Thursday 24 October 2019

Four football things that aren't racist but are still bad (though not as bad obvs)

So, after the tedium and depressing events of the international break, we return to our beloved domestic bliss, only to get out into the light and remember that things are terrible here too, just not as racist (but give us time).


I won't bang on again about the latest comical examples this weekend (and Monday). My feelings on this one are clear, and though anyone who is against VAR runs the risk of being labelled a dinosaur, is technological inconsistency actually preferable to human inconsistency?

Robbie Savage

During 5 Live commentary of Manchester United v Liverpool (Sunday, 1-1), out-of-his-depth-but affordable co-commentator Savage tuned on commentator John Murray who'd dared to ponder whether, ahem, VAR, should have picked up on Liverpool's Divock Origi being fouled en route to United's opening goal.

"Was it clear and obvious?! Was it clear and obvious?! What is clear and obvious?!" Savage fired at Murray, like Alan Partridge speaking over his PA Lynn as she tries to talk him into buying a Mini Metro.

The normally mild-mannered Murray was clearly rattled, tersely stating "No, I understand that" in a restrained manner reminiscent of Guy Mowbray having his ear flicked metaphorically by Mark Lawrenson during 2010 World Cup and Ally McCoist being blatantly ignored by John Champion at Russia 2018.

Savage's return to BBC match punditry (telly excluded) suggests BBC's philosophy to copy ITV's provocation approach is still alive and kicking, although that still doesn't explain the re-emergence of Dion Dublin.

Unreasonable (and unseasonable) kick off times

Hardly a new topic this, but notable for Amazon becoming the new player in mistreating match-going football fans. They have announced themselves on stage with a ground-breaking, train-station closing 8pm Boxing Day kick off for Liverpool fans to return home from after playing at Leicester. Fan group "Spirit of Shankly" say it's not too late to redeem the situation and return the kick off to the largely forgotten 3 o'clock slot.

My question is, do the TV companies and the Premier League even discuss the impact on supporters when negotiating these kick off times, or do they just assume they'll eventually swallow it and turn up to make all the atmosphere anyway? It's rarely said but the fans actually hold the power, it's just that they seem incapable of unleashing it in mass numbers. You will hear Alan Shearer often say that an effective "press" (the closing down of opponents, rather than the state of journalistic standards) means that the whole team "has to go" and hunt the ball back. This tactic applied to fans, in harnessing their power and being respected, means they need to "all not go" to these matches.

Conor McNamara

Just when it seemed, fingers crossed, don't speak too soon, Norm was out of my life forever - as if the BBC Sport commissioner had finally caught up with the uncomfortable jolly Irishman's past commentaries including the massive fuss he made about "Son" scoring "on Mothers Day" (Bournemouth vs Spurs, March 2018), I go and click on Potters Bar v Barnet on iPlayer (FA Cup final qualifying round) and find his inimitable, overactive, intruding tone of voice setting both the scene and my temperature soaring.

If this match was a first step back to some kind of regretful Dublin-like redemption, then the venue was sadly overlooked by the Beeb execs.

"Potters Bar!Potters Bar!..talking of a bar, there was this time me and Claridge..."                     

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