All has been quiet recently on the Big-Man. It has been a strange couple of months for me as a football fan, there has been plenty happening and I have continued to watch far more football than I should, but nothing has happened that I have really cared about. Tevez apologised, returned and has galvanised a floundering Man City, proving more should have been done from both parties to sort out the ridiculous situation earlier. Paul Scholes has taken all the credit for Valencia, Rooney and Carrick’s good form. Redknapp has gone from must have England manager to tactical novice, did you know that when you beat a Newcastle without its two central midfielders 5-0 you are a great manager and when your team runs out of steam and can’t play the same high tempo football as earlier you are a dud? Four of the bottom six have suddenly learnt how to play football and it would be quite nice if instead of potentially seeing Allardyce’s West Ham or Olly’s lads in the premiership next year we could just get rid of Villa and Wolves and welcome Reading and Southampton to the league next year. Madrid won the league, strangely people seem to think this is great despite Madrid doing so purely through the banks of a debt ridden country, and Barcelona finished a bad week with a disastrous 45 minutes that saw them throw away a 2-0 lead against 10-man Chelsea who had so many out of position players, even Drogba was playing on his feet rather than his arse.
Two things that you can always rely on when the football world is full of change are: Liverpool are terrible and John Terry is an arse.
One thing that has started to get to me however is time wasting. This “art” is slowly infecting the game and is totally ruining it for the spectators. Recently it has come to my attention in Wigan’s 2-1 victory at the Emirates, Chelsea’s victories over Barcelona and the 20 minutes that followed Ronaldo’s quality winner for Madrid. These were three quite different cases. Wigan’s was extraordinary as it began after just ten minutes. Wigan flew out of the blocks and to everyone’s amazement were 2-0 up inside ten minutes. They deserved this and they deserved the 2-1 victory, but for me the whole game was ruined by Al-habsi taking 30 seconds to a minute to take goal kicks before passing them 5 yards to a player that had been stood there the whole time. The referee decided to book the keeper in the 93rd minute, achieving what? His job was done, he wouldn’t have to take another kick so there was no risk of a second yellow, has that ever happened?
Chelsea, or more specifically Drogba, took things a stage further. He started to time waste, at home, from the beginning of the match. With the game in its infancy and the teams tied at 0-0 Drogba began theatrics so laughable that Busquets may have even felt embarrassed performing them. Graeme Souness last night proved himself a fool by claiming Drogba had to “stay on his feet” if Chelsea were to get anything from the match. This was of course wrong, Drogba spent so much time on the ground to try and break up the game, provide a rest for his team mates and starve Barcelona of momentum: it’s the right tactic, but its boring to watch.
Finally, El Classico, a game with so much talent you could watch them play all day – in fact if they played all day we might see 90 minutes of football. This is the most stop start game in football, and it ruins it. Madrid for all their special players have decided they, like every other team, can not afford to play Barcelona at football. So they sit back, break up play, commit niggly fouls and try to score on the counter. It is starting to work, Barcelona didn’t look like beating Barcelona on Saturday, Sid Lowe claimed the fans only believed it would happen for 3 minutes, but it was terrible to watch.
There are a couple of common denominators in these three examples. First, the team that wasted time got the desired result, second, the referees failed to deal adequately with the time wasting.
I was delighted to see Cech booked on the hour mark for his time wasting, it stopped it. If only Al-habsi had been treated similarly. I share the Barcelona players’ frustration as the ref stops play to go and see if Drogba is ok for the 5th time. Why not follow rugby’s example, as if, and allow physios on the pitch during play. If he is really hurt he will be treated. As for El Classico, I’d say it is almost impossible to referee and it is just a shame that the players with such talent stoop to that level to win a game.