Anorak News | Life Of Riley

Life Of Riley

by | 25th, October 2004

‘MATCHES between Manchester United and Arsenal are never dull affairs and yesterday was no exception – even if it failed to end in the all-out brawl of last season.


The Mirror says United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was pelted with pea soup by an Arsenal player in “an extraordinary tunnel bust-up”, while Thierry Henry squared up to United keeper Roy Carroll.

The reason? A controversial penalty given by referee Mike Riley for what looked for all the world like a dive by Wayne Rooney.

The penalty was duly converted by Ruud Van Nistelrooy, who famously missed from the spot in the corresponding fixture last year, and Rooney himself added a late second to ruin Arsenal’s unbeaten Premiership run.

Arsene Wenger was predictably not happy with Riley’s performance.

“This defeat is very difficult to take because we feel like we were robbed today,” he tells the Sun. “We felt we were the better team, but the referee made the difference.”

The Sun’s Steven Howard agrees. Rio Ferdinand, he says, should have been sent off as early as the 18th minute for bundling over Freddie Ljungberg when the Swede was through on goal.

Van Nistelrooy should also have received his marching orders for a blatant stamp on Ashley Cole and then, of course, there was the penalty…

However, he points out, United should also have had a penalty when Cole brought down Cristiano Ronaldo in the box.

“Yes,” he concludes, “they [United] rode their luck thanks to the incompetence of referee Mike Riley, but, as Alex Ferguson always says, it’s swings and roundabouts in games like these.”

Always says? Or only says when he knows his side have got the better of the decisions…

Also whingeing about the referee this morning is Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan, who the Mirror suggests might be facing an FA misconduct charge after slamming Steve Dunn’s performance in his side’s 4-3 defeat at Newcastle.

“We would like a bit of fairness,” he said. “I have told him so in his office and will say so now. The ref had one today, a major one…”

All these post-match diatribes about the performance of the referees are as dull as they are unseemly, but it is indisputable that the standard of officiating in the Premiership is appalling.

The Mail notes that Riley has now awarded eight penalties in his eight visits to Old Trafford, a statistic that is about as likely to be coincidence as the ever-improving A-level results.’

Posted: 25th, October 2004 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink