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Shelvey's card Marked

"Halsey is one of the good guys, an official who referees with a smile on his face and errs on the side of leniency rather than flourishing cards left, right and centre. But Jonjo Shelvey simply left him with no option..."

- Stewart Gardner, MUTV

24/09/2012 11:32, Report by Stewart Gardner, MUTV
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Blog: Halsey had no options

It's not easy refereeing Liverpool vs Manchester United.

The atmosphere, intensity and sheer speed of events is a major test for any official. Mark Halsey had lots of major decisions to make at Anfield and as anyone who saw Match of the Day 2 last night will know, he essentially got them all right. And yet, he has faced vile abuse on Twitter, some of it referring to his well-known fight against cancer. On a day which was supposed to be about respect and reconciliation, that's surely unacceptable.

I hope the abuse doesn't lead to Halsey considering his future. He is one of the good guys, an official who referees with a smile on his face and errs on the side of leniency rather than flourishing cards left, right and centre. But Jonjo Shelvey simply left him with no option - in modern football, that challenge warrants a red card. As for the Luis Suarez penalty appeal, even when viewed time and time again in super slo-mo, it's not particularly clear - Halsey had one look at full speed and had to give what he saw. Similarly, the Antonio Valencia penalty was a marginal decision but he was clipped and Glen Johnson didn't get the ball, leaving the referee with little option.

What a result it was for United. The boss admitted that it wasn't a good display but winning without playing well is a very handy skill to have. I don't think we've played particularly well all season but one look at the league table shows that we are in a great position to kick on. Winning at Anfield without Nemanja Vidic and Wayne Rooney says a lot about the strength of the squad and their strength of character.

And what about Rafael's stunning left-footed goal? He was all smiles when I spoke to him for MUTV after the game. He was going to ring his twin brother Fabio following our interview - as Fabio normally plays on the left, it did cross my mind that it might have been him who curled that beauty into the top corner!

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