The REAL start to the season

Never mind the Premier league, international games or the Champions League….

My sunday league season kicks off this weekend!

I’ve played sunday football for as long as I care to remember and have missed very few games over the years and I’ll be honest playing football always comes ahead of watching.

Pre-season feels like it’s gone on for ages this year so I’m glad the proper games are finally here. I’ve personally been in decent form and the while the team has a lot of new faces I think we’re potentially stronger than last year

My final warm up game was last night. I went to play for a “old boys XI” with the very first team I played for (at adult level). It was great to see the old team again. I don’t live in the area anymore so a lot of people I haven’t seen in literally years

The games was against the Birmingham Police football team and we won 5-2

I’ve had better days in front of goal but I didn’t manage to grab a tap in when their keeper gifted the ball to me after taking a heavy touch on a back pass

I’ve left it a bit late but I’ll be on the lookout for a new pair of boots tomorrow. The current pair I have will be ok for sunday but I fear they’ll not last the next few months

These look great but not sure if i can stretch that far!

What’s in this can? Oh it’s just a load of worms!

Diving is cheating

I don’t need to tell you that. Every week we see a professional footballer throw himself to the floor in attempt to gain an advantage. The media love it as they can get a lot of mileage out of it and some players then become “notorious” divers

However I find the fact Arsenal’s Eduardo has been banned for two games is farcical (at least)

Short piece on the Uefa.com site

The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body today examined the case of the Arsenal FC player Eduardo "for deceiving the referee" during the UEFA Champions League play-off second leg match on 26 August against Celtic FC, and has suspended the player for two UEFA club competition matches.

Appeal deadline
This decision may be appealed against by the club or player within three working days of the dispatch of the reasoned decision.

TwoFootedTackle has a great opinion on this which you should go and read

There are lots of reasons why I take umbrage with this

1) Why now?

If Uefa, Fifa, whoever had announced at the start of the season that they were clamping down on diving and that they would be using video evidence to retrospectively punish players then fine. But why at the end of the Arsenal game? When we get to the next set of games will they do it again if someone else dives?

2) Pick a punishment

Generally players get booked during the game if the referee decides they have dived they get a yellow card. If they do again during the same game they’ll get another yellow card, followed by a red which means a one game ban

Two dives in one game equals one game ban

In the Champions League you get banned for picking up three yellow cards.

So three dives in three different games equals a one game ban

So why have Uefa decide a two game ban is appropriate?

If he had decided during the game it was a dive then it would have been a yellow card. No more

So either the referee didn’t see it or he didn’t think it was a dive. How do Uefa get to a two game ban?

3) Deciding what is a dive

There has been a lot of debate about whether Eduardo actually dived or not and he is the only person who knows 100% for sure

Every time diving gets discussed there is a lot of talk about players moving so fast that it doesn’t take much to knock them over. I can agree with that so how do we actually know when someone is intentionally diving or not?

Here are some good examples from the next game Arsenal played in against Manchester United

There have been some suggestions that Rooney dived to win this penalty

What I think this is an example of winning a penalty. Rooney and Almunia are racing for a ball. Rooney gets there just ahead of the keeper knowing that if he can just get it away from the keeper he’s going to get taken out. Obviously he doesn’t make any attempt to stay on his feet for maximum effect

I do think it’s a penalty but I can certainly see why Arsenal fans would be unhappy with it

In contrast with Eboue. (about 20 seconds into the video) who comes inside Evra, realises Carrick is there and throws himself over. Surely Mr Wenger would have been telling his players in the build up to the game that they needed to be on their best behaviour?

That’s my take on it all

Diving does need to be stamped out but it’s not a black and white subject (unlike goal line decisions…but that’ll keep for another time) and any punishment needs to be consistent so everyone knows where they stand

While we’re talking about a penalty in the Manchester United vs Arsenal game. I think Darren Fletcher’s tackle on Andrey Arshavin was easily a penalty

BOOOOOOO!

