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Villa's Wembley woe shows need for an openness from refs

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Chris Bevan | 01:56 UK time, Sunday, 11 April 2010

Wembley Stadium

Saturday evening was not the first time this season that I have sat in a press conference after an FA Cup tie featuring Aston Villa and heard a manager bemoan a decision by an official that he feels cost him the match.

I remember only too vividly spending several minutes of a very wet Valentine's Day in the company of a very angry Neil Warnock - the current QPR boss but then manager of Crystal Palace - who was raging incandescently about linesman Trevor Massey, the man who had wrongly awarded the corner that led to Villa's 87th-minute equaliser in an eventful fifth-round tie that finished 2-2.

Villa, of course, went on to win the replay but, even before then, there was precious little public sympathy for Warnock, perhaps down to the manner of his rant, in which he called for Massey to be banned.

At the time, his opposite number Martin O'Neill agreed his side had received "a bit of luck" but pointed out that those sort of decisions even themselves out over the course of a game, let alone a season. A fair comment, as most people - including me - thought.

So when the tables are turned - as they were at Wembley this weekend when O'Neill's side were denied a clear-cut penalty early in their eventual Cup semi-final defeat by Chelsea - is anything different this time when it is him throwing his toys out of the pram?

And are there any bigger issues at stake apart from another manager moaning about his misfortune?

Ignoring the fact that O'Neill is a more considered man than Warnock when it comes to discussing officials (let's face it, most people are), the Villa boss actually raised some valid issues.

Martin O'Neill

For a start, while most people inside Selhurst Park on 14 February missed the deflection off a Villa player that should have given Palace a goal-kick, there was hardly a soul inside Wembley Stadium on Saturday, let alone the millions more watching the game live on TV, that failed to see the clumsy challenge by Jon Mikel Obi on Gabriel Agbonlahor inside the Chelsea area with 15 minutes gone.

The referee Howard Webb saw it too, but chose not to give a foul. The only reason I can think of why he waved Villa's protests away was because Agbonlahor had been grappling with Obi just before he turned him but, even if you take what was a 50-50 tug-of-war into account, in my eyes - and those of O'Neill's too - it was still a penalty.

"It was clear-cut," a despondent O'Neill said afterwards, "I think everybody, even the Chelsea players because of their reaction, thought it was a penalty but the referee, who up until today I had the upmost respect for, has chosen to ignore it."

That was as close as O'Neill got to any sort of personal attack on Webb, but it was not the only incident during the semi-final that left the Northern Irishman angry and bemused by the 38-year-old referee, who has been selected as one of Fifa's 30 referees for the forthcoming World Cup but has come in for some heavy criticism from an assortment of managers during the recent campaign.

Chelsea captain John Terry's horrific studs-up tackle on his England team-mate James Milner brought a yellow card from Webb and, for similar reasons to the penalty-that-never-was, disgust from O'Neill.

"It was a horrendous challenge and James is exceptionally lucky that his career is intact," the Villa boss added. "It's a straight red card and it's straight in front of the referee with 15 minutes to go at 1-0. It's a straightforward red card and I don't think you need four replays to see that. You would expect quality referees, which is what we're dealing with, to get straightforward decisions correct."

As in the Carling Cup final at the end of February - when Villa were awarded a penalty for Nemanja Vidic's foul on Agbonlahor but the Manchester United defender escaped a red card - the above offences were spotted but, in O'Neill's mind, not properly dealt with.

He feels referees sometimes shy away from awarding a penalty in an incident in a major games such as the one in the Cup semi-final involving Obi and Agbonlahor because they know further action might have to follow.

"It was a goalscoring opportunity," said O'Neill. "Paulo Ferreira is not going to be able to get across and get the challenge in and Agbonlahor is just about to strike at goal. It is a clear, clear sending off but we didn't even get a penalty because the consequences of it all is in the referee's mind.

"I am thinking 'just apply the law'. That's all I'm looking for; a bit of fair play. But the referee (Phil Dowd) bottled it completely against Manchester United and we have had the same here. These were game-changing decisions and It was an injustice today, like it was an injustice six weeks ago."

If we accept Villa were hard done by, then what can be done? Well, forget instantly-accessible video evidence. That might be held up as the answer to all refereeing evils but, if O'Neill is right, it would have made no difference whatsoever to Webb's decisions here, or Dowd's decision not to send off Vidic.

But perhaps better communication would help to bring the consistency that the Villa boss thinks is lacking. If trust is lacking between managers and officials at the highest level over the reasoning behind some decisions, then there is an easy way to improve it.

Following the example of rugby union by giving the referee a microphone so the crowd - as well as the managers of course - can hear him explaining and justifying his actions to the players during games would certainly have been helpful at Wembley on Saturday for those of us left speculating why a spot-kick was not given.

Some kind of explanation afterwards would help clear up any confusion too. It's probably for the best that O'Neill did not get a chance to speak to Webb after the game - he had to make do with giving him a dirty look at half-time - but, even if angry managers should keep their distance, there would have been no harm in the official giving a short interview to the press afterwards.

That didn't happen of course. Webb arguably played as big a part as any other man on the pitch in ensuring Chelsea will compete in their second-successive FA Cup final on 22 May but he marched through the media mixed-zone afterwards without having to answer a single question.

Talking more won't stop referees from making mistakes, but knowing the thinking behind decisions might stop them from being so heavily criticised for their errors in the future.

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  • Comment number 1.

    For me, this season, refereeing decisions have definatly gotten worse. And I am getting pretty fed up of it. Video technology has to at least be given a shot, i dont really see why sepp blatter is so against it, i guess we just have to wait for it to happen in the world cup final for it to be implemented. Some argue that the controversy of bad decisions gives fans more talking points, but when deserved winners are robbed because of bad decisions, it is too unjust...time for a change...

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I thought this was definitely not a penalty and Howard Webb was spot on, if you forgive the pun. Clearly Mikel's shirt was being tugged, which pulled him out of position and the the player just decided to fall over his knee instead of staying on his feet. This obsession for forwards to get penalties for no good reason is getting out of order, but thank goodness a strong minded referee scrutinised the incident for what it was!

  • Comment number 4.

    Referees are not even getting the basics right. If a player commits an offence in the first or last minute of a game then its still an offence and should be dealt with exactly the same.

    I am not for video evidence because i feel it causes a divide in the game. A game of football from under 7 to a world cup final is just as important to the people involved.

    Todays decisions did not need video evidence as the ref was well placed to see it but once again the "big game" scenario got the better.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have to say that o neil has a point, im a palace fan and as has been mentioned bad decisions cost teams dearly ( the villa game at selhurst is a prime example ). It was a penalty, and and webb has a clear view. with no explanation for such glaring mistakes managers, players, and fans alike feel cheated and wronged. It is long past the time where technology is bought into the game, if for no other reason than to stop accusations of biased refereeing and fainess.

  • Comment number 6.

    I notice that you don't add the other dimension to the issue: that of officials favouring the 'bigger' sides, and the 'big four' in particular. I'm sure you don't need reminding of this aspect to the issue, so I assume you're deliberately choosing to sidestep it... but please don't, because it's just as important as any other, and for fans of all the 'lesser' sides in the leagues it's a crucial one. It really seems that officials are particularly reluctant to make these kinds of 'game changing' decisions when they're going to go against the big teams - whether from familiarity with the players or even some kind of 'awe', or some other equally frustrating reason.

  • Comment number 7.

    The transformation of Howard Webb from one of the best, to one of the worst referees in the premier league has to be seen to be believed. The standard of officiating this year seems pretty poor but Webb for some reason is the most noticeable. This referee will go to the world cup as Englands representative and if referees games at the same standard he has been doing in the premier league, heaven help him.

  • Comment number 8.

