That Clattenberg call explained

by Ian Ford

Monday, November 1st, 2010
 

“Clattenberg robbed Spurs at Old Trafford again,” has been a recurring meme from commentators and pub regulars since Nani poked the ball past Heurelho Gomes in the Saturday tea-time kickoff. Both aspects of this statement are, to be frank, complete bollocks.

Firstly, because the ref was not overly to blame for the goal standing. Secondly, because Spurs were not “robbed” on Saturday at all.

Let’s deal with the latter point first, because it’s the one that most irritates me as a partisan.

United were drifting towards a comfortable 1-0 win come the 83rd minute and the incident in question. Now, of course, we cannot know for sure that Spurs would not have equalized had it not happened, but equally we cannot know for sure that United would not have added another three. Prosperous? Yes. Impossible? No. That’s the nature of football; it’s chaos theory. That’s why we love it. To state simply that Spurs were denied a point is categorically wrong.

Rather, the best we can do is make educated guesses. And on the evidence of the game after Rafael van der Vaart departed — i.e. Van der Sar quietly tending his posts — I think it’s unlikely Spurs would have scored. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, Spurs were not ‘done’ out of a victory two years ago either, when they conspired to give away a dubious penalty when leading 3-0. If you truly think that single event was solely responsible for Spurs not winning, you need your head examined (and your maths).

Right, now to the incident. There are a series of errors here; but the major ones are not the ref’s.

Firstly, Nani breaks into the penalty error and goes to ground. This is a borderline call that could easily have been a penalty as he had his shirt pulled. But you can argue, rightly in my opinion, that the contact is not sufficient for Nani to fall. This is one of those where the letter of the law says penalty but I can easily understand Clattenberg dismissing it.

He does so with a shake of the head. Crucially, he does not blow his whistle nor indicate he believes Nani has dived; we intimate from this he feels it was a simple fall and play should continue. Clattenberg then turns and begins heading upfield in the opposite direction.

Simultaneously, Nani is blatantly handballing while he is on the ground. It’s hard to know if Clattenberg sees this, therefore, but what’s factually indisputable is that he plays on and thus the culpability for the goal is primarily Gomes’.

For, even if advantage is being played, he carries the ball a good distance from where the infringement took place before setting it down. He can’t claim he was taking a free-kick in a separate position when things don’t go to plan in terms of advantage.

Just as idiotically, the linesman doesn’t flag for the blatant handball. Indeed, he won’t flag for an age after the goal goes in. It’s only when Gomes runs towards him, when he’s already trotting back towards the halfway line, that he suddenly deems it time to vigorously wave his flag. Stupid and inexplicable.

Just as stupid and inexplicable was the waving away of the entire Spurs side by the ref, only to allow Rio Ferdinand to have his say and listen in. This was the one thing Clattenberg got really wrong.

But, ultimately, this decision comes down to a very fundamental fact: the ball was always in play. You want the person really responsible for the goal, look no further than ‘didn’t play to the whistle’ Gomes.

Oh, and the linesman’s a douche too.

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  • http://thebeautifulgameweekly.blogspot.com/ Ben McAleer

    “Spurs were not ‘done’ out of a victory two years ago either, when they conspired to give away a dubious penalty when leading 3-0”

    If you are referring to the 5-2 loss at Old Trafford then Spurs were 2-0 at half time, not 3-0 prior to Webb giving said penalty

  • Whatajoke

    I agree that Gomes should have played to the whistle. What i take issue with is that a ref doesn’t see such a blatant hand-ball and dismisses it as “advantage” after the game. He consulted the linesman to be told it was hand-ball but dismisses him too. He was gutless – he didn’t want to disallow a goal for Man U at Old Trafford. The game was lost already, agreed. It doesn’t make it right. It is a poor state of affairs if a ref can’t see such incidents. What hope have we got for goal line calls?? Farce

  • anon

    Shut up biased Manure fan who would be up in arms if it was the other way round (but that would never happen as referees favour Manure)

    Same Old Manure Cannot Win Without Referee Assistance

  • Tedspur

    Spot on really – I dont think we were ever going to score. Unfortunately Gomes is really the person to blame here although I expect plenty of goal keepers would have done the same. The only thing that I still dont get is the conversation between the linesman and Clattenberg – what were they discussing? and what did the linesman flag for if he ‘didnt see the handball’? very odd.
    Anyway, I think we matched United for most of the game just didnt have the strike force to get that crucial goal. People shouldnt forget howmany first team players we are missing atm tho…

  • Ben

    Please explain in your ever so eloquent, unbiased opinion why the linesman is a douche??

