Santini adds to the conspiracy debate over refs

Mark Burton
Sunday 26 September 2004 00:00
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When Jacques Santini muttered that he did not understand, he was not admitting to a weakness in his English comprehension.

When Jacques Santini muttered that he did not understand, he was not admitting to a weakness in his English comprehension.

In fact Tottenham's manager, tasting defeat for the first time since going to White Hart Lane at the hands of Manchester United, was explaining why he was joining in the refereeing debate, which has been gaining weighty contributions by the week. After Jose Mourinho's 'two penalties' outburst and Chris Coleman's overflow of frustration, Santini was left bemused by a switch of referee only a few days before Tottenham's game from the experienced Steve Bennett to the newcomer Peter Walton.

He said he did not understand a lot of the referee's decisions, but that was not the main worry. 'When, with my players and my assistant coaches, we see the referee in the Manchester United dressing room at half-time smiling with the players and United staff - I don't understand this situation.' The game was decided by Ruud van Nistelrooy's penalty, awarded by the linesman.

One-nil was the score of the day, as the big guns cemented their postions in the leading group. It was, of course, 1-0 to the Arsenal at Manchester City, courtesy of Ashley Cole, and 1-0 to Chelsea at Middlesbrough, thanks to Didier Drogba.

The picture at the top of the Premiership is an increasingly familiar one, and now Liverpool seem to be beginning to understand what Rafael Benitez expects of them. Norwich City were the victims of a 3-0 demolition that was inspired by Javier Luis Garcia, who scored, along with Milan Baros and Djibril Cissé. Newcastle seem to be clicking with Graeme Souness, too. Patrick Kluivert, James Milner and Alan Sharer scored the goals in a third win under the Scot, 3-1 over West Bromwich.

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