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Roker Ramble: Part two of my list of things that I hate about Football

I love football and in particular the way that it helps shape my weekly routine, so why does it drive me insane? It drives me insane because the people and personalities and characters aren’t doing it right, and they need to be told they’re not doing it right, because it could all be so much better. It could be perfect! It needs to be perfect! And no, I don’t have a condition - but that’s not to say that this isn’t therapy. Here's part two of my feature on the things that I hate about football.

Czech Republic v Portugal - Quarter Final: UEFA EURO 2012 Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The England back four

There are holes in my wall where I’ve thrown things watching England. In particular, that situation where we’re a goal down, chasing the game with ten minutes to go. Hart (or whoever) rolls the ball out to the full back and the scene is set. Most of the English players are in the final third waiting for the pass, maneuvering for position with just the back four in their own half - and what do they do?

They start passing it across the field to each other, sideways. From one touchline, slowly, to the other... and then back again. Jesus God in Heaven.... if you could harness my blood pressure at that point you could power a hospital incubator for a month.

And wouldn’t you believe it, just then the bloody band decide to introduce ‘the Kiss of Death March’ i.e. the ‘Great Escape’ for the millionth time in that game, out of tune and out of sync - and people wonder why international football has lost it’s appeal!

When have you seen, in any Premier League game, whatever the score, whatever the circumstances, the back four pass it across the line?

It doesn’t happen (a) because the manager would crucify them, (b) because they have a game plan to actually get the ball forward and (c) because the full backs would be providing attacking options up the wings anyway. Why do repeated England managers think this is a good tactic? To draw the opposition out – they’re bloody winning with ten minutes to go – what’s the matter with you??

See – feeling better already....

Managers who claim that they "didn't see it"

And this makes my blood boil. Q. ‘Arsène, what did you think about the tackle where your guy broke the other guys leg? A. ‘I could not see it properly, it was over the other side of the pitch but I think he went for the ball’.

You’re a liar bonny lad, you and Hughes and the rest of them who deny seeing an incident which would involve criticising their own players. And if you’re going to continue with this insult to peoples intelligence you should at least hire a decent PR firm to help you lie professionally.

Football is a physical, passionate game and things get out of hand sometimes - sometimes accidentally, sometimes because one guy thinks it’s payback time. But we’re all grown-ups, so grow a pair and tell it how it is for once. You never know, people might start respecting you for a change.

The Misuse of English

I blame Alan Hansen and the BBC for this. I aspire to be middle class so I don’t expect any better from ITV or those dreadful subscription channels that I won’t subscribe to, but the BBC should know better. Ever since Hansen used a verb as an adjective and inflicted ‘stonewall penalty’ on an unsuspecting public (for which, by the way, he should spend the rest of his natural presenting ‘Crap in the Attic’ on BBC Norfolk) I haven't been able to understand why the BBC never saw fit to correct him.

And now it’s happening again! Alan Shearer insists on referring to the ‘Football Club’ at every possible opportunity in his dialogue when just the ‘Club’ is what’s needed.

By all means use the ‘Football Club’ occasionally for emphasis or when distinguishing it from, say, the ‘rugby club’ or the’ hockey club’. But you’re a football pundit on a football programme talking about football, so if you refer to ‘the club’ we’ve got a pretty good idea that it’s a football club that you’re referring to. Why doesn’t someone take him to one side and explain this?

Renaming Stadiums

Since when did the lure of money make it OK to sell your tradition? For me, there are three things that should never change in the life of a club – the club name, the home strip and the name of the ground (unless you build a new one and move - that’s different). Arsenal moving from Highbury to The Emirates – fair play. But to rename your ground for money is nothing short of disgraceful.

Call me old fashioned but as far as I’m concerned you can change the owner, the manager, the players, the stupid advertising on the shirt (which I would ban if I had my way) but renaming the ground in a sponsorship deal is an insult to the supporters, new and old, and tramples all over the history and culture of the club.

I know that this won't be a popular emotion amongst our supporters but I feel for the Newcastle supporters who lost St James Park to the cheap and tacky high street gutter world of Mike Ashley. And where are Stoke playing now – the Evo-Stik Convention Centre or something? A glance down the MLS top stadiums shows where we could be heading, with Colorado Rapids playing at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Is this what we want? I’ll wager, mark my words, there’ll be a Premier League ground called ‘The Enema’ in my lifetime.


I’ve nothing against subs but you shouldn’t be allowed to bring them on in injury time.

There you are, one team chasing the game, pressing hard, minutes to go, excitement mounting, and the leading team bring on a sub to break the game up.

It shouldn’t be allowed. Unless a teammate requires an immediate organ transplant or is at the very least concussed and comatose in the centre circle, then it should be banned.

It kills the game stone dead, which is the intention. The player coming off drifts aimlessly across to the touchline, doing that above the head, looking around, half-arsed clappy thing to the crowd - which in itself pisses me off - then greets the new player like he’s the second coming and the whole thing is an organised farce.

We’re told time and time again that football is all about entertainment - structure the rules so that entertainment is encouraged!

And why do substitutes go on the pitch at half-time to kick a ball around? Shouldn’t they be in the dressing room listening to what’s going on in case they have to come on in the second half?


But all of the above - pretty much every bit of it - ceases to be of the slightest significance if we win, because what drives me mad more than anything else is losing.

And repeated losing has a cumulative effect, a build up, which is probably where the need for therapy comes in. It has got to the stage where losing has assumed its own competitive status and I resent others, those who support top six sides who complain about losing, because they don’t really know what it’s like – they don’t know how to lose like we do.

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