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The debate over referees went into overdrive yesterday with the pundit class leaning in to ‘tell the peasants they aren’t allowed to speak’ on the matter of refereeing ineptitude.

Gary Neville called Arsenal and Liverpool dangerous for their statements – and had the audacity to reference his time as a player, forgetting the hold Ferguson had on referees

Jamie Carragher told us the statement was nonsense and Arsenal were bandwagon-jumping

Even Michael Owen piped up into the conversation saying Arteta was damaging the game

There are levels to this nonsense.

Howard Webb has taken over PGMOL and his big solution swing hasn’t been to change the quality of the rotten system – it’s been to get more face time with the big dogs in media. The referee association is in cahoots with the top pundits and now those guys are jumping to the defence after getting a Whatsapp message to cool the temperature after the horrendous officiating at the weekend.

Last weekend, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were telling us 6ft3 Rodri was pulled down by an arm around the waste by Hojland and it was a clear penalty.

This week, they are telling us Joelinton with a two-handed shove to the back of Gabriel wasn’t a foul.

How can we take the opinions of these guys seriously if they suffer the same consistency issues as PGMOL?

The pundit class is totally out of step with the feelings amongst the fans of all clubs this season. No fan media is out here loving on what is going on. We’re all sick to death of the desecration of the game at the hands of a group of men that are not at the top of their game. What made the defence of PGMOL all the more ridiculous was the disgraceful officiating in the Spurs/Chelsea game. It was absolutely farcical what went on. One of the most ridiculous games I’ve seen and I’ve seen some crazy things. Romero getting away with kicking out, Udogie getting away with a studs-up challenge, the most painful of VARing on multiple decisions. It was a game that summed up the authority issue bad refs have on the pitch, and the lack of technical nous going on at VAR headquarters.

The pundit class keeps telling us to stop looking back, to keep our emotions in check, and to accept that referees make mistakes – I’m sorry, that is not acceptable, we cannot normalize bad officiating.

Premier League clubs will track the mayonnaise consumption of players that burn 6000 calories a day to get a marginal gain – but they won’t address the biggest gain available to most clubs: getting refereeing decisions right.

Arsenal dropped at least 9 points last season based on shocking decisions. That’s the Premier League title. The most cost-effective and least resource-intensive way to get 9 points better off is… competence.

9 points were sacrificed because of egregious decisions last season. Why are Premier League clubs letting this slide? Well, it seems they might not be. At some point, these clubs, that pay very smart execs to solve problems, will have to get together and fix it.

Gary Neville and co like the pantomime of it. They like the debate. They like to divide fans. What they should be doing is suggesting ways to fix the problems.

There aren’t enough fresh ideas on this topic – so we just rally around conversations of injustice. Great for Sky. Not great for the game.

So here are 4 ideas.


We have a real problem with familiarity in PGMOL. Mike Dean has gone on the record to suggest that he has made decisions based on the feelings of his mate on the pitch. When you love the guy on the pitch to the extent you make bad decisions to protect them, you have a deep, deep problem you need to fix. Why does a VAR official have to be a Premier League or former Premier League referee? Let’s mix it up and take the emotion out of the game.

Let’s also think about referee diversity. One black referee in 15 years tells its own story – but the bigger issue for me is that London is represented.

This map from Reddit might not be fully updated – but it tells a story.

Who is the little guy in the bottom corner? That’s Jarred Gillet. Australia has more representation than London.

Like any country, there is regional divide. If you were going to serve up a model for fair refereeing. Would you look at that map and feel like you’d squeeze that through a fairness committee? Majority white referees, majority Northern, no representation of London, the east, the south, or the south east?

But let’s not be so isolationist here. Why can’t we have referees from all over the world? England doesn’t have a stranglehold on the best players, so we go to other countries. We certainly don’t have a strangle on the best refs, so why not look the Europe?

Diversity brings fresh ideas, stops cliches, and puts fairness at the centre.


Referencing the above problem with Mike Dein. I don’t believe referees have a strong culture amongst them. If you are a soldier, you are incentivized to put your life on the line for your country and your fellow soldiers. If you work at Apple, you about design, design, design. If you work at Disney, you’re about putting smiles on faces. Referees do not seem to believe that making the best decision is what their role is. Mike Dean said the quiet part out loud. But we hear all sorts of justifications every single game for bad decisions.

‘Ref didn’t want to send off Romero/Udogie because it’d ruin the game’

‘He’d be brave to give a penalty at Old Trafford’

We also know there are hot buttons refs don’t want to touch.

