Mourinho didn’t ruin Pochettino’s work, he saved Tottenham

Date published: Thursday 20th February 2020 2:31

Jose Mourinho Mauricio Pochettino Totenham

Thank you for your mails. You know what to do: Mail us at


Mourinho saved Spurs this season
Not trying to say Jose Mourinho’s tenure has not been without problems but as far as the league is concerned their fortunes have turned around completely after his hiring.

Mourinho didnt ruin Mauricio Pochettino’s work, he took over from it as Poch ruined his own work. Could Poch have recovered it? An argument could be made that he deserved the chance at least.

However even then his firing was only shocking in the sense that it was done after taking them to the European finals, when looking at their league form of 2019 calender year alone, his firing wasn’t surprising at all.

From February to November 2019, Tottenham took 25 points from 24 matches – thats the equivalent of a draw every match. If you stretch that average point form to 38 games, they won’t even make the traditional 40 point safe zone. That’s relegation form even if you just count the games from this season alone.

When Poch was fired after 12 games (almost 1/3rd of the season), Spurs were: 14th place with 14 points, and 11 points off 4th place. Average point per game was 1.16.

Now after 26 games they are 5th place with 40 points, and 1 point off 4th place. Post Poch they got 26 points from 14 games, averaging 1.85 points per game.

That extra 0.7 per game adds up a lot over time. If you were to take Poch’s 1.16 average and extend it over 26 games, you get 30.16 points or 10 points less. On the current table that gets you…..14th place, exactly where Poch left. Also it is just 6 points above the current relegation zone.

Granted, Poch may improve the form like Mourinho did but this problem of averaging 1 point per game extends to February of last year in the league with a total sample size of 26 games (or 2/3rds of a season), that is not a short blip.

Again, risk taking is a big part of football and projections using backwards data have their limitations, so even with all that I have said there might still be a case of keeping Poch on the reasoning that he has done well with a relatively small budget in the past few seasons and he may be able to turn things around.

However as far as recent league performances go, Mounrinho has indeed improved it tremendously (for now) and if Spurs do eventually get Top Four (a realistic target presently), Mounrinho deserve a lot of credit for turning their league form around as opposed to them being anywhere near the relegation zone.
Yaru, Malaysia


The rot started long ago at Spurs
There is no one person to blame but I believe some of  Spurs’s problems pre-date Jose . The Keeper is in his early 30’s ,by next year his age combined with those of  the first choice central defensive pairing will  exceed a 100, They should have slowly been disassembled.A lot of praise was handed to the fullbacks a few years ago but the main three have all been sold

Thank Goodness Lo Celso has blended in because finding a replacement for Dembele has been difficult .The problem with your scoring being dependent on a gigantic English  and speedy and gifted South Korean striking combination is no one will score when they are injured.

There is no strength in depth, the first team have been allowed to grow old together  and there is no spare money because of a new stadium.

The rot set in a while back hopefully it’s fixed soon
Roode, MUFC


Disappointing but hang on…
In reply to Danny, Austin Spurs…I can certainly share elements of your disappointment at last night’s result, however I think your over-reaction is symptomatic of the short-termist view that seems to be prevalent in football these days, and increasingly at Spurs. I loved Poch but he had hit a wall, either in his own methods or in his support from the board…I’m not sure about Mourinho, he comes with loads of baggage, but he has been here 3 months, we have been getting results, we have seen Lo Celso, Tanganga and Bergwijn emerge, and he should get his chance. We have our 3 best players out long term injured, in Kane, Son and Sissoko, so I’m not sure what you expected from last night, maybe Wanyama in attack, a gung ho attitude and a triumphant 7-2 defeat?

If we can qualify for next years UCL and maybe win the FA Cup, both big ifs, it will have been a great season considering the drastic changes over the last 6 months. If we don’t, then Jose will be under huge pressure but he should be given the summer window and a pre-season to prove himself next season. I have been a season ticket holder for many years and have watched the most delightful and incredible teams and players at the Lane…Gascoigne, Ginola, Modric, Bale to name a few, but this club now needs to start winning things, full stop, and I am willing to give Mourinho the opportunity to prove that he can do that. I am willing to park the ‘Tottenham Way’ for the next 18 months to see what we can achieve. Because for me, the ‘Tottenham Way’ has become an excuse from fans for our failure to win trophies.
Andy, London , Tottenham Till I Die


All hail the Europa Vase!
Hello F365,

I’ve just looked through tonight’s Europa League fixture list and – it’s bloody brilliant! Getafe-Ajax! Shaktar-Benfica! Leverkusen-Porto! And that’s not even including the British teams.

