Sunday 9 January 2011

Leeds/Cup draw/Webb signs for Manchester United and general refereeing dodginess

Like many of you I had some rather mixed thoughts after the late equaliser which salvaged a draw against Leeds yesterday. Generally we didn't play badly, but it was a bit mixed, although we dominated for long periods and created way more chances than our opponents, Leeds deserve a lot of credit for creating a few decent chances of their own and defending with their backs to the wall for long periods. There were some good performances and some less good. Szczesny was again excellent, producing a top save on both halves, his save from Becchio's header with the score at 1-0 was truly outstanding. Djourou produced another commanding show, aggressive and dominant throughout. Walcott came on to massive effect, while Gibbs played well and is not injured.

I have to say that some of our problems stem from the fact that some of our backup players are not good enough, a few of them are just temporarily off form and some are more permanently low in the form department. Denilson's mobility and consequently his defensive game are just not up to standard, Arshavin is off the boil, while playing strikers out wide doesn't work with Bendtner/Chamakh. The fact that Song had to play showed that our squad is just not good enough in terms of solid midfielders. Still credit must go to Leeds who fought hard, remained organised as a defensive unit and threatened our goal when they had the opportunity, Simon Grayson has done a great job there.

Dowd wasn't perfect in all he did. He got the Leeds penalty spot on, Denilson showed his defensive incompetence once again. He then missed a clear penalty on Bendtner when the Dane had his legs taken before the ball was influenced. He also wrongly decided that Bendtner's offside position should influence his decision to award a penalty for a 'possible foul' on Theo Walcott, fortunately for him Theo came out to admit there was not enough contact for a penalty, credit to the lad of his remarkable honesty. At least he got the call right for the penalty that Cesc struck home near the end. It will not be easy going to Elland Road on a cold January night for the replay, an attractive home tie against Huddersfield awaits us if we can up our game sufficiently.

Howard Webb has reiterated just how poor an official he is with another typically warped performance officiating a Manchester United game, this time against Liverpool. Firstly he awarded a penalty to Manu for a clear Berbatov dive in the first minute when he was poorly placed about twenty five metres from the incident, he didn't even bother to ask the linesman for his opinion even though he was in a far more advantageous position. Then he sent Gerrard off for what I felt was a definite yellow card offence, but a very harsh red. Of course it is easy to say that Gerrard was reckless and it was a clear red, but in the context of other tackles around and the recklessness we see routinely it simply wasn't bad enough to merit a red. Minutes earlier Rafael had stamped through a tackle dangerously on Meireles, so much so that the Portugese jumped out the way of Rafael's studs, this tackle was arguably more dangerous than Gerrard's but didn't even merit a free kick in Webb's book.

Jeff Winter chooses to defend Howard Webb for another appalling performance, not a surprise given what a poor referee Winter was in his own time. The point about refereeing performances is that one must judge them in context and one has to say that in context Howard Webb's recent performances in the last year or so have been shocking. He regularly loses control of games, he cannot enforce a level of discipline, he allows massive amounts of dissent and intimidation, his decision making is inconsistent and unjustifiable, in simple terms he is just plain crap. Contrast Webb to Michael Jones who refereed our game against City recently, he was outstanding, he controlled the game by showing yellows appropriately, he didn't award soft penalties for nothing and he let things flow appropriately.

In my humble opinion there is something very wrong with the way the Premiership is refereed. Part of the problem is the fact that referees have no backup from technology, but a big part of the problem stems from the system which oversees the selection of officials for certain games. Howard Webb has officiated quite a few Manu games of late and he has given four penalties to Manu in his last six games, most of us will remember the appalling decision to give that penalty against us for Clichy's completely accidental handball. He seems to be the new Mike Riley, the cynic would argue that gifting Manu a few wins is a very good career move for a referee.

The way that the referees are selected for certain games is dodgy, it is the opposite of transparent and political pressures seem to have a big effect on which games are officiated by which official, this cannot be right. Mike Riley is in charge and that cannot be a good thing. It is also clear that the vast majority of referees must be football supporters, and we have no idea which clubs the top referees support. Given that so many of the Premiership's referees are from the North (11 out of 16 Elite refs are from the North), it would not surprise me if a few of them were Manchester United fans, I would also put a few quid on Howard Webb being a Manchester United fan. In my opinion we should all know which clubs the referees support and they should never officiate a game in which their team is playing, the current system leaves things far more open to bias then they need be and that stinks.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I don't watch Man U games anymore because they are littered with odd decisions in favour of "who you know who". Gary Neville never gets sent off, regardless of what he does. The Man U players constantly harass refs and get away with it. They contest every decision against them. The commentators are just as complicit, seeing everything in Man U's favour.

