Football seasons are defined by individual moments and fine margins, so when I saw a statistic that suggested the Irons have been hard done by this season with refereeing decisions, it left me wondering; what if?
That statistic in question has the Hammers joint-bottom with Bournemouth for decisions for and against the team. In fact, the Hammers have only received four calls in our favour all season and TEN against when it comes to incorrect decisions, and that was before the weekend clash with Chelsea.
It comes as no surprise to see the big boys up at the top of that league and Leicester have been beneficiaries too. Whilst the Foxes have been full value for their league sitting you cannot deny they have been somewhat lucky this season with one or two things. One, they have managed to keep their star players fit and firing in Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, and two, they have managed to get the rub of the green with refereeing calls.
We should be all booking our tickets for Wembley right now, and this is not to say I thought we deserved to win at Old Trafford – a draw was a fair result – but the manner of Manchester United’s equaliser still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. How a referee cannot see Darren Randolph being knocked off balance by Bastian Schweinsteiger I’ll never know – it cost us the game and now we have to do battle all over again. And another thirty quid will have to come out of my back pocket to watch the worst United side I’ve ever seen again – lucky me.
Fast forward a week from that refereeing shocker and place yourself in the 89th minute at Stamford Bridge, with the Irons set for another memorable away win. Ruben Loftus-Cheek trips himself at least two yards outside the box. Penalty Chelsea and yet another big two points dropped. Even my girlfriend called out that decision as wrong.
These are massive moments in our season, and it could very well cost us come May and it is just infuriating for a fan. I don’t know what West Ham have done to upset referees but we just never seem to get the luck. Before the game at Stamford Bridge, David Gold, West Ham United’s Co-Chairman, revealed that the Irons have not received a single away penalty in four seasons. That is just staggering.
This is not just a full on rant on referees. I understand it is one of the hardest jobs in football, but as an onlooking fan it shocks you how wrong some of these calls are. It cannot just be a coincidence – how can a team not receive a single penalty away from home in four years?
There is just no consistency anymore. Take Christian Benteke winning, and yes he did win, that penalty for Liverpool against Crystal Palace. He ensured contact was made and went down. Penalty Liverpool. A week later, Dimitri Payet does the exact same thing in Manchester, which I don’t condone by the way, no penalty. If the referee had just done his job properly in the Palace vs Liverpool game and booked Benteke for diving, then I would have had absolutely no problem had Payet received a second yellow. As it is, the fact that no decision was made by Martin Atkinson leaves fans questioning what is going on. And I have lost count the amount of times since that game that I have had to stick up for Dimi. It is not a penalty but it certainly wasn’t a dive, move on.
It is time for technology now. Referees need help as the pace of the game is getting ever quicker and wrong decisions are going to get made – I understand that – but when it is changing games and costing teams points that is when it really hurts. And I am fed up with hearing people say, ‘well it evens itself out in the end’. Well it clearly doesn’t if the stats are anything to go by.
We need a review system, even if it is just one challenge per team. It would take a couple of minutes, if that, for the right decision to be made and then all this controversy will come to an end. Another thing that has to happen, is for referees to come out at full-time and talk to the media and explain their decisions. It would then maybe help fans understand and respect the officials more.
Anyway, rant over.
Come on you Irons!