Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Alan Green: Foy’s follies exposed a lack of common sense refereeing

Referee Chris Foy is surrounded by Manchester City players

As far as I’m concerned ‘consistency’ and ‘common sense’ are not mutually exclusive in terms of referees.

Look, I have the utmost respect for Dermot Gallagher. I wish he was still blowing his whistle in the Premier League. So I listened when he said of Vincent Kompany’s challenge on Sunday that “in the current climate, it was reckless and dangerous.”

But who, aside from the imaginary card-brandishing Wayne Rooney — doesn’t he have enough to be going on with? — didn’t wish for something other than a red?

You could tell from Chris Foy’s immediate body language that he wanted to make a ‘statement’ but shouldn’t it have been to produce a yellow and then firmly say in the Manchester City captain’s ear “that could’ve been red; you’ve been warned.”

As it was, it altered the game dramatically, albeit much to the enjoyment of us neutrals. I’d go further: it ‘spoilt’ it. And Foy’s performance went from bad to worse.

He should have awarded two further penalties. I’m convinced he chickened out on Aleksandar Kolarov’s obvious foul on Antonio Valencia merely to ‘even things up’ after the sending-off.

On the other hand, the Phil Jones’ hand-ball was down simply to refereeing incompetence.

And how he didn’t punish Michael Carrick for either of his two clear yellow card offences is beyond explanation. Foy had a nightmare.

Why aren’t these guys allowed to ‘think’? Why must they be hamstrung by instructions to strictly adhere to the laws even when, in this case, the law is an ass? Must we go further and banish tackling altogether? That’s where we are headed.

Ah, but what a game! There were so many stories any one of which could have provided the headline.

The ITV floor manager, bless him, came up to our radio position before kick-off to tip us off that Paul Scholes was on the bench. I thought I hadn’t heard him correctly: “who?”

We can probably disagree as much about this as we likely do about Kompany’s tackle.

I don’t think it is ‘smart’ of Sir Alex to resurrect the 37 year-old; rather it smacks of a somewhat desperate short-term measure rather than properly sorting out the centre of his midfield.

The United manager doesn’t like to buy in January when, he feels, you get poor value for money but surely it’s worth a punt on Cheick Tiote who ran United ragged last week at St. James’ Park. If United want him, they’d get him.

Did the win at the Etihad restore belief at Old Trafford in terms of holding on to the league title? Not if you examine too closely how poorly they played after half-time when they had a great opportunity to rub it in to a City side re-vamped in favour of damage limitation.

How quickly will City themselves recover?

In time for tomorrow night’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg?

That will be another fascinating game for you to watch and me to commentate on.

Liverpool can’t be as bad as they were last week and City will probably still feel ‘weakened’. I can’t wait.

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