It's not rocket science!

It's not rocket science!

What really gets to me in this crazy and often bizarre money mad world of football is when some players and managers dismiss the views of fans as worthless because they haven’t played the game at the level they have. Of course they never come out and say “your view is worthless” but they dismissively say things like “you have never played the game”.

 By the way we are talking about football the simplest game on the planet. Put the ball in one goal and keep it out of the other. That is the game! What goes on in between the two goals is irrelevant when it comes to the final result which is the most important thing.

The game you play or have played at venues such as Senneleys Park is exactly the same game they play at St Andrews or Villa Park or in fact any professional ground in the country. The difference is the professionals play it with more pace, with more ability, with more athleticism, with more organisation, and with definitely more talent. However it’s the same game played under the same bunch of rules. One other major difference of course is that money is involved in the professional game but that doesn’t change the principles of the ninety minutes or the set of rules that apply to every game. The Sunday morning player still plays with competitiveness, passion, desire and works as hard as their physical state will allow them to and, although it’s not for shedloads of money, the result is still very important to them.

It amazes me when I see top professional footballers start with their “you haven’t played the game” nonsense and then start to wax lyrical about a pop concert they have been to claiming the singer/band was brilliant? I would love to say to them “how would you know you have never sang on stage professionally in your life”.

I believe it is the same in most sports. For example any amateur golfer will, over time, hit one shot that any of the world’s greatest golfer would be proud of. The difference is the top players do it regularly. It is the same in football an amateur footballer will at some time score a goal that would grace any pitch in the world but the great players do it regularly.

Of course when the game is about individual players making decisions over 90 minutes then the better players make more good decisions and that is not just about technical ability but about the sharpness between a players ears.

So please stop making football out to be a science, stop over complicating it and remember it’s a simple game.

 

Finally doesn’t it drive you barmy when watching Match of the Day to see players and managers hiding behind stats i.e. possession, expected goals, corners etc. when they have lost a game? And by the way that is all stats do; provide an excuse for managers and a hiding place for players. IMO.

Blues have to ensure disappointing doesn't turn into disastrous!

Blues have to ensure disappointing doesn't turn into disastrous!

I am guessing that the job Steve Cotterill has on his hands at Blues is a far more difficult one than he ever imagined when he signed his contract despite having worked at the club for a short spell under Harry Redknapp.

I don’t know if Steve Cotterill will be a successful Blues manager or not. However what I do know for absolute certain is that it matters to him. After the defeat to Wolves I saw a passionate angry side of him that convinced me that he is desperate to be successful at the club. But he needs help in January to reshape and better balance his squad. I am lot only talking about the vital need to bring in some genuine quality but also to move some players on. Failure to change things around could, heaven forbid, possibly see the season turn from disappointing to disastrous.

I am aware, like everyone else, that the club has spent a fair amount of money in supporting various managers over the last year. However, in my opinion, the squad looks out of balance and still short in some areas. Midfield is crying out for a player that can make something happen and create chances for the strikers.

To illustrate this Blue dominated large parts of the second half against Wolves but did not test the keeper once in fact they didn’t create a single chance while Wolves created the best chance of the half and had Helder Coster not tried to be too clever he would have scored. So all the possession in the world is a waste of time if there is nothing on the end of it; i.e. chances and goals.

Lots of fans have been saying to me for weeks that there are plenty of games to go and plenty of points to play for. That is absolutely true but the question I would like to know is what is going to change to suddenly turn this Blues squad into a team that is winning regularly?

I hate to appear negative but the fact is that over the last 5 years teams have needed 47 points on average to ensure they stayed in the division. Last season Blackburn were relegated with 51 points.

To get to 47 points Blues have to get 31 points from 26 games and I repeat what is going to change to ensure that happens?

True injuries to key players have not helped the situation, but in my opinion buying a striker is not the answer unless you sign some quality in midfield that will create opportunities for him.

At times in games we have seen a defensive resilience from the team that has been great to watch but in the final analysis it needs some quality to use that resilience as a platform to win games.

The fans have been magnificent with over 4000 making the trip to Fulham-they deserve better. The new CEO Dong Ren has made it clear he and the owners Trillion Trophy Asia want success. That is a positive is that everyone at the club is determined to turn things around. But I reiterate everything starts and ends with the quality of the players and that applies to any club.

