Monthly Archives: April 2011
By Tom Gaunt
So this Sunday will see the PFA player of the year announced. I am sure that I am not the only person who thinks it is ridiculous to announce the Player of the season before any player has completed the season in question. Evidence of this is the fact that 2 of the nominees have done very little in the past 2 months (Bale and Nasri), whilst Nani and Berbatov are still proving instrumental in United’s charge for the title. Should Berbatov exceed 25 goals this season which is highly possible (he has 21) or Nani exceed 20 assists (he has 18), then I think both can consider it harsh that their contributions have seemingly been overlooked for more “interesting” candidates. I respect the fact Gareth Bale is in the running as he had a fantastic early season until teams started to figure out how to play him, but has he really made as much of an impact as Nani has? Fantasy football stats tell a different story.
The main gripe I have is that the decision if taken too early – for example Javier Hernandez has scored 11 goals in 22 games and I think we would agree that as the ultimate goal poacher it is mainly his fantastic goal return that has him rightly contesting the “Young Player of the Year” award. But surely Andy Carroll’s return of 13 goals from 23 games is better, and I think his overall contribution is arguably greater. The reason he is not nominated is ‘timing’ – he was injured when the nominations were made and everyone forgot about him – which I am sure would not have happened if they had waited for him to destroy Man City last Monday! I am sure if he bangs in another 3 or 4 goals he will feel even more hard done by.
Defenders rarely get the award although nominee Nemanja Vidic has already deservedly picked up the award once again, but this year United defence has been shaky with Manchester City and Chelsea conceding less goals (5 less) and claiming more clean sheets. Now whilst no one in a Chelsea shirt can claim to be a contender I would think Vincent Kompany , who has been simply exceptional this year might wonder why he has been overlooked.
The full list is – Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, and Rafael Van Der Vaart, West Ham’s Scott Parker, Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, Carlos Tevez of Man City, and Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic. All worthy but I would argue that none stand head and shoulders above the rest of the league the way Ronaldo did in his pomp.
Unlucky losers – Dimitar Barbatov, Vincent Kompany, Edwin Van Der Saar, Nani. However, in what has been one of the most exciting Premier League seasons to date we have not seen any individuals set the league alight. There could be many reasons less world class stars being imported by the big boys, squad rotation, lesser teams becoming harder to beat and impress against and possibly just an off season for some of the usual suspects (Gerrard, Rooney, Terry, Fabregas, Drogba etc…) – whatever the reason it would be nice to see a worthy winner, unfortunately the cheating Portuguese winger (no not Ronaldo) is conspicuous by his absence.
By Tom Gaunt
Following his 2 match ban for swearing in United’s recent 4-2 victory over West Ham many people have come to the defense of the “innocent” Wayne Rooney from players like Rio Ferdinand who tweeted in defense of Wayne who was apparently caught up in the moment, and also from more esteemed characters such as Gordon Taylor who argues that players should be made aware if there is a change in the rules regarding use of foul and abusive language. It was even debated on Radio 5 asking the question “Whats the big deal about swearing?” although that is a bigger question for another day. So is Wayne being made an example of unfairly or is this the type of punishment which will start to clean up the beautiful game.
Although I for one think that Rooney is a mindless uneducated thug I do agree with Rio’s sentiments. When on the pitch and caught up in the passion of scoring a goal you will see players shouting and screaming and probably not thinking about what they are saying. I am also going to assume that in most footballers vocabulary expletives feature regularly. I also agree with Gordon Taylor that if the FA are suddenly going to start banning players for using bad language on the pitch then maybe they ought to forewarn the players who, let’s be honest, have been swearing freely for many years without ever getting banned.
There are however problems with both these opinions. Firstly Rooney does not just swear in the way you might if you stub your toe screaming at the moment of frustration, pain or in Rooney’s case ecstasy – it is a good 30 seconds after the goal is scored and furthermore he actually seeks the camera out making a statement to the camera, much like he did famously after England’s 0-0 draw with Algeria. By seeking out the camera he is committing what was the biggest sin of all and what makes this such an inexcusable act, he was specifically communicating with the millions of viewers many of whom would be children with his vulgar and unacceptable language.
