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Webb raps managers for blaming referees for defeats

Howard Webb starts his first match since the World Cup final and has called on managers to stop using referees as a scapegoat for defeats. Webb said: "In football there is an element of a blame culture - there's a scapegoat searched for in certain situations and often that's the referee.

"I try to understand the manager's position if he's suffered a defeat and may feel certain things have gone against him on the day.

"That undoubtedly evokes emotions that in the cold light of day he would rather not have said.

"Does it disappoint me? Yes. Does it bother me? No.

"As long as it's fair and justified I don't mind criticism.

"But away from the cauldron the relationship is pretty good and a lot of managers have been in touch since the final and been supportive."

Players' attitudes towards officials appears to have improved - latest statistics show a 20% fall in cautions for dissent - and Webb said it was important the Respect campaign kept going.

He added: "I personally feel the relationship with players is pretty good, certainly better than it used to be. It isn't perfect - players do sometimes react in an unsavoury way.

"I went to see a rugby league game recently and players were not surrounding the officials. It was right and proper something was done by the Premier League and the FA and we need to maintain the momentum.

"We need to make sure we protect the image of the game."

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