Monday, September 21, 2009


Thrilling match from start to finish! Manchester United scored three times and City equalized three times too before Manchester United added an injury time goal in the very end of the match. Rooney scored very early and Owen scored very late! Bellamy's incredible double and Fletcher's brace of headers! Tevez hitting the goalpost after beating the keeper. Given's superb one on one battle against Berbatov to deny him two clear close chances! That's how you sum up the entire match!

However, the time added deep in the second half was to be disputed. The referee had allowed too much time to be added, even more than what was indicated as Owen scored in the 96th minute. City's defence needs a lot of improvement, especially at the right side with Man Utd getting goals mostly from their left flank.

Foster was definitely the reason for City to score a few goals. He was inexperience and because of that resulted in some easy or dangerous situations to arise around his penalty box. Carlos Tevez had tested him once when he ran down as Foster left it very late to kick the ball, resulted in the ball hitting Tevez's body. That was the first warning but Foster still thought that Tevez could not run that fast. The second time Tevez finally managed to steal the ball from his hands and assisted the ball to Barry for the first goal.

Bellamy's first goal, a scorcher, was magnificent and beautiful. His second was an individual brilliance too. Berbatov must be the most unlucky guy on the pitch with many chances saved when they should have gone in. Given seemed to have an upperhand when both are in 1-on-1 situation. If Shaun Wright-Philips was the dangerous dribbler with dangerous runs to the Man Utd's defence, Ryan Giggs was the equivalent. He was also the one who sent the injury time assist to Owen to score.

Still I was hoping for a draw at least and was not happy with the result of the match. Both clubs committed some very bad defensive mistakes. Still, I believe City deserves more. Will this prove that Manchester United will still be better than the new heavily invested Manchester City? Well, the season is still very young and to be fair to City, they have a few top players unavailable for the derby. Hughes needs to improve his club's defence, which is so identical to Real Madrid's.

Manchester Derby Comment: Premier League Refs In A League Of Their Own?
Michael Owen scored a last-gasp winner for United, but it was all too predictable, writes Clark Whitney...

Sep 20, 2009 6:30:41 PM

A personal opinion from International's Clark Whitney

I might as well have not watched today’s Manchester Derby. When I awoke this morning, I predicted a close match but also a Manchester United victory. If United were to be level at the stroke of full time, there would be just enough injury time (regardless of the amount merited) to score the all-important winning goal.

Surely enough, seconds after Craig Bellamy equalized for Manchester City, it was announced that at least four minutes would be added to account for stoppages. And surely enough, five minutes and thirty seconds into injury time, Michael Owen almost poetically scored the winner. United fans around the world erupted in celebration. Wayne Rooney was pictured giving a mighty battle cry. Pomp and circumstance ensued. But to me, the result was no surprise.

You may ask: how could I have predicted the result of today’s derby? The answer is simple: it’s a situation so familiar that it’s no longer a surprise when United, or any of the Big Four side for that matter, score a last-gasp winner. In April, I wrote a comment on a similar situation, in which United were given five minutes to down Aston Villa when really, there was no reason to continue playing for more than a minute after full-time. Today’s match, although highly entertaining, was ultimately just another case of déjà vu.

Before I go any further, I’d like to make clear the official rules for stoppage time. An excerpt from the 2009-2010 edition of Fifa’s Laws of the Game defines the conditions for added time as follows:

“Many stoppages in play are entirely natural (e.g. throw-ins, goal kicks). An allowance is to be made only when these delays are excessive.

The fourth official indicates the minimum additional time decided by the referee at the end of the final minute of each period of play.

The announcement of the additional time does not indicate the exact amount of time left in the match. The time may be increased if the referee considers it appropriate but never reduced.

The referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by increasing or reducing the length of the second half.”

The word “excessive,” being subjective to one’s opinion, essentially exonerates referees from any blame they may receive for timekeeping “mistakes.” But let’s be honest: were there really four minutes of "excessive" time loss in the second half of today’s derby? And during the four minutes added on, were there really an additional 90 seconds of "excessive" loss? No: there wasn't even a momentary injury delay, just one brief substitution.

This is where refereeing in the Premier League so greatly differs from that in the league I watch most, the Bundesliga. Personally, I embrace the multiculturalism of European football. It’s great that, on a regular basis, we can see the pace and athleticism of the Premier League, the tactical chess battle of Serie A, the technical mastery of La Liga, and the unpredictability of the Bundesliga. But when it comes to refereeing, my view is that rules are rules, and that all leagues should be refereed to the same standards.

If leagues are officiated differently, one can claim that Champions League matches can be decided not by the merit of the teams, but by a referee’s decisions (recall Chelsea’s complaints in last year’s Champions League semi-final against Barcelona).

In a sense, regardless of its disagreement with FIFA’s rules, the Premier League’s excessive injury time may seem just. Although City held their own in the first half, United probably deserved today’s win due to their commanding performance after the break. Not to mention, as commonplace as it now is, the last-second winner always makes for an exciting end to a match.

Given the high prices of Premier League tickets, shouldn’t fans be entitled to a few extra minutes of glory?

On the other hand, one could easily claim that referees in England are ruining the league’s competitiveness. In a league so top-heavy as the Premiership, it just seems wrong to artificially promote the best teams at the expense of others who thoroughly deserve to take something from the match.

If a Big Four club hasn’t won a match in 92 minutes despite having dominated the game, perhaps a victory hasn’t been earned. Perhaps the underdogs deserve something for their efforts. The situation is especially dire when the losing team (Aston Villa last April, and Man City today) is struggling to break into the Top Four. Wouldn’t it be exciting if, at the end of the season, the Premier League’s Top Four were to include at least one surprise?

The Premier League is structured such that each club holds a vote on issues including rule changes. To the 16 clubs not among the big four, why not start a movement calling for Premier League referees to award stoppage time in strict accordance with FIFA’s rules? The power is yours by a 4:1 ratio. So long as you wait, enjoy finishing 20-60 points behind the league's hegemony.

Clark Whitney,

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