Oi Ref! That Was Never Consistent!

TEN DODGY decisions – Jeff the Ref’s Verdict! And the hard-hitting verdict on the string of controversial match-turning moments that have infuriated Boro fans and left the players, management and bean-counters frustrated but national media pundits completely unmoved? Well, these things all even themselves out over the season, don’t they? Hmmmm.

Now admittedly the survey that Teesside’s top whistleblower did for the Gazette today was a very superficial one. There were no graphics to show the speed or direction or ball, no case for the prosecution or defence, no refs-eye view exploded diagram to throw light on the mechanics of the decision, let alone the logic.
Nevertheless such a fortune-cookie trueism was disappointing – but although there were no searing technical insights Jeff the ref’s analysis did reveal some of the thought processes and hinted heavily that the man in the middle is as subjective and contradictory as the average fan.
Take for instance the assessment of incident 3, the penalty that wasn’t at Aston Villa. Luke Young shaped to make a block and was turning his back on the shot when it hit him and possibly deflected onto his elbow. The verdict was “never a penalty in a million years” although Winter concedes “Young’s arms were raised as he slid in to make the block. Had it hit his hands or arm then fair enough….”
Yet for incident 9, the Adam Johnson cross at Chelsea that struck Juliano Belletti on the arm, the ref appears to take a contrary stance. The player had his arms up as he leaped to cut out the cross and misjudged his own flight but Winter says: “No way a penalty. The ball hit his chest and bounced onto his arm.”
So if the ball had deflected up and hit Young’s hand or arm a penalty would have been “fair enough” but when it does that to Belletti it’s “no way.” How does that work then?
Jeff elaborates on the Belletti incident that: “There was no movement of the arm, no intent, therefore no penalty,” which is right and fair and is close to what boils down on the playground to the time honoured “hand to ball not ball to hand.”
Intent is the key to handball, there is no question – yet in the Young incident, Winter does not flag this up. He appears to say that despite Young’s body shape, forward momentum in the attempted block and turning away so he can’t even see the flight of the ball – that is that any of the indicators of intent had been categorically removed – that if the ball had then struck his hand a penalty would be “fair enough.”
For me those two cases are totally contradictory and it is deeply worrying that even with plenty of time to consider the decisions and weigh them up against each other that the verdicts still appear to be both totally subjective and totally in opposition.
Elsewhere in the featurette Winter wanderes offside into another problematic area. Looking at in Incident 8, Darby’s James McEveley’s trip on Gary O’Neil just inside the area that resulted in a free-kick just outside, he says it is often hard to judge when contact occurred when players’ momentum then carries them inside the box as they fall. Fair enough, it must be ‘mare to call, especially when the linesman is either not up with play or has been told not to make those decisions and to leave them to the ref.
But with the benefit of hindsight and slo-mo Winter should be able to say clearly that the decision was wrong. Instead he cops out and ushers what should be a red-faced ref into the traditional Victorian stronghold of unassailable integrity. “The referee deemed it outside. It was an honest decision so I stand by him”. This is of course the get out clause in every single disciplinary panel from local football up to FIFA: “if in the opinion of the referee….”
Yet Winter was not ready to stand by the honest decision of Steve Bennett when he got the Luke Young penalty call wrong at Villa. Then he was just wrong. So why isn’t Martin Atkinson just wrong on this penalty call?
This is not a criticism of Jeff who I often agree with when he assesses the latest dropped blob in his rentaquote role in the media, but it is an interesting pointer to the flawed nature of the individual. Even with the most experienced referees there are layer upon layer of complexity – subjectivity, contradiction, and retrospective retreat into “well, it was an honest mistake.”
Of course, it is that possibility of human error that makes the game so unpredictable and is part of the excitement and appeal of the game and it is only the media overkill focussing on this facet of the game that has made us so acutely aware of the perpetual problems that were once accepted as routine.
There is a lot of academic research into subconscious refereeing bias favouring home teams but little in the way of either research into “big club bias” or on quantifying the football and financial cost of genuine mistakes, potentially a more costly and pernicious problem.
Big business, big media concerns, big clubs won’t accept expensive mistakes for much longer. It is only a question of time before a rich and powerful club loses out on a Champions League place or is relegated because of one quite clearly incorrect decision and “the honest opinion of the referee” won’t go down well with the shareholders who lose multiple-millions. Challenging decisions in that context could do more to undermine the authority of referees and the football authorities than any amount of on-field dissent.
The game needs to address the problem urgently. Whether that is a fourth referee in the stands, a video facility or more willingness of the referee to confer with his linesmen, something must be done. The game will inevitably lose elements of that compelling uncertainty in tackling the problem and may also lose the fluidity of action on the pitch, plus it could hand even more of a free hand to the media who want to be able to shape the news agenda in terms of rows and bust-ups – although to be fair we have arrived at that point already.
Failure to address the issue risks provoking other interests to seize the initiative, inviting the G14 clubs to bring in their own refereeing and disciplinary structure in the interests of maintaining their commercial integrity and removing the element of expensive uncertainty than unaccountable human error introduces to their business plans. That could lead to a fundamental institutional break between the game at the very top and the rest and the repercussions of that could be far reaching and vastly damaging.
Refs need to climb down from their ivory towers and tackle the problems themselves to head off having solutions imposed by commercial interests – and they need to go public on their reasoning. They need a charm offensive to get the public on-side and prevent supporters being manipulated into supporting sinister agendas. Blow the whistle on contradiction.


