Graham Poll: The official line - it is clear referee Alan Wiley is fit for the job
Sportsmail's refereeing expert Graham Poll travelled to the DW Stadium to study the performance of former colleague Alan Wiley. His fitness had been questioned by Sir Alex Ferguson, set today to be hit with a charge that could land him with a lengthy touchline ban. It put Wiley, 49, under the spotlight and ex-World Cup and Champions League ref Poll went along to see how he coped. FITNESS AND POSITIONING Wiley moved around the pitch with ease throughout the game taking up some good wide viewing positions. This resulted in his decision making having great credibility, which was vital as he disallowed goals for both teams and dismissed Pablo Zabaleta in the second half (identified from just five yards away). His lime green shirt displayed what appeared to be a few extra pounds which caused raised eyebrows within the DW Stadium. How much of that is caused by the neoprene belt worn to carry the electronics for his communication system is unclear, but even if he is carrying some extra weight it didn't affect his excellent positioning. DECISIONS AND DISCIPLINE Three yellow cards in the first half, all of which were correct showed Wiley's awareness and understanding of tactics employed. Hendry Thomas wiped out Shaun Wright-Phillips, whilst Wiley rightly cautioned Zabaleta for persistent infringement. Wiley's tactical awareness was displayed when Maynor Figueroa was cautioned for a 'team foul'- when different team-mates take turns to foul the same opponent. The dismissal of Zabaleta was a formality as the Argentine brought down Jason Scotland to stop a Wigan attack from continuing. Consistent application of disciplinary measures throughout. THE FERGUSON FACTOR AS SOON as the home crowd disagreed with a decision the chant of, "you're not fit to referee" was heard. Ironically, the decision, a throw-in, was correct as the ball had gone out before the City defender played the ball. The same chant from the home fans came on 62 minutes but the away fans adapted the chant to, "You're too fat to referee" following the red card for Zabaleta. One wonders if these chants will now follow Wiley. He took his time over cautions, stopping his watch before each card, something he has always done to ensure he gets it right - not a bad precaution to take. So did the terrace taunts have an impact on him? No. OVERALL PERFORMANCE It is to Alan Wiley's credit that he performed so well after being in the glare of publicity over the past fortnight. I think that his reputation has been enhanced by the whole experience as people from all areas of football have leapt to his support. It takes courage to give decisions without fear or favour. After Ferguson's comments, Wiley will have wanted a quiet game. However, he didn't shirk big decisions and yet again he got them correct as he had done at Old Trafford. Now he'll be hoping for an end to the whole affair and a return to his brand of highly effective low key officiating.
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