Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tough one for Halsey - but he's up to it

Liverpool-Manchester United was a tough one to referee, as it always is, but Mark Halsey used all his experience to keep a lid on it and to get the hardest decisions right.

Two incidents provoked the most debate, the red card against the somewhat scary-looking Jonjo Shelvey and the penalty awarded to Man Utd that won them the game.
It's too simplistic these days to say that a player dived or was fouled. Nowadays they do both. I've re-watched the penalty incident many times and Halsey should be given a medal for what he sees from 15 yards running at full speed in front of 50,000 screaming fans.
Valencia, after a stunning run, works his way into the Liverpool penalty area, closely pursued by Glen Johnson, who is behind Valencia. Johnson is trying desperately to curl his foot around Valencia to hook the ball away. But it's impossible. His right leg just cannot bend enough and Johnson moved in close to Valencia.
In doing so, Johnson lightly clips Valencia's heel, which then flicks his leg. And a moment later the Liverpool defender's right leg makes a nudging type of contact with Valencia. Either of these contacts are enough to award a penalty. Valencia is struggling to stay on his feet and goes to ground.
I don't know if he had to fall or if eh could have stayed up. I do know that Valencia exhibits signs of a deliberate fall. His right leg flails out sideways as he falls looking for an opponent's leg to hook it around, a popular method of trying to win a penalty. But there's no opponent on that side.
So all in all the penalty decision is right. Johnson got too tight on the opponent.
As Mark Lawrenson said on MOTD: He should have brought him down on the halfway line, when he had a chance, and taken the yellow card.
As for Shelvey, it was clear his challenge was wild, uncontrolled and dangerous. No doubt, straight red. Critics have said that Jonny Evans should also have been sent off, but his challenge - two-footed yes - was disciplined and aimed at the ball, not the player. Evans couldn't have complained about a yellow card, but Halsey got the main decision right.
Good on him. And it's even better to see him defying the armchair internet trolls and climbing back into the saddle straightaway.

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