The funny thing about yesterday’s Semi-Final is the talk afterwards of Chelsea being the better team so the silly decisions didn’t ultimately matter.

I find that really odd: in the first half Spurs were at least as good, if not better, and until Drogba’s wallop probably shaded the half on points (I was reading the papers at the same time as watching but I think I got the gist of things). That they didn’t was because Gallas (as Roy Keane pointed out) failed to get close enough to Drogba. World class strike? Maybe, but it just looked like a route one goal with bad defending to me (then a big thwack on the turn).

So to say that Chelsea would’ve won anyway had the second goal not been given seems a bit wrong to me.  Once it had been given Spurs had to chase the game and got caught a few times, so the scoreline looks a bit wonky, but without that goal it’s still 1-0 and really anything can happen.

Then at 2-0 Petr Cech trips Adebayor (fact: throughout the first half I couldn’t for the life of me remember Adebayor’s first name) and Bale taps into an empty net.  Fans of Champions League finals past will remember Jens Lehman being sent off for something along these lines, but because Bale scored, Cech escapes a certain red card. 

This is a whole philosophical can of worms: are you punishing the act or the outcome?

If Cech was to be punished for ‘denying a clear goalscoring opportunity’ then surely it has to be a red card, as this is exactly what he did.  That Spurs scored anyway is immaterial. If a player commits a card-worthy foul in open play but an advantage ensues, the referee will return to the play and book him. The act is what earns the card, not the outcome (the advantage doesn’t mean the foul didn’t happen).

So by now you’ve managed to make a nonsense of the whole game. In 1966 the Argentina team threatened to walk off the field when their captain, Antonio Rattin, was sent off in the World Cup QF against England. To my mind Spurs should have done this after the second goal was awarded.  You can’t have a situation where everyone knows within 5 seconds that a terrible game-changing error has been made and an FA Cup Semi-Final is on the line and you just have to say “oh dear” and get on with it.  This is getting beyond ridiculous. The referee could have been told about the error instantly.  Rugby does this. Cricket does this. Football, the country’s richest sport, cannot (or will not). It’s a farce.

18 thoughts on “Rant

  1. To play devils advocate…

    Is it really all that important?

    Goal was clearly a bit of a farce, but football just isn’t fair. I don’t see why we need to rationalise every event and being incensed (only temporarily mind) is part of what being a football fan is all about. If you remove these ‘phantom goals’ people will only find other things then to complain about. Close penalty appeals (why not extend video evidence to cover this the argument will go) and then fouls outside the area when the ball is slung in and then a goal is scored, to corner decisions, ad infinitum. Why not rationalise the game completely. A match can be played with goals counting for nothing. Then we can use the stats generated to work out who ought to have won given home advantage, wages, passing and possession stats etc etc… Totally fair.

    1. don’t disagree. I was thinking… the only way to truly resolve these things is using a lie detector. Jeremy Kyle comes on: “Ashley, did he really trip you?” “Ciaran, did you trip Ashley?” “Yes.” “No.” “Alright, we’ll go to the lie detector.” (Man walks onto pitch with an envelope). “Ladies and gentlemen, Ashley Young was lying. NO PENALTY!” and Young gets a red card for treason or something.

      It’s the only way I can think of. Except John Terry would find a way to beat it by sheer thick skinned arseness.

    2. But to get back to your main point. No, not at all, and the enjoyment of football is that it’s probably the least predictable sport there is (Ed Smith talks about this in his luck book). The unpredictability comes from the stronger team having an off day or missing chances or running into a great goalkeeper or (even) not getting the rub of the green with the referee. That’s all fine and part of what we love. But it’s a different story when goals are awarded when shots clearly strike a player in front of the goal line and bounce out – that moves beyond ‘fun uncertainty’ to ‘farce’ I think (I still think about David Healy’s goal against Boro that would’ve made it 2-2). I don’t know. You say yourself that there’d always be something else to rant about so it’s not like stopping stupid decisions would completely castrate the game as a worthwhile activity, is it?

      1. Sorry – think I meant to post comment below here.

        and I meant to add that I don’t think the line between ‘farce’ and ‘fun uncertainty’ is all that clear cut in the final analysis.

        1. No, I suspect that this is the key thing. Fun uncertainty is when it’s someone else’s team. Farce is when it’s yours. My mistake has been to get too involved in someone else’s teams, althoug not that involved. I wasn’t throwing tea cups or anything, just mildly vexed to see a Liverpool v Chelsea final forming before my eyes based on some dodgy decision making.

