Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: manchester city

Eight things I might have learned from watching Manchester City versus Liverpool

One. Manchester City probably are that good. It is hardly a mind-blowing, groundbreaking assessment to suggest the Premier League is probably between Manchester City and Chelsea, but I think City really have the edge. Chelsea can, and will, grind out results and will probably set off a few fireworks along the way. But Manchester City look capable of pulling apart each and every team in the league. There have strength and pace in equal measure, genuine squad depth, and a confidence that could soon lead to the sort of aura their near-neighbours United had for years.  Read the rest of this entry »

Liverpool’s season: A post-mortem

Premier League trophyI was just listening to some of tonight’s Manchester City/Tottenham Hotspur game, where both sides are fighting for the fourth spot in the Premier League and the place in next season’s Champions League that comes with it. As a Liverpool supporter facing a Champions League-free 2010/11 season, I began to think that should be us.

Then I realised that no, it really shouldn’t be us. Read the rest of this entry »

Gary Neville is a boot-licking moron

…or so says his old team-mate Carlos Tevez, who made quite the attack on him via a radio interview for ESPN Argentina. Gary Neville had stated that Tevez wasn’t worth the money, following his move from Manchester United to Manchester City.

In Tuesday night’s Carling Cup semi-final, first leg, Tevez gestured to Neville, after scoring his first goal. Neville wittily responded by raising his middle finger. In a radio interview Tevez explained:

“My celebration was directed at Gary Neville. He acted like a complete sock-sucker [boot-licker] when he said I wasn’t worth £25m, just to suck up to the manager. I don’t know what the hell that idiot is talking about me for. I never said anything about him.”

Well, I think Tevez will have won himself a fair few new fans for sticking it to Gary Neville, not one of the most popular players in the UK. He may well have some unexpected fans in the red half of Merseyside, who have been known to call Gary Neville far worse things than a ‘sock-sucker’.

While this is a case of ‘handbags at dawn’, it is good to see a little bit of proper antagonism between the two sides. It certainly sets things up for a lively return leg at Old Trafford next week.

In the meantime, let’s hope ‘sock sucker’ enters common use. It’s handy as it sounds like something else that is quite a bit ruder. Just like when they dubbed a TV version of Beverly Hills Cop, so that ‘motherf***er’ became ‘melon farmer’. Great stuff.

Carlos Tevez – Anatomy of a goal (Manchester City 2 Manchester United 1)

Generally football is a fluid game, continually in motion. It does not pause for any length of time. It is also a team activity. There are, of course, moments of individual skill, but rarely do we see a one against one situation, like we might see between a batsman and bowler in cricket.

But here is the waiting. That rare, dramatic waiting. Here is that one-on-one.

A penalty has been given. Manchester City can equalise. Carlos Tevez stands passively. And waits.

His former Manchester United team-mates argue with the referee, but as always with these matters, the decision stands. Tevez’s soon-to-be-opponent, Edwin van der Sar, slowly takes a drink and deliberately wipes his gloves, anything to stall proceedings. Anything to knock Tevez’s concentration, or nerve. The referee waves a yellow card in the goalkeeper’s direction.

The referee signals – let battle commence. City’s new hero against his old colleagues. The spurned sportsman with a chance to show United what they are missing. To bring one side of the city joy, the other agony.

Van der Sar stands tall. A lot less of the target is visible. He stretches his arms out, much more a crucifix pose than an open welcome to shoot.

Tevez stands passively. He then hears the referee’s whistle.

A hop, skip, shuffle to the side. Wayne Rooney, his old striking partner, speaks, another attempt at distraction. Tevez refuses to listen. He begins his run-up, an arch towards the ball. Not too fast, but steady, determined.

And then.


Straight down the middle. Straight past van der Sar. Never stood a chance. Never any doubt. Emphatic.

Tevez reels away. His clenched fists reveal only controlled emotion – not release, not relief. Not yet.

One apiece. Manchester City are back in the game.

Injury time – time for reform?

I don’t know why anyone was surprised when Manchester united scored a last-gasp winner, in last Sunday’s derby against Manchester City. Just as Alex Ferguson will look at his watch and complain about a lack of stoppage time when things aren’t going his way, time and again his side will score at the death, with the clock run out and the referee musing over when to blow his whistle.

Still, there continues to be something irksome about this.

Twohundredpercent does make a valid point about the semantics of stoppage time – four minutes means at least four minutes, not ‘no more than four minutes’. This is fair enough. The referee can add as much time as he sees fit.

But the Guardian’s analysis of Opta’s injury time stats puts events in a whole new light.

Over the past three years, referees have played more injury time when Manchester United have been behind than when they are leading. Here, finally, is the evidence of what many of us have suspected for many years.

Sure, Manchester United may be deadly in the last moment of a match. Maybe teams waste more time when they are beating Manchester United, to protect their slender lead, hence that added time. But these numbers do suggest more than this. Referees give them more time when they need it – fact. That crowd and that manager, pointing at his watch, are intimidating referees.

What is to be done? Referees need to be stronger. If that is too simple, all managers should be disciplined for making any gestures or comments about time-keeping. Really, any intimidation should be looked at very, very seriously.

If all of this doesn’t work, then have an external timekeeper, or a set formula for stoppage time.

While leaving the amount of stoppage time to the discretion of the referee is lovely in theory, in practice it leaves too much ambiguity. If players and managers knew there would be say, 30 seconds for each substitution, they could take that into account. If a player wastes time, book him, and add 30 seconds (or however long is necessary) to the clock, or at least inform the captains. Then there can be no dark conspiracy theories or nasty surprises.

If referees are more open to explaining their processes, and less susceptible to influence, perhaps we can cut down the ugly scenes of Sunday. And maybe the game will be just a little bit fairer for all.