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All Things Footie | Wednesday, March 2 | Jordan

Discoveries | Away ties | Penance

I say discoveries, more in the away that one discovers a five pound note down the back of the sofa: unlooked for, unexpected, and a rather pleasant surprise. I’m talking of course of a couple of blogs I’ve stumbled across and I thought this as good a time as any to share a few with you.

">Whistling in the Wind is, according to it’s strapline, ‘A True and Accurate Account of English Park Football Refereeing’ written by a Hackney Marshes official identified (somewhat cryptically) as ‘The Merry Whistleblower’. I always find it interesting to read the points of view of football’s more peripheral figures (no offence intended there Mr Whistleblower) such as goalkeepers, coaches, scouts and referees. They’re jobs that we as fans and occasional park-players perhaps don’t give enough attention to, or even try to understand. Barring running the line every now and then when drawing the short straw as a Sunday League substitute, very few players ever know what it’s like to be the subject of all the abuse, name-calling and general figure of hatred for twenty-two unfit, barely talented and hung-over ‘footballers’ every week. So for all the times I’ve called the man in black a blind tosser, made the ‘where are your glasses’ sign and gotten booked for it, I urge you to read ">Whistling in the Wind, to atone for my sins if not your own.

Next up is Football Commentator—no, not the diary of John Motson (which I’d imagine would be exceedingly dull—but an in depth look at global football stories, and a damn good way of keeping up with what’s going on across the globe. It’s a good, thorough and enlightening look at all the stories it’d be nice to see reported in the mainstream sports media—rather than the dross tat that we’re served up with every day involving ex-players, ex-managers and general no-marks voicing opinions less interesting than their haircuts. I can heartily recommend Football Commentator as a great alternative read in the mornings to keep your world-view in the picture.

It’s a commonly heald belief—indeed it is effectively a rule—that in competitions involving pan-european two-legged ties such as the European Champions Cup, it is an advantage to play your first game away from home. I question the reasoning here, as it seems primitive at best. Presumably, playing the second leg at home means you can get any result you want, as home games are so much easier; but if home games are so much easier, why give the psychological advantage of a victory in the bag to the team who plays the first game at home. In last week’s ties, Arsenal went down at Munich, Chelsea at the Nou Camp, Leverkusen at Anfield, Monaco at PSV and Juventus at the Bernabeu. Only two teams (AC Milan at Old Trafford and Lyon at Werder Bremen) managed an away win, and only one a draw (Inter Milan visting Porto), so out of all the teams who finished top of their groups all but two need to win at home to qualify for the next round.

The question is essentially whether getting off to a bad start is more damaging to the chances of a team qualifying than the advantage of being at home. If we take a glib assumption, that all teams will win their home games, the pressure put on a team playing away first is simple—you have to beat your opponents by more at home than your are beaten away. Simple enough, but if you’re at home first, once you have a win in the bag, you can just focus your attention on keeping the score down, defending your lead. The question is whether your team is stronger leading from the start or coming from behind. I for one do not see starting off a goal (or two, or three, or even four) down as any kind of advantage, and rather than set in stone whether the team who finished top should play away first, they should at least be given a choice.

There are idiots, and then there’s Jermaine Pennant. In terms of raw talent, one of the most promising young players of his generation, he has long been regarded by fans of the team that saw their frugal manager pay an extortionate £2m for a 15 year old nearly six years ago, as a bit of a prat. His wide-boy antics, bad attitude and serial bad-behaviour has seen him farmed out on loan to the likes of Leeds and Watford, while his academy collegues made their way into the first team or on to fruitful careers at other top clubs. And who does he have to blame for this?

Given the fee paid by Arsenal for his services, and given the performaces he can be capable of (see a hat-trick on his Premiership debut two seasons ago), it’s no surprise his manager and his club have given him time to straighten himself out. More time than many others in similar positions have been given—particularly by the current management. Some people just don’t seem to appreciate the fact that the World doesn’t revolve around them and that being a professional anything is about more than talent. It’s about attitude, hard work and diligence to your job. With his Arsenal contract running out at the end of the season, and now facing at least six weeks in jail following his second conviction for drink driving (with a further six weeks suspended) his career looks to be spiralling down the drain we all feared it would end up in.

What an utter, utter, prat.

(20) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11:29 PM
luogo interessante, soddisfare interessante, buon!
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Luogo molto buon:) Buona fortuna!
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E evidente che il luogo e stato fatto dalla persona che realmente conosce il mestiere!
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 7:13 PM
Nice site. Thanks.
# Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2:18 PM
Lo trovo piuttosto impressionante. Lavoro grande fatto..)
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Stupore! ho una sensibilit� molto buona circa il vostro luogo!!!!
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