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A few thoughts on officials

February 13, 2015

Back when I started watching football, if you wanted to watch a live match, you either went, watched highlights on Match of the Day, The Big Match or listened on the radio. You could also watch mid-week Sports Special with David Coleman, that showed highlights of European matches. No LIVE European Cup matches. The only live matches were FA Cup Finals, World Cup Finals or European Cup Finals.

I have watched a lot of football (not just Arsenal) for so many years now. Since the advent of live league matches where you can literally feast yourself on live football I can honestly say I have never seen such poor officiating as in the game today. I watch many live games on TV nowadays, I’m fifty-seven and hardly setting the clubbing or pub world alight at weekends, so I watch football, shoot me!

When did it become a privilege for officials to be so protected? I doubt even the President of United States would be able to hide behind everything he does. There seems to be more secrecy surrounding what officials do and say than even the CIA has.

Watch any live football match you like, check out the officials decisions, many simply make no sense. They’ll let a player or two get away with an early tackle, this no doubt down to the old “help the game flow ploy” and the “trying not to spoil the game ploy”. Then suddenly once the holiday period at start of game is over another player will make one tackle, not that bad and he is in the book. Often from then on it’s a free for all, one booked and the gloves are off. Some referee’s like in the recent Bournemouth v Watford match don’t even do that, they simply send the player off after forty-eight seconds when he was clearly not the last man. Watford punished wrongly so early. Lose the match 2-0. Issue! Angella misses ninety minutes of that match and then misses the next match. That’s basically a two match ban. Had he been sent off after ninety minutes, he gets a one match ban.

What is a foul for one team, is not for another. What’s offside for one team is not for the other and all this in the same game and even the same half. There is absolutely no consistency at times. The players, managers, supporters at the games and those watching on live TV can be confused as to what is going on. We have seen so many decisions where some teams/players get away with things that others don’t. How does Rooney get away with confronting officials week in week out?

I do wonder if the players themselves actually wonder what the hell is going on during a match with officials. A referee will officiate one game one week completely different to another game the next week. What the referee will send a player off for one week, he would not send another player off for the next week. For me it’s clear some teams and players get better treated.

Now if you play football on Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon for a local team, you can understand referee’s not knowing the players or players not knowing referee’s each week, but in the Premier League, everybody should know everybody. You have a certain amount of referee’s and assistants in a pool and those are the ones that will take charge of the games week in week out in the Premier League. So if you are say Martin Atkinson you will take charge of most Premiership teams over a season/s, therefore Atkinson should know what the players are like. Atkinson would not only see them when officiating a game as he must surely he must see them on Live TV as well, when one of his colleagues is taking charge of the game.

Atkinson and his colleagues should by now  know what players are divers and should know all the tricks players try on. Martin Atkinson should by now have enough experience to handle a football match no matter where it is played and no way should be influenced by home crowds. Surely when the officials meet up once a week at meetings, they must discuss these issues. Yet mostly officials should be consistent. Mike Riley has a lot to answer for.

Players and managers in turn know the officials, that’s why they try it on, they know what they can get away with when certain officials are in charge. Of course it’s wrong and this in turn does not help the officials, but the power lies with the officials to make the right decisions and it’s the officials who are letting themselves get mugged by the players and managers. . So if Hazard is diving each week, you then simply be extra careful when he goes down, or in Hazards case doesn’t go down. Hazard has this trick. Run with the ball towards the danger area’s, run into an opponent, stop, stand there with arms out stretched looking for a foul from the referee and often gets it. This is a one of Jose’s tactics to win free kicks and then to swing balls in for Matic, Terry, Cahill, Costa and Ivanovic. Referee’s see Hazard standing there, having not gone down and mainly fall for it and give the free kick.

I do often wonder what officials think when conned by players in matches after the game. I think if I was a referee and say Rooney had conned me for a penalty and then on watching Sky Soccer Sunday and MOTD later on both highlighting the incident over and over again, the next time I was in charge of a United match, I’d certainly be thinking of getting my own back for being made to look a mug. Rooney would have to be shot by a sniper before he got a free kick.

