Michael Oliver Finally Explains Why Jordan Pickford Wasn’t Sent Off For Virgil Van Dijk Challenge
Referee Michael Oliver, who failed to send off Jordan Pickford for his challenge on Virgil van Dijk in October's Everton vs Liverpool clash, has finally explained his actions.
Pickford brutally clattered into Liverpool's defender, leaving him with a serious ACL injury that later required surgery. But as the decision of on-pitch referee Oliver and the VAR officials seemed to focus on whether an offside in the build-up ruled out a penalty, Pickford escaped punishment.
Now, in an interview with Oliver Holt of the Mail Online, Oliver has admitted his mistake and said that Pickford should have faced an instant red card.
"The thought initially was 'it can't be a penalty because it's offside so we need to check the offside first," explained the Premier League official.
"I think I said to the VAR, 'if it's not offside, I'm going to give a penalty.'
"I have watched it back so many times. I genuinely don't think Pickford has done anything apart from try to spread himself but he did it the wrong way, as the injury has shown.
"We have all, myself included, not thought about the challenge as much as we should have done. We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off."
However Oliver admitted that when he looks back on the incident, he's surprised that the Liverpool players aren't more strenuous in calling for a red card.
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"What I was surprised about looking at it afterwards was that nothing was expected on-field in terms of a red card. None of the players were asking for that.
"We got sucked too much into going step by step as opposed to thinking of the bigger process, which was considering the challenge as well and not just the fact that it can't be a penalty.
"We should have restarted with the offside, but with a different punishment for Jordan Pickford."
The incident-packed game saw Everton earn a 2-2 draw after Jordan Henderson's injury-time goal was ruled out due to Sadio Mane being offside in the build-up. Richarlison also received a late red card after a challenge which left Thiago Alcantara with a knee injury.
However the lasting damage to Liverpool's season was in the form of Van Dijk's injury, which means the Dutch international may not play again this term.
Oliver's honest explanation - that the offside should have prevented the penalty, but not ruled out Pickford's red card for dangerous play - is certainly logical. Though it may be cold comfort to Reds supporters.
All imagery: PA Images
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