Football

Wenger & Pellegrini wrong to criticise referees

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Arsene Wenger and Manuel Pellegrini have been scathing in their appraisal of the referees in their respective European ties against Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Both make claims to the affect that the referee killed the game which may be true but the fact is the men in the middle had no choice and refereed both games well and by the the laws of the game.

There was more than a hint of Déjà vu in the manner of City and Arsenal's defeats, both made strong starts, both were holding their own and creating chances none better than that offered to Mesut Ozil from the penalty spot whose attempt was as tame as his performances of late.

The similarities continued with the dismissals of Wojciech Szczęsny and Martín Demichelis for denying clear goalscoring opportunities and both sides conceded goals early and late in the second half.

Of course the frustration felt by Wenger and Pellegrini is understandable. Who knows what the result could of been had both sides kept 11 men on the pitch at the Emirates and Etihad Stadium, but the criticism of the referees is both unwarranted and unacceptable. 

Wenger claimed that the referee on Wednesday night, Nicola Rizzoli, "killed the game" but the reality is Szczęsny did. The Polish international was reckless and brought down Arjen Robben denying a clear goal scoring chance leaving the referee no choice but to dismiss him. 

Wenger stated on the penalty: "Our keeper went for the ball, he touched Robben, who made more of it" and went onto argue "Overall I thought Bayern made a lot of every single contact. We are not used to that in England."

The Frenchman's position is cast into doubt by the stats that show Arsenal were awarded 16 fouls throughout the game, twice the amount of their Bavarian counterparts and Mesut Ozil hardly endeavoured to stay upright under the attentions of Dante to earn the gunners penalty.

It seems unlikely that Wenger would have accused the ref of killing the game had a Bayern player been dismissed in a similar fashion to Szczęsny, and attempting to argue that the game was "boring for neutral people" just doesn't stand up in any top level sporting environment.

All in all the comments from Wenger were based in opinion rather than fact and seemed to be an attempt at damage limitation after a start to February that has seen the Gunners drop 5 points in the league and now find themselves on the brink of another last 16 European exit.   

If Wenger's statements on the referees performance on Wednesday night were misplaced Manuel Pellegrini's assessment of Swedish official Jonas Eriksson were outrages.

The Chilean accused Eriksson of being impartial and was "on Barcelona's side from beginning to end". Pellegrini was angered by Eriksson's refusal to award a free kick to Jesus Navas in the build up to the foul by Demichelis that led to a penalty and the dismissal of the Argentinian international. 

The foul itself occurred on the edge of the box and split opinion as to whether it was a penalty or a free kick. However the decision was a judgement call and a the awarding of the penalty was understandable.

"The Engineer" also claimed that a Eriksson who referees in Sweden did not have the required experience or quality to take charge of a game between two such big clubs stating: "This is a big game with two important teams and maybe in this type of game you need a referee with more experience."

Yet more unfounded claims. Eriksson has refereed 97 international matches, he took charge of the Super Cup final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich in August last year and this summer he will head to Brazil as Sweden's representative. This is before you mention he has refereed in Europe's elite competition for five years. The Swede has plenty of experience. 

Demichelis is a player who perplexes both fans and pundits with his continued inclusion in Pellegrini's side, and he was again to blame for the defeat on Tuesday night. The challenge on Messi was poor the red card and penalty were fully warranted.

Pellegrini's comments can be seen as a attempt at averting the gaze away from the fact it was once again the man he brought with him from Malaga that cost the Citezens in a big game.   

Pellegrini's comments have led FIFA to back Eriksson and it seems likely that the Manchester City boss will receive a fine for his behaviour.

Of course the criticism of referees is nothing new to football and this will not be the last time a officials decisions are called into disrepute by a manager. There are similarities between Pellegrini's attack on Eriksson and that of Jose Mourinho on Anders Frisk after his side's loss at the Camp Nou in 2005. Frisk never refereed again after receiving death threats, and Mourinho was branded "the enemy of football" by UEFA.

Pellegrini has not been as brazen as Mourinho and his comments should not be taken in the same light as those of the Portuguese in 2005, but they should not be dismissed out of hand. They call a solid  and honest performance from a referee poor and unfairly place him under public scrutiny.

It is surely not acceptable to place all the blame on men who are doing an honest job especially when the evidence to do so is so obscure and often non existent and both Pellegrini and Wenger were wrong to do so.

What's your view on Wenger and Pellegrini's latest comments? Let GMS know by leaving your opinion below.  


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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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