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Ref Misses The Point, Man United Lose The Points


On a morning (Eastern time) when all the winners are lower in the table than the vanquished opponents, today is a classic example where people will boast about the greatness of the Premiership and its unpredictability, a great league with tons of entertainment and intrigue.

However, a closer look at one result in particular will show you a classic example where people will pull out another common argument this year: all that’s wrong with refereeing in the Premiership. Simply stated, referee Phil Dowd was having none of a United victory at Craven Cottage today. Manchester United’s play in the first half looked to be enough to settle the matter, but Dowd’s insistence on pedantic “he challenged my authority” cards instead of noticing the “that just drew blood” fouls meant United were always going to be on the back foot.

Cristiano Ronaldo is, beyond doubt, the most polarizing character in worltd football. There is no middle ground with this guy. He’s easy to admire, as evidenced by his sublime talent. His array of flicks, tricks and movement bewitch and bewilder. His pace and power are breathtaking. He’s also easy to hate, as evidenced by the venom spat his way. He loves to preen, show off, and soak in adulation. He has no appetite for tough tackles and tracking back. He shows a disdainful streak towards opponents and referees, to the point where it appears that refs take great joy in refusing his claims for a foul and dishing out cards to the Manchester United #7 instead of giving him the whistle he’s earned.

But make no mistake about it; he is easily the most provoked player in England. In fact, it’s quite admirable that he shows the restraint he does.

Against Fulham, CR7 was clobbered around the pitch. On more than one occasion, John Paintsil clattered the Ballon d’Or winner, driving a knee deep into the thigh, then raking studs down the achilles in two more noteworthy exchanges. Instead of protection from the referee, Phil Dowd took exception to the time spent on the ground from the floored United player and Ronaldo earned a firm talking–to that almost resulted in a card. Eventually, Ronaldo did receive a caution for a foul that resulted due to the referee’s refusal to do his job and address the issue on his own. Finally Paintsil was carded, but it was for a relatively benign trip on Ji-Sung Park. Had Ronaldo been anywhere in sight, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that we would have seen yet another trademark Phil Dowd smirk and “washout” motion, indicating that there would be no love for the men in red.

Ronaldo’s behaviour today was dreadful; lots of complaints, lots of backchat and lots of gestures that showed his displeasure with the way the game was being refereed. But this is actually proof of why respect campaigns are a farce. For, as much as Ronaldo can legitimately be called impetuous, a whiner, a baby, and an egomaniac, all of these titles ignore one simple fact:

He was right. John Paintsil should not have been allowed to participate in 90 minutes of football today, and Phil Dowd missed a hell of a game.

In the 80th minute, instead of carding the offending (again!) Paintsil, referee Phil Dowd decided to ignore the gouge of evidence on Ronaldo’s thigh and give the United villain a stern warning for taking offense to yet another violent foul.

In minute 87, we have another foul, another card, another sending off. The foul? Yes, John Paintsil. The card? That’s right- to Manchester United. Rooney threw the ball back in the direction of where Phil Dowd insisted the foul took place, and Dowd saw fit to offer a second yellow card. Was it the tone in which Rooney returned the ball to the spot of the foul on a United player (by “That man”, again, no less) that drew the ire of the referee? Was it the impression that the ref was somehow “shown up” by a United player? Maybe it was a perverse interpretation of the time wasting rule, as Rooney’s throw went beyond the mark.

But to see two Phil Dowd invest so much time in venting spittle on Ronaldo’s face while other players weren’t named by an announcer unless they were committing fouls, is unacceptable. The referee’s job is to protect players and promote fair play. Through his actions, Dowd maximised face time on TV by ignoring the dangerous play and talking, at length, to the aggrieved.

Was Bobby Zamora carded for dangerously pushing Jonny Evans out of bounds? Was Paintsil punished for his contributions against Ronaldo, which clearly consisted of “kick him in the air and see how long it takes him to land”?

No. Instead, he sent a player off for throwing a ball back to the place of the foul. He gave cards for fouls inflicted when the referee refused to protect the player.

