“I didn’t see Arsene Wenger sent off”
“Neither did he”.
By the front row, Block 110, and the Untold Team
Hysteria and humour seemed to be the main response to yesterday’s game. Humour with the comments and headlines above, and hysteria of such proportions from the Telegraph that one begins to fear for the well-being of their commentators.
We are of course used to the authorities making up new punishments to hurt Arsenal as matters proceed. The sudden invention of the notion that two points could be deducted from Arsenal in 1990 because of a “mass brawl” (which it clearly wasn’t) in a match against Manchester Ferguson (which shamefully the directors of Arsenal did not appeal, the 12 match ban for Mr Wenger in October 2000 for indulging in “violent or threatening behaviour against Mr Taylor, the fourth official at a game at Sunderland,” in August that year, which was reduced to a reprimand on appeal after the panel of enquiry recognised that the referee had lied in his evidence.
In that case also there were aftershocks when Referee Taylor himself was subsequently charged with misconduct for insulting comments to Notts County’s Sean Farrell during the game against Wigan on October 14. That was heard on 6 February 2001 one month after Mr Wenger’s appeal and was found to be “not proven” after a four hour secret hearing.
Now Keith Hackett, writing in the Telegraph, is out for retribution for Mr Wenger’s victory in 2000/2001 which have long festered in the refereeing community and PGMO.
“For the sake of every official at every level of the game the FA must throw the book at Arsene Wenger after his disgraceful behaviour on Sunday,” he screaches in the paper. “They need to send out a strong, clear message – officials are sacrosanct and if you lay hands on them you will pay a heavy price.
“A one or two match touchline ban just won’t cut it on this occasion. A slap on the wrist would tell every Sunday morning player that it’s OK to abuse or physically assault officials.
“What I would like to see as an absolute minimum is a six-game ban – but a far more severe punishment than simply being banished from the touchline. Instead, I would like to see Wenger barred from any contact with his team once inside the stadium. Uefa regularly impose this sanction and I feel it has far more impact than a manager simply being unable to stand in the technical area.”
(We may perhaps pause here just to ask for the justification of the word “regularly” in the previous sentence. But going on with the tirade…)
“The reason I say that is a touchline ban often makes very little difference. In that scenario the manager sits up in the stands – often with a better view of the action – and communicates with his bench via mobile phone or messenger. They can go into the dressing room at half time and make the key decisions. Under the Uefa regulations you sit alongside a delegate and can have no contact once the players are off the team coach. You are powerless from that moment on. Managers hate it, but it acts as an effective deterrent.
“If the FA do take appropriate action of that nature – and I would like to see an extended touchline ban if the FA do go for that option – then this incident could be good for the game as a whole. The Telegraph reported last week on how 800 referees planned to strike this weekend over the threat of verbal and physical abuse, and it was no surprise to me we had reached such a tipping point. That strike was eventually called off, but decisive action is required and this could be a good start.”
The commentary will undoubtedly be seized upon by PGMO, and Jose Mourinho who endlessly endlessly suggests that Mr Wenger is treated too leniently by the FA. However it makes no sense at all to suggest that inaction by the authorities over the long deteriorating situation in amateur football, which is entirely the fault of the FA and its abject refusal to deal with the treatment of referees at that level, is linked in any way with a situation involving a man who has been involved in football at the highest level for 20 years.
You simply cannot excuse the utter failure of the FA to deal with one matter, by then persecuting someone else.
All the wild ravings of the Telegraph seem to suggest, and in a totally wacky vision, is that by punishing Mr Wenger in a way that no manager has ever been punished before at Premier League level, one can make up for 20 years of zero response to a declining situation at the amateur level. That somehow spectators at amateur games, plus unpaid amateur managers will look at a long ban for Mr Wenger and then think, “oh, woops, that might be me. Better stop the abuse and harassment.” How likely is that? About minus 50 on a scale of one to ten.
Of course the FA and PGMO will seize on this because they will see it as a way of excusing their ineptitude over all this period, and of course as a way of knocking Arsenal, as they have done so often before.
It is of course also possible that there will be an attempt to take points away from Arsenal. After all it has been done before in 1990, and with the mass support of the media at the time, they got away with it.
Equally to be expected there was widespread pointing out of the fact that Koscielny was offside when he headed the Burnley player’s boot. Since he made no contact with the ball it was a correct decision, as has been pointed out on Untold, that there could be no flag. But there will be, and probably has been, a lot of screaming that Arsenal were lucky to get the penalty.
Again the issue of context arises. Just how many “goals” do Arsenal have to have against them which are offside before the historical issues replace the hysterical issues?
The problem here was revealed the previous evening on TalkSprout, whose commentary on the Manchester City / Tottenham game. The commentator was screaming for a penalty and unable to believe that the referee had missed it, in that game.
But, of course, he was trapped. For the long running abject refusal of the Sprout and its Sun paymasters to ask why referees make “mistakes” and their complete inability to look at any context beyond the last 10 seconds, means they cannot ever reach a true understanding of what is going on. If they were historians they would probably record that Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 because it was time for Neville Chamberlain to declare war on Germany to show them that Britain could declare war on Germany.
Context is out, hysteria is all.
Here’s how the Telegraph and PGMO would like the table to look
*10 points deducted because it is Arsenal.
Arsenal v Burnley
- Arsenal v Burnley. The teams, the beach, the factoids
- Arsenal v Burnley: Cheating Ladbrokes, injury news, tactical preview and Arsenal in crisis.
- Arsenal v Burnley Sunday 22 January 2017 – The Match Officials, and news of a promotion
- Arsenal v Burnley: the background stats, Burnley in season 1, and goalscorers in double figures.
- Arsenal and Burnley, the early early news
- Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek #15 complete with video evidence
- If TV football audiences really are in terminal decline, as the figures suggest, then what?
- Referee Appointments and Results Matchweek 15 – The bullet points
- Why are statistics such a problem in football? After all, the facts are out there.
From the History Society
- Arsenal players 1936/7, Arsenal crowds in the 30s, and comparisons with earlier years
- April / May 1937: Arsenal slip back and Man City triumph – for the moment
- The Index of articles about Arsenal players throughout history: A to KL to Z
The picture above is of The Untold Arsenal Banner is on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium