Thursday, 5 January 2012

Probing Lee Probert Part 1

The following incidents occurred during the EPL match between Liverpool and Newcastle United on Friday 30 December 2011. The match finished 3—1.

There were a number of important incidents during this match, all involving the Referee Lee Probert which I believe are useful and insightful to learn from.* However, due to the large number of freeze frames that are used to help describe the incidents, this analysis—titled Probing Lee Probert—is broken down into four separate parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4).

*NOTE: This is why time and effort is spent to post up these match analyses, so that other referees can learn from the mistakes (and successes) of high-profile referees. If visitors to this site do not agree with the contents here, they are absolutely free to comment constructively or to stop visiting this site altogether should they please. It should be evident that the aim of this site is for referees to make use of the content so that they may learn and grow. We should take heed of the following quote from George Santayana:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

Incident One Probert's Poor Anticipation

In the 19', Newcastle (black/white) collect possession of the ball outside their penalty area and look to surge forward. Here are the freeze frames:
Probert's poor anticipation put himself in a pickle

Instead of being proactive, Referee Probert decides to stay put. But as the ball comes towards him, he is like a rabbit caught in headlights and ends up interfering with play and gifting possession to Liverpool (red). As a result Liverpool took the opportunity to shoot at goal, which was just off target.

Here is the incident again from another camera view:
Another camera view of Probert 'stuck in headlights'

Incident Two Head Injury and Probert's Passivity

In the 25' during a Liverpool clearance the ball hits Newcastle's Slovenian midfielder Haris Vuckic with force in the head or neck region and the ball rebounds fortuitously to his team-mate down the left wing. Here are the freeze frames:
Probert gives the impression that he is not concerned about the safety and welfare of players

Referee Probert watches passively and gives the impression that he does not care about the safety and welfare of players. Even though Vuckic takes the initiative to signal to his bench and walk over for treatment by himself, had Vuckic succumbed to a more serious injury (where he could have been lying unconscious on the pitch) I have concerns whether Probert would have acted accordingly with Vuckic's safety at the top of his priority. This concern arises genuinely out of Probert's poor performance throughout this match.

Related Post: Recognizing Head Injuries

Please see the other parts of Probing Lee Probert on this site (Part 2; Part 3; Part 4).


  1. I do not know where the sense is to systematically blame a certain ref. Furthermore I think that Probert showed very good perfomances in the near past, perhaps the Djourou sending off was too harsh, but SWA-QPR and a few others I have seen from him were pretty good.
    In the scenes you show he seems to be a bit lazy.

  2. Thank you Niclas for your comment. I did a quick search for "Lee Probert" and discovered that I have mentioned him only twice before. These were in Passing on the Backpass Rule and towards the end of Nasty Tackles EPL Round 36: Part 1 of 2. This is not a systematic criticism toward a specific individual referee. Furthermore, when Probert made a great call (e.g. Incident One in Passing on the Backpass Rule), this was acknowledged. As mentioned above, it is my wish that other referees can learn from the mistakes and successes of other referees (it just so happens these tend to be made by high-profile referees) so that we and others can try not to make the same, or similar, mistakes and also attempt to copy the successful performances.

    From what I have seen of Probert, I sense he gives the impression that he is too casual and lazy. We must remember that he is a professional referee who sets the benchmark for the rest of us.

    Please allow me some time to finish posting the other part(s) of this Liverpool and Newcastle EPL match. There are important things to say about Probert's poor performance.

    I would like to thank you and others for commenting on this site. Happy New Year!

  3. Get out of the way, Ref!!! I was taught three or four ways to avoid being hit by the ball. Anticipation is certainly first and most important. Another strategy is the "be a statue" method. In other words, make it clear from your body language that you are not going to move so the players can adjust, and you won't "intercept" the pass. It was never my favorite. But I have noticed in the past 2 weeks of EPL play a dramatic increase in the "be a statue" method, even when it was clearly not the best option. I'm wondering if it's a specific, recent instruction to those referees.

  4. Ok, thanks hkref!
    Against this background, your thread is certainly useful. And yes, it is not normal that such a situation is occurring 3 times within 45 minutes.
    There are some refs with this problem of positioning in Bundesliga as well, one time, a player simply pushed the ref away who then fell on the ground.