Friday 16 July 2010

World Cup Final 2010: Importance of the Half-time Break

This post considers the importance of the half-time break for match officials. It is a good time to take stock, review and, if required, modify the approach to a match.

Towards the end of the first half, Webb should have had a huge wake-up call especially when Holland’s Mark van Bommel pushed him in the back and then yelled at him for getting in the way (see here in the 45th minute). How did Webb manage that situation? It appears he just ignored it.

It was clear that Webb was trying to keep players on the field of play by attempting to man-manage them. But was Webb’s game plan effective? Looking at van Bommel’s behaviour towards Webb, the answer would appear to be no. Van Bommel should have realized he was fortunate to be shown only a yellow card 22 minutes into the match, so why did he continue to hound, heckle and harass Webb? The short answer is: because he knew he could.

Furthermore, here are some freeze frames of van Bommel as he walks past AR Mike Mullarkey after the whistle is blown to end the first half.

[Mark van Bommel shows his feelings towards Mike Mullarkey. Nice guy! To be fair, they kinda shook hands but the expression says something else.]

HKRef’s believes it is clear what van Bommel thinks about Mullarkey and the match officials in general. There is certainly no “Respect the Referee” feeling emanating from van Bommel, that's for sure!

The consideration here is what should the match officials have done at half-time when they retired to their dressing room? The Referee needs to collect and review as much relevant information as possible, and then prepare for the second half. It is a time to re-double their efforts. Given the way the first half has unfolded, the officials should be considering what are the likely scenarios or incidents that may occur in the second half? Howard Webb needs to consider whether to stick with or modify his game plan, and he needs feedback from his ARs and the 4th Official.

For example, perhaps Mullarkey could have told Webb about the "nasty attitude” van Bommel had, so that at the start of the second half a final, stern warning could be given to him. The plan could have been: Any more dissent from van Bommel and he will be dismissed.

Also, HKRef believes Darren Cann should have had the best view of Nigel de Jong’s chest-high studs challenge on Xabi Alonso. Here is the first-half incident from a wide-camera perspective.

[Darren Cann, the nearside AR, is just out of the shot from the bottom right corner. Nevertheless because he is a top AR, we know he is in line with the two central Holland defenders and therefore should have a clear, unobstructed view of de Jong and Alonso in the middle of the park ... providing he is looking in that direction.]

If Cann saw the incident, the question to ask is whether Cann communicated this to Webb. Did Cann tell Webb that it was a red card offence? It would be interesting to see how Webb arrived at his decision to caution de Jong.

Finally, is the 4th Official really a part of the team? The 4th Official should know his duties and be ready to communicate anything he sees, if he believes the Referee has missed something. Perhaps Nishimura is a non-native English speaker and, as others have commented, he is extremely polite. These are not necessarily bad attributes, but could they influence the way the 4th Official interacts with the English trio? Therefore, is the 4th Official comfortable with communicating clearly and quickly in English to Webb?

With all these considerations in mind, the match officials should have used their half-time break wisely to prepare themselves for the second half.

More to follow …

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