31 thoughts on “Oi Ref! That Was Never Consistent!

  1. I agree with the majority of Jeff’s analysis.
    The handballs are tricky, yes it was a deliberate act to raise the hands, yet it ultimately hit them accidentally, so where does the intent end?
    My gut instinct would be that the initial act of intent caused the handball, therefore a penalty should be given. Of course, Luke Young’s incident should still not have been a penalty as it did not actually touch his hands.
    On a related subject, it always amuses me when a foul/penalty is given for raised hands in front of the face and people scream ‘he was only protecting his face!’.
    Fair enough, but it’s still deliberate handball. As we learnt to our cost last season when Boateng should have taken one for the team (and in the face) in the cup v Man U.
    Back to the main topic, I don’t think video refs or electronic aids should be introduced, bar goal line technology if feasible. For two reasons: firstly, most decisions are still contentious and no amnount of video replays would make most incidents any more clear-cut.
    Secondly, where’s the fun in that?! What would we have to talk about? Treat it as part of the game, let’s not make it any more sanitised in this mega bucks era. I’d hate to see a day where refs got everything right. How would we maintain our small club paranoia complex then?

  2. Excellent choice of subject AV, it’s given us all an open goal that even the hapless South Korean would fancy putting away.
    For me, football referees are up there with cricket umpires and ice-skating judges. It’s not a science but an art and it’s all about making a professional judgement – and in the case of football referees, they only have a split-second to make it.
    Rather controversially, I believe that referees are actually human, and they go into a game knowing that they will give red cards for certain offences and also knowing what the different results mean to each team.
    Referees are under pressure not to give a wrong decision in a dangerous part of the pitch, otherwise why do they make so many mistakes on these crucial decisions?
    Therefore, given all these mistakes, I can only assume that referees are not impartial at the point they make the decision. They must be looking to give decisions to teams who they subconciously think deserve a chance.
    But the real problem for teams on the wrong end of a bad decision is that there is no recourse to have the decision overturned. It should be possible to introduce a system (as in tennis) that allows teams to appeal against a bad judgement.

  3. Congrats Anthony. I agree with all you wrote. Saves me writing it elsewhere!
    Especially especially the words ‘someting must be done’.
    With all the footage available instantly there is no excuse any more and no reason to accept without question blatant refereeing errors.
    Fortunately (unlike the 3 points incident) the decisions that have gone against Boro this year haven’t cost us
    euro qualification or relegation.

  4. Its a right laugh when stone wall decisions aren’t given when its other teams but when the Boro lose out it does my head in!
    Isnt the dodgey ref part of the live game though?

