Monthly Archives: November 2009

Roy Carroll and why he is just as bad

Now that the furore surrounding Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland has calmed down I thought that my thoughts could be finally be heard.

Firstly, I don’t blame Henry. Whether he meant it or not it doesn’t matter. The only moment when Henry would have had the clarity of thought to admit to what he had done, intentionally or not, was after Gallas had peeled off in celebration.

Can we blame Henry for not admitting it? No, of course not. If Ireland had gone on to win (they weren’t winning at the time) then Henry would be hated by his country and teammates alike. The French public forgave Zidane, they wouldn’t forgive Henry.

Henry can regret not speaking up at the time but he had approximately 5 seconds to make the decision. Furthermore, if he does own up it is not a guarantee that the correct decision would be made (see Robbie Fowler penalty versus Arsenal).

Thierry Henry has been called a cheater by a lot of people. I would extend this list to almost every footballer, professional or not. We have all gained a free kick or throw in which we know should have gone the other way. I would immediately throw Roy Carroll into this bracket (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4130167.stm). Note the poll on the right of the screen.

Let’s categorise Slaven Bilic in that list (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/croatian-rocker-who-wants-to-roll-over-rooney-419478.html)

It could go on.

For this whole shambles I blame FIFA and the referees. How the linesman missed the handball I’ll never know. They should be banned from going to the World Cup as punishment for a calamitous error.

FIFA should have long introduced video technology for the fourth official. The rule in using it should be as follows: “If the fourth official recognises an incident which is conclusive beyond all doubt which the referee and his team have not seen then it is his duty to inform them of the incident in question.”

This denies the fourth official the license to rule on penalty decisions, all of which have an element of doubt, off-sides, unless obviously wrong, or general fouls. However, the Henry incident, the Bilic incident, the Carroll incident, the Rivaldo incident and the Zidane incident would be irradiated without any controversy.

I do not subscribe to the view that it will delay the game due to the melee which always ensues after an ‘incident’; there will always be sufficient time for the odd replay. Also, the argument that the beauty of football is that the same game can be played anywhere and introducing video at the highest level would distort that does not sit well either. Cricket and Rugby have not been harmed by the introduction at the highest level only. Also, the games which have extensive enough video coverage tend to be the ones that matter the most, including play-off games for all leagues and any Cup final.

Now is the time to use the technology at our disposal to remove things which referees can’t see or fail to see.

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Season so far – Part Four; Sunderland, Tottenham, West Ham, Wigan and Wolves

Sunderland

 

Steve Bruce and every Sunderland fan must be pleased with the start of the season. To put everything into perspective Sunderland avoided relegation last season on the last day.

 

Sunderland have a good squad and depth in all of the key areas. Obviously Darren Bent has been the star so far and got a deserved England call up. I think that the man who has impressed me the most is Cana. His huge experience has really given the team a maturity that they were lacking last year. Watch out for his arm gestures next game; whenever a colleague has the ball he points to where it should be played.

 

In January I think that Bruce should look to sign another striker, one happy not to get a regular game but can come in and do a job. If Bent gets injured then I feel Sunderland are a bit light on striking power. Jones has not been scoring enough in the last 12 months and Campbell is just ‘potential’ at the moment.

 

Maybe Benjani on loan from Man City?

 

Tottenham

 

My favourite quote from Harry Redknapp his season was (and I paraphrase) ‘we’ll score loads of goals and win most of the time but occasionally get thumped because of the way we play’.

 

Essentially that is what has happened so far this season. Spurs are winning most of the games and aside from the performances against Sunderland, Man Utd and Arsenal Spurs have dominated the matches they have been involved in.

 

They should be a challenge for anyone on paper and, like Harry says, will win most of their games.  

 

West Ham

 

Tough times at Upton Park this season. I think that the squad has some good players (Upson, Green, Parker and Cole) and some good young players (Noble, Tomkins and Collinson). However, the rest of the squad is of a quality which is border line between Championship and Premier League.

 

When on form, e.g. Ilunga second half of last season, the players are more than capable. If the players are not on form then the lack of base quality will become more evident. It’ll be tough for Zola this season and I foresee a relegation battle.

 

The key as to what to do in January is not who to buy but keeping all of the players named above.

 

Wigan

 

I don’t really know what to say about Wigan. Having only seen them a few times and their form being so inconsistent it is difficult to provide any constructive or quality comment.

 

The only aspect of Wigan’s play that I would like to pick up on is reverse positioning of N’Zogbia and whoever is on the right of midfield. By having each player come on to their stronger foot the idea is that the ball will be used better closer to the goal, i.e. in the central channel. This seems to work against the bigger teams, those that do not load the midfield when the play Wigan. Against teams against whom points are expected to be won then it seems that by cutting inside each player gets crowded out.

 

I would have thought that Roberto Martinez could use this ploy sparingly rather than every week (from what I can see anyway).

 

Wolves

 

I am one of few impartial football fans that likes Mick McCarthy. This season is going to be a tough one for him and followers of Wolves. I have written before about what I think Wolves need to do in order to survive and having watched the game against Arsenal I still believe what in what I wrote https://thoughtsonfootball.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/kightly-the-key-to-wolves-survival-this-season/

 

Wolves need to start using their forward thinking players more intelligently in order to create the type of match which they dominate.

