Mails: Still sad Simeone didn’t replace Wenger at Arsenal

Date published: Thursday 21st February 2019 8:59

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Away goals
Two late away goals for City gives us a surely insurmountable 6-2 lead into the second leg. IMHO these goals counting double should be reflected in the players stats for the season. (I jest)

Garey, I enjoyed the conspiracy theories, but not as much as I enjoyed watching the video again, it’s a thing of beauty. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Now I’ve got twelve Diamond Geezer articles to get through, I’ve been looking forward to this.
Matt, MCFC, Dubai (on loan).


As a former lawyer and eternal pedant, I want to take issue with one of Steven Chicken’s points in his otherwise excellent article on handball. Although, as he states, relatively few offences require that the referee find ‘deliberate’ action, in fact most of the significant offences during play are not ‘strict liability,’ but require the ref to read a player’s mind.

In Law 12, direct free kick fouls require that the action be ‘careless, reckless, or using excessive force’. The first of these three conditions means a foul, the second a yellow card, the third a red. As these terms are defined, although ‘excessive force’ does not involve a player’s mental state, ‘reckless’ always does and ‘careless’ usually does.

‘Reckless’ action is ‘when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent’. Disregard is a mental state. ‘Careless’ action is ‘when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution’. Lack of attention and lack of consideration are mental states, and you could argue that acting without precaution is as well, although I wouldn’t press the point.

That said, the article’s main idea, that we need a clearer handball rule, and a clear protocol for VAR handball calls, is absolutely correct. No rule will be perfect, admittedly, but at the moment things could hardly be more of a mess.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


I am sat listening to the 5 Iive daily podcast on the var handball in the city game.

What on earth is Danny Mills on about?

“Any time the ball hits the hand in the area should be a penalty”. He says this will make it simpler to decide for what is and isnt a penalty.  Then he says the referee will be able to see if there is a deliberate kick by the attacker to the defenders arm and can then book the attacker for ungentlemanly conduct.

Later on he says that the decisions will even out over the course of a season and so people will accept it.

He’s got absolutely no idea.

Not really sure what the point of this is but it’s just made me really angry that someone who has played the game and is well paid to give an opinion can be so wrong.
Kevin (don’t get me started on Martin Keown). Itfc. Vancouver.


I really don’t see the difficulty in determining whether a handball was deliberate or not.

You just need to fulfill these two conditions:

1. The offender saw the ball coming.
2. The offender moved or adjusted his body such that he stops or alters the trajectory of the ball.

You can’t blame it on clumsiness. These people are professional athletes.

Apply a bit of common sense.


All about politics
I have never, and I do mean never, been a ref/line-o basher even when my team has been on the receiving end of some humdingers and I’ve never understood those that do.  Refs and their colleagues making slightly odd, poor, or even outrageously bad decisions is as woven into the football fabric as, say, Cantona Kung Fu kicking a supporter.  When an outfield player repeatedly makes poor decisions, you can tut or huff or be exasperated or scream at the pitch or telly but when a goalie makes ONE then it’s time for steel helmets because the incoming will be (mainly) overly harsh.  But it’s human nature.  It’s the very unpredictability and randomness of it that makes football both exhilarating and uber-frustrating at the same time.  The decisions of the officials in that mix are no different.  It’s why we read, rant, comment, debate and argue what happens in each and every game we watch.  If all these factors were absent, we’d be watching some sterilised non-controversial football version of Basketball.  92 goal v 89 ffs.

Which is also why I like GLT because it’s either the whole ball over all the line or it isn’t.  VAR, as it works now anyhoo, doesn’t and can’t do that and, therefore, doesn’t improve the crucial decision making of officials specifically because the imperfect human element remains.  Anybody who states or infers that VAR should’ve or will rid us of this is being, at best, disingenuous. It can’t possibly, irrefutably prove those who scream PEN! or DIVE! right or wrong either way 100% of the time.   You’re reading this now, where you are now, and in the relationship you’re in now (if in one at all and good, bad or indifferent) precisely because of the decisions YOU’VE made in your life so far.  You been 100% correct every single minute of every single day of YOUR working life?

