Tony Pulis pontificates on the meaning of referees in the Premier League

Tony Pulis’ campaign to discredit the officials paying dividends?

Tony Pulis continued his assault on common sense and decency with a meandering criticism of referee Chris Foy for his part in Arsenal’s winning goal when Stoke visited the Emirates on Saturday. It’s widely being reported that Pulis criticized the Arsenal players for surrounding the referee but he actually took exception to Chris Foy overturning his linesman’s decision and intimated that Foy may have had ulterior motives in awarding Arsenal the winning goal. It looks, however, to be part of a broader campaign by the Stoke manager to earn his club favorable treatment by match officials. And it looks like it’s working.

The main controversy yesterday occurred in the 78th minute. Arsenal’s Theo Walcott earned a free kick for a foul just outside the box and German international Lukas Podolski lined up for a powerful left-footed blast. The shot was deflected off a Stoke player in the wall and easily beat keeper Asmir Begovic.

Linesman Dave Bryan raised his flag for an offside and several Arsenal players reacted by pleading their case with the official. The lead official, Chris Foy, who had already signaled a good goal, went over to confirm that no Arsenal players were in an active offside position and after a very brief conversation again signaled that Arsenal had scored a very good goal.

Television replays confirmed that Theo Walcott was in an offside position but was not active in the play as the ball took a deflection away from Walcott. Interestingly, linesman Dave Bryan is no stranger to offside controversy. Bryan was punished back in April 2012 for failure to flag two very clear offside goals that helped Chelsea to a win over Wigan.

Bryan had a poor game from an Arsenal perspective. Bryan missed Wilkinson slapping Theo Walcott in the face and several tackles from behind which prompted the Arsenal man to remonstrate with him well before the controversial offside call. Bryan was also seen shucking and jiving with Stoke’s Wilkinson during throw-ins, the two of them looking like fast friends.

Tony Pulis pontificates on the meaning of referees in the Premier League

As is often the case when Stoke and Arsenal play, the game saw its fair share of controversy from start to finish. Foy didn’t endear himself to the home crowd when he blew Arteta for a foul and the Arsenal man clearly hadn’t come anywhere near the Stoke player. “Intent” to foul we were told was the reason for the call. But where Foy called Arsenal for “intent” he failed repeatedly to call Stoke for “actual” fouls.

Foy also got Ryan Shawcross’ red card tackle on Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny wrong. The Stoke player had no hope of ever winning the ball and as he saw that the Arsenal man was going to clear easily, instead of pulling out he when in, studs up, wildly lunging, and stamped the Arsenal man’s groin. Foy awarded a yellow when red was the correct call.

And then after that poor call, Foy somehow managed to miss Stoke’s Michael Owen throw a sneaky elbow to the head of Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta which nearly sparked a brawl. The FA may still take action against Owen for that, depending on the referee’s report, which could also explain the Stoke manager’s comments post match.

After the game, Pulis seemingly looked to deflect from his team’s dreadful performance and place the blame on referee Chris Foy.

“I haven’t got a clue what offside is,” admitted Pulis speaking to the BBC after the game. “What’s disappointing is when the official, the linesman, gives it (the offside) the Arsenal players surround the linesman and then the referee reacts after that. I thought that if you surrounded referees more than three was it? Five people? Umm… err… You’re not supposed to do that. Their players were over there and the referee’s reacted off of that.”

“Now whether they are going to say it’s (the ball) has come off one of our players and it’s a good goal, well that’s fine.” Pulis continued, “but the reaction of their players, surrounding the referee or the linesman, effects Chris Foy.”

“If he (the linesman) has a clear view, then what’s Chris (Foy), why’s Chris questioning it?”

It’s a stunning accusation and it remains to be seen if the FA will investigate the comments. Pulis has previous questioning Chris Foy’s decisions and in fact this season has spent nearly every post-match interview moaning like a drain about the referees.