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Season so far – Part Three; Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Portsmouth, Stoke

Liverpool 

The start of Liverpool’s season has been the most talked of. Questions concerning the defence, midfield and the attack have yet to be properly answered and Rafa Benitez has come under criticism for the poor start in the league and Europe.

 

But where has it all gone wrong? At the beginning of the season Liverpool were many people’s tip for the title; continuing the good form shown at the back of last season into this. Firstly it is important to recognise where the title was lost last season. The home draws against West Ham, Hull, Stoke and Fulham were the reason cited for Liverpool failing to win the league. Converting two of those into wins would have given enough points to be level with Man Utd.

 

This season Liverpool has beaten Stoke and Hull at Anfield, thereby rectifying the mistakes of last year. At this point it is worth noting that the draws come with Alonso in the team and the wins this season obviously did not.

 

However, this season there have been defeats to Fulham, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Spurs and Chelsea. Against Villa, Sunderland and Chelsea Liverpool did not take their chances; against Fulham Liverpool had plenty of possession but did not create enough. The Spurs game was a poor performance and a justified defeat.

 

The argument that Liverpool needs Gerrard and Torres is justified to an extent. The remainder of the attacking players could not command a place in most teams first XI. Kuyt is an average right winger; Benayoun is tricky but wasteful and can try too hard in certain situations, Riera likewise. The third man in the Gerrard, Torres triumvirate, Aquilani, has been injured so judgement cannot be passed. However, Benitez’s wisdom needs to be questioned – was spending 20m on an injury prone player (who was injured at the time) a good idea?

 

Defensively the team is at sea. The players seem to have no confidence in each other and are almost waiting for one of them to make an individual mistake. Furthermore, it is very difficult to join a back four that defend zonally from set pieces. This is found out when Arbelloa replaced Finnan, goals from corners were being leaked with regularity. Johnson and Insua joining Carragher and either Skrtel or Agger has not helped. Particularly Insua who is looking a worse player as each week goes by. For a 20 year old he looks far too slow.

 

The answer is not to sack Benitez. However, he should not be allowed to purchase players. Mourinho said during this time at Chelsea that he wanted a squad of 25; three goalkeepers and two players in every other position. Liverpool have three left backs, three right backs, four central defenders, four central midfielders (I don’t include Spearing), four wide players and three strikers. The lack of quality in some of those positions is the reason Liverpool did not convert the defeats this season into positive results.

 

Manchester City

 

A good start to the season which has tailed away after the succession of draws. City certainly has the quality to challenge for the league and the Champions League places. Alan Hansen explained the difficulty City have right now is the defence. It’d be too easy to pick on Bridge after what we saw on MOTD.

 

I feel that City need to play with more strength in the middle of midfield. Currently the side is playing an orthodox 4-4-2 which I don’t think affords enough protection to Lescott and Toure; particularly if either full back goes on a run up field. Playing a Christmas tree or 4-5-1 and having De Jong, Barry and Ireland in the middle would give more balance to the side. This unfortunately means dropping Wright-Phillips but giving Bellemy and Tevez the license to roam behind Adeybor will cause enough problems to any defence so the attacking potency will not be lacking.

 

Manchester Utd

 

I might be speaking too soon, given the very important match coming up, but this is how I am viewing the season so far. It has been a good start, minor blips against Liverpool, Burnley and CSKA but nothing aside from that.

 

However, a theme of Utd’s season has been the late goals scored, most notably against Man City and Sunderland. This points to the fact that Man Utd need late goals to secure or rescue results. Neither the defence nor the attack has been firing on all cylinders but yet both have been at full strength, player-wise.

 

The reason for the success so far has been Rooney’s form. He has been far and away the best player. Only Berbatov looks like coming close to matching Rooney for the quality he brings to the side. Unfortunately for Utd Rooney is a form player, when on form he scores goals for fun but they a tendency to dry up in patches. The success of the season depends on keeping Rooney fit and others filling his boots when he is not scoring as freely as he could.

 

In January there has been a lot of talk of Villa or Silva and I think at least one needs to be purchased in order to remain on course to challenge.

 

Portsmouth

 

I still maintain that this is what needs to happen on the pitch in order to fix Pompey this season https://thoughtsonfootball.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/portsmouth-fixed/

 

However, off the pitch needs as much attention. Players need to be assured that they are at a club for the foreseeable future and that they will only leave if their performances are so good someone buys them or so bad Pompey sell them.

 

Survival is paramount for the future of the club and Hull’s victory against Stoke will not help Pompey.

 

Stoke

 

Tony Pullis deserves so much credit for what he has done at Stoke. He has developed a squad which has enough quality in each position. There is nothing I would change if given the chance.

 

One potential addition in January which could start the side nicking a few more goals could be a true goal poacher. At the Brittania Stoke are going to have more of the ball than they did last season. Having someone like Michael Owen (obviously not actually Michael Owen) in the side could open up defences which come to Stoke and sit in for a draw.

 

Actual names to consider could be Chopra from Cardiff (if they need to sell) or Leeds’ Jermaine Beckford.

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