In the 2010-11 season, the ball was in play for 62m 39sec. Bear in mind that the referee is supposed to play ‘stoppage time’ at the end of each half and it’s clear to see that there should be a quarter of an hour or so before the whistle is blown – and that’s if the ball stays in play the whole time.
Alex Ferguson has once again complained about the amount of stoppage time that’s played at the end of games that we lose. He does it all the time. There’s not a lot wrong with this as he’s a determined man and a born winner. Also, the stats show that he’s right.
The answer to this is to make football matches last 60 or 70 minutes with timekeeping being taken out of the referee’s hands and controlled by a dedicated official, pitchside. Each time there is a stoppage, the clock is stopped. It’s a win-win situation. Stoke fans will not only be able to watch Rory Delap wipe a football dry for around 10 minutes a match, they’ll also get to watch some football as well. Referee’s will not be implored to blow a whistle by a baying crowd. We will have fairness.
Imagine an end to petty timewasting. United have been good at this in recent years, aided by the expert actions of the much missed Edwin van der Sar, who must have wasted hours and hours of time over his career. None of that frustration we’ve all felt when the opposition wander slowly over to take a throw-in, walk slowly off when substituted or when the keeper moves the ball to the other side of the 6 yard box for a goal kick will not happen any more. It will be pure football and surely that’s what we all want.
I was at Old Trafford last night for the Fulham game, sat in my usual place in the North Stand lower.
The game finished with a 1-0 win to my team, Manchester United, and we went top of the league by three points. Top with just 8 games to go. Cause for celebration? Apparently not.
United scored shortly before half time. We hadn’t played particularly well but we’d dominated possession and Fulham didn’t look remotely like scoring (apart from when De Gea pulled of a lovely save, diving to his left and holding the ball). However, Fulham were excellent in defence and were keeping their shape with discipline. The only time Fulham looked to threaten was when we committed both full-backs forward and they came at us with pace on the counter-attack. Obviously, we needed to heed the threat and ensure that we were equally disciplined.
After a bright start, we tailed off a little but got the goal we needed before half time. Excellent! A win would put us 3 points clear at the top of the league, the measure of who is the best team in English football. This doesn’t appear to be enough.
Once the second half started, people all around me were screaming “get it forward!”, “you’re running the wrong way!”, “get the ball off him!”, “do you want this title or not?!”. I thought I’d missed two Fulham goals or at least made up the United goal in my head. I – seriously – had to stare at the scoreboard just to check that I hadn’t made it up and it was still 0-0. I couldn’t believe it.
When your team is 1-0 up against a resolute and disciplined team like Fulham and are able to keep the ball reasonably comfortably, why try and knock the ball long to strikers who aren’t as strong or tall as their defenders to give them a chance to come back at you with the pace they demonstrated in the first half? We were clearly doing the right thing. OK, the performance wasn’t scintillating, we didn’t kill them off when we had the chances we’d had but those chances had been created by playing patient, passing football. Whenever we hit the ball long there were groans from the same people who were demanding that we get the ball forward more quickly. What the fuck do these people want? The opposition cannot score when they don’t have the ball, especially if it’s hanging around the half way line and into their half, on occasion.
This is the kind of thing that makes me understand two things: why people don’t like Premier League football and why people dislike Manchester United supporters. I believe that a lot of these fans just don’t understand how and why the club has been successful in recent years. We play a far more ‘continental’ style these days with Carrick playing short, simple passes, all players not being afraid to pass the ball backwards in order to retain possession. I admit that I prefer the swashbuckling style of our team from 1994 with direct play, flying wingers, strong frontmen and enforcing midfielders but, let’s not forget, it failed in Europe even before 1996 and is hardly like to be making a comeback to our club.
A lot of United fans do not understand just what we’ve got. We have had a period of success (almost) unprecedented in English football. We have managed this by playing football in the way that the manager has set them up to do. As I said earlier, we were clearly doing the right thing.
To make the point again – 1-0 win, 3 points, top of the league. What’s the problem?
P.S.: Here’s another reason why people hate Manchester United fans. From pointless negativity to cringeworthy positivity in less than 24 hours. That’s some going.
I was at the Man Utd v Benfica game yesterday which finished 2-2. It was quite an exciting game – I certainly did my fair share of shouting, getting annoyed and partook in some quite horrific swearing at their number 14, the like of which I wouldn’t usually use (I’m sorry, Maxi Pereira, it’s a funny old game™).
Anyway, the point is that from the 75th minute onwards (when it was already 2-2), people sat round me were setting off home. Why? Were they bored? I can’t see the point in getting a ticket for a game if you’re going to leave early even if the game is finely poised at 2-2. They’d all paid £40-£45 each for their tickets.
