Love the One You’re With – Dan Raywood blog


Video Assistant Referees

France hosted Spain on Tuesday night and it was more than just a friendly. When I say more than just a friendly, nothing controversial happened. What did happen though was the first game to feature a video assistant referee making a decision a game. It was the second to feature the French national side in the FIFA trials.

The home side had a goal ruled out when the VAR based outside the stadium, had spotted that Kurzawa was slightly offside when he headed across for the Madrid striker. The Spanish had the reverse in fortunes when their second goal was awarded despite being ruled out by the linesman. Deulofeu’s goal from Jordi Alba’s cross was deemed offside by the pitchside official. Thirty seconds or so later the goal was allowed to stand.

There appeared to be no complaints from the players which bodes well for the future especially if the game time is minimal. The English FA hopes to use it in next seasons FA Cup from round three. It could certainly make a difference in the competition, especially when there have been games that could have done with them.

I personally think that technology in football is useful and helpful in the long run. That is though only if it is on certain game changing incidents like in this case goals standing or being chalked off. I think it should also be used for missed yellow and red card decisions. It maybe an end to the retrospective offences panel, but it would also help with players thinking they can get away with off the ball incidents that the referee or assistants may have missed.

Just imagine if Video Assistant Referees had been around for a few years. Just imagine if there had been VAR. Diego Maradona’s handball would have been scrubbed off, Frank Lampard would have netted against Germany in South Africa, Graham Poll wouldn’t have able to book Josep Simunic three times before sending him off. Thierry Henry would not have been able to get that infamous handball goal against France.

Of course if the system meddles too much, then it will end up ruining the game, I hope though that this doesn’t happen and that the VAR can be good.

In 1977 -Reds joy & Lillywhite gloom

So 1977 saw the reds of Liverpool and Manchester claim the League and  FA Cup and Liverpool successful in the European Cup. Liverpool had in fact retained the League title. Liverpool had  battled in a three way title challenge with Ipswich Town and Manchester City, who would finish second. It was also Liverpool’s tenth league title and a new record.

The FA Cup that saw the final between Liverpool and Manchester United, had seen United along the way avenge their Wembley defeat against Southampton the season before. Liverpool in the Semi Final faced their Merseyside neighbours Everton. A 2-2 draw at Maine Road meant a replay at Goodi. It was definitely a case of the blues for the hosts as Liverpool stormed to a 3-0 win.

It was double misery for Tottenham as not only they ended up finishing bottom and relegated, they also went out in the third round to second division Cardiff City.

The 1976-77 had seen the introduction of yellow and red cards and a change from goal average to goal difference. The change to goal difference was designed to encourage more goals scoring.

International football saw a disappointing run of summer games for England compounded by Don Revie’s controversial resignation as he went off to manage in the Emirates. It was also the yeat that saw the famous scenes at Wembley where Scottish fans invaded the pitch and break the goal posts.

 1977 saw the beginning of the rise of Wimbledon, who were elected into the fourth division. Having seen a successful run in non league football, they were rewarded with League football participation and for the Dons, life in the league was about to get interesting and in ten years time it would become even more special.

It was soon time for a new season and newly promoted Nottingham Forest were making themselves known as they topped the table at the end of the first month. Other promoted sides, Birmingham City and West Ham both started winless.

Newcastle were in all sorts of trouble, bottom of the table, they found themselves sacking their manager Richard Dinnis who had also criticised the club chairman.

International misery for England once more as they failed to qualify for the 1978 World Cup, making it an absence of eight years for the 1966 winners.

Finally it was big transfers as Kenny Dalglish became the most expensive player signed from a British club when he moves from Celtic to Liverpool. The price was 440,000. Pricey for the Scotsman, not sure whether it would work out though for the defending champions…..

Well that’s all for now on the opening Flashback 40 series. Be sure to check out more.

FA Cup rolls on – Fourth Qualifying round

As the season speeds towards the middle of October, that can mean only one thing in domestic cup competitions, the last of the qualifying rounds are here and the draw for the First Round proper takes place on Monday evening.

This Saturday saw sixty four teams battle it out for a place in the first round where they can have a chance of joining other small teams in football giantkilling folklore, noticeably in this round we see former Football League clubs hoping to earn more cash too. Teams like Wrexham, Tranmere, Stockport County, Torquay all looking to get a chance to knock out former league rivals. Tranmere went down 2-1 to Barrow, Wrexham drew whilst Stockport and Torquay both made it into the bag.

