With every Premier League weekend, it seems, comes additions to the pile of evidence that goal-line technology – introduced with such a fanfare at the start of the season – was a most inadequate solution to referees’ difficulties in an age of intense television scrutiny.
Events at Stamford Bridge on Saturday provided an especially vivid illustration. While the HawkEye equipment lay expensively dormant as usual, a mistake that could easily have been addressed by a television monitor in the stands was allowed to stand, leaving Anthony Taylor and fellow match officials to cringe in embarrassment, presumably, as it was explained on Match Of The Day several hours later.
Forget the frustration of Jose Mourinho over Cardiff City’s time-wasting, which led to Taylor banishing the Chelsea manager from the dugout for the last quarter; the real injustice was done to the visitors and their goalkeeper, David Marshall, who had the ball flicked away from him by Samuel Eto’o as he bounced it, allowing Eden Hazard to equalise and help Mourinho’s side to an ultimately handsome 4-1 victory.
Malky Mackay consulted the laws afterwards and confirmed that the ball is deemed in the goalkeeper’s control if he bounces it. So the goal should have been disallowed and a free-kick awarded against Eto’o. But the damage had been done and Mackay could hardly hide his scorn for the officials’ apparent explanation that they believed Marshall had mistakenly dropped the ball as Eto’o approached him.
The views of Taylor and colleagues were not, of course, directly obtainable as they are not allowed to discuss decisions. It is, however, known that many referees would welcome the privilege of advice from an assistant with a monitor and only last week Mark Halsey, the former Premier League official now working as an analyst for BT Sport, lent his support to the view that they remain at a disadvantage to the watching millions in every matter except whether or not the ball has crossed the goal-line.
Taylor, meanwhile, is likely to face a weekend off as punishment for a poor performance. Mackay, who was careful to restrict his description of the error as ‘’disappointing’’, should avoid a fine.
In most other respects, Cardiff could be proud of themselves, taking an early lead through Jordon Mutch, who declined to buy the most foolish of dummies from David Luiz and ran past the Chelsea defender to dink the ball past Petr Cech. Luiz made several other misjudgements in the match, at least one of which should have brought a second yellow card. His impetuous style can, as Mutch proved, be little more than an invitation to opponents and England, along with all Brazil’s other potential foes in the World Cup, can only take encouragement from this latest demonstration.
Maybe the England man Gary Cahill, an unused substitute for his club on Saturday, will be given a chance in Germany, where Chelsea meet Schalke in the Champions League tomorrow. It will be interesting to see whether Mourinho believes Luiz, as well as Taylor, could do with a day off.Reuse content