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Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom
Senior news reporter at the Grimsby Telegraph, UEA History graduate, former BBC Kick Off sports reporter & Lincoln City fan.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Stoke City myth

Are Stoke City really defying the odds by just avoiding relegation season after season?

By Matt Scrafton.

We're often told Tony Pulis is doing a wonderful job at Stoke City and the fact he's managed to keep them in the Premier League for so many years should be admired.

Such lectures can usually be found at Match of the Day HQ - you know, the usual suspects. But just how true is this overused, tired cliché?

Well, you might be surprised to hear this, but since 2003, the Potters have the third biggest net spend of all current Premier League clubs, with only the oil-rich Manchester City and Chelsea above them.

Stoke have spent a whopping £83.825m in the past nine years, with just £8.65m going out the other way. What does all this mean? Well, the Britannia Stadium outfit spend on average £15.035m-a-season. And what do they have to show for it?

Not once have they finished above 11th place - and most recently they ended up in 14th. Sure, they reached the Europa League in 2011 courtesy of a 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Champions League bound Man City (a competition they subsequently failed to take seriously, I may add). But why should we shower them with praise, when all they've managed to deliver is four seasons of mid-table mediocrity for a loss of £75.175m?

All this while playing the most archaic and ugly brand of football ever witnessed in the top flight. Okay that might be a bit over-the-top, but you're all more than familiar with their cynical, dirty style of anti-football.

Such physical, direct 'playing-the-percentages' football offers no real promise or potential for the club - they've reached their glass ceiling. No longer can sides play this traditional British approach and genuinely succeed at the top level. Attributes such as grit, effort and determination are all well and good, but they'll only get you so far in this highly competitive league.

Below is a general outline of what the club have spent and sold since their arrival in the Premier League as well as their finishing positions:

Spent £16.2m
Sold £50,000
League position: 12th

Spent: £21.5m
Sold: £4.5m
League position: 11th

Spent: £12.575m
Sold: £1.5m
League position: 13th

Spent: £18m
Sold: £2.1m
League position: 14th

There's been some high profile signings within that time frame too. Peter Crouch came in for £10m; £8m was spent on Wilson Palacios, £5.5m on Dave Kitson, £5m-a-piece for Tuncay and Robert Hurth and so on...

So why should the Potters be afforded so much praise for achieving the bare minimum: Premier League survival? Given the heaps of cash that has been spent and afforded to Pulis by owner Peter Coates, you'd expect a lot more from the Staffordshire side.

And when compared to Newcastle, who have a net spend of -£36.3m since 2003, or Everton with -£15.315m, -£1.8m at Swansea, just £2.62m at Fulham etc., then it really begins to hit home just how average Stoke have performed.

Sources: BBC Sport, transferleaguetable.co.uk, wikipedia.org

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Robin van Persie sale isn't 'good business', it's madness

Arsenal fans happy with van Persie 'deal' should pack up and go home, money shouldn't have been the driving factor behind the Dutchman's departure

By Matt Scrafton.

van Persie scored 37 goals last season, 96 times in 149 games in total for the Gunners. Arsenal say they want to challenge for the title, yet they sell their talismanic striker just days before the start of the season.

Perhaps it's all not as clear cut as that, but whichever way you look at it, it makes little sense.

van Persie isn't just another 'talent' that got away, he's not just another piece of the jigsaw that got lost under the sofa, and he certainly shouldn't have been treated like their most saleable asset to increase their profit margins.

Sure, Arsenal's 'business model' is entirely sensible. But there has to be a time when the finance helps ensure the on-field success, not hinder it, like it has been and continues to do so.

van Persie was Arsenal's ONLY chance of keeping up with the two Manchester clubs. Wenger should have fought day and night to keep the Dutchman at the club, whatever it took. Imagine if the roles had been reversed and this was Sir Alex Ferguson who was in danger of losing his star man. Well, you know how the story goes, whatever Fergie wants, Fergie gets.

Gabriel Heinze wanted to move to Liverpool, Ferguson didn't. Who got his way? Rooney threatens to leave? Give him more money, shut him up, and sign him on a longer deal. Fergie wins again.

In fact, the scary thing is, it seems like Wenger actually wanted van Persie to leave. It all made good business sense, apparently. It seems like the former Feyenoord striker was actually impressed with some of the clubs signings and was prepared to remain in North London. But then Wenger took him to one side after their friendly in Cologne, and told him the club had accepted a bid and were, in essence, forcing him out of the club.

