After the ringing of my alarm in the morning, the first thing I hear, like many others, is the sound of talkSPORT. The station is simply first-class in its football coverage. However, last week the main talking points have been based around the more unsavoury aspects of the game.
Spitting and FA charges have been the hot topics of discussion. Whether it be talkSPORT, Sky Sports News or the national press, these stories have dominated the headlines. Yet when I hear or see the next in line on the ex-player conveyor belt put his two bob in about how disgusting spitting is, am I the only one who thinks it’s getting tedious now?
Yes spitting is completely wrong and it has no place in football, or wider society for that matter, but can we just let Pappiss Cisse and Jonny Evans take their punishments and get on with it? Cisse apologised, he’s accepted his charge, let’s just move on.
Stories such as these that dominate headlines are becoming increasingly common in the modern game, and it’s really starting to wind me up. The media certainly doesn’t help matters. They love incidents types of incidents because it sparks debate. But to me, this is not what I want to be listening to, watching or reading about as a football fan.
There has also been a noticeable rise in the number of refereeing decisions that have been scrutinised in the media recently. With players much more fitter and athletic now compared to when the Premier League first formed in 1992, adding to the fact that the game is essentially a non-contact sport now, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for officials to correctly get the big decisions right.
This season specifically, it seems the main talking points that Gary Lineker et al discuss on Match of the Day is what the referee got right and/or wrong, rather than the quality of the game itself.
It’s so blatantly obvious that referees need help. Goal-line technology has been a great addition to the game, arguably it came later that it should have, but refs are crying out for some sort of referral system to aid them. You can almost see the fear in their eyes after every decision they make. Referees are scared they might be next to have their performance scrutinised after 6 different TV angles show the striker received a flick of his hair which caused him to go down.
Another story has been running regarding West Ham striker Carlton Cole. On Friday he received a £20,000 FA charge for comments he made on Twitter. Incredibly, The FA has collected over £350,000 for Twitter offences since 2011. But this begs the question, what has that money been used for?
Like many people, I feel that the FA is so out of touch with the game now. Fining people for tweeting is not going to help the game in any way, shape or form. It is not going to solve the underlying defects in the game at grass-roots level. It is not going to be put towards plans to allow referees access to a referral system.
These are just two of the many issues that are wrong with the game in this country, yet The FA are more than happy to just sit back and fine people for making comments on social media. The governing body has to be doing more in my opinion.
In recent years there’s been a huge increase in the number of fans who have turned their backs on the Premier League to go and watch non-league football. The average Joe is becoming more and more disillusioned with football at the top level.
Football and the Premier League is now a multi-billion pound industry; £5.136 billion has been paid for Premier League TV rights for three seasons, meaning even more money will come into the game at the top level. Will this see ticket prices fall? Early indications suggest not, which quite frankly is disgraceful.
When you start losing the fans, something’s wrong. But this doesn’t seem to bother the Premier League or The FA. Going to the football was once a hobby, now it’s a financial burden for the masses. Attendances for England international games have fallen dramatically in the last few years. Who in their right mind would pay £65 to watch us thump San Marino at Wembley?
Quite simply, both the FA and the Premier League need to step up. So many issues need to be addressed, and with more money coming into the game than ever before, there really are no excuses. As the late, great Bill Shankly once said “Football is a simple game”…
£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur
It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.
With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.
A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.
On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.
Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.
Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.
The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.
The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.
It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.
Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.
Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.
Ronald Koeman admits he wanted Memphis Depay at Everton
But would Everton have benefited from his arrival?
Ronald Koeman is about to kickstart his managerial career with the Dutch national team. It is his first role since getting sacked by Everton and his first foray into international management. Speaking about his new role he discussed the former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay.
Speaking to the press, as reported by Football Oranje, Koeman revealed that he had tried to convince Depay to join Everton whilst he was manager at Goodison Park:
“I invited him to my home last year, when I wanted to get him to Everton. That did not work, he went to Lyon.”
Depay was with Manchester United at the time, where he had struggled to live up to his potential. Instead of joining Everton he headed to Lyon in France in a deal reported by the Telegraph to be worth £16 million.
So have Everton missed out?
Depay’s struggles to settle in English football are well known. Since his move to France things have certainly improved. Depay has scored 18 goals since his move to France. However, considering he scored 28 goals in his final season at PSV prior to his United switch it is still not a massive amount.
In the time he has been in France those 18 goals have come from 61 games. His form has been good at Lyon but certainly not to the standard many expected of him when he made the move to Manchester United.
That said, £16 million today in today’s market is not a lot of money. Looking at Everton’s team, having Depay playing from the left side would have been a massive bonus for Koeman, and now for Sam Allardyce.
Depay still has plenty to improve upon and hopefully Koeman can get the best out of him during his time as the Netherlands boss.
As for Everton, they did not get their man and paid a lot more for the man he would be battling for first-team football Yannick Bolasie – who has not yet been a hit at Goodison Park.
So, all things considered, Everton probably should wish Koeman had managed to convince Depay into a Merseyside switch last January.
Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour
The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.
Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.
Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.
He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.
Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.
Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.
The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.
Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.
That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.
The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.
The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.
Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.
Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:
“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”
Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.
Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.
There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.
There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.
However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.
He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.
He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.
There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.
His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.
There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.
There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.
Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.
Fernandez could have the ability to take his.
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