"Why always me?"
Over the past 10 days or so, the Premier League and its orbiting media bodies have seen fit to dispense with perspective like a grown man discarding some raggedy old fleece he used to have as a student, and concern themselves with as little football as possible. This has been a great shame, because there was a lot of football over the past 10 days or so and some of it was very good indeed.
But more than ever we were treated to delirium in the stands and in the press as Mario Balotelli stamped on Scott Parker’s head before scoring an injury-time penalty winner. Two new rules were also invented by some angry people; namely the ‘Vincent Kompany rule’ (fictitious) and the ‘Glenn Johnson rule’ (believe it or not, also fictitious), which conveniently can be used to either excuse a dangerous course of action that was punished, or justify a dangerous course of action that wasn't.
This is not to get at any fans in particular, before anyone starts – there’s been more than enough written, entirely correctly, about persecution complexes and tribalism among ALL football supporters.
Rather, it should be said that attention on the game’s rules and regulations and their judicious application by officials has now reached such saturation that I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised to see 60,000 turning up at Southwark Crown Court to brandish imaginary copies of UK tax regulations at ‘Arry Redknapp. The only reason this didn’t happen was likely because tickets weren’t made available, but as a result of this potential untapped market it would scarcely be a shock to see Southwark Crown Court build an extra tier on the gallery and install bucket seats for the counsels, before being bought out by a mysterious conglomerate, moving itself to an out-of-town shopping centre, then filing for administration and going bust by 2017. With ‘Arry at the 'elm.
But I digress. Vociferous demands for consistency on decisions by referees abound, but basically there is precious little that can be done about the issue, short of getting rid of the human capacity to make mistakes altogether, and we’ve all been on that particular ‘introduce technology’ merry-go-round long enough. Clamouring for referees not to make mistakes is completely pointless, because, like the Magic Spongers rule that every girl should at least accept ONE drink if you’ve been nice enough to offer, it depends on the circumstances, is completely unenforceable, and generally ends up far worse if you push it.
You can’t ever guarantee that two people will interpret the same thing in the same way. Refereeing is inconsistent because it relies on the individual split-second interpretation of a human being. Consistency across matches is therefore even more elusive - there's no way of guaranteeing the exact same response to each of the hundreds of incidents in every single fixture. Let's also bear in mind that the only human beings who ever try and be remotely consistent with each other are people who are trying to get away with something. Oh, and David Cameron and George Osborne. Although that’s essentially the same thing.
In short, it’s impossible.
But no matter to the poor persecuted in the stands. I might be a bit sour from listening to five minutes of ‘606’ after ‘Super Sunday’ (yes, I feel dirty) but the continuing application of prior perceived ills or slights to a succession of what, in truth, are isolated incidents is at best pointless, and at worst completely and utterly fucking pointless.
There is no conspiracy against anyone’s club. Referees are just about as fit for the job as they possibly can be (if you really want some officials to complain about, get yourselves down to League Two, or if Bushby is to be believed, Bootham Crescent every other week). They see as much as one man with two working eyes can reasonably be expected to and, if we’re being honest, are probably individually very consistent. Beyond hauling them in front of the cameras after every match to be berated over a split second moment they probably can’t fully remember anyway, but has been pored over by people in a studio for 25 minutes, there isn’t much more they can do than make sure they know all the rules and apply them to what they see happening on the pitch. You want to vilify them even more, fine. But there won’t be any referees left if this growing obsession continues.
Contentious decisions certainly aren't intended to personally insult any particular member of any particular football club. Referees generally do ok, I reckon. But, as the proverb goes, even if you can keep your apples when all about you are losing theirs, you can pretty much guarantee some moron will still start chucking onions around, my son.
You can’t begin to apply another person’s interpretation of a tackle to a completely different tackle. You can only apply the rules of the game. ‘If you look at the Vincent Kompany sending off’ is not a sufficient piece of reasoning, because according to half the universe, and likely the person making the argument, the ‘Vincent Kompany sending off’ wasn’t a sending off. It was a decision that had to be made, and lo, it was made, so it’d be nice if we could all just move on and accept that contention is going to be part of every match because we’re all too partisan to know any better.
‘But think how much is riding on the games’, you might argue. ‘Some of these decisions are worth millions of pounds’. Well exactly. If ever there was something indicative of what might be causing all the sodding problems, that argument is precisely it.