2010/11 Season Review

First season back into Premier League (where we belong, I must add) and obviously at the start of the season we were very much tipped to go straight back down. We did not really make many signings or at least proven in the Premiership players. We brought in James Perch who became quite the scapegoat amongst the fans. Dan Gosling on a free transfer, but would be out until at least Christmas due to injury. Sol Campbell who was already clearly past his best, and would just cost us money. But then an exciting new player would be signed on loan (but then permanent in January) Hatem Ben Arfa who looked fantastic but suffered a horrible injury when he had his leg broken after a Nigel de Jong tackle. So those being the new players brought in not really much was placed on them. We had to rely on the team who done so well making the Championship look easy the year before. Not forgetting of course our signing and possibly player of the season Cheik Tiote.

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Newcastle 3-3 West Brom

Last game of the season fell at St James Park, seeing West Brom being the visiting team. Already safe for the premier league next season. The game started as everyone would expect it, not really much happening and that last game of the season feel to it. Nothing to play for . . . well I think we should have played to get the highest league finish possible and bragging rights over our close rivals. At half time that looked very good, finishing in top half looked very much on being 2 up thanks to the third goal in three games from Steven Taylor and a Peter Lovenkrands goal from Scott Carson’s error.

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Referee first to get abuse!

After going to watch the under 12 boys team I have been coaching play on Wednesday night, it got me thinking how bad the referee being shouted at is. But it gets worse than that, the guy who was shouting was supposed to be in charge of the team. Yet every single little thing that happened on the pitch he was blaming the ref, and not quiet about it at all.

Why can’t people accept that players will commit fouls and give away free kicks? It’s just part of the game, a slightly mis-timed tackle will happen every now and then. The other team will get a free kick so get on with it right? Well that’s what players should be taught to do.

As the game progressed this guy seemed to get worse but not only towards the referee but to the players as well. Screaming at the goalkeeper to come out for the ball (that has to be the goalkeepers decision, someone shouting at the keeper is not going to help at all). He was always shouting at them for missing a tackle, with a massive basis towards his own son. In all honesty I was shocked at the behaviour.

Everything was starting to get more edgy as well, the boys were then starting to get wound up by the shouting from the sideline. This guy even blamed the ref for the players getting more on edge, don’t think so at all it was his shouting from the line which started to get them fired up and not in a good way.

If you take away all of that shouting mainly directed at the referee it had the potential to be a very good game. I am sure this is not the only grassroots boys game that has been spoilt by people shouting from the sidelines and it most definitely won’t be the last which is such a shame spoiling the game for the players (and the other parents who just want to watch their child play football).

I think The FA need to push the respect campaign even further and really have a bigger attempt at getting this side of the game sorted out. Having someone shouting at the ref from the sidelines is not creating a very good environment for the players to thrive from a footballing sense.

This then links me to attending premier league matches and hearing the majority of the crowd constantly shouting abuse at the ref. I guess this is the environment a lot of the people who stand on the lines at grassroots football are used to and take that same shouting to the games. I don’t understand the blaming of officials at the top-level either, yes they will make a few mistakes but why go and watch your team if you are just going to come out at the end blaming the ref for something no matter what the result?

Another thing about the grassroots game has to be when the offside rule is brought in, obviously the ref is going to miss some offsides. They do not have linesmen or that should be assistant referee’s to be helping them out with those. So just remember if they miss some for your team they will miss some for the other team as well. The play will move faster than the ref can at times, so they will not always end up in the best position (not due to fitness, just the speed the ball can be moved).

It all makes no sense why can’t people concentrate on the game and just let the ref control the games and get on with it. This does seem to be something more related to the men and boys game than it does for the women and girls side of football.

So as coaches we must coach the players to concentrate on playing the game. The ref will not see everything but we must focus on playing our game!

Sexism in Football

Massive headlines have been made since the weekend, when Andy Gray and Richard Keys were caught off air, yet their microphones still on and had been recorded talking about Sian Massey a female who has reached the top in officiating in the game of football. Before she took to the field as a referee’s assistant in the Wolves v Liverpool game, Gray and Keys were caught mocking the female referee and that someone should go and explain the offside rule. Ironically, Massey got a massive decision correct which left everyone else needing the TV replay’s in order to see it! This was the second premier league game in which Massey has ran the line. A fantastic achievement at the age 25, and such a role model to women in the game. It can be done and you can reach the top!

But what also comes with being a woman in football is the sexism from men who think the game is theres. That they know the game much better than any woman, which is so far from the truth now. Women exist in football in all types of roles. From players to coaches, officials to being on the board in clubs. This leads onto the other woman insulted by Gray and Keys, Karren Brady. Who has been a major force in football for many years now starting out as the managing director at Birmingham City FC and more recently moving to West Ham and becoming vice-chairman. Showing that women can be influential in top football clubs in England.

Andy Gray was sacked from Sky Sports yesterday after another video appeared. Richard Keys appears to be hanging onto his job at the moment, although another video featuring him appeared last night. Whilst I think they should have been judged on the comments aimed at Massey and Brady the other day, bringing up older videos/comments is turning it into a bit of a witch hunt. Someone really is screwing them well and truly over.

In some ways this might really help women in football due to highlighting the fact that sexism is still rife within the game. I took the comments personally, maybe too personally but I have had to deal with sexist comments throughout my entire life, just because I have always played and loved football. It was something you just had to learn to live with, but still hurt at times. Obviously everyone knows it is still a very male dominated environment you just have to go on a coaching course to see that, especially when you get further up the ladder. On my level 3/UEFA B course only one other female coach was on it with myself. You feel as though you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself, as some men are still not convinced that women know the game as well as they do.

Are some men threatened by the presence of women in the game? Especially when they can do the job just as well as men. That is a massive possibility! But another massive plus has been the amount of men in the game who have backed women playing a role in it all over the past few days.

Now lets hope this saga runs its course and women can just get on with being in the game!

Why Sunderland beating Chelsea is great for football!

Sunderland went to Stamford Bridge yesterday with everything against them, no team had even scored at there this season, the last two games they played seen them conceded 13 goals, no one gave them a chance. Even die-hard Sunderland fans would have just hoped for a draw and taken it before the game kicked off. But as soon as the game kicked off it was all Sunderland, yes that’s right they really did take it to Chelsea and continued to do so throughout the game. I even have to give credit to Steve Bruce for actually having a positive approach to a game for a change, he’s usually so negative its unreal! But fair play to the team he set out yesterday, it worked very well for them.

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Ben Arfa scores on full debut

Ben Arfa scored on his full debut yesterday against Everton and we won the game 1-0. We deserved the 3 points after putting in a solid team performance over the 90 minutes. Ben Arfa walked away with all the plaudits after his fantastic strike just before half time. This player really is top class, and has to be the best player we have had the club! Sign him up properly asap for me! The new Laurent Robert in my eyes – yes I was a massive Robert fan! And to be totally shallow he is gorgeous as well . . . yes I shall now go back under a rock haha.

We are Premier League!!!

Monday night saw Sheffield United come to St James Park for a 7:45pm kick off on Easter Monday . . . but promotion was already clinched at about 7pm thanks to a boring goal less draw between Forest and Cardiff. Which I watched with many other Toon fans in Shearer’s Bar. When the final whistle went everyone cheered and chants of “we are premier league” started as everyone began to pile out into the street. The promotion party had well and truly started before we even kicked a ball.

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