In the second of 90 Minute Cynic’s Stat Attacks, Cynic Chris Boud looks at Howard Webb and his relationship to Manchester United. Is the former policeman biased in favour of the Red Devils or is the Yorkshireman unfairly treated by the envious rival fans of the EPL’s contemporary dominant force?
Howard Webb, a controversial figure. Considered by Fifa as one of the world’s top referees and by others, including myself, to be a rather poor official. When some vaunted his World cup final as a success I was confused as I had clearly seen things quite differently. One of the most common points raised when discussing Webb is his perceived bias in favour of Manchester United. Below I consider Howard Webb’s key impacts on Manchester United games. Looking at sending offs, penalties and match win/draw/loss rates. There are of course other factors which impact the beautiful game which the man in the middle can influence, however these where the easiest factors to quantify.
Figures compare Webb to the five referees that have officiated most Manchester United games. Figured include all games not just Premiership ties. Data accurate as of Sunday 21st October 2012 and sourced from the fantastic www.transfermarkt.co.uk/
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All in all it appears Howard Webb isn’t particularly biased towards Manchester United, in fact their loss rate is at it’s highest when he is officiating. He does seem keen to give penalties Manchester United’s way but as an attacking side it’s always likely that the nineteen times first division/Premier League champions are going to earn infractions in the box. However the smaller decisions in a match, which are much harder to quantify, can accumulate to suggest bias also. The label of Manchester United’s twelfth man is one that’s stuck and unlikely to go away anytime soon for the Fifa listed Referee.