The great cry from managers, at all levels of the game, when they speak of referees, is that they must be more consistent.

A referee is a one off character. He makes decisions based on what he sees but sometimes when he has the feel for the game he uses his experience to manage problems rather than reach for the automatic yellow card.

That is called ‘man management,’ a skill required by the best coaches and referees, as well as by anyone in charge of a group of workers be they in a factory, an office, a classroom or on a sports field.

Steve Bruce, formerly the captain of a successful Manchester United team and now the manager of Sunderland is an interesting case study.

He began his managerial career with Sheffield United and spent short periods of time managing Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace before joining Birmingham City in 2001.

He twice led Birmingham to promotion to the Premier League during his six years tenure, but resigned in 2007 to begin a second spell as manager of Wigan Athletic. At the end of the 2008 – 2009 season he resigned to take over as manager of Sunderland.

It is very significant that Bruce learned his trade in the lower divisions before moving up to a higher level, but he has regularly moved from club to club without ever achieving outstanding success at any of them.

He is now beginning his third season at Sunderland and in the first match of the season against Birmingham his team lost a two goal lead to draw 2 -2.

His defence was to attack the referee, newcomer to the Premier League, Anthony Taylor. No mention of the fact his team had lost a two goal lead – the blame lies with the ‘rooky official.’

How preposterous!

A team cannot be made up of eleven 30 plus years of age professionals or eleven young players under 20 – it needs a balance between youth and experience.

So it is with a team of referees – and make no mistake it is a team.

You must have the experience of referees who have been involved at the top level, both nationally and internationally, but you must also look to the future and introduce new talent.

Will Steve Bruce select his young players 20 year old striker Martin Waghorn and 20 year old midfielder Jack Colback regularly for his first team? Of course not!

 They are in the 25 man squad to gain experience for the future. They are prospects but not the finished article.

Will Mike Riley, the man in charge of the Premier League Referees, appoint Anthony Taylor to the major matches between the top teams in England this season – Manchester United v Chelsea or Liverpool v Arsenal?

Of course not! Anthony will gain experience this season to make him a better referee next season and the seasons beyond.

The only way you can look to the future is to blood new talent in a sensible way.

Bruce was wrong to criticise Anthony Taylor after Saturday’s match. He was protecting his own players at the expense of the referee.

He was not just totally inconsistent, he was totally out of order!

Who says we must have consistency in football?

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