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Thursday, 19 April 2012

A few thoughts from the last week in Football (April 14-19)

This weeks post is a little later than normal as I figured it would make more sense to cover the first legs of the European Semi Finals as well as the second Championship round of the week.

Grant Holt for the England Euro 2012 squad: I am sure I am not the only person that has heard more and more people suggesting Grant Holt will be perfect not just for the Euro 2012 squad, but as a STARTER for England.

Now don't get me wrong- I have a lot of respect for someone who has done their time at the lower levels in English football and has proven to be a handful in some games for Norwich City in the Premier League, but has he really done enough to be in the England team?

I watched him closely against Manchester City last Saturday lunchtime and I thought he was solid, but no more than that. He isn't a great finisher and while I think he does provide a different sort of threat up front, I don't think he is a better option than Danny Welbeck in any which way.

I don't have great expectations of an England international so don't think it is down to that that I wouldn't pick Holt as my next statement will prove: I don't think Holt is a better option than Peter Crouch and I have seen him the big man barely affect some games which makes me believe he is not ready for this kind of step up.

What would the League have looked like if Carlos Tevez had stayed at City?: Carlos Tevez is a twat...

Right, now that is out of the way, I think City would not have relinquished their lead in the Premier League table if they had brought back Carlos Tevez say around the same time that Manchester United brought back Paul Scholes.

Tevez proved what City had been missing in their away games with a sublime performance at Carrow Road last week, combining work ethic with real quality, attributes which would certainly have turned draws into wins and losses into draws, with these points adding up to keep City top as far as I am concerned.

Everything Tevez gives a team in a hostile away environment is everything Mario Balotelli does not- I think Balotelli has the potential to be a top class player, but there is no doubting he can disappear in games, particularly those tough ones away from home, and he doesn't have the same urge to win the ball back as Tevez does.

I think there will be a lot of City fans wondering how different the season would have been if they could have paired Tevez with Sergio Aguero for the last three months and, while you can never be 100% when it comes to football, I do truly believe it would be City, and not United, leading the way in the table going into the Derby next Monday.

That diving issue again: So Ashley Young was once again caught going down too easily to win a penalty for Manchester United and the whole diving issue just refuses to go away. It is clear it becomes a little more prominent towards the end of the season as more players are trying desperately to pick up the points for clubs in search of titles, promotion or avoiding relegation.

I heard an argument that it looked a penalty on first instance, but this wasn't the game against QPR earlier in the month- that one certainly looked a penalty on first viewing and it was more down to the linesman missing the fact that Young was offside rather than the actual awarding of a penalty.

This one against Villa was different- I called it straight away that 'I bet he barely got touched' and that was because the fall was nowhere near being natural...

Go down to the park and have someone trip you up when you don't expect it and I guarantee there is no way you fling yourself up with arms flailing... In fact, the natural instinct is to throw at least one hand forward to protect yourself against the fall.

It is a shame that Young thinks United need to do this to win games when there is only 7 minutes on the clock. Bryan Robson said today that this is going to come and bite United in the backside if his reputation for being a diver is cemented and I can't disagree.

I know some don't care at the moment as long as United are winning, but the complaints will be loud if a 50-50 decision is not given our way in the Semi Final of a European Cup, because the referee is not convinced by Ashley Young.

However, Sir Alex Ferguson managed to get Ronaldo to be less content to fling himself to the ground during his time at Old Trafford and I think he'll be having plenty of words with Young over the last week.

Another thing that really annoys me- players feigning injuries: I am likely not the only one, but who else hates to see blokes that are big enough to block a doorway go down and roll around when the winds gusts up to 5mph?

I really hate it when a player is fouled but decides to roll around clutching their leg, yet will jump up if touched by the offending player, suddenly rediscovering their machismo and trying to get in the opposition faces...

Now I realise there isn't a lot you can do about that now, although I would like to see less of it, but what really bothers me is the player that will feign an injury when they have lost the ball in a dangerous spot, with all the team mates of said player demanding the opposition kick the ball out.

It becomes more than a little irritating when the player who couldn't move on the floor then gets up, the team's defensive shape is back, and they are applauded when they kick the ball back to the opposition goalkeeper...

Now that is as blatant cheating as diving in my opinion as players do this to allow their team to be re-organised and prevent any sort of counter attack developing so what would I do?

If I was making the rules, any time the team asks for the ball to be put out for an injury, they would have two options for their 'injured' player- either substitute him straight away, OR make him leave the field for 5 minutes... That would quickly make sure the team who had the counter attack opportunity do not lose their advantage for teams that are stretching the rule and I guarantee it would stop players demanding a ball is kicked out of play just so the downed team mate can get up and get back into a defensive shape.

It won't happen, but I can't be the only one that hates seeing that kind of thing.

Both Spanish Giants losing in the Champions League Semi Final: You would have been over the moon if you had backed both Real Madrid and Barcelona to lose the first leg of their respective Semi Finals this week, with both teams losing in differing circumstances.

Real Madrid were outplayed by Bayern Munich for the first half of their game, but I thought they would have pushed on when they equalised. However, it seemed Jose Mourinho was more than happy to take a score draw back to Madrid until they were undone with a last minute goal from Mario Gomez.

I still think this tie is very very close to call now as Bayern definitely look like they have at least one goal in them at the Santiago Bernebeu, while the attacking talent Real Madrid have is plain for all to see. Both defences looked a little nervy when being attacked and this could be another entertaining game next Wednesday.

By the way, I thought the game in Munich was good viewing so was a little surprised that so many didn't think so.

All credit to Chelsea for the way they won their Semi Final first leg as they employed the correct tactics and managed to score with their only meaningful effort all night.

But I don't want people to change their judgement of the game based on the scoreline- in all honesty, Barcelona dominated the game and created not one or two, but five clear cut chances that should really have been gobbled up.

I think Chelsea will go to the Nou Camp and set themselves up in a similar manner, but they will absolutely need to ride their luck as they did at Stamford Bridge and I would still happily favour Barcelona to overturn this deficit and get through on Tuesday.

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