By Walter Broeckx
This article is part of the series of the Referee Review 2013. You can find links to earlier articles on the bottom of this article.
Next ref in our series that is being presented in alphabetical order we have ref Howard Webb. Howard Webb did 30 games in the PL last season and that is the highest number of them all. A bit fitting for the ref that is regarded as the best ref in England by the PGMOL and the authorities.
We managed to review 14 of his games and that is 46,67% of the games that Webb has done last season. 14 games is a good number and it is the 6th highest number of games we reviewed from all the refs. So we should be able to see some interesting things in the numbers we are going to show.
So how many correct decisions did Webb made according to our panel of ref reviewers?
Web had to make 2036 decisions in the 14 games we reviewed. 1773 of those decisions were judged correct by our reviewers and this has as a result that he had 87,08% correct decisions in total.
Of course by now you know that judging them as correct is not the same as being correct completely. When we can’t judge a call or when we are not 100% sure he made a mistake we call the decision correct. But it might be that if we had had other angles we might have seen that the call could have been incorrect. So in general the numbers could be even flattering the refs but this goes for all the refs and not the refs we are looking at today.
With this number of correct calls we can say that Webb certainly is not the best around but he is more a mid-table ref in our referee table that we will show later on in these series. No bad but not great either. We see one thing that pleases me a lot but I will go in to detail a bit more when we look at the important decisions. So I will take you there right away as we see something that should be seen with each ref if possible.
If we look at the total of important decisions we see that Howard Webb had to make 958 decisions and some 716 were correct. That is a total of 74,74% correct important decisions. Just as with the overall decisions this is not the best but certainly not the worst set of numbers. And it is a better score than he got last year.
If we go in detail and for this time I will start with the bad numbers we see that he had some troubles with the red cards, the second yellow cards and also he made a few errors when it came to penalty decisions. But compared to others the 50% correct/incorrect penalty decisions is not a complete disaster. Of course it is a disaster but we have seen worse numbers and then after a while you get so used to it that you start accepting numbers that are unacceptable.
The foul/free kick decisions are a bit middle of the road also which means too low for me to call it good but not a complete disaster. And the same can be said about his yellow cards. He can produce some good yellow cards decisions but he seems to be hesitant to produce a second one or a red card. That is how it looks when I look at his numbers.
But I have kept the best for last. Because if we look at his goal decisions we see that he has got a 100% correct score. And that is how things should be in every game with every ref. Webb didn’t need outside help to achieve this and this is maybe why he is considered such a good ref. And judging by these numbers we can only praise him for this. There are not even a handful refs who got such a score is something I can tell you right now already. So it is something to be proud of if I would have been in his shoes. But that doesn’t wipe out the other numbers that could and maybe should have been better for what is considered the best ref in the PL.
Let us now see if we can see some trends when we look at who was on the good end of his mistakes and who suffered more. The bias table from Webb:
We now see that Webb had a few teams with almost no bias at all. We see Everton, Newcastle, Tottenham with a small bias in their favour or against. And Liverpool and Stoke with a zero bias. The score for Chelsea is also a rather marginal negative bias. So those teams can look back at games where Dean didn’t influence the result at first sight.
Teams who benefited most from the mistakes from Webb are West Ham United and Manchester City with a firm positive bias. And then we have the team many expected to have an even bigger positive bias Manchester United. The bias Manchester United had this season was bigger than last season. But the team with the biggest positive bias was to many people surprise: West Bromwich Albion.
Teams who suffered from his mistakes were Reading to a lesser extent. And then we have Arsenal who has the same bias against them as last season when Webb was in charge. But top of the negative list is Southampton. They do seem to have a terrible record when Webb is around.
FINAL CONCLUSION: Webb has an exceptional goal decisions number and I wish this would have been the same for all refs in the PL. That way we could close our shop and say that refs are doing a great job. But the fact that his other numbers weren’t so great shows that it is not just about getting the goals correct (even though it is important of course).