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Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Written By Justin on Monday, November 1, 2010 | 11:21:00 PM

Nani v Tottenham longer version

If you haven't seen it, click the link above. Then come back and we'll discuss it.

Welcome back.

Mark Clattenburg. His linesman. And Spurs keeper Gomes. They're all to blame. But, sad to say, I have to point the finger primarily at Gomes.

Play to the whistle. Play to the whistle. PLAY TO THE WHISTLE. Surely in Brazil, the spiritual home of the game, they have a saying that means essentially the same thing? Yes, Nani handled the ball. But then Gomes picked it up, and Mark Clattenburg, like every ref I know, played advantage. Why make a goalkeeper play a dead ball two yards from his goal line when he has the ball in his hands and can go to the top of the box with it? And if Gomes really did think it was a free kick, why did he carry it ten yards before putting it on the floor - and having done that, why didn't he just play it to one of his several unmarked teammates standing nearby? And finally, even after Nani nipped in and had a shot, how did the keeper contrive to allow it to roll under his body?

I've heard people blame Clattenburg not for playing the advantage, but for failing to 'signal' such to Gomes. Harry Redknapp, in his melty-faced tirade after the game (designed to draw attention away from the fact that it was essentially a meaningless goal and his side had failed away from home against a top side yet again) complained that Clattenburg had not shouted "play on" to Gomes. Well, firstly, referees are not required to 'signal' advantage. Secondly, neither did he blow his whistle. Can players just award themselves free kicks? I submit that they cannot. Hopefully every keeper learns a lesson from this. And if any readers speak Portuguese, can you please provide us a translation of "Play to the Whistle" please?