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Insecure coaches set a cynical tone

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Tim Vickery | 12:03 UK time, Monday, 23 January 2012

When Pepe, Real Madrid's Brazil-born defender, steps on the hand of Barcelona's Lionel Messi, the blame is not his alone.

A coach has three main tasks. He selects the team, prepares the strategy - and he also sets the emotional tone for the work. An uptight coach usually produces an uptight team.

When the opposition is Barcelona, Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho appears to get carried away with the importance of the occasion, with some personal questions and with his own frustration at losing so often.

He has crossed the line and behaved in a manner inappropriate to a sporting contest and it is no surprise that one of the more hot-headed members of his team commits the same error.

Jose Mourinho (second left) has never been far from controversy at Real Madrid. Photo: Getty

Two weeks ago I argued that footballers are often unfairly criticised for the huge amounts of money they earn. After all, they put on a show followed by millions. But I also pointed out there are perils in paying the players so much. Fundamental values can be twisted.

Much the same applies to coaches. If the players are getting a fortune, it stands to reason the top coaches will, too. Basic hierarchy requires that they be well paid. But this, too, presents a problem. It means they have a lot to lose. The need to protect their job introduces an excess of fear.

A couple of months back I had the pleasure of chatting with Estevam Soares, who I hope will not be offended if I refer to him as a fairly typical Brazilian coach. A tough centre-back in his playing days, he has carried that spirit of leadership into his subsequent career. In 20 years of coaching, his most high-profile achievement is fourth place in the Brazilian championship with Palmeiras in 2004.

I was amazed at how much we agreed on one specific subject - the harm coaches are capable of doing to the Brazilian game.

Ever since football became a professional sport, the coach has always been the fall guy - the one to take the blame for disappointing results. In Brazil he has more reasons to fall.

The absurd calendar of the domestic game leaves little time for a proper pre-season. The model of administration means political conflict takes place inside the clubs, with factions often looking to destabilise the situation. The media are hungry for a story, the supporters are notoriously impatient and a tradition has emerged of sacking coaches with bewildering speed.

The players, of course, are aware of this, and stories are rife of squads taking their foot of the pedal long enough to ensure the dismissal of an unpopular boss.

Soares, for example, is currently in charge of his 21st Brazilian club - with two or even three spells with some of them, as well as a couple of brief stints in the Middle East. After losing a job he has always managed to find another one. But the fear must always be there that one day he might not.

It was in search of job security, he told me, that so many coaches constructed their sides on a safety-first basis, with limited but athletic defensive midfielders protecting the centre-backs. It was also the excessive nerves of the coaches, he said, that sent the players out with the mentality of going into battle.

The spirit of the game is often breached in Brazil, with matches frequently lacking flow, constantly interrupted by a series of fouls committed by over-zealous players.

The worrying aspect is that the money flooding into the game, in Brazil and elsewhere, only seems to enhance the expectation of instant results. Certainly, job security for coaches in English football is much more precarious than it used to be.

It is for this reason that I am against moves to introduce technology into refereeing decisions if it means coaches will be given the right to make challenges.

For one thing, the flow of football makes such a measure extremely difficult to implement. And for another, I sincerely doubt it would be used in the spirit intended by its advocates.

The prioritising of job security in Brazil gives us an example of the level of cynicism that can exist when coaches are under pressure.

Just over a decade ago some in the coaching fraternity were convinced that part of the secret of victory was to commit more fouls than the opposition. Indeed, it was argued, a foul is not exactly against the rules. Rather, it is something dealt with by the laws - a resource of the game rather than an offence.

In more recent times - and this one drives me mad - substitutions have been used to waste as much time as possible. When the winning side wants to make a change, the player about to be removed throws himself to the floor. The little cart has to come on to wheel him off, and a simple switch that should take 10 seconds ends up eating a minute or two. This, to my mind, is an abuse of a measure - the cart - introduced to protect the health of the players.

A similar risk exists with any proposal to allow coaches, via technology, to challenge refereeing decisions. The intention might be to enhance sporting justice. But I fear the outcome would be to hand coaches another means to interrupt the flow of the game and harm the spectacle.

Questions on South American football can be emailed to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I see QPR have just signed Brazil Under-20 international Henrique from Sao Paulo. I know little about him, other than that he was player of the tournament at the U20 World Cup last year, and was wondering whether you rate him and think he is good enough to make the grade in the Premier League?
Alex Snow

A) I don't think it's gone through yet, and I can't see how he can get a work permit. The argument will be based on his "World Youth Cup player of the tournament" award. Well though he played, he wouldn't have been my choice. Five of that side have since seen action with the senior Brazil team. He's not among them, which tells you something.

He's certainly promising, talented and versatile - more of a second, support striker than an out-and-out centre forward. But he has yet really to establish himself in domestic Brazilian football. Sao Paulo loaned him out to Vitoria in 2010, where he did OK in a relegated side, and then last year he was a bit-part substitute.

He's also prone to youthful petulance - and at the moment I think QPR need something more solid than a good long-term gamble.

Q) I remember watching Giuliano, who captained Brazil in the 2009 Under-20 World Cup. He looked similar to Kaka, and was really skilful. What is the latest news on him?
Gary Thompson

A) A terrific little player, who was voted player of the Copa Libertadores in 2010 when he helped Internacional win the title.

I'm not too sure about the Kaka comparison. Giuliano is squatter, without the same prolonged acceleration. But he's certainly more versatile, capable of filling any role in the midfield.

I've watched him make steady progress since playing for Brazil at Under-17 level. At every stage he always looked better than the last - which made me disappointed when he moved to Ukraine to join Dnipro.

It doesn't seem to have worked out - I'm told that the switch to a long-ball style has not been good for him. Gremio are optimistic of bringing him back to Brazil in the next few days.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting argument as a pre-match talk obviously has some effect on players (or at least it should). Saying that, Pepe and Balotelli (on Parker yesterday against spurs) have both acted on instinct which isn't really paletable. Should a coach take responsibility for a player's complete disregard for safety, if not respect for a fellow footballer/human? I think not. Only an idiot behaves like this.

  • Comment number 2.

    On the video-refereeing point, the answer is simple: don't give the coaches the ability to make challenges. The fourth official looks over the tape and if the referee has got the decision clearly wrong or missed something big, the fourth official calls it back. The coaches have nothing to do with it.

    And on the sacking coaches point: there are times when managers are fired far too readily. Then again, there are times when managers should be replaced but aren't, and the club suffers for it. Look at West Brom last season and how well that worked out for them. Then compare Sam Allardyce at Blackburn. And imagine if the Liverpool higher-ups had stuck with Roy Hodgson; where would Liverpool be now? Sometimes a coach is just the wrong man for the job.

    How does this whole work permit thing go? I've heard about Arsenal's Japanese teenager not being allowed to play for them because he hadn't represented his country, or something like that. Does a player have to have represented his country to go abroad? Are there often exceptional circumstances cited?

  • Comment number 3.

    Tim, I´m terrible at these things, but I´m pretty sure the guy in the second picture is not Estevam Soares.

  • Comment number 4.

    Re: Time wasting. I don't understand why players get booked for time wasting, after all the referee can add on as long as he wants at the end. Two minutes extra for a winning team time wasting would soon put a stop to it.
    Re: Feigning injury to waste time - here I think that a player should be booked for going to ground when they could make their way off the pitch. An injured player hobbles away from the touchline back towards the centre then collapses, just long enough for a sub to warm up and come on - this is infuriating. (obviously real or immediate injuries excluded).
    In both instances the referee has the power to stop this but, like with so many other offences seem unwilling to do so.

  • Comment number 5.

    To be honest, if established Brazilian internationals like Robinho, Kleberson, and Julio Baptista struggle to make the grade in the English Premiership, I would be extremely wary if I was a QPR fan about signing an unproven youngster like Henrique.

    It's strange that apart from Juninho and solid defensive players like Gilberto Silva, Brazilian players do really seem to have a tendency to struggle to adapt to the English game and English culture- it's very striking considering Brazil's reputation in the game and considering the higher success rate of imports from other leading countries.

