Graham Poll was quick to speak about Howard Webb’s decision to award a penalty to Manchester United when the club was 2-0 down against Tottenham Hotspur.
Of course Manchester United were fortunate to be awarded a penalty by Howard Webb – even at full speed it appeared clear that Heurelho Gomes played the ball away from Michael Carrick’s feet. The ball moved away virtually at right angles, telling any referee – and particularly one of Webb’s ability and experience – that the ball had been played by the keeper.
Actually, replays show that Michael Carrick touched the ball to change the direction, with the intention of rounding the goalkeeper. Then Gomes got a touch to the ball. Webb, in his explanation, said he saw Carrick get a touch to the ball and saw the goalkeeper clatter in to our player and thought it was a penalty. It wasn’t but it certainly wasn’t the worst decision in the World. The argument that the ball changed direction is ridiculous because the ball first changed direction because of Carrick.
Outside the penalty area, if a player wins the ball but then collides with his whole body in to his opponent, it is a freekick. No questions asked. In the penalty area, if a goalkeeper wins the ball but then collides with his whole body in to his opponent, it shouldn’t be a penalty. Ok, fine.
However, it seems the rules change again. If a United player is tackled then taken out, it shouldn’t be a penalty. If a United player is doing the tackling, then it should be a penalty, as Poll seems to argue when looking at Darren Fletcher’s sending off on Tuesday.
Italian referee Roberto Rosetti had a fine match and can justify in law the penalty he gave after Darren Fletcher brought down Cesc Fabregas. When commentators and former players say: ‘He got the ball, it can’t be a foul,’ they are wrong. Even though Fletcher got a slight touch on the ball, Rosetti felt it was impossible for the Manchester United midfielder to avoid taking his opponent in the follow.
If this isn’t the most blatant case of one rule for one team and another rule for everyone else, then I don’t know what is! Gomes took out his opponent in the follow but Poll argued that it shouldn’t been a penalty regardless!
In hindsight, Fletcher will be wondering what the hell he was thinking about going for that ball. The game was over and it didn’t matter if Cesc Fabregas buried it in the net. But Fletcher being Fletcher played with 100%, committing himself entirely to the cause. In doing that, he got the ball away from Fabregas before bringing him down, just as Gomes did to Carrick. Webb’s decision was hailed as the one that “gave” United the title, whilst Graham Poll reckons Rosetti got it right!
I personally find it absolutely scandalous that Fletcher was sent off, but I’m not bothered about the penalty as it meant nothing. The infuriating part is that the referee will not be held accountable. What a ludicrous system it is to have no appeals for reds cards, apart from in the case of mistaken identity! That basically means referees have free reigns on their decisions and behaviour during the game, with the consequences incomprehensible.
For Darren Fletcher, Rome might be his last chance to ever play in a European Cup final, and the dedication he has shown during our European campaign meant he was certain to start. He has been denied what could prove to be the biggest game of his career and certainly a medal because of inept refereeing and thanks to the no appeals rule, Rosetti will not be held accountable.
For Chelsea, they have been denied their chance to put to bed the devils of last season thanks to the horrendous refereeing in their semi-final against Barcelona. Abidal will also miss the final because Anelka tripped over his own feet and the referee got it wrong.
How infuriating that one man can make such dreadful decisions and our players and clubs suffer as a consequence. However, the contrast between Fletcher’s behaviour after his sending off and Drogba’s behaviour at the final whistle should be noted. Fletcher walked off the field a broken man, sheepishly looking in the referee’s direction, whilst Drogba charged on to it effin and blindin. Respect the referee? Yeah right.
But then, why should we respect referees who make ridiculous decisions? We’ve had two massive games on Tuesday and Wednesday and the referees have cost players and teams the biggest nights in their careers. And given Poll’s inability to judge a decision, it looks as though an English referee wouldn’t have done a better job.
When oh when will we use video refereeing?