Early Doors

Respect, Rafa-style

Early Doors

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While poking around the FA website, Early Doors was
surprised to discover the ill-fated Respect campaign lives on, despite
widespread derision.

Phase two of the project has involved hiring Hollywood hardman Ray Winstone to
prove the FA won't take any bovver,
and then hammering home their message by, er, having a meeting.

Rafa Benitez explains: "We had a meeting the other day,
and they said we cannot talk about the referee as a person or the decisions."

Trouble is, as he was saying that, he was tugging provocatively
at his glasses
, indicating his belief ref Phil Dowd might benefit from a
trip to Specsavers.

Dowd had just denied Liverpool
a borderline penalty against Tottenham, a decision that condemned them to a 2-1
defeat
.

Benitez then decided the power of mere suggestion was not
enough, and decided to fly in the face of the aforementioned meeting with a personal attack on both Dowd and the fourth
official.

Rafa ranted: "Everybody could see there was a penalty. It
was so clear, it is unbelievable. With this referee, I knew this (a second
penalty) was impossible."

He then turned his anger on fourth official Stuart Attwell,
who infamously 'scored' Reading's phantom goal at Watford.

"The fourth official is a young referee, and maybe he
needs to calm down a bit. I do not know how old he is, but the fourth official
is too young."

An unwillingness to stir up regional hatred prevents ED
from commenting further on the irony of Liverpool's manager uttering the words "calm down"
in the middle of a furious tirade, but it certainly enjoyed the logic of Benitez's parting shot: "I do not know how old he is,
but the fourth official is too young."

- - -

Attwell last season awarded Reading a goal after the ball had crossed the
line three yards wide of the right-hand post.

On Saturday, referee Rob Shoebridge and his crack team of
officials provided the Yin to Attwell's
Yang, disallowing a goal by Crystal
Palace's Freddie Sears that went in, hit a metal stanchion
at the back of the net and bounced back out.

Palace manager Neil Warnock's
first post-match interview was a thing of almost surreal brilliance, consisting
not so much of sentences as seemingly unconnected phrases, barked with
boggle-eyed intensity.

"Man on the moon...
130mph serves at Wimbledon... Scudamore and
his people... two pieces of wool across the goalline."

Early Doors was left to
conclude that the Football League were being urged to employ Buzz Aldrin and
Ivo Karlovic to stand either side of the goal and hold the bits of woollen
string like the winning tape at the London Marathon.

Thankfully, Warnock loves
nothing more than a live microphone and, given several attempts, he managed to
refine his original rant to the slightly more cogent, though less entertaining,
following:

"We can put a man on the moon, time serves of 100 miles per hour at Wimbledon, yet we cannot place a couple of sensors in a
net to show when a goal has been scored."

It was a remark that
provided proof positive that Warnock is still living in the 1960s, almost long
enough ago for goalline technology to prove that Geoff Hurst's second in the World Cup final definitely did not
cross the line.

It also provided a
jolting reminder that the pinnacle of human achievement was 40 years ago, and
since then homo sapiens has been on a long helter-skelter ride into oblivion.

Warnock offered personally
to push the species further into the abyss with draconian punishments for the
hapless men in black.

He said Shoebridge and his linesman should be banned for a
year each, then accused Bristol City of cheating and said it would be a "waste
of time" to ask the Football League to replay the game.

Of course, these kinds of errors are nothing new, as any
long-standing Palace fan will tell you. Twenty-nine years ago, Clive Allen rifled in a glorious free-kick
against Coventry, only for the officials to miss it altogether.

Despite John Motson repeatedly claiming the ball had come
back "off the woodwork", it had quite obviously cannoned back off the
stanchion in the top-right corner (Clearly, Motty's
inability to spot the bleeding obvious cannot be put down to old age).

Rather than calling for everybody involved to have their
hands cut off, then-Palace boss Terry Venables managed to display a modicum of
good grace, quipping: "There's
no doubt in my mind it hit the iron stanchion at the back. If he's saying we've
got to hit a particular part of the goal, that's
different."

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY 1: David Beckham after being sent off for LA Galaxy: "It
was a hard tackle but by no means a red card. But that's
the inconsistency we have got with some of the officials in the league."

QUOTE OF THE DAY 2: LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena:
"When you throw yourself into that kind of tackle there's a chance you're
going to get sent off. He's been in
enough rodeos to know that."

FOREIGN VIEW 1: Morocco defender Youssef Rabeh has been suspended by Levski
Sofia after he was arrested for drink-driving for the second time in six months
despite being banned from driving.

The 24-yaer-old Rabeh was given a three-year
suspended sentence by a Sofia
court and had his driving licence confiscated for a year after he was found to
be over the alcohol limit when he was involved in a road accident in February.

Champions League hopefuls Levski also fined
Rabeh £25,000 while local media suggested he could face a jail term for driving
illegally.

FOREIGN VIEW 2: Mexico will not complain to CONCACAF about US forward Landon
Donovan having played against them while suffering from swine flu.

"We won't
put forward any official protest because it's
clear that if he had contact with his team mates they (the US) did not have the
objective of harming someone," Mexico's
national teams president Nestor de la Torre said.

The U.S. federation announced on Friday
Donovan had come down with mild symptoms of the H1N1 virus, having become aware
of this when the team were back in the US after losing 2-1 to Mexico in a
CONCACAF region World Cup qualifier at the Azteca.

Mexican players said Donovan had been irresponsible
to have played. Mexico
is among countries worst hit by the virus.

COMING UP: A feast of features looking back at the weekend,
including Premier League and Championship teams of the week, Winners and Losers,
Fantasy and, all being well, a podcast.

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