If you are called an assistant referee, try assisting the referee!

Week in week out there seems to be an abundance of decisions which are being talked about long after the games have ended. The standard of refereeing this season has been poor at best. In fact, it’s not just the referees who are making bad decisions but also the linesmen, or assistant referees as they are now called, who are not assisting the referees in anyway at all!

The latest incident came at the Emirates in the weekend’s early kick off. Arsenal huffed and puffed against a reinvigorated Hull City team and couldn’t quite blow the Tigers house down until just before half time when a huge slice of luck, or a bad refereeing decision (delete where applicable) turned the game in Arsenal’s favour. A Kieron Gibbs shot was blocked on the line and followed in by Chilean hot shot, Alexis Sanchez. With the ball ricocheting back off the unlucky Hull keeper, Sanchez bundled the ball into the back of the net and duly wheeled away in celebration. The huge appeals from City’s defenders caught the ref’s attention, who was in this case FA Cup, Champions League and Euro Championships mega star, Mark Clattenburg.

Replays showed the ball blatantly hitting Sanchez on the hand and going in, although not deliberate. I mean Alexis is good but not that good, it still struck his hand and ended up in the goal. The ball to hand, hand ball debate rages on. The assistant referee had a brilliant view of the incident but adopted the “Arsene Wenger” approach and didn’t see anything. One fan was quoted saying on Arsenal Fan TV after the game “I haven’t seen a handball that good since Henry’s against Ireland,” probably.

As the game moved into injury time an Arsenal break away led to incident number two, except this time the “accidental” handball did not go unpunished. Sam Clucas was the unfortunate recipient of a red card for stopping a goal scoring opportunity on the line with his arm. To be fair it was no more handball than Sanchez’s goal, or was it?

Mike Dean was recently relegated down to the Championship for a weekend, reasons for this are not entirely clear but some unconfirmed reports are that he hadn’t given Spurs enough penalties in their previous fixture! The one game he did officiate outside of the Premier League didn’t exactly go swimmingly either with Dean awarding Leeds United a penalty in their recent Yorkshire derby away at Barnsley. Handball was given by the underperforming whistle blower in which Leeds’ Chris Wood despatched the penalty to level the game. Closer inspection saw that the Barnsley culprit had actually handled the ball a good three to four yards OUTSIDE the area, doh!

The game is played at a frantic pace these days and human error is all part of our makeup, but that is why you have assistants, to assist. The referees at the moment are making far too many basic errors. Its time they shaped up and we got back to talking about just the football over a post-match pint.

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