Has anyone else seen enough?

Paul Traill 08/11/2020 76comments  |  Jump to last

It's easy to feel unattached when your team is losing every game, and given the drab nature of our last three defeats, I’ve found myself retreating into my bunker these last few weeks.

My bunker. I haven’t looked at the Premier League table since we lost to Southampton. Despite endless football on TV, I’ve barely watched any of it. I didn’t want to watch any between our Southampton and Newcastle United defeats, and then didn’t watch anything between our Newcastle United defeat and our Manchester United defeat. I haven’t watched anything since the Manchester United game and probably won’t until we play Fulham. I haven’t actively sought any results. I haven’t seen Match of the Day. When sports news or comment comes on the TV or radio I’ve quickly turned it off. I’ve rarely checked Twitter these last few weeks, which is unusual for me (and no bad thing). The USA election has been a welcome distraction over the last week, particularly as all other news in the UK is so currently depressing. CNN has become a welcome friend, especially John King, he’s like a Jedi with the “magic wall” AV screen. Anyway, I digress…

My exasperation with the way football has gone has been bubbling away for some time, but going to the match has always been a much-loved life tonic. Going to watch my beloved Everton is something I dearly miss. As much as I miss the excitement flowing through my bones as I hear Z-Car and the crowd roars, or jumping up and hugging strangers as we score a goal, I also miss catching up with good mates, sharing the highs and lows, and having a laugh in the pub before the game. Ste and I began going to the game in 1999. Over 20 years ago. And despite how disattached I now feel, it isn’t something I think I can just give up. I refuse to attend for this long without seeing Everton win something first hand. Yes, I know, I could be waiting a while.


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I was very disappointed with our national media following the Merseyside derby. The way they went after Jordan Pickford was a disgrace. Two players went in for a challenge and one came out worse. It isn’t the first time it happened, it won’t be the last. An Everton podcast I listen to called The Unholy Trinity raised the point of the media having a responsibility to protect player’s mental health and wellbeing. This wasn’t something I’d really thought about but it’s a good point. The targeting from the media of our goalkeeper was awful, and it contributed towards Jordan and his family receiving death threats. It was despicable, and our media is one thing I’ve grown to loath.

In yesterday’s game, Lucas Digne was fortunate not to come out injured from a nasty targeted challenge from Harry Maguire, though we won’t hear a thing about it. In I think the only other game I did catch over the last few weeks I saw Ashley Barnes go after Toby Alderweireld with a stray elbow which cut his head open, and then later in the game Eric Lamella went studs up on a player. They were both deliberate attempts to cause harm to an opponent, and nothing was said or done. These are just a couple of examples. The media and opposing football fans should be ashamed of how they have gone after Jordan.

What is irking me more, and I’ve found this at its most apparent in the games since the Merseyside derby, is the level of play acting involved in today’s game. This has been building and building for many a year, but now with no supporters inside the stadium, players know their acting can be accompanied by screams to convince officials.

Watching Southampton flop to the floor at every opportunity in the second half was painful viewing. I can’t see how anybody wants to watch that. Watching Callum Wilson run into Andre Gomes and scream and clutch his shin, only to immediately jump up as soon as a penalty was awarded, and then basically admit to cheating in his after-match interview, had me spitting feathers. Yesterday we watched Bruno Fernandes scream and flop throughout the game, while getting away with leaving the boot in on opponents himself. Marcus Rashford was also despicable in the dying minutes of the game, engaging contact with Lucas Digne, flopping to the ground, and staying down for physio. It’s unbelievable what the game has come to.

These are just a few examples of course and you could highlight plenty in literally every Premier League game now if you so cared to. We’re no angels ourselves. All teams have players who do this. I can’t get my head around how the game has come to this. Instead of micro-analysing every bit of “contact” to reward cheats with penalties, the FA should be clamping down on these pathetic swindlers who blight our game.

I think I’ve about had it with watching these con artists run around in soulless empty stadiums, while the powers-that-be don’t seem remotely interested in curbing this behaviour. Unless your name is Oumar Niasse, it seems perfectly acceptable.

Is it just me who’s about had enough?

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Reader Comments (76)

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Patrick McFarlane
1 Posted 08/11/2020 at 19:07:45
I fully agree with your sentiments but you are made of sterner stuff than I, as I haven't watched any of our games from the last four weeks save the highlights on Match of the Day for the derby.

It's a very frustrating time for many match-goers as if we win a run of games we don't get to celebrate in a full-throated manner and if we fail to win a number of games there is nothing to break-up the pattern and it seems like one long bad weekend.

Both scenarios are usually helped by the downing of a few beers in the company of our mates and that helps to keep us level-headed in both cases.

As for the media, I really would like to know what Jordan has done to upset them, it's not his fault he gets picked for England, it's not his fault that Everton paid big money for him, and the level of villification by the press is usually reserved for cheating politicians and their ilk.

In an interview with Horace Yates on the eve of the 1959-60 campaign, Everton manager Johnny Carey said he believed that a European League which would be run alongside the Football League was one way in which standards would be improved.

On gamesmanship and all that the Carey view is that too many managers condemn it publicity and condone it in private. There should be managerial discipline for players who infringe the laws and use tactics which bring the game into disrepute.

The tendency is to over emphasize the ability of those we saw when we were young. There were bad teams had players, bad referees before the war, don’t forget. Extraordinary, ‘isn’t it, how we remember only the good things of the pass and scarcely over give a through to what wasn’t so good?

Everton’ have been very patient and he asks them to be patient a little longer. Then they can expect results from the Carey plan to play attractive football designed to win matches.

