Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tony Pulis is wrong. Here's why...

So, according to Stoke City manager Tony Pulis, Premiership referees should face relegation to the Championship, based on an annual rating from Premiership managers. No, they shouldn't. And here's why.

  1. Championship games need good referees too. Better, sometimes. I'd want a better ref for Cardiff v Swansea in the play-off final than for a meaningless end-of-season kickaround between Fulham and Bolton. At the moment, the biggest games get the top referees. Top referees will still make mistakes.
  2. It doesn't make any sense. He said: "Every club should have one vote [annually] and mark referees after every game. Then they have a chance of being relegated to the Championship. It would be a great system." What does that mean? Which part of this 'great' system gives refs a 'chance' of being relegated? Is it the annual vote or the after-game marking? 
  3. Why would a Championship manager vote honestly when they know that, under another part of Pulis' idea, the best-rated refs from the Championship will be promoted?
  4. Picture the scene: United v Chelsea, near the end of the season. The referee knows he's got a few big decisions wrong over the course of the season, and fears the managers may be gunning for him. Both teams have dropped points in games he's refereed, and both sets of players are getting in his face about it. If he goes down to the Championship, his pay goes down and his family will have to move house. Drogba goes down in the box and everybody's shouting. The ref really should have been concentrating on the game.
  5. Managers are people too - they are flawed, they are biased, they are petty, they bear grudges. They will vote against referees who made decisions which may not have been wrong, but which turned out badly for their team, or well for rivals.
  6. This is the main one, so it goes in bold: The only reason Tony Pulis has come up with this idea is that Stoke have had a few bad decisions go against them. Any match will involve tight decisions and mistakes that go against both sides. It's pure luck that the referee didn't see a handball here, or did see a push there, or thought this player or the other touched the ball last. Any of these decisions - from a penalty to a throw-in on the half-way line - has the potential to influence the result of the game one way or the other. It's like flipping a coin. And had Pulis not had a few tails in a row, he would not have come up with his 'great' idea.
Look, football fans whinge. I still bear a grudge against Roger Milford which I shall take to my grave. It's part of the fun and we can't expect managers to be any different. But when they start coming out with rubbish like this, we shouldn't indulge them. Because next week, things will go his way again - and this 'great' idea will be forgotten.

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