Mike Jones — The Weakest Referee Ever

By Paul Traill   ::  02/02/2013 Well you somehow just knew didn’t you? Crisis-hit Aston Villa come to town and if a team is ever in a slump, you can bet your house on it that they’ll find a result against Everton…we’re very accommodating against such teams.

Still the lack of transfer activity and that general sense we’d make a mess of things didn’t stop us from being in good spirits as we congregated in the pub pre-kick off. For a goalless draw QPR vs Norwich City wasn’t terrible entertainment. There was a bit of a collective groan in the pub when we saw the team news. I just don’t like the look of that defence with Heitinga at centre back and Jagielka at right back. I wanted Jagielka up against Benteke with Neville at right back. Still, it was good to see Mirallas start another game and also to see Gibson back in the team. As mentioned, Benteke spearheaded Aston Villa’s attack with Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia supporting. Stephen Ireland also appeared in midfield. Aston Villa won the toss so we attacked towards the Gwladys Street in the first half.

We effectively started the match a goal down with Heitinga beaten a little too easily by Benteke who buried his opportunity after only two minutes. However, with practically the whole match still to play nobody was too down, you felt we could score against Aston Villa and nearly did straight away in fact, Fellaini whipping an effort from the edge of the box just past the post.

Everton kept on knocking and it was a piece of individual brilliance from Victor Anichebe on 20 minutes which leveled matters. The Nigerian international spinning Clarke superbly and finishing smartly past Guzan to make the score 1-1. That’s Anichebe’s 23rd goal for Everton and was very similar to his first Everton goal back in May 2006 against West Bromwich Albion. Doesn’t time fly!

Any hopes that this would act as some sort of catalyst for Everton to press on with this one were swiftly extinguished when just three minutes later Agbonlahor (with his seventh career goal against Everton) equalized with a header from a corner kick. Countless attacks by Everton and just the one goal to show for it. Two attacks for Aston Villa…and two goals. It was very frustrating to be trailing here having worked hard to get level. The players seemed a little deflated for some time and took a while to get going again. The hapless Mike Jones didn’t help matters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a referee who is so weak. I noticed it earlier in the season when we drew with Norwich City. The man just fails to stamp any authority on the game whatsoever and players seem to have little or no respect for him. He seems terrified to get his card out which was just great for Aston Villa who could commit fouls to slow the game down and disrupt our rhythm time and time again…24 times in total in fact. He’s a really poor referee and one I don’t wish to see too much of in the future…though this isn’t why we failed to win of course.

We went into the break 1-2 down and were probably a little unlucky to be behind, though were quite optimistic we could turn things round in the second half. This we didn’t do. We just didn’t get going after the break and couldn’t find the right tempo. Fair play to Aston Villa. They made things difficult for us and fought for everything, particularly in the second half. It was rather pitiful from Everton really and in the main the players didn’t show enough character to turn things around. Things became a lot more difficult when Benteke added his second of the match. Frustratingly it was all so avoidable. A harmless cross into the box from Astion Villa’s left should have been gathered by Howard. It can only have been about five yards out maximum but instead of what looked a simple, unchallenged catch he let Distin head it out. Villa retained possession. Lowton crossed for Benteke who got a run on Heitinga and headed finely into the corner of the net off the inside of the post. A great header, pretty poor defending but simply abysmal goalkeeping from Howard prior to that. How he didn’t claim that cross was just criminal.

So Everton now had it all to do to salvage anything from this one and you didn’t feel it was likely. Heitinga was hauled off with Mirallas also sacrificed as Moyes rolled the dice. Jelavic and Oviedo the reinforcements. Goals still didn’t appear forthcoming until Fellaini took it upon himself to rescue Everton, the Belgian playing a great give-and-go with Anichebe and finishing well to give us a lifeline. 2-3 with over 20 minutes to go.

The crowd roared the team on and as we pressed for the draw we had so many corner kicks and balls into the penalty area you felt something surely had to give. It did eventually, three minutes into stoppage time when Fellaini took advantage of fairly slack marking to nod one in from a Baines corner. 3-3 and the crowd roared louder. Whilst some players celebrated wildly others ran back ready for action, wanting to force an unlikely win. Apparently Moyes was pretty much on the pitch going crazy at those celebrating instead of getting back to get the game going again as there was still a few minutes to go. In those final three minutes (there were six added minutes in total) we still managed to get a corner and a free kick into the box though couldn’t convert either of these into what would have been the most dramatic of dramatic victories.

