I step away from my blog for a few days and all hell seems to break out!
First off there was the Rooney incident at Wigan when he ambushed James McCarthy – flooring the Wigan midfielder with an elbow to the head. Somehow Rooney managed to escape without any punishment at all. The referee gave a free-kick but handed out no cards – which means there is no way he could have actually seen the incident because, if he had, then Rooney would have played no further part in the game. Then Alex Ferguson, who won’t speak to the BBC because one of their reporters looked at him funny one time, or something, sent out assistant Mike Phelan who whimpered that “we can’t dispute the referee’s decision”.
This farce was then made worse when the FA kowtowed to the “mighty Man Utd” and refused to apply any subsequent punishment on Rooney because, they say, the referee saw the incident and dealt with it at the time. I have to suspect that if it had been a different player, playing for a different team that a different outcome would have occurred somewhere along the line. Either the referee would have sent the player off, or admitted afterwards that he did not see the offence, or the authorities would have seen fit to apply a more proper and appropriate punishment after the fact.
Ironically it was Manchester United who were moaning about the officials in their very next game, when they slipped to defeat against Chelsea. No talk now about respecting the match officials’ decisions. Ferguson was angry that the ref failed to send off Davd Luiz and commented that he had “feared the worst” when he saw who the referee was to be. He also said that “you want a fair referee .... and we didn’t get that”. The irony couldn’t really get any thicker. Ferguson has a habit of disrespecting match officials when he doesn’t get his own way, and has a suspended 2-match touchline ban from last season for a similar offence. The FA has charged him again with improper conduct, but they seem incapable of applying any suitable and effective penalty. I don’t expect a different outcome this time either.
And further disciplinary controversy was to follow in midweek, this time north of the border. A very fiery Old Firm clash resulted in 3 Rangers players being sent off, 13 bookings, a series of touchline flare-ups and a very angry confrontation between Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers assistant Ally McCoist. So bad was the atmosphere and behaviour at this match that the Scottish Government have intervened and announced that they will be holding a summit meeting between the two clubs, the Scottish FA, the police and themselves. 34 arrests were made inside the stadium, with plenty more outside. I am all for a bit of passion in football, but I think things may have gotten a teensy bit out of control up there. Wish I’d seen the game, mind!