LONDON: Michel Platini has received an endorsement of his doom-and-gloom prophecy about goal-line technology by Sir Alex Ferguson’s weekend demand that time-keeping be taken out of the referee’s hands (or wrists).
UEFA’s president had criticised the summer approval of goal-line technology by the International Board on the grounds that this set the game off on a slippery slope.
As if to prove the point, up stepped the Manchester United manager after his team’s 3-2 home defeat by Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday. Match official Chris Foy played four additional minutes in the second half but even the so-called ‘Fergie time’ was not enough on this occasion.
Ferguson said: “It is a flaw in the game that referees are responsible for time-keeping. It is nearly 2013 and the referee still has control of that. They gave four minutes. It is an insult. It is ridiculous. It is denying you the proper chance to win the football match.
“There were six substitutions and the trainer came on. That is four minutes right away. The goalkeeper must have wasted two minutes. They took their time at every goal kick. That was obvious to everyone.”
Equally obvious is that Andre Villas-Boas is starting to make inroads at last among the doubters who questioned his appointment in the summer. Many fans were upset at seeing Harry Redknapp dismissed at the end of last season, even though Spurs had fallen away badly and thus missed out narrowly on a Champions League place.
The arrival of Villas-Boas was not greeted with great enthusiasm, either, after his failure at Chelsea to understand the man-management qualities needed to draw the best out of a Premier League squad of big egos.
After Tottenham managed only two points from their opening three games speculation even began to appear in the newspaper gossip columns and on fan websites that AVB – his popular nickname – was three bad results from dismissal.
Of course Tottenham denied all this but the shadow of doubt remained – until Saturday. To go away to Manchester United and win 3-2, at Old Trafford where Spurs have been both unlucky and unsuccessful since 1989, was a magnificent result – and a relief, even if Villas-Boas would not say so.
Victory was not achieved without difficult even after goals from Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale gave Tottenham a 2-0 interval lead. Substitute Wayne Rooney crossed for Nani to score, Clint Dempsey struck again for Spurs then Robin Van Persie set up Shinji Kagawa to end a dramatic exchange of three goals in four minutes.
United thundered forward in pursuit of an equaliser which would not come. Rooney and Michael Carrick hit the posts and Van Persie wasted one other outstanding opening.
Villas-Boas said: “We wrote history for our team. The players really felt they could snatch a win here and the overall performance was an expression of that desire and ambition, though in different ways. In the first half, we attacked and kept the ball; in the second, we defended.”
The Portuguese has set a target this season for Spurs to qualify for the Champions League and to win a cup. He can now lay claim to the achievement of a victory which upset Sir Alex Ferguson.
As Michel Platini warned: “Once we half technology on the goal line people will want it for many other things as well. It will never end.”
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