Sending Harry Kane off because he’s an England player

Making tough decisions against managers like Mourinho or Ferguson

Referees need to work in a culture that rewards great decisions – currently, it’s clear they are not in that space. Emotion, pecking order, love for thy colleagues, disdain for certain managers/players. This isn’t me making it up, just look at past comments of refs who are on record saying these things.


Do you, the fan, know if referees have a special analyst who briefs on players before the game? I don’t. If they do, why do certain players get away with the same things game after game?

Sadio Mane with the crafty elbows

Harry Kane reversing into defenders that are challenging for high balls

Rodri with fouls high up the pitch / general shithousery

Do you, the fan, know if referees get live data counts on tactical fouls and misdemeanors? I don’t. But I doubt it. They should be getting running scores of fouls, the severity, and the likelihood that those fouls are part of a tactical plan.

Mikel Arteta will be telling his players that a keeper is hard of hearing in one ear and demanding Ben White scream in the other to disorient him at corners – and he has a team of coaches analyzing the game in real-time to tell him if a player is flagging or having a mental meltdown during the game. Why aren’t refs equipped in this arms race to know if someone is playing dirty tricks?

Even at a base level for tech – why is that world cup offside radar thing not in all Premier League stadiums? We’re still relying on some guy drawing lines on a screen.


I was absolutely disgusted to learn that Premier League referees are topping up their salaries by taking midweek trips to countries that own Premier League football clubs.

Given the context of what is going on with Barcelona right now – this type of carry-on shows you the lack of control in the system at PGMOL and it shows you the perils of having top officials on yearly salaries gazumped by two weeks worth of work of an average player.

Three issues with this:

  1. At the level of ‘this isn’t a big deal’ you could still point to the lack of focus. Referees flying off to do other jobs like freelance TV presenters shows a lack of focus when you have one of the most prestige positions in the world. Longhaul flights impact fatigue – especially in older men – fatigue impacts the ability to make good decisions
  2. At the level of ‘what the fuck, this is legal but…’ you have to say that this throws up incredibly challenging ethical questions.
    1. When someone is giving you big money – do you show deference to them?
    2. When someone is flying you out to a nothing league, you have to ask, ‘why would they do that’?
    3. When someone is taking that money, are they thinking about ‘what’s next in my career, this is a nice hotel’ and are they thinking about 1 and 2 when they are making decisions?
  3. I don’t even want to get into level 3. What I will say is you are opening yourself up to very awkward questions by allowing yourself to be paid for by countries that own football clubs.

This lack of focus on the main job says the rewards system in Premier League football isn’t enough – and at worse, it shows the weakness for more money and post-Premier League career opportunities. It is scandalous more people aren’t talking about it. We’re out here chastising fans for getting angry about bad decisions, but no one on TV has anything to say about referees opening themselves up to awkward questions because of their side hustle jobs DURING the season?


I do not care what you earn. I do not care what you think is a lot of money. I am going to say this objectively: Premier League referees do not earn enough money for what they do. If they did, they wouldn’t be flying to the Middle East midweek to collect bonus cash.

You can’t retire at 45 on a Premier League refs salary. You need to find the next job. So what is your incentive as a ref? To get noticed. To be a face. To get that column with The Daily Mail or that nice job next to Merse and the boys. Who gets those jobs? The worst of the worst. Because no one remembers the guy that gets it right most of the time.

Refs that are great should earn more money and they should be subject to stricter standards. Why?

  • They are household names for all the wrong reasons – getting abused on the street is HORRIBLE
  • They are responsible for decisions that cost front office staff their jobs, clubs up to £100m if they are relegated, and player bonuses that could mean they can’t buy an extra house in the south of France
  • The Premier League is the BIGGEST sporting export England has – our officials should be the best and if they are the best, they should be paid like the best
  • You do not want to incentivise refs to be the star of the show because they can’t afford to retire in their mid-forties

Currently, referees are paid based on tenure and literally showing up. We should rework the structure so they are rewarded based on making good decisions.

The inverse of that is if you do NOT hit the standard, you drop out of the league.

If you make the reward package of Premier League referees good enough to retire wealthy, guess what? You’ll get more people entering the talent pool. You’ll get the best people at the top of the game.

If you build your culture around great decisions and reward the best people – it means you can justify binning people that cannot hit the standard.

I don’t want to keep seeing the same cast of characters making the same shocking decisions every season. I don’t want to see bad referees put in the VAR booth to ruin my life from Stockly Park. I want to see a high-performance culture with referees. We need more Collina’s in the world, not more Mike Dean’s.

Infamy shouldn’t pay. It does at the moment. That has to change.


The solve for poor officiating isn’t hoping Gary Neville and co give permission for a better PGMOL. The solve is hoping Premier League clubs come together to demand action as a collective. We cannot allow this mediocrity to flourish and we cannot accept Howard Webb’s big idea being ‘closer ties with the big opinion masters’ at Sky Sports.

