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March 2021

Will the referee’s change of style seen in the Cup Final continue on Sunday

By Bulldog Drummond

In March 2014 Andre Mariner sent off Kieran Gibbs for doing … nothing, in a match against Chelsea and gave Chelsea a penalty.  Two mistakes – one, as replays showed, was that the ball was not going into the net when the Arsenal player touched it, and two it wasn’t Gibbs.  In fact it wasn’t even a player who looked like him.  In fact it wasn’t even a player the same colour as Gibbs.  It was the Ox.

In September 2015 Gabriel and Santi Cazorla were sent off in another notorious match against Chelsea.  A couple of days later the wild and whacky Mike Dean had the humiliation of seeing at least one of his decisions overturned.  Gabriel had not performed an act of violent conduct on Diego Costa.  To no one’s surprise we found Costa had cheated.  To everyone’s surprise the referee “mistake” was overturned.

At the time I remember reading the subsequent press reports and seeing under the surface absolute shock waves that such a reversal could have happened.  The consensus was that this time the ref had gone a step too far down the line, but that one reversal (which of course did not reverse the result of the game) was a good bit of PR for the PGMO allowing them to continue with business as usual.

No one expected what happened in the Cup Final when Victor Moses was sent off for diving.

Players only dive in televised matches when they are pretty sure that they are going to deceive the referee even if they know they will be picked up on TV.  After all, that’s all that matters.  TV pundits are never going to come out and say “this man should never referee again” because “football in the PL has been utterly compromised”.

So questions begin to arise.  Will the Chelsea manager tell his players that the play acting of Costa and Moses should come to an end?  Have the referees really turned the corner, with video refereeing getting ever closer?   They know they can rely on the media to play down referee errors, and that even if no one says anymore “it all evens out in the end” that has always been the underlying theme.  “The game is too fast these days for refs to pick up everything,” that’s the new mantra

It is a shame, but such musings are now central to all matches between Chelsea and Arsenal.  So which of the four options will we see:

  1. Diving and pretending, with the referee pretending to be conned and mistaken
  2. Diving and pretending, with the referee actually being conned and mistaken
  3. Diving and pretending, with the referee not being conned and mistaken
  4. No diving and pretending and no referee mistakes of thinking that when one player commits a foul it is ok to send someone else off even when no one should have been sent off.

It says a lot about where we have got to, that which of these four we get will determine a lot of what happens in the game.

Of course such matters are not the stuff of newspapers – which is why Untold has to take them up, to offer some sort of balance against media decisions as to what is and what is not news.  The media has written out memories of diving and pretending and referee errors from the history of football, and they approach the match this weekend as if it is some sort of fair and even contest between two sides that will play the game by the rules and a referee who will apply the rules.

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So instead we get this:

“when the Arsenal manager was politely asked about whether he was leaning towards a return to a good old back four after his recent dalliance with a defensive trio, he looked a little irked. It says a lot that he was probably more comfortable dealing with the issue of crowd control than how he wishes to set up his team strategically.”

The look of Mr Wenger.  Not what he said, but the look.  One eyebrow raised too much perhaps?  Not referee errors.  Not a change in refereeing behaviour.  The look.

Two problems there: journalists are not trained in interpreting looks.  Indeed they are hardly trained in interpreting football matches.  And they always believe that the way one looks reflects what’s really underneath.  A simple mistake, but one that really shouldn’t run on for ever and a day.

The general view seems to be that the refereeing will not change despite what we saw in the Cup Final and we will be back to the norm, and another solid defeat for Arsenal.  As a result if the referee is spotted making an error, it can be treated as a surprising moment, not part of a stream of events.

Everything that Arsenal do is seen as a sign of dithering and uncertainty.  For example, Mr Wenger, it is said, doesn’t know which format works so he changes from one to another.

But as always there is another way of presenting the report.

Managers give their half time talk based on the notion of what has happened so far.  X looks unsure on his left, always go that way.  Y and Z are not communicating with each other well, move between them.  The wing backs are pushing up very quickly – hoof the ball beyond them while one of you blocks the move of either Y or Z.

Not very sophisticated but it does for a team talk, and it can work on occasion, given a fair wind and a typical Arsenal/Chelsea referee.  But… supposing the opposition come out in the second half with a totally different formation.  Some footballers are not the brightest guys in the arena, and sudden shouting from the manager to change the whole formation again, can cause even more confusion.

In short, changing from one formation to another at half time can be a very good, positive way of changing a game around, rather than a sign of dithering and uncertainty.

Changing the style of the referee so he actually recognises what is going on and who the players are is good too.  Let’s hope it continues.

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18 comments to Will the referee’s change of style seen in the Cup Final continue on Sunday

  • colario

    Mike Riley has chosen Andre Mariner for him to make amends for his Cup Final mistakes and prove to marvellous Mike that, he Andre is still in the sheep fold.

