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Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League

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Roker Ramble: Christmas is nearly here - and VAR has dished out some early unexpected gifts!

And it’s not just VAR in the headlines - FIFA still think they can have the World Cup every other year. Plus, we look ahead to the January transfer window...

Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

VAR-se holes

What a weekend to be VAR.

It’ll remove debate! It’ll mean no wrong decisions are EVER made again! Finally some support for our beleaguered refs!

Tell you what, they don’t bloody help themselves do they?

Let’s start at St James Park, where Ryan Fraser was wiped out so comprehensively by Ederson, you’d think he was made of post-takeover optimism; he just disappeared like a mist all of a sudden.

Newcastle United v Manchester City - Premier League
Book him for diving, ref!
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

It was a matter of time, surely, before Martin Atkinson trotted over to the pitchside monitor to rectify his error and make that TV signal thing?

No dice...now apparently the reason given was that Cancelo came away with the ball. Ederson meanwhile will be pulling bits of an obliterated Fraser out his backside for weeks, such was the force with which he removed him from the equation.

Was Samson the cat on VAR duty on Sunday? Smells a bit like they are making it up as they go along, I’m afraid.

Hilariously, all these decisions have detracted from the real problems Newcastle have (principally they’ve got about as much appeal as a fatberg) and have served to create a siege mentality. Batten down the hatches! Take on the world! Everyone hates us! Unfortunately for the Geordies, it’s a bit like they’ve locked themselves inside a burning building. But not before they wrote a strongly worded yet pointless letter to the FA, signed off “angry, from Barrack Road”.

Mag fume has a real sustaining quality, doesn’t it?

Then, at the imaginatively named Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we saw an equally baffling decision. The sight of Harry Kane electing to channel his inner Bruce Lee as he steamed into the challenge was a sight to behold.

One of the loosely termed “justifications” provided for giving a yellow, rather than a red, was because Robertson lifted his leg off the floor and therefore avoided the tackle.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League
Oh God... what have I done?
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

Which is of course madness. The only way it could have been worse was if Kane had sharpened his studs and dipped them in poison before he flew into the challenge. Plus, Robertson avoided injury in spite of Kane’s actions not because of them - and that’s what surely counts, right?

“I thought it was a strong tackle”, said Harry after the game, in what was a stunning bending of reality, before adding “though I haven’t seen it back”. Best you do that, pal.


The January transfer window looms

Hooray! Is that the sound of a rumour mill creaking into action?

The footballing equivalent of wild-eyed parents scouring the empty shelves on Christmas eve. Yes, that’s right, the January transfer window is nearly upon us: be prepared for only the most gullible football clubs to pay over the odds for a worn-out knacker who used to be good, yet his legs have gone, and is in search of one last payday on £150k a week before hanging up his boots.

Hello, Amanda?

Of course the preamble is the start of the fun. It’s a bit like on April fools day when the newspapers try to outdo each other with the most outlandish mistruth - but this time it’s sports journalists channelling their inner tory government, and making it up as they go along.

Then you’ve got the Twitter knackers getting creative with their best bit of bum information. No longer is it “Ronaldinho has been spotted at Newcastle airport” because uncle Gary is a baggage handler; now it’s Jesse Lingard’s mam has been seen down Heron Foods in Low Fell as she’s house hunting for him.

Nah mate, they’ve just heard they’re selling two packs of Richmond sausages for £2.

However the most satisfying thing is actually the sight of nothing happening at all, right up until the eve of the deadline - and that’s when the real fun begins. My prediction this year is a photograph of Amanda Staveley standing next to Michael Keane, wearing her best shite-eating grin - because they’ve just spunked £65m on him in what will be termed “Rafa’s revenge”.


Infantino bakes a great big cake

Anyone heard about these bonkers plans for a World Cup every two years?

Well, it was rightly kicked into the long grass because it was total rubbish. Not for the good of the game, but to enrich the rich by making them even more... rich.

Well, not a man to be told “no”, Gianni Infantino has applied the defibrillator to the corpse of the plan that is a biennial tournament.

Tunisia v Algeria - FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Final
Honestly, these little nations will get every. single. penny.
Photo by Tnani Badreddine ATPImages/Getty Images

Why? Well, his claims are grandiose, to put it mildly. Principally, there will be a $3.5bn solidarity scheme with developing nations to support the game. Let’s hope the expenditure doesn’t start with the installation of a new swimming pool at his Corsican villa.

Frankly, there’s more chance of the European Super League making a Lazarus-like return from the dead.

Infantino denied that holding a tournament this often would lead to its impact and prestige being diluted. “The cake only gets bigger”, he said, in a strange attempt to justify why it’s a good idea.

Yes, but what happens if you eat too much cake?

You throw up.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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