Tanner a bag anyone? Pete Sixsmith was not impressed by the refereeing of one Steve Tanner as we slumped to yet another defeat, this time at Man City. Apologies for the delay in posting Pete’s thoughts – the Randall Roadshow (which, incidentally, found McCartney’s tug to be a stupid and unnecessary act) is a bit tied up preparing for departure from the Middle East…
This is how the conversation went at 3.15 on Sunday;
Steve Tanner: “Well, Mo, did he pull his shirt?”
Mo Matader; “Yes, Steve”.
ST: Did he prevent a clear goalscoring opportunity, given the fact that the ball was in the goalkeeper’s hands and Wright-Phillips was yards off it?”
MM: “I’ll have a think about that one Steve”.
ST: In the meantime, I should remind you that I had a bit of bother with these last season when I gave Reading a goal that was clearly not over the line, but I asked my assistant and he was on Match of the Day and people in his local bought him pints and his little boy came home from school and everybody was talking about him and my lad’s Sticker cards say that W-P is dead fast and he might have got there, and who are Sunderland anyway compared with the world’s richest club?
MM: “Red card, Steve”.
ST: “Thanks Mo. I knew you’d see it my way.”
In addition to this, the Amazing Mr Tanner contrived to book five players in a game that hardly had a fierce tackle in it, give City a soft free kick from which they scored (although he cannot be blamed for the shocking marking that allowed Richards to head in) and generally refereed the game with as much “feel” and understanding as that shown by Margaret Thatcher to the National Union of Mineworkers.
McCartney gets a red card for a slight tug on a shirt; Taylor assaults Arshavin and gets away with it; Ronaldo launches a potentially leg breaking tackle at Murphy and gets a yellow. Where is the sense in any of that? Why don’t some refs have any understanding of the game? Tanner refereed it by the book. His assessor, sat in the stand with his clip board and tick box sheet, would have told him he did the right thing. Worrying, isn’t it!
Having had yet another moan at the refereeing fraternity, it does not cover up the fact that once again we set out to defend in the hope of getting a point. If we had got one it would have put us above Hull, but we really do need to be more ambitious. The gnawing worry is that we will fail to win any more games this season and a succession of draws will not be enough to keep us up.
Of course, Sbragia’s plans were thrown into disarray by the red card. But even while we had a full complement of players on the field, we looked slow and ponderous. Wright-Phillips had done McCartney once and had almost done him the second time. George has been a disappointment since his return and a three game suspension may not be such a bad thing. He is too easily turned and his crossing has been poor.
So, another defeat leaves us looking over our shoulders. West Brom look doomed with the Boro looking to join them. It would be good to finish 17th,one point above a certain team in black and white.
As I walked back to my car (parked in a sidestreet, between the Wong Wong Chinese Bakery and The Duck Fat Chinese Cash and Carry) I chatted with two City fans who agreed with me that the standard of refereeing was deteriorating rapidly.
As we picked our way carefully through a boarded up estate, half expecting Frank Gallacher and his crew to pitch up, I looked up and saw Randall Way, a street of soon to be demolished houses, no doubt to be replaced by flats and maisonettes that nobody can afford to buy.
The dereliction and decay caused me to think of the optimism of two years ago as we stormed the Championship and Colin and myself contemplated a future of no more dire relegation battles. Like Randall Way those hopes are crumbling fast.