Portsmouth v Manchester United and the Dubious Penalty


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?

33 thoughts on “Portsmouth v Manchester United and the Dubious Penalty”

  1. I watched the game and kept rewinding to see what the hell was called. It looked like every other ordinary scrum in the box on a free/corner kick; in fact, there was a lot less contact than ordinary, so I’m still left scratching my head. Dubious penalty.

  2. It was definitely not a penalty but United were lucky to not concede another when Wes Brown blocked a shot with his hand and right in front of the referee. It usually evens out in most matches…

  3. Not only was it not a penalty, Manchester United had a legitimate claim refused minutes later when Darren Fletcher’s cross was handed down by the Pompey defender.

    What makes it worse is that the announcers made it pretty clear it was the Linesman who made the call despite the fact he was on the “TV” side of the pitch, much further away from the non-incident than the referee.

    Other than that, I thought Mike Dean had a pretty good game, but taking your linesman’s word on that one was laughable.

    I can only say “laughable” because it didn’t sting United in the end. It did put a blip in an otherwise great preformance by Tomasz Kuszczak.

    And on the day that Fergie starts a ban for pointing out ineptitude in referees. Makes me wonder if part of that decision was two fingers in the direction of his box seat. Could we be suffering a ref-ego issue to match Major League Baseball in the late 1970’s.

  4. Thankfully the game didn’t end 1-1. Otherwise the penalty incident would have been much more controversial. But, to be fair, it was definitely a foul by Vidic who blatantly grabbed Piquionne’s shirt in the penalty area.

    I thought co-commentator Tony Gale did an excellent job of calling the incident. Yes, it was a foul in the referee’s book, but these sort of fouls happen every week and are never called. Definitely a bit harsh of United.

    A few other observations about the game:

    * It was nice to see Derek Rae at the helm on ESPN2. With Adrian Healey in Spain and Georgie Bingham missing in action, it was a pleasure to see and hear Rae’s professionalism in action.

    * Gary Neville is a prat. With the best years behind, it’s about time he retires because one of the few things he’s good at is being an annoyance on the pitch. In the second half, after two Man United players fouled Didane, the ball fell to Neville who proceeded to kick the ball across the pitch even though the referee had whistled for a foul. Mike Dean then gave Neville a yellow card. Rather than taking it on the chin, Neville then kept out mouthing off by saying “F**k off’ repeatedly (at least three or four times in a row) either to Dean or a Pompey player (who were off-camera).

    * Despite Man United winning this one convincingly, Pompey could have easily narrowed the gap in scoreline if they had a more clinical striker up front instead of Dindane and if they improve their marking in the back, which is absolutely dreadful.

    * Nice to hear United fans singing Christmas carols at Fratton Park.

    The Gaffer

      1. Another reason to hate Gary Neville… his blatant dive against Portsmouth to earn a free kick and to try to get the Pompey player, who was previously yellow carded, ejected out of the game.

        The Gaffer

  5. Idiots, the whole lot of you all. Whomever owns this website should make it mandatory reading to have it’s readers read the FIFA Laws of the Game and know when they apply. Shirt tugging is one of those times. The referee got it spot on calling the penalty against Manchester United. Nice to see the crybabies come out to play.

    As for the ‘legit claim’ that Manchester United moron claims they had a few minutes later, wrong again. That was never a penalty. So keep on being the whiny bunch of idiots you truly are.

    Again, to whomever owns this site (even more so the writers on this site, who seem to be totally clueless when it comes to the laws of the game), if they cannot interpret the laws of the game, they need to quit writing on this site. When they don’t, it makes your site look 1) stupid, 2) not credible to read, and 3) it makes you look like a total fool.

    Then again, if that same penalty would have been called against Portsmouth, I’m sure this site would be praising the fact the referee was brave enough to make that call. God I love double standards.

    1. Patrick, or should I say Johnathan?:

      Everyone is not going to have the same opinion as you so rather than go on a rant, take a deep breath. I believe it should have been a penalty. Many don’t agree with me. And I’m sure you’ll hear several different contrasting opinions from the pundits and readers over the next few days – here and in the mainstream press.

      The Gaffer

      1. GAFFER: I think you mean, “Patrick, or should I say JEFF of GRAHAM…”

        I look forward to the obligatory “even though the world realizes the ref’s an idiot, I say he’s right!” columns from the retired referee’s faction.

    2. Patrick –
      It’s a big internets. If you don’t like a site, there are plenty of others to go read. This is clearly a more gray issue than a black and white one. There is obvious room for disagreement. If you cannot interpret the way that the rules are applied by refs in real life as opposed to in the rule book, you need to quit writing in comments sections.

      Showing up and whining makes you look 1) stupid, 2) not credible to read, and 3) it makes you look like a total fool.

  6. Too much to question today. It’s hard to see replay after replay of a jersey being completely pulled and hear the announcer say it should not be a penalty. Can we all admit that it’s illegal and that it SHOULD be a penalty, but since it’s always done and never called that the one time it is it seems incorrect.

