Sunday 27 May 2012

Probing Lee Probert: Progress Report

This post is a continuation of the observations related to EPL Referee Lee Probert (see previous posts here and here), and provides an update on his performance.

The following incidents occurred during the EPL match between Sunderland United and Bolton Wanderers on Saturday 28 April 2012. The match finished 2—2.

Incident One: Incorrect Offside Call
In 14', Referee Lee Probert plays advantage and allows Bolton (white) to continue their attack. However, AR2 makes a really poor mistake at an offside call which negates Probert's advantage. Here are the freeze frames:



As the ball is played forward, the Bolton attacker (white) is clearly onside. Where is AR2 positioned?

At his level, the extent of this error is simply outrageous. To compound the error, the body language of the AR is poor. I will have something to say about Arrogant ARs in a future post.

Incident Two: Looking Ahead
In the 26', Referee Lee Probert is giving an impression that he wants to improve his skills as a match official. Here are some freeze frames:

Lee Probert shows signs he is improving his vision and extending his field of view (compare this to an earlier match where he is just focused entirely on looking at the ball; see What is Referee Lee Probert Looking At?)

Here, it is noticeable that Probert is putting in some effort and trying to give the impression that he is taking an active interest in the play ... for a change.

Incident Three: Correct Onside Call
In the 36', good call by AR1 to allow play to continue. As the ball is played forward, the Sunderland attacker (red) is clearly onside.

Unlike AR2 in Incident One, AR1 make the correct decision.

Incident Four: What is Probert Looking At?
In 54' Probert appears to be up to his old self again by simply just following and looking at the ball. Here are the freeze frames:

Lee Probert's eyes are again glued to the ball

However, the difference is Probert's foul identification. Compared with his alarming misses in previous matches (e.g. missed serious foul play incidents; see here Part 4), this time Probert gets the call right. Question: was this challenge reckless?

Improving his foul detection (compared to another earlier match where he failed to call an obvious call right in front of him; see here Part 3)

And from the free kick Sunderland (red) score to make it 2—1.

Notice the Referee's positioning at such free kicks. This appears to be an EPL-specific recommendation, since other EPL Referees such as Howard Webb and Phil Dowd do likewise.

Incident Five: Sign of Improvement in Probert?
In the 70', there are some signs that Lee Probert is changing his ways, and is perhaps improving. This time, when he finds himself in front of the ball he does not appear to be standing like a "rabbit caught in headlights".

And from this passage of play, Bolton's captain Kevin Davis scores the match equalizer.



In this match, there are signs that there are steps taken by Referee Lee Probert to improve his skills as a professional match official in the English Premier League. Mind you, the fact that Probert is already a professional Referee (meaning, a salaried and full-time match official employed by the PGMOL) leads one to wonder what are the fundamental Refereeing prerequisites needed to first become good enough to be considered for a post as a professional match official in England!?

As an observer and educator, it is satisfying to see match officials make progress. This is how it should be. First, there should be no qualms or resentment when there is criticism about a match official's performance. Second, the criticism should be constructive and used to help match officials (including the Referee in question) identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement. Third, match officials should be willing to accept that there are weaknesses in their performances and then take steps to make improvements.

Following the identification and constructive criticism of Lee Probert's performance in the earlier part of this 2011-2012 season, the evidence shows that there are signs that Probert has started to make some improvements. This noticeable change in Probert is likely due to the internal assessment and review system used by the PGMOL. However, the series of posts on this blog about Lee Probert also tells us that Referees do not need to be professionals or to have the benefits of resources available at PGMOL to improve. The rest of us can learn from the mistakes {and successes} of high-profile Referees.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Portugal's Pedro Proenca Appointed To 2012 Champions League Final

UEFA announced that Pedro Proença of Portugal will take charge of the UEFA Champions League final between FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC at the Fußball Arena München on Saturday 19 May 2012.

           Is that a snood under your shirt Pedro? Pic from AFP

Quoted from UEFA:
"Proença, a financial director from Pinhal Novo, will be assisted by countrymen Bertino Miranda and Ricardo Santos. The fourth official will be Carlos Velasco Carballo from Spain. The two additional assistant referees are Jorge Sousa and Duarte Gomes, while reserve assistant referee – Tiago Trigo – completes the lineup of the officiating team."

Recently, there has been some discussion about 'impressions' on this blog. There was a time during this soccer season, over the cold winter months in Europe, when some of these match officials from Portugal wore snoods, even though the IFAB banned players from wearing snoods this season. IMHO, it gave out the wrong impression.

Here's to Proença and his team having a wonderful performance on Saturday, and in giving out the proper impressions that are expected, and demanded, of the best match officials from UEFA.

Hopefully, the weather in Munich will prevent any temptation from any of the match officials from wearing snoods! Enjoy the final everyone!

