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Liverpool the underperforming finalists
Football is weird. Both in the Champions League final and last night Liverpool were demonstrably the worse team and won anyway. So is it worrying that we underperform on the really big occasions? Or impressive that we win despite that? The Community Shield was obviously just a glorified friendly. In hindsight. Bloody City.
And where on Earth was that Chelsea team against United? If Lampard is given time ( big, huge if ) , there’s definite potential there.
Obligatory moan about VAR. Sorry, but that really was ‘ a clear and obvious error’. It really was. Minimal contact – if any – and he dived. Don’t blame the ref for it, but that’s *exactly* what VAR is for. It was not a penalty from any angle.
But in the end who cares I guess, because we won, which was obviously great. We looked defensively a bit shaky again, which was not so much. And Bobby Firmino is incredibly important to the team. Who knew? Jurgen gets to well and truly put that ‘ doesn’t win in finals ‘ to bed forever – massive plus.
However, it’s going to be us and City right down to the wire again isn’t it? All blooming season. And they’re showing no enthusiasm for making any backward steps at all.
Couldn’t Pep just have toddled off to Juventus like a good chap?
Solution to penalties
Over the summer there was a furor over a keeper being on their line and the mildest infraction appeared to be getting flagged for penalties to be retaken. Penalties are already heavily weighted towards the taker and the pedantry surrounding whether the keeper’s feet are on the line or not is putting even more favour towards the taker. But then I saw last night that as Tammy Abraham struck the ball both adrian’s feet were off the line. I think there is some middle ground.
There have been revisions to the rule since, mot notably a keeper only has to have one foot on the line as the ball is being struck and VAR will not intervene in applying this rule as this is the on-field official’s collective sole responsibility.
While this may solve some problems I would go one step further. or two steps if you will. For any dead ball situation (except kick-outs) a player only has to be ten yards away from the ball. A penalty is taken from 12 yards from goal meaning the keeper is twelve yards away, 2 more than any other free kick. My solution is to have another line running across the box two yards away from the goal line and the goalkeeper can utilise this space anyway he likes. I think an extra two yards room to roam around before the penalty is taken would give the keeper a lot more purchase for his dives and would invariably mean more penalty saves.
We are going to see a lot more penalties with the daft new handball rule so why not give keepers more of a chance to actually save a penalty. I still have no idea why they have to keep still until the penalty is struck when in any other football phase any player can move as much as they want. Not only would it give keepers a better chance to save the penalty I think it would be a lot easier to officiate because going too far off the line would be detrimental for the keeper to save the penalty.
Man City’s ban
As I understand it the reason City “escaped” a ban and Chelsea didn’t is that Chelsea’s behaviour covered 40-50 incidents and they denied any responsibility until the bitter end. The panel therefore believed that they had adopted a conscious approach to skirting and breaking the rules, requiring strict punishment.
City’s case involved between 1 and 4 incidents, which they copped to fairly early on, leading the panel to believe the issue was more cock-up than conspiracy.
I admit that FIFA make it hard to be confident about the nature of their process as I can’t find either written decision anywhere, but I guess expecting too much of FIFA is a mugs game
Dan, Plastic LFC
Following up on JC’s email about why City didn’t get a ban where Chelsea did, it’s not exactly six of one and half a dozen of the other…
Chelsea were found to have committed 29 breaches of the rules! That is high-level, systemic cheating…
Apparently, City’s fine relates to far fewer instances, and less serious breaches – specifically playing players on trial in friendlies – Chelsea’s involved playing the relevant players in competitive youth games.
In summary, Chelsea should count themselves lucky they’re only banned for a season and not 29 of them. The punishment is a bit of a joke anyway, seeing as Chelsea were given enough notice to circumvent it and sign and loan back Pulisic. A one year ban means, at worst, having to make do for a short while – it will have no meaningful impact in the long run.
On the flip side, Chelsea will have the benefit of having all those exceptionally talented players on their books that they trafficked into the club as children before other teams could get their hands on them, and are probably net winners. The real winners though, are Vitesse Arnhem and the host of championship clubs who’ll be taking those players on loan in a couple of years!
JC (CFC) each case between City/Chelsea vs fifa is different, in Citys case they breached the regulations twice and held their hands up, Chelsea breached the regulations around 18 times and stated they done nothing wrong.
Like in most court cases admitting fault when its there can get reduced punishments but sitting there ignoring the facts (rafa) as they are presented just shows a lack of remorse and ignorance to the situation..
On the other hand im sure we will probably looking back at this in a few years and seeing City getting the transfer ban as these superclubs wont stop hoovering up young talent, despite the safeguarding rules that are there to protect both young players and football at a grassroots level.
Chris (surprisingly MCFC, looking forward to each weekend that i now have an excuse to fob off chores and go to the pub!)
