Jamie Ward slots home after beating two distracted Forest defenders.

The astonishing scenes that led up to Derby County’s equaliser last weekend in their feirce clash with local rivals Forest (see link – ) shown once again that easily flustered professional footballers often forget one of the basic rules – play to the whistle. Daniel Widdowson bashes his Forest boys for their costly ineptitude.

Opinions… it’s a simple concept. I think one thing and 99.9% of the time the rival supporters will think something completely different. When a referee makes a decision we tend to hear these opposing views voiced rather clearly, which often leads to a great atmosphere inside a football ground. Managers will also voice their opinions, racing over to the fourth official to ‘ask’ why the “rather foolish ref gave that free kick”, (or words to that effect). Both opinions I can accept as the football is being played. However, what really irritated and frustrated me last weekend were the players, adamant to have their opinion voiced to the ref… whilst the ball is still in play.

Watching the Nottingham Forest vs Derby County match this weekend I saw what appeared to be a simply sublime start to the game. A long ball found Miller who played the ball on to Derbyshire. The lad then played a beautiful ball in for Miller who in turn was body checked by the goalkeeper resulting in Derby being reduced to 10 men and Forest tucking home the penalty to go 1-0 up through Andy Reid. As far as Forest fans were concerned there could have been no better start. However, things began to spiral badly.

Chris Cohen appeared to slip as he went in for a challenge on O’Brien, the resulting injury appeared to be a serious one however the ref refused to stop the match and naturally Derby continued play. Obviously fans and manager were screaming at referee Scott Mathieson to blow up to allow Cohen to receive treatment. However, the injury was not a head injury and it was not a foul, thus meaning the referee had no requirement to stop the game. As Derby pressed on Forest had multiple chances to win the ball or challenge the Derby attack. Yet the players seemed more interested in pestering the ref with pathetic pleas to halt play to allow Cohen to get treatment. Miller stood around acting as though he was attending to Cohen when in fact he was doing little more than watching as the Derby attack wandered through the ‘defence’ (and I use the term lightly), and ultimately beat Lee Camp with a feeble shot at the near post.

Players who get sent off for arguing the toss over a free kick in the middle of the park deserve everything that gets thrown at them.

Whilst I expect players to express their opinions, as with everything there is a time and place. They had plenty of time to deal with the Derby attack and failed to do so. Instead of lining up, holding formation and carrying out the clinical and solid defensive manoeuvres Forest fans saw last year, they simply followed players and made reckless last ditch tackles that, if they had made contact, would have been certain fouls and cards.

We see these feeble appeals all around the footballing world. Players who would sooner attempt to claim hopeless handballs or offside rather than tracking back and getting in a position to make a tackle. Worse than these pathetic claims are the players who feel that their opinion is above all others and persist to argue with the ref to such a degree that they receive a second yellow and get sent off for what is essentially a simple case of not shutting up and listening to the man in charge. I wrote a piece last week on Nathan Eccleston who expressed his opinions about 9/11 on Twitter. I claimed that any disciplinary action against the player would be ridiculous and pointless. However, players who get sent off for arguing the toss over a free kick in the middle of the park deserve everything that gets thrown at them. Ultimately, it’s the fans who suffer the consequences of these opinions being aired, and as shown on Saturday when Derby grabbed the equaliser they were spurred on to gather the second and secure a 2-1 win away from home at their biggest rivals. Players need to learn where the line is; they need to understand that the referee makes the decisions and that they should express their opinions when the ball is not in play. Fans and managers can make enough noise for all 22 players, so shut up and get on with the job in hand.