Neil Warnock: Referees chief Mike Riley 'struggles to understand the game'

Neil Warnock (left) with Mike Riley (right)
Neil Warnock (left) confronts Mike Riley (right) during his time in charge of Sheffield United in 2006

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock has criticised referees' boss Mike Riley, saying that officiating standards have gone backwards under his watch.

Warnock expects to be contacted by the Football Association over comments made following Sunday's defeat by Chelsea.

Warnock has not spoken to head of referees Riley, who he says "struggles to understand the game".

The Premier League and the Professional Game Match Officials Limited have declined to comment.

Cardiff suffered a controversial late 2-1 defeat on Sunday, with the visitors' equaliser scored from a clearly offside position.

Warnock labelled Premier League officials as the "worst in the world" and, before Wednesday's game at Manchester City, targeted Riley, who is head of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

Warnock, who has escaped any charge for a stand-off with referee Craig Pawson at the final whistle, said: "I'm sure they'll ask for my observations and I'll send them. I'd imagine people in the FA feel sorry for me if I'm honest.

"I don't think Mike Riley and myself are close Christmas card list-wise.

"When I see people like Paul Durkin, Graham Poll and Mark Clattenburg - who were top referees and know the game as well as the laws - I think it's criminal they're not involved.

"Mark Halsey, he knew how to handle players and he could give major advice to some of these referees.

Mike Riley
Mike Riley succeeded Keith Hackett as manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board in June 2009

"I always thought Mike Riley was a manufactured referee from day one when he refereed a game at Hartlepool against me. I don't think he's changed since then.

"He's been manufactured, almost like a robot. He knows everything about the rules but I feel these people struggle to understand the game and the human element."

Warnock suggested that Premier League referee Michael Oliver's approach to the job was a better one to follow.

"Referees should be looking at the way Michael Oliver referees because he doesn't do everything by the book," Warnock added. "That's why he's going to be one of the best in the world.

"[With] some of the younger ones the personality comes before the refereeing. Lot of referees are like Mike Riley, that's why we have gone backwards a bit and it's disappointing because there are enough ex-referees who can give education and knowledge to make our referees the best."

Warnock says his players were left "broken-hearted" by the weekend loss that leaves Cardiff five points adrift of safety with seven fixtures remaining, their game in hand on 17th-placed Burnley coming against title-challenging Manchester City at Etihad Stadium.

"You just have to get on with it and get onto the next one," Warnock said.

"You realise not many more things could go against us, apart from an earthquake or something.

"It was only a game of football, I'm sure a lot of the country would be happy, especially the teams around us. It shows how fine a balance football is."