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THE MIDLANDER: Time for the refs to stand up and show some guts

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15 Apr 2010 15:43:56

THE MIDLANDER: Time for the refs to stand up and show some guts

If Sam Allardyce does, as is claimed, have a dossier detailing refereeing decisions that he feels favours the big clubs, he might like to make it public. Now might be a good time.   For there is a growing feeling among the so-called lesser lights in the Barclays Premier League that a different set of rules is in operation whenever matches involve the 'top clubs.'  I write having watched an absolute 'stonewaller' of a penalty having been denied Bolton Wanderers at Chelsea. Didier Drogba, what were you thinking? Handy: Didier Drogba got away with his handball against Bolton I write having seen with my own eyes another 'stonewaller' not given against Chelsea at Wembley when Gabriel Agbonlahor was hauled over. Explanation? Who knows. Certainly fourth official Mark Clattenburg was given a fearful ear-bashing by an upset Martin O'Neill after the final whistle.   I write having seen Phil Dowd make the worst decision of the entire season in bottling the fifth-minute decision after a challenge by Nemanja Vidic on Agbonlahor during the Carling Cup final. Penalty and sending-off? Absolutely. He can't even claim he didn't see the incident as he gave the spot-kick.   I cannot agree with my colleague Graham Poll's assertion that Agbonlahor was taking the ball away from goal at the time of impact. Where did Villa's striker intend to take the ball, towards the corner flag? Wrong, just wrong. GRAHAM POLL: Time for the experts to learn the law... Vidic deserved to escape red cardAnd Dowd's penalty decision at the weekend against Birmingham City - not that it would have affected the outcome given the surprisingly flaky manner in which Alex McLeish's side defended - was another howler when Emmanuel Adebayor simply  lost his footing. He does have a record for giving soft penalties against Blues. Remember the two he gave against Matthew Upson when Andrew Johnson was busy earning himself a  certain reputation while at Crystal Palace? Notwithstanding these instances, there remains a festering sense of outrage at  Wolves over Karl Henry's dismissal at Arsenal that could have had a serious effect on their chances of remaining in the Premier League.   Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things Karl Henry and Wolverhampton  Wanderers aren't seen as sexy in the same way that Arsenal are. But for any sport to thrive there has to be a system of adjudication in place  that does not favour one side over the other. The very least any sport has to be is fair.   Off you go: Karl Henry (centre) is given his marching orders at Arsenal    More from Neil Moxley... Fabio Capello should realise Birmingham star is no ordinary Joe and give Hart his World Cup break01/04/10 Billy Davies starts Forest fire but the City Ground boss should keep a lid on it... for now25/03/10 THE MIDLANDER: I'm banking on Mick McCarthy guiding Wolves to survival11/03/10 THE MIDLANDER: 'Giants' Villa never won titles - so give O'Neill some credit!05/03/10 THE MIDLANDER: Warnock, phoenix from the Anfield flames, is just Fab25/02/10 THE MIDLANDER: Fans should be given sympathy after Notts County saga but Football League have lessons to learn18/02/10 THE MIDLANDER: Birmingham's owners must do everything in their power to make sure brilliant boss Alex McLeish signs a new contract03/02/10 THE MIDLANDER: All the best Clem, a top bloke in an era of gatekeepers and closed shops06/01/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVEAnd, I'm sorry to have to say this but the campaign - carried out on adrip, drip, drip effect - of pressure exerted upon referees by top four bosses has to be acted upon by the referees' body. They have to be stronger.  You can see the computation running through referees' minds. Take theincident  involving Agbonlahor and Vidic. 'Oh blimey, that was a foul. Er, penalty and sending off is it? Oh no. It's Manchester United. In a showpiece final. What will Fergie say? If I give a penalty, then if Villa score it's one-nil and I might get away with it.'  Arsene Wenger was cited for it at the weekend. Wolves' chief executive Jez Moxey has accused the Frenchman of pressuring referees 'in a blatant attempt to  gain an unfair advantage'. Prior to the build-up of the derby that never was, Potters' boss Tony Pulis also let rip against the treatment handed down to some of the  not-so-fashionable clubs in the top-flight. But Moxey's words carry weight because Wolves have ended up as the victims in  this. You know, I'm sorry that Arsenal didn't score in the first half when they  were well on top. But as the frustration grew, Andre Marriner should have been big enough to  withstand the howls from the stands. Forget the fact that there was an hour gone and Wolves shouldn't have been drawing nil-nil. Sorry about that!   