CONTROVERSY never seems to be far away from Wimbledon, or their outspoken manager Joe Kinnear.

And, if you believe what you read, he could soon be putting down new-old roots in his native city across the Irish sea.

Either as boss of a new Dublin-based Dons, transported en-bloc to the Irish capital by owner Sam Hammam.

Or as successor to Jack Charlton in charge of the Republic of Ireland international team.

Sam the Man's Star Trek-style plans to "beam up" the Crazy Gang and drop them in Dublin sound too much like pie in the sky to have a practical chance of success.

I wouldn't even bet on them finding a welcome in a Welsh valley, as Cardiff too has been mentioned as a potential new home.

But, if Kinnear's struggling Wimbledon side don't end their longest sequence without a win since the Premier League was formed against Rovers tomorrow, he might feel like emigrating anyway!

For the long-suffering boss who works an annual miracle at the Dons' rented home of Selhurst Park, seems to be reaching the end of his tether.

With referees. Previously in trouble for his comments on match officials, Kinnear will still have included an additional Christmas wish in his letter to Santa before sending out his players to do battle with Rovers. The players' orders will be simple - to end a sequence of 13 League matches without a win.

And Rovers' own abysmal record away from Ewood will encourage the Dons that an end to their misery could be in sight. But Kinnear's principal plea for help from above is to see a "spy in the stand", an extra official capable of adjudicating on controversial incidents.

The way things are with officialdom, Santa is the only man likely to do something about that.

Wimbledon are not alone in feeling hard done to by match officials.

But, in true Crazy Gang fashion, they have their complaining down to a fine art.

It was the Sam and Joe show at Selhurst last weekend against Spurs, when club owner Hammam charged into the post-match Press conference clutching a video.

He declared: "This is my show now and I am running things!

"Any reporter worth his salt will not write anything until he's watched these two incidents."

The controversial incidents concerned a Dons claim for a penalty for handling and a disallowed Wimbledon goal, as they lost 1-0 at home to Spurs - unluckily according to many reports.

Defeat was harder to take after three successive draws, including holding leaders Newcastle at home and Leeds away.

But Kinnear took the opportunity to expand on one of his favourite theories.

"If managers make mistakes, we get the sack," he said. "Referees can make as many as they like and still nothing will happen about it.

"I have said it before and I will say it again. It's time there was another official at matches sitting in the stand.

"It would cut out the arguing, prevent horrendous errors by referees and make a lot of sense."

The referee under fire last weekend was David Elleray.

Tomorrow's man-in-the-middle, who will have to manage without any extra help from the stands, is Cornishman Martin Bodenham.

He will be taking a Rovers game for the first time this season but he has officiated in the recent past without problems.

Bodenham was at Ewood for the home game against Aston Villa last season (won 3-1) and refereed the game at Tottenham (lost 3-1).

On both occasions, he gave an excellent display.

And the referee could be spared another potential problem, with Vinnie Jones unlikely to be in Wimbledon's starting line-up.

Since having a transfer request accepted, Jones has had to be content with a place on the substitutes' bench and there are no indications of a change in that policy tomorrow.

Performances, apparently, have improved without Jones.

So the man who once typified the spirit of the Crazy Gang could be the first to make what just a few weeks ago would have been an unexpected exit.

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