You were reffing abysmal

Neil AdamsWhere do you start when trying to sum up the performance of the officials at Tranmere on last Friday? I think one word will suffice. 'Abysmal'.Neil Adams

Where do you start when trying to sum up the performance of the officials at Tranmere on last Friday?

I think one word will suffice. 'Abysmal'.

First things first. We have to accept that it's not the easiest of tasks getting every call correct when they have to make split second decisions and without the luxury of several slow motion replays.

However, I'm sure that everyone was still staggered beyond belief at the incompetence those three officials displayed at Prenton Park.

Even the Tranmere fans that I stood alongside while watching TV replays in one of the lounges at half-time were laughing when they witnessed what their side had just got away with.

It was definitely ball to Darel Russell's hand and not the other way around for their first goal. Ian Thomas-Moore executed a dive that was so perfect it would have made young Olympian Tom Daley proud for the second goal. He deliberately moved towards Fraser Forster and was already going to ground before any contact - if there was any - was made.

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And the third goal? Well, every man and his dog could see that Craig Curran almost caught the ball before he scored.

And as for the referee sending Paul Lambert to the stands for merely trying to get the game restarted quickly, well, you'd have thought a quick warning to the City boss not to encroach on the pitch again would have more than sufficed given the nature of the game?

After all, it's not the first time a manager has strayed from his technical area, yet I've never seen a ref send someone to the stands for doing so before.

Then again, this referee seemed incapable of applying a bit of common sense like some of the others, didn't he?

Aside from the three awful decisions that cost City the game, the referee just didn't seem in control of the game at all. He was very hesitant and didn't seem to have a decisive bone in his body. He was weak beyond belief.

It was an embarrassingly bad performance, but thankfully one that shouldn't really affect the outcome of the Canaries' season at all after they returned to winning ways on Monday.

Just another eight points are required now to guarantee that City will be playing Championship football again next season. Which means of course that it could be achieved at The Valley of all places.

And after last season's debacle down there, I can't think of a better place for it to happen.

t There are so many City players who will be able to look back on this 2009-10 campaign and feel that they produced the goods.

None more so that Grant Holt.

The big City target man became the first player to score 30 goals in a season for City for 46 years on Monday, and he now has Terry Allcock's all-time record of 37 goals in a single season in his sights.

Holt has been magnificent this season. In addition to working like a Trojan every minute he has been on the pitch and making sure that opposition defences know that they have been in a game, he has hit the back of the net with left foot, right foot and head with some aplomb on a regular basis. He would be the first to acknowledge the tremendous service he has received from his team-mates, but he has made the art of scoring goals his forte.

And that's primarily because not only he is a damn good finisher, but also because he maintains his composure when presented with a goalscoring opportunity.

He doesn't panic or 'snatch' at chances in front of goal as so many strikers often do.

It's still a tall order for him to grab another seven goals in these final six matches to match Allcock's record, but I certainly wouldn't put it past him.


I draw the line at some reporters hailing Cesc Fabregas as some sort of human marvel after he took a penalty and then limped around for five minutes or so with a 'broken leg' against Barcelona last week.

Fair do's, Fabregas would have been in a bit of pain and he deserves credit for staying on the pitch to try to help his team-mates. But he only had a very small hairline crack in his fibula. It wasn't exactly a clean break. His leg wasn't flapping around, was it?

Think I'm being harsh?

Nah. I once played with a broken foot for 74 minutes for the Canaries. Okay, maybe it was just a small crack in a metatarsal - (reports of it making no difference whatsoever to my performance are not true!) - but I played on with it nonetheless. And as you all know, I wasn't exactly up there on a par with the likes of Chopper Harris when it came to gritting the teeth and playing on through the pain barrier for the cause!

Didn't Bert Trautmann once play on with a broken neck for heaven's sake?

No, I'm sorry. Fabregas' injury was little more than a scratch by comparison.

And don't get me started on Wayne Rooney with his ever-so-slightly-sprained ankle…

They don't know they're born these days!


I see that Tony Pulis has been getting himself in a bit of a flap this week at accusations of his Stoke side being a long ball team.

He reacted to comments by Roberto Mancini after the two sides met at the Britannia Stadium last week, when the Manchester City boss said that whenever you play against Stoke the ball is 'always in the air.'

Pulis was quick to point out that statistics suggests otherwise.

He shouldn't have bothered.

In fact he should take any disparaging comments that are directed at him or his team and use them to his advantage. Just like Wimbledon did all those years ago.

Wimbledon were widely regarded as being the most physically intimidating side there was, and they were only happy to be perceived that way. They actually played up to it in the media.

People forgot that they actually had some good footballers in their team - players like Alan Cork, Nigel Winterburn and Dennis Wise - as the whole Crazy Gang culture perpetuated. But when visiting sides would arrive at their old Plough Lane ground with spare sets of underwear in their kitbags, they knew that they had cleverly used the way they were perceived to maximum effect.

It was similar with Liverpool, when there was all that nonsense in the late 70s and early 80s about trying to find out what their secret training ground methods were.

The fact was there weren't any. Never had been. I was speaking to Phil Thompson who was their first team coach at the time one day, and he laughed when I jokingly asked him what he thought about it all.

'Oh yeah,' he said. 'Everyone thinks we have some sort of secrets here. But if we do, somebody has forgot to tell me about them. All I do know is that we have some very good players, we play five-a-side almost everyday and we encourage our players to pass and move. That's about it . . . but we're in no rush to put the record straight!'

Joe Royle routinely played up to the 'plastic-pitch-is-awful-to-play-on' ethos when we romped to promotion at Oldham.

For whatever reason, if opposition teams are either moaning at you, praising you or simply showing signs that something is bothering them it means that they are concerned, so why stop them?

It might be the best policy for the Canaries to adopt next season.

Because - assuming that the team does secure promotion in the next few weeks - some people might tip us to do very well in the Championship. Then again others might think that we'll struggle in the second tier again.

It matters not really.

Whatever opinion might be, let's just keep our mouths shut and let everyone else speculate.