Monday, 28 January 2013

FA Cup still has magic

The magic of the FA Cup lives on!

Although clubs in the Premier League prefer to finish in the top four of the league than to make progress in the FA Cup, the spirit of the world's oldest football competition lives on.

It lives on in Luton Town, who became the first non-leaguers to knock out a Premier League club, beating Norwich City 1-0.

It lives on at MK Dons of League One, who sprinted into a devastating 4-0 lead at Premier League, QPR, and ultimately ran out 4-2 winners.

It lives on at Boundary Park, where Oldham Athletic (League One) humbled Liverpool 3-2 in an amazing game.

It lives on at Brentford (League One), who, playing their rather more illustrious neighbours from five miles up the road, Chelsea, twice took the lead and eventually held the European Champions to a two-all draw and earned a replay at Stamford Bridge.

It lives on at Elland Road where Championship Leeds United knocked out fourth-placed Premier Leaguers Tottenham Hotspur.

And to a lesser degree, the spirit lives on at Aldershot Town (League Two) who ran Championship Middlesbrough close, before losing 2-1 to a late, late goal.

And Barnsley, Brighton and Macclesfield Town will all have their own FA Cup tales to tell this morning.

It was a stirring FA Cup weekend, and we should all look forward to Round 5 with relish.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Shameful ballboy incident is easily solved

Eden Hazard will probably have re-run the disgraceful incident with the ballboy through his mind many times as he struggled to get to sleep last night. What was he thinking - trying to kick the ball from under the ballboy who was lying on top of it?

Of course Hazard was trying to get the ball back so that play could restart, saving a few precious seconds in Chelsea's quest to overturn a 2-0 deficit and reach the Capital One League Cup Final. With a only a few minutes of the match left, a Chelsea triumph was looking less and less likely, so his gesture was futile, and led to him being sent off, with a suspension to follow. What other repercussions there might be we have yet to see.

What on earth was the ballboy doing, grabbing the ball as it went off for a goal kick to Swansea and then falling to the ground and lying on it to prevent the anxious Hazard from getting it? Sadly - and let's not for one moment try and deny this - he was aping the actions of professional footballers in trying to waste time for his beloved Swansea City, as they - ultimately successfully - tried to win their way into their first major Cup Final. I'm sure the ballboy won't be as ashamed as Hazard of his actions but they will no doubt bring him a certain notoriety and a few more twitter followers. Ten minutes of fame.

The reason for all these shameful actions is because the clock runs when the ball is out of play in football. The solution is easy and I have addressed it before in this blog (;postID=8598919878957640325). Put a clock on the action; stop it when the ball's out of play.

Then Hazard could smile at the ballboy and trot back leisurely to wait for the goal kick.

And everyone's happy.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Pointless rules in place as technology is ignored

So, what happened to the rule about sock tape having to be the same colour as socks?

Preyed on by some referees in park football, forcing poor park footballers to remove tape keeping their shin pads in place in the early weeks of this season, it is apparently a rule which top referees such as Mike Dean now feel is unnecessary to enforce.

On Sunday afternoon, it was quite clear that at least Gareth Barry and David Silva of Manchester City had white tape (or at least a very strange whiter shade of blue) on their sky blue socks in their game against Arsenal. James Milner had a much darker blue tape.

But who cares? The rule is quite unnecessary. What is it for? In the same game, Arsenal's white socks had a thin blue and a thin red hoop around the middle.

Is the rule to differentiate the players of one team from another in some way?

The same question applies to the 'same colour undershorts' rule? What's it for - especially at park football level?

If it's to differentiate the players, then let's start with the shorts themselves. In the same Arsenal v Manchester City game on Sunday, both sets of players wore white shorts!

Fifa is quick to implement such pointless rules. In the meantime, as they filibuster about goal-line technology, goals continue to be allowed or disallowed incorrectly.

Get your priorities right, Fifa.