Ok, they can find the result later on but they were actually at the game. It’s like going to the cinema and leaving 10 minutes before the end saying, “it’s ok, I can read the review when I get home to find out what happened at the end”.
Here are my views on the matter: If your team is winning 4-0, I think you should stay to applaud the team off at the end but in effect the game’s over, so you can go. If your team’s 4-0 down and want to leave in protest, you may do so, but no less than 5 minutes before the end.
If beating the traffic is one of the things you factor in when going to watch a match, you should seriously consider your position as a football supporter. Either that or go and see a team where traffic’s not an issue. The non-league will happily let you in and with the lack of traffic, you may even see 90 minutes worth of football.
There’s a big hullabaloo taking place over the decision by Fifa to not allow the Football Association to embroider remembrance poppies on England shirts for the forthcoming humiliating 4-0 defeat against Spain this weekend. Some have called for the FA to ignore the ruling but Fifa has instructed the referee to abandon the match if the players are wearing the emblem, which would somewhat negate any gain in doing so.
Of course, the right-wing brigade have jumped on this. The Daily Mail have it as their third-top story of the day, despite the fact the decision has already been made. A footnote for you, the story is third to “Are Olympics chiefs ASHAMED of our military history?” (no, I wouldn’t have thought so) and “Frankie kicked off X Factor over ‘cocaine boasts'” (a man of whom we’ll hear nothing about from 4-6 weeks time, forevermore).
A two-minute silence will take place before the game, as is usual for football matches close to or on the 11th November, but it’s the poppy thing that has got the media so annoyed.
Fifa fully acknowledges the significance of the poppy appeal and the ways in which it helps commemorate Remembrance Day.
But, on the subject of wearing the emblem on the matchday kit:
Players’ equipment are that they should not carry any political, religious or commercial messages. The same regulations are applied globally, and uniformly, in the event of similar requests by other nations to commemorate historical events.
I can see where they’re coming from. If they flouted this rule, what’s to stop another national association putting a symbol on a shirt that may offend people? It’s not a far jump from this to political symbols. In fact, some may say that a poppy is a political symbol already, especially with the to-ing and fro-ing over this decision (the FA are still trying to get the decision overturned). As a user named Pinkman says on The Guardian website:
It’s an entirely sensible move from FIFA, one of the very few times you can say that. It’d open up a huge can of worms if they allowed England to do this.
Not that this would happen, but imagine if Serbia emblazoned their shirt with an emblem remembering their troops that died in the Kosovo War. It’d cause a shitstorm of controversy.
The poppy is a fairly uncontroversial symbol to most, but that’s not the point. FIFA shouldn’t have to evaluate the merits of each different cause when deciding what can go on a shirt. It’s a game – it’s not a political rally.
Here’s another comment from The Guardian’s website, by a user named CLM76:
Christ alive this whole thing is so lame. What will happen if England’s players don’t have a poppy on their shirts? Will we all suddenly magically forget the sacrifices made in the wars?
Well, they’ve never had them before presumably, what with it being AGAINST FIFA RULES and everything, so I guess, er, everything will go on as it always has.
To the people on Twitter saying that poppies on an England shirt is the FREEDOM OUR FOREFATHERS DIED FOR… If you really believe that, I suggest you take a long hard look at yourself. And bear in mind that if FIFA allows this, there will be a precedent set, and a case that every tuppenny ha’penny cause should be allowed on the shirt of any country that asks for it.
I agree entirely with both of these. On the other hand, this comment from the Daily Mail website by Jaide (permalink not available), says:
There should never be a ban on wearing a poppy. I think Fifa need to back down and apologise for being so disrespectful to the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for the protection of this country.
Although can see her point, but it’s just the can of worms that it would open makes the whole thing more harmful than good.
I wear a poppy and have visited the battlefields, museums and graveyards of Ypres and the surrounding area. I’ve changed my Twitter picture to a photo I took of the Menin gate and have one of those ‘Twibbon’ things with a poppy on it. My Grandma used to sell poppies outside her local supermarket. I used to go around the school I attended selling poppies, so I’m in agreement that people should wear their poppy with pride, if they agree with the statement it makes. However, for sport to get involved and for pressure to be put on the organisations involved is not on.
Politics and sport shouldn’t mix, although they do on a daily basis.
Perhaps the final say should fall to the Royal British Legion, who run the Poppy Appeal:
We appreciate that showing support is not always possible under some regulations and we would never seek to impose ourselves in these situations.
EDIT: Now the far-right-wing brigade have got themselves involved. Just what this whole thing needs, eh? See the article headlined EDL stage roof-top protest at Fifa headquarters over poppy ban.