Manchester United was left scratching their head as to how the referee, Lee Mason, was able to award Lee Bowyer’s equalizing goal in their 1-1 draw against Birmingham City.
There were at least three infractions on that particular play that could have been called to award United a free-kick, which would have rule out the Blues’ goal, but, instead, the referee gave it, and the Reds dropped two more crucial away points on the season.
Thinking back, there was a very similar three-foul situation that happened last season at Stamford Bridge, so these cases should have all of the critics mouths stuffed with their constant besiegement that the Reds get the benefits of an unjust refereeing decision.
Last season, Martin Akinson waved away the appeals to rule out the decisive goal that undeservedly gifted Chelsea all three points in a 1-0, and United lost out on the Barclays Premier League title by the finest of margins.
Anyone can play the awful game of “what if” as to how United did not land their 19th title, however, everyone knows that key refereeing decisions, like Mason’s, will play a role in where the trophy ends up this season.
There is no question that referees have one of the toughest jobs in professional sports, because they are deemed to be wrong 50% of the time – no matter if they get the call right or wrong.
This series of non-calls by Mason, though, should not sit well with a manager of any club – and even Alex McLeish knew he got away with one by hurriedly saying, “I do not care.”
Against the Blues in the Midlands, Mason somehow missed big Nikola Zigic not only climbing all over the back of Rio Ferdinand, but the 6’8″ Serbian also using his arm as the ball went to Lee Bowyer, who was clearly standing a half of a yard offside, to slot home from close range.
Even if Mason did take the take the time to go over and chat with his over anxious assistant on the far side, he still would have given the goal, because he deemed to be within the laws of the game.
What laws those are still remains to be seen, because with a lot of the black and white words that are typed in the officials handbooks comes way too much gray area for them to interpret them.
Some pundits, who more than likely have an ABU mentality, will say that United should have defended better and took another one of their other chances, but that is not what this is about – at all.
It is about a referee failing to make a proper decision that influenced the outcome of the match, which is something Mason, and his fellow officials should never do.
When Mason looks at the replay again, which he will, he will see that he has had lapse in judgement – or three on this occasion – and admit that he was in the wrong.
Accountability means everything today, so when you have done something that will harm someone, or something, the person, no matter who s/he is should stand up and say, “I was wrong and I apologize.”
Think that United supporters will ever get that from Mason – or any other official for that matter?
In the heat of the moment last season after the home draw with Sunderland, Sir Alex Ferguson accused Alan Wiley of not being fit, and because of that, he was virtually castigated by the Prospect Union for doing so.
Then in an attempt to make a name for himself, their chief ninny, Alan Leighton, even called for Sir Alex to be permanently removed from his job at United, and his two match suspension was a “disappointing.”
If managers are going to be suspended for ridiculing a referee’s performance, then why are these officials not punished for making a mockery of the game?
Referees, like Graham Poll did, stroll around like they are the best thing since sliced bread, and to see this pompous football outcasts have more power to effect either a player’s career or a manager’s future is preposterous to say the least.
By now, everyone is well aware of how tight the Premier League title race knows by now, and they know they could have very easily have faced the same fate United did at St. Andrew’s.
United are still top, but just by goal difference over their local rival, City, and they could be joined by Arsenal tomorrow if they get a favorable result against Wigan Athletic – even though the Reds have two matches in hand.
A lot of money will be earned by the eventual champion, which will be significant over the second, third and fourth place finishers, so why does the Football Association and the Premier League chiefs conjure up a solution as to what to do.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that these greedy, foolish executives only care about saving a penny here, so it is put their own pocket.
It is quite clear, though, that extra assistance is needed inside of each penalty area, but it would cost them significant money to add another four officials for each match.
There have been very few complaints in either the UEFA Champions League or the Europa League in terms of refereeing decisions, so the Premier League should sit up and take notice of how to go about it.
If it stands true that an assistant in the Premier League earns £600 per match, then it would cost approximately £1,824,000 over the course of the season to pay for more eyes to be on the most meaningful part of the field.
There will more added costs than this, like training and implementing system, but this should be seen really as a small cost, because of the chance of the Premier League ruining a life of a football club.
A bit dramatic that comment may seem, but in actuality it is not all that far off if you think of it from a logical, common sense standpoint.
In a fiercely competitive Barclays Premier League title race, Manchester United has enough problems seeing off one of their fellow title rivals without the influence of a referee, so hopefully this is the last time the Reds will face a costly controversial decision by the man in the middle.