    Any theories?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Bravo on this article... regarding setting the tone, I can remember no clearer example of that, than the 1994 World Cup match between the US and Brazil, Carlos Alberto Parreira sent Leonardo after the US's playmaker, the Uruguayan-born Tab Ramos, Leonardo elbowed Ramos in the head producing a skull-fracture and almost ended Ramos's career --- yes Leonardo got red-carded, but Brazil cruised to an easy victory once the US midfield link was gone... regarding time-wasting substitutions, I can remember going all the way to Liverpool back in 2006 to check out England vs Uruguay, Uruguay had been leading until England got the draw, Uruguay's care-taker Coach, Gustavo Ferrin near or about the 90th minute made a ridiculous 5 substitutions in some feeble attempt to walk out of Liverpool with a 1-1 draw; even though I was rooting for Uruguay, I wasn't upset when England got the lead and eventually won the game, time wasting substitutions are a cancer, I hate all those numerous substitutions in friendly matches, could never understand why FIFA permits that.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great stuff Tim. I suspect you're right on the concept of coaches using a "challenge", it would probably end up being used more for foul means than to ensure the correct decisions are made.

    There's too much organised cheating already in the game. I'm still having nightmares from the Libyan theatrics in the ACON! At least the likes of Pepe and Balotelli are genuinely mental, you suspect it wouldn't matter what their coach said.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    3. At 15:48 23rd Jan 2012, Claudio RK wrote:
    Tim, I´m terrible at these things, but I´m pretty sure the guy in the second picture is not Estevam Soares.
    He is!....had to double take though! maybe it's the hat :)

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    players rolling around the floor to buy time.... SO ANNOYING and SO OBVIOUS!!! Except to FIFA and the other federations.

    Rugby deals with this best. let them lie down and let another player come on and keep play going. Then it does not matter!

  • Comment number 13.

    No 7 El Presidente, get your facts right. Brazil never sent Leonardo after Tab Ramos. It was the other way round. Leonardo was an attacking player full of flair. Tab Ramos was constantly harrasing and stopping Leonardo from playing his game. Tab was holding him from behind, yes what Leonardo did was unacceptable, but US's plan was to disturb Brazil's game.
    On another note, yes Mourinho is behaving like a street urchin as opposed to the princely behaviour of Pep Guardiola. Barcelona vs Real Madrid is a contrast in styles reflected by the behaviour of their respective managers.

  • Comment number 14.

    After reading the blog I thought: who is the coach who can work without insecurity in the world of soccer?
    I find out only one name : Mr Alex Ferguson.
    He won titles, he lost titles,he grew great players, he left to go great player,he built great team and then he started from scratch: all this in more than 20 years of Manchester United… that’s a great thing.

  • Comment number 15.

    Don't most refs have 2 watches? Maybe the assistant ref and 4th official should have watches too. This way they can time the substitutions and stoppages for injuries (fake and real) and add the appropriate amount of minutes. So if the coach wants to take 2 mins per substitute and he uses 3 subs. Then 6 mins added. Etc etc. if the manager notices that time wasting tactics are useless. Sooner or later these underhand tactics will stop.

    Maybe there should be incentives for fair play. I know uefa give a qualifying Europa league place to the best fair play team. Maybe bigger rewards like champ league qualifier would reduce the need by managers and players to play act so much. And being nice and fair will be justly awarded.

  • Comment number 16.

    Should be *rewarded*. Not awarded.

    Anyway the boards and directors are the main culprits. They expect titles and cup wins in short period of time. Managers are under pressure the first minute they are appointed. Don't get me wrong, the managers are no angels as in my previous post, they are the manager and this make the tactics and they tell their players to time waste if needed. But the directors and owners don't have the situation. After all the Barcelona triumphs, being appointed Real Madrid manager is not for the faint hearted or weak hearted too. South America, Brazil and Argentina must be the same.

  • Comment number 17.

    there's no real reason to have to stop the game for substitutions at all. the 4th official should be capable of policing the touchline whilst the game is in progress. then again, that prevents the star man getting his ovation. the answer to the time-wasting issue has to be to take the time-keeping out of the hands of the referee - or at least for the referee to control the stadium clock, stopping and starting it as required maybe.

  • Comment number 18.

    The problem with football is that the majority of people involved at the highest level (Im thinking Premier League and La Liga in particular) are generally irrational, lack all objectivity and in some cases may actually be dishonest. This is compounded by the media's obseesion with giving these people an outlet and their views going pretty much unchallenged. When the media and the fans stop treating managers and players with ridiculous reverence, maybe the game will back to being that, a game, a sport.

    The authorities should take all steps possible to expose and wipe out the dishonesty or dangerous play of teams. Its a sport after all so no need at all to elevate any tribunal to some form of quasi judicial proceedings. Balotelli, for example and at the least, should be asked to explain his actions against Parker. Players should be asked to explain why they fall to the ground whe n there was minimal contact. I bet if you slapped a footballer in a bar, he wouldnt roll around the floor. Let the teams know this kind of behaviour will get punished and you may see a reduction in it. until then, the over precious managers and players will continue to get away with their unsportsmanlike behaviour.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great blog Tim, as usual!
    There is one tactic that used to irk me a lot, till some law modifications thankfully almost eliminated it. Around the mid-2000s, there was the so-called good-sport tradition to kick the ball out of play if an opposition player was injured. It had reached ridiculous proportions, and Phil Scolari, to my mind, put it to great use in the 2006 World Cup with Portugal. He essentially used it as a tactic to break the flow of the other team's play - every time they started passing the ball around with rhythm, a Portugese player would be on the ground clutching his knee, and the opposition would be compelled to kick the ball out of play. I was actually at the "Battle of Nuremberg" (Portugal vs Holland) in 2006, and this tactic struck me as the thing that killed the game even more than the crazy refereeing.

  • Comment number 20.

    Possibly the best example of this was Paul Gascoigne during Spurs' cup run in 91. He played some amazing football in the semi-final against Arsenal, but he was clearly so pumped up that he was almost totally out of control.
    It was inevitable that sooner or later it was all going to end in career threatening injury, the only question was whether the injury was to himself or an opponent.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why not just have a transfer window for managers say once a year then at least they now they have time to put things right - we have it for players why not managers?

  • Comment number 22.

    9. I've seen the replays and so have the FA... However, you could be right regarding Pepe's previous. He's quite the hatchet man. Either way, my point still stands; A manager can set the tone, but a player isn't (or at least should be) a child. He is ultimately responsible for his actions.

  • Comment number 23.

    There's no doubt that the abundance money in football causes players and coaches to breach the bounds of sportsmanship where they wouldn't have previously.

    I'm not old enough to remember football in any detail earlier than the 1990s, but from every impression I'm given attitudes in the game have changed a lot, yet the laws have sometimes failed to adapt.

    A positive example: "the professional foul"

    Before the 80s this concept didn't exist; the idea of a player tactically fouling another wasn't prevalent enough to require a specific sanction for it. But in the 90s rules were adapted to handle this "loophole". And while not every injustice is always "re-balanced" (see Suarez hand-ball vs Ghana 2010), players ready to be such poor sportsmen are discouraged by the severity of the consequences.

    A negative example: persistent fouling to break up the flow of the game

    We see referees book players for intentionally fouling the opposition as he attempts to launch a counter attack. This seems sufficient in English football, for example. But as Tim mentions in Brazilian football (and I've seen it in Serie A), players will make numerous "innocuous" little fouls around the centre circle, simply to disrupt the other teams patterns and rhythm.

    I don't see why this is so difficult to deal with - surely a new rule should apply? If the referee sees a player make a challenge where there was little or no chance of him winning the ball, and he deems it a cynical tactic, then he should be booked.

    We appear to be precious about rules which have changed countless times over the years - the introduction of the yellow card, substitutions etc. We shouldn't be, the laws need to adapt as pressure to win drives people to break unwritten rules.

    One place where I'm not sure we should delve, however, is the questioning of subjective decisions. While binary yes/no decisions such as the ball crossing a line could be delegated to technology, the understanding of the tempo of a game and the responsibility of the safety of the players lies with the referee, and even though he may make mistakes, that's just part of the game - a subjective decision should remain in his hands.

    What good will video replays do? Sure, they'll spot the odd glaring mistake - but I've no doubt they'll introduce just as many talking points as refereeing decisions - in short, managers will never be happy, and they will seek to blame anyone where so much is at stake.

    Perhaps that's the crux of it - too much money invested in a game which is not guaranteed to be fair.

  • Comment number 24.

