Not that it mattered much in the end, but Saturday in the Premier League saw Mike Dean (with the help of his linesman Richard West on one instance) award three penalties, one of which must have been one of, if not the most dubious penalty this season in the Premier League.
Manchester United looked a bit sluggish in the first 15-20 minutes and weathered an early storm of Pompey attack. Sir Alex Ferguson was perched high above the pitch in the director’s box and seemed to show not a hint of emotion concerning what was to be his first of two matches off the touchline for United.
Oddly enough, United seemed to set up a bit defensive playing Portsmouth at Fratton Park in what ended up a rainy and dark South Coast affair. Rooney started up front as a lone striker with Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov on the bench. Giggs, Scholes, Carrick, Fletcher and Valencia rounded out the midfield with Valencia playing out wide right. Valencia had a rather large hand in United’s first goal when he broke through on the Portsmouth defense with a quick burst of pace. Rooney trailed in support and was fed the ball from Valencia. Rooney was then fouled from behind in the box by Portsmouth’s Captain Michael Brown resulting in a spot kick that the bearded England striker pounded home.
What was soon to follow is the aforementioned penalty that I believe was wrongly award to Portsmouth from a supposed foul in the box on Pompey’s Federic Piquionne from United’s Nemanja Vidic. Even the commentators on ESPN had a tough time distinguishing what the foul was for and exactly who it was that committed it. Mike Dean pointed to the spot immediately and confidently after United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak had punched the ball away and play was blown dead. Dean apparently received confirmation from his linesman Richard West that Vidic had pulled the shirt of Piquionne who was attempting to head the ball. Replays show a slight tug, but also prove Vidic to have let go of the shirt before Piquionne made his leap. Kevin-Prince Boateng stood tall and slotted home to equalize for Pompey.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see the match, the picture posted is for the most part the extent of the foul. What were Mike Dean and Richard West thinking? Shirt tugging like Vidic committed on Saturday goes on in England (not just in the Premier League, but in most leagues in Europe) every single weekend and probably in every single game. Are fans of the Premier League now to believe this foul to be called consistently after Dean and West set precedence? Hopefully not, and replays will show Vidic did little to nothing in obstructing Piquionne’s chances to reach the ball.
Regardless of this rediculous decision, United went on to smash Portsmouth 4-1. United were led by a Wayne Rooney hat trick and a Ryan Giggs free kick, his 100th Premier League goal one day before his 36th birthday. What are your thoughts on the moment of controversy? Was Dean correct in awarding this penalty?