  5. Even out over the season? No.
    The problems are related to how well you are playing, who you are playing, where you are playing and individual refs.
    At Villa the fans were howling for handball every time a cross went into the Boro box. It was so bad the Boro fans were laughing and calling for handball when anyone took a throw in.
    The ref caved in, maybe he thought he might have missed one earlier and thought the Young incident looked a reasonable shout. Maybe he wasnt at the right angle and his view gave the impression of a penalty. He was wrong.
    There are certain places where it is almost impossible to get a penalty and near the top of the list is Old Trafford. Even worse is Anfield where Carragher has licence to wrestle anyone to the ground, Gerrard can play basketball and upending or grabbing players is the norm.
    Part of this of course is because the home team spends so much time on attack that there are more chances of decisions being given. If you are defending so deep you are getting bombarded the opportunity is there for a ball to hit the hand, a tackle to be slightly mistimed, a player to go over.
    Then there is the pressure of the fans, players and managers. I referred a bit ago to an article by Steve Coppell where he talked about refs and the pressure of the fans, where at Old Trafford he could keep 70,000 fans happy. Same at Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Emirates.
    Same goes for the players, Gerrard works the refs, Ronaldoveragain does his share, Drogba is forever on the edge of amputation due to being struck by guided missiles, Eboue is a volcano who if he played for Boro or Brum would be sent off every week.
    What you cannot quantify is a run like Boro had a few years ago where we went 60 odd matches without a penalty. We concentrate on our unfair decisions, the clubs around us do the same for theirs.

  6. Can people get 10 decisions that have gone Boro’s way this season then.
    I will get the ball rolling, Robert Huths handball in the box and Michael Owens disallowed goal are 2 decisions that went Boro’s way against the Barcodes at Sid James Park.
    **AV writes: Ball over the line at Fulham?

  7. Sorry AV but I have no interest in what Winter or Poll have to say.
    On another matter I read today that Tierry Henry wants Barca to play the Boro way in order to beat Man U in Europe. Rumour has it that both Henry and Ronaldinho are unhappy at Barca.
    Go on Mr Lamb test the water, Thierry likes the Boro style and we know we like a Brazilian on Teesside.
    Should be an entertaining game tomorrow, get stuck in from the start and we can get three points
    C’Mon Boro!

  8. I think Boro’s policy of not commenting on referees and their decisions is laudable and in a perfect world morally the correct stance but it is putting us at a disadvantage.
    The likes of Ferguson and Wenger deliberatley rant, rave and generally bully and intimidate ref’s in the hope that the ref. will think twice about giving a decision against Utd., the Gunners etc. Human naature being what it is I suspect this tactic, disgraceful though it is works.
    The proper answer would be for the FA to come down hard on managers who intimidate referees, but given that the FA is a disfunctional incompetent organisation (in my opinion) this won’t happen.
    Therefore for Boro to have a chance of competing on an equal ‘rules applied consistently’ playing field GS needs to use more aggresive language in his opinions of refs.

  9. Whenever Boro get a decision against them I always remember that we got away with the ‘goal’ at Fulham, which looked to have crossed the line.
    Sunderland often seem to have problems with ref’s decisions and i bet there is some controversy when Boro go there!
    Woodgate will be trying his hardest tomorrow so Boro must make sure they score at Tottenham!

  10. Never happy – If Ronaldinho can’t motivate himself to perform for Barca, what can Boro offer him that will catch his imagination?
    As for Henry, we’d never get his ego inside the Riverside!

