Time to break up the Northern Mafia

May 20, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

It has been a troubling few weeks for us all as Arsenal fans, unfortunately it has led to navel gazing and infighting which is unhealthy for the club and its supporters. So today I aim to give us something to unite in anger against.

After another particular raw deal from the man in the middle I decided to have a bit more of a look at our Select Group of Referees. I must admit I was shocked, presently fourteen of the sixteen select group referees hail from the northern counties. For sake of clarity I drew a line across the country from the Wash to the Severn above the line Northern Monkeys below the line Southern Softies.

The Select Group of Referees started in 2001, in that year the split of north and south was even, and stayed this way until 2004 when the split started to move to the North until we end up in this current situation. Over this time it is undoubtable that we have been on the end of some good and bad decisions. Who can forget Graeme Poll giving the thumbs up for Thierry to take the quick free kicks which caused all kind of fuss.

More recently as the Northern drift has occurred we seem to be getting less and less decisions in our favour. This season for example we have had young Anthony Taylor from Manchester turn down appeals for a penalty against Sunderland in a key game for us this season. All I’m asking is for a small amount of balance. The referees raised in the North appear to enjoy the rough and tumble tactics applied by the more robust teams of the Premier League. It would also appear that they favour their own.

As the geographical shift of referees has occurred, we have also witnessed a shift in the location of the competing clubs. In 2001 the split between north and south was eleven to nine, this is now more uneven fourteen to six. The time has come to stop the rot, we need to see some more balance brought to the Select Group of Referees. I have had a look through the football league referee group to see whether there are many from the South. The good news is there are quite a few referees in the National List who come from the South, however there is one that I would like to say now even though he is from the South should never be allowed to referee in the Premier League.

His name is Darren Deadman and he is listed as from Cambridgeshire, there are a couple of reasons I would not like to see him progress. The first is from memory I am sure he supports the clowns in N17. The second is a bit more personal. Not that I am one to hold a grudge. Eighteen years ago I was goalkeeper and captain of my school first eleven. Mr Deadman had left our school a few years earlier and was already doing his referee training (having given up being a goalkeeper). At the end of every year the Teachers would play the First XI, as long as I had been at the school the pupils had never won the match. With the pupils leading 2-1 with a minute to go Mr Deadman awarded a penalty against me for an innocuous push on the opposition Centre Forward, he smiled as he gave the decision and clearly he did not want my team to beat the teachers and achieve where his generation had failed. Thankfully I saved the penalty. To this day I have never forgiven him for the blatant cheating, and therefore never want to see him progress, like I say I’m not one to hold a grudge. So apart from D. Deadman (Cambridgeshire) could we please have a few more referees from the South in the Select Group please.

Who is the bar steward in the black?

March 11, 2011

Written by Red Arse

As a dyed in the wool Gooner, I have become so enraged by appalling refereeing decisions, in game after game, that I realised it was becoming a serious health hazard.

The incandescent fury that descends upon me, at the perceived injustice, causes my face to mottle and go purple, like an over-sized plum, and my eyes to bulge like demented headlights on stalks, while my hand, of its own volition, spasmodically throws at the screen anything not tied down. My girlfriend has narrowly escaped being hurled like a spear at the set when sitting innocently besides me reading her astrological stars. Bet they did not forecast that, eh?

So, who are these satyrs in the black? These sylvan refereeing beasts whose revelry seems to lie solely in infuriating all fans, especially Gooners, at every turn?
Why do they choose, in their goat like obstinacy, to turn a deaf ear to our appeals for justice, or whose dim mole-like eyesight prevents them from seeing the blindingly obvious, while displaying an incredulous incomprehension of the basic laws of the beautiful game?

Well, believe it or not, it seems they are not satyrs nor devils nor simply just bad eggs, but just a cross section of the human flotsam and jetsam that we all belong to, with all the virtues and vices that are inherent in our species.

Why then, when they don the black garb of the referee, do they so frequently behave in an inexplicably arbitrary, confrontational and controversial a manner?

In part, at least, it is a battle between human frailty and technology.

Let us have a quick look at the human aspect. The human brain is itself a wonderful computer, but it has limitations as we shall see, and we are expecting it to work at maximum efficiency in a hostile and physically stressful environment, under the baleful glare of hostile managers!

What is the science behind the brain/technology that causes the problem?

Light travels at 186,000 mps in a vacuum, or about 671 million miles per hour.

Einstein’s theory of relativity shows that we never really see moving things in the “now” because of the space/time laws of physics. Our brains have had to evolve a predictive capability to adjust for the lag in our perception of movement.

