At Stamford Bridge Stoke had weathered the early storm. We were looking increasingly comfortable and, at times, even had possession in the attacking third of the pitch! When the home supporters were audibly restless it was a fantastic sound. If we could stay solid and focussed we could collect our first point at Chelsea since promotion. As we know now, Ricardo Fuller’s foolish violent stamp put paid to any hopes we had of avoiding defeat. Fuller’s brutal attack on Ivanovic is particularly sickening when bearing in mind our team is known for being physical. His response on being needled was to commit an act of vicious thuggery. In short, using school playground terminology, we could be seen as a team that gives it out but can’t take it. Drogba took his chance well, quick feet skipping through to snatch the points. Unfortunately we’ll always wonder how we would have fared with eleven players. That is down to the stupidity of one man. In recent years Fuller has been instrumental in our rise to the Premier league, and achieving stability thereafter. It could prove a sad way for him to bow out of the Brit.
On Sunday, we have an FA Cup quarter final at Anfield. Liverpool go into the tie as overwhelming favourites. Victory would signal a return to Wembley and one step from another cup final. They will know that to match the Manchester clubs, and a few of the London ones, there is a huge ongoing rebuilding programme. Despite what Kenny Dalglish may say in public he must know that the signings of Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, quite simply, haven’t worked out yet. This combined with the total mismanagement of the Suarez – racism affair have led to a patchy season. In August their priority was a trophy. They achieved that in the League Cup. Disposing of Manchester City and Chelsea (and Stoke!) on the way is impressive but deep down inside many will be fully aware that in the final they required a penalty shootout to beat a Championship club. The trophy is the same but it does lack the frisson of a winning goal. The victory over Everton has undoubtedly raised spirits but they know that much of their season hangs on Sundays game. It’s a tough ask for Stoke but it’s crucial to remember that Liverpool are not unbeatable. A parked bus will achieve nothing. Matty Etherington is essential to any ambitions we have. To carry the ball forward with pace will be a relief to our deep players. This could also be an opportunity for Jermaine Pennant to re-establish himself. If they provide the ammunition for Peter Crouch to knock his old team out the FA Cup we’ll be on our way back to Wembley!!
The only word to describe Brisbane Roar’s 1-1 draw with Adelaide United is ‘frustrating’. Another chance to reach the top of the table was wasted. Falling behind to an early goal on the break, the remainder of the game saw the Adelaide half of the field covered in orange. Clawing back to parity on 70 minutes Roar couldn’t find a winning goal. Thomas Broich squandered several excellent chances and we all had to settle for a point. Watching table toppers Central Coast lose at Perth only exacerbated the disappointment. Three points would have put Brisbane at the summit with only two games left of the regular season to go. Deeply deeply frustrating.
With Clint Hill’s ‘goal’ for QPR at Bolton, hot on the heels of Sulley Muntari’s effort for Milan against Juventus, the debate about goal line technology resurfaces. Surely if it’s available it’s foolish not to use it. It’s unlike many topics of debate that arise surrounding refereeing decisions in a game of football. For example, at the start of February Robert Huth was sent off against Sunderland.. It was my opinion that the red card was harsh and a yellow would suffice. However, friends I spoke with, and reading assorted internet message boards, many felt it was a good decision by the ref and the sending off was fully justified. There are varying opinions and that is part of the soul of football. The difference between a situation like that and whether a ball crosses the line or not is that whether the ball crosses the line isn’t a subject of debate, it’s a matter of fact, and also the key factor in a match…. scoring a goal. Or not as the case may be. In these days where lost points can lose a club millions, and to implement the change would be relatively straight forward, isn’t it prehistoric to refuse to accept it? Mr Blatter would be OK, he should think of the favours it could generate from the companies who want to get the contracts to put the equipment in place! The bods at FIFA have stated they are keen to see it introduced in time for the next World Cup. That’s fine but more details would be welcome. What form will it take? Will it be experimented with initially? We need a feasible schedule. Over to you Blatter.
Ricardo Texeira’s departure from the top table of Brazilian football is being widely regarded as a boost for their World Cup preparations. He ran the CBF for 22 years and his reign was peppered with allegations of corruption and constant calls for his resignation. President Dilma Rousseff has regarded his exit as a token of personal achievement and has arranged to meet Sepp Blatter at the weekend to discuss World Cup preparations. She’d be wise to ensure the bill passes through parliament which ensures the infrastructure funding is available.
Texeira’s successor is Jose Maria Marin. For the sake of football, and 2014 in particular, we have to hope his rule is more transparent than that of his predecessor. Anything that compromises the integrity of the game should be publicised and addressed. Here is Jose Maria Marin at a medal ceremony. This is transparency…. the whole world can see what he’s doing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVZbulmbsc4&feature=youtu.be