It strikes me that there’s an awful lot of top managers out there who are very quick to explain away poor results by pointing at the congested fixture list. What you don’t hear, however, is any sympathy for the referee who is given a similarly intensified programme to get through and is expected to recover, travel and handle adverse headlines without the slightest acknowledgement.

If fatigue caused by all the games coming so close together is making life harder for players, why would that not be a reason for a referee to potentially suffer some impact on their own performances given the same kind of juggling act?

It’s not that managers don’t sometimes have a point, and from experience I remember being more tired out by the demands this time of year places on you than at other times. That could possibly be addressed by playing just one game less and certainly by making the days between games equal for all clubs.

There’s a big BUT coming, however, because what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, in other words if we can cut all those poor players some slack, surely we can do the same for those given the job of keeping up.

Some punters might hold the view that fitness and recovery are not a prime factor when it comes to getting out there and making the big decisions, but the days when you could get away with not being in top shape as an official are long gone.

The abuse referees take does not help anyone and we can only hope VAR will reduce the mistakes that make managers lash out in the first place. There’s also a massive difference between pointing out where things might have gone differently and hopefully will do so next time, and doing what two very high-profile bosses have done as we kick off 2018.

The fact I’ve mentioned Arsene Wenger in similar vein on this platform before does not mean I should not return to the subject, especially in the light of his latest FA charge and the way Neil Warnock seems determined to share the same tribunal with him!

Wenger accused Mike Dean of seeing “what he wanted to see” after Arsenal drew at the Hawthorns and Warnock has chipped in with “I’ve never known refereeing standards so poor” after a run of Championship defeats.

The Cardiff boss obviously has form for this, and Wenger is daft if he expects us to swallow his references to the only other league with pro refs, by which he means Italy, at least having a man out in Russia this summer operating at the highest level of all. It really is one of the worst attempts at deflection I’ve ever heard.

Anyone who knows the game knows that the World Cup situation is circumstantial given Mark Clattenburg’s resignation from the European confederation, and for me this only proves Wenger is appealing to the least informed element of Arsenal’s support, pure and simple.

Speaking for the players, believe me, you know when you have failed to get the job done yourselves and when your manager is just seeking to play the blame game. I don’t even think these two believe what they have said themselves, so why should they be asking anyone else to believe such comments?

It takes a bit of class to not cross the line into moaning when you’ve been the victim of an honest mistake, or invent some dark agenda that is holding your team and only your team back. That’s the easy option, to be frank, and the only positive side to all of this is that I don’t think all that many people are going to buy into what these serial offenders are saying.


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