How was it for you? Last weekend is but a distant memory, top of the pile in the tsf.tech league with a humungous 82 points was Ethan, five players chipping in with more than 10 points each. James B (78) was second with Watkins (23 points) but without a Burnley player in his squad (shame on you) and James S was third on 74.
September manager of the month award went to Dan (295 points) ahead of Jelica (278) and Paul P (274). Paul P leads the charge at the top of the league currently on 463 points, Michael (453) and Mr Wright (444) in hot pursuit. I won’t mention the Beck family battle at the bottom of the table between Paul and Chris obviously, because that would only draw unwanted attention to the Brookes family scuffle in the same nether parts.
Having said that, I was personally delighted to see Paul with 45 points this week. Paul is a long-standing, long-suffering Norwich City fan (aren’t they all?), who recently bought the yellow and green carpet from the club trophy room, sold on eBay for £45, after the trophy room was closed as it just wasn’t being used and turned into a storage room for the corner flags, nets and cones. It was fifty years old, but the room hasn’t been opened since 1986 so after a quick dusting, it’s great he said.
This offset his disappointment when Norwich’s latest sponsorship deal, a new contract with the dog-food firm Spillers was cancelled. An FA spokesman said that it would be fraudulent to have Norwich players with Winalot on their shirts.
This week’s photo is of Joey Barton’s changing room whiteboard. As the famed psychopath wheeled his tactics board into the Bristol Rovers dressing room, there were a few hopeful whispers that the terrifying gaffer was going soft. Alongside tactical innovations like ‘goalmouth action: none in ours, loads in theirs’, Joey had scrawled some cheery slogans : ‘you’re unique, a one off and a true superstar’.
But it turns out the effects of anger management therapy don’t last forever as I’m sorry to report Joey is well and truly off the good behaviour wagon again. After a 0-2 defeat to Peterborough he let rip on midfielder Luke Thomas for the unspeakable crime of wandering out of position and miss a tackle. One idiotic young boy – I can’t’ even call him a man – has compromised the team with his behavioural standards raged our Joey, incandescent with apoplectic rage and fury, like you get when they get your drive through order wrong at McDonalds.
Unless we man us and absolutely eradicate these weak, feeble-minded individuals that are currently inside our unit we won’t get promoted out of this division he continued without taking a breath. Might want to keep those promotion cigars in a locked drawer Joey.
VAR watch As is so often the case these days, the only team anyone was talking about come Monday morning was, of course, the PGMOL, which released yet another mea culpa on Saturday after wrongly disallowing Luis Díaz’s goal for Liverpool in their defeat at Spurs. The Reds’ not-exactly-helpful statement – making noises about sporting integrity and full transparency, and promising to explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution – only fanned the flames of frustration, ire and hufty-chufty as we say in Lancashire.
VAR works in rugby union. Based on the technology and process that has been in rugby union for several years, why won’t football follow their approach? The video review is shared live with the crowd as the referee is viewing it; the referee conversation with the VAR officials is shared live with the crowd; the captains from both sides are then briefed by the referee on the decision, live, again shared with the crowd. Why can’t football follow this, which works well?
So, allow me to solve everything with eight suggestions for improving VAR
Release the audio: Making conversations between on-pitch and VAR officials public would at least add a layer of transparency and go some way to warding off the increasing hoards of tinfoil-hat-wearing referees-all-hate-my-club conspiracy theorists. No more: What were they thinking? because we’d know whether we liked it or not. Or we could just bin it all off completely.
Allow refs to call back play: This seems pretty obvious. Had the officials at Spurs realised their mistake within seconds, then pulling play back would seem easy and obvious. Or we could just bin it all off completely.
Automated offside technology: This can work just fine elsewhere and it would speed things up for the fans actually paying to be in the ground. Or we could, you know, just bin it all off completely.
No pitchside monitor: The image of Curtis Jones’ tackle on Yves Bissouma made the challenge look awful. But then static images at the point of contact always make incidents look worse. When refs are already looking at footage distorted by slow-motion, still images are unhelpful at best and misleading at worst. Just show the footage. Or maybe just bin it all off completely.
