Microphones: A Refereeing Solution

07.05.09

Referee Ovrebo is surrounded by outraged Chelsea players at the final whistle.

Referee Ovrebo is surrounded by outraged Chelsea players at the final whistle.

Having watched the great Champions League semi-final 2nd leg between Chelsea and Barcelona this morning, I was pleased to see that the standard of attacking play was as high as we had hoped for, and I was gutted for Chelsea, to come so close after playing so well, only to see it all slip away at the very last second, was harsh. Worse though, was the refereeing, and both sides can feel hard done by after another shambolic refereeing performance, following on from yesterday’s game.

It is such a shame that such a good game of football will ultimately be remembered not for two great goals, not for some heroic defending from Chelsea, some persistent attacking from Barca and for the result, which is of course always remembered, but instead for the tragic refereeing that plagued it. It’s becoming an all too familiar trend, and it needs to be addressed. Fear not though, for (as Baldrick would say) I have a cunning plan…

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Champions League: Good for the Game?

16.04.09

Ronaldo: one of the many stars destablising Europes leagues?

Ronaldo: one of the many stars destablising Europe's leagues?

Cristiano Ronaldo’s stunning goal that helped Manchester United see off Porto in their Champions League quarter final earlier today really summed up the quality of football and sheer entertainment that the competition has offered up this season. It truly was an incredible goal, the pure instinct of it and to strike a ball so cleanly is a rare thing. I only feel sorry for the Porto ‘keeper who will forever have to watch constant replays of the moment, and see people drooling over a clip that sees him flail wildly in an admirable attempt to prevent the impossible.

However, while I like the rest of you thoroughly enjoyed the football from all four quarter finals (even though i did have to get up at 6.30am to watch them), I still have to wonder whether the importance and prestige that this competition holds is in the end, good for the game as a whole.

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Fair Play: A European Adventure

20.03.09
Man City: taking advantage of UEFA's stupidity.

Man City: taking advantage of UEFA's stupidity.

Man City overcame AaB Aalborg on penalties yesterday after slumping to a 2-0 defeat in the second leg. The club-formerly-known as a yo-yo club and now derided for being the World’s Richest Club came very close to being Eliminated from the UEFA Cup, and indeed any travelling fans must have thought they’d blown it when Evans conceded a late penalty. But it is a wonder they are there at all, when you think about it.

Manchester City were, according to the final Premier League table, the 9th best team in English football last season. The ‘big four’ took the four Champions League places, Everton and Villa finished 5th and 6th respectively, qualifying for the UEFA Cup, and Portsmouth won the FA Cup (and finished 8th) to secure their passage in European competition. Blackburn Rovers, who finished 7th in the Premier League last season, didn’t qualify for the UEFA Cup.

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A Worthy Sacrifice?

27.02.09

O'Neill's: threw away the UEFA Cup to go after the Champions League - will it be worth it?

O'Neill: threw away the UEFA Cup to go after the Champions League - will it be worth it?

Fans of Aston Villa, I ask you, do you feel that Martin O’Neill made the right choice in essentially throwing away the second leg against CSKA Moscow in an attempt to push more effectively for a Champions League spot in the Premier League this season? I have to say, I think it was a very silly decision by O’Neill who I had considered until now, to be one of the most sensible managers in England.

I honestly feel that Villa stood a very good chance of going all the way in the UEFA Cup. In CSKA Moscow they were facing one of the toughest teams in the competition and yet in the first leg they matched their Russian opponents, and with a full side would have been quietly comfortable of securing passage to the next round. There are other top sides still in the tournament, notably in my opinion, AC Milan’s conquerors Werder Bremen, but Everton showed last year that English sides have what it takes to go a long way. Had the penalties fallen differently Everton would have, in my opinion, won the tournament after they had beaten eventual winners Zenit St. Petersberg relatively comfortably in the group stages.

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