I’m looking through the list and there’s maybe 12 teams I could see winning the whole thing. And there’s a great mix of European royalty (Inter, United, Ajax, Porto), relative newcomers (Wolves, Salzburg, Basel) and who-the-hell-are-they-and-why-all-the-caps (LASK, APOEL, CFR Cluj).

Honestly, it all looks a lot more exciting than watching the same 8 teams playing each other in the Champions League over and over again. I realize the CL is where the real money is, but I don’t understand why English fans are so disdainful of the Europa League. Yes, it’s a lot of games, but it feels exciting and fresh in a way the bloated CL doesn’t anymore.

I for one hope Carlo can get Everton there next season.
Alan Gomes


I don’t mind City’s spending
As this City thing is going to go one forever its never too late to throw your tuppence in. Sure, there was a set of rules and they have probably broken them and deserve a proportionate punishment. But on the other hand, I am quite happy for a batrillionnaire to spend his own money on a football club.

Its better than him spending my money, or whoring out the club to promote tractors, and it’s a hell of a lot better than gambling money.

How else is say, Charlton able to win the Champions League? They aren’t. Their players can because they get hoovered up by the big clubs, like Joe Gomez. But Charlton will probably never break the league one / championship cycle without a batrillitonnaire. Even then how can a batrillionnaire buying Charlton be good for anybody. If the would-be owner were that with it they’d buy someone else with a better football team but without prime London real estate!

Obviously, United in the 90s were master of having more money than anybody else with huge transfer bids for star players from would be challengers. But money can’t win football games as Leeds (Rio) and Newcastle (Andy Cole) found out. Then in 00s there was Abramovich’s Chelsea. He bought be best players, paid them most, got the best manager, and bought players seemingly to stop anybody else having them. And they raised the standard of a what a league winning squad would need be.

You had Arsenal who took a different approach. Big stadium, big ticket prices, no attempt at winning anything but spent big wages on young players in a hope of finding their own class of ’92 to build a squad around. Their big stadium is much more of success than West Ham’s big stadium which will I believe will ultimately kill them. Can you see London funding that stadium if West Ham are in league one? Then what, a ground share with Orient?

Around this time there are a swath of leveraged buy outs where the club basically pays for themselves to be bought by bankers as an investment vehicle. United being one of the more successful ones but Villa, Blackburn, even Liverpool all suffered.

And then there’s City’s model. They want to take the money of a batrillionnaire and put it in the club raising the quality of the playing staff, facilities, training, surrounding areas without putting a pound of debt on their balance sheet. All the while we’re told this is wrong. You pay for players using medical equipment sponsor ships, or by decimating your history to build a kit bowl stadium with a clock on it, or by leveraged buy outs by hedge funds, through increased ticket prices, a generation of kids without houses and addicted gambling. This is how Charlton is meant to get to the champions league apparently.

You can only put 14 players on the pitch. Some teams will have better 14 players than their opposition. Usually the better 14 will win. Usually the better 14 is better because they cost more. But not always. That’s how Fergie did it, that’s how Mourinho did it and that’s how Pep did it.

Is sportwashing any better a reason than for money? No its not. Is this batrillionnaires money coming from any more moral sources than that batrillionnaire’s money? Probably not. And if the batrillionnaire changes his mind with no debt in the club they can just carry on.

Seems like the preferred model to me.
Alex, South London



An inconvenient truth
Following on from Mark, MCFC’s e-mail, I’d like to put my ten penneth in on the unbearable moral superiority he refers to.

I’ve had this argument many times, mainly with Utd fans about how we City fans can stomach the horrible alleged practices of our owners.
And it got me thinking about football shirts in particular. How many of these outraged and squeaky clean football fans have boycotted buying football merchandise over the years? Nike and particularly Umbro have been in the spotlight over the years over their use of sweatshops, where people are horribly exploited over pay, working hours and conditions….earning next to nothing for producing a shirt that you or I will go and buy for around £60-70.
I’m not debating whether or not the allegations against ADUG are true, but there are plenty of other injustices in the world that the football industry is tied to.

