On Officials, Fines and Hleb

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?

’til Tomorrow.

62 thoughts on “On Officials, Fines and Hleb

  1. Jonny says:

    Morning YW – nice piece.
    I like the idea of open communications but the background language would certainly need addressing as football players are somewhat less cultured than their rugby counterparts.
    Nice piece on Hleb – it was a pity he left.

  2. andy1886 says:

    As Hleb said everything at Arsenal was all lovely-dovey, a complete comfort zone. Henry went to Barca because he wanted to win the CL. A complete contrast with Hleb who it seems didn’t have the winners mentality that they expect.

  3. consolsbob says:

    Hleb was one of the most annoying players ever to wear the shirt.

    He was a wet dream for Wenger. All possession and no product.

  4. Jonny says:

    Abameyang to China? Sad state of affairs, if true.

  5. Set me free says:


    Completely agree. He was the beginning of the end for me. Out went the rapier quick counter attacks when twinkle toes arrived. After his arrival you could find yourself waking from staring blankly into the distance for a couple of minutes, then try to concentrate on the match again.
    Wasn’t his greatest fan you may gather.

  6. Wavey says:

    Arsenal have shared a tweet from the training ground of a group of players passing the ball. They are stood in a circle with a player in the middle trying to cut out the ball as the players target completely 20 passes between them. A big cheer goes up as the players achieve the 20 passes. I watched it and really can’t see the point. It just shows that the focus is all on tight passing in small areas rather than any expansive stretching of teams.

  7. C says:

    Did I just read Arsene might receive more punishment? I think the officiating has been horredous at times and open chats should be fine especially as players and managers alike are trying to figure out why a ref made a decision. For me, its all about being abpe to quell your passion a bit to have a reasonable conversation.

    Helb was a joy to watch especially in ‘that’ midfield but his end product was eradict.

  8. C says:

    In typical Costa fashiom for Athletico, he has scored another goal and then gets sent off

  9. jw1 says:

    “… because the ones who don’t accept they make mistakes are the ones who will quickly be dropped from the Premier League.”

    Prescient– if this occurs anytime soon. Credit for the optimism.
    Unless a secret set of rules accompanies the public side of any VAR system? One which grades, then expels match officials who do teams dirty? We’re in the same boat– but now wondering:
    ‘Just what does it take to get an official booted?’


  10. Orson Kaert says:

    G’day all.

    Dr Strangelove, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. Great film, my favourite shot was Slim Pickens riding the atomic bomb heading for the Rooshens!

    I need a sanity break, just spent two and a half hours trying to complete an on line application for a tourist e visa for India. Towards the end they ask for a list of countries visited in the last ten years. On checking through the application after sending it off I discovered that I had not uploaded my photo but instead had sent one of my next door neighbour. Looks nothing like me but is a very nice lady.

  11. C says:

    And why Arsenal have Cech, Juve are enjoying Szczesny and more importantly have said no to Donorummo who is widely thought of as one of the best in Europe. Juve have said:

    We have an icon that is Buffon,” he told CalcioMercato.com.

    “An extraordinary goalkeeper and one of the greatest in world history.

    “Clearly we have to think that he will end his career, and we have fulfilled this need by taking his successor Szczesny.

    “Szczesny is one of the strongest at world and we are happy with him for the future too. Out of the race for Donnarumma? We have never entered it.”

  12. C says:

    Just like so many clubs, we are apparently poking around the Brazilian Malcom to replace Sanchez.

    This feels like the summer all over again with Sanchez minus the Sanchez himself bit.

  13. C says:

    Barnes puts Burnley up 1-0 with a brilliant strike and Stones was horrific defending with a sliced clearance

  14. andy1886 says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Why are you taking photos of your next door neighbour, and more importantly does she know? 😨😨😨

  15. C says:

    Mavidid scores on his debut for his loan side.

  16. Wavey says:


    He has only been punished for his actions post the West Brom game. His comments after the Chelsea game are a separate charge.

  17. C says:


    Thats what I was reading so he is charged again so it will be interesting to see what comes with it.

  18. Jonny says:

    Great watching Stoke go down to Coventry.
    Fuck Mark Hughes.
    Fuck you Orc Scum.

  19. Wavey says:

    Coutinho to Barcelona in a £142m deal looks to be done.

  20. Wavey says:


    They usually increase the punishment for repeat offenders, but he hadn’t received his punishment for the first charge when he made the statements after the Chelsea match. He hasn’t been abusive or confronted the ref this time, but he has stated the decision was farcical. They really don’t like manager questioning referees, so I’m guessing they will double up on his touch line ban.

  21. Orson Kaert says:

    A touchline ban will do no harm, next stage up is stadium ban, that’ll make no difference either. He can easily afford the fines. Perhaps they could impose a community service order on him, to be carried on match days in his home town Strasbourg. That would get him off our backs for a while at least. 😈

  22. C says:


    Exactly and I think to add to that they don’t really like certain managers having a go and I know bias shouldn’t be involved but its the FA in another ref situation with a manager who has been quite vocal recently.

  23. C says:

    Apparently there was a hagge over the price and reports both in England and Spain are saying Coutinho paid at minimum 15m euros himself which is crazy. Barca will now lineup


  24. Orson Kaert says:


    So Messi will not be short of service.

  25. C says:


    Slip up, I might have typed 10000000000000000000 words and posts but I am far from perfect 😂

  26. C says:

    Apparently we are chasing Jonny Evans again and want a deal done. Thanks but no thanks, there are plenty in the Bundesliga but I would prefer Rugani of Juve topping my list.