And it is at his point that I will say this.  Last night’s Schalke v City game.  After all I’ve written, I just couldn’t help thinking “Hmm.  Spanish Referee with a manager who supports an independent Catalonia and who is openly wearing a yellow ribbon”.  Much as I love him for what he’s done/is doing, I don’t agree with Pep, or anybody else in the sport, mixing football with politics.  But still, he (the Ref) didn’t hesitate to refer Schalke decisions to VAR at the start of the game but wiped away the City equivalents in the 2nd half (B Silva’s was never a pen) without batting an eyelid.  Was his monitor working then?  And can I just point out that UEFA normally goes out of its’ way to avoid politically contentious appointments.  Ukraine v Russia for example.
Mark (Occam’s razor.  Google it kids).  MCFC


VAR’s real problem
I’m a city fan and until last night I was a big supporter of VAR. Now? Not so sure – but not for the simple reasons you might imagine regarding the first penalty (I genuinely didn’t think it was). My big complaint was the way I reacted to sterling’s late winner. I thought at first he might have fouled the defender and so even as the goal was scored there was the creeping doubt that the referee, this referee, would refer it to VAR. so we waited a few moment and a few moment longer and then celebrated. It just took away some of the unalloyed joy of the moment and that’s a big thing in football, in sports in general,  where the key moments of any contest can often be counted on one hand.  I’ve tried explaining to American friends the anticipation and explosion of joy that can come with a late 1-0 victory – that’s not to decry other sports but it’s a pretty unique feature of football. If VAR might take that away then I think we’d lose something special.

I get the arguments for VAR, I’ve made those arguments myself over and over. Anything that gets to the right answer has to be good right? But I’m not sure the price is worth paying if it means we lose that essential element of joy and emotional release we get from the scoring of a key goal.

On a slight side note the simple fact is if the referee cannot review a decision open to interpretation then VAR cannot be allowed to take the role of the referee. He clearly didn’t see it and couldn’t review it so shouldn’t have allowed VAR to solely decide it.

I know fans of other clubs will have all kinds of myopic views of this but the fact remains it will happen to you one day and it’s an odd sensation to want to celebrate but to know you’ll have to wait to do it.

Nobody like to be premature do they
Steve. Manchester. Most definitely MCFC.


Delighted with the result tonight given the circumstances, obviously. But my oh my, what a debacle VAR is turning out to be, and there were a number of issues with its implementation this evening. Certainly more than I could care to go into this evening.

Whether you believe it was a penalty or not, the fact of the matter is that this decision was made by those in a room upstairs, which is a clear violation of the rules. If the referee needs to see it for himself on the touchline to make the call, and can’t because of technical failings, well I’m sorry, but that’s just tough titties. It seems clear to me that in this instance, the referee was coerced into a decision that he could not see and thus did not make for himself. Ergo, VAR laws have been breached in awarding this penalty.

Also, what is it about football and its over-inflated self-importance that makes it think it can do video replays differently – namely with a hell of a lot more pomp and circumstance – than any other sport? When you look how sleek and seamless technology is implemented in tennis, cricket, rugby etc., having to sit through the shenanigans that VAR creates is infuriating, and pathetic, quite frankly. I feel like FIFA/UEFA have purposefully gone out of their way to make VAR ‘bigger and better’ than it is in any other sport because, y’know, ‘we’re football, rooaarrrr’! All they have succeeded in doing is prolong and complicate something we could all do ourselves at home with Sky+. Absolute wankers, the lot of them.

