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Monday, 12 December 2011

Newcastle's slender squad in more than one way

After having a terrific start to the season, Newcastle United are steadily starting to fall off the rails. After a tough run of games which brought them 1 point in 9 against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, they went to Carrow Road Saturday with an injury hit squad, especially at the heart of the defence. When playing against a very physical side like Norwich, you need commanding center backs at the heart of your team who are going to win the ball and be strong against the likes of Grant Holt and Steve Morrison. With Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor both on the sidelines (the later of which unfortunate to be ruled out for the entire season), the Magpies had to have a make shift center back partnership of Danny Simpson and James Perch.

Paul Lambert got his tactics spot on seeing the slim lined defence partnership and ensured Norwich kept on getting crosses in the box, which was a very successful tactic to play. It certainly paid off with all 4 goals coming from crosses into the box in a 4 vs. 2 win for the Canaries. Newcastle were lacking a strong physical presence in their team, which opened them up to the airial attack of Norwich.

Newcastle without their early season formidable defensive partnership and also missing players in the middle of the park including Cheik Tiote and Danny Guthrie, were starting to suffer from a lack of strength in depth. This is something that Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have consistently been able to create in-order to finish in the top 4 season after season. The premier league season can be brutal on the players, especially with the addition of cup and European football. Good quality squad players are not easy to come by, as all players want to be playing week in week out and managers have a very difficult task trying to keep everyone happy within a club. But the development of quality younger players is always a good way of solving that problem and could be the answer for Newcastle in the long term. In the short term however, they will certainly need some investment into their squad in the January transfer window, to build up a stronger squad to try and stick around at the top part of the table.

If the investment is made I believe that it will be a guaranteed top 10 finish for Newcastle United.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Referees like Marmite, you either love them or hate them

The age old debate about referee's in the game of football continues after this weekends Premier League action and the number of controversial decisions given. You either love them or hate them and unfortunately for the referee's in action this weekend, the majority of people are thinking the later right now. They have a very difficult job to do in a sport that just gets faster and faster and in my opinion they are in desperate need for help, I just wish we would hear from them to make the plea.

The main referee at the center of the most controversial decision of the weekend is Mike Dean. He failed to send David Luiz off for bringing down Demba Ba in Chelsea's game against Newcastle on the weekend. A decision that completely changed and affected the outcome of the game. This was one of the most blatant decisions I have seen in recent times, a decision that the referee actually made, as he gave the foul, but failed to send off Luis. To Mike Dean's credit, he has come out after the game spoke to Alan Pardew and apologised for getting the decision wrong. This is something that I admire so much and only wish more referees do this after the games to explain their decision. In my opinion it will help solve the anger and anguish towards referees from fan's players and managers. As a football fan, I accept that they are human being's and like everyone they too can make mistakes. The question is, is this acceptable in the current game of football?

What has outraged Newcastle United and fan's of the game is a decision made at White Hart Lane on the same day, where referee Stuart Atwell sent off Gary Cahill for bringing down Scott Parker just 10 yards into the Bolton half and by the touch line. Perceived to be a goal scoring opportunity, one which another referee on the same day failed to make that decision on a foul by the last man on the edge of the penalty area. Inconsistency. The main annoyance of referees in the game of football. A game that causes managers to lose their jobs, for players to be dropped out of teams and for clubs to lose millions of pounds. Which answers my question previously that it is not acceptable. So the next question asks, how can we get more of these decisions right?

Is video technology the answer? Well it could well have changed the World Cup Game as you can see above, and it would certainly help clear up obvious wrong decisions in the game. My problem with it is solely the debatable decisions in the game. There are so many opinions from one to another on crucial decisions and I do not believe with video technology that it can always decide once and for all the correct decision. With far too much simulation in the game, players are making it very difficult for referee's to make the right decision. But again the problem is, how can you tell from one challenge to another whether a player has dived or not as it is not always that simple. In my opinion there are too many question marks over its usage to be incorporated into the game. Goal line technology, yes. But that is all that I believe should be in the game.

Other opinions raised on the issue have been to add another referee on the field of play. This is something that I am intrigued about if done correctly could help to improve the positioning of referees throughout the game.

The referee's must be fed up of being scrutinised and surely would benefit some assistance with decisions during the game. I would love to hear their opinions and what they believe, if anything, could help them make more correct decisions. But if we found the right method, and all decisions were correct, what would we be debating after games? What would manager's moan and complain about after the game? And what would newspapers write about? It could take a lot of the tension, the excitement and the sheer joy of talking about the game out of football. Only time will tell if it eventually gets implemented in the game In the mean time, the referees are still going to be loved by so many and loathed by many more.