Ken Gambles came up with one the ideas of 2011, the mandatory wearing of bright pink mittens by shirt-pullers and goggles by divers. Sadly, no manufacturer could be found to guarantee keeping up with the likely demand and members of the National Union of Football Divers, Shirt-Pullers and Injury-Feigners besieged Parliament in their thousands. Now, Ken turns his attention to the inconsistencies of match officials ….
Inconsistency. Not with respect to Sunderland on this occasion, although heaven knows which team is likely to turn up on any given week this season, leading to major problems that once again results in our flirting with relegation.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as Monsieur Salut would say.
No, this is to do with referees: not Mark Halsey’s inconsistent penalty-awarding, as also evinced by Roger East at West Brom last week but in time-keeping.
A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on here about those perennial irritations in the game such as shirt-pulling, diving and time-wasting.
On Saturday in the Fulham match we had a perfect example of the latter where Mark Schwarzer played the “innocent idler” for all he was worth.
Mr Halsey bade him speed up a good number of times without much effect,a nd even when an exasperated ball-boy (bless him) put the ball on the six-yard box for him, the keeper decided to choose the opposite side of the goal, once again without any sanction.
My suggestion in the earlier article still holds true.
On every occasion of a team guilty of wasting time the referee should indicate clearly that one minute extra will be added on.
Following Schwarzer’s antics this would have added an extra four minutes at least to “overtime” (OK we wouldn’t have scored, but so what?). To add insult to injury, though,the added time on Saturday was a mere three minutes, for a half which had included four substitutions and a goal!
Surely it’s time for an independent time-keeper (would the fourth official be too busy?) to stop the clock for injuries, substitutions, time-wasting etc and, a la Rugby League, sound a hooter when time is up.
Perhaps the game could continue until the ball goes dead (except for a foul which would clearly advantage the team most keen to see the end of the game). The current system is far too arbitrary and it appears almost as if referees roll a metaphorical dice to decide added time. This new procedure would benefit the whole game, as much, if not more, than the proposed goal-line technology.
And yet I must admit to some inconsistency of my own.
I used to think Mark Halsey was the best Premier League referee but no longer, as in numerous recent games he has been very poor, whereas in contrast Andre Marriner (I can hardly believe I am writing this) has turned in some consistently decent performances over the past year or so.
Howard Webb is another who was excellent when he first officiated our games in the Championship but now seems full of his own importance – a bit like Graham Poll.
For me Mike Dean and Anthony Taylor are the best. Inevitably they will make mistakes, yet you feel confident the game will be refereed well. Oh, there goes the final hooter.