For football fans up and down the country, tuning into live televised matches is a similar experience.
We watch the game, then wait for the post match reaction.
What will the manager think of the sending off which cost his side the game? Or the penalty his team were awarded which shouldn’t have been given?
The answers are often so predictable that I wonder what the point is of bothering to ask in the first place.
We all see certain things differently and even to two experts, each watching from a neutral perspective, there can be different conclusions on the same incident.
It’s true also that a degree of bias comes into play as supporters. We want to see our team shown in a positive light and will play down, as much as we can, anything which could result in a negative view on our club. For the most part, managers are no different.
But every now and then, incidents occur on the pitch over which there should be no disagreements.
On the opening day of the season, Luis Suarez was fouled by Sunderland’s Kieran Richardson whilst in the process of rounding the keeper. It almost certainly was to result in an opening Liverpool goal. Richardson was shown only a yellow card, and that was a good decision according to his manager Steve Bruce, despite almost everyone else in football concluding that Sunderland should have been down to ten men.
And this weekend saw Alan Hutton’s horrendous lunge on Shane Long, which left the West Brom striker in a heap on the floor, and potentially out of action for a significant period of time. A scan later this week will reveal the full extent of the damage.
Hutton was not even booked, and was fiercely defended by his manager Alex McLeish after the game. Not only was it an ugly challenge at normal speed, but from every possible TV angle it looked no better. Hutton left the ground in a reckless manner which could quite easily have broken at least one, if not both of Shane Long’s legs.
There was no possible defence of the challenge. It should have been a straight red card.
Referees get decisions wrong in every game, and managers are within their rights to point out the big decisions which wrongly went against and could have had a big influence on the whole outcome of the match. It would be nice to see them being equally honest and open about any breaks which had clearly gone in their own team’s favour, whenever they occur. It would make a change from listening to yet another manager with a rose tinted “nothing went for us, and everything went against us” attitude.
Later in the Aston Villa v West Brom match, there was a controversial red card which went against Aston Villa. McLeish argued that it shouldn’t have been shown. He was right to question it. By defending Hutton, and by his defence of the indefensible, McLeish had already ensured that he wouldn’t be getting any sympathy from neutrals.