After the Liverpool-Newcastle game yesterday, Alan Pardew refused to criticise referee Anthony Taylor after sending off captain Fabricio Coloccini for a lunge on Luis Suarez. In his post-match interview, he said:
I thought he [Taylor] maybe got caught up in the emotion and I wanted to ask him before he’d had a chance to see replays. He said he thought it was serious foul play. The morale of referees must be low at the moment, because of constant criticism and the issues around them. We accept his decision and I thought he had a good day. I don’t think there was any intent but we accept it.
What a refreshing thing to hear! Not only was Pardew refusing to bow to the whims of the interviewer – and possibly the fans – by lambasting a debatable decision, but he actually praised the referee. Usually the best any manager or player gives to a ref is a well-worded-yet-obviously-derisive non-comment about not wanting to get in trouble and holding his tongue – it is a sad indictment of a referee’s standing in football that their better comments from managers or players are, essentially, ‘no comment’. But to say a referee had a good game is about as rare as a Fernando Torres hat-trick.
Furthermore, Pardew really hit the nail on the head. Morale must be low at the moment, after the Clattenburg incident, so to see such a public and staunchly supportive message will have gone down a treat in the Referees’ Union (don’t be surprised to see charitable decisions going Newcastle’s way in their next few games!). Moreover, the referee acted correctly. He did not see the incident perfectly so instead relied on the decision of his linesman, who claimed Coloccini went in recklessly. This is the correct protocol for a referee. Regarding the challenge itself, it is hard to deny that he went in dangerously. It was a rash and uncharacteristic challenge from the Argentine, although the extent of the impact is debatable as it doesn’t look like he made much contact with Suarez’s leg.
However, Pardew wasn’t saying ‘the referee made the right call’. He was stating how referees must be supported and commended for their efforts. He cleverly phrased his comment so that he managed to avoid criticising his own player or the referee and instead managed to support everyone.
What I find most interesting about this statement is how it indirectly criticises Chelsea for their haranguing of Mark Clattenburg. It shows how another individual in the footballing world is on the referee’s side, after support from Sir Alex Ferguson, Martin Jol, Harry Redknapp, Neil Warnock, Arsene Wenger and the Referees’ Union. I mentioned in my last article that Chelsea were playing a very risky game in this accusation. From the way things are turning out, they look in danger of alienating themselves against the entire league!
We discovered today that Clattenburg will not be officiating any games this weekend once again. Well, I think he should! The way things are going, he’ll be given support from both sides and no-one will dare say anything negative against him so as to not add any more concerns at his feet and for fear of how it’s turning out for Chelsea.
Pardew’s comments, and the widespread backing for Mark Clattenburg, suggests that maybe, at long last, we are finding that the footballing world actually does care about referees. Who knew?