Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Halsey Is Back in the Spotlight as O'Neill Raps Jose; Tonight's Ref May Face Extra Pressure on His Comeback as Mourinho Continues His War of Words

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Halsey Is Back in the Spotlight as O'Neill Raps Jose; Tonight's Ref May Face Extra Pressure on His Comeback as Mourinho Continues His War of Words

Article excerpt

Byline: LEO SPALL

MARTIN O'NEILL has told Jose Mourinho he was wrong to criticise Graham Poll as another referee, Mark Halsey, prepared to step back into the big time at Stamford Bridge tonight.

The Chelsea head coach has been highly critical of Poll after he disallowed a goal and sent off John Terry in Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.

The Portuguese claimed " attention seeking" Poll is in the wrong job and that his bad decisions have cost the Premiership champions five points this season.

Apart from the Spurs defeat, Mourinho indicated he was unhappy with the official's performance in Chelsea's 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in September. His players have suggested there was bias against them at White Hart Lane - a claim denied by Poll - and Mourinho is set to meet referees' chief Keith Hackett to discuss his concerns.

But Villa manager O'Neill, ahead of tonight's Carling Cup tie at Chelsea, said: "I heard Mourinho say they have lost five points in two games under Poll.

"Sorry mate, it was nothing to do with the referee, who was very lenient when we played at Chelsea.

So I don't know how they can go down that route. I didn't hear anyone say it was a harsh decision when Poll should have sent off Claude Makelele for coming across Juan Pablo Angel with 10 minutes to go at Stamford Bridge.

"Match of the Day picked up on it and said he should have gone, but there was no big deal made of it."

Mourinho's gaze will be on Halsey tonight as he takes charge of his first topflight match for six weeks since he wished manager Sam Allardyce and assistant Sammy Lee good luck against Liverpool in the Bolton match-day programme.

His last game was in lowly League Two at Boston on Saturday but he is due to be the fourth official at a Premiership game next weekend.

Formerly of Welwyn Garden City but now based in Lancashire, Halsey was at odds with Chelsea last season when he reported their players for surrounding him at West Brom. …

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