, RC2
This weekend, the main focus will surely be on the holding and blocking ‘dark arts’ after the Marouane Fellaini head butt so where better to start than White Hart Lane.
Mason will be expected to do a better job at detecting and punishing holding at set pieces with Stoke City than Mark Halsey did last weekend.
Ryan Shawcross’ arms could be clearly seen across Fellaini’s waist as the Stoke defender held him from behind.
Making a point: Referee Lee Mason will have to keep on top of the 'dark arts' at White Hart Lane
Halsey's ‘reward’ is to be fourth official at Wigan on Saturday and then drive to Carlisle United on Boxing Day!
I expect Mason to adopt the policy of delaying the taking of the kick from being taken while he warns players not to hold but that is proving ineffective.
Also, given that Stoke are the away team, it will be easier for Mason to award a penalty against them than if they were playing at The Britannia. I trust I don’t have to explain why…
Liverpool v Fulham (Saturday, 5.15pm)
Referee: Mark Clattenburg G8, YC31, RC4
Clattenburg steps back after two weekends as fourth official in which he failed to avoid controversy by reporting Gareth Barry for offensive language after the Manchester derby.
He comes back with a live game and will undoubtedly be under pressure to award Liverpool their first penalty of the season and will have to be on his best form to keep Luis Suarez out of his notebook.
The good news for Clattenburg is that however this game goes, he is appointed to another top flight game just four days later between Aston Villa and Tottenham… and that is another televised game!
Swansea City v Manchester United (Sunday, 4pm)
Referee: Michael Oliver G10, YC20, RC1
There will be plenty of interest in young Oliver's handling of Manchester United as he has unfairly been highlighted as one who favours them.
Although they lost at Wolves the first time he refereed the league leaders, he has refereed them three times since and they have won them all.
Nothing unusual there but with Oliver refusing to give a clear Fulham penalty in the 1-0 United win late last season at Old Trafford eyebrows were raised.
United stand: The spotlight will be on young referee Michael Oliver at the Liberty Stadum
Then this season, Oliver gave United a penalty after a clear dive by Danny Welbeck in the home win against Wigan and rumours persisted.
It is really tough establishing yourself as a young official at this level and Oliver (who is an excellent referee) would like to lose this reputation, so he could do with an incident free game at The Liberty Stadium.