West Ham’s valiant attempt to play a more expansive game against Liverpool was amply rewarded by the fan’s appreciative reception, if not mirrored in the points gained.
It’s usually said that mistakes even themselves out over a season, so it was good of Sunday’s referee Anthony Taylor to try and introduce a new methodology where they level themselves out over 90 minutes.
There was little doubt that Andy Carroll’s equaliser was a foul, and although I do miss the days when it was possible to shoulder charge a goalkeeper into the net, I’m not sure it was ever legal to slap the opposition goalie round the head – at least, not since Billy Bremner hung up his boots anyway!
That odd noise you hear though is Nat Lofthouse applauding.
There was a good deal of debate on TV over what the referee had to discuss with his assistant after the linesman had raised his flag to rule out the goal, but I’d like to think it went along the lines of "Liverpool don’t really deserve to go in at half-time leading, can’t we allow this blatant foul?" "Yeah, why not? – it will make the game more exciting"
Similarly, I guess there’s nowhere today where James Tomkins’ handball wouldn’t result in a spot kick, but I have always been intrigued by the definition of ‘intentional’ in these cases.
Apart from the obvious examples, where a player dives across to fist the ball cIear of the goal, I find it difficult to believe that any professional would decide to blatantly handle in the area, and a raised arm to help balance or instinctively defend the body must surely be the reason for a good 95% of all penalties awarded for handling.
Most interesting of all Sunday’s decisions thoughm was the awarding of the penalty for Adrian’s ‘foul’ on Liverpool’s John Flanagan.
How many times a week do we see players making that round gesticulation with their hands to indicate they took the ball first when the referee blows for an infringement?
The truth though is that the rules don’t actually differentiate between getting a first touch or not when a foul is determined. Modern refereeing decrees that even if a player gets to the ball first, any resulting collision can be deemed to be a foul – but if that’s the case hasn't football then become a non-contact sport?
Using Sunday’s incident as an example, the only way Adrian could have prevented the spot kick was to not come for the ball and allow Flanagan a free run on goal.
Still, disappointment over the result aside, in the asinine and antiseptic world of modern football, it’s really only referee baiting left to get angry about. With that in mind perhaps we should salute Anthony Taylor not berate him.