Referees have it easy, dont they? They hover behind football managers who time and again find themselves awkwardly standing face-to-face with a journalist post-match having to explain another controversial decision made by those in black (sometimes blue, or green, occasionally orange) that has occurred on the pitch. Last night it was Birmingham City general Alex McLeish’s turn to do so and explain just why referee Kevin Friend awarded his side a 77th minute penalty – which Craig Gardner scored to make it 2-2 against Man City, which was the final score – after striker Kevin Phillips fell inside the box after a collision with Patrick Vieira.
In a situation like this, those in question can 1) provide an in-depth analysis of why it was a penalty by saying, “For me that is a penalty because Kevin turned Vieira, has flicked the ball past him, and Vieira has clattered into him”; 2) add a bit of rhetoric to your case, “How is that not a foul?”; and if that doesn’t work and you start to panic 3) say something irrelevant like that your player who was involved in the incident is some sort of a saint or, better still, that “He is a true English gent”.
McLeish, who by the way never lies because he is a true Scottish lad who eats haggis and drinks Im Bru while wearing a kilt, decided to use all three in his defence of Phillips. Because if you were still unsure as to whether he did in fact dive – which, i must add, i don’t – with the first two replies, surely, being told the accused wears a top hat, sips port, has good table manners and is an all-round courteous young fellow is all the proof you need to see that the man is innocent, I tell you!
Too bad Cesc Fabregas isn’t English, hey Wenger? Maybe you could try a true Spanish gentilhombre perhaps?