I guess these things only matter when it suits your agenda eh?
Marc, Bolton (MCFC)


In the spirit of Mark, MCFC’s comments along the lines of “don’t tell me every other club’s fans wouldn’t do the same” let me point out the obvious counter argument:

If United or Liverpool (or Everton) had received that investment instead of City and subsequently been found to have (allegedly) broken rules that everybody agreed to, is he seriously claiming that he and fellow City fans now defending their club wouldn’t be attacking those other clubs and the unfairness of it?

Assuming it’s true, I don’t blame City fans at all. I don’t blame you for not turning on club ownership. But don’t expect other fans not to react when it’s exactly what you’d do too.

It’s almost like we can’t leave the rules and regulations to the clubs and their fans to debate and need some central body to set the rules and ensure compliance…
Chris, Hampshire


I didn’t want to write in on this subject, but the masterclasses of Willful Denial on display from the MCFC fans in the last couple of mailboxes really deserve responses.

Paul, Manchester wrote yesterday afternoon that he’s not angry with MCFC because the whole system is flawed. OK, let’s rephrase the question: “why are you not angry with MCFC falsifying their accounts provided to UEFA, instead of challenging the flawed system in court and taking the flawed system down (as your owners have threatened to do), given that you may end up stripped of several league titles as a result of this action?” Also, the aspersions you cast on Rui Pinto the Football Leaks source is deplorable. Whistleblowers like Pinto (+ Snowden and Manning, etc) deserve our respect and admiration. They do not deserve sarcastic comments about whether they are trustworthy.

Mark MCFC, meanwhile, decided to wade in with perhaps the most exhaustive piece of Whatabouttery possible. Mark, all that Whatabouttery is complete nonsense, and deep down you almost certainly know that. You ask what MCFC fans should do – perhaps voice your dissatisfaction with your ownership (or even just the way they’ve falsified accounts!), rather than doing literally the exact opposite? It is truly mindboggling that you don’t seem to see that this option exists and is staring you in the face.

Nobody is asking you to stop supporting the club. Most people aren’t asking you to boycott games or rip up season tickets. Most people aren’t asking you to accept that your teams’ various titles are hollow or unearned.

But maybe some banners and flags to put pressure on the owners for their transgressions, stating that you’re opposed to human rights abuses and homophobia? Supporters groups publishing statements along the same lines, or calling them out for falsifying accounts (if not overturned by CAS)? Or, you know, just saying “yeah it’s not ideal” when someone criticizes ADUG, instead of going off on a Whatabouttery-fueled rant?
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


A quick answer to Mark MCFC’s question is for City fans to keep part of their mind open to the possibility that their club did something wrong.

For me the biggest possible wrong in this scenario is if the owners of Man City are not being honest with their fans. Let’s face it the club has very passionate and loyal fans many of whom supported the club through thin and thin. I just hope these fans aren’t being taken for mugs.
David lfc


In response to Mark, MCFC, congratulations, you are the perfect supporter for the group who purchased Manchester City. You successfully compartmentalise a beautiful swing of De Bruyne’s boot from the fundamental reason he is playing in light blue. Further, with righteous indignation you create a binary moral lens through which to view the world, where an occasional jay-walker has no right to question those killing thousands of enslaved immigrants each year. You are the embodiment of what Sheikh Mansour hoped to achieve.

Personally, I envy you. Sadly for myself and, seemingly, at least a few other fans, my mind is not only able but keen to hold more than one thought at once. So while I watch with appreciation the pinnacle of footballing triangles and overlapping full backs, I also get that pesky reminder that the only reason City have purchased about 25 full backs in 10 years is because of a combination of questionably created wealth and wilful, indeed gleeful breaking of the rules of the competition they’re currently partaking in.

My pesky brain is also able to parse the difference between an American businessman purchasing a club for profit and a state doing so for sportswashing, in order to clean their brand of the human rights offences they’re currently tarnished with. My brain is, however, unable to understand what that has to do with the Orange in the White House.

