Graham Poll: The referee's a cheater? What a load of rubbish
Welcome to former World Cup referee Graham Poll's exclusive online column. Here every Monday throughout the season, theformer top referee assesses the major Premier League storiesand controversies. Graham's keen for you to engage with his debates- so please post your questions to him using the comments section atthe bottom of this page. He'll return later each Monday to offer hisresponse... Do referees cheat? You'd be forgiven for thinking so after comments over the past two weekends. The first came from Sunderland manager Steve Bruce following his team's 4-3 defeat at Manchester City. Bruce claimed that referee Andre Marriner had gone against his Sunderland team because of a letter of complaint that he had sent in following Marriner's performance six weeks ago when he dismissed Kenwyne Jones against West Ham. Dismissal: Michael Turner is shown a red card for his foul on Gareth Barry This week a dubious penalty and the dismissal of Michael Turner were the decisions angering Bruce and led to him making comments that can only be seen as an accusation of pre-meditated bias by a referee; an FA misconduct charge should follow. Last weekend it was the recently sacked Mark Hughes whose inference was clear when he revealed the comments allegedly made by referee Mark Clattenburg regarding Craig Bellamy, which preceded what was clearly an incorrect dismissal for the City striker. More from Graham Poll... GRAHAM POLL: Why refs must stand up to baiters like Craig Bellamy and Mark Noble14/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Gallas' challenge on Gerrard WAS a penalty13/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Divers are all foreign? No, it's a British disease13/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: You can't help but feel sympathy for shirtless Younes Kaboul13/12/09 Graham Poll: Cheating goalkeepers are real reason behind penalty misses 07/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Why I was left with more questions than answers after the video trial at Manchester City's win over Chelsea07/12/09 Graham Poll: I'm sorry, Chelsea, but you have yourselves to blame06/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Why video technology is the only way to go for FIFA02/12/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVEHughes's alleged comments also implied that Clattenburg would not give Bellamy the same treatment as other players - again insinuating pre-meditated bias this time against an individual rather than a team. So apparently one referee wants to pick on a player and warns his coach before the game and another referee is so disgruntled at a manager writing a letter about him that he deliberately awards a penalty against them and sends another player off for nothing! What rubbish. Often referees have a run of dismissals against one team, sometimes as a result of a loss of faith by the players in that referee, sometimes just because he makes a mistake. As for pre-match comments proving bias - I don't think so. The nerves are tingling in the tunnel and often inappropriate comments are passed, usually in an ill-advised attempt to ease the tension with some levity. Clattenburg needs to think carefully about his comments in the future; he appears to have escaped sanction this time but may not be so fortunate if he were to repeat them. If managers really believe that such bias exists the situation is made much worse with the regularity that referees handle the same teams. I had a period of two years away from Highbury after a particularly controversial away win for Newcastle but there was a strong list of referees to cover the games back in 2001. With the shortage of top quality referees nowadays that bad feeling does not get a chance to subside before the manager has to see his nemesis again. But if managers truly do think that referees are deliberately biased or in other words 'cheat' then they might as well walk away from football. GOOD WEEK FOR...John Carew Scored the winner to keep Aston Villa's great rungoing. However, Carew was very lucky not to be cautioned when he kickeda corner flag into the crowd in his over-exuberant celebration. Full marks to Carew for his post-match gestureof giving his shirt to the child fan the flag nearly struck, but Lee Probert will be asked why no yellowcard when others are cautioned for merely 'high-fiving' supporters. BAD WEEK FOR...Mamady Sidibe Netted a superb goalfor Stoke City but then saw it disallowed. After timing his jump toperfection and meeting a cross with a thumping header he was veryunlucky to see referee Probert incorrectly award Aston Villa a freekick for a push. Credit to Potters' boss Tony Pulis for the dignified wayin which he dealt with questions about the incident after the match - noaccusations of bias from this honest manager!
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