WORDS and plenty of them are perhaps to be expected when a man called Shakespeare comes to town.
In that respect, Huddersfield Town extending their unbeaten start to life in the Premier League on home soil did not disappoint with much of the extensive post-match chatter not making comfortable listening for linesman Scott Ledger.
His decision to flag for offside against Elias Kachunga despite Andy King and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel standing between the Terriers man and the goal-line cost the home side a precious two points. It also brought condemnation from all sides, with even Leicester City manager Craig Shakespeare admitting: “We have had bad decisions go against us (in the past) but this one probably went for us.”
Town counterpart David Wagner only discovered after the final whistle via a video replay just how hard done to his side had been by Ledger’s raised flag. However, despite a mixture of frustration and fury being etched across the German’s face as he headed down the tunnel, the 45-year-old refuses to join the clamour for video assistant referees to be introduced to the Premier League and points to an ongoing experiment in his home country as justification for resisting any further push for change.
“We have the video system in Germany and there are a lot of discussions,” said the 45-year-old about the Bundesliga turning to technology to adjudicate on everything from mistaken identity for bookings to penalties and irregularities in goal decisions, be it due to alleged fouls, handballs or offsides.
“There is no weekend when there are less discussions than before when we had no video system. Of course, I am only able to see from a distance but I am not hearing that everyone in Germany is happy at how it is working so far.
“They tried it this season and then they will judge what makes sense in the future. But I hear there is more confusion and discussion, not less with the video assistants.
“I am a traditionalist. There are situations where it makes sense, such as goalline technology. From my point of view, you have to make sure that the goals are correct. They are what count in football.
“But wrong penalty decisions and other wrong decisions are part of the game. If you discuss every single situation with a video assistant, I would not prefer that.”
Wagner’s belief that extending the use of technology beyond the current system of deciding if the ball crossed the line or not is one many in the English game share. It is to be hoped, though, that those two missed points against the Foxes do not come back to haunt Huddersfield.
I am a traditionalist. There are situations where it makes sense, such as goalline technology. From my point of view, you have to make sure that the goals are correct.David Wagner
Bolton Wanderers fans may nod along bitterly at that last point. Kachunga’s disallowed ‘goal’ came almost 20 years to the day since the Trotters were held to a goalless draw by Everton despite replays clearly showing that a looping header from Gerry Taggart was six inches behind the line before being hooked to safety by Terry Phelan.
Come the following May, the two combatants in that controversial September 1 tussle had finished level on 40 points but Bolton went down on goal difference as the Toffees survived. Few in the Lancashire town have ever forgotten that injustice.
Whether Huddersfield will suffer a repeat remains to be seen but, on the evidence of this enjoyable tussle, Yorkshire’s sole representative in the top flight have enough quality to steer clear of trouble.
With three summer signings making their full Premier League debuts, Town answered Wagner’s demand for a positive response following the lacklustre attacking efforts of last Monday’s defeat at West Ham United.
Laurent Depoitre, in for injured record signing Steve Mounie, made the biggest impact with a quite wonderful solo goal just 60 seconds into the second half. But Abdelhamid Sabiri, who provided the assist for the Belgian’s first goal, also impressed in the No 10 role, while Danny Williams recovered from a horrible early error to dovetail nicely with the ever dependent Aaron Mooy in central midfield.
Williams’s aberration came in the 16th minute, the free transfer arrival from Reading allowing himself to be caught in possession by Kelechi Iheanacho dangerously close to the home side’s penalty area. Only a last-gasp tackle from Tommy Smith denied the Nigerian a clear run on goal.
Town went ahead courtesy of a lovely turn and finish from Depoitre that left Harry Maguire trailing but Leicester replied within four minutes, Jamie Vardy scoring from the spot after Chris Lowe had rashly dived in on King to hand Leicester a 25th penalty since their return to the Premier League in 2014 – a tally only Manchester City can top.
There were no complaints over that decision by Jon Moss but that was certainly not the case when Kachunga turned in a shot from Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen that had quickly turned into a cross only for the errant linesman’s flag to cut short the celebrations.