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Friday, October 06, 2006

England v Macedonia, and Joey Barton

With the exception of Owen Hargreaves, Aaron Lennon and Andy Johnson, the England squad reports for duty with a fit checklist. Between now and kick off tomorrow at Old Trafford at 5pm there should be no worries and we should be confident in having practically a set XI that will win. Last time the Macedonians came to England was to end in a 2-2 draw at Southampton's St Mary's stadium, where they took the lead twice, the first goal from the now famous Artim Sakiri corner over David Seaman. The team then was:

Seaman, G Neville, Campbell, Woodgate, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Gerrard, Scholes, Bridge, Owen, Smith with Danny Mills, David James, Southgate, Hargreaves, Butt, Lampard, Vassell on the bench.

Seaman and Southgate do not play anymore, Mills, Butt, James and Campbell are no more, Vassell is potentially no more, Lampard and Hargreaves have been promoted to the first team. Woodgate could still have a chance, albeit a slim one, in joining the squad at some point, the same for Smith.

But now the headlines feature on the revelation of a possible change of formation. Either Steve McClren will decide given the players available or he will corroberate with the players as to the best formation. After all, they will play it, he will direct it. My feelings on 4-4-2 is I like it the most but I am open to others. A straight back four and midfield, two strikers, or the same but with a holding central midfielder behind three midfielders. With a 3-5-2, I always wondered about this and pondered who would drop out of the back four. If Shaun Wright-Phillips plays parallel with Ashley Cole, Gary Neville and Rio Ferdinand flank captain John Terry at the back. Ferdinand at left-back is one option I never thought would be a possibility. That would also mean Stewart Downing is not considered, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Michael Carrick/Phil Neville stay central. I must add that Wayne Rooney will partner Peter Crouch.

My version of 3-5-2 would have G Neville and Cole either side of Terry, and let Ferdinand drop down as an ad hoc holding midfielder when we are on the attack, as he likes to come out with the ball and has played in midfield before. That leaves four in midfield to go on the attack, yet if England were to be on the defensive, then our midfield must race back, Ferdinand can then drop back into defence. His ad hoc role is there to allow all the midfielders to go forward and in the event the ball is cleared or brought out to midfield, Ferdinand is on hand at least to offer resistence until the midfield retract back into position.

There is also 3-1-3-3, which is also 3-4-3 effectively. Again it's like my 3-5-2 with Ferdinand behind three midfielders, three strikers upfront. I am not happy with this because of three strikers, it reminds me that two will have to play for one to score, reducing our striking opportunites by two-thirds. There are three traits an England side has been comfortable with: (i) two renowned strikers; (ii) four in defence; (iii) good wingers who supplied good crosses. Obviously this works with 4-4-2 more than 3-5-2. I also wondered if the intelligence on Macedonia considers they will play with one upfront and pack the midfield. they may well surprise us but I still feel regardless of how the opponents play, we should stay with 4-4-2 and tinker with the midfield positions, if need be.

Joey Barton

Joey Barton went over to a disabled Manchester City boy in the crowd and handed him his shirt, gestured a wave to fans and went to walk off. To his immediate left were a set of Everton fans who berated him and in response he looked, smiled a wry smile and pulled his shorts and underwear down just halfway to expose some of his buttocks. I don't know why keeper Nicky Weaver felt obliged to lend a hand, literally. But a complaint to the police was made and both the FA and Merseyside police looked into the incident.

Had someone done the same on public streets it could potentially be an offence of indecent exposure. Some may say gross decency. Or maybe not, unless you were on the receiving end of its comprehending message. Most would not follow it up but there will be someone offended and that is not right. I think a word to the City chairman and manager to speak to Barton would suffice, for me, from the FA as the police declare no action to be taken. The FA instead decided that as the referee had left the pitch by then and therefore was not present to deal with it, this gives the FA powers to intervene and adjudicate. Barton has been charged by the FA with improper conduct and/or bringing the game into disrepute.

I don't wish to see an epidemic of mooning but I'm not easily offended while others may well be, and feel a word would be enough, otherwise a punishment will ensue. Improper conduct maybe, but bringing the game into disrepute? Just a bit of cheek. It is funny that the FA considered it appropriate to intervene in the Ben Thatcher incident despite action being taken by the referee, calling it 'exceptional circumstances', yet didn't find Zokora's dive exceptional enough.



Blogger EL said...

Redsman I completely agree that Barton's 'bit of cheek' was no big deal and perhaps the FA don't at times allow enough room for the crude but fun filled banter and signing that has gone on between fans and players for decades if not since the game began. I think this relationship is not always well represented by the FA's stuffy approach to issues of this nature.
Surely the manner in which the FA deals with these matters should reflect the spirit which has developed quite naturally between the two sides as opposed to the FA using their authority to try and wedge the 'relationship' of their choosing between them. It's obviously a matter of where you draw the line but for me the FA's overt fussiness on these matters neglects what I think is an important part of what gives being a supporter at games its special flavour.

I remember Mark Bosnich the Villa keeper, several years ago at White Hart Lane getting hammered by the FA and press because he did a nazi salute to some Spurs fans behind his goal. What I don't remember being reported was that those same fans had spent most of the match chanting "Bosnich is a nazi" and when he eventually did the salute in sarcastic response, not only did he have a cheeky smile on his face but from the photos of the incident I saw, so did a vast majority of the fans. Some of them also cheered. Bad taste maybe but none of it was done with any genuine malice, just crude terrace humour. Just a thought.

