There’s been a lot of talk about players and coaches brandishing the imaginary cards lately. After Wayne Rooney was successful in persuading Chris Foy to make a truly, spectacularly, horrendously bad decision during Manchester United’s cup tie at the Etihad, City manager Roberto Mancini has come in for plenty of criticism. Firstly for questioning Glen Johnson’s two-footed lunge on Joleon Lescott; and later for calling for Wigan’s Maynor Figueroa to be punished for the most blatant deliberate handball since Luis Suarez’s fine effort in the World Cup. Incidentally, it’s worth pointing out that Rooney and Gerrard missed the point somewhat. The only reason Mancini highlighted the Johnson tackle was because his side had suffered such an injustice against Manchester United. He just wanted a decision to go his way for a change. But in all honesty though, what’s the big deal with card waving? It’s a shame, people will say. It’s also a shame that despite playing football, Swansea and Wigan find themselves below Stoke City in the league.
Card wavers in the English game are condemned immediately by pundits, players and coaches alike. Rooney and Gerrard both hit out at Mancini when the Manchester City boss tried to influence the referee into sending Glen Johnson off during Liverpool’s visit to the Etihad in the Carling Cup. Harry Redknapp and Mick McCarthy said they don’t like to see the card waving antics after the Italian brandished the imaginary red on Monday night at the DW. Come on guys. What are you saying to the ref when a defender comes careering into you at full speed as you’re running at goal? “Hey ref, I’m going to stand back, say nothing and let you do your job,” or is it maybe “Come on ref, book this fat bastard, he’s been booting me all game”? And what do we think Mick McCarthy and the other Premier League managers are screaming in the ears of the poor old fourth officials for 90 minutes, week in, week out? It seems it’s fine to mouth off at the officials all game long, berating them for every decision, appealing for every throw and corner you know full well should be awarded the other way and yes, calling for free kicks, penalties and bookings. But do it using actions rather than obscene language and you’re a disgrace to the game. This revulsion at the card waving is a little hypocritical. Supporters don’t seem to like it either. The same fans who celebrate red cards like they cheer goals and cry handball whenever the ball strikes a player on the chest, knee or head. Players and managers speak to the referees during games. They want their team to win and they want every decision to be given their way. Get over it.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be such an issue if the refs were mic’d up like rugby adjudicators. Then the referees might be backed into a corner and have to actually start dishing out yellow and red cards for all the foul and abusive language that comes their way from the likes of Wayne Rooney and John Terry. With mic’d up refs, you’re likely to find far more to be concerned with than a little card brandishing. Like the Premier League officials all friendly and on first name terms with the lads at the big clubs for example. Everyone likes to get up on their high horses about the card waving, but what do they think is being said out on the pitch? If card waving is such an abomination, the Premier League should seriously consider sending off any player who approaches the referee during the game, banning any manager conversing with the fourth official and having all games played behind closed doors. We can’t have the supporters calling every handball now, can we?