With being 1-3 down and finishing 3-3 we shouldn’t be too disappointed, however it still feels like a wasted opportunity against one of the worst teams in the division. Bad defending is the root of it all, that and poor team selection. Though he was the best player on the pitch for me today, I’m not keen on Jagielka at right back, particularly if it is just to accommodate Heitinga at centre back. I’d prefer Jagielka up against Benteke all day long and Neville could have played right back. A poor decision by Moyes in my opinion.

With our next three games all away from home (the first of which at Manchester United) we’ll have to be stronger defensively. I can’t help but feel we’ll rue this one come the seasons end.

Still, we scored four at Old Trafford last season. Lets go there with hope of a repeat performance and you just never know.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Seemed all over the place in the second half. No confidence in catching the ball at all. There’s no solution however as he can’t be dropped. Mucha just isn’t good enough. 3
Baines: Had a corker of a first half and kept on trying to get forward in the second but like the whole team, struggled against a determined and dogged Aston Villa. Will need to be on top form next weekend. 6
Distin: Poor. Not at the races today. 5
Heitinga: Benteke made him look quite the fool for a lot of the first half though he did recover his composure a little. He then let Benteke get ahead of him for Aston Villa’s third goal however and was then substituted for Oviedo. Jagielka should have had that job from the start. 5
Jagielka: Man of the match for me largely because he was one of the very few who showed heart and character throughout, particularly in an unfamiliar position. It wasn’t until Fellaini scored his first of the day that his teammates finally got going. Lead by example today. By far our best player in my opinion. 8
Gibson: Took a while to get going but was very useful once he did. We really need him to stay fit for the rest of the season. If he can stay fit he should be flying in a month’s time. 6
Pienaar: Poor generally. Hit a few wild shots when good passing options were available and didn’t create much in the second half really. We needed more from him today I felt. 5
Mirallas: Still patchy and still finding his way back. I was a bit surprised supporters booed the decision to substitute him because I didn’t thing he was really contributing a great deal. Like Gibson. We need him fit and if he can stay fit he should be flying in about a month’s time. 5
Osman: Struggled at times but was one of the better ones. Showed a bit of character and dug in. Still not on top form but I’m sure he’ll get there. Will do him good to get away with the England squad this week I reckon. 6
Fellaini: Began the game strongly, faded a little but then proved his worth, saving the day with two crucial goals. 7
Anichebe: Had a great first half and scored a fantastic goal. Struggled a bit second half though service to him was generally abysmal really. Probably done enough to stay in the team for next weeks visit to Old Trafford. 7

Substitutes:
Jelavic (for Mirallas): Got involved but was unable to get that goal he craves unfortunately. 6
Oviedo (for Heitinga): Had to play right back which is probably a bit unfamiliar to him but coped well and got forward to great effect. Not bad at all. 7
Naismith (for Gibson): Not on long but did the few things he had to do quite well. 6

Reader Comments

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Chris Smith
245 Posted 02/02/2013 at 20:39:44
Heitinga should have a minus score. He was deplorable.
Nick Entwistle
257 Posted 02/02/2013 at 21:08:26
How the Villa 'keeper wasn't done for time wasting I don't know. There should have been about a minute more of play after injury time and the ref didn't give it. Though not such a bad performance from the guy.
John Ford
261 Posted 02/02/2013 at 21:14:11
There were at least two instances when the ref and linesman (for that is what they are) stared at each other while the crowd waited for a decision. The ref then blew his whistle and then the flag went up....in that order. Bizzare.

....agree re the keeper, and why does he wave his arms around all the time?

Chris Bentham
264 Posted 02/02/2013 at 21:00:40
Good summary... I pretty much agree with all of it. On the way to the ground, we knew Moyes would persist with Jags at RB, it was a concern as Johnny has cost us goals most times he's played and he's easily bullied against a physical striker.

