3. The Referee
I’m reluctant to use this platform to criticise referees but Keith Stroud’s performance was poor tonight. The only other time I have felt a referee underperformed this season was in the Hull game officiated by John Busby. He didn’t cover himself in glory, booking Harry Winks, for instance, when he made no contact at all with the Tigers’ defenders who had slipped. It was followed by a bizarre decision to allow only three minutes injury time when the number of substitutions and time wasting by Hull justified probably four times that. As The Athletic’s Rob Tanner tweeted at the time, he must have had tickets for a show that night.
Tonight, Stroud, a very experienced referee, wasn’t much better. He seemed unable to make up his mind what constitutes a foul, blowing up for innocuous challenges whilst letting what seemed to us like obvious fouls go. The decisions didn’t always go against the Foxes either. Sunderland had a good shout for a penalty in the second half when Wout Faes upended a Black Cats player near the goal line. VAR would almost certainly have overturned Stroud’s decision. I have never heard so many renditions of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ from a football crowd before.