  11. AV, I was thinking the same thoughts when I was reading Winter’s piece – some pretty sloppy logic going on.
    I suspect there has to be a degree of unconcious bias in all refereeing decisions: imagine you’re refereeing a game between two sides, one is tricky, skillful, has the majority of possession and attacking play; the other is less skillful, but gritty and determined and doing their best to offset the skill gap by closing down quickly and tackling hard.
    Halfway through the game, and the lesser team has picked up a few yellow cards and the more skillful team has got in a fair bit of whingeing at the ref.
    Then an incident occurs, say a striker goes down in the box, but it’s not clear what happened exactly – the ref didn’t have the best view. Should the striker be booked for diving, or should the ref award a penalty?
    He has to make a split second decision, and his Bayesian brain will undoubtedly bias this in favour of the more skillful team: in the absence of a clear view it will seem more likely that, if the striker was from the skillful team he was probably tripped, or if he was from the team of cloggers he was probably going down like Buddy Holly, desperate to engineer any chance to take something from the match.
    After the game, the ref will justify his decision not only to others but also to himself. It is very rare that a ref will admit he got something completely wrong – it’s a fact of human nature that we hate to admit to mistakes, especially regarding competence in the skills you make a living at, that define you. He’ll convince himself he got it right, and he did it fairly and open handedly. But he’ll be wrong.
    BoroPhil – it is part of the “hand ball” rule that moving hands or arms instinctively to protect the body when suddenly faced with a fast approaching ball does not constitute deliberate contact.
    Another common misconception is that it’s hand ball if the player gains advantage – this isn’t the case; if it’s not deliberate, it’s not hand ball, regardless of any advantage gained.

  12. BoroPhil – actually, you’re right! It’s part of the USFA’s advice to referees, not the FA’s (which doesn’t cover the raised hands for protection issue, but is emphatic about the fact it has to be deliberate handling).
    I guess we’d need to ask the FA!

  13. With regard to Ian (Dubai)’s list of bottom 5 refs, I suspect that after last weekend’s game, Mike Riley would top (foot?) a similar list compiled by United fans.
    But what can you do when human error is inevitable and only forgiveness is divine? To answer my own question, maybe we could propose Mike Riley for sanctification?
    Anyway, at least the ridiculous “3-match ban fits all red cards” rule has had some attention. It’s a pity that it happened too late for Aliadiere and Mido to benefit, however, and the fact that it didn’t leads me to suspect it was all part of some evil scheme.
    I’m convinced they knew the rule was daft and used Boro to demonstrate the fact. (I’m kidding. Just kidding, honest!)

