‘Snide’ referee bias v Liverpool? Journalists should leave that nonsense to fans

·6-min read
Liverpool have a goal disallowed Credit: Alamy
Liverpool have a goal disallowed Credit: Alamy

Liverpool had a VAR decision go against them on Saturday so obviously PGMOL are biased against the referee-bothering Jurgen Klopp.


When people run in circles, it’s a very, very Madd world
The line between journalism and fan-blogging has never been thinner but we somehow expect better of mature, experienced newspaper men like the Daily Mirror‘s David Maddock.

His reaction to Liverpool drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa in a game which Jurgen Klopp openly admitted had been pretty poor from the Reds  was this tweet:

Where to begin? With the idea that being screamed at by Klopp while being a fourth official (ie. making no actual decisions) should somehow preclude you from refereeing Liverpool games? That’s just insane. What happens when he has screamed at all the officials? Do refereeing appointments now Mean More too?

The amazing thing here is that the referee in question – John Brooks – was actually the man who prevented Klopp getting a red card during that Spurs win that eventually led to his touchline ban. He was somehow on Klopp’s side despite being ‘screamed at’.

Or should we concentrate on the inflammatory language? ‘Snide point-scoring’, ‘crassly insensitive’ and that classic dog-whistle word ‘bias’. You’re not writing for a blog, David; you surely cannot be accusing the actual PGMOL of ‘bias’ against Liverpool.

But maybe it’s just a tweet and the actual piece is more considered? Because obviously the Mirror will not have printed ludicrous conspiracy theories.


‘Sadly, despite the wonderful entertainment, even Firmino’s magic couldn’t quite conjure the victory the occasion deserved – though Liverpool fans and Jurgen Klopp will argue that was once again because of the refereeing.’

Actually, Klopp did no such thing. He was very honest in saying that no Liverpool player really excelled and emphatically blamed a first half in which his team “were too much in a rush in both departments, with the ball, without the ball”.

Oh and occasions no not ‘deserve’ victories; that’s down to performances.

‘Almost predictably, and certainly painfully, it was a contest here once more blighted by the controversy surrounding match officials with an unfortunate history of, shall we be polite and say ‘exchanges’, with Klopp.

‘The Reds boss watched on amazed from his seat in the stand, as ref John Brooks decided Ezri Konsa hadn’t deliberately played the ball when it came off him to allow Virgil van Dijk, standing beyond the Villa defensive line, to tee up Cody Gakpo to equalise.’

He was ‘amazed’ but then he sought and was given an explanation. And that explanation made sense.

This is what Klopp himself said:

“He explained it to me. He said, ‘this is a subjective decision’. He thinks it is not a deliberate action from the defender, I think it is.

“I think the VAR was not sure so he maybe thought it was possible, but in the end subjective decisions – what can you argue about that? He made it and that’s it.”

So VAR did not overrule the decision because it was subjective. And no angle could prove that Konsa played the ball deliberately. As The Guardian said in their report: ‘Referee John Brooks disallowed a Cody Gakpo goal for a debatable offside before Firmino sparked pandemonium with his leveller.’

It was ‘debatable’. Move on. Or really don’t.

‘It took a VAR review and Brooks’ own trek over to the monitor to determine the visiting centre half didn’t mean a touch, which was directed back to the Liverpool player – which is stunningly bizarre, because what the hell was he doing on the pitch if he didn’t want to intervene in that critical situation?’

‘Stunningly bizarre’. And we are certain that Maddock felt the same during the 2022 Champions League final when Karim Benzema had a goal chalked off when Fabinho deflected the ball into his path.

‘Klopp was visibly perplexed. We could see the whites of his eyes as he looked at a monitor of his own just a few yards away at the back of the stand, and they turned a murderous shade of darkness.’

His eyes ‘turned a murderous shade of darkness’? What the actual f***?

‘Was this payback for the questioning of officials – Brooks included – which earned the manager his touchline ban and a 75 grand fine, or just coincidence?’

Payback? Payback? From the actual refereeing authorities? They planned a scenario in which a Villa player deflected the ball into the path of an offside Liverpool player? Of course it is ‘just coincidence’ because anything else is genuinely insane.

‘Almost certainly a bad coincidence of course, but c’mon, what sort of stunningly insensitive appointment was this by the Premier League and PGMOL to give a game where Klopp has a touchline ban to one of the officials involved in the reason for his punishment?’

The reason for Jurgen Klopp’s punishment was Jurgen Klopp. It is not ‘stunningly insensitive’ to appoint a referee that had been the victim of one of his silly tantrums while basically a bystander.

‘It is as if they are trying to make a snide point…and that doesn’t smack of firmness, it smacks of pettiness. It is not a good look.’

This is not a good look, David.

‘As it was, with United winning, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but was a sour note on which to bring down the curtain on four of Liverpool’s impressive clergy in this magnificent church.’

Oh my. It’s a cult. It’s actually a cult. Have we spelled that right?


Still Madd
He then returned to the subject after a conversation with Virgil van Dijk, writing:

‘Virgil van Dijk has argued for systematic change, in the way referees explain their decisions in the Premier League.

‘The Liverpool defender admits to being totally baffled – like the rest of the world – over why his knock-back, which eventually led to a Cody Gakpo goal, was ruled out for offside at a crucial time against Aston Villa.‌’

‘Like the rest of the world’ is just delicious. We’re not sure this is dominating the news agenda, David.

‘The Premier League later clarified the decision – which came after a VAR review asked referee John Brooks to go to the monitor to overturn the goal he gave – was taken because visiting defender Ezri Konsa didn’t deliberately play the ball to Van Dijk.

‘But TV replays, which VAR Nick Greenhalgh and ref Brooks viewed, CLEARLY showed Konsa attempting to play the ball, which put Van Dijk onside.’

Well they CLEARLY didn’t, did they? Or first Greenhalgh and then Brooks would not have thought otherwise. As Klopp himself said: “In the end, subjective decisions – what can you argue about that?”

Bloody loads, if you’re a Liverpool man with a captive audience and a national platform.

READ: Ten times Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has come across as a bit of a pr*ck

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