He is working hard on the old Everton principle that the fundamental football is football with the ball on the turf. Too many passes go adrift he thinks. Too many big clearance kicks make defenders work easy where the slow, but sure ground approach pulls them this way and that and leaves em gasping. Football crowds are learning to appreciate and applaud football artistry whether it is collective up individual. “The fans pay to see good football says Carey, “and it’s my job to see they get it.”

Surprisingly, to me at any rate. was the mention of disturbances on the continent when English / British clubs travelled for games in Europe. That old saying of the more things change the more they remain the same?

Alan Burnham
2 Posted 08/11/2020 at 19:17:48
You mirror many of my thoughts - including CNN. Initially I had thought that empty-ground football was better than no football at all. Now I watch less and less.

Penalties for absolutely nothing, going to ground with every featherlight touch, players given offside for pointing where they want the pass to go. How to kill a wonderful game without really trying.

Until such time as I am back at Goodison I will take little interest in this ersatz product. A good piece of writing – thanks.

Andrew Grey
3 Posted 08/11/2020 at 19:20:01
I haven't noticed either way but do we still play Z-Cars when the teams come out without any fans there?
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 08/11/2020 at 19:48:46
This echos so many of my sentiments, this article Paul, and unless fans, players, referees and the media stop the hypocrisy, I think football might just lose a lot of us old timers for good.
Jack Convery
5 Posted 08/11/2020 at 20:04:26
Watching all football from a distance and in the cold light of day, shows it up for what it has become. A cheat's paradise and one rule for them and another for the rest. Referees with no balls who take the easy option where the top 6 are concerned. VAR, which was supposed to be black and white has become subjective, so what's the point of it? Back-to-back matches on Saturdays and Sundays so it becomes meaningless and tiring like an advert you see far too often.

The same ridiculous pundits, wittering platitudes and only getting riled up when their once upon time employer gets a bad call. Can anyone actually name a pundit who is unbiased and knows what he/she is talking about because I can't. 14 teams in EPL play each season to make sure they are in it next season. If anyone of them do really well their team is picked apart by the top 6 the following season as there is no loyalty any more. Kante / Drinkwater to Chelsea, Marhez to City after Leicester won the Premier League.

Then there is the style of football itself. Passing backwards / sideways umpteen times and then back to the goalkeeper and start again. It can be soul-destroying to watch. The goal kick rule has lead to this business of lots of passes just to get the ball up to the bloody half-way line!!! When a team does score from a long ball, as on Saturday, it's called "Route 1" as though Route 1 is a dinosaur that should be left back in the Jurassic age. I always thought putting the ball in the net was the be all and end all of football but perhaps I'm just a grumpy old man these days.

Alls I know is football is not as exciting and competitive as it once was. The EPL is just like Scottish football but on steroids. The most competitive league in European football is the English Championship. Who would have thought that Reading would be top and Derby bottom come November.

Then there is the Champions League – what a joke. You can actually become, supposedly, the best team in Europe, without actually being the best team in your own country. You can even get to the final without actually having won your own domestic league title since 1961 - Spurs. As I said a joke and yet because of the riches involved it's what the top 6 all crave. Sometimes I think "What's the point?"

Gerard Carey
6 Posted 08/11/2020 at 20:38:32
The game has changed so much in the last 30 or 40 years. Now you have players going down as if they've been shot by an elephant gun to get an opposing player sent off, only to jump back up once a yellow or red card has been dished out.

To me, it's not a man's game anymore, especially when it pays to cheat. Add to that the fawning over the Sky darlings makes me sick. Once upon a time, players took and gave the hard knocks and we're straight back up and played on.

Look at the rubbish over Jordan's tackle on Van Dijk... of course, nothing said about how Van Dijk tried to do James twice in the first 5 minutes.

Slowly, the game is dying, and especially when it's stripped of the match-going fans. It is what it is, 20 teams in the Premier League... no I'm wrong! – It's the Sky Six, plus 14 others to make up the numbers.

Bill Gall
7 Posted 08/11/2020 at 21:20:16
I have to agree with the comments on the gamesmanship in the league today. My wife who is no football fan, sometimes watches the games on Saturday, and one of her comments one day was why is he rolling around on the floor nobody touched him. Then another quote was its because all these foreigners playing in the league now it never used to be like that. The problem now it is so deep rooted it will be practically impossible to root out, plus it gives all the top 6 teams ex players a chance to give their biased opinions on media shows.
Roger Helm
8 Posted 08/11/2020 at 22:29:15
I hardly watch any football on TV for these reasons. I’m really only interested in Everton, and that’s a trial sometimes. The game is a lot less interesting and more annoying now. The standard of refereeing is a lot worse now. Perhaps the way they are constantly abused has driven a lot out of the game.

I watch more rugby now - all action, honest players, constant attacking, referees respected. Just my personal preference.

Paul Smith
9 Posted 08/11/2020 at 22:55:19
I think VAR has made the game better, yes the handball rule needs looking at but it’s much fairer for all. I don’t buy into the media hate us or the referee is bent, we’re just not that good. There is so much more at stake in terms of revenue and when you have a £50 million price tag on your head, you’re bound to do everything you can to justify it and that includes diving and the like. It’s always been part of the game, it’s an elite sport where incremental gains mean everything. Football is fantastic and I love watching it on Sky, BT, dodgy streams or in the flesh, it’s Everton that turns me off especially as it looks like we have made no progress in the last 5 years, no, the game is still beautiful in my eyes I’m just waiting for our time to shine.

Thanks for the article

Tom Bowers
10 Posted 08/11/2020 at 23:22:53
I agree with what you say Paul. The game has become somewhat farsical and unentertaining for the most part.

The roboticlike passing sideways and backwards has been bad enough to stomach for quite sometime but the VAR system is becoming ludicrous and so confusing to players and fans alike.

I have to admit some of the hairline decisions have to be sorted out especially the offsides and handballs.

