Thursday, May 07, 2009

God Is Catalan, And Represents The Blaugrana: Barcelona Book Ticket To Rome

Divine intervention. That can be the only explanation for today's events.

In the preview to the Champions League semi-finals, I picked Barcelona to beat Chelsea -- despite my rational self urging me not to -- because I believed they were a team of destiny. To quote Slumdog Millionaire, it is written.

Count 'em, three penalty shouts, two of them stonewall (the Pique handball, and the Alves-Malouda tug of war in and around the box). Numerous chances on goal, all but one cleared by the much-maligned Victor Valdes. A ludicrous red card on Abidal, leaving Barcelona with ten men, down a goal, away in the second leg of a Champions League semi-final. A Chelsea defense so resolute that Barcelona managed a grand total of zero shots on target in the first 93 minutes.

And yet...

Barcelona are going to Rome, not because they were the better team today but because it was Right. Over the one hundred and eighty minutes, one team played to win, the other not to lose. Why else would Chelsea have played so timidly with a goal and a man advantage, at home no less, when Barca were tired as hell? Were Barcelona lucky? Hell, yes. But how many times have Barcelona been the better team and lost, or gone out? Too many to count. Once in a while, it's truly joyous to be on the other side of an unfair result.

And make no mistake, Chelsea played close to a perfect game today, except for the ball-less display after the Abidal red. Drogba, when he wasn't auditioning for a role in the latest Die Hard, was a monster -- quick, powerful, direct. Malouda was a constant threat down the left, and kept Alves deeper than Guardiola would have liked. And the defense, as it was last week, was enormously successful in keeping Messi from dominating -- shadowing him with three players any time he got close to the ball, it was up to Messi's teammates to take advantage. They could not, because Chelsea were too organized.

One also has to question Guardiola's tactics and lineup. As we all know, he had a very difficult decision with both Marques and Puyol out: who to play centre-back? The first option was to slot Sylvinho in at left back, and slide Abidal over. But Abidal has been terrible as a CB for France, and Sylvinho is 35 years old and not very quick. The second option was to keep Abidal on the left, and play Caceres, an earnest and enthusiastic tackler, but one prone to rashness and the occassional brain-fart. I actually favored playing Caceres -- on a hunch more than anyting -- because I thought in a sink or swim type situation, he would swim. And he would have the pace to hang with Anelka and Drogba too.

As it happened, Pep went for the strangest option which was to slot Yaya in the CB role, and play Busquets. As soon as I read the team-sheet, I was worried. First of all, it doesn't matter that Yaya is one of the three best defensive midfielders in the world -- he's not a CB, and you can't simply construct one in such an important game. Second, it would mean that we lose Yaya in the Yaya role, where he does more than break up tackles; at his best, Yaya is a strong driving force, and gets many of Barca's forays started. Busquets, for all his potential, can not and could not play that role. And because of Yaya not playing the Yaya role, Keita was lost too -- not knowing where he was supposed to be or what he was supposed to do. In effect, in trying to plug one hole, Guardiola created three. I hope that he sees that the Yaya-as-CB experiment was a failure, and plays Caceres in the final.

Speaking of which, while there will be plenty of time to preview that game, do you think I might get a shot at playing wing back for Barca? Abidal is out, as is Alves (which might not actually be the worst thing in the world, to be honest). I guess Puyol might play right-back and Sylvinho will play on the left. But I really, really hope Guardiola doesn't get any funny ideas about playing midfielders in defensive roles. Roll the dice with the back four, and play the regular Yaya-Iniesta-Xavi-Henry-Eto'o-Messi front six, and see what happens.

One important point to make is that Barcelona simply never gave up. They played hard -- really hard -- for the full length of the game. Iniesta was simply immense, as were Pique and Valdes. And Messi had a pretty good game too -- he just needed his teammates to step up (ahem, Eto'o). Give them credit. They kept playing and playing and playing. And when the equalizer finally came, I was hugging people I didn't know. I honestly celebrated like I scored. How perfect that it came from Iniesta's boot, the player who along with Xavi, represents all that is good and holy about Barcelona?

For a long time -- about 183 minutes to be precise -- this year's semifinal seemed like a torturous re-run of last year's. And then God, wearing red and blue no doubt, intervened. Commiserations to Chelsea and their fans, who frankly don't deserve the disgraceful thugs Drogba and Ballack to be representing them. Football can be cruel sometimes. But it can also be wholly blissful and joyous.