Moxey said: 'When Aaron Ramsey broke his leg, everyone takes note and has  genuine sympathy so when successful managers like Arsene Wenger speak about  football, everyone listens. He has vast influence.    " 'As everyone knows, Wenger has had plenty to say about these tackles. While, on the face of it, a public outpouring of indignation about the perpetrators,  the tackles and the resulting injuries might be understandable, much of it can  be grossly unfair and inappropriate.    'Most managers try to place pressure on official in varying degrees. They do it  in person and through the media. It is an unhealthy aspect of our game.  Pressing the referee when he makes a crucial decision against them. It's unhealthy. There is a second obvious motive. It is, in fact, a blatant  attempt to gain an unfair advantage. 'So when Karl Henry of Premier League newcomers Wolves attempts to win the ball  from Czech international Tomas Rosicky and probably fouls him in the process it  is not surprising to see the reaction of Arsenal's players or of Arsene Wenger. 'Immense and immediate pressure is applied to referee Andre Mariner who makes  the decision to send off Karl and, in so doing, inadvertently helps seal the  competitive advantage Arsenal need to squeeze out a much-needed victory.  Anger: Sam Allardyce 'Clearly Tomas Rosicky was not injured. He went very close to scoring within two minutes of that incident. Henry's challenge was nothing more than a  run-of-the-mill foul. We should all take exception to witnessing players surrounding officials in an  extremely ungratifying manner designed specifically to pressurise a referee  into making an unfair decision.    'We all know that the competition within the Premier League is not an even playing field and we have to accept this. However, what is paramount is  allowing officials to carry out what is already a difficult job without any  added influence.' Moxey used to work at Stoke and is known to be a friend of Potters' chairman Peter Coates. Whether it was co-incidence or collusion is unclear, but Pulis's pre-match comments also highlighted an inequality he wants to see fixed.    He said: 'It (the decision to dismiss Henry) was a very harsh decision, and I think the  reaction of the Arsenal players was very, very poor. It's something that's  coming into the game and something that has to be addressed.    'If the FA want to do something positive, then they should stop people from  surrounding referees. They brought it out about 18 months ago, but they seem to have put it back in  the cupboard because it seems to be the big clubs who surround the referees and  put pressure on them, And they're never going to act against them are they?    'We're competitive and I have to say, I really mean this, they're certain teams out there who play the game. And by over-stretching the fact that we are competitive, they're trying to get people to come with  perceived ideas of how the team plays and how the team will react when they're in possession.    'I do feel it's something that should be addressed. If the FA want to look at  anything then that might be one of the things, especially challenges where  people surround referees.' Pressure on referees from managers, pressure on referees by players. Granted, it's a difficult job. But then, if you don't want it, step away from it. You know, the bravest decision I've seen was the one in the Champions League final four years ago, when Terje Hauge sent-off Jens Lehmann. I didn't want to see that. I wanted to see two great footballing teams slug it out for the game's ultimate club prize. But the Norwegian had the guts to do it. And, given the laws of the game, he was right. Samuel Eto'o was through, goal-scoring opportunity denied. It didn't stop it being a great final, did it?   Just like Jack Taylor did in the first minute of the 1974 World Cup final. Give a penalty against the Germans in the Olympic Stadium?  The Wolverhampton butcher did though, didn't he? I'd like to believe the officials don't give a damn for the consequences. But at the moment, I'm not convinced.  Mr Allardyce, it's over to you.  Explore more:People:Martin O'Neill, Matthew Upson, Karl Henry, Graham Poll, Sam Allardyce, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jens Lehmann, Didier Drogba, Alex McLeish, Samuel Eto'o, ANDREW JOHNSON, Emmanuel AdebayorPlaces:Olympic Stadium


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