Moyes did it against West Ham with Jarvis down the wing and he played Jags there for his pace; Agbonlahor was the obvious worry today. For me, you play one of the best centre-halves in the country in his best position, keep your spine strong, and let them worry about you. Benteke was like a kid at Christmas when he knew he could match up against Johnny and it obviously gave their whole team a boost.

Then there was the referee... He allowed them to play their 'in the face' game which, fair play to them, they asked the question of the referee and he was letting it go.

Instead of us flapping the arms around complaining at them not letting us play, we need to stop thinking it's a gentlemen's game and get the 'win at all cost' mentality... à la Big Dunc, Tommy Gravesen, Peter Reid and Ratcliffe – players who will bully the opposition and don't moan when they get hurt.

Ian Smitham
266 Posted 02/02/2013 at 21:18:12
Good OP, assessments of our players hat are as I would have given them. My understanding is that if the Liner is not sure he does not flag, I noticed the incidents that John refers to, and understand that protocol is that if the ref gives it, the liner raises the flag to confirm and they provide a united front. The Bullens road liner was poor and slow.

As for the ref, I thought he was quite good, it was not a dirty game and though we all have our views, including Nick's above, which I agree with, Jones followed the adage for refs to "try to keep your cards in your pocket". Clearly our inability to win can not be excused by a reflection on the ref today.

Dick Fearon
279 Posted 02/02/2013 at 21:15:28
It took only two minutes for Heitinga to be exposed, then he made no attempt as Agbonlahor soared above him for Villa's second.

Long before that goal, it was obvious that Johnnie should be subbed. We looked in vain for signs of movement in our dug out. I wondered how eff'n long does it take before it sinks in for Moyes to see the danger?

Villa's third goal and at last he subbed Johnnie but by then it was too late. A less stubborn manager would have done that an hour earlier. Moyes and Heitinga created an impossible task for the rest of our magnificent team.

Mike Gaynes
291 Posted 02/02/2013 at 22:31:40
Heitinga a 5? Baines a 6?

Paul, are you joking? Or smoking something really good?

Heitinga rates a 2 at best. And Baines? Try a 3 for our best player. He was truly awful today, the worst I've ever seen him. Every cross was crap and every free kick and corner kick was misdirected until the very last corner to Fellaini. He took two crucial corners in the final minutes (before the last one) and made hash of both, putting one 10 yards over everybody and drilling the second into the front defender. The pass he made at 33 minutes after Vic sent him free was horrendous... he had Fellaini wide open for a game-tying tap-in and rolled the ball four yards behind him. And let's not forget the bungled offside trap on Weimann in the 51st minute... Baines just let him run by and gifted him a breakaway that he fortunately missed.

After looking so brilliant at midweek, Baines was dismal today. He rates a 6 only if the scale is 1 to 20.

Stan Sheppard
297 Posted 02/02/2013 at 22:51:28
Ireland wasn't playing for Villa today.

I agree that Pienaar wasn't great. Good come back, but it has to be 2 points dropped.

Patrick Murphy
306 Posted 02/02/2013 at 23:24:47
Maybe there is hope for Everton, Jason Cundy thinks the CL places are going to 2 out of Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Phil Davies
309 Posted 03/02/2013 at 00:02:13
I understand the argument for Neville to have played instead of Heitinga, but I really can't say that Neville up against either Agbonlahor or Nzogbia would have ended well.

He's been well and truly off pace this season and his tackling has become just plain awful, coming up against Agbonlahor and Nzogbia I'd say we would all be sat here complaining about Neville and not Heitinga.

It was just a shame we didn't have a fully fit right back with some pace....oh wait didn't we just sign one for £3m.

Paul Ferry
318 Posted 03/02/2013 at 00:28:31
Howard – why oh why, amongst other things.is Butland not now an Everton player (2)

Jags – why oh why was Oviedo not at RB from the start (6)

Baines – great 1st half, always striving, always trying to be inventive (6)

Heitinga – how was he not sold in the window but then we fucked almost everything else up (0)

Gibson – some rare mistakes today... beaver – always working (7)

Pienaar – ho hum (3)

Mirallas – not at his best today but when he gets on the ball I'm always excited (6)

Osman – busy but (4)

Fellaini – 2 goals, he saved us but (I know this sounds silly) he often didn''t look arsed – anyone else getting a little fed up with his fancy flicks with 50% hit rate (6)

Anichebe – well, I'm not a fan for the most part for the well known reasons, but hats off to him, he looked awesome (though it was Clark) shielding the ball; clever goal, clever assist, boss 1st half, faded a little but still MotM -– if this streak continues I can think the unthinkable to me a month ago... START VIC (8)

Rahman Talib
323 Posted 03/02/2013 at 01:13:33
Villa played a physical game and was helped with a sissy referee. So, they were all over us and we don't play that kind of game anymore.