So please, enjoy City’s football and the almost zen-like state you’re able to observe  it in, separate from the rest of reality. We poor souls incapable of such compartmentalisation will look on with jealousy.
Ryan, Bermuda


I can’t say I’m surprised at the Manchester City fans desperate to defend their club on here, it’s a natural instinct for football fans to believe the team you love is doing the right thing. The club are saying they’ve done nothing wrong and the fans believe them, we’ll wait and see the outcome after CAS have their say.

As a Liverpool fan I backed my team after the Suarez racism incident. It was understandable to the extent we took Suarez’s word for it and stood up for him, there was a grey area, the issue was debatable. I soon realised I’d let my love for the club blinker me in terms of what’s right and what’s wrong. We were wrong that day and I generally think we know that now and admit it.

In relation, at last night’s game the City fans in attendance were actually singing songs praising Sheikh Mansour. “Shiekh Mansour, my lord. Shiekh Mansour”. As if the man is some kind of Messiah to be looked up to and worshipped. I can’t believe what I’m witnessing. This is a man involved in a dictatorship that tortures political opponents, that imprisons homosexuals and doesn’t consider marital rape to be a crime.  There is no grey area with this man, his beliefs are not up for debate, they’re repugnant. This is not a man to look up to or praise. This is a man to criticise, to rally against or at the very least implore to change his beliefs. Beliefs that City fans surely find disgusting.

I never thought I’d see the day when football has become so tribal and blinkered that a whole set of fans are willing to turn their back on the difference between what’s so clearly right and what’s so clearly wrong, purely for the sake of rich benefactor.
Taylor Brawn LFC


A couple of points on City, if I may. First, on the issue that City “didn’t cheat”. To cheat is, according to Google, to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage”. City circumvented the rules to gain a financial advantage and then lied (and are continuing to lie) about it as well. That’s pretty much textbook cheating. Sorry, Steve, Los Angeles, you’re just going to have to live with that fact. The point about United’s noodles and tractor partnerships preventing the debt from being an issue for United, as if it’s some kind of secret cheat in itself, is where you lost me. United’s sponsorship deals and revenue streams are exactly what makes the debt serviceable and allows us to continue to live within our means. The same can’t (or at least couldn’t, at the time) be said for City – without those sponsorships they wouldn’t have been able to afford nearly as much as they have.

And Mark, MCFC’s point: “Should we therefore sniff at United and Chelsea fans and call for them to oust their owners?” Other than the fact that there has been a large group of United fans that have been actively trying to oust our owners, pretty much since they took over, the difference here is that neither United’s nor Chelsea’s owners are part of the royal family or government that runs a country. Joel Glazer and Roman Abramovich are not pillars of the community or bastions of moral fortitude (or probably even just good people) but equally neither of them are responsible for governing a country with an extremely poor human rights record. They’re all bad but not by any means the same.

All that being said, I do think that this whole misadventure of UEFA’s stinks of hypocrisy. If City are guilty of flouting the rules then there are plenty of other clubs who are too, yet it wouldn’t suit UEFA to punish clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and others. City are an easy target because they’re not one of the established elite and therefore UEFA won’t be biting any of the old hands that feed. I agree with the idea of FFP; clubs should not spend beyond their means, and there are plenty of clubs which have declined or disappeared due to mismanagement and financial irresponsibility.

The problem is that, at the thin end of the wedge, FFP is almost irrelevant. Clubs competing for the Champions League, for example, are unlikely to fall into similar situations to Bury and Bolton because there will always be a market demand for their brands that prevents that from happening. If Real Madrid’s commercial value ever dropped significantly, for example, there’d be an investor rubbing their hands together hard enough to start a fire. Essentially, what FFP is really there to do is to protect a select number of clubs from being left behind in the wake of more ambitious projects.

Now, I’m aware that this sounds like the rant of a conspiracy theorist, but it does all stink a little bit. In any other area of business, what City’s owners have done is both commonplace and acceptable. They have seen an opportunity to invest in a marketable product (forgetting their ulterior motives) and invested in a business to increase the chances of success. And we’re not just talking about transfer money here either; they also improved their infrastructure too. They made sensible appointments in the executive positions, increased the capacity of their ground, and developed excellent facilities for their academy, and player training and development. If that isn’t investing in a plan for future sustainability then I’m not sure what is.

