I will level with you: I am, at times, a cynical and grumpy sod. I think it comes from continued support of a Championship club. One way to deal with such cynicism (according to my therapist) is to express my deep-seated and underlying issues.
Therefore I will try and suggest some improvements to our beautiful game, hopefully without making it akin to a desperate letter to Santa (never got that f*cking subbuteo).
1. Bookings for removing shirts
Although it does annoy many fans, I can honestly see the rationality behind booking players for going into the crowd (safety, crowd control etc). But none of these reasons apply to the removal of shirts. There is nothing offensive about seeing a topless male, and the ridiculous nature of George Elokobi’s upper torso should be celebrated.
Rumours exist that the reason for the punishment is because the shirt sponsors demand that their brand name is displayed at such a time of elation. Whether true or not, it is a frustrating example of killjoy authoritarian rule-making.
2. Goal line technology
Yes, I know it’s an obvious shout. But I have to deal with burning issues alongside personal gripes. England were officially faeces in the World Cup, but 2-2 at half-time is a lot better than 2-1 down.
It works in tennis, it works in cricket. It can work in football. Adding fourth and fifth officials is a temporary and unsatisfactory measure, for the reason that humans will always make errors. No other sport has a points system with an individual score that is as crucial to the final result as a goal in football. In an age when such goals are worth millions of pounds, we deserve to know the truth. FIFA and UEFA created this monster. They have the responsibility to assure that it is policed.
3. Retrospective charges
If there is one thing that we have learnt from the last 10 days of football, it is that the majority of fans believe that the FA should have the ability to charge players for their misdemeanours after the game has concluded. And that this is valid whether or not the referee says that he saw it and tapped the player on the backside as a suitable punishment.
This is not intended for every action that takes place on the football field, but simply reserved for those acts of violent conduct or red card offences that deserve official retribution. In the recent Rooney incident, the FA were almost powerless to act because Mark Clattenburg said that he had seen the incident and acted accordingly. Breaking those rules would have set a dangerous precedent by the FA. But the rule is an ass.
4. Red cards for penalties
It seems the ultimate double punishment. A defender slightly mistimes a tackle when a player is in the box and has the keeper to beat. The defender has to try and challenge, because he would be pilloried by his fans and manager if he didn’t. A penalty is awarded and his team are reduced to 10 men. Seemingly game over.
But why not bring in some logic? If the penalty is scored, then the player is allowed back on to the pitch, and the red card is reduced to a yellow. If the penalty is not converted, then he remains off the field. If he is allowed back on then he still serves the one match ban he would have received. There is a single punishment for the incident.
And while we are on the subject of penalties…
It is an epidemic. It doesn’t happen every now and then, it happens at every opportunity. The reason for doing so is clear, as if the penalty is saved or comes of the frame of the goal, there is a clear advantage in arriving at the ball first.
The answer? Why not just make penalties as they are in shootouts? Is the chance to take a shot from twelve yards against a keeper not opportunity enough to score, especially when spot kicks can be awarded for the slightest of transgressions?
There would then be no incentive for players to run into the area, and the referee would have the sole responsibility of checking that the goalkeeper stayed on his line (which has to be policed more).
I’m on a roll.
Right, count to ten, time for deep breaths and a calm down, possibly with a flannel on the face.
The second half tomorrow, at which point I will possibly give myself an aneurysm.