So amusing watching certain sections of the media lose their minds over Arsene Wenger. You have Matt Dickinson of The Times calling on Wenger to serve community service and you have Tony Evans of The Standard demanding a 10 game ban to stamp this problem out before the game spirals into ‘anarchy’… the latter goes on to say that blaming refs is a deflection tactic, and players make more mistakes than refs.
What is going on here?
I am all for calling Wenger out when he’s done something dreadfully wrong, but let’s be clear here, the man is usually respectful to a fault. Wenger teams are respectful to a fault. Yet he’s being hauled over the coals like dropped a live feed of himself defecating on a Cenotaph? Was it right, no. Is this Paolo Dicanio like ill-discipline? No way.
Short story here is the second longest serving manager behind Arsene Wenger in the Premier League is now Eddie Howe. What a joke, right? Youngest manager in the league is the second longest serving. Anywho, what I’m pointing out here is that a ref making a bad decision at most gets him relegated to the Championship for a week. A terrible mistake in the Premier League can mean a loss, a slump in form and a P45 in the post.
There’s a lot riding on guys who are firstly unaccountable to the media. They are faceless, which doesn’t help. Why aren’t the allowed to speak about their thought process or atone for their errors? Would help them massively. Humanising a brand of official who wears black and generally gets on your nerves would be a very good start.
Secondly, and I truly don’t mean to be disrespectful, but the age in which a Premier League footballer starts to decline is generally 29 years old. They’re mostly done completely by 34/35 years old because the league is too fast. A quick look at the 18 or so refs in the league reveals the average age is a whopping 42 years old. The oldest, Roger East, is 51 years old. Unreal. We expect these guys to chase after young boys less than half their age? It’s madness.
Thirdly, we give them no tools to do a better job. Purists think football evens itself out, like there’s a God of the good game, tallying up the rights and wrongs, dropping out levellers. It’s an utter nonsense. Football should be played to the rules. If there’s a hawkeye that calls offsides, we should use it. If a ref can’t be 100% on a penalty decision, he should be able to call in to check. If football fans have 5mins added to their game, but all the decisions are right, they’d not have a problem.
Injustice isn’t fun. It’s horrible. I also totally understand that Arsenal won off an offside goal. Shouldn’t have happened, but hey, we should have had an earlier penalty and a red card for Mustafi getting elbowed in the head.
Listening to all these journalists lambast Wenger, who by the way apologised after, need to have a real think about what they’re publishing and why it’s counter-productive. The UK media is powerful, if they all decided we should call for technology, you know what, I’d place money on it we’d have it within 2 years (and I appreciate Evans mentioned in his article this would be nice, but it should have been the lead of the article, not buried in a paragraph 75% in).
… and look, it’s no pipe dream. The Germans are working on it now and early testing has proved very positive.
‘There were 44 clearly wrong decisions before the winter break, from which the video referee could have clarified 33’
They’re not going crazy with the first iteration of the tech, but they’re taking on contentious decisions.
‘Video assistants would only be called into action in four situations; when there are irregularities in the awarding a goal, if a referee gets a decision to award or deny a penalty wrong, for offenses that should have led to a red card, or in cases of mistaken identity regarding a booking or sending off.’
Why can’t we have this in the Premier League? How can a person be against more accurate refereeing? The Germans are saying this is not meant to take on all decisions and it still won’t be 100% accurate, but it’s minimum interference, maximum benefit (more details here).
…. and look, when you get more decisions right and there’s less injustice, the referees will by proxy earn more respect, there will be less abuse and everyone will enjoy the game more. Well, bar the masochists and the traditionalists.
That’s me done, be back with a podcast tonight!