    We could go back to the days of Walter Winterbottom, little charisma and drones of suits playing and managing football with obligatory pipe and hat where a manager was in-post for decades and the players caught the bus with the man on the street to the game and went for light ale or 2 post-match.

    Fans, but most of all journalists, love controversy. They also love the glamour, the money and showbiz side of the game.

    And controversial acts whether it's a stamp, feet off the ground tackles and sackings and appointments mean the journalist has a 24/7 job because there's always something to comment on nowadays when Sky Sports News and it's ilk headline what some footballer just tweeted or said or stamped on.

    Whereas before you would get a sentence in your paper, now every referee decision, every tackle is replayed in HD over and over and the journalist just loves piling the pressure on the under-pressure manager by asking the questions that adds the pressure. The fans love it as well.

    Careful what you wish for guys. Sky and the re-branding of the old First Division comes with a price. The Sky contract and it's money is not finite. Sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

    But just call me old-fashioned.

  • Comment number 25.

    25. I hope is finite! If it keeps going on like this, in 30 years' time there will be 365 rounds of matches a season, one played every day and teams will have to employ 1000 footballers who play in empty stadiums because everyone watches the game from their coffee table. They will have to clone players as South America and Africa won't be able to keep up with demand! Sorry.

    Video replays could be a good idea, but not if the power is given to coaches to demand a review of decisions while matches are being played. I think it would take a lot of pressure off referees if done correctly. But is this really the problem with football? You have players who go to school exclusively with other trainees in special academies, multi-billionaires or worse, people pretending to be billionaires taking over clubs and either eroding their roots away or simply destroying them. Supporters of clubs are blinkered beyond reason. Ok they always have been, but why is it only when your team is facing liquidation that people care what is happening to our game? Rant over.

  • Comment number 26.

    I meant 24. :/

  • Comment number 27.

    @ Jogo_Bonito
    Actually you should get your facts straight. Leonardo also used to play left back for Brazil. I am not sure if you knew the tactics of Carlos Alberto Parreira. He was an unbelievable defensive tactician. He is one of the reasons why 1994 WC was horrid. It was unfortunate that he had two world class scorers like Bebeto and Romario who along with Branco unfortunately beat the Netherlands...

  • Comment number 28.

    @ #4

    Players get booked for time-wasting because of how it disrupts the flow of the game; it's not about how much time is wasted as much as breaking momentum. At times, a relatively prolonged period of inactivity within a match of such a physically demanding game of football at the highest level can ruin the team's chances of performing at their best levels consistently throughout the game. It becomes that much harder to find your tempo again, and the opposition could easily take advantage of your transition.

    Also, regarding the players being booked for feigning injury: that's a tough one. The referee doesn't have X-Ray vision so cannot possibly be certain that a player is feigning injury. How many times do we watch a match and see a player go down and wonder what the heck happened, only for a replay to show us what we would otherwise have completely missed? The referee would risk a great deal on his part if he didn't always allow the players the benefit of doubt. It's too much of a risky and ambiguous area.

    And Tim, wonderful blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and can't praise you enough for the insight you display with your blogs (which can't be said for most of the rest of the writers on BBC Sport). And you also invoke interesting and intelligent responses - for the most part - in the comments section. Great work as always.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tim, I understand some of your skepticism regarding introducing technology to help the referees, but it would only be used with measures to avoid this abuse by coaches, like the referees having a small TV or seeing it in a smartphone or any other device, and/or limiting the number of challenges per game.

    In anyway, no one is asking for it to be introduced immediately to everyone, but at least they could do some tests in friendly games and U20 and U17 tournaments. I don't believe they reasons for refusing it are purely sporting ones, and I'm sure I am not the only one...

  • Comment number 30.

    Regarding the roles of coaches in setting the team's mentaliy and state of mind, is there a better example of this than Brazil in the second half of the match against Holland in the 2010 World Cup?

    And yes, it's absurd the lack of time coaches have in Brazil. The biggest proof of that is that 2 of the last 3 coaches to win the Brazilian League (not counting Tite last year) had already been fired BEFORE THE NEXT LEAGUE HAD BEGUN. And would surprise no one if Tite, the 2011 winner with Corinthians, suffered the same fate.

  • Comment number 31.

    At the end of the day, either managers are to blame for players actions or players are accountable for their own actions. It is far far too easy a cop-out too commonly used to blame everybody but the perpetrator of the actions (in football and society).

    My girlfriend puts me in some of the most fowl moods (sometimes intentionally to get a reaction) but my actions after the event are mine and mine alone... regarding her and others around me.

    The true meaning of a professional is to do things the proper way (professionally) not depending on your boss, situation, club, coach or girlfriend. You will not find too many players playing under their first, second or even third coaches or managers, so what happened to what they have learnt to this point?

    For example, you learn to be a civil engineer and because you work for a shoddy company or boss, you are allowed to build unsafe buildings? No you do what you have learnt and be professional at all times regardless. Yes you take guidance when it is sound, but you know what is right and what is wrong!! Make a judgement call.

    Remember what we were all told as children..because he did it, provoked you, or told you to do it, it doesn't make it right, it does not absolve you and it is definitely not an excuse. Responsibility ends with acting the individual!

    As I said to start with..these are professionals, and if you judge some coaches to not being professional in any way, it is still no excuse for unprofessionalism of their players..full stop!

  • Comment number 32.

    Solution to time wasting re substitutions etc, like both codes of rugby have a central timekeeper. When a subsitution is to be made stop the clock and restart when substitution has been made. Also when a player goes down with a head injury ( usually no or little contact made ) the player should leave the field for a minimum of 5 mins to be checked for concussion. Good blog.

  • Comment number 33.

    Money, success, and win are the most important things in the world. So, in my view there's nothing wrong with being cynical. Even Barcelona do acting to send off opposition players. So, everybody does. It's just part and parcel of every sports. Human are like that. One would always try everything to win over one's opposition.

  • Comment number 34.

    Another great blog Phil. Always an engaging read.

  • Comment number 35.

    what everyone is forgetting is football isnt really a 90 mintue game. when you look at the stats of football from for instance sky, it will say that the ball has been in play for about 50 -55 minutes or so around then. There is so much time that is wasted just retreaving the ball from a goal kick or with players taking an age with throw ins stealing 5 yards everytime. It not as simple as ref's adding on time just for subs and injuries, there's plenty more time lost throughout the match, including celebrations. I dont think football needs drastic changes because it's fine how it is and we all love the game. Going to american football rules and stopping the watch everytime the ball goes out of play would change the way the game is. We just have to accept that its not a perfect sport.

  • Comment number 36.

    Good old Auntie Beeb. They ignored the Copa America during the English close season break, even blockbusters like Argentina v Uruguay.

    But as soon as Djibouti plays Burkina Faso in the African Nations Cup, suddenly the BBC finds the resources to do text commentaries.


  • Comment number 37.

    Red Rebel
    Money, success, and win are the most important things in the world. So, in my view there's nothing wrong with being cynical.

    You must be a member of the Gordon Gekko, 'greed for the want of a better word, is good' fan club. What good is success, when you have gained it by cheating and when you have constantly bent the rules to achieve it?

    As soon as sportsmanship is removed from a sport such as football, then you no longer have a sport. Bad sportsmanship is the win at all cost attitude that is rife in football, from the top to the bottom, owners, managers and players have lost the values that football was based upon.

    The majority of fans have truly bought into the modern game and what it represents, lock stock and barrel.

    Managers spouting their rubbish 'the result was the most important thing' well for me when i go to matches it is about entertainment and not just a result. If the result was all that mattered, I might as well have stayed at home and read the result.

  • Comment number 38.

    This blog is great! Liked every post. Almost spat out my coacoa laughing at SlovakIron's nightmare vision (25). You're not wrong mate we'll get there soon enough.
    I sometimes struggle to enjoy watching football matches these days because of the unsportsmanlike awfulness. Remember Eusebio running to get the ball for the opposition because his own teammate had kicked it away in the '66 worldcup? I don't - it happened 15 years before I was born - but my Dad still talks about it today! Chivalry is kaput sadly.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    2.At 15:44 23rd Jan 2012, Harry Hotspur wrote:
    " And imagine if the Liverpool higher-ups had stuck with Roy Hodgson; where would Liverpool be now?"
    Probably without Andy Carroll and 35m richer??

  • Comment number 41.