Funny turn of events, right?

Arsenal are a selling club, pure and simple. They should be worrying about just making fourth place this season, and shouldn't even be concerning themselves with City, United (and I'd add Chelsea, too). The Gunners may squeeze into a Champions League spot by the skin of their teeth, but sooner or later they'll drop out.

Of course, given their business model, it probably won't hurt them as much. But back in the title hunt? They can forget about that for the time-being.

People say this is a great deal, and on the face of it, they may be right. From a purely financial view, £24m (if reports are to be believed) for an injury prone 29-year-old with a year left on his contract is a good deal. But does that really give a true reflection of the whole story?

And since when were football clubs ran purely on 'financial grounds'. Are football clubs ran to win trophies and to be successful, or to turn a profit each year? Of course it would be nice it clubs did both, but that's a subject for another day.

For those that are relatively healthy and not forced to sell due to a lack of funds (think Portsmouth), aren't footballing concerns just as important, if not more so?

Others have claimed the money will help them rebuild, which again is true. But once again, this argument fails to address the whole picture. Remember when they sold Henry, and were forced to 'rebuild'? The same with Fabregas, Nasri and so on. There has to be a point in time where you put a team together to compete, not selling your best assets just to keep the cogs turning.

Coral poke fun at Arsenal with a clever PR stunt

The cries of  'one man team' directed at Arsenal last season seemed incredulous at the time, but on the face of it, they weren't far wrong.

Without van Persie, Arsenal wouldn't have made the top four. He scored 30 of Arsenal's 68 league goals. Take van Persie away, a massive hole is waiting to be filled.

Will Giroud and Podolski fill it? I can't see it myself. Giroud is a good striker, and I'm excited at the prospect of him playing in the Premier League. But his style is different to the Dutchman's, and there's very little chance of him scoring as many. As for Podolski, I'm sceptical about his signing.

So there we have it, Arsenal are back to square one and no progress is made. One step-forward and two-steps back, I think the saying goes. Not to worry, this is a great deal for the Gunners. The Directors will be over the moon. Several sections of the footballing world will carry on complimenting Arsenal on their great business, metaphorically high-fiving them for cashing in on their prized asset.

So who's next? Alex Song to Barcelona? New captain Thomas Vermaelen next season? Jack Wilshere when he returns to fitness?

Or Arsenal for more years without a trophy?

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

England fourth best side in the world? Sounds about right

Written by Matt Scrafton.

England moved up to fourth place in the updated FIFA rankings, rising above Netherlands and Brazil while remaining above the likes of France, Portugal, Italy and Argentina.

Their 'par-for-the-course' display at Euro 2012 saw them equal their best ever position, which had been achieved twice before back in 1997 and 2006.

As usual there's been a knee-jerk response to the news, mostly including howls of derision mocking Roy Hodgson's side for being so high up on the 'list' despite being outplayed by Italy during the Quarter-final game that the 'Three Lions' eventually lost on penalties.

A game, which should be noted, England actually drew after 120 minutes, meaning they were awarded the same amount of points as they would have gained from a regulation draw.

Such pillars of football like Gary Lineker have waded into the debate, declaring:

“New Fifa rankings have England 4th, ahead of Portugal, Holland, Argentina, Brazil, Italy etc. Just knew we were brilliant”

“What kind of ranking puts a country 4th when they have only contested 2 semi-finals in over 40 years? #priceless”

“It's down to Fifa opponent strength multiplier: eg if you play against a team ranked 8th..200-8 over 100 = 1.92 etc. #priceless"

“If you have a spare week, check out how Fifa world rankings work. It's hilarious! And it was apparently simplified in 2006”

Subtle mocking by Lineker there, but it's interesting to note he offers no alternative? I don't think anyone has ever declared the ranking system is faultless, but is that even possible to achieve?

For example, Brazil have slumped to 11th place - which can mostly be put down to not playing any competitive internationals due to hosting the upcoming World Cup in 2014. How could their drop be avoided?

And what does England's performances from 40 years ago have anything to do with it? By that logic, should Uruguay still be top of the rankings due to their World Cup wins in 1930 and 1950? In fact, they're currently third, and deservedly so too thanks to a mightily impressive past few years which saw them lift the Copa America in 2011, while finishing fourth at the last World Cup and on course to qualify for the next one.

The current BBC Match of the Day presenter isn't the only one to have concerns though. Judging by certain comments on Twitter, you'd think Sepp Blatter hand picked the rankings himself. Ugh, did I just defend SEPP BLATTER!?

