Saturday 15 August 2009

Alex Ferguson on Michael Ballack

The Premiership has barely started, and Sir Alex Ferguson has already had a go at the referee. To be fair, looking at the replays of the Community Shield (the traditional season opener of the English Premier League) Ferguson has a point. However, the referee does not have the benefit of replays, and therefore is not 100% infallible.

So, given the fact that referees do not have the benefit of video replays, what can referees do to help optimize their officiating?

Well, Pierluigi Collina is well known for being thorough and extremely well-prepared for his matches. He has demonstrated that, at the highest levels of the game, referees should be well aware of the characteristics and the way teams and individual players play.

Therefore, what should be recognized is that Michael Ballack is a fantastic football player but also his gamesmanship and tactical fouls need to be curbed. Ferguson already knows this and has been quoted:

"The referee stopped play twice, once when Nani was tackled, then on the second occasion Ballack went down, which we've seen before. "The referee said it was a serious incident when Ballack went down but he was up straight away."

Match: Community Shield, EPL Manchester United v Chelsea
Date: 9 August 2009
Reference: Ferguson fumes at ref after loss (BBC Sport)

And here's an example of Michael Ballack's gamesmanship (as reported on Chelsea's official website), for which he correctly received a caution from referee Phil Dowd.

On 67 minutes there was relief when Drogba won a free-kick deep in the home side's half but the only result was another Chelsea yellow card, this time to Ballack for asking the ref to pace out the wall which, unfortunately, was bang on the 10 yards.

Match: EPL Everton v Chelsea
Date: 22 December 2008
Reference: Match Reports (

Phil Dowd cautioned Michael Ballack because as usual Ballack was regularly on the referee's case. In the 67th minute at a ceremonial free kick Ballack was trying to gain advantage by claiming that the Everton players were not 10 yards away, even though referee Phil Dowd had already paced out the 10 yards. To appease Ballack, who was not interested in restarting the game because Chelsea were a man down (in the first half John Terry had been sent off for serious foul play), the referee paced out the 10 yards again and confirmed that Ballack was just being unsporting. Dowd did a great job and cautioned Ballack. Even manager Phil Scolari managed to laugh at that incident.

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