#RefWatch: Neil Swarbrick – West Ham vs Liverpool

Author: . Published: at 8:05pm

Written by @SamRoyden

The embarrassment continues. Regardless of the slight improved in the second half, the lack of fight, hunger, leadership in the team is evident and hugely concerning after weeks and weeks being outplayed.

At the end of the day, Slavan Bilic picks his starting eleven before the game, the players are liable to do the job on the pitch. I’ve said on many occasions over the last 18 months that the buck stops with Bilic as the team manager however, how can you defend what is happening at the moment. The manager does the training, the tactics, the pre-match analysis on the opposition but it comes to a point when you have to look at the players mentality when you’re slowly slipping into a relegation battle. You have to consider the uphill task ahead of us this season.

Liverpool came to the London Stadium in high confidence after winning in the Champions League but looking at statistics, Liverpool have conceded the most away goals so far this season which showed weakness in their defence and West Ham made minimal attempt to capitalise on that trend.

There is not a lot of good happening at West Ham at the moment but before kick off, a tribute was held for Remembrance Day with a minute silence which was respected by both set of players & fans and ‘lest we forget’ spelt out in the crowd in claret and blue by the fans, which is class from West Ham.

Neil Swarbrick was the referee who was appointed for this fixture. Swarbrick has officiated seven games so far this season, all of which in the Premier League, and has issued 17 yellow cards, no reds and one penalty this term.

I thought Swarbrick started the game well and from my experience, it’s the first 5-10 minutes of the game which really sets the standard for the rest of the game. Swarbrick took up some really good positioning to see the small fouls in the first ten minutes. However, just like a flick of a switch, Swarbrick’s decision making made a complete U-turn and he missed two or three blatant fouls, particularly from Matip on Hernandez. The Liverpool centre back swung a wild right foot and caught Hernandez on the knee making no contact with the ball. Swarbrick was again in a good position but I wonder whether the way Hernandez fell to the ground made Swarbrick reconsider whether it was a foul. Regardless of the fall from Hernandez, it was a foul and Swarbrick got this wrong in my opinion.

The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern. Swarbrick continued to miss or incorrectly award free kicks which made Swarbrick the centre of the frustration from the crowd, players & managers, up until West Ham let in two goals in three minutes and then crowd turned their anger on the players.

Mark Noble was the only cautioned player in the disaster first half for West Ham for simulation, which is as embarrassing as it gets. There was no contact by a Liverpool player. The West ham ‘captain’ stuck out a leg in the desperate hope for some sort of contact and Swarbrick was in the right position to caution Noble for this antics.

The second half only got worse for West Ham, with a slight hope of a potential comeback but for Manuel Lanzini’s goal to be undone by allowing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to walk through the defence to score 57 seconds after making it 3-1. Neil Swarbrick second caution of the game was as easy as they come. Winston Reid came storming into a very late challenge on Sadio Mane completely hacking the Senegalese down preventing the Liverpool forward from progressing at the half way line.

There were two shouts for penalties in the second half from a West Ham point of view. The first appeal was majority from the West Ham faithful involving Simon Mignolet and Manual Lanzini. The Liverpool goalkeeper was slow out of the traps to chase a down a 50/50 ball with the Belgian just getting there at the nick of time and getting his toe on the ball before contact was made with Lanzini – This was never a penalty in my opinion so a good decision by Neil Swarbrick.

The second appeal had more substance than the first appeal involving Alberto Moreno and Javier Hernandez. The West Ham man was inside the 6 yard box jumping to latch onto a very good cross by Marko Arnautović and whilst in the air, Moreno nudged the West Ham man in the back upon contacting with the ball which subsequently flew over the bar. I do think that Moreno was very lucky that Swarbrick didn’t see it as I thought it was risky for Spaniard to make contact with Hernandez without making a legitimate attempt to win the ball.

To add salt to the wound, Manuel Lanzini was cautioned by Swarbrick for kicking the ball away in frustration after conceding a foul.

Luckily for Neil Swarbrick, West Ham’s frustration was clearly evident with the players and the manager which reduced the heat on the referee after less than an encouraging performance with so many errors. Swarbrick started the game well in the first 10 minutes which as mentioned before, it is imperative to get a good start under your belt however, it went downhill after 15 minutes of the game.

The final season at The Boleyn was one of my fondest memories as a West Ham fan during my lifetime including the Play Off Final in 2012, which shows my age at 24! But as a fan, I’m watching week after week in disappointment and Steven Gerrard & Frank Lampard summed it up to a tee, ‘West Ham fans don’t deserve this’ and we don’t. A decision needs to be made because everything is wrong about the club at the moment and I was catching up with my girlfriend’s Dad, Gary, this afternoon and he said, ‘Look at Sunderland, a team relegated in the Premier League for not making correct decisions, lack of player fight and shambolic tactics and are now struggling in the Championship, this could be us if it doesn’t change’. What a frightening thought, that our club with our heritage. Whether its the board, the manager or the players, something needs to happen before the next games that include Watford and Leicester.


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  • Willtell
    4th November 2017 at 8:18 pm

    Well. He didn’t make much difference to the result but it was very good of him to put us out of our misery especially as he obviously had a few hundred quid riding on Liverpool winning…..