Is it fair?

April 11, 2006

Just how much taunting should footballers have to put up with?

Look – I’m not saying that Diouf should be spitting at fans and I’m certainly not condoning Cantona’s karate kick at Crystal Palace, but fans surely can’t have it their own way all the time, can they?

Examine the picture of William Gallas below. Check the fans in the background. The guy has just been sent off – adrenaline must be pumping – he’s angry – they’re stood just a few metres from him – taunting – shouting obscenities – insulting his family – maybe even his skin colour.

You can see how it might happen – perhaps a gesture is the least most of us would respond with. Footballers are human too. Should they really have to put up with that abuse?

And now, Paddy Kenny, goalkeeper of Championship promotion favourites, Sheffield United is to be investigated by police for an alleged gesture at Hell City [sic] fans when The Blades got their last minute winner on Saturday. The same 5,000 fans who had been calling him a “fat bastard” all match. Again – I’m not saying he was right to do it (if he did), but you can see why he might…

Footballers are in a position of responsibility – idolised by many, especially the young – but is it right for them to be singled out for doing (once) the same thing that thousands of fans have been doing to them all match?


Fulham 1 Chelsea 0

March 25, 2006

Chelsea, again, make it to the posts here at What is it that makes them so popular? The game with Fulham ended in disarray with William Gallas' sending off and the crowd invasion, but the match itself was full of incident worthy of discussion here.

There were dives, notably by Moritz Volz of Fulham (Artistic Impression 6/10), although to be fair had he not dived so artistically when fouled by Terry, the penalty would probably have been given. Why is it that a lot of players these days feel the necessity to add reverse pikes, somersaults and triple salchows when merely touched by an opponent? After all, there are no judges on the sidelines offering marks for artistic impression!
Then there was the comedy moment of the match when Drogba clearly used his hand when going on to score.
Everyone watching on TV could clearly see it. What is strange is that the Assistant Referee Paul Norman, who was standing maybe 50 metres away, also saw it… or did he?
In the interviews after the match, Mike Dean apparently "cleared up the confusion" by revealing he had been buzzed by Norman through the electronic tagging devices by which Premiership officials are linked up (this is interesting in itself!).
He said: "I went to speak to him voluntarily. It was not pressure from the Fulham players. Paul was convinced it was handball." Convinced? How could he be when his view was obscured by both defender and Drogba? That aside, the decision was correct and the referee was vindicated. What I found poor was Drogba's decision to complain, knowing full well that he had handled the ball, or maybe his view was obscured by his hairband?

Chelsea will face another FA inquiry after their players angrily surrounded the referee, Mike Dean, and his linesman regarding the decision to disallow Drogba's equaliser for handball (General Ref Hassling 7/10 for 7 Chelsea players and 9/10 for Drogba). It is obvious that Frank Lampard is incredulous about the decision, but what right has Drogba in pointing at the referee? Maybe he was telling Dean that he couldn't have seen him use his hand and, therefore, the goal should stand.
Whinging Jose Mourinho claimed "It's a handball so it's not a goal and the decision is correct. What is not correct is the referee didn't see and allows the goal, the linesman didn't see but after pressure by Fulham they changed their decision."
Mourinho is still under the impression there are 2 sets of rules: one for Chelsea and the other for everyone else. This is just sour grapes.
There was an interesting comment from Referee Chief, Keith Hackett, who backed Dean and dismissed reports he had been pressured into changing his mind. He said "Pressure is when you've got a soldier walking down a street in Iraq likely to be killed at any moment by a bomb or a bullet – we are talking about a game of football here."
Wise words indeed, although the way Wright-Phillips went down in the Newcastle match (discussed below), you could be forgiven to believe there was a soldier in the crowd who shot him!Finally, the William Gallas incident.  The French defender was red-carded for horrifically stamping on the ankle of Heidar Helgusson, however, his petty behaviour in ripping off his gloves and throwing them to the floor in a clear sign of dissent and then goading the Fulham fans as he left the pitch with a bizarre thumbs-down gesture will lead to some form of punishment. What was he thinking, but more importantly what do the Fulham fans mean with their gestures? (answers on a post to!!)
Well, another weekend is upon us, a chance for divers to impress us, referees to baffle us but most of all, footballers to entertain us.

What is it about Chelsea? Here at we could easily have picked Wright-Phillips, Del Horno or Drogba to examine after this game. As it happens, we chose Drogba, but Del Horno’s first half dive resulted in a free kick from which Ricardo Carvalho should really have scored and Wright-Phillips 90th minute triple axel resulted in a wholly unjustified red card for Robbie Elliott. Joe Cole and Geremi were at it as well. Why? Chelsea are a good enough team to beat anyone without cheating (except maybe Fulham) (Oh, and Barcelona).

But Drogba, as ever, was the master. So it’s him we concentrate on.

Frequency 6/10: Didier appeared to have been drinking heavily before the game. He was utterly legless from early on and mysteriously tripped over things that weren’t there on regular occasions.
Artistic Impression 8/10: Drogba’s 74th minute dive when being challenged by… er… no-one reminded us that in his home continent of Africa, landmines are a daily danger for innocent victims. His left foot would have been blown off if there had really been a landmine on the pitch at Stamford Bridge. Which of course, there wasn’t.
Effect 2/10: A couple of worthless freekicks. Big wow. One of his dives was even totally ignored – how dare you, Mr Bennett?
General Ref Hassling 5/10: Never one to keep his opinions to himself, Drogba didn’t keep his opinions to himself during the game. His high point was being booked for protesting about Joe Cole being apparently hit by a laser beam and only getting a free kick, which Drogba saw from 50 metres away despite facing the other way, but still knew better than anyone else. Incidentally, investigators of the JFK assassination in Dallas in 1963 have been approached by DD, as he “saw exactly what happened”.
Niggle Factor 4/10: A poor showing from one of the most annoying players in the English game. Plenty whining, but precious little niggle – booted the ball away petulantly after being caught offside (again!) but got away with it because… er… hmm. Not sure.

Total 50 %
We expect better (or worse) from DD, but he takes his rightful place at the top of our Diveometer League:

  1. Didier Drogba (CHE) 50%
  2. No-one

And for clubs:

  1. Chelsea 50%
  2. No-one