Seven games found themselves finishing level. Teams such as Margate, Hemel Hempstead Town and Curzon Ashton look for replay victories and money spinning ties.Some teams stamped their authority in reaching the first round. Dover Athletic, Brackley Town scored 5-0 wins away whilst Eastleigh & Kidderminster thumped their opposition 6-0.

Mixed fortunes for Lincoln as United went out to Spennymoor Town, but City travel to Guiseley. Stamford looked to cause an upset as they hosted Wrexham, they came from behind to earn a replay at the Racecourse Ground and an even bigger upset.

A reasonably good day for Kent clubs in the FA Cup, Dover, Maidstone Utd (3-1 Billericay) and Dartford (3-0 Tonbridge), not so good for Ebsfleet who went down 2-1 to Merstham.

Premier League clubs – Change for success

After England’s disappointly embarrassing exit to Iceland at Euro 2016,there was much debate as to what should happen next. Whilst appointing Sam Allardyce definitely wasn’t one of them, many looked towards the Premier League itself and what could be done club wise in order to boost England’s chances.

One of the common lines is that Premier League teams more games (cue the well they get paid enough comments). Domestically a Premier League club will play 38 games, six games in the FA Cup minimum not including replays, which could add three extra games. Something to note though is this seasons FA Cup quarter finals will be decided on the day instead of the usual replay. This apparently a mixture of keeping the interest and helping to reduce the fixture list for clubs, especially when games have often been squeezed into some busy schedules. Of course there is then the league cup. For teams not in Europe there is one less game, that could add a possible seven games. Recently though some clubs have rested first team players in the earlier ties. On the subject of clubs in Europe depending on where you qualify, take Manchester City for example, that could add another fifteen ties. An English club could end up playing over sixty games.

Naturally if you expect a team and/or player to feature in over sixty games a season and before a major tournament, something is going to have to give. This of course is not the whole excuse for England’s poor performance, but fitness and the likelihood of burnout is likely to have a key affect.

So how do we deal with the issue. There are a couple that are obvious ones that will reduce the amount of games a team/player will compete in. Reduce the Premier League to eighteen clubs. Whilst the league would only lose two games per team, it would go a way to reduce the fixture pile up for the latter part of the season. This would especially be the case when the FA Cup third round springs into place and the likelihood of replays enter the fray and the frantic rearranging of fixtures.

Reducing the Premier League fixtures would enable the Premier League clubs and players to have the Christmas period off. Just because they earn mega millions, doesnt mean that they cant have the festive period off, they should be entitled just as much as everyone else. This could appeal to the non football lovers who wouldnt have to put up with football through the Christmas period. It might though not appeal greatly to the fans who like the traditional festive football programme. For me the idea of no footy over the Christmas period would be a hard one especially with no Boxing Day Match of The Day to look forward to. It will be one that no doubt splits opinion. The season wouldn’t be shortened either as two of the midweek rounds of Premier League fixtures would be moved to the weekend. This again would also reduce the fixture list pile up as the season heads towards the final weeks.

It isnt just the league of course. There are the Cup competitions, the FA and League Cup. The FA Cup doesnt see the top flight clubs enter until round three, this takes off one lot of pressure to a point. Some might say that the FA should abolish the idea of replays full stop. Seeing that the competition has seen the reduction to one replay, what difference would it make if all games were to be completed on the day. It might help the fixtures even further. For me though that would take away a lot from the FA Cup. There is nothing more exciting than seeing an FA Cup replay and a Cup upset and not only that, the smaller clubs would lose out on possible extra revenue. As mentioned earlier, the 2016-17 FA Cup would see no replays in the Quarter Finals.

Then of course there is the League Cup which has seen it drop way down the list of the leading Premier League clubs priority list. Many would rather not enter it if they didnt have to and to an extent would rather field mixtures of reserves and youth. Sometimes though that can still see the club progress far in the competition if you have a good combination of youth talent and reserves.

