Lou Macari: Let's make it easier for refs to do their job properly
IT'S SURELY time we got back to basics where football is concerned.
All of the paraphernalia surrounding the game has left too many of us taking our eye off what really matters.
It's time we got rid of the fourth official, kicked those two officials behind the goal-line into touch and certainly high time we binned the pre-match handshakes.
The game was fine before these things and, believe it or not, it would be fine without them again.
60cm electric double oven
ONLY 459.90 and thats delivered Fast & free rom our vast warehouse stocks
Why not visit our Longton cooker centre for a look
The best deal is on your doorstep - only condition is you have to be prepaired to shop locally, supporting a local firm and live within 25 miles of one of our branches
How good is that?
Contact: 01782 342609
Valid until: Sunday, June 02 2013
They were introduced to apparently improve the game, but all they have done is cause problems.
The handshake has now become a flashpoint thanks to the likes of Luis Suarez and John Terry.
And the extra officials – particularly the fourth official – has become the focus of far too much attention.
We even had him, not the referee, deciding that Rory Delap should have been sent off in Stoke's FA Cup win at Crawley Town on Sunday.
And the reason for the red card, we are told, was the use of "excessive force".
To me, that sounds like a line of dialogue from Star Wars, not justification for reducing a team to 10 men.
The referee, in this case Mike Jones, is the man who should be making the decisions out there, so let's leave him in charge – not fourth official Lee Probert, pictured below.
And let's try to make it a much easier game for the referee to manage by allowing players to tackle again.
Younger readers might not realise this, but tackling was actually an accepted part of the game once-upon-a-time.
But now, people are screaming for the death penalty for a player who so much as raises an eyebrow in a challenge.
It's just getting ridiculous and Stoke, it seems, just happen to be the club feeling the pinch the most of late.
First there was Robert Huth being wrongly sent off a couple of weeks ago against Sunderland, now Delap at Crawley.
A referee working with two officials on the line will make mistakes, but I think the footballing public can live with that... as long as the referee is made to come out and be interviewed, just like managers and players are required to do, after a game.
He can then explain why certain big decisions were made and maybe make us realise he was in fact right. He can also hold his hand up after seeing the tapes and admit he got something wrong if that was the case.
Believe me, I'm sure the public would have far more respect for a referee who owned up to any mistake.
It would show he was human and would endear him to the rest of us, but at the moment they are seen as robots who don't care much if their wrong decision changes the course of a game.
Instead, what we have at the moment is a raft of new rules and phrases such as "excessive force" (whatever that means) which the refs can hide behind.
It seems that however bad a decision might be, they can find a phrase somewhere in the current rule books to justify it.
FINALLY this week, I'd like to tell you about a very special Stoke City fan called James Bartlam.
Despite being desperately ill and so weak he could hardly get out of bed, James still insisted on coming to Stoke's last two home games in appalling weather.
His courage and the smile on his face were truly remarkable in the circumstances, and must have helped his loving family during difficult times for everyone.
James, who was 46, was cared for by Douglas MacMillan and they deserve every thanks for the way they look after people like him.
I'd known him for a few years and he was also a big friend of Nick Hancock, who deserves great credit for taking him home and looking after him on occasions.
Sadly, James has seen his last game of football.
But his funeral yesterday was a fitting tribute to a Stoke fan who will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to have known him.