Tuesday 14th September 2010
Like all of us, I find myself going through every emotion during each game we play and this includes the weekly frustrations we all feel when refereeing decisions don't go our way.
The older I get however, more than ever I appreciate not only is it an extremely difficult job to do but we have to remember that despite the authorities trying to make the rules 'black and white', there are still large chunks of the game that simply come down to the officials' interpretation, opinion or even if they actually saw the incident in question!
With this in mind, as hard as it is, I try my very best to see every incident and decision with a relatively balanced view.
For me, Saturday's referee had a 'difficult' afternoon and, seeing how hard a job it can be, from my point of view he got a number of big and potentially result-influencing decisions wrong.
We have to remember here that this is not a 'sour grapes'-fuelled rant after a defeat but after a thumping 4-1 victory proving if nothing else a referee's influence can be at the forefront of analysis even on good days.
I will look at just three of the many incidents.
As a defender Kevin Davies must be a nightmare to play against. His huge frame, many years of experience coupled with goalscoring ability means any defender will know he's been in a game against him.
Early on Saturday he committed a foul that warranted a yellow card in anybody's book. The whole ground, including Davies I'm sure, knew it. To the referee's credit he played a fine advantage as we still had the ball and were in a good attacking position. Everyone waited for the next break in play so the referee could punish Davies. Amazingly the game stopped when Davies committed another extremly poor challenge on Jack, leaving him limping for much of the game before he was replaced.
I really don't like to see players sent off, except in extreme circumstances, but both of Davies' fouls were late and comfortably bookable. The overall result, not just a yellow card but a demonstration that apparently one of the fouls was acceptable!
The Cahill sending off was farcical. Firstly, it was a foul but the punishment was at the very most in today's day and age a yellow card. Consequently I can fully understand our visitors' frustration. Looking at the first incident above however, maybe this evened things out a little.
For me, the more frustrating thing about this incident was that by immediately stopping play instead of playing the advantage he prevented the Meerkat from having a total one-on-one with Bolton's keeper!
Finally and admittedly late on when the game was virtually over, Manu sprinted into the box with the ball before being pulled down by a Bolton defender. Sitting where I do in the north-east corner of the ground, it was a clear penalty. Fortunately the lino was also located on that side and immediately placed his flag across his chest signalling a penalty. The referee, who had a far worse view, chose to ignore.
As I said I would discuss three incidents, I won't go into the studs-up tackle that led to Abou having to limp off. Again, the referee deemed it OK.
Overall, our performance warranted the three points and, with some good goals to boot, that is exactly what we got. As we've seen before however, big decisions can influence results and all we can hope is they work against us on as few occasions as possible as the season develops.
That starts as we embark on yet another European adventure tomorrow night with Portugal's Sporting Braga coming to town.
The group stages dictate points in your home games are crucial and three tomorrow night will make it the perfect start.
Only a good solid performance will see just that.
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