UPDATE: Looks like Iniesta too believes in the theory of destiny:
If it had been in the fifth minute I would have hit it into the stands but I struck it with my whole soul and it went in the only place it could.

UPDATE II: The Essien goal was basically a carbon copy of Zidane's famous goal against Bayer Leverkusen a few years ago, the only difference being Essien was about five yards further away.

UPDATE III: While we're talking about penalty shouts and the like, please have a look at this. Let's just say the refereeing was horrible and both teams were victimized, and leave it at that, shall we?


Asfandyar said...

Too often people talk about Messi and Ronaldo, and in that they forget about two very special players, whose abilities and talents exceed the notion of 'technical skill'.

These two players? Rooney and Iniesta. Ask any United fan (the sane ones, anyway) and they'll tell you United's most important player is Rooney. Ronaldo may be 'better', but take Rooney out of the team and you have a very different, lesser monster.

Take Iniesta out, and Barca just aren't the same. Xavi is fucking brilliant, and Messi doesn't really need anymore praise, but fuck me isn't Iniesta sensational. He's got the ability to pick a pass where most footballers (including Messi) see absolute fuck all. Easily the best player on the pitch yesterday, despite not really having a great game.

I can't wait for the final now, especially with you lot having no worthwhile fullbacks. But then again, Fletcher's ridiculous dismissal means that we don't have a proper stifler in midfield. And that's our weakest point. Hopefully Anderson and Carrick + Scholes/Park are able to nullify Barca's midfield enough.

I don't feel bad for Chelsea at all, especially after that fuck Drogba's antics. I did feel bad for Hiddink though, he got it spot on tactically.

Messi was disappointing though. Whether or not he was marked by three players is irrelevant - the same criticism of 'big game bottler' was levelled at Ronaldo continously despite him always being doubled/tripled up against all the time. Is he tired btw? He looks so anyway...

Ahsan said...


I think we were watching different games. I didn't think Messi was disappointing at all. I thought he was wholly absent in the first 15-20 minutes, but once he realized he actually needed to move to get the ball, he was fine. He had good movement, and found players with his runs, and got around the defense a couple of times. But usually, when he takes 3-4 defenders with him (as he did more than a few times today) Eto'o and Henry pop into space. Neither was playing today, so that couldn't happen.

Mosharraf said...

The two best teams are in the final, as they should. Fletch's absence will be felt more heavily than any other on either team. Rooney is magnificent. To me, the most important player on either team. Nullify Rooney, and Barca walks home.

Watch Carrick and watch Evra. This is going to be one hell of a game. Three weeks seems like eternity.

Junaid said...

A good game of football, but poor refereeing. Drogba, who missed a glorious chance in each leg, was disgraceful to say the least when he confronted the referee after the game. Absolutely awful and what sort of impression is he giving to the millions of kids watching around the world. Chelsea may complain about the penalty appeals and what not but honestly speaking they failed to take their chances, and that is why they are not going to Rome.
@ Asfandyar: Yes I agree Rooney is the heart and soul of United. He works hard, tracks back and has that little spark about him. For me he is United's best player.

As for the final I can't wait, and with no Alves, Marquez or Abidal I think United are in with a pretty good shout. :D

Ananth said...

Well done!

Agree with Asfandyar -- Rooney's first in the teamsheet, no question.

As a United fan, glad to face Barca. You can't not like Barcelona -- for the way they play the football, the city, its people, the politics, I cld go on... If there's anyone I wouldnt mind losing a European Cup final to, it's this team. Unlike that team from West London.

Also, Iniesta's by far my favourite player on that team. Pique was also fantastic yest, we shld've kept him! Atleast outside Spain, Iniesta is so underrated. He just gets on with it, and has stunning technique. A bit like a Spanish Scholesy.

Was very disappointed by Alves -- after all I've heard about him, I've watched him about 5 or 6 times this season and he's been utter shite every time. Havent seen him get one decent ball in, and gets caught out forward way too often. Also very disappointed with Keita - where was he for 90 mins ? - and Etoo. Messi tho was of course outstanding, taking on five guys every time -- and beating them. He's frightening. Hope the final doesnt become an annoying Messi V Ronaldo thing for the Press, but lets be honest it totally will.

zeyd said...

