Posts Tagged ‘Platini’

Solid but toothless, taking a stand, storm in a teacup

January 10th, 2013 No comments

Stoke City’s draw against Crystal Palace wasn’t a classic.  It was satisfying to secure a clean sheet but the point has to be made, failing to sustain meaningful pressure on the Palace defence was disappointing.  However, the priority from a fiddly tie was to be in the hat for the fourth round draw and in that respect it was mission accomplished.  The replay certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion.  There is a lot to do if we are to get the  fourth round tie against Manchester City.

Despite being a lover of football traditions, it’d be foolish to deny that the FA Cup has lost much of it’s polish in recent years.  Seeing games played out on front of half full stadiums and managers clearly regarding the whole competition as a nuisance isn’t an inspiring spectacle.  The FA holding this years final yet again on a weekend of a full Premier League programme hardly suggests that it’s a priority for anyone.  But if we were to totally disregard the FA Cup it would be an arrogant mistake.   Some may consider it to be a hindrance but it’s a hindrance worth winning.

When Milan’s Kevin Prince Boateng led his teammates off the pitch last week it was a huge moment.  For several years the issue of how to deal with the issue of bigotry in football has been debated.  The vast majority of supporters are repelled by racism and believe it has no place in football… or anywhere else in society for that matter.  The clamour for authorities to take strong decisive action has only been matched by the administrators  stubborn refusal to do so.  It’s the lack of affirmative action which led to Boateng snapping, deciding enough is enough, and that in 2013 nobody should have to tolerate racial abuse in the workplace.  The stand had to be taken as ruling bodies clearly have no intention of addressing the subject.  Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the incident is that it occurred at all.  Traditionally players have been expected to do what they are told and keep quiet.  Even now there is a handful of people who believe footballers shouldn’t respond at all to the abuse and that is a small price to pay for earning an astronomical wage… despite the fact the vast majority of players don’t earn a huge wage and some things transcend the relevance of money.  For all that, the response to Milan’s walk off has, in general, been supportive from both the general public and those in the game… with one notable exception.  Sepp Blatter stating his belief that Boateng was ‘running away’ from racism is yet another indication that he is fails to understand the issue and why it needs to be addressed.  FIFA have shied away too long, seemingly afraid to assert effective governance.  As a result Blatter has demonstrated his isolation from a crucial subject in the game and as such has proven again that he is unfit to govern.

On an issue considerably less important, another administrator stoked some fires recently.  Michel Platini declared “If we look at the Champions League draw, it’s clear that Juventus are already through to the quarter finals”.  While Juventus are clearly favourites heading into the tie It’d be foolish to consider Celtic an easy passage to the quarter finals.  Especially now Neil Lennon has extra armour to motivate his team!

Much has been made of Roberto Mancini’s training ground altercation with Mario Balotelli.  Was it really worthy of so many column inches?  Probably not. Disagreements like this have always occurred at football clubs and always will.  Many years ago I used to watch Stoke City training and similar incidents were commonplace.  The main difference is that now anyone who witnesses something can post details on a social media website and within minutes the story has travelled across the world.  With the saturation coverage of modern football press are often present and looking for the story.  The attention received by their spat says much more about modern media practices than it does about the individuals involved.


Bore draw, futile posturing, becoming the greatest, the end of an aura

December 13th, 2012 No comments

While some 0-0 draws are absorbing and entertaining the same can’t be said of Stoke City’s game at Villa Park on Saturday.  In fact at times it was difficult to watch.  Villa pressured us early on but lacked the craft to create anything substantial.  Stoke were unadventurous and we seemed to have settled for a 0-0 draw from the start.  Dull though it undoubtedly was there were some positive aspects of our performance.  We displayed characteristic tenacity to gain a point.  Organised and  disciplined, we rarely looked likely to concede a goal.  We’ve now conceded fewer goals than any other Premier League team.  As has been the hallmark of Tony Pulis’ reign… we are hard to beat!  A defensive record like ours is impressive for any team in any league in the world… some additional attacking drive into our approach would be most welcome.

An infuriating aspect of the match was Ryan Shotton’s sending off for two yellow cards.  The first yellow was avoidable, not giving the ball back for a free kick was foolish. Ryan’s second yellow was an absolute travesty. Fabian Delph cheated for no reason other than to get a fellow professional sent off.  For too long authorities have talked of removing diving from the game but decisive action is yet to be asserted.  Shotton now has to serve a one match ban while Delph’s horrendous anti football hoodwink goes unpunished.  If they aren’t prepared to act administrative bodies should spare us their futile fatuous empty posturing.

Having charmed much of Europe it’s now increasingly likely Michel Platini’s idea to stage the 2020 European Championship across the continent will come to fruition.  The plan has proved to be unpopular with one poll stating that 82% of fans oppose the proposed format.  The reason this formula was even suggested was borne of UEFA’s decision to expand the competition from 16 to 24 teams.  As well as diluting the quality of football on offer it makes staging the tournament considerably more complicated and much more expensive.  The problems finding bidders to host for the 2020 competition suggests  UEFA’s number crunchers are seemingly oblivious to the current precarious state of the global economy.

On Sunday Brisbane Roar were beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers.  Brisbane are a much different team than the one that won two consecutive A-League titles under Ange Postecoglou.  Style panache and fluidity have been replaced by disjointed nervous vulnerability. During much of Postecoglou’s reign Brisbane carried an aura of invincibility, an aura borne of one simple factor… winning games of football.  Since Postecoglou was replaced by his assistant Rado Vidosic, the players have lacked the previous years technique and, more significantly, the hunger that drove them to be crowned champions.  Hopefully Vidosic and the players can address the flaws and Brisbane can launch a defence of their title, but the point has to be made, Brisbane Roar have well and truly lost their aura.

Few can deny that Lionel Messi is the outstanding player of the modern era.  Messi combines agility with skill and, of course, goals.  The method which leads to many of the goals brings inevitable comparisons with Diego Maradona.  Amid the unquestionable brilliance  he has another requirement to fulfill in order to be truly regarded amongst football’s all time greats.  Despite what some of UEFA’s  sponsors and marketing executives would like us to believe, the World Cup remains the pinnacle of world football. At a World Cup players are out of their comfort zone and face different challenges.  if Messi is to be  placed in the same bracket as Zidane, Pele and Maradona he needs to confirm his status by displaying his genius in Brazil.