I didn't expect quite the reaction to the little idea I was discussing with Brendan Rodgers this weekend on beIN Sports. It's been interesting reading your comments.
A lot of you wanted a fuller explanation of what I was suggesting - so here we are.
I can't think of a more contentious subject in the game today than 'time added on'. LVG made a quite reasonable point about the final whistle at Stamford Bridge. Time was 'added on to time added on' to allow Chelsea to take a corner, but Michael Oliver's whistle went immediately that Utd cleared the ball - and were breaking. Cue another row. Roberto Martinez was furious, on the same ground recently, with that late 'off-side' JT goal v Everton, in time 'added on to time added on'!
In the interests of balance its worth pointing out that the first half this weekend should've ended with a penalty to Chelsea. That was a stick on. Oliver can't see it. If he does - he has to give it. Oh, one other little piece of info that came to my attention re Oliver. Wayne Rooney has asked him to ref his testimonial later this year. Now I'm certain that Oliver wasn't looking after Utd when he ruled that Blind hadn't handled, but it leaves him open to the allegation. I don't think current refs should be doing jobs like Wazza's testimonial. It creates suspicion.
Anyway - time added on. It's abused all the time by managers and coaches. My idea is simple - don't allow substitutions to be made after 90 mins. There's no need for it.
I've heard all the arguments for making them - most popular of course being 'what if there's an injury'? Well, there rarely if ever is. The only changes coaches make are designed to waste time and confuse officials.
Rodgers had the good grace to admit this. He even went so far as to tell us that any player he was thinking of taking off would be told to get to the far side of the pitch so as to make the walk off - and it's always walk - longer! It's a nonsense. Stop it. There's no need.
IF a team were to pick up an injury - hard luck. I think the benefits of such an insignificant change would far outweigh the down side.
And what were the other ideas I talked of on beIN Sports, but we didn't get time to discuss?
Simple. Any player fouled in the box should be made to get up and take the penalty. If a ball is handled you can continue to designate a chosen 'taker'. I think this would keep a lot more players on their feet
I first thought of the idea at Coventry one night when Newcastle's Warren Barton went storming into the box and swallow-dived. He was never going to score, so over he went. Alan Shearer stepped up and thumped the ball home!
I reminded Barton of the incident when I worked with him in America in 2010. I asked him 'if you had to take the pen, would you have gone over?'. I got the answer I expected 'no chance'.
The reason for this is that most players hate taking penalties. My mate, Andy Gray, was a centre forward, but only ever took three in his life. Kenny Dalglish wouldn't take them. He did, one or two (there was a famous Old Firm pen) but he'd leave them to Terry Mac or Phil Neal at Anfield.
Again, I know the argument against such a small change 'Ah, but what if a player got injured?'. Well they don't do they? Rarely, if ever, anyway. If somebody is stretchered off and leaves the game, fine, let your nominated 'taker' have a go. But that would be the end of the game for the guy on the stretcher. It wouldn't solve the problem of players diving, but it might make them think twice, so why not?
And my third little change - penalty shoot outs. I love them. They're real drama, but why are pens only taken one end? We've got four officials on the pitch, more in C Lge games, so why can't they be taken at both ends?
More often than not there is a distinct advantage for the 'home' team because they're taking them in front of their own fans. That's likely to continue to be the case in a lot of domestic cup ties, but not in big finals where stadiums are mostly split evenly - with supporters of both teams at different ends. So, take them in front of your own fans - sharing the nervous leg wobbling evenly. For a professional it's a testing enough event anyway, so why the imbalance?
Apart from anything else, why should supporters, who've all paid good money to get in, be denied the excitement of the shoot out just because they're at the wrong end of the ground?
I know Birmingham fans, feel to this day that they were stitched up in Cardiff v Liverpool in the
2001 League Cup final. Trevor Francis, their manager then, definitely does. I've discussed it with him. The penalties were sucked in by Liverpool fans their end, whilst Birmingham,naturally, faced a hostile job. It was unfair.
There are many reasons 'not' to make changes in the game. I'm very much against the invasion of video technology, but I know it's coming. My belief is that TV should 'cover' the game - not dictate the 'outcome' of a match. With a ref giving a decision, only to have trucks full of 'experts' offering different 'opinions' on incidents, I think we're heading for total confusion.
But my little ideas wouldn't make 'defining' changes to a match. I think they'd help it along. Let me know what you think.
I've got to mention Leicester again before I finish, but what else is there to say other than I really hope they win it now? They deserve to. I had them down for a win at City and it wouldn't surprise me at all if they did it again at Arsenal. It's a wonderful story. I noticed Glenn Hoddle admitted, like me, he got it badly wrong with his prediction for Leicester this season! But then who didn't? No- one expected this. It's brilliant.
I've got one or two thoughts on Guardiola and City that I'll share with you later in the week. I'm sure you'll find them interesting. A bit more research is needed yet though.