Robbed, but am pretty used to it.

Gotta say that Barca are extremely overrated. One shot on goal in 97 mins pretty much sums it up. All they do is pass it about around the middle of the pitch, from one side to the other, creating pretty much nothing. Put a disciplined defense in font of them who can break quickly and they're toast. Man u will beat them, easily.

Chelsea dominated last night, unless one gets a hard-on from useless possession, and could/should have won by 2 or 3 goals. Drogba was immense, Essien a legend, Malouda inspirational, and several others deserving of praise.

For Barca, only Messi and Iniesta showed up. EtoĆ³ was anonymous, Xavi did nothing of note, Alves worked hard but didn't provide much quality. Having said that, Valdes did make a few saves and I thought Toure was pretty good at the back.

The reason why Chelsea kept defending (despite cutting Barca's defense open on numerous occasions pre and post red card) was because they didn't think Barca could break them down, which pretty much was the case bar one kick in the 93rd minute. And the match should have been dusted by then.

Another massive difference between the sides are the managers. Pep did nothing but whinge over the past 2 weeks. He was tactically owned by Guus and had one of 3 blatant penalty shouts been given, he would have been whinging for the next 2 weeks, at least. He should learn a thing or two from the legend that is Guus.

Anyway: Que sera, sera/ What ever will be, will be/ We're going to Wem-ber-ley!

Ahsan said...


I second that. For all the claims about injustice to Chelsea, no one can doubt the two best teams in Europe are going to play the final. No second legs, no away goals, just 90 minutes (maybe more) of football. Let's go.


Of the three you mentioned, Marquez is the biggest loss. But again, I do think Caceres can do a good job, especially because he won't have to face someone like Drogba again.


Pique was so good, so strong, played like such a leader -- as a couple of guys on the Barce offside blog noted, he almost willed Barca to victory. Seeing him play as a CB, LB (after Abidal was shown red), midfield, and forward in the same game was astonishing. I'm so impressed with him and his spirit I can't tell you. Just an awesome performance, and captain in waiting I might add.

You're right in that Alves sucked it up. Worst player on the pitch, and I'm sort of happy he's out of the final.

And finally, good call on the mediafest on the Messi vs. Ronaldo question. I think I'm going to take a break from the papers for the next three weeks. Except for Sid Lowe -- but only because he's actually on the right side of the debate ;)

Aamer said...

I liked your blog post today and as a Chelsea fan respect what you wrote. I could go on about the game and what could have and should have happened but its over and nothing can change that!

As for the Rooney VS Ronaldo debate.. you all must be out of your minds to think that Rooney is better than Ronaldo.

A) they play different positions and have different roles within the team, so the comparison is quite idiotic.

B) What substitute does united have for Ronaldo? As far as Rooney goes, they can do fine with Berbatov or Tevez.

Farooq said...

Ahsan gandu,

I cannot believe you didnt thank ME for the 94th minute goal. You dick. "This is a fucking disgrace!"
I texted you somewhere between the 88th and 90th minute mocking Barca and calling Messi the South Africa of football.

Your team must have scored like seconds after that text.

How about some love, yaar?! Im like the kiss of death for your opponents.

Asfandyar said...


Rooney may not be as good as Ronaldo, but he's more important to United. That makes him more important to the club. He just has this ability to will us forward which Ronaldo simply doesn't possess. A bit like Scholesy too he's able to control a game without his chest puffed out a la Gerrard.

Ronaldo may be the greatest (or second greatest) player in the world - but I'd have Rooney over him every single time.

As Ananth echoed too, I think a lot of United fans - if we end up getting beat in the final - wouldn't mind the loss, because at least we'd be losing to the best/second best (:D) side in Europe. Getting beaten by good football tempers the pain because you know you've simply been outclassed, as opposed to losing to the likes of Chelsea.

Here's to hoping that the final really turns out to be epic..

Junaid said...

Fair point Ahsan but the real weakness for Barca's defense is long balls and crosses...and United have good headers of the ball in Vidic and Ronaldo. Let's just hope the game lives up to the hype.

Ahsan said...