It’s a worrying time for everyone connected with the club and there is no hiding place with every point a prisoner between now and the end of the season. Oh and by the way on a personal note a slice of royal blue luck now and then would be greatly appreciated.

 

Wanted!! consistency from refs and honesty from players and managers

Wanted!! consistency from refs and honesty from players and managers

Most of us want and welcome some sort of consistency in our lives be that in work, leisure or family and it is no different in football. Fans demand consistency in refereeing and their team’s performance. Players also talk about consistency in refereeing and yet some do all they can to prevent a referee being consistent.

From the start of this season players can now be retrospectively charged by the FA and subsequently banned if they have committed a violent act that has been missed by the referee or are guilty of diving or successful deception of a match official.

This was warmly received by most football supporters who were sick to the back teeth with players rolling around pretending to be hurt without having been touched while hoping the referee would award them a penalty or even possibly send off one of the opposition.

Of course those players are still able to look in the mirror every day without a shred of guilt or shame because in their somewhat warped minds the referee is the one to blame because all they did was give him a decision to make. If he got it wrong then it was his fault and their conscience was clear.

Apparently only incidents that result in a penalty or an opponent being sent off will be looked at by the disciplinary panel that includes a former player, former manager and a former referee. All three have to be in agreement after, independently of each other, viewing the evidence before a player is charged.

The first to be charged is Everton’s Oumar Niasse who appeared to go down in the area without being touched by Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann. However not only did he win a penalty but also went on to score the Merseysider’s equaliser thus potentially robbing Palace of three much needed points.

However there was controversy when on Monday the panel failed to agree on an incident that saw Romelu Lukaku kick Brighton defender Gaetan Bong without the incident being seen by the referee. This highlights the inconsistency that drives fans barmy.

However the more players that are banned for diving the better for me and I am sure every other football fanatic. It is the only way to this malaise that ruins the game as a spectacle and at times deprives it of class. 

It is ironic that players have the “don’t dare tackle me hard attitude” but are quite happy to cheat themselves. In fact there card players who will cheat and get angry when another player cheats them. Managers can be the inspiration behind cheating as they have been known to tell their players to go down at the slightest contact in the penalty area and yet moan at the same players who are not strong or physical enough to stay on their feet anywhere else on the pitch?.

Managers and coaches automatically put their hand in the air appealing for any throw in or corner despite knowing it is the oppositions as their own player kicked it out? However if the referee or linesman makes a mistake and does not award them a throw in that is genuinely theirs they go apoplectic with rage. They obviously have never heard of the phrase “double standards”.

 

Baggies can't win the raffle unless they buy a ticket!

Baggies can't win the raffle unless they buy a ticket!

Most West Bromwich Albion fans have no idea how Tony Pulis instructs his players or sets up his team to play. Neither do I or anyone else in the media, All any of us has is an opinion based on what we see on the pitch.

And what the Baggies faithful have seen leaves them believing the team is too defensive minded and not playing with any sort of convincing attacking intent. They believe it comes from the philosophy of the Head Coach and to be fair it’s hard to argue any different.

From the outside it looks like a team that is more worried about not losing than it is winning. If the team were sitting mid-table that philosophy and mind-set speaks and argues for itself, however when you are just one point above the relegation zone then it’s a different situation. With everyone from the board-room to the terraces asking questions, such is the fear surrounding relegation from the Royal Bank of Football affectionately known as the Premier League.

Make no mistake about it the fear is losing 100 million pounds guaranteed income every year and not about having to play in the Championship. I accept that for most supporters it is different as they want to see their team compete against the best teams in the top league.

For Albion if Tony Pulis’s philosophy is set up not to lose them it patently isn’t working with 5 defeats from their 11 games. However It is worth pointing out in the interests of fairness that teams with a more attacking attitude are below Albion in the table notably West Ham.

I am not a stats person, however what does help you to understand the Baggies fans feelings and frustrations is the official Premier League shots on target figures. Albion have had 30 shots on target so far this season; that is one every 33 minutes.

