Ferguson has point regarding injury time
Published: 14.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
Sir Alex Ferguson was derided for his comments at the weekend about injury time, and perhaps it is no surprise.
The number of times Manchester United have scored late, late goals into what has been called ‘Fergie Time’ means that many will have observed his comments with irony and scorn.
But think about what he said for a few moments and it is hard to disagree with the substance of his argument. Manchester United were battling to get back into their game against Tottenham, trailing 3-2. Tottenham time wasted as much as possible, taking their time over goal kicks, substitutions etc. They do not deserve criticism for this – every single team would do the same, United included. The problem is that Tottenham are able to do this within the rules.
The same thing happened in the Arsenal v Chelsea match earlier in the day. Arsenal, battling to get back into the game, were frustrated by among other things, Chelsea players falling over easily and taking their time over the subsequent free kick, essentially time wasting.
Again, no particular criticism should be aimed at Chelsea, and Arsenal would certainly do the same if the tables were turned. But it is ridiculous that time wasting can thrive without being checked. On average, the ball is actually in play for little more than an hour, despite matches being meant to last 90 minutes. Referees add on injury time to make up for time lost, but in effect this is never adequate. True injury time would be more like 30 minutes, rather than 3. A game where one team is wasting time is the complete opposite of what football is supposed to be about. Hockey, to compare sports, uses the more sensible policy of stopping the clock when the ball is out of play. As a result, games last for a full 70 minutes, as they are meant to. When the game reaches the final seconds of the 70 minutes, that is it. No injury time – they do not need it, the clock would have been stopped for such a thing.
It is eminently more sensible. In hockey, time wasting just does not exist, because it can not. There is no point taking your time over free hits or penalty corners, or any other set piece, because you gain no advantage. But in football, taking your time over a free kick, or falling over and taking half a minute to get up gains a real competitive advantage.
Some say Manchester United should look at themselves, and why they played so badly in the first half against Tottenham. But that misses the point entirely. United may have played badly for 45 minutes, but a match is not supposed to last for just one half. It lasts 90 minutes. United got no where near the 90 minutes they are meant to be allowed in the rules to win the match. This happens every week, many many times across leagues across the world. It is about time common sense prevailed and some kind of rule which stops the clock was brought in to rid the game of time wasting. It is fundamentally anti-football, and against the spirit of the game.