Couple of points. First, I don't know how you can say Barca are overrated based on yesterday's performance. They had three first-team players missing. Also, I agree that sometimes they overdo the passing instead of actually being direct (this was especially true in the first 10-15 minutes of the second half) but there aren't many options when a strong, powerful team puts 10 men behind the ball. That's just a fact. Anyway, we can agree to disagree here on whether or not Barca are overrated (which sort of depends on the initial "rating" in the first place).

On the tactics and the Guus vs. Guardiola question, well first of all, I would expect someone who's managed for decades to have more tactical nous than someone who's managing a senior team for the first time this year. But I thought Guus made a couple of HUGE errors. First, sitting on a one goal lead, even when Barca were down to ten men, was near suicidal -- one mistake or moment of brilliance, and it was over. Second, he should have brought Kalou on for Drogba instead of Belletti, because his pace against a tiring Barca could have settled it.

Also, Pep didn't whinge after the first leg (I admit that some of the players -- such as Xavi and Iniesta -- definitely did). All he pointed out was that when a team commits three times as many fouls as the other, and end up with the same number of yellow cards, something's gone wrong. Pep has oozed class all year, unlike some managers Barca fans are familiar with who will remain unnamed.

I do agree that Chelsea were robbed on the basis of yesterday's game. But if you take the first leg into account, it's not so black and white anymore.


Yes, we will need you against United.

On the final:

Look at all the United fans coming on here and being gracious. Quite curious. Anyway, while I don't want to step on my preview, I would say that United pose more of a threat going forward in terms of set pieces than Chelsea did, they are less strong in midfield which is where Chelsea really made Barca suffer (I'd rather place Anderson-Carrick-Park than Ballack-Essien-Lampard). So United will be both easier and more difficult to beat than Chelsea.

Aamer said...{12B35B6C-4309-4553-AEF4-050A3B899C97}&section=scorers

Check out the MAN U legends Page (the link is at the top of this post)and see who made the list (you may also notice a certain Wayne Rooney is missing from the page)

A player is as important as the goals he scores and chances he makes (especially as a forward)...
WHO has scored more Goals? Who set up more chances? Who takes the teams set pieces? Who has made more starts?
The only thing Rooney Leads Ronaldo in is getting red cards.. making him a huge liability.
You have also been unable to tell me who you would have in place of Ronaldo where Tevez could be an adequate replacement for Rooney (as he has been in the past).

I am amused by how you think Chelsea is overrated... how about looking at United players who seem to be getting awards late in their career with little merit.

I have a lot of respect for Ryan Giggs but he did not deserve the award THIS year... And unlike your assertions, I will prove it with statistics....

12 - Lampard
1 - Giggs

9 - Lampard
7 - Giggs

Shots on Target
54 - Lampard
8 - Giggs

Corners Won
40 - Lampard
12 - Giggs

Fouls Won
36 - Lampard
13 - Giggs

Tackles Won
40 - Lampard
22 - Giggs

Passes Intercepted
30 - Lampard
22 - Giggs

Shots Blocked
9 - Lampard
0 - Giggs

Nabeel said...

I have too many thoughts really.
Please read

I agree with most of what Ahsan has written. Barcelona deserved it and Chelsea were unlucky. Guardiola was tactically wrong.

Oh, and something I haven't written about in my post - for the longest time I felt deja vu. Another Premier League team defending most of the time, another miracle long range goal, Barcelona playing the second leg of a Champion's League semifinal away again. It was too cruel. But this is not 2008, as so many matches have proved. A lot of things that went against us last year went FOR us THIS year.

I agree about Rooney, but I think that he's very frustrating because he can be so close to the best player in the world yet be so inconsistent. He's the most dangerous forward in the world, but he doesn't turn it on often enough. He was the difference-maker against Tottenham and sparked Manchester's brilliant 5-2 a few weeks ago.

And zeyd, you are entitled to your opinion that Barcelona are extremely overrated, but their record this year proves otherwise. I agree that they didn't create much last night. Do you REALLY think Chelsea's the only disciplined defense that's faced them all year long?! Your ignorance is quite sad.

karachi khatmal said...

Man U legend #1 - Christiano Ronaldo

Likened playing for Man U to slavery

Man U legend # 2 - Wayne Rooney

Emphatically wore the "Blue for life" t-shirt before he dumped them, only to be left as a bit-player for the Reds.

it is said that if you play "Glory, Glory Man United" in reverse, you hear hitler reciting the satanic verses in Aramaic

zeyd said...

