Referee blunders? We love to hate them so why let technology deprive us of Fergie’s wrath

2011-11-30 00:00

IT has never taken much for Sir Alex to have a go at a match official, so when his side was controversially held to a draw by Newcastle at the weekend, there was no way he was keeping his mouth shut.

You saw it coming from a mile away too, and the longer referee Mike Jones and his “part-time” assistant (as Sir Alex described him) deliberated, the more severe Ferguson’s onslaught was going to be.

“A travesty,” Ferguson called the decision to award the Magpies a penalty after Rio Ferdinand’s tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa.

“Everyone was astounded,” he continued, questioning whether John Flynn, the unfortunate linesman on the day, should ever be awarded another match. Yes, Ferguson had every reason to feel aggrieved and the decision was undoubtedly a shocker.

It was daylight robbery and it would have crushed the red side of Manchester, who missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap on their neighbours in blue.

A friend of mine, aided by the knowledgeable bunch at Sky Sports News, pointed out two instances already this season where linesmen have made incorrect calls and United have been the beneficiaries. But we didn’t hear a peep out of Sir Alex then, did we?

With the Premier League set to make use of goal-line technology and with the Jones/Flynn meeting that seemed to take an age to accomplish nothing, is there a place for technology in other areas of the football pitch?

Should a ref be allowed to check with the man upstairs if he is unsure about the severity of a tackle? Maybe technology should only extend to what happens in the 18-yard area.

I quite like the inconsistency of our referees and their sometimes questionable performances. The fact that it infuriates managers has always been one of the more appealing elements of football for me. Besides, if technology takes over, who will we blame when our team is diabolical? God himself wouldn’t dare blame Sir Alex, and neither would a Red Devil fan. Maybe the beautiful game could follow in the footsteps of the gentleman’s and give teams two challenges per match to use as they please?

Questions like this will always arise after a referee blunder, and they will be voiced even more strongly by critics when the godfather of English football himself is fuelling the debate.

Things happen and at the end of the day it all evens out, doesn’t it?

But I don’t think the Scotsman will see it quite that way if a solitary point is what separates him from League glory in May next year.

• sport@witness.co.za

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