There is an old saying in football and one that makes perfect sense. If the referee has had a good game then you shouldn’t notice him too often.
Naturally, he’ll be noticed in the big moments in games, like Michael Oliver was in Madrid on Wednesday night although despite Gianluigi Buffon’s incensed demeanour afterwards, Mr Oliver got it right.
That brings me on to Tim Robinson and his performance at Carrow Road yesterday.
You will remember Tim from the Canaries’ 4-3 defeat at the hands of Hull City earlier this year. Norwich were 3-2 up at half time courtesy of a James Maddison hat trick, two of which were penalties. Tim also awarded a penalty to Hull just before half time.
The real rick came in the 48th minute though when Tim awarded the game’s fourth penalty to Hull for, well, no one actually knows. Even now. I’ve watched it back loads of times and it’s best described as “the phantom penalty” because it was a ridiculous decision.
The rest is history and then Tim turns up at Carrow Road and puts in possibly the worst refereeing performance I can remember, certainly this season.
Cardiff played this game right on the edge of what was within the rules of the game and regarding fouls, well, let’s just say that the “tactical foul” was seen all afternoon. It’s obviously part of Cardiff’s tool kit for the Championship.
I’m no referee but I have played the game so I understand and know what a referee can give yellow cards for and one of those is “persistent fouling,” something that Cardiff did all game long.
I am all for a referee letting the game flow and trying not to give out too many yellow cards early doors, because he doesn’t want to set a precedent for himself, but there were times that Tim almost lost control of the game.
Cardiff committed 23 fouls in this game to Norwich City’s 8 and yet he only waved the yellow card three times. Two to Cardiff and one to Josh Murphy late on for a frustrated lunge.
The number of fouls that he let go too, was astonishing. Time and again, Norwich players were bundled over, tripped or kicked and nothing was given.
Arguably the most significant was in the second half when Harrison Reed was barged over in the Cardiff box. Using the “phantom penalty” as a yardstick, that should’ve been a stonewall for Mr Robinson but no, he just waved play on.
As the first half went on and all these fouls kept mounting up, the howls of derision towards Tim, and his short sighted assistants, was reaching a crescendo. Finally, Tim produced the game’s first yellow card in the 44th minute when he booked Loic Damour, proving that he hadn’t left his cards in his trouser pocket in the referee’s room.
“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah” came the chant from the stands.
He was roundly booed with his assistants and had a couple of club security staff walk him in at half time, something that happens very rarely around these parts.
The final result for this game was not a correct assessment of a match that saw Norwich dominate Cardiff and the ball, for long periods. They created enough chances to win this game but fluffed their lines time and again.
Dennis Srbeny hit a post with a poked effort and also saw Morrison block a goal bound shot, with Neil Etheridge also just managing to stop the City striker’s low effort on the turn with an outstretched palm. On another day…
The late implosion happened after Daniel Farke made his substitutions.
Harrison Reed was unable to continue on 81 minutes and was replaced at right back by Ivo Pinto. Srbeny had put in a shift and Nelson Oliveira replaced him at the same time.
Four minutes later and the excellent Moritz Leitner came off to a standing ovation, replaced by Wes Hoolahan. Leitner was a steadying influence in the centre and it was good to see him back. He dictated the play and always was asking for the ball. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there is any chance that City can get him in the summer then they should do all they can. He could easily play at this level and above.
On 86 minutes, Zahore scored after his close range header was pushed away by Angus Gunn, only for the big Cardiff striker to fire in at the near post – Angus won’t want to watch that back, given the amount of space he left Zahore to aim at.
It was a hammer blow and arguably undeserved, the second from Hoilett in the 93rd minute was a great finish but disappointing as it came from Tettey’s weak headed clearance, just about the only thing Alex did wrong all afternoon.
There were three minutes of time added on and (another thing I know about refereeing) therefore there should have been 30 seconds for each substitute. There were four substitutions in the second half, Tim. Are you saying that there was only one minute of other stoppages? Clearly you were. Both sets of medical staff had to come on to attend to injured players too, on several occasions.
If you’re reading this with Cardiff eyes then you probably think this is just sour grapes but if you read Vital Norwich regularly then you will know I have never written an article predominantly about a referee’s performance before.
Today was all about Tim.
To talk about Cardiff though, they are a typical Warnock team, physical and scruffy. They know what needs to be done to win a football match at this level, something Norwich would do well to take note of. They are strong defensively, work hard for each other and take their chances when they come but if they get promoted I’d be surprised if they stay up with that style or manager. The Premier League requires a little more finesse these days.
Onwards and upwards. On the plus side, Ipswich also lost so we haven’t lost any ground on them. The Pride of Anglia is still up for grabs.