Morning all. A quick Friday blog for you.
There’s only one place to start and that’s the news that the FA have charged Mikel Arteta after his post-game comments following the defeat to Newcastle on November 4th. If you need a reminder, the manager was furious about the goal, and so made comments about that very specific incident, saying:
We have to talk about the result because we have to talk about how the hell this goal stands. It’s incredible.
I feel embarrassed but I have to be the one now coming here to try to defend the club and please ask for help because it’s an absolute disgrace that this goal is allowed. It’s an absolute disgrace.
Now, nearly two weeks later, and just after Howard Webb and his little puppet friend Mickey did their silly TV show which ‘proved’ Arteta wrong, the charges have followed. The statement reads:
Mikel Arteta has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E3.1 following comments that he made in media interviews after Arsenal’s Premier League game against Newcastle United on Saturday 4 November.
It’s alleged that his comments constitute misconduct as they are insulting towards match officials and/or detrimental to the game and/or bring the game into disrepute. Mikel Arteta has until Tuesday 21 November to provide a response to this charge.
At this point, all you can really do is laugh. The idea that a manager’s post-match comments, made in the heat of the moment, are ‘detrimental to the game’ is just preposterous. I’m just a humble blogger/podcaster, but if I were to start looking at things that bring the game into disrepute, I might start with an organisation that is tasked with officiating, but which has been so inept it has issued at least a dozen public apologies to Premier League clubs since February of last year because they failed to implement the laws of the game correctly.
And that doesn’t even include all the other stuff they admitted they got wrong, but for which there have been no formal apologies – like the throwaway about how Bruno Guimaraes (and Kai Havertz!) should have been sent off in the game Arteta has been charged over. There are plenty of those too.
Ask the clubs involved in the incidents which led to those apologies what they think is more damaging: the points they lost those days, or a manager letting loose because he’s a bit angry in his post-match press conference. I would guess that the answers would be fairly unanimous. Let’s also not overlook the fact that this is an organisation whose approach to accountability is so skewed as to be actually unbelievable when you say it out loud.
A couple of weeks ago, Anthony Taylor gave a nonsensical penalty against Wolves, and his ‘punishment’ was demotion. Rather than a Premier League game, he was handed Preston against Coventry in the Championship. In essence, those two clubs were the ones actually being punished for his sub-par display, and Coventry even more so because Taylor gave another nonsensical penalty in that game which helped Preston win 3-2. The very next weekend he was in charge of the weekend’s highest profile Premier League game, the 4-4 between Chelsea and Man City. Is there any other organisation in the world that operates with such impunity and willful disregard for actual employee performance?
Anyway, I think whatever happens here, Arsenal and Mikel Arteta have said what needed to be said. The manager was forthright, the club backed the manager, and the disciplinary aspect of this is something we’ll just have to deal with. I’d be fuming it was anything more than a fine, but I have a suspicion the PGMOL might use this as a way to flex their muscles a bit and to show some of what they will consider ‘authority’. A touchline ban for a game, or two, wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Just finally though, the contrast between Arteta’s comments and those of Roberto de Zerbi last weekend have been quite instructive. Here’s what he said:
I am honest and clear. I don’t like 80 per cent of England’s referees. It’s not a new thing. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch.
I get that Arsenal are a higher profile club than Brighton, but the silence from so many in the media who squealed and bleated about Arteta after Newcastle has been telling. Whatever you think about Arteta’s comments, he was – for the most part – focused almost entirely on a specific incident in the game. He talked more about officiating standards subsequently, but de Zerbi has gone in two-footed on most of the Premier League’s refs.
Which, by the way, I fully understand. I don’t think it’s going to do him much good, because I reckon 100% of the referees will have taken note of what he said, and we know that within the PGMOL there is a culture of protecting your mates. Mike Dean made it very clear, and he can’t have been the only one. He was just the only one dumb or arrogant enough to say it out loud. Nevertheless, what the Italian said has barely made the news this week, which is a bit mad, but it also tells you a lot about some sections of the media world we live in.
Right, I’m gonna leave it there. We have a brand new Arsecast for you, in which I chat to Art de Roché from The Athletic about the first quarter of the season, increased defensive focus, our position in the table, and lots more. Enjoy!