When a player kicks a ball, light strikes it and is projected onto the referee’s retina. By the time the brain processes this image, the ball has moved at up to 65 mph away from where the referee “saw” it. In effect, the brain of the referee, and those of the observers (fans), is continually “predicting” where the ball is going to be, rather than where it was when the image was first projected onto his retina.

This parallax applies to all objects, including players, and makes the interpretation of the Offside, Law 11 into an extremely complex calculation, taking into account the distance the ball has or will travel, while also allowing for the movements of a group of jostling players, who may, or may not, be fouling each other, or who may, or may not, have already been in an offside position at the exact moment the ball was kicked.

Ludwick Fleck, the famous doctor and biologist, showed that a person’s subconscious belief can alter his observations. That is to say, the ‘human confirmation bias’ leads a person, with a particular belief, to see things as reinforcing that belief, even if another observer would strongly disagree.

Therefore, a referee will observe what he expects to observe, until shown otherwise, and his beliefs will therefore inevitably affect his observations, and his subsequent reactions, in a self fulfilling way.

Mark Clattenberg, in the Wigan v Manu game, did not give a red card to Rooney, despite almost everyone else’s perception of a deliberate elbow into his opponents face. This was compounded by a smile and an arm around Rooney’s shoulders.

This a perfect example of the human confirmation bias in operation. Clattenberg may have thought of Rooney as a ‘good’ guy; and an England player; and a much maligned sporting hero, not capable of committing such a dreadful foul, and therefore he does not see it. He simply saw what he expected to see, and not what had actually happened!

This human confirmation bias applies to us all, from victims of the con artists ‘three card trick’ to witnesses who give wildly contradictory statements of what happened at a bank robbery or accident.

Television technology has simply heightened our ability to compare what the referee thinks he saw against the reality of what the unbiased camera actually sees, using slow motion playback.

For myself, I will probably just carry on, irrationally, hurling abuse at the men in black, when I think they have transgressed against my beloved Gunners.

But, in the back of my rational mind, I will know they are just normal human beings doing their best, subject to both the laws of physics and human psychological conditioning.

It would seem that referees are not, after all, the cheating, incompetent, sporting pariahs that we sometimes believe them to be!

Who would have thought old Einstein with his theory of general relativity, as well as Dr Fleck and his philosophy of scientific sociology would play such a part in our very own beautiful game of footie!

Arsenal for the Double!!

Why Are Referees Biased Against Arsenal?

February 7, 2011

Yes, you read the title correctly.

I’m not asking IF referees are biased against us. I want to know why they ARE.

On Saturday, at 4-0 up, we saw Phil Dowd do all he could to help Newcastle back into the game. This included:

  • Playing three-and-a-half minutes of stoppage time in the first half because Newcastle were attacking, even though the fourth official signalled for only two minutes.
  • Failing to send off Nolan for a similar (but worse) offence than Diaby’s.
  • Giving a very debatable penalty (the first one) despite there being a host of players between him and the incident.
  • Giving Newcastle the softest penalty in the EPL so far this year (again, from the opposite side of the penalty area).
  • Generally letting Newcastle’s players repeatedly foul Arsenal’s without punishment (Barton and Enrique being the main serial offenders).

In recent games we have also seen:

  • Lee Mason booking Jack Wilshere for his first foul in the game against Everton (after just five minutes), then not punishing Everton players for repeated fouling.
  • Mason, in the same game, mystifyingly ignoring the offside rules to allow Everton’s goal.
  • Mark Clattenburg allowing an Aston Villa goal against us when Carew was standing miles offside and blatantly impeding Fabianski’s view.
  • Clattenburg sending off Squillaci for a ‘last man’ foul 30 yards from goal, but leaving a Huddersfield defender on the pitch for a ‘last man’ foul in the six yard box.

There are many more examples and I’m sure every Gooner can rattle off loads of them.

Too many, in short, to be a coincidence.

At the same time Manchester United get more ‘rub of the green‘ than a self-pleasuring leprechaun: blatant penalties not given against them; physical intimidation of referees unpunished; added minutes always counted in Fergietime if United are chasing the game (like ‘dog years,’ one minute of Fergietime is the equivalent of three ‘real world’ minutes) and clear red card offences ignored.

So the question is why?

I believe one possible answer is a conspiracy among officials. By which I don’t mean that they have been bribed or that they’ve all had a collective bet on Man Utd to win the title: rather that when they get together for their referees’ seminars and the like and talk among themselves, they come to some sort of negative consensus about Arsenal.  And probably about Arsène Wenger too.

