There are two major talking points that are rearing their heads with frequent monotony this season – VAR and fixture congestion – and I would imagine that both of these are bones of contention with fans but for differing reasons.
VAR has to be reviewed and I think everyone is in agreement with that but we probably need to stick with it. Some were not in favour of goal line technology but that works fine, except for the one time it didn’t last season with a good goal was denied. That was due to a fault in the system but that it is the only time I can recall that it has been found wanting. The big difference between this and VAR though is that goal line technology needs no human intervention. It is the human element that is delaying the issue and as many people say, why not go back to the referee’s human frailties rather than waiting minutes for those same frailties in others miles away?
In fact it is the rules that have to be changed. The handball rule has come in for a lot of stick and needs looking at. The one that really riles me is the offside rule and the millimetric precision this is measured too. Consider driving a car but in this scenario cars have no speedometers. You go past a speed camera and you get a ticket. Would that be fair when you cannot judge your speed correctly? No it would not! Similarly, how can a player be penalised for something he cannot measure? If anyone wants to take this up as a cause you can have the slogan Driving without Speedos on me.
We still need VAR for penalties, awarding and saving (foot on the line), and serious foul play. Also though, I think it should be used retrospectively to cut out the cheating in the game. There are two competitions going on at the same time – the football match and conning the referee to see how much you can get away with. It makes you wonder if the kids are coached this way or whether it occurs later when the need to win is so paramount. Going down when you have just been brushed by the opponent as though you have been charged by a bull, rolling around on the floor as though at death’s door and pretending you are hit in the face when you get an arm in the chest. Are these sportsmen or ham actors? If a game was reviewed after it was finished and then anyone found to be conning the referee given a post-match ban, that might cut it out.
When I was in my twenties and playing in a Sunday league game, I rode a challenge in the box to allow me to pass the ball across to a teammate but in vain for he did not score. Some of my fellow teammates blamed me. “Why didn’t you go down?” they asked. Because it never occurred to me. You stay on your feet if you can, not collapse like house of cards at a puff of wind.
As for fixture congestion, well, let’s just say being asked to play 90 minutes of sport three times a week or even four is not exactly hard labour is it? Everyone knew in the current crisis that games were going to be shoehorned in so why complain. Footballers are still in a job with their humungous salaries when millions of people in the country have reduced wages or have lost their job. They are supposed to be superfit individuals and injuries are part of the game – hence a squad of players.
If fatigue is such an issue one could stop playing meaningless international friendlies in addition to the Nations League. Other options; scrap European competition for a season, exclude the Premier League clubs from the F.A. Cup and League Cup and let the other leagues have a chance of silverware. No, that won’t happen because the clubs still want all the money they can get their hands on. Don’t complain about congestion then and get on with it.
The fixture congestion issue has led to the call for five substitutes and I have no objection against that even though some managers do not use the full three now.
And in closing, as connected to the above, I just have to mention our game against PSG on Wednesday. I like Ole, both as a player and a manager, but the decision to leave Fred on the pitch after half time was the worst decision I’ve ever seen. Anyone could see what was going to happen.
Roll on West Ham. Hammered time!