In Sunday’s papers, Phil Dowd will be lauded as a referee who stood up to mighty Manchester United and didn’t flinch. He put the bullies in their place. He barked just as loudly and rashly at any player who would be under threat of caution for exactly the same behaviour. With the exception of a no-brainer intentional handball, his decision making and confrontational behaviour made it clear that he was more interested in promoting himself and make a name at the expense of Manchester United instead of rewarding quality football.

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  1. Dave

    March 23, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Could not disagree more.

  2. ryan

    March 23, 2009 at 3:29 am

    while everyone is certainly entitled their opinion, articles this absurdly biased have zero credibility and demean the integrity of this entire website. as others have said, i don’t think scott was even watching the same game. save crap like this for man utd msg boards.

  3. The Gaffer

    March 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Hi guys, just one additional note. There are no censoring of blog comments unless they contain foul language. If you post a comment and it isn’t automatically displayed, the blog will have moved it into ‘moderation.’ What that means is that the blog noticed something about the comment that indicated it may have been spam. All of the comments that go into moderation are reviewed and, if they’re not spam and they don’t contain foul language, they are approved.

    The Gaffer

  4. The Gaffer

    March 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and there’s no way that readers will agree with every post that’s written. If they did, EPL Talk would be a rather boring place to be. Many of the same points that Scott raised were mentioned by Robbie Savage 24 hours later during a Radio Five Live interview on Sunday morning. The opinions are controversial but they warrant an intelligent debate.

    The Gaffer

  5. TC-Hammer

    March 22, 2009 at 9:19 am

    George Best did that at least according to this book: Sorry for the 2nd post. The other night, I couldn’t get in a late post without premoderation. They may need to go back to that.

  6. TC-Hammer

    March 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Geroge Best was once taking revenge on someone and broke the wrong guys ankle.

  7. SuperLambBanana

    March 22, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I have never read such a load of drivel in all my life!
    Both Rooney and Ronaldo are fine talents but my oh my what whingers they are. You can bring up many brilliant world talents that go about their business with silky skills. Did you ever see Bobby Charlton, George Best, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalgliesh perform like these two overpaid idiots. If the fire is too hot then they should get out. Your post suggests that no other player takes what Ronaldo does? – I am not certain that you even watch the Premiership regularly as your comments are plain stupid.

  8. 50

    March 22, 2009 at 5:22 am

    seriously? thats the game you saw today? United were terrible and deserved to lose…after scholes red,the three points were gone….Theyd were lucky ronaldo wasnt sent off for bitching and moaning before rooney was.

  9. williamhill

    March 22, 2009 at 4:26 am

    it does sound biased and most probably is, but phil dowd was inconsistent yesterday, there was an apparent double standard-esque to his approach in a couple of decisions. saying that, fulham deserved the points especially schwarzer who was incredible.

  10. ArthurArseGooner

    March 22, 2009 at 3:53 am


  11. Cid from Indiana

    March 22, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Oh noes!!! ManU lost a match! The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

    Grow up wanker.

  12. Notcominghereanymore

    March 22, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Someone said it earlier and they were exactly right….everyone has his own blog these days, and that’s all this is: just the work of a lonely, biased and unprofessional hack. I’m not coming to this site anymore, I only wish there were some way to label it on Google as a “complete waste of time.”

    A horribly written article from a truly childish Man U fan.

  13. john

    March 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Epltalk, Scott Bennet – you are all scumbags

    Last week, this website proclaimed that the loss for man u against liverpool was a “blessing in disguise.” You obviously are correct on that one. Also, in the past week FIFA acknowledged that the EPL was probably the best league in Europe; so why can’t Fulham get any credit? Any team can lose to anybody in any given circumstance.

    The reason why you are all scumbags is because this writing is absolutely immature and more importantly biased; this would fit in perfectly for any NYC newspaper. There is nothing wrong with standing up and applauding an opponent for defeating your sacred team…….But I guess you can’t do that either…..

