Ref review 2012/13: Howard Webb. An amazing score when it comes to goals

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?

H Webb all

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.

H WEbb imp

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:

H Webb bias

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).


15 Replies to “Ref review 2012/13: Howard Webb. An amazing score when it comes to goals”

  1. how can anyone decsribe webb as the best in the premiership when he managed to destroyed a world cup final as a spectacle.
    this man is only interested in himself and man u not football.

  2. Interesting, he has 100% accuracy with goals, but only 50% accuracy when about penalties. Must be that he fails to award penalties, or he is a very lucky boy that the takers miss:)

  3. Florian,
    I think the 50% incorrect penalties are for the incorrect penalties he awards Manu U every season:)

  4. ‘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.’

    I laughed when I read this sentence, Walter, even though of course it’s not funny.

    It is truly a comment on the state of EPL refereeing.

  5. It makes a change to not see Arsenal bottom of the bias table.
    Slightly off topic (but ref related) but a question for Walter. It seems to me that Wilshere is suffering from rotational fouling both in the premier league and internationals etc and I am convinced it is putting him off his game as was apparent last night in Ukraine. He is basically getting kicked out of games at the moment and is more concerned with his own safety than his football. A ref will penalize a player for committing several fouls, but isn’t it about time the refs started counting the number of fouls committed on a victimised player and carded the offenders after it becomes obvious rotational fouling was going on. For example Wilshere gets fouled for the 6th time and the ref decides enough is enough so yellow cards the offender even if it is his 1st offence and not in itself worthy of a yellow card. In this way the yellow card is penalising the offending team for the number of fouls done to the one player and the ref is saying I can see what is going on and you will not get away with it anymore.
    Interested to know if refs can act like this Walter.

  6. I think the Dutch players attitude and cheating ruined the World Cup Final not Howard Webb.

    Let’s be honest about that.

  7. @Mick

    Wilshere wasn’t really kicked last night just had a bad game like the rest of the players.

    He hasn’t played well at all this year and not very much last year either.

    The injury has made him lose his confidence. He holds on to the ball to long which is the reason i think he gets fouled a lot.

  8. @Matt
    You are right he did not play well last night and has not been at his usual high standard all season. It will take him a while to get his mojo back just like Ramsey, however he was fouled a few times last night and he is definitely being targeted in league matches and this treatment is not helping. I may be wrong but it appears to me the fouling he is being subjected to is inhibiting him in getting back to his top form.

  9. Nice Sunderland interview, Walter.

    I’m glad you got the chance to explain some things about Untold Arsenal and Referee Decisions.

    Maybe a few more people will start looking at the web sites.

  10. Mick,
    the problem is that for most refs they look at the player that makes the foul and they try to remember if he keeps on fouling and then they can card him if he keeps on doing the same foul over and over again. Looking at who is fouled is more difficult.

    However there was an example on when they did it. I remember when Messi was working his way to the top at Barcelona and I still watched them. The other teams tried to kick Messi off the field in each game. I don’t know who took the initiative but at some point the Spanish league and the referees came together and decided that enough was enough and that they would not allow Messi getting the same treatment as Maradonna got some 30 years ago. He got his leg broken at Barcelona and then went to Naples to save his legs. Leaving the Spanish league with an attractive player less.

    As a result there was a time that almost every time a player came in hard on Messi he got a yellow card straight away and if he did it again he got sent off. I remember in a game a player doing two fouls on Messi and he was off.

    As a result the other teams stopped the kicking as it only lead to them losing the game and losing another player in the games after that. Since that moment Messi got the freedom to develop in to the player he is now.

    Maybe someone with some knowledge of the the Spanish league should look in to that and find out what just happened at that time as it is an interesting example on how the authorities stepped in to protect a valuable player.

    I think the PL and the FA should or could do the same

  11. Thanks for the reply Walter.
    Regarding your 1st paragraph maybe the 4th official could earn his keep watching for things like rotational fouling. However I am afraid I cannot see the PGMOL giving Wilshere such protection as Messi got unless of course he transfers to Man U. Poor Jack’s ankles must be black and blue when he comes off the pitch. How long will it be before he takes exception to his treatment, takes retaliatory measures and gets himself sent off? I still remember how Reyes got ‘kicked’ out of Arsenal.

  12. Nice interview ,Walter – straight from the heart – a big LIKE from me .
    As for the rotational fouling , its not going to get any better with this lot refreeing . The players have to be street (or field ) smart and learn to take care of themselves and as a team so that the opposition know that they will be ‘done ‘ in kind .
    A player like Flamini would be my choice as an enforcer . Arteta and TV aren’t pushovers either .

  13. To be street smart we need guile and bluster .An example here……
    An old Doberman starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he’s lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.

    The old Doberman thinks, “Oh, oh! I’m in deep shit now!” Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap, the old Doberman exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder, if there are any more around here?”

    Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.

    “Whew!,” says the panther, “That was close! That old Doberman nearly had me!”

    Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther.

    So, off he goes.

    The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

    The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine!”

    Now, the old Doberman sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, “What am I going to do now?,” but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn’t seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old Doberman says ……

    “Where’s that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!”

    Moral of this story…
    Don’t mess with the old dogs…
    Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! Bull Shit and brilliance only come with age and experience.

  14. But then again , with old age comes ……

    A man joins a very exclusive nudist colony….

    On his first day there, he takes off his clothes and starts to wander around.
    A gorgeous petite blonde walks by, and the man immediately gets an erection.
    The woman notices his erection, comes over to him and says, ‘Did you call for me?’
    The man replies, ‘No, what do you mean?’
    She says, ‘You must be new here. Let me explain. It’s a rule here that if you get an erection, it implies you called for me.’
    Smiling, she leads him to the side of the swimming pool, lies down on a towel, eagerly pulls him to her and happily lets him have his way with her.
    The man continues to explore the colony’s facilities. He enters the sauna and, as he sits down, he farts….
    Within minutes, a huge, hairy man lumbers out of the steam-room toward him, ‘Did you call for me?’ says the hairy man.
    ‘No, what do you mean?’ says the newcomer.
    ‘You must be new,’ says the hairy man, ‘it’s a rule that if you fart, it implies that you called for me.’ The huge man easily spins him around, bends him over a bench and has his way with him.
    The newcomer staggers back to the colony office, where he is greeted by the smiling, naked receptionist, ‘May I help you?’ she says.
    The man yells, ‘Here’s my membership card. You can have the key back and you can keep the £500 membership fee.’
    ‘But, Sir,’ she replies, ‘you’ve only been here for a few hours. You haven’t had the chance to see all our
    The man replies, ‘Listen lady, I’m 68 years old. I only get an erection once a month. I fart 35 times a day!!’

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