At another place, I have written a profile of Louis van Gaal. In it, I refer to the global Manchester United fan base – how many of those 75m or 330m, take your pick, “supporters” have the faintest idea where Manchester is? – to whom winning is regarded as a natural right.
If those supporters happened to include the top referee in England, how much easier it would be to ensure the wins kept coming.
So Howard Webb’s decision to end his career as a matchday referee (he becomes technical director of the refereeing body, Professional Game Match Officials Ltd) has inspired a procession of United-haters at Twitter. OK, and a few wits too.
The Indie chose these among other examples …
Another high profile departure from Old Trafford announced as Howard Webb retires from refereeing.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 6, 2014
Louis van Gaal begins summer clear out as he decides not to renew Howard Webb's contract at Manchester United pic.twitter.com/IqaXYCmUjx
— Anfieldheaven (@Anfieldheaven) August 6, 2014
Manchester United honour Howard Webb after announcing his retirement.. pic.twitter.com/VYBTaLVBFS
— Football Funnys (@FootballFunnys) August 7, 2014
For the record, I admire Webb. He struck me as being a sensible, intelligent referee who handled games well.
The supposed pro-MUFC bias is a simple invention, great stuff for down the bar but devoid of logic or serious proof.
Of course, like just about everyone else, he made mistakes at work and some of these may have benefited ManU.
Two examples that worked against Sunderland: the laughable penalties awarded at Newcastle United (confirming Steven Taylor as a cheat) and the Stadium of Light (Everton’s Leon Osman inventing a foul when no one was near him and he kicked the turf before the obligatory theatrical fall). These did not lead me to assume Webb was somehow anti-Sunderland. NUFC fans will produce examples from the fist of the 3-0 demolitions at SJP of his decisions favouring SAFC.
Nor did I think he had such a dreadful game in the 2010 World Cup final. He may regret not dismissing Nigel de Jong but the fact is that the Netherlands presented such a thuggish game plan that night, one that Spain increasingly copied as the match wore on, that a zealous ref would have ended up with three or four a side.
Footballers notoriously make many, many more mistakes than match officials. I shall remember Webb as a fine ref, flawed as he may have been. I naturally expect plenty of Salut! Sunderland readers to differ.