The honeymoon is over Howard - get a grip

Published: Monday, 20 March 2023

I am a strong supporter of Howard Webb’s. His appointment as head of our referees - replacing the hapless Mike Riley - was the best decision that’s been made by anybody in football this season.

Webb is a class act. He was a top ref and from what I hear he’s a top bloke as well, which is why people want to work with and for him. But he’s got to get a grip on his refs and the matchday centre. Turfing Riley out of the door now would help. For some reason Riley is still hanging about the PGMOL and I don’t know why.

It will take time to repair Riley’s mess, which has been 10 years in the making, but Webb has got to make a start and get a grip.

Neil Swarbrick’s departure can only be a good thing. Swarbrick is the man who’s been in charge of VAR - not a great selling point when he applies for his next job.

It’s time Riley’s patsies Mssrs Gallacher, Foy & Walton were shown the door as well. They add nothing. In fact, they only confuse and muddy already dirty waters with their pathetic excuses and cover ups for bad decisions.  I’ve said all this before. By the way - I don’t expect to see Mike Dean back in the VAR bunker ever again.

Webb made a good start, returning power to the man in the middle on match days, but too many errors are now creeping in. Wolves have every right to feel aggrieved about the decisions that have been going against them. Of course they should’ve had a pen when they were only one-down to Leeds on Saturday. If they get the pen and score it’s a very different game. Junior Firpo caught Nelson Semedo in the box. Michael Salisbury didn’t think so and David Coote sat on his hands in the VAR bunker. Why? It was clear and obvious to everybody watching - except that pair.

I agree that refs should be allowed to make the final call on decisions - but help him out for goodness sake. Coote should’ve asked his mate to look at Firpo’s challenge again. If Salisbury had seen it on a monitor he would’ve given a pen.

That’s not the only call Wolves have been annoyed about recently.

The non-decision at Newcastle the previous week was the hardest for Lopitegui to swallow. How on earth did Nick Pope stay on when he clearly fouled Raul Jiminez in the box? It was a pen and a red card. We all saw it. It was clear and obvious - but not to Andy Madley.  An independent panel sat last week and admonished Madley - but somehow cleared Tony Harrington in VAR. How? If Madley was guilty of a bad decision so was Harrington, who was surrounded by technology and had no excuses.

Briefly - pen for Blackburn in the Cup for a handball no-one appealed for - yet nothing at Villa for an identical offence. Errors like these can’t keep being made.

Wolves have every right to feel aggrieved by their treatment. What a terrible shame it would be if these errors cost a club their place in the PL again. Yes - again. Have we forgotten Sheffield United scoring at Villa in a crucial relegation battle in 2020? A goal should’ve been given when Villa‘s ‘keeper Orjan Nyland fumbled Oliver Norwiod’s fk and the ball clearly went over the line. Riley blamed Hawk-eye because ref Michael Oliver’s watch didn’t signal ‘goal’. It was a scandal of monumental proportions. We didn’t need Hawk-eye. We all knew it was in. Everybody watching knew it was in. Everybody in the ground knew it was in. Riley claimed VAR couldn’t get involved because it contravened working practices. Bollocks. They all fucked up - Villa eventually stayed up and United went down.

Let’s not allow it to happen again. Get control Howard. We’re slipping backwards.

Having berated some - let’s give Chris Kavanagh credit for his handling of a shambles all of Fulham’s making at OT. What were they thinking? Never has a team been more guilty of tossing away a match. Ninety seconds of madness cost them. Kavanagh was terrific and got every call right - including denying Mitrovic a pen in the first half, the incident that sparked Marco Silva’s fury. Silva thought Kavanagh should’ve been asked to check his monitor when Mitrovic and the wee man clashed in the box. If Kavanagh had done he wouldn’t have changed his mind, but perhaps a look would’ve satisfied Silva?

Mitrovic should be banned for some time for his ridiculous attack on the ref. What was going through his mind? The way United were playing I’d have fancied Fulham to beat them with 10 anyway. Sending Willian off only evened things up. United only had 10 on. You can’t count Weghorst.

When he lost control Mitrovic cost Fulham any chance of winning the game.

It was an irony that Fernandes got a couple because he should be serving a ban. I still don’t know how he escaped an FA charge after he man-handled the assistant at Anfield. The FA were weak and should’ve charged him. My Mum used to tell me that ‘you reap what you sow’. The FA certainly did this weekend.

And the BBC certainly did last weekend. I don’t want to get into Lineker-gate again - the BBC and their army of striking sports staff deserve each other and I had my say on the subject last week - but I want to add a brief word. Well done Robbie Savage for making up the lost wages of back room colleagues who missed a days pay - through no fault of their own - during last weekend’s debacle. That was my major concern. Never mind the protests of the millionaire pundits who followed each other in their lemming-like protests - over something they should never have got involved with - it was the workers further down the food chain that I was bothered about. 

Savage made up the lost wages of people that should’ve been working on his show six-o-six. Well done Rob. I hope your gesture moves others to follow and do the same thing. They clearly don’t have minds of their own so let’s hope they follow the leader again.

And finally….. Would someone please put Antonio Conte out of his misery? How dare Spurs pay him £13m/year only to frustrate him as they do? It’s a disgrace. The poor guy has only spent close on £100m only to take their team - er……nowhere.

Was it Daniel Levy’s fault that Conte sent a weakened team to Sheffield United to get beaten? Come off it. They could’ve been playing in a 1/4-final yesterday but Conte tossed it off at Bramall Lane. The defeat was his fault - nobody else’s. Would we have fancied them to beat Blackburn? Of course we would.

So shut up Antonio. The last time I checked no-one was holding a gun to your head insisting you stay at Spurs. Perhaps United dodged a bullet after all?