Are referees getting worse ? Well, even the new ones coming into the
Premier League appear to be ridden
with the same deficiencies that those who have been around for ages have picked up.
Ted Maul looks at the reffing situation.
inept performance by a referee costs Spurs the services of a player for
three games for the second game in succession, with Younes Kaboul
deserving to go, but the circumstance leading up to it might have had
something to do with it.
After Jermain Defoe's sending off for an alleged elbow on James Collins, in a feat that took some doing considering the height difference between the two players, which was debatable, Younes had no excuse for reacting the way he did to a tackle that saw Tiote win the ball, but was there evidence that he used "excessive force".
This term has entered the game and never used to be around. "Intent" was the term used to determine whether the foul was a bookable offence or an accident. Excessive force saw Rob Styles dismiss Mido for a foul in a game against Chelsea at the Lane back in 2005 and it was the first time I had really heard it. Nowadays it is bandied around with great abandon, along with the "reckless" or "out of control" tackle where players have feet off the floor. Have referees not realised that sometimes the ball is not on the floor and if you are to go for it, therefore, your feet will not be on the floor. There is nothing wrong with this tackle if it does not endanger a player's safety and Alan Hutton's booking at Villa was less than deserved, as he won the ball with a clean tackle.
But let's look at the basics of knowing when the ball is in or out of play to start with. This is an art that assistant referees (who use to be called linesmen and that is all they are used for most of the time) have lost over the years. As a ball approaches the touchline, they raise a flag without actually looking to see if the whole ball has crossed the line. This is what the laws state when arbitrating on goals or even throw-ins and corners or goal-kicks. There is no doubt from TV pictures that when Alan Hutton crossed for Younes Kaboul to score against Aston Villa, the whole ball had NOT crossed the line.
If the linesman did not have a clear view, he was either in the wrong position or he could not see clearly enough to make an assured decision, so the presumption should have been that the ball was still in play if he could not categorically say it had 100% crossed the line.
But it is not the common practice that linesmen are asked to give many other things other than offside and then they are rarely in the right position to see whether a player was ahead of the last defender when the ball was played. With the speed of the game, it is not always their fault, but positioning helps get those borderline decisions right. So, for the linesman to make the decision to send Defoe off was one that was out of the ordinary, with him informing the ref over the microphone system they have to communicate with each other. TV showed clearly that Atkinson went for yellow until told by the linesman that it should have been red.
Which is all the more surprising when there seemed little communication between Taylor and his two assistants in the Newcastle match. Indeed, the decision making looked to be an arbitrary affair, with no consistency nor application of the laws of the game in any sense of the phrase.
Let's look at some of the main perpetrators in that game and how they got on ...
And when will referees get it into their thick skulls that what fans would rather see red and yellow cards for are the tackles which can seriously hurt players, rather than for celebrating a goal or time-wasting. These are bookable offences too, but the ranking of a yellow for a tackle from behind carries the same weight as one for taking an eternity over a goal-kick. There is something to be said for the old system of a variety of points for the severity of the offence and when you reach a certain total, then you get suspended, instead of just totalling five yellow cards. It would be a fairer reflection of the severity of the offence the card was shown for and then the serial offenders would spend more time out of the game as befits their misdemeanours.
Will anything change ? No, of course not, as the refereeing world is a small one and a cosy one, with refs like Clattenburg all chatty and on first name terms with the top stars, so they will do nothing to disturb the comfortable nature of the profession they have created for themselves.
Without any censure or promotion of relegation on the quality of their performances, we will see the same old faces for the foreseeable future and if there are any new faces like Atwell and Taylor, they will have been promoted way before their time and be as inconsistent and frustrating as those who have gone before.
Frankly, it almost makes you nostalgic for the likes of Uriah Rennie !!
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