An Alternative View on Why Refs Are Now Biased in Favour of Man City and Not Man United
The constant down-playing of Arsenal’s chances forced me to pen this earlier this season. At the time, the question on the lips of every football pundit and the media was whether Arsenal were contenders for the EPL title. At that point in the season, Arsenal were leading the league, as they have done long before then, but the consensus was that the team would ultimately falter, hence the constant and near unanimous questioning of their credentials.
On the contrary, Manchester City and (to a less extent Chelsea) are expected to run away with it. Every pundit and their dog were just so convinced that City are going to win it.
Of course, this was not based on any kind of evidence other than the amount of money that the blue side of Manchester had spent. At the time of writing the linked post, Manchester City had lost to Cardiff City, Aston Villa and Sunderland. It is true that those were away defeats but potential EPL winners don’t lose those kinds of games. Arsenal on the contrary were passing all the series of ‘tests’ that the media and our own ‘non-existent’ AAA kept putting before the team. But still, Arsenal weren’t contenders while Man City were. At this point, one could see the look of embarrassment on Gary Lineker’s face as his MoTD ‘expert’ panels ruled out Arsenal one after the other.
At the end of the same article (sorry that I keep referencing the piece but its concluding part is germane to this piece), I noted that the officials don’t live in a media free bubble. They hear what we all hear and like many, even among Arsenal’s own supporters, are influenced consciously or sub-consciously by it.
A lot has been said about Man United losing their fear factor but that is not really the problem. Man United’s performance on the field has degenerated. The media, after many, many poor performances and loss of points, finally stopped bigging them up and voilà, Moyes is now reduced to complaining about the officials, who like the rest of the population have stopped believing in their invincibility and thus have stopped favouring them. But can anybody recall the number of questionable calls in their favour at the beginning of the season, before it was finally realised that they’ve lost it? Penalties from Ashley Young dives anyone?
For me, it has always been the media (pundits, commentators, journalists, MoTD panelists etc) who are more responsible for perpetuating bad officiating than anyone else. Not the players; not the managers; not the fans; not even the referees. It’s the media!
Anyone notice how they’ve stopped showing replays of off side calls against Arsenal since that Man City game? The British media collectively are a very annoying pest but a very powerful and influential one too. They love to play the kingmakers. They are now doing in the premier league what they’ve always done in politics.
Man City are the new Man United. Untold Arsenal is well known, positively or negatively, for focussing on officiating in the league. Many commentators, in my opinion, have the motives of the officials wrong. I keep hearing stuff about ‘Oilers this’, ‘Oilers that’ but did Man City just became beneficiaries of an Oil Sheik? Haven’t they had the same owners for about 5 years now? Did they just learn how to use their oil money to influence results? Why didn’t they do this last year when basically the same Man United team ran away with the league? Why did it take a last minute goal for them to win the league on goal difference 2 years ago? Shouldn’t their oil money had bought them something less dicey?
It is possible that the officials are being induced with oil money to favour Man City but unfortunately, there is no proof.
Are the refs favouring Man City? I believe so based on strings of bad officiating in games involving them but with the victims of the bad calls always being their opponents. But there is no way to prove that they are buying their results. To continue to suggest so would lose us the support of other fans who might also believe, like us, that there is something fishy about officiating but uncomfortable with accusation of corruption without proof.
My position on this matter is based on the team that used to enjoys such benefits: Manchester United. But then nobody ever talked about ‘oil money’, we just assumed that they were in the pockets of Alex Ferguson. And many of them were indeed intimidated or enamoured with the Scotsman. While I agree with the notion (that Ferguson owned the refs), on the other hand, I think that Man United got everything they wanted because of a very compliant media. While the officials might have been intimated by or just loved Ferguson, the British press worship the ground that he walks on. His team was treated with the same reverence. I used to joke that Manchester United is adopted by the English in lieu of their national teams which are perpetual failures at all levels and across genders.
The media have a new darling in Manchester City. They might not have a manager named Alex Ferguson but they have something that the media worship even more than a great personality: MONEY. For all their bluster against and mocking of moneyed people, the British media do their fair share of sucking up to the rich, until they fall from grace by either going broke or being involved in scandals.
There is also the new religion-like belief that it is money and money alone that wins championships. The routine is: you get loads of money (source’s integrity is irrelevant), you spend them on players, you win trophies. I wonder why they don’t just hand over the league title and other cups to the club with the biggest transfer kitty. But then clubs like Wigan, Swansea, Birmingham City etc appear once in a while to make a mockery of this mind-set. At least in the cups.
There is no doubt in my mind that Man City are being favoured but, in my opinion, it is because they are the new anointed team of the media. Of course, I could be wrong but I can at least back up my notion in terms of the coronation-like coverage of Man City compared to Arsenal and even Chelsea. Arsenal, on the other hand, get shafted from time to time by the officials who seem not to like us very much but they only do this because there is always little to no blowback from the media. Two good goals from Arsenal got chalked off for wrong off side calls and all the media ran with was how much thrashing Arsenal got. Newcastle lost a goal to a bad call and it was given enormous coverage. The media seem to love Man City with the same intensity with which they hate us.
I still believe that we are going to win the league. Although Man City’s improved away performances and all the help from the officials are making this difficult for many, including at Untold, to believe. I don’t begrudge those who panic, I just hope that they can keep such to themselves and not spread disbelief among the less panicky Gooners. The team is defiant about their chances. The least that we the supporters should do is back them up, not with wimpy, panicky doubtful moans but loud and vociferous roar of: Yes We Can!
Keep the faith.