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The ‘big six’ is a bad thing
I think the Premier League developing a top 6 is one of the worst things to have happened in recent years.
True, Leicester’s title win is little over 2 years ago, but since then, the big boys have really got into gear, hoovering up world-class talent from the smaller clubs in the league. It’s got to the point where 14 teams are effectively competing for a maximum of 1 space in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, and as that’s hardly the most glittering of prizes to a lot of teams, they just play to survive.
It’s led to teams playing with fear, and perhaps the least exciting season ever of the Premier League. I get that having 6 teams theoretically fighting for the title is good, but it rarely works out like that, and given that they are so far ahead of the rest, it means fans of the smaller clubs can no longer dare to dream.
Forget Leicester, for the next couple of seasons at least, I can’t even see a team like Bolton, Blackburn or Aston Villa upset the applecart and make a challenge for the Champions League.
We have to cut down on dissent
Suggestions to deal with referee badgering by booking the captain are certainly a creative way to tackle a growing and frustrating problem with football but I have a much simpler suggestion.
1 – Make a clear statement at the start of a tournament/league/whatever that dissent will not be tolerated and will result in a booking, no questions asked. Clearly define examples of dissent so that no-one is in any doubt what you mean.
2 – Book the first one that does it, straight away, no questions asked.
3 – Book the second one that does it, straight away, no questions asked.
4 – Book the third one that does it, straight away, no questions asked.
5 – Do this for every game, without wimping out and going back to the old ways.
It will be gone within a matter of games or possibly even minutes.
Sure it might mean a lot of players sent off at first but more fool them. SC (Feeling old and grumpy now there’s no football) Belfast says footballers are clever enough to realise that if they all hound the referee then they can’t all be booked. Then they’ll be clever enough to realise that they will get booked if the first 3 to make it to the ref have already seen a card.
Players do it because they’re allowed to do it. Punish them for doing it, as they are punished with a red if they punch someone, and they’ll soon stop…… well most of them will.
Just look how quickly most of them stopped tugging each other down at corners in the World Cup with VAR to see how easy it would be to sort this out if “they” chose to.
Adam (Making life simple since 1972) LFC
The problem with the penalty box
I feel like the discussion of handball is not really the right focus. The problem is the penalty box and the penalty kick. It is, quite frankly, a punishment that is not commensurate with the infraction, much of the time. In a game where goals are always at a premium, to allow someone a 90% certainty of a goal, for an infractions simply because it takes place within the box makes little sense.
Any handball rule will involve many many cases of disagreement and subjectivity. And it isn’t just handballs, all sorts of fouls are given intense scrutiny and second-guessing when they are in the box. Fouls that would hardly get a second look if they were at midfield. How often does a player get a foul in the box once the ball is well away?
There is an added issue, which is, of course, the refs are inclined not to call things in the box that would be stone fouls if they happened outside the box. This is especially evident during set pieces into the box, wear tugging and mugging happen as a matter of course. Additionally, the penalty box itself is a culprit, with the furthest point being 23 meters from the closest point to goal, as compared to the 11 meters right in front of the goal uncontested they would be awarded if fouled out in that hinterland.
I know it will never happen, but the box should be changed, rounded corners. I could come up with some other ideas that are just spitballing: penalty kick, but from the spot of the infraction, penalty box just 10 meters from goal (the encroachment distance), maybe some rules with respect to control or such. I’m not sure, it doesn’t really matter, though, Nothing like that will happen. We will just continue arguing about the nuance of subjective rules that provide an ultimate reward whether it is merited or not.
David O, California
Reminiscing on Wenger the man
Yes, it was past time for him to go, but that doesn’t change what a great man he was in his field. His latest interview reminds us of it, especially when you compare some of his nuggets to the stream of banal PFM biographies serialised in the papers these days.
There really was nobody better in terms of a classy quote (and I mean a classy quote, not a pithy insult), and there are some absolute classics in that interview.
– I can tell you it’s better to have a good centre-forward than a hymn sheet.
– If I’m not Alsacien, above all I’m a citizen of the world. I have no real taste for borders…
– We all tend to wallow in comfort. We don’t want the pain. Unfortunately, without the pain you don’t reach a higher level.
– I would introduce football as an obligation, everywhere, absolutely all over France. Every single school.
And so, so many more. I am looking forward to the new Arsenal era, but Arsene, you will be missed.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Feeling sad about Jerome Sinclair
Your article about loan moves got me thinking about Jerome Sinclair. I can’t believe he’s so in thrall to his agent that he’d miss out on 6 months of football (and a chance to get his career going) because Aidy Ward told him to wait whilst he tried to double his own fees.
If I were Sinclair those 8 minutes of football in 2018 would have me seething and I’d have dumped the agent sharpish. Liverpool wanted to sign him up on a new deal and his agent convinced him Watford was the better move; his career seems to have stalled massively in the last few years.
It’s sad when people like Ravel Morrison waste their own talent, but an agent effectively wasting your career in a game of chess to get paid is even more sad.
Everything can’t be handball
I don’t watch much hockey. In fact like most I probably only become dimly aware of the sport every four years during the Olympics, cheering them on with the same relish and utter lack of knowledge as I do for archery and gymnastics and horse dancing.
But, despite my real lack of knowing a whole lot about the sport, something does become clear. Because the ball in hockey isn’t allowed to hit feet, a good chunk of the attacking play is devoted to manoeuvring into the oppositions box and whacking the ball at defenders feet, hoping for a penalty corner.
Why I am mentioning this? Well footballers ain’t stupid. Despite all evidence to the contrary they learn and adapt at a rate. That’s why the day after the rule change regarding what is and what isn’t offside came in, Ruud Van Nistelroy was there standing five yards beyond the last man making everything bloody difficult.
I see the temptation in changing the handball law to anything that hits the hand is a penalty. I do. Its cleaner, easier and rids the ambiguity. But it will, I think, lead inevitably to teams attacking by getting the ball near on in the box, then aiming for defenders hands and arms. Why bother with breaking teams down the hard way when a little flick to the wrist will get you a better chance to score than most incisive through balls.
I don’t want that game. I don’t really like hockey either.
Is diving *that* bad?
Yep, Matt Bishop, diving is cheating.
– Tackling an opponent with excessive force
– Tripping an opponent
– Blocking an opponent
– Pulling an opponent
– Pushing an opponent
– Calling for a throw/corner/goal against the facts
– Handling the ball
– Moving the ball forward from throw-in/free-kick
And on and on. Lots of things in the game are cheating. The outrage around diving specifically is all a bit PFM for me. It’s a way that more skilful players cheat, that attackers cheat, that less physical players cheat.
Seems that Matt and other all consider cheating by offering violence or the risk of same to a more skilful player acceptable, and cheating by exaggerating contact (where a ref isn’t likely to give the decision unless you do so) or inventing it completely (the equivalent in this instance of tackling without even going for the ball?) is a scourge on the game.
No idea why this is. I feel more cheated as a spectator by ten years of the likes of Vidic, Terry et al getting away with thuggery as a path to winning than I do a clown like Neymar making a fool of himself ten times a game.
Still wish the ref would send them all off though.
Darragh, Spurs, Ireland
Ending with a big old zing
Hope Everton fans don’t get too carried away after that 22-0 drubbing.
The other team was so awful in defence that even Jose’s Manchester United could’ve won that 3-0.
Niraj (still rooting for Jose’s utd this season) USA