Chapter 23 – Hands up if you love football!

What a busy weekend the premier league referees had as the 2014/15 season kicked off!

At Old Trafford in the early kick Manchester United were pressing to get an equaliser as they trailed Swansea 2-1. In the last few minutes Januzaj tries to play a ball towards goal, the ball hits Rangel on the arm and the majority of the crowd and well as the home team, appeal for a penalty.

Referee Mike Dean promptly waves the appeals away. Rangel’s arm was out but he’s turned his back and wasn’t looking at where the ball was. His arm was in a natural position and Januzaj was only a short distance away.

If it was given against your team you would be screaming at the referee to go to specsavers! If it was to be for your team you would appeal for a spot kick, but Mike Dean has got this one correct.

West Bromwich Albion were awarded a penalty shortly before half time in their opening game against Sunderland. Roberge of Sunderland does make contact with West Brom striker Anichebe’s arm but for me, not enough to send him to the floor in the way he fell. It wasn’t an outright dive but he has overreacted to a touch which, you could say was simulation!

I’m not being harsh on referee Neil Swarbrick, as in the thick of the action you see two players tussling and one goes to ground it can be easy to believe a foul had been committed especially if he sees a slight tug. The refs don’t have the advantage of replays and players will continue to exploit that!

In the London derby at the Boleyn Ground sees the first major controversial decision of the season.

Kevin Nolan turns and shoots around the six yard area, Spurs defender Kyle Naughton anticipates the shot and moves to block it. The ball strikes his hand and after a few seconds ref Chris Foy awards the Hammers a penalty. A correct decision as Naughton’s hands were in an unnatural position above his head.

Now for the controversial bit! Mr Foy speaks with his assistant then shows a red card to the Spurs defender for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The officials had to be 100% sure that the ball was going in to make that call. From their positions I’m not convinced they could be. In my opinion the only way to be 100% sure is if you were to be right behind Nolan in line with the shot. I’m sure that Tottenham will appeal and the red card will be overturned.

IMG_3129.JPGNaughton is shocked to be dismissed

James Collins was booked twice in the second half for two similar fouls. Referee correct on both occasions and Collins only had himself to balm for his stupidity!

Over in West London, QPR see awarded a penalty, as Hull City’s James Chester was penalised for handball. Referee Craig Pawson must’ve thought (obviously) that it hit the defenders arm. Even so his arm was down by his side in a natural position and he made no movement towards the ball. Justice was done as the penalty was missed!

There was the rare appeal for a pass back on Sunday at Anfield. Did the officials miss it? Or did they feel there was no case to answer? For me it’s the latter. Mark Clattenburg is one of the premier leagues best referees and I think he felt that Henderson, under pressure from an opponent, miss hit the ball.

I’m sure the referees of the premier league will be hoping for a quieter time this coming weekend.

Chapter 22 – Pre-season

I would like to start my first blog of the 2014/15 season my apologising for not blogging as much as said I would during the World Cup.

My wife gave birth to a little girl so I had very little spare time to write! Things are settled now and I’m really looking forward to the new season.

It’s going to be a strange season without Howard Webb refereeing in the Premier League. The predictable jokes flew around the internet upon his announcement that he has hung up his whistle and will now be the Technical Director of the PGMO, but he is one of the best referees the premier league has ever had!

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He has been a fantastic referee and is someone I looked up to. I would say he’s the second best referee after the Italian legend Pierluigi Collina.

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From a personal point of view I’m hoping to referee a little more than I did last year with at least one game a week.

I have already been involved in a semi professional pre-season friendly, as an assistant referee. It was a great experience, two very good sides but I wouldn’t say it was a ‘friendly’!

The two teams are fairly local to each other and playing in different leagues one a little higher up the pyramid than the other so a lot of pride was a stake.

The challenges were flying in and the referee tried to let the game flow as much as possible but he had to bring out the cards. Just before halftime he issued two cautions then as he blew the half time whistle be called the skippers over and reminded them that this was a friendly!

This worked as the football was more enjoyable as the second half flew by.

There was even jokes about where the referees vanishing spray was! The game finished 1-1, a fair result.

Good luck to all referees at whatever level for the new season and to all the non referees, think about the ‘refs view’ before slating the man in the middle!