    Villa played well first half without troubling Cech. There are always decisions going against teams and there are not many people who would say it is not a penalty. As Ancelotti said, it is a penalty when the referee blows his whistle, it is offside when the linesman raises his flag.
    Fifa's refusal to embrace technology implies that they think that the referee's interpretation is integral to the spirit of the game. It certainly contributes to the majority of talking points and press coverage.

  • Comment number 9.

    I said on these boards the other day after the Liverpool Man Utd game that Webb is a liability.

    He's likeable in many ways but he consistently gets the big decisions wrong.

    You could say it's part of football, but when so much rests on these decisions it's just not acceptable.

  • Comment number 10.

    Was clearly a penalty.Howard Web truly is having a truly dreadful season.The only reason he's not been demoted to handle Championship games for a while, ala Mike Dean after the United v Chelsea match, is because he's going to the WC.
    By the way Bevo,what's with the sideburns?Are you in a Mungo Jerry tribute band?

  • Comment number 11.


    Some kind of explanation afterwards would help clear up any confusion too. It's probably for the best that O'Neill did not get a chance to speak to Webb after the game - he had to make do with giving him a dirty look at half-time - but, even if angry managers should keep their distance, there would have been no harm in the official giving a short interview to the press afterwards.

    That didn't happen of course.


    Why off course? In Holland referees are asked to explain dubious decisions on TV and they regularly do so.

    I seems England should too, considering all recent comments on officials...

  • Comment number 12.

    Re. Spiritualwolf's comments - I agree. Would John Terry have remained on the pitch if he had been, say, a Wolves player fouling an Aresenal player?

  • Comment number 13.

    why anyone should be suprised by this poor referee is a mindblower, and this clown is the best we've got. team managers are expected just after the final whistle to go and talk to the press and if they critise these clowns they are dragged in front of the circus owners (the F.A.). I long for the day a top club manager takes them to the european court under free speach articles. So please why not bring these referees in front of the tv cameras as they walk off the pitch and pin them with replays saying how can you not see that is a penalty/is offside whatever. these men are pretty well paid these days and should be brought to account.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a chelsea fan i admit that it was a penalty, I do not agree with the critism of web tho, he made a mistake it happens I think both teams and sets of fans were glad when they saw it was web who was taking control of the match, which to me says he is regarded as more often than not a good ref. god forbid it would be mike dean at a final at wembely. Also I think the ref's in england are head and shoulders abouve any ref ive seen officiating in the champions league. So i think we all need to think about how it could be worse rather than how it could be better.

  • Comment number 15.

    Villa moaning about refs again? There's a surprise

  • Comment number 16.

    I disagree...referees talking would make no difference, Webb like Dowd bottled it completely because who the opponents were. As long as the "big 4" win these games they get away with shocking decisions otherwise it is just sour grapes. All of the big decisions went against us. One that MON didn't have time to winge about is when Deco should have got his second booking at 1-0 for his rugby tackle that stopped a break away before quickly being subbed off. As for John Terry he should be ashamed, not that for a second i think he even said sorry for chopping his england team-mate in half.

  • Comment number 17.

    Too many games now are decided as a result of major refereeing errors, Chelsea are already four points to the good on the back of atrocious decisions in the two games against United.

    Just what though was Howard Webb seeing from his perfect position. He denied Villa one of the most blatent penalties you could witness, then only gives a yellow card to Terry for what is clearly a cast-iron straight red for a potential leg breaking challenge?

    Perhaps he goes to the same optician as the ref. who was happy with Gerard cracking Brown on the back of his head.

    Villa were the better side for 80% of the game only to be seriously let down by mediocre least they got a goal out of the Vidic foul.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think football could learn lessons from rugby, as mentioned a mic on the official will help to provide clarity to decision making, as well as leaving referees incredibly accountable. Perhaps that's why it will never happen...

    Likewise, I would like to only see the captains talking to the ref. This should eliminate the 'typical German' harranguing of the officials over every decision.

    Personally I can't believe that FIFA totally rejected the idea of extra 18 yeard box officials (as in the Europa league) at the world cup. I'm pretty sure one of those would have spotted terry henry's handball.

  • Comment number 19.

    Those calling for refs to come out explain their decisions, what do you think that would actually achieve? Accountability? to who exactly? They are only accountable to their bosses and referees get "relegated" for poor performances.

    Refs are now nothing more than an excuse for managers who have lost and been shown up.

    Anyone know why rugby managers/players rarely criticize officials? Aside from the penalties involved for doing so? Can't be the standard, they make mistakes as much as anyone.

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks for your comments so far folks...

    I've got to say that I think yesterday was more a case of 4/ (the ref being ruled by the occasion) than 6/ (refs favouring the bigger teams).

    But it's a valid point you make SpiritualWolf and when (a quite emotional) O'Neill was asked that question, he said: "I think you can judge for yourself." I'd interested to see if he thought that in the cold light of day too.

    However I don't doubt that a lot of 'smaller' teams feel they get a raw deal in decisions against bigger clubs but bad decisions affect every club - look at Man Utd v Chelsea last weekend as an example.

    Yesterday, O'Neill felt Webb 'bottled' out of giving a decision because he would have had to have sent off Jon Mikel Obi if he gave the penalty. That sounds ridiculous but how we can blame managers (let alone fans) for having these sort of conspiracy theories if the referees don't explain themselves.

    10/ My sideburns a bit more under control these days RedandblackT... maybe I should get a new picture sorted that doesn't have a dry-stone wall in the background too!?

    11/ Argamas, that's what I think too (see above). No reason why referees shouldn't have to explain themselves afterwards. A lot of them seem to like the limelight, so surely they would enjoy a few minutes all to themselves after the game too!

    That way, they can explain whether they saw a decision and why they gave it a certain way. They can even view video replays before being interviewed and say whether they would have given a different decision if they had access to it at the time... who knows what that might lead to!?!

  • Comment number 21.

    Chris, you may be right about yesterday's penalty, but what about all the other things that have happened - I won't go into the Wolves stuff, because I can't be objective about that, but add in the way Gerrard has been getting away with unbelievable stuff (from the elbow on Brown and the V-sign to the ref to the two-footed tackles and serial diving) it's hard not to think that there's a problem that needs addressing. Are the refs themselves aware that this is how many of us outside the big four see it? Could they at least acknowledge our concern?

  • Comment number 22.

    A lot of decisions seem to depend on what decisions the Referee has made previously in the game, perhaps some kind of subconscious attempt to even things up by being more lenient with one side, or Referees seem to get (understandably) jittery, and they compound the sense of injustice felt for earlier decisions by being inconsistent.

    I think a simple answer would be two refs - one for each half. This would effectively wipe the slate clean at half-time and might also allow older respected referees to continue serving rather than retiring because they lack the legs for the full 90 minutes.

  • Comment number 23.

    I am a Chelsea fan.

    When I first saw, I thought it was a penalty. When I saw it again, I thought it was shirt-pulling so should have been a free-kick to Chelsea. So I think it was a right-decision to play on as Chelsea had the ball, but we should know that it was the reason, or atleast MON should know.

    As to Terry, it is a pure red-card to me. If the tackle was just few inches below, we would have seen Aaron Ramsey-ish horror-show yesterday.

  • Comment number 24.

    It's a shame that the penalty wasn't awarded to Aston Villa. It's a shame because Howard Webb was just in the best position to see the incident. And he bottled it. Slow motion shows how masterfully Mikel opened his legs close to six ft wide, leaning his body towards his right side, to support the impact of Agbonlahor on his knee. Perfect action for a man willing to drop an opponent and planning it to perfection, in an instant.


  • Comment number 25.

    Why doesn't the author start by saying: "I am an Aston Villa fan, which is why I follow their every game, and every O'Neil's press-conference, and this is why I am so biased"?

