“Well Done Boys, Good Process” – How Did Diaz Debacle Lead To Stick For Scousers?
By Gareth Roberts
WHAT a few days it has been.
Liverpool on the end of one of the worst refereeing moments in living memory, and an unprecedented one at that. A moment that rendered even the most seasoned of Red speechless.
A mistake so bad, so obvious, and one that has not got any better with the release of the audio, that surely anyone and everyone with any stake in football would come together for the good of the game and condemn it?
After all, it wasn’t about Liverpool. Or Liverpool supporters. This was about the game we love. This was about the sport we grew up with. This was about fighting for what was right. Right?
Let’s take a line from Liverpool FC’s much criticised statement to reinforce this point: “This is vital for the reliability of future decision-making as it applies to all clubs with learnings being used to make improvements to processes in order to ensure this kind of situation cannot occur again.”
Yours. Mine. North, East, South, West.Embed from Getty Images
The point was obvious. The ghost offside, the great goal not given, the unfathomable fuck up, the failure to right the wrong, the ungraspable incompetence – it should be the line in the sand. It should be the catalyst for change. Enough is enough. Sort it out. Are the PGMOL even fit for purpose?
This, unlike the explanation of how Tottenham emerged with a free kick after Diaz scored a belter, was surely easy to grasp. And yet, incredibly, for some, it seemingly wasn’t. (An in-depth conversation on it can be watched below).
On Saturday evening there was sympathy all round for nine-men Liverpool and their ultimately fruitless fight against Tottenham (and the officials) to claim something from the game in London.
What an incredible effort by the way.
So how did we get to a place where Simon Jordan is spouting about the “victim culture of Liverpool fans” live on air? (That, of course, wasn’t his fault. It was our fault for misinterpreting it. He’s “sad” that we did. For someone who prides himself on showing the world how erudite he is, it’s quite the slip of the tongue.)
Anyway… Let’s review it again. An absolutely wild fuck up; a clear as day delightfully onside goal finished fantastically ruled offside and waved away with a pithy statement (again) from the closed shop old boys’ club that is Professional Game Match Officials Limited.
Unsatisfactory, hard to understand explanations leaked into the media as to why. Talk of an apology that we have never heard.
And all this in reference to just one bad decision on a day of loads of them. A day within a season of them. And a season within multiple campaigns of them.
Over the top? Then why have we got so many ex refs with media status? Because they take the spotlight and the shilling trying to explain the baffling bullshit we endure every week from this cosseted crew that never speak, never explain and strut about like it’s their game and they are the stars. Don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a poster on the wall of one of these traffic wardens.
And Liverpool FC, and Liverpool fans, are the bad guys for saying, hang on, shouldn’t we be asking some questions here after the latest round of VAR muck spreading?
“That’s wrong that, Daz.”
Tribalism can go some way to explain it. It fuels football after all. But read the room. Choose your moment. You hate Liverpool because your ma dropped you on your head? Who’s arsed?
One dope rang national radio to condemn Liverpool supporters as the “biggest cry babies in the Premier League” before proceeding to detail how Arsenal had been on the end of head-scratching decisions and adding that he had sympathy for the fans that travelled to London in a train strike only to be on the end of the Diaz debacle.
Suppose he got there in the end.
“What about this, what about that.”
“Only team ever to be done over by VAR.”
Yeah, that’s the point, lads. It’s shit on the regular. Has been for a while. Why are you making it about Liverpool, or you not liking Liverpool, or Scousers?
Is there any set of fans out there that would have watched their team, questionably down to 10 men at the time, take the lead away from home, witnessed a perfectly good goal chalked off in the most bizarre of circumstances, who wouldn’t have been pissed off?
We’re still hearing about Clive Thomas disallowing a goal in 1977 round these ways. So it’s no, isn’t it..
Liverpool’s perfectly reasonable statement was asking for what I heard many Liverpool fans ask for as they headed away from North London – an explanation, an idea of what will change and some detail around how such a howler will be avoided in future.
Because who wants to spend eight hours or more on a coach, fork out a fortune on ticket and travel, and be on the end of something like that?
So we’re all on the same side then so…oh.
But, but, they said sorry. Apparently so. Not in public. Not to us. But go on.
PGMOL apologies haven’t really amounted to much so why wouldn’t we ask for something more?
They apologised to Gary O’Neil after Andre Onana clotheslined Sasa Kalajdzic in Manchester United's 1-0 win over Wolves in August. No penalty was awarded and O’Neil was booked for moaning about it.
That decision was made by Simon Hooper by the way, the same fella who looked like he’d left the gas on when he heard about Saturday’s shitshow in the VAR room.
