Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Don't look back? In anger

Yesterday afternoon simmering discontent became boiling fury as the FA announced that, contrary to expectations, Wigan's Callum McManaman would not be charged or banned for Sunday's potentially career-ending challenge on Massadio Haidara. As ludicrous as the decision sounds, it's been justified on the grounds that to do otherwise would be in contravention of the FA's own rules, which guard against "re-refereeing" matches after the final whistle: "Where one of the officials has seen a coming together of players, no retrospective action should be taken, regardless of whether he or she witnessed the full or particular nature of the challenge."

In this instance, "it has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together" (the linesman, as Mark Halsey had his view obstructed, regardless of whatever nonsense Dave Whelan and Roberto Martinez have been spouting), but it's the rest of the sentence is the most striking: "... though not the full extent of the challenge." If they had seen the "full extent" - as those watching at home did instantly - then they couldn't have failed to send the winger off. Players are punished retrospectively all the time, and just because the linesman happens to have seen the incident and unfathomably failed to flag doesn't diminish or detract from the seriousness of the offence. It's appalling that the Wigan player has essentially escaped a lengthy and thoroughly deserved ban purely on a technicality of the FA's own fabrication.

Understandably the club hierarchy are incandescent about this latest (non-)development. A ban may not have righted the original wrong, but it would at least have gone some way to dissipating the sense of injustice. Llambiarse was immediately on the warpath, declaring the FA's disciplinary process "not fit for purpose" and demanding urgent reforms. A completely appropriate and justified response, and yet one which you just know will turn out to be whistling in the wind - the chances of those fat, blazered buffoons putting in place sensible policy changes any time soon are zilch. I vote we set John Carver on them.

Llambiarse was rightly critical too of the fact that we learned of the decision second-hand, via the media rather than the FA themselves, and also took the opportunity to attack Delusional Dave Whelan for his preposterous claims that it was "a fair challenge".

Mirror journalist and friend of JFK Simon Bird has suggested that, depending on the severity of Haidara's injury (on which there's been no fresh update), we may look into the possibility of legal action. There is a precedent for it - indeed, we know that only too well, having had to settle out of court following a very nasty challenge from Kevin Nolan on Everton's Victor Anichebe. That said, Bird did also confidently predict that McManaman would be hit with a three-game ban, so it might be worth taking the claim with a smidgen of salt.

Anyway, now that the FA have officially sanctioned violent assault and grievous bodily harm, the Mackems would be well advised to watch their kneecaps ahead of next month's meeting at St James' Park. Perhaps we should keep Mr T chained up in a darkened room and fed on nothing but Stella until then...

Let's leave the final word to Little Big Lad, writing on Facebook: "I so hope Wigan go down."

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