RAISED as I was in the East Ayrshire Junior Football tradition, broadly explained by: “Nae bluid – nae foul,” I should be comfortable with managers pleading innocence and over-harsh officiating when one of their players is red or yellow carded for nothing.
Stephen Robinson - talking "mince", it was a clear red card
But, when you get instances such as that yesterday, when Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson attempts to convince the world: “Cedric Kipre's dismissal was 100% not a red card,” the only come-back is that old Scottish one: “Aye Right!!”
Kipre's dismissal was perhaps the easiest decision Craig Thomson had to make all day, indeed, it was maybe his easiest decision all season. Even in the WWF-influenced world of Auchinleck Talbot v Cumnock, that would have been a straight red, eight days of the week. However just in case you think I am going soft on officials – Thomson made a mistake, he ought also to have booked Scott Brown for his push on the grounded Kipre.
Craig Thomson - got the red card right, but should have booked Broonie
That, I feel, was a factor in Kipre stupidly lashing-out, and it one of the things I do not get about refereeing standards. How often, as in Kipre's case, do you see a retaliator getting a red or yellow card, while the perpetrator of the dust-up walks away with, at worse, a: “Now, don't do that again Son.”
Football really needs, I feel, to toughen-up its tolerance levels on foul play. I know, if they did, it would be carnage for a wee while, but, in the long run it would work. I think the Beautiful Game might benefit from looking at how other sports enforce on-pitch discipline. I would love to see a trial of the likes of field hockey's green/yellow/red cards system, whereby different levels of fouls produce different penalties.
This, as I understand it would see: a mistimed tackle – green card, and if bad enough, a spell in the cooler: deliberate foul – longer spell in the cooler: serious foul play, violent conduct – straight red. And what's wrong with the ice hockey system of short spells in the cooler for minor fouls, longer ones for major fouls and red cards for serious foul play or fighting. And rugby has the case where a yellow card means ten minutes in the cooler.
All these games are more stop-start than football. I feel, because of the free-flowing nature of football, fouls with disrupt the flow ought to be clamped down on more, to eradicate them. There might also be a case for basketball-style implementation of personal fouls, with an accumulation of team fouls leading to harsher penalties.
Football can learn from other sports
In basketball, for instance, while each player can get away with four fouls, but is out of the game on his or her fifth, the team fouls are also counted and, above a set number of total team fouls, every foul takes the opposition to the free-throw line.
Imagine in football, if that came in. One team racks-up enough fouls, and every one thereafter gives the opposition a penalty. That would clean-up the game in jig time.
I also like the American Football idea whereby, holding fouls, where often both teams are at it, sees the officials consulting, and, the team which is guilty of the greater number of holding fouls is penalised. That would soon sort out the all-in wrestling that goes on at corners. The defending side was guilty of three holding fouls, the attackers of four – free kick to the defending side. The defending side was guilty of four holding fouls, the attacking side of three – penalty kick.
But, as with so much which needs to be done to improve the game, I do not see the will to act evident in the corridors of power.
YESTERDAY tea time, while The Farmer's Daughter was doing whatever women do in the kitchen, I was permitted to cash-in the pile of Brownie Points I had accumulated earlier in the day, by watching Leicester City v Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final, or watch paint dry as it turned-out to be.
Those dear people whom God chose to be our neighbours, as a counterweight to all the many benefits She gave to Scotland, love to extol their Premiership as: “The Greatest League in the world.” Aye Right!!
OK, yesterday's game was in the (English) FA Cup but, it did feature two clubs from this GLITW – Leicester, currently lying in eighth place, entertaining Chelsea, who lie fifth – so, two of the top teams in that “English” league.
The only "Scotsman" to feature on Match of the Day yesterday
In all, 30 players, drawn from 14 different nations, strutted their stuff. The only “Scot” on display was Matt Elliott, who qualified to play for us via a Scottish grandmother.
These 14 nations were represented as follows: seven Englishmen, six Spaniards, three Frenchmen, three Nigerians, two Danes and one player from each of: Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Mali and Portugal. As if, perhaps to underline London's status as a great international city, the only Englishman in the visitors' ranks was Gary Cahill, who came off the bench. Each team drew their 15-man squads who got onto the park, from nine different nations.
It stands to reason, to me at any rate, when a match between two of any nation's top clubs only features 23% of the players who are qualified to play internationally for that nation – the it is unlikely to feature at the sharp end of the World Cup, or even the European Championships.
Never mind, the English football writers, a breed I have observed at close quarters and would describe as: “Thick as shite in the neck of a bottle”, keep telling the English football public – who, since many of them believe this crap, are probably even-thicker: “Because we have the Greatest League in the World, we have to be the best nation and we will win the World Cup.”
Give me, instead, the refreshing honesty of the Tartan Army, with their credo of: “We're shite, but we now we are – where's the party?”
All that money spent on transfers and they couldn't pass water
I watched that game yesterday, and marvelled at the repeated inability of players who cost a King's ransom to recruit fail to play a pass to the feet of a team mate ten yards away. Equally worthy of censure was the number of passes which went behind the intended recipient, or the players' inability to play a pass for a moving team mate to run onto, time and again the recipient had to check his run to gather.
These guys are earning ridiculous money, but, many of them, and not just the English-born and raised players, who are often criticised for: “not having the technical skills of the overseas players” - to put it bluntly: "Couldnae pass watter."
If you are going to hire players who lack technical ability – then hire local, they are cheaper. The English footballing public are being fleeced, that's my opinion any way.