Football is Destroying Other Sports

FIFA seriously needs to do something about diving, or as you like to call it “simulating.” Now I am not the biggest football fan. To be honest my fandom extends to wherever Australia are playing internationals against sides that aren’t Oman or Vanuatu but I know that there is a big issue creeping into sport worldwide and I blame it on football.

To not only allow but seemingly encourage simulation is inspiring coaches and players from other sports to do the same. For it to be an actual tactic used in a sporting contest is beyond absurd. Sport and acting have and always should be mutually exclusive. Now we see in American Football, Rugby, Basketball and even Water Polo players staying down or even faking it to get advantages from officials. This was never in the DNA of these sports. It is seeping across sports from one source, football.

football diving
The worst place for it at the moment is here in Australia in the National Rugby League. The on field officials seemingly as blind as football referees are constantly missing illegalities in tackles but with the influence of the video replay and video referee they are staying down to halt play to give the referees time to observe video replay of it and award a penalty. Now there are so many things wrong with that that lie squarely at the feet of the National Rugby League, but the inspiration for this sort of behaviour comes from football.

These games are all beautiful in their own right and would be so much better without this in their makeup but football seems so absurdly backwards in its administration on this subject. In the same way that the NRL is using video refereeing to find illegalities, FIFA need to introduce to the big european leagues and international football, video refereeing, to determine when a player is diving and stamp it out. Not only for the good of their own game but for the good of other sports. Football will be taken more seriously worldwide if this is done bet your house on it.

Ronaldinho left the international stage with a red card

Ronaldinho got the chance to prove himself on the international stage in the Club World Cup with his Atletico Mineiro. They secured a spot in this Cup by winning the Copa Libertadores .

– The whole world will be watching this tournament. It’s my chance to take a place in the World Cup squad, said 33 -year-old before the Club World Cup tournament.

Ever since Brazil was awarded the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldinho’s dream has been to end the career with his national team , in the biggest tournament on home soil. When Luis Felipe Scolari once again took over the national team in late 2012,  Ronaldinho felt that his chances improved for a place in the team.

But just before the Confederations Cup, this great player  lost his national team place and the question is whether or not the dream of playing in the World Cup definitely vanished on Saturday ?

Even though he scored a great goal with an awesome free kick, he was shown a red card in the 86th minute for a hard challenge.

The contract expires

Ronaldinho’s contract with Atletico Mineiro expires in less than 2 weeks and the bronze match today might not only be his last on the international stage , but also for Mineiro .

– Everyone knows that his contract expires in December, and the president ( Alexandre Kalil ) has said that only he himself can decide what he should do, says the star’s brother and agent Roberto Assis to Radio Grenal .

Despite the red card, Atletico Mineiro won the game (3-2) after a late goal from Luan .

Refused to leave the stadium – Now they have won

20 minutes after the end of the game between Liverpool and Cardiff,  the song was still coming inside the Anfield.

”Don’t sack Mackay, Malky Mackay,

I just don’t think you understand,

Because if you sack Mackay, Malky Mackay,

You’re gonna have a riot on your hands.”

Called to mediation talks

Cardiff’s owner, Vincent Tan, had given the manager Malky Mackay an ultimatum before the game against Liverpool: Resign or be fired.

Cardiff supporters protested with banners and with songs against Tan’s decision and was also given support by the home supporters (Liverpool) who applauded their efforts. Not even the eccentric billionaire Tan could turn the blind eye  for the fans effort to keep the manager.

According to the BBC, the Malaysian withdrew his ultimatum to Mackay. Instead, the manager was called to mediation talks with the club chairman Mehmet Dalman to resolve the situation .

” Will remain manager”

In October , we managed to do so everyone could work together and we ‘ll try to do it again so everyone can move on. Now we have at least room for a dialogue which gives us an opportunity to resolve this . We want to work towards reconciliation and Vincent Tan has given us the ability to do it, says the president Dalman to the club’s website .

Last season, Mackay managed to take Cardiff back to the Premier League for the first time in 53 years . Now , the fans have thanked him by saving his job.

Right now, the manager will be Malky over the foreseeable future and will remain so if nothing else happens , says Dalman .

Why Hodgson offers a better blueprint for progress than Redknapp

I know what I said in a previous post about the England manager’s position so by all means string me up as a hypocrite but I want to say this: I’m not a fan of Harry Redknapp. I’ve never been a fan of Harry Redknapp. I said what I said at the end of the last article about giving him the job because I thought that the weight behind him was too strong to stop his appointment but happily this has not proven to be the case. Instead we see Roy Hodgson signing a four-year deal.

This is news, I think, which should be welcomed by all right-thinking football fans but of course it isn’t. The media hostility towards Hodgson has already built up to the point that his press-conference yesterday can already be best summarised as him answering the question of “why aren’t you Harry Redknapp?” over and over again. Not only is this line of questioning tedious but it is also silly and shows our media’s (and public’s) continued refusal to stare the bald facts in the face and admit that England’s players aren’t actually that good and that Redknapp’s managerial record is hardly amazing either.

