By Tom Gaunt
For some time we have been debating how to deter cheats in football. In recent times cheating has become more prevalent and cheats are getting better at it. Two decades ago when the Premier League started it was a rarity to see a player dive, even leading to players like Jurgen Klinsmann standing out as a “Diver”, he was the exception not the rule. Fast forward 15 years and now there is barely a player in the top division who has not only dived but has also perfected the art. The rise to prominence of an apparent new rule stating that any contact made in a tackle is a penalty has not helped the cause. We now see players actually kicking an opponents leg and then buckling under the impact, which in my eyes should be a free kick the other way, but to referees and pundits alike this is a clear penalty because there was “contact”. However cheating is not the problem I will be discussing today (for that you can read The Beautiful Shame). I want to look at potential solutions to what I believe is a virus spreading throughout the game and spiraling out of control. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Twitter has recently become the hot topic for the sporting media to discuss, or more accurately certain Footballer’s use of Twitter. With this in mind I thought I would offer my thoughts on the subject.
The main gripe people seem to have is that Footballers are representing their club and therefore must censor what they say. Surely they should simply write the well-worn phrase “These views are my own and not those of my company” or in Footballer’s case “my Club”. This is, of course, what got Nathan Eccleston in a spot of bother last week. Liverpool felt the need to publicly denounce a tweet of his so as not to be associated with his views. They were probably right to do so, but it does raise the question of when a Club should get involved.
I read an article a while back, mocking Rio Ferdinand for commenting on the Rooney swearing saga, saying (or rather tweeting) that there were bigger problems in the world, like civil wars in Libya and the Ivory Coast or the tsunami in Japan. Whilst Rio may not be an academic or possess a PhD in politics, I am not sure intellectual snobbery is necessary. Surely we should be happy that he has an idea of some of the issues the World, outside football, is facing. Most people, including those of you reading this article, will comment daily on subjects well outside their areas of expertise, forcing ill-informed opinions on anyone who will listen. The difference is that Rio has over a million people listening, but raising awareness of issues in even a small way should be praised not mocked. The journalist continues, pulling Rio up for using the word ‘lynched’ and suggesting unless he is talking of the public execution of a person without trial he should not be so liberal with the word. This is a bit rich coming from a journalist; a group of professionals who intentionally and freely mislead their readers with their lexicon on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
This week Kenny Dalglish called for greater communication between Referees and Managers, and who could argue. It seems every week another manager is throwing their toys out of the pram. This was a refreshing approach. He did not insult any particular referees but suggested they had not had the rub of the green recently, I think Liverpool fans may agree. He invited referees’ chief Mike Riley to Liverpool’s Melwood training ground and they had an adult discussion and clear the air talks. All very mature. To believe that Kenny merely required some answers to a few questions which were troubling him would be naive. I think this may have been a shrewd move. However this article is not designed to examine Dalglish’s motives, whatever they are I still think it was a smart move. With American owners and with their unproven yet undoubtedly forward thinking Moneyball approach, I wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool were ahead of the game on this one. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
I recently wrote about boo-boys, and whilst I would never boo Fernando Torres or wish him any ill fate I have become slightly fixated with his performances and the mixed reactions to them. In fact it seems the whole media world uses half their Chelsea match report to discuss how the misfiring Spaniard performed. So with this in mind I readily admit that my opinions on Torres may be slightly clouded, but nonetheless I will share them.
