Another week has gone by with referees in the spotlight. Funny, I always thought football was supposed to be about the players.
The latest incident to hit the headlines revolved around Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Bolton’s Jlloyd Samuel at Old Trafford last weekend in the league game that Sir Alex Ferguson’s side won 2-0.
In the past Ronaldo has been labelled a diver, but on this occasion you couldn’t blame him for what happened, even though many did.
Ronaldo was running at the Bolton defence and to be fair to Samuel he produced a fantastic tackle to claim the ball.
Ronaldo lost his balance in the 50-50 challenge and fell, not on purpose in my view. He couldn’t have done anything else.
Then referee Rob Styles pointed to the spot. I imagine all the United players and all their fans were stunned by the decision.
United may have went on to win the game but clearly that was a defining moment because it was 0-0 at the time.
Obviously Bolton players were fuming and rightly so.
Rob Styles made a major mistake, simple as that. Not for the first time a referee got it wrong.
I do have sympathy with refs because they have such a difficult job, but there is a way to help them out on those massive decisions.
It’s called video evidence.
Yes, I know it is a contentious debate, but I genuinely believe that football should be using video evidence for the big calls.
Look at rugby league, rugby union and tennis.
They all use it to their advantage to get key decisions right. Football is the biggest sport in the world.
With so much at stake surely we should use any technology available to get things right.
I know there is an argument about video evidence causing too many stoppages, but I wouldn’t use it for free-kicks and throw-ins.
For starters we should go with the big penalty box decisions and take it from there.
And for goodness sake surely we should be using it to see if the ball crossed the line or not! That incident last month between Reading and Watford when Reading were given a goal when the ball went wide was astonishing.
I really felt for the Watford players when that happened because I have personal experience of not being given a goal when it was clear I had scored.
It was when I was playing for Fulham against Middlesbrough last season and I bundled the ball in a few yards over the line, yet to my amazement the goal wasn’t given.
Fulham lost that match 3-2.
Thankfully Fulham stayed up, just, but it does show you that one bad decision, which could have been corrected in say 60 seconds, can cost a side relegation or a manager his job.
With all the money in the game now it can cost a club millions and people their careers.
Video evidence is a must as far as I am concerned.
Scholes still pulls strings for United
I read recently that Sir Alex Ferguson said that Paul Scholes was the best player he had worked with at Manchester United.
That’s some compliment when you consider Sir Alex has been in charge of great players like Roy Keane, Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The problem for Ferguson and United is that over the next few months Scholes will be out of action.
That is going to be a real blow to United because Scholes tends to bring some calm and class to proceedings and of course he is renowned for scoring brilliant goals.
Something else he is renowned for is his tackling, for good and bad.
Mistimed challenge or not, you would always want him in your side.
And by his team selection this season, Sir Alex sees it that way too.
The boss will have been extremely disappointed to see Scholesy pick up such a bad injury in the Champions League and some of the gloss has been taken off a positive result.
But on the upside for United, at least Dimitar Berbatov is up and running in the goalscoring stakes.
Berbatov’s two goals in the 3-0 win over Aalborg should go a long way to seeing United qualify for the last 16.
Hopefully Scholesy will be back by then.
It’s the first of many for Keane
Liverpool are on a bit of a roll, aren’t they?
Rafa Benitez’s side were cruising in midweek when they beat PSV Eindhoven 3-1 in the Champions League.
Four more points in their group and I’d say they will be in the knockout stages.
I’m sure Benitez was pleased with the win and especially happy that Robbie Keane got off the mark. In previous columns I have written about my admiration of Keane. He is a very clever player who is appreciated by his team-mates.
And now that he has scored his first goal for Liverpool, I can see him grabbing a few more.
I always thought it was only a matter of time. Even so, I’m sure there was a great sense of relief for Robbie when he saw the ball enter the net on Wednesday night. For any striker, it is always a big moment to score your opening goal for your new club.
The best goal at Anfield though came from Steven Gerrard. You expected him to score a stunner to mark his 100th goal for Liverpool and he didn’t disappoint. He really does keep coming up with magic moments.
It wasn’t so magic for Chelsea on the same evening though when they only drew 0-0 with CFR Cluj and then Didier Drogba got injured. The Romanians were unknowns around Europe before this Champions League campiagn began but they are making a name for themselves after the win over Roma and the draw with Chelsea.