    Later, Dawson uses his arm to knock down a ball that he then fires into the back of the net for Spurs…is it acceptable now that it didn’t eliminate Ireland from the World Cup or is it cheating too? Minutes earlier, Defoe used his arm to put a ball in the back of the net too but it was called by Phil Dowd. I know Villa-Spurs isn’t as big of a game as many would think but that seemed like a pretty bad missed call and wonder if it will matter to the English fans like the Ireland/Henry situation.

    1. The Dawson play wasn’t nearly as blatant as the Scharner handball against Spurs a week earlier. As ridiculous as it is to win a game 9-1 and complain about the “1”, the fact is it shouldn’t have been allowed.

      I’ve seen enough bad calls go against my team that I’m not going to feel guilty when it’s our turn to catch a break.

      1. The Dawson incident was harmless. How many TV replays did we have to watch to figure out whether it was a handball or not? And even now, I’m still not 100% convinced it hit his arm.

        Referees have zero TV replays and have to make a decision in a moment’s notice. I believe made the correct non-call on this one and allowed the goal to stand.

        The Gaffer

  7. Obviously, Sir Alex can’t say much without the whinging ref’s threatening a lawsuit. However, he could simply say that our Respect campaign is now at an end. Nothing is ever done about the ref”s and their dodgy calls. It’s not about “double standards” as Patrick states above. It’s about having higher standards. Neville wasn’t the only one chucking a ball away, Portsmouth was guilty as well. I know someone will respond slagging me off, but I’m sick of the ref’s being given a pass for poor standards week in, week out.

    1. Well put.

      More than any club in the history of world football, Manchester United has been the victim of bad refereeing.

      You’d think they’d get the benefit of a bad call once or twice.

      But no. Never. Uh-uh. Not once.

      1. Refreshing sarcasm. United fans should realize how many lucky calls they’ve had go there way and accept it when one goes the other way.

          1. We want loser United fans to stop pissing and moaning all the time – especially after a multiple goal win.

            Neither one of us are getting what we want.

            /not intended as an insult to all United fans, just the ludicrous columnist and those agreeing with the viewpoint he expressed here. Those folks need to get lives.

  8. All I’ll say is lets see what happens tomorrow between Chelsea and Arsenal. On every single corner look to see at least one instance of shirt-tugging going on. After the game we’ll count up the number of penalties given…

  9. The issue isn’t whether or not Vidic held him. He nearly pulled the shirt off of him. The issue is that this clear foul is not ever called. So when it is called things get confused. If he’d pulled his shirt that way around the center circle, it’s a clear foul. So why not in the penalty area?

    As for the announcers, they were wrong on both of their assertions, I thought. First of all, the replay clearly showed the ref whistling the minute the ball arrived. That is, well before he could have gotten a word from his linesman. And secondly, what makes them so sure we’d see tons of these penalties called every week? If the refs decided to start calling this foul, wouldn’t the players learn to stop pulling shirts?

    Either way, all of these penalties were soft. I get embarrassed for Rooney every time I see him fall over and instantly turn to the ref. Does anyone have a faster neck swivel in all of football than Rooney? And Giggs executing a two handed shove to get the ball, then falling over in the penalty box was pretty rich.

      1. Good point. You may be on to something.

        But perhaps it his very lack of a neck which enables his head to swivel so quickly? Fewer moving parts means more efficient movement.

    1. The real crime was that in spite of Vidic’s attempt to undress the Pompeian, the attacker still had an open header a few yards from goal. Is Vidic losing his edge? First Torres, then Eto’o, now an inability to foul effectively?

    2. drogba pulled wes brown a few weeks back(and then took a cheeky look at the lines man starts to celebrate after)why didnt the linesman see that???

  10. I think whats going on is just becoming a problem in general.

    Last year was a good example of this when Darren Fletcher got carded and was banned from playing in the Champions League final.

    When video footage came back it was proven beyond any doubt he was wrongly red carded. When the appeal went to the FA they refused to lift the ban because even though the evidence was there they decided the referee couldn’t be wrong no matter what he did.

    It’s a very suspicious rule to have which stipulates the referee cannot be wrong despite any reproducable evidence showing that he is and his decision cannot ever be reversed. Guess it makes match fixing a lot easier.

  11. I have to admit that the shirt pulling is a foul. That’s a fair decision. But, we can see shirt pulling week in week out in the Premier League. I don’t really see any foul from the referee. So, I think the referee should be more consistent. I watched the highlight between Barcelona and Inter Milan. There is obvious shirt pulling incident, but no foul given at all.

  12. Gaffer, you are correct that we need a striker who can finish. We outshot ManU 24-14 and had twice as many shots on goal. Dubious penalties aside, we’re good enough to compete at this level except in the final third. Even if the transfer embargo is lifted: Even if Grant gets a work permit: Even if we get enough money to spend in January: it will be too late. With a tough run of fixtures coming up, we have missed too many opportunities to gain points. It cost Hart his job and will cost Pompey Premiership football.

    I guess this means I need to go familiarize myself with ChampionshipTalk.com.

  13. AtlantaPompey, there’s enough time & mediocrity in the Prem nether regions for your lot to be able to pull clear I reckon. Be patient.

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