On a weekend of high FA Cup drama, Arsenal made it look rather easy against Southampton – or to be accurate Southampton Reserves.
The debate about top teams devaluing the FA Cup and the FA allowing them to do it, is for another day, but this game saw Arsene Wenger sitting in the stands at St Mary’s.
As you will no doubt be aware, Wenger has been banned from the touchline for four games as a result of his conduct after getting sent off against Burnley the week before.
Getting sent off, though, wasn’t the worst thing he did that afternoon. Not by a long shot. Far worse was what he did in the tunnel.
He was asked to move further back – perfectly reasonably – by the fourth official Anthony Taylor, he pushed him.
To put this in context, the longest serving – and one of the most high profile managers in the country – physically pushed one of the top match officials we have and received a four match touchline ban.
What good such a sanction is these days is open to question. All that happened on Saturday is Wenger sat upstairs with an earpiece and gave instructions to the bench. These are technologically advanced times, this is not difficult and it doesn’t seem like much of a punishment does it?
At the same time the FA loves to talk about the Respect Campaign. Exactly what respect they showed for Anthony Taylor this weekend we’ll leave it for you to decide, but it in microcosm this shows why Leisure Leagues will not affiliate to the FA.
If this happened in a Leisure Leagues competition then the player who did it is banned, permanently and without question. The FA allow you back in a couple of weeks after sitting in the stands watching the game and talking on the telephone.
Spot the difference?
Is it possibly because the FA let the clubs run the game while merely keeping up the illusion of being a governing body when every bit of power they have actually in truth belongs to the clubs? That is totally wrong. But it creates a culture where Arsene Wenger can push Referee’s and it leaves the officials open to all kinds of attacks.
Earlier this season, the same referee Wenger laid hands on, can have his integrity questioned based on where he was from last year, then even more shamefully the FA themselves removed a ref from a game last year because he was from Leicester and the game involved their title rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Once they go down this road, then they are undermining their own officials in a way we never would.
So when push comes to show, do you really think the FA is fit for purpose?
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