This would be a problem if the owners were doing what the Glazers did and mortgaging the club to pay for said improvements, saddling them with excessive levels of debt when compared to their revenue, but it doesn’t seem like that’s what is happening here. I haven’t seen anything that says it wasn’t the owners’ money that paid for these things, so if they have put in real money then why does it matter, if the investment isn’t leading the club to live beyond its means? City’s current level of debt (somewhere around £75m, I believe) is not unmanageable, nor unsustainable given their performance under the current regime, as they now possess a more marketable asset with which to achieve the previously mentioned genuine sponsorship deals.

Don’t get me wrong, all the above pisses me off because it’s coincided with United’s downfall, but the pragmatic side of me can’t really say that it shouldn’t be allowed.
Ted, Manchester


Dutch clutch
I was thinking the other day about which country would field the best XI from premier league talent since its inception. After assuming it would be France or England, I came to the realisation that it is actually Holland. Look at this monstrous XI;

GK – Van der Sar
RB – Mario Melchiot
CB – Jaap Stam
CB – Virgil van Dijk
LB – Gio van Bronckhorst
DM – Nigel de Jong
CM/CAM – Gini Wijnaldum
LM – Robin van Persie (sorry Robin, moved you out to the left as the front two pick themselves)
RM – Arjen Robben
FW – Dennis Bergamp
ST – Ruud van Nistelrooy

Bench: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Marc Overmars, Ruud Gullit (ancient by the time he joined the prem), Arjen de Zeuw, Dirk Kuyt, Bolo Zenden

That forward line is unstoppable and the centre-half pairing is immovable, backed up by one of the best goalkeepers the European football has seen.

Only issue will be when they inevitably fall out with Arjen Robben and Jaap Stam sticks the nut on someone so hard that it sends them to the netherrealm inhabited by wraiths and shadow demons. Otherwise though, I don’t think another nationality can match that.
Smyth, MUFC


Johnnywicky exemplifies exactly what other fans hate about Liverpool’s fanbase, smug self entitled arses with the usual “we are Liverpool, bullshit rhetoric”. Really looking forward to the bestest team ever in the world ever to win the League so we can listen to their fans tell everyone on earth how they are back on their perch etc.

On to City, I’m a United fan but have no particular axe to grind with City, members of my family support the blue part of the City, what City fans need to remember though for all their chants of Manchester being blue they are for all intents and purposes a middling club with a good core fan base that can’t quite fill their stadium, they are not and never will be a footballing powerhouse no matter how much dirty money the oil rich owners throw at it. Yeah but United’s debt they cry, well the debt saddled on to us by the parasitic Glazers is a drop in the ocean compared to the earnings of the club, earnings that get dipped into by said parasites at every conceivable opportunity.

Spurs fans gnashing their teeth over Jose and his tactics need to get a grip, your team is bereft of all but a few of their attacking talent, guys who can get you a goal from nothing sat in the medical room watching the team huff and puff in front of goal with no meaningful attempts to make the keeper break a sweat. Now Jose isn’t perfect but he set you up to be hard to beat and give you a chance in the return leg, it isn’t his fault you have no strikers, try asking your chairman Mr Levy to open his wallet and strengthen the squad.

Lastly a quick one on “Liverpool champions of the World” now from my memory when United won the same competition we were told it was a mickey mouse cup of no consequence yet now the self titled “WORLD CHAMPIONS” have won it even commentators are calling them the World Champions every bloody game. Yes I hate them and yes it really does suck that they are good again.
Paul Murphy, Manchester



Shifting the goalposts
In response to Minty’s question about the proposed new offside rule, you need to adapt your mind to future scenarios – they won’t be the same as they are now. Everyone has this naive delusion that with such a rule change, attackers will still try to stay in line with the defender to stay onside, as they currently do. But obviously they won’t, because why would they? They want to get whatever advantage they can. They’ll capitalise on the new loophole and stray as far ‘offside’ (current definition) as possible, but aim to keep their trailing leg onside. Why would you not want to be a body’s width ahead of the defender, for that extra head start?

Lo and behold – we’re back to where we started, with VAR getting the vernier callipers out to check if a player is offside or not. “How is that offside, his trailing stud is in line with the defender!!” etc.

