It saddened me to see more scapegoating of the officials in the latest round of Premier League fixtures.
Sure, it’s not been the best few weeks for the elite panel of referees as far as consistent, correct decisions are concerned, but this does not remotely justify the outbursts of Arsene Wenger, my old team-mate Sparky Hughes, and to a lesser extent, Jose Mourinho.
I understand how passionate these men are about defending their players, but let’s point the finger where it belongs, because not every fan is going to buy the line these guys are selling them!
Take Arsene’s blaming of Mark Clattenburg for incorrectly awarding a corner in the build-up to Everton’s winner at Goodison Park last Tuesday. You’re right, Arsene, it wasn’t a corner and the ball did not come off Laurent Koscielny!
The fact remains, however, that Ashley Williams helped himself to a free header to score, which means the Arsenal defence was coasting along and too lazy to see the game out by defending competently all the way through to the final whistle.
By all means get angry that Clattenburg made an error, but not if it means you don’t get angry at your own defenders and make damned sure they get down to work with a view to prevent a recurrence.
Then you had Mark Hughes lamenting that Anthony Taylor had some agenda or other in showing the red card to Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic for his wayward challenge. Well I’m sorry, I saw the incident and whether you call it excessive force, dangerous play or whatever you like, his studs were up and in today’s game it’s as obvious a red as they come.
It annoys me just as much when Jose Mourinho takes the ‘no comment’ way out, because he knows exactly what he is doing. In response to Marcos Rojo’s second escape in quick succession for a two-footed challenge, Jose looks the other way and makes excuses.
What he should have done was take Rojo aside after the United-Everton game and tell him what is acceptable. He either did that and Rojo really is a stupid boy, or he didn’t, in which case Jose is left deflecting from his own failure to address a problem of United’s own making.
Don’t be under any illusions, folks: if similar things go in their own favour, these three, especially Arsene ‘Mr Magoo’ Wenger, will not have seen it in a million years!
Since my last column the nation has been coming to terms with the historical child abuse scandal. There was a piece here on what happened to me which I’ve not even had time to read, if I’m honest. Nevertheless, the main thing I want to get across to any male or female out there who may have been affected by these issues is that it is OK to come out and talk about it.
I’m certain there are many perpetrators still hiding away who think they have got away with it, so it would be something positive at least if more victims came forward and put them behind bars, where they belong.
Don’t let embarrassment at whatever may have happened be the reason you don’t come forward, because I’m speaking from experience when I say it is better brought out into the open.
I don’t share the astonishment with which the scale of the problem has been met and I’m equally convinced these issues go well beyond football and into other sports.
Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.