  • Laos gooner

    Indeed they are hardly trained in interpreting football matches is slightly too complimentary in my opinion. It is an ever growing skill as a coach that is part of an entire career. In recent times new technology has given us tools to expand our interpretation. Even in my 50s I welcome exchanges with other coaches to discuss techniques to improve these skills and engage in such activities regularly. I have yet to meet journalists on any football education courses.
    Sadly a look at the officials far too frequently sets the mood before the game. Rather sadder are the three monkies who one might perceive to be the upper level of governance in the Pigmob.
    See no evil…

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    First of all, I don’t think Antonio Conte, the Chelsea head coach will tell the Blues not to do a Costa anti-game antics nor not to do a Moses like Wembley diving in the PL match between Chelsea and Arsenal tomorrow afternoon at Stanford Bridge. For, doing anything in the game legally or illegally that will make Chelsea win this match, Antonio Conte will take a gamble on it to see it done by the Blues.

    Furthermore, I don’t trust any appointed Pgmol officials referring any Arsenal match will not do anti-Arsenal referring in the match. More so, if it is in a big PL game like the one coming up on Sunday between Chelsea and Arsenal at the Bridge. Therefore, the Gunners IX should be fully prepared themselves to play against 12 Blues on the field tomorrow and deal decisively with it as the 12th player in the Blues lineup for the match could the Pgmol’s appointed referee Michael Oliver to referee the match.

    Notwithstanding all the negatives the Gunners might face at the Bridge tomorrow from the Blues and the Pgmol match officials officiating in the game, Le Prof has a foolproof game plan in place which the Gunners will employ against the Blues to tomorrow to nullify and rendered impotent any game plan Antonio Conte might have thought out for the Blues to use against the Gunners. And not only that, they Gunners have also fully prepared themselves to absolve any anti-Arsenal referring referee Michael Oliver and his assistants may want to do against them in the game by playing a defining superior game playing in the match and score undisputed goals in the game that will win the match which no one can dispute, not even by referee Michael Oliver and his 2 assistants but respect the goals and the Arsenal win.

    A notion is being tailored in some quarters that Le Prof should switch back to a back four defence from his current back three defence which he has been employing in game to greater success. I think Le Prof has answered this suggestion as he said, the Gunners will continue playing the back three but switch to back four when it’s necessary they should do that in games. In fact, the Gunners can even multi-switch from back-three to back-four and back to back-three again in a match to win it.

    My own 3-4-3 Gunners starts and bench against Chelsea on Sunday.

    Mustafi Koscielny Monreal
    Bellerin Welbeck Xhaka Kolasinac
    Ozil Lacazette Sanchez.

    Ospina Holding BFG Chambers Wilshere Walcott Giroud.

    I’ve pushed Welbeck in field to starts the game alongside Xhaka since I’ve dropped the not fit to play Ramsey as am starting all the 3 forwards of Ozil, Lacazette & Sanchez. So, the 4th forward Welbeck who should start this match I’ve moved in field to start. I hope Ozil is fully fit to start the match. Le Prof should please not drop Holding but persist with him. He will recover his confidence back as times go on and improves on his games as he’s played.

  • para

    What frustrates me is the TV’s inability to see clearly when fouls are deliberate, in fact the very quick and repeated defense of the player committing the foul tells me that they did see it and is trying to cover it up. Why?

    Some players will (sometimes in a moment) deliberately lash out, attempt to hurt, yes hurt other players, other players have that streak of suppressed violence waiting to explode, we see it week in week out, yet the TV suppresses it rather than exposing it. Why?

    We can never stamp out this uncalled for violence from the game if they do this.
    Name and shame, including name and shame refs, only then will we get better.

    Still think there should be a ref league table with top 2 moving up a league, bottom 2 relegated a league. That way there is something for them to aim for.

  • Flares

    I’m going for Xhaka or Bellerin to be sent off near the end of the first half for a second yellow, or Cech to get a straight red off some cheating Chelsea scum diving over him. Chelsea to win 4-1, The Two Jamie’s to combust from sanctimonious self-righteousness , Judas Merson to predict relegation by Christmas and the WOB’s to have a collective orgasm which lasts until next weekend. Alternatively, Arsenal could win a close game 2-1 and it will be lazily dealt with in passing by journalists still throbbing with excitement over Roy Hodgson’s return to football.

    Surprisingly I’m less concerned about the possibility of dodgy decisions in the big fight later, given how corrupt boxing is these days (in the USA). Says a lot for our rotten-to-the-core Premier League that I can actually think that…

  • para

    This is the time for AW to produce one of his (seldom) master strategies which when they do come are indeed masterfull.

