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The Joe Royle column

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 February 2010

CALL me old-fashioned if you will but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to keeping football the way it was and I'm not in favour of introducing technology into the game.

CALL me old-fashioned if you will but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to keeping football the way it was and I'm not in favour of introducing technology into the game.

In fact, I would do away with all video reviews which look at contentious decisions by referees.

We are doing referees a disservice by showing their mistakes. A referee will probably make two or three mistakes over 90 minutes in a good performance and that would be fewer than anyone else on the pitch.

The referee at the Crystal Palace-Leeds game, where a goal was not allowed, for example had a clear view he was 22 yards away with no one in his way. The linesman is there to be on the line to see if it was over the line. If the referee and linesman are competent that would have been avoided.

Every ground you go you hear the chant 'You don't know what you are doing' and I still question the sanity of people who want to be referees, but they do it and they love it.

They love the game, they love the control factor but we are doing them a disservice by constantly bringing in replays.

I can remember as a brash 17-year-old plucking up the courage to tell top referee Gordon Hill 'You're having a stinker referee' and he told me 'You're not doing so well yourself young man, in fact you are going to be substituted in a minute' and I was.

The old-fashioned referees used humour and common sense and we should be helping them more these days.

I have had more rows with David Elleray over the years than I care to remember but now as he is finding maturity and not applying the rules so rigidly he has become a better referee for it.

We need to find ways of helping and not putting more pressure on them.

I would ban all managers from talking about referees until at least 24 hours after a game.

I know we managers blame referees and I can remember at Manchester City we had a month of bad decisions, including having the goal of the season disallowed, but there is no mitigation in relegation and you can't blame referees.

We had 38 games to stay up but we (Manchester City) didn't do it.

I have been guilty of saying a few things about referees but I have been big enough to write to them later and apologise.

That said, there are some referees who are not good for away teams. There are some it seems to me who are swayed by home crowds.

There is nothing we can't do with technology but by introducing it you are taking away the thrills, the controversy and the conjecture of the game.

If we were to introduce American-style technology then the game would change completely.

If you are going to make the game so clinical and sterile that we all stop and wait for a camera with a green light or red light then we should try it in a pre-season game, but I'm not convinced.

The drama of the cup is you need the luck, need a break, that is why there is giant-killing. But even then invariably the best teams get to the finals and over a league season decisions do level out.

I hear the cry that there is so much money at stake but again if you are changing it for money then that is the wrong reason.

There are worrying signs once more in the national media that they are showing a lack of respect to the England manager.

It started many years ago with the assault on Bobby Robson, then carried on through Graham Taylor and Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan and it worries me the way they are now treating Sven-Goran Eriksson.

I'm an England fan and I have been disappointed with some performances but we do have an over-expectation in this country with the players we have got.

I said during the World Cup when I was working in the media that if you were to pick a World XI there wouldn't be any England players threatening to be in it. As much as we have our heroes, the best two teams in this country have very few Englishmen in them.

So Sven doesn't have the hand to deal that perhaps people thought. To get to the World Cup, especially after the 1-0 home defeat by Germany, was a fantastic achievement but equally I was disappointed with our performances once we got there.

This thing about friendly games and player availability is nothing new and there is no right or wrong about whether to play them for 45 minutes.

I personally wouldn't do it because I feel if you are going to get anything out of it you need to see players for a full game or as near as possible.

There can not be much gained by losing to Australia or not letting some of the young players be in the side with the senior players – and can you really give half a cap?

But I'm not slamming Sven, it is just my view. Sven thinks differently and it has been successful for him but I can't see the benefit.

He may be doing it for football reasons but it does also look as if he is doing it to appease Premier League managers and I can see their point of view. There are so many games, especially if they are in two domestic cups, the Premiership and the Champions' League. The last thing they need in their eyes are unimportant non-related international games.

We have too many games in total now. We have a major tournament every year, either qualifying or playing in them.

Perhaps we should lose a domestic cup, or give the big teams the option of not entering and that would help them, so they in turn may be more inclined to help the national team.

MY style of management is a little different to Fergie's and I can honestly say I have never hurt a player in the dressing room, accidentally or otherwise.

I came close after a cup final once but I won't go into that.

I get angry at times but I believe in controlled anger. I also don't concentrate too much on defeat, I prefer to look ahead to the next game. You can't affect what has gone so if you do blow your top it is for your own gratification and can't change what has gone.

It is an emotional business with a lot of volatile characters but in a 20-year span I have not thrown or kicked anything.

FINALLY, I'm delighted to hear BBC Suffolk commentator Brian Knight has come out of hospital after pneumonia.

I'm even more delighted to hear he has vowed to stop smoking and long may that continue. It will be great to see him back at games with the cans on.

While I'm on that subject, can I make a heart-felt plea to restauranteurs for more non-smoking areas?

During a very good meal in a lovely restaurant in Las Palmas recently we were literally smoked out by a group of Spaniards smoking cigars and even worse another table who kept their cigarettes alight during the meal and smoked between mouthfuls as if they were laboratory Beagles – and they were English.

As told to Derek Davis


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