We touched on this briefly in the weekend’s post-match discussion, but I think it’s worth revisiting. The subject of this article is something that occurs in almost all sports at almost all levels. It takes place in basketball, baseball, hockey, etc. But after watching association football for over 5 years now, I have to conclude that it probably happens more in our sport than in any other. I don’t think FC Bayern is any worse about it than any other club, but we certainly contribute our fair share.
The phenomenon I’m talking about is players stopping in the middle of a play to complain to the officials. Arguing with the referees is always a problem, in any sport. It’s impossible to avoid when you have guys flying around at high intensity and full contact - someone gets bumped, the official doesn’t think it was enough for a foul, and the victim gets angry. Or there’s minor contact, the official blows the whistle, and the guy who’s getting hit with a foul thinks it’s a cheap call. What I’m referring to, though, is more specific than just general “disagreeing with the call” - I’m talking about guys who actually STOP, while the ball is still in play, and turn around to wave their hands and glare at the officials. An example:
You'll have to fast-forward to 0:28 in that clip - I think there's a way to make the embed start at that time, but I haven't figured that out yet.
I criticized Rafinha for his failure to stick with the play, but it looks like Boateng and Badstuber are just as guilty. All three of them are waving their “he was offside” motion, rather than trying to hustle back and stop Kieβling from knocking home the rebound. Now, it’s unclear exactly what any of these 3 could have done, even if they’d been focused only on stopping the goal. Kieβling had the closest angle, and he might have scored anyway. Still - good things happen when you run hard and force the other team to execute. Maybe you could dive quick enough to get a piece of the ball. Maybe Kieβling gets flustered when he feels pressure closing in and shanks it. Hell, you could even have dragged him to the turf - with only 11 minutes left in the game, a red card is better than giving up a goal. Perhaps Neuer could have saved the penalty shot.
It’s worth noting that there are some instances in which you can POSSIBLY influence the official. The most common one is where the other team has committed a foul, the whistle has already blown, and a player is trying to convince the official to go further and book the other team’s player. In that instance, pushing toward the official and giving him the whole “hey, look at my teammate - he’s still down! Come on, you gotta give a card for that brutal kick” routine MIGHT work. I say “might,” because often that doesn’t work out either, but at least it’s possible. But there’s simply no way that, having already kept his flag down and allowed play to continue, the sideline official is going to now (3 or 4 seconds later) see Rafinha and Boateng waiving their hands around and say “you know what? You’re right - that was offside. I’m going to NOW raise the flag and go back and wipe that goal off the board.”
These three aren’t the only ones guilty, either. Müller had an awful “stop running to demand a foul call” play in our loss to Frankfurt in April of last year - I wrote about it here, but unfortunately the video has been removed. But it’s a big problem. Sure, there’s always a natural reaction to what you think is a bad call. But part of being a professional is learning to overcome those natural reactions and focusing on the task at hand. If it was truly a horrible call (doesn’t appear it was in the recent B04 match, by the way) then you can go make a stink about it afterward. But when the ball is bouncing around loose in the box, every defensive player in the area should be focused ONLY on clearing it.
Back tonight or tomorrow with some news items and maybe another interesting thing we’re working on. Also, by reader request, we’re going to try to get the Hoffenheim preview up by tomorrow night (Thursday) rather than Friday. So we should be posting at least three times between now and Sunday, including the Match Day Chat Box on Saturday morning. As always, stay tuned to our twitter feed at http://twitter.com/bayern_offside to be kept up to date. And thanks for reading.