In August 2010, Pulis had a crack at Foy on the BBC and again it was in regards to Foy and the linesman. This time, Foy failed to give a goal that looked like it went over the line and Chris went to the linesman to see if he had a better view. With no conclusive evidence, Foy had no choice but to not award the goal.

It’s also interesting to note that Stoke’s players surrounded Foy in that game when they felt like they weren’t getting the call they deserved:



Pulis has spent a lot of post-match time talking to and about the referees this season. So much so that Pulis had a meeting with Mike Riley, the head of match officials in December over perceived bias against his team.

That meeting was prompted by a dire draw against Aston Villa which saw Ryan Shotton get a red card and where Pulis felt that Glenn Whelan was unfairly targeted.

Look at the incidents where our players are being booked or sent off, then compare them with similar incidents involving others that are going unpunished. There was the Clark one on Glenn at Villa. All we have ever asked is to be treated the same as everyone else, but there are preconceptions about us that are unfair.

Interestingly, Glenn Whelan was at the center of controversy just last week when his ugly two-footed lunge on Man City’s Javi Garcia went unpunished both during the match and after. During the match, Howard Webb failed to even call a foul, prompting the head of the Professional Footballer’s Association to say that he was certain Whelan would be pulled up on charges.

However, the FA did not charge Whelan because their own rules do not allow them to charge a player when the official saw the challenge. That means Howard Webb saw the two-footed lunge and chose not to call a foul. This is the same Howard Webb who gave Nigel de Jong a yellow card for a king-fu kick in the World Cup final and who allowed Fabricio Coloccini to kick Demba Ba in the face (breaking his nose) yesterday.

Given that Whelan, Owen, and Shawcross have not been punished for their transgressions it does look like Pulis’ concerted campaign to discredit the officials is working in his favor. In one week, three of his players have escaped deserved red cards.


56 thoughts on “Tony Pulis’ campaign to discredit the officials paying dividends?

  1. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1crazeemunky

    i’ve never been more furious at the end of a game, much less a win. football has no place for that sort of abysmal officiating, much less the presence of such neanderthals.

  2. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Pubic instructs his team to defend “physically.” In other words, push, pull, head butt, hold, and kick the shit out of the opposition. They also look to score off free kicks so they’re instructed to fall down if they feel the breeze of a player buzzing by them. And on those free kicks and corners, they push, pull, and hold while trying for headers. Pubic knows that if refs call the game correctly, his team has no chance of staying in the BPL so it shouldn’t surprise that he wages a concerted propaganda campaign to sway the refs. What I find most instructive is that Stoke don’t play that way against ManUre. Perhaps because he knows that if his players subjected Rooney et al to similar treatment, Mike Dean would be getting a call from Sir F***face to stop ignoring Stoke’s deliberate strategy.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Where is Andy Gray when you need a sexist comment about an incompetent male linesman?

    Leave it to an EX-Arsenal player to to ‘poorly’ clear his box to set up Gerrard for a ‘chip’ shot. The Arsenal gift(curse) that keeps on giving.

    Who are ya Pepe?

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

        Reina’s walkabout aside, Rodgers brought on Skrtel and took off Enrique to ‘shore’ up his defense. How did that work out Brendan?

  4. +12 Vote -1 Vote +1Ickenham Gooner

    The sooner that this team of thugs is relegated the better. Birmingham City, another such team, went down last year and that was great.

    Hopefully Brighton make it this year. Happy with Swansea and hope more proper football teams join the top league.

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1iamsmokey

      You will struggle to get into the Champions League this year and will be nowhere near next year when Stoke and West Ham and Swansea and Liverpool will be above you in the league.

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    To Susan, Slick and all the myriad of Liverpool trolls, will you be visiting the Man City blogs to moan like drains. Once again in the second half Pool succumb when an opponent puts the hammer down.

  6. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    That linesman was shocking. And for Foy to come down on Arteta for missing a player by a yard or more but then only pull out the yellow when Shawcross WENT INTO KOSCIELNY with his studs up… stupid.

