FOOTBALL: Michael Duberry column

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew (centre) sounds off to opposite number Manuel Pellegrini after Cheick Tiote’s goal was controversially disallowed for offside during the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew (centre) sounds off to opposite number Manuel Pellegrini after Cheick Tiote’s goal was controversially disallowed for offside during the Magpies’ 2-0 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday

First published in Sport
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

It used to be a standing joke that women didn’t know what the ‘offside’ law was, but finally football has brought sexual equality into the game because now NOBODY knows what the offside law is!

After a perfectly good goal from Newcastle United’s Cheick Tiote against Manchester City was disallowed on Sunday, it has left me and many others confused about the offside law and when it comes into play.

A player is in an offside position when closer to the opponent’s goalline than both the ball and the second-to-last defender (which is usually the last outfield player), and also in the opponent’s half of the pitch.

Basically, that is a brief explanation of offside, but we all know it’s not that simple.

There is a lot more to the ‘official’ explanation, but the one part that caused such controversy on Sunday was the part that explains interfering with an opponent.

That involves preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements, or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.

That explanation must have been the interpretation referee Mike Jones applied when he disallowed the Tiote goal, deeming that Yoan Gouffran must have been interfering with Joe Hart’s line of vision.

Anyone who saw the goal must realise that the only thing that interfered with Hart’s line of vision was the smoke coming off the thunderbolt that nestled neatly in the top corner.

There are times when offside is obvious, but on Sunday it wasn’t and was left to the interpretation of the referee which caused the frustration.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew’s reaction was a mix of both frustration and anger which led to some regrettable behaviour.

He got into a touchline exchange with the Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini and went over the top by verbally abusing his opposite number.

That incident left Pardew with ONLY a telling-off from the FA, but I think his apology to Pellegrini influenced their decision. It also helped that it was accepted.

How would you feel seeing your team manager having a touchline spat with his opposite number?

Do you want him to show emotion or keep his cool?

I love the emotion in football and it’s the very best managers and players who know how to control and use it.

Maybe nowadays, most managers want to have a cool touchline demeanour, dressed in their fitted suits and wearing poker faces.

In a game where there is a thin line between success and failure, it’s not surprising that emotions run high and sometimes get out of control.

All in all, the confusion of the offside rule, disallowed goals and touchline bust-ups are some of the reasons why we love this game so much.

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