    Yes, it was a penalty. But it was not penalty and a ref that costed AV a game. They got tired in the last third, and the game could have finished 5:0! The author fails to mention this, as he is chosen to blame ref for the loss. If author's intention was to emphasize that the wrong ref decisions can cost the game; then he would be better off taking Chelsea-Barcelona game in last CL semi-final as a perfect example! Chelsea have been denied 3 stone-wall penalties and 2 more 50-50 spot-kick pleas. Chelsea have been denied further 2 penalties this season against Inter that BBC commentator called "stone-wall". Yes, the decisions tend to even themselves out, but I'd rather have all 7 penalties in CL game and have 1 against AV. You'd see Chelsea go through in every of these 3 ties then.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I didnt watch game yesterday, but watched all of it today.

    I saw Alex's tackle and personally, no penalty, no hands used his legs are a tad in the way but agbonglahor looking for the penalty and went down to easily for me, pathetic how you villa fans can class that as a penalty claim, villa simply got owned twice by chelsea

  • Comment number 28.

    Kapnag - if it had been your team you would have done the same - so as you have said yourself - grow up!

    Your point of view is about as much use as a chocolate fire guard and adds nothing to this debate. Go back and moan about something more trivial on your 606 board.

  • Comment number 29.

    As a big fan of both football and rugby I have also been trying to figure out how video technology would actually work in football.

    In rugby the TV official is called in when the referee isn't able to see if the try should or should not be awarded...that's pretty much all it's used for. It could be used to debate if there was a goal or not and there would have to be a mechanism to restart the game if no goal (similar to ice hocker I would suggest but a lot more thought would have to go in to this...)

    More useful, which is partly touched on here, is the use of the radios. Ref Radio is very useful to understand what is going on when decisions are not always clear.

    In addition to this, the ref could have an radio link to the linesmen who if see something can communicate that a foul took place. This all of course being picked up on Ref Radio.

    None of this prevents refs or linesmen missing key decisions but it does, as mentioned in the blog, ensure questionable decisions are understood by everyone. It would enable the FA and Premier League to highlight the failure of officials when they do get it wrong and raise the standards of refereeing. It also would protect referees in a situation where they have applied the law, even if in the heat of the moment the manager doesn't understand or agree with the call made.

    What should be promoted is an open and honest system of communication from the match officials.

  • Comment number 30.

    CyberFC - plastic fan then??

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Yes, it was a penalty. But it was not penalty and a ref that costed AV a game. They got tired in the last third, and the game could have finished 5:0!"

    Do you mind me correcting you?
    Yes, it was a penalty. But it was a penalty not given and it could have been 1-2 red cards to Chelsea players, had Webb applied the rules. They lost faith of winning anything of the match in the end and it could have finished a 5-0 parody.

    Now, this looks more realistic :)

  • Comment number 33.

    we should follow hockey and have a ref on each end of the pitch

  • Comment number 34.

    Absolutely gutted with the final outcome yesterday. I thought we matched Chelsea throughout the match. In the first half I would go as far as saying we were the better team.

    The referee was awful. He should have given us a penalty and Terry should have been sent off. I also feel Deco should have walked. In all of these situations the ref bottled it. I'm not going to blame the ref for the final result, although I do feel that he did play a big part in it.

    I must also admit that we do look a bit toothless upfront and Chelsea had that bit of quality that we are lacking. Such a shame, as our lads played their hearts out. Despite this, I do feel that the decisions made by the ref played more of a role in our defeat.

    On another note, the atmosphere yesterday was rocking where I was sitting. Us Villa supporters were outsinging the Chelsea supporters throughout the entire match. Even when they went 1-0 up they weren't singing. I guess that is what has come to be expected from their plastic supporters though...

  • Comment number 35.

    The simple solution is to give the refs an easier decision to make. They know that if they give a penalty or send someone off that it will be replayed a thousand times and if they have made the wrong decision they will be slaughtered. The last couple of weeks we have seen refs shy away from making a decision using the "Wenger" out of "I didn't see it".
    So how do we make decisions easier?
    The ref could then make the decision on how long, 10 minutes for a minor incident like throwing the ball away or time wasting, 20 minutes for a late tackle, 30 minutes for a handball outside the area, 60 minutes for a handball in area. The decision could be down to the ref as how he interprets the incident or their could be fixed time-outs.

    This would not only give another aspect to the game but would mean that the teams tactics would be continually changing.
    It would probably put an end to bore draws where a team packs the defense and gets away numerous fouls, normally 3 from each defender until they gets a booking. These tactics would give the ref the opportunity to make the easy decision of a 10 minute time-out without destroying the game.
    And how often does a team gain an advantage when an opponent is sent off for the entire match, they just struggle against a 10 man defense, if it was only a 10 or 20 minute spell the tactics would have to fit the number of players on the field.
    Mind you with some of the shirt pulling, time wasting, diving, spitting etc that has entered the modern game I can see games ending with more players in the sin bin than on the field.

  • Comment number 36.

    Webb was pretty woeful last week for Everton-W Ham (Distin should have gone and a cast iron pen for Saha) and seemingly is doing just as well this weekend.

    And is the English ref for the World Cup?!?! Hope he doesn't do a Poll !

  • Comment number 37.

    Come now Mr O'Neill, you must recognise that football in this country is run for the benefit of the "big four". The rest of the teams are just there to make-up the numbers and when in danger of pulling off a surprise result on a big occasion the referees have to keep the status quo in order.

    Sarcasm aside Villa played well yesterday and were a credit to their supporters and manager. But when you have the upper hand in a big game you really have to score, yet Villa never really looked like doing so - blatant penalty decision aside.

    Agbonlahor, Carew and Heskey are all carrying injuries and not fully match fit and it showed on the day.

  • Comment number 38.

    If Aston Villa had been Chelsea in the home leg of the game against Barcelona last year, then they'd stop whinging. 4 clear penalties in that game and yet yesterday Villa only had one 50-50 penalty and everyone is getting in a huff.

    With regards to the Terry tackle, yes it was stupid but he got the ball, went in one footed and was definetely deserved nothing more than a caution.

    Pipe down O'Neill

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes it was a penalty but abonglahor did have a hold of mikel's shirt which pushed him out of the position to make a cleaner tackle, yes the outcome may have been different if the penalty was given and if it had been scored but apart from this did villa really create a clear-cut chance in the first half or second? Chelsea played much better in the second half and yes they did deserve to win but not by that much of a margin. I thought it was an entertaining match and i'm sure the likes of Downing, Warnock, Milner etc would have caught fabio capello's eye. And one last thing John Terry was outstanding in this match he gave carew a torrid time good to see the old JT Back and doing what he does best;)

  • Comment number 40.

    Watch the penalty decision again, and watch VERY closely. Webb is in a perfect position BUT then a player runs straight across his line of vision at the EXACT moment Obi commits the foul. You can see this from only one of the tv angles, i think it was the one behind the goal where you get this view. The referee can only give what he sees, and he is clearly obstructed. It was just bad luck. His positioning was perfect and there was no way he could account for a player blovking his view at the crucial moment.

    So whilst Webb did get the decision wrong, it wasn't actually his fault. Seriously, look back over the decision and you will see i'm right.

    Nevertheless, he is a very poor referee in my opinion.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oddjob - good idea, should be implemented but the spineless men at the FA will not introduce it neither will the old fossil Blatter -stuck in the medieval era!

    we would also need a new breed of refs to make the decision to put those offenders in the bin - 10 mins is fine, however a 2nd offence would be 30 mins and if a further offence then sending off??

  • Comment number 42.