    Our team will need our 12th man(AW) to be there from the start considering Chel$ will have 13(ref and media).

    Many are predicting doom and gloom, but i have to feel we will win and our players will surely know, there are no more excuses that will be valid.

    I think we should play a disciplined 4-1-4-1 for the first part of the game to frustrate Chel$. (This will not happen) 🙁

    Ramsey will be our weak link if he plays and is not disciplined, as he does not keep the midfield tight and help Xhaka, if he bottles his selection and Xhaka is too pressured into mistakes then i see him being crucified.

  • Hesbee

    Let’s go out there and rub it on their faces ( Piers, Merson, The Incompetent Jamies And The WOBs ). COYG.

  • Nitram


    I would agree with your 1st scenario except for the fact you shamefully overlooked the distinct possibility of Wenger being sent to the stands.

  • colario

    Nice one Aunty Beeb.
    ” Hodgson: The good, the bad and the Iceland.”

  • colario

    Off side goal given to Mancs!

  • Buldog, aren’t we the insightful one, commendations on your filling in and some very good articles might I add. Yup, isn’t he just learning to be economic wit the truth, difficuly, when one is of the disposition that lying is a sin.

    I’d play the 4-3-3 and then switch out to the 3-4-3 bringing in Mert, I had it in mind for a while; I think you have to look to score midway throught the first half, hold it and pick up something at the other end, Sead gives us extra threat at set pieces, and Mert what happened to them headed goals you promised. In the box at attacking set pieces, Andrei, Kos, Sead, Alexis, as you can tell we could do with some extra prowess in this department.

    Alexis in the first half, Giroud to come on and score the 2nd in the last 15.

    Para, who holds in your 4-1-4-1?

    Sam; you got us 3 men down already we’re playing 9 v 12, fuck even with CR7 on the team sheet and Messi deputising for Welbeck I am concerned.

    A wise German chic said, “if you think you are inferior, you must be inferior”

    12man, well lets hope half of the comment makers here aren’t making up the numbers tomorrow, we are in for a torrid time.

    I think a back four to start and we go for them, make the Defence shake like little girls and get Xaka to sit in between Kos and Mus and see if we can go ahead early.

    We almost always come unstuck when we aim to stifle Chelsea and then break, FA Cup, we scored early. the waiting game is Chelsea and Italian football, it’s like asking to be beat.

    You have to stun the Bridge into shittuing the f**k up, iit works every time, they start sulking, also if you pop one in their net, they come out, well half the team does.

    Xaka bs Cesc, Ramsey picks up Kante, Willian is a spooky little fella, he will score if you give him time on the edge of the 18.

    Both full backs, wing backs can push right up, it’ll keep their 2 honest, what is important is our 2 Cb’s split and protect the counter, Xaka has to drop back in and slow down play, STAY, ON, YOUR, FEET lad!

    Ramsey just has to do the job Coleman had him doing for wales at Euros (my weren’t they good, Aaron the unsung hero) and do his regular thing going forward.

  • Scuba

    I have a hard time feeling that the sending off in the Ox/Gibbs incident was unjust, though he obviously butchered it by sending off the wrong player. It was a clear handball in the box, and if it wasn’t going in, it was certainly close enough that the red and penalty were the correct call.

  • Nitram


    At this moment in time man City have just gone 0-5 up at Watford.

    I have no problem with that and have no doubt they deserve it, at least most of it.

    Well done I say.

    That’s a BILLION pounds well spent.

    If I had spent a Billion pounds on players and NOT been winning by 5 I’d be worried.

  • jjgsol

    Scuba, firstly, it was the wrong player, and, secondly, it looks like the ball was going wide anyway, so it is a yellow, and not not a red.

    To lose a defender, when you are a goal down, is worse than losing an attacker. It weakens your defence.

    Thus Chel$ki received 3 advantages, one a goal, which they would not necessarily have got if the Ox had kept his hand to himself, the second that we had a player wrongly sent off and the third that that player was a defender.

    All in all, the refs errors handed the game to Chel$ki on a plate.

  • Hesbee

    Merson just said Lacazette is inferior to Morata, his words are ‘Morata is top,top drawer’. I’d love to have the weed he smokes someday.

  • abu

    @jjgsol, if the ball was so clearly not going in, can u explain to us why the Ox had to turn emergency goalie and execute a diving save with his hands? Perhaps he was just being an AAA?

  • ron de jonge

    motd watford-city flattered scoreline- TWO goals so offside that makes the not allowed Lacazette goal against the potters a big big joke, costing us at leatst a point. Its easy to settle for every big side like city to get 2 goals for free. curious when this will even out for Arsenal, but we know the answer…

  • Abu if you look at the film you will see that the Ox was facing away from the goal towards the ball and therefore was not exactly sure where the ball was going.