Date: 3rd January 2013 at 10:54am
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The Tuckster gives his thoughts on the officiating at Upton Park…

Rather than do a regular standard type match report, I thought I`d take a look at some of the big decisions from the loss away at West Ham.

Both teams were in a little slump before kick off so it was clearly a match that both clubs would be looking to win.

Both teams were missing influential players through either injury or suspension, but it was the officiating of this match that took all the headlines.

The referee, Mark Clattenburg has had a tough last few months after the scandalous allegations levelled at him by Chelsea FC.

With those allegations found unproven he has moved on and regained his place as one of the Premier League referees with, how can I describe it? Let`s just say he has a higher profile.

Howard Webb also has a high profile but the two men are poles apart in term of their refereeing style and dare I say it, in my opinion, their ability to referee a game of football.

Within 90 seconds of the kick off at West Ham, Norwich were one nil down to a Mark Noble penalty.

This was the worst possible start for City and the award of the penalty by Clattenburg was to be frank, a joke.

If we analyse the “foul” we see two strong players in Ryan Bennett and Winston Reid tussling to win the ball. Both are using bodily force on the other in an attempt to win a high ball and get an advantage.

Bennett has hold of Reid`s shirt and Reid is using his arms and elbows Bennett in the neck. Now, shirt pulling is an offence in football and if a player escapes his opponent and is tugged back by the shirt then that`s fair enough.

What went on here was what goes on up and down the country in every single match, every single week. Whenever a high ball comes into the penalty box at either end of the field, players are contesting it and push and pull each other to get an advantage.

There has been a lot of debate about this recently and I heard Keys and Grey talking on the subject a few weeks ago. You could stop it all if the referees announced that fouls and penalties would be given for such offences.

But they haven`t and I will guarantee you that the same thing will have been happening at other games and not been penalised.

All anyone wants is consistency. Clattenburg set a standard for himself within 90 seconds that he then failed to keep up for the rest of the game.

I know refereeing is a tough gig and I know they only have one chance to look at an incident and we have endless replays to analyse but they need to be consistent.
There were other contentious moments in the match too. In the lead up to West Ham`s second goal, Carlton Cole flattened Alex Tettey and landed on his back which left the big man laying in a heap on the ground.

Was it a foul or not? I`d probably say it wasn`t but “I`ve seen them given.”

Next came a handball shout in the West Ham area where Reid handled the ball under pressure from Bassong. Was that a foul? Maybe, maybe not, “I`ve seen them given.”

The next issue though surrounded James Tomkins` challenged from behind on Harry Kane. The City striker had got goal side of Tomkins and was in the area racing onto the ball when Tomkins brought him down by a kick to his calf.

Kane would`ve got a shot away if he had not been challenged and it was a “clear goal scoring opportunity”, yet nothing was given.

Did Clattenburg think he`d dived? Why would you dive in that position? It was an appalling decision. If he thought it was a dive then he should be booking Harry but he didn`t do that either. Perhaps he was worried about having to send a player off? Because if Tomkins was penalised, that would have to be outcome.

Again, all anyone wants is consistency.

The bottom line is though that in the first half, regardless of suspect officiating, City were second best. With both Holt and Morison missing through injury, Norwich were light up front and lacked presence and power.

Harry Kane is a willing runner but lacks the strength and presence to be a lone striker at this point in his career. Don`t get me wrong, he looks a very good prospect but he needs to get a bit stronger (he`s only 19) and more experience will help him develop.

Vaz Te hit a post and Carlton Cole had (another) shout for miss of the season when he put the ball over the bar from three yards out.

It wasn`t until the second half and the later introductions of Elliot Bennett and Simeon Jackson that City began to threaten and by the time Russell Martin scored a cracking volley, it was too little too late.

Afterwards, Robert Snodgrass tweeted “The referee kills the game. If that`s a pen you will need to give 100 pens a season, small decisions change games.”

And that sums it up nicely – if all the referees got together under instruction from the top to penalize such things then they would be eradicated from the game but that hasn`t happened, yet.

Clattenburg made a one man stand within 90 seconds and then refused to penalize a much more straight forward decision for Tomkins` foul on Kane.

I`m annoyed by the decisions that have cost us a chance to get something from the game. I know these comments are all “ifs and buts” but without the penalty award, regardless of any near misses, headers against posts, failure to award further penalties etc we would have got a point, despite not being great, particularly in the first half.

We now have a break from League action which will hopefully allow Holt and Morison time to recover. Holt`s absence in particular has been a big blow for us and shows how much we miss him.

Over the last three and a half seasons he has been almost invincible and rarely missed any games through injury. Remember when he played and scored against Forest in a 2-1 win just days after the report of a hamstring strain?

His loss over the Christmas matches has been a blow to the Canaries and if he was on the pitch against Man City, I think the result may have been different.

What it does underline though is the small margins involved in football and that we are threadbare up front now that Morison, who is not everyone`s cup of tea, is also injured.

At least the transfer window is open and although we are linked with everyone and anyone and David McNally says we haven`t bid for any players yet, Chris Hughton has acknowledged in the press that a striker or two are on his agenda.

As I`ve said before, this is in my opinion the hardest type of player to buy and fingers crossed Hughton can get the man or men he wants.

On to Peterborough, who are on a great run themselves and a chance to heal a few aches and strains before the real business starts again at home to Newcastle.