Tag Archives: English Football

Pitch invasions should be a thing of the past

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Have you ever had that rush of blood when you are at a concert and you are so overjoyed that your storm the stage in celebration of the band’s beautiful creation?

No?

How about when Anthony Joshua beat Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley, didn’t you want to jump into the ring to celebrate with all the assembled media that hopped in?

Really? Weird.

Well, it seems to happen every year in English football, regardless of whether a team goes up or avoids going down. It’s tradition, like watching the queen’s speech at Christmas or throwing up after having too many pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, for many a pitch invasion simply has to happen.

But, why?

Picking apart one of many that occurred over the final games of the Championship, League One and League Two, the one at Nottingham Forest was a little shameful. The former two-time European Champions, as they would kindly remind you, saw their fans claim the City Ground’s pitch after their team staved off relegation to League One on goal difference.

It’s like throwing a party because you managed to pay the bailiffs by finding a pound coin in-between the sofa cushions.

Even the positive ones seem a little redundant, like when Bolton Wanderers’ fans even started raiding before the final whistle had blew. They have come straight back up after relegation last season, so the redeption story or the overwhelming sense of beating the odds just isn’t there.

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Compare it to Brighton, who were on the brink of extinction just over two decades ago, and you can justify their need to hug all of their lovely footballers. Those fans almost couldn’t imagine a future and now, it could not be much brighter.

Saying that, footballers must hate pitch invasions. For the home players, it must be like being mugged by the most joyful person in the world. Most of them hope to be near the tunnel straight away but the poor goalkeepers and defenders must wade through the barbarians like it’s Black Friday at Tesco.

As for the away players, they must be begging that they can avoid all of it. The only things that could happen are getting shouted at, potentially assaulted or a dabble of both, with a sea of people running your direction not looking so nice for those that simply want to be on the first plane off this rock for the summer.

What’s even stranger is that it never happens elsewhere. There wasn’t a mass raid when Leicester spectacularly won the title last season, no one in Turin jumped the barriers when they made the Champions League final earlier this week and France contained themselves when they even won the World Cup in their own country in 1998.

However, we English tend to get all passionate about much. When it’s our local football club, with it’s inferior budgeting for stewarding and their more lax nature for idiots, let’s just ignore the norms and go a little mental.

It might be an unpopular opinion, or a surprisingly popular one, but end-of-season public pitch parades should be a thing of the past.

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Why is football punditry so hated?

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Monday Night Football seems to be a fan favourite, so why don’t others follow suit? Source: Daily Mirror

On Saturday evening, many people watching Match of the Day on BBC One HD were without sound for the first 45 minutes or so.

Some would call that a blessing in disguise.

It didn’t matter to this writer, who skips through the analysis in the studio and sticks to the in-game action instead. Even if he did feel like a mad man either watching silence or commentating himself like he was playing Football Manager.

Don’t judge me, please.

But it did lead me to think about something that seems a hot button with everyone these days. Are pundits getting worse? Are they taking a little too much flak? Do we really know what we want from our half-time talking heads?

Let us start with those paid for their opinions. There’s a number of different styles to pick through with all varying degrees of usefulness over every media platform, the know-it-alls, the not-too-risqué and the all-too-risqué.

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Sometimes right, sometimes absolutely wrong, always a little bland, Jamie Redknapp everyone! Source: Sky Sports

Starting with everyone’s favourites with the know-it-alls. These are your Monday Night Football, European football clever-clogs that tell you the little bits you didn’t see and what you should be expecting from your overpaid superstars.

There’s a lot to like about what they bring. They pry through the game long and hard to give you something extra that you might not have caught on first viewing or simply didn’t know about to even look out for.

Sometimes what they can say is overly complicated, sometimes you are left a little lingering, hoping they’d delve in deeper. But the likes of Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher can’t give all their secrets away, otherwise they may be out of a job.

Honestly, there should be more in this category. A few are on the borderline, mainly the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves, but at least these are trying to add something to the game you’ve just watched rather than telling you with words what you’ve already seen with your eyes.

That moves us perfectly on to the next type, the not-too-risqué types. This eclipses most of your pundits you see, the non-offending smart shirt-wearing former professional who doesn’t try to stray too far from the given path.

They may go on a slight angry rant if something has grieved them over the course of the game or if it has been grinding them down in the past few weeks but they stick by the line. Say nothing too untoward, don’t have too much explanation it what has happened and give us a brief overview.

The perfect middle-managers of the pundit world. Keep it short, sharp and to the point so that everyone can understand what is said without making those tuning in feel like morons.

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Two hot-head mouthpieces that should no longer be on television. So fond of butting heads they thought they’d try each other for size. Source: BT Sport

Personally, I don’t have a huge problem with the Jamie Redknapp’s and the Alan Shearer’s of the world. They sometimes come up with something interesting but it’s more of a shame that they don’t go deeper when you want them too.

