Ref! On the manager-go-round

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.


That’s right, Dave, only one subject to talk about today: the manager-go-round. Remember I said a couple of months ago I thought there was something fishy going on at Chelsea with Doctor Gorgeous and Mourinho’s overreaction? Well we still don’t know the actual details, but it looks that way, doesn’t it? The way the team suddenly looked good again when he was out the door: Mark Lawrenson described it as disgraceful, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

Because, Baz, some of the players seemed to be holding something back. I don’t know if it could be construed, as you put it – good word, mate – as match fixing exactly, but it’s not far off.

Anyway, Mourinho’s very publicly available and the popular little equation is him to Man U, Guardiola to City and Simeone to Chelsea. But things don’t often work out so neatly and I think we could be in for a surprise. Let’s say Roman Abramovich is at a Christmas party and he gets pissed and bumps into Tony Pulis. And somebody’s put magic mushrooms in the punch and they become instant pals and he can see Pulis working his magic at Stamford Bridge.

Or how about this? Arsene Wenger to Chelsea for two years before he retires, allowing Drogba to gain managerial experience at, say, PSG, before taking over in west London.

Stranger things have happened. Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a mulled wine please. No mushrooms in it, mind.

Why didn’t I go into management, Dave? Because my talent for discipline with harmony led me down my current path. Yes, I suppose there are similarities – transferrable skills if you like. You don’t know what any of these guys are really like in the dressing room, but there have been some real characters. Bill Shankly, Cloughie, Fergie. And also some quite grey ones. You can’t imagine Alf Ramsey telling too many jokes, can you? Bob Paisley: like a nice old uncle, he seemed, but there must have been more to him than that. Sven-Goran Eriksson. Capello. Grim.

Nowadays, is Van Gaal really such a miserable sod as he looks? Maybe he’s just got worse over the years and now he’s a grumpy old git, but he used to be all right.

Thing is, we think these foreign coaches are so good because we don’t really know them. Then they come over here and they’re not geniuses after all, but where are the English managers who are going to replace them? People complain about the lack of black managers, but first things first. Let’s get a generation of Brits running the clubs, then we can empower the minorities. As it is, I mean who have you got? Sam Allardyce? Dinosaur in many ways. He likes dossiers apparently, but so did Don Revie, and Allardyce makes him look sophisticated. No, that’s not negative, Dave, it’s realistic.

Anyway – cheers Gary – Merry Christmas one and all, but Santa can’t bring everyone three points on Boxing Day. Such is life, lads, such is life.




Ref! On Rodgers and Newcastle

The candid thoughts of Premier League referee Colin Preece, as recorded by our eavesdropping mole in the Duck and Peasant.


That’s right, lads, I had the privilege of being the ‘man in the middle’ as you put it, at the City of Manchester stadium for City’s demolition of Newcastle. To tell you the truth, when a game is as one-sided as that, the problem is to keep your concentration. If you’re a fair-minded person you want to see a balanced game. You don’t want to see anybody get whipped 6-1, and apart from anything else you worry that you’ve lost count.

Newcastle, I don’t know, they’ve just been left behind, haven’t they? In today’s technological terms they need to shut down and reboot. They’ve tried everything – they even tried Alan Shearer as manager a few years ago, just because the fans think he’s God. They had to appoint him and let him fail so they could move on, but where have they moved on to? I know somebody was bound to give Steve McClaren another chance in England, but that’s the problem with the Geordies, they’re too sentimental.

Only they would have persevered with John Carver as long as they did, purely because he’s an honest-to-goodness local boy, and when they finally saw sense, they give the job to a nice guy who has demonstrated repeatedly that he’s not going to be successful in English football.

And now the poor sod’s got the weirdest haircut in the Premier League, with that little tuft at the front. Used to be a quiff and you can tell he’s still proud of it, but it’s like a bird standing on the beach when the tide’s gone out.

Fair enough, Dave, his follicular problems have nothing to do with his ability as a manager, and he’s endured enough ridicule, but you can’t help noticing, can you?

So who’s next up there in Liverpool? People are talking about Jurgen Klopp, who’s regarded as a bit of a guru, plus we don’t know that much about him, which is always good when you’re speculating.

Sam Allardyce is available but you can’t have that. Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a black and tan. You’ll have to explain to the barman, cos he’s only a nipper. Half a draught Guinness topped up with a bottle of pale ale. And then you can watch while he makes a mess of it – see you in half an hour, mate.

No, I reckon they’re going to go for someone really unlikely. Baseball coach with transferrable skills. Sir Clive Woodward. Nigel Clough. Drew Barrymore. They’re desperate enough, Baz, yes – you’re on the ball tonight, what’s the matter?

Jose Mourinho? Stranger things have happened, but nothing as strange as that. Abramovich probably can’t believe what’s happening, but when he leaves the denial phase he’s going to do something, isn’t he? He’s ruthless – they have to be, shady characters like him.

You know what I reckon? He was having it off with the doctor, Eva Carneiro. Then he got tired of it and told Mourinho to get rid of her.

Like Bill Shankly said, Baz, the only thing that surprises me is that I can be surprised.