Sunday 4 March 2012

Pondering the Probert Professional Puzzle Part 1

News that Referee Stuart Attwell has been demoted from the PGMOL—a select group of professional Referees associated with the EPL and FA—has generally been accepted and welcomed by most (if comments and reactions to the news reports are an indicator of people's sentiments).

It is a real pity 29-year-old Attwell has been demoted while other EPL Referees, who are probably on par or worse than Attwell, remain in the select group. Despite Attwell's negatives—and the unfortunate "negativity cloud" that later followed him around due to his initial blunders that occurred when he was put in at the deep end at a relatively young age—there have been some positives from his performances and from his willingness and flexibility in wanting to genuinely improve and learn from his mistakes.

Attwell also possesses an important attribute that is present in many quality Referees; namely an unwavering sense of self-assuredness, self-belief and self-confidence that some people may mistake for "cockiness". This was evident in his outrageously effective, although highly unorthodox, positioning during the second half kick off in the EPL match between Manchester United and Norwich earlier this season.

No Referee Assessor can fault Attwell for being in an optimal position during that incident, and considering the usual position other Referees would have found themselves in (i.e. a good 20 yards further back and away from the incident) Attwell deserves plenty of praise and plaudits for that kind of thinking, anticipation and creativity.

Even Mike Riley, general manager of PGMOL, said of Attwell:
"Throughout his career in the select group Stuart has demonstrated great courage and mental strength in responding to the challenges that he has faced."

Contrast Stuart Attwell with Lee Probert, and it may become clearer why Attwell's demotion appears strange considering PGMOL colleagues like Probert remain in the select group. For a professional Referee, Probert's performances this season have been consistently poor. And unlike with Attwell, Probert has not demonstrated a willingness and flexibility in wanting to genuinely improve and learn from his mistakes.

This blog has analysed some of Probert's match incidents this season. The only silver lining to be taken from Probert's usually unsatisfactory performances is that other Referees can learn from his mistakes and hopefully will not repeat them (see Probing Lee Probert parts 1 thru 4, and other related posts).

Even when Lee Probert is a 4th Official, he seemingly performs unsatisfactorily (see Dangerous Play: Rory Delap). With the Rory Delap incident, considering Probert had missed many important serious foul play incidents when he was Refereeing various matches this season, it was surprising that as a 4th Official he overruled Referee Mike Jones by making a call of serious foul play and advised Jones to send off Delap. Probert's recent record in SFP calls appears to be pretty dismal.

In addition to this blog's previous posts about the poor performances of Lee Probert (i.e. the "Probert Lessons"), Part 2 of this topic in Pondering the Probert Professional Puzzle will describe another aspect of Probert's poor performance.

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