You have to remember all rules are stretched to breaking point, for even the most trivial of advantages. Look at players in a wall creeping forward by a centimetre, or a corner taker meticulously setting the ball with one atom of the ball within the arc.

Hope this helps.
Gerard, LFC


Manchester City didn’t ‘cheat’
In response to Steve, Los Angeles yes Manchester City did in fact cheat. They inflated their sponsorship valuation and so were able to spend money they shouldn’t have, they bought players they shouldnt have been able to afford. Players that have gone on to win them titles and qualify for Champions League, its only fitting that the punishment fits the crime and they are withdrawn from the CL. Taking their PL title back may be a bit excessive but if they have any intention of really applying FFP then maybe thats what they need to do. You say “It’s the denial they were punished for, not for running the light.”, its not. Theyve said its one year for the ‘denial’ and one year for ‘running the light’.

You made the point that FFP was put in place to stop bankruptcy and liquidation and City are not part of this problem due to not having any debt. True, but City have  reportedly spent over £1.5b under Sheikh Mansour and this is with the threat of FFP in place, imagine what they would have spent otherwise?!? They have a family fortune of at least $1trillion, I dont know how mcuh of that they would be willing to put into the club but imagine what state the league would be in if they doubled what they have already put in? Is that a footballing world we want? I dont like the idea of football being a closed shop and I’m not against the money City and Chelsea have spent to get themselves up there, and I wouldnt be against another club doing something similar. But when there are actual countries buying clubs there has to be limits of some sort to maintain at least a semblance of sporting integrity and competition.
Ronan, Galway


When I read Steve from Los Angeles’ mail I couldn’t help to notice that the whole mail is a glaring paradox. He says that, ” the draconian sanctions against them was not because of what they did, but they fact the tried to conceal it.”  Why go through such lengths to conceal something if it is not cheating? The sanctions are because of what they did and because what they did was against the rules they had to conceal it.

Some other phrases include “fabricate the accounting”, “Manchester City didn’t “cheat”, they got caught in a lie”. Isn’t lying and fabricating accounting cheating? His analogy of running a red light and denying it shows a lack of appreciation for the situation. City committed large scale fraud my friend and if committing fraud is not a form of cheating I frankly don’t know what is.
Bird, Cape Town 


The unanticipated problem with VAR
When VAR was introduced, people were already prepared for what they thought the main issues of it would be, namely:

– Breaking up the game
– Slow decision making
– Ruining celebrations

…and various other concerns which broadly can be put into the “administrative” bucket.

What nobody anticipated was what I think has actually proved to be the main problem with VAR: worse refereeing decisions being made.

Obviously on the face of it this sounds weird, because officially more or less every VAR decision is technically “correct”.  But “correct” doesn’t mean “right” – at least not instinctively.

The Giroud non-goal for Chelsea against United on Monday was a prime case in point.  Although he was technically offside and therefore it was the “correct” decision, I would wager that a majority of fans and players would say that “morally” the goal should have stood, as he was playing within the spirit of the game and hadn’t garnered any undue advantage due to the position of his toe.  Had there been no VAR and the goal had been given, nobody would have complained about it.  Therefore, for most of us, the decision to disallow whilst being “correct” was also in fact “wrong”.

It would be almost impossible to organise, but I expect that if you were to analyse refereeing decisions this season based on a subjective right/wrong axis, rather than an objective correct/incorrect axis, you would find that the incidence of “wrong” decisions has increased – a much stronger driver of dissatisfaction with VAR than things like thwarting celebrations.

VAR has revealed a truth about that game that’s always been present but which we never knew or predicted: that an awful lot of refereeing decisions are in fact subjective, and based more on a sense of “justice” than rigid application of the rules — and even more surprising, most of us prefer it that way.

A referee without VAR often is forced to make highly complex “interpretive” decisions, based on a large number of contextual factors – resulting in a lot of “incorrect but right” decisions.  A referee with VAR is forced to make the subjective objective, and thus ends up doing the opposite.

What’s most interesting about this is that it has nothing really to do with the “application” of VAR, or “working the kinks” out of it.  It has instead to do with a misunderstanding about the nature of the game itself, and therefore the only actual solution can be an abandonment of the system altogether, or a radical reinvention where it’s purely used for incidents which constitute “gross error” (e.g. a player punching another player off the ball and the ref missing it, etc.).

