On the Saturday at Chelsea one saw Wigan shamefully cheated of justice by a blatantly offside goal scored by the Chelsea defender, Ivanovic. If the referee may well not have seen it, what possessed the well placed linesman Dave Bryan to keep his flag to his unobservant self allowing the goal; and to err again almost at the death when Chelsea’s Juan Mata, again palpably offside, was allowed to score his team’s winner? No wonder that the Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, usually the mildest of men, inveighed afterwards, “The linesman had a disgusting performance…If you are good at your job, you don’t get these decisions wrong.”
The following day at Old Trafford Manchester United were favoured, yet again, by a double decision which ruled poor Queens Park Rangers out of contention.
When Ashley Young of United received a pass from Wayne Rooney in the penalty box, he was plainly in an offside position. Some have blamed the linesman Ceri Richards for not raising his flag automatically. Others defend him by saying that he wasn’t given any chance to do so by the hyper active referee Lee Mason who instantly whistled for a penalty when Young was brought down – somewhat too easily – by the QPR defender, Shaun Derry. To add substantial insult to painful injury Derry, as the last man, was sent off into the bargain condemning Rangers to play for most of the game with ten men, losing 2-0.
It was the second time in short succession that QPR had been traduced by wretched officiating. At Bolton, they had scored a perfect good goal which would have put them ahead, the ball having undoubtedly crossed the line. But neither the linesman nor the referee noticed it. The ball was cleared, no goal given, and Bolton went on to win a game vital to both sides as they struggled against potential relegation.
It makes it all the more ironic than unquestionably one of the best and most efficient “referee’s assistants” (a term in fact concocted to include female linesmen) around is that able slip of a girl who, having been derided before the start at Molineux by the then BSkyB commentators Andy Gray and Richard Keys who jeered that she could never understand the offside law, proceeded to give a brave and difficult decision whereby a goal was disallowed, a tribute alike to her observation and her courage. More recently she again distinguished herself with a bold wave of her flag to rule out a goal which many would have allowed.
She also referees games at a lesser level and I for one would be most happy, though hardly an embattled feminist, to see her given the job all the way up to the Premiership. How could she possibly make a worse job of it, given her courage and accuracy from the sidelines, than the bunch of incompetents who hold the whistle in the Premiership now?
Supposedly the best of them all is the copper, Howard Webb who made such a dog’s dinner of the World Cup Final in South Africa when he should certainly have sent off Holland’s De Jong for a shocking early foul on Spain’s Alonso. Come to think of it, last Sunday at The Emirates saw the recidivist Mario Balotelli – though later to be properly expelled – get away Scot free in the first half with a dreadful foul on Arsenal’s Alex Song, the referee being the never too convincing Martin Atkinson.
Head of the refs is none other than Mike Riley. Remember the hash he made of that other game at Old Trafford, where United ended Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten streak? And Rooney got that absurd penalty.