Will Mourinho’s Goals on Sunday comments leave Atkinson sidelined?
Managers need to be very guarded with their comments about referee performances in the modern game but no one could have disagreed with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho’s comments regarding Martin Atkinson’s display at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The 43-year-old Bradford-born whistler missed a number of key decision in the Blues 1-1 draw with Burnley, not least challenges by Ashley Barnes that the Portuguese gaffer dubbed “criminal”.
Making an unplanned appearance on Sky Sports’ Goals on Sunday show, Mourinho questioned the logic of a system that will see Nemanja Matic banned for three games for a retaliatory push on Barnes, while Barnes’ potentially career-ending tackle went unpunished.
Former referee’s chief Keith Hackett branded Atkinson “incompetent” for his handling of the match and suggested the official could benefit from a Raheem Sterling-style mid season break.
“I feel sorry for the Chelsea player because he has reacted to a leg-breaking challenge. Never mind a cup final, that could have cost him his career,” he said.
“There is no place in the game for challenges like that and it should have been punished.”
However, the odds suggest that the Premier League will stand by their man, who has overseen more games than any other official this season, with Atkinson being dropped for the next round of fixtures deemed a long shot by Ladbrokes at 8/1.
Much more likely, the bookmaker suggests, is a further run in between Atkinson and Mourinho, with the referee priced up at 4/6 to officiate at Stamford Bridge again this season.
The Barnes/Matic incident, which went unnoticed by Atkinson, has also seen the debate around video referring peak once more and Ladbrokes has now priced the technology being utilised by the end of the year at 8/1.
Matic will now miss this weekend’s Capital One Cup final with Tottenham at Wembley Stadium but the Blues are expected to win in his absence, with Mourinho’s men on at 7/10 to scoop the season’s first meaningful piece of silverware.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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