  2. I agree – I was watching the game from about 25 minutes and it seemed to be all Spurs to me before Drogba’s howitzer (and I think Gallas was too tight, not not tight enough). I was on the point of turning it off after that utterly ridiculous decision, but stuck with it after Bale’s goal. I do think the ‘goal’ altered the shape of the game – not sure if Spurs would have turned it around, but they had a chance.
    As for Young – I’m a UNited fan and I HATE Ashley Young and have done all season. He’s so reductive in his approach to the game. Him and Sam Allardyce are made for each other.

    1. Funnily enough, I was thinking of David Healy’s goal too. We went 2-0 up, then took the foot right of the gas and deservedly, ‘Boro caught us up. The decision at the end was neither here nor there, we threw away the points.

      Complaining about this would be like complaining about the refereeing decisions when Man U spanked us 4-0. They were clearly the better team, so why were we moaning?

      1. did we? McBride broke his leg, Warner threw one in, we had a good goal disallowed. That’s a lot of bad luck in one game and the decision obviously cost us. Not that I’m complaining particularly or unduly sad about it, but it did happen and it was a bummer.

        1. We were the better team in every respect (without the football gods getting involved) and didn’t win. Aaaargh, ye gods!. Football is bloody unfair…

          ‘cept when it’s Chelsea at home

          1. Also the more I think about it the more it doesn’t seem to matter about weird things unless it’s a big cup game. In the league it’s all part and parcel, and these things probably sort of even out. In the cup they don’t.

  3. Indignation checklist:

    Features a team that matters to you
    Bad decision

    Now for me I now think it has to be a very bad decisino and a cup match. For the people who sit a few rows in front of us it can be a foul throw or a substitute running fractionally on the pitch. So your mileage may vary really. Hmm.

  4. I’ve always thought that, leaving aside they may already have enough “big” sports, and also the relatively high percentage of draws, the Americans will never take to “soccer” because too often the best team doesn’t win. Most of those historical shock wins (Sunderland-Leeds ’73 and so on) beloved by us were against the run of play, with luck playing a huge part.

    When my maternal grandfather was still alive the first thing he would ask me after I returned home from a Fulham match was “did they deserve it?”. And I would have to explain how once again we were robbed by the officials or ruthlessly kicked out of it by the dirty oppostion.

    However, having said all that …

    1. It’s clearly time for video technology to be introduced for some decisions.

    2. The F.A. need to come down hard after the event on players who demonstably deliberately cheated – it’s too difficult for the referee to spot many of the offences e.g. players leaving their leg in ensuring contact with a defender and an apparent foul.

  5. Had some of the same thoughts myself following the game. Of course Chelsea fans will say there were 5 goals so why moan about the 2nd. But the game turned on the 2nd and prior to that there’s nothing to say how anything will go. To think otherwise is to promote the myth of the pre-determined goal. And Terry, meanwhile, can’t commit a foul despite his greatest efforts. Reptile man.

    The outcome of a match should be determined by what the players do (and do not do) on the pitch, not by how the officials get it horribly wrong and tilt a game as a result. THIS kind of game turning/deciding moment should not be left to human error if avoidable.

  6. So, to recap yesterday: the officials gave a goal that was not a goal, reneged on a red card that was a certain foul, and gave a known diver a perfect 10.0 score. It makes one wonder what the fucking point of all this is.

    I’m always amazed at how soccer players just accept the deal handed to them. Okay, sure, they crowd the referee. But Spurs players should have done more than protested. Like you suggest Rich, they should have walked off the field. They should have also punched Atkinson in the face, gone after John Terry for clearly taking out Cudicini and not playing the ball, and/or done whatever they could to have the game called off. That may seem petulant, but how can anyone take the remainder of the match seriously at that point? It became a joke so why act like there was still some integrity to it.

    Or, just do what the Penguins did yesterday: http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/2012/4/15/2950818/flyers-penguins-brawl-fight-video-gifs

  7. I suddenly remembered Bolton away, League Cup replay, around 1976.

    2-1 to Fulham, until Bolton equalised in the 10th (honest!) minute of added time. Bobby Moore (apparently) asked the referee why he had added on so much time, and Sir Bobby was promptly sent off for his impudence. At this point our manager Alec Stock came on the pitch and called the players off to the dressing room and refused to play out extra time.

    I so wanted the match to be abandoned at that point – the amount of injury time was ridiculous, and at the time it felt as though the game would continue all night until Bolton scored.

    Unfortunately eventually Alec gave in and an uneventful extra time was played, and we lost the second replay 2-1 at St Andrews.

    Anyone else on here there that night?

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