I don’t think my ideas are the best out there – but I know they would progress the game better than ‘people make mistakes’ or ‘clubs are dangerous for suggesting PGMOL does better.’

Fans deserve better, so do the players/managers: So when are the clubs going to get serious about addressing the biggest problem in the best league in the world?

Who knows…

Give me your best ideas below!

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Nice… United lose. Losers..

ManUre creating new lows… love it.


Pretty sure I just saw Pukki out there beating Man United.


#Ten Hag
#Four more years.

Habesha Gooner

Jesus christ, United are never improving. They just need to start cutting some cheques and gutting the squad. But they won’t and that is why they will stay shit.


Mid you sure? Head to head wise I thought we needed a PSV win.


Ten hag is a very overrated manager. Guys clueless. Antony makes Havertz look prime Messi


Wanna support Rashy as a person for Englands sake, but this dude did not help himself with that red card. As a club I’m so happy United are going through the meat grinder.
Screw them


I want United to struggle. Just don’t want ETH sacked. He deserves at least a 10 year contract.
#Ten Hag
#10 more years 🤣


5 goals scored by trossard this season all made by saka، the question has to be asked why isn’t trossard starting more and why not put him up top for a while even if jesus and Eddie are fit.


There’s no way Sancho wouldn’t have been useful during this crisis period against the likes of Copenhagen but the manager has banished him.

Ten Haag has looked like a dead man walking for a while


So we beat Lens and we top the group.
The rest can scramble for 2nd place.



Good question


One point to qualify
Ten hag will be gone if they don’t qualify
Rest Saka for Burnley game surely
Pyramid Pirlo love it


Arteta said Tomi was feeling something, so they took the precaution.

If we’ve got no money in January, try for a Chalobah style loan, it’s not perfect, but as a January loan, it’s about as good as it’s going to get.

Habesha Gooner

lol pierre. grouping eddie and jesus in the same vein is the height of your shamelessness. I do hope eddie is on the bench for trossard though.

Luteo Guenreira

With our win giving us 9 points, a win by Lens would have kept PSV at 2 points with 2 games to go, so that would have put us through.

Currently we’re at 9 and Lens and PSV both have 5, so if Arsenal lose both remaining matches and PSV/Lens both win both of their remaining matches against us and Sevilla, they would go through with 11 points and Arsenal would be 3rd at 9 points.

Matt B

That pass from Jorginho was the absolute bollix

I think he’s been an excellent buy for us — I get people don’t like him, but his performances have been pretty good on the whole.

I’d get it if he was 1st choice #6, but he’s not. He did great tonight and that pass! Had Odegaard played made that, people would be going nuts about it

Matt B

GD4: Why do you want to support ‘rasht’? Fucking terrible tackle

Matt B

Thought Zinny looked good tonight too


Shout out to everyone that said Jorginho was poor

That pass shows what he’s about and capable of.


We just need to ground our players this international break.

3 Gabby’s have been called up for Brazil, World Cup qualifiers away to Columbia, and home to Argentina, which are usually full blooded affairs.

Saka + Rice should be nowhere near Malta and North Macedonia.

Keep Tomi away from Japan’s 2 internationals. , and Norway can’t qualify, so hopefully they use some common sense with Ødegaard.


Dominating football from Arsenal, good to watch. Jorginho was excellent and Havertz had a decent game.


By the way Kai Havertz is slowly but surely turning into the player most fans expect him to be

Unless you suffer from the Le Grover blind bias


Yea, Havertz is looking like the improving Xhaka of 2021
There may be more to come from him

Ben D

Total domination and control. The reigning Europa League Champions had 1 shot all game!!!


‘By the way Kai Havertz is slowly but surely turning into the player most fans expect him to be’



It was the deception in jorginho’s pass that made it so good and effective، that was right out of the Ozil mould of slide rule passes that unbalanced the whole defence… Those offensive players who played today and will be playing against Burnley have a chance to cement a place in the side as both are very average teams who can’t live with our physicality and ability to control a game.. Well done to trossard for making the most of his chance tonight ،a player with great movement and great technique who deserves more game time than he has been… Read more »


I think Havertz has started doing the basic things right

Freddie Ljungberg


So does Elneny and we paid 5m for him and he’s a 4th choice DM.