All in all, they are just a little too vanilla.

For those that prefer the taste of hot sauce and blood, there is the all-too-risqué types. The blood and thunder types that thrive in saying the exact opposite to everyone else just for the kicks and then thrive in their role as the heel to the watching audience.

I shouldn’t even have to mention names here, it’s the ones that sound ridiculous even when they make a valid point. They go over-the-top, get annoyed at the slightest thing and a fair few of them still live in the dark ages where you could kick seven shades of something out of the opponent without consequence.

These glorified shock masters should be culled. A controversial opinion should be welcomed with evidence but they never present any, hoping their shouty and aggressive attitude is enough to convince you that they are right.

So what do we want? The general feeling as we just want something added to our content. The more conscious viewer of the modern age wants analysis that gives us more of a “why” instead of a “how”, examples to show us both and ideas that give us though on how our own teams perform on a weekly basis.

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An example of what we could see, the European Football Show is always an interesting watch. Source: BT

We want stories, insight into the different teams and the reasons why certain things are done in a certain way. For example, the excellent panel of journalists on the European Football Show always come packed with little tid-bits on every team or even player that adds to the experience, even if they aren’t ex-pros that “know” every in and out.

Which is why there’s such a backlash against the status quo. We aren’t Neanderthals any more, the holier-than-thou attitude from those that act like it simply because they were gifted the talent to make a career out of it does not mean they can look down on us that only have the mind as sharp.

It’s proven in some of the absolutely outstanding work done out there by writers across Europe, by the superb stuff done by analysists and the social media age that have given us more access than ever. Former agents, coaches, scouts have given us tools we could have only hoped for in the past and it’s time for ex-pros to step up their game in time with that.

Overall, punditry should continue to be varied and give us a little more on every broadcast. The additions like those from writers and even ex-referees explaining decisions thoroughly without any bias has given us more, stating the rules as they are written rather than with the tinted glasses of a footballer.

The hope is that the current generation coming through are watching the love for the likes of Neville and Carragher and they follow suit. Give us a little more, fill our minds with your knowledge and more importantly, stop those who can fast-forwarding.

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Fabian Delph showing money isn’t everything

This photo would have look rather silly had he moved to Manchester City.  Source: Aston Villa Club Website

This photo would have look rather silly had he moved to Manchester City. Source: Aston Villa Club Website

In an almost unprecedented move, Fabian Delph rejected the advances of Manchester City this week to remain at Aston Villa. That’s despite the two-time Premier League champions matching his buyout clause and offering a bumper contract, Delph stays to play regular football with the team he’s grown with.

At the initial news that he was due to have a medical with the Sky Blues, even I started thinking about the same old cliches about others that have made similar moves to the same club. Jack Rodwell, Scott Sinclair, Adam Johnson and to some extent James Milner all moved to the Etihad believing that it would be a big step in their careers as first-team starters and national team main-stays.

However, it never really worked out for any of them as they might have hoped.

Scott Sinclair would have helped, he also suffered from a poorly advised move.  Source: Birmingham Mail

Scott Sinclair would have helped, he also suffered from a poorly advised move. Source: Birmingham Mail

Rodwell and Sinclair never really broke into the side, Johnson was always going to be an impact player and whilst Milner had the most success, he was the most frustrated after performing well yet still not earning a regular spot in the starting eleven. All have now moved on and while it’s also clear that some have never reached the heights expected, most of them had their careers stunted at Manchester City.

That is not to say that this article is just to attack the methods of the blue side of Manchester, other than Milner there weren’t signs that the others were quite at the level required at the club. The rules on home-grown talent also force Manchester City into a corner, buying English players for the sake of filling quotas and depriving other teams of good starters or even key players.

They are also caught in a middle ground between their recent success and their own academy catching up to them. Having to pay a premium for strong English talent, like they have with Raheem Sterling, is their only real way to move forward with the home-grown status whilst they wait for their impressive academy to produce quality products.

Delph will hope that regular first-team action will boost his Euro 2016 hopes.  Source: Aston Villa Club Website

Delph will hope that regular first-team action will boost his Euro 2016 hopes. Source: Aston Villa Club Website

That being said, it was still very tough for Delph to not only turn down the money and potential silverware but also admit to himself that at his current level, he won’t be getting the game time that he needs. It’s sometimes difficult for a player to remove themselves like that and have real foresight, especially an international and it’s incredibly refreshing.

He’s staying loyal to Villa and it’s great to see, many other young English players should follow his example. Get reassurances at your new club that you’ll be played, stay that year longer to grow in a smaller side and then allow your progression when you feel necessary.

It’s moves like this that will improve the quality of the national side in the future, rather than harshly sticking to rules that don’t end up benefiting anyone.

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