Posts Tagged ‘Referees’

Somewhere Dion Dublin is sneaking…

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

What goes around comes around – or so it is said – and so when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake snuck back onto the field to give Wolves a 2-1 win over Coventry City the brain clattered back to the moment Dion Dublin nicked the ball off Shay Given to give Cov a win over Newcastle United back when the Sky Blues were in the Premiership.

Given is recorded in the goalkeeper blunder hall of fame for this unfairly. He was victim not really of a misunderstanding of the rules – Law 12.6 says a player is booked for entering or re-entering the field of play without the refereeā€™s permission and both Ebanks-Blake and Dublin have been allowed do just that to score goals.

In practical terms the officials have to allow a player who leaves the field to wander back on lest they be distracted from the job in hand of ensuring the game is fair yet when a player abuses this understanding to score a goal a caution is very much the order of the day and should the Referee decide on leniency then he must disallow the goal at least. Anything other is a perversion of the rules.

Mick McCarthy’s comments on the goal are misleading when he says

“Sylvan actually ran off the pitch and you’re not offside if you fall off. You’re not seeking to gain an advantage by staying off the pitch, if that’s the rule then he’s not offside.”

Coventry boss Chris Coleman was baffled saying

“The referee says the momentum takes Ebanks-Blake off the pitch, so when he re-enters he is not offside. If he is offside then he is offside – end of story. He comes on behind our defender and nods the ball in the back of the net. If he comes back onto the pitch then he has surely got to come back on in an onside position.”

The offence committed is on re-entering the field which is where – according to the Laws of the game – the game should have been stopped and an indirect free kick given to Coventry City. The surprising and troubling thing is the man in black making this mistake and then telling the managers a simply wrong interpretation of the rules was one of England’s top officials Steve Bennett.

What hope has football got lower down the leagues if either the Referees at the top do not know the laws of game or – when they make mistakes are not strong enough of character to apologise to all and issue a clarification which could teach other officials how to react to situations.

Had someone done that when Dion Dublin went a sneaking the Midlands derby would not have had the unfair result it did.

Brave Gannon shows the management of old

Friday, September 26th, 2008

As far back as I remember I wanted to be a football manager.

Perhaps it was Kevin Toms that gave me the taste for it, perhaps it was the sight of people like Bob Paisley winning with charm or Bobby Robson managing with dignity but to me being a football manager would have been better than being President of the United States.

Managers ran the clubs that we lucky to have them and they ran them how they pleased. They didn’t take on players who board decided they should have and they didn’t play spin games around the truth they wanted to say. Alan Durban said that his job was to win football matches and the media could lump it. Brian Clough was not the manager of Nottingham Forest – he was Nottingham Forest.

And now it is all over.

Clough’s heir – Roy Keane – has spoken out on the attitude of fans and players at Sunderland and will not have the abuse thrown at him. Keane’s talk of late has impressed me but he is so often an isolated voice. He says he will not have Sunderland fans abusing him but he must envy Clough who would not have been abused by Forest supporters who would fear a thick ear.

The manager is a lesser figure now sharing his club with chairmen and chief executives, with directors of football and heads of football development and these may all but good things for the long term future of clubs, the stability of the game and the wellness of managers themselves but without a doubt he is a neutered figure.

He takes what is given to him. Taking what is given to him and smiling sweetly as he gets it is practically Gianfranco Zola’s job description.

Enter Jim Gannon.

Gannon is manager of Stockport County – not a club to raise excitement normally – but what he has done in issuing a statement accusing Referees of bias is exciting. It is exciting for all the reasons that the old managers – so unwilling to allow anything to harm their clubs – were exciting. It is a manager not worried about his future CV and how he will get the job after this one but just furious at seeing an unjustice time and time again and wanting to do something about it.

I agree with Jim Gannon. I agreed with him when Hereford won 3-1 in a game that every football watching instinct in my body tells me was fixed and I agree with him after watching Blackpool steal a win at Valley Parade by the same score.

Gannon’s claim is that because he has criticised some Referees in the past other Referees are victimising his club. He details untrue allegations which are accepted by the authorities as being made up by Referees and a list of incorrect and improper sendings off for his players. He says he has lost faith in the Referees.

Is Gannon right? Are Stockport County being victimised? Perhaps, perhaps not but every football fan who has ever seen a dodgy offside and wondered if the officials have made a mistake or perhaps something more should back him to the hilt in his attempts to get an investigation.

If Gannon is found to be wrong and referees have not been punishing him and his team then they are proved to be innocent and while they have no requirement for that in a game built on the core trust that the man in the middle is impartial – and when that trust is so obviously and openly questioned – exoneration would do much to move the game forward. Perhaps though – as Gannon believes – that exoneration would not come.

Regardless the audaciousness of Gannon brings back thoughts of old. Who would be a football manager?