By Walter Broeckx
As you may know, Untold Arsenal reviews the performances of referees. On many occasions people have said that they would have loved to having us around in the past so that we could have commented on key matches that Arsenal seemed to lose due to strange referee decisions.
And in particular they have asked about game 50. The game at Old Trafford that ended the unbeaten run from Arsenal.
A few weeks ago Andy Kelly got me a copy of that famous game. He is one of the writers of the book Woolwich Arsenal FC, The club that changed football and as someone interested in history it was not really a surprise that he could put his hands on a video of that game.
And so then we did a review of the match, just as we do them now.
Our referee in this historic review is Mike Riley – then just a referee, now head of the PGMOL.
|MATCH REVIEW DETAILS – Mike Riley (2004-10-24)|
|1||OTHER||Cole||Ronaldo||C||Clattered in him from behind with his body||1|
|2||OTHER||Ronaldo||Edu||C||Push in the back||1|
|6||OFFSIDE||Arsenal||C||“assumed correct, looked very close”||1|
|6||OTHER||Rooney||Cole||C||Ran on to him||1|
|12||OFFSIDE||MU||c||Clearly offside shown by replay||1|
|14||OTHER||G. Neville||Reyes||NC||“Tackle from behind not given, ref gives advantage but ball is lost look next line, could and should come back”||1|
|14||YELLOW||NC||Ref should have given at least a verbal warning, but a tackle from behind on the Achilles should always result in a booking||2|
|14||PENALTY||mu||Henry||C||“Defender sticks out a leg but retrieves it in time, correct no decision. Henry also never claims a penalty but just gets on with the game”||3|
|15||OTHER||Edu||Van Nistelrooy||C||Edu slipped and as a result clattered with Van Nistelrooy||1|
|16||OTHER||Heintze||Edu||C||kicked him on his tigh||1|
|18||OTHER||Cole||P. Neville||C||benefit of the doubt to the ref||1|
|18||OTHER||Ferdinand||Ljunberg||NC||“Pushed him in the back when he was going in front of him, not given “||1|
|18||RED||Ferdinand||NC||“Ljunberg was on his own and away to goal with only the keeper in front of him, a foul as the last defender a clear goal scoring opportunity is always a red card but nothing was given”||3|
|24||OTHER||G. Neville||Reyes||c||Tackle from behind on the ankle||1|
|24||YELLOW||G. Neville||NC||“Just a word, no card?? This was a classic example for a yellow card”||2|
|30||OTHER||Ronaldo||Vieira||C||First foul was from Ronaldo||1|
|31||OTHER||Rooney||Campbell||NC||“Came in late, ref saw it just pointed a bit pointless”||1|
|32||OTHER||Van Nistelrooy||Cole||NC||“Plants his studs on the knee of Cole, ref gives nothing, linesman under whose nose it happens also gives nothing”||1|
|32||RED||Van Nistelrooy||NC||“This is a very dangerous attack that can cause the ligaments to snap, Later Van Nistelrooy was banned for 3 games for this assault I have been told”||3|
|35||OTHER||Cole||Rooney||C||“Trip, twice attempted to trip him”||1|
|35||YELLOW||Cole||C||I have no complaints with a yellow card but after all what happened before this seems a bit harsh||0|
|36||OTHER||G. Neville||Reyes||C||Sliding tackle from behind||1|
|36||YELLOW||G. Neville||C||finally the card comes out against Utd||2|
|37||OTHER||Rooney||Reyes||C||just kicks him from behind||1|
|37||YELLOW||Rooney||NC||“Deliberate kick, no chance to play the ball like that, should have been booked”||2|
|38||OTHER||P. Neville||Reyes||C||“another attack at Reyes, this time he plants his knee in the Arsenal player “||1|
|38||YELLOW||P. Neville||C||Ref starts to see the light in this rotational fouling on Reyes?||2|
|39||OTHER||campbell||Ferdinand||C||“push, assumed correct”||1|
|40||OTHER||Scholes||Bergkamp||NC||?obstruction not given||1|
|45||OTHER||Henry||Heintze||NC||First foul was from Heintze who handled the ball||1|
|45||YELLOW||Ferdinand||NC||“runs half the length of th pitch to get involved, should have been booked”||2|
|46||OTHER||Campbell||Van Nistelrooy||NC||“just won the header cleanly afwerwards lttle contact, nothing wrong”||1|
|48||OTHER||Heintze||Vieira||NC||obstruction not given||0|
|49||OTHER||Rooney||Campbell||C||clear push in the back signalled by the assistant||1|
|49||YELLOW||Rooney||NC||“dissent against the assistant, should have been booked”||2|
|50||OTHER||C||“ball doesn’t go out of play, game restarted with dropped ball after ball boy touches the ball too soon”||0|
|54||OTHER||Reyes||Neville||C||“sliding, didn’t touch the player but he had to jump to avoid contact so correct”||1|
