Neil, commiserations. Sum up your thoughts for us on an incredibly frustrating afternoon for you.
It’s difficult because, obviously, I’m really flat at the moment. I’m so proud of my players today. We didn’t want to sit behind the ball and not make it exciting. We wanted to have a go. Like I say, really proud how we played. To get let down by officials, it’s roll on VA, whether I’ll be too old to see VAR …
But that’s why you need VAR because if you can’t see offside from across with the flag … It’s not even close. We worked three weeks for this and we get let down by decisions. We felt that Morrison could quite easily have had a penalty in the first half. We thought that he could’ve quite easily had a penalty in the second half. We thought it could’ve been red card. We thought Ken Zohore was getting to the ball first.
So nothing, no major decisions went for us. For the linesman, they don’t realize what’s at stake. If I was a Burnley fan, and Southampton, and all these Briton fans, they’ll be absolutely loving it today, and you can’t blame them really.
I’ve had one kick in the teeth after another this season, and the players have as well, but we’ve always bounced back. So I’ll probably place the 23s on Wednesday at Man City, and then get ready for Burnley. We’ve got some good games left, and you saw today, we’re not going to lie down. It’s almost like not who you play, it’s who you get to referee and whose going to have a flag in their hand nowadays. It’s just as important.
What on earth was going through your mind, therefore, when you stood out on the pitch in front of the officials at the end there?
All the hard work we’ve done, all the hard work in the last three weeks, and it’s none of our faults that an official can’t see across the line at the most obviously offside that I’ve ever seen. You just can’t believe it.
Like the Watford penalty just before half time a few weeks ago. One nil down, and it couldn’t been one each, and the ref apologizes after; the most certain penalty I’ve ever seen. What goes through your mind? You don’t know. Is it me? Is it payback time for me over the years? My thinking is a bit like that; get him out the way.
I honestly don’t know, but the best league in the world, and probably the worst officials at the minute. I don’t know what Mike Reilly does with their linesman because if you can’t see that, clearly, there’s something wrong with you, really. He’ll probably get another game next week, and probably say sorry to me after the game. They don’t understand what’s at stake.
Clive [inaudible 00:02:32] was the PFA guy here. He’s saying about he’s too passionate and all. Come on. What’s at stake? This is the game of football in England’s premiere league. When you see things like that it does make you passionate; that’s what we’re in the bloody game for.
They shouldn’t make mistakes like that at this level. Why am I working at 70 years of age to see things like that? I’m just so proud of the whole club today. I thought the fans were brilliant, and I thought the team was.
Neil, on the first goal, was that something that you’d been working on, to try and push the players out to actually catch a team offside?
Yeah, the lads have said that; “Well, [gaffer 00:03:11] what do we do now? What we do now?” We worked on that quite a lot, and we looked good at set piece at defending wise today. But what do you do? Not very often I’m lost for words, is it, really.
Rudiger at the end there, a definite red for you?
I thought so. It could’ve been a red. I mean you give the benefit of doubt, don’t you, but I think Ken’s getting to the ball beforehand. But there were worse decisions than that. I thought that Morrison’s two challenges, I thought Rudiger on Morrison at 50-odd, at 53 minutes was a penalty. I thought the first half one was, and he’s in a great position, Craig.
Why does he not want to give them; simple as that? Like I say, the sooner that VAR comes in, especially for the smaller clubs … I think smaller clubs sometimes get a little bit punished for that, and they do need help. I know they’ll say they genuinely didn’t try and make a mistake, but they’ve got to be better than that. The linesman’s got to be better than that.
What have you said to your players after that?
How proud I was. They’re distraught. Their heads are down. They’ve not said a word. They feel like they’ve been kicked in the teeth, which they have. All I’ve said is, “You’ve got to regroup now.” Like I say, Wednesday’s a plus game to get out the way, and then we’ve got four of our remaining games, which are quite winnable.
We’ve got to try our hardest to pick ourselves up again. We’ve been kicked that many times this year from one thing and another situations. I’ve never had a season like this, but I don’t deserve officials like that today. I don’t think Craig, he just didn’t give the major decision. I thought he had a decent game, really, but the linesman, there’s no excuse for that.
And of course, they get one goal. Our lads are deflated. They know it’s offside. Then, before you know where we are, we’ve lost another one. It’s criminal, really.
In the situation you’re in, that was undeniably a big kick in the teeth. Are you concerned here now that it will have a negative impact on the lads?
That I don’t know. That I don’t know. If they feel like they did look in the dressing room at the end, I think that’s the end of the season, but how many times have we bounced back? Who thought we’d come back from one or two other problems we’ve had all season? I can’t fault the lads. I can only say how proud I am today they’ve put it all in knowing …
I think we should’ve won the game. I would’ve been disappointed with a draw, me, at 90 minutes, but not to be.
I appreciate your time.
Thank you very much.