Sunday, May 04, 2008
First case: Michael Essien's spectacular strike against Liverpool early in extra time in this week's Champions League semi-final second leg. The "goal" was ruled out because, in the referee's opinion, Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal had been unsighted by two Chelsea players in offside positions.
I believe the referee made the right decision in this case, but there have been other cases when straightforward, solo goals have been ruled out due to players "unsighting" the goalkeeper. A few years back, a stunning strike by Roberto Carlos for Real Madrid was ruled out due to the offside position of some other attackers, but the idea that they had been interfering with the goalkeeper's line of vision was, in that instance, patently absurd.
Then there was the case of Danny Tiatto, in his Manchester City days, slashing through the Middlesbrough defence and scoring a peach of a goal in a tense Premiership game. Again, it was ruled out due to another player's offside position...despite the fact that, not only was the goal scored from only a few yards, but the player in question was virtually outside the goalkeeper's possible line of vision.
It's this sort of passive offside that is so often noticed. But there is another, more subtle type, which is frequently ignored.
Second case: Pippo Inzaghi's first goal of a very fine hat-trick against Livorno last weekend.
Here's what happens: Clarence Seedorf threads the ball through to Kaka on the left, and the latter crosses nicely for Inzaghi - positioning himself intelligently as always - to tap in at the far post. Kaka is onside when Seedorf plays the initial pass...so what's the problem?
The problem is that Inzaghi is offside, not when Kaka crosses to him, but when Seedorf plays the initial pass. And the speed of the move is such that Inzaghi gains a significant advantage from his original offside position. This is the sort of case where "passive" offside is actually no such thing, but the play is rarely called back in such circumstances. There was a similar goal in a Manchester United v. Leeds Premiership game some years ago, Dwight Yorke being the "passive" offsider on that occasion.
The current trend of not signalling offside until the offsider has touched the ball is not helping. To my mind, this convention is largely pointless and only leads to confusion and wasting of time. Additionally, though, it seems to be encouraging teams to hope for a continuation of play even when the ball has obviously been played forward to a player in an offside position.
And this brings me to my third case: the Bankstown v. Blacktown NSW Premier League game this afternoon.
Midway through the second half, with Bankstown 3-0 ahead, the ball is played up to Blacktown's centre-forward Chris Bedzo. He is many yards offside, and both he and the Bankstown defenders relax. Yet there is no immediate call...because Bedzo has not touched the ball.
Suddenly, Blacktown's Jordan Simpson comes charging forward from midfield, racing for the ball. Of course, the whistle comes, the play is called back. Absolutely correct, since the initial ball was clearly aimed for Bedzo.
Yet the Blacktown players assail the referee with complaints. The indignation is incredible!
This unreasonable expectation that the play should be continued even in situations like this is directly attributable, in my view, to the "not 'til he's touched it" convention. For obvious reasons, if a ball has been played forward in the direction of the player furthest forward and that player is offside, the play should be called back. It is palpably unfair on the defending side otherwise.
In the cases you mention Inzaghi is given the opportunity to get back onside and the defenders should do their job and mark him or at least watch him and in the other case (though I did not see it) it seems like Bedozo by refusing to touch the ball (I'm asuming) revomed himself from play. Again the defenders should do their job and chase down the ball dame as they would have to if no-one was there. Bedozo and Inzaghi do gain an advantage from being offside but can't touch the ball until back in an offside position and regardless the defenders should be watching them anyway especially as attackers will be given the benefit of the doubt.
I like the rule because it encourages attacking play (in theory) and forces defenders to do some work instead of standing with their arms up appealing to the assistant ref when they are outplayed. It might be my rage against this sight that mostly supports my view that and my dislike of the offside trap which I feel is a poor tactic at least from a spectators point of view.
The foward was offside, but walking back, and the through-ball going nicely to the midfielder running through. The defence was completely at sea. I'm guessing the referee (who had a good consistent game) called it because of how close the ball was to the forward.
The linesman flagging non-existent infractions didn't help either, though... ;)
Forwards shouldn't be wandering back. Defenders must have one eye on them
But he's offside at the moment that the ball is played forward, and his offside position ends up conferring an advantage on him.
IMO the best procedure in situations like that would be to wait until the passage of play has finished, and only call the play back if the furthermost player has gained an advantage from his offside position. In this case, that did indeed occur.
...in the other case (though I did not see it) it seems like Bedozo by refusing to touch the ball (I'm asuming) revomed himself from play. Again the defenders should do their job and chase down the ball dame as they would have to if no-one was there....
The problem is (and I speak from experience here), it forces the defenders to think about two separate offside "lines", which is impossible to manage as a group, or even as a centre-half pairing.
If a forward is leisurely jogging back after a free kick or something, that's different, but if he's simply strayed into an offside position and the defenders are keeping an eye on him, then it is simply unreasonable for the defenders to have to watch for others behind him who might beat the offside trap if the attacker suddenly decides to withdraw himself from the play. That's just common sense, IMHO.
...The foward was offside, but walking back, and the through-ball going nicely to the midfielder running through. The defence was completely at sea. I'm guessing the referee (who had a good consistent game) called it because of how close the ball was to the forward....
If it's as you describe, then I reckon the ref's call was 100% fair.
...Sorry but as an old stager I think the old offside is much preferable as it is vastly more transparent. Forwards shouldn't be wandering back. Defenders must have one eye on them...
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