Football can be a cruel game. There are times when a team doesn’t get what it deserves from a game. Stoke City v Norwich on Sunday was no such occasion. The only injustice emerging from the Britannia Stadium on Sunday was how Stoke had somehow managed to stay in the game to the end and have any chance at all of salvaging an unlikely point. Not that there was ever any serious doubt about the result. From the moment Jonathan Howson’s speculative effort caught Begovic out and put the visitors ahead, the game was only ever destined to be an away win. Howson’s goal exposed many of the faults on Sunday. As Howson carried the ball forward Huth stood off far too deep allowing Howson a strike on goal. The shot itself was decent enough but Begovic was far too slow to get down, allowing the ball to bounce past him into the net. Stoke’s play consisted of a litany of misplaced or under hit passes combined with miscontrolled balls and a discordant series of vague disjointed attempts to perhaps create a chance of scoring a goal. Our only route to goal appeared to be a series of underhit crosses dealt with far too easily by the Norwich defence. Too often our players were caught in possession which is indicative of the sluggish lethargic approach our players took to the game. Our next game is at Craven Cottage and Fulham manager Martin Jol is under pressure…. as Chris Hughton was on Sunday. We must ensure Jol and his team aren’t gifted victory as feebly as Norwich were. Mark Hughes has made a bright start to his Stoke city career. How he deals with his first major setback will be a challenge of his motivational and strategic expertise. Hopefully he addresses the issues properly and we are spared another appalling ‘performance’.
Preparations for the 2022 World cup in Qatar were coated in yet another layer of filth last week when The Guardian exposed the treatment of migrant workers in the country. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/25/revealed-qatars-world-cup-slaves many of the workers in Qatar are treated as slaves. This report even ruffled the feathers of those who hide behind empty soundbites. FIFA’s vice president Jim Boyce called for an examination of working conditions. The 2022 organising committee have also announced they are “appalled” by such barbaric treatment. It’s strange to hear FIFA’s surprise at the latest revelations. Are they not regular visitors to Qatar? Qatar are after all going to host the World Cup. If they do visit how do they spend their time? How can they be shocked when it’s a nation they have to work with so closely? More importantly, now they have been informed what are they going to do about it? Do they want it to just blow over and hope everyone forgets? The article itself was a great piece of work from The Guardian. An example of media working for the common good. Tenacious investigative journalism and the public’s clamour for truth and justice saw Lance Armstrong exposed as the cheat he’s been. It’d be easy to see the Armstrong case in isolation but the clamour for truth over football’s administrators is just as strong. So many unanswered questions yet the ruling body rolls on. Resilient journalism and public pressure can yet shake the complacency of those who hide away in Swiss ivory towers. It may be a long drawn out struggle but the Lance Armstrong story proves it can be done. Have your say here. http://www.rerunthevote.org/
Paolo Di Canio’s brief reign at the Stadium of Light came to an abrupt end. His departure, following an explosive team meeting, concluded a bizarre episode in Sunderland’s history. Despite leaving in the wake of a 0-3 defeat at West Brom the point has to be made he wasn’t a total disaster. His initial aim was to avoid relegation… which he did. In doing so they beat Newcastle 3-0 at St James Park, a game which will surely go down in Mackem folklore. For all that he failed to adapt to the differences involved in managing at the top. At Swindon Di Canio would publicly lambast players and shamelessly expose their weaknesses to all and sundry. In the Premier League that style of humiliation wasn’t going to work. Instead of players feeling motivated through it they felt resentful. Some things have to be kept behind closed doors. His failings at Sunderland have a precedent. When Brian Clough arrived at Leeds in 1974 he instructed his new players (who Clough had ruthlessly slated in the press for several years previously) to throw their medals in the bin because it was time to do things properly. At Hartlepool or Derby that eccentricity might have amused the players or stimulated them. At Leeds, dealing with top level players who’d been around the block… and had the medals to prove it… it was just foolish. For Brian Clough 1974 see Paolo Di Canio 2013. If he manages again Di Canio would be best advised to treat players as adults.
The majority of football fans in Germany feel the games administrators aren’t doing enough to address the issue of bigotry in football. 18% of German supporters feel the German Football Federation doesn’t do enough to deal with homophobia and 46% would like more done to handle racial discrimination. German football is often considered to be amongst the world’s most fan friendly and progressive. It will be interesting to see if the administrative bodies take action on these issues.
It was sad to learn football innovator and pundit Jimmy Hill is in a nursing home suffering Alzheimer’s. In 1961, as chairman of the PFA Hill motivated the campaign to abolish the 20 pound a week minimum wage. The threat of unanimous strike action pressured the FA to drop the rule. While some may feel this is partly responsible for some of the modern games ills, the campaign was entirely appropriate and shrewdly co-ordinated. It was Jimmy Hill who proposed a new system of three points for a win. Like many others, he felt attacking football needed greater reward. In 1981 three points for a win was introduced in England and is now the accepted format across the globe. Hill is best known for presenting football programmes on television. He revolutionised football coverage while working for ITV on the 1970 World Cup by introducing the panel. In the modern age, punditry is often regarded as a credible career for ex players, yet until 1970 no such job existed. In short, he understood the power of television. For a long time Jimmy Hill was unpopular. He often seemed pompous and isolated from the fan on the street. For all that it’d be harsh to deny his legacy. Hopefully, his final years will be as comfortable as they can be.