  14. Richard (III)
    “Now, this Winter, our discontent, (not) made gloriously slimmer by dim-sum pork

    I was crap at Haiku but to so corrupt Shakespeare is probably unforgivable! And all for a cheap shot at an ex-referee! “Sorry,â€? Will!
    I believe that for as long as the now-established “normâ€? of four club dominance continues to money-spin for those who most benefit, there will be no pressure for change coming from the English Premier League.
    Even the occasional Champions League “howlerâ€? which provokes indignation and touchline apoplexy from an amygdala-hijacked Sir Alex, or a galled Gaul, won’t be enough to trigger the changes necessary to obtain fairness and consistency in all matches, week-in, week-out.
    Why? Because their Boards of Directors won’t support such a move. Nor will Sir Alex, nor Avram, nor Arsene, nor Rafa, 24 hours after any such outburst, when in the cooler emotional temperature of neocortex reflection, a wider view of context is taken. Because, in the long-haul, the present system works well enough for them.
    It works better for them than it does for the rest of us. Yet, by their very instinctive reaction, let alone any subsequent verbal complaints, there is a real and tacit admission that something is wrong and is there to be put right!
    Whether there is genuine measurable big-club advantage in the present system or not, is actually immaterial for as long as they remain where they are, at the top of the global money-spinning machine. Absolute truths are not required by big clubs to enable them to remain on top. They aren’t ones likely to benefit most from such change.
    Also Anthony, you’ve touched on probably the only area of divergence between the interests of the Premier League, as constituted, and the TV media.
    These two bodies have exploited the synergistic opportunities released by their alliance and each has benefited enormously over time. However, any tipping of the scale towards increasing the dependence of the game on TV technology, as in the use of real-time playback, in officiating during matchplay, carries with it a danger of more power and control being wrested from the clubs and afforded to the TV media.
    The big clubs won’t like that! The Premier League won’t like that! The FA won’t like that! UEFA won’t like that! FIFA won’t like that! Because they like to be in control of their own – and others – destiny! That’s nature!
    I don’t subscribe to the unscientific, non-statistical unsubstantiated contention that says “these things even up over a seasonâ€?. My own contention that they don’t! Maybe over a few hundred years or so, things may even up, but not in the short term.
    And certainly not for as long as we have a game where goals are translated into points and it’s a points system that’s the main arbiter of competition outcome. How many one-goal difference or drawn matches have been decided on controversial penalty or disallowed goal decisions? Because for every such match, points have been involved, acquired and conceded by one team or the other. And it’s points that make prizes! Not necessarily goals.
    I am of the persuasion that real-time AV technology should, at least, be fairly trialled and it’s use refined to provide the benefits that many suspect could be derived.
    Taking one sporting purist’s view would demand that every available technological aid should be put at the referee’s (or whatever decision-making mechanism is employed) disposal.
    Referees get some stick. They always have. And for as long as they have to make decisions that others don’t agree with, they always will! Again, it’s nature.
    However, I think, and I believe that most others would prefer to see fair play, devoid of inconsistency and the creeping diseases of professional fouling by sportsmen and sportswomen that seek to gain unfair advantage by transgressing rules whose boundaries are increasingly fuzzied or standards progressively eroded by the frequency and severity of such transgressions.
    Modern technology is used in other areas of sport to weed out unfair disadvantage. Electronic starter pistols linked to starting blocks and drug testing, to name two. So, why not football?
    Despite the changes in game speed, player fitness level, ball weight and flight-dynamics, and the increased consequential gravity of wrong calls, the system of refereeing hasn’t changed. At least, not such that their ability to more accurately arbitrate is concerned.
    Therefore, referees (and linesmen, sorry – assistant referees) much as we love to hate them, are actually disadvantaged relative to their predecessors.
    If increasing standards of accuracy and consistency are to be demanded of the refereeing system, it seems only fair (there’s that word again!) that they are given greater assistance than they currently get. How otherwise, are we likely to see an improvement in standards and reassure the public that fair play, the right of all, is being adhered to?
    It also seems hugely and obviously unfair, for the same TV/AV technology that is employed retrospectively in judgement of refereeing decisions to be used to reinforce the media projection of their “expertsâ€? being wiser than they actually are.
    And that technology is presently unavailable to the referee to enhance his capability of getting it right in the first place!
    Is it not, at least, equally appropriate that the same technology should be used judiciously in real-time, to proffer assistance to referees in getting it right at the point of call? What’s the point of shutting the stable door? There’s no way back from referee’s decisions when game outcome is concerned.
    If we have technological means of eliminating unfairness, deliberate cheating or serious and consequential wrong decision making in football matches, I can see no really justifiable reason why we ought not to pursue it.
    As for the practicalities, I remain totally unconvinced by play discontinuity objections. We can watch replays within 5-10 seconds of an incident happening. If there’s a penalty, an injury, a goal kick, a goal or an attacking free kick awarded within striking range, or any other such natural interruption, resumption of normal play takes significantly longer than that anyway.
    And besides, allowance can be made simply by adding another minute or two onto “normalâ€? time – as happens now for “injury timeâ€?, as it used to be known.
    Used judiciously, for certain refereeing judgements in situations of significant consequence, I can see no grounds whatsoever, for not adopting AV technology to enhance decision making.
    A remotely-located fourth official or a panel in an AV studio, called by the referee, to offer advice on a difficult or dubious but significant call would seem like a sensible further level of security that would go a long way to restoring integrity in the game, at least in the way it is discharged on the field of play.
    In cases where players may feel inclined to claim for a penalty when they’ve taken a dive, they can be given the choice of persisting with the claim and if video evidence doesn’t support it there and then, they can be dismissed for unsporting behaviour. The decision or advice can be delivered by the off-field “juryâ€? with instant review access to the evidence (unlike the referee as now).
    And the evidence remains on record for subsequent training – an important aspect in standards continuity and rule application consistency.
    It could also assist in the elimination of the criticism of officials being either consciously or subconsciously psychologically undermined by player pressure, crowd pressure, or coaching staff pressure.
    With the professional game having sold out to TV long ago, it seems to me to be hypocritically dogmatic and, in a way, inconsistent (aha!) for the games’ rulers not to adopt AV technology.
    At least such an attempt at the restoration of the ethos of “fair play for allâ€? would go some way to enhancing the credibility that they lost when they fell into bed with the TV networks and (inadvertently or otherwise) sold some the heritage of true sporting standards down the river when they created the heavily TV-subsidised and increasingly polarised Premier League.
    But I expect that’s too much to ask! For the same reasons as it was formed in the first place!
    Since we, the general population, would seem to have no choice in the way the game is being structured according to the rules of global commerce, and if we are going to be stuck with it as the standard for the foreseeable future, then I see no justifiable reason for not bringing in the use of AV technology to help ensure a greater degree of transparency and less arbitrariness in the process of match control.
    Science and technology give us enhanced repeatability and consistency. They remove doubt and inconsistency and can offer convergence with truth. In doing so, they can reduce the irrationality of relying on one man’s arbitrary perspective and often humanly-flawed and disadvantaged view of events.
    It’s quite likely that many of us wouldn’t like some of the decisions, but at least we wouldn’t have feelings of indignation based on the frequent perception of helpless injustice that we currently have. And not liking decisions isn’t the point anyway! The point is that the decisions should be correct – not pleasing to all!
    After all of that, my residual concern is that Jeff Winter, with the benefit of reflective time and unpressured hindsight, STILL gets it wrong and provides logical inconsistency!
    But then, there may be other reasons for that!

