Friday, January 28, 2005

Kick Diving Out Of Football

There is an internet petition that has been floating around that would be worthy of your signature called "Kick Diving Out of Football".

It states that English football fans are unhappy that diving is quickly becoming constant behaviour by professional footballers and it is bringing the game into disrepute.

It points out that divers are breaching the "Code of Conduct for Players", breaking the "Laws of the Game", and infringing the "Fair Play in Football" clause.

It also observes that it is within the power of the English Football Association to take action against the divers in English football.

In light of this knowledge, it calls upon the F.A. to exercise its powers to curtail diving.

Click this link to read the petition and then please seriously consider signing it.

Bellamy Would Be Ideal For Blackburn

Forward Craig Bellamy, of Newcastle United, has landed himself in a spot of bother by refusing to play on the right side of midfield, feigning an injury, and publicly criticising his manager.

The situation was going to be handled internally, until Bellamy decided to go public with the feud between himself and manager Graeme Souness.

Bellamy's behaviour and subsequent fine of about £80,000 by the Newcastle United Football Club should mean that he will never play for the club again.

Indeed, supporters of Newcastle were fuming when this dilemma was unleashed and they would be unlikely to accept anything but an apology and committed dedication to the club's cause in the future.

This would be the perfect time for Blackburn Rovers to swoop on the Welshman.

They could either make a loan or a transfer in order to boost their forward stocks with quality.

They have been struggling to score, with only Paul Dickov having much success.

Matt Jansen, Jonathan Stead, Jay Bothroyd, and Paul Gallagher have all been struggling.

The signing of such a quality player would do wonders for the Lancashire club’s battle for survival in the English Premier League.

Bellamy's recent poor behaviour at Newcastle would not be expected at Ewood Park, since manager Mark Hughes was able to work well with the player in his time as Wales national coach.

The Hughes connection should make attracting Craig Bellamy to the club easier, and he would very much be an ideal signing for Blackburn Rovers.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

An Open Letter To The English Football Association

To the English Football Association:

I am writing to display my disgust at the poor level of refereeing on Monday night, UK time, in the English Premier League fixture involving Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers at Ewood Park.

Referee Steve Bennett was clearly not up to the proper standard and I encourage that the Football Association decide a suitable punishment for the referee.

What especially irked me, and ultimately led to this response, was the penalty decision he awarded to Bolton in the second half of that game.

I watched the game on live on television in Australia and immediately, when the so-called “foul” was committed by Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel, I announced that it was not a penalty.

As I had the benefit of the television replay, my interpretation was proven to be correct on further checks.

Diouf had, in fact, not had any contact from Friedel, but had dived in order to win a penalty.

However, referee Steve Bennett, who was in a much better position on Ewood Park than I was on my couch when the incident happened, made an incorrect penalty decision which ultimately led to a goal by El-Hadji Diouf for Bolton.

I understand that Bennett did not have technology available to help him make a decision, but it appears to me that he has made an unforgivable mistake, given that it could risk Blackburn Rovers senior team’s survival in the English Premier League, and harm Blackburn Rovers Football Club’s financial future.

I expected that Bennett would have researched the behaviour of every player who could potentially take to the field before the match, in order that he could make the correct decisions on the park.

I also expected that Bennett would have taken note of the players’ continuous behaviour during the match, such as Diouf’s constant diving throughout the match, to help aid his decisions.

In light of these expectations and the obviousness of the dive in the specific incident mentioned, Bennett had performed poorly, especially since he influenced the outcome of the game due to that one bad decision.

However, he did not only make one bad decision. His disciplinary action in other incidents was also questionable.

For example, Bolton’s Kevin Nolan took down Robbie Savage with a two-footed over the top tackle in the second half that deserved a red card, under my interpretation.

Again, Diouf himself was guilty of infringing the laws of the game when he elbowed Blackburn captain Andy Todd, but only received an extremely lenient yellow card.

Rovers’ Savage should have had a yellow card in the first minute after he caught Ricardo Gardner high and late (and he should have had a second yellow card and the consequential red card on 18 minutes for another bad challenge).

