One man cannot criticise Spurs v Liverpool ref in good faith

Editor F365
Paul Tierney books Harry Kane

Paul Tierney is due fair criticism and questioning, just not from a former referee that once gloated about letting Spurs “self-destruct”.


Clatt on the head
It is a welcome surprise to see the national newspapers agree on one thing on Monday morning: Harry Kane is a daft sod who absolutely should have been sent off for his tackle on Liverpool defender Andy Robertson.

The refereeing experts employed by said outlets are equally unanimous, with Mark Clattenburg saying the following in the Daily Mail:

‘I’d have shown Kane red. Just because you’re England captain doesn’t mean you have any special leeway to commit bad challenges. I never treated important English internationals any differently. No referee should take that into account.’

Absolutely. Let’s just ignore the first two tackles in this clip – important English internationals Harry Kane and Eric Dier the culprits – from a match in which Clattenburg later admitted to having a “gameplan”: to let Spurs “self-destruct” when “some referees would have played by the book”.

He also added that “there should have been three red cards to Spurs”.

The decisions of the officials on Sunday afternoon should absolutely be questioned. Just not by someone who would have probably awarded Spurs a free-kick for the Kane tackle instead, because “pure theatre”.


Blind Alli
The theme in The Sun is quite justifiably one of a breathless match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but Mediawatch is struggling to figure out whether Mark Irwin was impressed with Dele Alli or not.

‘Trouble was that Dele was supposed to be running the show for Antonio Conte on his return to Premier League action,’ he writes, even though the vague role of ‘running the show’ was more likely assigned to the slightly deeper Harry Winks.

‘And he spent much of the afternoon desperately chasing shadows as he tried to stem the red tide threatening to swamp his team’s overworked back five,’ we are then told of Alli. If you watched him and expected a performance akin to Claude Makelele then yes, that probably wasn’t great. But it doesn’t half feel as though his solid attacking display against one of the best teams in the world is being overlooked and misinterpreted.

Alli was apparently ‘putting most of his energy into playing on the back foot’, which doesn’t seem bad considering he had one shot he ought to have scored from, created a chance that should have been converted, and had a decent penalty shout. He also completed five dribbles when no other player for either team managed more than two.

For all the negativity, Irwin goes on to say ‘Dele is clearly not ready to call time on his Spurs career just yet,’ that he ‘did his prospects no harm’ and ‘certainly emptied his tank and received a standing ovation’.

That absolutely sounds like a player who ‘spent much of the afternoon desperately chasing shadows’ and ‘was supposed to be running the show’.


Guard dog
The Sun, bless them, seem to be unfamiliar with Pep Guardiola. Most know by now that he will praise opponents who duly get battered by his teams, while criticising those who make it a little more difficult by daring to defend. Conversely, he often hails his players after poor results, but has a go at them for performances that fans and neutrals might be impressed by.

On which note, Manchester City hammered Newcastle 4-0 at the weekend. But ‘Pep Guardiola turned Scrooge by refusing to praise his Manchester City stars and blasting their first-half display.’ Because of course he did. Christmas etc and so on.

In the interest of fairness, while Manchester City did lead 2-0 by half-time, they were sloppy, not close to their usual high standard and incredibly fortunate not to concede a penalty when Ederson took Ryan Fraser out in the area. The opening goal was also courtesy of a defensive mistake rather than City brilliance.

Then you see the actual quotes, with Guardiola saying “we spoke at half-time about what we should do and were much better,” and you wonder when Scrooge will just cheer up and stop being a miserable sod.


Haaland cackle
‘Man Utd transfer target Erling Haaland sparks exit rumours by appearing to WAVE goodbye to Borussia Dortmund fans,’ is the sensationally sensationalist headline in The Sun that ticks all the transfer boxes ahead of the January window.


‘Erling Haaland appeared to signal his Borussia Dortmund exit by WAVING goodbye to fans.’

Disappointingly, not every variation of the word ‘wave’ is capitalised throughout the story. Nor is it really explained that Haaland is not the only player that has ever WAVED at supporters after the last home game of the year, particularly considering Dortmund’s next match at the Westfalenstadion is scheduled for January 14.

Still, the idea that some desperate club might try and sign him in January instead of waiting a few more months for his release clause to be activated is fun. Nonsensical, but fun.


By the Buk
There is nothing too offensive in the latest BBC Sport team of the week from Garth Crooks – although it is funny to see him declare Norwich as ‘doomed’ in ‘a point I made after their first defeat of the season at home to Liverpool’, as if everyone else was insisting the Canaries would be pushing for Champions League qualification – but this, on the inclusion of Bukayo Saka, is a little strange:

‘He is the most consistent Arsenal player at the club and has been for the last season and a half – and the reason Arsenal find themselves flying high. I can’t understand how such an ordinary team keeps getting these results. It’s unbearable.’

First, he really isn’t ‘the reason’ Arsenal are doing so well. He is one of the reasons, undoubtedly. But Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu, a number of other players and, hell, Mikel Arteta probably want a word.

As for the second point, it probably isn’t worth engaging. Let’s just say that if the BBC really wants to become less impartial and objective, there are more useful and worthwhile things to take an editorial stance on instead of letting a Spurs fan say it’s ‘unbearable’ that the fourth-best team in the country (and a likeable group of young players) is the fourth-best team in the country.