A humorous take on Howard Webb's career for Manchester United.
Talk about last minute drama, talk about heroes who inspire their teams in desperate times, talk about the phrase “Cometh the hour Cometh the man” all leads to one leader for Manchester United. Howard Webb, the savior, the legend, the 12th man.
Webb has officiated or to be more precise played 16 games for the devils and has successfully lead his side to victory on no less than 13 occasions, that’s 82% win rate. Perhaps that’s the most prolific record no other United player holds. He hopes to maintain that level of performance for years despite being the oldest member of the squad.
Although Webb is famous for his shiny head but he can’t head the ball in for united, never mind he lets his whistle do the talking to provide United with plenty of penalty kicks in crucial circumstances. Howard Webb has issued 10 of his 54 penalties to Man Utd. More than 18% and remarkably 10 penalties in 16 games. Ferguson showered praise on his star player and claimed:
"He's just too important for us, his ratio of games played to penalties given is almost one per match, which are amazing stats. We hope he stays fit."
In January 2011, Webb played iconic role in defeating rivals Liverpool in FA Cup. The man in black gave away first minute penalty to United for Berbatov dive in the box. Replays indicate that Berbatov falls to the ground in an exaggerated fashion and show that Webb linesman did not signal that any foul took place. Above that he made sure that there are no last minute screamers coming in from Steven Gerrard to steal the show so Webb showed him the door to settle the match there and then.
Babel was fined by the FA for posting a picture of Webb wearing United shirt, but that’s not the only incident about United-Webb love affair. December 2010 vs Arsenal , a nonexistent hand ball by Gael Clichy, and web rubber stamped his assistant call to award United penalty. March 2010 vs Liverpool, replays clearly indicated that Javier Macherano tackled Valencia outside the box but the eagle eyes of Webb saw it was inside. United then equalized and eventually won 2-1.
On at least 2 occasions United have come back to get a result after being 2 or more goals down, both times with their opening goal being a ridiculous penalty decision awarded by Howard Webb.
First In April 2009 vs Tottenham, Heurelho Gomes challenged United's Michael Carrick for the ball; Webb judged that Gomes fouled Carrick without any hesitaton although replays suggested that keeper won the ball. United were trailing 2-0 with barely half an hour left to play when Webb 'who was almost 35 yards away, and behind play' awarded a penalty that perhaps secured them the title. Spurs crumbled and United went on to win 5-2.
Jermain Jenas claimed
"One thing which struck me about it was that he didn't even think. It was like he'd already made his mind up when he came out for the second half that he was going to give something"
More recently vs Chelsea, where Villas Boas men comfortably lead United 3-0 and Webb again won the limelight and rescued United from turmoil awarding them 2 penalties in space of 10 minutes to become a legendary figure.
Alex Ferguson has guaranteed Webb full support and praise in the post-match interviews that he never hesitates to give away any decision in favor of United. Here are few examples.
- Ferguson applauded Webb's decision to award penalty when Mascherano clearly tackled Valencia outside the box. Moreover Fergie claimed Argentine should have been off for that challenge.
- September 2010 when United won 3-2 against Liverpool. Fergie secured Howard Webb’s image, taking away all the blame from him by claiming “Liverpool depended on decisions from the linesman to get back in the game”
- Drawing 3-3 at Stamford Bridge Ferguson thought that Webb had got all the decisions spot on. He also claimed that Gary Cahill should have been sent off for the challenge on Wellbeck but to no surprise he said ”I don’t blame Howard Webb, I blame the assistant”
Okay. Back to Webb’s performances. April 2008 vs Arsenal, Gunners leading 1-0 when Howard Webb steps up to award “of course a penalty”. Fair play to him as Gallas handed the ball but 10 minutes later Web awarded Free-kick from which Hargreaves scored the winner for the devils. Replays clearly indicate that Gilberto did not make any contact in the tackle.
February 2009 vs Blackburn, Final seconds of the game and United winning 2-1, Webb went blind when Rafael clearly pulled back Pederson’s shirt to bring him down. No penalty obviously.
"It would have to be pretty blatant to get a penalty at Old Trafford. We all know that"
Howard Webb is proud of his performances for United. Asked about why he has not scored a goal yet. Webb replied:
"At times I think about taking the penalty myself, but then I let one of the other lads take the glory for a change. It's a team sport after all, and I get embarrassed when people tell me I single-handedly win all the games I get picked to play in."
With just 16 appearances for the devils, Howard Webb has turned into a super star. The legendary Giggs is close to retirement but the United faithful need not worry as Webb has no plans of retiring until his name is written in the United’s folklore forever.