I’ve been meaning to write a piece on the favourable treatment of star England internationals for a while now. It has irritated me for ages that certain players are treated exceptionally leniently both by referees, who give them more chances than others, and by Match of the Day, who often fail to even show said incidents that they would cover in detail if it fitted their agenda better.
We all know about the ridiculous amount of dissent Rooney gets away with, the sort that others would be carded for in an instant, while Terry is another who escapes punishment both for dissent and wild tackles. The list goes on.
Yesterday’s first half was highlighting my point perfectly. Gerrard first slammed the ball into a prone Bosingwa after play had stopped, in a very similar incident to one that Delap saw red for only the previous day. Fast forward 24 hours, and it was deemed not even worthy of a booking. To me, both incidents should’ve seen yellow, so in my view both referees got the decisions wrong. Later, Gerrard would fly in with a wild challenge that Kalou hurdled, before showing dissent that a foul was even given. Finally, he got his well deserved yellow for another of his dives.
Compare that to his teammate, Mascherano, who was booked for a completely innocuous challenge early in the game, severely stunting his ability to tackle for the rest of the match. The disparity in treatment of two players alongside each each in midfield was remarkable.
And then, Mike Riley completely wrecked my point in the second half by sending Lampard off for a tackle that was barely a foul. The ball was off the ground, he took in cleanly, and the only way it could have been deemed a foul was for the showing of he studs. A red card was just plain wrong. The tackle was in fact identical to Gerrard’s, except Lampard got ball and man, and Gerrard missed everything. Does that make the tackle better or worse? Riley then made his only decent decision of the day, booking Terry for (understandable, this time) dissent.
The ref still had time to get another big decision wrong, when he completely ignored Bosingwa deliberately putting his studs into Benayoun’s back and driving him off the pitch. Quite how it wasn’t even a yellow is beyond me, but perhaps that is a blessing in disguise – as Riley did not act on it, the FA now has the opportunity to review the incident and ban him. They should.
So perhaps yesterday wasn’t a case of Riley favouring certain individuals. Perhaps it was just a case of him being an utterly hopeless referee. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said that about him, and honestly have no idea why he is still officiating in the Premiership. If he is among the best we have, we’re in trouble.