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Butler: Hit the players where it hurts most: the wallet

Noel Butler
1/3/2014 3:43:52 PM
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With the holiday BPL gluttony now behind us and with a weekend off to catch its breath I was planning on recapping what to all intents and purposes was a highly captivating fortnight for the league.

This coming in a season which has been more far unpredictable than what any encounter between a microphone and Rob Ford could possibly throw up.

With the less than impressive 1-0 win against Stoke to open Liverpool's campaign, the post-match chatter in the pubs which surround Anfield wasn't about being top of the pops Christmas Day.

That very same mid-August afternoon not too many leaving the Emirates would have forsaken their post-match pint in favour of popping down the bookies and investing their hard earned wages on a first title in a decade for the red half of North London.

On the football side of things memorable individual moments, and dire team performances captures the essence of the Barclays Premier League season to date.

Most regrettably, and with the whole world and Sepp Blatter watching in, all has been compromised by the dark art of players masquerading as modern day Victorian era circus acts of the most fraudulent type.

Placing significant doubt in the minds of the officials and kidnapping our emotions as they lay prone. Distorting and destroying the beautiful game as they go.

All motivated by their singular vain attempts to hijack the outcomes of matches.

In what could have been termed in the past as isolated incidents has now manifested itself into a league-wide epidemic.

In the lead up to the holidays the UEFA President discussed this contagious virus with a media outlet, Professor Platini offering up the idea of introducing Rugby's 'Sin Bin' to the football pitch.

Where similar to our Ice Hockey Penalty Box, players are banished for upwards of 15 minutes at a time. In theory it sounds plausible.

The reaction though to this temporary banishment would simply be for teams to shut up shop as the head coach signals for the team bus. All of course worked and perfected on during the week on the practice pitch. 

In doing so Joe Public gets robbed of their paid for 90-minute full on football experience.

As I have repeatedly stated until going completely blue in the face, why for the life of me Goal Line Technology was introduced ahead of establishing the ways and means to eradicate this most unpleasant of aspects in soccer is beyond any rational reason or purpose.

Blame the International Football Association Board, the game's rule makers, all you want Michel but please do remind me how many times has the issue of fake goals showed up so far this BPL season?

Meanwhile Manchester United's Ashley Young and Adnan Januzaj have formed the most destructive double act in all of world football.

As your holiday viewing pleasure was spoiled Sepp let's not get all reactive. Instead we need to thoroughly examine and analyze the root causes.

I'm no rocket scientist but even I've observed from the comfy confines of my local microbrewery emporium 'player simulation' [dive is a four-letter word after all] occurs either inside or within close proximity to the opponent's penalty area.

Where, more often than not, a 'Gareth Bale' occurs when matches are deadlocked. According to Opta, since August 2008 no other BPL player has been yellow carded more often than the world's most expensive footballer.

Don't go thinking this is a recent phenomenon. That's an aberration. Jurgen Klinsmann may well be the BPL pioneer and he played for Spurs back in 1994/95. 

Players will continue to behave in this way as long as any potential reward on offer outweighs in their minds any inherent risks involved.

Upping the yellow card to a red might achieve a desirable outcome in the short term. However deceiving officials is part and parcel of football for about as long as forwards have been deceiving defenders into blind alleys. As a species we are reliant on our deceptive abilities.

Football can't wait for our slow-moving administrators to provide us with the solution. This particular macro problem requires a micro solution.

Think local. As egos only do excuses clubs need to take the responsibility. That doesn't mean you lay the blame for defeat four-square with the officials Mr. Moyes.

Do us a favour and next time a decision skews in the English Champion's favour apologize on behalf of your vanquished opponent.

Even better intervene during the actual incident itself. Right there in the heat of intense battle. How's that for showing your badly behaving players the difference between what is right and wrong.

If the influential folks behind Manchester United's Red Issue fanzine feel compelled to take to the social media airwaves to let the manager know how they feel about cheating players they might be onto something.

Yesterday some UK media pointed out that the purveyors of Red Issue was graciously well accepting of defeat against Spurs but most certainly let it be known in no uncertain terms they want to rid their beloved club of the cheats camouflaged as Manchester United players.

It's time for the clubs and those who are paid the biggest bucks to carry the burden. Otherwise we might well witness a situation where a fan will take matters into their own hands.

On New Year's Day, at just about the same time Chelsea's Oscar went all Hollywood on us we got a rather large hint of what that could possibly involve.

When a Millwall fan could no longer take what he perceived to be a number of incorrect decisions going against his club. He then proceeded to invade the pitch, menacingly approach the referee's assistant, grab his flag and rip it to shreds. Hell does indeed lack the fury of an upset Millwall supporter.

I prefer though the measure that hits players hardest. Right there in their pockets.

I recall a time when a predecessor of Arsene Wenger, the uncompromising Terry Neill was the guvnor of Highbury back in the late 1970's.

An Arsenal man to the core who played for the club for over a decade, Neill hit upon after a rather novel solution following a particular sterile performance from the Gunners. In his post-match briefing with reporters Neill wasn't advocating bringing the players in the next day for a Sunday morning training session.

Instead he was looking forward to the players coming into his office Monday morning and justifying why they should receive their weekly salary.

Away with you Ashley, Adnan et al. Go home and explain that one to the missus.

You can reach and follow Noel Butler at:
Noel.Butler@BellMedia.ca
@TheSoccerNoel

Noel Butler

Noel Butler


Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on TSN.ca. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/TheSoccerNoel and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.

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