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Terry’s Baggies Blog

REFFIN’ HELL

29-01-2009

Saturday sees Albion facing a relegation crunch against Hull, but Terry Wills is still getting over an abject refereeing performance during the Baggies mideweek match against Manchester United.

Jan 24th 2009- Tony Mowbray- Birmingham Mail. “Our season starts here”

Well seeing as Mogga’ saw fit to utter these thoughts PRIOR to the Burnley Cup game, it was plain that along with every Baggies supporter, that a home win against a ‘Fizzy Pop’ League side COULD see a fresh start to a season that early on promised so much, but now due to a combination of circumstances, could climax in a truly fraught situation.

AND based on the performance shown against Burnley THAT is a genuine possibility.

With a starting line up shorn of central defenders. Players who started although not fully fit, yet another, Jonathan Greening, hobbling off with what turns out to be the umpteen knee ligament injury, the game could be seen as a ‘near enough’ repeat of the 3rd Round home game against Peterborough.

Burnley, looking sharp and brimming with confidence, took the lead with what MUST be described as a penalty award that only their Manager would have seen as being a spot-kick.

A tremendous long range ‘screamer’ from in form Robert Koren followed by a Kim deflected free kick second goal on the stroke of half- time, gave the Baggies a somewhat fortunate lead, and from then on, despite the Clarets arguably looking the more likely winners, it was only the woeful, no appalling, finishing from Roman Bednar in particular that denied Albion a definite place in the 5th Round draw.

Enter the late goal syndrome. Remember the Posh game (?) a ball played down the left flank, Paul Robinson AGAIN having joined the list of ‘Missing Persons’, the ball crossed and Scott Carson looking suitably bemused as fished the ball out of the net knowing the team, and we fans, were set to endure another desperately unwanted replay at Turf Moor on what’s sure to be a frantic, frenetic, cold night in Lancashire. UGH!

Not much to enthuse over. Jay Simpson. Well worth his ‘Man of the Match Award’ –Scott Carson a sound ‘shot stopper’ Pele, sound, and Robert Koren, as ever, willing to give 100% effort.

Minus points? Too many for comfort. Robbo’ and Carl Hoefkens, marked space but not their opponent, Roman Bednar, always willing but negated by that awful finishing, etc. Certainly a game to forget and as for the chances of winning the replay at Turf Moor ….?! .

On to THE important game against that seemingly unstoppable runaway ‘steam roller’ known as Salford (whoops mistake) Manchester United.

With the Reds having gone 10 games without conceding a goal and the Baggies out of sorts, my realistic pre match forecast was a sobering 3-0 defeat.

So WHAT can I say without being accused of seeing the game through Blue and White striped glasses?

First: without a shadow of doubt United were a class apart, not surprising when just one, of any number of their players, cost more than the entire Albion squad.

Second: Laughingly pre match the national media were stressing that United were ‘forced’ to field a ‘below strength’ team simply because Wayne Rooney was unavailable! (Conveniently omitting to mention that out of Albion’s squad of 27 players no less than 10 were missing due to injuries!

Third, and in the opinion of many pundits, not just Albion fans, was the ‘PERFORMANCE’ of the smirking, arrogant, self-opiniated, biased, (no apologies for holding this long held opinion) ‘I must be the centre of attention’ referee Rob Styles.

Yes the Baggies would still have lost, so superior were United, but I’m equally sure that if Mr Styles hadn’t attempted to break the Olympic 100 metre sprint record at the same time as he was frantically searching for his much loved and coveted red card to despatch Paul Robinson at a rate of knots, then it would have been a less embarrassing reverse.

That not only transformed what up to then had been an enjoyable game, with the Baggies, despite being a goal down, proving worthy opponents for the Premiership, European, and World Champions, but it literally poisoned the atmosphere and never have I heard any crowd feeling so frustrated, bitter, and ANGRY at any Official.

That decision to all intents changed the game from a contest to a ‘stroll in the park’ for United. Even the United players appeared surprised, some appeared to be offering sympathetic words of consolation, while at the same time the smirking Mr Styles waved away protests with the air of a schoolmaster admonishing a class of ‘naughty’ pupils.

The benchmark had been well and truly set. Any hint of frustration or disagreement at this apology of a Referee immediately being punished with a yellow card. Yes the players should have known better, shouldn’t have reacted as they did, but you know what, if it had been me I’d have felt like hitting him! (And I’m a strictly non-violence thinking individual!)

Under the circumstances it’s difficult to be subjective regarding the game itself.

World-class players, which United have in abundance, against a team struggling at the foot of the table invariably produces the expected result.

Albion always attempted to play football, as is Tony Mowbray’s wont, but whenever a promising situation broke down the frightening pace of the Reds counter attacking was frightening.

Criticising individuals after such a game is probably unfair but the manner of the second goal again left the Scott Carson doubters pointing the finger at another goalkeeping howler. Was he obstructed, was he fouled, was he unlucky?

Possibly but in saying that he did ‘softly’ drop the ball to present a gift-wrapped goal to a team that didn’t need any additional help.

A final comment on Rob Styles. Throughout the game he constantly smiled and chatted to United players. He conveniently chose to ignore any possible infringements. Allowed Ronaldo to wave his arms in disgust if he felt a decision had gone against him, allowed the same player to stay on the pitch when he should have gone off for treatment and at the end of the game dutifully received post match ‘Thank You’s from a mass of red shirted players.

Now it’s back to reality and Saturday’s game at Hull. A vital game which bearing in mind Mogga’s comment “Our season starts here” on January 24th can more truthfully be transcribed to January 31st.

A win or draw and we’ll still be in there striving to beat the odds against relegation but another defeat, on the back of the back of the Burnley and United drubbing would be a shattering blow to morale.

‘Stirrer’ readers may think I’ve been unfair in damning officials who admittedly DO have an unenviable job, and perhaps it’s unfair to suggest their decisions favour teams such as the likes of Manchester United?

If so cast your mind back to a game between Bolton and United earlier in the season. United were awarded a penalty. Bolton protested vehemently all to no avail of course. Ronaldo scored. United went on to win the game. Another three points in the bag.

Subsequently after rigorous prolonged protests the referee admitted he’d made a mistake, his decision was wrong, and he apologised to Gary Megson and his team.

And unless I’m mistaken he was ‘removed’ from the list of officials chosen to officiate in the following weeks Premiership games.

His name?….. Rob Styles!’

“Come on you Baggies”.

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