In conclusion, referee Steve Bennett’s performance in the English Premier League fixture on Monday was poor, at best, and I encourage that the Football Association decide a suitable punishment for the referee.

I eagrely anticipate your reply, indicating whether the suggested action will be taken.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Blackburn Lose Lancashire Derby

Blackburn Rovers have lost 1 - 0 to Bolton Wanderers in an English Premier League fixture due to a controversial decision on Monday night, UK time.

Bolton's El-Hadji Diouf, on loan from Liverpool, dived in the penalty box after goalkeeper Brad Friedel missed a tackle.

There was no apparent contact between the two players, but referee Steve Bennett awarded Wanderers a penalty kick in the 77th minute.

Friedel could do little but watch Diouf hit the ball into the back of the net after he palmed the ball back to the Senegal international when he saved the penalty kick.

The decision was awful as Diouf has a reputation for diving and did all he could to uphold it all night.

Despite initially being unsuccessful in his continuous diving antics, Bennett erroneously and surprisingly rewarded Diouf.

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes did not mince his words after the match.

"I'm disappointed with the penalty award; it was a diabolical decision in all honesty.

"The lad dived, he's got a reputation for diving, the referee should be aware of that and should have taken that into account, he hasn't and he's been conned."

Rovers' performance was perhaps one of the worst this season, despite deserving to earn one point from the match.

"I don't think anybody really deserved to win the game," said Hughes.

"We were lacking a bit of guile up front, we needed a little bit of quality in the final third and it wasn't there this evening."

Blackburn is still very much in a relegation battle in the English Premiership.

They have 25 points from 24 games, sitting in 16th position on the league table, and are only seven points above 18th placed relegation zone occupiers Southampton.

Bolton is sitting comfortably in the ninth position, with 33 points to their name.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Todd, Mokoena, Matteo, Emerton, Savage, Thompson, M. Pedersen, Bothroyd (Johnson, 62 minutes), Gallagher (Stead, 62 minutes). Substitutes Not Used: Enckelman, Johansson, Reid.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, N'Gotty, Ben Haim, Gardner, Campo, Speed, Nolan, Okocha (Davies, 53 minutes), Giannakopoulos (H. Pedersen, 67 minutes), Diouf (Fadiga, 78 minutes). Substitutes Not Used: Poole, Hierro.

Booked: Savage (Blackburn), Diouf, Giannakopoulos, Nolan, Davies (Bolton).

Ferguson To Go For The Right Money

Blackburn Rovers have told midfielder Barry Ferguson that if he wants to re-join Glasgow Rangers, the Scottish club will have to meet their transfer valuation of STG6 million.

Rovers have already rejected a derisory STG3 million bid for the player they paid STG6.5 million to Rangers for one-and-a-half season ago.

In related news, Ferguson was not selected in Blackburn's 1 - 0 loss to Bolton at home on Monday night, which normally would have raised eyebrows and a wave of rumours.

However, he was not selected due to an injury, so his non-appearance cannot reliably indicate Ferguson's immediate future at the club.

Blackburn's Barry Ferguson Dilemma

Barry Ferguson, who indicated in December that he was happy playing for England's Blackburn Rovers, handed in a transfer request last week, with the view that he would head back to Glasgow Rangers in Scotland.

This came after Rangers' STG3 million transfer bid for their former captain was turned down, considered a derisory bid by Rovers since they paid STG6.5 million for him (with STG2.1 million of that amount still to be paid).

Rovers chief executive John Williams has said that the decision on whether to grant Ferguson's transfer request would be on Monday in a board meeting, the same day the senior team plays Bolton Wanderers at home.

Rovers will not be forced into taking a particular position, as they have the financial clout to keep the Scotland captain, and at least demand their money back.

In his time at Rovers, Ferguson has played an average role and has not lived up to expectations, and his wish for a move is seen as a lack of ambition on the player's part.

Blackburn fans would be very happy to see the back of him, given that a return is made on their club's investment.

Barry Ferguson's appearance against Bolton, or lack of appearance, should be the biggest indicator to his immediate future at the club.