My basis on Barca being overrated is such:

1) The medias constant talking up of them as a truly great team (Ahsan: initial rating of being ''great''). They're not a great team, just a very good one. That's highlighted by the fact that going into El Classico, they were only 4 points ahead of Madrid. Madrid, who I've watched all season (I probably watch about 5-6 La Liga games a week) are a very average team. Decent going forward, and terrible at the back. The fact that they were only 4 points behind Barca is quite telling.

2) The 180 minutes against Chelsea where they created 3-4 chances, and absolutely zilch in the second leg. You'd expect a great team that is down a goal to be able to, you know, muster a couple of shots on goal at the very least. They created nothing. Parking the bus isn't an excuse either; teams do it every week in the EPL and the likes of man u, chelsea, arsenal etc have to figure out ways to get the 3 points.

@ Ahsan,

Missing players is neither here nor there. Chelsea were missing players too (2 very important ones), but that was and never would have been used as an excuse.
And dude, you say Guus didn't go for the jugular when Abidal was sent off? Well, they tried, but it's tough to score goals when, you know, the ref refuses to call a foul in the box. Yeah, I guess Chelsea could have taken more shots from 25 yards, that's the only way they would have been allowed to score.

@ Nabeel

Speaking of ignorance, when did I say that Chelsea's the 'only' disciplined defense Barca have come against? I said that a team that can defend and break well will cause them problems. It's quite evident that Barca get frustrated when things don't go their way. It's a glaring weakness.

Another thing: teams in spain can't just sit back and defend. It's just not possible! I've watched both madrids, barca, valencia, villareal, and sevilla (all the top teams), a lot over the past 7-8 seasons and they hate to defend, except perhaps villareal. They just don't have the discipline to maintain a structure for 90 mins; they have to get forward, they have to try to put passes together and beat their opponents. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, in fact it's great to watch (that's why I watch it), but come up against a team hellbent on keeping them out whilst snatching one at the other end, and Barca will be caught out, as they have so often against English teams. Why do you think that happens?

I just feel that la Liga should not be used as a yardstick to define a team's greatness, especially when aspects of the game vary from league to league to europe.

Nabeel said...

"I just feel that la Liga should not be used as a yardstick to define a team's greatness, especially when aspects of the game vary from league to league to europe."

zeyd bhai,exactly! so please do not use EPL standards to define Barcelona's success. Nor should anyone use Barcelona's performance against Chelsea or Manchester to judge La Liga, as EPL fanboys have been doing all over the internet. Barca's success in all competitions all year long is proof enough - including the Champions League which is, well whaddaya know, not made up of La Liga teams!

I agree that Barcelona hasn't reached all-time-greatness yet - but they just have to iron out a few deficiencies and they'll be pretty close, if not there already. and right now they are, at least for me, one of the very best teams in the world. there are few sights better than Barcelona in full flow, attacking at their finest. few teams can achieve that consistently, as barcelona have done. and the statistics have reflected that. the media tends to get overexcited but they see a GD of +100 (which it is right now) and three forwards sharing almost the same amount of goals between them, and you can't blame them for losing their marbles.

for all the success chelsea and liverpool have had this season, they haven't given half the entertainment barcelona have provided. and even if they were playing in la liga, which according to you has inferior defenses, they wouldn't have been able to.

so, please, don't take away anything from barcelona or disrespect their competitors by saying that they suck.

Ahsan said...


Fine, we can disagree about the precise line that divides "great" and "very good". I do think Barca were a truly phenomenal team from October to December, went slightly off the boil in about February, and got back but not quite up to their earlier standards in this part of the season.

And I think your problem with them not attempting more shots on target actually gets at one of the reasons they're not as good as they were in the beginning of the season. Two major differences. One, Alves didn't suck balls and his crosses were deadly accurate -- it was quite amazing actually to see every single one of his crosses hit the target. So when the front door was closed, Alves would help Henry and Keita types score goals. The second major difference is set plays, where Barca have completely lost it; they're simply not a threat there, whereas they always had trick plays and good free kicks in the earlier part of the season.

So yes, you're right that Barca should have been more direct -- I already agreed with this statement in my comment above. But for whatever reason, these two aspects have simply left the team.

