HARRY Redknapp this week 'escaped' punishment from the Football Association for his post-match comments about Manchester United's controversial second goal during Tottenham's 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford.
How good of the FA to spare him a hefty fine. Instead, not wishing to lose face, the pedantic pen-pushers over at Wembley Stadium gave the Spurs boss a gentle rap on the knuckles, reminding him about his responsibilities and future conduct.
Oh, please. They were never going to throw the book at Redknapp after he threatened a Sir Alex Ferguson-style media blackout.
The fact that the FA even threatened to drag Redknapp over the coals for his 'outburst' is, frankly, ridiculous.
The former Pompey manager could not have put it better when he said: "If you want me to come out and talk rubbish and say, 'No, it was a good decision, I'm quite happy with it', then don't bother getting me to come out after a game.
"If I can't come on TV when I do get asked a question and answer it in a truthful manner, am I supposed to come out after and say, 'It was a jolly good decision of Mark Clattenburg, I felt he handled it very well'?
"Then we shouldn't be dragged out onto TV four minutes after the game. I'm getting pulled out there by Simon the press officer to go on TV - I don't want to go on TV, I'd much rather stay in the dressing room with the players.
"But when I'm asked a question I give a truthful answer: He made a right mess of it all. That was my answer and I stand by that 100%."
Quite right, too. What is it exactly the FA want from these managers when they are dragged in front of the cameras, emotions still running high just moments after a big game and, on this occasion, a quite comical lack of common sense on an official's part?
Redknapp described Mark Clattenburg's awarding of Nani's goal a 'farce', and it was a perfectly accurate description.
I have never been too shy to express my anger at the shocking standard of refereeing seen every week in the Premier League in this blog.
And Clattenburg's howler has merely added fuel to my fire.
In case you are unfamiliar with the incident, Nani broke in to the Tottenham box in the 84th minute with United leading 1-0. He went to ground – there's a surprise – under a challenge from an opponent and quickly grabbed the ball, arrogantly attempting to make the referee's decision for him.
Clattenburg did not award the penalty, and after Nani released his grip on the ball, Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes rolled the ball forwards in preparation to take the free-kick that normally ensues when a player handles the ball for approximately 35 minutes.
However, Clattenburg, having given the universal signal for ‘play on’ which, if you are not familiar with the laws of the game, is both arms spread, palms facing up and a shrug of the shoulders. Apparently.
How silly of Gomes to assume he had been given a free-kick. Then, that irritating player with a tendancy for dramatic falls Nani promptly put the ball in the net. Yes, it’s easy to argue that play had indeed not been stopped for the offence, but how about that old virtue of sportsmanship? Nani knows it was a handball, he knows the referee had waved play on as a result of the offence. Just let the keeper get on with it and go away.
Perhaps Gomes is at fault for being so naïve. But there is no doubt that Nani disgraced himself by first handling the thing in the first place, and then crudely kicking the ball in the goal. We expect that from Nani, though. We should expect more from Clattenburg, however, who showed no commonsense whatsoever in allowing the goal. Is he so dense as not to realise that Gomes had misunderstood that a free-kick had not been given and play had, in actual fact, not be stopped?
I defy any manager not to be riled by what happened at Old Trafford, and as they are required to give their opinion after the game, why should they not be able to express their feeling truthfully, speaking on behalf of every single person watching the remarkable sequence of events unfold.
Fortunately, Redknapp’s outburst has not been punished, and after insinuating that the officials colluded after the game to make sure their stories match, as well as calling Clattenburg’s handling of the incident a ‘farce’, then it will now be very difficult for the FA to punish any subsequent comments made by managers about controversial refereeing decisions after a match.
So, in the end, a triumph for commonsense. And a triumph for free speech, too. Here’s to many more honest managerial outbursts in the future.