  15. Vic you sound suprised that Jeff Winter got a bit mixed up in his analysis and showed some strange logic?
    Did you never see him ref?! He’s the same in print as he was on the pitch…

  16. Refs are only human. That means not just human error but also human emotions.
    They have particular players and teams they don’t like. They watch themselves on MotD and Football First and see which cheating players have conned them and got away with murder and they get their revenge next time. I know I would.
    And they are also scared of particular teams, players and managers. They know that if they send off player A they will get slated in the press by his manager and his pundit pals, that they will get surrounded by screaming team-mates and followed down the tunnel by his red faced boss.
    But they also know that if they send off player B his team will not complain, and if they do the press won’t be interested becuase they are just also rans and his manger won’t kick the ref room door in or savage him in the press because he is a reasonable articulate and likeable bloke.
    So when player A and player B tangle on the pitch the ref takes the easy option and sends B off, even if A looked to be 70/30 to blame for a nasty challenge or a slap across the chops.
    That’s life. Some refs are cowards. They want an easy life. They are scared of confronation. They don’t want to be slagged in the tabloids or put under the microscope by Sky. They don’t want to deal with emotionally unstable jocks after the game.

  17. Another area where official get it wrong ten times a game and are exposed by the TV cameras is offside.
    I don’t blame linos because the game is so much faster now but it needs sorting.
    It is physically impossible to look down the line of the last defender to see where the attacking player is positioned AND look at teh action to know when the ball was played. UNless you have pontoon eyes it can’t be done.
    It has not been helped by the news rules about phases of play, not active until you touch the ball etc.
    It is chaos there now, there are costly mistakes very week nd the poor linos are getting crucified by the media over something it is impossible to judge.
    **AV writes: Pontoon eyes?

  18. Today is a chance to show the journos that we have turned the corner, a point or three from White Hart Lane would set us up nicely for the run in.
    Being a Boro fan the Bolton run of form is horrifying, the last team we want to be playing is one who cant score and cant defend. They say charity begins at home, lets hope we dont see typical Boro in the next couple of matches.

  19. Near the end of MOTD even though the banner said coming up Spurs, West Ham, was it points gained or lost?
    From the commentary and John Powls texts we werent at the races in the first half and could easily have won it second so maybe a point was fair.
    Now for a real humdinger against Bolton’s physical presence and a much anticipated rematch of Pogi vs Davies. Win and barring a really bizarre set of results that is us safe, I havent tried premiership predictor so maybe I have it wrong but Brum play Fulham in a few weeks and that is a must win game for both teams.
    So will we start at 3.00pm or will we let Bolton get 1-0 up and then decide to give it a go? I cant see it being pretty because pretty is not what Bolton do.

