Ange Postecoglou could have easily lost his cool after his Tottenham side lost 4-1 to Chelsea on Monday, but he remained measured and dignified in defeat.
Many of the major decisions in a chaotic London derby went against his players, two of whom were sent off. There were nine reviews carried out by the VAR, resulting in long delays and 12 minutes of stoppage time in the first half alone.
It was a deeply frustrating night for Spurs, but the Australian didn’t go about casting aspersions on the match officials or the way in which the game was refereed after the final whistle.
Postecoglou spoke of pride in his players after the team went down to nine-men, how they stuck to the game plan even when the odds were against them. And, yes, he did speak about VAR, but at no point did he point fingers or become aggressive, instead articulating a position he has been very consistent on from day one.
“I don’t like it,” he said of lengthy VAR pauses. “I don’t like the standing around, the whole theatre around waiting for decisions. But I know I’m in the wilderness on that.
“In my 26 years, I was always prepared to accept the referee’s decision, good, bad or otherwise, and I’ve had some shockers in my career. I’ve had some go my way as well.
“I’ll cop that because I just want the game to be played. But when we’re complaining about decisions every week, this is what’s going to happen.
“People are going to forensically scrutinise everything to make sure they’re comfortable it’s right, and even at the end of that, we’re still not happy.
“It’s just diminishing the authority of the referee. You can’t tell me referees are in control of games. They’re not. Control is outside of that, but that’s where the game’s going. You have to accept it and try and deal with it.”
“I have to be here now to say it is not acceptable,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.
“We didn’t deserve to lose the match. We lose the match because of the clear and obvious decisions. It’s embarrassing. A disgrace. That’s what it is – a disgrace.
“You cannot imagine the amount of messages I got saying this cannot continue. I am wasting my time. We are wasting our time. I don’t want to be in the hands of people.”
Arteta came across as entitled and petulant, like a child who didn’t get what he wanted at the sweet shop. Arsenal, the enabling parents who think their son can do no wrong, defended their manager with a statement full of empty calories.
That’s not to say that Arsenal weren’t entitled to complain about a decision that many feel was incorrect. But their reaction was classless and will do nothing to improve the state of refereeing in the Premier League.
Indeed, Postecoglou himself said that managers were “the problem” and have no place telling referees how to officiate football matches. “I was taught that you grow up and you respect the officials,” he added, in what could be interpreted as a dig at his north London counterpart.
There’s a reason why everyone continues to fall in love with Big Ange while the antipathy towards Arteta grows every week.