  14. nick

    March 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Dear Scott, ive never seen such crap written by a grown man in my life.
    You must have been watching a different game to me. It was the worst display by a Manchester United team in years.
    United were absolutely crucified in the first half,and were lucky to be only the goal down. If Bobby Zamora didnt need 10 chance to score it would have been all over.
    Granted they were much better in the second half,but just couldnt put the ball away. As for the sending offs-the were textbook clear decisions.
    Scholes was obvious, Rooney was unbelievebly idiotic-even for him. and ronaldo was lucky to stay on the field with his disgraceful challenge.

  15. Raatzie

    March 21, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    MM – gutter. Spelled G-U-T-T-E-R.

    If you crawl back into yours, I might give you a nickel on my way to work.

    But probably not.

  16. MM

    March 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    ArthurArseGooner,This Blog sucks DICCCCCCCCCCCK, Raatzie, Tottenham Tommy — plastic, spelled P-L-A-S-T-I-C

  17. MM

    March 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I love these posts, never seen any of these names until Manchester United loses, and the intelligence of the replies shows why

  18. TC-Hammer

    March 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    I’ve just got to say, I like watching Cristiano which most of us do seeing how he is so talented,

    But he blesses himself, okay, mixed feelings on that in England I suppose, he also often looks to the heavens after scoring and of course, he lost his father so some sport personalities you see do that, like “I scored one for you” and CR has done plenty for charity and trying to find Maddie.

    Despite the so-often proclaimed winker and all this, I think he’s basically a good guy and again, damn be the press, screwed over the 3 Lions plenty and screws over a lot of people, I don’t think the image we often hear is correct. I do wonder about him totalling his Ferrari and one guy who knows the car wrote he’s lucky he was in a Ferrari which I take meaning the car make might have saved him. We have never quite heard the story of that incident.

    Onze magazine, still at the newsagent here, inexpensive and a nice poster of CR getting their player of the year award as well.

    Oh, and let me just say, if someone mentioned FSC; why’d these same guys say “Oh, Drogba represents all that’s wrong with the game”, okay, he’s far from perfect but they had no right to go that far about him.

    Me, mostly unbiased watching the games.

  19. BC

    March 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Anytime a team can wind up one of the big 4, make them whine and complain about unfair treatment to their multi-million-pound players, it fills me with joy. Teams like Man U are so used to having the calls go their way, that when they don’t, it’s as if you took away a candy bar from a utterly spoiled brat. I was thrilled to see the scoreline. I only saw the highlights but Rooney threw an absolute schoolboy fit. He didn’t just throw the ball back to the spot of the foul, he heaved it during a tantrum. He absolutely deserved to be sent off. Good on Dowd for standing his ground. If more officials would do that, perhaps we could start to have some semblance of parity in the league. Of course, that won’t truly arrive until the oligarchy at the top is made to play on level terms with the rest of the league. I do so tire of hearing fans of the big 4 complain about their “problems” when any decent team lower down the table, such as Fulham, would absolutely LOVE to have “problems” of the same degree. I mean, really, must Man U stomp their feet and hold their breath because they may only get 3 trophies instead of 4?

  20. MM

    March 21, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    There’s to much partisan bias here. Here’s the point. I watched the game and thought Manchester United was …. Take a look at 2008 tapes of Phil Dowd, he SUCKS. … back to what you want to read…Manchester UBited played horrible anyway. … BUT Phil Dowd is one of the worse refs I have ever seen dating back 3 years now.

  21. Lud

    March 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Didn’t catch the game, so its hard for me to comment on the veracity. And I’m not a Man U. fan, but I thought the article was well-written.

  22. Raatzie

    March 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Worst. Post. Ever.

    Even the FSC nitwits pointed out that Ronaldo deserved a red for his one tackle and wasn’t even given a yellow.

    I suppose Scholes only deserved a yellow for his van der Sar imitation, too.

    Or maybe Zamora deserved a yellow for having the temerity to smack Scholes in his hands with the ball.

    Simply a godawful post.

