Last week on Match of the Day, Gary Lineker and the other pundits discussed the idea that more managers should look to Manuel Pellegrini for an example of how to react to unfair refereeing decisions.
After Manchester City’s match against Burnley, Pellegrini chose not to blast Andre Marriner for his calls, but instead keep quiet. So are the pundits right? Can managers learn more from Pellegrini?
Simply put, no. Many fans took to Twitter to remind Lineker of the numerous times in which Pellegrini has complained about the referees, such as earlier in the season in Manchester City’s loss to Arsenal. At the time, the Chilean was fuming with Mike Dean for awarding them a penalty which, in his opinion, cost them the game. Last weekend, however, Pellegrini chose not to comment and it was nice to see a manager accepting that referees are only human and can make mistakes.
Managers in the Premier League such as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger are known for taking out their anger at the end of games and blaming the referees for decisions. Just last month Mourinho went on a ridiculous rant about four decisions Michael Atkinson made in Chelsea’s match against Burnley. He even went as far as to say that bad refereeing decisions will prevent his team from winning the title this season.
While Pellegrini’s decision not to comment on the mistakes was an unusual one, it was an important change. Other managers can’t really look to him to compare with themselves – there have been far too many instances where he, like every other manager, has had a go at a decision which went against him. It was important however because, for once, referees were given a bit of leeway.
When things don’t go their way, managers in the heat of the moment tend to forget that referees are bound to make mistakes, too. There will always be a least one decision in every game which didn’t go the right way or the referee made a bad call and sometimes these decisions have greater consequences than others.
Managers should stop blaming the referees for their mistakes, they are an important part of the game and the game has become much more technical than when it first started. There is a lot more referees have to look for and they cannot be in every part of the pitch at once.
After the World Cup, Howard Webb urged managers to stop using referees as a scapegoat for defeats. Speaking to journalists at the time he said, “In football there is an element of blame culture. There’s a scapegoat searched for in certain situations and often that’s the referee.” Sadly, no one listened. As we have gone through the season manager after manager has blamed the referees for their teams’ losses.
Let us hope that Pellegrini has had a change of heart and finally decided blaming the referees is an easy escape route. It is time for managers to realise sometimes they get it wrong as well, it is not always the referee’s fault. Do I think they will listen? No!