    19.At 19:02 23rd Jan 2012, UnwedUnfed wrote:

    Hahaha yeah I remember that game!! And the refereeing was funny in the way that it was perfectly consistent. He made no allowances for either team, however the downside was that there were a handful of yellows and three reds. This just shows the consequences of what fans clamour for, "consistency" when refereeing a football match!

  • Comment number 42.

    As some colleagues have already eloquently pointed out, football has no longer become simply entertainment, but an entertainment industry. As with all other industries, appropriate capitalist and business techniques have been employed to "squeeze the profit".

    As such, success overshadows entertainment, and loyalty is meaningless to wages and bonuses. As a result of the success culture, managers are given very little time to achieve their strategies or formulate long term plans / solutions. Remnants of the ideology remain through luminaries such as Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and David Moyes, but even those managers are nearing the end.

    It is no surprise that Arrigo Sacchi has been critical of modern football, saying that there has been no significant tactical innovation since his Milan days. I for one must agree. No manager is afforded the time or continuity to instigate their tactics, training methods or youth development. As a result, people are just re-inventing the wheel.

  • Comment number 43.

    Good morning!
    Would you even go as far as saying those managers are "out of date"?

  • Comment number 44.

    Mourinho's brand of football was always going to wear thin at some point. The English press forgave many of his antics as he was so charismatic in interviews.

    It is clear he never played the game as he just does not care about sporting principles such as winning with fair play or accepting defeat in a humble manner.

    His fame hungry approach, probably as he never expereinced the adulation players get, is also irritating.

    However, no one can argue with his record which is a shame since i would prefer a better ambassador of the game as one of its main protagonists.

  • Comment number 45.

    27.At 20:28 23rd Jan 2012, JackTorrence wrote:
    @ Jogo_Bonito
    Actually you should get your facts straight. Leonardo also used to play left back for Brazil. I am not sure if you knew the tactics of Carlos Alberto Parreira. He was an unbelievable defensive tactician. He is one of the reasons why 1994 WC was horrid. It was unfortunate that he had two world class scorers like Bebeto and Romario who along with Branco unfortunately beat the Netherlands...

    How old are you, Jack? Do you actually remember USA 94? It was not a 'horrid' tournament. Many of the games were exciting, it was just the Final that was very disappointing. It sounds to me like you have simply formed some opinions that are from secondhand sources- that World Cup is not remembered fondly in England because we didn't qualify but the football in general was miles better than Italia 90, aside from the final.

    Also people speak badly of Parreira because some football purists believe he betrayed the 1970 and 1982 tradition of Brazil to make them a more compact side, and he dropped Rai the younger brother of Socrates and the golden boy of Brazilian football at the time due to his success with Sao Paulo, but the fact remains that Brazil won their first World Cup for 24 years. In the knock out phase they were involved in a memorable quarter final with the Netherlands, winning 3-2. Bebeto and Romario were also a very exciting partnership in attack and Parreira gave them the platform to perform. He did not make Brazil a 'defensive' side, there is a middle ground between all out attack and parking the bus. They were no less attractive as a team than they were in 2002 under Scolari with Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo. Italy in 1994 in the final simply defended better than the 2002 Germans did.

    Also I think Jogo Bonito's point was not to dispute that Leonardo was not playing left back in that game. Jogo Bonito was making the point that Leonardo was not one of football's hatchet men, he was not a thug and that he was responding to provocation when he elbowed Ramos. Leonardo did play left back for Brazil in 1994 but he was more of a silky left-footed midfielder and spent most of his playing career as a left midfielder or a playmaker.

  • Comment number 46.

    @37 - You are absolutely spot on. There are times when I don't even consider Football a sport any more as the lack of any sportsmanship is rife amongst the top leagues nowadays. Take El Classico the other night for example. Yes, Pepe stood on Messi's hand and it was out of order but his over-acting when getting touched and rolling around on the floor is just as bad in its own way. It is only when you see certain acts, such as Di Canio against Everton all those years ago, that make you remember it is a game, not life or death.
    Football nowadays has a very over-important place in modern life. Footballers are both front and back page and the 'brand' is important to so many players. Ferguson said he hates the celebrate a goal towards the cameras and not with the team. That says a lot about modern day egos and the loss of the love of the game.
    The reality is the game nowadays is all about money and the media and Mourinho is simply playing up to both. No manager is any better than him, take Dalglish with the Suarez affair, Ferguson with anyone who disagrees him and so on. Whilst the supporters allow the game to be so important in this country, the lack of sportsmanship and pursuit of money and fame will continue. I don't hark back to a 'better age' years ago because I don't think it ever existed. However, when kids on the street want to be footballers because 'I want to earn £100k and a drive a fast car' (My sons friends), and not because they want to play football, nothng will change.

  • Comment number 47.

    46.At 10:21 24th Jan 2012, Booftothemax wrote:
    Football nowadays has a very over-important place in modern life. Footballers are both front and back page and the 'brand' is important to so many players

    But that is what the public have decided.

    Without public interest, that is not impossible. The media deliver what the public want.

    When he was at Manchester United, I was only interested in David Beckham as a footballer, for example. I admired his talent, he was one of the few English players who got the most of his ability and worked at his game. But then "Beckham" got hijacked by people who have no interest in football. The general public became interested in his private life and obsessed with his looks. He was on the cover of magazines like Hello! catering mainly for women and which have nothing to do with the game. If footballers are not important, why are people fascinated by details such as this? As soon as that happened, "Beckham" became a brand and it became something that people could make money out of. Then the leeches descend, and it transcends football and becomes part of culture: Beckham the Metrosexual, Beckham the Father and Family Man. I know the names of his kids: Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper. Why do I know this? I don't know the names of the kids of 99% of other footballers.

    When you ask this question about what football has become and why footballers are front and back page, you have to ask yourself what attracts people to these kind of values and why there is such interest in this aspect of the modern game.

  • Comment number 48.

    @Jack Torrence post number 27,im sorry to disagree with you but the left back for Brasil was BRANCO,Leonardo was a great Midfielder never a left back.

  • Comment number 49.

    43.At 09:42 24th Jan 2012, The_Forehead_Of_Gervinho wrote:

    Good Morning Sir!!

    As time has passed, biscuits become soft (players), the cakes become hard (rules) and the managers out of date, awaiting those eggs to hatch (new breed of PR manager).

    I sense an ever evolving menu on the cards, with tasty treats that were a delicacy of the past are overlooked for new fads.

  • Comment number 50.

    #46 - bad example surely? There are many players out there who are prone to play-acting, but Messi is not one of them. The abuse he takes would try the patience of a saint and he is one of the game's gentlemen. It seems to be a very British thing to somehow consider showing genuine discomfort to be equal to cheating, but I would imagine that having studs stamped into your fingers would be rather painful.

    Why should Pepe get away with it? Would we even have noticed he had done anything if Messi didn't roll around, never mind the ref? What would be better, to get up and confront him and get a booking? Is embellishment really as bad as physical abuse?

    I guess this goes back to Tim's point on managers setting the tone for their players. It is beyond obvious that Mourinho looks to his players to wind up Barca players, so obvious that Pep has them well-drilled on how to deal with it. While some Barca players overdo it at times I see it as the lesser of the two evils.

  • Comment number 51.

    Everything posted is right, Pepe's agression is not connected with Mourinho, it's his own behaviour. About el-clasico: it's so hard to play with Barsa, their intelligent midfielders attacking all time, Blaugrana ALWAYS totally control the ball, so to win such team Real should TAKE A BALL themselves. Contrattacking style is not solve the problem for Madrid, maybe only for one match, not in general. So Jose must teach own players to play without fear and more with ball as much as possible

  • Comment number 52.

    My post Nº 9 was moderated after about 12 hours, I think it was my 2nd moderated post in about 5 years, and I am bemused as the why it was moderated.

    Could you explain why ?

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 31: totally agree with you that each individual has to be responsible for his (or her) actions and decisions. Consequently, a manager cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of an individual player. However, any action (or lack of) subsequently taken by the club will send a clear message of the club's values and a signal to players and manager of the expected standard of behaviour. That's why Liverpool got it so badly wrong over the "Suarez affair" - they were so concerned about not losing their 2nd best player that they ended up looking as if they don't give a damn about racism (I know that's not true, but it's certainly the impression their actions gave). And their is another factor - at what point does repeated 'bad' behaviour of players start to become a reflection of the manager's attitude (I think of Wenger's 'title-winning' Arsenal and Mourinho's Chelsea, for example).
    Btw, are you calling your girlfriend a bird or a chick (fowl mood)?

