BBC scored a Lineker-assisted own-goal. But so too did F365 and most of the media…

Editor F365
Gary Lineker has been stood down from Match of the Day

The Mailbox reckons F365 and other outlets should be above much of the sniping around the BBC’s Gary Lineker clusterf*ck. Also: ref justice isn’t even close yet for Man Utd…

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Football should rise above politics
Politics and football have always been a thing, and given the scale and reach of the sport it would be hard to argue this platform shouldn’t be a channel for social progress. This week though we have seen a depressing coupling of party politics and football in a way we can do without.

I’m talking both parties. Partisan press like the Telegraph have shamed themselves with columnists like Michael Deacon truly sprouting bullshit with his article outline why this is ‘the best MOTD in 30 years.’ Why? Because someone who disagrees with his political party of choice on a single subject (immigration) is now a shit presenter. What a pile of tripe. But F365 have also started to pile in too. It’s quite natural for a modern football publisher to support social change through the sport. Racism should be stamped out. Gay players shouldn’t have to hide. Women footballers deserve respect. The social goals should have no detractors irrespective of party lines.

That said, the Lineker 1 BBC 0 article read like a Guardian commentary focussing on Tory Scum and how they don’t really watch football. I’m not 100% sure party-based politics has a place in football. Like the Telegraph’s coverage of this story, and The Guardian’s, this jumps between policing principle and policing detail. The principle is whether pundits should be allowed under BBC rules to broadcast political opinion. The detail is whether F365 or any other publisher agrees with the opinion voiced. I agree with Lineker’s opinion. I’m not sure I agree with the principle BBC presenters should join in with political discourse. (I’m also not sure if Lineker’s comments were political discourse either. Criticism of the Government doesn’t naturally equate to being an anti Tory political advocate)

The world has descended into an ‘agree with me or you’re the villain’ on so many levels often driven by party politics. Football’s politics should rise above this and focus on being a force for social inclusion and change.

Just my thoughts anyway


Lineker entitled to wrong opinion
Interesting that F365 sees the Gary Lineker business in such Manichean left/right terms. I don’t think it’s at all that straightforward. I would consider myself right wing by most standards (i.e. I believe in low taxes, small government, individual freedom, strong borders etc.) but I have what I think is a reasonably nuanced view on the whole debacle. In summary:

– I believe in free speech; this should extend to Gary Lineker (with whom I generally disagree) just as much as anyone else
– Yes, the BBC rightly has impartiality rules governing its news staff but Gary is NOT news staff so I don’t see that his views in any way impact upon his role; his contract, as far as I can make out, is in any case very vague, so he should NOT have been sanctioned for sending that tweet.
– I happen to think the tweet (like much of Gary’s ramblings) was crass, uninformed and rather juvenile
– But – AGAIN – he’s entitled to his opinion
– I also think Gary Lineker is a pretty dreadful presenter and not at all the national treasure that the BBC imagines; 25 years on, he’s still trying and failing to be Des Lynam – his forced bonhomie is embarrassing, his dad-jokes are incredibly tedious and why on earth is he always waving his arms around like an air traffic controller? Mark Chapman, Gabby Logan and plenty of others are way better.
– This, I suspect, is why MoTD had half a million MORE viewers at the weekend, a point conveniently ignored by F365’s editorial
– Most amusing to see so many people discover their love of free speech over the last few days; where on earth were they when Twitter mobs were laying into JK Rowling, Kathleen Stock, the Batley schoolteacher, that bloke from Mumford & Sons and so many others?
– So in summary, yes, the BBC got it wrong and Gary was entitled to his assinine tweet, but let’s phase him out anyway and rethink the whole MoTD format using last Saturday’s admirably pared down show as a benchmark.
Matt Pitt

Read more: After Gary Lineker fiasco comes a BBC radio strike: Which side are you on?


Karma ain’t close
I don’t care whether or not the red card for Casemiro was correct or harsh or an outright travesty.

I refer the fans to almost 2 decades of getting away with everything. It didn’t matter what level of assault was committed on the pitch by the likes of Scholes, Vidic, Stam, Ferdinand, Keane, Butt or Beckham, there was rarely (if ever) any punishment, even a free kick. Some of the “tackles” warranted long bans. Under VAR, Ferguson would have struggled to field a team some weeks, yet nothing was ever done.

