Sunday, March 18, 2012

The good, the bad and the downright ugly

By Paul Frederickson

Football is a game defined by memorable moments, be they brilliant goals, controversial red cards, missed penalties, stunning comebacks and more. It has been quite rightly dubbed the soap opera of the masses, among other metaphors. As many competitions around the world get closer to their conclusions the memorable moments will be heightened.


The very nature of the manufactured equality, by imposing a mandatory salary cap among the teams in the A-League, makes it harder for teams to have multiple years of success in the competition. Players are poached by opposition teams and offered higher amounts from overseas competitions, which restricts the necessary continuity that is highly visible among successful teams around the world. This makes the success over the past two seasons of the Brisbane Roar and the Central Coast Mariners, teams that are now guaranteed to finish the regular season in first and second spot, an even more remarkable story. This Sunday Central Coast, currently with a two point lead, will travel to Wellington where a win will guarantee them the Premier's Plate. A loss or draw will open up the chance for Brisbane Roar to be the first team to win back-to-back Premier's Plates. Brisbane play the Gold Coast United at Skilled Stadium after the Central Coast game in Wellington has concluded and will know their fate, or at least know if they have a chance, at kick-off. The final day of the regular season will be a dramatic affair.

When I get really upset about a football result I find it galling to hear someone say that it 'is just a game'. As former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once famously said, “Football's not a matter of life and death... it's more important than that”. Sometimes other events put that into clear and sometimes abrupt perspective. Such was the case when Bolton Wanderers midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, suffered a cardiac arrest in the weekend's FA Cup clash against Tottenham Hotspur, which was abandoned after the event. The support around the world for Muamba, who is in critical condition in hospital, has shown that people should always come before the game.

Sacking your manager can provide a short-term bounce for a club where the team is galvanized into a unified force. This often translates into positive results. Unfortunately for Wolverhampton Wanderers their trampoline's mattress must have had a hole in it, as they are now anchored to the bottom of the English Premier League, after a 5-nil thrashing at the hands of title leaders Manchester United. Will Uncle Mick make a surprise return to Molineux and patch up the trampoline's mattress? This happens quite often in Italy!

What do you think? What were your weekend's, good, bad and the downright ugly?