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Retrospect Ref: Caught in a Webb

Tuesday 13th December 2011
Like any normal football fan of a Premier League team, I sat down to watch Match of the Day with a pizza from my local takeaway and a share-size bottle of coke.  Amazingly, the most controversial decision wasn't during any of the matches but before a match.  I am speaking of Howard Webb's using a sixpence coin for the coin toss that was used by Arsenal's founders to pay for their first match ball.

Now I don't want to steal Arsenal's thunder but a referee is there to enforce the laws of the game, not to celebrate a club's history.  It can also add fuel to controversy if a game changing-decision was wrongly awarded by Webb.  After all, Webb is no stranger to contentious decisions himself.

Additionally, you are taught from day one of training to be an official not to put yourself in a position where allegations of corruption can be easily mounted.  In my time, I have seen a few referees suspended and expelled from a league for merely watching a local team train or watching them play.  I'm just grateful police sergeant Webb didn't make any wrong decisions.

Next, we make our up the M11 to Carrow Road in Norwich.  For me, the best match I watched on Saturday night, though it didn't pass without controversy.  The first decision Martin Atkinson had to make was a cross from Canary Kyle Naughton that appeared to hit Newcastle defender Davide Santon on an outstretched arm.  For me, Mike Mullarkey, the linesman, gets this one horribly wrong and not referee Martin Atkinson as some may expect.  Atkinson was not in a position to judge if the ball struck his arm, as Atkinson was looking at the back of Santon and a fair distance away.  The linesman had a perfect view, at fault, should have flagged and held the flag to his chest to indicate a penalty kick.

The first Norwich goal was legal but the circumstances leading up to it was not.  Naughton crosses the ball (quite poorly might I add) and Toon goalkeeper Krul catches the ball what appears to be on the line or just out.  The Dutch goalkeeper points to the six yard box for a goal-kick, but referee assistant, Mullarkey rubs himself in the mucky stuff again.  By giving a corner, he's indicating Krul travelled with the ball over the goal-line, something that is evidently untrue.

The sending off of Newcastle player Dan Gosling was debated furiously, yet I do not know why.  Okay, I sympathise with the midfielder but studs were showing and he didn't get the ball at all.  Correct decision by Martin Atkinson, no question about it.

We now make our travels to the West Midlands for the clash between West Brom and Wigan.  There was only one big decision, which was the penalty, Wigan's winner after 56 minutes within the second half.  The West Brom defender slid and caught Moses.  His facial expression paints the picture, he knows he fouled him.  Mike Dean undeniably got this one right.

Next, up north to Anfield.  Only one decision here too versus Queens Park Rangers.  The QPR defender appears to pull down Luis Suarez in the penalty area.  I think referee Lee Mason was neither wrong nor right.  What do I mean?  I mean after looking at the replay, I can't really make my mind up.  If I was, I would say it's soft penalty and outside of the box I would probably blow up for a foul. Nevertheless, the Uruguayan never does any favours for himself with his, let's say exotic moves.

Forward a day and skipping into Sunderland as we come to Blackburn's disallowed goal against he North East club.  Morten Gamst Pedersen takes his free kick, with Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood coming forward, completely missing the ball with Blackburn's Scott Dann to turn the ball into the net.  However, referee Peter Walton blows foul against Chris Samba stopping Westwood.  A decision that is wrong.  As a goalkeeper myself, I love the luck we sometimes get but in this case, it was too much.  As the saying goes, you can stand your ground, which is exactly what Chris Samba did; no foul.

Now we travel south, to Staffordshire for a game that has caused so much confusion, including leading to cyclist Chris Hoy receiving abuse from Spurs fans, though the referee is amusingly named Chris Foy, not Hoy.  The biggest decision was of course the incident or incidents shall I say, was Kaboul's shot on goal and Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross clears the ball of the line.  But within the same play, Spurs striker Adebayor puts the ball in the net.  Replays show Adebayor was kept onside by Stoke defender Marc Wilson and perhaps the biggest talking point was that Shawcross used his arm to control the ball.  For me, it's a penalty and a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity - as stated in law 12 of fouls and misconducts.  There were many other decisions but none that I fear warranted any explanation.  In other words, Chris Foy got these verdicts right.

Forward a day and in good-old London was the spectacle, the dubbed 'El-Cashico'.  I am speaking of course, the game of Chelsea versus Manchester City.  I personally believe referee Mark Clattenberg has a good game.  There were major talking points, against both sides.  The first was when Man City were 1-0 to the good and should arguably been 2-0.  David Silva went down under Chelsea defender Bosingwa's challenge with Clattenberg failing to point to the spot or book Silva for simulation.  At first, I didn't believe it was a penalty, looking at the replays, I switched judgement.  It is a penalty and I'm even somewhat bemused as to why Clattenberg give the penalty.  I can only assume it was because of Silva's actions in trying to avoid being tripped, and credit to the Spaniard.

Clattenberg's decision to not give Kompany his marching orders puzzled me further.  It was a clear reckless challenge and should have been shown the second yellow card.  I think the fact that Chelsea won this game removes the sting from this decision but nevertheless, it was the wrong one.  The other penalty decision, Chelsea's winner can't be disputed too much.  Daniel Sturridge's shot hit the elevated hand of Man City defender Joleon Lescott.  With the hands raised, Clattenberg was always going to point to the spot.

Finally, I was rather disturbed by a tweet from the official Twitter account of Man City (below) that referred to what was a decision to award Chelsea a corner instead of a Man City with the goal-kick.

I get annoyed when normal fans try to accuse officials of bias.  But when it's the official Twitter account of a football club, there is no need for this.  Therefore, I hope the FA come down and punish Manchester City for this.  No club should encourage blaming officials for what was a good decision, even if it is only a Twitter account.
Ryan Konkolewski

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