Refereeing as we know is a very tough profession in today’s modern game. It has often been claimed by many to be the impossible job. There are so many cameras in the ground now that every decision is highlighted and scrutinised by many pundit,s who sit in nice warm studios. These guys in my opinion are not really qualified to be passing comment on a trade they know very little about. If you look at Robbie Savage for example, let us be totally honest and say the only thing he knows about refereeing, is how to cause match officials lots of problems when he was on the field of play. Over the years I have had many discussions with players both past and present and not a lot of them know the rules of a game they play in every week. The main reason players take part in our beautiful game is to win and sometimes it is to win at all costs. When I took on this column for the website I decided it was not to slaughter officials, but I was keen to discuss issues in games where I felt they could have done things different. Over the past couple of week’s I have watched plenty of games from around the world and for this article I would like to take a look at the performances of Lee Mason in the Arsenal against Stoke game and Paul Tierney who was in charge of a big clash in the Championship between Brighton and Leeds United.
Lee Mason in the big scheme of things did not really have a bad game in his handling of the Arsenal against Stoke game, but he did leave the field of play at the end of ninety minutes with a big talking point hanging over his head. His decision to award Stoke a penalty in the first half raised quite a few eyebrows and I have been asked by many of my friends as to why having awarded the penalty kick, he did not apply the full letter of the law. The incident I am looking at occurred in the twenty ninth minute of the game when Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka caught Joe Allen of Stoke with an elbow in the face inside the penalty area. It was an excellent decision by the official to award the penalty but then to follow that up by not sending off the Arsenal player was ridiculous. In my opinion once Lee gave the penalty he should have sent off Xhaka for violent conduct. I have had numerous amount of former colleagues ask my opinion as to why the Arsenal player was not sent off and the only answer I can come up with is that the official bottled it. This is not something I say lightly as I would like to think that there are referees not brave enough to give the big decisions. As I mentioned earlier, in my opinion the giving of the penalty was an excellent decision but all the good work was undone by not producing what I thought was a clear red card.
Arguably one of the biggest games of the month in the Championship was the clash between Brighton and Leeds United. You will not know this, but I am a big Leeds fan and never miss a game when they are on TV and over the years I have been to Elland Road on many occasions. I very rarely comment on officials who take charge of Leed United games, because as you know the heart can often rule the head, so I tend to just watch and enjoy the games involving my club. But I can not on this occasion let the official away without a mention. The man in question was Paul Tierney who in my opinion had one of the best games of the season so far. It was a game where Paul had two big penalty claims to call and got both correct. The first penalty in my opinion was a brilliant decision as he judged that Kalvin Phillips had handled a shot from Lewis Dunk that was going into the net. It was a great spot from the official as he could so easily have missed it from the angle he was looking at it. Top marks to Paul, and he did follow the letter of the law and sent off the Leeds player. The overall control by Paul during the whole ninety minutes was a joy to watch and I do not think he actually got anything wrong. His night was complete in the closing moments of the game when he awarded Brighton a second penalty for Leeds defender Bartley hanging onto Dunk in the penalty area. His awarding of both penalties were correct and it showed me how much the official was tuned in and on top of his game. As a Leeds fan I have no problem with the official on the night as I thought he had a great game. It is not very often you hear that from a fan who,s side have been beaten and had two penalties awarded against them.
Well there we have it, two all so different refereeing performances under the microscope and with so many different outcomes. If you sum it up, it has to be that Lee got it wrong and Paul got it perfectly correct. I will leave it there for this week but I am sure I will be back again soon as the refereeing performances stutter from bad to worse. Enjoy your football this week and let us hope we are not talking about a poor performance by an official involving a team which you may support. We have to live in hope. ” Ciao “