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Newcastle United, Penalties, Red Cards and Lee Probert

7 years ago
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Who takes Newcastle’s penalty if we are awarded one on Sunday?

Newcastle haven’t had a penalty this season, yet there are several big candidates in with a shout should we get a spot kick at the Stadium of Light.

Penalty contender?

Our last penalty was actually awarded by Sunday’s referee, Lee Probert, against QPR at the end of last season.

That was scored – or rather smashed into the net – by Hatem Ben Arfa with the best Newcastle penalty for a long time.

Yet another current Newcastle player, Loic Remy, also scored a penalty for QPR that day against us although he had one saved for QPR against Fulham so might pass on the duties on Sunday.

Yohan Cabaye is a penalty specialist in our ranks. He hit 7 from the spot in one season in Lille during a season when he scored 15 total goals and was also their regular taker when they won the double in 2010/11.

He converted an effort against Southampton in Ben Arfa’s absence, though Hatem scored one in his absence against Spurs on the opening day of the season.

Shola Ameobi, of course, takes the world’s only 100% penalty scoring record from a serious no. of kicks (10 or more) into the game, since Mario Balotelli had a recent kick for Milan saved by Napoli’s former Liverpool ‘keeper Pepe Reina.

(Ricky Lambert missed one for another club before he started his amazing 32/32 run with Southampton.)

With that line-up, Newcastle should be primed for a penalty shoot-out should they face one against Manchester City in The League Cup and opponents in later rounds in that competition and The FA Cup.

Newcastle have a notoriously bad record in penalty shoot-outs – similar to England’s – yet Shola is a survivor of the club’s last meaningful shoot-out.

He scored his kick against Partizan Belgrade with the prize of a Champions League group stage place at stake, yet Alan Shearer of all people missed his along with Jonathan Woodgate, Kieron Dyer and Aaron Hughes.

Whether Shola will be on the pitch if and when Newcastle are awarded one depends on Alan Pardew’s team selection and whether referee Lee Probert sends him off, like he did in January.

Why the official who reffed both Gus Poyet’s Brighton victories over Newcastle to knock us out The FA Cup the past 2 years is in charge on Sunday is a question the club or Alan Pardew should be asking the PGMOB (Professional Game Match Officials Board).

There’s a good chance there will be a penalty on Sunday due to the involvement of Lee Probert, who is one of the Premier League’s more card happy referees and also gives lot of penalties.

Independent referees site www.refereeingdecisions.co.uk study all of the Premier League referees and their assessment of Probert is a pretty damning one.

In an article entitled ‘2012/13: Lee Probert. This is not acceptable’, they reveal in the 15 games they studied last season, he gave 14 penalties, only half (7) correctly awarded. More worryingly, of the 8 red cards he dished out in the 15 games studied, 7 were incorrectly given.

As a group of qualified referees, their work is to dispel the myth that ‘decisions even themselves out over the course of a season’ and prove there is noticeable bias towards certain clubs operating.

Worryingly, this is their analysis of Probert’s ‘leanings’:

“But if we look at teams like Southampton, Wigan, Sunderland, Manchester United and Norwich we see a very big bias in their favour.”

It’s likely Sunderland fans would disagree as he’s the man who sent off O’Shea in the Palace game earlier in the season and Sessegnon in the 6-1 loss to Villa last season, though the Poyet factor changes everything.

With Gus Poyet’s record against Newcastle – it was suspicious Probert got the second Brighton game in the first place last season – it’s totally against the odds that he should be the referee on Sunday.

Probert’s previous against Newcastle in the Cup/Poyet games includes not giving a late penalty from a blatant handball from a Cabaye shot in the first Brighton game and Shola’s dubious sending off in the second.

If the PGMOB attempt to even decisions up over the course of a season or even in games themselves, it explains some of the more extraordinary decisions seen in the game today.

The Arsenal fans who set up the Refereeing Decisions website are most concerned about Mike Dean refereeing their games as they have only an incredible 11% win record with him in charge.

They put pressure on Dean who was given the crucial Arsenal-Wigan game at the end of last season, though without their lobbying and subsequent media scrutiny, the spotlight might not have been on him as much to make the right calls and Newcastle should follow suit.

YopuMatch fixing is a naturally murky subject yet the worst decision of last season – Papiss Cisse was a yard onside with the 6 yard box line in between him and the last defender when he scored a rightful equaliser against Sunderland that was flagged off – kept our rivals in the League when events since have shown they clearly belong in The Championship.

Yes, it ended 3-0, yet the crucial moment in the game was the denied equaliser, one of many decisions Newcastle didn’t get from linesmen after Alan Pardew pushed one on the opening day of the season.

It should also be noted that while it only takes one decision to fix a match, be it a sending off or a disallowed goal, it is not always as obvious.

Booking an influential midfield tackler early is a way to stop a team.

Recall Cheick Tiote’s absolutely dominant performance in the Manchester United 3-0 win in 2011/2 then his soft early booking for a nothing challenge on Wayne Rooney by Howard Webb in the home game last season that effectively rendered him useless and Newcastle lost 0-3?

Cisse’s disallowed goal that game was proven later to be over the line and would have given Newcastle a fighting chance at 2-1.  Plus Cabaye was on the receiving end of a Robin Van Persie elbow that game as well, though unsurprisingly his assailant escaped a ban.

However, Cabaye was retrospectively banned for three matches after a tussle with Brighton’s Adam El-Abd which Lee Probert missed in the first Cup game he refereed.

Match-fixing expert Brian Tuohy has written a book about American sports in which he states that the NFL etc are not competitions of fair sporting play but grand showbiz manipulations designed to make the most money for all parties.

Super Sunday anyone? Amazing how the ‘Big Four’ are constantly pitted against each other on the same weekend as the title race hots up. A true ‘Champions League? Or up to 4 clubs from the big Leagues playing against sets of up to 4 teams from other big Leagues?

Cartel League is a more accurate description. Europa League football on a Thursday night is a way to ensure any teams threatening to break into the group find it an uphill struggle as their League campaigns naturally suffer as Swansea are the latest Premier League side to find out.

Back to the derby and ‘Lucky Black Cats Have 9th Life’ is not a headline I want to be reading on Sunday if there has been any dodgy decisions a la April, as they’ll be buried under the ‘Poyet Is Newcastle Scurge Again’ nonsense as it was last time under Paolo Di Canio’s ‘Charisma’.

Distraction is the name of the game in both magic and manipulation…

What I want on Sunday is for football to be the winner because if it is that means Newcastle United returning with 3 points and kicking on to a very good season. There is a gulf in class and organisation between the sides reflected in our mid-table standing and their current attempt to be the worst side in Premier League history. As Mark Douglas rightly pointed out this week in The Journal, form doesn’t go out the window in the derbies and if it’s a level playing field, we’ll win.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter @ultrastartime

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