If it is a conspiracy it’s a subconscious one, but with obvious roots:

Arsène has a history of claiming that our players are not given sufficient protection. Every time he says this, he is directly criticising not just a particular ref for a specific incident, but every single one of them for the way they officiate week in, week out.

It’s human nature to dislike being criticised and to feel resentful towards the critic.

The referees also read the papers just like everyone else, so they soak up all the anti-Arsenal stories that are trotted out every week (from the utterly contrived Cesc furore this week to the Phil Brown lies and the shameful ‘Eduardo is a diver’ campaign).  You can’t tell me they’re not influenced by this stuff.

Added to that, all EPL refs are British. Arsenal is the most foreign influenced club in the country, both in our predominantly overseas squad and in the way we play football. Culturally, we have less in common with the mindset of the British referee than any other team.

English players like Rooney, Lampard and Terry are known to be chummy with some of the officials once the game is over (I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot of Howard Webb relatives with memorabilia signed by the Man Utd players).  I suspect that doesn’t happen with our players (the chumminess I mean, not the dishing out of ManUre tat to distant cousins).

Finally there’s what you might call the underdog factor. We are regularly written up as being the best footballing side in the country. When we play lesser teams I think the refs have a subliminal sense that it’s not fair for all these twinkle-toed little foreign wizards to dance round the lumpen midfielders and defenders in the opposition.

It’s the only explanation I can think of for the fact that we are far more fouled against than fouling, yet we get a higher proportion of yellow cards per foul than any other team. It’s because the officials feel sorry for our opponents.

That’s what I felt happened with Dowd on Saturday. It was evident in stoppage time at the end of the first half when he ignored an appalling off-the-ground lunge through the back of Arshavin from Joey Barton then immediately penalised Diaby for failing to make contact with the Newcastle thug. This was during the well-over three minutes he allowed for added time, even though the fourth official signalled for only two. I’m convinced he played this extra extra time because Newcastle had finally realised that there was a second set of posts up the other end of the pitch and that they were supposed to be attacking them.

It reminded me of when I have refereed kids’ games and one team is getting battered 15-nil. It may be time to blow up, but the losing team finally has an attack so you let them play on in the hope they’ll get a consolation goal.

In a kids’ game it makes you a sentimental old so-and-so.

In a professional match it makes you an embarrassment to your trade.

During the second half, as the Newcastle revival grew following Diaby’s sending off (with which I have no argument), it was like Dowd got all caught up with the excitement of the occasion.

For the second penalty you can see him look at the incident, then turn as if to run away. But then the Newcastle player makes a heated appeal for the pen and Dowd stops and gives it. What excitement! Refereeing a game with a great comeback story! He must have been beside himself.

Even the fourth Newcastle goal shouldn’t have counted, given that it stemmed from a free-kick against us for a non-existent foul. But when Tiote belted in the ‘once-in-a-career’ goal that so many players seem to manage against Arsenal, Dowd knew he would be one of the top games on Match of the Day.

Quite what we do about all this, I don’t know. Arsène Wenger has highlighted the cards-to-fouls stats in the past but it doesn’t make any difference.

I fear that until European referees are allowed into the EPL the subconscious bias against us will continue.

If we do go on to win the league this year (or any time soon), we will only do it by playing better than Man Utd or Chelsea would need to do in similar circumstances (because they do not have the built-in handicap of refereeing prejudice).

We need to go out for every game in the knowledge that we really are, to use the cliché, playing against 12 men.


Can you remember May 11th 1993?

November 20, 2010

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of describing my path to the Light, and my close encounter with The Dark Side. Today is an opportunity to reflect upon past games against The Stratford-Bound Spurs (please Mr Levy take them there – you will be lauded forever in the anals of history – deliberate spelling 😉 )

Let us start back in Black and White. Not that wonderful Spurs double team of ‘61 but the supposedly as good side of ‘71; Gilzean, Chivers, Peters, Mullery, Perryman, Knowles and the best keeper of his generation Pat Jennings  formed the basis of their team with Mike England the cornerstone of their defence. We mullered them at WHL to take the League title with Raddy and Kennedy heroes of the night. The next week Charlie George secured our FIRST double.

Then there is the classic 5-0 at WHL in Dec 1978 with that wonderful Liam Brady goal. Or the 1-0 in the Cup semi-final at Wembley when TA gained our revenge for that awful day two years previous, when Gazza and Lineker’s goals sent me on a truly depressing drive home on the North Circular.

Thinking of great goals. Has anyone scored a better goal than Thierry in 2002. Receiving the ball in his own half, and weaving his way at speed through an increasingly bewildered Spurs defence before finishing with aplomb and running  Adebayor-esque up to the stunned Spurs fans in the Clock End. Sliding up to them on his knees the picture taken from his back towards those saps is one of the images of the decade.

