Louis van Gaal has plenty else to worry about, but recently he complained that the referee blew for time too early. ‘We were on a counter attack,’ he said, ‘and he whistles, he did it also in the first half. I don’t think it’s fair.’
So should a referee await the outcome of an attack or would that be construed as favouritism? Surely as sole timekeeper; he should blow when his watch says time is up. That can still cause trouble as a couple of personal experiences will show.
Refereeing a Reading & District League match years ago, I gave the home team a corner and checked my watch. Five seconds to half time. The ball came over and was headed against the crossbar rebounding outside the penalty area. I had counted down the seconds. Time was up and I blew for half time. The ball however went to an attacker outside the area, who smashed it back into the goal. The home team were not happy as was walked back to the changing rooms. Too quick perhaps, but how many chances should I have let them have before blowing?
At a British Universities League match with fourteen seconds to go, there was a throw-in to the away side, who were one-nil down. The ball made its way into the home team’s penalty area where it bounced around before going out for a corner. I checked my watch, ten seconds over time, I blew my whistle. The away team were livid, feeling they were denied the chance of a draw, partly because they held the assumption that the game must be extended for a corner kick to be taken. Another case of players thinking they know the laws when they don’t. The only reason a referee can extend the game is for a penalty kick to be taken.
It’s less agro believe me, to blow at a neutral situation but it isn’t necessarily always the correct thing to do.