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Chris Foy adds Manchester City to his list of wronged teams

The biggest criticism you can make of a referee, is that he overshadows games that he officiates. Chris Foy, through that phenomenon, is becoming the poster-child for the introduction of video technology.

Two red cards in the QPR against Chelsea game, a clusterfuck of ineptitude through Stoke/Tottenham, and today’s series of poor decisions at Etihad Stadium. In all of those fixtures, the points were decided by the referee rather than the players. Yet again in a match overseen by Foy, we’re talking more about him than we are the football.

It’s not the pace of the game that’s rendering officials in this country so inept, nor is it a lack of understanding of the rules; instead, it’s a lack of common sense in our referees combined with there being too much scope for objectivity in the rules.

Vincent Kompany’s tackle of Nani wasn’t the product of malice, because frankly he’s not that stupid. A Premier League defender and a captain of a club doesn’t make a ‘reckless’ tackle inside the first half-an-hour of a cup tie against his side’s most bitter rival. Now, he may very well mistime a tackle, but that’s a yellow card – unless he’s using ‘unnecessary aggression’ or denying a clear goalscoring opportunity, he should be staying on the pitch.

It’s almost too easy to criticise Chris Foy, so what really needs to happen is a clarification of the rules around tackling. If guidelines are being set, yet a group of referees in the same country still show dramatic variations in their interpretations of those guidelines, then it’s probably time for a rethink.

Spare a thought for the players – one game’s fair tackle is another’s straight red card. When pundits and fans talk about consistency, this is what they mean. Given how low the footballing IQs of our referees seem to be, surely it’s time to take the interpretation element out of the rules that govern contact between players.

At least clarify the situation, because all of a sudden a fundamental part of the game seems to have been clouded into a grey area – and it’s ruining games.

On a side note, I thought the way in which Vincent Kompany reacted to his red card was outstanding – a captain’s example. Other City players may have bawled and screamed over the decision, but the Belgian just accepted it – regardless of its controversy. That’s quite rare in football now.

Angered by Phil Dowd’s decision during Manchester United vs Wigan

Phil Dowd’s decision to dismiss Connor Sammon angered me, it was so symptomatic of the way the game is refereed in this country.

Sometimes officials have to accept that contact between two players is incidental, and not malicious. Anybody that has played the game – to any standard – will tell you that sometimes contact occurs and that it’s perfectly plausible for it to be accidental. Given the pace with which the game is played, there has to be more common sense applied.

There’s too much of this in the Premier League, there are too many referees who see contact during an aerial battle and feel the need to get the red card out. It’s irritating; they must learn to distinguish between a fair contest and serious foul play. It’s not actually that difficult, because very rarely do you see a Premier League player deliberately swing an elbow into his opponent’s face.

There are no mitigating circumstances for Dowd either. He has a direct line of sight to the incident, neither Michael Carrick nor any other Manchester United player is demanding retribution, the crowd is unmoved, and the incident doesn’t take place at any great speed. It’s just inadequate refereeing.

“I’m at Old Trafford and I think I’ve seen a swinging arm – maybe it’s best just to send the player off. It’s only Wigan.”

I’m someone that’s reluctant to slag off referees, because the ‘conspiracy culture’ in our game is too prominent already – but when the officials are consistently making incorrect decisions, every week now, that change the course of a game, it’s hard to ignore. It’s so, so boring.

Thoughts on Liverpool’s Jay Spearing & his red card

It’s not a sending off.

I understand all the new directives about ‘being in control of the tackle’, ‘studs being raised’, and the ‘responsibility during the follow through’, but Kevin Friend should have applied some common sense last night. Yes, as a player you have to be accountable for your actions all the way through the process of making a tackle, but it’s also possible for a player to get hurt without it necessarily being a straight-red card.

I’m not advocating the existence of dangerous tackling, but Jay Spearing’s challenge on Moussa Dembele was in no way a deliberate attempt to hurt his opponent. I agree that the level of intent shouldn’t necessarily determine the extent of the punishment, but you also have to accept that – given the pace of the game in this country – moments like last night will occur in games. There’s no understanding of that from the officials.

Spearing enters the tackle legally, it’s only towards the end of the motion that his studs are raised – it’s not a pretty tackle, but a yellow card would have sufficed. Kevin Friend unnecessarily changed the game and cost Liverpool at least one point.

As was mentioned in the commentary, it’s the kind of tackle that would’ve ‘been applauded twenty years ago’ – and while the game is now undeniably safer, it’s becoming pedantic.