Start As You Mean To Go On

This weekend sees the opening games of the 2016/17 Barclays Premier League. I recently wrote about the changes made to the laws of the game and as the games kicked off, I was hoping that the referees would be really hot on dealing with dissent as they have been instructed to do.

In Middlesbrough’s first game back in the top flight for 7 years two players were booked for dissent, when last season I believe nothing would have been given to them for these incidents.

First, veteran goalkeeper Shay Given was given a yellow card for running 25 yards or so, out of his area to confront referee Kevin Friend after Boro’s Ramirez had fouled Pieters. Some would say this decision is harsh but it needed to be done to show how referees are going to be dealing with dissent from now on. Lets be honest about this, there was no need for Given to speak to the referee, especially as he isn’t the captain. If the referee feels a yellow card or more is needed, he doesn’t need anyone who isn’t in his officiating team to advise him on what he needs to do.

The second incident of dissent from Middlesbrough Vs Stoke was after Arnautovic was fouled he turned towards the referee and angrily shouted something. I think it’s safe to assume that he would’ve liked the player that fouled him to have been booked or sent off. However, his petulant actions were not necessary. A free kick was awarded so he should’ve got up and got on with the game.

Having only watched highlights of this game I can’t comment on every decision but from what I did see, I have to say Kevin Friend had an excellent game in the middle. He even brought play back for a free kick when there was no advantage.

I hope all referees, not just those in the Premier League, take note of this performance. It’s important to set the marker early so that it can have a positive effect on the game.

Law Changes

With the new season getting ever closer, I thought it would be good to look at some of the changes to the laws of the game (LOTG) that the IFAB have made.

The most notable change is to Law 8, The Start and Restart of Play. The ball now no longer needs to be played forward. When refereeing young children I would sometimes have to tell them that they needed to play it into the oppositions half. Thinking about it I’ve had to tell a few adult teams too! Another change to this law is the restart at corners and free-kicks. “Clearly moves” has been added to the law so teams will no longer be able to do sly touches to catch their opponents off guard, like Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs did to Chelsea in 2009.

Another one that stands out is a change to what is being called the ‘triple punishment law’. Previously if a player player committed a foul and it denied a goal scoring opportunity he would’ve automatically been sent off. Now, if the foul is deemed to be accidental as opposed to reckless a yellow card will be enough punishment. I think this is a good change and will keep the games competitive.

When a player goes down injured, if the offending player is cautioned or sent off, the injured player does now not need to leave the field of play for quick treatment.For me this should have been changed to be under the referees control completely. A player could pick up and injury from a challenge that does not warrant a yellow or red card, but he/she may not really need to leave the pitch for treatment.

Players will no longer be booked for a handball stopping an opponent receiving possession of the ball but will be cautioned if it stops a promising attack. I can see this still causing controversy as it will be the referees opinion if the attack was going to be promising or not, and the TV pundits will have looked at 100 different camera angles to prove the referee wrong!

Also being outlawed is the last second stutter before taking a penalty, with those found guilty of the illegal feint will be shown a yellow card and an indirect free-kick awarded to the opposition. This will be interesting to see this one enforced!

 

2016/17 Season Is Almost Here

It’s been too long since I wrote anything. I have been too busy to be able to sit down and write the things I have wanted to during the recent European Championships in France.

With every upcoming season I always look out for the proposed change the law makers will make to the beautiful game and if it will improve things, especially from a referees point of view. The last few days has seen the Premier League and the Football league announce tougher actions on those abusing officials.

The Telegraph reported: ‘new zero-tolerance crackdown on “intolerable” treatment of referees has been promised across professional football next season in an attempt to finally end the culture of abuse at every level of the national game. The Premier League, the Football League and the Football Association announced yesterday that elite officials would be instructed to take a far stricter approach if they are subjected to dissent, intimidation and physical contact from players or managers”

I personally can’t believe it has taken this long for the powers that be to make a stand on abusive players. The FA launched their Respect campaign in 2008 and while it has been fantastic and made a massive improvement it would have made sense to clamp down on this type of behaviour then, as this isn’t a new problem which has recently began. One of the most famous scenes of this sort of thing was back in 2000 when Manchester United players surround referee Andy D’Urso and forced him retreat from the penalty area to the edge of the pitch, and I think only the captain Roy Keane was booked.

Today’s youth watch their heroes on TV and try to copy them in the playground and on the pitch when they play for their team at the weekend. Unfortunately this isn’t just skills and the way they wear their kits its the abusiveness they copy too. I have seen it all to often than youngsters think its okay to shout at the referee, and from my experience the coaches can influence and encourage this behaviour.

