Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Manchester Derby and the Penalty that Wasn't Given.

I hope this blog isn't starting to look like a Chris Foy bashing arena,but the Lancastrian referee has been involved in one contentious decision after another and therefore he makes great copy for my win probability model.It's very easy but ultimately too simplistic to add or subtract goals that should or shouldn't have been given to the final match score in an attempt to quantify the effect dubious decision have had on a game. Unless a goal's wrongly given or allowed with the very last kick of a game,the correct approach is to see how the various alternative scenarios would have changed each team's chances of winning,losing or drawing the game as they stood immediately prior to the incident.This approach is particularly pertinent when dealing with penalties,around a quarter of them are missed,so it's wrong to even suggest that a penalty awarded is a goal guaranteed.

Obviously the biggest talking point to arise from the Manchester derby is the dismissal of Kompany for his reckless two footed lunge/superbly timed Bobby Mooresque tackle.(Delete appropriate to you allegiances).The incident has been dealt with here and it certainly swung the game massively in United's favour.Their position in the game immediately following the red card was the equivalent of playing City 11 vs 11,but with at least a two goal lead rather than the one goal lead they actually had at the time.

However,an equally decisive moment came in the 82nd minute when Phil Jones intercepted Kolarov's cut back cross.The ball struck his leg,spun up onto his outstretched arm and went behind for the awarded corner with City trailing 2-3.Again opinions are probably split between neutrals and City fans who thought it was a penalty and United fans who saw no intent on Jones' behalf.The suspicion was that Foy was unable to make a decision because neither he or his far touchline assistant had an unobstructed view of the incident.If he had been better placed a penalty wouldn't have been too surprising a outcome.A potential verdict that Jones was sufficiently concerned about to indicate that the ball hit his chest (virtually the only part of his body the ball didn't hit).

Alternative Realities for the 82nd Minute in the Manchester Derby.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the non decision,United were massive favourites immediately prior to Kolarov's cross.Despite introducing a ring rusty,racehorse owner,whose last competitive gallop had been eight months previously,United still led by a goal,still had a man advantage and the clock was ticking.A draw was unlikely,a Man City come from behind victory was still hugely improbable and their previous heroics still required a 1 in 200 series of events for them to record an astonishing come from behind victory.

Had Mr Foy,seen Jones' arm come into contact with the ball and had he felt kindly disposed towards City,a United victory would still have remained the most likely outcome of three as Foy blew his whistle to award a spot kick,but the chances of a replay would have leaped to almost coin toss levels.To make the draw the favoured outcome,City needed to score the penalty,presumably through the boot of Milner as most of their regular penalty takers were either injured,on loan or on a beach.They would however,have still remained the outsiders to take the game in the remaining eight minutes plus stoppage time.....although from the situation of 3-3 the miracle turnaround was now merely unlikely compared to massively improbable.

All in all another game changing call of huge proportions with no definitively right or wrong decision,especially given the compromised sight lines.Graham Poll in his Daily Mail column thought it was a penalty,so I'm inclined to think this was one call Mr Foy got right.

Of course had Chris Foy awarded Manchester United a 62nd minute penalty when Kolarov bundled into Valencia,two minutes before City's second goal.........but there's a limit to the number of times even the most unfortunate of refs are put through the win probability wringer.

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