- A quick look at the league table in case you missed it.
- Where are they now? The team in game 14, three years ago.
By Tony Attwood
In 2005 it was agreed that a player or manager verbally abusing a match official when challenging a decision, will be sent off. And that is what Erling Haaland did when shouting at Simon Hooper after Manchester City’s draw against Tottenham. Yet perhaps because he was a Manchester City player, he was not sent off. He’s been making more comments since – but no response as yet from PGMO.
There can be no doubt what Haaland was doing in his protests in the fifth minute of stoppage time moments, and if he is not banned for a significant number of matches then certainly several other clubs that until now have only been kept in check by having multiple yellow cards waved at them, will feel free to rant and rage with arms akimbo and on occasion swivelling.
There is also no doubt that Haaland rushed over to Hooper and that the referee was surrounded by a mass of Manchester City players, described in the Telegraph article as an “angry mob”.
Thus the swearing, the arm waving, the close proximity and the group of players around the referee all are offences for PGMO to consider. One wonders if the various players will be considered to be in breach of four offences, and thus get four match bans each, but probably not. This is, after all, Manchester City.
Now what has been happening in the past is that the clubs have been fined, and a recent article in the Daily Mail pointed out the English league clubs were fined over £1.3m last season for referee abuse alone.
But this of course is where the next problem lies – for any fine against Manchester City is pretty meaningless since Manchester City have unlimited funds – at least until the 110 cases filed against them by the Premier League reach a resolution, and so they can easily go on paying fines without a care in the world.
Of course, there are other ways of handling this, as in September this year Liverpool’s Van Dijk was given a ban specifically for abusing the referee in their league match against Newcastle. But again, this is Manchester City, so probably not.
So given this is an issue (which has been around at least since 2005 when the rules were changed to deal with verbal attacks en masse) one would hope that by now the PGMO would have its range of punishments sorted out.
And there is an issue of interest in this for Arsenal, because as we have noted before Arsenal have focussed on reducing the number of yellow cards they get from referees, and have modified both their play and their behaviour to meet the rules and indeed the whims of PGMO.
Thus in a very real sense, the question is not just will Manchester City be penalised for breaking lots of rules but are Arsenal being penalised for abiding by the rules?
In 2019/20 Arsenal notched up 86 yellow cards and it is interesting to see what Arsenal has done since then in comparison with other clubs – and reflect on how PGMO are dealing (or indeed not dealing) with this situation.
In the final column we can see in brackets the number of yellow cards that each of the three clubs will achieve this year by the end of the season if they carry on at the same rate as now.
Now in that last column what we can see is that both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur are heading toward a yellow card total that is their biggest in the last five seasons (and probably more than that although we’re having to derive all the figures individually, which is why we haven’t gone back further than 2019/20).
Arsenal on the other hand has worked assiduously to take the club down from being the most yellow-carded club in the league in 2019/20 when Arteta arrived, until now.
And this final point is worth mentioning as the media and indeed the Manchester City manager have been making snide remarks about Mikel Arteta’s “rant” (as the media ceaselessly dubbed it) in relation to referee behaviour this season.
But there is another question here: do yellow cards have any impact on long term behaviour generally? I have often argued that when Arteta arrived he found a club that was top of the yellow card table, and has worked to take Arsenal to the bottom of the yellow card table. Not, I would add because of any moral duty, but rather to regain control of the team from PGMO.
With Chelsea and Tottenham from 2020/21 onward we can see teams travelling in the opposite direction and different managers will do things differently. The question now is, will PGMO just let them carry on getting more and more cards? The media never seem to mention it, so perhaps no one feels it is an issue any more.
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England
- Didn’t appreciate KO time, M1 is a disaster, but watching Arsenal is a joy