As a referee it is important to understand a players frustration but to not let them think they can get away with any type of abuse. I usually say this to the captains when doing the coin toss, explaining that anything shouted at me from distance, anything foul or abusive language would see that player cautioned or dismissed. I ask them its their responsibility to keep their players in check before I have to get the cards out.

The mentality, has in the past, seemed to be that it is okay to swear at referees in the Premier League so I am glad something is being done. But I can help but be a little sceptical.I would really like it to work so hope the referees are strong and do not shy away from sending someone off for something that the rest of don’t see or hear!

 

Thanks for reading, I hope to be able to write more for the coming season and will try to cover some leagues other that the Premier League.

 

Hands on, a good decision?

Watford’s first goal against Liverpool, should it have been allowed to stand? WeIl, to us watching on TV it’s easy to say no.

Referee Mark Clattenburg can’t see it in slow motion. If I’m being 100% honest if I was in the same position I would ‘ve given a goal. As Bogdan attemps to claim the original cross he drops it, he gets two hands on the ball after it bounces. As he gets his hands on it, Watford’s Nathan Ake goes to kick the ball but catches the Liverpool keeper’s hands. The ball spiIls out and Ake has a tap in but with the naked eye in real time the referee believes he has spilled it for a second time.

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Ake knocks the ball out Of the Liverpool 'keepers hands

It’s difficult to know for sure if Bogdan would’ve had the ball under complete control if Ake hadn’t knocked the ball out of his hands, but I can only make my observations on what I see.

This isn’t a refereeing error, because it’s almost impossible to realise what happened at normal speed when you’re right there. Would a video referee have helped on this situation? For me, yes it would have, as by the time Liverpool restarted the game the replay could’ve been watched 3/4 times and from most angles too. The game could’ve restarted with a free kick in the same time. But lets not take too much away from referees as I would have nothing to write about!

Using technology has been a top debate since I can remember. How far should we go? What decisions should be made by a video referee? I may go in to more details on my views on this matter at a later date, but I do think referees at the highest level should have all the assistance available to them. Everyones biggest concerns are time.

lt’s easy to say referees are rubbish when you don’t have the refs view!  

Back in the middle and back blogging!

 I keep slipping into the bad habit of not writing! There are several factors for this. I have 3 children that keep me on my toes, a job that means I’m out the house for 16-18 hours a day, and something to write my stuff on! But hopefully I will be able to post more regular articles as my amazing wife has bought me a tablet for Christmas, which she has given to me early so I will now be able to start working on stuff on my commute.

I have really missed writing my posts. I have often sat there after the kids have gone to bed watching Match of the Day or Sky Sports News and thought to myself “this would make a good blog” but I never find the time to post something. There has been so much controversy in the professional game, so much to write about but unfortunately for me not enough time!

What l am writing today is my own refereeing experience, as for the first time in a long while l picked up my whistle and got back out in the middle. l refereed four youth games and after each game I could feel the energy draining out of me! As soon as l completed game number four I was ready for my bed. To think I used to do 3/4 games every Sunday, I’m glad I had Monday off work.

I have been refereeing for a number of years and thought I had seen it all, on Sunday at around 11:15ish l was proven wrong. I felt I had a good first game back but wasn’t expecting what happened after l collected my flags from the coaches and had shaken the hands of the managers. Both sets of parents applauded me as l walked off the pitch! Anyone who has refereed youth football of any standard will tell you the parents can be worse than the children! These two sets of parents were a credit to their teams. As the day went on and the tiredness kicked in my positioning got worse but l always made sure I was in a good enough position to be able to make any decision required. I felt the discipline was better than the last time l refereed In this league, of the four games I did l only had two minor incidents of dissent, nothing major, just disagreeing with a decision. If that never happened in a game I would give up football!

I’m not sure the next time I will be out in the middle but hopefully it won’t be as long, but until then I will be back to posting at least once a week.

I would like to end this post by thanking my wonderful wife for buying me a fantastic present and for giving it to me early, also for putting up with me hogging the TV!    

A Top Performance From A Top Referee

There’s plenty I could talk about after week three of the Premier League. I will focus on one game and one incident in particular, West Brom Vs Chelsea and the John Terry sending off.

