I watched Aidan White’s sending off at Ipswich Town several times on the night of the game. All four of the pundits who I heard analysing the incident agreed that his collision with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was never a red card.
Lo and behold, Leeds United appeal to the Football Association and their appeal is rejected. I wasn’t particularly surprised because I never feel that Leeds get the rub of the green from the authorities, but I find it hard to understand how the FA’s disciplinary panel can take a different view to four ex-professionals, all of whom are employed because of their knowledge of the game and their expertise.
I didn’t think it was a sending-off at the time and I don’t now. Aidy’s extremely unfortunate to be serving a one-match ban this weekend and it’s sour medicine for a kid who was making a pretty good fist of establishing himself in the starting line-up at Elland Road. To me, he’s the victim of over-zealous refereeing.
We’ve seen a lot of that so far this season, and not just in matches involving Leeds. I’ve watched several games which, in my opinion, have been ruined by the influence of the match officials. Our defeat to Middlesbrough was a prime example, a fixture which looked like open warfare on paper but was nothing of the sort in reality.
United have played seven competitive matches, including two ties in the Carling Cup. They’ve already amassed three red cards and 15 yellows, a ridiculous number considering the nature of our matches so far. None of them have been at all bad-tempered or overly aggressive and I don’t think our tally of cards is at all justified. Let’s not forget either that the dismissal of Boro’s Tony McMahon at Elland Road was the worst of the lot that day.
More and more I find myself thinking that officials are playing a bigger role in games and results than they should. Their job is obviously hugely important – football wouldn’t survive without them – but I don’t feel that enough consideration is given to the fact spectators turn up to watch a game of football, not a referee flashing cards around at every opportunity.
It’s not necessary for officials to “stamp their authority on the game” or make it clear that they’re in charge. They should simply do what they need to do whenever they need to do it. There’s always a risk of being too lenient and avoiding major decisions – a couple of the penalty appeals in our draw at West Ham spring to mind – but managers are usually satisfied by officials who leave a contest to go its own way. That way, the only thing they need speak about after full-time is the performance of their players.
Perhaps we’ve had our share of rough calls and will avoid any more during our home games with Crystal Palace and Bristol City. I certainly hope so. These are two matches we need to win and two games I believe we will win – all things being equal. Six points from these fixtures would get us back on track quickly.
It’s never great to look at the Championship table and see your side in 19th place – a position which is very unfair considering how the team have been playing – and a bit of momentum is crucial now. Back-to-back home appearances is a great chance to get the season going properly.
The encouraging thing for me is that I saw no shortage of confidence among the players at Ispwich. You can read a lot into the body language of footballers and I could tell that they believe they’re a good side with a good chance of going far in this division. On the evidence so far, I very much agree.