Thursday, February 28, 2008

How's this for excitement? - PremCorrespondent

After a third or fourth pint my old mate Spanner would complain about how dull life was. He’d pine for some excitement to stir things up in his predictable suburban existence. Then he walked in on his Eileen bent over the cooker with Big Dave in attendance.

And so to St James’ Park.

The Geordie Army wanted free flowing attacking football. They demanded it. They said it was better to lose such games than win playing Big Sam’s way.

Well southerners applaud actors from the stage after a fine performance, so why did the Magpies not stand and applaud Rooney and Ronaldo from the field after their 5-1 master class? I guess for the same reason Spanner ended up serving eight to twelve at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Football isn’t fun when played so freely in your own box.

So is there any chance West Ham fans might take note?

It seems the Irons never watched Charlton before hiring Curbishley. And who could blame them? Athletic were dull at the best of times. But now confronted with Alan’s ‘The best form of attack is defence’ philosophy, they don’t like it.

They won a tedious 1-0 this weekend against almost relegated Fulham, and the fans have started voicing their displeasure. So who wants to bet they too fail to hire Harry Rednapp in the near future and so resort to a former boss to return them to the exciting days of second tier football?

Not that dull football is always so bad. Just ask Wenger.

Eduardo caught the wrong end of a mistimed tackle, the likes of which happen across the country every week. And the the not-quite-first-teamer hit the deck just like countless players across the country every week.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, Croatian hopes of winning a trophy he shouldn’t be eligible for this summer were dashed by the fluke that the lad wasn’t just another prancing ninny. With the sort of break that even Terry Butcher might have needed more than a bandage on, Eduardo went to hospital wishing he’d been on the bench.

And apparently so did Gallas.

The Arsenal Captain sulked down the field as ten man Birmingham leveled from the spot at the finale. Some witless pundits complained at his lack of team spirit for not preparing to defend a possible rebound or rally his troops. I on the other hand criticize his lack of spirit for not lamping Gael Clichy after such piss poor defending that the great Tony Adams would surely have sent him for an extended stay in the bed next to his not-quite-Czech teammate.

And so to the chase for fourth place.

How is this for unwanted excitement? One of Liverpool, Everton, or Aston Villa is now likely to miss out on a European Tour next season by finishing sixth.

That’s right. Spurs are languishing in eleventh but have won the Floodlight Cup. And that means they go into next season’s UEFA Cup draw ahead of those in sixth place.

At the moment the unlucky team is set to be Aston Villa, who won an easy three points against free-falling Reading. The margin should have been greater than 2-1. But with a relatively easy run-in I wouldn’t bet against the geeky Irish chap finishing one place higher than his team is right now.

Next up are Liverpool who face the toughest run in of the three. They beat Middlesbrough 3-2 thanks to a phenomenal hat trick from Torres, who has shown a top class striker can adjust to English football in his first season. Some one should tell Kuyt.

And then there are Everton. Anyone that hasn’t bet on this belligerent group of battle hardened bastards doing well should get their money down now. The odds will only shorten and they demolished Manchester City in a 2-0 win that was at least as comprehensive as poor Newcastle’s drubbing.

They are rough, cynical, tactically astute, and have the sort of passion behind them that has become all too rare throughout a league they should this year finish fourth in. Indeed if Chelsea don’t snap out of their reported post-final crisis quickly the Toffeemen may look to go one better than that.

And so to teams for whom excitement is a relative term.

Blackburn beat an unlucky Bolton 4-1 in a game that never deserved that many goals. Two penalties, one of which was an awful decision, won it for Hughes’ side before the later and rather pointless extras were added.

Pompey won a rubbish game against Sunderland with a late penalty. That shot from the spot was the only one worthy of note. Frankly had both sides lost that would have been fair.

And finally Wigan went to the formality of taking three points from Derby. Any more detail than that is as unnecessary as telling poor Spanner that Big Dave was just that night's winner of the Eileen Raffle that the lads held in the Goose before he got off work.


podgeek said...


munni said...

A small correction: Eduardo is faux-Croatian, not faux-Czech.

guitougoal said...

The brasilian, faux-crotian playing in London for a french coach is almost crippled by a careless british defender.
I don't agree with the concept" this is business as usual"

munni said...

guitou: no, nor do I - if I sounded flippant, that wasn't the intention.

PremCorr said...

Well spotted Munni

I have made half a correction for sake of accuracy but left the second instance of my shameful mistake in. Humility is a blessing after all. Of course so is patriotic pride.

Margin said...


PC is right that tackles like that and worse happen all the time. But that doesn’t make it OK. Perhaps we need a better system of deterrents.

A three match ban for a first reckless tackle is fine as many players don’t ever commit such a foul, and if they do its only once and largely accidental.

But repeat offenders (and I don’t know if Taylor is one) need greater sanction. So how about the ban rises by three games for every offence. So a second offence gets a six match ban, and a third offence gets a nine match ban?

That would of course be better than a ban for life for a player who commits one such offence but gets unlucky and breaks a leg, while players like Hunt and Eboue do it all the time and effectively get away with it.

andrewm said...

Mouth, would you take all of our Spaniards in exchange for Moyes?

Yes, I am authorised to make this kind of deal. I assume you are as well.

guitougoal said...

