Ref! On Moses and exhaustion

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

 Referee

Evening lads,

That’s about it domestically, then. No, she hasn’t kicked me out, Dave, very funny, I’m talking about the football. After the Cup Final, yes. Funny, isn’t it, you feel like you have to call it the FA Cup Final these days , whereas in the old days there was only one cup final and it was the football one at Wembley in May. Now they’re all over the place: other sports, women’s versions…

Anyway, it wasn’t a bad end to the season, particularly for the Chelsea-bashers who like to see them get beaten. They were all talking about how lethargic the Blues were and how great Arsenal were, but I don’t  know if lethargic is the word. They were exhausted because of the season they’ve had, and they didn’t actually need to win the cup because they already had the Premiership and a place in the Champions League next season.

They’ve been playing above themselves for nine months. Great players and great manager, but they still had to dig deep to get the job done, and the Cup Final was actually something they could have done without. I reckon Victor Moses’ performance summed it up. He’d been going like a one-armed paper-hanger all season, doing two jobs and charging around when really he’s an attacking midfielder, so the tackle he got booked for was just him saying he’d had enough and why did everyone keep having to have a go.

Then the dive in the box, same thing. I reckon he was quite glad to get sent off in the end. I don’t even think he’ll be so keen to do that job next season; we might have seen it all this time, he’s given everything he’s had.

Yes, Baz, seriously, I know you’re a bit anti-Chelsea yourself, but put yourself in their position. Liverpool bugging them for a few months and then Spurs took over. It’s like the rest of the league was doing a relay against them. People even started feeling sympathy for Man City, who I reckon are the least likeable club now.

Arsenal? Good for them. They’ve had a hard time and whether Wenger stays or goes, he’s got another cup to think about. And the club’s got the Europa League next time, which Man U and Chelsea have both shown is worth winning.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a blue cocktail. Blue Curacao and lemonade with a shot of vodka and a squeeze of lemon. No, Dave, it’s not a poof’s drink, just because it looks nice. You stick to your cloudy pints of ale but some of us have emerged from the swamp. The primeval swamp, Baz, where human life apparently came from. Nobody really knows, it’s just another unproven scientific question, like whether Messi or Ronaldo is better.

One thing that is for sure, though, is that we’ve had some good football this year. Spurs have been great and if they’d started like they finished they’d have won it. The point is, can they keep the team together and win something next year? Everybody wants Dele Alli. Walker’s off almost definitely. Lloris could be. Kane’s not going anywhere, but they’ve got to either keep the nucleus or build a new one around him. And Pochettino, yeah, Dave, if the manager goes, that could be the worst thing of all.

City have to rebuild, United have to breathe some life into their football, although Mourinho’s such a grinder that he won’t be bothered as long as they get results. Liverpool have to hang onto Coutinho and bring in some real big guns, but for the last I don’t know how many years they’ve been buying people you’ve never heard of even if they’re quite expensive. Same with Arsenal.

So yes, Baz, that’s it for the summer apart from the Champions League final next week, but there’s no English interest in it, so I don’t even know if I’ll watch. There’s cricket now, gents, and we’re quite good at that now. Pity the Spanish and Italians and Bayern Munich don’t take that up. We’d murder them – for a few years, at least.

 

 

 

Ref! On statistics

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

 Referee

We all like to read about football, don’t we, lads? You can’t watch every game there is, so you read about some and use your imagination. But what’s been creeping in the last couple of years and really gets on my tits, is statistics. I don’t know if they’ve invented some computer program or what, but certain newspapers – and especially online – aren’t happy unless they’ve given you some useless facts.

I agree, Baz, they’ve always given us useless facts, but now they’re finding more obscure things that nobody’s ever thought about because they don’t mean anything. Stuff like “Spurs have never conceded a goal at White Hart Lane when the number 22 bus was going past.”

No, not really, Baz. No, I don’t mean they have conceded when the number 7 was going past, it’s an example. And a stupid example I agree, but then statistics often are stupid. No, I didn’t know the number 22 doesn’t go that way. It was an example, an idea plucked out of the air. Well, I suppose I should get my facts straight, if I was claiming it was true, but I’m not. It’s what they call poetic licence. Don’t you start, Dave, for Gawd’s sake.

There was one last week, somebody scored against Everton in his first game for his new club and the last time he was transferred he also scored in his first game and it was against Liverpool. Something like that. It doesn’t really matter because it doesn’t mean anything, anyway, it’s just a coincidence.

But this journalist with nothing more relevant to say trots it out like he’s just come back down the mountain with Moses, only Moses has got the ten commandments and he’s got the football results.

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a pint of lager. What kind? Work it out for yourself, mate. Statistically, what am I most likely to want? What I always want when I have a pint of lager and somebody else is paying. Peroni.

Yes, that’s the 17th time this season that referee Colin Preece has had a pint of lager, and 13 of them have been Peroni.

It’s the internet that’s to blame for this. Because we leave tracks every time we log onto a site, they can work out how long we stayed on that page and make assumptions about why. And they’ve obviously discovered that a page full of insightful words doesn’t go down as well as one with a few random snippets.

