Sunday, 13 March 2016

Selective eyesight...

...resting players, novelty bets, and lowly ambitions.

1) "I didn't see it."

Football fans model football strips suitable for Benteke and Bolasie.
After Liverpool were awarded a last minute penalty against Crystal Palace last week, Alan Pardew was very vocal in his criticism of Christian Benteke for going doing extremely easily under minimal contact.

"That touch doesn’t warrant the dive he makes," Pardew complained.  "It’s a worrying issue in the game.  If that touch warrants a collapse like that, then wow, we really need to say, ‘Come on!’”

So after his own player Yannick Bolasie won a penalty by going down very easily in the box against Reading after Jake Cooper's hand lightly brushed his chest, was Alan Pardew just as critical about this 'worrying issue in the game'?  Unsurprisingly, Pardew instead avoided the issue by joking, "I don’t really think you should ask me because, obviously I ain’t got a clue about penalties after last weekend." #hypocrite #selectiveeyesight #dodgedlikeapolitician

It's not just penalties you don't have a clue about, Alan.  You don't have a clue about integrity either. #doublestandards

2) Squad rotation

Why do modern day managers seem to have an obsession with tiredness and squad rotation?  In fact it's not just managers - players and even fans seem to have been brainwashed into thinking that the human body will fall to pieces if we play more than one game a week.  Gary Lineker raised an obvious point this week on twitter...

The only arguments for squad rotation I can agree with are to keep your fringe players happy, and to give your best young players experience.  Playing two or three squad players or promising young players in the early rounds of a cup can make sense.  Other than that though, pick your strongest side.  It's shouldn't even need to be said.  But sadly, it does need to be said, because we've all been brainwashed into believing that the human body can't cope with two matches in a week.

Matt Le Tissier summed it up best when he made the following obvious point on the subject of tiredness. "If the players are tired, just train less!"  #notrocketscience #statingtheobvious

3) I'm dreaming of a hot Christmas...

At the start of the season you could have got odds of 5000/1 for Leicester to win the league.  To put that into perspective, here are a selection of other bets which were judged just as likely as Leicester winning the title... #noveltybets

Elvis to be found alive - 5000/1
Christmas Day to be the hottest day of the year - 5000/1
The Loch Ness Monster to be proven to exist - 5000/1

And here are some bets which were judged to be more probable than Leicester winning the league...

Bruce Forsyth to be the next Doctor Who - 100/1
Prince Harry to marry Cheryl Cole - 175/1
David Beckham to be the next James Bond - 200/1
Sepp Blatter to win the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize - 500/1
Simon Cowell to be the next Prime Minister - 500/1
Bono to be the next Pope - 1000/1
David Moyes to be an X Factor judge - 2500/1

There's still a long way to go, but as a neutral, I'd love it if Leicester did finish the season as champions.  Nowadays, too many managers, chairman, and TV pundits constantly play down fans' expectations, so that when they end up achieving midtable obscurity they can declare it a brilliant season and remark, "You can't compete with the big clubs."  Whatever happens now, Leicester have already proved that argument to be untrue.

As a fan, I don't want to be programmed into regarding a 13th placed finish as a successful season #playdownexpectations.  I want to be able to dream, and whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Leicester have put the emotion back in football, and shown that maybe sometimes fans are right to be want to be able to dream. #dreambig

4) Rafa Is A Geordie

I think that many Newcastle fans would agree with me that the problems at our club are more deeply rooted than just the manager, but it was nevertheles no surprise when Steve McLaren was thanked for his services and shown the door earlier this week.

As a Newcastle fan, I was pleased to see names like Rafa Benitez, Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes being linked with the club, but I have to admit that while Mike Ashley remained in charge, I thought all of those managers were out of our league.  Thankfully, I was wrong and Benitez has signed on for three years, with a release clause in the event of relegation.

As for Steve McLaren's ill-fated stint in charge, for me the writing was on the wall after our first game of the season when we drew 2-2 at home to Southampton.  In his post-match interview, Steve McLaren was absolutely elated, and by the massive grin on his face you'd think we'd just won the treble. #stupidgrin #lotofpositives

I mean no disrespect to Southampton because they're a very good side and a far better run club than Newcastle, but no manager should be celebrating a 2-2 home draw with the level of elation that Steve McLaren did.  Yes, there were signs of encouragement to take out of the performance, but you shouldn't be beaming from head to toe with unbridled happiness after a 2-2 home draw.

Unambitious people are easily pleased.  McLaren's reaction highlighted his lack of ambition, and also illustrated his unlofty opinion of his own capabilities.  Unfortunately for Steve and for Newcastle fans, the results under his reign failed even to meet his own lowly ambitions. #aimlowandyouwontbedisappointed

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