Howard Webb: Top referees 'hurt' by recent criticism
Premier League referees are "hurt" by recent criticism of their standards and professionalism, says Howard Webb.
Former World Cup final referee Webb says he has provided advice and support to under-pressure match officials.
"They want to be told: 'You are not losing your mind, you are not losing your ability,'" Webb, 43, said.
Elite-group referees Martin Atkinson and Roger East have both made high-profile errors during recent Premier League matches.
East sent off Wes Brown during Sunderland's 2-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday for a foul committed by his Black Cats defensive partner John O'Shea.
Webb, who retired in August 2014 to become the technical director of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited, says the 18-strong Select Group of elite referees are affected when they make mistakes and often need support to rebuild their confidence.
"It really hurts - it did right until the end with me," Webb told The Times (subscription required).
"And I know it does for people in the Select Group now, because I speak to them.
"The guys deal with it in different ways. Some will ring me and speak to me for three hours on the Sunday about the previous day. They just want to get it all out there. They want to rationalise what's gone off."