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For too long football has been too attached to the idea of a man in the middle making decisions - it's time to appeal to players' sporting sense and let them police themselves

By George Ankers

Football no longer needs referees


We all have something, be it a toy, a friend or a love of the Star Wars movies, which we hold onto for far too long.

We convince ourselves that we need it in our lives, that it is simply a part of how things work from day to day, or even that we actually like or love it. But the truth is that, the longer that we hold onto it, the more it holds us back from fulfilling our potential.

This weekend, the Premier League may finally have proved to itself that it has outgrown the referee.

It's not about a conspiracy to control results – after all, that particular plot was foiled by Jose Mourinho's little-reported saber-toting rampage through the FA headquarters back in 2005. The officiating malaise is down to incompetence, a horde of blind, unfit mice scurrying around pitches in a vain attempt to keep up with modern players.

With lunacy like Luis Suarez's onside goal being ruled offside and Chicharito's offside goal being ruled onside on Sunday alone, surely it is time to ditch the outdated concept of a third party officiating a match. Footballers are grown men; they can settle any disputes on their own.

Indeed, without the neutral figure of the referee on whom they can and therefore do blame everything on, the sport would surely become a more peaceful place.

GOOD WEEKEND
Micah Richards
Getting injured at the earliest opportunity after admitting to TV cameras that he doesn't understand Roberto Mancini's formations was a masterstroke. Now the defender can go off and recuperate as far away from the Manchester City boss' this-is-for-embarrassing-me death glare as he can.

Reading
Or, to give them their full name: 'Oh, er ... it's coming to me. Just, um ... come on, I know this. The 20th team in the Premier League ... aaaaaare ... Reading? Yes? Woohoo!'. First on 'Match of the Day'! People have finally noticed that the Royals are there!

The Capital One Cup
It may not be anyone's favourite competition but, with Sunday's Premier League clash effectively ruined by refereeing, suddenly Chelsea v Manchester United has become a fascinating rematch. Hopefully we'll be able to watch 90 minutes of it this time.
Picture the idyllic harmony as footballers let loose their inner cricketers, sportingly holding their hands up when they stray offside, holding said hands out to help an opponent up after a tackle, and relentlessly fixing every possible aspect of the match. OK, maybe not cricket, then.

We all have to move on from that toy, friend or Star Wars franchise. The sooner that football realises that men like Mark Clattenburg are that scene from 'Attack of the Clones' where Hayden Christensen complains about sand, the sooner that they can stop waving imaginary yellow cards. And start waving imaginary AWESOME cards instead.

Down with diving

All of that stuff above about scrapping referees? Ignore it. MTW has changed its mind. Referees aren't the problem. It's the divers. Aaaagh! The divers! They make MTW so mad! Something must be done.

How dare Fernando Torres exaggerate a slight contact just like every single one of his peers, regardless of club, does several times per match? What do you mean, it's more complicated than it looks? He fell over! Send him off!

Clearly, the current FA strategy of instituting brief, frenzied crackdowns on the slightest hint of simulation every time that it hits the news is not working. A fresh approach is required to clean the beautiful game of this hideous crime.

MTW's proposed strategy is simple. After every game, without exception, each club must nominate one of its own players who they judge to have performed the single worst dive of the day. That player must then forfeit a week's wages to the FA. They'll be falling over themselves to stay on their feet.

As a follow-up, when the teams emerge from the tunnels for the start of the next match, each club's last offender must walk out onto the pitch a few seconds after their colleagues. At which point, the stadium PA blares out LMFAO's wacky dance hit 'Sexy and I Know It' at full volume. Maybe make the shamed players wear tutus...


"Darn it! *sigh* ... I've got passion in my pants and I'm not afraid to show it."

Quote of the weekend

"I thought they were a Scottish club"

Stephane Mbia must have been thrilled to join amateur side Queen's Park

MTW Mailbag

Dear MTW,

I'll cut to the chase here: I'm sorry. What I did to you and everyone who cared about me on Saturday was wrong.

I know that I've never been scintillating company in the past but you had every right to expect that I would make more of an effort not to be such a crushing bore, an unremittingly negative anti-companion.

It's just that I'm going through some stuff right now – it feels like I'm just stuck in the middle of the road with no real prospects of career advancement any time soon. Still, though, that doesn't give me any excuse to break a guy’s leg.

I hope that you can forgive me. Even if you don't, though, I'll come back next year, just in case you change your mind. Please give me another chance then.

BAD WEEKEND
Paul Lambert
Paul, MTW doesn't like to pry, but ... are you SURE that swapping Norwich City for Aston Villa was a good idea?

Anyone who watched Aston Villa 1-1 Norwich City
On second thought, they're both
as bad as each other. Down! Down! Down!

Gervinho
MTW couldn't decide whether coming on for five minutes, doing nothing and then getting stretchered off counted as a good weekend or a bad one for the enigmatic composure-shunner. On one hand, he did nothing and got stretchered off; on the other, he didn't step in any bowls of custard or fluff even a single chance comically wide. Let's call it bad, though - custard would at least have been funny.
Yours sleep-inducingly,

S. Citynilsunderlandnil, Stoke-on-Trent

Save it! MTW has been hurt before...

Football's deadliest court jester
Luis Suarez (Liverpool)

Luis Suarez. There, that's out of the way. MTW understands that seeing his name forces many of you, dear readers, to jump straight to the comments section and spout off something like: "He's such a cad!" So go on. Get it out of your system now.

All done? Right then, let's continue. Suarez is brilliant, isn't he? And terrible. In fact, it is the fact that he is so brilliant that makes him so terrible. The Uruguayan summed himself up on Sunday by making the Merseyside derby all about him.

Mixed in with his game-changing basically-a-hat-trick-ignore-the-fine-print, the Reds goalgetter had a typically up-and-down match. The only thing funnier than Raheem Sterling's second-half miss, for example, was Suarez chewing the youngster out for wayward finishing (glass houses, Dr Woodwork!).

A greater moment of genius than either of his come-on-it-really-was-three goals, though, was the celebration of his first. The run to David Moyes and comical mock-dive was both delightfully immature and facepalmingly predictable, making it objectively hilarious when fate bit our hero in the backside in the final moments.

In teasing the Everton boss so brazenly, Suarez had sealed his own destiny in a moment of karma that football nails more often than it should. The fact that Liverpool have manufactured a situation in which they live or die based on whether their only striker succeeds crowns him as football's deadliest court jester.

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