Early Doors was mean to the Confederations Cup yesterday,
but the competition stuck two fingers up in ED's
direction by serving up one of the best games for a long time as Brazil overcame Egypt 4-3 in a barnstormer.
The match was characterised by flair, creativity and some
shockingly bad defending. This was two sides who knew the match counted for
little, other than the chance to strut their stuff in front of a global
audience - albeit a global audience with one eye on the cricket.
Watching the roaring success that is Twenty20 makes ED think
a similar thing should be tried in football.
While almost every major sport has undergone massive changes
in the last 10 years, the most commercially driven of them all remains stuck in
the mud, unable or unwilling even to make the simplest and most logical
changes, such as the proper use of video technology.
In fact, talk of dividing the game into quarters for the
1994 World Cup scared the traditionalists so much that they circled the wagons
and haven't allowed a meaningful
rule change since.
So why not use a nothing tournament like the Confederations
Cup as a testing ground for any prospective innovation, with no scheme too
crackpot to be rejected.
- Twenty20 has fielding restrictions to encourage attacking
batting, with only two men allowed outside the circle in the first six overs -
football can do the same by banning sides from having more than three defenders
within 20 metres of the goal except at set pieces.
- Some of the IPL stadiums have shortened boundaries to make
fours and sixes easier to come by, while every ground has its own unique
characteristics - there used to be a tree in the outfield at Canterbury. Football pitches should vary their
dimensions more, while each ground could have a different-shaped goal; a big,
narrow arch like a cathedral door at Anfield; a low, wide five-a-side style
goal at Old Trafford; the possibilities are endless.
- Cricket has some harsh punishments for poor bowling. A
no-ball sees the batting team get a run and a free hit. Football could answer
back by allowing referees to dish out cards for being rubbish. A free header
flashed over the bar would result in a booking, while New Zealand defender Andy Boyens's horrific airshot that led to a David Villa goal
on Sunday was worth a straight red.
- Twenty20 does a good line in touchline interviews during
the game. Ian Bishop tends to collar some poor sap about five overs from the
end of each innings and forces him to answer a series of probing questions
while the fate of his team hangs in the balance. While something similar has
been tried for Blue Square Premier games, ED would like to see Geovanni
interrogated by a touchline newshound mere seconds after chucking his training
top at Phil Brown.
- - -
It is a sign of the times that Tottenham and Sevilla have
only just agreed a compensation package over Juande Ramos's
move to White Hart Lane
tenure at Spurs lasted just a year, while the row over the appointment outlasted
by eight months.
Clearly the Carlos Tevez affair has set the gold standard for
legal jiggery pokery, with the ripples from his contribution to West Ham's survival in 2006/07 going as far as Fulham and Leeds, who have threatened to sue over lost prize money
and bonus clauses respectively.
But the Ramos saga has pushed it close, and is part of a new
trend for bitter disputes over managers. The reason? They're
very important and fairly cheap to get hold of.
Roberto Martinez's installation at Wigan threatened to drag on
interminably before a fee was finally worked out in order for the Spaniard and
his backroom staff to up sticks from Swansea.
Sensible clubs are now just offering a fee up front for
managers, like they would for a player.
Chastened by the Ramos wrangle, Spurs shut Portsmouth
up by ramming a briefcase filled with £5 million into their mouth when Harry
Redknapp moved from Fratton
Former Sheffield United, Huddersfield, Wigan (twice),Crystal Palace
and Birmingham manager Steve Bruce has earned
his former clubs more money in than Nicolas Anelka, and there was talk that Latics
landed £3m when Brucie moved to Sunderland.
Oddly, the unofficial introduction of transfer fees for
managers just shows how wildly undervalued they are.
Put Graeme Souness in charge of Everton and they are
finishing 15th, not fifth. Put Martin O'Neill
in charge of Newcastle
and they are a top-half Premier League side, not floundering in the second
highly unscientific method of plucking numbers out of thin air suggests that
the right manager is worth up to 10 places in the table - surely no individual
player is worth more than two or three?
If a team is willing to pay £20m for Robbie Keane, then
David Moyes must be worth more than Cristiano Ronaldo.
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "This last year I was injured a lot. I wasn't happy and Chelsea
can't have been happy with my
contribution. Furthermore, when I was injured the club should have given me
more support. They should have helped me more, especially given my past four
years at Chelsea.
Their attitude disappointed me a little. I believe my time at Chelsea has come to an end and I'm very happy a big club like Inter are interested
in me." Ricardo Carvalho burns any remaining bridges at Stamford Bridge.
FOREIGN VIEW: Ribery stays at Bayern! Well, that's what Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has told Bild: "We want Ribery to stay
in Munich. We
didn't buy him two years ago to make
money with him."