I’ve long been a supporter or maybe even a defender of referees because I know that for all its visibility it’s an extremely thankless job. Having your face out there making that split second decision that could decide the game isn’t always the easiest job in the world and it certainly isn’t something that everyone can do. There’s no way that those of us who sign up to be referees sign up to do it for the money, at least I’d like to think not.
Sometimes even at the professional level decisions can be made which can completely screw a team. Maybe a penalty is called when it’s not or even no penalty is called. Referees have to have eyes all over the field and make sure to assert their dominance over the players so they don’t influence his decisions. In some environments this can be very much intimidating.
On Saturday a referee made a decision that seemed to be second guessed by many people. As Man U’s Radamel Falcao turned in the box John O’Shea made contact and then Wes Brown followed. What’s interesting to note is that while Brown may have incidentally touched Falcao, referee Roger East believed that incidental touch to have knocked down Falcao and so he red carded him. On first watch I have to say I saw John O’Shea tug his shirt and I felt like Brown got screwed.
Referees have been taking beatings lately with Stoke’s Mark Hughes criticizing match official Neil Swarbrick for a questionable decision and “the Special One” making comments lately about a challenge in Nemanja Vidic. Gus Poyet took aim at East and his colleagues after the match, “the referees have to get better. There are too many [mistakes] every day”
Unfortunately for Sunderland it seems like when it rains it pours, and this is just another example of the cloud opening up. I think Sunderland didn’t have as much quality, and it showed in the match. In a way this argument over who should be sent off is nonsensical because a foul was committed regardless and it deserved a red and a penalty kick. It didn’t exactly matter who, they both were there. Yes technically John O’Shea tugged Falcao down but we are just splitting hairs now. For Sunderland what should matter is again trying to survive the damn drop. This is our season again. We thought after last year that Sunderland would be a little better but it seems like maybe they have stepped backwards. I wonder if they do survive the drop whether wholesale changes aren’t needed in order to progress forward. It seems that Sunderland has to spend money in order to keep up with the other teams, and after the mistakes that have been made in the transfer market it is time to make the right decisions not only on the field but in the market.