Re: Zokora's dive. Should we really ask for a situation like that to be dealt with after the event? It should be dealt with before the penalty's been taken should it not? A fourth official using a monitor is just a matter of time surely. As for your inference that Zokora's dive might have been exceptional. I would very much doubt it given the number of times it happens these days.

Keep up the good work. (Could I be more patronising?)


10/07/2006 10:13 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

LOL! El, who are you? I understand you are a Spurs fan, but seriously, you made me chortle.

Re Barton, yeah. There are issues in life which some will be offended by, others will not. But the trend is to not offend any and the question is how far does this trend go? If for instance a child flicked an action figure into the air and allowed it to drop to the ground, again and again, and someone is offended because it reminds them of a real soldier landing from a helicopter to his death. There was one such tragic incident recently, however, I would take the child's play as to have no reflection on anything in real life but somebody may not think so and therefore may be offended.

Would the trend therefore seek to refrain children from such play or would it consider that this kind of play is too remote from real events to be offensive in the eyes of everyday people? Was someone actually truthfully offended because naked flesh was borne or was it an Everton fan wanting to get back at Barton? If one made a complaint because it was feared Barton's conduct would set a bad image to children, it's questionable. Yet to that I would recall what I heard on TalkSport radio of a caller whose son sang a football song about former Wolves player Steve Bull, which included a profanity. The caller stated he was happy for his son to sing the chant as long as it was not in front of females. While there maybe one example of the kind of message an offence on the field may portray to children, but the example I heard showed it was fine to swear as a youngster as long as it was not in front of females, a clear contradiction of manners.

As for Zokora, you said a true point. Diving is commonplace and it has been left to the referees to take action rather than anything retrospective by the FA. A fourth official with technical aids at his/her disposal could be an answer, maybe the referee will ask the fourth official to review an incident while the referee is ascertaining from the players and nearest linesperson what happened. If those with Sky Sports at home can access such facilities as playercam and different camera angles, why not a fourth official?


10/07/2006 1:10 pm

Blogger T said...

Good discussion Redsman and EL. I generally agree with both your views on the Barton incident although I can see the FA's point of view of being SEEN to act where something that can be construed as offensive takes place. I doubt whether any serious punishment will be handed out.

As for fourth offical watching replays DURING matches- although they may be handy for clear cut dives like Zokora's on Sunday there are just as likely to be many borderline incidents which will make the use of such a system during games quite a nightmare.

Further, as someone who watches a bit of NFL- I find the repeated use of replays in that sport to be really tedious and time-consuming; and for this reason alone I am reluctant to see it bought into football.

10/07/2006 1:45 pm

Blogger EL said...

Cheers redsman.

Wotchya t.

Re: Tedious & time-consuming replays.
You make a valid point and whilst I share your concerns about added time I can't help coming to the conclusion that given a choice between adding several minutes per half to a match or seeing the wrong team win or achieve a draw. I would always see the right team winning as an upmost priority. I'm not a big enough annorak to have compiled a list of statistics but the impression I get from the hundreds of games I've watched over the years is that the wrong team winning or losing happens far too often for the problem to continue unresolved.


10/07/2006 11:45 pm

Blogger T said...

I see where you are coming from EL, but I am still concerned how the implementation of replays DURING games will work in practice.

In the NFL there are games where nearly every borderline decision - and even clear-cut decisions - are challenged and a lot of time is spent pouring over numerous replays of the same incident... and even then the referee does not always get it right!

I would hate to see the over-use of replays happen in football where the pace and momentum of the game is more important than the NFL where there are natural stoppages after every play. If there were safeguards against this happening I would be more in favour of replays during matches.

10/08/2006 4:59 pm

Blogger EL said...


Agree on the 'over-use' point. The way I envisioned it was that a 'monitor' official in the stand would be watching an outside broadcast or club video monitor and would inform the referee if he spotted something of importance whilst an incident was being dealt with by the ref or if the ref asked for a 2nd opinion. the monitor ref would only interupt during open play in exteme circumstances such as an off the ball clash or a missed offside which led to a goal. (The refs would obviously be linked by headset). There is often a considerable gap between the ref blowing for an incident and the resulting free-kick or penalty being taken, which might well help accommodate the process without too much interruption. There are clearly difficult issues here but I can't help feeling they're worth investigating. A gradual development of the process might help make the technology seem less invasive. I'm looking forward to infrared goal-line checks for starters once they suss out the technique.

It would without doubt take a fair amount of testing first and would affect the feel & flow of the game to some extent but I'm not convinced that the difference it would make, would upset me more than seeing the wrong team win or lose.


10/08/2006 8:47 pm

Blogger T said...

Nice one EL. I agree that if the use of infra-red goal line technology works well in practice it would be a good precedent for using video replays in matches.

They have been talking about the possibilty of introducing this technology for some years but still there has been no action... I wonder what has happened to this idea in the halls of FIFA?!

10/09/2006 9:36 pm

Blogger EL said...

If I remember rightly the tests they did a year or so ago were unsatisfactory and the system warranted further development.

10/09/2006 11:25 pm


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