    Pulis is a disgrace to his profession. I don’t know if he’ll have a job after Stoke. They’re the only people* that like him.

    *I don’t want to get into the debate about whether cavemen are people or not, ok? This isn’t an ethics forum.

  7. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Andrew Crawshaw

    Tim, I know you are aware of the referee decisions website but perhaps not all your readers are.
    Anyway I have just done a very quick check and there have been ten Stoke games reviewed so far this season. Here qualified referees examine every decision that the referee did or should have been made on a minute by minute basis and decide if the ref was correct or not.
    Basically Stoke have no cause for complaint. In two games the referee was adjudged to have made no errors at all, two other games were 94% correct one 84% and three at 76-77% correct. Only two were below below 70%, The away game at Chelsea where Mr Oliver was given 64% and their home game against Arsenal where Mr Mason was rated at 54%. In both those games the marks were so low due to the many wrong decisions in favour of Stoke!
    The only game where there was a significant bias against Stoke was their away game at Spurs where they had 60% of the wrong decisions. When ManU were at Stoke stoke had only 33% of wrong decisions.
    Pulis should shut up he has no case at all.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Ho Chi Minh

    I do feel you’re being a little unfair on Tiny Penis, there was, in fact 1 wrong decision against Stoke, when Whelan was booked for the only tackle this season where he actually made contact with the ball.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1egg

    “I haven’t got a clue what offside is,” admitted Pulis.
    Christ, that comment pissed me off. You’ve said it yourself, you don’t know what it is, so be quiet. Fairly sure most of the nastiness/cheating of stoke stems from having him as a manager.

  10. -15 Vote -1 Vote +1iamsmokey

    Don’t the Arsenal fans remember the 1980s when they had the roughest side in the football league = Stoke will be beating you home and away in 2 years time when they spent a little more money.
    Nobody is against the Arsenal just the manager = you want the Brighton and Swansea
    to come up so you can bore the pants of the rest of the league with “pretty” football.

  11. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

    Football is about entertainment. Stoke are/were pathetic. Football has moved on from the 80′s but pulis is trying hard to drag football back single handedly.

  12. -16 Vote -1 Vote +1Gareth

    Look, it’s pure arrogance to ignore your own history or pass it off as just how things were back then. Swansea are doing great and I’m really happy for them, but the overwhelming majority of teams who try to play an expansive passing game in their first few seasons in the prem get found out and end up back in in the championship, often with a crippling wage bill.

    I’d love to see stoke play a bit more of a passing game, but to criticise and lambast them for just playing the game in a way that has offered them tremendous success is churlish.

    I don’t understand why the level of arrogance from arsenal fans is orders of magnitude higher than any other team, you would think fans of genuinely great teams like Man U would have bigger egos but its simply not the case.

  13. +9 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Because I want to be a “real” Gooner, I’ve tried to hate Tottenham, and I can’t quite work up the feeling despite the longstanding derby. For me they are also-rans lately rising to the rank genuine rivals. If they manage to somehow finish above us this year, that complacent thinking on my part will no doubt change.

    But for me, for now, there are really very few teams actually and truly worthy of the time and emotional effort of real hatred. Chelsea? No brainer. Man United? For sure, though that hatred is mitigated by the respect I have for their trophy cabinet and achievements, just as I would demand respect for The Arsenal and for our own deep and storied history.

    As Ickenham Gooner notes above however, Stoke and Birmingham rise above the normal steaming pile of s$%t and are truly worthy of the time, the effort and the emotional output required for genuine hatred. F$#k them and anyone who looks likes them.

  14. -20 Vote -1 Vote +1Gareth

    Like I said, unbelievable ego. You remind me of zimbardos ‘the lucifer effect’, you literally dehumanise stoke fans so that you can raise yourself above them making you feel good, feeding your ego a little more. It was chiefly this behaviour that allowed the German people to murder millions of innocent Jewish men, women and children. I’m not joking when I say you scare me a little bit, and you have the temerity to describe us as cave men and Neanderthals.

