Friday 22 January 2021

Football - Dean Smith should take a long, hard look at himself and apologise to the officials

 There are few aspects of the BT football commentary I prefer to Sky Sports, but one aspect that is a big improvement is having Peter Walton, a retired referee on the team. This means that when there is a controversial decision, he can give a referee perspective on the incident. It was interesting that during Wednesdays game, he incorrectly stated that VAR had made a mistake, not giving an offside decision against Rodri, in the build up to Bernado Silva's goal. Initially Walton stated that the ref and VAR had made a mistake. I can imagine that Villa fans up and down the country were livid, then five minutes later, Walton read the law and realised that it was him not VAR that got it wrong. Rodri's offside position had become negated when he controlled the ball, under the current version of the law. 

I can imagine how annoyed Villa fans were, especially having been initially mislead. But the Villa manager Dean Smith got himself sent off for being rude to the referee. After the match, he was still fuming. He's now received a one match ban. He feels hard done by. He shouldn't. He should have a long, hard look at himself. The ref and VAR got the decision correct, as interpreted by the laws of the game. It isn't the ref's job to make it up as he goes along. Refs are now highly paid professionals. They get paid to know and understand complex laws. Over the course of the season, with VAR, they make thousands of decisions. Last season, I  read somewhere that only seven had been technically incorrect. A manager has a right to feel aggrieved when this happens, but this rarely happens with VAR, so they should learn to behave.

As I stated, referees are highly paid now, but the likes of Dean Smith are paid far more. Football clubs are big business. It is Dean Smith's job to know the rules and to ensure that his coaching staff and players know the rules. He has clearly failed to do this. Smith claimed that only officials know the rules. His club pays specialist defensive coaches. Do they not read the rulebook, to explain to their players how rule changes affect them? If this really is the case, Smith is running a very slack regime. It is not park football.


As I watched Tyrone Mings try and control the ball, before being robbed by Rodri, I thought, as a former centre half "what is he doing?". You don't try and control the ball when you are last man with an opponent nearby. You get rid of it. On the City team, John Stones was rightly criticised last season for making 'Schoolboy errors'. These invariably included trying to be clever when the ball should have been punted into row Z. Dean Smith's team conceded because his centre half had not done the basics properly. 

I quite like Tyrone Mings, he has many of the attributes of a great centre half. He had a good game until that point. It does him no favours to try and blame the ref. Several pundits said that the rule is ridiculous. I tend to disagree. If a player has a ball under control, then it is a new phase of play. A defender should know if there is an attacker behind him. Having your pocket picked is one of the worst feelings as a defender. It is why you need to keep your wits about you. You always clear your lines as a first option. 

Villa have over achieved this season. They've had some very good results and should be pleased with the performance, if not the result. Playing against City, they were up against the technically best and most intelligent team in the league. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Rodri knew the law and knew that as soon as Mings controlled the ball it was there for the taking. You can be 100% sure that in the next PL game, all of the defenders and attackers will know that. I also couldn't really understand why Smith was complaining about the penalty. His defender had his arm well above his head. Under the modern definition, this is handball, end of story. 

When the likes of Dean Smith kicks off, it sets a poor example to young players, youth team managers and coaches. It legitimises ranting and raving when you are wrong. Smith said in response to his ban, when he'd had time to calm down "I will reluctantly accept it". That is appalling. He was 100% wrong, end of. He should man up. Whilst I could accept a 'heat of the moment' act in a tight game, his response to the ban shows that he is a very arrogant person, who simply can't accept that it is him, not the rest of the world that is wrong.

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