    If Howard Webb is the best referee in the country the rest must be ..... words fail me. The world cup should be good to watch, knee high tackles, maybe a yellow card offence. I wonder what you have to do to get a red card, easy kick the ball away.

  • Comment number 43.

    Its pretty clear that bar the few posters with an agenda most have agreed that webb is a poor ref. But that does not help with the overall impression that refereeing in this country is a few yards behind the rest. What the F.A. do about it is predictable, they will do nothing. If they choose officials that do not meet the standards required of such big games it is they that deserve the roasting. There must be at some point in the near future a system that allows all officals to be properly scrutinised and graded, which includes tv footage and the use of new technology. It is used in many sports now, and with the money and stakes that are prevelant in football it is beyond belief that it has not been embraced.

  • Comment number 44.

    There is a reason for Aston Villa not getting the results they must get when required. Twice we saw Aston Villa on the wrong end of refereeing decisions, this season. I think though that their problem lies elsewhere.

    Aston Villa has two sides in their team. Half of it is the aftermath of the team that was avoiding relegation before Martin O'Neil became the manager. It's due to being unable to make the transfers required for the next step. The other half belongs to Martin O'Neil and improvement of players who are good enough for Champions League football.

    You can't aim for Champions League, though, with a Carew and a Heskey in the team. Heskey was daylight in a night when playing for Leicester, but proved not good enough for Liverpool. He was a gem in a Wigan side but looks poor in Aston Villa. Once, he was described by Hullier as a raw diamond. Coming to the end half of his career, saddly, he's still that raw diamond.

    On the other hand, Carew is like a solid rock. He can score, but normally it's done against lesser opposition. You see, he moves as slow as a rock would, too. He's a player that would be good for a side fighting to avoid relegation.

    If Aston Villa can't make transfers worthy of the next step, their manager will keep finding players to improve and will keep bemoaning referee decisions. Doesn't this sound like another Wenger?

    Aston Villa have to decide what they want.
    Under O'Neil, they have stability. In today's premiership football though, a good manager and a stable team doesn't shine at the top four of the premiership table. It requires also cash. If you want an example, look no further than Arsenal - a massive club, having earned no sileverware for six seasons on the trot.

  • Comment number 45.

    Do you remember a single match where Howard Webb didn't give at least on controversial decision? And some says he is one of our best international referees, what a joke!

  • Comment number 46.

    30. At 10:04am on 11 Apr 2010, chris wrote:
    CyberFC - plastic fan then??
    Why might he be a plastic fan? Cheap jibe or nothing better to add to the debate, Chris?
    For what it's worth, I listened to the game on the radio. Chris Waddle said "NO penalty" so I guess it was debatable - not because he is right but because there is obvious doubt given the fact some think it was and some think it wasn't a penalty. Doubt in the ref's mind = no penalty.

  • Comment number 47.

    Yes unfortunately referees are starting to make more and more incorrect decisions, some of which are partly down to pressure from the players houning them to make decisions, and partly down to the fact that some players are seen as idols for playing in the international squad. We constantly see bad decisions and the game is nothing like it used to be.... didnt this used to be a contact sport??? You cannot even make a tackle without the whistle going!

    If you compare the referees in rugby to those of football, there is a totally different class.
    The players dont argue with the referee, they just get on with the game and his decision is final, whether it will be a penalty or a booking.

    As I said, the constant pressure from the players has resulted in alot of bad decisions and I dont think that the referees are in the position any more to make the right decision they want to.

    I agree with the comment made about the micriphone, the referee should justify why he has made the decision he has and definately answer questions as to why after the game! They are also gettin paid for this are they not? They are seen as professionals, and in any job, you have to be responsible for your actions and justify why you do the things the way you do.

  • Comment number 48.

    Howard Webb couldn't give that penalty yesterday as it was fairly similar to the incident involving Louis Saha at Goodison Park last weekend that he didn't give. It wasn't about favouring a big club, it was about consistency, all be it consistently wrong, but that's what people have been asking for from referees. So what we've ended up with is consistently bad referees who see the incidents and get them completely wrong.

    However, Villa didn't create anything yesterday and although they played well, didn't deserve to win in my opinion. Bad decisions from the Howard Webb, but right team going through

  • Comment number 49.

    People are moaning about one penalty and two possible red cards - but if they think Deco should have been sent off then they obviously didn't watch the game.

    If you look at the replay of the first Deco booking he didn't make any contact and it was a clear dive and therefore not a yellow. So the second 'yellow card' challenge should not have led to a red as he should never have been given the first yello.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Eddie Rodden - what are you on?!!! lol. I'm not a Villa fan, but it was one of the easiest penalty decisions you'll ever see. Only the most blinkered Chelsea fan could think otherwise - Which I think we know you are!

    What I really want to comment on is the refereeing of Howard Webb.

    He had one decent season, but for the past 2 has been absolutely appalling! How this man is even considered the Premier League's best, let alone being the one selected for the World Cup is beyond me. I can see him seriously embarrassing English football in the summer just as Graham Poll did.

    Webb's problem is not just that he's an appalling referee, it's that he appears to regularly bottle the big decisions against the big teams. He has a history of it, and the Chelsea/Villa game is just another example. How a highly paid professional referee can stand 10 yards from both a simple penalty decision and then an even simpler red card decision and get neither right is incredible. At best those decisions show he is incompetant. At worst they show he bottles big decisions in pressure situations. Regardless of which is correct, neither is acceptable.

    What makes this man even worse is that "Headmasterish" "Don't you dare question me" authoritarian, self-important look on his face every time he knows he's got a decision wrong.

    I'll make a prediction for you - Just like those other self-important, attention seeking refs that were no good at their jobs like Jeff Winter & Graham Poll, I see Howard Webb writing a book and moving straight into the media the day he does us all a favour and gives the game up. Those guys just love giving their opinion on decisions the were never capable of getting right themsleves, and Webb will be no different.

    It's often said that the mark of a good referee is that you're not talking about him after the game - Tells you everything you need to know about Howard Webb.

    P.S. One final point - Some have suggested refereeing standards are just as important at all levels of the game - Disagree. At amatuer & youth levels the referee & his decisions should be respected at all times, as they are not pros, but when you're on 60K a year to make sure the results of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League are decided by the players we have a right to demand the most basic and obvious decisions are gotten right.

  • Comment number 52.

    Perhaps the Villa players should have ripped of the Respect Campaign badges and given them to Howard Webb asa sign of disdain-watching the game as it unfolded and after the Terry I would have taken the players and asked them if they thought it was worth continung whilst Webb was in charge. Perhaps this would be the only way that we can tackle the idiots that seem to refereeing at at the top level.

  • Comment number 53.

    BluesFinners -

    Another typical Chelsea fan..................yyyyyaaaaawwwwwnnnnnn

  • Comment number 54.

    It was clearly a penalty. The Ref saw it and just didn't give it. Why? We will never know. I think the problem with Referees is the fact that is what they are. They have not played the game. They don't really know what an honest attempt to get the ball is. If a player falls down now it always seems to be a foul.
    The thing about the Refs being miked-up as in rugby would not really work. There the Refs say why they gave a decision not why they didn't.
    A quick point on the playing surface. The players seemed far happier on the plastic pitch in Moscow last week than on this.
    Am I the only one who doesn't like the new low position of the TV gantry at Wembley these days?

  • Comment number 55.