On that incident at Old Trafford, Howard Webb said the VAR should have intervened. He did not. Nothing changed and here we are.
That’s Webb who sanctioned Darren England and Dan Cook visiting the United Arab Emirates 48 hours before Saturday’s game to officiate Sharjah v Al Ain in the UAE Pro League.
That’s the UAE, a country where the owner of Manchester City, Sheikh Mansour, is vice-president and deputy prime minister.
Oh, and as reported by Oli Kay in The Athletic: “Less well known is that the UAE Football Association has held talks with City Football Group chief executive Ferran Soriano about a “framework of joint cooperation” and that the UAE Pro League’s main sponsor is the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), whose board members include City chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak.”
“Just because you're paranoid. Don't mean they're not after you.”
It’s as murky as The River Alt. But don’t mention that because Mick on the internet will send you a tin-foil hat gif.
The PGMOL whistle posse have been shooting off to Saudi as well. Anyone know if there are any links between that country and the Premier League? Any potential conflict of interest there at all?
“Well done boys, good process.”
Any other reasons why we - or anyone else - might doubt these lads who are desperate for our respect?
Mike Dean’s comments maybe? He after all didn’t want his mate Anthony Taylor getting any more grief so he just didn’t bother sending him to review a crucial decision. Sound.
I could go on. Any fan of any Premier League club could go on. AND THAT’S THE POINT, THICKOS.
Webb apologised to Brighton in April after a string of bad decisions including being denied a penalty when they visited Spurs.
Arsenal were denied two points in the title race in February when VAR Lee Mason missed the offside position of Christian Norgaard on Brentford’s goal. The PGMOL apologised and Mason was handed his cards and his wages and headed off into the Greater Manchester sunset.
On the same day, VAR John Brooks drew the line in the wrong place and denied Brighton a goal at Crystal Palace. Webb later acknowledged and explained a “significant error”.
A few weeks earlier our very own Fabinho ploughed into the back of Brighton’s Evan Ferguson but even his “shit, that was a red card” face wasn’t enough for the officials – David Coote showed him yellow, VAR Neil Swarbrick didn’t intervene and the PGMOL later admitted it should have been a red.
“YEAH BUT WHAT ABOUT FABINHO?” I know, mate.
There are more (and these are only the big cock ups that were deemed worthy of apology since 2022).
Other crackers include Brentford being awarded a dodgy pen and, one us Reds remember well, the Rodri handball at Goodison - an offence deemed not quite handsy enough for a penalty.
Ah yes, but what about all the decisions they’ve got RIGHT, says the self-righteous talk radio shock jock.
What about them? That’s what is meant to happen. And it was supposed to improve with VAR.
We’ve had to endure a lot of what abouts this week. So what about returning fire?
- What about the spontaneity of a goal celebration that has been lost?
- What about waiting around in stadiums with no clue what is going on because they won’t be mic'd up like they are in rugby?
- What about the consistent inconsistencies?
- What about a clearly onside goal being ruled offside, the VAR lads spotting the mistake, too many voices, poor communication, daft protocols, jobsworths and a lack of common sense, resulting in said goal being chalked off for no valid reason?
- What about everyone having a go at Liverpool?
- What about Liverpool’s disciplinary record (no more than two red cards in any season since Jurgen Klopp’s arrival; four sendings off in seven games this campaign – the most any team has EVER been on the end of at this point of a Premier League season)?
- What about the record £100,000 fine for Van Dijk for “abusive and insulting words”, then other players swearing at officials subsequently without change to their bank balance?
- What about imaginary card waving being a yellow one week and then not being a yellow the next?
- What about foreign refs getting involved and us having the pick of the best around instead of some of these lads?
- What about greater detail on how exactly they will prevent another Diaz-type decision?
- What about audio being released regularly for our benefit as well as theirs?
- What about someone tougher than Michael Owen asking questions of Howard Webb?
- What about feedback on refereeing from clubs, managers, players that doesn’t result in bans or fines?
- What about scrapping “clear and obvious” and just getting it right a bit more?
- What about allowing for common sense instead of hiding behind “protocols”?
- What about Robertson getting elbowed in the grid by Constantine Hatzidakis?
- What about the regular appointment of Tierney?
- What about Jota’s first yellow?
Howard? Howard? Are you there?
Let me guess… Can’t do anything? Can’t do anything?
Think you should, mate. What a shitshow. And it's not one of Liverpool’s making, or of Liverpool fans’ making, no matter how hard the try-hards try.
Same time again next week?