The high profile and potential Premier League deciding game between arch and bitter London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs lived up to all the hype surrounding it.
The game, which was played at Stamford Bridge on Monday night, 2 May (2016), was ill-tempered, and at times bordered on riotous behaviour by both sets of players.
Tackles were flying in from the start and after only seven minutes I tweeted that the referee should “get a grip” on the game.
This he failed to do and ended up booking (yellow card) nine Spurs players, yes I said nine, and three (Chelsea) players.
He could easily have had a couple of reds but decided to keep that card in his pocket. Why? Only he can tell you that.
Just consider – nine yellow cards for Spurs. So only two escaped with any kind of punishment, (apart from subs of course) – FROM THE ONE TEAM. That is disgraceful for a man of referee Clattenburg’s calibre.
The same referee, who did reasonably well in the semifinal of the European Champions League just last week and is due to handle the 2016 FA Cup Final, comes out and shows weakness and lack of fortitude when the chips are down.
He showed little control and never at any time commanded the respect of those whom he was charged with controlling.
Once again English refereeing is exposed as being below the standard required for the “best league in the world”, where players, despite their false and hypocritical friendly handshakes at the start of the game, set about trying to get each other booked and/or sent off, or even hospitalised.
There was also no small measure of tackles that were, in the extreme, leg breakers, and to a lesser extent downright cynical.
There were several skirmishes between both teams where even the Spurs manager entered the field of play. His action, he will argue no doubt, was to separate the “warring parties” and perhaps was well intentioned.
However, he has no right to come on the field and, in my opinion, only added to the tension that was nearing boiling point.
Referee Clattenburg should have sent him to the stand (red cards are only issued to players and substitutes) for his interference in on-field matters.
The assistant referee on the near side also missed Lemela of Spurs deliberately stepping on the hand of Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea. It was right under his nose, yet he failed to detect it.
It has been said that match officials pick up “94 percent” of fouls and perhaps that’s true. But it’s the crucial ones that make the difference and they fall into the remaining six percent. These are the ones that require penalty kicks or red cards, yet they are conveniently overlooked.
The amount of pushing and pulling, as now appears to be common, in both penalty areas was disgraceful. Again the referee failed to notice, yet it was as clear as day.
Mr Clattenburg, it hurts me to say that you did yourself and your colleagues no favours last night. You did nothing for refereeing, with as inept and gutless a performance as I have seen for a while, and you only added to the false perception that referees favour certain teams.
You had a chance to make a mark (excuse the pun) right from the start but you failed to take that opportunity.
Lastly I would like to know – how come you referee differently in the EPL than you do at European and World level?
Are you being told to ease off domestically by the PGMOL?
Perhaps your boss Mike Riley might like to make a comment?