Have we won the League at White Hart Lane just once? 2004. We arrive needing just a point to win the Premiership. Vieira scores in the first half. Pires adds a second. The Spuds jammed one from Redknapp (he used to play football) and get a second to force a draw through a dodgy penalty in the 93rd minute, by which time the only fans in the ground were wearing the Red and White.  The lads parading the champagne and the Cup around White Hart Lane was a delicious moment.

Then there was Fabregas’s classic at the Grove just a couple of years ago. The commentator had this to say “one of the greatest solo goals in Premiership history”. And Fab is better now….

Can you recall a victory for Spurs at our place? Would it surprise you if I told you it was 11th May 1993? I was at the game along with a paltry crowd of 26k. It was the last game of the season and we played our reserves, included in our team were Mark Flatts, Neil Heaney, Scott Marshall, Lyderson, Alan Miller and Gavin MacGowan. Why? Because we were playing Sheffield Wednesday on the 15th at Wembley where we won the Cup Double. Teddy scored for Spurs that day as he was to do so often down the years. He remains my and most other Arsenal fans most disliked player.

But let us think about that. 1993 against a reserve team. More than 17 years ago.

And before that? According to the Spurs website it was in January 1985, with goals from Garth Crooks and Mark Falco !! To say that we have dominated is a misnomer – we have ruled the North London divide for 25 years.

We have heard yesterday how the pendulum is/has swung Tottenham’s way. Where is the evidence for such a ludicrous statement? Is it in the table where they languish 5 places below us. Is it in their goalscoring record? No, we have scored 5 more than them already. The defence? Can’t be –  they have conceded 5 more than us. Is it their attendances – don’t be silly. The only evidence I can come up with where they are ahead of us is that they have spent tens of millions more than Arsenal in assembling their squad – but then they always have, so I can’t see the pendulum swinging.

As was pointed out in the comments, it is Liverpool who have suffered from the upturn in Tottenham’s form, but will they be able to maintain their place in the Champions League? In my opinion Everton, Villa and City are the frontrunners for 4th. Spurs are below Bolton and Sunderland yet their fans remain delusional!!

Spurs will consider leaving with a point a major victory and further proof of their improvement, whereas we will consider it two easy points thrown away.

One further point – a good refereeing performance is essential in a NLD, today we have Phil Dowd, a ref who is a disciplinarian. Let’s hope the game doesn’t rest on one of his more controversial decisions

Could today be the day when Spurs finally break their hoodoo?  What do you think?


High Noon

November 19, 2010

In my very young years Spurs were the best in the country if not the world, with a team that had it all – speed, craft, strength (what a player Dave Mackay was), super full backs, centre halves (as they were then) a fine keeper and the late , great Bobby Smith upfront. I can still name the entire 61 Double team, such was their impact upon my psyche.

It was touch and go whether I supported the forces of good or evil, my father had gone over to the dark side and encouraged me to do the same. I was taken to  the coven at WHL to be surrounded by waling banshees and devil worshippers. Thankfully I saw the light and was led onto the path of good and righteousness by other family members. Had they not exorcised me I could have been subjected to a life of ridicule and envy, for such is the life of a Spurs fan. How those poor saps made the disastrous decision to support the joke that is THFC is for them to analyse, but I think it must be centred upon low self-esteem and a history of bed wetting.

Last season we lost our record of not having been beaten by them in the PL this century – you may recall they brought out a DVD. In a way it took a monkey off our backs, but it still rankles that our team didn’t perform that night and a Spurs lad scored the goal of his life (poor chap has gone back to a life of obscurity). And then there was the 4-4 (another DVD!) a game which in which we threw away 2 points and allowed an ex-AFC reserve to score the goal of his life – we must stop that habit!

Spurs go into the game with fresh legs thanks to them having so few Internationals, whereas our boys have all (16 of them!) been away playing meaningless friendlies.  Players like Arshavin and Nasri who played 90 minutes will struggle for fitness.

To see the vast gulf in class between our clubs one only has to assess the respective managers. Mr. Wenger is approaching sainthood, whereas Harry is an execrable human being whose only redeeming features are his fit daughter-in-law and his bank balance.

