The quality of referring in this country is at its lowest I have ever seen.
We have gone from refs being amateur to professional in an attempt to improve their quality. And more recently technology has been introduced to help them rectify mistakes. But they are worse than ever.
Should Gabriel Martinelli have received two yellow cards on Thursday? I really do not know.
I can understand the argument that he should have; in isolation both incidents were bookable offences. But then week in week out we see referees fail to issue that second yellow card; saying to a player “one more and you are off”.
There is a complete lack of consistency in the way English games are referred.
I go back to Granit Xhaka getting sent off years ago against Swansea City (I think?).
It was deemed a red card as Xhaka “made no attempt to play the ball”. I am still waiting for another player to be sent off for the same thing.
In fact, against Wolves, one of their players scythed down Martin Odergaard from behind with no attempt to play the ball. He only got booked.
Consistency is key. It allows players to know what they can and can not do – the lack of consistency is what led to the farcical end to the 2021 F1 season.
Gabriel had not been cautioned when he “took one for the team” and committed a foul that he knew would get him a yellow card. The referee then decided to caution him for the first offence, and send him off for the second.
Fair enough, if that had consistently happened before. But it doesn’t.
How often do we see referees go over to a player on a yellow and say “one more and you’re off” even though they have committed a second challenge that is worthy of a yellow card? It happens every weekend.
During the game, I questioned whether “Harry Kane would have got to yellows”. I honestly do not think he would.
There has always been a rule for English players (and the England captain) and a rule for non-English.
Too often refs treat English players like their friends. They go over and have a chat about an incident rather than reach for the card.
It is the lack of consistency that frustrates me.
If the rules are “you can be booked for two separate offences” then every time a player commits a cautionable offence and then throws his arms up in dissent, he should receive two yellow cards. One for the foul and one for the dissent.
But we know through history that the yellow for dissent will only be given if the behaviour continues after the caution.
Against Manchester City, Rodri scored a last gasp winner against us. He took his shirt off in celebration (yellow card offence). He then approached “the spectators in a manner which causes safety and/or security issues” which is also a yellow card offence.
He was not sent off, despite committing two yellow card offences.
Now I am not calling him to have been sent off. The referee used his discretion and came to a sensible conclusion. But if we are talking about the “letter of the law” and “consistency”, he should have been sent off.
Against Liverpool, Xhaka was sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity.
But then for Liverpool, against Swansea City, keeper Caoimhn Kelleher bought down a Swansea attacker with a crude challenge outside the box. He was only given a yellow.
Both incidents left the attacking player with just one player to beat to score. But one got a yellow and the other a red.
Where is the consistency?
I can accept Martinelli’s red card if at the weekend it happens again when two separate bookable incidents happen in quick succession. But we know it won’t.
In fact, I bet the next time Arsenal ply, an opponent on a yellow commits another yellow card offence and is told by the ref “one more and you’re off”.