Hodgson

But first let’s look at the records of the two managers. This shouldn’t take too long because there really is no contest. Roy Hodgson has managed sixteen teams in eight countries over the course of a career lasting thirty-six years, Redknapp has managed five teams in England over twenty-nine years. Hodgson has, over that time, won thirteen trophies and Redknapp five (and that’s only if you include Division Three and a Division One titles with Bournemouth and Portsmouth respectively and the Intertoto Cup with West Ham in 1999, which isn’t actually a tournament).

We could also discount Redknapp’s FA Cup win with Portsmouth in 2008 as unworthy of consideration because it was won in a final against lower-league Cardiff (notwithstanding a lucky victory against Man Utd. in the semi-finals) and with a team bought with money Portsmouth didn’t have. Hodgson’s other achievements include getting the Swiss national team to the last-16 of the 1994 World Cup (which England didn’t qualify for incidentally) and, famously, taking Fulham to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2010, where they lost to Athletico Madrid in extra time, a run which also included famous victories against Juventus and Hamburg. Furthermore, since he left Switzerland the academy system he set up there has been credited with bringing through many talented young Swiss players. The only thing Redknapp has done which I consider even close to that in terms of upsetting the odds is when he won promotion to the Premiership in 2002/03 with an unfancied Portsmouth team (which is undeniably impressive).

Redknapp has had his most consistent success with Portsmouth, where for the most part he was spending beyond his means on players who weren’t always that good. The only time we see that kind of ‘wheeler-dealer ’Arry’ style for which he’s so famour is in the 2006/07 season where he bought in thirteen players for only £1.3 million but either side of that we have huge splurges of cash (£20.4 million in 2008/09 and £37.6 million in 2007/08).

And look where that spending has got Portsmouth now. Of course, as England manager Redknapp would not have had to balance financial books but the whole experience doesn’t say much for his grasp of the big picture or, indeed, his ability to spot a player. For every Sol Campbell who has played well there’s been a Ognjen Koroman who has seriously underperformed. Redkanpp’s reputation as a great picker of players is based on people casually name-checking his successes and not noticing that, generally speaking, he tends to buy a large volume of players, the majority of whom don’t do anything special.

I’m not going to say that Hodgson’s signings have all been undiluted successes, nor has he done as well everywhere he’s been as he has done at other clubs. Certainly not. But what I am trying to say is that the guff surrounding Redknapp is, just that, guff. His popularity with the sports writers derives not from a consistent period of success in different countries with small clubs over a long period of time but rather the fact that he basically tells these sports writers what they want to hear. I’m sure he’s probably an easy guy to get along with but that hardly qualifies him to manage England. Again, it comes back to results and I just don’t think Redknapp has ever done particularly well outside of his two times at Portsmouth. Sure his Spurs team are near the top of the table but they’re in danger of losing out in the Champions League and, let us not forget, they had got to three fifth place finishes in a row under Martin Jol so it’s not as if he was starting out with a team of relegation candidates.

“But what about his time at Liverpool?” cry Hodgson’s naysayers, and with some justification. I don’t particularly wish to defend his six months there but I would point out that he was working under a far more constrained budget than Kenny Dalglish has been (Dalglish has spent an estimated £115 million on nine players since he took over). In any event, Dalglish’s time has not seen, beyond an underwhelming Carling Cup victory against Cardiff and an upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea, a marked recovery in league position. They remain much as they were when Rafa Benitez departed: an upper-mid-table team with good fans and a big history. Besides, to judge Hodgson on six months in a career with has lasted almost four decades seems to be more than a bit harsh.

But do I think Hodgson is going to get the four years in charge which he clearly deserves/needs? No. The knives are already out for him and when England predictably do badly at this summer’s European Championships (there is a decent chance they won’t get out of the group and no chance at all that they’ll win it) all the sports writers will sharpen their pens and, with no evidence whatsoever, claim that everything will have been alright if Harry Redknapp had been manager. You could hear it all weekend on the radio as, one by one, various journalists had to glumly admit that their golden boy wasn’t going to be the next manager. It was depressing not just because of the way they fawned over Redknapp but also because of the predictability of what is going to come. It will be as it was with Capello; suddenly it is going to become the manager’s fault that his team can’t put together simple passing moves or defend long balls over the top. I was thinking about this issue with some of my friends and came to the conclusion that, at most, there are three players in the probable England line-up who could reasonably be called ‘World Class’: Joe Hart, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney. English fans need to grow up and realise that this is not going to change by just a change of manager.

I mean, this team would not win the Championships if Jesus Christ Himself came down from Heaven and guided the team to the finals after feats of glory and heroism unseen since the days of mythology (and He would still face criticism after the failure). Three years ago Stefan Szymanski and Simon Kuper published Why England Lose, a book which magnificently demonstrated that, if anything, England probably overachieves and, with the current crop of players, we’re not going to win anything any time soon.

