Referee Michael Oliver has admitted that Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford should have been sent off for his challenge on Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk in October’s Merseyside derby.
Van Dijk was victim of a crunching challenge by the Toffees shot-stopper and is unlikely to be back before the end of the season after sustaining an ACL injury.
However, the tackle controversially went unpunished as Everton held on for a 2-2 draw, and Oliver has since conceded that he got it wrong on the day.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Oliver said: “The thought initially was, ‘it can’t be a penalty because it’s offside so we need to check the offside first’. 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 should have done. We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off.
“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 it can’t be a penalty. We should have restarted with the offside, as we did, but with a different punishment for Jordan Pickford.”
Van Dijk continues to keep fans posted with videos of his recovery, and Liverpool remain at the top of the table – albeit only on goal difference – in the Dutchman’s absence.