Despite having influenced Roy Keane and his selection process with my article last week (although the players named weren’t the exact ones, he was clearly influenced by move claims that 4-3-3, or was it 4-3-2-1, would suit our squad better and if we played that way then the goals would flow – which they did) I’ve decided to move onto a few general footballing issues this week. For one I would imagine that Keane is paid more than enough for doing his job so unless he offers me a job as his tactical mastermind then I’m not offering him free advice on formations and team selections.
It’s been another interesting week on the Champions League front with the news that Chelsea, Liverpool, PSV, Valencia, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Lyon, Real Madrid with Arsenal and Porto simply need to play out a draw between them to guarantee qualification also so that renders most of the final group games pointless really although we are left with the possibility of both Man Utd and the holders Barcelona being knocked out by Benfica and Werder Bremen. Two of those 4 sides will also progress though which means that in the last 16 there will be at least 11 sides that were in the last 16 of the tournament last season. Yes, UEFA have certainly succeeded in providing us with a great footballing competition that throws up thrills and spills and shocks to keep us all on the edge of our seats. Indeed.
As most honest football supporters are probably aware, the point of the “Champions League” is to find out which of the “champions” from throughout Europe are the best. As most honest football supporters are also probably aware though the competition no longer features just champions as the rules were conveniently amended every now and again until a stage was reached whereby the G14 clubs (which is now actually 18 clubs) were accommodated in an attempt to keep them involved every year. What’s actually quite amusing though is the fact that when you look at the 11 sides that will be reaching the knockout phase for the second successive season there are some glaring omissions from the original G14. Yes the competition will be reeling from the miss of Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Marseilles and Paris St. Germain.
What has to make you laugh though is that these G14 clubs are seemingly so influential on UEFA but then you consider how the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Marseilles and PSG have found themselves in various difficulties in recent years from severe financial troubles to match rigging scandals yet these are the very people that have forced changes upon the game to suit them. Juventus are now trying to escape from Serie B, PSG are struggling the bottom half of Le Championnat as well as being bottom of their UEFA Cup group, Marseilles failed to even qualify for the group stage being dumped out by a previously unheard of side from the Czech Republic and Borussia Dortmund have became a cash strapped club that cannot qualify for the UEFA Cup in recent seasons
Yes, UEFA really are concerned with making decisions that are right for football and its grass roots.
Unfortunately it seems only a matter of time before UEFA cave in to the calls from the big clubs for technology to be brought into the game. UEFA of course are supposed to be concerned with the good of the game, yet most arguments for the use of TV replays etc make reference to the fact that there is too much money in the game now to allow mistakes to be made by referees. What has money got to do with the good of the game? Is money not actually now the evil in our game?
Despite all of this though, let’s hope that our “financially” re-arranged game goes our way tonight and that we climb further towards the play off zone… because we cannot afford to be out of the Premiership for too long.
Pre Match tip – Ross Wallace looks outstanding value at 20/1 (Blue Square) for first or last goal tonight).