The debate on free–will is going to keep philosophers busy for ages, but when it comes to which football team you support free-will usually does not apply. The real supporter inherits the team from family. In my case from my father and grandfather. I don’t know why my grandfather went to Old Trafford rather than Maine Road, but he did.
Last Saturday at Wembley even the most diehard United supporter had to bow to the genius of Barcelona. Their football was mesmerising. Much has been said about their creativity, but they are given insufficient credit for other aspects of the game. There is Premiership steel in the way they chase back if they have lost possession.
This is the beautiful game, total football, as envisioned by Johann Cruyff and now given expression by the best club side in the world.
The DVD of the game should be studied by every football manager in the Premiership over the summer. This is what the fans want to see.
And that is a crucial sentence that the bigwigs in FIFA seem unable to understand. Half a round of muted applause for ending the executive committee stitch up on which country hosts the World Cup. But this really doesn’t address the issues that should be front of mind for the governing bodies. Change is essential.
It is time for new leadership and the boldness to try radical change for the good of the game.
The owner subsidies to some of the big clubs in the Premiership need to be examined. Maybe the Platini restrictions affecting eligibility for the Champions League will lead to a more level playing field in the domestic game. Will these changes go far enough? Discuss.
While I certainly wouldn’t look to the English Rugby Football Union for any lessons on good management, we could also look at how the professional game is managed on the pitch.
Goal line video technology is so obvious it should not be worth debating. Platini says that it only comes into use once in a blue moon. So what? The technology is not that expensive and why shouldn’t refs get help?
How about something radical? Only the captain gets to talk to the ref? Why are we giving young players the most awful example of how not to behave?
Shouldn’t a yellow card mean something in a game? Why not have a 10-minute sin bin option? You could still keep the points accumulator to punish the recidivists.
We have all seen incidents that the ref misses. Why not have the same citing rules that rugby uses to help keep the game honest?
Is it time to make the goals bigger? They have stood still while average height has increased by leaps and bounds.
Let’s stop this rubbish about extra time. The ref should be able to stop the clock when the latest multi-millionaire rolls on the ground performing an Oscar winning death scene. As the clock ticks down, as in rugby, he could call a halt when the ball goes out of play after time is up. He could still add on a bit extra for last minute time wasting.
If the match has video technology why shouldn’t the officials be able to take advantage of it when they wish? It doesn’t matter that the technology isn’t available at all our football grounds, they don’t all have it in rugby either.
I am sure that there are plenty of other lessons from other sports. Should we look at the National Football League and baseball in the US to see how they run successful franchises with quite significant control over which players go to which clubs?
Of course, none of this is a panacea and there will be dozens of objections to each suggestion. But let’s have the debate and the courage to try new things. Let’s hear about other ideas to modernise the game and keep it fresh and vital.
This is what the fans want to see. And if Sepp Blatter won’t give a lead, it’s time for others in the game to get up there.