City fans pray Lahoz doesn’t do an ‘Attwell’ in Porto!

It’s very rare that someone who is – at best – grossly incompetent in their job, can deliver a master class.

Stuart Attwell is such a man. The only catch is that the Numpty from Nuneaton or the Wally from Warwickshire (feel free to insert your own alliterative adjective ) only excels at more of the same. Be it breathtaking ineptitude, or maybe something more sinister, Attwell managed to manipulate events for City’s sixth Premier League defeat of the season at the AMEX Stadium.

Stuart Attwell delivered the worst Premier League refereeing performance of season 2020/21.

Manchester City lost 3-2 to Brighton in a dead rubber of a match. City were already well deserved Champions of England for the third time in the last four years, whereas Graham Potter had steered his team to Premier League safety with games to spare.

Of course City would have loved to have won and extended their record-breaking run of consecutive away wins, but being reduced to 10 men in just 10 minutes didn’t help. Irrespective of the loss to a Brighton team, eager to please in front of their 8,000 fans – who celebrated as if it was they who had just won the title – there was a troubling spectre of what might lie ahead in the Champions League Final on May 29th.

If City fans were appalled by Attwell’s antics at Brighton, worse could lay ahead with Lahoz in Porto.

I first floated the horrible notion of Antonio Mateu Lahoz – the Spanish nationalist who hates the thought of Catalonian independence and is none too keen on Pep Guardiola – taking charge of the final, before Real Madrid were knocked out by Chelsea.

Lahoz is THE worst possible refereeing option as far as City are concerned. With Guardiola at the helm, the spiteful Spaniard has actively assisted Monaco and Liverpool knock the Sky Blues out of the Champions League in previous seasons.

Infamously, he sent Pep off when the City boss lambasted Lahoz for disallowing a legitimate goal from Leroy Sane – one that would have given City a 2-0 half time advantage against the Scousers, in the second leg of their quarter final tie in April, 2018. With the aggregate score narrowed to 2-3 and, with a fully pumped up Etihad crowd ready to raise the roof, it could have made for a very different outcome to the eventual 5-1 overall loss.

Let’s just say Lahoz has ‘previous’ with City…and lots of it!

What Attwell delivered at Brighton – aided and abetted by Jon Moss on VAR – was one of THE worst refereeing displays of all time. It was either staggeringly inept or, what some observers have suggested, blatantly biased against City. There’s pretty much universal condemnation of his ‘mistake’ riddled performance – one that many City fans fear, could be a blueprint for Senor Lahoz.

Attwell and Moss deemed Danny Welbeck either ‘had control’ or ‘potential control’ of the ball, when Joao Cancelo was adjudged to have denied the Brighton forward a ‘clear goal scoring opportunity.’ The officials applied the criteria to justify the Portuguese defender’s 10th minute dismissal. Farcical doesn’t come close to describing the decision, and it set the tone for the rest of the game.

Rodri wasn’t the only one pointing the finger at Attwell after last night’s game. The referee was slated from all quarters for his horrific performance.

Welbeck was as much in control of the ball as I would be, if you put me – a man who has only ever flown a kite in his life – in the cockpit of a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, one of the world’s most effective jet fighters!

Attwell must be high up the pecking order when nominations come in for the worst of PGMOL’s worst.

Attwell, already acknowledged by many within the game as one of the worst at the so-called ‘elite’ level, showed a yellow card to Brighton’s Alireza Jahanbaksh for a horror ‘tackle’ on Ilkay Gundogan? More akin to an assault, the incident screamed out for a red! Moss on VAR confirmed the more lenient punishment.

As Brighton played some great attacking football, putting City on the back foot, Gabriel Jesus was still able to venture into the host’s 18 yard box, only to be fouled for the proverbial stonewall penalty. Attwell didn’t award it. One can only surmise as to what Moss was doing at the time – maybe he was away from his VAR monitor, collecting his order from the Stockley Park burger bar?

City’s Gun Dog was forced off the field injured after a dreadful challenge from Brighton’s Jahanbakhsh. It was a nailed on red card, but of course Attwell only gave him a yellow!

Between them Attwell and Moss delivered a faultless demonstration of how to influence a result and, more pertinently, get away with it. As PGMOL officials they enjoy the luxury of never being held accountable for their actions or answerable to the media or fans.

To put things into perspective, even my 87-year old Ma, who listened to the match on Talksport, remarked that the commentary team – Sam Matterface and time-honoured City hater, Danny Mills – slated Attwell for his abysmal performance. It tells you everything you need to know about the ref when, Mills, of all people, has sympathy for City!