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 50: I agree with you about that. When it comes down to it, I think we'd all rather watch open entertaining football than a physically violent team imposing itself by force on their more skillful opponents (unless you're a supporter of said band of thugs, sadly). To a point, I feel a certain sympathy for Mourinho, who has been given the task of overcoming a rampant Barcelona both domestically and in the CL. It's a daunting task and his job depends on not settling for 2nd best, but physical violence is not the solution.
    @ 47: very good point!
    @ 46: yes, definitely the wrong motivation. And you see it the other way round too. I will always be grateful to Ronaldinho for putting the joy back into the game, but sadly he himself lost that joy (I don't know the reasons, but I'm sure it has a lot to do with what you're saying). Robinho is another example. And how long will Messi continue to take so much punishment and just bounce up again to keep on playing? He's still very young and fit, but once the damage starts taking its toll....
    @ 40: It's amazing how people seem to have forgotten that the problems at Liverpool weren't Benitez and Hodgson, but with the owners and admin.
    @ 37: I stand up and applaud your attitude!!! And would go even further - can one even call it 'success'? To my mind, success is getting through life with a clear conscience, knowing you have done your best and tried to make the world a better place, if only by living a decent life and treating others well. And if you have kids, to bring them up to have decent honest values and not to give undue value to material well-being.

  • Comment number 55.

    Has coaches being able to make 'challenges' ever actually been suggested? All the talk is of goal line technology where the referee can check a decision, its hardly ever discussed about coach challenges. I think your worrying about nothing.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the terms professional or professionalism are often misused when referring to fouls, delaying tactics and other features of the modern game that cross that rather grey line into punishable offences.

    For me, I would agree it is how the team, and club, is set up and believe it directly correlates with the values and principles endorsed through the management hierarchy. The pressures and rewards related to winning has inadvertently 'cheapened' the game in my view; in that a foul on the halfway line to prevent an opportunistic attack from the opposition, or a player feigning injury resulting in prolonged substitutions are now perceived to be acceptable methods of gaining an advantage.

    I am quickly adopting the view that we should, for a period of time at least, endorse the strictest of punishments to eradicate these tactics. Simple shirt pulling at corners is continually frustratingly unpunished with the stance that there would likely be multiple penalties awarded for such indiscretions. So be it, see how long managers, owners and supporters accept their players giving away soft penalties.

    The same applies for using substitutions as a method of time wasting. Make it a rule that the clock will be stopped for a substitution; not that time will be allegedly added on at the referee's choice; stop the clock and then no time advantage can be gained.

    I don't think by gaining an advantage by these sorts of measures can be described as being professional; surely there are better methods of winning games and until the managers in particular are given licence (i.e. time) to promote a better ethos then these frustrating habits will continue.

  • Comment number 57.

    @45 Vox Populi. Nice to know there are football connoiseurs on board. Yes i agree USA 94 was one of the better World Cups in recent memory. Overall Brazil were the best team and were also quite solid at the back. Flair up front, solid midfield and strong defense. Parreira organised his side well and they played for each other.
    The only other more exciting World Cups that i have seen clips of are WC82 and WC86. Everything since USA94 has been quite dull and unexciting.

  • Comment number 58.

    @50 - the example of Messi I meant was when he was pushed gently around the neck area. He went down and acted like he was punched by a Klitschko. He is a great player and by no means the worst of a very poorly behaved bunch of players but he is far from innocent in everything that goes on including the running after the ref etc.etc.
    @47 - I agree to an extent but it is a sad indictment on todays society that it has been elevated to such a degree of importance. The celebrity obsessed culture of today extends to football and the leeches attached to it, incuding the WAGS, and it is a poorer sport as a result. People are fascinated about the details because it is an escape from their own lives. I have never understood why it matters to people what the children are called or what sunglasses they are wearing on holiday or whatever. The only thing that should matter is the football and their behaviour as a role model to younger people. It explains why todays footballers are so out of touch with the fans and as a rule, generally inaccessible.

  • Comment number 59.

    No 47 Vox Populi.

    Spot on. The reason Beckham and other English players like Rooney and Gerrard get hyped-up as being world class is because it increases their commercial value to label them as such. These players then become marketing/ad mens dreams, their names and images are used to sell newspapers and magazines, merchandise, playstations and any other brand they are bought in to promote. The public in this country quite happily buy into this because they want to believe that we have outstanding talent and can still as a nation produce it and the media know this is the psyche of the English public and pander to it accordingly.

    The problem that arises though is that when these players and others in the England team perform poorly in major tournaments reality intervenes with these fantasy notions and people realise that maybe these players are not as good as they've always been made out to be.

  • Comment number 60.

    @ 36: no wonder BBC World is being ditched by my SKY South America satellite TV service. The lack of BBC interest in Latin America seems to adhere to the Monroe Doctrine dictates, to the disadvantage of both sides! Thank goodness for Tim's blog - it's all we've got!
    @ 34: Phil??? Can't you tell the difference?
    @ 33: what a sad world you live in. Take a look at 37's response and draw on the inspiration. It can be a better world if we make the effort, rather than taking the cynical 'lowest standards fit all' approach.
    @ 32: I thought about making it compulsory for players who go down to be made to leave the field for something like 5 minutes, in order to deter the fakers. Trouble is, that would be an added incentive for teams to foul the opposition, since those who are genuinely hurt would get further penalised. It's a tough call, but I think the solution lies in our attitude, as supporters. If we publicly condemn cheating and cheats then that is going to be the biggest deterrent, I reckon. After all, it is our money these clubs are dependent on!
    @ 29: quite agree with you that the reluctance to adopt technological solutions bears the suggestion of sinister motives (ability to manipulate results, perhaps?). In this respect, I agree with posts 2 & 23, that the technology should be restricted to objective yes/no decisions during game time and to picking up and dealing with other issues post-match (although retroactive punishment for Balotelli and Lescott won't compensate Spurs for the points difference; indeed it seems Lescott won't even be punished, although I thought his challenge was just as bad - a deliberate forearm smash!).
    @ 28: excellent points!
    @ 23: great post, with a lot of interesting talking points! On the matter of the 'professional foul', I remember watching a game where, on a breakaway near the halfway line, the CB threw himself on the opposing striker and rugby tackled him to the ground. And the Brazilian commentator said "Well, what else could he do, the guy was through". I was so shocked, not just by the act, but by the attitude! I was brought up to 'play the game' in a sporting way and to my mind the CB has to chase back and try to make a saving tackle before the striker can get his shot off, while hoping that the keeper will narrow the angle and if necessary make the save. The point is: it is OUR (the public) attitudes and values that dictate the way the game is played and if we don't condemn, instead of condoning, then things will never change, but only get worse! On the plus side, I do see signs that the public has 'had enough' and is starting to take a stand on the issue of cheating and unsporting behaviour. Since the game entirely depends on OUR MONEY, we don't need to depend on FIFA or the FA to get changes made. If players and clubs are under public pressure to change then they will have no alternative but to do so. And the media can be a powerful ally too, if it wants to be.

  • Comment number 61.

    #37 Londoner in exile returns

    You are of course right on the sportsmanship issue, but only up to a point.

    Sure, the players and coaches are guilty of employing some unsavoury means in order to try and influence the outcome of a game, but the fans also have an obligation here.

    The vitriol pouring down from the stands these days is quite shocking. And since when did it become de rigueur for the fans to question the manager's every decision, a la Arsenal fans at the weekend?

    Whilst sky have undoubtedly upped the ante in how the game is covered on tv, not just by them but by all tv the companies now, the resultant constant navel gazing and hyperbole has resulted in the aforementioned vitriol.

    I am with Tim for some of those reasons, because if we introduce technology, then things are likely to get even worse.

  • Comment number 62.