    I believe most referees have the initial intention of doing a genuinely honest job as best they can but it seems to me that there arent many who have the bottle to make the blatantly obvious big decisions in the biggest games when it really matters. These big decisions usually go in favour of the "Big 4" it has to be said. Im a Glasgow Rangers fan but I do love watching the premiership and I would say I lean towards cheering for Man Utd but some of the favourable decisions they get in games against the lower teams are just so easy for the referee to give simply because its Man Utd. Referees are so quick to point to the spot for the top sides when its not clear cut. Its the same in Scotland, Rangers and Celtic are quickly awarded soft debatable penalties all the time at Ibrox and Parkhead but the players in the lower teams really need to be chopped down with an axe before the referee thinks about pointing to the spot. It seems the same for all the top sides in any league. Many referees are afraid to make the vital decisions against top sides probably out of fear of going against the established order. Rarely do you have a top side moaning about a penalty which shouldnt have been given against them, thats because in general the soft decisions dont go for the smaller teams. Its so easy for refs to give penalties for top teams, but they often hide when its for the smaller teams. Video replays would really ease the pressure on everyone. Until then refs really need to come out and explain their reasons for making some decisions.

  • Comment number 56.

    It's funny that people are saying that the Terry/Milner tackle is outrageous. None of the poor Ryan talk after he could have possibly ended Ramsey's career. It's a little hypocritcal of O'Neill too as I'm sure he was critical of Wenger a few weeks ago for making comments about bad tackles

  • Comment number 57.

    Martin O'Neill is using the ref to cover his own sides deficiencies.

    They played 90 minutes of huff and puff without ever troubling Cech. They had more of the territory in the first half, but were they better? The best chances of the half fell to Chelsea (Drogba and Cole).

    Chelsea were well prepared on set pieces showing that the lessons of the defeat at Villa Park had been learnt. Villa didn't offer any other type of threat.

    The penalty was a contentious moment, was it a penalty? Mikel and Agbonlahor were tussling as you would expect and both were probably fouling. Mikel is surely not expected to step aside and let Agbonlahor pass by him? He was standing his ground. Agbonlahor went to ground very easily and probably wouldn't have got to the ball before Ferreira. Seen them given, seen them not given. Since Chelsea scored three times, I can't see how this had any great impact on the result.

    terry mentioned that Villa tire after 60 minutes and so it proved.

    Did the scoreline flatter Chelsea? If you judge a game on 80 minutes, maybe. Pity the game lasts 90 minutes though....

    Was it a sending off? a yellow seemed fair, Terry went for the ball, was too slow but there didn't appear to be any intent to kick the player.

    Ancelotti played it well tactically bringing on pace in Kalou and Anelka at a time when he knew Villa would tire.

    You can't blame the ref for a 3-0 beating i'm afraid, Villa never looked like scoring. Moaning about the ref just will not do.

    Big sides get on with it. Have seen all of the top three go on to dominate games when things have gone against them (sendings off, penalites and the like). So am not convinced of referees plotting in their favour. This desire and determination is probably what Villa need most to learn. As Ancelotti says, it's only a penalty when the whistle is blown.

  • Comment number 58.

    TECHNOLOGY HAS TO BE USED. football is one of the few sports in the world were absolutely NO TECHNOLOGY is used at all. WHY???
    it frustrates me so much. i am falling out of love with the beautiful game. no matches are fair anymore. cant remember the last match i watched, were i thought, oh well that was a good honest fair result.
    something needs to be done, or people will just give up on this dying sport. anyway have a good day everyone :-)

  • Comment number 59.

    Oh get over yourselves. When anything goes against certain managers, SAF, O'neil, Warnock, Wenger etc, they squeal like girls, but conveniently gloss over any incident that goes in their favour. The corner incident during Villa-Palace, or any one of hundreds of Arsenal misdemeanours. The problem is they are graceless losers and arrogant winners, not a pleasant combination.
    In yesterdays match, the penalty incident was a non event, yes I've seen them given, I've seen penalties given for non fouls, usually Man U are the recipients of this largesse, but Burnley got one yesterday, I didn't see Bruce shrieking at the officials. Abonglahor spent the entire match looking for a foul, every challenge he was trying to go to ground, pleading with the ref at every opportunity, yet when he put in a challenge, like the one when he led clearly with his elbow in the middle of the park, silence!!! The penalty wasn't a penalty (I'm no admirer of Webb or refs in general), Agbonglahor, was pulling Mikels shirt, he pulled him off balance, and then when he was 45 degrees to Mikel threw himself over his leg. Webb saw that and waived it away, correctly.
    I think O'Neils reaction was to cover his own inadequacies as a top class manager. he's good, but not that good.

  • Comment number 60.

    we should follow hockey and have a ref on each end of the pitch

    They do that in the Europa League and it doesn't really work either. Although refereeing is supposed to be objective, a lot of decisions are close to call and become subjective.

    The incident yesterday was as clearer penalty as you'll see. But this does not detract from the fact that Villa only managed one shot on goal the entire game and were totally outplayed in the second half. In the first half, it was even, but Villa should have gone for it and gone 2-0 up instead of doing their usual 'get it wide and sling a cross in' approach.

    O'Neill is the most one dimensional manager in the league. Villa don't ever change their style, regardless of whether they're 4-0 up or 4-0 down. He never makes subs - yesterday Villa were out of it physically after 60 mins yet he made one sub all game and that was because Carew got a knock. he never rotates his squad and as a result they're all totally worn out.

    He moans that he needs more money to spend, but if you look at some of the squad players he's bought ie. Sidwell, Reo-Coker, Shorey, Beye, Salifou, Luke Young - he spent a lot on them and never plays them, he's only got himself to blame for Villa's slump in the latter half of the season.

    It's even more inexcusable because exactly the same happened to Villa last season, they haven't learned from their mistakes.

  • Comment number 61.

    35. At 10:17am on 11 Apr 2010, Oddjob wrote:


    41. At 10:26am on 11 Apr 2010, chris wrote:

    Oddjob - good idea, should be implemented but the spineless men at the FA will not introduce it neither will the old fossil Blatter -stuck in the medieval era!

    Like every good idea it only gets through if the people at the top can take the credit for it. So I give Blatter permission to claim that it was his idea.

  • Comment number 62.

    I believe referee's should be made to explain their decisions so that we, the fans, can see why these decisions are made.
    I've lost respect for many of our so called 'top referees and assistants because they are getting to many major decisions totally wrong.
    The Drogba goal against Manchester United last week had to have been close to a yard offside. If we can all see it, why can't they?

    They are spoiling the game and if Howard Webb is the best we've got, god help us.

  • Comment number 63.

    Webb was clearly wrong re the penalty decision and also in not sending off Terry for his disgraceful studs up lunge at Jimmy Milner. That said, I am not convinced that we would have still gone on to win the game.
    However, the most baffling thing from yesterday for me was why the Chelsea fans make even less noise than Man United fans. In both games at Wembley this season the Villa fans have totally outsung their opponents.
    It is a sad indictment of modern football that the top 4 have so many plastic fans who don't have any real passion for their team.

  • Comment number 64.

    56., the difference between the Shawcross tackle and the Terry tackle was clear to most neutrals: intent. Terry's intent was crystal clear, while for Shawcross it look mostly like an unfortunate accident born of overenthusiasm and poor timing. I doubt that's how Arsenal or Chelsea fans see it of course....

  • Comment number 65.

    Some of these chelsea fans blogging on here are living on another planet or have yet to grasp the basics of the games rules. Im a neutral and without a doubt it was a clear cut penalty. We are lucky not to be reading the papers this morning discussing the great future that Milner COULD have had. It was an assault. I'd say those two decisions definitely had an impact on the score so Villa have every right to complain. Webb lost his bottle. FIFA take note.

  • Comment number 66.

    I love all this anti-Chelsea mania from both the media & rival fans.....Just love it.....Keep it coming !!

  • Comment number 67.

    Whether the referee should have given a penalty and why he didn't is conjecture, as others have pointed out with Webb giving an explanation we'll never know. It's possible Webb saw Mikel having his shirt pulled first, and that swayed him.

