Time for change?
So began the weekend that many so called “expert pundits” predicted would dictate the fate of this seasons Premier League title. Two massive games, the first, Chelsea versus North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur. A win for the blues in this game would put them within touching distance of leaders Manchester United, who face Arsenal today.
A win is precisely what they got – and not for the first time, under more than dubious circumstances.
Tottenham took a first half lead after what can only be described as a sublime strike from well outside the area from Brazilian midfielder Sandro. The usually rapturous crowd at Stamford Bridge were reduced to static spectators, muted in dismay. They knew that anything but a win here would all but end any lingering hope they had of retaining their Premier League crown.
The crowd however were brought back to life just before half time after one of the most suspect goals this season. Lampard took a speculative shot from outside the area and it looked like bread and butter for goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes. Think again. A goalkeeper cruelly (yet accurately, at times) dubbed “Heurelho Gormless” by fans let the ball trickle between his legs. He turned around in anguish, the ball was bobbling agonisingly towards the goal. He scrambled, he dived at the ball, he got one hand to it and pulled it away from the line yet alas, the linesman, many yards away, ruled that the ball had crossed the line.
Television replays indicated this was not the case, and certainly, not all of the ball crossed the line. Yet Chelsea were back in it as the half time whistle blew on yet another goal-line calamity.
In 1966, England scored a goal against West Germany in the World Cup final that many say did not cross the line. Last year, in the latest World Cup, it was again Frank Lampard at the centre of yet another row. He took a shot from outside the area but this time it did cross the line – by many yards – yet the referee at the time did not give it as Germany took their revenge by sending England tumbling out of the tournament.
Frank Lampard will tell you it crossed the line but how can he be sure? How can the linesman, clearly out of view, be sure? It was a refereeing howler that gifted Chelsea a way back into the game and that opened yet another debate about goal line technology.
How much does it really cost to put two more human beings behind each goal for occasions such as this? It has been trialled with some modicum of success in this years Europa League after all.
It would make such a telling difference.
If you thought that was enough controversy for one game you were to be sorely mistaken again. Chelsea wrapped up the game in the final minutes with a goal from Soloman Kalou. A goal with more than a shade of offside to it.
Jose Mourinho lashed out after Real Madrid were effectively eliminated from the Champions league against Barcelona in midweek. He fumed that Barca had “yet to win a clean Champions League under Pep Guardiola”.
Perhaps the same thing can be said of Carlo Ancelotti and the Premier League at Stamford Bridge?
Last season his team won the league after beating Manchester United 2-1, with a goal from Didier Drogba that was again very much offside. They ended up winning the title be a slender point with United beaten into second.
This season, the title could well be decided by just a point once more, or maybe even goal difference. If it is Chelsea who win this season, many will look back on the incorrect decisions given by the referee in this game as being the turning point.
A wrong decision has cost Tottenham a place in the Champions League next season. It may well yet gift Chelsea the title.
Is this really a good advert for the Premier League? A league billed as second to none in Europe and beyond? If the integrity of this league is to be retained, then surely goal line technology or at least an official behind the goal line is of the most paramount importance.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp summed it up perfectly in his post match interview. “We can put a man on the moon but we can’t tell if a ball has crossed the line.”
How much longer can this be allowed to continue? And how many more teams are going to fall foul to the stubborness of the FA?