Talking Point: Refereeing Managers
As a supporter myself I have been guilty as I`m sure we all have of singing the various referee songs after what we perceive to be an incorrect decision. However lately, after seeing some abuse towards referee`s in the last few weeks, particularly the Twitter abuse directed at Mark Halsey and his family, I am wondering if it is time we laid off referees.
Football is an incredibly tribal sport by nature. You only have to look at the abuse Patrice Evra and Anton Ferdinand, victims of racist abuse, have suffered by normally ordinary folks once they have stepped onto the terraces to support their team and whoever is in it. Therefore it is completely reasonable that that abuse should extend to a common enemy. The referee.
Everyone knows the songs about referees. They can be humorous, allow fans to let off steam, or maybe even swing future decisions in your teams favour. Obviously a line is draw and the recent Twitter abuse about some referees is totally unacceptable on any level and I know every other fan will agree with that. That said, I am not against fans having a dig at the referee on the terraces. After all, fans will equally criticise and complain about their own players should they not be performing to the expected level, and surely same should go for the referee?
I think what can be lost on people when mistakes happen is that the referee himself in the last person that wants to be in that position. In my opinion there are one group of people whose criticism to referee`s is totally unjust and who could really set the benchmark about accepting mistakes as part of the game. Managers!
As I said earlier, given that fans are just as quick to get on the back of players as referees I have some acceptance of the terrace chanting towards officials. However, the same cannot be said for managers. Often their abuse towards the referee is totally unfair and unjust. In my opinion the best rule the Premier League could bring in to try and protect referees from abuse is to stop managers saying things about referees they wouldn`t say about their players in public.
In my opinion referees have too often become a punching bag and an easy target for managers to avoid difficult questions about their own team`s performances. Managers, publicly at least, will ignore mistakes their players have made which has contributed to a result in order to make sure their hammering of the referee is heard and shown around the world. A referee who has a faultless game before awarding a penalty resulting in a team losing in the last minute would be surrounded by players when leaving the pitch and hounded by managers after the game.
The same would not be said for a goalkeeper who makes a string of saves before costing his team a point by conceding a bad goal in the last minute. In this scenario the player would be publicly and most likely privately backed by his team mates and manager who would describe the mistake as a one off as he did everything else well in the game!
A bigger contrast between these two scenarios there could not be. David Moyes gained a lot of respect from me after Everton had two goals not given against Newcastle. However, Moyes after the game also pointed out his teams poor defending was also to blame for throwing away the lead they had held twice. Other managers, Sam Allardyce, Malky Mackay, Brendan Rodgers, Neil Warnock and others are far from being that forgiving.
The Premier League are always telling us how keen they are on bringing respect into the game. They always tell us how cautions for dissent are going down. Well, how about forcing managers to set an example regarding referees? Maybe this would change player behaviour and cut out some of the unsavoury comments in the stands and particularly on social media sites. After all, this game cannot go on without them!