Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, has revealed his coaching staff undertake fact-finding missions on referees before League One matches.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with former club Scunthorpe at Glanford Park, Adkins explained the policy is designed to avoid “unnecessary” suspensions hindering United’s progress later on this term.
“We’ve had referees come in to our training sessions as part of the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) programme,” he said. “It’s all about trying to get feedback, trying to understand why referees give certain decisions so we can then relay that back to the players. If you make a challenge in a certain way, for instance, is that going to be penalised? Will it be a free-kick or not? It’s all about trying to get that knowledge and understanding.”
“When we scout the opposition, we also give a review of the referee too,” Adkins added. “How many bookings they give out, how many sendings-off and stuff like that. You need to be aware of it.”
Adkins, who spent 14 years at Scunthorpe before taking charge of Southampton in 2010, made the claim as he prepares to come face to face with Andy Haines for the first time since criticising his handling of October’s defeat by Millwall. Although FA guidelines prohibit Adkins from talking about individual officials before fixtures, he struck a more conciliatory note during yesterday’s weekly media briefing.
“I think they (the referees) know that I always try to be fair in what I do and what I say,” he said. “And I think we can all appreciate that their job is the toughest in football. All supporters want the players to be whole-hearted and committed. We don’t want stupid challenges but there has to be a balance there.”