Pep Guardiola’s tantrum against Liverpool showed that no one is more powerful than a bad referee.
Early in the game, Trent Alexander-Arnold handled the ball in the box, but referee Michael Oliver decided not to award City a penalty. VAR checked the handball decision and stood with the referee, and Liverpool valued the opening goal soon after. Then, with City chasing the game in the dying minutes, Alexander-Arnold had another handball in the box. Oliver decided not to grant that retribution either.
This second decision led to Pep Guardiola aggressively causing two fingers and screaming on the sideline about the transgression — firstly to the fourth official and then to the heavens, so God was sure of his grievance. It was wonderful theater that showed how the game of football reduces many of us to feelings, psychological hulks 😛 TAGEND
The best part of this is the end when he screams “Twice! ” to the heavens, simply to make sure that God stands as his witness as wellpic.twitter.com/ KDlmiQqajd
— Zito (@ _Zeets) November 10, 2019
First, we have to say the abuse and intimidation of reviewers is inexcusable. Taking on the job of officiating automatically becomes one a target, since the one thing on which everyone involved in football seems to agree is adjudicators are evil. But adjudicators are people trying to do their best, and their failings are generally evidence of institutional issues like insufficient funding and training, and a rulebook in which personal presentation participates a big role in decisions. They’re hardly ever malevolent.
Oliver didn’t call the handballs against Alexander-Arnold, but neither did the video asses. That’s not to say Oliver isn’t bad at his occupation; he has a well-earned reputation. But soccer, by nature, relies on a number of judgment calls. It’s easy to see how people get things wrong.
Soccer is a fickle sport. Guardiola’s reaction in the face of that fact was funny because it exposed the powerlessness that even imposes directors. No difficulty how immense a manager is, all they can do is prepare the team. They can’t step out on the field and play for their musicians, or force officials to see what they read.
The dynamic between managers and umpires is full of paradox. Ordinarily, referees are at the bottom of the roster of the most important parties in football. They’re the lowest class. Owneds, executives, managers, musicians, negotiators, and even love are celebrated more than adjudicators ever will be. At the most appropriate, referees are necessary sins. They’re stood. The best they can hope to be is good enough that no one bellows at them.
The manager is on the opposite end of that range. A enormous manager, like Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, is a celebrity. They’re applauded as divinities and admired by millions because of the strength they have in passing squads to success and awards. Administrators are football’s living, breathing myths of the individual genius.
Once a accord starts, nonetheless, the referees have more direct influence over expected outcomes than everyone but the players. The manager, and the fortune of both teams, is suddenly framed at the pity of the unlovables. Refs judge what’s allowable on the field by what contaminates are called. They’re the ones who can send off a musician or call a penalty. They can change the specific features of games and, by postponement, entitle hazards.
Of course, the reviewer isn’t supposed to abuse that jurisdiction. They’re supposed to be fair and faithful to the laws of the game. Most of them are, out of fear of being demoted or losing their jobs. But where a good referee’s job is to suppress the influence of its own position, so they’re nothing more than a conduit of the game’s regulations, a bad one makes it clear how much influence they certainly have. They clear everyone, from owneds and overseers, to players and supporters, feel small in comparison.
There’s a scene in the second season of Game of Thrones that showcases the true nature of dominance. Petyr Baelish, in his very sly and manipulative style, threatens to reveal Cersei Lannister’s intimate relationship with her friend as a space to get her under his authority. He says to her that, “Knowledge is power.” She intermissions for a second, and then orderings her wards to seize him. Then she questions them to kill him, before altering her spirit and telling them to step away. Then she supposed to say to him, “Power is power.”
Guardiola’s rage is underlined by the fact he has little to no superpower to help his crew make when a call croaks against him. His grand knowledge of tricks is nothing. Power is superpower, it’s effective, and the person who had it was Oliver. All Guardiola could do was stomp in exasperation, impelling it known he had been wronged. And even in that anger he had to be careful not to upset the umpire, who could have sent him off.
That’s perhaps why he turned to the heavens, to see if he could make a higher deity aware of what he and his crew have suffered. As if God, as the eventual referee, was to come down and nullify Oliver’s decisions.
Guardiola’s anger might seem testy considering his stature in the game, but it came from the same frustration that everyone, from love to owneds, feels when watching their favorite team lose. Everything’s going wrong and you can’t do anything about it, and the fact you can’t do anything stirs it even more maddening. Some boo, some cry, and others rage.
Being a spectator means being unable to change the situation that’s ruining you. And nothing brings out that feeling of resentment fairly like a critical refereeing decision. Sometimes all you can really do with that feeling of powerlessness is make a fool of yourself and ask the world to bear witness to the injustice.
Read more: sbnation.com