By The Coach
Why is it that referees in England, week in and week out, make so many wrong game-defining decisions?
Take for example the games of Derby vs Chelsea, West Ham vs Tottenham (which I watched this weekend live) and Bolton Vs Manchester United.
Derby was denied a perfectly good goal for a non existent off side that would have brought the struggling team back into contesting the game.
And as if that wasn’t enough poor Derby was blown a final knock-out by the referee when he allowed play-on at an obvious and flagrant foul committed by Shevchenko from which Chelsea went on to score their second goal.
In any other country such a tackle from behind would have earned the player at least a yellow card.
In the match at Upton Park, again there was clear off-side when Keane found himself on a one on one against Robert Green but was not given.
It was then followed up by a clear penalty offence by the goalkeeper which again was not given.
And to top it all up the referee saw a non-existent penalty in the final minute of the game, which thankfully for the home fans (and for justice) Rob Green went on to save.
At the game at Bolton, Kevin Davies and his Bolton team mates have reverted to old methods.
You even had Ferguson complaining about Bolton’s non- football tactics and blaming referee Mark Clattenburg for being too lenient!
Some cheek if you ask me since it was his United side that kicked the bones out of the Arsenal players at Old Trafford when the Invincibles run of 49 unbeaten games was brought to an abrupt and unjust end.
It was that inept referee Mike Reily in charge. He awarded a non existent penalty to Roonie’s falling over Campell’s leg; and it was him again in charge at Upton Park yesterday.
Nevertheless Ferguson’s cynicism should not detract us from the dire state of refereeing in England.
The above examples are typical of that we become witnesses to every week. Why isn’t anyone saying or doing anything about it?
What is wrong with English football? Why is it so hard to even contemplate change in some sacred areas such as refereeing?
It seems it is against the English culture to criticize authority.
“Criticize the referee but accept it. Don’t demand changes; if you do you will kill the game”.
But I say you should not worry about killing the game because the referees in England are doing a good job of this on their own.
Something needs to be done and sooner rather than later.
What is even worse it affects the way football is played in England and as a result stifles the development of talent in English football. Trevor Brooking should take note!
What needs to go out of the window is the religious belief that football is a physical game.
Not it is not! Rugby is a physical game; football is a skilful team game. Referees should not allow disguised rugby players on a football pitch to spoil it.
When a skilful attacker is dribbling through a number of players, balancing himself finely while running at 30 miles an hour, it doesn’t take too much of a push to put him off balance and surrender the advantage to the defender.
A little shoulder-to-shoulder or a slight body check is enough to render, in an instant, all the skills possessed by the attacking player useless on an English football pitch. The defender is, almost always, given the benefit of the doubt by the referees.
Teams and coaches who need to be successful in these playing conditions in England can ignore the fact that referees favour defensive play at their own peril.
It doesn’t pay dividends to play attractive attacking football in England.
Look at the switch of fortunes for Allardyce’s Bolton when he finally realised that this is how he can get results in the Premiership. It is happening again today with Megson (who has been renamed the new Allardyce).
Arsenal is perhaps the only team in the Premier League that has managed to play attractive attacking football successfully, despite the referees.
Are they the exception to the rule or has Wenger realised something that others have not?
I will ask why this is so in a future article.
McClaren and Wenger blamed for England’s failure: A nation in denial
England will probably never be a world football power