I don’t think it would be too difficult, assuming you had access to all the various TV channels available, to have non-stop football all weekend. And even if you weren’t near a TV, there are also several radio stations dedicated to the beautiful game. BBC Radio 5 Live is a pretty good listen on the way to and from games, indeed many will watch a game on TV with the sound turned down and listen to the commentary on 5 Live instead. Anything to avoid the “expert” analysis of Andy Townsend.
One of the regular features on matchday is the post match phone in called 606. I rarely listen to all of it live, but fortunately in the modern age, it’s also available as a podcast, so I can download it and listen in the car on the way to work the following week. I usually have this, and Sky’s Sunday Supplement on the iPhone (for those without Sky, the Sunday Supplement is four journalists sitting round pretending to eat croissants while discussing the latest football headlines and mentioning the words Harry for England at every opportunity). I completed the set this morning by listening to 606 from Sunday night, presented by Alan Green. As you are no doubt aware, there was plenty to talk about.
Now Alan Green is someone that a lot of people find hard to listen to. He has his opinions and is always happy to share them, which perhaps makes him the perfect host for a show such as 606. I’m happy to listen to him give his views on things, but I can understand why he gets up people’s noses, and particularly when he states things that are just wrong.
On Sunday, our Alan was keen to tell the whole world that Ashley Young is a cheat, after “winning” a penalty for the second week in a row. Now I’ve watched Ashley from a fresh eyed 17 year old making his Watford debut, and can confirm that he is more than happy to go over to win free kicks and the like when invited, he always has been. Does it make him a cheat? Well, a far better analysis was had on Sky’s Monday Night Football when the excellent Gary Neville discussed the subject in much depth, and proved it’s far from straightforward. But Alan Green was convinced, and expressed his views in a forthright manner (I can’t wait to hear his views on Didier Drogba following last night).
There was also a caller who had been at the game, who was unhappy about another decision Mark Halsey had made during the game, in the second half where Shay Given had clearly handled outside his penalty area. Green had not seen the second half, so couldn’t really comment, but unfortunately the caller had got the reasoning behind the decision completely wrong. In the incident, the assistant referee correctly flagged to signal the offence (which was right in front of him), but the Manchester United player had regained the ball, and United were still in a decent position to get the ball into the box with Given well out of his goal. So Halsey quite rightly played an advantage. The caller seemed to think that the referee had ignored his assistant; this was far from the case. Had United scored, it would have been an excellent bit of refereeing, (they didn’t in the event), but the caller failed to appreciate what had happened. Alan Green was unable to comment.
He was able to however, on the Spurs v Chelsea game as he had commentated on the match. Of course, the main talking point was the award by Martin Atkinson of the second Chelsea goal, “scored’ by Juan Mata, even though it was clear to everyone else that the ball had barely reached the goal-line, let alone crossed it. And Green was heavily critical of the referee on this occasion, and it would be difficult to dispute this. Where he lost it for me, was on the subject of the Spurs goal. As you’re probably aware, Emmanuel Adebayor broke clear, took the ball past the Chelsea ‘keeper Petr Cech and was brought down, however Gareth Bale followed up and put the ball into the empty goal. 2-1 and game on. There were a number of callers who claimed Cech should have been sent off, and Green agreed with them.
Oh dear, learn the rules chaps.
Let’s look at the laws first. The “professional foul” rule was brought in about 20 years ago. I remember before the rule, where a striker would break clear, and the defender would “take one for the team”, bringing the striker down outside the box, knowing that they would get a caution at worst, and concede a free-kick, which with a well placed wall is far preferable to a one-on-one situation. So the law was made that such fouls were to be punished with a red card. Spot on.
Then some bright spark decided that, well, if a foul is in the penalty area, it’s a clear scoring chance too, so that should be a sending off as well, of course overlooking the fact that a penalty kick would result which is as clear a goalscoring chance as you’re going to get. So more recently, this “triple punishment” (playing numbers reduced, penalty kick, resultant suspension), is being reconsidered when FIFA meet in the summer, and not a moment too soon.
So back to the incident on Sunday. Had Bale not followed up, a penalty would surely have resulted, and Martin Atkinson would have had little choice but to send Cech off. And it is important to note the offence here would have been “denying a clear goalscoring opportunity”. Callers asked why Cech could not have been retrospectively dismissed (such as when referee’s play advantage, and then go back to caution players for an earlier offence). However, no red card offence had been committed on this occasion – yes Cech brought the player down, but it didn’t deny a clear goalscoring opportunity as Bale ran on and scored. I guess Atkinson could have decided to caution Cech for a mistimed tackle, but it wasn’t a reckless challenge so was never going to be a red card offence.
What baffled me, was one caller who had apparently been told that he couldn’t have been sent off unless it was violent conduct (and I can confirm Cech didn’t take Adebayor out with a flying headbutt), and Green said “well what about Doni, the Liverpool ‘keeper during the week” (Doni was sent off for bringing down Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett and was sent off). Well exactly Alan…Doni was sent off for a “professional foul”, not violent conduct.
While one can take callers not being aware of the rules, Alan Green will continue to get on people’s nerves if he shows such ignorance of the rules. He’s been commentating on the game for long enough, and at least if you’re going to give your opinion in such a forthright manner Alan, please make sure you know what you’re talking about.