    1. +14 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Hey, we’re not the ones who celebrate violence. You are.

      So spare us the sanctimonious diatribe, and the completely useless “that’s Nazism” card (the hallmark of an idiot who mistakes rhetoric for logic).

  15. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

    Are stoke fans really happy with pulis football. No skill, nfl style tactics. Its not about the past, its about the game moving forward.

  16. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid

    Na Na Na Nah, Yea Yea Yea, Goodbye
    The Stoke trolls are out!

    Why in heavens would you as a Stoke fan come on an Arsenal blog? I have no reason to ever go on a stoke blog.

    Your manager can’t even calculate, his net spend is over 120 Mill more than Arsenal during his tenure and he complains about our spending. And, for all that money spent you get to watch Shawcross to Crouch 60 yard punts and 40 yard throw ins. Incredible, he either can’t read or is just too lazy to study the rules, studs up tackles are red cards and if a player is not interfering with the play there can be no offside.

    BTW: Do you guys even have a website?

  17. -13 Vote -1 Vote +1Gareth

    No, we would prefer to see more progress, but that doesn’t mean that the bilge spouted by a certain kind of arsenal fan is any truer. And you can describe stoke as a rugby team or nfl or whatever, but your defenders hold and climb just like all the other defenders in the league, and your players in general are just as capable of cynical challenges and violent intent, although it is better since that worm fabregas left you in the lurch.

    1. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      “and your players in general are just as capable of cynical challenges and violent intent”


      Steady on, Gareth. In Stoke, you call it “letting him know you’re there,” and “not that sort of player,” and “they don’t like it up ‘em.”

      So what is it when you get as good as you give? Oh yeah. “cynical” and “violent intent.”

      What a sad little hypocrite you and Pubis and the rest of your fans are.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1stynyr

      No one really as an issue with holding and climbing. Blasting your foot through someone’s leg, and sliding in with studs up on a shockingly consistent basis (every game) is a bit of a different issue, my friend.

  18. -12 Vote -1 Vote +1Gareth

    You’re not very Internet savy are you Caribkid, this blog, as many others, lists on, for example, newsnow as it has stoke related keywords. Until you come to the page and read the article it isn’t always obvious that its a one sides prepubescent fanboy page, and once you have started reading its pretty hard not to react.

    Also, there are plenty of arsenal fans commenting on similar stoke fan blogs.

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid

      Actually Gareth, I’m very internet savvy. Savvy enough to use it for my living, savvy enough not to get on Stoke blogs and savvy enough to refrain from commenting if I do so accidentally.

      Just my take.

      BTW: I do like Crouchy …… Great touch for a walking skeleton

  19. +10 Vote -1 Vote +1jeff

    Yes all players are capable of cynical challenges, but for pulis football its a tactic. Pulis wouldnt know what to do if a player with actual ability was in the squad besides dropping him. All fans deserve better than the style of pulis football. That includes stoke fans

  20. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Brek Shea signed for Stoke? That’s a major step backwards for US soccer.

    Oh, how could you, Brek? How could you.

  21. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Its actually the same match from early this season played out again…but we played it with less caution and more purpose…

    Funnily enough..despite the despicable desperate defensive detrimental football that stoke played..the one who left the pitch with bandages are the thugs…

    Arsenal were not physical in their approach…but they were better equipped to deal with the bullying they faced..

    Theo used to be at one point of time scared off the kind of tackles he gets and stay by the by lane in games like these… but today, he got enough from the left back…tried giving back some and was not afraid to run at them. The way he drew the foul for the winning free-kick is commendable…

    Arsenal often fail to break games like these due to playing the same expectable way..but this time we were more adaptive and ready for the occasion… Early signs of a maturity…I say!!!

    Shawcross has proved again that he IS that kind of player..

    In another good news…Goal Machine Gervinho is backk..!!!!! :)

  22. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1- Arseblog ... an Arsenal blog

  23. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    We did get trolled after all. Even skunk smell does not reek like Stoke stench. Good thing we are done with them for the year. Now for a dramatic drop into relegation and one of my wishes for the new year will come true. Come on, Pubis; drag ‘em down with you, to the foul pits in Earth’s bowels, from whence you lost your way and stumbled into the Premier League.