It’s almost as if JC is willing not disclosing all the facts so that it furthers his agenda. Quelle surprise.
Chelsea were found in breach of article 19 a total of 29 times. City were only in breach of it once.
Chelsea was also in breach of article 18, with two agreements it concluded involving minors which allowed it to influence other clubs in transfer related matters. City had no breach of this article.
Chelsea have not accepted any guilt, yet City has. Both of City’s breaches came before 2016, where FIFA released explanatory guidelines, and since then City has remained compliant.
This also isn’t Chelsea’s first offence, with them facing sanctions for the Gael Kakuta transfer, which funnily enough Chelsea managed to overturn by agreeing to pay compensation.
I guess when you put it like that it’s fairly clear to see why the punishments meted out might be different. Hope that helps.
Martin Todoroski, MCFC
I didn’t watch the SuperMagnificentCup game. I was looking to get my insights as I always do from 16 Concs and the Mailbox. But I almost spat out my coffee at Tom G’s point on how the refs didn’t do a good job based on players and managers reactions. Because of course with the last 3000 years of male referees, players have never reacted incredulously to fouls, throws, or decisions. I particularly enjoy how most players bow in obeisance to male referees and back away slowly.
Ved Sen, MUFC.
Man City wages
Just a quick note to thayden who informs us that: “Guardiola hasn’t perfected the art of squad management, he is at a club that can pay squad players £150k p/w without flinching”. It might be true, but according to Guardian, in 2017-2018 (I didnt find the latest season),
Liverpool actually paid more in wages than City did (difference 4 million £ per year). And I believe the original conversation started about Liverpool using the same lineup and not being able to have good substitutes (and therefore rotation) because they wouldn’t get any playing time anyway behind Salah, Mane and Firmino.
Matti Katara, Helsinki (Manchester United had easily the highest wage budget, so infact they should be able to have two very strong lineups)
The VAR a year on
It’s time for a VAR-update from the Netherlands, especially for those people who genuinely think that once everybody in the Premier League gets used to the system and the initial discrepancies and flaws are resolved, everything will be absolutely fine. Well it hasn’t worked like that in Holland. Last weekend, FC Groningen vs FC Twente, a Twente player picks up the ball near the halfway line and starts to run with it. Groningen player Lundqvist (ex-NAC Breda) starts to chase him, but can’t catch up and deliberately trips him. Nothing violent, nothing over the top, just a cynical trip. A definite yellow card, but what does the ref do? Red! Now, according to the rules of the game, you cannot give a red card for such an offence. You might think he deserves a red, but a yellow card is your only option. So, you have the ref, 2 linesmen, the fourth man and 3 people in the VAR-room. Not one of them feels the need to tell the ref that he can’t give a red card for that offence and off Lundgvist went for an early shower. Surprise, surprise (not), a day later the KNVB (the Dutch FA) rescinds the red card.
After a year of the VAR in the Netherlands, incidents like this are still happening on a weekly basis. The VAR is still the main topic of discussion more than a year later. I have said it before and I will say it again, the VAR will never, ever be ‘the perfect solution’ until it can only be used for major errors, such as Maradonna’s Hand of God goal or Henry’s handball against Ireland. I would suggest either accept the system’s flaws or get rid completely.
G Thomas, Breda
Here’s a proposal of what I think is a great solution for solving the timing/delayed decision problem with VAR. The way I see it, a group of 20 football “specialists” (referees, ex-managers, ex-players, journos w/e) each get to see the replays of the incident for just 10 seconds. By the end of that 10 seconds they have to hit a big green button or red button depending on whether a good decision has been made or not. If they do not press their button in time, the default selection is green. An average is then taken with a bad decision needing to have a majority of 70% to have a refereeing decision over turned. This way obvious errors will be corrected and the more subtle/subjective errors will be deemed that referee has given the correct decision. Either way, within 10 seconds a decision has been made. No?
On another note, do people use thesauruses for some of the words used in the mailbox. This is not a platform to showcase how clever you are by using big words, or am I just being curmudgeonly (it means cantankerous (it means disagreeable (it means just being a d*ck for the sake of it))) .
Seamus, AFC, Sweden (apologies, my spellchecker only works in Swedish mode)
Super Cup and major honours
Mediawatch fairly points out the cherry-picking of the Liverpool Echo’s trophy count when tallying against Manchester United’s.
However, I think one key point has been left out: the “Honours Board” wall at LFC’s training ground has been around for a while, and it has always counted the Super Cups on it, and it has never included the Community Shield. So it’s not just the Liverpool Echo making their own biased arbitrary distinctions, they are just reporting on the ones the club have always counted.