Incidentally, I fully accept that there are a lot of people out there who reject the distinction between correct and right, and for whom correct always is, by definition, right.  And I’m not disagreeing with this, it’s a totally legit point of view.  All I’m saying is that a lot – probably a majority – of people don’t feel like that, and this is why I think VAR is so contentious.

We never saw it coming.


Wenger’s VAR solution
Have just read “Wenger’s VAR ‘solution’ actually just inverts the problem” but don’t totally agree. It is possible to change the offside rule, and indeed the way VAR is used, and improve the game.

Personally, my current problem with the offside rule is that, if the technology is going to lead to millimetre-precision, there is something inherently unsatisfying about watching two players more or less in line with each other and deciding one body part is ahead of another. All sports have these kinds of judgement calls – in cricket, runouts are often like that, in rugby, issues over players going into touch or grounding the ball – but the correct decision is usually clear to the average viewer, which is not the case with offsides in football. I honestly think that “daylight”, which was apparently never an official rule, makes the most sense. If an attacker’s body is clear of the defender, I can accept the decision being a question of millimetres, as I can with the goal-line technology.

The second broader point of the article, that whatever the rule, VAR isn’t football, is more serious. I have no need for any sport to be absolutely perfect in decision-making. What I would like in football is an elimination of whingeing, diving, and blaming the ref. I personally believe that VAR should be based on an appeal system as in cricket: if you are so sickened by the ref’s real-time decision, it’s YOUR decision whether to appeal or not. If you appeal and it turns out the decision was correct, you lose the right to appeal again in the game.

In a stroke, we would get rid of diving (any dive which didn’t result in a free kick would be appealed by the defender), whinging (you either ask for it to be referred to VAR or you shut up) and, perhaps most importantly, it would put an end to this latest incarnation of football fans, players and managers all complaining about the competence of the officials. The ball would be in the players’ court, and because the referees would be relieved of some responsibility, there would be less likelihood of constant VAR checks. You put up or you shut up.


When one reply just isn’t enough…
Usually I reply to mailbox messages in my head or, more concerningly, talking to my computer screen at work but people have started avoiding me in the corridors now so I’m doing it the sensible way instead.

To Steve, Los Angeles: City did cheat (appeal pending blah blah blah). They inflated sponsorship deals so they could spend sums on transfers they otherwise would not be able to do, buying players on wages they would ordinarily not be able to afford under FFP. Then they lied about it. And refused to cooperate. And were found guilty. So yeah, they did cheat and massively so.

Minty, LFC – my reading of Wengers offside thing is that it doesn’t actually eradicate the problem buy just move the point at which the little line would need to be drawn, shifting it back a bit. Plus the whole ‘daylight’ ruling that gets mentioned isn’t actually real and is still open to interpretation. How much daylight does there need to be? A millimetre? Centimetre?

Mark MCFC, football is politics and religion. It’s woven into the fabric of hundreds of teams worldwide. You can not like that but doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.

Anyway, this probably won’t get published so I’m off to get ready for the J League coverage tomorrow on Free Sports. Cheers to you, James T, Ishikawa, Japan!
Andy, London (via everywhere)


Entertaining mailbox this morning, we had JohnnyWicky sneering at the first bit of criticism Liverpool have received in about 2 years, perhaps this mythical team have transcended the opinions of mere mortals and only the gods can judge them now. We have Chris in Chicago who is thankful for losing as it reminds him his team aren’t actually gods. Then there’s Dave who is angry at UEFA because he went to the wrong pub. And finally we have Mark the City fan, Mark is very angry because the world is a terrible place and you just don’t understand how this makes it ok to support billionaires with deplorable morality. This isn’t even sarcastic (well, maybe a little), I was genuinely entertained.

In other news I actually wanted to respond to Minty regarding the Wenger offside rule. My issue with this would be for free kicks into the box. Attackers could stand a few feet closer to goal than the defensive line, giving them a massive advantage. I envisage defenders stood on the goal line to nullify this advantage, who then rush out once the kick is taken, a bit like in field hockey. Or, everyone crowding round the keeper like on corners. That’s a big change, and I don’t think for the better.
Dave, Manchester

More Related Articles