  • MKBandit

    The ref has come out and said that he has played advantage, so therefore no advantage has been been gained and so it should come back to the original offence. So it is the refs fault. I agree with you that Man Utd would have probable won anyway but the ref si the same ref who couldnt see the ball 2 yards over the line a few years ago as well.

    The ref made a hash of it. Also he should have gone back to the incident and booked Nani for deliberate handball.

  • Totallytottenham

    The perception of this incident depends greatly on what the colour of your shirt is. You are very obviously a one eyed Man Utd, I don’t really know any other kind. As a spurs fan I can admit that Gomes was a little hasty in dropping the ball and awarding himself the free kick but he has every right to expect that the officials who witnessed Nani throwing the ball back to him after diving to award a very straight forward free kick.

    Can you admit as a red devil that you would have been happy to accept the same set of circumstances had the ball crossed the line at the other end of the pitch.

    Also, nobody I have heard commentating or reporting suggested spurs were robbed of any number of points. They were however denied a fair opportunity to do so. United have been throwing away commanding leads for fun all season. 2-0 up at home to west brom, how did that game finish.

    I’d love to get your take on Pedro Mendes shot in 2005 that did cost spurs a win at old trafford. Any idea who the man in black was that day? Funny enough it was Mr Clattenburg again. I’m happy to accept that these decision balance themselves out over the course of the season as your mighty captain wio pointed out today. I look forward to rubbing the salt in when the decision goes against your lot, obviously away from Old Trafford!

    Luckily for you the decision has taken the focus off a very inept display by utd who it seems were happy enough just to contain Tottenham. I think you have a very real challenger for a top 4 finish this year!

  • John from Essex

    Its seems to me that the only bollocks here is what’s keeping your ears apart. Firstly there’s no
    such thing as a comfortable 1 – 0 win. Secondly, to imply there is no such thing as a homer ref when manure plays at home, giving them dubious decisions, is to use your phrase, total bollocks. Nani deliberately put hand to ball. If there was no penalty decision then it should have been a free kick. If the advantage is played why did clattenburg not make it clear that this was the case. When the linesman flagged for handball Clattenburg could have brought the ball back for a free kick. Instead he wanted to be billy big bollocks & give yet another advantage to Manure. As far as I’m concerned and I’m sure I speak for most fair minded lovers of the game. Nani is a cheating, diving piece of S**t. Being supported by a Cheating Manager who is likewise being supported by at the best a gutless ref or even worse a gutless cheating ref.

  • Matthew

    @MKBandit, when you have advantage and give the ball away, you lose the advantage, it is taken back when someone takes the ball away from you, well Gomes threw the ball away so it’s his fault.

    @anon it could have been the other way if Bale scored from that attack which he clearly took the ball out of play but continued to play as no whistle was blown. who’s biased? selective memory at it’s best.

  • Matthew

    @John from Essex, Nani does dive a lot, but the fact is that the lines man threw his flag up after Gomes started crying. Get off your high horse and grow up. Fair minded lovers my arse. Bias is football? now that’s a fucking surprise.

  • Bob

    I HATE…HATE Rio Ferdinand. I reckon he’s the reason the goal was given!!! They were about to disallow it when along trots good ol’ Rio, and they just let him because he’s England captain!! Disgrace.

  • Dave

    You got the bit about the linesman wrong.

    The linesman raises his flag after the goal is scored to signal that he wants to speak with the referee, not to signal the handball.

    Once the referee goes over he discusses if the ref saw the handball and the ref says he played advantage and the goal is given.

    The linesman did not shake his flag around to signify an offence had occurred but instead raised it up calmly in the air to show he wanted a word with the ref.

