Good morning to you, and welcome to the final Friday of the Premier League season. Ahh, remember all those other Fridays? The ones filled with hope and expectation? Me neither, I just don’t know where the time has gone, but here we are, the final game approaches, and we’re all just sitting here this morning older than we used to be.
I now feel like I measure my life in football seasons. It used to be that stuff like birthdays, Christmas, those things, were the markers for how time was passing, but now it’s definitely August to May. Then it’s a summer, August comes around again, the pitch looks deliciously green, the sun is shiningly shiny, the shadows on the pitch transmit warmth, and we go again.
This time we’re heading into a summer where nobody quite knows what is going to happen. Or when it’s going to happen. Or who is going to make it happen. There’s such a lot to sort out, situations to get on top of, to manage, not least that of the manager.
BUT WHO WILL MANAGE THE MANAGER?! (and so on).
Still, those are things we’ll have to worry about after this weekend, and after the final of the FA Cup next weekend, because unless something remarkable happens – like someone is up front and honest with the fans (haha) – there won’t be anything done until then.
Today, Arsene Wenger will meet the press for the final time this Premier League season. Can someone pull a press conference rabbit out of the hat?
Part1 – Team news
Part2 – Bloke from Sky will try get him to say something about his future. He won’t.
Part3 – The bloke with the nasal voice who sounds like he’s reading a script and doesn’t know anything about football will ask him something daft.
Part4 – James Olley will go around the houses to get some info but by now Arsene knows his wily ways and will fend off his advances.
“Thank you everyone, take the microphones out please.”
And so it goes. Coverage of all that over on Arseblog News, as ever.
Elsewhere, there was some interesting stuff yesterday from the FA on the issue of diving and feigning punishment. From next season they will be able to retrospectively punish players based on video evidence:
Where there is clear and overwhelming evidence to suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation, and as a direct result, the offending player’s team has been awarded a penalty and/or an opposing player has been dismissed, The FA will be able to act retrospectively under its Fast Track system.
And the punishment for those found guilty will be a two match ban, far in excess of the yellow card you get if the referee spots your ‘simulation’ mid-game:
Although attempts to deceive the referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled is a cautionable offence for unsporting behaviour, the fact that the act of simulation has succeeded in deceiving a match official and, therefore, led to a penalty and/or dismissal, justifies a more severe penalty which would act as a deterrent.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that football has needed to do something about the issue of diving for a while, and efforts to deter players from blatant cheating are to be cautiously welcomed. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this is implemented though, and I suspect we’re in for some madness as we all get used to it.
In some cases it’s going to be really easy. A player who does something so obvious that there’s no question as to his guilt. A Rooney vs Sol Campbell situation, for example. The question I would have is, how do the powers that be decide which incidents to look at? Is it the ones that Sky or BT highlight and thus gain attention, or will opposition teams have the ability to cite an opponent for their behaviour?
Then there are the ones that exist in the grey areas. Where there might be some contact, but that contact is insufficient to knock down a toddler, let alone a powerful athlete. Are those going to be looked at? Or that one where the player knocks the ball past the goalkeeper and then falls into his opponent thus creating the contact, rather than the contact itself being responsible for them being knocked over?
How they deal with those things will be interesting/controversial. The other thing is that while retrospective punishment is all well and good, and may act as a deterrent and make players think twice about acts of blatant cheating, it doesn’t do much for you if you’re on the wrong end of a penalty decision that sees you lose a game by a single goal.
That Cheaty O’Toole is banned for a couple of games afterwards, perhaps against low-level opposition where he won’t even be missed that much, does nothing for the team that has dropped crucial points because of the cheating. And I suspect that when it comes to playing the percentages, players will still view the potential of winning the game more important than having to sit out a couple of subsequent fixtures.
So, it might do some good, but it’s going to have to be fairly and consistently implemented – that’s the first challenge, but ultimately, if they’re serious about this, it’s got to lead to video evidence being used in games. Real time implementation of it, perhaps the use of sin-bins for offenders, that kind of thing.
Anyway, it’s something for other teams to worry about as our players would never do that kind of thing anyway.
Update: It’s also worth asking why, if this can be implemented for diving/feigning injury, why it can’t also be used to deal properly with incidents of violent conduct and dangerous tackles which go without punishment, or aren’t punished seriously enough.
Right, time now for this week’s Arsecast and with me to discuss the season as a whole is Amy Lawrence. We chat about the managerial situation, boardroom stasis, whether the off the pitch stuff has affected things on it, what we might do with players like Sanchez, Ozil and Wojciech Szczesny, and we try and make some sense of what has been a generally underwhelming Premier League campaign. There’s a chance to win a *boilk* mug, a quick look ahead to the weekend, and a dose of the usual waffle.
If you are a regular listener via iTunes, if you would be so kind as to leave a review/rating that would be greatly appreciated.
Right, that’s that, for today. For some extra reading check out Tim Stillman’s new column about how the new system has affected our attacking game.
Enjoy the podcast, more from me tomorrow.