Monday, October 25, 2004

Referee Mike Riley Let Fiery Encounter Get Out Of Hand

On Sunday, Manchester United ended Arsenal 49-game unbeaten league streak with a 2 - 0 win at Old Trafford in front of a capacity crowd. The goals came courtesy of Ruud Van Nistelrooy from the penalty spot and Wayne Rooney.

The encounter between the biggest rivalry in the English Premiership was very fiery. In fact, it was so fiery that pushing, shoving, and reckless challenges were made throughout the proceedings. The biggest divers in English football were also exposed in this diving-fest, which was supposed to be a game of football.

Admittedly, refereeing such an intensive game would have been hard for any referee to cope, as it is hard to distinguish the facts with the constant diving that happened. However, referee Mike Riley barely controlled the game...at least in an appropriate professional way.

Rarely did Riley take out his cards to book players for various infringements of the laws of football. The inappropriate physical contact and diving was rampant because it of his insistence that he keep his cards in his pocket. If he had been strict from the start, instead of leaving it late into the first half to show three yellow cards in as many minutes, football fans the world over would have been treated to a fantastic game.

My main gripe is the penalty that the referee awarded in the second half to Manchester United, though. Arsenal defender Sol Campbell made a half-hearted challenge in the 18-yard box which did not touch teenager Wayne Rooney. Rooney tumbled over, and amazingly, although there were many other challenges worse than that during the match in the box, he pointed to the spot.

Of course, that changed the whole direction of the game. Van Nistelrooy sent Gunners goalkeeper Jens Lehmann the wrong way and Arsenal were unable to strike back in a game they did not look like losing 2 - 0 in.

Mike Riley, who has paid Manchester United seven penalty kicks in as many matches, performed poorly as a referee...an enforcer of football's rules on the pitch. He should have a look at the replay to see just how badly he refereed and view all of the obvious bookable offences he missed.

Meanwhile, Blackburn Rovers have announced that despite Arsenal not reaching an unbeaten 50 league games in a row, the Lancashire have indeed matched that record, but in another department. In their 4 - 0 loss to Chelsea on the weekend, they reached a 50 Premiership games without a penalty kick in their favour. Their last penalty was taken on April 26, 2003.

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