Belfast Telegraph

Referees not picture perfect but managers need to keep their powder dry

By Graham Luney

If there's one issue which gets fans hot under the collar it's refereeing. It's a debate that keeps cropping up in the Irish League.

Sometimes I watch referees and despair... but before our local whistlers choke on their bran flakes I'm talking about refs at a much higher level.

It you're an honest Manchester United fan you will admit that Javier Hernandez was fortunate to stay on the pitch and score the winner against Stoke City on Saturday.

The Mexican was only shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Robert Huth but his foot was high, he missed the ball and caught the man... he could have walked.

Meanwhile, in the El Clásico and with Real Madrid trailing 1-0 at the time, Cristiano Ronaldo went to ground in the box under pressure from Barcelona's Javier Mascherano.

Contact was made, but the referee waved play on. It was a stonewall penalty.

Back in the Premiership on Sunday and Tottenham were fortunate to be awarded their penalty against Hull City... game over.

Our refs are still coming under fire from managers.

Glens boss Eddie Patterson had a right go at Mervyn Smyth on the BBC's Final Score programme while Warrenpoint Town boss Barry Gray was critical of Tim Marshall at Seaview.

I was at Seaview on Saturday and while Gray was angry with Marshall after the game it was the Crusaders players and supporters who felt the official was making poor judgment calls.

So who was right? Is the beautiful game simply made up of ugly, biased opinions.

Marshall sent off Town's Stephen Moan following his heavy challenge on Paul Heatley and I thought he called that one right. Referees' chief Alan Snoddy was looking on and agreed, pointing out that it was a totally unnecessary challenge from Moan.

At the Oval, Patterson referred to refereeing decisions as "farcical" but Smyth saw Stephen McAlorum place his foot on Cliftonville's Chris Curran – photographic evidence confirms this – and in the referee's opinion there was intent.

Eddie's view may not have changed since the weekend but there's always a danger that when managers are asked for their views straight after the heat of battle they can say something which lands them in trouble. Try counting to 10.

On the other hand, well done to Mervyn Smyth for speaking to the press at the Oval – we can only understand the thinking of refs when they explain their decisions.

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