Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said that referee Anthony Taylor has been given an impossible job taking charge of Monday’s big Premier League game at Liverpool.
Taylor’s appointment caused an outcry among Liverpool fans because he lives just six miles from Old Trafford, leading to former Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) chief Keith Hackett to criticise the decision as potentially ‘intolerable’.
Now Mourinho has weighed in by claiming the fuss could affect Taylor’s performance for what is regarded as the most hostile fixtures in the English calendar.
He said: ‘I think Mr Taylor is a very good referee but I think somebody with intention is putting such a pressure on him that I feel it will be difficult for him to have a very good performance.
‘I have my view but I understood and I learned a lesson by being punished so many times for some words so I don’t want to say anything [more] about it.’
It is unclear whether Mourinho is unhappy with the actual decision to choose Taylor — an Altrincham fan — or those who have questioned it.
Liverpool have protested about this before. After a 2-1 defeat against Manchester City in 2013, manager Brendan Rodgers launched a scathing attack on Lee Mason of Bolton, saying: ‘Hopefully we don’t have another Greater Manchester referee again on a Liverpool-Manchester game.’
Now it seems Mourinho will take his team to Anfield for his first Liverpool-United fixture fearing Taylor could subconsciously make decisions to prove he is not biased towards the visitors.
The former Chelsea manager has tried to choose his words carefully to avoid another FA punishment.
Last season, Mourinho was fined £50,000 and given a one-game stadium ban for saying officials were ‘afraid’ to give Chelsea penalties following a 3-1 defeat against Southampton in October.
In total, he racked up £140,000 in fines during his second spell at Chelsea for remarks made to officials during the matches or about them afterwards.