Crucify me if you will but if I was RS fan I would have been pissed no end at the last minute Henderson goal in the derby game and the goal Bamford had disallowed for Leeds because he signalled with his arm and was called offside.

The law should be changed to one of ''clear daylight'' between players, not where your knee, elbow or any other part of your body is. This is just splitting hairs and if they change this rule then it will be easier for the pitch officials to call it.

On top of all that I despise the constant playacting to gain freekicks or even getting a player a card.. Many players just can't resist using their hands and arms to stop an opponent and I for one would like to see this infringement punished mor often in the penalty box. There is hardly a corner kick taken where the referee hasn't had to go into a crowd of players who are pushing and pulling each other and tell them not to be naughty. The referee should just ignore it then call a penalty every time as soon as the kick is taken.

I know the possession side of the game won't change because that is now ingrained into the coaching side of things sadly but at least get the rest of our game in order.

Stan Schofield
11 Posted 08/11/2020 at 23:37:56
I’ve certainly had episodes of not watching any football, or reading any news about it, since the late 80s. The cheating that has become increasingly prevalent has put me off. I can’t see the point in football, or indeed any sport, unless it’s played fairly and with sportsmanship. Without those qualities, any victory is surely an empty one, devoid of any substantial sense of achievement, and the sport has become ugly, a far thing from ‘the beautiful game’. The biases of the media serve only to underline the problem, making it easier to simply switch off.

When I do watch, I have tended to focus increasingly only on Everton games, paying diminishing attention to other clubs. But even this has become harder, since constantly having raised expectations and then having them crushed wears you down.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 09/11/2020 at 00:18:56
Must admit I never have been as fed up as I am, after the last three performances. I don't know if it is the lockdown or not.
Alan J Thompson
13 Posted 09/11/2020 at 04:15:16
I must confess to rarely watching any games that Everton aren't playing as it appears that once a winning "system" has been found then all try to copy it, seen one, seen them all?

It is no coincidence that there seems to be more "diving" since the introduction of rule changes to take out the physical side of the game. The slide tackle and full backs getting their shoulder in front of a wingers before sliding across are lost "arts". There are times when I long to see a tricky winger stand up the full back, hit the byline and put a cross in for a big centre forward to rise and hit the back of the net rather than this "five-a-side" stand up face to face tackling football.

Which brings me back to an earlier point, a lot of teams seem unable to play more than one style of play. One of the beauties of the Holy Trinity team was that they could open up opposition defences going through the middle or by a winger putting a cross in for a dominant centre forward, in the days when "parking the bus" and "KITAP-1" were known as packed defences.

Having said that, a lot of rule changes, or more attention to detail and letter of the rule rather than the spirit of it, have been introduced to make football more attractive in those Leagues were defence dominated but has unfortunately changed the more watchable and exciting Leagues.

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 09/11/2020 at 08:08:30
It’s gone for me, because only fools stay on their feet nowadays, and if you do stay on your feet, you’re only cheating your own teammates.

Refs are poor because they lack consistency, and this also leads me to question the integrity of the officials, and with some of the ridiculous yellow cards we see nowadays, then surely football needs a three card system, or even a sin-bin.

See I’m prepared to move with the times, but punish the cheating please, or is it just a reflection on modern times?

Mal van Schaick
15 Posted 09/11/2020 at 08:16:07
The pace of the game has increased, and obviously the formations have changed. Technology has brought the game into disrepute as the authorities strive for the. ‘ perfectly fair ‘ game.

There are no characters in the modern game, players are all automatons, processed on the training ground, and removed of any flair that they may have, bar a few.

I can’t say that I have seen enough, but I can say that my viewing opinion has changed, as the game has changed. For fear of being branded a Dinosaur, I have moved with the times, perhaps not as happy with the game I grew up with!

Rob Halligan
16 Posted 09/11/2020 at 08:44:20
All teams try to gain an advantage anyway they can, particularly the so called big six teams. The latest being man city and the RS want to 're-introduce using five subs per game. The reason being for fear of burn out of players due to the large amount of games being played in a short period of time.

Bollocks, the real reason being they probably have better quality players on their bench than the majority of teams, and therefore can seek a clear advantage over opponents late in the game by bringing on quality subs.

I'll tell you what, Pep and Bingo, let's revert back to only allowing two subs per game, or even better only one when the game was a real game, and see how you like that!!

Christopher Timmins
17 Posted 09/11/2020 at 08:53:54
Sadly Paul you may be on to something.
James Newcombe
18 Posted 09/11/2020 at 09:25:05
The cheating is killing the game for me as well, but I have honestly felt this way for 20 years or so! The number of penalties given these days really sticks out. It’s always been a really cheap way to win a game in my opinion, and the number awarded to United in particular should raise questions. VAR and stupid changes to handball rules just make matters worse.

We’ve been moving away from it being a contact sport for some time now. Look at Saturdays game, half of those ‘fouls’ were nothing more than two players challenging. As long as the darlings Liverpool, Chelsea, United and City are winning things in this over-commercialised ‘sport’ nothing will ever change. Make sure you renew Sky Sports and buy FIFA every year lads!

Mike Price
19 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:06:13
I agree with a lot of your sentiments Paul. I’ve decided to not watch us live this season, I’ll record and watch if we win but just delete otherwise.
What sickens me is the bias in the media and refereeing. There seems to be a media matrix that influences decisions and outcomes. The biggest darlings are Liverpool and Klopp, any decision against and there’s a massive tariff, media outrage, ongoing dissection, referee demotion etc. Every team has a sort of rating and Everton’s is very low, partly due to our rivalry with Liverpool. The same decision against us barely raises a comment, our manager and players say nothing and there’s absolutely no pressure exerted on any referee that screws us over; rinse and repeat!
VAR was supposed to eliminate this but it’s just added another layer of manipulation and bias that can be implemented from a safe distance.
Rob Dolby
20 Posted 08/11/2020 at 10:07:47
I agree so much with the op.
I have got to the point of turning the commentary off so that I can watch the game without the talking head bullshit and artificial crowd noise.

