Tuesday, March 5, 2024

What exactly is it those guys do again?

Good morning to you.

I’m getting really early starts these days because of the new dog. I wake up and the need to go back to sleep is outfought by the need to not clean up piss. It’s a fairly basic human instinct, I think. Luckily this dog is a quick learner and the house training is going well. I might get a lie in beyond 6.30 one of these mornings. That said, I do seem to get loads done really early in the day so maybe it’s not a bad thing entirely.

Right, to the Euros and England topped their group last night with a 1-0 win over Ukraine in one of the most tedious, low quality games of the championship so far. Wayne Rooney, who was utterly abject in everything all night long, headed home from 2 yards for the only goal of the game. The cross from Steven Gerrard took so many deflections, including one off a Ukrainian player’s balls, that Frank Lampard immediately expressed his desire to marry it.

Theo Walcott got on for a bit, but I don’t remember him touching the ball once, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had 5 minutes and looked lively because the other players actually passed the ball to him. There was controversy too when Ukraine looked to have scored. The ball (despite the bloke being offside for the pass) was pretty clearly over the line before the bloke who wears shinpads with a suit hooked it away. Ukraine went spare, replays showed it was over, but nothing was given.

The most interesting thing about it, for me at least, is that it didn’t just highlight the need for goal line technology, but it added to the perception that the extra officials they have behind the touchline are, essentially, useless. They may not be. It may be a case that during the game they’re communicating with referees and making sure corners are awarded correctly, or something, but they’re clearly not a solution when it comes to deciding if a ball has crossed the line or not.

In fact, the two main incidents I can think of where they might have proved their usefulness – last night’s and the clear penalty on Bendtner in the Denmark v Germany – have simply underlined the fact they look like they contribute nothing of any value to the game and its officiating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of them raise a flag, perhaps they’re not allowed to, and when TV replays can show what they’ve missed within seconds then surely the whole thing needs a rethink.

It’s not just this tournament either. They’re present in Champions League games and again we’ve seen them staring straight at incidents which merit a decision being taken yet they do nothing, time after time. So what exactly is their purpose? If the rules prevent them from having an influence then either change that or get rid of them.

Ultimately though, it’s just another example of how technology is necessary in football. England will say they’ve had more clear cut decisions like that go against them (Lampard v Germany) and what goes around comes around, which is reasonable enough, but that doesn’t mean football shouldn’t strive to improve in all areas. There’s no reason why this couldn’t be done, other than it seems to be at odds with the pair of twats who run the game. Perhaps when there’s a 24 team Euros in four years time, Platini will have a squad of 50 officials for each game, positioned at 10 yard intervals around the pitch, rather than use technology which would, 99 times out of 100, prove conclusive.

In the other match France lost 2-0 to Sweden, former Gunner Seb Larsson scoring Sweden’s second, but they still go through the knock-out stages where they’ll meet Spain. It might also provide a chance for Laurent Koscielny as Philippe Mexes has picked up two yellow cards and is suspended for that game. We shall see. England will play Italy in their quarter-final, so it’s all shaping up quite nicely. There are no fixtures at all today, the first quarter final is tomorrow when the Czech Republic take on Portugal, so it’s a football free night and the telly is free for those who want it.

In terms of Arsenal news there’s practically nothing happening. Carlos Vela’s agent is talking again about how he’s waiting to hear from us to know what our plans are regarding the Mexican, but he’s been saying that for weeks now. Either we’re really making him stew or he’s left a voicemail for the wrong person. His comments about Arsenal being tough negotiators might raise an eyebrow or two, it has to be said, but considering Vela has a contract until 2015 and has come off the back of a good season in Spain, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that we should try and get as much as we can for him. Especially as we’re going to have to take some financial hits to move on some other players on the ‘deadwood’ list.

And that’s just about that other than to point you in the direction of this competition if you’d like to win Bendtner’s underpants. And who wouldn’t? They’re the Greatest Underpants That Ever Lived.

And there’s just time to give you the winners of the Ox t-shirt competition. Congratulations to Espen Gabrielsen and Paul Lascelles, I’ll be in touch with you both to get your details, and if you want one of the very limited edition t-shirts you can get them from here before they sell out.

That’s it. Have yourselves a good Wednesday (where are the days going?), back tomorrow.

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