The only reason Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle are not top of The Championship is because of the horrendous refereeing performance from tomorrow’s man in the middle Simon Hooper on the opening day of the season.
Away at Fulham – seemingly to prevent SKY Bet Championship punters who had bet on Newcastle to go the whole season unbeaten or even win every match at a liability for the bookies said to be far greater than the Leicester City 5000-1 debacle last year – The Magpies were robbed of 3 penalties, 3 points and early momentum.
Newcastle United possess the best fans, manager, players and stadium in The Championship and are far and away the best team in The League, in fact they are the 21st Premier League team playing in the wrong division.
Last season, Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland benefitted from the most incorrect decisions in the Premier League and Newcastle were the victims of the most refereeing mistakes in the League as this Sun table demonstrates:
Its the first time Brentford have been at St. James’ Park since the Kevin Keegan 1992/3 promotion season when a referee in slightly different circumstances disallowed this wonder goal from Robert Lee:
As the commentary on the video states, however, former international referee Ian Hendrick is blameless except for not having the vision to see what the future England midfielder would do – score from inside his own half – & he’d already blown the whistle with Magpies defender Barry Venison appealing for offside against The Bees.
Back to 2016 and in a typically extraordinary week, the original handball cheat Diego Maradona had the temerity to verbally attack Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez
“If Benitez, whom I respect very much, was bad in Madrid, let him tell me it was for a lack of players!
“No, he failed. But after a while, after failing there, they gave him three years in Newcastle.
“Can someone explain it to me? Is that normal or does something go wrong?”
Ignoring the fact that Benitez’s Real Madrid side went onto lift The Champions League the way Robert Di Matteo did at Chelsea in 2012, the world’s second best ever player is clearly a man envious of a job at one of the world’s greatest clubs held now by Benitez and once by his Argentine compatriot Ossie Ardiles.
Considering the fact it was every Geordie’s favourite adopted Grandfather Sir Bobby Robson whom Maradona cheated out of potential World Cup glory, he’d wise to pipe down or become public enemy no. 1 in Newcastle.
Yet the fact that the man – whom Pele just edges by 3 World Cup trophies won to the one cheated one – to even comment on Newcastle shows the continued magnitude of the magnificent North-East club.
During a week in which the state of the England national football team is once again in the spotlight, it begs the question, What if England had gone on to win a deserved World Cup trophy in 1986 and possible repeat in 1990?
Would we be talking about a golden age of English football in the 1980 and 1990s on par with the kind of era enjoyed by the likes of Germany and Spain in recent football history?
Similarly, if Newcastle United – a team that used to dominate English football – had always played on a level playing field, would the club have reached the true potential it will under Rafa Benitez?
Recently, Newcastle’s biggest win under Benitez so far – 6-0 at QPR – was eclipsed only on the night by Barcelona beating Celtic 7-0 yet The Magpies’ wrongly disallowed 1st goal again denied them even more.
That was the only Championship game so far that Aleksandar Mitrovic has started and with the Serbian in goal-scoring form for his country notching two against Austria, is surely due another Toon start.
Would Newcastle be as a big as Barcelona if they played on a level footballing playing field? Would Liverpool have a won a Premier League title? Interestingly, Manchester-born Anthony Taylor has been awarded the Liverpool-Manchester United game on Monday night which echoes Benitez’s famous ‘Facts’ rant about referees.
We’ll find out over the next few years as the great football reform has started and referee reckoning is coming.
Big decisions matter in football and the sooner video technology is brought in to take them out of the hands of the corruptible the better to make the world’s most popular and beautiful game a truly fair one.
When you say things like that about a man like Rafa Benitez….PS Happy Birthday Shola.