By Walter Broeckx
In the previous article I looked at how one journalist in the Guardian was arguing that no one should be criticising referees.
Continuing to look at that article I have to go to his words on saying that referees are needed just as crossbars and corner flags. And of course he is right. Without a ref, crossbars and corner flags there is no match. That is written down in the laws of the game. But by throwing them in one sentence he sure is messing things up in a very bad way.
We have shown on Untold by analysing more than 500 PL matches in the PL that we can see some strange patterns in some referee performances. Leading us to start from judging decisions on to being able to find strange patterns. And thus leading us to find some referees being kind to some teams and being unkind to other teams. This is based on more than ten thousands of decisions and still counting. Not just on gut feelings. No, each decisions has its weight in the whole of our findings.
So we can say that for most refs that some teams can do no wrong and that some players can do no wrong while others can only do wrong, based on our numbers and analysis of those numbers. So we can say that ref X will be glad to allow player Y to do something that others are not allowed.
But for the crossbar it doesn’t matter who is shooting the ball against it. It doesn’t matter for a crossbar if it is Rooney or Alexis or Hazard whose shot is hitting it. It will bounce it back in one direction or another according to the laws of physics or the laws of motion or gravity or whatever plays a part in the movement of an object flying on a football field. The crossbar is free of any prejudice or bias.
Alas referees are not! They have grown up as kids, supported a football team as most kids who love football do and take this in their baggage when they travel to a match. Unknowingly maybe but they have it somewhere in there subconscious and it can influence their decisions at any moment in the match.
So to compare referees with crossbars is just wrong and stupid.
Moving on to what the writer of the Guardian is saying about us not speaking about referees anymore and how that will improve the referees and how it will improve the PL teams when playing in Europe, is a very strange link.
In a way the article shows that there actually is a link between the performances of the referees and the way PL teams do in European football. And that has been a thing I have said on more than one occasion. I am not going to repeat all the articles I have written about it but regular readers will know that I have said that having to change the way games are refereed in the PL and then in the CL is sometimes confusing for PL players as things that are unpunished in the PL are suddenly being punished even with red cards. While in the PL sometimes (according to the bias of the referee) not even fouls are given, let alone a yellow card.
That will have a bigger influence than people criticising referees for not doing their jobs in the PL.
Let me give an example. Ferdinand not being called a foul when he went in with his studs on the chest of Sagna at Old Trafford and Nani for doing the same against Real Madrid. Nani got correctly send off, Ferdinand didn’t even get a foul called against him despite the shirt of Sagna being ripped apart from the studs of Ferdinand.
So how would not talking about that Ferdinand incident help the teams in Europe? In fact I bet Mr. Ronay didn’t talk about this non-incident at all. They should have talked about it because then Nani probably would have retreated from pushing his studs into the chest as is allowed in the PL by PL referees, against a player of Real Madrid in the CL.
The thing is that the media takes the wrong incidents to talk about. They base their judgement on referee matters not by using the laws of the game but by looking at which team benefited from the decision. To stay on my example: Oh, United gained from Ferdinand not being red carded so lets shut up. Oh, Nani got send off and United lost in the CL from Real Madrid so lets whine about that foreign ref that has no respect for our local tradition of giving decisions in favour of United.
In the book 1984 it was the government and the media that determined what we should think and what could be said or spoken about by the people in the street, their house, the bus, …. In fact that is what Mr. Ronay is asking: it is the same.
Don’t speak about the referees is what the PGMO wants us to do. Because that way they can carry on and can never be questioned. So it looks as if the Guardian has just taken the side of the PGMO once again (they have previous on this if I remember correctly). In fact I think it could have been written by Mike Riley in person. If the media don’t question referee decisions, then they will not question the head of the referees. Now that would come in handy for him, wouldn’t it?
When most media are starting to question the quality of the referees a bit more (finally after Untold has done their part of the job in a very professional way for amateur writers for many years), when former referees are more and more openly criticising the standard of refereeing in the PL, then Mr. Ronay from the Guardian comes up with : “let’s no longer talk about referees and suddenly things will improve article.”
Maybe if we no longer talk about bad bankers and before we know it all our bankers will become good, honest man who will not risk our entire economy and bankrupt the whole system in order to get them extra bonuses for taking outrageous risks with our money. Yeah that’s the idea.
Or let us no longer talk about corrupt politicians. And before we know it no politician will be corrupt anymore. Yeah lets just stop checking their activities and suddenly they turn in to saints. Would Mr. Ronay believe those two last examples? Of course not. Nobody would.
But yet he believes it would work for referees who work in a business that is one of the industries where enormous amounts of money goes around with referees who earn nickels and dimes compared to the rest. In fact we should keep a very close eye on every decisions a referee makes to make sure that there will be no corruption. And giving referees and fixers a free pass by instilling a ‘you shall not speak about them’ is the most stupid thing I have ever heard.
Mr. Ronay is saying that we should do an “1984” on referees and make them unspeakable. Sorry, Mr. Ronay but I don’t think Untold will obey to your demand. The thought police may be already here but luckily not yet for referees. But I can understand Mike Riley wanting to have a kind of thought police to stop us from talking and analysing referee decisions.
Mr. Ronay clearly acknowledges there is something wrong but the only way out he sees is to stick our heads in the sand and accept it. Luckily for us mankind in all its history never had such a fatalistic approach to bad things happening but went on the search to find solutions and to overcome those bad things. I do think that might once again be the best way forward to solving the referee crisis we are facing.
Today’s anniversaries include... moving to Highbury, white sleeves, beating Tottenham, beating Milan.
- 4 March 1913: Henry Norris finally confirmed Woolwich Arsenal were moving to a ground in Gillespie Road, Islington. See also here.
- 4 March 1933: Arsenal played their first game with the white sleeved shirts based on an idea by Tom Webster, but lost to Liverpool.
- 4 March 1987: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 2. League Cup semi-replay. Clive Allen put Tottenham ahead in all three of the “one nil down, two one up” semi-final games. Ian Allinson scores the first and Rocastle scored in injury time.
- 4 March 2008: Arsenal became the first English team to beat Milan in the San Siro thanks to a Fabregas free kick.
- WSL Round Up – West Ham v Arsenal Sunday 18:45
- Arsenal lost, but it is all part of the drive toward long-term sustainability
- Everton v Arsenal: a happy video, line-up and what the league table will look like after
- Everton v Arsenal: Injuries, points needed for 4th, and Arsenal the first to 100?
- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table