Manchester United and Everton contested one of the most entertaining games of the Premier League season so far at Goodison Park this weekend.
After taking the lead only to let it slip to a two goal deficit, Everton launched a late rally to score two injury time goals and earn a 3-3 draw in a game that encapsulated all the qualities that make the Premier League one of the most entertaining leagues in the world.
The game in which both sides had periods of dominance and created chances was clouded by some confusion at the end of the game, which I think reignites a minor issue the governing bodies should amend to make the rules clearer and less subjective.
Despite all the action and goals it was the final acts of the game and the referees decision to end the game just as Everton broke and Phil Jagielka had a real goal scoring opportunity.
The incident in question occurred in the dying moments of injury time as both sides went in search of a late winner, a Manchester United chance was snuffed out and Everton raced forward on the counter attack. Quick passing put Phil Jagielka through around 20 yards out and although it was not noticed by the fans or the majority of the players, the referee blew the whistle just as the through ball that released him was kicked.
Thankfully for the referee and the game Everton wasted this chance as Edwin Van De Saar made a comfortable save from what in the end was a tame effort, yet this did not stop David Moyes being livid with the referee and his decision to end the game where he did. When in reality he should have been celebrating a fantastic result for his Everton side.
This raises the question of when should a referee blow the whistle for full time? I do not think it is right to blow the whistle exactly when the referee thinks the time has been played regardless to the position of play, due to the subjective nature of injury time allocation. I think that the rules regarding extra time should be changed regarding extra time to eliminate issues such as the one today and the confusion as to when the whistle should be blown.
I propose that the rules be changed so that injury time is decided as it is currently a minute before the end of the game and is stuck to the letter, however once the time has elapsed the game will end once the ball has gone out of play.
This is the system that is adopted in Rugby Union and is very effective whilst injuries and time wasting in injury time would not be added on it would make it clear when the game will end whilst accounting for the injuries and substitutions that slow down the game.
Ending the controversy of goals scored after the allotted injury time had elapsed and prevent incidences where the referee stops the game as a team in on the attack.
The downside to this change would be that there would be no additional time added for goals, injuries or substitutions in injury time, however this is additional time anyway and I think that clearer rules and less ambiguity would be better than the current system that breeds controversy and inconsistency.