Man­agers need to change tack

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

WOULDN’T you just love it if a man­ager came out after a game and ad­mit­ted that he'd made a com­plete mess of it. Per­haps some­thing like: “I’ve got to apol­o­gise to my play­ers and our fans to­day be­cause I got the game-plan and my sub­sti­tu­tions to­tally wrong.”

Self-crit­i­cism is a con­cept that seems to have by­passed man­agers. Wit­ness their post­match press con­fer­ences and you see that it’s usu­ally the ref­eree or his as­sis­tants who carry the can. Flick­ing through a re­cent copy of The Foot

ball League Pa­per, it was the sheer amount of ver­bal as­saults on ref­er­ees that caught my eye.

For starters, con­sider Brad­ford boss Phil Parkin­son’s com­ments after keeper Jor­dan Pick­ford was sent off after just ten min­utes of the last-gasp home de­feat by Rochdale.

Speak­ing about ref­eree Gavin Ward, Parkin­son blasted: “They’ve got a penalty and he’s been sent off – it’s never a send­ing off, it’s an ab­so­lutely atro­cious decision.

“It summed up the ref­eree’s per­for­mance – he was ter­ri­ble on the day. I won’t hide away from it, there was a pitch in­spec­tion this morn­ing and he was telling me how he’s come up from Sur­rey.

“If that’s the best ref we can get and we’ve brought him up from Sur­rey, then God help us. That per­for­mance was shock­ing.”

Mean­while, Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy was fum­ing at a penalty call that didn’t go his side’s way in the 1-0 home de­feat against Derby and ref­eree Kevin Wright’s decision not to send the Rams’ John Eus­tace for an ear­lier bath than he even­tu­ally re­ceived.

In typ­i­cally blunt style, the for­mer Repub­lic of Ire­land man­ager said: “Come on, the game has gone. Let’s come out here and say it how it is. Is it a f***ing penalty? Yes. Is it a f***ing foul? Yes. He’s got his arm out here. The ball hits his hand. It’s a penalty.

“With the Eus­tace one, I asked the ref­eree at half-time what was go­ing on. He said it was an ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sion. Well, I have to tell you – I com­mit­ted some ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sions in my time.

“It’s vi­o­lent con­duct. He body­checks him from the side. He’s been booked al­ready and he would have had to go. It was a very strange decision.”

Then there was Ori­ent’s Fabio Liverani after his side’s 1-0 home de­feat by Fleet­wood Town. The Ital­ian was sent off in in­jury time after see­ing his side awarded a free-kick just out­side the box rather than the penalty he felt it should have been.

“The match has been badly con­di­tioned by the ref­eree’s decision,” he whinged. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to say any­thing to my play­ers after that be­cause the ref­eree got it wrong.”

Old­ham man­ager Lee John­son hit out after his side squan­dered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home against Don­caster. The Rovers come­back be­gan after the Lat­ics’ Joseph Mills was dis­missed for a foul.

“It’s not a great chal­lenge from Mills, but the man­ner in which the of­fi­cials dealt with it was very, very poor,” he moaned.

“The game changed on some poor of­fi­ci­at­ing. Some­times you get three or four poor de­ci­sions but, in fair­ness, it was prob­a­bly more 18 or 19.”

Walsall boss Dean Smith also got in on the act. He let rip at ref­eree Lee Collins for award­ing vis­i­tors Scun­thorpe a penalty in their thump­ing 4-1 away vic­tory. It came after the ref­eree had re­versed a penalty decision against his side min­utes ear­lier.

“I’ve seen it again and it’s never a penalty,” said Smith. “It’s cost us the chance of get­ting back into a game that I felt we were get­ting back into.

“He couldn’t give the ear­lier one quick enough ei­ther – he looked almost dis­ap­pointed that he didn’t have to give it.

“To be hon­est, I wasn’t even that angry about it – I felt sorry for him more than any­thing be­cause I thought it was such a poor decision.”

AFC Wim­ble­don boss Neal Ard­ley joined the ranks of ref-bash­ing bosses, blast­ing Gra­ham Hor­wood after his side’s 2-1 de­feat at Steve­nage, the hosts net­ting a 70th-minute penalty win­ner.

“It doesn’t sur­prise me that the penalty went that way,” he said. “I thought the of­fi­ci­at­ing all game was aw­ful. It was a scrappy, tough League Two game and I thought in the end he was giv­ing bad de­ci­sions for us to coun­ter­act the ones he’d given against us.

“It’s a brave decision to give the penalty and, down the other end, one player bla­tantly doesn’t play the ball and it doesn’t sur­prise me he never gave it for us.”

Fun­nily enough, ref­er­ees do seem to get praise – or at least their de­ci­sions ac­cepted – by some man­agers. But you see a pat­tern emerg­ing – it’s only the man­agers of win­ning teams.

For ex­am­ple, Steve­nage boss Gra­ham West­ley in­sisted ref­eree Hor­wood made the right call in that match against the Dons.

“I think when that chal­lenge went in ev­ery­one in the ground knew it was a penalty,” he said. “I’m sur­prised the po­lice weren’t on for a GBH charge, to be hon­est.”

And New­port gaffer Justin Ed­in­burgh saluted ref Michael Bull for let­ting his side’s con­tro­ver­sial win­ning goal count against Portsmouth.

He said: “I don’t feel we had any luck with our goal. The laws be­ing the laws, it has to stand. Aaron O’Con­nor wasn’t in the eye of the goal­keeper.

“When I played the game it was off­side, but now it isn’t and credit to the ref­eree for stay­ing strong and mak­ing the cor­rect decision.”

Yes, I can some­times un­der­stand man­agers be­ing un­happy with de­ci­sions and com­plain­ing about them af­ter­wards. They’ve worked all week to pre­pare their team for the game and it could be ru­ined by a ref­eree’s er­ror. Man­agers’ jobs are on the line in this cut-throat re­sults business.

But does it al­ways have to be the ref­eree’s fault? Did the man­ager have a per­fect game, did the play­ers not make any mis­takes?

Some man­agers aren’t afraid to blast their play­ers, but you get the feel­ing that oth­ers don’t want to up­set their tem­per­a­men­tal star striker.

And when you’ve got ref­er­ees who don’t an­swer back, they’re easy scape­goats. But the next time your side gets beat, just ask your­self the ques­tion – did your team re­ally lose that game of 90 min­utes due to one mis­take by the ref or is the man­ager try­ing to pull the wool over your eyes? Sour grapes any­one?

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