    Or Webb may just have thought 'I'm not giving a penalty against a big four team and reducing them to ten men because........ Well I'm not sure what his reason would be actually. Ancelotti is hardly Mourinho, so I doubt it was fear of death threats.

    It may be harsh but the reality is that Villa still had 75 minutes to win the game and they mustered 3 shots to Chelsea's 14. It may be even more galling for Villa to admit that Terry was right when he said Villa might fade in the final quarter, that is almost exactly what did happen.

    I understand the need for righteous indignation after defeat in a big game but lets be clear that the ire usually distracts from the real reasons for the loss. In this case I would suggest Villa lost because they were poor in attack, not because Howard Webb is a myopic, Big Four fan.

  • Comment number 68.

    I have just seen Terry's tackle on the news. It shows far more intent than Shawcross' tackle on Ramsey, yet the referee gave a yellow. Because the referee saw it, however, no further action can be taken. Officially. What SHOULD happen, given that Terry could have deliberately ruined a player's career or robbed him of the possible chance to take part in a World Cup, is that Capello should take the lead and refuse to take Terry to South Africa. This would show an intolerence of this sort of violence from the top down in this country. Of course that won't happen, but I think it would serve Terry right and send the strongest possible message to players.

  • Comment number 69.

    I sometimes think referees get the rough end of a difficult job. When the officials are out on the pitch they get to see the incident once, whereas fans sitting in their armchairs see the incidents three, four or sometimes even five times in slow motion replays. Referees are only human and they have to give a split decision - for sure, I think Howard Webb could have given a penalty yesterday, but isn't Martin O'Neill clutching at straws? Did his team really test Petr Cech during the match; did Cech have to make any real telling saves? It's easy to come away from a game and blame an official if your team hasn't, IMO, given 100%. I personally like Martin O'Neill though; he speaks his mind and is very passionate about his own team and football in general.

    As for the tackle by John Terry on James Milner, it certainly was a nasty tackle and I'm sure if Howard Webb had seen Milner with his leg broken, or worse, he would have sent JT off. I don't believe John Terry is a nasty, vicious or violent player, Milner was fine and carried on - it's a man's game; let it continue to be so.

  • Comment number 70.

    Herbie: Shawcross's tackle was an honest attempt to win the ball, his studs weren't even showing. Terry's was a studs-up, over-the-ball lunge that caught Milner on the side of his knee. There's a world of difference.

    Referees are far too keen to avoid being in the spotlight by chickening out of making big decisions - but this is self-defeating, as not giving obvious decisions then puts them bang in the spotlight again. These games have big consequences for teams. Villa could have ended up in their first Cup Final for a decade. Last weekend, Chelsea were also handed a massive advantage in the title race by a half-blind linesman.

    Referees need o become accountable. They go from game to game, making mistakes, but never seem to have to face up to the consequences of them. As Chris says, they should have to face the media at the very least, to explain the decisions they made.

  • Comment number 71.

    As a Chelsea fan I am obviously biased. The tackle - JT was for sure extremely lucky not to get a straight red. Looking at the way the ball bounced I have no doubt that he was going for the ball, but it was reckless and lucky for Milner that it did not end more seriously. I am amazed however that the two occasions have been overlooked when Collins dived in wildly and with no realistic possibility of winning the ball. The first on Malouda as he was shooting, and I dont recall who the second was on. But then Collins is not a hate figure so everyone ignores it. No slowmo replays to anayse them.

    Re the penalty that wasn't. I would say it was 50:50. It suits most neutrals, Villa fans, and media to toss out phrases like "nailed on", "cast iron" and "stone wall". The reality is that many decisons are not certain, and I can see why the ref could not be sure as Mikel really just stood his ground.

    In the end neither team played particlularly well, and Villa just did not create enough to really worry Chelsea - less than half the shots of Chelsea with more possession. Carlo used his subs well to take put a gloss on the scoreline.

  • Comment number 72.

    Very hard defeat to take yesterday, everyone in the ground could see it was a penalty and had already started cheering so I was just completely astounded when play didn't stop. I got 4 texts from mates watching at home (who aren't villa fans) saying it was a definite penalty, and Chelsea fans walking out of the game afterwards said it was stonewall. The one's I spoke to felt they were very lucky to win the game.
    Ray Wilkins said at half time it was a definite penalty. John Terry said afterwards it was a definite penalty and if you saw the reactions of the two sets of players on the pitch, you could tell they all knew.

    It was devastating to lose the match in the manner that we did, Chelsea earning a corner when Villa had been pressing and a wayward shot falling straight to Drogba for a simple finish. It really feels like we haven't had the breaks at Wembley this season. Chelsea scoring lifted them as a team, and for the first time in the game they then actually looked capable of winning.

    It was when I got home and watched the match on tv last night that I felt most angry though. Because you could clearly see the referee was in a great position to view the penalty incident, so not seeing it is no excuse. It is perplexing to think he can award free kicks for Deco and Zhirkov swan-dives but not for a Villa player fouled in the box.

    I am not asking for biased, or for the referee to be flawless, but when it's a simple case of not implementing the rules purely because the decision and it's consequences are too big for the referee then it is simply unfair. A penalty and red card would in all likeliness have given us the goal that our 1st half dominance lacked. What sums it up is that as Mikel brought Gabby down as he was pulling the trigger, about 6-8 yards out, in front of goal with just the keeper to beat. No player goes down intentionally in that postion when you're just about to get your shot away.

    If the ref doesn't see it you can accept it, if it's a really debateable decision you can accept it but the reason he didn't give it was because giving that decision in that game againt Chelsea was too big for Howard Webb. And that's why I'm so disappointed. Wembley is a great occasion and the Villa fans were brilliant yesterday, but all you ask for is a fair crack of the whip.

  • Comment number 73.

    All ref's seem to be reluctant to give decisions against the big 4 because when the big 4 clashes come around that's the game the top refs want to be involved in. As such any decision they make in a less high profile game will err on the side of the big 4 team. Thereby not irritating the more 'powerful' managers. It's simple, the FA need to grow some balls, back it's refs and tell managers like Fergie to shut up and then we can get on with the game.

  • Comment number 74.

    Good blog post. I think Howard Webb's performances should be looked at more closely.

    I honestly believe he is the worst ref in the premiership by quite some distance. However, I can actually see why he was selected by FIFA. Plain and simply, he commands a game in the way that a referee should - he has presence and confidence in the way that he rules a game - and controls players in an appropriate way when control is required.

    However, look at his decision making, and all that presence means nothing! There have been some totally awful decisions this season, to name a few (as a Spurs supporter): Blackburn-Spurs (Kalinic disallowed goal), Chelsea-Spurs (Keane penalty claim), Liverpool-Spurs (Numerous including Defoe disallowed goal)... this list would be massive looking at his other games (eg Man U-Liverpool - numerous, including bad penalty).

    Last season, after another incorrect decision to award Man U a penalty at Old Trafford (whilst Spurs were 2 up), he actually admitted to his error and went on to say, "I always strive for perfection. Show me a man who's never made a mistake and I'll show you a man who's done nothing".

    I think Fifa need to consider how perfect this ref is in practice. Isn't decision making the key job of a ref? Never have I come across a ref hated by so many team's supporters due to their bad decision making.

  • Comment number 75.

    Herbie: everyone was critical of Wenger because he was moaning after every game about tackles which were perfectly fair or a yellow card at worst.

    Terry's tackle stands out there on it's own, it was needless and incredibly dangerous. I'd rather Milner's leg stayed in one piece than Terry get the red card, but it shouldn't have taken multiple fractures to his leg for Web to give the red card.