Lazy, you see? The internet makes you lazy. If you’re sitting there with the Sunday paper, you’ve probably only bought the one, and if you don’t fancy a particular story, you can’t just switch to another paper. Unless you go back down the newsagents and get another one. And we’re too lazy to do that.

Which is why so many people don’t buy a paper at all nowadays and the printing industry is dying and chimpanzees are getting jobs writing for websites.

 

 

 

 

Ref! Mis predicciones

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

 Referee

That’s right, Dave, I did indeed get away to the frozen north for New Year. Very nice, thanks. Very cold, Canada, although they were all telling us it was actually quite mild where we were, in Vancouver. They play football there, as you know. Vancouver Whitecaps, named for the snow-tipped mountains outside the city. Peter Beardsley used to play for them, in the NASL, and although that folded and eventually MLS started, the Whitecaps name still exists. No one I’ve ever heard of there now, mind you.

Didn’t miss much down here, did I? Van Gaal getting his knickers in a twist and reality beginning to call out to Leicester. You often find the second half of the season is very different from the first. Like last year, what people tend to forget is that Chelsea were red hot before Christmas but went into a slow dive after it, but they had built up such a lead that they could land the plane even with the engines failing.

It’s a metaphor, Baz, it sort of describes one situation by making you think of another. That’s right, and the engines were still knackered at the start of this season, exactly, but now they’ve had a good service and changed the oil and we shall see. And if we apply another, no not menopause, metaphor, to Leicester , they’ve been bombing down the M1 in an old Transit, passing all the flash Mercs and BMWs, but you can’t do that forever. Sooner or later they’ll pull in at a service station for a full English breakfast and when they go back out to the van it won’t start and when they do get it going it will be on three cylinders.

Cheers, Gary, you’re right, I do need a rest after that. Something English, my good man. Pint of your finest bitter beer, Sire. Have they got a local one? Pigs Tie? Yeah, go on. They must have confidence if they can call it that. And a bag of crisps. Cheese and onion, none of your fancy sour cream and bear-shit-roasted potato chips.

No, Dave, you don’t want my predictions for the rest of the season. Only a fool makes predictions, mate. But since it’s New Year, okay, Spurs win the Premier League narrowly from Man City. United finish mid table, just below Chelsea, and Leicester and Southampton scrape a Champions League place. Watford relegated along with Villa and Norwich.

And a happy New Year to all. May football be the winner, as long as your team does okay in the end.

 

 

Ref! On Klopp and statistics

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

 Referee

Yes, Dave, I was one of the officials at Jurgen Klopp’s first loss as Liverpool manager. And I don’t say that with any pleasure, because it’s not nice to lose in any walk of life, but it happens. He had a very good introduction to the Premier League, with a few wins and draws, including stuffing Chelsea, so he can’t complain.

Plus he comes in with that big toothy grin and he’s probably had half the women in Liverpool throwing themselves at him, so for his own good he has to have a bit of rough with the smooth. Yes, Baz, I suppose some of those Scouse birds must be a bit rough, but you know what I mean.

People were leaving the ground with seven minutes still to play – well welcome to the real world. This isn’t a fairy story – and even if it was, there would have to be a bit in it where the hero faces a challenge. So he’s dropped three points: boo hoo.

Statistically he’s well in the black, not that stats are my favourite thing. Journalists these days tend to throw them in instead of actual insights. You know: Aston Villa have never won away from home on a date with an odd number, that sort of thing.

Who thinks them up, that’s what I want to know. I was reading this morning that in the Arsenal-Tottenham game, Spurs as a team ran 7km further than Arsenal. I mean, is that necessarily a good thing?

Cheers, Gary, I’ll have a light and special, and you don’t have to run round the car park twice before you get it. I’m not interested in your mileage, I’m looking for a pint as quickly as possible.

Mileage – how far players run during a game – that’s only of interest to a certain type of manager. You know Peter Taylor, Brian Clough’s old partner, well the two of them were on holiday in Mallorca once and they met a coach called Sammy Chung on the beach, and Chung’s bragging about how hard he makes his players work. He says he has routines that could make the Forest players physically sick. And Clough says, “When they start awarding three points for that we’ll be in touch.”

No, Baz, it was in Taylor’s book. I never met the guy, I was too young. But he and Clough used to value skill. Hard work as well, like, but not only that. Yes, three points. They used to get three points for a win.

Your cultured midfielder doesn’t have to be chasing all over the park all afternoon. They have other people to do that. Take Eric Cantona, as skilled a player as England has ever seen. In the French national side he had Didier Deschamps doing all the barking and harassing. Cantona referred to him as The Water Carrier, which was disrespectful, but there you go. Cantona was arrogant but brilliant.

A water carrier, Baz – in the Roman army you had the officers with the brains and the soldiers with the heroics and you had these other guys carrying water, because it’s thirsty work. What would you be? You’d be in the front line, mate, the front line.