Time for an opinion piece I think

Over on the BBC News site Phil McNulty talks about Rafa Benitez and Martin O’Neill in the fallout from there game at the weekend (Liverpool 1 – 3 Aston Villa)

He talks about how O’Neill was irked by Villa fans booing them off at half time

I’m inclined to agree with the statement he made

"I said at the time if you are booed off at the end of the game when you have not played well and you deserve that then fine, but I was disconcerted by it at half-time against Wigan. I didn’t hear Liverpool being booed off at half-time when they were two goals down here."

 

I’ve always thought booing your team during a game to be counter productive. Don’t get me wrong if your team isn’t performing as you’d expect them to I think you are more than entitled to let them know about it. I just think if you do it during the game it doesn’t help

Having seen my own team fight relegation battles, I’ve seen this first hand. I remember going to a “must win six pointer” at home. After 20 minutes we hadn’t scored and the opposition we’re getting the upper hand. During a promising attack a ball got played wide, the winger mis-controlled the ball and he had to watch it trickle out of play

That was breaking point some of the crowd and the boos started.

Where this then becomes a problem is that the winger stopped attacking his full back. Every time the ball into him he played it simple, back into midfield or to the full back behind him. He stopped taking risks as you don’t get booed for keeping possession right? It ruins some young players as it creeps into the next game and they slowly become ordinary players

This then spreads through the team and no-one tries anything out of the ordinary and the chances quickly dried up

I don’t think the players do this automatically. It’s just human nature.

Can you imagine trudging off a pitch at half time and having thousands of people booing you. If you are loosing a game half time is when you can collect your thoughts, think about what went wrong and get yourself into the frame of mind to perform better. If your thinking about not getting booed this isn’t going to help

Some players can use it as motivation, some can’t. Again that’s just human nature

Next time you are at a game and your team isn’t doing so well or the promising young winger cheaply gives away possession. Get behind them. Cheer louder. You are a SUPPORTER aren’t you?

If after the final whistle you still think they need to know they haven’t played well then boo all you like

Back on it

Ooops…Just realised it’s been almost a month since my last post!

A combination of work and illness have kept me away from the blog. I didn’t realise it had quite been so long!

We’re now a couple of weeks into the season and last years Premier League first and second placed teams have bounced back from defeats (Burnley 1 –0 Man Utd, Tottenham 2 – 1 Liverpool) to score a hatful of goals (Wigan 0 – 5 Man Utd, Liverpool 4 – 0 Stoke)

As usual the press decided to write both teams off as soon as the final whistle went on those defeats.

I really find it odd trying to predict the outcome of a season on the back of two or three games. What if Liverpool or Man Utd win every single game between now and the end of the season?

For the rest of the “big four” Arsenal and Chelsea have both looked impressive. If Tottenham and Man City can also keep their good start going it will turn out to be an exciting season. Fingers crossed!

Florentino Perez forgets how the transfer system works

The Real Madrid president has been complaining about “inflated” prices according to Goal.com

"We made huge attempts at the start to sign players who had won the Ballon d’Or or the World Footballer of the Year award," Perez said, according to The Daily Telegraph.

"But the arrivals of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo have confused some people who obviously thought that, because we said we wanted more Spanish players, they could ask for fees which don’t correspond to reality.

"A year ago, certain players we have asked about would have cost less than half the price we are being quoted now. There is nothing that justifies these prices."

Oh dear, oh dear

When you go to big clubs such as AC Milan or Manchester United and ask if you can have their best players they generally say “no chance” and put an unrealistic valuation on them to scare potential suitors away

That’s why they paid so much for Kaka and Ronaldo

Liverpool probably don’t want to lose Xabi Alonso so are holding out for the 30 million that would compensate for the loss

I also think Perez is also wrong in trying to use the Ballon d’Or and World Footballer of the Year award as reasons for paying higher prices

Only one person a year can win each of the awards! It’s not Liverpool (or any other teams) fault their star player didn’t win it that year

If these awards are a barometer for valuations why did they pay 41 million Euros for Benzema? Alex Ferguson thought it was a step too far

"We tried to spend it on Benzema because, at 21, I felt there would be an improvement there.