  24. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    To echo Cliffy, Shawcross is that kind of player. “He fouls when he wants
    He fouls when he wants
    Studs up and sliding
    He fouls when he wants”

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Nacho Man

      He breaks peoples legs
      He breaks peoples leeeeeee-eeegs
      Ryan Shawcross
      He breaks peoples legs

      …was the popular chant from the NB on Sat….

  25. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1An Arsenal with a bit more edge - Unofficial Network

  26. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1博客:血性回归阿森纳 ‹ Arseblog阿丝博客中文站

  27. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    AW re Nacho’s debut:

    “I said before the game that if you want somebody to have a cultural shock, there’s no better team than Stoke,” the manager told Arsenal Player. ”

    “Cultural shock” hehehe…

    Well done boys!

  28. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sue

    shall we guess the stoke related keywords (phrases)
    orc, rugby club, not that sort of player, hoof, antediluvian football, total lack of skill, time wasting cheats

  29. +11 Vote -1 Vote +1Sue

    Your ignorance – either due to age or just because you lap up the mdia sh1te is laughable.
    GG’s teams may have been based on a steel trap defence that was rugged – but Adams, Keown, Bould and O’Leary managed to play a hard physical game without resorting to breaking legs but a team that featured Davis, Rocastle, Limpar and Merson knew how to play on the floor and didn’t just resort to hoofing it in the direction of Alan Smith. The chant may have been 1-0 to the Arsenal but we were regularly top scorers and Smith won the golden boot twice when we won titles. A skill and enjoyment Stoke havent had since Alan Hudson hung his boots up.

  30. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Finareno

    There was an that amazingly withering dive by Etherington late in the second half that the officials did not pick up on. There was also a studs up tackle by Huth (I think) on Giroud in front of the goal later in the second half that was not called. There were lost of officiating problems, sure, but Stoke is a team that will stoop to causing physical injury if need be and they are quite sneaky about it – they will take cheap shots on players not on the play or will add an additional hit after the play. And it appears to me that they are in fact well trained in that regard – it’s like they have been schooled in how to achieve maximum damage without “technically” committing a foul. Thankfully, language like intent and recklessness are broad to give officials the power they need to make appropriate calls. And you know what? Stoke should be getting called a lot because they play recklessly and with intent to injure. Pulis shouldn’t blame the refs – it’s his own fault.

  31. Vote -1 Vote +1Sue

    Looks like you were right about pubic’s officialdom rant
    Owen has been let off – apparently Foy saw it and took no action.
    I wonder if we can get Gervinho’s red v Newcastle rescinded if the FA are going to get sensible and say that to be sent off for violent conduct it actally has to be violent conduct not some limp wristed flap – DB10′s elbow to a wet sham fool in the FA cup stirs in teh mind as a solid red card offence.
    No that would be too sensible.
    If this were to then apply to fouls / challenges as Tim has mooted before if a player is touched without the defender taking the ball but ti is not suficient to warrant falling over is this a dive? Seeing as diving cheat Bale is a lader of the – there was contact therefore I can go down, naturally I am not sympathetic – I think like the Sturridge incident that if contact is insignificant and you go down its a dive. Obviously this requires brilliant hair line jusdgement from refs and most of them aren’t up to the job but we can dream.
    The telegraph report also says Arteta lunged in dangerously when it was just a stoke type challege – he winds the ball cleanly but takes Owen on the follow through – ack maybe today its a foul by the rules but not the ones Foy was applying on Saturday

  32. Vote -1 Vote +1Jack

    he claims about the Arsenal players berating officials, this is whilst the Stoke players are looking smug as fuck that the goal’s been chalked off… as soon as the goal is given, the Stoke players do the exact same to Foy, Pulis is just a bitter soul…

Comments are closed.