Yes, Cesar Azpilicueta was blatantly offside when he scored to equalise for Chelsea against Cardiff City on Sunday, and yes, his side went on to snatch victory in injury time to hand a blow to the Bluebirds chances of Premier League survival.
It was frustrating, galling, and angering. But Warnock’s reaction was completely out of order, which was watched by millions of football fans around the world. With referees already facing abuse at grassroots level and even kids games, managers need to act with far more responsibility, especially in front of the TV cameras.
Cardiff played well and with just six minutes to go, they looked like they were going to do enough to hold on for what would have been a huge three points in their battle to beat the drop. So Warnock’s anger, as he could not understand how linesman, Eddie Short, had failed to see Azpilicueta stray at least a couple of yards into an offside position before heading in the equaliser, was understandable.
What was not understandable was his public tirade towards fourth official, Andre Marriner, and the subsequent post-match rant, which were both totally unacceptable. Yes, he can voice his displeasure, but the way he acted only encourages fellow managers, players and supporters, at all levels, to do precisely the same.
As soon as the final whistle blew, you could see the rage on his face as he stormed onto the pitch, arms folded, staring down the officials with bully boy tactics that are only seen on the playground. It might have been a silent protest, but it was an act of intimidation and one that will only be repeated at games around the world by managers who think they have a free reign to threaten officials.
Earlier in the year, the FA met with the charity, Ref Support UK, following reports of an increase in the regularity and viciousness of attacks on grassroots referees. The example that Warnock set with his actions, and those of other managers, will only inflame the anti-referee feeling which encourages these sort of attacks.
When Warnock spoke to the press, he said, “Why am I working at 70 years of age for things like that to happen? It’s not very often I am lost for words. What goes through my mind? Is it payback time for me over the years? I don’t deserve officials like that today. There’s no excuse for that, it’s criminal.”
Yet, this was the same man who made light of his Cardiff City side benefiting from refereeing decisions against relegation rivals Brighton, last November.
Emotions do run high in football. We have seen disgraceful scenes recently where player’s have been the victims of vile, racist abuse, whilst fans have also entered the pitch and attacked player’s physically.
It is surely only a matter of time before one of these morons attacks a referee, and people like Warnock will have to admit some responsibility if and when this happens.