Friday 18 May 2012

Mike Dean's Manchester Delight and Joey Barton's Juvenile Brutality Part 2

This post follows on from Mike Dean's Manchester Delight and Joey Barton's Juvenile Brutality Part 1.

Incident Two: Good Advantage

In the 48', QPR winger Shaun Wright-Philips (red) is fouled. Mike Dean sees this and, as the ball is coming down toward Man City defender Joeloen Lescott (blue), he puts his whistle to his mouth because the ball is falling into the possession of the opposing team. However, Mike Dean delays his call as Lescott miscontrols the ball and allows QPR striker Djibrille Cisse (red) to score. Here are the freeze frames:

 QPR (red) score the equalizer to make it 1—1

Here are the freeze frames from another camera angle:

Incident Three: AR2 good positioning

In the 52', from a Man City corner kick, the ball comes out past the D and is drilled back into the penalty area from outside the D. AR2 Andy Garratt is well positioned to decide whether or not there are any offside calls to be made. Here are the freeze frames: 
 Man City (blue) drill the ball in from outside the D
 The ball ricochets off a Man City player (blue) and some QPR players (red) are naturally calling for offside, even though they are wrong

Incident Four: Violent Conduct and Good Teamwork

In the 54', Mike Dean and this thoroughly absorbing match are both progressing along nicely when play is stopped because Manchester City player Carlos Tevez is down with his hands in his face. Here are the freeze frames:
Inside or Outside the Penalty Area?

AR2 Andy Garratt signals a foul

Mike Dean is keeping calm and is telling players to remain calm so that he can sort what's what

Here's another look:
From this, it appears Joey Barton (red) makes contact with Carlos Tevez (blue) as both players are standing on the 18 yard line. Notice that AR2 is also in line with the 18 yard line.
From the movement of Barton, and the reaction of Tevez, Barton's right arm or elbow must apparently be swinging backward into Tevez. 

ARs should succinctly state the facts and perhaps give a recommendation

Mike Dean takes action from the facts given to him by AR2 Andy Garratt. Here are the freeze frames:
 Sorry mate, you have to go

Not clever Joey … and right in front of the Referee too

Mike Dean is calm and professional and does not get involved in the fracas (unlike fellow Referee Howard Webb, who seems to regard it as a 'duty' to man-handle players)

AR1 supporting Mike Dean

 Good communication and good use of team captains


For Consideration

Question 1:
Considering AR2 was at least 40 yards away plus the fact that Barton was positioned more or less facing toward AR2 as he swung with his right elbow back at Tevez who was behind him, what did AR2 actually see?

Question 2: Also, did AR1 (or the 4thO or anyone else) see what happened?

Question 3: Did AR1 (or the 4thO or anyone else) see what happened before Barton's elbow on Tevez? That is, what happened before that provoked Barton's elbow on Tevez?

Question 4: Did this act of violent conduct occur outside or inside the penalty area?

Question 5: For the restart, could AR1 or the 4thO have helped with the correct position of the direct free kick? The incident occurred along the 18 yard line, but closer toward the corner of the penalty area rather than closer to the D.

My Take

In particular, when considering Questions 1 and 4, just imagine the pressure experienced by AR2 Andy Garratt. He was bold enough to call the foul (from over 40 yards away), but was he bold enough by calling it outside the penalty area? Did the incident occur right on or slightly off the 18 yard line?

Perhaps Mike Dean's assistants (ARs and 4thO) could have helped him out better.

For Question 3, it can be seen that as soon as Tevez released the ball to his team-mate and continued forward toward the penalty area, Barton was diligently performing his defensive duties by running alongside Tevez to mark him. Some may even say that Barton tried to body check Tevez. Physical off-the-ball incidents are part and parcel of the game, particularly in places like England, and match officials tend to either miss them or turn a blind eye; and when it gets too much, it can get ugly (see here). Barton was doing what normal English defensive players do (i.e. marking Tevez out of the game, which is really impeding so technically it is an offense punishable by an indirect free kick but which is almost always never awarded) and what Tevez did was a childish reaction to this. With no one apparently looking, Tevez lashed out at Barton, which is why Barton did what he did to Tevez. What Barton did to Aguero and others in the aftermath is inexcusable too.

If there is enough video evidence to show that Carlos Tevez struck Joey Barton, perhaps the FA can consider taking retrospective action against Tevez for his act of violent conduct? The FA did this with Branislav Ivanovic, so if a sense of justice is to be conveyed then the FA should also take retrospective action on Tevez and continue to send a message to all players that violent conduct will not be tolerated.

Next up, Part 3 of Mike Dean's Manchester Delight and Joey Barton's Juvenile Brutality. See Part 1 here.