BBC presenter Gary Lineker mocked England's position in the latest rankings on Twitter
But in all seriousness, why exactly are the rankings so [allegedly] incorrect? Agreeing with Lineker, most seem to think sides like Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil and Italy are superior and this deserves to be represented in the rankings.

For starters, that's a subjective opinion. I think Chelsea are a better side than Newcastle but they didn't finish above them last season, did they? But I'll play along for now and take a look at why those said nations are behind us.

Netherlands had a horrific tournament and deservedly fell in the rankings after being defeated in all three of their group games – at the hands of Portugal, Denmark and Germany. Nevertheless, they remain in the top 10 – eighth in fact, dropping only four places.

Portugal had a more impressive tournament that England, going one stage further and reaching the semi-finals before being knocked out by the eventual winners Spain. However, they struggled in the qualifiers, as they have tended to do a lot in recent history, going through in a play-off against Boznia & Herzegovina before suffering a friendly defeat to Turkey, after drawing to Poland and Macedonia.

England's friendly wins against Norway and Belgium certainly weren't spectacular, but they were wins all the same and brought in more points for Hodgson's side. Still, I fully expect Portugal to move ahead of England within the next year or so as Paulo Bento seems to have struck a chord within his youthful squad.

Then we have Argentina, the side that seemingly have all the attacking ability in the world yet still fails to produce top class defenders (Fabricio Coloccini aside, of course). They've been fairly underwhelming with their recent results, losing to Venezuela in a World Cup qualifying match, and are only third in the group at the moment behind Uruguay and Chile.

They were also well under-par during the 2011 Copa America, suffering disappointing draws with Bolivia and Colombia before succumbing to winners Uruguay in the quarter-finals. And who can forget the 4-0 demolition they suffered to Germany at the 2010 World Cup? They remain in seventh place, and they can have few complaints.

Their South-American counterparts, Brazil, move out of the top 10 to their lowest ever position of 11th. As alluded to, as the next hosts of the World Cup they've not had a great deal of football to play. In fact, since they were knocked out by Paraguay at the Copa America, they've played 13 friendlies. Despite winning nine of those, a win for an international friendly doesn't produce the same amount of points that you would gain for a competitive game, so they've had little chance to gain a substantial amount of points.

For those of you interested, there's a 1.5 difference in weighting between friendly matches and qualifiers, hence Brazil's recent slump. Added to that, there's a difference of 0.5 between qualifiers and continental cup games (Euro 2012, in this instance), which explains why a number of European sides remain ahead of them – even if some of them didn't perform that well.

As for Italy, the Euro 2012 finalists, they made a relatively meteoric rise up the rankings to where they now sit sixth, six places ahead of where they were placed before the tournament.

Prior to Euro 2012, the Italians were comfortable enough in escaping their qualifying group, but with Estonia, Serbia and Slovenia their closest rivals, they never faced much opposition. However, they struggled in the lead-up to the European Championships, suffering friendly defeats to Uruguay, United States and Russia.

Italy suffered a 4-0 defeat in the Euro 2012 final, but have risen up the rankings as a result
France, of course, have had a troublesome last few years. Raymond Domenech left Laurent Blanc a side riddled in controversy and bruised egos, having failed to escape the group stage at the 2010 World Cup, which saw Les Bleus tumble down the rankings to 27th. They qualified for Euro 2012 in an unspectacular fashion, edging out Bosnia by one point, before unconvincingly escaping the group at the tournament in Ukraine & Poland before being outplayed by Spain.

So now we can see why England are placed where they are. The manner of their performances at Euro 2012 are totally irrelevant, they secured two wins and technically drew twice. With Moldova, Ukraine, San Marino and Poland up next for the national side in the World Cup qualifiers, be prepared to see England remain in the top five too. Although they do face Italy in a friendly in August...

It's important I make it clear that I'm not hailing England as a great side that are far superior to several of the teams mentioned in this blog. But apart from a blip in the lead-up to Euro 2008, England nearly always qualify for major tournaments without much trouble, and consistently escape the group stages.

This isn't a comment on how England play their game, and certainly isn't a justification for our style of football and our lack of ability to keep the ball. There are changes that need to be made if England are to enjoy real success on the international stage. Heck, even to maintain their fourth place in the rankings they'll need to step it up.