There are many ways that the Premier League could deal with this, first off would be for Premier League clubs to withdraw from the competition, that though may not be a straight forward way. A vote would possibly be split with the majority of clubs voting to remain in the competition as another opportunity to win a piece of silverware. Of course though there could be a compromise of teams that dont want to take part being able to withdraw. If though the Premier League clubs voted to leave, this would leave twenty club spaces to fill. The League could either restructure the competition or even elect to invite twenty National League clubs into the competition. There could also be the option of every season Premier League clubs invited to take part or not.

If Premier League clubs were to withdraw, what would happen to the Europa League spot that the League Cup has? Would UEFA withdraw that spot or as more recently with many of the League Cup winners coming from the top eight, would it just remain with the Premier League. It will be certainly interesting to see.

Whether these plans would work is something that would be interesting to see, but introducing the National League teams to the competition couldn’t do any real harm to its future.

Idiots week

They say it never rains but it pours, this week it certainly it was the equivalent of a downpour in stupidity. If it wasn’t footballers being idiots it was the referee and if it wasn’t the referee it was the ‘fans’, although I use fans in its loosest of terms.

Wednesday night saw something of a dismal tie between Newcastle United and Man Utd which the Old Trafford side win with a fortunate goal, that though wasn’t the story of the night. That was the incident between Papiss Cisse and Jonny Evans. Evans spat at Cisse which saw the toon striker retaliate. Cisse accepted the charge whilst Evans denied it and Van Gaal went as far as defending the Northern Ireland player saying that he wasn’t that kind of player. Unfortunately for Evans it was caught on tape. You cant deny it if you get caught however much you try. The FA handed out a 6 match ban to Evans and a 7 match ban for Cisse, increased due to a previous ban.

Anthony Taylor was in charge of the FA Cup tie between Aston Villa and West Brom and what was looking like a straight forward win, saw the game marred by two ridiculous decisions. West Brom saw Yacob received second card for what looked like a two footed tackle but was far from it. To make it more ridiculous, Taylor let play go on before making his decision to show the West Brom player a second yellow. Taylor wasnt quite finished there in the incompetency, with the game almost over he chose to give a second yellow card to Aston Villa youngster Jack Grealish for what was simulation. This appeared to be a harsh decision as it looked like the Villa player was clipped trying to avoid a collision with a West Brom defender, but hey when does a referee ever let a game through without spoiling it.

From the same game, Aston Villa supporters ruined the game by running on to the pitch. The stupid thing is that Aston Villa were winning the game. There will be no doubt consequences for Villa due to a minority of fans who decided to ruin it for others. Notably the majority of fans were booing the pitch invaders, but that wont stop the FA taking any action against the Midlands club. English football doesnt need another episode of mindless stupidity after the Chelsea train incident. English football doesnt need to be taking backwards steps.

He’s One of Ours – New from Dan Raywood

The eponymous Matt Doy will be familiar with this feeling – that of having “one of your own” make it into your youth team.
So yes some of Liverpool’s 1990s youth stars were Evertonians and I personally think that the abuse Wayne Rooney received (and probably continues to receive) from Everton fans is a disgrace, but having a youth team player make it as a first team regular is a rare delight.
However the situation at Spurs this season has been rather positive – the return of Ryan Mason from an extensive loan period, most notably to Swindon Town, has seen the starting 11 contain a number of homegrown and improved players. Despite a promising start last season, Nabil Bentaleb looked like he had lost confidence when he was continuing to start. This season, with the experience of a World Cup behind him, he looks a much more complete player and rightly keeping the likes of Paulinho out of the starting 11.
Also plenty has been written about Harry Kane, but it seems that Spurs finally have a goalscorer to be proud of. The lack of depth behind him in for squad is a concern, perhaps Coulthirst or Pritchard, currently on loan but showing plenty of potential, could offer that option from next season.
There is a real delight in “one of your own” making it into the first team because it shows that the club is making the right decisions. If the club choose a youth team player over a multi million pound signing, at first the fans may not be happy, but when that homegrown player starts scoring and/or performing, the complaining stops.
It also shows good nouse from the coach – if they are able to spot a rough talent that will not cost the club millions and is already trained and developed to the level that the management desires, then that player is already a step ahead of someone who needs to “bed in” to the club’s style.
Finally it shows that the club is using its academy properly, keeping the board onside and showing that youth is the best tactic. See that successful youth team? That’s your next first team. It made Manchester United excited in the early 1990s, and look what that team achieved.