  23. whitewash

    March 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Wow. Another ridiculous, bias post. Hahaha, I love seeing the Utd fans so bitter.

    EPL Talk is rapidly becoming a joke..what a shame.

  24. The Gaffer

    March 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Tottenham Tommy, actually the correct spelling of his surname is Paintsil, not Pantsil. See explanation at

    The Gaffer

  25. This Blog sucks DICCCCCCCCCCCK

    March 21, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Every hack has a blog these days. I know you get kicks with seeing your page hits and all your comments accumulate…. But all in all, you Fail big time! Terrible writing and overly biased opinions equal a lonely blogger. We get the picture you like the scummy red team from Manchester. Rooney acts like a fat little spoiled pig and the pizza faced shrek got what he deserved.

  26. Tottenham Tommy

    March 21, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Completely independent of the case that you argued, it is hard for me to take this seriously if you consistently misspell the name of John Pantsil (no “i” in the middle). Seems you were watching him well enough to see the “fouls” but not well enough to learn his surname.

  27. Kevin

    March 21, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    So Scott, if what you say “For every dive you send me, I get a similar number of comments from United fans pointing out a foul that wasn’t called, a penalty that wasn’t awarded, a card that wasn’t given for play deserving one” then shouldn’t it all be even in the end?

    Listen, I’m not saying Dowd was not without fault. He made mistakes today. But even if the players didn’t agree with the calls, they need to be more professional that that. Its the United players who are to blame for acting like spoiled children as much as it is the Ref. You can disagree with a call but that doesn’t mean Rooney should go crazy throwing the ball and showing up the Ref. He deserved to get sent off for acting like a little brat.

    And for every Phil Dowd who doesn’t give United the calls, there is always a Mike Riley who hands out red cards and penalties and OT like they are going out of style.

  28. Scott Bennett

    March 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Hey all,
    First things first: United should have lost on the first half effort alone. Fulham took some of their chances, United took none of theirs.

    Secondly: for those of you labelling hopelessly United, I still have more mail from those who claim I’m ABU from previous articles that didn’t blow smoke up Fergie’s. It’s a shame that the minute “Manchester United” pops up in an article, the opinions must be of a hater / lover. Nobody else is allowed to have an opinion, no fan allowed to complain, no hater allowed to commiserate.


    For every dive you send me, I get a similar number of comments from United fans pointing out a foul that wasn’t called, a penalty that wasn’t awarded, a card that wasn’t given for play deserving one. Like I said, he’s a polarizing figure.

    Based on your comments, you’re saying that what actually happens on the field shouldn’t factor in to what decisions are rendered? That the scar you received today doesn’t matter because you went to ground too easily three weeks ago? Fifteen different-angled replays showed up one of the ref’s mates last week, so it’s not only acceptable, but appropriate for the ref to vent in a player’s face the second he shows the blood drawn for the last foul he claimed wasn’t actual contact?

    That’s exactly the incompetence I’m railing against. It’s the Headmaster’s ritual that incites confrontation then ends it with a big stick. This type of arrogant officiating is exactly what causes so many headaches in lower divisions, but was supposed to be eradicated with the advent of professional referees. Today’s was a shocking case of man-management that was about the ref’s ego instead of football. Dowd caused troubles, then snuffed them out with unnecessary cards. Actually, I’m surprised it didn’t end much worse.

  29. eplnfl

    March 21, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Well just before the game started I said to a friend here who needs to see another ManU-Fulham match.

    Shows you what I know!

  30. Woody

    March 21, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    What a load of cyber crap. Chris/Gaffer, this is the kind of drivel that will quickly erode this site’s credibility.

  31. Kevin

    March 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    You have lost it. If Ronaldo werent always a baby and diving all over the place then Dowd wouldnt have the problem with him you seem to suggest he has.

    I love it when Ronaldo gets the crap kicked out of him. He deserves it for all the soft cards Refs give after Ronaldo dives after not being touched and rolls around as if he were hit with a club. If he werent a winer, baby, and showboat, he wouldnt have these issues.

