Paul Scholes urged to stop being ‘p*ssy’ about Antony; football needs an ‘umpire’s call’

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

The Manchester United win over Sheriff has prompted praise but also a call for Paul Scholes to let Antony have some fun.

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Can Antony not have himself some fun?
So now to add the the modern day joy-vacuum that is post-goal VAR anticipation, sourpusses Scholes and Savage want showboating removed from the game based on their reaction to Antony spinning his disco hips a couple of times. Heaven forbid a footballer might have some individuality and actually try to be entertaining! Oh but he misplaced a pass afterwards – something he might have done regardless of the preceding trickery? A lot of the crowd actually cheered because they enjoyed watching it.

One of the only reasons I watched Soccer AM was to see the showboat segment, and I would go out on Saturday afternoons and try some of the stuff during a match. Some of it was functional and the rest was done to intentionally wind up the full back marking me, in the hope they would eventually clatter me and get booked or stand off intimidated and give me space to work with. If you actually look again at what Antony did, the player marking Casemiro seems to go into a trance watching him spin for the 427th time which allows Casemiro to break into space unmarked. The pass was overhit and that is more the issue.

When at our best, United have always had entertaining wingers who would throw in the odd piece of showboating. Best, Coppell, Sharpe, Giggs, Ronaldo, Nani. Even King Eric loved a needless flick or two. Love you Scholesy but stop being so pissy all the time. It’s understandable when we’re losing and playing poorly but we’re not; so let them enjoy playing well and express themselves while doing so.
Garey Vance, MUFC


Man Utd were dominant in every way
Great game to watch from United against Sheriff.

The first half was complete domination by Manchester United and was topped off nicely by a superb header from Dalot late in the half. Eriksen and Casemiro are a dream team together in the midfield and bring calmness and confidence into the United midfield which I haven’t felt in years. Garnacho looked very lively in the first half with his pace and dribbling causing issues for the Sheriff’s defence.

The second half was practically the same story with United in control for the half but we definitely created better attacking chances which you could see with Rashford’s fantastically taken header and Ronaldo’s inevitable goal. Garnacho was very helpful in attack as he won many fouls because of his pace causing the fullback of Sheriff to constantly make fouls.

Overall, It was a great dominant performance from United. For the game on the weekend I think you half to choose Lindelof to partner Martinez but knowing United it’ll be Maguire. I know it has only been one game but I would not be mad about Garnacho getting a run of games over Sancho as I feel Sancho needs to realise he can be replaced unless he steps up his performances and Garnacho seems to want to take his chances when he is given them.

Although Ronaldo has had a crazy week but when he’s on the pitch he is inevitable. When we put crosses into the box Ronaldo will win them and like his goal is ready on the rebound and I would start him but I also understand that you have to show who’s in charge if you are Ten Hag. Nevertheless, it was a great team performance.
Max Of Whitegate


Bruno 4 Newcastle United
Social media absolutely besieges me with transfer interest in Bruno Guimaeres, and in one sense, everybody’s right: the lad’s a player, and would help any squad in the world.

But the extent to which Bruno has bedded in amongst the Geordies would be astonishing anyplace else. Since his first start, he’s been on social media shouting about how he wants to be a hero to Newcastle; most recently he announced the birth of his son, a “Brazilian Geordie.” I believe him, I really do, so those stories give me a chuckle, even if they’re becoming annoying. And I think he’d be mental to go. He’s in a position to found a dynasty of sorts, and make a crater where he’d only make a footnote at say, Real. (By the way, today was hardly the first time interest was reported from that source.)

If I’m wrong, well, Newcastle’s FFP balance won’t hurt for a 120+ million-pound transfer. And if the club is smart, they’ll give him a decent wage boost on a long-term contract that he can renegotiate every two years. If he’s as committed as he says, he won’t want his wages to cripple the project.
Chris C, Toon Army DC


The difference between Klopp and Conte
The games of the two English teams in the CL on Wednesday showed an interesting dichotomy in managerial style.

Klopp is getting hammered right now for a team letting in too many goals and not scoring enough (albeit the second highest scoring team in the CL group stage behind Napoli.) Conte was getting early praise as Spurs jumped up the EPL table but are now struggling. In the case of the former, games they could have won they drew or lost, in the latter the opposite.

But the contrast in managerial outlook is extreme. Klopp understands that to win – as in the CL or EPL – unless he has a team full of world beaters, he needs to take risks, and is willing to do so. His high line was crucified by the media and pundits, as if Klopp was unaware that it was a risk. But he measured against the fact VAR would catch most offsides, the forwards pressing would squeeze the space allowing an in-form Fabinho to intercept most through balls.

To start this campaign, Klopp was looking at possibly using a 4-2-3-1 to address the teams who play a low block. But injuries disrupted that plan. He has tried versions of 4-4-2 and against Ajax, yet another change to a diamond – mainly to accommodate the lack of forwards through injury and what available midfield options he has. It again caused his team problems adjusting, but in the second half they did, and they won. But not without some risk.

The point is, Klopp is totally aware of the risks. He trusts his players to give it a go and adjust. He doesn’t blame his players if it doesn’t come off. But he does it because he realises that playing the safe options in today’s game gets you middling success.