I think there are a lot of valid opinions on whether these two trophies are “major honours” or not; I don’t think there is an obvious answer. Personally, given how many top teams there are these days, and how few trophies there are to compete for, I think it makes sense to count all of them. As long we draw the line before counting the summer friendly tournaments, Audi Cup/Emirates Cup/ICC/etc.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
The highest-placed positive force in north-eastern football
One of the last remaining remnants of Against Modern Football was finally defeated over the summer. It’s a shame to start on a downer but Step 3 of Non-League, having previously been sponsored by adhesives (Bostik and Evo-Stik), are now sponsored by an online casino. While this deal is worth more than its predecessor, there’s something disheartening about gambling in football reaching so far down the pyramid.
This year’s Northern Premier League is shaping up to be every bit as competitive as each of the previous two seasons I’ve paid attention to. In my preview last year, I mentioned that this was a division that often rewarded upwardly mobile sides (seven teams in the previous ten years had won back-to-back promotions) and punished those relegated into it. None of the four promoted teams last season were able to add to those stats, though losing playoff finalists South Shields came incredibly close. After playoff winners Warrington Town were defeated in the super playoff final, the only one of last year’s teams playing at a higher level this season are Farsley Celtic, who were promoted at the second attempt. At the other end, North Ferriby’s demise meant that they became the eighth relegated team in the past eleven years to not survive for a second season in the division.
It’s unlikely that this year’s relegated sides will suffer the same fate as the Villagers. Ashton United return after just a season in National League North, this time bringing FC United of Manchester with them; like Gainsborough Trinity in 2018, this is a first relegation in their history, albeit a much shorter history than the Holy Blues. Meeting them coming the other way are Morpeth Town, champions of the NPL Division One East, Atherton Collieries (champions of Division One West), and Radcliffe Borough, managed by ex-Manchester City ace Jon Macken, via the West’s playoffs. Morpeth look to be the strongest of the three, though none will be pushovers.
At the top of the table, as well as Ashton and FC United, South Shields – arguably the highest-placed positive force in north-eastern football – will once again start among the favourites for the title, though Warrington will fancy their chances. Nantwich put together some good runs, but their form dipped once their star goalkeeper, Will Jaaskelainen (son of Jussi), was recalled by his parent club. The Dabbers, along with Gainsborough, should be in the mix for the playoffs.
Lower down the table, the shifting sands of the league (as well as moving from 24 to 22 teams) is best illustrated by Whitby Town. Last year Whitby finished 11th despite earning one point less than they did finishing 21st the previous season. Impressive progress for the team with the best shirt in the division, but more indicative of the battle being to avoid dropping down instead of efforts to move up. Like Town, Lancaster City, Matlock Town and Stalybridge Celtic had very similar points per game averages across the two seasons while finishing in the bottom half. Unless they can improve on those trends, they will spend most of the season looking up at their rivals.
Geographically, the division’s map is a curious one. More than half the teams are in what can be loosely described as the North West: six in Greater Manchester, Buxton just a stone’s throw to the southeast and five more (Bamber Bridge, Lancaster, Warrington and Witton) hugging the M6. There are two teams (Morpeth and South Shields) in the far North East, two on the Yorkshire coast (Scarborough and Whitby), and three in a central cluster (Basford, Matlock and Mickleover). The two southernmost teams, Grantham and Stafford, will have one eye on promotions and relegations across Step 2 and Step 3 in case they are reassigned next year; only the four northeasternmost teams will do more miles this season than Grantham.
My allegiance in this division is hardly a secret, but the Gingerbreads present the most interesting prospect. Two years ago, they achieved their best-ever finish in the football pyramid and narrowly missed out on the most unlikely of promotions; last year, with an entirely revamped team, they started brightly before going into freefall and only avoiding relegation due to results elsewhere. This year, recruitment has looked good: a mix of youth and experience, and unlike last season, a lot of players committed to the team for the foreseeable future instead of coming in on short-term loans. Against teams from a variety of levels, they have won games in preseason using three different systems. Their opening fixture sees them host FC United, and in seven of their next eight fixtures they face a mixture of promoted teams and those who finished in the bottom half last season. It won’t be easy but there is the opportunity to put together a good run to start the season and take momentum into the winter.
Across the NPL, the opening weekend has a raft of intriguing fixtures: the promoted sides all face tough tests as Atherton travel to Ashton, Radcliffe host South Shields and Morpeth go to Warrington; elsewhere, two clashes between teams hoping to be in the mix for the plays see Nantwich take on Gainsborough and Scarborough do battle with Buxton; Mickleover v Stalybridge sees the two sides who escaped relegation on the final day of last season lock horns. It’s all speculation until the ball is kicked but with plenty of markers waiting to be put down and early ground to be gained or lost, there’s a lot to look forward to.