There can be no doubt that at last Spurs have a decent squad, they can play good football and have quality throughout the side. In Gareth Bale they have the best player in the World – the new Messi  (yeah, right….typical Spurs, 10 decent games from Bale and he is worth €50m!!), the Bale/Sagna battle will be mouthwatering. Modric despite having a ratface and the body of an undernourished spaniel is a player who would flourish at Man Utd – he is wasted at the Sh**hole. Jenas is likely to play thanks to Fatboy Huddlestone’s ban, a player who loves a goal against us – he will have to closed down fast. Lemon is quick but crosses like Clichy, Crouch is hated by the Spurs acolytes which sums them up – I like him but hope he has a stinker tomorrow. Same goes for Pavlachenko – actively disliked by his own fans (check out their blogs). Then there is  Van de Vaart, the “New Dennis Bergkamp”, an Real reject who has started well in the PL, he is without doubt a fine player and an excellent signing by Redknapp, our defensive midfielders will have to be very aware of his movement, for that reason I would play Denilson ahead of Wilshere.

Our ex-captain WG will start and I expect him to get a rousing welcome (actually the expected response will be apathy unless he scores). Should (when) Spurs lose tomorrow their fans will focus upon their defence and the lack of their 3 best CB’s, but let us be honest, if King plays 12 games a season he has had a good year, Woodgate isn’t even in their 25 man squad; Dawson it has to be admitted is a loss but they have a WC winner as a replacement!

Our team:

We have had 2 back to back away victories and return to the Grove where our record is surprisingly not great this season. The fighting performances on the road must be continued if we are to win tomorrow. I am told Arshavin is running into good form, and Chamakh is on a fine scoring streak. Fabregas has found aggression to add to his sublime skills and Nasri is the Premiership’s form player. We have easily enough quality to win this game – what will be required is commitment and concentration over the whole 95 minutes.

The North London Derby (NLD) has at last got some frisson back thanks to the resurgence of the devilspawn fro N17, the atmosphere at The Grove will be electric, the teams excited and inspired, and I just wish I could be there….

Here’s hoping for a great game, a decent referee, an early goal, one just before half time to calm the nerves and a victory for the men in the white hats.

This is not a purely a question of football superiority – it is the eternal battle for the triumph of good over evil


Written by BigRaddy

That Damned Abusive Offside Law

October 22, 2010

Written by RedArse

There are only 17 Laws of Football. The one that is the subject of this article and which makes me bristle with frustration and anger is …… Law 11, The Offside Law.

Before we can rationally discuss the pros or cons of this law we need to know what it says!

Offside Position

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.

A player is in an offside position if:

he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.

A player is not in an offside position if:

he is in his own half of the field of play or
he is level with the second last opponent or
he is level with the last two opponents


A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

interfering with play or
interfering with an opponent or
gaining an advantage by being in that position.

No Offence

There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from:

a goal kick or
a throw-in or
a corner kick

O.K., so they had defined Law 11; but how did it work in practice.

Following much controversy shortly after the current rule was introduced, FIFA brought out some “clarifications” or interpretations to re-define what the terminology meant, so that Referees worldwide would be consistent in their decision making. Not an auspicious beginning and the angst was to continue!

Clarification – Decision 1;

In the definition of offside position, “nearer to his opponents’ goal line” means that any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. The arms are not included in this definition.

Clarification – Decision 2;

The definitions of involvement in active play are as follows:

Interfering with play means; playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a teammate.

Interfering with an opponent means; preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.

Gaining an advantage by being in that position means; playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.

So, despite Andy “know it all” Gray, it is not sufficient for a player to have his feet level with or behind the defender’s, if his head or torso is ahead of the defender’s body parts, he is offside!

Anyway, following last weekend’s games, I got extremely exercised at how Referees, or their Assistants, had interpreted the offside law, and in doing so, had materially affected the outcome of at least two games.

Let’s take the Spuds v Fulham game as an example. Huddlestone struck a terrific shot, from outside the penalty area, which flew thru a crowded area and over the boot of Gallas, before lodging in the back of the net.
The Assistant Ref flagged for offside, (Gallas gaining an advantage?), the Spurs players protested, and after consulting his Assistant, the Ref overturned the offside decision and allowed what turned out to be the winning goal.
After the match, ‘Arry the Twitch, said “I don’t know if it was a goal, or not, because I don’t understand the offside rules”. A furious Mark Hughes predictably said the Ref had made the wrong decision by overturning the Assistant’s decision, but agreed the Offside Law was very difficult to understand.

And that’s the crux. The Offside Law is difficult to understand or, more aptly, to apply, because it is open to each official’s subjective interpretation. Enshrined within the Law “clarification”, it declares that “in the referee’s opinion” is the major criterion, and this has to be a recipe for obfuscation. The result is that “goals” are allowed or disallowed, by different Referees/Assistants, in what are very similar circumstances, much to the frustration of Managers, players and fans, because each individual referee can make decisions, “in his opinion”. By definition, mistakes are being made, and far too frequently, because those “opinions” can be illogical.
I say this without wishing to castigate the match officials, who are doing their best in almost impossible circumstances.

