I’ve got to admit that it takes some doing, it really does. I thought I’d seen it all but then someone launched one of these crowdfunding pages to cover Arsène’s fine which knocks the ‘fund a plane’ page into a cocked hat.
It’s been a bad week to be an official. Mike Dean started it and the Merseyside derby finished it off. Anthony Taylor got support from the Laws of the Game for his decision; if you kick someone, it’s a direct free-kick or penalty so it was a thoroughly correct interpretation. As per usual, you’re left wondering why more penalties aren’t given.
Tottenham gained four points from bad officiating, two offside goals saved their bacon in two games. The lino at Swansea apologised; I hope Carlos Carvahal savours that moment, it won’t happen again.
Amid all this, Arsène is slapped with a £40k fine and a three-match touchline ban for use of language which was “abusive, improper and questioned the integrity of the match referee,” according to the FA. Did Mike Dean inflame the situation by asking Wenger how many games he refereed to have his opinion?
It’s a useful distraction for Arsène, diverting attention from the poverty of our performance onto the referee. I find myself caught between two stools on the West Brom game; at once, we were awful and undone by the referee. The question is whether Mike Dean would accept he was “obviously wrong” if a VAR decided Calum Chambers didn’t commit handball? There’s an ego element to the whole VAR system which has yet to be addressed.
Of course, the conspiracy brigade (TFHB) was out in full regalia, tin foil hats twitching. The veins on the side of their heads acted as receptors from Planet Wenger, relaying outlandish claims to the masses.
This is Planet Earth
The TFHB are emboldened by a manager impugning the officials’ integrity yet get very defensive when Wenger is called a fraud on social media and elsewhere. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that, but it seems rich for the manager to be able to call out officials on their integrity yet his own is untouched? Cake and eat it, as well, in this cliche-ridden passage.
I don’t believe either, for what it’s worth. Wenger’s actions are as distasteful as those calling him a fraud.
There isn’t a big conspiracy against Arsenal, it’s too bizarre a claim to believe. Is there corruption? I’d be surprised if some doesn’t emerge at some point; it happens in every other walk of life so to think football is clean is naive, but I don’t believe that it is as widespread as TFHB claims.
The footballing authorities show little inclination to help themselves. PGMOL is secretive and criticised by those bastions of transparency, UEFA and FIFA. When those two are right, you know something is definitely wrong. It’s hard to think why the PGMOL is so secretive, probably less is known about its’ workings than the Freemasons.
It’s as if the referees believe some mystique will be lost if they open their doors to the inner sanctum. This is a group of people whose profession is less respected than estate agents and who are routinely told they are w@nkers. How much less mystique can there be?
I suspect that Riley forgot the code to turn off the booby traps and isn’t allowing anyone into the building unless they have a fedora and bullwhip. Health and Safety rule the roost at PGMOL; they are a responsible employer, after all.
VAR-ying Degrees of being Wrong
At the heart of the matter is consistency in decision making. Today’s referees aren’t prone to making more bad decisions than their predecessors, but we are more aware of them. Blanket television coverage lets us see everything on the pitch in all its glory; there is no escape.
And that isn’t a problem as such, but referees do need help. It’s coming. VAR debuts in an English competitive game next week at Brighton, followed by the Carabao Cup semi-finals. The current system is imperfect, with too much power still residing in the hands of the match official.
- They don’t have to accept the VAR decision which is wrong.
- It won’t take long for the referee’s video view to be dropped from the process.
- We can’t hear what is said, so the impotence of a lack of knowledge still exists. Other sports have open communications and football has to look at that.
There are massive egos among referees and admitting a wrong decision will be difficult for them. They have to though because the ones who don’t accept they make mistakes are the ones who will quickly be dropped from the Premier League.
But it is a step forward. The system will be streamlined, become more efficient and accepted. I can’t see anyone yearning for the days when Dean cocked up a result on wet Sunday afternoon at West Brom, can you?
Away from the referees, Alex Hleb gives an interesting interview at Planet Football and contrasts life at Arsenal with other clubs. As much as it indicts Hleb’s attitude, it reinforces the view that life at the Emirates is ‘easier’ than elsewhere, as well as what a complete idiot some footballers are.
As with everything else, it happens elsehwere in life so why should football be unique?