David Moyes is the first Premier League manager to be mowed down by the Respect the Ref bandwagon following his outburst at Stoke at the weekend. The Everton boss is the first to discover that, at least while the campaign maintains its current pace, respect for the referee must be maintained whether his decision is right or wrong.
Despite being sent-off during the match, Moyes seemed to suggest that once referee Alan Wiley reviewed the incident his dismissal would be overturned. Instead he has been hit with an FA improper conduct charge, and that is despite Moyes intimating that the referee has privately apologised to him for the dubious decision which had incensed the Everton manager.
The FA has stuck to its guns on the new campaign for now. The point being made is that Moyes’ outburst to the match officials can not be excused on the grounds that he had a right to be aggrieved by Wiley’s decision. A bad decision is no longer a valid reason for a lack of respect.
It is a bold stand to take. Nobody can doubt that referees do get a hard time from players, managers and fans alike – but expecting managers to sit back and meekly accept bad decisions is not a workable situation. Perhaps Moyes should have voiced his concerns a little better, but Wiley’s decision could ultimately have been the difference between one point and three points at the Britannia Stadium. Those two points could prove to be the difference between qualifying for Europe or missing out.
Under-fire managers get just as much flak as under-fire referees, so it’s unreasonable to expect them to keep their mouths shut when decisions which could cost them their job are being made. In that respect (if you’ll pardon the pun), the new campaign is always destined to fall flat on its face. Respect does not enter the equation when you are fighting for your own survival. The managerial merry-go-round is spinning as fast as ever and managers’ tempers are bound to flare.
“We have a Respect campaign that is really important but you can’t just put a big label on it,” said Moyes. “You earn respect and I have to say the referee has earned a great deal more respect from me by what he has said from me.”
Cool, calm and collected in the aftermath but put him in the same situation again and Moyes would still blow a fuse. Expect the FA to have collected quite a kitty from fines by the end of the season.