Ex referee Clattenburg even came out and stated categorically that referees were biased in favour of Ferguson sides, yet nothing was ever done about that either. They conceded 1 penalty in about 14 seasons at Old Trafford and then were outraged when a European referee had the audacity to give a penalty against them.

To paraphrase Paolo di Canio – they could pull out a machine gun and shoot you in the box and even the the ref would think twice before giving a goal kick.

Hopefully more of them will be sent off for minor infringements, the Universe will find balance.
Dan – ABU since ’83; and Smith must score


United aren’t the only victims of VAR
Okay so after the dust has settled I thought I would give you my thoughts on the game, Casemiro’s red card I thought was harsh as he got the ball first and the subsequent collision caused his foot to bounce up into his shin, a yellow possibly but a red? VAR then showed the worse possible angle in super slow motion making out Casemiro went straight into the player, very poor from VAR which as we will get on to was poor the entire game.

Next onto the penalty shouts, how on earth a defender kneeling down almost catching a cross is not given as a penalty is beyond belief, VAR can spin it anyway it likes but it’s blatant incompetence and borderline corruption, the Bruno shout could of been given but I think he looked for the contact and can see why it wasn’t given, lastly the Rashford penalty, if VAR does it’s job it is a penalty, the keepers knee takes out Rashford yet nothing again is given. My next point is the tackle on Garnacho where the defender got the ball but from behind and his momentum and scissor tackle sent the boy home on crutches, nothing given, not even looked at.

VAR is meant to be there to sort out mistakes yet it’s VAR dropping some of the biggest bollocks every damn week, Fabinho raking studs down a player Achilles nothing given, a Leicester player almost breaking a Chelsea players ankle again nothing, until VAR is consistent in it’s use every week the fans of one team or another will be lamenting the utter shite dished out to their team by Andre Marriner and his mates.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…First off, I actually think that it’s a good thing that Casemiro’s foul was picked up by VAR and he was given a red card for it. It shows that VAR can work to implement the rules of the game. While I don’t think it was a malicious challenge by Casemiro, his foot did roll over the ball and catch Alcaraz on the shin in a way that could have done serious damage. I have sympathy for Casemiro, because it wasn’t intentional, but it’s still a foul. It was objectively a very similar challenge to the one Pogba was shown a red card for against Keita last season, where his foot rolled over the ball into Keita’s shin. Interestingly, there was much less sympathy for Pogba at the time even amongst the mailbox, but it’s news to no one that Pogba receives different treatment. For the record, I also thought that was a red card at the time but was being made out as worse than it was.

What bothers me about the red card in this case, and the use of VAR, is the absolute dog sh*t consistency in applying the rules. Casemiro clearly won the ball first, but caught the player on the follow through with a high foot – red card. McTominay got a yellow card against Liverpool for catching the player after winning the ball in a 50:50 – yellow card. But Walker-Peters also very clearly scythed down Garnacho in a scissor tackle from behind, resulting in Garnacho leaving the stadium on crutches and yet nary a second glance apparently. The exact same case with Carroll’s “tackle” on Eriksen which has left him out for months. It’s absurd that poor tackles are keeping Man Utd players out of games with the offenders not being punished and the inconsistency as to why they’re not being looked at is infuriating. Further examples can be found with goalkeepers – yesterday when Bazunu clattered into Varane on the follow through after Varane got the shot away (nothing given) or when Allison took out Fernandes on the follow through. Is it a foul to take out someone on the follow through (even when you won the ball) except if you’re a goalie? It’s all very inside the box vs outside the box, which we know is not an actual rule just refereeing inconsistency, which is 100% bullsh*t.

And it doesn’t just apply to Man Utd – Joao Felix was on the receiving end of a very nasty challenge from Pereira over the weekend, and again nothing. He might well be wondering what was so much worse about his tackle on his debut that he was shown a red card straight away, but no one thought Pereira’s challenge was worth a second glance. And for balance it’s worth mentioning that sometimes players make contact on the follow through and this is looked at and unpunished. I can think of the examples of Sabitzer vs Leicester that was looked at and nothing was given (I think it should have been a yellow), and Fernandes a game or so ago on a keeper where his trailing leg caught the keeper and it was not deemed a foul (I agree). It’s an inconsistent mess and it’s unhelpful to referees, it’s unhelpful to officials on VAR and it’s unhelpful to players.