But when we started going, they found out all their physicality was no match to our skills and tenacity.

Inadvertently we ended up controlling the game and got our 3 goals.

saved us from blushes, though

Rahman Talib
324 Posted 03/02/2013 at 01:20:36
Villa's 3rd goal was offside. Distin was blocking the linesman's view. Heitinga was just playing the offside trap.
Rahman Talib
326 Posted 03/02/2013 at 01:23:32
Everton defender Jonny Heitinga after the 3-3 draw with Aston Villa on Twitter: "Played worst game ever in the shirt of Everton. Let team-mates and fans down but they never let me down. Will work hard to come back strong."
Bill Gall
328 Posted 03/02/2013 at 02:01:07
The second goal by Aston Villa was a typical tactical mistake by Everton from a corner. The ball was headed well clear from the corner, but David Moyes insists that everyone comes back for a corner so there was no one from Everton to receive it, the ball came straight back passed out to the winger who no-one bothered to pick up, and back into the middle for the goal.

I don't understand why a player who takes a corner is not covered after the corner as 80% of the time it goes back to him. Just another tactical mistake that is starting to crop up too frequently from Everton.

Peter Norris
735 Posted 04/02/2013 at 12:50:04
Rahman (#326) – did he go on to say "...never mind, still managed to collect me £40k plus so all's well that ends well". If I'd made 4 mistakes in a week (as JH has) I think my boss would be looking up the disciplinary process. Not good enough and tweets like this sound empty IMO.
Antony Matthews
744 Posted 04/02/2013 at 13:36:16
Talking of Referees..............http://www1.skysports.com/football/news/11095/8470654/.

I wonder if the Villareal match is one of them !

Steavey Buckley
753 Posted 04/02/2013 at 14:51:58
I don't blame referees for poor decisions, even though they make plenty, because they can't see everything, but the FA , who won't allow technology to allow the 4th official to review contentious decisions, which would only take a few seconds or more. Such as, was it penalty or not, was the player onside or off when a goal was scored and did the player deserve a red or not. Players and fans all believe in fairness, but when decisions keep going against them, they wrongly blame the referees. They should blame the FA.
Brian Waring
781 Posted 04/02/2013 at 16:40:21
It should just be for goal line technology for me Steavey. I just think if we brought it in for offsides, red cards and penalty decisions etc it would take something away from the game that I enjoy, the debating on whether it was/wasn't after the game.
Steavey Buckley
787 Posted 04/02/2013 at 16:53:53
Brian Waring: Fairness is one of the big factors of life, except when it comes to football. How many matches have you been aware of when a goal went over the line but was not given? I am aware of 1 this season against Newscastle. But how many off side decisions were wrong and the goal wrongly ruled out? I am aware of a few more. And penalties that should have been given but were not, and given when not have been? Many of these. And red card decisions that were wrong, for and against? In all these cases, technology would have solved these most contentious issues. But the most important aspect, football and football behavior would have improved with the right and correct decisions and results. But most importantly, the moods of fans would not have been effected by wrong decisions and results. Because the customer is never wrong. What's good enough for rugby league when it comes to technology, should be good enough for football.
Brian Waring
838 Posted 04/02/2013 at 20:08:41
Imagine Steavey if the ref misses an incident, you would have the likes of Fergie etc asking for video replays every 5 minutes.
Steavey Buckley
982 Posted 05/02/2013 at 10:55:28
Brian Waring: The 4th official would be the person to check the monitor by the dug out. It takes a few seconds to decide if the ball went over the goal line, was the person standing in an off side position, was it a penalty and was it a red card. These matters decided by video replay would make the game better and the results the correct ones. If the likes of Fergie tried to interfere, the 4th official would just send him to the stands.

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