Patrick Vieira’s comments in the press this week (whether taken out of context or not) have spurned an age-old argument regarding preferential treatment of the premier league’s most famous and successful club, Manchester United. Personally, I think it’s a case of sour grapes, and in this case Man City clutching at straws, I seem to remember quite a few dodgy decisions going their way this season, too.
Before the inevitable barrage of Carrick related evidence, yes, it should have been a penalty. No, it wasn’t an easy decision, and had the tables been turned I think it would have turned out the same way. The ball changed direction, and from the angle from which the ref was looking at play, I’m not surprised he assumed (incorrectly) that Carrick got a touch on the ball. These things do even out over the season and when it comes to Man City, they certainly have had their share of refereeing luck this season.
Though United do have the best premiership record when it comes to giving away penalties (20 since 00/01 season), they aren’t miles ahead, as second placed Chelsea have only conceded 27. Surely an issue arises regarding quality of defending, too? Arsenal have a bad record, giving away double the penalties United have in the time frame mentioned, but compare the defending quality of say Djourou to that of Vidic – which is going to concede more Penalties?
The myth I really want to try and dispel though is the assumption that refereeing advantage gets united more penalties than other teams. If you look at the evidence, United have been awarded 49 penalties since 2000, the same amount as Liverpool and LESS than both Arsenal and Chelsea. United sit joint Fourth on the ‘penalties for’ table. It is my belief that referees are only biased in very extreme cases, and those that are biased don’t tend to get to the top level of football. Of course, the most successful team is probably going to win more and concede less, this comes with better defending and attacking prowess, but to suggest referees play a part is not true, as the facts above back me up.
I’m sure this is going to spark some debate. Feel free to leave your comments below.