The other shoe finally dropped.
The Premiership banned Sir Alex Ferguson for two games and fined him £20,000 for his 3 October criticism of referee Alan Wiley’s fitness. He was also warned about his future conduct with a futher 2 match ban hanging over his head (it’s been suspended, kind of like a suspended sentence in the justice system).
I suppose it was inevitable that he would be banned. A lot of media outlets criticized him after he singled out Wiley which was, indeed, a stupid thing to do. Others said it was typical of Sir Alex at Old Trafford, in that he creates a deliberately hostile atmosphere there in order to get the benefit of the doubt. While I don’t think it goes that far – it would be far better to suck up to the refs, like NBA coaches do – I do think refs are influenced by the home crowd.
That is not to say that the referees do a bad job; indeed, most referees are remarkably effective given the game’s speed. I would say, in a highly un-scientific manner, that 95% of the time, they get the call right. However, the calls they miss tend to be blatently obvious. Look at Jonny Evans’ drop kick to Didier Drogba’s chest last week. That should have been a red card, if we’re all being honest.
Perhaps the laws of the game should be changed to allow assistant referees to card players. Or maybe a 5th referee can watch from above and call down to the on-pitch referee if a card is warranted. Those are both half-formed ideas but the point is to help out refs to get the calls right.
In any event, Sir Alex is done for 2 (or 4) matches. Hopefully he’ll handle his criticism in a more tactful manner next time.