The prime mover with this Law change was to promote more goal scoring opportunities (keeping TV audiences engaged?) coupled with the injunction to give the benefit of any doubt to the attacking side. Very laudable, you might think, but conversely, the large majority of the errors continue to benefit the defending side, thus negating the very purpose of the Law.

Part of the problem, of course, is that Referee’s Assistants are frequently unable to properly make offside calls because it is impossible for them to “compute” the many variations of whether or not a player is “active” or “inactive” at the precise moment his teammate touches or passes the ball, not least because the human eye often cannot physically see both the kicker and the recipient clearly because of the angle they are at, or his “line of sight” may be impeded by other players’ bodies.

It is only human nature that, if an official is unsure whether or not he has correctly worked out all the possible permutations, in the split second available, and does not want to make an embarrassing mistake, he will likely err on the side of caution by raising the “offside flag”, rather than not doing so and looking incompetent.
Why is this? Well if the official does not to flag, and wrongly allows play to continue, resulting in a goal, this will get highlighted and shown over and over again on TV, or ridiculed in the morning newspapers. The effect on the official’s career path could be terminal.

Back to my original point, that Law 11 is misunderstood and incorrectly applied. In a newspaper today, Graham Poll the ex-referee declared, in his inimitable doctrinaire style, that the Referee was correct to allow the Huddleston goal because Gallas was not in the goalkeeper’s line of sight. He made no mention of “gaining an advantage by being in an offside position”. The shot from Huddleston passed over Gallas’ foot, which must have caused Schwarzer, at least, a momentary delay in reaction simply by his being there in that position, yards in front of any defender.

What to do? The old Law 11 came into disrepute, because in major international championships, a lot of ill feeling was caused when stunning “goals” were disallowed because a team mate on the attacking side was scratching his arse in an “offside” position out on the wing.

Before the current Law came into effect, this “problem” was overcome by adding the simple sentence “unless interfering with play”.

Therefore, in the above example; under the “old” Law 11, a stunning goal would be allowed, even if the winger was “offside “whilst playing with himself, unless he was interfering with play, due to flashing.

The solution is to return to the old Law 11 rules. We all understood those simple instructions and it would demystify the current refereeing decisions, which satisfy no one!

A very Happy Birthday to Arsène Wenger.

Cahill’s Ban Should Be Extended – written by RockyLives

September 14, 2010

So Gary Cahill is appealing against the red card awarded for his foul on Marouane Chamakh.

Good. I’m delighted. Bring it on.

By appealing, Cahill leaves open the option of having his three-match ban for a straight red extended by the FA committee that hears his appeal. And make no mistake – he deserves to have the ban extended.

If you’re in any doubt, take another look at the challenge (you can view it on arsenalist.com). Cahill comes in late and from behind on Chamakh, who has just executed a sweet back-heel into the path of Arshavin.

Watching it live (and from high up in the West Stand) I thought the red card was harsh and, at first glance of the replay, you’re tempted to agree. One of the reasons it doesn’t look so bad is that Chamakh just gets up and gets on with things without any histrionics (Eboue, please take note). Chamakh’s not badly hurt – so it should be a yellow card at most, right?

Wrong. Take another look. Cahill dives in with both feet off the ground, which is a definition of recklessness. His left foot takes Chamakh’s left ankle, his right foot takes Chamakh’s right ankle. Neither foot gets within nodding distance of the ball.

By a small miracle of timing both Chamakh’s feet are off the ground at the moment of impact. Now play back the tackle in your mind and imagine what the outcome would have been if either one of our Number  29’s feet had been planted at the moment of impact: with Cahill’s flying, uncontrolled lunge, Chamakh would surely have had ligament damage at the very least and possibly even a broken ankle. We would have lost him for several weeks or several months, at a time when we are also missing Robin van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner.

That he was not seriously injured was a pure fluke. Cahill’s challenge was dangerous and stupid and the instant red card proffered by Stuart Atwell was a rare instance of good refereeing by the ‘up and coming top ref in England’ in a game in which he was generally out of his depth.

He correctly adjudged that he should punish the intent, not the outcome. By doing so he may just save some other professional from having his leg snapped by the likes of Cahill later on in the season.

I don’t need to remind anyone of the horrors our players have faced in recent seasons from wild, uncontrolled challenges by brutish defenders. Cahill’s was a collector’s item of the species and three games on the sidelines is the least he deserves.

