This column makes no apologies for yet again mentioning Tony Pulis.
The Stoke boss yet again has decided to make an idiot of himself following his Centre Half Robert Huth getting sent off against Sunderland.
The rights and wrongs of the decision not to rescind the red card are not what is being debated here, but Pulis’s reaction. First, rather than accepting the red and the subsequent three match ban, the Welshman (supported by his Chairman Peter Coates) used his press conference last week to explain that he was going to put together a DVD of all the bad challenges of the last two weekends.
Challenges, he says, that are worse than the one his player got sent off for. And thus invoking all the get out clause of all desperate managers: That of two wrongs making a right.
Then on Saturday at Craven Cottage Fulham’s new signing Pavel Pogrebnyak, who had earlier scored on his debut, committed a foul in front of the dugouts – a reasonably high tackle that went unpunished.
After this, the Potters supremo went on the attack, raging in his after match Media appearance, about the tackle: “If Chris Foy has missed it, then Kevin Friend sees it, but the lad doesn't even get a yellow card," he complained.
"The fourth official can contact the ref, so it's just not good enough really.
"It's a shocking challenge. He's gone in with his studs up and one foot off the ground and caught Wilson below the knee – it's a worse challenge than Robert Huth's by a country mile.
"The inconsistency this year has been shocking. This is a big decision that would have affected the game.
"They could have been down to 10 men in the first half. I'm not making excuses, but it doesn't help you when you get decisions like that going against you."
Now, as you might have guessed from the blatant Stoke
bias to this article I am a paying supporter. I was there at Craven Cottage on Saturday with my brother like we always are, and I will confess that we – like Mr. Foy and Mr. Friend – didn’t see the challenge. We did see two bad ones in the first half, one for which Wilson Palacios was booked and one – an Andy Wilkinson kick on Damien Duff which happened right in the corner where we were sitting – which went, just like Pogrebynak’s, unpunished.
As we have said before, you cannot have the level of consistency that these managers call for, simply because referees are human, and refs do have bad games sometimes. Just like Chris Foy did in the Stoke v Spurs game in December, when I don’t recall Pulis bleating and moaning when Spurs had a goal disallowed for offside that was yards on and a player sent off who didn’t deserve to be.
Stoke City are on a bad run of results. Just like they were in October when it was all the Referees fault according to the Manager, just like they were last season when a series of bad decisions set him hopping mad.
That is the risk that Manager’s who moan about officials run. Even if they do have a valid point – and Pulis very, very rarely does – it always does look like sour grapes.
The facts are that the Referee
didn’t cost Stoke City on Saturday. The team’s inability to defend, the chronic lack of threat from the forwards, and Pulis’s appalling team selection on the other hand, did.
But I suspect he knew that anyway.