    As for the fan that said United couldn’t win without the help of the ref, get over yourself.

  • feedbaQ…

    let me just point out some simple facts here…. Tottenham were never getting a point it probably would have ended man utd adding another goal or two so infact tottenham were robbed of the embarrasment of losing 3 nil at OT… Secondly the whole nani somewhat contraversial goal overshadowed a good decent performance by man utd… And speaking of were the equalising goal woul have come from… Gareth bale? Who was mostly tracking back to help ekotto contain nani… Lets not make the nani goal look like spurs were robbed of a anything just concetrate on meeting inter milan maybe u might get a lucky call to force a draw..

  • Ian

    Okay, much to respond to here so I’ll try and answer every point I can. Bare with me.

    Ben McAleer: “If you are referring to the 5-2 loss at Old Trafford then Spurs were 2-0 at half time, not 3-0 prior to Webb giving said penalty.”
    You’re completely right, my apologies. I think in a rush I confused it in my head with the game many years before that where Spurs were 3-0 up and it ended 5-3. But still, my bad.

    anon Says: “Shut up biased Manure fan who would be up in arms if it was the other way round (but that would never happen as referees favour Manure). Same Old Manure Cannot Win Without Referee Assistance”
    I’m not sure whether this argument is really worth rebutting, but accusations of bias are the resort of those lacking real points. I’ve said I wouldn’t have given a penalty, which hardly makes me a stereotype blinkered fan. I also think Nani should have been booked for handball. The notion that United cannot win without referee assistance is plainly nonsense but I already wrote at length that I do not think Spurs would have drawn anyway. I think many would agree with me

    Whatajoke Says: “He consulted the linesman to be told it was hand-ball but dismisses him too.”
    It’s hard to tell, and I’m not a great lip-reader, but I think the jist of their discussion was. Linesman: ‘Did you see it was a handball?’. Ref: ‘Yes, I played advantage.’

    Tedspur Says: “The only thing that I still dont get is the conversation between the linesman and Clattenberg – what were they discussing? and what did the linesman flag for if he ‘didnt see the handball’? very odd.”
    See above, just to save me repeating myself. I think the linesman did the handball, he certainly seemed to tell Gomes as much.

    Ben Says: “Please explain in your ever so eloquent, unbiased opinion why the linesman is a douche??”
    You’re right, I should have expressed that better, and less harshly. But he made a critical error by only flagging once Gomes had ran towards him. Until that moment he was jogging gently back and going along with the goal. It shouldn’t take a player intervening like that for you to do your job.

    MKBandit Says: “Also he should have gone back to the incident and booked Nani for deliberate handball.”
    We don’t agree on the incident itself but I completely agree about the booking. Players have no right to simply grab the ball if they think they deserve a free kick. I should have included this in the article, it annoys me so much.

    Totallytottenham Says: “Can you admit as a red devil that you would have been happy to accept the same set of circumstances had the ball crossed the line at the other end of the pitch…I’d love to get your take on Pedro Mendes shot in 2005 that did cost spurs a win at old trafford. Any idea who the man in black was that day? Funny enough it was Mr Clattenburg again.”
    On your first point, I can admit I’d have been absolutely livid…at our keeper. As for the second point, the Mendes lost goal was a terrible injustice to Spurs, one that made me embarrassed to win. But Clattenberg was blameless in that instance, you must admit.

    John from Essex Says: “Nani is a cheating, diving piece of S**t.”

    Agreed in most parts. He is a terrible cheat, and his diving drives me nuts. But a great talent nonetheless.

    Dave Says: “You got the bit about the linesman wrong. The linesman raises his flag after the goal is scored to signal that he wants to speak with the referee, not to signal the handball.”
    You’re quite right about why he flags, having watched the incident again. But the point remains that he should have flagged earlier, before Gomes goes running over to him.

  • Whatajoke

    feedbaQ: another goal or 2???? What planet do u live on? If that was the case, where was the 3rd goal after the controversy. You’re an idiot!!!! I don’t believe the result would have changed but we should be able to trust the referees to do simple things right especially at a time when they can’t get the difficult decisions right.

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