Webb treatment under fire

Howard Webb
Howard Webb

Howard Webb’s bosses are shown the red card today, accused of hampering his build-up to the World Cup.

Webb’s former manager, Keith Hackett, is taking issue with his apparent downgrading in the Premier League.

Rotherham’s finest was imperious on Wednesday in the Champions League semi-final first leg in which Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich1-0.

Yet Webb is suffering at home where, after some criticism, he has evidently fallen out of favour with Mike Riley, general manager of Professional Game Match Officials.

“Howard is number one in the world, but his Premier League appointments don’t reflect that,” said Hackett, with Webb overlooked for several big games, including this Sunday’s Liverpool-Chelsea clash.

“Thankfully, Howard is getting top games from UEFA and FIFA and has been outstanding.

“I do not think the PGMOL have shown respect to Howard and his two World Cup assistants,Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey.”

The fact the trio have often been split up - as per this weekend when Webb referees Manchester City at Crystal Palace - is another worry for Hackett, Sheffield’s former FIFA referee who became PGMOL manager in 2004.

During five years in the job, Hackett mentored Webb to the 2010 World Cup final - in the same year he presided over the Champions League Final.

Hackett added: “Howard’s concern will be whether not getting these top games will affect his opportunities in Brazil.

“I don’t think, by his competitive nature, he will be entirely happy.

“He’s made the odd mistake, as all referees do, but they have tended to be over opinion rather than fact.

“I don’t worry about Howard because of how thoroughly he prepares. But one thing referees need is those heightened levels of concentration.”