How Jack Ross can stop time-wasting as Sunderland's opponents revert to usual tricks
Did you notice the first thing that Oxford United did upon taking the lead on Saturday? That’s right. They wasted time.
Goal scorer Tariqe Fosu celebrated beside a corner flag, then simply stayed there. He didn’t even bother to affect an injury or pretend to fasten his lace, as per established procedure. He just stood, delaying the restart for as long as possible.
Every team attempts to waste time when it suits them. But what we saw in League One last season surpassed anything we have ever known. There are teams in this division who can waste more time than ITV.
But do you know what? I don’t blame Fosu, or Oxford (who deserved their point) or any team that wastes time.
I blame weak officials for allowing it. If Mr Wright had booked Fosu, as he should have done, then Oxford wouldn’t have wasted as much of the remaining 76 minutes as they did. Fosu certainly wouldn’t.
Referees pointing dramatically at their watches, to signify to spectators that they know time is being wasted and will (allegedly) add minutes, only treats the symptom – not the cause. Yellow and red cards are the antidote.
The officials aren’t helping themselves. It seems a simple enough issue to the fans.
I’m not suggesting that Sunderland’s failure beat Oxford was down anything other than their own shortcomings.
But I’m not convinced either that referees last season always added the appropriate minutes, or at what cost to teams on the receiving end of time wasting. It certainly does the game no favours.
Jack Ross is not one of life’s ranters. But he really ought to make the issue as public as possible. Part of Alex Ferguson’s remit was to manipulate referees through the media. Mr Ross could do worse than to copy him.
A low ploy? It’s no worse than time wasting.