Andy Madley’s VAR howler unforgivable – but showed Foden he must be streetwise

The latest VAR farce to leave another permanent stain on English football has taught us two things.

Firstly, that Andy Madley doesn't know his proverbial backside from his elbow and shouldn't be allowed to frequent the Stockley Park bunker ever again.

And secondly, that Phil Foden needs to become more streetwise if he is to get the rewards his wonderful talents deserve.

Madley is the brother of former top-flight referee Bobby Madley, who was sacked by the PGMO in 2018 for sending a video mocking a disabled person to a friend.

He fled to Norway, where he officiated in lower league games and if the decision-making of his sibling is now anything to go by then the 37-year-old Yorkshireman should be sent packing as well.

A spell in a Siberian deep freeze wouldn't go amiss because he is now the other half of the footballing equivalent of the Chuckle Brothers.

Not that there is anything to laugh about, because you didn't need 20-20 vision to see Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy's foul on Foden at the Etihad was a penalty.

But somehow Madley thought otherwise, despite watching it from all angles. He didn't even ask referee Jon Moss to reconsider by checking the pitchside monitor.

It's almost painful to recall the fact VAR was introduced in the first place to review decisions where there might have been a "clear and obvious error".

What is clear and obvious is that the technology isn't the problem. The problem lies with those who interpret what they see – and the likes of Madley should be punished or sanctioned when mistakes like these happen.

The Premier League and PGMOL have to be accountable and eradicate this level of incompetence because it's embarrassing the national sport and will one day cost a club much more than a simple penalty.

Which brings us back to Foden.

Ultimately Manchester City won the game 5-2, but just imagine if the incident had happened in a more significant game like a Champions League final, with the scores goalless with 10 minutes remaining.

Foden tried to stay on his feet and it this is admirable. Being honest will always be the right thing to do because someone like Foden is now a role model to millions of children.

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  • But Foden has also been naive, because top-level football is a cutthroat business in which stars like him have to be ruthless instead of innocent. Having the right morals is no longer the guarantee of success in the game.

    The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford would have gone down like a sack of spuds to improve their chances of winning a spot-kick.

    Rashford even revealed earlier this season how Jose Mourinho had taught him how to win penalties when he was Manchester United manager.

    Ultimately football is about winning and Foden will learn in time that, rightly or wrongly, this has to come at all costs.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    The spotlight will be on England, Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell like never before when France come to Twickenham on Saturday.

    All eyes will tune in to see how Jones's men handle themselves both on and off the pitch following their calamities in Cardiff last time out.

    Captain Farrell has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, following the surly interview he gave to the BBC's Sonja McLaughlan that sparked an outrage of bile towards her on social media and left the reporter sat in her car in floods of tears.

    With each passing week decorum and politeness on social media platforms is becoming as obsolete as coal and chivalry.

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    Farrell is not responsible for how people react to an interview he gives, however limited it might be.

    But as captain of his national team he is responsible for being honest, having an opinion and expressing himself instead of just rolling out platitudes he is told to say beforehand.

    Heaven forbid, he could even show he's capable of being humble and apologise to McLaughlan, because having some grace and class goes a long way and has far-reaching consequences in this digital age.

    Farrell should count himself lucky to still be in the team if recent displays are anything to go by, let alone have the chance to represent it as captain.

    The image and perception of Jones's team is not a good one right now and is doing little to help the sport grow its audience.

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