    Tim, as usual a great blog with a lot of depth of issues involved.
    I think the expendability of Brazilian managers has a lot to do with the unprofessional management in this country and has been worsened by growing 'player power'. The worst example was at my own favourite local side, Santos, when a conflict between (at the time spoiled and slightly out-of-control) teenager Neymar and successful, highly regarded coach Dorival Jr. led to the latter losing his job. I think the manager/coach distinction is important here too. In Brazil one tends not to have managers, in the British sense of the term. They are more like American coaches, brought in to take responsibility for the on-field performance of the team and nothing more. At the same time, they have to cope with meddling by administrators who have no qualifications, and often no remit, for doing so. As clubs become more professional, I can signs that this is changing, but I also see signs in England that it is getting more like the US/Brazilian system, which can't be a good thing.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hi Tim, disgruntled Arsenal supporter here. It's taking me some time to finally lose my patience with Wenger but now is the time for a new man in charge. I honestly hope we finish outside of the top four otherwise we are in danger of him remaining in charge for yet another season of failure!

    So on that note can you recommend a manager who epitomise's the attacking playing style adopted by Marcelo Bielsa or Jorge Sampaoli that knows the European market and English football?

  • Comment number 64.

    @48 - Leonardo was Brazil's left back for the first four games of 1994 World cup. He was sent off against the USA and was suspended for the rest of the tournament. Branco replaced him for the quarter final onwards.

  • Comment number 65.

    @60 - Just a point about the BBC World being ditched by SKY South America. I don't know if you live in the UK or not. But SKY South America (owned by Rupert Murdoch a point that it is important to what I have to say) has been making it too expensive for the BBC to continue showing their channel on the network. With the BBC currently cutting back across all divisions thanks to the meddling of Murdoch backed politicians (both the current and previous governments) have had to make cuts somewhere.

    Murdoch is especially happy as it limits the BBC's reach around the world. And his newspapers now criticise the BBC for doing exactly what he wanted. I'm not saying the BBC is perfect, because its not. But trumpeting the decision by a Rupert Murdoch owned company to ditch what is essentially a free service for people outside of the UK demostrates a lack of world knowledge.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hi Tim,

    The point of playing football is to win – this doesn’t change with the introduction of money or a coach’s job security concern.

    Your financial argument is a red herring. Coaches pay has nothing to do with playing defensively or wasting time. It is rather the need to win that motivates. If playing expansive flowing football was more likely to produce wins then everybody would do it.

    José Mourinho isn’t passionate about finances, he’s passionate about winning; he doesn’t play defensive midfielders to protect his bank balance but his back four. (Being sacked from Madrid would barely affect his income - he’s one of the most employable coaches on the planet.)

    I enjoy your comments, Tim, but overall, while mildly interesting, this is a pretty poorly constructed argument. Sorry.

  • Comment number 67.

    The rolling around, feigning injury of players (a trademark of all Mourinho teams) could be easily stamped out of the game by imposing a 2-5 minute sin bin on all players who don't get up within 30 secs of going down. Managers would soon put a stop to the theatrics when they were being forced to play with ten men as a result of it.

  • Comment number 68.

    The fourth official is already watching video replays. Why can't s/he make the challenges? You can also set a small number of allowable challenges, refreshed if the challenge is sustained.

    #1: Should a coach take responsibility for a player's complete disregard for safety, if not respect for a fellow footballer/human? I think not. Only an idiot behaves like this.

    Uh, if you know who you're getting, what he'll do when he's on the field, then I'd say yes, the manager is responsible.

  • Comment number 69.

    Some interesting points here.

    Definitely, the individual player should be held accountable for his own actions. Regardless of what a manager says, no-one is forcing him to stamp on someone, elbow someone, or otherwise kick seven bells out of someone. If a manager asks a player to do something which contravenes the rules of the game, he should refuse on that basis.

    Coaches and managers however also have a responsibility in this area. If you look back at entire teams (EG late '80s early 90's Wimbledon), where they are constantly ankle-tapping, tripping and otherwise crossing the line from hard-but-fair to mild thuggery, you can't say it is because EVERY player on the team plays that way naturally. Managers will send teams out to do just that to disrupt the flow of a game - and yet they are never held accountable.

    Yes, coaches are under pressure to deliver immediate results - for the most part because their predecessor was sacked for rooting the team to the bottom of the table - but these people are supposed to be tacticians... surely the tactic to disrupt the flowing style of another team is just to nick the ball and pass it around without going anywhere - gain the advantage by drawing the foul instead of making the foul! Far too much "we can't outplay them, so take the ball AND player at once, and hoof the damn thing away to make them start from scratch."

    Coming onto the timewasting, then yes, coaches are responsible for a lot of this - big blocks of substitutions towards the end of a match (for which there is a "prescribed extra time allocation" given to refs), or encouraging players to go down easy, get up slow, and hold the restart as long as possible. I notice someone earlier mentioned my own thoughts - follow the Rugby example of "time-off" and "time-on" - so when the ref blows for a goal, the clock is stopped until he blows for the restart, or time off for extended dead ball situations (injuries / penalties / substitions).... if this has a central control point to react to the ref's signals, then the ref knows when the big clock in the corner says 90, it's game up and no fergie-five minutes are required.

    Firstly, this will mean that the time-wasting tactics are negated, and players will be forced to run the clock down by being skillful enough to hold the ball up on their own merit.

    Secondly, it will mean the thousands of people who have paid a fortune to watch 90 minutes of football, will get what they paid for instead of 60 minutes. If I recall, there was a match last season where the Sky team couldn't believe that in a 90 minute match more than 65 of them were spent with the ball in play - which equates to being ripped off almost one third of what you paid for (And that was for what was seen as a HIGH ball-in-play time).

  • Comment number 70.

    Tim its pretty simple to me, you do the video technology like they do in tennis. Either the Manager or the captain has 1 challenge per half. If they are correct and a decision is overturned / changed in their favour, they still have 1 check remaining. If they are wrong they lose that chance to query a decision.
    There would be max 1 check per game thats done for cheating ( which will only be at the end of a game if they still have a challenge left )... Its a no brainer to me. The technology is there and it must be used. It would not slow the game down as the 4th official can review these contentious moments in seconds, and it would enhance the excitement of the game as it does in cricket and tennis. Plus, it would take the pressure off referees ten fold, infact, I would suggest refereeing would improve dramatically because they would not be plopping themselves to make a correct decision so much as it pushes the emphasis on the players / manager to get a call correct. The refs would therefore not make so many bad incorrect decisions as the pressure is of them somewhat... Do you not agree ???

  • Comment number 71.

    @70 - A fairly good suggestion there, although there would have to be some tight guidance on when a review can be called for. I would agree that one review per team per half, and only on the captain's decision - but there would need to be some kind of discouragement to petulance - perhaps if you lose the review there is a distance penalty imposed, and then maybe no reviews permitted in an attempt to get a player booked (if you are awarded the free kick but want more).

    Managers could then get use of a left-over review post-match - for example if the FA had said they did not intend to pursue the Balotelli incident, to use the review to call for it... again some sort of penalty for failed review to be imposed.

    Like many things, it's a brilliant suggestion, but could be open to abuse if not implemented correctly from the outset.

  • Comment number 72.

    I agree with your arguement that individual finances are not the key: and it is about winning and by extension their 'reputation' that is the key motivational issue here. Tactics are the expression of a coaches and teams strategy and ability to win and we speak of it as something recent and new but football has always been about trying to win through the mix of abilities and means that you have at your disposal. Football is a competitive sport and you see it in all levels of the game and arenas.

    And the notion #69 has that players should refuse to contravene the rules of the game really is just fanciful. Its not a Victorian gentleman's game!

    I hope they do not give coaches any scope to challenge calls as I think this will just extend tactical cynicism to new lows and create another pressure point for refs. If anything, use the 4th official better and give them the means to retrospectively check fouls and penalty box challenges that result in a break in play anyway. Easily done and minimally disruptive.

    And adopt the trial by television approach of the Scots and introduce real sanctions for simulation.

  • Comment number 73.

    this is one of the few times i would say that American sports have it right. In basketball etc as soon as the game stops, then so does the clock!! With that system in place, Real M and Barca would be playing all night long with the way they all carry on!! They would soon stop if they had to play a genuine 90 mins no matter what... Just have a stop-clock system i say... As for the managers, they just waltz into another job no matter what happens. Big payoff if they get sacked. Happy days.

  • Comment number 74.

    @72 so if your boss asked you to accept a £100,000 payment into an offshore account just so he doesn't have to pay tax on it, you'd agree to do it, because your business isn't Victorian?

