(Original post by Dalimyr)
Just a point on this. It doesn't really matter what time of the season it is - whether it's the ref or the players at fault for whatever happens, the consequences are the same regardless of whether the game is played in August or April, it's just that those consequences are a bit more obvious to see as the season draws to a close. I was watching the Man City game on Sunday and the commentator mentioned how City had dropped a couple of points very early on in the season and said something along the lines of "It might not have seemed like much back then, but I'm sure they'd love to have those two extra points now". (it was a 2-2 draw with Fulham back on Sept 18th where City had been up 2-0)
Technology would help to some degree and I've made my views on that matter crystal clear in the past, but having players that aren't seeking to con the referee at every possible opportunity would go a long way as well. FIFA as a whole need to stamp out things like the diving culture that is rife throughout the game. I'm certainly not going to say that referees are perfect (I don't know why Mark Clattenburg is still a Premiership ref, he makes so many wrong decisions each week
) but players seldom make the ref's job any easier.
I've seen games where an attacker will charge into the box, look for someone to challenge him and if nobody actually does it, he'll stick his own leg out as he passes someone to deliberately make contact with a defender and fall over...and the ref awarded a penalty. Yes, there was contact, but only because the attacker stuck his leg out at an unnatural angle so he'd make contact with the defender.
I get pissed off time and time again when I see a player dribble with the ball towards two defenders who are standing side by side and blocking his direct path to goal, only for the attacker to knock the ball in between them, run straight into them and fall on his arse, then get a free kick for obstruction or some pish - he had nowhere to go and he was never going to squeeze through the gap between the two players.
And when players are diving or 'looking' for contact, Jesus Christ...if a Premiership player watches something like MotD and sees himself from multiple angles, in slow motion, kicking the ball away and then literally throwing himself over an opponent's exposed leg in the hope of getting a free kick or penalty, he must feel like such a tit. Especially when nothing's given for it. Ditto when there's minimal contact (or even no contact) but the player jumps up with his arms flapping in the air to try and catch the ref's attention - common sense ought to dictate that if a player has genuinely been caught, he's instinctively going to hold his arms out in front of him to break his fall, not have them flailing around in an attempt for everyone to see him fall flat on his face. This might seem a little harsh, but I think if the referee judges the player to have gone down under minimal contact and/or has made the most out of his dive to ground, no free kick should be awarded or it should be awarded the other way, but probably with no card being shown (as it's not quite as bad as intentionally diving with no contact, which currently does result in a free kick to the defending team and a yellow to the diver). If players stop getting free kicks for going to ground if they're knocked over by a feather then with their incentive for going to ground under minimal contact being taken away they'll gradually learn to cut that from their game.
Another thing I'd like to see in football that already works well in rugby. For those of you who watch rugby, when was the last time you saw a whole squad surround the ref after he's made a call? It just doesn't happen, does it? The ref has a quiet word with the player who committed a foul and/or the club captain, and that's it. Everyone else stays out of it. Commentators in football, on the other hand, all too frequently point out instances when a player is already on a yellow card and has run the length of the pitch to get gobby with the ref over a decision he had nothing to do with and was so far away from that he probably never saw the incident clearly anyway - he's just taking the opportunity to mouth off at the ref for giving a decision (rightly or wrongly) against his team. Exactly what could be done to combat this, I'm not sure - yellow cards for dissent might be a little extreme, but perhaps sanctions to the club as a whole might encourage the club execs to make sure their players keep out of incidents that don't involve them.
Jose Mourinho might have something to say about that
is worth a quick read as well
Slide 7 of that slideshow covers a bunch of refs in one go, and I think slide 8 (a quote from Gary Neville about Graham Poll) is rather apt for this thread