“ GD4: Why do you want to support ‘rasht’? Fucking terrible tackle”

Clearly it’s the reading and comprehension.
The man is English, no?
Maybe you didn’t read or understand the caveat there.
Also all three football minds on panels stated that there was no intent to tackle or injure but just to get balance and shield the ball. Carragher, Henry and the third buffoon I don’t remember all said yellow

Go support Madagascar for all I care, I want good English lad who had done so much for underprivileged kids to do well except at the expense of Arsenal


“ By the way Kai Havertz is slowly but surely turning into the player most fans expect him to be”

Oh hell nah.
Respect your opinion but couldn’t disagree more


I like my eggs sunny side up and just have to find hope in a £65 million signing


Marko … Ya i’m sure they broke it down on Cbs before the match .. had Lens won we would have qualified. because the most points PSV and Sevilla could get would have been 8 and we have 9 already.

But it didn’t happen so.


Havertz looks lost to me maybe i’m missing something, ball literally bounced off his nose on that opening corner before he realised it was even in play. Found himself in the box with the ball late on and watched it go behind for a goal kick.

Something just isn’t connecting for him thats pretty clear.

Arteta is going to shift Zinchenko into the mid thats how lacking Havertz has been.


At this point the best place to play Havertz is as a center forward … he only limits our play anywhere else.
A totally damp squib as a signing.
And I’m not understanding why Arteta is being stubborn and not playing Zinchy where he belongs


Agree w/ GD4

Put him in the 9.

Kai did have a great shot, off target but the strike was there…. im really digging for the positives here.


Havertz is actually pretty good at pressing، he puts his foot in unlike Odegaard، I prefer Havertz pressing to Odegaard’s although Havertz overall game is nowhere near Odegaard’s level. Havertz is better in the air and better defensively، although his header at goal in the opening minutes was abysmal، he is a much better header of a ball when he is defending as he doesn’t have to direct the ball، but Odegaard’s place shouldn’t be at risk.. Havertz is working very hard on the pitch and must be desperate to either score or assist، for the position he plays he… Read more »



Matt B

Someone comparing Elneny to Havertz 🤣

Matt B

No one saw Kai’s effort that went just wide — I guess not on here obvs


Via Arsenal:

Arteta On Kai Havertz’s performances of late:

“ For me, against West Ham in the first half he was the best player, Newcastle one of the best, and today, again he was really strong, I’m really happy with him.”


Kai played on the right in all those games is the issue. So for me if he plays you need to leave him over there.


Matt B

We’re supposed to be applauding the efforts of our £65m signing that just went wide!?

I know everyone’s expectations are low but come on. Would an effort that just went wide from any other player even get a mention? Course it wouldn’t.

Freddie Ljungberg

Matt B

Yeah that was silly of me. Elneny is better.

Rich, to be expected that Arteta tries to boost Havertz confidence. As long as he doesn’t actually belive what he said it’s all good.


Kai finally struck a ball well and it still missed the target.

Give him a raise


Ok I’ll shut myself up. I sincerely do want kai to turn it around.

Freddie Ljungberg


Too bad the Balon d’or has already been given this year because that piece of magic from Havertz deserved more than a raise.


That’s a proper crack up 🤣


Ok that’s me for the day. Take it easy my friends.
What a win!


I was the first to say I’ve noticed purpose in his last 3 games and a turnaround is coming
Let the record show
Also think vieira is gonna have some good games this year too
Plenty of game time left
We were unlucky to get two solid prem teams in the cup in first two rounds


Purpose, intent, aggression. Attacking spaces. Wanting the ball. Using it well. He’s starting to bed in
Anyone with eyes can see it


It’s like some of you fuckers want our players to crash


I get that people are desperate for Kai to do well… we need it. but ya.. didn’t see it myself. Whoscored.com who I respect their ratings. not always 100% how I saw it but.. usually close. Saka 8.7 Marti 8.5 Tross 7.3 Rice 7.2 Saliba 7.2 Jorginho 7.0 Ben W 6.9 Raya 6.8 Big Gabby 6.7 Havertz 6.6 TT 6.4 Seems about right to me second lowest rated player. And I think TT was injured and got subbed off halftime not sure. I would love to praise him to the high heavens but need to do it when it’s actually… Read more »


Looking at it deeper… Attacking stats for Kai were very poor… defensive stats were pretty good to very good. So like I said about a 6 out of 10 on my eye test scale. If Ode stays injured for a spell.. maybe he will settle in on the right.. I don’t know. But the attacking side has to come around before I can say he’s on a better trajectory. Since we bought him to add to our attack.

Anyhow, how I see it.. on to the next match. Think I have dissected it enough. hahaha


Is it me or does Declan sound a little like Neil from The In-Betweeners?


GD/MG/RP – “Go support Madagascar for all I care, I want good English lad who had done so much for underprivileged kids to do well except at the expense of Arsenal” – there I was thinking support of players down national lines was racist – but I guess it’s ok then ?

Up the English down with the Spanish! Tallyho !

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