Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has joined Southampton’s Charlie Austin in demanding more help for Premier League referees, after his header was ruled out in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Anfield.
Replays showed Mitrovic appeared to be level with Liverpool’s Andy Robertson before beating goalkeeper Alisson with a header but it was disallowed for offside. Mo Salah opened the scoring 12 seconds later after a quick counter-attack which Alisson began while Fulham players were celebrating.
The decision followed Austin’s furious rant over his disallowed goal in Saints’ 1-1 draw against Watford on Saturday.
“If this is the best, most-watched League in the world, then give them [the officials] all the help they need. It is a joke,” said Austin, who called for the English top flight to introduce the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Mitrovic echoed Austin’s sentiments as he told Standard Sport: “Like Charlie said, this is the best League in the world, the most expensive League, the most watched League. A lot of money is invested in this League and small details like that can change a game.
“Mistakes happen, but they [referees] need more help. Don’t get me wrong, they’re human beings — they make mistakes — but they need help to avoid situations like this.
“I’ve seen it [the incident] back — I was onside but the referee didn’t think so. In my opinion, he made two mistakes: first for the goal and then, afterwards, for the counter-attack.
“The ball was moving [when Alisson took the free-kick following the disallowed goal]. These mistakes shouldn’t happen. The big teams don’t need this kind of help and this moment turned the game.
“After [the decision], I was trying to adjust quickly. I didn’t see the ball was moving at the time but I saw after on the replay. You cannot allow that. If we had scored before half-time, it would have been a different game. We had our chances, we played good. Defensively we were good, stayed in shape, played as a team. But they scored that first goal at the worst time for us and then the second goal finished the game.”
Liverpool doubled their lead after the break, when Robertson crossed for Xherdan Shaqiri to volley home.
Slavisa Jokanovic said the decision to rule out Mitrovic’s header had “shown disrespect to my team, myself and Fulham supporters”, comments which may interest the FA. The defeat cranked up the pressure on the Serbian, whose side remain bottom of the Premier League after six straight defeats.
Mitrovic is backing Jokanovic to turn things around. “We’re all under pressure,” he said. “True, it’s him first, but we’re all under pressure. We were all behind him together when we were promoted and now we’re in a bad situation we’re all together.
“There were positive signs but after defeat nobody is happy. The feeling was that we wanted it a lot more than the last game [a 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield]. We were close, we had chances.”
After the international break, Fulham face Austin’s Southampton in a crunch clash at Craven Cottage. Saints moved into 17th place, three points clear of Fulham, following the Hornets draw and Mitrovic is in no doubt about the significance of the fixture.
“It’s massive game,” he said. “They’re a good team but we’re at home. It’s the biggest game of the season so far.”