An appearance should mean that he will not be sold in the January transfer window, to play a part in Rovers' English Premiership survival battle, whether his transfer request is granted or not.

A non-appearance should see him move away from Ewood Park in the immediate future.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Robbie Savage Moves To Blackburn

Robbie Savage has joined Blackburn Rovers after months of speculation, abuse, and plenty of media involvement.

The transfer fee is thought to be worth some STG3 million for Birmingham City, with Savage receiving a three and a half year deal with the Lancashire club.

Rovers fans would be especially happy that the sorry saga has ended, since the upper echelons at Birmingham kicked up a fuss in the media, insulting Savage's intelligence and accusing the Rovers of making an illegal approach to the Welshman in the process.

Birmingham managing director Karren Brady started the whole sorry affair by calling Blackburn's initial bid "derisory," and then went on to say that "he's not for sale -- and that's it."

However, Savage later handed in a transfer request, as he wanted to move closer to his parents who live in north Wales, and that is how he eventually found himself at Blackburn.

I would email Brady to point out that Savage was sold after all, but alas, the Birmingham City website does not list her email address!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Liverpool Out Of FA Cup: Serves Them Right

English Premier League team Liverpool has been knocked out of the English FA Cup by Championship team Burnley at Turf Moor, in a surprise result.

Defender Djimi Traore's own goal gave the Lancashire team plenty to cheer about, but the fact that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez decided to play a much weakened team of youngsters has belittled what is arguably the most prestigious domestic cup in the world.

Perhaps this will be the wake up call that arrogant Premier League teams need (and no doubt Manchester United's draw against Conference team Exeter can be included in that).

Not only does playing a weakened team belittle the prestigious FA Cup, but a weakened team can find them knocked out embarrassingly early.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

MGP Scores Two Goals In Two Games

Blackburn Rovers' 23-year-old Norway international, Morten Gamst Pedersen (affectionately known as "MGP"), has kicked two goals in two consecutive Rovers games.

He scored a 54th minute strike against Portsmouth in their English Premier League encounter on Saturday to give Rovers the win, thanks to a David Thompson through-ball, and also scored in last Saturday's FA Cup encounter against Cardiff City.

Gamst Pedersen had been frozen out of manager Mark Hughes' plans when he replaced former manager Graeme Souness in September 2004, with the promise that he would feature in 2005.

With some Rovers fans wondering why the potential left-wing star only featured in one (League Cup) substitute appearance in more than three months at the club, all minor angst is now forgotten with the Norwegian now proving some of his worth.

Pedersen has been somewhat of a revelation for the Blackburn midfield, with goal scoring midfielders a rarity this season at Ewood Park. He has kicked three goals in three overall games in his Rovers career under Mark Hughes.

However, Mark Hughes might have some qualms over his defensive capabilities and his lack of imposition on opposing players, which might count against him in future selection.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

It Ain't Been Proven, Dammit

To Birmingham City fans and the football world in general,

Ever since Birmingham City Football Club owner David Sullivan stated that "there is absolutely no question in my mind that Robbie Savage has been tapped up by Blackburn," bitter Birmingham fans have been bleating the statement as fact.

The actual fact of the matter is that Sullivan has made an allegation of illegal activity, which has not been proven as fact by a football authority or a court of law.

Therefore, the next time you (especially you bitter City fans) claim that Savage was tapped up by Rovers (or even by Everton 18 months ago), please be aware that it is not a fact, and clearly state that this is the case.

Yours faithfully,
One Irate Blackburn Fan.

Monday, January 10, 2005

David Sullivan And His Crazy Talk

Birmingham City owner David Sullivan has told the Sunday Mirror that Blackburn Rovers are guilty of illegal activity.

He claimed that they have been in discussion with Birmingham's Robbie Savage while he was still in the first year of a four-year contract.

That is indeed illegal, but strangely enough he further claimed that Savage (who has publicly stated he would like to move to Blackburn) is keeping Sullivan informed of his potential future club's alleged plans and illegal dealings.

"We have stopped short of reporting them because we believe it serves no purpose. And what will the Premier League do? Slap them on the wrist and fine them GBP50,000?"

