Date: 19th November 2007 at 4:38pm
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Darren Fletcher bemoans the referee’s nationality after Scotland were knocked out by Italy.

The game, lost 2-1 by Scotland, was officiated by a Spanish referee, Mejuto Gonzalez and according to Darren Fletcher, this contributed to Scotland’s downfall.

‘First of all we heard he was going to be German, then we heard he was going to be Norwegian and then finally he was Spanish, so we were shocked.

‘The Spanish and Italian games are quite similar and maybe our energy and the way we close down is seen as over-aggressive, and we gave away a lot of fouls.

‘But we are used to this in Europe and it’s part of the game.

‘It’s disappointing but sometimes our style of play doesn’t get rewarded by the referee.’


I suggested before that this particular officiating style does no good for English teams playing in European competitions. It can be quite frustrating to see challenges you deem to be absolutely fair and acceptable being judged as fouls.

Yet I think it’s only a matter of intelligence to get over it. If the players are tactically astute and sufficiently prepared they can adapt to the referee’s style. Unfortunately, coaching in Scotland (or England, by the way) simply does not prepare players for these kind of problems. The British commitment to pace, power, aggressivity and work-rate often leads to coaches overlooking the importance of shrewdness and preparation.