I watched last nights game against Bayer Leverkusen and thought Chelsea’s overall display, against a club who are no mugs, was solid if not spectacular. Daniel Sturridge sparkled and new boys Juan Mata and Raul Meireles looked full of ideas and energy. Torres however left me rolling my eyes and sighing as he was constantly knocked off the ball, mis-controlled and generally looked poor. He was unlucky of course, in the first few minutes his clever flick went so close to Meireles that the goal was rightly given offside, but it seems that since his arrival Torres has been plagued with ‘bad luck’. It is the sort of luck which Arsenal have had recently or it seems most relegated clubs are faced with, but it is not really luck when it carries over 20+ games. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Last season Daniel Sturridge terrorized the Arsenal defence and contributed to a home win which saw Arsenal’s slim title hopes disappear. The significance of this is that Sturridge at the time was a Chelsea player loaned out to Bolton for the second half of the season. I will not patronize you with how a loan works but it is important to note that any player loaned is ineligible to play against their parent club. This then poses a new question. Is it fair that the parent club does not have to face a potential match winner whilst their opponents do? I am all for teams reaping the benefits of a strong squad but when the player is ultimately playing for you with a different shirt on then I think there is something wrong. Daniel Sturridge is a perfect example of this. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Early Monday morning Sir Alex Ferguson was rushed to hospital, he was thought to have contracted a debilitating disease. The name of the disease? Wengeritis. Doctors believe he first contracted the disease directly from the source, Arsene Wenger, when some spittle flew from his mouth as he exclaimed “Putain!” at Robin van Persie’s penalty miss. However it was not until hours after the 8-2 mauling that the symptoms started to show. Fergie is believed to have sent a text to David Gill saying “We should sell Rooney, Vidic and Evra. Think of all the money we would save!” Gill immediately put this down to a rare joke from the fiery Scotsman and simply replied “Rofl”. It was only when Fergie started contacting members of the United under 14′s squad asking if they were fit and ready for some first team action that people started to worry. The final straw was when he asked Wayne Rooney about Kai’s “availability” claiming he saw great potential in the youngster, at this point the United medical staff rushed him to hospital for further tests.
Their greatest fears were confirmed – when asked whether he thought if the Arsenal penalty was fair he simply shrugged and said “I did not see”. Luckily for United the antidotes for Wengeritis are easily accessible to them. Trophies are the major cure for the disease and after a tour of the trophy room Fergie was said to be feeling much better. This was followed up with a look at this summers expenditure on new players as well as a 30 minute chat with Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand who reminded him of the wealth of experience they bring to the squad and that the club was in safe hands. Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Mispositioning. I am not sure this is actually a word, my spell check certainly doesn’t think so, but it perfectly sums up a frustration of mine. I wanted to have a look at whether fans, including myself, give all the players a fair chance. We are often blinded by having favourites and, more importantly, bogey players. Whoever we support we all have one. Whenever they do something wrong we bemoan them and when they score or play well we disregard them as lucky. Now, sometimes this leads to a player becoming a boo-boy, but is this fair? I am not so sure it is entirely the players fault, and here’s why. Read the rest of this entry
This was first published on Surreal Football
By Tom Gaunt
When I was 14 I went to Chelsea v Millwall in the FA Cup. We lost and there was a riot, of sorts. Fans flooded on to the pitch and had a bit of a ruck. At that age I found it all very exciting, as despicable as this is, it was the last time I really saw true rivalry and hatred at the Bridge. I do not in any way condone hooligans or violence at Football matches but Chelsea and their West London “rivals” have taken it to the other end of the spectrum. Read the rest of this entry
By Aaron Evans
With some frequency many professional football players have been accused of thinking they are above the law. However this group of rapscallions have had to face up to their misbehavior with a stint in chokey. At some point or another most footballers creep on to the front pages of the daily tabs for some misdemeanor or another, be it sleazing up some tart from Grimsby or clouting a fan in a regional branch of Yates’s. But this lot take the biscuit and then punch the very same biscuit in the face! Read the rest of this entry
By Tom Gaunt
Manchester City will shortly be parting company with arguably their star player – Carlos Tevez. In normal circumstances this would be greeted with outrage from fans – even if he was unhappy and potentially disruptive – and new concerns about whether the team can reach the heights of last season. However at City there is an air of calm. Most fans, whilst appreciating his contribution, are excited about the prospect of finding a replacement. The smart money is on Sergio Aguero who, if the rumor mill is to be trusted, sees Eastlands as his preferred destination. For Manchester City these are exciting times.
City may not have maximized their expenditure thus far, but qualifying for the Champions League is a huge step forward. There are obvious parallels between City and the Chelsea team of 2003/4, when Roman Abramovich first came into power. Chelsea steamrolled the league that year, and the following year too. I think City can potentially do the same. Read the rest of this entry