Home / EPL / Heurelho Gomes in the Wrong: Bottom Line


One of the most bizarre and controversial goals in English Premiere League history occurred on Saturday in a match between Manchester United and Tottenham. If you haven’t already seen or heard about it, I’ll give you a quick recap: With six minutes left in the game and United leading by a goal, Nani fell to the ground after a challenge by Tottenham defender Younes Kaboul. As he did, Nani intentionally handled the ball, which prompted Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to pick it up and place it on the ground in front of him in anticipation of a free-kick. The linesman signaled for a free kick, however the main referee, Mark Clattenburg, did not. With Gomes lined up to take a free kick that was non-existent, Nani looked to the Clattenburg, who signaled to “play on”. Nani quickly turned and pounded the ball into the net, igniting his best Michael Jordan tongue impression.

There are two schools of thought in this controversy:

1). Clattenburg was in the wrong for not realizing the intentional Nani handball. Although this is true and the handball was clearly intentional, a referee is only human. Clattenburg did not realize the infraction and had no reason to from the angle he stood. Clattenburg could have clearly looked to his linesman to see if a call needed to occur. However, he may have had in his mind that Nani was trying to buy a penalty kick from the Kaboul challenge. Clattenburg saw no wrong-doing from the Kaboul challenge and let play resume, much to the dissatisfaction of United players. Some will use this case as a further need for instant replay. I say nay. Players are always taught to play until the whistle sounds. No whistle was sounded, making the fault to be made on Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes

2). Gomes should have not assumed the call would be made. At a very young age, players are (or should be) instilled by coaches to play the game until the referee sounds the whistle. This basic fundamental thought slipped Gomes mind, and as a veteran keeper, is unacceptable. He ultimately let down his teammates by an assumption. Don’t get me wrong; a hold a bit of sympathy for the Brazilian international keeper. IF he had heard a whistle. Video only indicates his assumption that an infraction occurred, however. I could see a mistake occurring like this with a young goalkeeper with a mediocre team; not one in a Tottenham jersey. Clattenburg may have missed the call, but ultimately several calls are missed a game, and this was one of many in the match. Sir Alex Ferguson perhaps said it best: ““You can look at the referee and look at the linesmen and blame them, but the goalkeeper should know better. He’s an experienced goalkeeper.” “The referee played on because the goalkeeper had possession of the ball. So the goalkeeper has made an error. It was bizarre.” Bizarre indeed. But in reality, the goalkeeper’s fault.

Written by Chris Behrens, writer for soccerprose.com


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