It happens to all great sides and managers. Sir Alex Ferguson was often accused of bullying referees and launching the ‘Fergie time’ at will; Vicente Del Bosque’s (and even Zinedine Zidane’s) Real Madrid have been accused of getting favours; and Pep Guardiola’s incomparable achievements (in such short span) has often been brushed off as gifts from referees. Jose Mourinho, the sore loser, had once said that the Catalan should be ‘ashamed’ of his winning credentials. More of such talk will happen as long as Guardiola’s current club, Manchester City, go on giving football education to most Premier League opponents.
Great teams, managers and players are always perceived to be getting a helping hand off external factors. That is the only way, they can be pulled down and discredited, by critics. Hence, I thought it’s a good time to prepare a running Balance Sheet (which will be updated after every other game), to show-case whether #SharkTeam are being favoured or denied everytime match officials give a bad decision.
Refereeing Blunders which cost ManCity season 2015-2016
Truth be told, Manchester City have been getting, league table impacting rough decisions, for long. They are an upcoming club and till they become a giant (at par with FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Bayern Munich in stature), this trend will continue. It’s statistically proven that small teams suffer at hands of match officials, more than big teams. In season 2014-15, Jose Mourinho had charged that “referees have a conspiracy against (his) Chelsea’, data proved right the opposite, as Chelsea were handed few favours en route to winning the title. The same data also showcased that ‘Fergie Time’ was just as much a myth, as Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were found often getting more injury time at home when trailing games. Back to the blue half and it did get established that Manchester City’s 2015-16 season was indeed marred by a string of bad decisions.
Refereeing Blunders which cost ManCity season 2016-2017
Pep Guardiola’s first season with the Sky Blues went even worse. The 2016-2017 league charge was often halted by referees – starting with the ‘title impacting’ fixture, early Dec 2016, against Chelsea where David Luiz should have sent off at the half-hour mark. Referee Anthony Taylor had his mouth on his whistle and then looked to reach into his pocket – but instead, ruled play on. Speaking on Sky Sports, former Manchester United star Gary Neville said that Taylor “froze”. There were so many bad decisions given during key games vs Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham that it gets embarrassing – even opposition players have admitted that their team got lucky against City. The entire season, Pep stayed shocked, as to how his team playing with majority ball possession were getting more yellow and red cards than the opposition – who were mostly defending.
Pep was robbed in 2009 too!
Guardiola’s critics will and always point to a 2009 Champions League encounter vs Chelsea at Stamford Bridge where, backed by the strong London media, they claim Chelsea were denied four penalties. What has got conveniently forgotten are the decisions that went against FC Barcelona in both legs of the same tie vs the same opponent. Since Pep doesn’t whine about referees, it never got highlighted. Truth, you can see in these links is that Barcelona got robbed in that tie much before Chelsea got robbed. Karma!
ManCity’s Balance Sheet 2017-18
So before short-term memory loss affects critics again, its good to list all key decisions, this season, that have gone for or against Manchester City. In this list, I will not be covering penalties given, as, starting this season, there is a post-match review committee who have the power to hand suspensions to players suspected of diving or simulating. Last month #SharkTeam midfielder Bernardo Silva got a clean chit from this committee after City were granted a penalty kick after Silva was brought down by a Burnley player. Hence, if the said committee doesn’t find anyone guilty, no point us speculating over it. We will cover penalty denied cases though.
So here’s the Balance Sheet of bad refereeing decisions that have gone ‘for’ or ‘against’ Manchester City season 2017-18.
‘For’ Manchester City
1. Vs Watford – On the 38th min Gabriel Jesus is clearly in offside position from where he scores to make it 3-0. Linesman fails to spot as City ease to 6-0 win.
2. Vs Arsenal – David Silva was in offside position but ruled not offside. Silva isn’t the scorer here, he passes the ball to Jesus who taps home while the Gunners defenders were caught napping. City who were leading 2-1 and on the attack, went 3-1 up, in the 74th minute.
3. Vs Leicester – In the 3rd min Vardy was through on goal when Vincent Kompany fouled him. There was no way Stones could have stopped had Vardy gone past, hence being last man, Kompany should have seen red. The referee showed him yellow which was more due to the game being in early stages.
‘Against’ Manchester City
- Vs Brighton – At 69th min, Ben Dunk clearly diverts the ball with his hand (goal-bound shot from Kevin De Bruyne shot) but the referee doesn’t give a penalty.
- Vs Everton – Kyle Walker sent off in the first half with Everton leading 1-0. I will let Manchester United legend Gary Neville’s analysis do the talking!
- Vs Bournemouth – Nathan Ake was given a yellow card for a challenge on the 25th min which should have seen red. Commentary “The defender fouls Gabriel Jesus who looked to have a clear run on goal. Ake gets away with a booking but he could have easily seen a red. Replays show he was the last man.”
- vs Bournemouth – Raheem Sterling gets second yellow (red card) for celebrating with fans and referee Mike Dean is roundly criticized.
- vs Arsenal – Clear penalty denied to Raheem Sterling for a challenge from behind by Sead Kolasnic. While Arsene Wenger acted sore loser charging Sterling a diver – he forgot there is a post-match review committee to address such issues. Amidst the whining, it was conveniently forgotten by fans, that Sterling should have got a penalty very early in the same match.
Ps: If you know of any key on-field decision that should have gone for or against Manchester City this season and not listed here, please feel free to put in the comments section and we will review it for potential inclusion.