Filed: Wednesday, 5th February 2014
By: Paul Walker
You sensed it was only going to end one way, however much we all hoped and prayed that Andy Carroll was going to have his red card overturned.
So much of the opinion and anger revolving around Chico Flores’ disgraceful behaviour on Saturday was irrelevant to the issue.
It boiled down in the end to whether the FA were going to accept the evidence and word of their very best referee Howard Webb, or tell him that he got it very, very wrong from a matter of 20 yards away when Carroll’s flaying arm caught Flores in the pony-tail.
Webb could have handled it very differently. He could have penalised the Swansea man for his challenge on Carroll in the first place, the clattering from behind and the arm round the neck as the pair fell in a heap.
But would that have stopped Carroll bringing his arm round the way he did a split second later? All that mattered in the end was Webb’s interpretation of intent, his opinion as to whether Carroll meant to clip the Spaniard or whether it was an accident.
He could have booked Flores for ungentlemanly conduct once the half dozen forward rolls had stopped, but he didn’t. And although the FA have rules that govern diving, I am not sure they have any that covers such theatrical nonsense.
Maybe they should look at Flores’ conduct in isolation, and charge him for blatant cheating. But they probably won’t.
The player should be hounded out of the game as a cheat, pilloried by every fan in the country and have it made very clear to him that he is not wanted in our game. The PFA can condemn him, if they dare. Swansea can sack him, which they won’t.
But nothing will help Carroll at this moment. He misses three crucial games we must win to build on the good result against Swansea, a result that Carroll had much to do with achieving.
Flores, though, should be booed on every ground in the country. But none of that will have any impact on the fact that Webb thought Carroll intended to clip the defender in the way he did.
Once Webb has decided that in his view Carroll meant it, it is very hard to prove he made a mistake. It is his view alone that matters to the FA. That is what they trust him to do, what he is there for.
The wording of the law that covers such a red card says ‘strike or attempt to strike an opponent.’ You do not have to connect in anyway. It does not matter whether Carroll made contact or not. If you throw a punch at a player and miss, it is still a red card offence.
Now Carroll may not have intended anything of the sort. Opinion is divided. But what does not matter at all is what Flores did, however distasteful.
His behaviour was appalling. Rolling around, clutching his face when no contact was made at all with that part of his body is as distasteful as anything I have seen on a pitch for a very long time. His fellow professionals should condemn him.
But I actually doubt that all of that blatant cheating had any impact on Webb’s deliberations. He took advice from the fourth office, that was obvious, but you can bet your life that all the officials were interested in was Carroll’s intent, or not.
Only Carroll knows whether he was trying to make contact. We can all have an opinion, mine was that his action was one of frustration, sheer annoyance at the initial challenge. I have wanted to believe that ever since, but deep in my stomach I knew how the FA would react, despite all the uproar and twitter frenzy.
What has surprised me is how many players, current and past, do not understand the wording of the law.
But my opinion and theirs is as irrelevant as anyone else. Only Webb’s view is of interest to the FA.
And did we really expect that they were going to tell Webb, the World Cup Final referee and our only official going to Brazil, that his opinion was wrong. I doubt it, this was not one of the new mickey mouse referees on the Premier League list, it was Webb, their very best.
He is just like the policeman in court that the magistrates always believe. I have seen suggestions that West Ham could take the case to court. We have also had Carroll’s own “disgraceful” reaction on Twitter.
Frankly I hope we don’t further antagonise the FA with any more action, and I wish Carroll could have just held his silence. No good will come of any of that.
What we must do is regroup, find a way to play without Carroll and not use it as an excuse for failure over the next three matches. We have an admittedly short of match fitness Italian in Marco Borriello to play up front, that is unless big Sam reverts to type and plays Carlton Cole. But Ricardo Vaz Te can also play as a striker, and I am sure like me, you are not too bothered about Mo Maiga being at QPR, fat lot of good he has been for us this season anyway.
I am gutted with the decision by Webb and the FA but if I am really honest I am more gutted that Carroll allowed himself to be put in such a position in the first place. It really would be nice is we could keep 11 players on the pitch for a change.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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