You don’t realise what you’ve missed until you take charge of a football team again. One thing I thought I wouldn’t miss was referees!
But even I have to say I’ve been fairly impressed with all the men in the middle for my first three games as interim manager of Queens Park Rangers – more on why later.
First off, let me say that what I’ve missed even more than match day on the touchline is the banter on the training ground. That’s apart from the feeling you get when the final whistle blows and your team has won – like we did against Leeds, one of my old clubs, last weekend.
It was my first win, after a draw and a defeat, and it was a super day for me. Massive following from Leeds, great atmosphere and it brought back memories of my promotion season at Loftus Road when the place was rocking.
Now to the referees and I’ve been happy enough with all three of them so far. They deserve a name check – Robert Lewis for the 0-0 with Preston, Chris Kavanagh at Middlesbrough (even though we lost to a very late penalty), and Peter Bankes for the Leeds game.
I still wouldn’t say they’ve kept me quiet, though. There are just a couple of things I’d like to raise, especially if it helps the learning process.
I did think we had a good shout for a penalty against Leeds. That said, I thought Leeds did as well for a similar incident in our box. The ref didn’t give either. Well, you don’t mind so much as long as they are consistent.
The more serious incident that stands out is a horrendous tackle on our player, Nedum Onuoha, against Preston. It could have been a leg-breaker but the ref missed it completely. I just said to him that when he saw it on the replay he would know what to watch out for next time. We all make mistakes. It’s learning from them that’s important.
Otherwise, those referees have done alright for me. What struck me was that they seem to be using more common sense. As recently as my last spell as a boss I’d have expected to see an early booking or two in these games. No doubt they will have risked the wrath of the assessors!
When I left my last job at Crystal Palace I feared a bit for the standard of refereeing outside the Premier League. It certainly wasn’t as good. But I’m now hoping I’ve seen signs of something better.
Another plus is that the teamwork between the officials has been good. So I’ll include the assistant referees and fourth officials in my praise. They only got involved when needed. One thing I don’t like is “busy” linesmen. I hate to see them flagging when it’s obvious that the referee can see what’s going off. I prefer the man in the middle to take charge.
As for the future, well, QPR are looking at what I’d imagine to be a number of very good applicants for the manager’s job. The club is planning ahead and I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.