Today's premiership football is the best standard ever. The players are masters of the trade, the speed of the game, the tactics and the pitches are at an all time high. The officials and var are killing the game.

Bizarre penalties, a handball rule that nobody understands, offsides that are far to close to call. Goals being chalked off all add to the detriment of the game.

Mourinho said after a Spurs win last week that "he wants his football back" in a dig at the way the game is now being run.

The rules encourage cheats, cynical fouls and diving with any form of physical contact deemed a foul.

Peter Mills
21 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:09:34
Paul, I have found an antidote over the past few years by returning to my roots and attending non-league matches when not watching Everton.

At one time I found these games to be a bit hard to watch as they could be somewhat kick and rush, but the standard has risen markedly. There is a lot of good football on show, cheating is treated with scorn by players and fans, the referees’s decision is final, and there is a much greater rapport between players, officials and supporters. The players give their all.

After the game, you find yourself quite easily having a chat with a player, the ref, a chairman or an opposing fan.

I’ve been going to Goodison for nearly 60 years, I meet family and friends by going there, the prospect of giving it up is difficult. But I have to confess I am enjoying watching proper footy at non-league level much more. And all this comes at a bargain price. I recommend giving it a try.

George McKane
22 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:23:49
I am in agreement with the sentiments of Paul's Post. My posts on TW are normally about the "going to the match" - - the journey - - the magic - - yes the nostalgia - - being with friends - - we have been saying for years in The Dark House that the "match" gets in the way of a good day out.
I have been a regular at Goodison and of course, away matches since 1959 but like Paul I am more and more disappointed with football in general and like Stan it has driven me to being only interested in Everton and all things Everton.
I cannot stand most of the players, managers, referees, pundits,experts so I don't waste my time getting het up about them.
It's Blue For Me with no apologies. I really enjoyed our few weeks of "shaking them up" - - Just Like Old Cool Hand Luke - - "Yea well sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand".
Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:35:15
Football is now win at all costs, today’s football means cheating is fair, deliberately getting fellow players sent off is part of the tactics, lots of fans go along with these methods as long as their team benefit, scream long and hard if it is the other way, I’d hope the majority of fans would say it stinks no matter which team does the cheating.

Love Peter Mills’s way of watching football and the obvious enjoyment he gets out of all aspects of going to these games. All my life I’ve watched football from the top games to grass roots football and loved it, especially the Corinthian spirit of the game, play and watch football for the love of the game, sadly a good proportion of that spirit has left football and the game is all the worse for it.

Barry Rathbone
24 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:41:33
I remember old boys in the 60s complaining like this and while I haven't watched a complete game for umpteen years because of the tedium the new generation knows no better and love it.

But it hardly matters the game will continue in some weird form and we'll all be dead soon.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 09/11/2020 at 10:50:44
Barry (24), that last sentence has really brightened up this miserable Monday morning. Thanks a bunch!!!
Brian Williams
26 Posted 09/11/2020 at 11:13:18
I think he's still upset about their Bas Dave. 😉
Darren Hind
27 Posted 09/11/2020 at 12:05:09
The games going to hell in a handcart.

I always hoped I would experience the sheer joy of witnessing my team parading a trophy around this city again. Just one more time before I bow out.
Like all blues over fifty, I've been forced to realign my dreams. We used to start each season believing winning a trophy was a probability. These days we realise in merely a possibility, a remote one at that.

Watching our teams decline over the decades would have been painful enough, but we are witnessing the decline of the game itself. It's becoming unwatchable at times. Every new law seems to be introduced with intention of out-stupiding the last one.

Being a thing of beauty, football has always been in the eye of the beholder. There were very few cut-n-dried cases. So much was open to interpretation. It was part of the magic. Every controversial decision on Saturday would be debated vigorously in alehouses all of the country on Sunday.
If you got a particularly questionable decision in a big match involving Us or the Shite, places like the dockers club would sound like a fucking zoo on Sunday Avy...God I loved it.

Those who don't understand the game have tried to eliminate the talking points. They wanted to ditch interpretation in pursuit of the definitive answer. They wanted irrefutable proof. Video evidence.
Having introduced video evidence. They have now discovered what many of us could have told them in the first place. The decisions are still in the eye of the beholder, still open to interpretation.
Ask 10 different people to view an incident 10 times and you could easily have 10 different conclusions.
The problem has been confounded by allowing complete twats to make season defining calls. You could easily be forgiven for believing the powers that be, have rounded up the most gormless fuckers in the country and asked them to be Video refs.

Of course interpretation still prevails. Only now we have twat laws being interpreted by twats..And they are taking an eternity to reach their twat conclusions.

I blame the Yanks

Stan Schofield
29 Posted 09/11/2020 at 14:12:24
Barry@24: Yes, when I was young I remember older blokes complaining about modern-day football, as well as more general comments like you used to be able to leave your front door unlocked. Some things never change. I suppose you can leave your front door unlocked if you’ve got nothing worth nicking.

There were dirty players and cheating back then. I remember Francis Lee being a leading exponent of diving for a penalty, and Jimmy Husband having his ankle broken by Dave McKay. Dirty play is no worse than it ever was, but the cheating has definitely become worse and is now on an industrial scale.

Your last sentence is brutally true, in which case we need to start winning trophies pronto.

