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Graham Poll: Forget that rant by Sir Alex...referee Chris Foy got it spot on

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07 Jan 2010 07:35:03

Graham Poll: Forget that rant by Sir Alex...referee Chris Foy got it spot on

I sat on a leather couch with a notepad, a pen, a stopwatch, the remote control, a television and Sky+ with the benefit of rewind and fast forward. The first thing I have to say is that referees have to calculate time, as well as keep control of 22 players, see the dive, give the penalty - or not - decide if the ball crossed the line, dish out yellow and red cards at the right times, run into the correctposition to make all this possible and smile. Sometimes. Watching brief: you're now in Fergie time, referee It's time, forgive the pun, to give the timing to someone else. Let an independent official in the stand do all the calculating, just as in rugby league. Don't hide the time, put it up on the scoreboard, add some excitement in the countdown. Imagine the home team winning, with 10 seconds remaining. '10-9-8-7-6'... and so on, followed by a buzzer. Then the next time the ball is in touch, it's game over. Someone else deciding all that would allow the referee to get on with the game.   More from Graham Poll... GRAHAM POLL: Another day of shame for the menace that is El-Hadji Diouf04/01/10 Graham Poll: The offside rule explained for Hansen, McCarthy and the rest of us29/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Why the fourth official was right to sort Wolves' yellow peril27/12/09 Graham Poll: Roy Keane would rage but Neil Warnock is just a sore loser25/12/09 Graham Poll: The referee's a cheater? What a load of rubbish20/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Why refs must stand up to baiters like Craig Bellamy and Mark Noble14/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Gallas' challenge on Gerrard WAS a penalty13/12/09 GRAHAM POLL: Divers are all foreign? No, it's a British disease13/12/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Some referees will try to calculate it all with a stopwatch - stop and start as the game recommences - but I'd sometimes forget to re-start mine. So, I admit, I used the guesstimate. That might be deemed as cutting corners but lots of referees do it and who can blame them when they have so much more to concentrate on? If Sir Alex Ferguson wants better timekeeping this is the only way forward. But, wait a minute, having analysed Chris Foy's performance at Old Trafford, here's the news: he was absolutely spot on with his decision to allow five minutes in the Manchester United v Leeds FA Cup third-round tie. Having had the benefit of studying it (Chris did not), here's the exact time that should have been added on at the end of the game. Precise time lost in the game for substitutions, including the Luciano Becchio injury and replacement: three minutes and 34 seconds. The fracas in the 47th minute, involving players from both sides: 90 seconds.Total: Five minutes, four seconds. Looking at the entire second half, there was no significant and deliberate time-wasting by Leeds. For instance, there was no feigning injury and the physio came on once. There were no goals and there was only one offside. The way I refereed, I would have calculated in my head: 'Five subs, one a double sub, the fracas, add a few bits and pieces. Gut feel? Four minutes.' That would have short-changed the home side, unlike Foy. Stoppage time is time lost unfairly, either deliberately or unintentionally, such as Argentine Becchio's injury. The Leeds goalkeeper, Casper Ankergren, for instance, took every goal kick from the side in which the ball left the pitch. Goalkeepers are prime candidates for gamesmanship by switching to the other side of their goal to use up time. 'Natural stoppages', such as the following, don't count but show Leeds had a consistency throughout the half and they did not try to delay the longer the second half went on. Here are the natural stoppages: Throw-insLeeds: 12 seconds, 10, 10, 15, 13, 16.Manchester United: 10 seconds, 4, 7, 7, 5, 4, 10, 7, 13, 5. Goal kicksLeeds: 20 seconds, 20, 25, 20, 25, 20, 20.Manchester United: 13 seconds, 15. There is no increase from Ankergren in the time it takes for him to kick the ball. He is consistent and it looks to me like he has a routine. You might argue he has taken longer than the Manchester United goalkeeper, but it evens out when you look at corners and free-kicks. CornersLeeds: 10 seconds.Manchester United: 14 seconds, 15, 15, 17, 5, 25, 8. Free-kicksLeeds: 35, 35, 44, 47 (after Jonny Evans kicked the ball away).Manchester United: 50 seconds, 10, 20, 18, 5. The longest time to take a free-kick was Manchester United, who took 50 seconds. The two Leeds free-kicks were delayed by Manchester United's failure to retreat the correct distance. Again, all this comes under natural time. Within three seconds of the referee blowing his whistle, Leeds took their dead balls. There was not one occasion when the referee felt the need to hurry them up. Verdict: Sorry, Sir Alex, you're wrong. It was an excellent display of refereeing by Chris Foy, who contributed to a rip-roaring cup tie and his timing was spot on. There is no ground for complaint.  GRAHAM POLL: Another day of shame for the menace that is El-Hadji DioufSweet FA: Man United manager Fergie escapes charge despite referee jibeGraham Poll: The referee's a cheater? What a load of rubbish


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