Monday, 3 March 2014

Headbutt-gate: Another Example of Footballs Warped Reality

I have never been shy to voice my opinions on the paranormal reality of the world of football. The very first post on this blog, well over a year ago, talked about “The Safest Job in the World” and how football players can seemingly play badly week after week and yet still be played and still be paid. I’ve also made a point that “If Roger Johnson Had a Real Job” I’m pretty sure he would be disciplined or sacked.
Yes, football is a different industry and a different world, but is that really an excuse for human beings, no different to you and me, to be able to conduct themselves in ways that seemingly makes them immortal, immune and invisible to consequence?

Last week the world of football threw up yet another example of how it functions not in the same realms of reality as ours, but with its own laws and morals.
When Alan Pardew made the split second decision to lunge his forehead towards an apposing teams player everyone watching was a-gasp. “Did he just do that?” “Did I just see that?” were probably the trending reactions across the country. Its one thing for players filled with adrenaline to square up to one another in the heat of battle, but a manager is a whole different story, and for me, should be dealt with in a whole different manner.

Think for a second, what would happen if the same thing happened in “the real world”. Lets say the manager of a factory head butts a production line worked from an competing factory. Firstly, that is assault. So on a fundamental and basic level, he should be arrested. Seems dramatic, but its true. If you or eye were seen performing that kind of behaviour in the street we would be arrested, not sent to a more comfortable seat and told to calm down.
Now lets add in the little fact about him assaulting somebody whilst at his place work. He should be sacked, with immediate affect. I know for sure that every one one of us (unless you are a professional wrestler/cage fighter) would EXPECT to be thrown the P45 after head butting a colleague or competitor.

So why not Pardew?

I mean, if I head butted somebody in my job I would be sent packing, as would all of us. But at least the incident would have happened in the privacy of our own work place, never for the wider world to know. Pardew conducted himself in this appalling way for all the world to see. As his employer, I’d have him out, immediately. As a representative of my company, or my club, or my business, he has a responsibility and a certain level of behaviour to uphold, and after all of his pushing, shoving and swearing on the touchline in recent seasons this would be the last straw.

Newcastle took swift action in fining Pardew £100k and a giving him a “warning”.

Quite simply: not good enough.

I’m not familiar with football manager wages, but I’m sure this wont leave him hungry and cold. And a warning? Thats is just insulting. An adult man in a profession in the public eye does not need to warned about violent conduct. That is a given. And to me, it is a given that nothing short of sacking is acceptable.

Luckily, the FA are yet to play their card and express their view on the incident, and so some sort of realistic discipline could still be dealt. They now have an opportunity to lay down a marker and set an example. A 5 or 10 match ban is nothing. It simply sets the precedent that violent behaviour from a Manager, a leader of men, means you can sit comfortably in a warm seat being paid, instead of actually doing your job, for a defined period of time.

I don’t expect much, our FA have never been famous for quality decision making when it comes to disciplinary action. And I don’t ever expect to see the morphed world of football values and morals to realign themselves with the real world during my life time. But I do expect Mr Pardew to face real and justified discipline. I won't hold my breath…

Since the publish of this post, the FA have confirmed that Alan Pardew is charged with Violent Conduct and has until Thursday to appeal.

Likely outcome is a further fine and suspension.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Dangerous Question of: “What if…?"

I’m no believer of fate, the kiss of death, touch wood, or jinx. I strongly believe that you create your own luck, and that as much as I’d love to think that I as one individual could have a profound impact on Wolves results, I concede that none of us are capable of that. But that hasn’t stopped me feeling nervous about writing and publishing this post… The idea that ones words, opinions or statements could twist fate is just too scary to comprehend… None-the-less, I’ve 'gone there' anyway.

The question of “What if?” is usually a way of reflecting on events, decisions and results of the past.

- What if Mick McCarthy hadn’t been sacked?
- What if Fletcher/Jarvis had been convinced to stay?
- What if Steve Morgan hadn’t decided to build a new stadium?
- What if Sylvan Ebanks-Blake hadn’t been injured?

Questioning “what if” is a torturous yet inevitable likelihood, especially when you’ve been through the kind of roller coaster a Wolves fan has. You can’t help but reflect and wonder on how things could be different if one simple decision or act had played out differently. The reality of course is that nothing can be done about what has been said and done, and that working on the here and now is the only way to ensure a prosperous future.

The question I have started to dangerously ask myself lately however is not one that reflects on the past, but looks directly into the future, and I’m sure I’m not alone:

"What if Wolves get Promoted?”

There, I said it! I tempted fate! I puckered up and delivered the kiss of death! Please now all prepare yourself for a fall from grace, and a winless run between now and the end of season…
(Luckily, my mere opinion couldn’t ever impact future events… So maybe I’ll continue…?)

Wolves brushed their biggest competitor aside 3-0.
Following our hugely impressive and important victory at Brentford that ended their unbeaten run, extended ours, and saw us leapfrog our main competitor into pole position for promotion, confidence is high with fans. We’re a realistic bunch who have eaten the biggest slice of humble pie known to man in the last couple of years, and I’m sure everybody has the tiniest glimmers of worry that “Wolves being Wolves” we could still very well throw this season away. However, that glimmer has dimmed and dimmed some more recently. I genuinely get the feeling, that we genuinely believe that we could genuinely get, dare is say it, promoted this year.