And this is the key point. Will England win Euro 2012 under Hodgson? No. Would they have won it under Redknapp? No. Will they win either of World Cup 2014 or Euro 2016 under either of those managers? Probably not but I think they stand an outside chance in the latter under Hodgson. If we have faith in Hodgson and let him install his vision for English football all the way from youth level up, then do England have a better chance of wining tournaments after 2016? Yes. And that is what fans and journalists need to keep in mind before they open their mouths and bleat pathetically for Redknapp.

Capello wasn’t the problem and Redknapp isn’t the answer

I have lost count of the times when, after an England match when the players have predictably underperformed, people have phoned in to 606 and said something along the lines of “this Capello bloke. Never liked him. He’s foreign and hasn’t got the passion.” I paraphrase of course but I don’t think I’m unfair in saying that that is often the general tenor of the criticism. So, with Capello gone I assume that these people will now be rubbing their hands together with glee at the prospect of some passionate Englishman who will inevitably lead this country to the glory which indifferent foreigners have denied us.

Of course, this is a facetious argument and one that obscures the real problems which have left England without a trophy since 1966. In international management the things which you need to succeed are good players and good tactics. Of course, it is nice to have a manager who wears his heart on his sleeve and so forth but that hardly creates success in and of itself. After all, look at the fortunes of Kevin Keegan during his time in charge. A more passionate man would be hard to find but, by his own admission, he was not the best with tactics and, predictably enough, we ended up playing Gareth Southgate in midfield and losing to the Germans. Or, for another example, take a look at the fortunes of Blackpool in the Premiership in 2010/11. Under Ian Holloway they had a manager who was incredibly passionate and encouraged his players to go out and express themselves on the pitch but that only gets you so far. As it turned out, Blackpool’s early-season success was built on a cavalier attitude towards defence which eventually all the other teams worked out and they ended up getting relegated.

But was Capello a bad manager? No. Or at least not by a statistical measure. Below is a list of England’s managers by their win ratios:

1. Fabio Capello, 2008-2012: 66.7% (played 42 matches)
2. Alf Ramsey, 1963-1974: 61.1% (113)
3. Glenn Hoddle, 1996-1999: 60.7% (28)
4. Ron Greenwood, 1977-1982: 60% (55)
5. Sven-Goran Eriksson, 2001-2006: 59.7% (67)
6. Walter Winterbottom, 1946-1963: 56.1% (139)
7. Steve McClaren, 2006-2008: 50% (18)
8. Bobby Robson, 1982-1990: 49.5% (95)
9. Don Revie, 1974-1977: 48.3% (29)
10. Terry Venables, 1994-1996: 47.8% (23)
11. Graham Taylor, 1990-1993: 47.4% (38)
12. Kevin Keegan, 1999-2001: 38.9% (18)

(This list is taken from Wikipedia and reprinted here just for convenience. I have also excluded the tenures of Joe Mercer (7 matches), Howard Wilkinson (2) and Peter Taylor (1).)

This places Capello firmly at the top of the tree, albeit that he didn’t manage for as long as Ramsey, Robson and Winterbottom. However, his win percentage is noticeably higher than Ramsey’s and that cannot just be down to playing weaker teams all of the time. The idea that Capello is some sort of tactical donkey is not born out either by the statistics or by his record of 14 career trophies (one significantly better than Ramsey’s by the way).

So the real problem must be recognised as lying with the players. Let’s look at the recent World Cup where, apparently, it is Capello’s fault that England lost. Apparently it is the manager’s fault that eleven apparently world-class players couldn’t string together a single series of passes together against Algeria. Apparently it is Capello’s fault that John Terry couldn’t head away a simple long ball against Germany. Apparently it is Capello’s fault that Rob Green couldn’t hold onto a weak punt against the USA. Need I go on. The whole point is that the manifest failures of the England players to demonstrate enough talent to justify the absurd amount of praise heaped upon them are not, and never have been, the fault of the England manager. But this just doesn’t seem to be accepted. I read a bizarre article written after England failed to qualify for the finals of the 2008 European Championships (under McClaren of course, not Capello) which seriously tried to claim that England’s players had played fantastically but had been beaten by a system which they had apparently done their best to undermine during the match. I’m sorry but that’s just silly.

Capello has a fantastic record across Europe and I find it more than a bit pretentious to hear pundits with little to no managerial records (and if they do, none too successful ones) pontificating about tactics as if they’re suddenly Herbert Chapman. I can assure anyone that he will be in another highly-paid and prestigious job by the start of next season. So who’s going to replace him? It will probably be Harry Redknapp and it has already been announced that Stuart Pearce will coach the side for the friendly against the Netherlands. Pearce has a pretty poor managerial record but his time with the Under 21s has, off and on, been fairly encouraging and we need only look at the German model of recent times to see the encouraging possibilities of a young team coming through as full internationals under the coach who worked with them at youth level. However, his time has not yet come, I don’t think. Gus Hiddink is without a job just now and he has a pretty good record in leading poor international teams to results better than their quality would suggest. In an ideal world he would be hired to take England through the European Championships and then, depending on results, the job should be handed to Harry Redknapp to do it until the next World Cup in Brazil. After that maybe to Stuart Pearce.

But, of course, maybe Hiddink doesn’t have the passion.