The Rational Ref

Alan Pardew is what he is - unfortunately

Unsavoury characters, such as the Newcastle United manager, simply cannot be expected to change their nature

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 8:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 8:43pm

Popeye the Sailor Man famously said: "I am what I am", thus paraphrasing the fable of the scorpion and the frog. The wise and experienced understand this only too well and can usually predict with some accuracy how people will act or react based on character and past histories.

Few people then should be surprised when Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew was involved in yet another touchline altercation. He has a history of such confrontations.

His headbutt on Hull City player David Meyler earlier this month was the main focus of every media report covering that match, but not one mentioned how the altercation started.

The likes of Craig Bellamy, Joey Barton, Charlie Adam and Luis Suarez will never change their spots
William Lai

Experienced match officials are taught to look for cause and effect, so it becomes relatively easy to identify the cause when one knows what to look for.

Like the fabled scorpion that drowns by its own actions, Pardew is his own worst enemy, and he alone started the whole melee.

As the ball rolled off the pitch to the Newcastle technical area, Pardew intentionally moved toward the ball in an apparent attempt to "help" Meyler. He did what all players do when they want to waste time; he allowed the ball to "accidentally" run under his foot.

This meant the onrushing Meyler had no time to stop and had to push past an impeding Pardew to get to the ball. This sneaky action makes it appear as though Meyler was the instigator.

Pardew took exception to being pushed, which is why things got heated, and subsequently the headbutt happened.

Serial offenders like Pardew always attempt to make it seem as though they are innocent victims, and when interviewed in front of cameras speak gently in hushed contrite tones. People like him do not deserve to be pardoned.

From a referee's perspective, anyone with unsavoury attitudes and bad-boy reputations operate similarly. The likes of Craig Bellamy, Joey Barton, Charlie Adam and Luis Suarez will never change their spots and we can expect to observe similar incidents specific to their past histories in the near future.

For instance Cardiff City's Bellamy, despite undergoing counselling last season with renowned sports psychologist Steve Peters and despite claiming that he has mellowed with age, was up to his usual tricks again in the recent match against Tottenham Hotspur.

Referee Phil Dowd had to caution the Welshman as images of Bellamy snarling, arguing and haranguing were again recorded for the ages.

In Hong Kong's First Division, Eastern Salon's Li Haiqiang is a local example of a known serial offender. The former South China and Tuen Mun player has, after 15 rounds of matches this season, already amassed seven yellow cards in 10 league appearances, with three of them as a substitute.

He was suspended at the start of the season for having accumulated too many cautions in the previous season. He effectively picks up a card a game.

So should match officials take notice of players' characteristics, especially serial offenders? Players, coaches, pundits and fans take the conventional view that referees must not be biased toward any individuals and must ignore any previous transgressions.

To an extent this is true, but anyone naive and ignorant enough to believe that all players and coaches are angels, and must be treated as such, does not deserve to be involved in the game.

Just as shrewd managers and players in an attempt to influence matches take into account the characteristics of certain referees, smart referees in an attempt better to manage matches will consider the characteristics of certain players and managers.

A final note: Rational Ref was recently racially and verbally abused during an amateur league match. A British coach used the term "yellow c***", the first time I have personally experienced racial abuse in Hong Kong.

Local referees, without native English skills, might never pick up on this racial undertone, but it exists all the same in some quarters. These ugly situations represent all that is wrong about the game.

Sadly, such small-minded offenders probably do not realise that they have done anything wrong - in the same way that Pardew did not grasp the seriousness of his actions when earlier this year he said: "I have apologised for that particular word" after using three insulting words when he called Manuel Pellegrini a "f****** old c***".

It is what it is.

Agree or disagree? Please contact Rational Ref at rationalref@gmail.com