Stoke’s Friend may be no one else’s for a while

A key man, says Jake
A key man, says Jake

Not sure if Mike Riley has yet made his call to Gus Poyet with abject apologies for a howler that has made Sunderland’s desperate battle against relegation all the harder. Nor is it clear whether Kevin Friend has been man enough to send Poyet his own mea culpa.

But the signs are growing that Friend’s latest disgraceful decision to Sunderland’s disadvantage, the sending off of Wes Brown for – as the Telegraph wittily put it – “kicking the ball with unnecessary force” has not gone unpunished.

The BBC says Friend has been excluded from the next two Premier League programmes. If so, and he is allowed back to ruin some other game after that, his “suspension” will be one match fewer than the ban faced by a key figure in Sunderland’s bid for salvation.

But the BBC also said the FA was likely to overturn the laughably wrong card, freeing Brown for an immediate return to action.

We’ll see. I have no idea what basis the Beeb has for such a report. It won’t change the fact that Sunderland lost, of course.

None of us can say for sure the result would have been any different with 11-a-side. But a game that looked possible to save and even to win was put a little bit farther beyond Sunderland’s grasp. The relaxed view Friend later took of Begovic’s astonishing airborne lunge at Fletcher, when a penalty and red card seemed the correct response, aggravated his earlier ineptitude.

Even the Stoke Sentinel ran a report under the headline “Extra-time: Stoke City profit from double standards” that stated: “Wearing a neutral’s hat for just one moment, it’s difficult to justify Brown walking and Begovic staying. If Brown was guilty of an over-exuberant challenge to earn red for his largely clean tackle on Charlie Adam in the first half, then surely Begovic was guilty of something similar in his own area in the second?”

We all make mistakes at work, as I often say. That is the only mitigation I can muster for Stoke’s Friend.

Minor consolation for Poyet, as seen by Jake
Jake hopes for minor consolation for Poyet and Brown
Monsieur Salut in Paris days, as seen by Matt
Monsieur Salut in Paris days, as seen by Matt

8 thoughts on “Stoke’s Friend may be no one else’s for a while”

  1. It’s hardly fair to inflict the bugger on some other teams just because they are in a lower division. He’s as capable of the same horror show in a Tranmere v Orient game as he is in the PL.

    The man isn’t good enough for park football on a Sunday morning.

  2. Well its been rescinded.Thing is tackles like this are a risk,like it or not they can get a red….it’s the way football; has gone am afraid.bets sty on your feet in future.I recall us getting a favourable sending off last season at home vs Wigan… happens.

    My worry is we get Friend again as he now has good reason to be set against us.Its like a jury in a court case,if he has reason to be biased we should be able to reject him.

    • @ vince

      Alternatively, it could work the other way. He could be so anxious to be seen as ” fair ” that he slants decisions in our favour? – either way is wrong. We need neutrality.

  3. He is a very poor ref who has ‘previous’ against us.Considering refs are assessed every game I am at a loss to understand how he has maintained his Premier League staus for so long.If he is to be demoted for two games,then as Jeremy asks,’What purpose wil it serve in improving his performance’? Perhaps Mark Hughes should be suspended for two weeks also for his disgraceful comments on the Wes Brown sending-off.

    • KenG –

      Mark Hughes has done himself absolutely no favours with his biased comments. I am surprised at him. I had a fair bit of time for him prior to this. Hughes himself was one of the toughest tackling attacking players of his era – I assume his own dubious managerial position has affected his objectivity?

      • When he spoke on TV at the end of the match Hughes said something to the effect that he thought it was a dangerous tackle and that if you have feet off the ground and are out of control you risk a red.

        He made no reference to Begovic, his lack of control or the danger he presented later in the game

        Newton’s first law suggests Begovic would have continued for another few feet had his foot, which must have been off the ground unless space and time are different in Stoke, not collided with Fletcher’s chest.

        Double standards, Mr. Hughes? I won’t use the word hypocrite, others may.

  4. Friend is either incompetent or he has a bet on Sunderland to be relegated. I tend to think that he is incompetent, and has been for a long time, remember the John Mensah red card and penalty award even though the ‘offense’ was well outside the area? Remember Defoe’s late lunge at Craig Gordon which broke his arm and was ignored by Friend etc etc.

  5. What does demoting the incompetent oaf for two weeks achieve. Will he use the time to reflect and tell himself that he won’t make such awful decisions in future? He makes bad decisions like this because he’s an extremely poor referee. His career is littered with them. Friend is shocking.

    He should be sacked completely. Two weeks isn’t going to change things one iota. He is costing teams, points and games and this kind of thing is happening all too often these days.

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