Vieira is wide of the mark about referees favouring United
By GRAHAM POLL
28 March 2012
Patrick Vieira’s assertion that the big teams, especially Manchester United, are favoured by refereeing decisions in their home games is wide of the mark.
When any of the elite sides play at home they tend to dominate possession and, as a result, their opponents give away more free-kicks.
That’s a natural consequence of a smaller club going into a game knowing a draw would be a good result.
Referees in the Premier League have been professional since 2001 and regularly work with sports psychologists. One of the key instructions they receive is to control the controllable.
Subconsciously, though, referees know that if they give a soft penalty against one of the big sides they will be headline news, and none of them wants that.
Knowing this, and much to Sir Alex Ferguson’s disappointment, I tended not to give penalties at either end at Old Trafford. But I was compelled to do just that in my last season — 2006-07 — and the penalty went to Arsenal. They missed it.