  32. Jason Gatties

    March 21, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    On my blog, people know I support Fulham. However, I always call it like I see it and I’ve NEVER ONCE made an excuse. This post is flat out pathetic. Rooney deserved the red card (he could have rolled the ball back rather than firing it 50 yards up the pitch, it was clearly another immature reaction from Rooney), Ronaldo deserved his yellow & Manchester United deserved the defeat.

    I don’t comment here much, but I visit this blog daily and have it linked on my blog roll. I’ve even defended this site at times. However, I won’t defend this post. Stop crying, you’re better than that.

  33. Dano

    March 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Jesus Christ. Manchester United fans are the worlds biggest babies. So what? You lost. Get over it. Stop blaming the ref and start blaming the players.

  34. John

    March 21, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    I’m not sure people who attempt to write objectively about a game where they have a vested interest should write an “article” so shortly after a result didn’t go their way.

    This article is over the top and I can just visualize the author throwing his toys out of the pram. This is not something I expect at a site(which I read everyday) to come out with.

  35. Charlie

    March 21, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Rooney should not have picked up the second yellow card, that was a bulls#it garbage call. However take nothing away from Fulham. They bossed the first half and should have been up by more than 1-0 at the half. It was unquestionably the worst half of football United has played this season.

    Fergie picked the wrong team today. Five lineup changes for a match we needed to win on the eve of an international break. WHY?!? Rooney and Carrick should have been in the Starting XI. Compounding the problem of the lousy team selection was the fact the team Fergie picked thought they could just mail it in. It doesn’t work that way.

    I’m really starting to wonder if Berbatov is destined to go down in history as a £32M mistake.

    And finally… Thank You, Spurs, and Up the Villians on Sunday!

  36. todd

    March 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    very interesting take. a bit over the top, but ill give you credit for taking a very unpopluar stance. i have to admit, this was not one of those matches where the ref should be applauded. he was as much a part of the action as he was controlling it. in my view, the scholes call had to happen.. but it set the match on a dangerous path. then the constant no calls on ronaldo just made him lose his head. yes its his fault for losing it, but reply showed he was right much of the time. lastly, the rooney card was silly. silly for rooney to do something that could give him a chance to be sent off, and silly for dowd to take the bait. wiser refs would have read the game better. ill be the first to admit that last week even when calls went against us, they were right and appropriate. today i noticed the ref way too much. however, i dont think it affected the result. united beat themselves today

  37. Django

    March 21, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Whine, whine, whine. Here’s one that is a United fan and actually capable of blaming someone besides the referee for United playing so poorly.

  38. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    is this supposed to be a blog about the premiership or a fan site for manUre?

  39. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    yes fulham!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Gazza

    March 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Come on the Fulham!

  41. matt

    March 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    man that is a great example of biased writing

  42. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    grow up scott, stop cyring.

  43. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    so if liverpool win its down to 2 points right? yesss hurrah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    fulham deserved their victory, manUre lost and you have to live with that

  45. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    its unfortunate that you blame the ref for manUre’s loss instead of giving credit to fulham and admitting that manUre made a mistake. scholes and rooney deserved their cards, thats that, live with the loss and stop crying.

  46. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    fulham deserved their victory, manUre lost and you have to live with that, i wish they would let me write on this site but he wont, he wont have any pro arsenal talk on here.

  47. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    youre biased, whats the point of writing this, to prove youre a fan of manUre? youre awful at writing, i think youre a waste.

  48. hatz

    March 21, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Grow up Scott.

  49. ArthurArseGooner

    March 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    youre biased, whats the point of writing this, to prove youre a fan of manUre? youre awful at writing, i think youre a waste. fulham deserved their victory, manUre lost and you have to live with that, i wish he would let me write on this site but he wont, he wont have any pro arsenal talk on here. its unfortunate that you blame the ref for manUre’s loss instead of giving credit to fulham and admitting that manUre made a mistake. scholes and rooney deserved their cards, thats that, live with the loss and stop crying.

  50. Gaz

    March 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    I’m not sure if we saw the same game.


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