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Time to put officials in the picture? - 05/09/2003

Maybe it is time for television evidence to be used against match officials. The video is usually out quickly to highlight an incident when players do something wrong. Why shouldn’t we be using it to analyse decisions made by referees and their assistants?

There has to be a case for it, given what we saw in our game against Cardiff City at Ninian Park. Referee Neale Barry sent two of our players off last season and his popularity among Derby supporters did not improve when he gave Cardiff a first-half penalty and showed Candido Costa the red card minutes later. But it was Cardiff’s third and fourth goals that still have me shaking my head. How the linesman could not give offside on the third goal amazed me.

I have watched the incident in freeze frame over and over again and I’m still not 100 per cent certain who played the ball back for Alan Lee, who was 15 yards offside, to set up Robert Earnshaw to score. Was it Matt Svensson or a Cardiff player? Yet the linesman was 60 yards or so away and was 100 per cent sure it came off Matty’s foot. He must have some eyesight. Talk about x-ray vision. Then to cap it all, Ian Taylor looked like he had made a great goal-line clearance for their fourth goal but the linesman said that all of the ball had crossed the line. If you look at the video, the linesman does not appear to be in the right position to make that decision. He still looks to be two or three steps from the corner flag.

It was a very strange game. We were in control of the situation for 30 minutes, playing well and had quietened the home crowd, as you have to at places like Cardiff. Then they got a freak first goal when a cross from Alan Lee went straight in. People may look at Lee Grant on the goal but I don’t think he could do much about it. When the team is having a bad time, incidents and decisions like we saw at Cardiff tend to go against you. We discovered that last season and the only thing you can do is display the character to come through the bad patches.

A real pleasure

You’ve got to fancy Real Madrid in the Champions League. I saw the second leg of their Spanish Super Cup tie against Real Mallorca and they were a pleasure to watch. If you are a player or keen follower of the game you cannot fail to appreciate some of the simple stuff they do. It is not necessarily about the back-heels and flicks, which are great for the fans, but it is the passing and the weight and quality of passes that catch the eye.

It would be marvellous to have a season ticket at the Bernabeu Stadium but I’m not sure I’d like to be on the front row of the fourth tier. You’d need good eyes to see the action from there. Maybe such a seat would suit the linesman we had at Cardiff!

Derby Evening Telegraph

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