  27. Bill says:

    Coutinho moving has to help our chances to catch Liverpool.

  28. Bill says:

    Diego Costa at Atletico perhaps means they leapfrog us as the favorites to win the Europa League

  29. andy1886 says:


    Maybe, but Mahrez would be a decent replacement for them, plus they have VVD to improve their defence.

  30. C says:


    You also forget Mane is just now returning to form after early injuries and his suspension.

  31. Jonny says:

    It’s an experience alright.

    Can’t say I have exactly been in a hurry to go back. 😀

    Been to India before, Orson?

  32. Jonny says:

    I hope Hughes gives up the whole management thing – it’s not as though he has ever been particularly good at it and I can’t stand his hateful face.

  33. Orson Kaert says:


    Yes Bob, a couple of years ago, a fascinating country. Last time we did Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and the Rathnagore national park where we where lucky enough to see and photograph four tigers from fairly close range.

    This time we are taking a private tour of Southern India. Really looking forward to it.

  34. C says:

    So while we chase Evans, it looks as thougg Mahrez is set ti sign for and have his medical this week with Liverpool.

  35. andy1886 says:


    Yup, source is BeIN Sports, as they carry all Wenger’s interviews then they wouldn’t tell lies would they?

    I’d say that selling Coutinho for £140m and buying Van Dijk and Mahrez for around £125m total will be a good deal and make them better if anything. And they still have some change left over for a half decent ‘keeper too.

  36. C says:


    Yup, people killing Klopp need to look at what he has done this winter and during last summer, i mean he added Ox(who is having a purple patch), signed van Dijk, sign Keita and can get Mahrez. Plus Clyne and Mane are just now coming back from injury, he almost has strengthened his squad even with the subtraction of Coutinho

  37. C says:

    Mahrez to Liverpool for £49m is pending a medical with bith BeIN and Sky Sports reporting from seperate sources.

    We really should go get Aubameyang.

  38. andy1886 says:


    Wenger said he wasn’t interested, but even of he was why would Auba want to play for Wenger? I expect a totally underwhelming window (again), all the talk is of players leaving with nothing of any note linking us to making any buys.

    Klopp has been dynamic and improved Liverpool significantly while Wenger is leading us into mediocrity. Both clubs should have a similar wage bill by the end of the season but the scousers will be getting much better value for their buck than us.

  39. C says:


    I know he said he wasn’t interested but then again he said neither Sanchez or Giroud were up for sale in the summer, yet barring the last min scramble and Giroud’s wife neither would be at the club once the summer window ended. I agree, why would he want to but again, maybe there are things happening behind the scenes because Ivan seems to be putting people into places and based on Arsene’s comments he doesn’t approve nor does he seem to be involved in the decisions.

    Yup, peoe keep killing Klopp without actually looking at how much he has improved Liverpool and I would imagine while they might suffer for a week or 2, overall they will be a better squad.

  40. C says:


    That should read…

    “Yup, people….”

  41. C says:

    After ALL of that, Sky have just reported that Mahrez to Liverpool isn’t happening because the fee and Klopp wants somebody else.

    Also, reports in France have Seri almost certain to leave Nice and end up in the PL but Everton have shown interest but have no shot of getting him.

  42. C says:

    Southampton Manager Pellegrino has confirmed that he wants Theo at Southampton.

  43. andy1886 says:

    Wenger not sounding enthusiastic about our new head of player recruitment…

    Despite Mislintat’s appointment, Wenger insists the club were already keeping a keen eye on all the talent on the continent.

    “We know the players. We knew every single player in Europe before Sven arrived,” the manager said.

    “Sometimes in a little club in Germany he might know somebody that we might ignore.”

  44. C says:

    I’m not sure if we are going to be his stepping stone but reports are talks are progressing for Malcom to come to Arsenal and I know some won’t like it because he is only 20 but that lad is a real talent who is only scratching the surface of his potential. He is a goal scoring winger who has loads of talent.

    Currently he is being chased by Arsenal, Bayern, Juve, Citeh and everybody else. We might not get him or might act as a stepping stone club but I ould take him

  45. Freddo says:

    This is all cracking me up. At least you can rely upon Arsenal (and Arsene) to provide some laughs. He says he won’t sell Alexis unless he has a “world class” replacement. What part of Alexis is about to leave on a free transfer don’t you understand Arsene? You have no bargaining chips. And nobody who is “world class” wants anything to do with you because they know that Arsenal is the Bermuda Triangle of brilliant football careers.
    My fearless prediction: Alexis to Man City and the “world class” replacement will be, wait for it, Luis Perez.

  46. Wavey says:


    I’ve read a couple of articles with those quotes and it seems fairly clear that he isn’t happy. He’s moaning about how much time he has to spend in helping Sven settle into the set up with the scouting network. The new defender was a Sven intro and Wenger’s claim that we know all of the players already was childish. It will be interesting to see how this progresses, as I doubt we will hear about when Wenger and Sven clash over targets. Will the Board be happy if Wenger turns down Sven targets, or will he have to make a case for why he doesn’t want to consider certain players potentially introduced?

  47. andy1886 says:


    Wenger is a master of this. If there are problems and our recruitment remains poor then it will be all Sven’s fault, if we do find some gems it will be all down to Wenger’s ‘genius’. As you say we only hear about these disagreements when it suits his agenda (as with all the ‘we nearly signed’ the implication is that Wenger wanted them but the club couldn’t do the deal, rather than they took one look at Wenger’s recent record and told him to ‘do one’).

    The question that no-one asks Wenger when he makes these statements is that if he is so knowledgeable why has our recruitment been so poor?

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