As much as I would have liked to draw a line under the whole Newcastle refereeing stuff at this point, we were graciously granted access to the audio of the Anthony Gordon goal in the execrable Howard Webb/Michael Owen TV show last night. To be clear, I didn’t watch the show, just the clip doing the rounds, and ten days after the incident – plenty of time for everyone to get their story straight – we heard the process of how they came to the decision they did.
I won’t insult your intelligence by going into it in much detail. From the off it sounded like they weren’t interested in the idea of the foul, and when a trained official says ‘I see two hands on his back …’ as Gabriel trying to stoop to clear a header, then completely glosses over that, you know the whole thing is nonsense. Especially after a weekend when the slightest nudge from Bukayo Saka is given as a foul and nobody argues against that – because we all know a foul when we see one. Except these clowns.
What’s so insulting about all this is that the goal wasn’t even the biggest officiating blunder on the night. I know what I think about the foul, but for the sake of argument let’s pretend that’s vaguely subjective (even though it’s not). It’s the Bruno Guimaraes forearm to the back of Jorginho’s head that is the big mistake.
Let us hear the audio of that.
Ok, so go into some details about how that decision was made?
What happens is Owen mentions other incidents involving Kai Havertz and Guimaraes, and Howard Webb, thinking he’s so smart, says inside of all 12 seconds, “Yeah, quite a busy game wasn’t it? Quite a lot happening in this important game. And yeah, a couple of situations where … you know … in the cold light of day analysis that we go through, going forward we would expect red cards in both of those situations.”
That’s it. They must think we’re idiots. “Look over there!”
As I’ve said previously, I could have lived with a Havertz red if it had been given. I cannot understand how violent conduct like this has been overlooked and paid lip service to by Webb, the man who is literally in charge of refereeing standards. Saying he’d expect a red card in the future doesn’t excuse his officials for what was a dereliction of duty on the night. Hitting somebody in the head on purpose, regardless of which bit of the arm it was, is a red card – there can be no excuses for missing something as obvious as that. And for the head of PGMOL to pay is short shrift like this is unacceptable. It’s an exercise in self-protection, with no real acknowledgement that he’s ignoring his main remit in this position.
I can imagine the audio all the same.
VAR1: “Mate, has he hit him in the head there?”
VAR2: “Yeah, Madser, he’s definitely hit him.”
VAR1: “Thanks Tugger. Should we tell Stu-pot to stop the game?”
VAR2: “Nah buddy, the crowd are already very angry. They might get more angry with him.”
REF: “Something on going on there my cheeky-chaps?”
VAR1: “Don’t worry Attser, we’ve got it.”
VAR2: “Let’s say it was his forearm and not an elbow!”
VAR1: “Is that in the rules?”
VAR2: *throws rulebook in bin* – “I don’t see anything there, cocker!”
REF: “Geezahs?! WASSSUUUPPPPPP?”
VAR1: “Play on. Nothing for you to worry about.”
VAR2: “The job’s Oxo, S-Dog!”
REF: “Swish. We can chat more about this later when the Three Amigos hit the town after!”
VAR1 & VAR2 [together]: “One for all and all for one!”
VAR Tech [barely audible]: “That’s the three Musketeers, you morons.”
This fake transparency from PGMOL ought to fool nobody. The process sounds chaotic and nowhere near professional enough for an elite sport, and the TV show itself is just complete fluff. Even on the worst social networks, stuff like this comes with the word ‘AD’ at the top, because that’s all this is. Soft-focus garbage that might fool some but which only raises more questions for those of who can so easily see behind the curtain.
They can get in the bin. Or the sea. Or a bin that is in the sea. Under the sea, in fact.