Manchester United - Don't Blame The Ref, Fergie!
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Don't Blame The Ref, Fergie!

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Howard Webb favoured Arsenal yesterday. He could not be more wrong, unfortunately, though it's true the man with the whistle did not have a particularly good game.

"I think Howard Webb has a great chance to be the top referee but today was a big game for him and, at times, he favoured Arsenal," Fergie told the News of The World.

"Their second goal came from a free kick for a foul on Louis Saha on the far side. It should have been for us.

"But it is very difficult for the referee. On our bench, we were getting terrible abuse from people two or three feet away.

"There`s a lack of security here. It is absolutely disgraceful the abuse you and your staff take.

"All sorts of things are being shouted and screamed at you and there is an absolute danger here. Something has to be done.

"The referee can sometimes get caught up in that and it is easy to give decisions to them.

"It is difficult to come here and be completely fair."

Oh my god. Now it is a rant of such extreme stupidity that I feel ashamed. First, the foul on Saha: it did happen, I managed to find it - but it was more than a minute before the goal itself and we had more than enough time to retrieve the ball or clear it away. Claiming that it affected the result is sheer stupidity.

As for Webb, he did not have a really good game but it wasn't bad either. He blew his whistle too often and blew for foul at innocous challenges that are commonplace in British football but got the crucial decisions right. Vidic v Hleb - could have been a penalty if Hleb falls at once but he's gone down long after Vida had let him go. Clichy v Hargreaves: the left-back fired the ball straight at the midfielder's arm from about 20 inches. Anyone who says this constitutes deliberate handball need their brains checked.

Security: Sir Alex, I know for a fact that you have visited a lot of English stadiums. You must have noticed that the supporters are all close to the dug-out and to the bench and therefore are in perfect position to shout vicious abuse at managers and referees. Old Trafford is no different. If nutters sit in those places then it's the same at every arena. It is the price for the lack of running track which would otherwise distance the pitch from the stands and quell the atmosphere.

And he could even be in trouble for his comments as Patrick Barclay called for him being punished. I must say that though bald Pat is probably not the most likeable man of the country, I found myself pretty much agreeing with him.

'I didn't actually hear what Fergie said, but if he said Howard Webb was biased towards Arsenal then he ought to have the book thrown at him, because that was an outrageous amount of rubbish!' he said.

'This is a serious point, not just knockabout fun either, because even if the best refs are constantly being criticised and people are trying to get under their skin to gain an advantage for their clubs all the time - as Ferdinand and Van Der Sar were claiming the ball was not over the line - it does affect the standard of refereeing in our country.

Please let me to protect Edwin and Rio. They protested but it was a vain and half-hearted attempt and nobody really denied after the game that the ball had crossed the line. Their little protest was just out of habit, nothing serious.

But otherwise I agree. I'm fed up with every manager, player and fan jumping on the smallest mistake of a referee. It makes their job almost unbearably difficult. They are viciously slated for every mistake and they are under more intense scrutiny than any player. When fans discuss a match, first thing that pops up is always the mistakes of the referee and the actual performance of the sides just comes after that.

It's boring and it's wrong. Talking about refereeing mistakes is part of the enjoyment of football of course but this should not dominate all the talk about the game. And someone as experienced and respected as Fergie should not stir up things with such outrageous rubbish that Webb favoured Arsenal. It's not true and I think deep down he also knows this.

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The Journalist

Writer: Zae Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday November 4 2007

Time: 12:29PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Exellent article Zae I thought Webb had a good game and got most things spot on.
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 12:47:00

Zae, good stuff there, with one remark. I tend to agree that the refs have a difficult job at hand but that poses two issues: are they good enough for their job and do they take enough responsibility for their actions on the pitch? I mean players get suspended, coaches do so, even fans get ejected if they misbehave. Stewards do so too. Why are the refs the only category of personnel in the game of football that apparently have minimum responsibility for their actions? Why are they never asked to explain their sometimes atrocious decisions that cost teams points, status, money, you name it? Keeping them in a glass bell and denying that some of them deserve to be demoted/sanctioned will never raise the quality of refereeing in the EPL. If they are constantly able to get away with POOR performances (e.g. Clattenburg in Everton - Liverpool) and suffer no consequences is bound to bring the standards to a very low level. And my second point is, if their job in the modern game is tough, made tougher by the money involved in the game and the increasingly more disrespectful attitude of the players/managers on the pitch - why not embrace help? Why not follow the examples of rugby and other sports where technology gives them assistance in certain areas of the game which can be crucial for the outcome of a match. I know these things will never solve everything, but it will make the refs feel less pressure knowing that sometimes the for toughest decision they can share the burden of responsibility with a colleague who has a better view of the incident. Rant over. Cheers.
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 13:34:00

