March 9, 2017

Once upon a time on AA we had Rant Friday, well today is Rant Thursday.

Last night’s game at Camp Nou may have been exciting and the denouement exceptional but what about the rest of it? And what of our game the night before? My focus here is on Respect.

The cheating exhibited by Suarez, Lewandowski etc is a disgrace. It shows no respect for the referee, the opposition and much more importantly, the game. These people benefit from deceit. Their prime purpose is to gain benefit and kudos by blatant diving. Cavani got shown a yellow card  for waving an imaginary card (fully justified), yet Suarez who spent most of the evening diving and feigning injury picked up just one card when he should have been sent off at least twice.

It is wrong and could be so easily remedied. Post game analysis (of which there are endless re-runs) allows the authorities to retrospectively ban players. They have too do so if the game has any merit or morality.

FIFA and the FA show little respect for the spirit of the game. Tuesday night saw a referee completely out of his depth. His sending off of Koscielny , the penalty thus rewarding Lewandowski’s blatant cheating  clearly affected the game. So too did hthe referee’s rebuttal of our penalty claim when Theo was felled. It could so easily been sorted out  by the 4th official using video technology. It works ion almost every other sport and in both cricket and rugby adds to the entertainment. Why not football? The argument that it cannot be used at grass roots level is quite frankly ludicrous.

In the absence of true heroes current society makes heroes of sportsmen; they have to be role models and with that comes responsibility. That players are rewarded for cheating has a knock-on effect. Why be honest when deception pays?

The current authorities have to start to bring morality and honesty back to the game we love. There are simple solutions, I could do it and so could you, so why can’t they?

What happened to Fair Play?

Rant Over (for now)

written by Big Raddy


A Manifesto for Establishing Continued Success for the English National Team.

September 8, 2013

Greg Dyke has a fistful of complaints against everyone but the FA as to why the English national team has failed at every level for a very long time – yet is engaging the same minds responsible for the current problems to solve it. The problems are not insurmountable, but a paradigm shift needs to occur at the FA in terms of their own responsibility to deliver elite players and ensure that they get the time on the pitch they need to develop to their full potential.

Being an insomniac, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and have always had a very basic solution in mind – remove the self-interest of the domestic club and you have the foundation for success. Below I’ve detailed what I think are the key issues and how it should be resolved. You might think I like my US sports based on what I’ve put together below…and you’d be right.

The key issues as to why the national team has continually failed:

· Not enough young English players forcing their way through to first team football at the top of the game.

· Not enough coaches of the calibre required to nurture young players to their full potential.

· A lack of desire or willingness of top-level teams to release their players on a consistent basis to the national team.

The following steps are those that I feel would be address the situation and put English football back where it belongs – at the top of the international tree:

· Increase scouting at FA – identify potential “elite” players as early as possible, retain them as FA-based players but make nearest PL team responsible for development – a certain % of academy must be allocated to FA players who live within a certain distance from training ground. If more than one team in locale, decision where to train must be made by player after tender offers by clubs. Club will then have first refusal of said player under the following point.

· FA owned central contracts. FA must follow crickets route of ensuring their best players are made available to the national side and the only guaranteed way of doing so is by following a cricket / US model of central contracts for English players, with teams then negotiating with FA to “loan” their players, paying a loan fee and all wages for the player. FA must have right of recall for those players not getting an agreed amount of game time to ensure English players are given priority. This would negate the key legal issue around having to field a minimum number of English players vs non-English, which contravenes European employment rules in terms of EU players – particularly bearing in mind that the appearance remuneration makes quotas impossible as a restriction of both trade and earnings.

· All FA-based players must take their coaching badges as part of their education. Need to ensure the next generation of coaches are coming through. Should also learn how to effectively referee the game at the top level.

· All England internationals should be contractually obliged to help with the coaching of young English players at their domestic club and pre youth football tournaments. Could be rotated, with players having to complete a minimum level of hours per season.

· The FA should be responsible for the fitness and assessment of fitness for all English players, not the domestic club.

· Through agreement with international FA’s, there should be a player / coach swap, where elite players and coaches are sent abroad to learn under different techniques / philosophies for a short amount of time.

· Premier League clubs should be contractually obliged to provide facilities and help in the development of the next generation of coaches and managers.

Hopefully you’ve found it interesting – would love hear what you think!



