Michael Oliver will not want to review this game in a hurry. It was a calamitous, mistaken-ridden performance at the Etihad Stadium, in keeping with a troubled week for the official, that underlined why he is not on the Uefa elite panel of referees. I have some sympathy, though.
This was Oliver’s third big game in seven days. He refereed Manchester United against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday, returned home to Newcastle on Tuesday, flew to Turkey on Wednesday to officiate Besiktas versus Olympiakos in the Europa League, will have got home on Friday, done some recovery training on Saturday ahead of the journey to Manchester and then takes charge of the biggest Premier League game of the weekend.
Mental fatigue, which results in the lack of sharpness and awareness clearly evident here, was at the root of this poor performance. You hear Jose Mourinho talking last week about the perils of fatigue among players but it is no different for referees and Oliver has been done no favours by his superiors.
The management at PGMOL have to manage his appointments better than this. His schedule was asking for trouble and it showed.
Yaya Toure should have been sent off in the 22nd minute. His challenge on Emre Can, catching the Liverpool player full on the shoulder with his studs, was reckless with excessive force. It warranted a red card, not the yellow Oliver brandished. The Manchester City midfielder has a duty of care towards his opponent.
He was correct to award Liverpool a penalty for Gael Clichy’s challenge on Roberto Firmino – the City defender’s boot was far too high – but he missed a clear foul by James Milner on Raheem Sterling that should have yielded a penalty for the home side and red card for the Liverpool player.
Oliver’s positioning was suspect, although I think he called the other penalty shouts correctly.
Keith Hackett is a former referee and resident expert on You-Are-The-Ref.com