Another weekend of football has gone by and yet more mistakes and questionable decisions by referees have been made.
From the plethora of yellow cards issued by Andre Marriner, almost exclusively to Newcastle players, at St James’ Park, to an apparent missed penalty claim by Chelsea for a foul on Diego Costa in their defeat to Crystal Palace.
For many years fans and pundits alike have been calling for video technology to be implemented and two seasons ago the Premier League finally decided to introduce goal line technology for questionable goals. When a goal is scored then the decision gets immediately reviewed and sent to the ref so he can call it or disallow it. It’s a very efficient system that takes seconds to complete and has helped clear up a few decisions already.
I don’t think it is used anywhere near enough however, as many more decisions are made incorrectly that can have a huge impact on the game. Take last Monday night’s game between Arsenal and Liverpool when, early in the first half, Aaron Ramsey slipped Liverpool’s offside trap to bury the ball in the back of the net. The goal was a legitimate strike and would have, as it turned out, garnered all three points for the home side. The strike was ruled out for offside however and the game ended with a rather desultory nil-nil scoreline. Both Ramsey and manager Arséne Wenger were in the papers asking for video technology to help the referees with these types of decisions.
Go back to 2013-14 and Andre Marriner is in the dock again for sending off Kieran Gibbs against Chelsea last March. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the actual offender but the referee incorrectly sent off the Arsenal left-back. Marriner did subsequently apologise but the decision still stood.
Go further back and you have Howard Webb awarding a penalty to Michael Carrick when Manchester United played Tottenham Hotspur in 2009 after being brought down by Heurelho Gomes in the area. Replays show the Spurs ‘keeper got his fingers to the ball, so the penalty should not have stood, but by then it was too late. United scored and then went on to win the game. Mistakes like these can be avoided as quickly as incorrect goals are now being decided by the goal line technology. With the amount of cameras at today’s games it is all too easy to review a decision in a few seconds.
Now I’m not saying that every incident needs to be referred to a decision panel, as that simply would not be workable and it would interrupt the flow of the game (which no one wants), but when the referee is unsure of a call, and his assistants aren’t backing him up, then he needs another, unimpeachable method to which he can turn for the right decision. I would be totally happy with this being at the referee’s discretion, then this could be included in the FA’s evaluation of his performance on Monday and any errors which could have been avoided by a referral are fed back to the ref for him to learn from. Of course if the ref does not improve and the same mistakes are repeated then the FA would have some grounds to reprimand them. Some might say this would lead to people losing their jobs but, to be fair, the number of refereeing errors made over a season have cost managers their jobs at times.
The example I always like was when an decision went against Chelsea during Mourinho’s first stint in charge (I forget which match it was) and he had a monitor in his hands with the replay on show and, within seconds, was at the fourth official showing him why the decision was wrong. The ref came over and told him to sit down, refusing to look at the evidence (probably because he had no scope to use it) and the wrong decision stood. When a manager can show you what happened as fast as that then surely the FA can come up with a system that would be even better, and would cut mistakes, making the game the fairest it has ever been.
Isn’t that what we all want?