Howard Webb: flawed master or Manchester United fan disguised as top ref?

howard webb

At another place, I have written a profile of Louis van Gaal. In it, I refer to the global Manchester United fan base – how many of those 75m or 330m, take your pick, “supporters” have the faintest idea where Manchester is? – to whom winning is regarded as a natural right.

If those supporters happened to include the top referee in England, how much easier it would be to ensure the wins kept coming.

So Howard Webb’s decision to end his career as a matchday referee (he becomes technical director of the refereeing body, Professional Game Match Officials Ltd) has inspired a procession of United-haters at Twitter. OK, and a few wits too.

The Indie chose these among other examples …

For the record, I admire Webb. He struck me as being a sensible, intelligent referee who handled games well.

The supposed pro-MUFC bias is a simple invention, great stuff for down the bar but devoid of logic or serious proof.

Of course, like just about everyone else, he made mistakes at work and some of these may have benefited ManU.

Two examples that worked against Sunderland: the laughable penalties awarded at Newcastle United (confirming Steven Taylor as a cheat) and the Stadium of Light (Everton’s Leon Osman inventing a foul when no one was near him and he kicked the turf before the obligatory theatrical fall). These did not lead me to assume Webb was somehow anti-Sunderland. NUFC fans will produce examples from the fist of the 3-0 demolitions at SJP of his decisions favouring SAFC.

Nor did I think he had such a dreadful game in the 2010 World Cup final. He may regret not dismissing Nigel de Jong but the fact is that the Netherlands presented such a thuggish game plan that night, one that Spain increasingly copied as the match wore on, that a zealous ref would have ended up with three or four a side.

Footballers notoriously make many, many more mistakes than match officials. I shall remember Webb as a fine ref, flawed as he may have been. I naturally expect plenty of Salut! Sunderland readers to differ.

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6 thoughts on “Howard Webb: flawed master or Manchester United fan disguised as top ref?”

  1. I highly rated Webb too!
    The first time I remember him reffing us was in the play-off final (3rd to 2nd, or 1st to Championship, depending on your age) at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium against Cardiff at the end of the 2002-03 season. 0-0 at full time, we lost 0-1 in extra time (By the way, I’m a QPR fan, for those reading this who don’t know me).
    At the match I thought he made numerous incorrect decisions, in the heat of the moment, he was rubbish…
    A mate videoed the match for me, and when I looked back at it, much more calm, obviously, and I couldn’t see a single error from him in the 2 hours of football, he was that good!
    Also, he stayed in the same hotel as a couple of other mates and they had a long chat with him, and gave great feedback about how he saw the match itself.
    Most matches watched objectively since, and he was pretty good, and true, the odd mistake, which only goes to prove he is human. A decent ref among many poorer refs, yep, he was pretty good!

  2. 25 years of Howard Webb. More than enough for anyone you’d have thought, (although clearly not for the illiterate).

    Good riddance to him. Back to the police force is it nicking people speeding?

  3. No just a bunch of bitter sad bastard Abu,s. Jealous and poathetjc to the core coz no one coudle stop ferrvie,s dominance’s so they abuse an Rotherham fan, who in fact, favoured Liverpool over most.

    Webb was seen several times at lpfc dhes and pubs, singing anti mufc songs n pro LFC one but ppl never wanna acknowledge that.

  4. Agree with all that you say about him. He set very high standards in his early days but later on I always felt that he refereed to his image. None better on his best days.

    • He just appeared to ape the actions of Graham Poll, who was another who concerned himself with his “image” rather than concentrating upon what he was employed to do!

      • This is fairly common with people doing a good job who have celebrity thrust upon them. In cricket think of Dickie Bird and David Shepherd who both became parodies of themselves once the media picked up on their idiosyncracies. They still did a decent job mind you but Shepherd’s hopping on 111 became more and more exaggerated as time went on and Harold became more of an exhibitionist the more he was in the spotlight.

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