    Or if he has identified a strong competitor to the business, and asks you to set about them with a baseball bat?

    No-one in any occupation should be asked to break the rules - and if they are there should be a support mechanism in place for refusal...

  • Comment number 75.


    You are now talking about breaking aspects of the criminal and civil law (tax evasion and assault), and confusing this with breaking the 'laws' of a game (e.g. playing for time, committing a foul with intent).

    What support mechanisms do you suggest for players who refuse to play out a game for time? Employer mediation? Grievance actions against their coach and teamates?

    Perhaps the entire team should be shown a Merchant Ivory production and be given a lecture on social responsibilites to the wider paying public.

  • Comment number 76.

    Henrique, as I'm sure most have seen, did not get a work permit.

    Guiliano, unhappily, looks likely to stay in Ukraine. Gremio and Dnipro have not been able to agree terms so far.

    66 - perhaps introducing Mourinho at the start of the argument was something of a red herring, an attention seeker. Had you spent more time around Brazilian coaches you would have more of a notion of the importance of financial aspects.

  • Comment number 77.

    @75 There is little difference - football has a codified set of laws, which are enforced and arbitrated in the same way as civil laws. There is nothing stopping a player on the receiving end of a leg-breaker pursuing the antagonist through the civil courts for assault - or even GBH/ABH depending on the tackle.

  • Comment number 78.

    what is a joke is that the spanish FA looked at the pepe incident and nothing has come of it.

    he clearly looks down at messi's hand then stamps on it, iv never seen a more blatant act of "out to do someone". poor

  • Comment number 79.

    what does messi do? gets on with it like it never happened then goes onto create the "winner".

    and his hat-trick against malaga was pure messi.

    only he does this in world football.

  • Comment number 80.

    Great blog Tim. It is true that a Brazilian coaches' job is one hell of a scare, I do not envy them. I find it hard to believe there will ever be a Sir Alex Ferguson or an Arsene Wenger in Brazilian football, in terms of years at their club. Although I would also say that the Brazilian domestic games' lack of flow is also down to players who probably should be olympic divers with the amount of times they go down plus the referees that oblige them.

    I also totally agree with the fact that there should not be goal line technology in football, you are right, the flow of the game goes against this and anyway, I believe there would be better solutions. More linesmen perhaps. I think that the ones that exist now, including the trial of having a linesman behind each goal, are a good system, they are in constant communication with each other and one or two mistakes are bound to happen. I believe the problem is when dire mistakes are made or a lot are made. This is the problem that needs to be resolved, not whether or not the ball went on/over the line. We have to ask ourselves, how is this lineman/referee not doing his job properly? Does he need an eye test? Is he being bought? I do not think the best solution is giving the referee a piece of technology to worry about.

  • Comment number 81.

    This is nothing new about Mourinho, a characteristic of his sides has always been that he seems to create a kind of "siege mentality" in his sides so they go out and play to their best. It worked to great effect with Inter where the media constantly criticised his coaching style and his team went on to win a treble to prove them wrong. It depends on the philosophy the coaches bring.

    Mourinho has always been hugely frustrated with Barcelona because his teams have actually never really been treated fairly by referees when playing them. There was the 1-1 draw with his Chelsea team going out of the Champions League after 4 clear penalties weren't given. In the 1-0 loss at home with Inter, Busquets feigned injury and got Motta sent off. Recently at the Bernabeau last year in the Champions League, Pepe was sent off without even touching Dani Alves who was stretchered from the field and returned at full speed 30 seconds later. Same game Busquets ran into Ramos deliberately to again feign injury claiming Ramos hit him in the face.

    Personally, I do sympathise with Mourinho to an extent as I believe he has genuine reason for his frustrations.

  • Comment number 82.


    Please think about your arguement. There is one hulking chasm between your original examples and what happens most of the time on a football park between players. Yes the law applies to relationships between players on the park and it always takes precedence over football governance and rules. So what? And despite this, civil actions between players are remarkably rare as are criminal actions against them.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ Vox Populi
    It is not my age, but my rather biased opinion of the WCs after 1986 having fallen in love with football then and being disappointed at every WC ever since.
    As for JogaBonito, I think he did argue that Pareria did not send Leonardo after Ramos. Well, he might not have, but I have seen what Leonardo did.
    By the way, I did not understand why you first imply I do not know I what I am talking about and then assume that I am young (I wish) and that I am English or even British! :)

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 48
    Did you see that I said "also"...
    Funny that you think a person that agrees with you is immediately a "connoisseur". lol. Anyway fyi, Leonardo played as left back for Brasil in the first 4 games. I do agree however that he was a very talented midfielder.
    For me the players of 1994 are Dennis Bergkamp, Hagi, Stoichkov and most of the Bulgarian team. I cannot stand Parreria and his tactics even though I can appreciate Morinho...

  • Comment number 85.

    I found this a very interesting read - totally agree with your concerns about video technology.

    And the amount of pay does seem to be slowly poisoning the game. Players think they are exempt, and their general behaviour on and off the pitch is shameful.

    And the governing bodies themselves could be guilty of similar crimes, as they are usually far too spineless when it comes to dealing with their 'prize assets'.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 56: quite agree. There seems to be a converse argument that time will be wasted and games could end up without the minimum required number of players on the pitch, but how long will players and clubs keep on behaving badly, especially if they gain no points from abandoned matches. I also belive that a harsh crackdown would achieve far better standards of behaviour. But then there's always complaints from the "it's a physical, contact sport" brigade who love nothing better than a punch-up on the field to make their weekend worthwhile :o(
    @ 61: I disagree with you on the technology issue. I hope I'm not being presumptious here, but I feel that most people crave in life is FAIRNESS. We don't mind losing so much if it was fair. And the main purpose of introducing technology is imho to show to all and sundry exactly what happened and that the decision was the correct one. I know that there are people who will still manage to see a different reality, but I think it would be a huge improvement for the vast majority.
    @ 65: thanks for the information. And I can assure you I was not applauding the fact. It will probably lead me to cancel my subscription. BBC services may be free, but SKY is damned expensive and increasingly unsatisfactory. I won't say any more on this issue, as I don't want to be moderated for dragging commercial issues into this blog, but there's a lot more I could say on the matter, believe me!
    My point was really in support of the observation by 36 that the BBC gives very little attention to Latin America (not just the football), when compared to the that given to Africa and Asia, despite the very high reputation the service has in this part of the world.
    @ 67: I agree that the introduction of the "sin bin" concept for lesser infringements would help to clean up all these relatively 'minor' irritations that are spoiling the game.
    @ 69: you have broached a topic that has been bugging me for quite a while now: the fact that, in most cases, a free kick does not offer adequate compensation for the tactical advantage that was lost, especially when so many refs prevent the injured party from taking a rapid kick before the culprits can bring their entire team back behind the ball and set up a wall that is rarely the prescribed distance from the ball. That is why it is so advantageous for a team to commit what are inappropriately termed 'professional fouls'. With taller players in the game today, perhaps the wall should be moved back to 10yds, with the possibility of (as in rugby) moving the wall back a futher 10yds if the defending team don't get into position immediately, and/or refs can allow the victims to take the kick whenever they want, to preserve as much as possible of the advantage they had. And I'd love to hear other suggestions for addressing this issue.
    @ 73: I'd introduce another idea from basketball; after a certain number of collective fouls (per game and/or per half), the opposing team automatically gets awarded a penalty for every foul thereon. And a modified idea: after an individual accumulates a certain number of fouls they automatically get sin-binned for 5 minutes or more.
    @ 74: great response! We shouldn't have to condone wrongdoing simply because we have to "ride with the times". Humans are 'supposed' to be evolving! Female emancipation and the recognition that discrimination is wrong are just two post-Victorian developments. Surely football can be improved too!?
    @ 77: although FIFA condemns any action taken outside its own closed-shop tribunals and goes so far as to threaten punishment for any player, club or association that does so.
    @ 80: I think you are being unfair to linesmen who, for the most part do a remarkably good job under impossible conditions (given that they are at pitch level and their line of sight is frequently impeded by what is going on). The offside rule is clearly one for technology to handle, since it is physically impossible to watch the ball (to see when it was kicked) and the back line (to see where attackers are standing) at the same time. Allowing goodwill and honesty on the part of the officials, errors only occur because of time taken to adjust one's view from the former to the latter, during which time the situation may have significantly changed.
    Since modern technology can show us quite clearly, in a matter of seconds, whether a player was offside or a ball went over the goal-line or out of play, I cannot understand what your objections are.

