Martin O’Neill said it was a clear penalty, Alex McLeish said it was definately not a penalty, even Andy Gray said on Sky Sports that he could understand why the referee got it wrong.
They are the differing biased opinions of the same incident that make refereeing in the Premier League an almost impossible job.
The decision to give a penalty for Roger Johnson’s challenge on Gabriel Agbonlahor was the incident that decided the midlands derby in Villa’s favour.
Yes, Alex McLeish has a point, you can’t assume that something is a penalty, or at least you shouldn’t assume. But what are the alternatives?
If referees stop making decisions because they are maybe not 100% sure, you could end up with situations where no penalties are given unless someone is kicked up in the air 10 yards away from the ball.
Look at Howard Webb lately, the poor bloke is too scared to give a penalty these days such is his loss in confidence. Is that where we want to take refereeing too?
The likes of McLeish, O’Neill, the other managers and players all have a responsibility to cut the officials a bit of slack when a decision is as tight as this one was.
I accept that when a ref or his assistant gets an absolute stick on one wrong, he is fair game for criticism. The two penalty decisions at Wembley involving O’Neill and his Villa team, or the off-side Drogba goal at Old Trafford spring to mind. They were all indefensible.
For the record I thought it was a good tackle, but can fully understand why the referee gave it, and attach no blame to the ref.