By Walter Broeckx
I don’t know when I first started writing about referees on Untold Arsenal. I remember trying to write a few educational articles about some decisions and about the rules. And also add the perspective on why a ref could make mistakes. But then came the questions from oh so many readers about decisions going against Arsenal and asking me to explain them.
I did this and then the questions came to review entire each Arsenal game and the decisions, right or wrong. And then you asked me to go even further and review each decision. And so I did and then I got some help from a few other referees. And then it all came to the referee decisions website which is back online by the way after having some technical problems. We are publishing reviews each day of the week and even on weekends and on bank holidays.
All this time I have tried to educate people and explain the rules. And all the time I have tried to point at strange things. I think after all those years it looks that my hard work has been worth the trouble. I have spent hours and hours on doing this and had to face criticism (as a ref I am used to this) but I also got a few rounds of applause. Mostly from our regular readers who appreciated the work we did.
But also people contacted me behind the scenes and appreciated what we did and were very supportive. They didn’t agree with all we did and wrote about what they didn’t like, but that is the great thing about free speech. But still they patted us on the back on more than one occasion.
All the time I wanted to raise the awareness of the strange things we found. And I think I and my fellow referee reviewers did just that. Last week when the appointments were made we had a few people over here predicting what might happen in the game between Manchester United and Chelsea. Referee would be Howard Webb.
And people pointed at the fact that United didn’t have a player sent off not only this season but also since the 1-6 defeat against City. And the fact that United didn’t concede a penalty all season. And people wrote that we might see it happening in this game with the title being wrapped up for United. And especially with Howard Webb as the ref.
People suggested that this would be the perfect way to try to put a few “well known facts” to bed. The fact that Webb was very much in favour of United in most of his games with some strange decisions in their favour. So the talk of Webb being a United boy could be brushed under the carpet and the United faithful could point at Webb giving decisions against United.
And so it happened. Now I must admit I didn’t see the game at all except for the last 10 minutes. I did see the sending off. And it was a foul I have seen United players do on many occasions and sometimes without even getting called a foul against them. But this time Webb did call it. In an attempt to try to save his own face a bit. I only have to point at the ridiculous decision a few seasons ago when Ferdinand ripped the shirt and the chest of Sagna to pieces with his studs at chest height and Webb then even didn’t call a foul, let alone produce the red card.
So Mr. Webb you can forget that we will now forget all those missed red card against United players because you sent one man off now. You may hope we will forget but rest assured we are not that dumb.
But now you have ended a run that started to become a bit embarrassing for United. Nowhere in history can you find a similar long run of one team (and one team only) to never having a player sent off during a period of 560 days. Well not in the PL . Or only in the PL. Because in European competitions the saints of Manchester United weren’t that “saintish”. No they had red cards given in Europe. But not in the PL.
And in fact this adds to my articles about calciopoli in the PL. The part that talked about the referees knowing not to take decisions against the leading team in the PL. But with other people apart from Untold starting to talk about that unusual long no-red card run and started asking questions the time was right to make an end to it. And no better way to end it but to send Fergies rent boy as Webb is usually called by opposition fans and give him the honour of doing it. Maybe even Silva was instructed to look for a red card and do something stupid. After all he is the player that I think deserved the most not given red cards in those 560 day run.
In a way it was a bit like our unbeaten run. We couldn’t lose a game until the current head of the PGMOL produced his farce of refereeing at Old Trafford. Now it was an un-redcarded run that had to be stopped at Old Trafford.
So the attempt to end 3 “facts” in the PL in one game was a success. Just as ending our unbeaten run was successful. These facts were:
- No United player can be sent off,
- No United player can be sent off at Old Trafford
- Webb is a United ref.
A great attempt to end this common knowledge knowing to all non-United fans.
A great attempt but I think most of us can see through it. It will take a few more red cards against United players to convince us. And maybe a few penalties against United. But you know, Mike or Howard, not this season. You’ve done your job for this season. The real test will be next season. Then we will see if United players get sent off in the same way as players from other teams. And we will see if United will get penalties given against them just like other teams, or most other teams.
Don’t think we will be that easily convinced.
The most detailed study of Premier League Refs ever:The referees 2013.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches
- Royal Arsenal: from the Common to the Manor. Coming next.