|55||OTHER||Edu||Scholes?||NC||didn’t look shoulder to shoulder to me and thus should have been given a foul||1|
|58||OTHER||Neville||NC||“a throw for United, assistant siganls ball didn’t enter the playing field and Neville can throw again but he advances at least 10-15 meters”||1|
|63||OTHER||Vieira||Heintze||C||not much to see but we go with the ref a we don’t have a replay but it looked as if Vieira played the ball||1|
|67||OTHER||Van Nistelrooy||Lehman||C||“stepped on his heel, signalled by assistant”||1|
|70||OTHER||Bergkamp||MU?||C||“assumed correct, not real visible what was wrong”||1|
|72||PENALTY||Campbell||Rooney||NC||Campbell stuck out a leg but retrieved it before tripping Rooney. Rooney dived to win the penaltye. Riley wanted to break the world record in giving consecutive penalties for United at Oid Trafford and this is penalty nr. 8.||3|
|72||GOAL||MU||NC||A not correct penalty so a not correct goal||3|
|72||YELLOW||Rooney||NC||“Should have gotten a yellow card for a dive, not given”||2|
|74||OTHER||Scholes||Bergkamp||C||Little kick from behind on the ankle||1|
|75||OTHER||Vieira||Giggs||C||tackle came late||1|
|75||YELLOW||Vieira||C||“Card itself is correct, but in the light of other things we have seen ?”||2|
|79||OTHER||Edu||Scholes||C||kick on the ankle||1|
|79||YELLOW||Edu||C||correct card this time from the ref||2|
|79||PENALTY||Cole||Ronaldo||NC||“Caught him sliding and tripped him, not given”||3|
|80||OTHER||Silvestre||Ljungberg||C||Sliding tackle from behind||1|
|80||YELLOW||Silvestre||NC||“Should been a yellow card, not given”||2|
|83||OTHER||Carroll||NC||“It takes the keeper more than 45 seconds to bring the ball back in play after the ball went out, ref does nothing”||1|
|83||YELLOW||Carroll||NC||should have been booked||2|
|87||OTHER||NC||“Cole shoots ball touches a defender, goal kick given”||1|
|88||OTHER||Van Nistelrooy||Lauren||c||Comes in with an arm in the air||1|
|88||YELLOW||Van Nistelrooy||NC||“Keeps standing in front of the ball so that Arsnal cannot take the free kick, should have been a yellow”||2|
|89||OTHER||Lauren||Van Nistelrooy||NC||“frontal tackle, was a foul”||1|
|92||OTHER||Saha||Pires||NC||Two footed frontal tackle not given||1|
|92||YELLOW||Saha||NC||As no replays are shown I give him the benefit of the doubt and settle for a yellow card. Could have been red if his feet where off the ground||2|
|93||GOAL||MU||C||the goal itself was correct. Would it have happened if the ref would have given the foul senconds earlier?||0|
|94||OTHER||Smith||Ljungberg||NC||Frontal tackle not given||1|
|94||OTHER||Scholes||Bergkamp||c||kick from behind on the ankle||1|
Well Riley had a good start to this game in fact. The first mistake we found is just after 14 minutes in the game. The first tackle from behind on Reyes. He should have stopped the game and given a yellow card. The ref gave the advantage signal but the ball was immediately lost by Arsenal. So not an advantage at all. And no yellow card.
The next incident that needs some explanation is the foul from Ferdinand on Ljunberg. Ljunberg bursting through the middle and would have been on his own towards the keeper. But then Ferdinand clattered in his back and brought him down. A clear foul but the ref did nothing. It should have been a free kick some 10 meters outside the penalty area but more importantly Ferdinand should have been sent off with a red card. Doing nothing, like Riley did was inexplicable.
Neville then carried on with kicking Reyes and again a tackle from behind didn’t result in a yellow card. Just a word from the ref. By now he should have felt what they were doing. He wasn’t a rooky ref.
A few minutes later Van Nistelrooy planted his studs just above the knee of Cole. Right under the nose of the assistant who did nothing. And the ref… he also did nothing. That was a reckless and dangerous attack that could have resulted in a wrecked knee for Cole. No foul and no red card against Van Nistelrooy is just amazing.
United should at this stage have been down to 9 men on the field.
The way Riley handled this game resulted in Cole taking out Rooney and he got a yellow card. That was correct but not if you compare that with the fouls that had gone unpunished by United so far in this game.
Neville then finally got a yellow card for his third attack on Reyes. And a minute later Rooney just lashed out when Reyes was shielding the ball and he had no chance of playing the ball. Rooney was not booked.
Phil Neville then got a booking for taking turns on Reyes. I thought the ref was starting to see the light.
