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Roker Ramble: Things that I hate about Football (part one) - Bad refs, cheats, wet managers & punching the ball!

They say that as you age, you mellow. You tend not to take things quite so seriously. You let things go that once would’ve had you climbing the wall. Well they’re lying. The things that used to make me crazy, still make me crazy. But they also say that it helps to vocalise your issues, to unburden yourself - so in an attempt to instill a zen-like state of calm about my person, and in no particular order, these are the things in football that make me mad.

Arsenal v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Bad refereeing decisions

Arsenal against Hull the other week - Hull were playing out of their skins, but Arsenal took the lead when Alexis Sanchez put the ball in the net. Replays showed that he’d used his hand to score so the goal shouldn’t have counted. But the referee - the tattooed Arabian knight himself, Mr Mark Clattenburg on lead guitar and vocals - didn’t see it and so awarded the goal.

The whole world knew thirty seconds after the ball went in that it wasn’t a goal and yet we can’t have a process in place where the ref can be told he’s made a mistake?

Derby County v Leicester City - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Is he some sort omnipotent being that should never be questioned? Or do we think that the technology that does just that, and which is used successfully in other sports, really isn’t needed in football? Perhaps we think it adds to the attraction of the game that blatant miscarriages of justice could happen at any time?

It’s sheer bloody lunacy and makes the game a total farce. How can it have any credibility or integrity when it allows such things to happen and when there is an easy and readily available solution? It makes my blood boil.

Cheating players

To rub salt into the wound, Alexis Sanchez then danced around like he’d won the lottery. It made me want to punch him in the face, and at my height I’ve learnt over the years to try and control these urges, but he deserved a good slap nevertheless.

He should be begging Clattenburg not to let the goal stand because of the dishonour, because of the shame it would bring on him and his family – or his dogs. But no, he cheated – and what’s worse, he knows that everyone watching knows he cheated and he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care because apparently it doesn’t matter. It’s not about playing the game or being fair, it’s about what you can get away with and it makes me apoplectic.

Hull City v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Dele Alli dived to win a penalty against Hull for Spurs, Robert Snodgrass dived for Hull to win a penalty against Palace - it’s wrong, and what makes it so much worse is that we can see the injustice as it happens and not only does it go unpunished but by doing so it encourages the players to see it as a legitimate part of the game. For diving, or for acts of feigning injury to get another player sent off, they should bring in an automatic, retrospective, four, five, six game ban, with community service where they have to clean the public toilets in Euston station with a toothbrush. That’ll stop them.

Goalkeepers punching the ball

Every time the ball comes into the box the keeper now punches it away - what’s all that about? There’s a whole new line in commentating about the direction, distance and effectiveness of the punch. Just catch the bloody thing and hold on to it! What’s the matter with you?

And, when by some freakish accident it drops into their hands, they do this thing where they sprint to the front of the 18 yard box to spearhead the counter-attack with an arrow-like laser throw to the centre–forward who’ll no doubt be sprinting downfield awaiting the pass.

But no - everyone’s ambling around, chatting, not paying attention, or at least you’d think so by the look of utter disgust on the keeper's face. The team have let him down again! So then you get the sulky look, and the shoulders dropping, and one of the full backs will come up to him to try and make it up, but he shoos them away with the two arm gesture indicating that he’s going to hoof it up the field because that’s the only option now left to him. He was going to single-handedly save the game, but now it’s all gone wrong and it’s all their fault.

Don’t they practice this in training? If so, you’d think the team would be ready for just such an opportunity. And the fact that they aren’t probably means they don’t.

Personally I think they all in a state of shock because it’s so long since they’ve seen him catch the bloody ball.

Managers who get wet on the touchline

Ever since Steve McClaren was pilloried for using an umbrella there seems to be an unwritten rule that managers have to stand in the rain and get wet on the touchline.


Portsmouth v Arsenal Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Even Wenger in his super-thermal wraparound sleeping bag never puts his hood up. He’s 98 for goodness sake, he could catch his death. But no, they all stand there dripping, and it’s totally stupid. There’s a couple who make a bit of an effort – Conte with his baseball cap and matching jacket looks like a dad at a disco and Pulis totally creeps me out, but if it was me, I’d be in more Gore-Tex than an SAS expedition to the Amazon.

Nonsensical throw-Ins

They should be so straightforward. The ball goes out, you pick it up and throw it back to someone with the same colour shirt as you. Simple.

But no, the amount of fannying around at a throw-in drives me insane. First of all they try and run 20 yards up the line, and the ref sends them back. Then they drop the ball so that the guy who is forty yards away can come over and take it because he’s obviously the most technically gifted for such a challenging task.

Being a specialist, the new guy has to prepare for the operation, so he dries the ball by rolling his shirt up so we can all see his tattoos, and then he’s ready, but no – the team aren’t on the same wavelength – he’s got no outlet. So there’s the gesturing, the look of obvious disappointment, the questioning-raised eyebrows, the attempted throws which can’t be followed through to conclusion because the movement on the pitch just isn’t good enough. By which time I’m stabbing myself in the leg with a sharp implement and screaming at the TV in a manner which unfortunately the children have become oblivious to.

He will then, nine times out of ten, throw the ball as far as he can, down the line to the winger who has been closely marked by three defenders, thereby gifting possession to the other team and leaving me needing physical restraints.

And don’t get me started on players patting the badge, football agents or the ITV coverage of internationals with that bloody music by The Verve and repeated advert breaks that just make me want to kill something.

In fact I am only getting started, so I think this will need to stretch over into part two next week – and if it’s any consolation, I’m starting to feel a little better.

To be continued....

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