LEAVE ØVREBØ ALONE!…..Please.
You know what, Didier Drogba? I could not agree with you more. What we saw at Stamford Bridge yesterday, both during and after the game, was indeed "a f#$%cking disgrace!" The diving belle of Chelsea's attack put on an unprecedented show of postgame histrionics, and that's saying a lot considering the flopping and whining that mark just about every game in European footy these days.
I've never seen an athlete-- a professional athlete... an adult!-- carry on like that or scream obscenities INTO THE CAMERA on the field. Quite simply, it took the beloved drama we've come to expect from these European games and warped it all into some dark, stupid maudlinism. "Dream Team" would've written off Drogba's performance as too kitschy. But the rot goes deeper...
Precious Roy did a pretty comprehensive recap of the Chelsea players' commentary back at 10 am. Naturally, their anger, the frustration of once again crashing out of the CL in spectacular fashion, has triggered some less than professional, if not downright ugly responses by the players, Drogba of course being the prime culprit. Nevermind the referee missed as many calls for the Blues as he did for Barca-- who actually had a man sent off. Chelsea's loss was their own, and Drogba's rage should be directed at a mirror, not a camera.
But this isn't about Chelsea. It isn't about Barcelona. It's not about Gerry Pique's hand or Eto'o's elbow.
It is about the constant nattering that follows, and often precedes every big match. It's either Ferguson, or Benitez, or Wenger, or _______, or all of them, all at the same time, playing these [cue: euphemism] mindgames... and when the game is done and the score settled, so begins Act Two: the recriminations and posturing and blame.
And it's all centered on one man. The lowly referee. Corrupt scourge. Impotent blowhard. In this case, it's Tom Henning Øvrebø, the overmatched knucklehead who, by various estimates, failed to do his job properly between four and 424 times in 90+3 minutes yesterday in London.
Is it possible that Øvrebø and all his colleagues are just THAT BAD? Perhaps there are just not enough decent officials in all the sporting world to continue playing these games?
Or maybe, just maybe, today's players have made it impossible for guys like Øvrebø to do their jobs. Swans like Drogba and Ronaldo and Henry (in the WC Final, no less) and a million other footballers in a million different games from the Prem down to the Conference and all the way out to Turkey have made such a habit of dropping and whinging that it must be impossible for a single human being to distinguish the real infractions from the embellishment and playacting. In the end, it has a chilling effect on the ref and his willingness to blow his whistle and point to the spot.
Øvrebø should look at the ball bounce calmly into Pique's outstretched hand and make his call without a thought... a reflex move like Valdes flashing his arm to deflect Drogba's free kick. Yes, there is some nuance to the decision, but I promise you it was not the fine print of the rule book that clouded the Norwegian's gleaming dome. He was asking himself, "Did I really see what I just saw?" And whatever the answer, by the moment it was settled, too much time had passed. The play had moved on and the whistle, swallowed.
So please, leave Tom Henning Øvrebø aloooooone! He's a creation of our game. To hate him is to hate all modern football.