So what if that happens?

Having always been a forward seeing person, back in April 2013 I asked the same question of “What if we get Relegated?” and discussed how we would amend and prepare our squad for a new season in a new league. Today, I ask the same question.

Wolves look a team full of confidence, high on moral.
There is no doubt that this team is gelling and working brilliantly together. There is so much skill, talent, promise and potential from much changed squad that even the most negative of us must be feeling excited whenever we watch them play. They pass out of defence, they hold the ball up, they maintain possession, make runs, back heel, shoot and score!
But how good would this team be just one league up? How many of the unchanged 11 we have seen in recent weeks are actually ready for the step up? What areas would need improving or boosting? Who would need replacing?

Without wanting to sound arrogant, and without wanting to tempt fate, here are my thoughts on what would need to happen with our squad should our form continue and we get that all important promotion at first bite:

Carl Ikeme
For me this is simple. Ikeme stays, with a handsome new contract to celebrate his success since stepping into the first team. The number one shirt is his, and is well deserved. He has shown massive improvement over the last couple of seasons, and there’s no sign of that stopping. I would say he is ready for Championship football, and with McCarey and Flatt in the wings I wouldn’t make any change in this area.

Ricketts signed a two year deal at the start of the season, and for me should remain captain, and remain in the back four next season should we be promoted. Personally, I think he is better suited at CB and I’d play him along side Batth/Stearman. Those three are a brilliant trio to select two CBs from, and that level of competition for places will improve them all.
Would Doherty be ready for the Championship?
RB is perfect for Doherty in League One, and he has been a revelation when he’s been playing. I think however, the Championship may be a little too much for a player who we forget is still fresh and new to first team football. I’d sign a new RB and motivate Doherty to tirelessly work towards displacing whoever that person may be in the starting 11.
The same goes for LB. Golbourne has been incredibly impressive in recent weeks, and I’ve enjoyed his performances since joining us. While I mean no disrespect to him, I just think we could still do with some strengthening in this position. Reinstating Ward after his loan spell at Brighton is controversial, but worth considering. However I think signing a LB with Championship/Premier League experience would be our best bet.

McDonald. Player of the season?
It is our midfield that has played the biggest part on our recent success, and has seen the greatest improvement since Jacketts on boarding at the start of the season. Henry, Jacobs, McDonald, Price, Sako. They’ve all been immense, and are unplayable at this level.
If we maintained our formation of two holding CM and three interchangeable wide players and CAM it would be hard to see where improvements could be made. McDonald is more than ready for a higher standard of football. I do think however, that as good as Price is, a selection of himself, Evans, Davis or Edwards to support McDonald is just not quite strong enough. I’d wave goodbye to Edwards and Davis, and sign another strong CM to compete with Price for a starting place along side K-Mac.
The same goes for the Sako, Henry, Jacobs trio. They need competition, so only another attacking midfielder signing that would improve the team would be welcomed.

Dicko (with Jacobs and Price) has been impressive since joining.
Dicko looks very much like he’s settling into the team and I’ve been massively impressed with him since he rejoined us. Clarke is unproven as yet due to injury. He was a shrewd and clever signing in my opinion. With a year and half contract he could very well provide the fire power needed to get us promoted this season. Whether he can step up to Championship standard is questionable, but at the very worst, we have him for one more year as decent back up. McAlinden will probably struggle to get a starting place in the Championship, but is useful to keep on the books. Should Doyle return? That remains to be seen, but I think a flagship striker signing would be paramount should we be promoted.

So I would have this as our squad to select from:

GK - Ikeme
GK - McCarey
GK - Flatt

RB - New Signing
RB - Doherty
CB - Ricketts
CB - Batth
CB - Stearman
CB - Ebanks-Landell
LB - New Signing
LB - Golbourne

CM - New Signing
CM - McDonald
CM - Price
CM - Evans

CAM - New Signing
RM/CAM - Henry
RM/CAM - Jacobs
LM/CAM - Sako
LM/CAM - Ismail

ST - New Signing
ST - Dicko
ST - Clarke
ST - McAlinden

Thats 24 players, including all of the current starting team, subs plus five new signings.
Would we be ready for a strong season in The Championship with this squad? Is it foolish of me to have even considered it this early? Let me know what you think!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

WolvesRant features in “The Tatter"

Today I was really excited to see my “Negative Nature of a Football Fan” article feature in the new Wolves Fanzine, The Tatter.
This fan made, fan centric, fan focused, free magazine was available outside Molineux prior to todays game. Make sure you take a look, and follow them on Twitter too!

Poll: Who Was Man of the Match Against Notts County?

Todays game was about as strong and convincing performance we’ve seen from our young Wolves team for a long time. Three more points, another clean sheet, and the gap between automatic promotion places and playoff places grows even bigger…

You could probably justify giving MOTM to any one of our team today, but...

Who was your Man of the Match today?