As Ashley Young unceremoniously plunged to the turf against QPR last Sunday, Rangers’ chief executive, Phillip Beard, claimed that Young would make a suitable diving partner for Tom Daley at the Olympics. And, only a day prior, Roberto Martinez fumed at the ‘disgusting’ level of officiating which allowed Chelsea to score two clear offside goals. There is, perhaps, a worrying trend to such events: the big clubs always seem to get the decisions.
However, a deeper statistical examination of the matter suggests otherwise. A table totalling the ‘debatable decisions’ that go for and against a club ranks Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all in the bottom half of the Premier League. Instead, Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers top the table and recent memory serves up perfect evidence in the form of QPR’s goal that never was at the Reebok Stadium.
…one must accept the circular nature of controversial decisions…
Moreover, if one were to claim that big clubs always get the decisions, the coaching staff of a certain table-topping Spanish giant may be found at the opposite end of the argument; if Real Madrid are anything to go by, the big clubs are forever at the referee’s peril.
Indeed, though it is easy to cry Wolf and interview that Wolf about conspiracy theories, one must accept the circular nature of controversial decisions. They go around, they come around. It is – rather boringly – that simple. Yet, that is not to say that the combined muscle of over 40,000 fans does not influence a referee’s decision in a heated moment of pressure. In a one-off incident of vital importance, when a home player falls to the ground in a crowded penalty box, what is the referee most likely to do?
Alas, referees are but only human. Though that, of course, is why we need video technology – and fast.
Image courtesy of Sanja Gjenero