Refereeing inconsistency frustrating for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton

Bradley Johnson is left in a crumpled heap by a hard challenge from Vincent Kompany in the move that

Bradley Johnson is left in a crumpled heap by a hard challenge from Vincent Kompany in the move that led to Manchester City's second goal in their 4-3 victory over the Canaries at Carrow Road on December 29. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton insists refereeing inconsistency is a major source of frustration on the Premier League managerial circuit.

West Ham’s Sam Allardyce was the latest to hit out at the officials following the Hammers’ 1-0 midweek FA Cup exit at Manchester United. The Reds were awarded a late penalty for an apparent handball offence when a similar incident in United’s box had gone unpunished earlier in the e game.

The FA’s decision to rescind Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany’s red card against Arsenal this week brought the issue even closer to home for Hughton. The Belgian’s robust challenge on Jack Wilshere evoked fresh memories of the sliding tackle Kompany made on City midfielder Bradley Johnson that ultimately led to a goal for the champions in their recent 4-3 Premier League win over Norwich.

“It was the first thing I thought of,” said Hughton. “The decision against us was the wrong decision, absolutely, because of the momentum he carried into the tackle. I felt although he got a fair bit of the ball it should have been deemed as dangerous play. I didn’t see it as a sending off, possibly a booking but I would have been happy with a foul. That is always the frustration as a manager. The unfortunate thing for us managers is straight after games you are going to be asked questions. I listened to Sam the other night after the FA Cup game and when you are asked those questions it is quite obvious why managers speak the way they do because the key moments affect games.

“We had a circumstance at West Ham when a penalty was given against us and as many times as I have seen it since it is not a penalty for me, but that affects the game. Overall, it probably balances itself out but it is something that does frustrate you. I don’t know the way around it because referees don’t have the leeway they used to.”

Hughton believes part of the underlying problem stems from the cultural shift surrounding the art of tackling in the modern era.

“There is a fine line between what is a good challenge and a bookable challenge,” he said. “Just because someone goes in a certain way does not necessarily mean that it is a red or yellow card. I think most of us look back to a time when there was nothing wrong with the good old-fashioned clean challenge, that is not given as anything – or at the very most a foul.

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“I think it has become much more difficult for referees, where it seems any sight of a player’s studs is either a booking or ultimately a red card. I don’t think that is always the case. If there is no intent to foul or hurt anybody and it is a clear challenge on the ball then I don’t see anything wrong with it.”