But as usual, England's departure was scrutinised to the umpteenth degree, people analysing every single inch of our national game to explore the reasons for our apparent poor performance. Before we all become too self-involved, I think it's important to find some realism. We're not that bad, in fact in recent history we've consistently been a top side.

Just those damn penalties...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The art of the 'fans protest'

It might be counter-productive, but the protest is the only real medium for disillusioned fans to get their voices heard. We shan't 'sit down and shut up'. 

Written by Matt Scrafton
I don't know if you've noticed, but recently Blackburn Rovers have won a few more games than they were doing previously. What a master stroke from the Venky's, keeping Steve Kean in the hot seat, eh? And don't those Rovers fans who protested look silly now?

Don't worry, if you hadn't noticed that introduction was laced with irony. I still think Steve Kean is a limited manager who is completely out of his depth and that the Venky's made a horrific decision in replacing Sam Allardyce with the Glaswegian.

Saying that, Blackburn will probably stay up this season. But given that before the new owners had arrived 'Big Sam' had the Lancashire side sitting in 10th position during the 2009/10 campaign after reaching the semi-final of the League Cup, I can confidently say that "staying up" isn't good enough at all.

And even if they do end up avoiding relegation, let's be honest it's only due to the inadequacy of the teams below them - QPR and Wolves half self-destructed, and Wigan finally look destined for the drop (thank the lord!).

Yet large chunks of the media seem to think Rovers' likely survival vindicates their earlier criticisms of the fans protests. I don't doubt that the players confidence was shot and the protests did little to help that. Again, I don't doubt that there was a hostile atmosphere surrounding the club on match-days when those "Kean out" chants were commonplace at Ewood Park earlier on in the season.

But you have to see it from their point of view. Their club was dragged into a relegation scrap last season, and have been embroiled in one all this season too. This coming after sitting comfortably in mid-table under Allardyce, in fact they were 13th at the time of his sacking. And you have to consider who his replacement was, Steve Kean - an individual with no previous managerial experience whatsoever. I'm putting it out there, if I were a Blackburn fan I'd be pretty peeved too.

A selection of Newcastle United supporters show their displeasure at the ownership of Mike Ashley
However, we're still being told that fans protests do no good. Just yesterday the Lincoln City Board of Directors released an official statement slamming a minority of Imps 'supporters' "a disgrace" for planning to protest before Saturday's BSP fixture with Newport County.

This is a club who have fallen from the heady heights of the League Two play-offs to the cusp of the Conference North in just five years. And that's without going into administration. Sure, the financial mismanagement of the club has been an embarrassment, but it's been on-the-field where the problems have lied.

Here's a little history lesson for you all. Peter Jackon came in, was handed the biggest budget a Lincoln manager had ever been given, proceeded to talk a lot of nonsense, and then was sacked after leaving the Imps languishing at the wrong end of the table. Then there was good old Chris Sutton, y'know the boring one who couldn't score for toffee at Chelsea? No, not Fernando Torres. This was his first job in management, so his terrible reign can just about be forgiven. Once again, Lincoln were involved in the relegation battle,and once again another manager had been given his marching orders.

Then ex-Southend boss Steve Tilson came in, a guy who frankly couldn't care less about his job. As a result, for the first time since 1986, the Imps were back in non-league. He kept his job to begin with, but was sacked just months later after a torrid start to life in the Blue Square Premier. David Holdsworth is now in charge (I use that term loosely), but the Imps are still only heading one way.

Not once have Lincoln fans protested. Sure, there were rumblings, there were boos and there were chants. But for far too long now Lincoln fans have just been too nice. There has to be a time where they think, "y'know what? I'm not taking this crap anymore". I include myself in that, by the way.

That moment of awakening seems to have occurred this week. Lincoln fans aren't going to accept losing to Bath, Kettering, Alfreton and Carshalton Athletic in the same season, and they certainly won't accept plummeting down another division to the Conference North.

New boss David Holdsworth is on a run of just 1 victory in 14 games, which has seen his side drop to 20th in the table
For those of you ignorant of that level, a selection of teams include Solihull Moors, Corby, Hinckley United and Eastwood Town. I'm sorry to pick on you Solihull, but their average attendance for the 2009-10 season was 239. You get the picture.

So what, do the fans just sit patiently until the club finally starts winning some games? An adult ticket at Sincil Bank is still £18 on match-day, are fans still expected to pay that in full knowledge that their team is useless? I don't know how Bob Dorrian and his fellow colleagues in the Board of Directors have the cheek to question the mentality of the Lincoln supporters.