"He is tough, has a good physique, a good goal scoring record, so it was worth going a wee bit extra for him because of his age. But when it went to £42 million, it was beyond his value. We went to £35 million and I think that was fair.

Jimmy Walker on Trial at Sheffield United

Unless you’re a Walsall fan this problem means nothing to you!

The Mirror are reporting that Jimmy Walker is on trial at Sheffield United. He’s currently a free agent so is looking for a deal somewhere

Jimmy Walker = Walsall legend!

The very first football programme I ever got signed by a player was by Jimmy Walker – he broke his leg in the same game but we’ll forget about that

Fingers crossed he get’s sorted soon – if not you will be more than welcome back home :-)

Zlatan, Eto’o – crazy!

I still can’t get over this deal

Barcelona are now the proud owners of Zlatan Ibrahimovic who signed a five year deal yesterday

Here is the unveiling ceremony (via 101GG)

In return Inter Milan will reportedly receive 45 million Euros, Alexander Hleb on loan for the season AND Samuel Eto’o

While I think Ibrahimovic is a vastly talented striker I also think Eto’o is still one of the best strikers in Europe

Even Jose Mourinho has a similar viewpoint

"This seems an extraordinary deal to me, a €100m (£86m) deal, the deal of the summer.

"For me it’s worth 100 million because Eto’o is not worth a euro less than Ibra."

I think a straight swap wouldn’t have been unreasonable business but to get another player and a shedload of cash is a bit of a steal

Barcelona supposedly valued Eto’o at 20 million Euros (according to this) even before you take the Hleb deal into account that places Ibrahimovic in the 60-65 million Euro bracket

It’ll be interesting to see how they both do at their new clubs!

Crouch joins Spurs

So the Harry Redknapp, Peter Crouch love affair has been rekindled when Spurs completed the signing last night

How many teams will Peter Crouch end up playing for?!

The list so far, Spurs, QPR, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, Norwich (loan), Southampton, Liverpool and Portsmouth again#

Portsmouth said the sale was dictated by financial issues. If I were a Portsmouth fan I’d be very concerned about the forthcoming season

Sol Campbell is out of contract and appears to be keeping his options open, Sylain Distin is being eyed up by Aston Villa and now with Crouch gone they will need to get some new faces through the door pretty soon

Celtic Snare Fox

Gotta love those Sky Sports headline writers!

The Sky Sports article confirms that Danny Fox has signed for Celtic for £1.5 million on a four year deal

I’ll be honest this came as a bit of surprise to me. Not the fact that he’s left Coventry, the value of the deal and the fact no-one else came in for him

As a Walsall fan I always knew it would be a matter of time before Danny Fox moved on. He was very obviously one of the better players in the team so when Coventry came in for him and Scott Dan it wasn’t exactly a shock

Since then all the Coventry fans I’ve spoken to all tell me how great he’s been for them. Then, when Birmingham made their move and snapped up Scott Dann (rumoured to be in-between £3.5-£4 million) I thought it would be only a matter of time before Danny Fox left for a similar sort of figure but since then the only media speculation was that Nottingham Forest were interested with some late interest from West Brom after Paul Robinson left for Bolton

Tony Mowbray obviously had his eye on him when he was at West Brom and it was all wrapped up today

As I mentioned at the start £1.5 million seems a bit of a bargain considering Scott Dann moved to Birmingham for up to £4 million

Celtic like their Midlander left backs though with long term servant Lee Naylor starting his career with Wolves!

Walsall reportedly will pick up around £250,000 from a sell-on clause in Scot Dann’s contract and I imagine Danny Fox would have has similar terms in his paperwork

Kick Off

My first post!

As we move into the middle of July many teams are well into their pre-season preparations so there is finally football for us to watch again!

Hopefully the transfer market will hot up a bit (more!) as managers start finalise their squads which will give us plenty to talk about!

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