I am also pretty miffed with Pep for not starting Sane and Zinchenko this evening. Of everything I have witnessed this evening, I think that was the most clear and obvious error.
Rusty Blue, MCFC


Asking the important questions
Great free kick and all that…

But let’s focus on what’s important here…what on Earth was that song after the city game?
Jon, Lincoln


There was another game
I imagine most of this morning’s mails will focus on City’s stunning comeback v Schalke, so to mix it up, here are some thoughts on the great game between Atletico Madrid and Juventus, which the Spanish side deservedly won 2-0.

• Atleti were fully deserving of both victory and the margin of it. Their doggedness doesn’t always make them the most attractive team to watch, but they had the bit between their teeth and played some great stuff.

• Juve were very lucky that it wasn’t a bigger scoreline; the decision to chalk out Morata’s goal was ridiculous. Chiellini throws himself on the ground following minimal contact from the striker. It’s a great shame, too, as it surely would have ingratiated him with fans & boosted his confidence.

• As you’d expect Atletico were always a danger from set plays. Griezmann’s deliveries were superb – his effort to try & beat Szczesny at his near post was wonderfully audacious (Chris Sutton joylessly said the keeper made a meal of it) but the pressure paid later in the match for both of the goals.

• It wasn’t just his set pieces that were good: Griezmann played well all night, and was only denied a beautiful chip by a wonderful finger tip save from Juve’s Polish #1. Fantastic play all around.

• Typical then that it’s the two centre backs that got the goals for Atletico. Both goals showed an alertness and determination to score. Gimenez’s strike was borne out of a sheer desire to break the deadlock but Godin’s goal was especially well-taken – it takes great poise and composure to lose flight of the ball on the turn, have it come back into your eyeline and finish it how he did. It drew a little squeak of delight from curmudgeonly Chris Sutton on commentary, so you know it was good.

• A quick word for Ronaldo: a quiet night by his ridiculous standards, but like Griezmann, some great quality from set plays. Drew a strong-handed save from Oblak & disguised a clever pull back free kick in the second half. He could yet have a say in the tie back in Italy.

• will you ever see a more stupid yellow card than Diego Costa for needlessly stepping out of the wall? He’s now out of the second leg. Idiotic.

• Overall, a fully deserved win by Atletico, who must be confident they can go to Italy and defend this lead. If any side in the competition, it’s them.
Tom, Devon, NUFC


When I visit a city for the first time, I don’t seek out fridge magnets or key rings as a souvenir of my trip – I look for that city’s team’s football shirt.

Unlike a lot of Brits, the first Spanish city I ever visited was Madrid and so naturally being the contrary so and so I am – Atletico became my team.

So last night I was cheering them on and what a game it was too.

It also reminded me of why I wanted Simeone to succeed Wenger. The togetherness of that team, those fans, and all because of Diego. You had a penalty and a goal chalked off and still Atletico pushed and pushed until finally they made the breakthrough and then added a second for good measure.

I would love to see Atletico lift the trophy this season – it’s been a long time coming.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Precious China
For the past few years we’ve seen numerous players linked with China, whether it made sense or not. I many have made the switch, with varying quality and results, and one thing in common: loads of money.

But could the balance be shifting?

A couple of weeks ago Wu Lei made his debut for Espanyol, having signed for about €2million. A 13 minute cameo against Villarreal wouldn’t usually be something out of the ordinary, but the game got 40million viewers back in China.

Now given, Wu is a big name in China, with over 340 appearances, 151 goals and 63 caps, but how hard is it to see teams cramming a Chinese player into their team?

When you need a spare right back that’s probably playing 4 league games plus a couple of cup matches, are you going to look for a middling Championship player you’ll wave on in two years, or a Chinese player who actively makes more money than they bring in?

It will be difficult if the quality doesn’t match what’s needed, as without the appearances they won’t be worth much, but even a few in the league could actively increase tv revenue for everyone.

In no doubt, if it carries on like this Wu Lei might well be in demand this Summer regardless of performances
KC (was always inevitable)


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