  • Comment number 87.

    #67 I agree with the idea, but Ive watched a lot of Spanish football and I would say that Real (Mourinho's Team) suffer most in Spanish League from play acting. When Pepe tried it against Barca he was embarrassingly rubbish at it (it was obviously not practiced), not nearly such a convincing actor as most others in La Liga, Busquets he is the master. As for Messi Ive seen some bad hand injuries but it has never caused anyone to roll over and over on the ground.

  • Comment number 88.

    @86 - BLRBrazil

    The offside rule at the moment may be one for technology to handle but the offside rule of old was quite simple, either you were offside or not, none of this interfering with play/gaining an advantage problem. I may have been unfair to linesmen but my point still stands that technology is not a good solution. You could put more officials on the pitch and/or change the offside rule back to the older, simpler approach amongst other things. The game has gone on quite well without technology until now, mistakes or not, why do we need technology now? To add more complications to the game? When should you be allowed to 'challenge' a decision? How many 'challenges' should you have? Should this be limited to disputes over the ball passing the line or offsides, what about fouls? Cards? Technology is simply not needed in football, if linesmen get things 90% right, lets say, why introduce technology for an extra 10%? I find it funny how FIFA, specifically Blatter, said that football did not need technology until England lost to Germany in the World Cup, then they did an about face. Why? To please the FA? The very FA that has been hounding them lately. If that Lampard shot, I believe it was his shot that was incorrectly not ruled as a goal but I am not too sure, was in a game like Ghana vs. Uruguay, FIFA would not have changed their mind.

  • Comment number 89.


    A major problem, when people refer to other sports and suggest football follows suit, they assume other sports have got it right and they also presume that it works without flaws. In tennis, the three appeals ruling at this years Australian Open, is clearly flawed, hawkeye may be working as normal but how the actual process is handled is flawed and it is facing criticism from many.

    On the subject of tennis [at first glance a very simple game] we are seeing the injury ruling abused more and more and it can change an individual game and the result. In other words the rules and technology may be good but the human element means some will always seek a way to manipulate the rules and situations to suit.

    Maybe we should be looking at ways to increase the effectiveness of refs and assistants first before adding anything else to the game. Refs are required to know the laws of the game and are subject to physical fitness assessment. But i never hear of refs looking at ways to improve their abilities, in other words their ability to assess situations and making instant judgements.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Tim.nice blog as always.Can you tell me something about how Lucas Piazon is faring in brazil?what are his progress?he was said to be new "kaka".chelsea signed him from Sao paulo last winter and if i m not mistaken he was supposed to move to chelsea this winter.U also wrote a blog to inform about him a year ago.But i have not even heard his name this winter.Is this due to his lack of progress or due to other reasons?

  • Comment number 91.

    Just an excuse to throw pot shots at Mourinho. Are you seriously suggesting Besquets and Dani Alves's play acting antics are due to being coached by Pep?

  • Comment number 92.

    This article is interesting, because I believe that a lot of the play which spoils football is encouraged/condoned by Managers for example all the so called "professional fouls" as well as some of the more violent offences. The player receives yellow or red cards, fines and bans and the manager no penalty at all.

    I would make two changes. One the Manager should be heavily fined for the offences his players commit and their briefing of players would change rather quickly. Secondly I would do what Hockey did successfully many years ago, which is end off side. What you say! Yes end it and let the Referee's Asssitants concentrate on assisting the Referee to ensure that the other rules of the game, which are designed to make the game flow in a fair way are enforced, which they would be able to do if they did not have to focus on Off Side all the time.

    The Manager would then be fully accountable for the performance of the team, not just to their Bosses and fans, but to the rules of the game. I thnk the improvement in standards this would engender would bring more people to play and watch the game, which then might be beautiful more often.

  • Comment number 93.

    Coaches have a responsibility to win football matches and thats all. If they or their players overstep the mark there are rules in place to deal with that. I hate this idea that sportsmen have some obligation to set moral standards. When I was a lad that was down to the priesthood,school teachers and parents. By all means clobber people if they break the rules but footballers and coaches are just that,professionals trying to win within the rules and there are worse lessons to be learned than that for kids everywhere.

  • Comment number 94.

    #87 - Only in the UK could someone be criticised for showing discomfort after getting their hand stamped on! If you watch a lot of Spanish football as you say, you would surely know that Barca and Madrid are pretty much as bad as each other. I would say that Di Maria is just as bad as Busquets for example. The only difference is that Madrid provides Barca with more opportunity to make the most of fouls, simply because they foul them more. Often sneakily off the ball.

    #58 - This sounds like an almost sensual act you describe, this gentle pushing on the neck. Messi must be a very lucky man to get all of this attention on the pitch! Yes lets criticise him, not the misunderstood Contrao. As for chasing the referee, I do not see Messi doing much of that. I occasionally see him appealing to referees, like every other big player on the planet. Far less than you might expect given the treatment he receives though. You wouldn't see the likes of Rooney or Ronaldo doing that, would you?

  • Comment number 95.

    Re: timewasting - have a 60:00 clock and the ball must be in play for 60 minutes out of 90 minutes and if after 90 minutes the ball isn't in play for a total of 60 then award zero points to both teams for the match. Sorted.

  • Comment number 96.

    95: So if you're getting thrashed by a near rival after ten minutes with little hope of getting back into the game just waste time?

    The only people that managers need to worry about is the fans and their chairman/board/owners. If they are happy to support the team with no grumbles then they're doing their job.

  • Comment number 97.

    Surely if tecnology was introduced you have to limit it to just goal line & possible penalty spot? If it was used all over the pitch it would then be abused.
    My suggestion is to use it on the goal line and in the penalty spot with the captains the only one's allowed to challange the call and limit to 2 challanges per half and if it is wrong restart with a bounce ball where the team that did not appeal kicking the ball to the other team. I would also add an extra challange if it is a cup game.

    It has proved it works in other sports like Tennis, Rugby & Cricket to name a few.

    What are your opinions on my sugesstion?

  • Comment number 98.

    I don't believe challenges controlled by teams should be allowed. Goal line technology is the only advantage I see in technology on the pitch.

    That being said, after the Spurs game against the Russian team in the Europe League- the extra assistant behind the goal made a SUPERB decision is disallowing Defoe's goal.

    If he was present at the WC 2010 Lampard's goal would clearly have counted.

  • Comment number 99.

    Wow, lots to talk about!
    Injuries - use Rugby League as an example and allow the physioo n without permission when someone goes down. If it's not serious then the player will get up sharpish. If it is then he's getting attention and a sub can be made.
    Subs - the 4th official can do it. That way a player can take as long as he wants to walk off. If the game's continuing then he'll be hurting his own team.
    Technology - goal line technology will be in soon. Replays for the ref, hmmmm, tricky. I'd say leave it and accept there will be human error. However, there should be retrospective punishment for player's caught cheating. The punishment should be harsh too, 5 game ban for winning a penalty by diving etc. Stamp it out.
    WC'94 - best WC ever!! It had everything, Diana Ross missing the goals that were being pulled apart, Letchkov's bald head beating the German's, Maradona's return and then disgrace, the Flying Eagles with Amokachi and Yekini, Sweden's run, Eastern European genius from Hagi and Stoichkov, Roberto Baggio dragging Italy to the final, Houghton stuffing it to the Italians, Salenko scoring five in a game, Milla scoring at 42, Aldridge having a monumental paddy with the linesman and the great Franco Baresi skying a penalty in the final shoot out.

    But - my favourite memory of all (anyone else remember?) was in the final when a reasonably tame shot from the Brazilians slipped through the hands of Pagliuca only to bounce off the post and straight back into his arms. It might have saved the first goalless final and penalties but the look on his face was terrific.

  • Comment number 100.

    I understand what you're saying about challenging referee decisions, could possibly be misused by managers to slow down a game, but surely atleast allowing a referee to request a replay to help him make his decision, like in cricket? There are far too many bad decisions, which unfortunately referees right now have to take the blame for, but allowing them to watch a replay will help them decide difficult decisions like penalties, red cards and offsides. We as English supporters have been hard done by referees in the Champions League and international tournaments, in recent years more than ever and something MUST be done.


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