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Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2016/17 season.

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Shearer Says: Referee Michael Oliver unfairly criticised for Man City v Liverpool performance

Coral Ambassador Alan Shearer thinks Michael Oliver has come in for unjust criticism…

I watched the City v Liverpool game on Sunday and at half-time commented that Michael Oliver had managed a difficult game very well. Completely contradictory apparently to the coverage on the radio, who would have had you believe that Michael Oliver had the worst 45 minutes of his refereeing career. By their account, five big decisions were made and all were wrong including missing a terrible red card from Yaya Toura. The ridicule was so intense that apparently Alan Green laughed about Michael Oliver leaving us to go to the MLS and how we wouldn’t miss him.

In my opinion, Michael Oliver is currently our best and most consistent referee. More so he appears to have the respect of the players (unlike some others). He doesn’t have any tattoos marking his achievements, or a fancy haircut, or an agent and he seems that he would rather keep as low a profile as possible. So exactly the kind of ref we want!

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola speaks to match referee Michael Oliver at the final whistle of the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Michael Oliver had a lengthy conversation with Pep Guardiola post-match

The calls for a video referral system are growing but how will it work? Is it just one official who makes the call?  If it’s just one person then its just one opinion against another. If it’s three and they don’t all agree, do we just go with the majority?

Further, if the ref or the panel can’t agree and the ball is still in play while the decision is being reviewed, within six seconds the ball could actually be in the back of the net at the other end. When do you stop play? It could become farcical.

If the fans and the media really are so keen to stop the debate about “wrong decisions” then the solution is simple – don’t focus on them so much at half-time. If there is a contentious decision, replay the incident at full speed from an angle as close to the referee’s or the assistant’s view point. If after one full-speed replay the analysts cannot tell whether the decision was right or wrong, move on.

Phil Jones made a meal of a recent challenge as Man Utd played West Ham and referee Mike Dean sent Sofiane Feghouli off.

One look at game-pace is all the officials and the fans get

We could even look to have a ref-cam, though technically I’m not sure it can work because you can’t make sure that the camera is following the referees eye-line. But at full-speed it would give a perspective to the fans and to the former players, who are so quick to judge and criticise.

One look at game-pace is all the officials and the fans get. Decisions are then debated by in the studio or amongst the commentators and it is they who are influencing the fans, and in some cases even the ‘experts’ don’t seem to know or understand the laws, when they are drawing their conclusions.

By spending 10 minutes at half time and the majority of full-time repeating incidents in super slo-mo (or freeze framed), from five or six angles and still in most cases not reaching a unanimous decision on whether or not the ref was right, we simply create the debate that we then say we don’t want!

So the solution is simple – one full-speed replay from the refs or assistants angle. That still gives you two chances when they get one. If you cannot definitively tell me they got it wrong, move on and actually discuss the football for a change.

Check out Alan’s other blogs in his official archive here!