Derek Moore
30 Posted 09/11/2020 at 14:19:01
Football is what I grew up with as a kid; for a long time it was much a habit as anything. I'm older and more discerning now and appreciate a lot more sports than I used to. My own son has very little interest in football; watching the game more critically and I can't say I really blame him.
One thing that frustrates me is how other sports have gotten better and more exciting whilst football largely hasn't. Sports such as cricket, basketball, rugby and even American football and netball have improved greatly as spectacles, with rule changes to encourage more scoring and excitement, whilst most use video to achieve better officiating. Even staid tennis has seen some wonderful innovation in some of the shots they play now, and in the big tournaments uses hawkeye brilliantly.
Football can't really say the same, and indeed, a lot of long time fans argue that football was much easier on the eye in previous eras. The officiating these days is largely poor to very poor, the gamesmanship and self indulgence of players at the top level is astonishing. The extremely high financial stakes in modern football is said to contribute to negative football by producing risk averse managers. It must be noted that high financial stakes don't seem to have the same negative effects on golf or tennis majors.
Whilst many here and others have rightly decried a super league or similiar, how many of them would argue against the fact that the football pyramid as it stands is out of date and largely unfit for purpose. The league pyramid is no longer a ladder of opportunity, it's a hierarchy that becomes more and more reinforced every day.
The lack of leadership from FIFA on UEFA in the past twenty odd years will undoubtedly have consequences for the game in the decades to come. If football can reform itself and shake free the rent seekers and chancers that presently infest it then it has unlimited potential. We await that day.
Paul Tran
31 Posted 09/11/2020 at 14:43:21
One of the things I enjoyed most about the lockdown was the amount of old games on TV. It was slower, the players were not so fit, but for me it was better.

There has always been cheating & skulduggery in the 50 plus years I've been watching the game. And there has always been confirmation bias in the media, it's just that these days, there is more media, it runs the game and the outlets are competitive.

There is a perception, real or otherwise, that people have a shower attention span these days. So there has to be load music & announcements to create the atmosphere we used to make ourselves. There has to be artificial 'drama' inserted into the game to make it more 'exciting', with an extra layer of poor decision-making to add more 'narrative' after the game.

Football has become too greedy, too reliant on artificial 'drama' and largely meaningless statistics that measure what can be measured. The players are fitter and stronger, but I'd argue that that often makes the game too fast for its in good.

Still, eh, if we win at Fulham and get back to our early-season form, we'll put this to one side, won't we?

John Raftery
32 Posted 09/11/2020 at 15:52:37
I am increasingly in the ‘take it or leave it’ camp. I noted a recent observation from the Football Correspondent of the Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft: ’VAR is just crap’. He is right of course but we still hear many mealy mouthed pundits and managers saying the problems with it are caused by the rules and the inconsistent decision making by officials. That ignores the fact that recent rule changes have been driven by VAR and that slow motion footage completely corrupts the perspective of the viewing official.

VAR has ruined the game for me. Like Peter Mills I much prefer watching matches below Premier League level. In normal times in between following our club home and away I fill the blank Saturdays visiting Leagues One and Two as well as the National League and below. Last season I saw games at Wycombe, Maidenhead, Crawley, Boreham Wood, Salford City, Burscough and Oxford. Supporters at all these clubs still follow their clubs passionately, can enjoy a relaxed pint of decent beer before and after the match and celebrate goals without waiting for an emotion stifling message on a screen informing them of a VAR check. At the smaller clubs fans also form a closer bond with the players than we ever could with the closeted multi millionaires running (sometimes) around Goodison.

It will be interesting to see if and how the growing disenchantment with the game at top level manifests itself when stadia are reopened to fans. I think the game’s governing authorities and clubs would be wise not to take it for granted that everything will revert to the pre-Covid-19 norm.

John Pierce
35 Posted 09/11/2020 at 17:50:15
Paul, I get the sentiment and I often have rash knee jerk reactions to bad calls.
However the game has been riddled with the same inequality, cheating etc for time and memorial.

We simply have access to more games, more angles, more media, more talking points. A level of unprecedented scrutiny. That’s applied to all walks of life. Football is no different. Pining for some purer product way back is just indulgent, apply the same scrutiny to those games and you’ll find the same issues.

If VAR was around back then, we’d probably have a league cup in our cabinet, Marwood would have been sent off, we might not even have a World Cup to celebrate?

The only way to watch most games decades again was at the match from a static viewpoint. The referee’s made the same errors albeit with different rules, but without the scrutiny and your chance to say ‘gotcha’ with the aid of 20 TV angles.

The game will become more binary, the laws will narrow, despite my own wailing and gnashing, it won’t change. It’s become that way because of our collective thirst to see our team on the TV, one will follow the other. If TV gives you more views naturally you cannot ignore obvious mistakes. There is no hiding place, you change the laws to remedy it.

Look at goal line tech. Fifa were utterly embarrassed with Lampard’s ‘goal’ in 2010 and it was addressed due to the worldwide audience.

These pages are littered with utter contempt for officials who get less angles than you do to view the game with, it’s the players who game, cheat and play act. Yet they get the heat, the managers who coach this type of brinkmanship receive no criticism. They push the laws to their limits, and then bitch about it!

I would of course modify the laws, but only to the point of affects a team’s behavior, if there is no value in simulation or initiating contact then it will stop. At the moment the laws allow for it and its exploited. To think a legend of a bygone era wouldn’t do if they had the chance?...of course they would.

Paul Tran
36 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:03:35
Oh John, you're right with all your logic and common sense. I think they could do it better, with the right intent and motives. But that's me being indulgent again!

I bet Clive Thomas would have ripped his earpiece out and smashed the pitch side screen at Maine Road that day!

Will Mabon
37 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:04:05
You should be on stage, Paul, that was hilarious.

Well at least you won't strain your eyes reading anything.

Ken Kneale
38 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:11:34

If you haven't dropped the note off yet, ask him about his failure as an Everton director and owner for the last 30 years – he may be able to answer that one quicker given his direct involvement in the debacle.