Our Way is the Right Way

March 2, 2010

We’ve had 2 days to digest the events of Saturday afternoon. The emotions have calmed and the parties involved have stated their case. Every Tom, Dick and ‘Arry has expressed an opinion. These are simply my conclusions.

The tackle was not malicious if you believe as I do, that Shawcross did not intend to break Ramsey’s leg. He was late, he missed the ball and used excessive force. A combination of over-aggression, lack of ability and poor decision making. The responsibility for the injury lies totally with Shawcross as he chose to enter into a challenge where damage to his opponent was a distinct possibility. In any other walk of life, under current Health and Safety laws, Shawcross could be prosecuted for the act.

A message to the Stan Collymore’s of this world who repeatedly trot out the line that “football is a contact sport”. The rules have changed. Tackles from behind have been outlawed. Two footed tackles are not allowed. Tackles with the studs up are not allowed.

The rules stipulate: – careless tackles are not punished; reckless tackles are a yellow card; excessive force is a red card. Shawcross was correctly given a red card because his ‘tackle’ contravened the rules. Those rules are in place to prevent players from suffering injury.

Football is not a contact sport like boxing. It is a game of skill where a level of physical contact is allowed, but that level should fall below the point where injury occurs. Would the fools who justify breaking the rules of football as a means of combatting more skillful play also advocate shoplifting if someone is short of money? – it’s an equally ridiculous attitude.

Thomas Vermaelen is a tough, physical competitive footballer, I can’t remember a single instance of him jumping in with a two footed, over the ball challenge. In fact I can’t ever remember the likes of Adams, Keown or Bould producing such crude challenges – perfectly timed slide tackles maybe. Defending and tackling are skills which didn’t require the opponent to get injured even in the ‘good old days’ that the Collymore’s of this world refer to.

The post match interviews and subsequent statements by Tony Pulis and Arsène Wenger were pretty much what you’d expect. I don’t think Pulis is a bad manager or a bad man. He sets his sides up to maximise their limited ability by creating a narrow pitch and rehearsing set plays that are hard to defend. He can’t afford to buy players with a high level of skill so he settles for brawn as it means he has a reasonable chance of getting enough points through a more physical approach to keep them in the premiership, but therein lies the problem. Arsène has built this squad on an equally low budget but managed to put the emphasis on skill by virtue of his ability and vision.

Arsène feels a huge sense of responsibility for his players and to see one of ‘his boys’ receive a career threatening injury for the third time in five years was extremely upsetting for him. I’m sure he is disappointed that football in England seems to have gone backwards rather than aspiring to the more sophisticated approach at the highest level on the continent. He must see the extreme irony in the view that some correspondents have expressed actually blaming him for the injury because he has made his players vulnerable by concentrating too much on skill.

Cesc said it all when being presented with the MotM award….

“You could ask yourself, we are not protected enough – I think so. You speak to the referee, ‘play on, play on’, I know it is England, I know it’s a great game, I know we all love this kind of play, but sometimes there is a top you cannot pass and we are sometimes victims”

– actually, a bit of an understatement I’d say!

Cesc has been systematically targeted by opposition ‘hard men’ all season. The horror tackle on Ramsey could just as easily have been against him. He has not been protected by referees and has received cards himself for seemingly innocuous tackles.

This debate must not be allowed to subside. It is a shame that so much focus is being placed on Stoke since it is actually the referees who have the power to avoid such situations by applying the rules fairly and consistently. Some referees seem to subscribe to the theory that it is OK to kick Arsenal players otherwise we have an unfair advantage due to the greater technical ability. The referee’s job is to protect the players. On many ocassions, they have failed to carry out that duty when officiating games involving Arsenal.

The players have learned from the experience of two years ago. They showed a resilience and determination after the injury that they lacked in 2008. That was due in no small part to the immense character and leadership of Campbell and Vermaelen as well as Cesc.

Every supporter would have traded the win for Ramsey escaping injury, but somehow the injustice has created an energy and will to succeed that has made even the most hardened sceptic believe we really can win the league. Justice for the good guys, for football and for a club that places the important values above winning trophies.

With the exception of our London rivals and fans of the other top four clubs, Arsenal is the team most supporters want to see win the league. We’ll win it our way or we’ll just keep trying because our way is what makes Arsenal unique and I wouldn’t have it any other way.