Now it is not that far-fetched to suggest that he could not make the connection between the TV camera and that picture and sound being broadcast across the world to millions of viewers – but sheer stupidity can no longer be an excuse for these ridiculously high paid sportsman, responsibility needs to be taken at some point. Whether they like it or not footballers are role models and it really is only the minimum levels of behavior that are being asked e.g. don’t get drunk and punch people, don’t go to brothels and don’t swear into TV cameras.
Now to Gordon Taylor’s point. Surely we should not have to inform footballers that they are not allowed to swear directly into TV cameras. When Eric Cantona kung-fu kicked a fan, I am not sure anyone suggested that this was acceptable because players had not specifically been told they were not allowed to do it. The next point I will raise is that the FA is not the first to ban a player for use of foul and abusive language to TV camera’s – I think we will all remember Didier Drogba throwing his toys out of the pram in the most spectacular fashion after Chelsea got knocked out of Europe by Barcelona, in this case the ban was 3 matches – maybe Rooney can consider himself lucky.
Mr. Taylor also raises the issue of swearing at referees which it seems he considers more of an issue than swearing at fans – but for this there is something that the recipient can do about it to instantly stop it, they can produce a red card. Fans do not have that luxury. Rooney has had his fair share of disciplinary issues and has for the most part got away with a fine or just giving an apology – so if “previous” is taken into account then the ban seems fair.
It would be interesting to know whether a player has ever been caught doing something similar and if it is Rooney’s status that has afforded him such punishment.
I for one would like football cleaned up and think that players should be cited for cheating and other undesirable behaviour. For example if Rooney is banned for 2 matches for his actions then surely when a player is caught swearing at an official on TV, which you probably see about 10 times every live match, then surely that should warrant a 1 match ban. Actually it is the referees job to cut this out which some reason they 90% of the time chose not to, preferring to book players for kicking the ball away or god forbid celebrating with their adoring fans when scoring a goal (probably the most ludicrous rule ever).
I hope that the FA’s actions will simply act as a reminder to players that they need to behave in a certain manner when on the pitch and not turn into a trend with every player seen swearing anywhere a TV camera is suddenly facing a ban.
The other solution would be to take off the mics which are picking the players voices when they are celebrating – so we are just left with the standard mics picking up the stadium atmosphere – but that may be a bit to simple.
Anyway, with important games coming up and the usual end of season fixture congestion I think the ban may have a silver lining and give Rooney an enforced rest, and needless to say i do not think him or anyone will be swearing into camera’s for quite some time.
By Tom Gaunt
So the nominations are out for PFA player of the year and as expected Carlos Tevez tops the list Well deserved, after all he has not only worked his socks off every game and been Man City’s main source of goals.
You do have to feel for Berbatov though – 20 goals in 27 games and not even short listed, regardless of what people say about the number games he has scored in – lets commend him scoring 5 in one game not condemn him!
However this brings me to my main point – what would each of their seasons look like had Tevez not been City’s penalty taker and Berbatov had been United’s. Well Tevez would have 14 goals and would still have had a fantastic season but not quite so exceptional, and Berbatov would have 22 goals. I would argue that the 8 goal swing that penalties offers here makes a big difference in our perceptions of each players season, which in my opinion has distorted the reality.
Yes, penalty taking is a skill and it is not a given that a player will score, but it is still generally a statistical aid only one player in each team can benefit from. The season Andy Johnson scored 20 in the premiership for Crystal Palace 6 were from the spot, so although he had a good season I think the stats down tell the whole truth.
Let me put it to you this way. If you are Everton and you are looking for a striker would you want a player who has scored 15 goals 4 of which were penalties or 12 goals with no pens. I would take the latter; the pens are irrelevant as Baines is one of the best penalty takers in the game.
I would be more interested to see which players had won the penalties as that is the most telling and useful statistic and far more valuable than the player who finishes it off – and I am sure my previous points regarding Tevez would be contradicted by the fact that Tevez I am sure won most of them. I have always thought that like in Basketball where the fouled player has to take the penalty it should be the same in football, although that would be some rule change.
How many 20+ goal scoring seasons would Frank Lampard have without penalties… the answer is none.
When goals scored by a player affect transfer fees and player reputations or awards, I think people should take a closer look because you are not always seeing the true story.