Martin Mason
39 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:11:39

I've been trying but it's like an addiction and those 7 games just sucked me back in. The game has disappeared from the roots that fixed fans like us down to it and how it should still attract us is beyond me.

The ruination, of course, is those that, like me, watch the games on Sky or BT and contribute to the obscene wages and the resulting cheating. I'm going to try again to break the addiction and I hope that you won't see me on here again. Some chance.

John Pierce
40 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:30:46
PT. I'm picturing the scenes. In the face of inconvertible proof, Thomas would damn the lot of us and still disallow it!

No man is and island, unless you're Clive Thomas. 😭

Barry Rathbone
41 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:34:14
Sorry, chaps, I must rescind my criticism of Mr Kenwright – he just rang promising tickets to his next big show the man is a saint in my books.

Oddly, the line went dead as I asked, "Are the tickets ring-fenced?"

Nurse, have I shown you this?

Jonathan Tasker
42 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:47:11
Paul - some great points on here. It's very hard to enjoy football currently.

Those saying they derive more enjoyment from their local non-league teams, I totally get where you are coming from. At least the results are not fixed.

The other 14 clubs serve only as a side dish to the Sky big six. The league table is almost irrelevant as the big six stay the big six. VAR was invented to secure very convenient results.

Kenwright has succeeded in ruining my love for Everton. I'll not set foot in Goodison – there's no new ground by the way – until he has gone.

Brian Williams
43 Posted 09/11/2020 at 18:56:22
Thing is, Johnathan, there doesn't seem to be any non-league footy at the moment. It's been ages since I've sat and watched Newton over my fence.

Some good football to watch too. Won the West Cheshire a couple of season ago but not been a match played in God knows how long.

Brian Williams
44 Posted 09/11/2020 at 19:10:31
On a different tack ,has anyone seen the John, brother of Wayne, Rooney's goal from the halfway line for Stockport in the FA Cup?

Cheers Mike. Sobered up after the celebrating?

Waiting on my email for matchday experience survey at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Brian Williams
45 Posted 09/11/2020 at 19:20:32
–80 degrees, Mike, about the temperature in the main stand at Bramley-Moore Dock in winter if you believe some of the stories of the weather in that part of the world. 🤣🤣🤣
Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 09/11/2020 at 19:23:05
Brian #69, ask and ye shall receive. Here it is:

Rooney's BROTHER scores an incredible FA Cup goal from inside his OWN HALF to emulate Manchester United and England legend's two half-way line goals against West Ham

John has a similar waistline to Wayne but much better hair.

And as to our celebration... there was great glee but no alcohol involved here. On Election Day, my Sarah was subject to a racial insult from the Trumpies down the block, and she's keeping me away from the booze (and the guns) until she's sure I'm cool. Wise woman.

Brian Williams
47 Posted 09/11/2020 at 19:25:30
Well, your experience sums up what was wrong and what is hopefully gonna be put right. Made up for you with the result.
Bill Gall
52 Posted 09/11/2020 at 20:11:50
My only criticism of VAR is, even though the actual rules of the game we call football or soccer depending on which continent you live on, is in effect worldwide, VAR has been brought in to satisfy the so-called elite of world football.

The rules of the game are supposed to be the same for a team in the premier league as well as the leagues below, for example. Yet the teams in the Premier League are allowed a distinctive advantage in regards to relegation, but teams in the Championship are denied this advantage in promotional battles.

This is my distinct criticism of VAR, that it is not being used to force the rules of the game it is strictly being used for financial gains. It also ruins a live match experience where before when you've seen the net bulge, the ground erupted with a show of emotion, and now you have to wait 2 minutes to be told a player's toes was offside and you become deflated.

Discussions over a pint in the pub must now be accompanied with a video recorder. This VAR was not introduced to enforce the laws of the game, it is used to increase media profits. Enforcing the laws or rules should be in effect from the grassroots upwards.

Paul Tran
53 Posted 09/11/2020 at 20:17:50
Good home draw for Marine in the FA Cup. Hopefully they'll make it to the third round after the heroic near-miss in 1975.
Andy McNabb
54 Posted 09/11/2020 at 20:50:49
Have really missed your match comments, Paul. I feel exactly the same way. Even turned off the highlights last night after watching Mane spin to the ground for their latest 'penalty'.

What I find most depressing is not the action of the cheat but the willingness of refs etc to be so easily duped.

I watched a re-run of Chelsea v Man Utd in 1970 a week or so ago and it really hit me. This is the game I fell in love with. Poor pitches, robust challenges, players staying on their feet and after they were bundled to the ground, getting up straight away. And maybe importantly, I recognised the players involved. Have always had a deep loathing for both teams involved but I felt some connection to the individuals on the pitch.

Dale Self
55 Posted 09/11/2020 at 21:27:33
Sorry Patrick, I forgot. I too have lost form after the run of bad results.

On the bigger issue here, I don't wish to slight anyone expressing grief for our footballing fortunes but we need to find our inner Dave Watson here and get right. I know, Everton that and all, but honestly I think the reason it hurts so much is that we know we're really close to becoming the football force we know Everton is.

Mike Gaynes
56 Posted 09/11/2020 at 21:47:33
Dale: "Our inner Dave Watson..." -- great comment. I think our best Watson example is coming off a 3-game suspension.
Dave Lynch
57 Posted 09/11/2020 at 22:21:54

We're on our way but "Really close"? ... miles off, buddy, until we can build a squad that can sustain a few injuries.

Dale Self
58 Posted 09/11/2020 at 22:35:00
We have a first 11 that can obviously take care of business. I'll own that "really close" comment since I believe a couple of these will come good once we have regular spots in the back and a couple of good results.

