WBA-MAD Blog: Is the Pulis charge fair?

There was an air of optimism before the game at the Hawthorns on Saturday. Despite playing high flying Leicester City, who included the league's top scorer in Jamie Vardy, the fans seem to be hopeful that we could spring a surprise against our Midlands rivals.
 
We headed into the game with back to back 1-0 wins against Sunderland and Norwich in which our performances were vastly improved, particularly against Norwich where we created a host of chances before Rondon's header gained us the three points we so desperately needed. For the first 55 minutes of the game we were seemingly in control apart from the odd half chance for the visitors and with Rondon adding to his goal tally from a corner from Sessegnon a 1-0 victory again seemed possible.
 
However the game was completely turned on its head with a quick fire double from Riyad Mahrez and a fine finish from Jamie Vardy and suddenly at 3-1 it seemed like an almost carbon copy of the Everton game in which we concede and then capitulate. We managed to add to our scoreline through a penalty from Rickie Lambert but it wasn't enough and we lost our 4th home game of the season.
 
But it wasn't just the result that has caused anger and frustration amongst the Baggies faithful since the defeat. It was announced on Monday that Tony Pulis had been charged by the FA for improper conduct after he was alleged to have "used language and/or behaviour in or around the tunnel area which amounts to improper conduct".
 
The 57-year-old did admit to 'having a bit of a go' at referee Anthony Taylor in the tunnel after the final whistle. There were two penalty decisions in particular that angered Pulis and another controversial incident in the box involving Gareth McAuley, as well as the second goal scored by Leicester which looked to be marginally offside.
 
In the media spotlight there has been huge discussions in regards to managers questioning and criticising decisions being made by referees. There is no excuse for Tony Pulis' language and behaviour but when these incorrect calls are affecting the outcomes of games surely something needs to be done to address the issues we are currently facing particularly in English football. Referees are forced into making quick decisions and this has a detrimental effect on ultimiately results but also the fans who pay big money to follow their team and deserve better. 
 
The first incident which riled Pulis was when Leonardo Ulloa blatantly pulled Jonny Evans' shirt in the penalty area during a first half corner. The contact wasn't minimal and certainly denied Evans reaching the ball and in most fans' opinion was an easy decision to make. Unfortunately Anthony Taylor didn't think so. If this wasn't enough, the way in which our players reacted to not getting a penalty should have certainly raised doubts in his mind. 
 
After such a poor decision you would have expected better when Darren Fletcher was barged over in the area by German centre back Robert Huth. Again the protests were directed at the referee in an angry fashion but were simply waved away by Taylor. For one obvious penalty to not be given is hard to take but two leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth. 
 
Finally, the third penalty appeal which went unpunished and wasn't questioned as vehemently by Pulis was when Huth collided with Gareth McAuley as they both challenged for a ball in the penalty area. As he wrestled with the Northern Ireland international every single fan appeared to appeal the decision but the referee again said no. This wasn't argued by the manager as much as the previous two but there have certainly been penalties given for much less. Huth's tweet after the match which read #playon with an image of the foul on McAuley was seen by some Albion fans to be a sarcastic reaction to the incident knowing he was lucky to escape without punishment. 
 
In addition to the three controversial penalty decisions there was also the question of Leicester's second goal scored by Mahrez. How the goal was allowed to stand by the officials is beyond belief. In the defence of Anthony Taylor it was a marginal offside call but he should have been helped by his assistant who was in line with the last defender. As Mahrez scored from Albrighton's cross the fans were amazed that the offside flag wasn't raised by the linesman as the Algerian was certainly in an offside position as the cross was made. Games can be changed in the blink of an eye by inept decisions from the officials and this was certainly a clear example of that.
 
However this isn't the first decision that has been given against us this season and it undeniably won't be the last. From a referees' perspective we shouldn't overlook the fact that they only get one look at the incident and unfortunately don't have the luxury of video replays during the match. The point that should be made is that due to Pulis' heated reaction to the referees performance he has now been given a charge by the FA and if he is found guilty then in the most likely outcome will be forced to pay a fine. But the question is, when referees make incorrect decisions which in turn provokes reactions such as this from managers, what punishment are they receiving?
 
Are referees being charged? No. Are they being fined? No. Of course we can't speak for every incident but in the majority of cases referees certainly aren't punished as severely as managers are. They may not be picked to referee a game for one weekend or be forced to referee in a lower league game. But in comparison to the retribution a managers faces this is very little and undoubtedly half of the blame must lie with them as they are leaving managers exasperated with the decisions being made game after game.
 
What is plain to see is that referees are making it more and more difficult to defend them from this inevitable criticism when such basic errors are taking place. There has been an argument for more technology to be brought into the game which would help referees and allow them to see replays and make a more confident observation of the incidents. But on the other hand technology would inevitably enhance the stop-start nature of the game and in turn become less exciting if the game is constantly being stopped.
 
What is without question is that the standard of refereeing is getting worse and something needs to change in order to prevent matches being decided on controversial penalty calls and offside 'goals'. Maybe then managers will stop getting charged by the FA for actions which could have easily been avoided. 
 
Should managers have their say on refereeing decisions without being punished by the FA? Have your say at Baggies Banter
 
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarah_wbax