  20. Anyone know if Abel Xavier’s free for a kick-about next weekend?!
    George has filled in at right back in the past. He only uses his left leg for standing on anyway, so with Rocky, Arca, Tuncay and Downing strung across the middle, George could fill the right side at the back with Pogatetz, Wheater and Taylor (I’m assuming he’ll be available). Aliadiere and Alves up front. Sorted.
    When we’re 3-0 up with 20 minutes to go, bring McMahon back on and let him work his way back.
    Johnson, Clattermole, Grounds, Turnbull and McMahon on the bench – or Roary, if we need an aggressive central attacking option. The S Korean lion’s more than just a threatened species now methinks!

  21. JP – Play Alliadiere on the right side of midfield and bring in Tuncay. Keep Young at right back.
    I watched MOTD2 last night and yet again the referee was shocking in a Liverpool home game. Why wasn’t St Steven booked for diving? Why wasn’t Skertel sent off?
    As JP asked earlier why wasn’t Maschereno’s appeal judged as frivolous?
    It can’t be because of any form of bias, because the FA judges everything by it merits (got to go as I am watching a flying Pig display outside my window)
    C’Mon Boro!

  22. While this blog is still on the tpic of referees I thought the Gallas penalty yesterday completely summed up how the big four teams get all the decisons especially at home.
    It was a penalty no question but it brings me to the ballletti handball for chelsea against us. ok it wasnt as clear cut but it was the same type of handball the only difference it was arsenal away and Man Utd at home.
    Same at Liverpool as well, Gerrard should have been booked for diving, Skrtel sent off and then Mascherano ban increased for a frivolus appeal. Why havnt the FA done that? hes found guilty of not leaving the pitch in due course yet Liverpool appeal even though he had already been found guilty. Whats going on?
    Great result on Saturday, Southgate is stepping up to the plate, he is becoming the leader he was on the pitch and i beleive the players are in no doubts who the main man is…
    Great to see..
    COME ON BORO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. We would of beat Spurs on Saturday had the midfield not been a bunch of lazy gets.
    Downing could of and should of scored three at least.

  24. Nigel
    My Ronaldiniho , Henry posting was sent ‘tongue in cheek’.
    No doubt both of these players will be linked with the Skunks in the coming weeks.
    C’Mon Boro!

  25. don’t meam to hog the blog.
    Sky sports are reporting that Bolton fans are being offered free travel to the Boro on Saturday. Should make it a good atmosphere.
    I would play all out attack, however if Bolton play everyone behind the ball and try to nick a win, Boro should ensure that they get at least one point.
    We must not fall to a sucker punch ala Reading
    C’Mon Boro!

  26. How about having a right go in our final four games
    Alliadiere (O’Neill after suspension if Ali does not work on the right wing)
    A team full of pace that could put any team on the back foot
    C’Mon Boro!

  27. Never happy
    Admirable sentiments but my view is get the team to turn up on a regular basis in its normal formation first, hopefully for both halves as they get paid for playing 90 minutes.
    Once we have done that we can think about changes in personnel. Playing Downing left back against Bolton would be a disaster, the first thing they would do is move Davies over to the old inside right channel and launch long balls with runners coming into the box.
    I agree with your sentiments about Liverpool – see my earlier posting – they seem able to do what they want.
    Even funnier was Arsene Whingers comments after the ManU game. Adebayor punches the ball into the net to give the Gunners the lead then he complains about unfair decisions!

  28. I see that Mike Riley has staked his claim to being the league’s most consistent referee. Regrettably, he doesn’t seem to realise that being consistently perverse is not really what it’s all about.
    When his beneficiaries start doubting the validity of his decisions (as Eriksson did this weekend) it certainly doesn’t bode well for refereeing standards in the PL.
    You know what? I think I would have a panel of club officials (or even players) to review refereeing performances. I would give them some teeth, too.
    A clearly incorrect refereeing decision would attract an automatic one-match ban, subject later to being extended by a further match or two.
    Oh, now wouldn’t that be luverlee? 🙂

  29. Fair enough Ian but Davies is banned so they would have to put some other lump up against Downing.
    C’Mon Boro!

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