Monday Moan: Fergie right to be angry

Mark Holmes defends Sir Alex Ferguson's right to be angry and gives his views on the Leon Osman, Gareth Barry and Theo Walcott incidents.

Last Updated: 26/12/12 at 23:01 Post Comment   

Ashley Williams: Did it on purpose, in Homzy's opinion

Ashley Williams: Did it on purpose, in Homzy's opinion

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Last week I moaned about the attempts to rationalise Marouane Fellaini's behaviour, and this week I look at another piece of violent conduct as well as a goal that was disallowed, one that wasn't, and another dive in the penalty area.

Ferguson right to be angry

Sir Alex Ferguson has predictably come in for all sorts of criticism from non-Manchester United fans after claiming Robin van Persie "could have been killed" by the ball blasted at his head from close range by Ashley Williams.

"He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years," Ferguson said. "It was absolutely deliberate."

The first thing to say is that only Williams himself knows whether he deliberately kicked the ball at Van Persie's head. He insists he didn't, I have to say I thought he did, but no one can say for certain, and for that reason it'd be very difficult for the Football Association to take action against the Swansea defender - albeit they did charge Mario Balotelli last season after deciding he more than likely tried to stamp on Scott Parker on purpose.

Regarding Ferguson's claim that Van Persie could have been killed, he is not wrong. Although the Dutchman was not hurt on this occasion, there is no doubt a ball hit with that venom from that range into someone's head could cause serious damage and, yes, potentially kill.

However, I have often questioned whether the media should be allowed to speak to managers so soon after games while tensions are still running high, and Ferguson's comments were extreme to say the least. Had he had time to simmer down, they may well have been slightly less controversial.

But it's not hard to understand his or Van Persie's anger over the incident, and I find it remarkable that, for the second weekend in succession, the apparent victims of a (in my opinion) dastardly act find themselves facing criticism.

Everton 'goal' sums up problem

The other dastardly act I am referring to was of course Marouane Fellaini's head-butt on Ryan Shawcross, with much of the post-match discussion focusing not on the Belgian's actions but of the holding from Shawcross and numerous other Premier League defenders that takes place in penalty areas.

The general consensus was that it needs to be cut out of the game, but I stand by what I wrote in last week's blog: 'The reason so few penalty kicks are awarded is that there is more often than not an offence being committed by both players.

Although there are no doubt occasions when an offence is being committed by a defender and a defender alone, more commonly there are a number of different things going on in a penalty box which, if looked at in isolation, could be viewed as an offence.

It is impossible for the referees to spot all of the 'offences' and, even if he does, he has to be sure of which player has done wrong first as you often see both the defender and attacker holding, pushing or pulling each other.

However, after the hoo-ha of the past week I fully expected at least one referee to make a big penalty-box call over the weekend, and so it proved.

It came at Upton Park where Everton had a goal disallowed due to Victor Anichebe's holding of Jussi Jaaskelainen, which you can clearly see on my Twitter feed.

You might assume all those complaining about holding a week ago would welcome Anthony Taylor's decision to rule out Leon Osman's goal, but apparently not. You couldn't make it up!

My opinion on the other hand has not changed. I believe there are numerous 'offences' committed by both defenders and attackers in a penalty area, and I don't think penalties should be given or goals disallowed unless it is clear one player has committed an offence first which obviously prevents an opponent from scoring or stopping a goal.

In other words, there is not a great deal wrong with the current system. Referees need more help to deal with lots of things, penalty-box antics among them, but Saturday's incident at Upton Park just proves they should not be put under pressure to start giving fouls for every tiny 'offence' they do spot in the box.

Why? Because, for every arm around the midriff like Anichebe's, there is probably a push like Jaaskelainen's which came just before it.

Contrary to sudden popular belief, this sort of thing has always gone on in penalty areas and, unless we want a non-contact sport, it always will.

McDermott should direct ire at Shorey

Another manager (as well as Ferguson) making post-match comments he may not have done after an hour's break was Reading's Brian McDermott, who was adamant Gareth Barry's late winner for Manchester City should not have stood.

"There's nothing Nicky Shorey can do to defend against that," McDermott said.

In actual fact, there was plenty he could have done, and the only person McDermott should have been angry with was Shorey himself.

His positioning from David Silva's cross was not too bad and, although Barry had a run on him, there was no excuse not to jump to head the ball away to safety.

That he remained statuesque under the ball was nothing to do with Barry, who attacked it brilliantly, but did not use his arms to stop the Royals full-back from jumping.

If you don't jump to challenge for a ball, you are going to end up with your opponent all over you in the air. And that is nobody's fault but your own.

'Entitled to go down' line wheeled out again

Everyone knows my thoughts on diving by now, but I was once again annoyed to hear yet another pundit say a player was "entitled" to go down under slight contact in the penalty area at the weekend.

The player was Arsenal's Theo Walcott and the pundit was Alan Hansen, who later questioned why Wigan's Aroune Kone had not gone down under similarly minimal contact in the opposite box.

As I have said a million times before, my complaint is not with the players, who rarely get penalties when they are impeded but try to stay up, but all we can do as football fans and in my case a journalist is make it clear we do not want to see players going down unless they are knocked down.

Please, please, please let's not sanitise football any more.

You can follow me on Twitter @Homzy

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