Hindsight is still pointing to the arrival of retrospective action

Vincent Kompany plays on despite what appears to be a foul on Bradley Johnson in the build up to Manchester City's second goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Vincent Kompany plays on despite what appears to be a foul on Bradley Johnson in the build up to Manchester City's second goal. Picture: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images

Monday, January 21, 2013
10:34 AM

Vincent Kompany’s red card against Arsenal – rescinded two days later – wasn’t only annoying because he is in my fantasy league team, although that was certainly a big part of it.

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Just saying…

• I guess refereeing controversy may have been welcome at Carrow Road on Saturday, given how poor the game was. The quality on show in those 90 minutes was frighteningly bad for a Premier League match. Both sides were guilty of giving the ball away once every four passes. If Newcastle didn’t have a load of players to come back, I’d be musing over a repeat of their 2009 relegation – two wins in 13 league games says they’re struggling and now it looks like they’re being outdone by QPR in the transfer market. As for City, I’m happy to put it down as a rare Carrow Road off day – and looking at the remaining fixtures, no doubt it’ll be Carrow Road where City need to perform from here until the end of the season.

• Blackburn continue to be a laughing stock – yet they’re much better off in the Championship table than Wolves and Bolton, even though they’re all in the bottom half. Clearly it gets no easier falling out of the top flight.

• Jonathan Walters. That is all.

As was instantly noted by Norwich City fans, the tackle that earned him his marching orders from Mike Dean at Arsenal on Sunday was as bad – if that – as the one deemed perfectly fine by Mike Jones at Carrow Road just after Christmas.

It was a goal that led to the visitors’ second in the opening five minutes, and ultimately to the their 4-3 victory.

Rather randomly, Kompany’s red also brought a boisterous exchange on my Facebook page – one almost certainly repeated elsewhere – as to whether fans prefer such refereeing controversies, inconsistencies and weekly frustrations because it makes the game a more lively place. For me, that’s insulting their intelligence.

There is more than enough that goes on with teams’ and players’ performances, tactics, signings and other more noteworthy incidents and discussion points in the game to feel a reliance on referees’ mistakes – given they are still denied the helping hand they both need and deserve.

No, I bet that’s far from what most supporters think. Instead, it says a whole lot more about the officials running the game.

The truth of the matter is there are plenty of simple measures that could come in with minimal expense, fuss and even thought, and would make drastic strides in easing some of the ridiculous officialdom that seems to swarm football more than any other sport.

Diving is one major issue – with Jay Rodriguez’s trip over a strong low-flying jet stream at Villa Park forcing the problem back into the limelight at the weekend. The solution isn’t even a secret: retrospective action taken by a panel that could include a couple of ex-professionals – there are plenty of them around – to decide how much of a dive something is.

Bans should follow. Diving would stop. Certainly the problem would be eased.

And that’s it. Hardly rocket science or controversial. I fail to see how the game wouldn’t benefit from it, providing it was a reasonably transparent.

Maybe that’s the stumbling point, if assistant referee John Brooks is anything to go by. Having seen through Sunday’s game at The Emirates, the official was caught telling Joleon Lescott and Joe Hart “they’ve paid 62 quid over there, go and see them”, to make sure they thanked the travelling support – that probably didn’t go down well with Arsenal.

Brooks was taken off FA Cup duty tonight as a result, apparently to keep him out of the limelight.

Given speaking to officials is strictly off-limits for the media, it only comes across as punishment. It also expresses football’s issue with transparency.

Soon all that expensive goalline technology will be brought into Premier League games.

Yet – and I’ve said this before – stick an extra official at matches with a TV feed and direct communication to the referee, and the quality of how matches would be officiated would skyrocket.

At that point would football fans really be left with little to talk about and a huge vacuum to be filled by something else? Hardly.

In fact, Kompany’s red card was controversial because it was a close call – not because it was wrong; even post-overturning.

No. All a few changes would do is make refereeing modern day football a plausible job – better late than never.

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