    Johnnie John: Deco's 1st yellow was a result of several fouls, not just for the one challenge, the ref had already given him his final warning, and stopping Petrov was just that. But I can accept the ref not sending Deco off as one of those things. I know you can't get everything yoi're own way, and that one was far more subjective. The Mikel and Terry red cards were bread and butter though. Strange Webb gave none of them

  • Comment number 76.

    cfcboy23 - standard of english is what I was getting at! simple as for Waddle - well I stand by what Wilkins (Chelsea) and Terry (Chelsea) stated both at half time and Full time - they thought it was a Penalty so did most of the Chelsea players and bench. I know who I would listen to regarding that shout!

  • Comment number 77.

    OK so Referee's and assistant Referee's aren't allowed to speak to the media after a game. If the media really wanted to know the reasons for decisions made during a game, couldn't they make applications under the 'freedom of information' act, to have the relevant match reports made available for scrutiny.

  • Comment number 78.

    As others have said you can't help but think if it was the other way round Webb would have given Chelsea a penalty and brandished the Villa player red card. We see it all to often and it makes it impossible for the challenging teams to compete.

  • Comment number 79.

    A perfect referee would not have given a penalty, owing to the shirt-pull that Agbonlahor was guilty of before he turned Mikel. Had a penalty been given then Chelsea fans would be complaining about the ref.

    Beyond that, it would be valuable if FIFA could produce explicit rules about fouls (or not) that occur when defenders simply stand their ground and forwards back into them.

  • Comment number 80.

    Hamburgblue: Just a couple of points.

    Fair slide challenges are within the rules of the game. The reason no-one 'picked up on' Collin's tackles was because his feet were planted on the ground, his studs weren't up or going for the player's leg and he was making an honest attempt for the ball (which Terry may have been doing - but which is still incredibly dangerous as his studs were up and his foot was above knee height and you saw where it ended up).

    The two challenges are opposite ends of the spectrum, so its a curious point you're making.

    And the "50:50" penalty...well maybe the neutrals, the media, and even Ray Wilkins and John Terry might just outshout you on that one.

  • Comment number 81.

    Maybe an independent body dealing with refereeing complaints/appeals against decisions is needed to deal with some of the issues raised above?

    I appreciate it would come too late to affect incidents during the game but surely it would increase the level of trust between managers and officials if the people dealing with complaints were not the employers of the officials?

    The last major campaign regarding officials by the FA in this country was the 'Respect' programme designed to stop over-the-top criticism of referees. Now, I agree with the principals behind that but the FA cannot have their cake and eat it. If they want to be treated fairly, referees need to 'respect' managers (and in doing so, fans) by being more accountable for their actions.

    I don't think anybody is expecting perfection, but there are things that can be done to improve the present situation.

    PS.. 35/ Sin-bins? Oddjob, I've always thought they were worth considering because in the case of multiple yellow cards, the team being fouled benefits on the day. I admit I haven't given it the same detailed consideration as you, but in reality, I think it might actually cause more confusion unless the parameters are set out from the start.

    Sadly, we don't even know the thinking behind key refereeing decisions under the present system of rules, let alone a potential new one!

  • Comment number 82.

    Since all further investigation into video evidence has been abandoned, haven't we been given free license to attack referees, by FIFA no less? If they're not going to invest in that which can help officials (and keep quite as to their reasons why as much as press-shy refs) then isn't that saying the man in the middle is performing so exceptionally that we are fair to criticize any of his errors?

    So I don't see how the fuming manager syndrome would or should disappear.

    Why can referees only have "a bad day" and escape with like it's nothing? No need to face the press, and at worst he'll referee a Championship game instead of a Premier League one for a week or two. Publicly question him and you can be banned, as though he's a deity. People seem to forget the other half of that "no referee, no game" slogan: "No players, no game." If the standard of officiating actually dissuades players from playing in certain leagues then will that force any changes?

    More to the point, if anyone else made as much of a shambles at their job as some of the refs they would be fired. Referees' decisions have a huge effect on millions~billions of pounds, a club's success, players' psyches, the league's commercial value, fans' dreams (and how much money they're willing to devote to the game in support), and the entertainment value the sport offers countless people around the world. Their mistakes reverberate across all these fields, and if they are not prepared to or able to handle the job itself and the pressure, then let someone else more responsible take over.

  • Comment number 83.

    Its good to see so many professional refs commenting here!

    how many (chelsea and villa fans) play regular or officiate at football each week??

    I play every saturday and officiate and coach so I hope I understand most (not all) the rules of the game. As a Villa Fan watching the Game, Mikel and Deco had commited a number of fouls before being given yellow cards!

    1st foul = warning 2nd foul = yellow card subsequent foul (regardless how severe) = 2nd yellow and red, its not rocket science and the rules are simple - its just not consistent within the game because Fifa "fiddle about" and change the rules far too often (offside anyone?). I agree with the Chelsea posters - Villa did not create enough to win, BUT the official should bide by and adhere closely to the rules of the game regardless of whatever team is playing

  • Comment number 84.

    Please don't put in video refereeing. It would make the game so less exciting! To prove my point, who would have predicted at the start of the season that Liverpool would lose a game due to a red beach ball! LOL

  • Comment number 85.

    SOLUTION: TWO VIDEO APPEALS PER TEAM. Vidic fouls Agbonlahor. O'Neil presses button (3 seconds) Fourth Official presses rewind and watches last 8 seconds of game (the Ref also watches the replay on his 5 inch MP4 player strapped to his forearm) (10 seconds) They rewind and view again to confirm ( 8 seconds) Ref makes decision and points to spot awarding Penalty to Villa ! (5 seconds) Total TIME = 26 seconds TWO video appeals per team equals 4 VIDEO APPEALS PER GAME total = 1 minute 54 seconds. Meanwhile RORY DELAP makes 12 throw ins whilst his centre halfs trot into the opposition penalty area, about 5 minutes per game.

  • Comment number 86.

    I think the mic for refs is an excellent idea. I loved it when I saw it in rugby. I feel it somehow draws the ref into the show, makes him more part of the game, and more accountable to... to himself. When you are talking on air, you have to think straight. When you explain a decision on air, you REMEMBER it, and it helps you to achieve consistency. I'm not saying it would solve all the refereeing problems, but I do believe it would improve the quality of the game, and the experience for a fan.

    Btw, as a Chelsea fan, I'd suggest some of us got over that Barca game. I remember I was kicking furniture and trying to hurt the wall back then, but seriously, how long are we going to keep pulling this one out? Ten, twenty years? Hand-of-God syndrome, anyone?

  • Comment number 87.

    Agbonlahor goes down too easily. He got Deco booked by 'anticipating contact'. He was looking for the penalty, as he has no left foot. I've seen them given, I've seen them not. The fact some Chelsea players and staff said it was a pen without the benefit of a replay is probably because Abramovich has told them he wants the club's image cleaned up. That's also why Ancelotti hasn't gone ape at officials this season.
    Agbonlahor was pulling Mikel's shorts, Mikel stands his ground, Agbonlahor throws himself over the outstretched leg. To claim that was somehow the clearest penalty ever is ridiculous. I have noticed how commentators these days - like Andy Townsend - are always calling soft penalties in every game. The problem is with the amount of diving nowadays, if they were the refs they would be conned into giving three or four a game.
    I admit that the penalty may well have been given had it not implied a red card for Mikel. The rules are an ass. There should be no double punishment. To get a penalty and a red card for that would have been totally disproportionate to what is effectively a clumsy tussle in the box. The red card for a clear goalscoring opportunity rule should be replaced with a penalty - whether it's inside or outside the box. If it's inside the box add on a yellow card.
    The better team won yesterday. The team that was able to string chances together without relying on playing for set pieces and penalties. The Big Four bias is a nonsense. The difference is that the top teams can win games even if decisions go against them, so they become less noticeable. That's why they're top four teams.
    As for all the Man U fans on here, it's a bit galling to hear them blaming the ref for a defeat because an offside goal was given (making it 2-0), even though the United consolation was a clear as day handball. Talk about blinkered.

