Give peace a chance

by , May 20, 2011

With the final game of the Premier League season looming above us, a relegation cloud for many on the horizon, I’m not nearly as excited as I should be about the final day drama set to unfold. In truth, it has been on my mind for some time now, but having watched some of Manchester United versus Blackburn game on Saturday, the infamous ‘Respect campaign’ has forced its way to the forefront of my mind.

The struggling Blackburn side led by Steve Kean looked so comfortable up until Jason Roberts sent a thundering header toward a cowering crossbar leaving Rovers unfortunate not to be two goals to the good. Then, the ugly turning point came. Tumbling in the box following a late tackle, Javier Hernandez, the new golden boy amongst United supporters, looked to have won a penalty, only for the referee not to blow up and to seek a discussion with his assistant.

In a red, black, blue and white blur the United and Blackburn players, even those nowhere near the incident, and with absolutely no right to be involved, pounced on the referee and his assistant and began the seemingly practised period of pressure and intimidation that apparently is now just part of being a successful team. I have no particular axe to grind with Manchester United, it just so happens that on this occasion it was them involved. I’ve seen most of the teams in the Premier League behave in such an uncouth manner, and at some point it has simply got to stop. Enough, is enough.

I dream of a Premier League where the ‘Respect campaign’ is utterly unnecessary. One where the captain of both teams will make a well reasoned and passionate point to the officials outlining his side’s view of an incident. I dream of a Premier League where to be a referee in such high profile games that mean so much to so many is an absolute honour, and a pleasure. We can criticise the quality of referees for as long as we like, but until a much stronger platform is provided for them, with only the pressure of the occasion as their judge, it is our attitudes; the whingeing, abusing fans, the play acting, intimidating players, the one sided, no dignity managers that are at fault for this status quo. I doubt John Lennon would have dreamt that his words would ever be used in such a circumstance, but all I am saying, is give peace a chance.

It seems to me that we are fast losing hold of what once was so admirably and perfectly described as the beautiful game. There is nothing beautiful about watching grown men behave like children, or like petty gangsters, there is nothing beautiful about winning a title or escaping relegation because of your underhand tactics. Football is a good thing; a wonderful, uniting, passion evoking part of all of us, and we must fight to keep it that way.

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