Saturday, 26 April 2008

The big decisions

Change the f*cking record I hear you say, but I won't, I am stubborn git and will stick to my machine guns. One can always read too much into the actual results of games, as dodgy decisions can often have massive impacts on the outcome of games, consequently resulting in the better teams losing games that they did not deserve to lose.

Take Manchester United against Chelsea today, 1-1 was the score, chances at both ends and the game hung in the balance, cue the referee stepping up with a very dodgy useless decisions. I thought that there had to be some intent for a penalty to be given for handball, lots of referees clearly think otherwise as they've been dishing out numerous pens this season for very unintentional handballs. Carrick's arm got in the way of the cross, much in the same way that Gallas' arm had accidentally got in the way of a chipped ball into the box, the ref pointed to the spot.

Chelsea win 2-1 and the title remains in the balance, even we now have a very slim chance of success, albeit about as slim as an anorexic's little finger. The point is that these big decisions change games and they do not always even themselves out over a season. In the last few weeks in the Premiership we've seen the Drogba offside goal against ourselves, the dodgy Gallas penalty at Old Trafford and now the dodgy Carrick penalty at the Bridge, not to mention several decisions earlier in the season like the Birmingham penalty at St Andrews for Clichy's clean tackle. These decisions turn games and consequently titles, and it really frustrates me because the FA could wipe out a significant number of these errors if they chose to embrace modern technology, rather than ignore it and stick their heads in the sand.

Chelsea may go on to win the title and then the history books will show them to be the Premiership champions for 2007-8, it will be forgotten what an average side they are given their massive outlay on players, it will be forgotten how Manchester United and Arsenal were far superior sides over the course of the season, through the misleading eye of retrospect these details will be forgotten. So it's about bloody time the FA brought in video technology to reduce the incidence of these glaring errors, perfection is obviously not achievable, but we could do a damn sight better than this.


Ted said...

Quick question - how do you see the technology working to avoid problems? I can see that if penalty decisions are referred to a video reply, then obvious mistakes could be avoided but I am not sure about the handball decisions. Give three refs the same footage and I reckon you'll get three different decisions. As you say, the difficult part is that hand-ball has to be intentional, whereas so many free kicks are given for inadvertant hand balls. In my opinion, it would be much simpler if we took intent out of the question and simply said any contact with the arm is a free kick / penalty unless the arm is stiff by the sides. I would therefore give penalties for both the Gallas and Carrick handballs.

Obsinho said...

At what point do fights on the pitch during the game, kicking a steward, fighting with groundstaff, bad-mouthing the referee and being general cunts not count as "bringing the game into dis-repute".

Two things pop to mind;
1.) Why no points deductions from both teams - (hell of a long shot, but that would be oh so sweet)?
2.) Where is the backlsah against ManPoo being bad losers and having no class. The same is levied against us at th smallest overstepping of the line.

I don't think this is paranoia, and there has been some analysis of the bad behaviour, but it has largely been spun to be somehow positive - "what a game, what passion" kind of thing.

Obsinho said...

Both were handballs. As was the one in Camp Nou.

The issue I find is more with ones that aren't given, rather than the ones that are, so I agree with Ted's solution.

On another rant, how the hell does Benitez moan about Drogba's diving in comparison to Torres - they're both cheating diving bastards. As is Eboue.

1979gooner said...

i've had this argument before and I disagree strongly with the idea of giving pens for all handballs, it would wreck football,

penalties are meant to be there to stop players deliberately preventing a goal/goalscoring opportunity by foul means,

a penalty is a goal most of the time,

if you start dishing out pens for all accidental handballs, then so many pens would be given and so many games would be decided by these accidental handballs,

the rule is fine, there is a small grey area as sometimes one's hands are naturally up and sometimes the hands are raised deliberately to block a shot/cross, it's hard to tell the difference between the two,

for me carrick's was totally accidental and no pen, even though his hand was up, while gallas was even less of a pen as his hand was by his side and accidental in intent,

I reiterate that in my opinion it would f8ck the game,

I agree with obsinho about this fighting and violent conduct,

funny how when Arsenal do it (to a much lesser degree) we get fined and banned massively, while when other clubs do it they don't seem to get the same punishment,

coming after hleb's little slap and a three match ban, the FA's disciplinary system is appearing more haphazard and inconsistent than ever before

Ted said...

I think this kind of shows the problem - there is no consensus as to when a handball should be a penalty.

The reality is that almost all handballs are now penalties, unless the contact is so accidental that it does not merit a handball.

My worry about relaxing the handball rules are twofold. Firstly, it encourages teams to play with multiple keepers, just like John Terry and Stephane Henchoz used to do. So long as a player commits to the tackle, then they can go in spread eagled - if the ball hits the hand then its not a penalty. Secondly, you will see just as many contentious decisions - except this time it will be for the one or two penalties that are given, as they will be much rarer.

The complaint in the posting is that decisions are "dodgy" i.e. within the grey area. Unless you remove the grey area by saying penalties for all handballs, or penalties for none, then you will always have "dodgy decisions".

1979gooner said...

I really disagree Ted,

there are grey areas in many many things rule related,

-ie when a tackle goes from being fair to being dangerous,

-between when studs up is fair, ie in a parallel blocking tackle, to when studs up is a clear foul, ie onto someones foot

-when there is enough contact to constitute a foul, or whether something is a dive

These grey areas are not improved by trying to make things black and white in the rules themselves.

They are inherently subjective judgements and making the rules more objective in their wording won't help.

We need refs who understand the game, refs who have played the game and who can judge these grey areas better.

1979gooner said...


obviously if a player leaves his hands up in an attempt to increase his blocking area to block a shot or cross, then this is demonstrating their intent, hence a penalty should be given,

however if they are running normally and keeping their arms in a normal position for what they are doing, then if the ball hits their hand it is no penalty,

the Gallas one was never ever a penalty, it infuriated me that Hansen claimed it was a stone wall pen, utter bollocks,

Gallas clearly tried to chest the ball and kept his arm in the same position by his side, the contact was accidental and no pen should have been given, the rules were misrepresented by that decision I reckon,

good argument though

Ted said...

Hang on a minute hear. We are talking about "dodgy" penalties. Not about when a dangerous tackle should be a red card rather than a yellow one.

My initial question was "how does technology make things better"? and it seems to me that the question is not easy to answer because there is an underlying problem here that would not be solved by technology, i.e. when is a handball a penalty.

It is also not easy to read intent from what someone does with their hands. There will obviously be deliberate handballs where there is no grey area, but the vast majority of "dodgy" decisions arise when the player's actions are not obviously deliberate.

The spread eagled challenge is a prime example. It requires both legs to leave the ground and the player must use their arms to balance and to soften the landing. It also has the added effect of increasing the blocking area of the defender. But what if the shot hits the hands - is it a penalty?

It seems to me that you are saying it might be a penalty, or it might not, depending on the circumstances of the situation. Is that right?

If so, how is technology going to assist anyone make a decision as to the interpretation of subjective rules that just change for every situation?

Ted said...

p.s. are you actually saying that you want to be the video ref, so that you can award penalties against manure all day long?

1979gooner said...

video technology would help to a degree I reckon,

the refs and linos seem to be massively swayed by the supporters' and players' appeals,

a video ref sitting in a silent box may be a little less swayed by these opinions,

you do have a point though, in other areas such as offside and ball over goal line video technology could revolutionise decisions