Bernard and Sigurdsson cannot affect a game on their own but give them some intelligent runs and they can find people. Someone to come in for Allan or Doucouré (Gbamin maybe) and a striker in January and we could be a decent squad with some depth.

Tony Heron
59 Posted 10/11/2020 at 07:52:34
I can only agree with everything you say in your article Paul. I have long since fallen out of love with football.
I do still watch the Blues and take in the odd other game but I gave up going to the match when the game sold it's soul to Sky. Football and the players has changed out all recognition from the game I loved to play and watch in my youth. I think Jack @ 5 has got it 100% spot on particularly with the tactics of the modern game. As an example, in the City v Lpool game City had a free kick about 3 yards into the Lpool half. The free kick was taken, knocked sideways (of course!), and then passed back to their own keeper, still in his penalty area! As for the cheating, whatever happened to clamping down on diving and feigning injury? Or holding on to players on the area? VAR, as has been said, has become subjective so has not proved an answer to overcoming "incorrect" decisions. If anything it has created more controversy. You cant even celebrate a goal now until it's been checked. Maybe in future instead of screaming " Goaaal!!" Fans will chant "stop the count"!
Eddie Dunn
60 Posted 10/11/2020 at 08:35:07
Back to the subject of the thread, I do watch all of Everton's games on BT, Amazon, BBC, and most of the rest on Hesgoal. I also watch bits of the other games, particularly the RS, hoping that calamity strikes.

Of course the crazy wages have increased the disparity between the lads we cheer on, and us mere plebs. The alice bands, elaborate tattoos, and male grooming obsessions that this narcissistic slice of society enjoy, spliced with the diving, squealing and imaginary card-waving certainly bear little resemblance to the game I play on a Sunday.

I want to see skill and I don't want the likes of Richarlison to be prematurely removed from the game through bad tackling. What I do object to is the cheating, the regular "there was contact" comments when Mane theatrically collapses at the brush of a thigh.

The VAR could be a weapon for good, it could prevent injustices. However, there is no joined-up thinking and we see a lack of consistency.

We should follow rugby, have a TMO who can alert the on-field officials of foul play and stop the game. A time-keeper and the big screen with incidents replayed in the ground and the ref's conversation with the TMO audible.

One other thing that annoys me is when a team have a man sent off, they often make a sub and have a tactical change. I would like a 20-minute period where no subs were allowed after a sending-off. The introduction of 3 fresh players can make-up for the loss of a tiring one even when down to ten men.

Jack Convery
61 Posted 10/11/2020 at 15:23:25
A Holgate rallying call a Bramley Moore Stadium update - things must be going awry on the pitch - and of course they are !! EFC ? You couldn't make it up.
John Boswell
62 Posted 10/11/2020 at 17:16:52
I am of the opinion that the matchday officials are letting the Premier League down with their inconsistent decision-making in every match. They appear to generally favour the "gifted few".

The same criticism applies to the media, who definitely favour a few select clubs over the rest.

If we are to accept that the Premier League is the best in the world, then we should demand that the officials are the best in the world and that the reporting (publicity) is also first class and even-handed.

I won't hold my breath but, given the money in the Premier League, can we bring in top referees from around the world?

Ricky Oak
63 Posted 10/11/2020 at 18:53:46
Great to see someone on here (main story) has come out and said exactly what's going on.
Eric Myles
64 Posted 11/11/2020 at 02:20:42
Like you Paul, I haven't been bothered watching footy without the crowd atmosphere but caught the second half of the United game.

At every incident with Fernandes going down the commentators were saying that 'contact entitles the player to go down', but when Fernandes committed a foul it was despicable that the Everton players were over-reacting to get Fernandes sent off.

I think the Pickford incident has damaged the team more than just Pickford himself.

Eric Myles
65 Posted 11/11/2020 at 02:24:48
Regarding the play acting, it's been going on since the early 70's. I always used to comment how Emlyn Hughes could trip over the white paint of the penalty spot.

Unfortunately the refs and the FA did nothing to nip it in the bud and now it's de rigueur that a player spends more time on his arse than on his feet.

Tony Abrahams
66 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:00:36
John@62, and then the PR machine goes into full flow, and they show how VAR, has damaged those teams more than anyone.

I’m must come across as a lunatic, but when Mike Dean, (two sons have Liverpool season tickets, and he’s allowed to ref them?????????????????????) gave Sheffield Utd a free kick, he looked like he was about to burst into tears when it was upgraded to a penalty by VAR. (possibly his mate in the var room was just having a laugh because he knows he’s a Liverpudlian)

Anyway he turned down two other pens in the same game, one of which was blatant, and Firminho also scored an offside equalizer, none of which must have been checked by VAR?

What was the story at the end of the game? Hard done by Liverpool overturn another bad decision to come from behind to win, it’s a fucking conspiracy!

Ricky Oak
67 Posted 11/11/2020 at 09:12:29
Agree Tony A @66, 100%
Cannot write what I think though,, its getting blanked out,, funny that, its bigger than football though which is a shame when all most want is a fair game
Dave Abrahams
68 Posted 11/11/2020 at 11:52:45
Eric (65), good point there, Hughes got Andy King, yes Andy King, sent off at Goodison Park when Hughes was playing for Wolves, threw himself on the floor when Andy went near him near the corner flag at the Gwladys Street end. Andy laughed at himself after the match because he knew he wasn’t capable or wanted to injure anyone like that. Despicable man Hughes who really was in love with himself.
Kevin Dyer
69 Posted 11/11/2020 at 12:30:39
#16 Rob - agreed but another thought on the 5-subs change would be it allows manically-pressing fitness-based teams like Liverpool to replace tiring players and continue to press maniacally!