The last memorable thing in the first half was the fact that the ref gave a foul to United when it should have been a foul for Arsenal if any foul would have been given. Ferdinand came running half the field to get involved in the discussions without getting booked. What was he doing there? He should have been under the shower for a long time. Riley again let Ferdinand off the hook.
Overall he did just well enough on the un-weighted decisions but he was amazingly wrong when it came to the important calls and giving all the benefit to Manchester United. A very one-sided performance from the ref in that first half.
In the second half the ref just continued as before. In the 55th minute he made the first mistake in favour of Arsenal. Up to then he had made 14 wrong decisions in favour of United. The foul he didn’t see was from Edu on Scholes when Edu pushed him off the ball.
Rooney escaped once again in not getting a yellow card when he clearly showed dissent against the assistant who flagged him back. Poor teamwork from the ref. A good ref doesn’t allow the players any dissent against his assistants. Should have been his second yellow card.
On we march until minute 72. Rooney goes past Campbell who sticks out a leg, retracts his leg but Rooney goes to ground in an attempt to win a penalty. Mike Riley who up to then had given 7 penalties in favour for United in the 7 visits before this game knows this is his moment and gives a penalty. United scores from the penalty. Two wrong decisions from the ref of course and in fact should have been 3 decisions as Rooney dived to win a penalty and should have been given his … third yellow card in that game.
So a player who should have been booked twice dives for the penalty and the player who should have been sent off for a dangerous lunge at Cole scores the penalty….
Then comes a moment where Riley makes a big mistake in favour or Arsenal. Ronaldo cuts inside Cole who started a sliding tackle and catches the leg of Ronaldo. Now that Mr. Riley really was a penalty. But after the first one he thought it was enough maybe?
For the rest of the game the ref kept on missing fouls and missing obvious yellow cards against United players.
The introduction for the second United goal was again down to a mistake from the ref. Saha came in with a frontal tackle against Pires near the half way line. Pires can just kick the ball back and jump up to rescue his legs. This should have been given a foul immediately and a yellow card against Saha. The ref gives nothing the ball ends up with Lehman who kicks it up front and then United win the ball and go on and score the second.
The odds that this goal would have been scored when Arsenal would have taken a free kick at the half way line looks very slim.
|COMPETENCY SUMMARY – Mike Riley (2004-10-24)|
|Period 1||Called||Total||Correct %|
|Period 2||Called||Total||Correct %|
The first half was not good but the un-weighted score was just acceptable. When we put weight on the decisions it gets unacceptable.
The second half went from bad to worse. The ref hardly managed to get a score of 53% on the un-weighted decisions and when we put weight on the decisions he only gets a score of 45%.
In total the score is 63% and if we put weight the total score is just under 55%. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE RESULT FROM ANY REF.
|BIAS SUMMARY – Mike Riley (2004-10-24)|
|Period 1||Manchester United||%||Arsenal||%||Total|
|Correct For Weighted||18||52.94||16||47.06||34|
|Incorrect Against Weighted||0||0.00||20||100.00||20|
|Period 2||Manchester United||%||Arsenal||%||Total|
|Correct For Weighted||12||57.14||9||42.86||21|
|Incorrect Against Weighted||5||17.24||24||82.76||29|
|Correct For Weighted||30||54.55||25||45.45||55|
|Incorrect Against Weighted||5||10.20||44||89.80||49|
Well the bias score tells the whole story. Mike Riley was rubbish in this game. Being rubbish in a game can happen you know. We are human…
But in his rubbish he was also clearly biased. Almost 90% of his “mistakes” were in favour of Manchester United. He penalised 88% of the Arsenal fouls but only 66% of the Manchester United fouls.
It was a disgrace that the left Ferdinand and Van Nistelrooy on the field. Was he too much a coward to do his job? Or was it on purpose? This was one of the most biased performances of all times from any ref. The fact that he gave all those penalties to United in those consecutive home games is telling a whole story itself.
And the fact that such a ref does not get not kicked out of football is a disgrace in itself. But the fact that this unfit, biased referee later on in his career gets promoted to being the head of the referees is one of the biggest mysteries in football.
Unless it was part of being reward for making a stupid fool of himself in this game?
If you are thinking of commenting on this report and have not read our ref reports before you might like to read this first….
Untold Arsenal has a team of qualified referees who have reviewed more than 40% of the EPL games from last season. The reviews themselves were based on full match video footage with the advantage of video technology features such as slow motion and pause.
By reviewing those 155 games we have made a database of more than 7000 decisions that have been judged by our panel of dedicated and qualified referees. We have then compared our figures with those of another web site that also analyses refs – and a comparison of results is in our Looking for an independent second sources article.
The Great History of Arsenal Competition – complete with prizes