Get ex-players involved: A few ex-pros down would help with incidents such as the Jones tackle, where a ref sees a bone-crunching studs-up, a former player might see an unfortunate attempt-to-nick-the-ball-away. Or alternatively we could just bin it all off completely.
Managerial challenge system: Like in tennis, give managers two opportunities each half to get a VAR look at a decision. Goal against you stood when it shouldn’t? That’s on you. Time to upgrade your dugout refereeing decision analysis team. Or perhaps we could just bin it all off completely.
Take the Swedish option: Sweden has given us a stack of innovations: seatbelts, zips, Bluetooth, pacemakers, milk cartons and the Billy Bookcase to name but a few. These days the Allsvenskan is innovating by not innovating – it’s the last major European men’s top-flight division to hold out against VAR. So when it comes to VAR perhaps we can take a leaf from the book of a country smart enough to give the world both dynamite and safety matches, and bin it off completely.
And as for Jürgen Klopp? It is an obvious mistake. I think there should be solutions for that. I think the outcome should be a replay. Jürgen cheerfully booted open the hornets’ nest by calling for Spurs v Liverpool (and no other games affected by VAR mistakes) to be replayed.
Worth a read:
* Francis Lee, the former England and Man City striker has died aged 79. Paul Hayward pays tribute to the late Francis Lee who was part of a relatable generation of footballers that remained rooted in the community.
- Erik bawled after watching his Man Utd side slump to a tragicomic 3-2 Big Cup defeat to Galatasaray, the team’s sixth defeat in their opening ten games in an endless theatre of pain. Barney Ronay’s description of Old Trafford, writes a good piece, where things just keep getting worse.
- And who has played ten, won none and scored zilch? Cheltenham, where fans haven’t seen their side bother the back of the net in five months. Ben Fisher has the skinny.
- Plymouth Argyle will try to do something special for a group of fans who did not get back from their trip to Hull City until mid-morning on Sunday. Supporters on one coach suffered two breakdowns on their return journey. In total they needed four different coaches and seven drivers to get home, 17 hours after the game finished, They began the 680-mile round trip at 445am Saturday,
This weekend David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive is one of my favourite films. Please, don’t tell me you haven’t seen it?!! It is as brilliant and disquieting as anything Lynch has ever done. It is psychotically lucid, oppressively strange, but with a powerfully erotic and humanly intimate dimension. It is a fantasia of illusion and identity. The film is an intoxicating liberation from sense, with moments of feeling all the more powerful for seeming to emerge from the murky night world of the unconscious. Yes, I’m rambling and discombobulated as gameweek eight beckons, and I’m about to give up, I’ve got injuries, suspensions, forwards not scoring, and midfielders not playing. Oh, and then VAR. Not pushed the wildcard button just yet.
Pervis Estupinan, Sven Botman, Bukayo Saka…Maddison needs to be consistent for me, Rashford is banished, Salah is in my squad but did nowt last weekend. Do I go with Ollie Watkins or Julian Alvarez to partner Haaland up front – I say go for Watkins if you have the money. I’m sticking with Alvarez! Alphonse Areola is the most popular goalkeeper currently, but I’ve ditched Onana for Vicario, and suggest you got for Luton’s Kaminski.
This is definitely a week you can bet against Haaland if you have the stomach for it, and my captain will be Salah for Liverpool’s trip to Brighton. A reasonably rested Salah against a Brighton defence that conceded six at Villa and is yet to keep a clean sheet this season seems like a decent bet to me. Rasmus Hojlund was the one bright spark for United in the defeat by Galatasaray, but the other ten make me reluctant to bring him in. I’m not sure I’d pick any for the Burnley Subbuteo team.
Palace defenders are not bad long-term holds and Joachim Andersen (£4.8m) is the highest scoring defender at the moment thanks to his goals against Brentford and United. Palace have kept clean sheets in their last two games, and this week they host Forest. You cannot go wrong with the Newcastle defenders, although I fancy West Ham to score against them at the weekend, and I think you want an Arsenal defender generally, but this week’s game at home to Manchester City is obviously tricky.
Transfer deadline is 11am Saturday, good luck!