There is nothing like bringing up the Carlos Tevez saga of 2007 to criticise the Sheffield United team of today.
To say it is stretching a point is an understatement. Yet that is exactly the route Martin Samuel has taken in his latest Daily Mail column.
This is because Samuel – whom you probably won’t need reminding is a West Ham United fan – is annoyed at the Blades after their 0-0 draw at Aston Villa.
Just before half-time, the visitors were denied the opener by goal-line technology and VAR. An Oliver Norwood cross looked to clearly be spilled over the line by Orjan Nyland, but neither system intervened.
Samuel is angered that there have been reports that the Blades will take legal action if they miss out on European qualification because of the result.
“Yes, it was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of a 9,000-1 chance missed call by Hawk-Eye’s goal-line technology. Yes, it was poor that VAR did not have the gumption to call it to referee Michael Oliver,” he writes.
“Yet to speak, as Chris Wilder did, of legal redress if Sheffield United missed out on Europe by the two points lost, ensured wider sympathy swiftly evaporated.
“It was a mistake, but they happen. The technology failed and humans have been taught not to trust their eyes. Frustrating, yes. But actionable?”
What did Wilder actually say?
The thing is, the story that Wilder is prepared to take legal action appears to come from another Mail article. Buried some way down the piece is the actual comments from the Blades boss.
“There will obviously be a discussion above me about the situation,” Wilder said after being asked about legal action.
“That’s only right and I think everybody would expect that. I suppose we will only know at the close of play (if it has had an effect) when the final whistle goes at Southampton (on the final day of the season).”
Wilder has actually been very careful not to mention legal action. He is too sensible for that.
Samuel can’t let the Tevez saga and Sheffield United go
Wilder also brushed aside talk of Tevez before his side met West Ham earlier this term. Perhaps because it’s almost 13 years since the club was awarded more than £10m in compensation after being relegated on the final day.
The Hammers – who finished just above them – benefited from the goals of Tevez, despite it later emerging the forward was not their player.
Although West Ham were the overall winners of the situation because they remained in the Premier League, Samuel can’t let it go. Not to suggest he’s bitter, but not many people are still bringing this up.
“Sheffield United got lucky in 2008 with the Lord Griffiths ruling,” he says. “They scored fewer goals away from home, and lost more away games than any other team in the league in 2006-07, and that somehow became the work of Carlos Tevez and West Ham.
“In fact, it barely exists as a precedent these days because football wisely acknowledged its rogue nature and no club has pursued that path since.
“Griffiths’ judgement was flawed. He died in 2015, aged 91, and we wish Sheffield United well finding another sound legal mind who seconds him.”
Nice touch to question the decision-making of a man who died five years ago. Especially when getting angry about a legal case that seems to have no basis. One which only seems to exist within a report from Samuel’s colleague.