Sullivan's talk is not only crazy, but hurtful, shocking, and outrageous.

This saga involving Blackburn, Birmingham, and Savage has gone for weeks now, but we have not heard a peep out of Blackburn, other than confirmations that two bids have been offered to the former friendly club and then declined by City.

Countless Birmingham City officials have spoken publicly about this saga since before the January transfer window, including Sullivan down to manager Steve Bruce, throwing accusations and insulting comments toward Blackburn's and Savage's direction.

It all started when Birmingham managing director Karren Brady called Blackburn's initial bid "derisory" and inadvertently added that Savage's intelligence was compromised.

Club officials then said that Savage was mistaken in his knowledge that Blackburn was closer to his parents' Welsh home (he wanted to be nearer with them due to their health), with the pointing out that Birmingham was indeed closer to Wrexham, ignoring the fact that time travel is a lot less from Blackburn, never mind that he could move to another town on the Welsh border and travel to Brockhall Village for training everyday.

Sullivan has now come up with the most shocking allegation so far -- that Blackburn are conducting illegal activity, and that he will not be pressing charges.

Now, what was all of this fuss about? Blackburn decided that they would offer money for Savage below Birmingham's asking price of GBP3.5 million, which many Blackburn and neutral supporters would argue is a criminal amount for the 30-year-old.

Never mind that it is normal practice that for clubs to try and get a bargain for a player they want -- high and mighty Birmingham City are obviously all above that... not.

The sooner that David Sullivan and company shut up with their crazy talk, the better it will be for Birmingham City Football Club.

They have put into jeopardy the reputation that they had with other clubs, although you will not find that suggestion in the English media -- they love a controversial and marketable headline.

Blackburn Rovers might also want to consider what legal action they could take after hearing Sullivan's allegation of illegal dealings.

They would no doubt have their reputation hurt by the allegation, which Sullivan should never had come public with if he had not intended to provide evidence for his belief.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Technology Should Make Goal Judgements

The push for technology to be introduced in deciding goals has never been greater after the controversy of the "goal that wasn't" at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Pedro Mendes' long-range lob toward goal was dropped by United goalkeeper Roy Carroll, who then proceeded a scramble to keep the football away from goal. It did indeed go over the goal line, but Carroll's flick back into the field of play was interpreted as a save by the referees who were too far away to make a judgement.

Indeed, linesman and assistant referee Rob Lewis was concentrating on his job of making sure the offside rule is not broken, and so it would be unfair to blame him for the gaffe. Lewis did not regret missing the goal and neither should anyone else.

Those who believe Carroll should have indicated to the referee that the ball had indeed gone over his own line are being unreasonable. I do not disagree that players should be honest, but honesty has long gone from the world game and Carroll was "correct" to not gravitate from the trend.

The referees did not make a point of asking Carroll whether the ball had gone in either, so indicating to the referees during play that something different to their interpretation would have been extraordinary.

I would also not be surprised to see his Manchester United career over if he did so either, as manager Sir Alex Ferguson is quite an uncompromising character.

The real issue here is that of technology. Why, in the technology-centred year of 2005, are technology not overseeing and adjudicating goals? I am not quite sure.

Technology that can decide whether the ball has crossed the goal line should be implemented as soon as is possible and feasible, whether via video replays or footballs that has been implanted with electronic chips.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Aragones, Be Gone!

Spain coach Luis Aragones, who infamously referred to France international Thierry Henry in a national team training session in October as "that black shit", is still digging himself deeper into a hole.

In a bid to explain his previous comments, he recently told a Spanish newspaper: "Reyes is ethnically a gypsy and all I did was to motivate the gypsy by telling him he was better than the black."

This buffoon is so obviously ignorant of history if he does not fail to see the horror of describing a person of one particular race as superior to that of another.

The Spanish Football Federation has not taken any action against Aragones at all during the past months.

However, if Aragones' sheer racism has not convinced Spain's football governing body to take action, perhaps someone could advise that they should sack Aragones to save himself, and the nation of Spain, from further embarrassment.