And as for parking the bus and EPL teams finding a way through, I don't think a single EPL team has found its way through a strong team like Chelsea parking the bus. Maybe I'm wrong and you can tell me a single time that any team did so.

Also, there were no fouls in the penalty box after Abidal's sending off (though there was the Pique penalty shout I think). But even so, that's no excuse. You and I both know Chelsea were content to sit back and not challenge Barca's possession, even when they were a man down. This, more than anything, is a sign of weakness (on Chelsea's part) and strength (on Barca's part). Tactical genius Guus was STILL so scared of Barca that he still refused to go after them or put fewer than ten men in and around the box. What does that say for what Guus thinks of Barcelona? I think he might respect them a touch more than you do.

Asfandyar said...

Well, it seems it might've been closer to 'fate/divine intervention' than first thought!

lala pathan said...

hmm..u said it right brother GOD IS BLAUGRANA ....wat a game...i am sick and tired of these chelsea and enlish fans ...on sky sports they are all blaming the reff...i saw the game and here is what i thought ...only 1 penalty was ligitimate the ANELKA 1 which hit PIQUE in the hand...the rest were all dives but then that penalty that he didn't give was evened out by the wrongly sending off of ABIDAL...chelsea had there numerous chances but didn't take i think the way barca won is going to be a great moral boost for them against utd...the goal was awsome..they created such a great move in th 93rd minuts...normally no1 has the ability to think at that time but bravo MESSI for keeping his cool and passing the i am also toired of hearing abt how great ronaldo was...hello ppl...did u guys take a look at arsenal ...they were full of babies ...rocked by injuries...i will say though the free kick was good but stilll this arsenal side was not the real deal it was no match for utd so don't be too happy scumbags...v r cumn to get u guys in rome...let the party begin :)...oh and asfand....i think tevez is better then rooney ..wen he plays he creates goals for these 2 cry babies...:p peace...chao

Ali said...

btw alves was horrible, and alves tackled malouda outside the box i think, i am rooting for barca but if they play like this in the final, manU is going to stomp them like kids

zeyd said...

@ Ahsan

Hahaha, Chelsea have tried parking the bus on many an occasion after sneaking a goal past the team that tried to park the bus against them. What happens? Balls come flying into the box and some random douche (Davis, Heskey, that other American fucker at Fulham, Cahill, Bent) gets a touch on the ball in a goal mouth scramble in the 90th minute and boom, 1-1 and two points dropped. And that's just trying (unsuccessfully) to park the bus for about 20 mins. It never works out.

It's happened so often over the last two seasons that I've lost count. Chelsea park their own bus, after negotiating the opponents bus, only to be thwarted by hopeful long balls into the box. I knew it would happen against Barca because that's football. Sigh.

I don't get why Barca aren't more direct. I remember watching a game of theirs earlier on in the season. It was absolutely pissing down and the pitch was basically mud. Because of that, Barca must have played more long balls than they have in the entire season. And it was effective too, as they have the players who can not only play the balls but get on them as well (that sounds dirty). Needless to say, they won that game.

Of course Guus respects Barca, well, he respects everyone he comes up against. I do too, just not as much as I did going into the tie. Why?

1) The incessant whinging from fans, players, and manager after the first leg.

2) The utter arrogance at home, where they expected to win, and as if being thwarted for the first time was just not allowed. Oh it's anti-football: how dare you defend successfully!

3) Their one-dimensional play. Don't need to get into this, but god damn dude, be a bit more direct, throw more ppl forward (for all their passing and possession, Barca never committed THAT many players forward)and play some balls into the box. Cech is dicey when he has to come out and gather the ball in a crowd - make him do that! If I was a Barca supporter, I wouldn't have had any hair left after the second leg!

Like I said earlier, Guus/Chelsea, about 150 mins in, were pretty confident about keeping Barca out. Down a man and they were even more confident. And it's not as if they didn't have chances later: I remember Essien mistiming a left-footed shot, and Belletti skying one late (that's two more than Barca did). With about 15 mins left, Chelsea were quite happy to defend what they had.

And btw, I'm quite sure Guus would have wanted his players to keep the ball more, get forward and score the second, but he can't go out and play the game for them.

Chelsea thought they could see it out not because they were scared but because they believed in their defensive abilities. As mentioned, it should have never come to that.

Guus DID tactically own Pep. Pity the ref was having none of it.