The not-so-professional game match officials
APRIL 10 — I told you so!
My apologies, it is really not in my nature to say such things but you really have to forgive me for venting my frustrations on the subject of referees in the English Premier league (EPL).
I have said it time and again … they are an absolute joke!
Actually, these men in black have long been a joke, but, unfortunately, for the last two to three seasons, they have further deteriorated to becoming a very bad running joke, instead of just being an occasional one-liner.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the infamous Mike “Manchester United always deserve a penalty at Old Trafford” Riley taking over as head of the (so-called) Professional Game Match Officials (PGMO) association from the highly-respected veteran official Keith Hackett in January 2010. The timing seems just about right for the worsening in standards.
Some of you might say these referees are as bad as my columns. But seriously folks (no pun intended), it truly is a case of the inmates having taken over the asylum as these clowns are taking their profession down to a whole new level beyond imagination.
It was only last week that former Arsenal legend and current Manchester City staff Patrick Vieira stated the obvious about referees favouring Manchester United.
I had already written about the same on this very portal in January last year — read this.
Well, what Vieira said was simply something all of us had already known for more than a decade — and something the former France captain himself was a witness to at close hand in his Arsenal days — and then bang, Lee Mason bends over backwards for the Red Devils during Sunday night’s early kick-off against Queen’s Park Rangers at Old Trafford.
His assistant obviously froze on the occasion as Ashley Young was in an offside position prior to being challenged by QPR captain Shaun Derry. However, the sheer eagerness of Lee Mason to whip out the red card was almost tragic.
The smug look on his face said it all … job done! It was a look of relief, too, as he got his Red Devils membership renewed in only 14 minutes.
When a player is clearly offside, as Young was, the assistant referee should have flagged. That was it for me, with one error compounding another error and by two different match officials, in a matter of seconds, at that. I knew it was time that I tuned off.
Yes, for the first time in my life, I actually changed channels and decided to watch Tom Boonen’s heroics in the Paris-Roubaix Classic. FYI, it is a cycling race, for those of you not familiar with the race and Boonen.
When football results are directly decided by referees, sometimes it is good to have a second interest. Cycling is something I started taking an interest in pretty late in life, but what a personally-satisfying passion it has become now for me.
But I digress.
Speaking of which, the assistant referee in the match between Chelsea and Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge on Saturday must have had his mind wandering away from the action taking place in front of him, thus allowing for Branislav Ivanovic to score from being miles offside.
For the record, the PGMO comprises those who are employed full-time as referees and fourth officials in EPL matches while the PGMO Assistant Referees are all hired as match officials on a part-time basis. Sometimes, I wonder if the two groups are the cast of a little-known and yet-to-be-released movie “Dumb and Dumber in England.”
Actually, the same movie title could also apply to two individuals in Manchester City, namely, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli.
Quite frankly, if Tevez is an idiot then Balotelli is just plain stupid. I am sure I don’t need to elaborate on this one.
This season, City have only fallen short in one area but, unfortunately, it is the biggest factor, and it is also what Manchester United possess a lot, thus enabling them to win titles all these years. No, it is not referees but team spirit.
All the skills and money in the world cannot buy team spirit, that is, the spirit of being one and fighting for each other. That is the only failure of Roberto Mancini.
His downfall — and in effect, the unravelling of City’s season — can partly be attributed to his inability to handle the two biggest “me, myself and I” characters in football, the aforementioned “idiot” and “plain stupid”.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.