Lahoz managed to p*ss off City legends David Silva, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero when he mishandled City’s Champions League tie with Monaco.

Matterface – a Chelsea fan – tweeted immediately after the game, saying it was ‘arguably the worst officiating performance of the season.’ You’d never have known it from the from the BT Sports commentary, led by Darren Fletcher. The BT coverage didn’t raise a single query about the wayward decisions, other than to have resident refereeing ‘expert’ Peter Walton, rubberstamp each and every erroneous call.

Graham Potter managed to incur Pep’s wrath and later apologised for whatever had happened.

One never ceases to wonder which village is missing its resident idiot when Walton appears on the screen.

Joleon Lescott – twice a City Premier League Champion and now employed as the clubs Loans Manager, failed to utter a word of resistance as a BT pundit. Sad to say it was pretty spineless stuff from the former City centre back.

Sworn enemies – Lahoz is a Spanish nationalist vehemently opposed to Catalan independence. He really doesn’t like Pep and is quick to let him know!

Brighton’s fight back from 2-0 down wasn’t without merit – far from it – and Pep was philosophical in defeat, albeit the frustration and sense of injustice was simmering under the surface.

As he stated: “On Sunday, with our people, we are going to lift the Premier League trophy. And after that we are going for the final of the Champions League.”

He will be mindful of keeping many of his starters for the Final out of harm’s way on Sunday. The injury to Gundagon – courtesy of Jahanbaksh – served as a reminder of the perils and pitfalls before City even reach Portugal.

Phil Foden’s wonder goal was overshadowed by other ‘events’ at the AMEX Stadium

In the greater scheme of things, what went down at the AMEX was all pretty meaningless – lest we don’t detract from Phil Foden’s marvellous solo goal – but what goes on in Porto’s Estádio do Dragão stadium is at the opposite end of the football spectrum.

Through the eyes of City fans, the Champions League has been, and always will be, a distant second priority to winning the Premier League. The supporters’ disdain for, and distrust of, UEFA is never ending.

It is viewed as an organisation riddled with corruption, a puppet controlled by a cartel of self protectionist clubs, hellbent on a relentless mission to damage City and exclude them from European football’s top table.

Fans revolted against the abhorrent prospect of a European Super League, but City supporters still find UEFA a revolting proposition.

The contempt for UEFA is an omnipresent factor which shows no sign of going away anytime soon. Even the revulsion at the prospect of the abhorrent European Super League, cannot diminish the loathing.

Had it not been for ‘fan power’ the ESL may still have had legs as we lead up to UEFA’s showpiece final. So what did UEFA do by way of gratitude to the supporters of the two clubs, widely perceived as the instigators of the downfall of the ESL? Rather than switch to England for an all-English final, the bureaucrats moved the game from Turkey to Portugal, in order to accommodate 2,000 of their junketeers. A case of screw the 12,000 City and Chelsea fans, who have to jump through Covid19 PCR tests and protocols to attend.

It says so much about European football’s governing body, as does the appointment of Lahoz. It’s UEFA’s last ditch attempt to save themselves from the ’embarrassment’ of having City win their glittering prize.

The eyes of the football world will be watching to see if it’s XI versus XI against Chelsea, or whether it’s Thomas Tuchel’s finest, plus a Spanish quartet of Lahoz, his assistants and VAR taking on City.

By David Walker

Dedicated to a lovely lady and brave blue – Laveen Robson, you can find her on Twitter @laveen52 – who is fighting til the end. A lifelong City fan and season ticket holder in the East Stand, here’s hoping and praying she, and her family of true blue Miniature Schnauzers, can see Pep’s team crowned as Champions of Europe as well as England. Thinking of you x @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu


  1. May 20, 2021  5:59 pm by Susan Bookbinder Reply

    Great work again David - I always enjoy your brilliant journalism but you’ve got me worried - going to start praying now!

  2. May 20, 2021  6:03 pm by Alan Davies Reply

    Mr Atwell what a good game you and mr moss played on tuesday night incompetent biased and total corruption of a football match take nothing away from Brighton they played well second half but with a lot of help from the officials worst performance from a referee since Thomas Walter Antony Taylor when we played Chelsea a few years ago premier league referees need re training on how to do their job properly

    • May 20, 2021  6:21 pm by David Walker Reply

      I fear Attwell could look like The Sorcerer's Apprentice once Senor Lahoz gets going!

