Saturday 7 January 2012

Probing Lee Probert Part 4

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

Related Parts: Probing Lee Probert Part 1 and Probing Lee Probert Part 2 and Probing Lee Probert Part 3

Incident Seven Probert's Poor Anticipation ... Again!

In the 68' Liverpool collect possession of the ball outside their penalty area and look to surge forward. Here are the freeze frames:
Referee Probert's lack of anticipation resulted in him having to take evasive action

Yet again, Referee Probert's failure to anticipate exposes his inept performance. He is nearly struck by the ball as Liverpool decide to drive the ball cross-field from the right side to the left.

Incident Eight Player Safety — Head Injury from Elbow

In the 73' Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini uses his elbow and catches Liverpool's Craig Bellamy in the face as they both jump up to head the ball in the Newcastle penalty area. Here are the freeze frames:
Referee Probert watches passively as Coloccini catches Bellamy's face with his elbow

This is the third head injury incident of the match, and again Referee Lee Probert is not in tune with what is happening. Probert does not seem bothered or remotely interested in the safety and welfare of players. Here's Bellamy's head injury:
What's going on!? Have I missed something? What again??
Elbows easily cause deep cuts and gashes

There is some context that may be useful to consider here too. By this stage, Liverpool's Craig Bellamy has scored two goals against his former club and is having a great game (Man of the Match performance, as it turned out). So what better way to stop him in his tracks than to foul him? And what better way to stop his participation in the match than to injure him? As it happened, Bellamy's gash could not be adequately patched up to prevent profuse bleeding and he was substituted off.

Incident Nine A Fist Pump Goal Celebration?

In the 78' Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, who has been out of the game for much of the season through injury and recurring infection, scores a great individual goal. Here are the freeze frames:
When Gerrard scored look at the reaction of Referee Lee Probert

There is an impression that Referee Probert "enjoyed" Steven Gerrard's goal. Probert did not point to the centre circle to indicate the goal, instead he turned his body to face and follow the euphoric Gerrard and appeared to give a little "fist punch". Is it fair to suggest that Probert "celebrated" Gerrard's goal? Normally it would be absurd to raise such a thought. However, as we have observed throughout this lengthy analysis, the performance of Probert has not been "Normal" or as expected of a professional referee and therefore under the circumstances raising such a thought does not seem ridiculous.

Here is my reason. Considering Referee Probert's lack of any reaction to many other incidents occurring and unravelling in front of him during this match (i.e. no reaction to Incidents One thru Eight !!), it is certainly peculiar that Probert reacts at all to this goal. Very peculiar indeed.

In this one match, Referee Lee Probert had problems with anticipation at least four times, failed to recognize head injuries three times and completely missed a cynical challenge just six yards in front of him. Plus he had the audacity to react positively to a goal being scored, or he at least appeared to react. Either way, this is unbecoming of a professional referee.

There are genuine concerns that Lee Probert does not have the safety and welfare of players as a priority in his remit of responsibilities as a Referee. His neutrality appears to be in question too; as seen in his reaction to Liverpool's third goal scored by Steven Gerrard. These concerns need to be quickly addressed and resolved, either internally or publicly.

Are players being protected? And is the image of the game being protected?

From the evidence of Referee Lee Probert's poor performance in this match, the answer to the two questions above would appear to be "No".

Lee Probert is a professional Referee, and on this evidence he had a very poor performance. Remember: Professional Referees set the benchmark for the rest of us. Probert's next match following this was the EPL match between Fulham and Arsenal three days later on Monday 2 January 2012. The match finished 2—1.

There may be an analysis on this site about Probert's performance of that match at a later time.

For now, please see the other parts of Probing Lee Probert on this site (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3) and together consider what are the important lessons that can, and should, be learned from this very poor performance.


  1. It is fair to suppose that Referee Probert "celebrated" Gerrard's goal, but I can empathetically speculate he enjoyed it because it put the game surely out of Newcastle's reach. Still thinking about the failure to give a penalty kick and red card (?) to Coloccini just minutes earlier, a failure he probably did not realize was a failure before Bellamy came up bloodied, he was thinking that Liverpool "deserved" a third goal. Here it was, and he celebrated because it meant the referees' error in that incident would not turn out to sway the result of the match.

  2. Now, because I'm speculating, about incident 8: When a referee is having a shaky match, when his field presence has faltered and his behavior has been erratic, he looks for extra help from his assistants. A good Assistant Referee is taught to "be on the same page" as the referee, so as to "assist and not insist" about any particular call. Conversely, because the Referee's decisions have been erratic, he has not established a clear "page" for the assistants to be on with him. Both the Referee and the AR have a good, clear view of Coloccini's foul on Bellamy, and on a confident day, Probert will call it AND the AR will call it, then they will discuss misconduct. But after 72 shaky minutes, during which two similar abuses have been allowed by the Referee, the AR is hesitant to insist that this one be sanctioned because the others were not. Probert, I speculate, who knows he's not been quite right today, is hoping that his AR will make this difficult decision for him (and SHOULD--because he has a close, clear, and unobstructed view, arguably better than Probert's). Because he thinks the AR should make this call, he thinks the AR has made the call--no call, no foul. When Bellamy comes up bloodied and the handbags come out, defenseless Probert knows he's wrong, that he's miscommunicated with his AR, and he carries on his shoulders the unacknowledged (and dangerous) idea that he "owes" one to Liverpool. . . which leads to incident #9.