Saturday, March 22, 2014

Referees, the laws of the game and fans

I left CCS today after seeing City beaten 3-6 by Liverpool with some sense of frustration, despite seeing City play perhaps some of the best football they've played for a long time.

Yes, on paper we had been walloped by one of the title contenders, but it wasn't as straightforward as that.

Having played like relegation contenders for what seems like months, the Bluebirds really took it to Liverpool in the first period, bouyed by a vocal home support, no doubt swayed by the pre-match protest march for a return to blue. Indeed, to see much of the stadium bedecked in blue scarves was a sight for sore eyes, and the fans were loud and proud.

City went ahead twice against the in form Reds. First Mutch slotted home leaving Mignolet rooted to the spot, but after only 6 minutes Suarez, inevitably, equalised. Incredibly, City went ahead again, this time, a collector's item as one of the Bluebirds strikers actually scored - Campbell. A defensive lapse (and we've seen a few of those this season) then let in Skrtel to draw the sides level at 2-2.

You sensed City would struggle to keep up the momentum in the second period, and that Liverpool would tighten up, and so it was. Liverpool's third though was wrought with controversy. In conceding a corner, two Cardiff players appeared to get injured. Although Mutch got up and shook himself down, grabbing a drink from the physio, Theophile-Catherine needed treatment. Inexplicably the referee, Neil Swarbrick, who had a poor game in my view insisted both players left the field having been "attended to" by the physio. Whilst that might be what the rule book says, the law is an ass in this scenario. Through no fault of their own therefore, City were down to 9 men, and Swarbrick then restarted play with City having to defend a corner two men light, from which Skrtel headed home.

This rule that players have to leave the pitch after getting treatment has to be looked at by those that govern football. As often as not, it's the defending team that is penalised by this ridiculous rule. Mutch & T-C were genuinely hurt by the ball, but they have to go off leaving us 9 men to defend a corner. Ludicrous. If the referee thinks a player is pulling a fast one when he goes down, just stop the bloody clock. Players would soon stop rolling around time wasting, if as soon as a player goes down the watch was stopped, and they knew that time would be made up, instead of it still being pretty much guesswork as to how much "added time" the man in black will allocate. After some of the added time I've seen given this season from supposed elite referees, I'm beginning to wonder if any of them can actually count, or know how to use a stopwatch.


When first Sturridge and then Suarez made it 5-2, it was well and truly over for the Bluebirds. Mutch grabbed a late second to make it 5-3, but the referee had one more poor decision left. In the dying minute the ball was whipped upfield to Suarez who appeared to bundle over a City player before slotting past Marshall on a 1 on 1 situation. My unshakeable belief, is that had than been Kenwynne Jones at the other end, Swarbrick would have blown for a foul.

On the downside, we conceded 6, the referee was poor and yet again we didn't get the rub of the green on any 50-50 decisions.

On the upside, we scored 3, including one from a front man, against an in form title chasing team. In addition, all the teams around us lost, so we didn't fall any further adrift, but it's very much a case of "as you were".

A further positive was the great support, and the sea of blue, which even a short-sighted arrogant man like Vincent Tan could not ignore.

Do I think we can escape the drop? If we play like we did today, against those teams we have left to play and win, most especially West Brom, Palace and Sunderland then perhaps. But that's a HUGE "if", and personally I can't see it happening.