Webb did bottle it when the cheating Brazilian was waving an imaginary card in his face. ferguson never referred to that incident. FUNNY!!! What???
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 13:40:00

Generally a fair article from you mancs. Congrats on a good game. But yes, where was the booking for Anderson and his card waving? I thought that sort of thing was supposed to be an automatic censure. AS is the swearing touchline manager.
Wyn Mills
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 14:57:00

Nice article man, you don't find many articles of this honesty anymore!!
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 16:08:00

G4L: I think that you're right in saying that referees face fewer "official" consequences than players or managers but still they can be suspended or demoted to the lower leagues. It doesn't happen often though. I think it would be beneficiary if they also had to attend a press conference after games where journalists could question their decisions. It would probably go a long way of sliencing all the criticism of refereeing we hear in the press and especially on fan sites like this one. I'm not a great technology fan to be honest, this goalline thingy (you know, the chip in the ball) is a good idea though. And I think Blatter's (or Platini's?) idea of having one more ref and two more assistants should be considered.
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 18:40:00

great article fair and honest...i just wanna say the rule about deliberate handball comes from thin air. if it's not deliberate and doesnt affect play than thats fine with me but if it changes the direction of the ball in the penalty area with another opposition player around then thats a different issue. its still a tough one to call though coz it would have been harsh to give a penalty coz it didnt look like we might score from it (my memory might be serving me wrong) anyway the result was fair in the end so until next time...
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 22:36:00

tut tut tut fergie, you should NEVER insult the ref. In regards to consequenses of the referees - premiership referees are only there BECAUSE they are the best in the buisness. sure, they might make a few mistakes - no-one is perfect - and they are only human, and so can, phsycologicly, be affected by the crowd, and circumstances leading up to events. Without the referee, here would be no game of football. full stop. And to say that referees sufer no "official" consequences is not entirly true. they can be demoted to lesser leagues for consistent mistakes - or asked to supervise less significant games. graham poll left the world cup earlier than expected, because of poor dissions. ... "Their second goal came from a free kick for a foul on Louis Saha on the far side. It should have been for us." - in short, no it shouldnt. what the referee says, happens. end of story, no questions asked, life must go on. the fact that there were 2, clear as day penalties (in my opinion) for portsmouth against newcastle is irrelvant - either the referee saw them, and decided they wernt penalties (so there fore, they wernt) OR, he did not see them, and so, they were not penalties.
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 22:50:00

what do you expect? the silly old duffer is losing the plot.....
fran merida
Report Abuse
04/11/2007 23:32:00

I think Fergie's rant came more out of complete and utter frustration out of being two minutes away from three points, only to see us nick a goal on them in injury time for the second time at the same stadium in eight months. The emotions obviously run high in this fixture, especially with only goals for seperating us, and with the ebbs and flow that were seen in the second half, I imagine Fergie went from a feeling of jubilation to almost complete and utter dismay. So I won't get too upset at his comments. Still, it's commendable that a team fan is willing to admonish the comments from someone as accomplished as Fergie. Me, I use the infamous "I didn't see it" line as my personal motto!
Report Abuse
05/11/2007 02:15:00

Thought Webb did have a good game, many refs cannot handle big occasions.
will it ever happen
Report Abuse
05/11/2007 09:57:00

Zae I tips me hat well written.
Report Abuse
05/11/2007 14:04:00

Good on you Zae.. really nice to see some honesty and rationality. I also heard that when Man Utd were warming up, Wayne Rooney kicked the ball at some Arsenal fans cuz they were giving him some flak.. that true? Heard that he was asked to apologize but didn't... perhaps Fergie was trying to deflect attention away from this incident.
Report Abuse
05/11/2007 14:11:00

I notice he didn't mention the clear push by Brown for your first goal!!!!
Report Abuse
05/11/2007 19:57:00

I am sure that he comes out with this stuff at times just to wind things up a bit,..................
Report Abuse
06/11/2007 10:24:00

Looks like Sir Alkie doesn't like too much when the shoe is on the other foot for once. Whinging git
Blue is the colour
Report Abuse
06/11/2007 11:17:00

I would have thought Fergie of all people would know that a football match lasts 90 minutes (or 95 minutes when it suits Man U) so why is he trying to blame the ref for the fact his team cant concentrate for the whole match. Webb had an OK game but perhaps could have done more about Man U's constant moaning, card-waiving, shirt-pulling, hacking & shoving
Report Abuse
06/11/2007 13:13:00

Good article i must say. Fergie was wrong. But comical nonetheless!
Report Abuse
06/11/2007 14:47:00


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