For me referee’s and their assistant’s are part of the game and should be much, much better than they are. Football matches should be decided by players on the pitch or managers off the pitch picking the right teams, playing the right tactics and making the right changes during games, not some dodgy decision or decisions during the match from officials.

A classic situation for me was the recent Chelsea v Liverpool League Cup Semi-Final. Liverpool played well and yet Costa stamps on Can and was allowed to stay on the pitch. Chelsea score with eleven men win 1-0 and then Costa gets a retrospective three match ban. So the next three teams that play Chelsea get the bonus in not facing Costa, while there is no benefit at all to Liverpool who lost the game. Afterwards by giving the retrospective ban the FA have admitted that Costa should have seen red and Liverpool should have been playing ten men for seventy minutes and may well have gone on to win the game and be in the final against Tottenham in place of Chelsea.  How is that right?

Maybe when a retrospective ban is given I think the player should miss his next two matches and the next match in which he plays the team he should have been sent off against. Maybe it should be a two match ban and Costa missing the final. Should Costa not face Liverpool till the following season then the ban takes effect then. Or if say Costa transferred then he misses the next game he plays for his new team.

Take Cahill v Arsenal. The match is 0-0 Cahill wipes out Sanchez. Cahill should have seen red. It was a clear red card.  Chelsea are down to ten men and what do you think Mourinho does? Most likely take a midfield/forward off and bring another defender on. Let’s say that is the case, who goes off – Hazard? Let’s say it’s Hazard. Who won the penalty for Chelsea’s first goal? Who scored the penalty? Now there is no guarantee that ten men will win lose match, but I imagine the odds are pretty good if you are playing with ten men for over seventy minutes when the score was 0-0 .

Arsenal played rubbish against Tottenham and the main reason Arsenal lost is due to how the players performed. Yet how did Rose and Mason get away with foul after foul? How comes the officials could be lenient with those players and yet when Monreal and Welbeck made their first fouls they were straight in the book? Had Mason or Rose been rightly booked (the latter should have been red carded for foul on Giroud) then they are treading a tightrope. This give opponents a slight upper hand. Take Rose. Welbeck started giving him the run-a-round, yet Rose got better, he was being allowed some leeway. In the end he totally got the better of Welbeck and had a storming second half and ended the game with no CARDS!! Mason finally got booked after seventy-eight minutes.

Why officials are not allowed to be interviewed after matches I don’t understand. Why are officials allowed to sneak out the back door having had a shocker? Why are referees’ reports secret? It’s a s clear as day there are big issues with the way football matches are officiated, so why isn’t more being done to sort it out? By simply saying “They are human” and make mistakes is not the answer. If we made those mistakes in our work place, I doubt we’d survive very long in our jobs. Also those that argue their cause using this term for me are part of the problem, as what reason is there for officials to improve if there are no real sanctions? Officials miss a game and then they’re back in charge a week later, wow! That’s punishment while a player get a three match ban or a team s defeat was helped due to a few rubbish decisions.

I say if officials were allowed to be interviewed after the match, they might actually think a bit harder as to the decisions they make during a game, knowing if they cock-up, they are going to be asked in front of TV millions to explain why they gave that decision. It surely would be very uncomfortable for a referee to be in this position. Therefore just being put in this situation I am sure would improve their performances.

If football is too fast then referee’s need help from either more officials or replays of the incidents. Often a replay of incidents would take a lot less time to sort the issue out than having the referee surrounded by players arguing the toss. Whatever happens the officiating in the Premiership needs to be looked at, because for me having a product that sells for £5.136 Billion pounds needs better officiating. The very people who pay that huge sum of money to football have the technology to assist referee’s in getting decisions correct and it really would in 99% of cases settle the issue within seconds, thus surely benefitting the game where in the end the correct decision has been awarded.

If only someone would have the balls to do it.

Agree/disagree feel free to comment?



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