Conte on the other hand (a bit like Simeone and Mourinho) plays the safe option. He plays the safe option and then blames his club – management, players, etc., when he doesn’t win. The newer crop of Avant Garde managers think even more deeply about the game. One reason they can do so is the availability of copious amounts of data that can be analysed and provide evidence of something working or not working, beyond trusting one’s gut. They have a plan on how they want to play, like Klopp and Guardiola, but can ally that to deep analysis that they have grown up with. That’s why we see ‘new’ and younger managers outperform with teams with lesser funds.

While data could be a great leveller today, even clubs with less funds can afford to use it, it will still boil down to the human factor, the manager, and whether they see the glass as half full or half empty.
Paul McDevitt


Laughing at Barcelona
Great piece on Barca by Ian King.

I visited Barcelona for the first time back in 2011. My cab driver clocked my Arsenal lapel badge and struck up a conversation about football. When I asked him what he thought of Cesc’s return, he told me he wasn’t sure. When I asked why, he said it was because we – to use his words – ‘always sold them sh*t’.

Bellerin was part of the deal that sent Cesc the other way and despite Barca not paying anything for him this summer, I still think we ripped them off.

The best thing about Barca is they never learn – maybe we can sell them Maitland-Niles for £50m?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


It’s only a game, son
I must say I immensely enjoyed the closing minutes on BT sports goals show on Wednesday night. The late controversies made for great TV, and made me regret having not watched this show before. I don’t support any of the teams involved, so I wasn’t bothered about the legitimacy of the late decisions. I never am really, even if they do involve a team I support. I’d even go as far to say that the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with my team (and the game in general) is knowing when to let go of such gripes. In any case, I find the neverending analysis of refereeing decisions extremely boring.

The fact is football is a game whose rules were never designed to be enforced so forensically. But the game grew to a point where it felt inexcusable not to do so, so now we have situations where wild celebrations are cut short because of an offside toenail (Still great TV) , and fans complain that the passion is being sucked out of the game.

On a broader level, you could argue that waiting around to see if a toenail was offside feels so wrong because it just highlights the utter absurdity of the fact that so many people are invested in the position of a toenail. On a narrower level, even if we do accept that, yes, an offside toenail is something worth paying attention to, why even think about it for a minute after? A team scored a goal, which a set of competent (ok, not always) officials tried to ascertain the legality of ,made their decision as best they could, and that’s it. Sometimes they will make a decision you like, sometimes not, end of story. I’m baffled that anybody would think about it for even a second longer.

Football is actually an interesting game. We all like to see it refereed fairly, but let’s not drain all the enjoyment out of it. I once grabbed a quick break in work to catch the goals from a Liverpool game- I only caught the first. Why? There was a question of handball with the first goal, so Sky decided to show countless replays. Then, a never ending freeze- frame. Then, a discussion over what constitutes a handball . Then, a graphic outlining the rules surrounding handball. Then, I had to go back to work.


Time for an umpire’s call
The mailbox was full of entirely predictable responses the VAR controversy at Tottenham- outraged (and sometimes factually incorrect) spurs fans bemoaning the decision, and smug fans of rivals gleefully revelling in saying the right decision was made. As a spurs fan I’m obviously biased so am going to focus on the process for making these offside calls rather than last nights decision itself.

Firstly, if you ignore who you want to win on any given occasion, it is clearly terrible for football to be waiting around for 4 mins to decide if a last minute winner should stand. Semi automated var is supposed to bring this down to 25 seconds but leaves the final decision to the VAR official. The argument made is that this delay is worth it given the tens of millions potentially riding on that decision, to ensure the correct decision is made. But here’s the problem – we don’t know if the correct decision was made.

I’m constantly reading that offside is objective (you’re either offside or you’re not) and whilst this is theoretically true, the tools we have to measure offside introduce a margin of error that Kane’s ‘goal’ clearly falls within. This is down to 2 elements – when exactly does Emerson play the ball, and was Kane ahead of the ball at that point. For the first point, if you freeze the picture one frame earlier Kane would probably have been ruled onside – the exact moment the picture is frozen is a guess from the official. For the second, we relied on lines being drawn on an off centre 2D image to conclude that Kane was inches offside, again that line is a best guess not an objectively correct fact.

The final argument I hear for the current system is it’s better than before and we accept these calls in sports like tennis and cricket, and this is where my final argument and suggested solution lies. Firstly, decisions don’t take 4 minutes in either sport.

Second, tennis is just not an apples for apples comparison – you are measuring one variable (where did the ball bounce) with no timing or extrapolation involved. Catches in cricket are the same, but LBWs are a better comparison. Here you have multiple factors – where did the ball bounce, what did it hit, what line was it on, and crucially what would have happened after the ball hits the pads. The first 3 are sequential and relatively straightforward, the last introduces a margin of error in the same way timing and linedrawing does for offside.

Cricket deals with this through umpire’s call – if a decision is close enough to be within that margin of error they go with the human assessment. This is the best solution for football – the officials give a soft signal (I believe it was on or offside) and if you can’t prove it was wrong within a reasonable time frame or level of accuracy you stick with that decision. Of course we don’t know what the assistant referee would have given last night, but I’d have been much happier to take their decision 30 seconds after the goal than wait 4 minutes for a man to make two guesses on what actually happened. Bring in the officials call.
Phil, London

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