Saturday, 26 March 2011

Webb Scrutiny

The following incidents occurred during the English Premier league match between Blackburn and Blackpool on Saturday 19 March 2011. The match finished 2—2.

Incident One Poor Penalty Call
Referee Howard Webb awards a penalty to Blackpool's Gary Taylor-Fletcher (#12). And it appears everyone was taken by surprise.

Taylor-Fletcher gets his shot away and although technically the Blackburn defender (blue) makes contact, it is minimal and in a genuine attempt to play the ball (not the opponent) his foot is angled into the ground

Experienced referees would not put themselves in such awkward situations by awarding a penalty. This is why it is surprising that Webb, with all his experience, whistled for a penalty. Yes there was contact, but not every contact between players are fouls. It is difficult to justify giving a penalty in such an incident, and this may have affected how players regarded Webb during the remainder of the match.

Compare this with a very similar incident that occurred on the same day in a La Liga match between Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid on Saturday 19 March 2011. The match finished 1—2.

Here, Referee Fernando Teixeira Vitienes does the expected and does not award a penalty.

Real Madrid's Sami Khedira (white #24) gets his shot away

Although Sami Khedira rests up (and perhaps is trying to get sympathy from the Referee), the Referee correctly continues with play and (hopefully) does not allow the behaviour of players to influence the officiating.

Incident Two Good Offside Call
From a Blackpool free kick, the ball is put into the goal. The AR raises his flag for offside.

BBC Sport commentator Alistair Mann said he was:
Just not quite sure why the flag went up so late

This just goes to show that commentators are not up to speed with the LOTG and the principle of Wait and See. It is always better to be late and correct rather than quick and incorrect.

Incident Three Good Offside Call
Referee Webb plays advantage but unfortunately he cannot anticipate the resulting offside, which the AR correctly called.

AR Andy Garrett

Incident Four Getting into Unfortunate Situations
In the final two minutes of the match, Howard Webb put himself in an unfortunate situation. With Blackpool leading 2—1, the tactic was for Blackpool players to run down the clock. This meant taking the ball to the corner flag and holding up play as much as possible. This is a common tactic which experienced referees should be aware of and capable of handling well. It was just surprising that Webb did not handle the situation well.

Blackpool's Taylor-Fletcher (orange #12) evades two Blackburn players by the corner flag but is then sandwiched by two others. The ball is also kicked out over the goal-line by a Blackburn player. Webb awards a goal kick to Blackburn.

Taylor-Fletcher (orange #12) is clearly frustrated by what he perceives to be the wrong decision. He thought he should have been awarded a free kick, or at least a corner kick to his team. Webb is having none of it, but unfortunately since both are running back towards the halfway line Taylor-Fletcher continues to harangue Webb. This, as can be seen immediately in the next phase of play, influences Webb's thoughts about Taylor-Fletcher.

From the goal kick, Taylor-Fletcher (orange #12) fouls a Blackburn player by the halfway line. But Taylor-Fletcher is still incensed with Webb's earlier incorrect call down by the goal-line and therefore reacts with dissent towards Webb. Webb correctly cautions him.

And from the resulting free kick, Blackburn knock the ball into the Blackpool goal to make it 2—2.

Overall Howard Webb had a poor game. Let's hope Webb can bounce back for the remainder of the season!

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