Apr 10th, 2012 by 'holic
Oh well, a compressed preview of the trip to Molineux is necessary. Either that or I will still be typing at midnight. First things first. Did you get your email from Arsene yesterday?
“…we have another important game on Wednesday against Wolves. It will be a different game to Sunday’s, which had a lot of hype, but Wolves are fighting to avoid relegation so we need the same commitment. Every team in this league is dangerous.”
And today the members amongst you should have received this from the skipper.
“I remember when I first arrived at the Club and, without being disrespectful, there were some games when I was thinking less about whether we would win or not, and more about who would score for us and how many we would get! There were some games like that in my first couple of years, but those days are 100 per-cent finished because the so-called smaller teams have improved so much.”
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, I hear some of you cry, and indeed it is. How good it is to see though the stuff that would have been blogged ahead of the Wolves game being stated by the people that matter. I am spared having to point out we need to see the same focus, attitude, and commitment devoted to the next match as the outstanding wins in recent weeks, particularly against Tottenham, Newcastle, and Manchester City. These sides can all profit if we approach Wolves with any less intensity.
It doesn’t help the preview that we have no press conference to relay today, and no update on who is or isn’t available. Obviously we are without Laurent Koscielny, suspended for two matches, which under different circumstances might have been one match longer than Mario Balotelli, but more of that later. We ended the game on Sunday with Andre Santos, himself a substitute for the injured Kieran Gibbs, limping off after a late challenge which went unpunished by the match officials. More on them later. I hear Gibbs is ruled out tomorrow, but Santos should be ok. An extra prayer will be offered to the Lord Dennis tonight with memories of January and February still fresh.
As for the rest I’m sure a judgement will be made on the recovery of the others who started the magnificent Poznan-provoking defeat of the mercenaries on Sunday. Being old-school I would wheel the available ones out again. How tired can you be when you are winning and being lauded by all who follow you? The staff these days have a more scientific approach, which I have had the merest of glimpses of. Hopefully Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, and Yossi Benayoun have been pumped full of something other than kryptonite.
Wolves have to fight, scrap, and battle for everything. Hopefully Mr Swarbrick and his eagle-eyed assistants, messrs Garratt and Mullarkey, will outlaw dissent, shirt-lifting, and excessive celebrations from early doors so the players can get on with the job of maiming each other, this having been deemed acceptable today, but more of that later.
The ‘holic pound is being pumped on the scoreline I hope we can achieve before half of the team are stretchered off for amputations and blood transfusions. I’m going for an old favourite, 3-1 to the Arsenal. Shop around for elevens on that.
The Muppet Show
Somehow I have to do this next piece without resorting to words beginning with ‘f’, ‘c’, or ‘w’, because they are not sponsoring tonight’s show. This is going to be oh so hard.
The FA had the chance to deliver a statement to the divers and leg-breakers today. They had the opportunity, some would argue the responsibility, to follow the other major associations in Europe in dealing retrospectively with incidents that everybody, including them, knows were adjudged wrongly over the Easter holiday.
There wasn’t much they could do to correct the wrongs that were done to Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge. It was good to read though that Mike Riley, himself no stranger to hallucination or the odd bout of myopia, had apologised to Roberto Martinez for his officials getting important decisions so badly wrong. That should be a starting point for finally giving officials the video help that every other major sport utilises. I fear heads will remain entrenched in the sand at all of the governing bodies on this issue, but it is inevitable. Get on with it and show some leadership at last.
Leadership? Who am I kidding? Two decisions the FA could have acted on today (as their counterparts across Europe would have done, don’t give me the FIFA guidelines as an excuse not to protect the players and the game). Sean Derry made the faintest contact with an offside opponent at Old Trafford. A skilled exponent of the art of crashing to ground and demanding a card for his ‘assailant’, Ashley Young succeeded in getting a fellow professional sent off.
Fair enough. His team got the points against a handicapped opponent, and I doubt even Young would seriously have minded if some justice was applied this afternoon and the dismissal was turned over. Nobody I have seen is asking for scores to be rescinded. Just the fair application of the appeal process. It wasn’t frivolous. Everybody saw the incident on television. Even the officials knew they had erred.
I had to mention the wrongs done to Wigan and Rangers first to set in context what would otherwise have been viewed as a rant through rose-tinteds. How on God’s earth could any governing body fail to take action on an assault on one of the players it is supposed to protect? How could any sane individual or group not take further action on Balotelli’s potential leg-breaker on Alex Song on Sunday? Why is it that associations across the continent can dish out retrospective punishment to offenders on the basis of television evidence, but our FA tells us we cannot because of FIFA guidelines.
You will even read in other places in the morning that this is the same FA who apparently could take retrospective action on the flying elbow of Ben Thatcher in 2006, the same FA who successfully appealed a ban for Wayne Rooney after he had actually kicked an opponent and been dealt with by the officials who saw the incident. The whole thing stinks.
Again, everybody has by now seen the challenge. Everybody knows that the four, at best incompetent, officials in charge of the game cannot be trusted with another top-flight appointment again for this season at very least. But somebody with some authority at our governing body has to get hold of those who sat today and passed down judgements that make English football a laughing stock. Somebody has to consult with the officials whose incompetence is being magnified by the even greater incompetence of the faceless few.
Most important of all let’s have technology provided and used for the betterment of our game, and the safety of our players, and to support our match officials as they battle in vain to keep up with the pace of the modern game, and the institutional cheating by those they are attempting to control.
Show some common sense, somebody at the FA, please.
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