Dec 1, 2008

Sport - Football;Scolari wants 'blundering' refs to say sorry

The Chelsea manager urged the Football Association (FA) to listen to his plea and take action, saying players and managers apologised for their errors and it was high time officials did the same.

Scolari slammed referee Mike Dean and his assistants John Stokes and Simon Beck for their performance in Chelsea's 2-1 defeat to visitors Arsenal in the London derby at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea were 1-0 ahead thanks to a 30th-minute own goal from Switzerland defender Johan Djourou when Arsenal's Netherlands striker Robin van Persie equalised from an offside position in the 59th minute before scoring the winner three minutes later.

The equaliser left Scolari fuming and demanding an apology.

"Do you hear me speak about the referees any time? Never. For 15 games in the Premier League, five games in the Champions League and more in the Carling Cup I didn't say anything. But now it's different," the Portuguese boss said.

"I want only that the referee watches the television, see that it is wrong - the referee and the linesman - and they say sorry.

"Only this. Nothing more. They are not God. They make a mistake and I understand. I don't want three points, I only want for them, one time, to say 'sorry - mistake'."

However, Scolari feared his plea would go ignored.

"What will happen? Nothing," he said.

"I want the FA to listen and the referee to look and say 'OK, I am wrong'.

"I am wrong when I pick certain players, the players when they make mistakes and cause a goal or are not covering, all are wrong - but the referee is never wrong.

"I am not a coach who says things about the referees. But in the Premier League, many coaches are saying there are big problems with the referees."

The former Brazil manager said Van Persie's first goal had completely thrown his team's game plan.

"He was one metre in front, maybe it was more than a metre in front and it was not offside. What do you think I should think?" he said.

"It was a big mistake against us. It was difficult to play and after this, my team lost their concentration and we did not play well.

"I want them to listen to my words and look at this offside. This offside killed my team.

"If we won, Arsenal would have been 13 points behind us and the Premier League would have been finished for them."

Chelsea have won just two of their last seven matches and Scolari knows he has much work to do to revive the Blues' flagging fortunes.

Both Arsenal goals came from high balls and the former Portugal manager said combating those and getting more shots on goal were his training pitch priorities ahead of Saturday's trip to mid-table Bolton.

"In the last five games we have not played well," Scolari said, though he was at a loss as to why.

"I have one week to work with the players to play maybe the same team against Bolton because I don't have any new injuries.

"In England, many clubs play long ball and we need to win these balls and we won't concede goals, for sure.

"We are in a good position in the Premier League but we need to win more games at Stamford Bridge because away from home, we have good statistics and we need to follow up when we play against Bolton - win again, and then try to win at Stamford Bridge."

Scolari admitted on Sunday's defeat meant Arsenal were now back in the title race, but predicted that the trophy would remain up for grabs until the last few weeks of the season.

"Manchester United is a very big team with a good squad and sure, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are playing for first position," he said.

"One time it (the gap) may be six points, it may be three points. But the last two or three games at the end will decide who is first in the Premier League."

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