Usually all you here on social media and in the papers is how poor referees are and how they don’t know what they’re doing. Mark Clattenburg was the man in the middle for this Sunday afternoon game and once the final whistle had gone my first thought was that I have just seen the best refereeing performance in a long time

Every decision that he had to make was correct. He had a fair bit to deal with and wasn’t fazed by any of it. The penalty awarded to West Brom was correct. He didn’t blow for it straight away he gave himself a moment to think about it.

John Terry hasn’t had the best starts to the season and it didn’t get any better for him here. Brunt played a good ball up to Rondon and Terry was going shoulder to shoulder with the striker and just as they were about to go in to the penalty area Rondon just started to edge in front and Terry gave a little tug of his opponents arm and down the West Brom man went.

Terry receives his marching orders from Mark Clattenburg

Terry receives his marching orders from Mark Clattenburg

Some would argue that he went down a little to easy but that doesn’t mean there was no foul. Mark Clattenburg blew straight away and indicated a free kick. As he walked towards the area he would’ve been assessing what was in front of him so he could decide, if necessary, what further action was needed. It would’ve been clear to him that had the foul not occurred then Rondon would’ve had a clean shot at goal. There was nothing Clattenburg could do other than show the red card. Although I thought for a second it would only be yellow but it was just his cards sticking together.

Also Mr Clattenburg’s man management skills were superb in this game. There was a coming together between Diego Costa and Yacob, he quickly diffused the situation but calling both players plus their captains. Their heads came together at one point but he was able to deal with it with words. This isn’t always easy as sometimes players will go ‘yeah ok, whatever ref’ then the next time they’d be near each other they would be trying to have a kick, but on this occasion there was no further incidents between the two.

A fine performance by a top referee, and in my honest opinion, the best in England at the moment

Does A Red Card That Was Harsh Mean It Was Wrong?

Upton Park is into its last season before West Ham United’s move to the Olympic Stadium, and the club are trying to make it a memorable one, and this weekends first home fixture of this campaign against Leicester City is one they may want to forget.

Referee Anthony Taylor was one of my assessments from last weekend, and although Stoke Vs Liverpool wasn’t a memorable game, Anthony Taylor had a very good game and did not put a foot wrong. This weekend he found himself at the center of controversy, but did he get the big calls right?

The first time he was called upon to make a decision he got it right. Jamie Vardy chased a lost caused but caught up with the ball as Adrian had come off his line to clears,as the ball bounced up and the keeper clears the ball Leicester striker goes for the ball but catches Adrián. Free kick and a yellow card was exactly what was required.

Vardy attempts to win the ball but catches Adrián

Vardy attempts to win the ball but catches Adrián

With Leicester taking a 2-0 lead in the first half with two quick goals, they looked comfortable as the game headed to halftime. Diafra Sakho chased onto a through ball as Leicester’s ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel came out to close the angle down. The Hammers’ striker got to the ball first and then a collision occurred, with Anthony Taylor not giving a penalty it is safe to assume he judged it to be a coming together, which was my first reaction. Replays clearly show Schmeichel sticking an arm out and bringing Sakho down. I don’t think the Foxes stopper should have been sent off but possibly a yellow card and a definite penalty. This was a major error by Anthony Taylor, although he doesn’t have access to the replays to help him with the decision, he should’ve been in a position to anticipate something happening. He wasn’t helped by his assistant, who was closer to the incident and should have seen the arm coming up after the ball was past the keeper.

Kasper Schmeichel clearly impeeds West Ham's Sakho

Kasper Schmeichel clearly impeeds West Ham’s Sakho

With the game poised at 2-1 in the dying minutes and West Ham chasing the game Adrián comes up for a corner. The corner is cleared by Leicester and Adrián, with his back to Leicesters goal, attempts to kick the ball over his head up in the air and back in to the area. In doing so he catches Vardy in the stomach. The West Ham ‘keeper and the rest of the players felt that it was a harsh red card, but I think Anthony Taylor got this one right.

Adrián catches Vardy in the stomach

Adrián catches Vardy in the stomach

There’s no question about Adrián not meaning it. The referee wouldn’t have seen where Adrián’s eyes were but i think it was obvious to him that he didn’t deliberately kick his opponent. However that doesn’t mean it wasn’t dangerous, and serious foul play. Going by his post match interview I don’t think Slaven Billic will appeal the red card. It’s certainly not violent conduct but will be considered to be serious foul play which is a red card offence. If I’m wrong and Anthony Taylor has issued a red card for violent conduct then it should be over turned.

Not the best day at the office for the referee, Anthony Taylor

Not the best day at the office for the referee, Anthony Taylor