Day: January 23, 2013

Hazard Vs The Ball Boy Shouldn’t Have Been Last Night’s Main Talking Point

With so many people standing on either side of it screaming at each other, there is no room for sitting on the fence in modern football. So it is that we have to take sides over the tiny incident that will,by the time you read this, have swamped the football media to the exclusion of anything else. So, here’s a viewpoint on the matter, for what it’s worth. The ball boy involved in the incident during last night’s match was acting like a little scrote, and there is something about ball boys seeking to deliberately time waste towards the end of a match that is a little galling. But here’s the thing about teenage boys: they frequently act like little scrotes. It’s kind of what they do, up to a point. Eden Hazard, on the other hand is a fully grown adult. A young adult (only five years older than his momentary nemesis last night), but an adult nevertheless. Moreover, he is one of the most successful employees in a high profile business that pays its star performers lavishly for their abilities. He, for better or for worse, has little excuse for allowing himself to get into the position in which he found himself at the Liberty Stadium last night. It was a rush of blood to the head, and it has been reported that apologies have been offered...

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Bradford City’s Triumph Eclipses Aston Villa’s Disastrous Night

Just when he thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they did for Paul Lambert at Villa Park last night. A place in the League Cup final was his one shot at redemption, an opportunity to be able to lift the spirits of his seemingly psychologically shattered team and turn around one of the most alarming collapses in form that the Premier League had seen in recent years. For any Premier League club overturning a two goal deficit from the first leg of a tie such of this should have been eminently achievable, but Bradford City dug deep, scored another set piece goal and, in spite of a tense finish brought about by a second Villa goal, held on without too much difficulty to achieve something quite unprecedented in, perhaps, the entire history of English football. Much was said last night of the 1962 League Cup, when Rochdale of the Fourth Division reached the final of the competition before being beaten by Norwich City. To compare the League Cup finals of 1962 and 2013, however, is not to compare like with like. In its nascent years, it frequently looked as if the League Cup wouldn’t survive as a competition with the biggest clubs opting not to take part in it. Furthermore, the final of 1962 was not a Wembley occasion but a two legged affair shoehorned into the...

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The 2013 African Cup Of Nations: The Group Matches, Round One

Blimey. They could have warned us Mark Bright was a British Eurosport analyst for the “AFCON 2013”. With the first group games being largely turgid, Bright had a lot of gaps in the action to fill. He chose to do so with “y’know,” – an ironic nervous tic when discussing tournament nerves. He rattled them off at ten-to-the-dozen at first, eventually settling down to produce 178 during the 90 minutes plus stoppage time, although this was only 12 higher than Danny Mills, who also began with sentences which mostly were y’knows, before settling down to about two-per-minute. And if you think the football must have been bad for me to be able to count them, you’re right. Group A The Angola/Morocco game wasn’t actually too bad, even if Mills claiming the second half as “entertaining” was pushing it. But South Africa/Cape Verde was too bad. Bright’s insistence that Cape Verde were ultra-minnows was tedious and poorly-researched. He told us their population was half-a-million about, well, half-a-million times, which ignored the fact that the team was largely from the Cape Verdean diaspora. It also overlooked their 2012 campaign, when they only missed out to Mali, who finished third in the finals, on the head-to-head rule. Oh…and Cape Verde are ranked 18 places higher than…South Africa. ITV4 got it about right. Quentin Fortune – a more confident studio presence that his stilted...

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Is It Time For A Post-Match Cooling Off Period For Managers?

The language used by the Football Association can be most perplexing at times. In the aftermath of Sunday afternoon’s one-all draw at Tottenham Hotspur Sir Alex Ferguson was up to familiar tricks, holding the officials – and in particular assistant Simon Beck – responsible for his team dropping two points after having led for most of the match, whilst appearing to question not only their competence but also their impartiality. Ferguson has been doing this for years, to the extent that it has become something akin to received wisdom that he is merely playing a long game, indirectly harassing officials in the belief that this will come to benefit his club at dome indeterminate point in the future. To see Ferguson in the news yet again for such misdemeanours may not be much of a surprise, but he is far from the only Premier League manager who has been sucked in by this apparent belief that ‘mind games’ (it is surely only a matter of time before a Premier League club attempts to hire Derren Brown to have a brief ‘chat’ with the officials before matches) carries some sort of quantifiable benefit for their club, and grown men in sportswear surrendering their dignity in order to harangue the poor buggers charged with the – literally – thankless task of having to try and keep them under control long ago...

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