He’s not a cheat as many were chanting and he’s not a Spurs fan as many have joked since but he did have a very bad day at the office. Had we lost that game, it would have been a disgrace. The fact that we came away with a point despite the referee’s performance showed what amazing strength of character our team has.
First of all the Alan Hutton decision. The Spurs right-back hauled down Milijas from behind when he was one-one-one with Gomes.
Here’s what FIFA say in their 2010/11 document Laws Of The Game:
A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
• serious foul play
• violent conduct
• spitting at an opponent or any other person
• denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity
by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within
his own penalty area)
• denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
• using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
• receiving a second caution in the same match
So “denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity” – yes, Milijas had a one-one-one opportunity. And “an opponent moving towards the player’s goal” – yes, he sure was. Plus “an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick” – yes, he gave the penalty.
All of the conditions were satisfied – there could only be one decision. In fact, Halsey issued Hutton with a yellow card.
Here’s what the FIFA rule book says about yellow cards:
A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
• unsporting behaviour
• dissent by word or action
• persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
• delaying the restart of play
• failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
• entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
• deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission
None of these offenses appear to relate to what happened.
As I said before, Halsey is not a cheat but this decision alone just re-enforces the perception that referees bottle decisions against the big teams. His decision not to give Gallas a second yellow card only compounded this view.
The lack of consistency in calls like this drives players, managers and fans crazy and makes the Respect campaign hard to take. Why on earth can’t we get an explanation from the referee for the decision he made?
Secondly, Richard Stearman’s disallowed goal. If anything, he was fouled by Gomes who, as we all know, is a liability when dealing with balls like the one he spilled in to his own net. This decision was clearly wrong and, if not for Fletcher’s late leveller, could have cost us dearly.
It appeared that Halsey had a good view too. But in this case, he obviously thought he had seen an infringement. The replays showed it wasn’t the case but it’s a tough call when something happens so fast.
The phantom infringement is forgivable but the Hutton decision is not. Wolves deserve an explanation for it, and the game would benefit from one too.
Just before anyone accuses me of bias here, please first look at what Harry Redknapp said after the game. Even he acknowledged that Hutton was lucky to stay on the field.
And take a look at Twitter. Use the hash tag #halsey and you will find fans from all over the county saying that both the Hutton and the Stearman decisions were wrong. Some even come from Spurs fans. I am biased of course, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Now I’m not saying that we deserved to win the match, or that we would have if Hutton had been sent off. I’m just desperate for our battle to stay in this league to be a fair one.
When you look at the results elsewhere – in particular the wins for West Ham and West Brom – you see how important this match was. Our lads showed amazing strength of character to come out of it with a point.
In the end, the draw was the right result. But the fact that we had to earn it despite the referee was just plain wrong.
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