The Laws of the Game are clear on the Eto'o Marshall Bounceballgate, so why did it take so long for everyone to understand. Because they don't even know the rules, says Rob McNichol...
All eyes on Hugo Lloris, not the first man ever to visit Wales whose name begins with 'LL', in Cardiff's home game with Tottenham on Sunday. The two major talking points, from an officiating perspective anyway, involved him. And, to be more specific, his right arm.
Let's start with the incident in which Malky Mackay thought his side were the hardest done by, when Cardiff believed they had taken the lead via Ben Turner's headed effort. It was chalked-off for a foul by Aron Gunnarsson on Lloris, and I think Mark Clattenburg got it spot on.
Ironically, the chance came from a corner that Lloris had needlessly given away when he chose to try to control the ball with his feet rather than his hands, but as the ball was delivered, he was denied the room to manoeuvre into a position to defend the cross because Gunnarrsson had hold of his right arm.
What is important to remember when it comes to a goalkeeper is that it takes a lot less to illegally restrict his movement than an outfield player. Because of the way he has to move about and use his arms, particularly if he's in mid-air, it takes very little to imbalance him. I actually learned this piece of advice directly from Mark Halsey, who himself used to be a semi-pro goalkeeper.
The other moment Lloris had was far more uncertain but, in a bizarre way, less controversial. Did he handle outside of his area when Frazier Campbell tried to go round him? Very possibly. After seeing several replays I can't tell, although my instinct says it was outside. The point is that the referee and the assistant, as we talked about last week, are probably right to err on the side of caution if they are not sure.
As an extra aside though, it's worth noting these incidents and keeping them in the back of your mind. You know all those times when a ball has gone over the line and people got all outraged because it should have been a goal? Well, if you are a Cardiff fan, and you said that you think the team that beat you 1-0 should have been down to 10 men within the first couple of minutes, I'd struggle to tell you that you were wrong. Just because I defend a referee doesn't mean I can't sympathise with a club that would have benefitted from a different decision.
I am not necessarily, I would like to point out, an advocate of what I am about to say. However, if we are having technology installed to work out if a ball is over the goal-line or not, perhaps some could be added to the edges of each penalty area to work out if a ball is inside or outside for moments like this?
Overkill. Very possibly, and very probably. But Cardiff will say that having arguably the best goalkeeper in the league sent off with most of the game to play, and their opponents down to ten men, is just as worthy of getting upset about.
Classic piece of joined-up refereeing by Kevin Friend during Crystal Palace v Swansea. Dean Moxey, on a caution, crunches petulantly into Angel Rangel, who reacts angrily, but doesn't lay a finger on his assailant. Moxey unpunished, Rangel booked. In follow-up, Maruane Chamakh lightly touched Chico Flores who threw himself to the ground like a baby. Guess who was booked? Of course it was Chamakh.
That's modern football for you, folks. Referees booking players for justifiable and restrained reactions, and letting bad tackles and feigning injury go scot-free. How wonderful.
And no real need for scrutiny for the performance of Howard Webb, taking charge of the Manchester derby, as the score very much overshadowed anything the referee did. As, of course, it should do. The game will probably do little to quell the inaccurate and frankly tedious jibes about Mr Webb favouring Manchester United, though.
I thought, if anything, Mr Webb's biggest decision was one that fell against United, but then it was hardly likely to get them back into the game, given that they were 4-0 down at the time with only about five minutes to go. When Nastasic brought down Rooney for the free-kick that Rooney ultimately scored from, I thought it was a rather cynical clip by a player that was already on a caution. He really could have walked for that.
Like I said, that would have made no difference to a miserable United day. It would have made a difference to City's next opponents, though, as Nastasic would have been banned next week. With all that said, though, I recall thinking that the Serb's first caution, inside the first five minutes, was a little on the harsh side, so perhaps two wrongs sort of make a right on this occasion. I also recall thinking the early caution may open the floodgates as far as others were concerned, but it is a credit to the players that this didn't happen.
Or, perhaps, it is an indication of the one-sided and uncompetitive nature of the fixture on the day.
Rob McNichol - follow him on Twitter
@ajsr That's why players dive, or because the expected profit (in the long run) is there. They might get a caution sometimes but ultimately it wins them penalties (which is usually a big decision with lots to benefit with). Since players going down easy are sometimes (but not always) hard to interpret in action, let alone in replays, its unlikely their gonna do the retroactive punishment thing even if they didn't have the "ref saw and made a decision policy". That and fans don't apparently care much about it in the larger picture. Sure they despise it, and there's gonna be a big uproar the week after it happened, but eventually it does down even if there is some passive hatred for it all the time.- SonicSP