DAVID PYE: Don't just blame the referees when they get little help from assistants
11:00pm Tuesday 19th March 2013 in Sport
RARELY a week goes by these days in football when we are not talking about refereeing decisions changing games, and yet again the debate is raging after several high-profile incidents at the weekend.
The biggest talking point after Sunday’s matches focused on Callum McManaman’s horrendous challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara that left the French Under-21 international hospitalised.
The furore is understandable after what many pundits have branded a potential career-ending challenge, but the fact Bolton-based referee Mark Halsey did not take any action is as much a talking point.
Magpies boss Alan Pardew revealed post-match, amid his strong views on the tackle, that Halsey told him at half time that he did not get a clear view and, hence, took no action.
With players often obscuring their view, referees can miss big calls and should not guess. But that is why they have assistants running the line and they are the subject of my ire at present.
While I still maintain we have some of the best referees in the world, I think the assistants are lagging behind. Just look at the recent Edinburgh derby and a ball that was several feet over the line. The assistant was unmoved.
Aside from the McManaman incident, where the assistant on that side was patrolling the opposite end, there were huge failings in games elsewhere too.
I was astounded with the decision in the Everton v Man City game not to give the visitors a penalty when Marouanne Fellaini handled Carlos Tevez’s shot inside the box.
Once referee Lee Probert has given the free kick, why it was not a spot kick is incredible.
Maybe his judgement at normal speed was clouded, but what is the assistant in that half doing? The same man somehow managed to give a borderline offside call against Kevin Miralles in the first half at the same end but was not there to assist and do his job when Fellaini briefly became one of the Harlem Globetrotters.
We saw a different assistant flag for a handball against Norwich, probably rightly, but then not spot Sunderland’s Danny Rose was in the box when he did likewise right in front of him.
Finally, back to the DW Stadium, and Wigan’s dramatic late winner came after a clear handball from the initial cross was not spotted.
A referee’s job is hard enough; it becomes even harder when their pals fail them as well.