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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 1, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

    Play the advantage(s)

    Carl O'Malley

    I’m not sure what the Portuguese for ‘Play the whistle’ is but I’d wager both Nani and Huerelho Gomes know. Yet, only one of them bothered to do just that at Old Trafford on Saturday when the latter decided to award his team a free-kick and take it 10 yards from where the ‘offence’ occurred.

    The United winger, who undoubtedly handled the ball before Gomes gathered it off the floor, had the presence of mind to pick himself up and capitalise on the goalkeeper’s naivety by kicking the ball into the net.

    Spurs were furious because the linesman flagged for the initial handball but, crucially, Mark Clattenburg never blew his whistle and was merely allowing play to continue. The injured party, so to speak, had the ball and was effectively being given the advantage.

    Footage of Nani’s controversial goal against Spurs


    Speaking of advantages, it has been argued in some quarters that Australia have the edge in the International Series because of the tackle rule, which allows the defending team to haul their opponent to the ground when the latter is in possession.

    No doubt, the Irish players appeared to forget about this rule on numerous occasions over the course of the two coma-inducing Tests in Limerick and Dublin, both when in possession and when defending, but is this really more of an advantage than having to play with a completely different ball on a entirely different pitch?

    The visitors regularly kicked the ball out play when going down the line, most probably because they usually play on an oval pitch, roughly the same shape as the ball they normally kick, catch and punch.

    It also ignores the fact that scoring target at each end of the pitch is far bigger than it would usually be for the Irish players and is, in fact, not so much a barn door, but the entrance to an aircraft hangar.

    Ireland repeatedly let themselves down in the kicking stakes despite having that massive advantage over Australia and, having roused the crowds into more than a barely audible murmur in just two quarters from eight, it would have been a travesty had the visitors left empty handed.

    • orieldude says:

      Actually the linesman doesn’t raise his flag until after Nani scores. It’s not at all clear, therefore, that Clattenburg played advantage at all as he made no signal whatsoever. Furthermore, had he played advantage, he would have been within his rights to disallow the goal and award Spurs a free kick for the handball.

      The rule on advantage says: “allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has been
      committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalises the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time”. As Gomes never got as far as clearing the ball, he clearly no advantage ensued at that time. Alan Wiley has tried to explain that away this morning by saying the advantage was Gomes moving forward with the ball in his possession, which is pretty flimsy.

      What’s more likely is that Clattenburg missed the handball and was simply allowing play develop. The linesman saw the handball it but did not flag. When he did, after the goal, it was too late because play had developed and Clattenburg could not disallow it.

      Incidentally Clattenburg got a number of other things wrong in the incident – he allowed Rio abuse the linesman with impunity, Paul Scholes shoved him (enough to make him lose his balance) for not awarding a penalty and should have been sent off and Nani should have seen yellow for simulation because he started writhing on the ground when Gomes picked the ball up to try and intimate that Gomes had struck him.

    • Hi Orieldude,

      thanks for the feedback but the way I see it, it only condemns Gomes further.

      If the linesman didn’t raise his flag until after the goal, then what could Spurs complaining about? There was no whistle and, if the linesman didn’t flag, absolutely no indication a free was awarded, or going to be awarded.

      And, while I admit the headline may contribute to a little confusion, I didn’t say he was actually given the advantage, I said “effectively”, meaning Clattenburg was just allowing play to continue whether he saw the handball or not.

      However, had he been given the advantage, I don’t think the ref would have neccesarily been within his rights to disallow the goal. I agree with Wiley on this.

      “The situation is that if you’re going to think about bringing it back, for instance if a player is fouled but then he loses his footing and he still can’t keep control of the ball, then you can bring it back.

      “In that situation there, Gomes has actually got the ball in his hands and has actually still got possession of the ball. What he then does after that is nothing to do with the referee. If he chose to throw the ball on the ground, that was his choice.

      “He didn’t throw it there because he lost control of it, so therefore in those circumstances you’re probably giving the goalkeeper two bites of the cherry.”

      So, he had time to use it and chose to waste that time and possession. The rule you quote states that ‘advantage’ means the referee “allows play to continue”. Gomes didn’t really continue playing, he dropped the ball and had a little think about what he was going to do with it.

      Anyway, I think it’s fair to assume he thought he had a free-kick, despite having been given no indication of such a decision.

      On the other issues, I am not defending Clattenburg or the behaviour of the United players in any of the incidents you mention. Nor I am ignoring the fact that United very often get away with stuff other teams wouldn’t, especially at Old Trafford.

    • dealga says:

      Jaysus Carl!

      I only mentioned the other things cos they were my take on the whole thing

      I didn’t start with a ‘YOU’RE WRONG CARL!!!!11!!1!’

      Journalists are a sensitive bunch…

    • Yes, yes we are.

      Why the name change?

    • webstar says:

      It is a sad indictment on the footballing fraternity that no-one has marked the passing of ‘Paul’ the psychic pseudopod…or ‘El Squid’ as he was known to his legion fan in the world cup footballing family…SHAME…!
      It appears that the cerebral cephalopod has made his final prediction and exited his watery world for calamari heaven…RIP…
      We was robbed we shoulda been given the chance for a watery wager…Oi …Ref!

    • DM says:

      George Hamilton repeatedly said the the linesman had “raised his flag” prior to the goal.

      He didn’t, as was obvious from most angles.

      You’re repeating that error here. How can you watch this “goal” several times and get this crucial point completely wrong?

      I would excuse Hamilton who was commentating live, but when you’ve had the luxury of watching the incident countless times, such a basic error undermines your whole article.

    • It’s fair point, DM, but in my defence the only footage I saw was online, in which it was not obvious. After reading a match report I gathered (mistakenly) that the linesman had flagged for the handball. Nevertheless, it should be no excuse for what Gomes did. In fact, as I said orieldude/dealga, it only weakens his case. No whistle, no flag, no free.

    • How does he still have a job? says:

      Whatever the rights or wrongs of the incident, let’s not have George Hamilton as a star witness. Yes, he might have been commentating on the match, but quite often his observations match nothing that’s going on during a game. On how many occasions has he called a free kick when it has in fact gone out for a corner? How many times has he told viewers that a free-kick has been awarded to team A, despite the referee pointing in the opposite direction? If I was any good at YouTube I’d do one of those compilations… My faith in the accuracy of George’s ability to relay the events before him was shattered back in 1999 when on more than one occasion in the same match he referred to great play/shooting by Solskjaer when in fact it was Andy Cole on the ball.

    • DM says:

      Fair enough, it was amazing how widely the “flag-raising” was reported.

      Agree Gomes is the main culprit here

    • orieldude/dealga says:

      Whoopsies; that’s munm right there Carl; multi username mockery!

      For prime examples look at Deaglán’s blog

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