Following on from the Joe Cole dismissal in our first game of the season, the Cahill red card gives some hope that referees have discussed how to protect creative players and have agreed among themselves to act quickly and decisively if they see reckless lunges like Cahill’s. Quite how Atwell managed not to dismiss Robinson for his even more dangerous challenge on Abou Diaby a short while afterwards will, however, remain one of the great mysteries of football.

When Cahill gets to stand before the FA, let’s just hope they have the intelligence to study the video properly and the balls to act accordingly.


Fletcher admits ………… Ferguson’s a hypocrite

July 23, 2010

Just over a year ago, having watched Darren Fletcher commit foul after foul against Arsenal without receiving a single booking, Arsene Wenger coined the term “anti-football”.

He said: “’I have seen today a player who plays on the pitch only to make fouls. The players who are never punished and get out of the game without a yellow card.

I think it is anti-football. I don’t know why it is this way. You should ask the referees. Look at how many deliberate fouls some players get away with. That’s a bigger problem because it cuts the flow of the game. And people pay to see football, not free-kicks.”

Of course Fletcher and Ferguson both said afterwards that Wenger was a sore loser and that Fletcher was an honest, skillful footballer.

A year later, and Fletcher has realized that Wenger was completely correct and he has now decided to admit to the error in his ways. Fletcher said that it is his job to “…break up play, sometimes to commit a tactical foul to stop the other team counter-attacking…”

Now I’m no Premiership referee, but I believe that what he is talking about is called unsporting behaviour, and should ON EACH AND EVERY OCCASION be dealt with by a yellow card.

I very much hope that referees were listening to Fletcher’s comments and will act accordingly in the forthcoming season.

And what are Ferguson’s true views on the types of fouls that Fletcher sees as wrtitten into his job description? Well, they are rather different when they happen to his team.

Here is what he said after Manchester United were knocked out of the FA Cup by a Portsmouth team that included the Fletcher-like Lassana Diarra: “He [Lassana Diarra] doesn’t get a booking [for a cynical obstruction of Ronaldo in United’s first attack],” said Ferguson. “That sets a tone for Pompey knowing that they can get away with so many things. He had eight or nine fouls in the match. It’s incredible. I don’t blame Portsmouth. If any team comes here and finds that a referee won’t do anything, won’t do the right thing, then they will keep on doing it. And I think that’s a tragedy.”

Yes that would be a tragedy – so let’s just hope that Premiership referees will call an end to this behaviour this season.

They can make a start by getting Fletcher’s name in the book the first time he makes one of those “tactical fouls”.

I’m not holding my breath though….

Written by mjc

“I’d just love it if we beat them”

March 25, 2010

Alex Ferguson – Lord of the Sith or Rab. C Nesbitt?

We all know “Sir” Alex is supposedly the master of mind games and at the level of a Jedi master if you were to believe the entirety of the Man IOU worshipping media and pretty much all of TV sports channels.

The most obvious example often quoted to back this assertion being when Kevin Keegan famously lost his cool and let rip with the “I’d just love it…” tirade, which terminally branded him as a “bottler” in the 1995-96 season.

Take a more recent example of how ole 65% proof nose used his dazzling psychological dexterity to become a winner on Sunday against the Dippers. It was another “Old Traffordish” decision given to the Salford reprobates that resulted in an undeserving penalty duly converted by everyone’s favourite Dreamworks character, via the rebound, to gain his team three valuable points.

The referee was Howard Webb, another referee that Govan’s finest has previously criticised publicly and none too subtly. Take your minds back to the season before last when we met Glazers Gimps at our place when we twice came from behind to salvage a draw while allegedly benefiting from being favoured by Howard the Coward. Not only did the whiskey infested sour puss moan about the refereeing but he deemed the atmosphere at our place hostile – a few quips of “siddown Taggart!” enough to offend Fergie’s tender and fragile persona.  Incidentally you may compare Fergie’s whinge about nothing to the treatment handed out to our manager during the league visit to Old Toilet this season; sent to the stands for the heinous crime of kicking an empty water bottle so he could spend time amongst the slavering hordes of mono brain-celled mank glory-hunting numb nuts.

So, having publicly undermined Howard Webb our Whiskey enthusiast, who in common with all managers assesses the referees in his post-match report, let his displeasure be known in that public way.

OK, if a few FA disrepute charges come his way it’s a fair price for the later benefits (benefits such as the soft penalty for Valencia’s act of simulation that had more ham than Dewhursts) that arise from pressurising referees pre match. Of course every referee will say he is not effected by anything managers say, yet subconsciously Webb, and the likes of Riley before him, the need to get Sir Alex of Govan’s approval hangs heavily on them.

