I still can’t quite believe what I saw when Jan Vertonghen, of Tottenham Hotspur, was ruled offside for scoring against Sunderland last week, when he had received the ball five or six yards inside his own half – and the referee was three yards behind him! What makes moments like that worse is that we never hear any explanation after the game from officials about the decisions they make….
That has to change. Managers and players have to face the music after games. Heaven knows, I’ve had some stinkers over the years and had to answer questions about them. Why do we think referees have to be different?
It is not a very exciting piece, and I don’t quote it in the recommendation that you read it, but I do think it is a vitally important commentary for what it does not say and the way it does not say it. Just look at this…
It was interesting to read Mike Riley’s comments about how they’re trying to improve things. But there’s too much at stake for us just to say: “Mistakes will happen.”
The fact is of course PGMO don’t say, “mistakes will happen.” They say instead that 97 percent of all decisions in Premier League matches are right. By deliberately skimming over this fact, the Independent is again ensuring that PGMO is painted in the light of a bunch of self-satisfied old duffers, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I reviewed what PGMO actually is just recently, and won’t repeat but here is a quick summary. PGMO is an organisation that
1. Is utterly secret in all its behaviour and activity.
2. Deliberately limits the number of referees in the PL which enhances the impact of any corruption there might be since some refs take matches involving the same club time and time again
3. Even with this tiny number of refs has managed to have a geographic inequality among the refs
4. Doesn’t even have a web site – having suddenly closed it after Untold started probing into what they do. Someone even removed a short note on Wikipedia’s brief piece about them which said that their accuracy figures had been challenged.
All of this was covered as I say in my earlier piece on the issue of why corruption in football is covered so rarely by the press, and when it is, it is always with the slant towards gambling (defined as done by corrupt Asians and nothing really to do with us in the pure West). The Italian experiene is forgotten and the thought that through the way PGMO runs football it could happen here, is avoided.
But there is a further implication within this: the question of Arsenal’s endless injury crisis.
There is a number of members of aaa who argue that Arsenal’s injury crisis is due to Arsene Wenger and his faulty training programme. It is a curious argument, without any proof or even evidence, and which for it to be true would mean that Mr Wenger is deliberately pursuing a policy of injuring his own players year after year after year, and that the board, who could remove him (as many managers are removed season after season) fails to do so in the face of such evidence.
Indeed if this were the case, someone in the coaching team at some time in the last ten years would surely have gone behind Mr Wenger’s back and given the board the evidence.
We looked at the allegations against Mr Wenger and others in an earlier article (details below) and looked at the specific commentary from the Dutch coach Raymond Verheijen. I won’t repeat all that – you can go back to the original article below if you wish – and that article itself has further links to our research and analysis.
But I do want to pull together two points here. The media refuse to pick up on the oddity of the PGMO claim of accuracy for referee decisions, and what we actually see. (And indeed what was found on the Referee Decisions website which drew in commentaries from referees from across the country). And the media also refuse to consider any reason for Arsenal’s very high injury list other than it being the fault of Mr Wenger’s training methods or the quality of the Emirates pitch, which is thoroughly bizarre since it is relaid each year.
Yet there is another very straightforward explanation. It is one that I have been told a number of times by people within Arsenal and within the game. People who of course cannot talk to Untold openly, because when you work for a top club you sign a confidentiality agreement. And so, my comment that we do get occasional inside information, from the club, and from referees, can readily be dismissed as me living in a fantasy world – I understand that.
But even if you don’t want to accept that others are saying what follows, you might like to consider it from a logical point of view.
Here’s the question: why does Arsenal get more injuries than most clubs, in most seasons?
The media and the aaa have come up with
1. The training ground or the Emirates pitch has been badly prepared.
2. The training methods are faulty – players are over trained
3. The players are rushed back into matches too quickly, largely because Arsenal has too small a squad because Mr Wenger refuses to buy players.
But try these alternatives:
4. Arsenal play at such a high tempo that for many teams who normally finish lower in the league, the only way to stop Arsenal is through the serious foul
5. Referees, when faced with an immediate onslaught of such fouls are reluctant to give the fouls.
Now let’s take point five for a moment and see where this leads. Point five can be explained by
5.1 Referees desperately want to give the chance to let the game get going and then keep it flowing. They are not currupt, they are not being persuaded to allow the opposition to chop down Arsenal players, they just don’t like being seen as “whistle happy” from the off. So the opposition choppers are encouraged, and continue, until Arsenal players get hurt, either from one awful attack or through twisting and turning to get out of the way of hacking tackles or through an accumulation of fouls.
5.2 Some referees have been bought, probably through the application of the Calciopoli system within the Permier League.
Now if 5.1 is true, then the problem that we have is that the PGMO is in denial over the percentage of fouls accurately called, and cards given in keeping with the laws. If 5.2 is true, then we have corruption.
So Arsenal’s long running injury crisis comes down to these causes:
a) The training methods are wrong and have been wrong for ages, but no one has blown the whistle on Mr Wenger and the board remain unaware. It seems ludicrous that this has gone on for so long, it seems impossible, and (I can say because I have had it said to me by three separate people very close to such matters) that it is an allegation that causes enormous annoyance with the club – a club remember that is still spending millions on building new training facilities and upgrading existing facilities and equipment.
b) The speed at which Arsenal play means the side needs protection from thuggish tackles, but the refs don’t give this, out of a mistaken desire to let the game flow.
c) A few referees have been bought, and use point b) above as a way of trying to meet their paymasters’ desires, while others are influenced by this approach, which attracts no remonstrations from PGMO who sit glibly spouting their “97% of all calls are accurate” mantra.
It is hard to see how any other explanation can explain the injury level year after year.
Anniversary of the day
- 24 January 1998: Middlesbrough 1 Arsenal 2, (FA Cup round 4) on the way to the second Double. The second double: part 1, part 2, part 3.
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