Match Of The Day: Conservative or Regulated?
Watching Match Of the Day last night, I was quite perplexed on a few issues. Issues during the respective games upon which no discussion nor analysis was made. There was only the goals and missed chances in the Spurs v Liverpool game to speak on. Then the programme focused on Stoke v Arsenal and predominately the Rory Delap throw-ins which seem to made sports headlines. The scoreline was covered, the goals were scored, but what about the injuries? Was there no information at the time of broadcast to pass on? How was Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott doing? Was Robin van Persie's foul on Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen a foul, a booking or a straight red as it ended? Usually the pundits would debate these issues but didn't do so last night.
The penalty at Fratton Park, conceded by Papa Boupa Dioup on Titus Bramble. They just skated over it briefly, saying they were sorry for him following on from the one he conceded at Anfield on Wednesday. When I replayed the moment, Bramble blatantly dived while Dioup had stuck his foot out but brought it back before it could make the significant contact to actually fall Bramble as he did. Move on to Wigan's Man-Of-The-Moment Amr Zaki, far more interesting to speak on, and his penalty score.
But the West Brom v Blackburn game was something else. Officiating on the playing field by fresh referee Mike Jones, who has handled this current season in the EPL the games previously of Hull v Wigan in August and Wigan v Aston Villa last weekend, and he was therefore considered the 'freshman'. The awarding by Jones of a Blackburn penalty for a Ryan Donk tug on Jason Roberts' shirt was considered by MOTD as 'soft', despite the fact it is an offence in the rules of the game and as such gives away a penalty if committed in the penalty box by a defender.
'Soft' as it may be, the pundits felt it was a good decision. For me Mr Jones had excellent vision to see it and then give it, for I have seen a number of shirt-tugs during corners and freekicks that always seem to go unpunished. However, the awarding of a red for two bookable offences to Benni McCarthy was also considered unfortunate for McCarthy. I don't understand why. McCarthy had gone into West Brom skipper Jonathan Greening and earned a first booking. With that, he then came to meet a high ball that was due to go over him with his arm, a clear deliberate handball. He was rightly dismissed.
With this 'Respect' for officials that is being campaigned, albeit quietly, there has been a call for officials to do likewise and ensure they do genuinely grant decisions appropriately. Yet when they do, they are castigated. Jones was said to have given the penalty more for the fact he is in his first season in the EPL and knows he is being thoroughly monitored as to his performance. For me, that has nothing at all to do with the awarding of the penalty decision.
I'm sure it was MOTD who said Andy Johnson's first goal for Fulham against Wigan on Wednesday was on-side, when it was clearly off-side! I know my colleague, T, has stated his opinion regarding the MOTD pundits as being bias or clearly not as accurate or succinct as it should be, particularly when they look over the performances of Arsenal. For me I ask the question after last night's broadcast as to whether they are conservative with their views, choosing on what they look over and analyse, or they are regulated in what views they provide by the programme producers.
There have been other issues in which they have stated a view that, to me, was very contradictory to what actually happened, and I'll be on the look-out to report them here on EFT. Considering they use the latest technological equipment to break down moments in the game (particularly their '3-D pitch' facility where they freeze the moment in a game and produce it exactly as it is in a 3-D graphic, turning the graphic around to what could be the best angle to make judgement from), they should be much more accurate with their opinions on all issues.
I do value MOTD for its analysis, I don't depend on it solely, and to think it has to be called into further question is quite troubling. but it wouldn't be the only one. Sky Sports' Andy Gray for starters has been having a dig or two at referees regularly, and I think such sided opinion gives more pressure to referees from players, managers and fans where it is not necessary.