What do players want from Refs ?

Published on 3 November, 2016 
By: Mark Williams

Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew criticised the appointment of Andre Marriner for their game against Liverpool last weekend, while my manager at Wycombe Wanderers, Gareth Ainsworth, has continually called for professional officials in Leagues One and Two.
Referees are essential and their performance is always under scrutiny, but what's the difference between a good and not-so-good one from a player's point of view?
Apart from getting decisions correct, I would say that the main thing is communication.
If a referee is willing to converse with the players, I find that they keep control of the game a lot better and there is a lot less chance of the players causing them issues.
The times when problems have arisen have invariably been when a referee wants to rule by his whistle and the whistle alone.
In those games, cheap bookings are often handed out and there is a general undercurrent of problems for the officials. Instead of working together, the officials and players seem to work against one another.
I have always tried to get on with referees, but have played both with and against players who continually berate officials from the first whistle to the last.
What does that really achieve? A good rapport with the man in black can make the 90 minutes so much more enjoyable.
On Saturday we were fortunate enough to have Lee Probert take charge of our game at Doncaster. At one point during the first half, I felt that he missed a foul on me and I made my point to him. Straight away he said: "Yeah, I think you're probably right, Matt."
Whether he did, or whether he didn't think, that I was right, or whether he was just paying lip service to my complaint, it didn't matter. He diffused the situation immediately and we both got on with the game.
Thinking back on the incident after the game I really appreciated how he handled it. His man management of that situation alone showed me what a top referee he is.
I have been given yellow cards for both dissent and kicking the ball away this season and I can honestly say that I still feel very aggrieved at the decisions.
Both referees obviously had a reason to book me, but I still think that a bit more common sense could have been shown. The state of the game and the emotion and timing of the incidents played a major role in both bookings.
The best performance from a referee I have experienced was by Mark Clattenburg.
He refereed our league game at Shrewsbury over the festive period a couple of years ago and controlled it with an assurance that you would expect from someone who has officiated at World Cups, European Championships and Champions League finals.
His communication was fantastic; he talked through the whole game, explained some decisions and told the players what he thought of them if they were giving him some grief.
There was no doubt who was in charge, but it always seemed fair.
We've been on the wrong end of some disappointing decisions in recent weeks, and it's frustrating when you hear that the refereeing bodies actually agree with you rather than the referee with the benefit of hindsight and video replays.
Football is our livelihood and careers, particularly at this level, can be determined by the narrowest of margins.
Gareth Ainsworth has called for professional referees throughout the EFL, and I think it would be a fantastic step forward for football if it was to happen.

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