What else should they do? Refuse to go watch? That'll just worsen the problem as the club will be left with less capital than before. Remain positive? I'm not sure how that's possible in a week where Lincoln have lost consecutive games to Alfreton and Bath City. Conserve the boos until the end of the match? They've been doing that for months now, and still nothing has changed.

People need to realise what these fans have been through. This is a very self-indulgent post, but Lincoln and Blackburn are two cases that I know a lot of. This applies to fans of all clubs.

They've tried being patient, they've tried being positive, and they sure as hell have spent a great deal of cash on watching their beloved side play. Journalists only see the negative sides to a protest, they just think it's 'nasty', 'spiteful', and "does no good". That may be a bit of an unfair generalisation of football journalists there, but you get my drift.

I'm not exactly sure what the point in this blog was - I just wanted to defend the right of football fans to protest when they're not satisfied with what their club is serving up. Blackburn fans may have aimed most of their abuse at Steve Kean, but it could just have easily been the Venky's too. The same applies for Lincoln. Sometimes there doesn't need to be a target for their vitriol, they just want people to notice they're aggrieved, to stand up and be heard. They want that special word - change.

Friday, 3 February 2012


In an exclusive interview, I managed to catch up with ex-Imps forward Jamie Forrester. I spoke to him about a vast array of topics, ranging from his time at Sincil Bank, what forced him to leave the club, who his favourite strike partner was, and much more!

Written by Matt Scrafton.

Ask any lower league football supporter about Jamie Forrester and the vast majority of them will only have positive things to say. The much travelled striker was a household name in the English football league for almost two decades, taking in clubs such as Leeds United, Northampton Town, Grimsby Town, Hull City, Scunthorpe United, Bristol Rovers, Notts County and of course Lincoln City.

When asked about his time at the Imps, Jamie proclaimed he had “only fond memories of playing for Lincoln City. Although I was reaching the end of my career, I enjoyed every minute of playing for them”. His spell at the club lasted from 2006 to 2008, initially on loan from Bristol Rovers but eventually a move was made permanent after netting 5 times in 9 games. During this time Lincoln finished the 2006-07 season in 5th position, the fifth consecutive campaign that the Lincolnshire club had finished within the play-off spots. Jamie suggests that the pressures of the playoffs was perhaps taken for granted by the Lincoln support; “at that time many fans saw it as a given that we would always at least reach the playoffs. I think it was taken for granted slightly, but I’m sure the Lincoln fans look back at that era as the good days”.

With 148 goals to his name from 411 appearances during his distinguished career, Jamie is fittingly remembered as a reliable goalscorer in the lower leagues. And whilst this is true, it ignores the other side of his game that shouldn’t be overlooked, i.e. his link up play, spatial awareness and intelligent movement that meant he was always in the right place at the right time. Lincoln fans can certainly relate to this following the partnership and understanding that he built up with fellow frontman Mark Stallard under the management of John Schofield. Jamie spoke positively of that particular stage of his career, suggesting that it was great to be part of a free-scoring team and priceless for him at his age to see the athletic young midfielders doing all the leg work!

Mark Stallard & Jamie Forrester scored 33 league goals between them during the 2006-07 campaign

Although he featured for the Imps predominately under the stewardship of Schofield, Forrester was initially brought to the club by Lincoln legend Keith Alexander. When queried about the influence ‘Big Keef’ had upon him, Jamie stated that “I only played for Keith for 6-7 weeks before he left for Peterborough, but I learned a great deal from him. He has this knack of getting the best out of his players, and I was no different when he managed me”. The positive feeling must have been mutual too, as Forrester scored on his debut for the Imps in the 5-0 rout of local rivals Grimsby Town, with an exquisite lob from outside of the box. Jamie suggests that while that goal was one of his most memorable during his time at Sincil Bank, he also looks back on the three hat-tricks that he scored during that season, against Mansfield Town, Barnet and Rochdale respectively, as goals that he'll never forget. Forrester eventually left the club in 2008, citing differences of opinion with the board regarding his newly found Soccer Academy as the main reason for his departure.

The diminutive striker also featured for a number of Lincoln’s nearby clubs – namely Hull City, Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe United. When asked what differences there were between the clubs, Jamie replied “Grimsby were over-achieving at that time, Scunthorpe were beginning to realise their potential during my time there, and Hull were starting out on their climb up the league ladder, and were a sleeping giant of sorts”. It’s not often footballers can feature for local rivals, never mind four, and still remain respected and admired by all of them – but Forrester has managed it with ease.