I figure Man U have a 9 point advantage over all other teams at the beginning of the season. It's a horrible thing to contemplate, but unfortunately it is true.

1979gooner said...

Indeed. The dissent they get away with is amazing.

Today there were two classic examples in the first half.

Evra and Nani both threw all their toys out the pram after a couple of decisions. Bookings for normal players but not for Manu.

The fact that Webb let Fletcher shove him at Old Trafford for the Arsenal game was also beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

Diaby is injured.

Frimpong is injured.

Ramsey played 90 mins in midweek do won't be played again so soon.

Song played because none of those were available. Had nothing to do with lack of depth.

1979gooner said...


I disagree 100%

Diaby has no defensive discipline and cannot play the deep role, he's shown this time after time.

Ramsey is not a defensive player, he's an attacking midfielder a la Cesc type.

Frimpong is a kid albeit a very good one.

Arsene should definitely have added a solid all round athlete who could do a job in the midfield and defend solidly in front of the back four.

If Song gets injured we are utterly shafted.

Anonymous said...

well, Webb signed for Manu years ago. Arsenal away fans even have the chant "Fergie's rentboy" aimed at Webb only. been sunged for at least a year. and don't forget that Webb has previousle sent Adebayor off TWICE for no reason at all.

MBE, ur havin' a larf!!!

Mack Daniel said...

Great blog. Web is a disgrace. Denilson can improve with more play time, and so can all the wrest of our payers. Problem; Some players like Bendtner/Denilson/Eboue/Diaby don't play in the same position enough back to back games. They sit on the bench 3 games then play 60 minutes in a different role. Not every proffesional player can be a utility player.

Renoogami said...

Webb is a disgrace and always has been. How he has gained such respect within the game is unbelievable. Ask any premier team's fans who they think is the worst referee and most will say Webb. Another thing - can anyone tell me why foreign referees are not officiating in the Premiership? Especially when there are probably more foreign players and managers than English ones. It may be a FIFA regulation perhaps.

Sir Quej said...

Hi Guys, Leeds fan here.

It was a great game against your lads yesterday. A really good reminder of what we have missed and are trying to get back to. Arsenal are my second team because I love the style of free flowing passing football that Wenger plays. I also like that the club is run properly and Wenger has a real eye for brilliant young talent.

I'm really looking forward to the return fixture at ER. I would love to beat you, but if we have to go out, it would be an honour ro be knocked out by a great team like Arsenal.

Look forward to playing you guys again in a couple of seasons hopefully.

Unknown said...

Hi Guys

No honour in losing to anyone, sorry.

As for Jeff Winter, remember the double sending off of Mills and Bowyer at your 'real' stadium....bit harsh I thought.

Also remember the days when 4 replays were the norm...great tie when GG and HW in charge

joseph said...

the refs have every intention of leaving man utd unbeaten all season and that is what will happen.berbatov's dive today was incredible.

Anonymous said...

It's official Web has taken the vacant place of Mike Riley at OT.

Anonymous said...

Howard Webb is on the payroll at Old trafford. There is corruption which needs to be investigated, like it was in the italian league!

Danish Gooner said...

Half of England are Manure fans and that goes for The refs to,it really was an appalling piece of home refereeing,the penalty as soft as they come and the red card for Gerrard is completely over the top,but hey this is OT.Darth Vader will get you if you dont do ask he asks and Fergie knows he gives soft penalties so he lets his players play for it an appalling piece of gamemanship just like when Rooney says i am not that kind of player,we all know he is.

1979gooner said...

Greetings all. Seems to be a fair bit of agreement on webb!

Sir quej. Was impressed with leeds, a real team, grayson has to commended.

Uncle Mike said...

I was actually impressed by Leeds. They were, at least from an Arsenal perspective, a typical bunch of "Dirty Northern Bastards," but give them full credit for trying to win, which is something Manchester City most certainly did not do. If they gain promotion this season, I think they'll stay up for the foreseeable future.

I just hope Sir Quej's Freudian typo (which he may not even be aware of) doesn't come true: In the U.S., "ER" doesn't mean "Elland Road," it means "Emergency Room" -- what I think is called "Casualty" at a British hospital. As long as Johnny Giles stays retired and there's no Dr. Yorkshirestein to reanimate Billy Bremner, we may not have to say, "I went to a football match and a hockey game broke out."