I agree with you about three match ban for a first reckless tackle. I don't think Taylor's was malicious-
Besides football is a contact sport, leg-breaking accidents happen-But most of all it's a skill sport and in many cases in a game of skill the tackler is acting by reaction because he is loosing the ball.
managers should also get the blame because they encourage their team to play "physical" as part of their strategy against better teams-That sucks.
I know it was not your intention, anytime i see a player with this type of injury, it makes me sick (remember Alan Smith or Peter Czech) hence my comments about business as usual..

guitougoal said...

btw, I was busted on the GU thread about Eduardo for
mentioning that Wenger was a drama queen.I still think it was an understatement.

Margin said...


Don't kid yourself this is about lesser teams. ManU are no less physical than Birmingham - and there is nothing wrong with playing physical.

This is about players who in the heat of the moment take risks or make misjudgements that could well break legs - and while most times no one gets hurt, the risk alone warrants a red card.

And the big clubs have always had as many of those players as the little clubs. Roy Keane for famous example, or presently (and appropriately) Eboue.

Managers all too often forgive that "competitive edge" when they shouldn't. So maybe an increasing ban system might force them to.

Margin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margin said...

Oh and anyone that thinks wenger is no drama queen should look the term up.

munni said...

Of course Wenger's a drama queen, but he's also right.

Margin, intriguing suggestion. Reckless tackles usually only happen when other resources, such as skill, aren't enough - this is not ok, and a three match ban does not really do enough to discourage it [refrains from ranting about what's wrong with the current state of English football].

I have to say, it's been a fair few years since the league table looked this interesting at this point in the season.

munni said...

attempt to clarify my previous comment:

Recklessness is mostly only used when other resources, such as pure skill, are not sufficient to win the ball at a given moment.

Did not mean to imply that only unskilled players/teams resort to recklessness. That of course would be incorrect.

Margin said...


The cause doesn't matter. The incentive to stop it does.

We need an incentive for managers to calm dangerous players or not pick them.

Take Viera and Keane -

Wenger and SAF saw their vicious streaks and resulting three game bans as a price worth paying for their performances as players. Note that other teams losing players with broken legs didn't matter to them. That didn't hurt their club.

Then consider if each ban was three games longer than the last.

After five bans both managers might have seen a benefit to calming those players and discouraging their dangerous behaviour. After all - 18 games is a long time to be banned.

That sort of incentive for clubs to stop reckless and vicious tackles might see them take action.


My idea for an increasing ban means those who get unlucky with a dodgy ref, or who make a misjudgement once and learn from it - get a fair and equal three match ban.

Those who don't learn and keep being dangerous would be better punished.

guitougoal said...

There is definitely a difference of perception of the game which is complicating our dialogue. But that's what the game does, dividing or unifying us still it's the best show on earth.Cheers.
i agree with your last comments but as far as Wenger is concerned, I wish he could be more like....Ramos for example, more gracious in defeat.

munni said...

Margin, of course the cause matters. Prevention, not cure.

And anyway I was agreeing with you re. increasing bans.

bluedaddy said...

Good column PC. Eileen and Spanner were certainly having a bad day.

Margin, Munni, I entirely agree re escalating bans for serial hackers. There's a major problem though isn't there? The man tasked with instigating disciplinary change are the same men who, when visiting the little boy's room, have to take a more than a moment to decide between rolling up their blazer sleeves or lowering their trousers.

mimi said...

I'm probably way off key here - I've been in foreign climes - but Roy said today that he'd be feared to be one on his players cos he can be such a mean bastard telling them off for not playing to his standards. Also Derby appear to be looking forward to the parachute money for going down cos then they can be better on the way up.

I don't understand any of this. Best get back into my fluffy pjs and stop worrying about the fitba - as we cry it here.

Margin said...


Sorry, my mistake - I thought you meant wenger was right about the lifelong ban for taylor.

And I do agree the cause matters. But probably not to the authorities. They just need to create the incentives (through better targeted punishments) for managers to want to address those causes.


There is nothing wrong with hating defeat. Its a shame that makes people say some pretty nasty stuff when it happens, but thats they price they tend to pay for being winners.


alas i fear it will be a long time before improvements are made.

MotM said...

Late to this, but very interested to read the debate.

I don't agree with the escalating bans as this will punish the weaker clubs more than the big clubs (had Makelele got a nine match ban for Chelsea for his appalling and uncharacteristic assault yesterday, who would notice?)

The only answer is a combination of punishment and culture change. I'd ask a panel of ex-referees to review recklessly dangerous tackles with the power to dock points. Birmingham should lose two points for that tackle and Chelsea one for Makelele's.

AndrewM - a tempting offer as it includes Torres... but no way!

Margin said...


I'd avoid giving these sorts of decisions to panels. They always appear to favour the big clubs and that leads to more anger than its worth.

Just look at the 'frivilous' appeal rule that allows bans to be extended when clubs appeal against clearly correct decisions.

Only Boro have been done for that one (in the prem) despite very few of the top clubs ever letting a red card go without appeal.

bluedaddy said...

Be interesting to see what comes of Chelsea's Lampard appeal.

offside said...


the suspension will probably be deflected. I expect Makelele to be out for 3 games.

Tough luck...

bluedaddy said...

Well well well. It must have been a delicious lunch.

The FA really is beyond parody.

offside said...

What was that, BD?

mimi said...

I wish, I only wish that I could be joyful about Chelsea's success tonight. But I can't and I really don't know why. I mean obviously I'm not a fan of them, but always quite enjoyed their success with Mourinho and it's not as though my team is out of it yet.

Tweet it, digg it