Monday, May 12, 2008

TWAF: Instead of Praying for a Meteor I'm Going To Start Praying for Competent Refs

I was lucky. I got one of the last seats. Bonus I had a good view of both matches.

"Good" is a bit relative. I could see the United match on a large projection screen on the west wall and over my back shoulder was Chelsea on a flat screen. So I had to turn around for one and had to keep people from sliding in between the fake bookshelves that serve no purpose other than to make the chain Irish bar seem like an authentic Irish bar for the other, but at least I was on my ass. That was important as I was recovering from a wedding (not mine, thank God).

Even with the massive hangover, I wasn't not getting out of bed. Ninety minutes to decide the Prem. About 40 weeks all leading up to this. What football fan wouldn't be excited?

It wasn't until Giggs slotted away a goal on a beauty feed (from Rooney maybe) in the 80th to put United up 2-0 that it was a done deal. Chelsea made it immaterial by giving away an injury time leveler to Bolton (and by the way of three things I can think of named Bolton—singer Michael, former UN ambassador John, and the football team—all are useless, so God help you if you are named Bolton).

And if you want to look at the difference in winning and running-up, you can find it in two pair of injury time goals that resulted in draws. Chelsea gave them up to Bolton and Wigan at home. United, more specifically Carlos Tevez, found them against Tottenham and Blackburn. That's plus-two for United and minus-four for Chelsea and that's more than enough to swing the balance at the top of the table.

Of course, one of those two for United (v. Spurs) came with 95:00 and counting on the clock when the ref had signaled for 4 minutes of extra time.

Now, I'm not going to insinuate that United won the EPL because of one ref's decision. No, despite the fact that they have more losses than the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th place teams, they were the best side start to finish.

That's not snideness. It's sincerity. It's sincerity that I deliver with the pain of a thousand bloody deaths, but it's also the truth.

Still, the only PK called against United the entire season was the one against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the third-to-last week of the season. Really? Only one penalty? The entire season?

No. Because there was one clear as day when Rio Ferdinand committed a hand ball in the box against Wigan on Sunday (oh, and look, there's what looks to be another against Tottenham from back in August in the pic atop the post). And not just that, but Paul Scholes could have, should have, easily been given a second yellow and a sending off (perhaps the FA should start giving ref Steve Bennett a red shirt instead of a black one when he's doing United matches).

How different are the second halves at the JJB and Stamford Bridge if United is a goal down and a man down?

There was a (non-)call that went in Wigan's favor when a foul by Titus Bramble in the box wasn't given. But the foul was committed on Scholes. You know, the guy who shouldn't have even been on the pitch anymore. Can you even make a make-up call when it's committed on a player who should've been shown the showers already?

Again, I'm not saying United were handed the title but with Ronaldo, Tevez, and Rooney on the pitch they probably don't need the help. Still why does it seem that many of the most important calls in the biggest spots do go in their favor? And why do so few go against them?

United was awarded a total of two red cars all season. Two. And both were for headbutts. So no United player the entire season committed two bookable offenses, or one instance of serious foul play during open play? Please.

Maybe some of it is just selective memory from a non-United fan—like the Bramble non-call, I mean I had to be reminded of that—but it would be better if there was no discussion of poor officiating after the biggest matches, the title-deciding matches, that just happen to take place on the last day of the season.

It's a bad taste. And it stays there because there's no more season.

So really congrats to United. I do hate them, but this is not sour grapes. They deserve the title. But if they win it again next year, I'd really like to be able to reflect on the season and maybe recall more than one instance where I think Christiano Ronaldo might have been carded for diving.

Because he does it. Often.


strong like bull smart like tractor said...

Meanwhile, Chelsea finished fifth in overall cards, but tied for first in reds. Like you, I'm not saying that Man Utd didn't deserve the title this season. They did. But getting a leg up from the refs couldn't have hurt...

Goat said...

If I recall correctly, Everton were awarded their first penalty on the last day of the season. That one team can have only one penalty called against them all season and another can only have one awarded to them seems rather incomprehensible.

Precious Roy said...

goat: Not only that, but the penalty was awarded in the 82nd minute. Everton came within 8 minutes of going an entire EPL season (suck it, Barclay's) without having a penalty awarded to them.

Keith said...

Oh, cry me a river, Bluescouse.

/bitter Villa fan

Ian said...

Speaking of dastardly Wigan, what if those fuckers hadn't turned the JJB into a mudpit prior to Arsenal's visit in March?

strong like bull smart like tractor said...

Lord, if I hear an Arse fan whine about that Wigan pitch ONE MORE TIME, I'm going to kill this kitten...

The NY Kid said...

Well, they do play rugby on that same pitch.

Precious Roy said...

Well 'strong' I don't much care for kittens, so...