Mikel Arteta was the only thing "scandalous" during Arsenal's Newcastle failure

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Mikel Arteta was the only thing "scandalous" during Arsenal
Mikel Arteta was the only thing "scandalous" during Arsenal's Newcastle failure

The only thing “scandalous” about proceedings at the Emirates earlier this week was not the performance of the officials, but the antics of Mikel Arteta.

Not that the Premier League will be remotely bothered by the histrionics because the cult of the ranting touchline manager has become part of what it likes to call the ‘product’. If they could, they would probably encourage it.

Arteta, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Antonio Conte, whoever, screaming blue murder at referees and their assistants is good for business. The broadcasters love it and it keeps the ‘product’ in the spotlight. Arsenal’s goalless draw with Newcastle got plenty of reaction but, strip away Arteta’s antics and the now-standard dark arts on the pitch, it was an unremarkable football match. No goals, five attempts on target.

But never mind the quality, feel the wrath - an angry Arteta insisting his team were the victims of two “scandalous decisions”.

They were not scandalous. One was borderline and might have gone their way on another occasion, the other was eminently sensible.

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As long as dishonesty or bias is not implied, there should be no issue with managers publicly disagreeing with refereeing decisions. They are entitled to their opinions as much as anyone else and we ask them the questions in the hope they give frank replies.

Mikel Arteta was the only thing "scandalous" during Arsenal's Newcastle failureMikel Arteta's touchline antics vs Newcastle were hugely criticised (Getty Images)

The rawness of defeat or victory - or a draw - can often colour their view but it is the systematic harassment of officials that is becoming a grotesque blight on the professional game.

The fourth official, for obvious reasons, is often the focal point but the assistants get it when within range, as does the referee.

Apologists will put it down to passion, attribute the semi-manic verbal attacks from the technical area to the heat of the moment, but it has become a tactic.

And if the two most successful Premier League managers of recent times, Guardiola and Klopp, have got away with it relatively scot free for such a long time, why wouldn’t aspirational, up-and-coming managers such as Arteta follow suit?

Mikel Arteta was the only thing "scandalous" during Arsenal's Newcastle failureMikel Arteta's actions weren't appreciated by the fourth official, nor counterpart Eddie Howe (Justin Setterfield/Getty)

Indeed, it appears to be the norm nowadays rather than the exception and, of course, that means it is normalised throughout the entire sport, that means abuse of referees continues to be a nasty plague on grassroots football.

But as long as the Football Association and its ‘independent’ panels keep giving soft punishments, it will continue to happen.

After Klopp screamed in the face of assistant referee Gary Beswick during a match against Manchester City earlier this season, an independent regulatory commission somehow limited their punishment to a thirty grand fine. An FA appeal managed to get a one-match touchline ban but it was still a pathetically lenient punishment.

Let’s face it, the people at the top of the game’s administrative bodies pay only lip service to elite managers needing to set any sort of behavioural example.

And never mind any dubious decisions, it is the continuing indulgence of offenders such as Guardiola, Klopp and Arteta - to name only three of many - that is truly scandalous.

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Andy Dunn

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation