Howard Webb has revealed the team that, in his opinion, became the easiest to referee during games.
The 45-year-old took charge of both Champions League and World Cup finals during his time as an official, but he built his reputation over an 11-year career in the Premier League.
Following the release of his autobiography titled ‘The Man in the Middle’, Webb told BBC Radio Five Live that Arsenal were the easiest team to referee and he feels that the Gunners became more “naive” under manager Arsene Wenger as the years went on.
“Arsenal became easier to referee over time,” he said. “When I first started they were a daunting team to referee, they would get into your head. They got easier, and you got the sense that other teams bullied them on the pitch a bit.”
He continued: “And they’d react in a really obvious, really naive way. I thought they were too naive as a team as well.”
— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) October 21, 2016
You can understand Webb’s point of view when you consider the caliber of players who were at Arsenal ten or 11 years ago compared to the ones who have been at the club more recently.
The first Arsenal match that Webb refereed was a 1-0 win away at Portsmouth back in 2005, and at that time, the North London outfit had strong, formidable characters like Jens Lehmann, Gilberto Silva, Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry – and none more so than skipper Patrick Vieira.
Arsenal hasn’t won the Premier League title since the 2003-04 season, which coincidentally was Webb’s first as a top-flight referee, and as time passed, Wenger’s teams have frequently been accused of flakiness and lacking in leadership qualities.
In total, Webb officiated 39 Arsenal matches during his time as a ref, which includes a 2-1 Community Shield win for Chelsea in 2005 as well as the 2007 League Cup final, which involved the same teams and produced the same scoreline.