WHAT’s that strange noise?
That cacophanous echo of the weekend where there should be plain words and a clear voice of authority?
The void that should be filled not by screaming headlines and puditry but by the voice of under-fire Rotherham referee Howard Webb telling us why he didn’t send off Mario Balotelli after his stamp on Scott Parker at the Etihad on Sunday.
Sky TV pundit Gary Neville, perhaps not the most impartial of observers in this instance, said Howard Webb definitely saw the stamp and chose to ignore it.
Really? Why would he want to do that?
Why would the world’s top ref seek to overlook an assault on a player in one of the biggest games of the season?
Simple. He wouldn’t.
If you look at the TV footage again you’ll see that as Balotelli makes his ill-advised lunge towards Scott Parker’s face Howard Webb’s eyes are a split-second ahead of the action following the ball to witness the next clash for possession.
Not even he can be looking in two places at the same time.
So why can’t he tell us that?
Why can’t he speak to the cameras himself or issue a statement after he’s seen replays of controversial incidents.
All the conjecture and debate could have been calmed if Howard Webb, and every other referee in the professional game, were allowed to voice his views, or lack of them, after games.
If he saw it and thought it wasn’t deliberate then he can say so - though Manchester City fan Lee Dixon’s defence of Balotelli on Match Of The Day 2 was flimsy to say the least.
Howard Webb would probably love to be allowed clarify the situation - he’s a thoughtful and articulate man who has clarified decisions in public before as in the Everton v Chelsea game last season.
Mario Balotelli, on the other hand appears to be neither thoughtful nor articulate and has to be the most unpopular Italian on dry land right now.
The enigmatic city striker is 6ft 2ins of attitude, ability and trouble.
“Why me?” was the t-shirt he revealed when he scored in Manchester City’s 6-1 win over neighbours United.
The answer might just be: because you’re a bit of a pillock Mario.
Although you can’t help but warm to a bloke who reportedly gives money to strangers, visits school bullies to persuade them of the error of their ways, turns up in a Manchester pub puts £1,000 behind the bar and plays the locals at darts for £50 a game, he undoes all that in a flash.
Or in this case a cynical lash of a boot and the sheepish protestations of innocence that followed.
Mario shouldn’t be the only one getting a call from the FA disciplinary chaps this week after a second incident that looked potentially as serious.
But city centre back Joleon Lescott has escaped a retrospective rap from the FA even though TV analysis of his clash with Younes Kaboul’s cheekbone clearly showed excessive use of the forearm/elbow.
Another one missed by Howard Webb - which only reinforces the blindingly obvious point that no one man can compete with 20 cameras and replays from five angles.
Not even the best referee in the world.
But he should be allowed to tell us if he missed it and what he thinks of the incident now he’s viewed replays.
Surely we can all can see that?