Monday, 1 March 2010

Weekend Observations 27th-28th February 2010 pt.2

Part One here.

Common sense? Come on!

This weekend saw the Carling Cup final between Premier League Champions Manchester United and fellow decorated stalwarts of English football Aston Villa. People like to dismiss the competition and show it little respect but the fact that two big sides are contesting the final yet again makes me think the people such as Arsene Wenger (Last trophy? Last cup final?) are wrong to disrespect and dismiss it as a nothing trophy.

Mind you, the credibility of the competition is dented when THREE Premier league games are taking place on the same day. No domestic football should be played on the day of a cup final. I'd even go one further and say no football during the entire weekend. These things need to be kept sacred. Who will respect the Carling Cup when people are more concerned about the battle for fourth place on the other channel?

Anyway, following that faux pas by the authorities, the man appointed to enforce the rules got his first major decision wrong. Forget all that happened afterwards, Vidic should have seen red when he gave away the penalty in the third minute. Of course, United kept their full 11, came back from 1 goal down and won the trophy once again. Boring!

The non-sending off is still a major talking point. We'll never know how the game would have panned out if Vidic had walked. Owen may never have got the equaliser or got injured allowing Rooney to come on and win the game.

Dowd is one of the few referees I actually have any time for in the premier league but he got this one glaringly wrong. The BBC were quick to suggest that previous comments of Taggart may have swayed him but I'm prepared to give the official more credit than that. The only reason I can think of for Dowd not issuing a card is that he didn't want to be accused of 'ruining' a cup final so early on. If the incident had happened up the other end, his decision would have been the same.

Some have suggested that he applied 'common sense'. I hate this idea that upsetting the status quo rather than applying the rules as they should be is somehow sensible. Had the incident taken place in the 75th minute, he would not have hesitated to send Vidic off. I don't see where common sense comes into play when you are supposed to be enforcing rules.

Dowd went on to have a poor game which begs the question as to whether he was prepared to handle the pressure of a cup final which contrary to belief is not like every other game. As a ref especially, your decisions face far more scrutiny than if you are taking charge of a midtable scrap between Sunderland v Stoke (disrespect very much intended).

A couple of other lines from the game and repercussions for England. I doubt many people who hadn't taken much notice of Steven Warnock prior to the Ashley Cole/Wayne Bridge/left back problem, but anyone who saw Antonio Valencia make mincemeat out of him will not be too optimistic of his chances against the world's best if he does make the England line-up.

Never mind just being in the squad, James Milner could start for England on current form.

And finally, while I don't want to indulge in the vomit-inducing sycophancy directed at Wayne Rooney (there's plenty more than enough of that elsewhere) this new found heading ability (8 in his last 9 games?) bodes well for the World Cup.

Bad weekend for the villains

Not only did a first Wembley final in ten years go sour but in the race for fourth Villa's chances took a significant hit thanks to wins for the abovementioned Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham this weekend.

I only saw the highlights of the Liverpool game which looked attritional (editorial licence. I know it isn't a word but you know what I'm getting at...) at best. Liverpool haven't played a match worth watching in months and it is unfair to put Sam Allardyce and football in the same sentence.

Spurs on the other hand were brilliant for 45 minutes on Sunday and 2-0 at half time didn't do justice to their dominance. We all know and are bored silly of Pompey's problems but allowing a player as good as Niko Kranjcar go for just £2million is criminal. Every time I've seen him this season he has looked brilliant and while his Croatian counterpart Modric (rightly) gets all the plaudits, Kranjcar's contribution to Spurs' lofty position cannot be underestimated.

The most interesting subplot at White Hart Lane however is the Pavlyuchenko situation. Seemingly loved by fans and in brilliant form. Harry Redknapp's snide 'when he wants to' comments and failure to celebrate when the Russian scores do not go unnoticed but he has had to swallow his pride and accept the importance of Pavlyuchenko in his team. Of course, Good ol' 'Arry would have you believe that it is he and his managerial genius that is somehow responsible for the player's rich vein of form.

Landon DOH!-novan

As good as Spurs played in the first half at White Hart Lane, the second half saw them allow Everton back into it and there is no question the toffees should have got an Equaliser when on-loan Landon Donovan cemented his appearance on every football blooper DVD for the rest of time with one of the worst misses you are ever likely to see. From about half a yard he somehow managed to hit the side netting with the goal gaping when it would have been easier to score.

As an afterthought, If Liverpool miss out on fourth by a couple of points to Spurs, how fitting would it be that an Everton player's miss could be a major factor?

And finally...

Jinxes and such.

Back in January, I wrote about how brilliant The Mighty Nottingham Forest had been this season and how they were enjoying a fantastic unbeaten run.

Their league form since then:
P 7 W 3 L 4

Prior to that, I cheekily suggested that Valencia might be in the title race in Spain.

Their league form since then:
P 6 W 2 D 2 L 2

This weekend Forest were hammered 3-0 by Leicester and Valencia 4-1 by Atletico Madrid.

You'd be wise to no longer read what I write because it's clear I have no clue what I am talking about.

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