So what is going on? Why are some incidents being looked at on VAR and others are not? If they are being looked at, is it so much to ask that the conversation is broadcast, like in rugby? There was a fantastic example of refereeing on Saturday in the Italy vs Wales game, where an Italian player caught a Welsh player in the throat with his forearm. The incident was looked at by the video referee, we heard the conversation between the referee and the TMO, the linesman then gave their view and a decision was reached with the audience understanding the rationale at every point along the way – I thought the decision was fair, my Welsh friend thought the Italian was lucky, but neither of us could argue that the decision was reached arbitrarily and without due consideration. The 4th officials on VAR in football should be given the powers to bring to the referee’s attention incidents of serious foul play and make recommendations based on their interpretation just like in rugby, if anything just for the sake of consistency so that we, the fans, know that everything is being looked at, and the referee didn’t just miss it. Rules need to be clarified, and applied consistently, and if they’re not being applied we need to understand the reasons behind it. Rugby has been doing this for years and yes, rugby is a different sport with a different pace of game, but good refereeing should not be subject to the pace of the game.
Daniel (congratulations on the Grand Slam, Ireland!) Cambridge


Clear and obvious
From the comments, it feels like people are missing the point about United fans’ ire over Casemiro’s red on Sunday. We all acknowledge it can very much be taken as a red. Have seen them given. Happens. Imo it’s borderline, the infamous ‘orange’ card which can go either way.

But, unless they’ve been lying to us for 4 years, VAR is only there to overturn a clear and obvious error. Anthony Taylor was 10 feet away, staring directly at the incident. Unobstructed view, everything a referee could want to make a real-time decision. And he did, a yellow. As above, maybe some Southampton fans could be a bit annoyed, but it happens several times a week.

But wait! It’s United? Casemiro! Well let us pause for a moment please. Let’s find an angle that is particularly damning, freeze the moment of impact, and prompt the ref to run over and have a gander at that! That’ll change his mind! Show him several times in slow motion if it doesn’t convince him.

That is the problem here. VAR is not supposed to re-referee a match. It is supposed to correct clear and obvious errors, and a neutral would have to say in both Casemiro incidents, in real-time, in context, they could have gone either way. So why is VAR getting involved these times, but not others? Find me a non-LFC fan who thinks what Casemiro did on Sunday is worse than THAT Fabinho challenge (same VAR ref, coincidentally) and I’ll find you a liar. That is the problem.
Ryan, Bermuda

Man Utd midfielder Casemiro slides into Carlos Alcaraz

Casemiro had to go
As a person that has actually broken someone’s leg in a tackle, the Casemiro tackle was a red card all day!
I too got the ball first., I too didn’t intend to hurt the player, but I was obviously ‘out of control’.

It wasn’t the fact that slow motion makes the tackle look worse, it’s that at one point Casemiro has both feet off the ground AND then makes contact (however slight) with the ankle. It’s fortunate that the opposing player wasn’t injured, but that shouldn’t be the requirement for people to acknowledge a dangerous tackle.
Jovan (obviously not a Man UTD fan)


…Pretty baffled by the support for Casemiro and the old ‘he got the ball’ nonsense. He wasn’t on control of his foot, hence why it ended up studs up and almost breaking (whoever it was) leg.

Re Mr Crisp Thief/Never been booked, there’s a strong argument to get rid of the ex pros pension plan. While occasionally an ex pro gives some insight, I can’t say how bored I am of hearing how ‘he will be disappointed he didn’t work the keeper there’ as if it was something only Steve McManamans uniquely analytical mind could point out.
Andy Mac, Vancouver Spur and bored with it all.


Red on red
I will take this opportunity to lean over, Jose style, and poke Mr Garey Vance in the eye. Taking the piss out of Liverpool for a 1-0 loss, they still accumulated more points over the last 2 games than we did. Wind it in Garey.
Wayne JHB, SA.


Apropos nothing, what’s with the recent uptick of Mailbox contributors writing in with monikers involving the word “Wolf”? Unless I’m missing something, we’ve had the musings of Badwolf for many moons already, but recently I’ve seen 3-4 others and am intrigued.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland