Professional footballers deserve useless officials. The level of cheating, con-artistry and gamesmanship is on the rise again.
This isn’t a defence of referees and their assistants. They are now paid well enough at professional level to improve their standards and they haven’t.
Premier League referees appear to be a lot smugger since they became high profile, rich men. But better? Not a chance. Inconsistencies and a lack of common sense blight all games at all levels.
But they need help from clubs who could fine players like Dele Alli for the blatant acts of simulation they employ.
They would also be helped by the FA developing bigger balls. Simulation should be punished retrospectively and if Alli picked up the three-game ban he deserves for conning hapless referee Jonathan Moss last weekend his manager Mauricio Pochettino might not be so keen to dismiss clever threatrics as an ‘unimportant matter’ as he did straight after the 5-0 win for Spurs over Swansea.
The refusal of clubs to address this sort of behaviour should preclude them from ever chastisting referees for their errors. How dare they adopt such a high moral tone when players are encouraged to cheat and con officials?
It was no surprise to me to read this week Pochetinno admitting Argentinian clubs used to practice diving during training sessions.
It’s a disease not confined to top league football either.
Did you see Nottingham Forest’s playboy midfielder Henri Lansbury confuse a gullible referee in last weekend’s Championship fixture with Newcastle? Why will Lansbury change when his actions, coupled with a referee’s incompetence, helped earn his side an unlikely victory?
Even the Posh FA Cup tie at Notts County came complete with a player doing his best to get a fellow professional sent off, basically by exaggerating a level of hurt following a push to the chest. A red card was indeed produced for a shove that was forceful, but not as forceful as a push in the Manchester City/Chelsea game which yielded a yellow card. There’s that inconsistency again.
It shouldn’t matter, but watching a League Two plodder play-act seems worse. It must be a Nottingham thing.
Of course Posh aren’t angels. I think Marcus Maddison is a top talent, but he needs to realise his over-reaction to every single tackle and foul is gaining no sympathy from officials, or even his own fans.
And of course diving is now such a part of the game, it’s filtered down to amateur football. I made the mistake of refereeing a Peterborough League Division Two game last Saturday when I witnessed a ridiculous dive and suffered earache from a manager with the vision of Superman.
He must have had bionic eyes as he could see things clearly from 90 yards away. Awarding a throw-in the wrong way (according to him) was a ‘disgrace.’
And they wonder why there’s a referee shortage.