The one lesson Spanish football could learn from Scotland
ItÃ¢ÂÂs going to happen one day. LLL is sure of it.
One fine, tranquil evening, a manager in la Liga will stroll into a press room, sit down in the hot seat, take the first question which is guaranteed to concern the refereeing of the game and confess that Ã¢ÂÂwe got a few decisions go our way today. In fact, theyÃ¢ÂÂve been going our way all season. Crazy really, but there you go.Ã¢ÂÂ
But every week until this moment of bliss arrives, the newspapers and TV screens will be stuffed full of coaches and players bleating on about how referees are out to get them in every minute of every match. Meanwhile their club presidents will lie through their teeth by boasting that they would never normally complain about the man in the middle but that a dossier is being sent to the FA, on this particular occasion, blah, blah, blah...
The weekend just gone witnessed Levante manager LuÃÂs GarcÃÂa almost in tears like an iddy, biddy baby, threatening to quit over an offside decision that cost his team a point against Valencia in a 1-0 defeat, completely ignoring the fact his side royally sucked over 90 minutes probably had more to do with the eventual result.
LuÃÂs GarcÃÂa - bib, rattle and rusk not pictured...
Later that evening, Levante club president, Francisco Catalan, bleated on Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser, that the decision wasnÃ¢ÂÂt an isolated incident and that refs have been on LevanteÃ¢ÂÂs case all year.
The presenter gallantly tried but failed to defend the call in question, admitting he felt the decision was a tough one due to the speed of the pass and subsequent run from Juan Mata, but Catalan was having none of it. Ã¢ÂÂI have to keep on fighting on behalf of my players, for the supporters,Ã¢ÂÂ said the Levante big wig stubbornly.
With that comment, Catalan knocked the whole problem with referee-bitching on the head - itÃ¢ÂÂs a handy way to distract fans and the media from abject performances with a bit of a whine and a moan as Lily Allen would put it.
A classic example of this was JosÃÂ© MourinhoÃ¢ÂÂs famous club-crested list detailing everything the referee got wrong in a clash against Sevilla just before Christmas in which, by amazing coincidence, Real Madrid were generally quite poor. Ã¢ÂÂDespite this, (Madrid) wonÃ¢ÂÂ said MarcaÃ¢ÂÂs diversionary front cover the day after with the words plastered over a photo of the referee.
Villarreal boss, Juan Carlos Garrido, was another gripe-monger on Sunday night, thanks to Real MadridÃ¢ÂÂs third goal which he felt was given by the meany-head ref despite two offsides - complaints completely reversed in a 1-0 defeat to Getafe when he grumbled that the referee Ã¢ÂÂdidnÃ¢ÂÂt helpÃ¢ÂÂ his side by stopping the game too much - despite sending off a Getafe player during one of said stoppages
Curiously, ValenciaÃ¢ÂÂs Unai Emery was fairly quiet about Juan MataÃ¢ÂÂs offside winner at the weekend, and in the match before that, but was happy to vent his spleen over David AlbeldaÃ¢ÂÂs sending-off in a defeat at the Bernabeu in December which he claimed cost his team points.
Emery: "Nope, fair play - you got that one spot on, ref..."
Although all this blustering takes place in every league in the world, it really is a headline-making, national debate in Spain. Literally.
SundayÃ¢ÂÂs Marca was dominated by the notion that referees have it in for Real Madrid more than Barcelona, as supposedly proven by the difference in the quantity of yellow and red cards handed out to the pair - 56 to 16 different players for Madrid, compared to 34 for the Catalan club. WhatÃ¢ÂÂs more, the paper opined that Madrid should have had 11 more penalties in la Liga this season on top of the six they have already been awarded.
As it happens, Real Madrid are merely sixth in the card-receiving table, with Valencia, Sporting and Espanyol in the top three. The trio of clubs must be feeling really aggrieved according to the paperÃ¢ÂÂs logic, but curiously get scant mention in their report. Barcelona have received the least cards, but then again they have made the least amount of fouls.
However, try to gently explain this logic to the silver foil beanie-hat wearing brigade in Spain and theyÃ¢ÂÂll just tell you that Barcelona are never punished for fouls in the first place. The BarÃÂ§a side will claim that they are punished too much under pressure from the Madridista media and repeat to fade.
A closer look at the yellow card stats in MondayÃ¢ÂÂs AS tells a different story, with Real Madrid picking up the same number of yellow cards, 54, as given to the opposition in their matches with a ratio of four to five in red cards, which seems fairly equal to LLLÃ¢ÂÂs admittedly addled mind.
All this nonsense, along with the league tables both papers have which portray la Primera with their versions of decisions, the analysis before every Madrid and BarÃÂ§a game of how many matches they have won/stroke/lost under a certain referee along with the constant snipes from managers and presidents that the league officials are at best incompetent or at worst corrupt makes the blog wonder why SpainÃ¢ÂÂs referees bother turning out at all every weekend.
As happened recently in Scotland, LLL recommends their union takes some hardcore industrial action to try and dampen a campaign across the Spanish game that claims every referee is out to bring down every club in every game.
Something drastic is needed to stop this nonsense once and for all. A strike might just do this much-needed job.