Jay Rodriguez is top with 8 shots on target then come Hegazi, Phillips and Rondon with 3 each, Chadli, Barry, McClean, Morrison and Robson-Kanu have 2 apiece. While Evans, Gibbs and Krychowiak make up the 30 with one each.

Does that tell its own story? I will leave that to the Albion supporters to discuss and debate that one. However, to use an old cliché, what I do know for certain is that if you don’t buy a ticket you definitely won’t win the raffle and the more tickets you buy the greater the chance of winning.

I will say that it’s so easy sitting here at a keyboard to be a great coach or manager or player and to have all the answers but I am sure it’s a lot different when you have the job for real as Tony Pulis does. One way to get the supporters back on his side is, to quote another old saying, to “have a right good go” in games.

 

Why we fans are down the pecking order of importance

Why we fans are down the pecking order of importance

 

At one time football fans were vitally important, they were the life blood of the game, they were the reason for the games existence and they were definitely the reason it was so popular. That was until the formation of the Premier League when businessmen saw the game mainly as a revenue stream with great potential to earn millions of pounds nationally and internationally and be socially accepted in boardrooms up and down the country. The reality is that greed was the foundation upon which the Premier League was built and still is to this day. It is sadly the working man’s game no longer.

Today the fans are still vitally important in League One and League Two and just about important in the Championship.

At one time falling attendances would set of the alarm bells in most boardrooms but in the current money mad Premier League as long as the team stays up they will happily cope with it. Gate revenue is a very small part of a Premier League clubs overall income. No longer do the fans pay the players wages. The reality is that the fans are no more than extra’s in a big TV production.

However for the supporters it is and always will be about tradition and family history-that is what drags us down to a ground when it’s freezing cold and the team is not in great form and you can add into that mix very expensive ticket prices. Clubs, understandably in this money mad game, play on our affinity to the club.

Premier League clubs will argue and tell you in no uncertain terms that the fans are important! However they will kick off at any time to suit the TV schedulers irrespective of how inconvenient it is to the supporters. Don’t just blame the TV companies because the Premier League and Championship clubs have to agree to the TV deal and, in my opinion, were blinded by the love of money and it is that love of money that is the root of all footballs evils.  

Foreign TV rights bring in multi-millions of pounds to the Premier League and this has now resulted in an Orwellian type situation where the six so called bigger clubs want more of the money in a financially elitist stance that beggars belief. In English it means the other 14 clubs can take what they are given and be grateful. Foreign TV audiences want to see certain clubs on their screens which relegates most Premier League clubs to being bit part players, no more than just extras. So it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that the fans are no longer as important to clubs as they once were despite the lip service paid to them.

What gets managers the sack in the Premier League is not results per se but the risk of dropping out of the cash rich Premier League as a consequence of those bad results. Most owners would not sack a manager if could guarantee staying in the top flight and therefore keep the annual minimum of 100’000 million pounds rolling into the clubs bank account.

Players and managers have often turned their back on the greatest cup competition on the planet, the FA Cup, as their money addled brains convinces them it will advantageous in their fight to stay in the Premier League. It also happens even more so in the League Cup and the Europa League.

Every championship club is striving to get into the Premier League but not for glory but to feed at the breast of the cash cow even if it is only for one season. However it is different for the championship clubs supporters who want to reach the Premier League to compete against the very best teams and see better players playing for their clubs.

However, when I say TV I don’t necessarily mean SKY or BT because the digital revolution could see on line companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon or Netflix buy their way into football and stream games online for a fee. In fact SKY have already lost the ATP Tennis to Amazon who were reported to have paid over 50 million pounds to get it.

The Premier League are using the courts to end illegal free streaming of their games in a bid to make themselves more attractive to their TV partners and potential partners. It is always about money. So the rights are set to increase in value and if SKY and BT waver then online companies will pounce. So the obsession with money is set to get worse.

So next time you feel like making a stand, making a protest by staying away or letting them know how unhappy you are at any given situation don’t bother because we are well down the Premier League pecking order of importance behind TV money, League sponsors and club Sponsors.

Yet week in and week out you will be there wearing your scarf, buying your programme and pie because you are addicted to your club, it is a love affair that cannot be broken, It is your religion, the ground is your church where you turn up in all weathers to worship and there is nothing you can do about it because it’s in your blood and don’t the clubs know it.