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The Midweek Moan: Good goalkeepers get a raw deal and the real reason referees have it so rough

Where's my award?: Brad Friedel complains to a referee. Photo: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Where's my award?: Brad Friedel complains to a referee. Photo: Stephen Pond/EMPICS

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
1:05 PM

Welcome to London24’s weekly column taking a frustrated look at the world of sport and having a good old-fashioned rant to get it off our chests. This week, goalkeepers and referees - they’re tough jobs but somebody has got to do them...

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Goalkeepers have the roughest job in football. They are rarely the heroes and often the villains.

When it comes to awards they are always beaten by strikers who grab the headlines.

Take January’s player of the month award – Julio Cesar was pipped to the gong by Reading’s Adam Le Fondre.

I’ll accept that the Royals frontman had a great month scoring five times in 85 minutes; however I believe that Cesar was incredible and prevented QPR from losing in every game and would have been a worthy winner.

It smacks of an anti-goalkeeper agenda.

When you think that the award has only gone to goalkeepers seven times – Arsenal’s David Seaman and Alex Manninger, Tim Flowers for Blackburn and Leicester, Leeds’ Paul Robinson, Chelsea’s Petr Cech and Fulham’s Mark Schwarzer – it makes a mockery of it.

For instance, great goalkeepers like Peter Schmeichel, Neville Southall and Brad Friedel have never been awarded the gong.

The Danish stopper who guarded the Manchester United goal was awarded an honorary MBE in 2000 for his services to football but he was never awarded the player of the month.

Yet, because of the nature of goalkeepers, if they make a big mistake it is noticed as 99 times out of 100 it results in a goal.

Most television pundits are quick to lay the blame on the stopper, even Gary Neville, who I think is the best in the business at the moment.

They say you have to be crazy to be a goalkeeper and if you’re one that loves to be praised you’ll have to have a worldie to earn it.

Southend goalkeeper Paul Smith earned praise from Brentford fans for his performance against them in the FA Cup third round replay.

It helped that the former Southampton man was a favourite at Griffin Park but his performance was incredible that he even shared the sponsors’ man-of-the-match award, reserved for Bees players.

Another job that is hard to win praise for in football is being a referee.

At top flight level, every major decision is scrutinised from every possible angle and in slow motion – something that officials don’t have at the time.

I am not a fan of criticising referees but Paul Tierney has caught my eye, for the wrong reasons, twice in the past few weeks.

His performance at Brentford v Leyton Orient was shambolic and it is believed he received a dressing down from his assessor for missing a clear penalty.

He only produced a yellow card twice all game – both times to Jake Bidwell.

The first was acceptable, at the time, for kicking the ball away but less so when he decided not to book a Hull player for the exact same offence against Millwall on February 2.

The second was for a foul though there were others that, not only looked worse, but went unpunished as the Bees drew with the O’s.

Contrary to popular belief, journalists can accept that mistakes are made. We don’t expect referees to be perfect – they are human after all.

What we, and supporters, expect is consistency from match officials.

Compare that to Jonathan Moss, who was in charge of Brentford’s 2-2 FA Cup draw with Chelsea. He put in a calm, consistent performance, although Blues fans might say they should have had a penalty for a handball, and he repeated it against QPR the following weekend.

He made mistakes in that game – the yellow card for Norwich defender Michael Turner for essentially winning a header was a poor decision.

Football fans, and that is what sports journalists are, look at the referee’s name and will have a pre-conceived judgement on the official from past experience.

Certainly, when I saw Tierney’s name at The Den 10 days ago against Hull, I expected an inconsistent performance and that was what was served up.

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