Monday, 12 March 2012
Crossing the Line
There’s always something disturbing about listening to someone like Alan Green and finding out that you agree with him. It’d be like watching Clarkson and then digging out a tweed blazer to wear with your jeans.
But Green’s right about video technology. Just get the hell on with it.
The naysayers down the Blue Bell have come up with various arguments against:
We love a debate. That’s what footy’s about. Human error’s all part of the game. Well yes. We love jeering the poor sap of an official if he gets it wrong. But how do we know he got it wrong? Cos Sky TV have 347 different camera angles to tell us he’s wrong. (Notice I don’t say ‘she’ cos as far as I can tell Sian Massey’s understanding of the offside rule surpasses most referees’, if not Andy Gray’s.)
In other words we, the watching post-match pundits and fans, CAN’T FAIL to get it right but the people who actually make the decisions are allowed to be wrong. Bonkers.
And do we really need a blatant injustice to start a heated debate? I nearly came to blows with some Man United fan just the other day cos I happened to question Michael Carrick’s worth. It was the sort of debate that would happily have graced the cloisters of Oxford University.
‘He’s shit’ said I.
‘You’re shit’ said he. ‘And so’s your football team. It’s a shit club in a shit town.’
‘Au contraire’ I riposted while me mate Tony Thompson grasped on to me drawn-back fist.
Another argument is that it’ll slow the game down. I just don’t get this one. The object of the game is to score a goal. When it appears that one may well have been scored, thirty seconds spent checking this either way is time well spent. Particularly if you’re a Man City fan and your team are playing away for proof of a goal would be a rare thing indeed.
Others get into the practicalities. When do you stop play to look at the telly? I heard one bloke say ‘Well what would’ve happened had Bolton gone up the other end and scored? Eh? EH!? Tell me that!’ And he sat back in his chair and folded his arms as if he’d just proved the existence of God.
Well, Colin – for that was the poor unfortunate’s name – you’d have looked at the replay while Bolton’s players were running around celebrating and you’d have discovered that their goal had to be disallowed cos QPR had scored twenty seconds earlier. In other words, tough shit, Bolton. End of argument.
Or if the attacking team feel like they’ve scored a goal you can appeal and go straight to the video footage.
If this isn't the picture that ends the arguments I don't know what is.
Then there’s the ‘floodgate’ argument. If you allow this then the argument against using the TV for all decisions is irresistible. Except it isn’t. Cos a ball has either crossed the line or it hasn’t. And, I would add, a player is either offside or he isn’t. These things are specific, measurable, provable. And there technology ends.
For the rest of the decision-making has to be down to interpretation. One man’s foul is another man’s dive. One man’s two-footed lunge is another man’s reasonable attempt to obtain the ball. It’s the job of a referee to decide on this, and get pilloried by half the crowd for favouring the opposition.
So there we are. Still plenty to debate and to infuriate. Why does Ashley Young suddenly find himself bouncing off one of two dozen randomly placed trampets when he gets inside the penalty box? How is it that United continue to not give away blatant penalties at Old Trafford?
But more pertinently the big question (now the use of goal-line technology is a given) is, can a bunch of skilful overpaid mercenaries keep going when the going gets tough?
Mancini’s done pretty well this season, but his players do get downright sulky, don’t they? It’s easy to focus this discontent into the shrugging petulant form of Balotelli.
Perhaps Mario was still seething from his fine last week – which as me good pal Andy Smart remarked, doesn’t so much affect him as the citizens of Manchester who have come to expect the odd wad of a Friday night from out the back of Mario’s Ferrari. Well, them and the North-West’s biggest vendors of fireworks.
But it wasn’t just Balotelli. Barry chuntered as he left the pitch too – and he should be grateful that he gets off the bench at all in my book. Silva looked uninterested. And I’ve seen a higher work-rate during a Mexican siesta.
When you compare that to the busy bees at OT you realise that Mancini is always going to suffer from the fact that the main principle guiding the players in his squad is self-interest – and that does not a team make.
Still Tevez’ll be back soon so that’ll make all the difference.
Compare and contrast with the sides that David Moyes has scratched together over the past ten years and you’ll see why a team ethic is the absolute minimum requirement.
So, given their run-ins it’s United again to win the title (yawn); and to go down..? Well, Bolton look like they might slip free; Blackburn are playing better than the other four; Wolves are shot (Terry Connor wears the expression of a man who’s spent three years trapped in a revolving door); QPR have the sort of run-in that would make the bloke who presents The Deadly 60 turn pale; and Wigan can’t score which as any fool will tell you (and last night that fool was Steve Bruce) really doesn’t help.
Terry looks down, cos that's where he's headed, poor lamb.
Wigan v Wolves is the last game of the season and I’m pretty sure both teams will be wearing black. As for QPR, if they finish a point beneath Bolton, that ghost goal will be the festering splinter of next season’s fingernail.