What do the supporters of at least four other sports he can mention benefit from which football fans don’t? Columnist and former Chelsea star Pat Nevin follows on from the weekend events by calling for change…
Oddly enough, it actually feels like the season has really only started now. Maybe the international break and the week off for the Super Cup has made the Premier League feel a bit weird, but now it is full steam ahead. With the domestic games flowing and the Champions League kicking in tomorrow night, this is where it really starts.
I hope I am honest and fair-minded when I write these columns, I do try to be. So when I say we have had very fortunate fixture draws at the start of the last two domestic seasons in a row and that we did ride our luck once or twice on the road to lifting the Champions League trophy last season, you will know that I am not being embittered when I say the fixturing of the Champions League group could have been better this time round for us. Actually I am not sure fixturing is a real word, but you know what I mean.
Getting Juventus in the first game is anything but an easy task even if it is down at the Bridge tomorrow night. Still it is a group game so even the odd early slip, if it happened, wouldn’t be fatal. But that is followed by two away games in a row which we also cannot afford to be over-relaxed about. Even if we have got an easier second part to the group, the psychological effect of the table not looking the way you want it only adds to the pressure.
The point is we really do want to get something out of this game tomorrow otherwise we will be chasing right from the start. The last thing you want is to be thinking that we need to go to Donetsk or Turin and win to stay in the competition. Certainly there will be no complacency as the last two games have failed to produce a win after what was a fine start to the season.
QPR it should be said were pretty lucky not to lose, in that there were at least two clear-cut, stonewall, nailed on, ‘what on earth are you thinking about referee’, penalty claims. ‘Them is the breaks’ as they say, but it is infuriating when TV replays are so absolutely conclusive and also that they show the officials were in great positions to see the incidents.
It is funny that the rugby tackle on JT was missed but his misdemeanour in the Champions League semi-final at the Nou Camp was (rightly) spotted by an eagle-eyed official. Monday night’s howlers by the officials in the Everton v Newcastle game just underlined the problems.
I am one of that breed who does want the introduction of much more technology to help referees and not just goal-line technology which is no more than a rather pathetic first step in my book. I work in TV regularly and know that we can get the pictures to the relevant people almost instantaneously. The thing to do is do it like they do in tennis. The team has the opportunity of a couple of reviews in each half of the game, so you only use them in extreme situations, you mustcall it immediately and as such the system is not as open to abuse.
The game goes on anyway until the ball goes out of play and then the reviewed decision is checked. (It will be ready by that time for sure, even if it is only 5 to 10 seconds later).
One of the arguments is ‘what if the opposition score before the ball goes out again?’ Well tough luck on them, the original correct decision will stand if the review shows it to be right and their goal will not count. All I want is for some league in the world to be able to trial it to see how it goes. If there are problems that can’t be ironed out then fair enough, we can go back to the old system. You know the one, where every single person in the stadium and at home, sometimes as many as billions of viewers all know what the correct decision should be but crucially one guy doesn’t have a clue…the guy who makes the decision!
Just look at the excitement it has added to tennis, the crowd love the tension of the reviews. As the scoreboard shows the ball falling towards the line the gasps go up and the cheers or groans follow. Pure showbiz.
Some have argued that fans would get angry and riot if there was a change of decision, nonsense. Referees do that already when they consult their assistants and anyway I don’t think football fans are so thick they can’t get the concept. In fact it is offensive to suggest they can’t understand it when the fans of tennis, rugby, American football and cricket all seem to manage perfectly well thank you very much.
I appear to have lost myself in a little rant there over Chelsea not getting a couple of penalties at Loftus Road. But it is more than JT or Eden being fouled, it is the wider injustice that perpetrates throughout the game. After all, over time we would suffer from it as much as we would benefit as a club. At least it would be fairer and as I said right at the top I do like to be fair-minded and honest. I think the game should be as well.
Now if that was all a bit complicated then get your calculators and slide rules out for the competition details this time round, because there are three quizzes to deal with this week.
Two weeks ago I asked how many goals Chelsea players would score in the upcoming internationals. Well we are all done now and the correct answer was 6. Frank Lampard scored 3, Ivanovic 1, Ramires 1 and Oscar 1. The winner chosen at random from only 25 correct answers out of many hundreds of guesses came from David Wilkinson living in Bethlehem, New Zealand. He will get a Champions League review DVD, signed by Gary Cahill.
On to last week and I wanted to know how many Serbian-born players were in the current Chelsea squad. Well most people thought of Branislav Ivanovic right away, but quite a few others thought that Marko Marin was also Serbian born. As I understand it, Marko is from a Serbian family but in fact was born in Bosanska Gradiska, which is actually in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. So he can’t really be called Serbian-born. Branislav is as such the only Serbian-born player.
The winner chosen from the many correct answers turned out to be Sergey Shadrin from Russia who will also get a signed Champions League review DVD arriving in his post very soon.
So that only leaves this week’s quiz question, could you tell me other than Englishmen, which player has made the most first team appearances for Chelsea in the club’s history? The lucky winner will get a similar Gary Cahill-signed DVD and as ever answers should be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck with that, good luck to the lads and I am going to lie down now for little while, but I will be up again in time to be on Chelsea TV for the Juventus game, I can’t wait.