Sunday, 17 October 2010
The officiating of Mike Dean
I'm finding it hard to focus on the game without raging over this goal, so I may as well get it out of the way first and review the game later. Huddlestone strikes a great shot. It comes through a crowd of bodies in the box, perhaps taking a minor nick from one of the players before nestling in the bottom corner. However its trajectory takes it past William Gallas, standing in an offside position on the edge of the six yard box, who lunges to try and get a touch but fails. The linesman flags Gallas offside as he is clearly interfering with play, despite his non-touch, as Mark Schwarzer can't fully commit to an attempt to stop the ball in case a touch from Gallas changes the shot's trajectory. The referee disallows the goal. Big Tom has a word with Mr Dean. He duly trots off to his linesman and has a word. Disgracefully, bizarrely and uncomprehendingly, he now gives the goal. In common internet parlance - WTF!?
From a little bit of internet research this morning, which of course doesn't appear to contain an explanation from Mike Dean, the most informative insight is from the goalscorer himself here. In the first half Huddlestone attempted to head away a Fulham through ball - he got his head to it but just changed the trajectory forward. He said it just brushed his head but I seem to remember a much stronger connection. Anyway the ball went on to reach Kamara, who had been offside when the ball was played and the linesman flagged accordingly. However Dean overruled his official, presumably deciding that Huddlestone's touch was strong enough to deem that the ball had actually been played by a Tottenham man, meaning Kamara could not be offside. It was such an odd decision that most players, having seen the flag go up, effectively stopped and no danger came from the situation, which actually could have been quite promising.
From what I can ascertain, Dean has used a similar warped logic for the winner, but is on far shakier ground. The argument, from what I can see, is that Huddlestone's shot took a deflection off Chris Baird and, as Dean now deems Baird to have played the ball, Gallas cannot be ruled offside. But Baird didn't play the ball. At best, it hit him. In fact, looking at two replays, it's not even certain that he does deflect the ball. Certainly the shot doesn't seem to deviate from its course in any way.
No other referee that I have seen interprets the offside rule in this way, with any slight touch by a defending team instantly dismissing the potential of an offside call. It's a ridiculous stance to take and would be totally unenforceable if applied in such away across the board. I would suggest that Mike Dean needs to go back to the FA's referee school for re-education as his approach to offside further complicates a ridiculously opaque rule and how it is enforced.