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!  

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 13 – A foul is a foul

I would like to start this article by saying how good the majority of the crowds were during the minutes silence around the grounds to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. After 25 years I hope Justice For The 96 is not too far away.

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Last weekend Luis Suarez was cautioned in the fifth minute, he was not happy and tried to tell the referee that it was his first foul.

The simple fact is, it doesn’t matter when or where the foul happens if it requires a caution or even a red card that’s what the man in the middle has to do.

I’ve mentioned this a few times in my previous blogs and for those that have not read before I’ll explain what a referee thinks about when awarding a free kick:

Careless = free kick
Reckless = yellow card
Excessive force = red card

Some referees give themselves a few seconds to decide on some free kick and penalty decisions. I am one of these refs. I’m not talking about playing advantage and bringing it back, I mean not blowing up the second the challenge comes in. Quickly replaying over in your head what you have just seen can be vital. There is a fine line between some challenges that are just a free-kick and those worthy of a yellow card. The same for some that can be a yellow card or red.

You will always get someone that will disagree with what the referee has given. Those that referee at an amateur level will know exactly what I’m talking about. No matter how clear the penalty is there will be a player, coach or parent that will say your useless and you don’t know what you’re doing!

I feel it’s important for every referee, at whatever level, to make sure they get the right decision each time even if they allow a couple seconds to do that.

Mark Clattenburg made the right call to issue the yellow card to Suarez at Anfield. Did he then make a mistake by not issuing the Uruguayan a second yellow card for simulation later in the game?

Was Suarez just avoiding injury by jumping out the way of the challenge? Or was he actually caught? One can only assume the referee thought that the defender got the ball and Suarez falling to the floor is just an after effect of the challenge as Mr Clattenburg waved play on.

Man City will argue that Luis Suarez went to ground too easily. With that in mind let’s jump to the Emirates stadium on Tuesday night.

Matt Jarvis knocks the ball away from Sagna, takes a leg to the chest as the arsenal defender fails to clear, and stumbles but stays on his feet. No penalty. Why did the referee not award a spot kick?

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Is it as simple as the West Ham winger didn’t go to ground? I can’t answer for the referee. Maybe he thought there wasn’t and contact and the stumble was a result of Jarvis going around the arsenal defender? Maybe his view was blocked so couldn’t see clearly?

I remember once a few years ago giving a penalty when an attacker got a kick on the ankle but didn’t go to ground. The defending quickly surrounded me and almost altogether said “but he stayed on his feet!” I paused for a few seconds taking in what was said before responding “so you think it’s ok to keep kicking a player until he falls down? A foul is a foul!”

My response was met with silence, they soon moved away and the penalty was taken and scored to which a defending player said “that was never a penalty, f*****g s**t ref”. I called him over took his name and issued a yellow card for dissent by word or action (C2)

I would like to finish of by saying congratulations to the FA Cup final officials, referee Lee Probert, assistant referees Jake Collin, Mick McDonough, fourth official Kevin Friend and reserve assistant referee Simon Bennett I’m sure they will all do a great job and enjoy the day!

Chapter 12 – That’s a penalty ref!

At Upton Park this weekend we saw a few controversial decisions. So how did the referee come to make the decisions that he did?

Approaching half-time with the scores level, Liverpool attack looking to break the deadlock before the interval. As Luis Suarez tries to plays the ball past James Tomkins, the defender leaves his arm out and moves his hand in the direction of the ball. The referee acts as he should by awarding the penalty and issuing a yellow card to Tomkins for deliberate handball. Not a difficult one for Anthony Taylor.

20140408-145242.jpgTompkins handles in the first half

Before the half is up, West Ham force a corner. As the ball is played in, Andy Carroll jumps up leading with his arms and goes in to Mignolet, causing the Liverpool keeper to drop the ball and Guy Demel flicks the ball in the net and runs off to celebrate, the goal is awarded but his assistant is flagging and Anthony Taylor goes over to speak to him. After a few moments he stands by his original decision and allows the goal.

So why did the assistant flag? Why did the referee overrule him?

Did the assistant think it was handball by Carroll? Or was he saying it was a foul on the keeper?

It’s easy for us all watching on tele to say it was a foul but you need to remember the officials don’t have that view! They can only base their decisions on what they see. If the referee believes his view is better than that of his assistant then he can overrule the flag, which on this occasion he did, even though he’ll realise later he should’ve listened to his assistant as it was a clear infringement by Carroll on the Liverpool keeper.

20140408-144455.jpgCarroll’s unpunished foul on Mignolet

The second penalty awarded to Liverpool was a controversial decision. The replays show than the Liverpool fullback Flanagan got to the ball before Adrian, but the hammers keeper got a touch on the ball before his momentum took him into his opponent. So based on that, it shouldn’t have been awarded, but remember, the referee doesn’t have the replays to refer to.

20140408-151033.jpgAdrian just gets a touch on the ball

As a referee, when a challenge happens one of the things to look out for is the direction of the ball afterwards. If the ball has changed direction that’s usually a good indication that the defending player has won the ball. But the referee has to be 100% sure before awarding a free kick or penalty.

In this case, the ball didn’t really change direction, so upon Anthony Taylor seeing the touch by Flanagan wouldn’t have seen the touch by Adrian therefor he would’ve been 100% in his mind that it was a foul. He gave himself a few moments to think about the situation too. The assistant on the far side would not have able to give it as it was not in his jurisdiction. The referee was in a good position, it just happens that something’s are not easy to spot, due to players blocking his line of vision.

20140408-143037.jpgThe areas the assistant should flag if he sees an infringement

This isn’t a case of bad refereeing or the ref trying to make amends for incorrectly allowing the west ham goal to stand, it’s just a case of bad luck for the Hammers and good fortune for Liverpool.

Would technology help? Would extra officials help? If they were behind the goals like they are in European games could they make the correct call? I would have the extra official on the other side to where they are in the Champions League as it would give the team of officials greater coverage of angles. Having said that, if they were there right in front of the incident would he/she have been too close to it to see it as clear as the TV cameras.

Another call by Anthony Taylor that upset Luis Suarez, was the decision not to award a third penalty to Liverpool after ball hit Armero on the hand. The ball flicked up off the Columbians foot and as he was moving backwards and the ball hit his hand. The reason this is not a penalty is the defenders hand was in a natural position and he made no movement of his arm towards the ball.

Football fans are too quick to judge the ref when things go against their team!

Could they do a better job? Probably not!