Earlier this season the FA finally attempted to reign in Fergie’s one man crusade against the “Respect” campaign when he said referee Alan Wiley “just wasn’t fit enough” to officiate the Salford Red Sox’s game against Sunderland.

It is significant that part of the judgement made by the FA committee on the disrepute charge subsequently brought contained this proviso “ Each member of the commission recognised Sir Alex Ferguson’s achievements and stature within the game.”

This implies that some degree of leniency was applied because of who the person being judged was – a clear and blatant example of footballing authorities falling over themselves to appease the mad old Scotsman’s rantings; what on earth has his achievements in the game got to do with what the appropriate punishment should be for bringing the game into disrepute? Furthermore, it suggests that managers who have not won trophies will get harsher judgements – what next, a sliding scale of penalties for managers based on how many trophies they have won?

by guest writer charybdis 1966

Saint Ryan slain by Satanic Frenchman – and Aarons Road to Recovery

March 3, 2010

Three days on since the events at the Britannia and the debate rages on as to who is the villain and who is the victim. As any Gooner could have predicted, having the experience of Dan Smith and Martin Taylor’s interventions on our players (“Tiny” Taylor’s being especially unequivocal) to draw on, it would take very little time for it to be established by the agenda-driven media hog-pack that the victim was the leg breaker and the villain the manager of the leg breakee.

Chief peddlers of Arsenal hating utter crap being the paragon of virtue Stanley Victor Collymore ably aided and abetted by the likes of Puliss, Lou Macari, Derek McGovern and other sub-species of pond life however this is was not the first thing that occurred to me as soon as I heard of the completion of our grisly hat-trick of leg snaps.

Our young welsh mid-fielder has a long road of rehabilitation in front of him and having been in the position of recovering from major surgery I can empathise with what he will go through in the next six to nine months.

Exactly five years ago I was given what in medical parlance is called a “Cabbage”, a Cardiac Artery Bypass Graft – major surgery of a different quality to that of repairing a double leg break but both instances involve a long period of rehabilitation. In my case it was a solo effort and while Aaron will have a big medical team around him ultimately he will feel equally alone while he works his way back to fitness via hours and hours of rehabilitative exercises and therapies.

Initially major surgery results in a loss of confidence in a number of ways – you may feel too weak to want to exert yourself in any way or to test the part of you that was broken. The doctors can assure that it is acceptable to walk with your repaired leg or, in my case, put weight on you chest, but this loss of confidence meant I would fall asleep on my back for months as I subconsciously felt my chest would cave in.

Everyone will react to post operative trauma differently and perhaps Rambo will have no such fears but the loneliness of training on his own, when he would be with the rest of the squad normally, will be a different challenge that he has to face.

“I am lost to the world

with which I used to waste so much time,

It has heard nothing from me for so long

that it may very well believe that I am dead!

It is of no consequence to me

Whether it thinks me dead;

I cannot deny it,

for I really am dead to the world.

I am dead to the world’s tumult,

And I rest in a quiet realm!”

Based on a text in German by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866)

I apologise to any students of German poetry but I thought of the above quote when I read comments questioning the wisdom of presenting Eduardo to the crowd at Ashburton Grove as he made his long slow painful recovery to fitness. I was there to see our Crozillian palpably moved by the crowd’s reaction and to my mind that is the type of encouragement that a player needs when he is training alone for long periods. To feel he is still part of the team, the squad and the larger Gooner diaspora is vital and so the same approach is needed for Rambo. When my two sons ran up to my bed in the ward a few days after my chest “cut and shut” it was a lift to the spirits similar to that Aaron will get when he takes his first steps on crutches onto the turf of the Grove.

We can all play some part in getting Aaron’s rehab off to the start it deserves, those of us lucky enough to be going to see the Burnley game can by singing his name out loud and make sure it’s sung every game till he’s back so he knows he’s not been forgotten.

There is the fear that Rambo will never be the same, as Diaby and Eduardo have suffered from a series of niggling injuries un related to the leg breaks but significant enough to hinder their progress. Time will tell just how well these three players of ours recover their abilities, skill and confidence on the pitch.

Sadly, going back to Saturday at the Potteries, we know this could all have been avoided had referee Walton applied the rules regarding dangerous and reckless play, however would we then have got the galvanising effect, admittedly at a potentially unacceptable cost to a teenagers career, on team spirit that resulted?

And that, as they say, is the hell of it.

By Charybdis1966