In the first few weeks of the Premier League fans often become embroiled in the excitement it brings, the breathless updates begin again and fans often amuse themselves with preposterous talk of a European finish for their club. The thrills and spills of English football are of course what make it so beautiful; the fluctuation from elation to disappointment so gripping but as it begins to blossom referees inconsistency rears its ugly head once more.
Those at Molineux on Saturday will have been irritated somewhat as Matthew Jarvis was hauled down inside the box by Newcastle’s James Perch – that feeling will have no doubt being intensified when referee Kevin Friend awarded Bolton a spot-kick for what he perceived to be a push from Birmingham’s Roger Johnson.
If they are not enough, perhaps Martin Skrtel dragging West Brom’s Jonas Olsson or Damien Duff’s “handball” at Craven Cottage highlights the sort of decisions which detract away from the splendour of the Premier League.
It seems that referees are lost between following the “letter of the law” and using their common sense to make game changing decisions and when they get it wrong it is often the main focus of discussion at full-time. Clattenburg, Dean and Wiley amongst others are now known by fans’ nationwide for all the wrong reasons when in theory, the majority of games should see them go unnoticed and the action itself take centre stage.
Of course referees are going to make mistakes now and again but does the league often touted as the best in the world not deserve consistency from its officials?
Unfortunately, the kind of controversies we have become accustomed to will continue as officials revel in the spotlight thrust upon them after a dodgy penalty or an ill-judged sending off, their alleged incompetence continuing to frustrate.
And, any complaints such as Sir Alex Ferguson’s who believed that Alan Wiley “was not fit enough for a game of that standard” are likely to fall on deaf ears with managers having to pay the usual fines for speaking out.
This is simply a gross denial that the Premier League must address the inconsistency problem which for me hampers the undisputed quality with which football is played in this country.
What we have seen so far may well be a glimpse into the rest of season, an indicator to just how influential the men in the middle have become in recent years.