  • Comment number 88.

    A billion pound stadium, Nasa inspired footballs, ultra lightweight football boots, energy diets, sport's psychologist's, a billion viewer's worldwide and the game is decided by the lottery of an incorrect decision. Let's get the big decision's right, it's so simple, they won't alway's get them right even with video technology but we'll get 95 per cent of them correct. Once they get into the swing of this TECHNOLOGY they'll get quicker, the average decision will take 15 seconds, that's about ONE MINUTE of each game, meanwhile Didier Oscar rolls around the floor for 5 minutes each half. TWO VIDEO APPEALS PER TEAM.

  • Comment number 89.

    At one of the previous major tournaments we had our ref give 3 yellows to the same player before sending him off. And this year we're going to have Howard Webb. We may hold the Premiership up as the best league in the world but if this guy's supposed to be our best ref then we certainly don't have the best officials.

    I have to agree that more communication is vital. Referees need to be more accountable and to explain they're thinking. I mean here we all are discussing why Webb didn't give the penalty and I'm sure the thousands of Villa fans around the country are thinking the same thing. So why has there been no comment to say why he didn't give it or what his take on the incident was? Surely it would help everyone if the officials came out and said how they had seen an incident and why they decided on the action they did. At least people could then understand where they were coming from. At the moment all that happens is that we all sit here wondering why he didn't give it and it means the incidents don't get closure. And it puts more pressure on the ref for their next performance.

    People are saying Howard Webb is having a bad season. Maybe if he came out at the end of matches to explain his decisions then people would understand it a bit more and would say 'ok fair enough, I don't agree with it but I see why you think that.'

    If the FA and refs want respect they have to earn it. By acting as if they're masters of all they survey and are above everyone else they don't deserve that respect.

  • Comment number 90.

    Its good to see so many professional refs commenting here!

    how many (chelsea and villa fans) play regular or officiate at football each week??

    I play every saturday and officiate and coach so I hope I understand most (not all) the rules of the game. As a Villa Fan watching the Game, Mikel and Deco had commited a number of fouls before being given yellow cards!

    1st foul = warning 2nd foul = yellow card subsequent foul (regardless how severe) = 2nd yellow and red, its not rocket science and the rules are simple - its just not consistent within the game because Fifa "fiddle about" and change the rules far too often (offside anyone?). I agree with the Chelsea posters - Villa did not create enough to win, BUT the official should bide by and adhere closely to the rules of the game regardless of whatever team is playing
    I would hope that as a ref you understand all the rules of the game, but apparently not.

  • Comment number 91.

    The real beauty of VIDEO TECHNOLOGY is this. Player's will be dealt with immediately. They will be sent off or booked or they will concede a valuable penalty. The player will be humilated as a cheat or cost his team the game by getting sent off. THEREFORE we will get rid of the CHEAT CULTURE. The MENTALITY of player's will change. We will have better free flowing football as a result. We won't have the weekly farce of "was he?" "wasn't he" "did he?" "didn't he?"

  • Comment number 92.

    With VIDEO TECHNOLOGY ( 4 video appeals per game) one of the most dramatic changes will occur with the LINESMEN ! The Linesmen will be forced to become more PRO-ACTIVE. They will make more decisions, they will have to step up to the plate or risk the embarrassment of watching the decision they did not make on !

  • Comment number 93.

    Edisperger, I wish I had the chance to look at the Collins challenges again. I am impressed that you could see so clearly that he had tackled fairly and with a chance to win the ball, but the first was shown once and second not repeated. Not sure that slide tackles would be how I would describe them. He did not look to me to be a defender in control of his actions. I already agreed that Terry was very fortunate to only get a yellow.

    My main point on the penalty is that people like to black or white on these decisions. Very often they are just not so clear. I just never felt that it was a clear foul, and none of us has the refs view so we have no idea what he sees. Unfortunately TV does not help, because it gives us viewers an after the event view that is not the same as the refs.

  • Comment number 94.

    blu stu - and you know how much - dumb reply read it again

  • Comment number 95.

    EMPOWER THE LINESMEN. let them encroach on to the pitch for free kick's and Penalties, so they can assist the Referee. Get rid of their flag's so they can RUN properly and keep up with the line of play. You might want to give them a WHISTLE. So when Milner thumps a 50 yarder for Agbonlahor to run on to and the REFEREE is 60 yards away ! the LINESMAN can be on the pitch, 20 yards in, on the line of play, helping to officiate with his closer vision and better judgement.

  • Comment number 96.

    I like the idea of the ref microphone, I think it gives an extra dimension to the game. Although I can't help but think some referees like Phil Dowd would generate more heavy breathing than explanation when they'd just run the length of the pitch trying to keep up with Gabby Agbonlahor! Perhaps it might also clean up the language used by players around the ref as well.

    Referee's should be more accountable for their actions. You will always get mistakes but they would have to explain it as they see it.

    I honestly think in yesterday's game if Webb had a microphone he would've had the choice between giving the penalty or saying 'Sorry lads I bottled it. It's against Chelsea, they're going for the double, I didn't fancy it. Sorry'. Obviously he couldn't say that so he probably would have given the decision.

    As for the 2 appeal video evidence, it sounds good, but the big issue with video evidence in football is that it would break up a free-flowing game, stop counter-attacks etc.

    And you can't help but wonder if managers would use appeals tactically to waste time at the end of a game, or break up a counter-attack at a crucial moment. One solution to this is that perhaps decisions could only be reviewed at the next natural break in play? However, then you have the very real possibility of the ball not going out for a couple of minutes, by which time the game has moved on so far from the original incident that it would be strange to drag it back.

    This may be a solution, but you can see the can of worms here. Rules made in good faith can easily be manipulated by the opposing manager.

  • Comment number 97.

    The Linesmen are miked up. They could wear flourescent coloured sleeves. The majority of the throw in's are easy decision's not requiring a Linesman to point his FLAG. Get rid of the linesmen's FLAG so he can run properly and keep up with the line of play. EMPOWER THE LINESMEN, make them more responsible, make them more PRO-ACTIVE. We'll have more decision's, better decision's, less cheating and less injustice, farce and the weekly "COMEDY OF ERROR'S"

  • Comment number 98.

    Clear penalty, anyone who sees otherwise is a Chelsea fan or blind (or both).Refs are obviously adhering to F.A. rules and rule No 1 is - "A Big Four club must always win". Happens every time.

    Why don't they have the premiership with the big 4 only where they can play each other 10 times, and put everyone else in the fizzy pop league, but with no promotion or relegation. That should sort it!

  • Comment number 99.

    No-one here's mentioned Ancelotti's exemplary behaviour this season. On the one hand, he makes it easy for referees to make decisions against Chelsea as they know they won't suffer the Scottish or Gallic wrath of the manager. On the other hand, when decisions go his way, he doesn't have to give it the Wenger 'I didn't see it.' I think he's the only manager to follow the 'Respect' code this season and let the football do the talking. Aston Villa weren't hard done by - they've no cutting edge and Chelsea are top of the table for a reason.
    Why don't refs explain their decisions? It's common sense.
    Was it a penalty? - with video technology it wouldn't have been given as Agbonlahor had hold of Mikel's shirt - case closed.

  • Comment number 100.

    case open again - If Agbonlahor had a hold of Mikel's shirt - why didnt the referee give a free kick to Chelsea ? - which ever way you look at it the ref got it wrong by not awarding either penalty or free kick. He was a disgrace not to send Terry off and (put him on the) Deco should have gone as well in the same passage of play but that seems to have been overlooked (apart from Chelsea manager who immediately subbed him


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