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Monday, 12 July 2010

Howard’s Way…


In the aftermath of the 2010 World Cup Final it seems the Dutch are far from happy… Mark van Bommel claims that  English referee Howard Webb had “clearly affected the final” and that his team’s performance deserved more.

Now as much as the irony of a website entitled ‘Dirty Leeds’ having a pop at an overly physical football team is unavoidable, I have to take issue with Mr van Bommel and his team-mates.

Lets not pretend that Holland’s ‘tactics’ were not premeditated. The classic case of ‘the old cloggers’ hacking down the more energetic and skillful opponents; A scenario that can be witnessed on any local park each Sunday morning in this country. I’m sure any amateur player who was quick off the mark can tell stories of how they have been ‘dispossessed’ down the years. 

It’s a strange quote from van Bommel, Howard Webb could have easily affected the final to a larger extent and reduced the Dutch to 8 men without being overly strict. Nigel De Jong was shown a yellow card for a challenge that, had it happened outside the stadium, would have seen him facing charges of GBH this morning. Yet the Manchester City man had the audacity to claim that “Mistakes are part of every referee in football, but tonight it was very unfortunate for us”. Arjen Robben’s clear time wasting exercise after being deemed offside should have seen him dismissed without hesitation, just seconds after Heitinga had made the walk of shame.

Many will point to the fact that Howard Webb’s reluctance to hand down sufficient punishments indicate that he had a poor game. I’m afraid I disagree totally. As a referee myself, albeit a million miles away from the standard that Howard Webb has achieved. I’m fully aware that there are more ways to attempt to control a game than just sending players off, in the hope that players take heed and things calm down. I can think of a number of  Premiership officials that would have dismissed four players in the opening hour last night, only to be greeted with the morning headlines berating his performance and claiming he ruined the game.

Its curious how the star players are quick to point out any issues they have with the referee’s performance but fail to appreciate that the childish antics of them and their team-mates reduced the world’s greatest footballing spectacle into a scene not to dissimilar to the opening scenes of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Mr van Bommel’s atrocious lunge on Andres Iniesta in the first half was enough to warrant an early bath alone, yet he successfully avoided further reprimand despite a string of cynical fouls and off the ball tangles, more through experience than luck, having created a career of butchering players who are technically superior.

I noted that of all the Dutch stars who graciously assembled a guard of honour for their victors, only one refused to congratulate them… van Bommel stood, stern faced and with arms crossed. I hope it cut you to the bone to see Iker Casillas’ triumphant celebration, for International football is no place for you and your like. It would have been a travesty had you got your hands on a winners medal.

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  1. well put!
    I remember when the holland team had the upmost respect of most fans for their skills and 'total football'.After last night's final ,for me at least,( and I say with a heavy heart)alot of respect went out of the window.Howard Webbwas put under extreme pressure by both teams and did well not to let a catastrophy happen.

  2. Gotta say I agree with everything you've said, Holland were a disgrace and Webb did everything he could to prevent the game descending into a complete farce. Thank goodness the Dutch didn't win.

  3. Again agree... and to see Robben (smacked arse) run after webb like he did after his obvious dive over the goalkeeper when he lost the ball... I just wanted to reach out and punch him!
    Must say generally a poor World Cup (football wise) but the Africans did a wonderful job.

  4. I can't help thinking that Howard Webb was told not to send players off except under very extreme circumstances. But I still can't understand how he only gave De Jong a yellow card. The Dutch were a disgrace and were disrespectful to the game of football. They made sure what should have been a great game was made into a game marked by one cynical foul after another. It was a bad message to give children growing up. I sincerely hope kids don't start to copy the way the Dutch played. It's time FIFA got to grips with cheats in the game and stamped such play out. De Jong should be banned for 3 months for his challenge. I doubt he'll even get a telling off. Nothing happened to the French when they cheated their way to the World Cup finals. Blatter is an idiot!


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