Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Two Types of Referee - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Two Types of Referee - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Two Types of Referee

There are two types of referee in football, those to apply common sense in their approach to the game, and those that apply the laws of the game to the letter.  On Sunday, we saw both types in all their glory.

First off was the titanic clash at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Liverpool, refereed by Howard Webb.  Webb has refereed the FA Cup, Champions League and World Cup finals in a twenty year career and is widely recognised as one of England’s elite officials.  Webb is a referee that applies common sense and allows his games to flow wherever possible.  There was incident towards the end of this match where this was evident.  United’s Antonio Valencia and Liverpool’s Glen Johnson were battling for a ball that was heading out of play for a throw in.  Johnson, already on a booking, appeared to perform what looked like an attempted rugby tackle on Valencia while on the ground, a bookable offence.  However, this was the 85th minute of a game that unlike most between these two sides was not a dirty one.  The ball was heading out for a throw anyway and Webb opted to instead of giving the Liverpool man his marching orders, just give him a talking to.  In his thirteen years a football league referee Webb averages just 0.13 red cards per game, this is no part down to his common sense approach to his work.  Following United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool, attention switched to the Emirates for Arsenal vs Manchester City, a game for which Mike Dean was in charge.  Mike Dean has officiated in all of the major domestic cup finals and is our example of a referee that applies the law to its letter.  It was the 8th minute of the match and aerial ball into the Arsenal penalty area saw Laurent Koscielny man handle Edin Dzeko of Man City to the floor, resulting in the award of a penalty for city and earning Arsenal’s French defender a straight red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity.  Some people would point to the fact that Arsenal have already been punished for the foul with the award of a penalty, why should they be punished twice by having to play most of the game with 10 men?  But to the letter of the law, Dean was right to send Koscielny off, a brave thing to do as such a decision so early in the game in my opinion ruined it as a spectacle.  Into the second half, Jack Wilshere take a heavy touch in the midfield and onto a collision course with City’s captain, Vincent Kompany.  The city skipper jumps in, and gets the ball with one foot, but both of his feet are off the floor, straight red.  Again, some would argue a red card was harsh and that a yellow card would have sufficed, but Dean again to the letter of the law was spot on.   Although Mike Dean is not wrong in the way he referees the game, for me it is Howard Webb that is the better referee and rightly viewed as the best in the country.  Webb’s application of common sense commands a lot of respect from players which aids him when he is diffusing difficult situations in high pressure games.  In contrast, Dean’s application of the law leaves him as unapproachable, a trait which will not endear him to any players.  They often say that the best referees can go the whole game without being noticed and unfortunately Dean’s whistle happy, jobsworth approach prevents him from going 90 minutes without thrusting himself into the limelight.  Webb’s alternative approach for me is the reason he has refereed the greatest games in both European and International football with the Champions League and World Cup finals respectively.  Applying the letter of the law does not make Mike Dean any worse a referee than Howard Webb, however I know which one I would rather referee my game on a Sunday morning.

Aaron Sharp