After an unsuccessful move to France, Forrester kick-started his career with Leeds United

In fact, it seems that Forrester managed to fit in well with every club that he has played for: “I have enjoyed it at every club I have represented for different reasons, from on the pitch; to friends I have made off the pitch. For example, I didn’t play regularly at Bristol Rovers but loved it there because the city was a great place to live and I had many great friends there at the time. Conversely, at Northampton, it was a great time on the pitch because I was lucky enough to score a few goals for them”.

It was only outside of England that Forrester has struggled. At the age of 16 he moved south of England to France to join Auxerre after being scouted playing for England schoolboys, but failed to make a first-team appearance, returning to Leeds United after complaining of homesickness. In 1999, he moved abroad again, leaving Scunthorpe to move to Dutch side Utrecht, where he only managed one appearance more than he did in France after not receiving enough playing time.

Ever since retiring in 2009, Jamie has kept himself busy with a number of different ventures. Initially Jamie remained in football to coach youngsters whilst working with the Jamie Forrester Soccer Academy. However, he has now moved into business and set up his own company, CommunityBusiness Solutions Limited, a firm which specialises in reducing energy bills for its clients. Despite this, rumours circulated last year after the Richard Butcher memorial match that Jamie could possibly return to Lincoln City after they were relegated to the Blue Square Premier. Forrester suggests that he would have came back had he been asked, but unfortunately for the Imps faithful it never reached that stage. Jamie has also begun working on a new sports Channel - Sports Tonight Live, where he has turned his hand to TV presenting on The Basement Show, which takes a light-hearted look at Football Leagues 1 and 2.

Thanks to Jamie for taking the time to speak to me. You can follow him on Twitter 

You can also follow me on Twitter 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Don't worry folks, football isn't becoming a "non-contact sport"

I attempt to 'tackle' the ludicrous claim that football is supposedly in danger of becoming a "non-contact sport".

Written by Matt Scrafton
In the wake of Vincent Kompany's red card in Sunday afternoon's Manchester derby, we've witnessed a resurgence of that old repetitive favourite of the washed up ex-pro turned pundit: "football will soon become a non-contact sport".

During tonight's coverage of the Manchester City vs Liverpool League Cup tie, BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson made that exact suggestion when referee Lee Mason made a wrong call. Or to phrase the ex-Liverpool defender word-for-word, "we might as well make football non-contact now and get it over and done with".

Now I can't recall the incident itself, but clearly all this fuss has emerged after Kompany's supposedly 'contentious' two-footed lunge on United's winger, Nani. Now I don't see what was 'contentious' about it at all, the Belgian centre-back took both his feet off the ground and won the ball with both of his feet. The fact that he won the ball cleanly is completely irrelevant, as the law clearly states a two-footed challenge is an automatic red card.

Now, whether or not you agree with that particular law or not, the referee was 100% correct with his decision. Of course, there are those bizarre individuals that suggest that referee Chris Foy should have used his "common sense", considering no-one was hurt. But then, Foy would have been disciplined by his superiors for not doing his job properly. Ah, a real case of catch-22 here then...

Well, not really, seeing as Foy applied the letter of the law. And in this instance, I consider this particular ruling to be entirely correct. Two-footed tackles increase the likelihood of injury to the opposition player. Not only that, but they've never been a natural way to tackle. During my 15/16 years of amateur football, not once have I ever made a two-footed challenge, and nor had I ever felt the need to. Firstly, you're not taught to, and secondly, it takes a hell-of-a-lot more effort to force both feet off the ground to lunge into the challenge.

So let the dinosaurs cry about the death of their beloved game, although in reality no such thing is happening. I like a good strong challenge as much as the next person, and they can still play a significant role in today's game. But a two-footed challenge has, and never will be, a "good strong challenge". Instead, it's a completely reckless way of winning the ball and on behalf of the individual who commits the 'crime', an act of stupidity. For once, the referee should be commended and the footballer should be ridiculed. But no, footballers never make mistakes do they?

Going back to tonight's game at the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson committed a two-footed tackle towards the end of the game. The lunge was just as bad, if not worse, than Kompany's. No action was taken by Lee Mason at the time, but it'll certainly be interesting to see what stance the FA take on the incident.

Oh and while I'm on the subject, just because a player "wins the ball" doesn't mean he still can't commit a foul. I think some people need to brush up on their knowledge of the rules, but maybe that's a completely different argument for another day...