      • May 21, 2021  1:07 pm by Nigel Wilkinson Reply

        Excellent article David and completely on point. I am definitely in the @something more sinister” camp and have yet to see or hear any detracting evidence from my view & many have tried, Blues included!!
        This does not “just happen” or “bad luck”; it is clear, obvious, sustained and dangerous. The appointment of this referee is IMO UEFA’s “last throw of the duce” to stop City. I hope come Sunday morning I am wrong!!!?

        • May 21, 2021  1:23 pm by David Walker Reply

          We are in total agreement. There's something amiss somewhere and come Sunday, May 30th I hope we're both totally wrong.

  3. May 20, 2021  6:06 pm by Clive Vickerstaff Reply

    Everything you've written is spot on David , Gun dog the foul on him straight red ! no worse than J.Stones , Gabby a deffo pen , good god what were they watching . Of course Cancelo's sending off , Welbeck threw himself to the floor , yes there was tussling but that happens every game .

    • May 20, 2021  6:22 pm by David Walker Reply

      I somehow resisted using the 'meme' I created on Tuesday night -TWATTWELL!

  4. May 20, 2021  6:25 pm by Janet Riddell Reply

    Fantastic article Davud and never a truer word written..

    Let's pray for a better refereeing performance in the Champions League Final. Only a poor referee will stop us lifting the trophy.

    A beautuful dedication, to whom is clearly, a lovely lady and true blue 💙

    • May 20, 2021  6:35 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thank you for your generous comments and let's hope Lahoz is under such intense scrutiny he can't 'screw' Pep and City.

  5. May 20, 2021  6:26 pm by Doug Henshaw Reply

    The ref and Var against Brighton were a complete disgrace, never a red card Brighton should of got one and we should of got a pen. One can only hope things improve next season. As for uefa these refs are supposed to be the best of the best, I very much doubt it from what I've seen Dave. As for UEFA itself well I can't ever see a change coming, I would love us to win C/L but we've won the big one for me the prem. Once again a brilliant piece MR W.

    • May 20, 2021  6:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Doug - obviously having reached the final we want to go on and win the Champions League, not only to put a big tick in the box, but also to ram it right up UEFA's fundament!

  6. May 20, 2021  6:43 pm by Malcolm Reply

    A great and biting read and insightful as ever. The telling comment in your article is that referees are never held accountable for their actions. I would like to see a weekly show on TV (preferably BBC or ITV rather than the self important Sky & BT Sport) which would gather clips of actions which fans, players and managers have questioned and ask the referee/PGMOL for an explanation.

    • May 20, 2021  6:48 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great idea for TV sports programming - I like it!

  7. May 20, 2021  6:44 pm by Andrew Bissell Reply

    See your well founded concerns David but just hope, like you, that it is XI v XI, as you eloquently put it.🤞

    • May 20, 2021  6:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      That would be equitable and it's easier to accept win, lose or draw, when matters are conducted on an even keel.

  8. May 21, 2021  9:18 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    Very good David.To say the refereeing and VAR were poor at Brighton is an understatement and
    only for the benefit of 8k Seagulls and to make a Live BT game exciting !
    The moment has passed but the ineptitude cannot disguise the 3 conceded second half goals.
    On Sunday we need a PSG defensive display.
    I won't preempt any yet to be seen referee bias or bad decisions just hoping no City player gives him an excuse by an ill judged shirt pull, ankle tap etc etc.
    Just add my praise for the Sheikh and his gesture to the City fans. How lucky we are to have these owners.

    • May 21, 2021  9:27 am by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely RC - in respect of the actual loss, irrespective of Messrs Attwell and Moss - City certainly didn't help themselves.

  9. May 22, 2021  7:51 pm by Pete Reply

    Could be an interesting C/L final. You failed to mention the Semi. P.S.G. were somewhat fortunate in the decisions but still lost. So there's hope. Can't remember any really important games where the refs have impacted badly for us, except of course; the 1981 League Cup semi; the 2012 League Cup semi; the 2020 F.A. Cup semi; The 2018 Champions league Quarter Final; The 2019 Champions League Quarter Final ; The April 2018 home game against Utd to win the league. There's more of course but the theme here...All against the so called Big Six.

    • May 22, 2021  10:33 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great comment it's akin to a reversal of the sentiments so wonderfully and comically delivered in Monty Python's 'Life of Brian': 'All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?' You missed the 2017 FA Cup semi against Arsenal, but it's a point very well made. Let's hope City are so good against Chelsea that Lahoz can have a minimal impact - rather like Clattenburg in the 6-1 at The Swamp. I wonder if Fergie refused to pay that day?

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