I love tactics but one thing I dislike is the focus on systems, which invariably consist of denying the opposition any of the ball, either by monotonous possession (tiki taka) or relentless counterpress. The former can result in sterile, one-sided play and the latter prioritizes stamina, workrate and running ability. I felt a bit sad reading James talking about how the no.10 is a dying position in football.

Brian Harrison
70 Posted 11/11/2020 at 12:44:55
Regarding the re introduction of using 5 subs per game. I see that both Klopp and Guardiola are both in favour of having 5 subs, the reason is that they want 5 subs is the amount of injuries being picked up this season compared to other seasons. So all very understandable, so why didnt any of the reporters present ask the question, you both advocate the use of 5 subs so can you explain why in probably your hardest game of the season why Guardiola you only used 1 sub and Klopp you only used 2 subs one of which was because of an injury to Alexander Arnold.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
71 Posted 11/11/2020 at 13:01:04
The reason that Guardiola and Klipperty want 5 subs is that their players are tired from playing in Europe and then have to play on a weekend in the humdrum world that is the Premiership.

They need to have 5 subs so they can keep the players fresher to be able to win games in the Premiership so they can qualify to play in Europe the next season.

Take it away back to 3 subs and then with this shortened time season with the same number of games then they may not get onto the European Gravy train and some other team may coin in the riches. It is simply about making sure their clubs nose is firmly in the trough and no other can get a nibble. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tony Abrahams
72 Posted 12/11/2020 at 07:33:17
Echo headline is that Liverpool suffer because nobody is listening to Klopp. I read an even better one yesterday, were Klopp, actually said he hates injustice (honestly) and yet he’s got players diving and cheating his opponents most weeks.

No wonder football is becoming a bit nauseating, because let’s face it Klopp is not alone, but a man who hates injustice, obviously just means for his own team? What a contradictory remark.

Derek Thomas
73 Posted 12/11/2020 at 07:54:09
Tony @ 72; in 50 years it's gone full circle and nothing changes... wasn't every decision against Shankly 'A travesty of Justice' (c)... but at least Shankly could joke about it when he retired, he even signed an autograph for a blue thus: "To xxxxx, it's a travesty of justice, Bill Shankly."

Klopp is serious... sadly.

Tony Abrahams
74 Posted 12/11/2020 at 08:19:44
Talk about irony Derek, he obviously feels injustice the way Van Dyke was injured, but Pickford wasn’t cheating, he was just careless, in a similar way he was careless when Klopp ran on the pitch celebrating like they had just won the cup, whereas there was nothing careless about Salah’s dive two weeks later. Just downright cynical cheating.

Kim Vivian
75 Posted 12/11/2020 at 09:20:13
Haven't read all the posts on this thread but I have read the main piece. That could have been myself speaking.

Regarding playacting/simulation/exaggerated injuries etc - I've said it before and I'll say it again - if a player needs a physio on the pitch they must have a least two or three minutes off the pitch before re-entering play.

Len Hawkins
76 Posted 12/11/2020 at 10:16:25
I too have become very disillusioned with football and watch rugby league but guess what there are teams in rugby league that have founds ways to cheat feigning injury to gain advantage, getting up rubbing their neck and the ref then being overly officious on the other teams tackling.
Football and Rugby used to be simple games the players played towards their opponents goal / try line and score. Football especially Everton drive me crackers when they get a free kick outside their opponents area instead of being lofted into the box it is passed back to a midfielder who when challenged passes back to a defender then back to the GK from an attacking position to defence with no opposition player touching the ball CRIMINAL and if that is entertainment then I must be a miserable sod because I hate it.
Brian Harrison
77 Posted 12/11/2020 at 10:24:23
Well, for me, this week will make a change as I can enjoy 4 days of unadulterated pleasure watching the Masters from Augusta. No cheating, no VAR or Hawkeye to interfere with the pleasure, and referees very rarely called upon. The rules are pretty much the same rules that the game was originally played under.

There is also great sportsmanship shown – a word that no longer exists in football. Commentators and pundits just enjoying each shot and no bias to one player over another. This year, like all sports, there will be no fans allowed onto the course. But, when they are allowed in, by and large, the behaviour is impeccable, and to think the only thing preventing them getting closer to the players is a piece of string.

I still marvel how so many people can be so quiet when a player takes his shot or putt. And because it's being played in November rather than in April, there are no Everton games to distract me, pure heaven.

Alasdair Jones
78 Posted 12/11/2020 at 17:58:54
This is an excellent piece. Like Kim @75 "it could have been me speaking"!

I'm afraid my allegiance to the Blues goes back a long way; to the early '60s in fact. My last visit to Goodison Park was in the Martinez era; a home 0-0 draw with Swansea. That game broke me. It was so uninspiring lacking in creativity and poorly managed on and off the pitch. Why had I set off by coach from the Midlands at 9 am in order to get home 12 hours later for that?

I vowed never to return. The team and the overall game would have to significantly improve to lure me back to the ground where I had enjoyed so many wonderful games, particularly during the 1960s when I was a season ticket holder.

The present game has been massacred by monetary greed allied to bloated administrative bureaucracies that have tinkered with the rules, and placed TV revenues before anything else. I am not someone who fundamentally objects to talent being appropriately rewarded but only in the context of displaying commitment, skill and sportsmanship. Hence the greater attraction of seeing the worlds best golfers playing across the globe on TV, as Brian @75 points out. Incidentally, their rewards are inherently geared to their performances. In football at the elite level the opposite applies over the term of any contract.

One further issue has now confirmed my no more than casual interest in the game. It was picked up by the Telegraph on the final back page item of the Sports Supplement the other week. I think it goes under the heading Final Whistle. The writer highlighted the disturbing trend amongst "supporters" to let rip via social media following games which for the most part have been seen on TV. It comes mainly in the form of the injustices heaped on their team with often cruel and poisonous undertones. He cited the Pickford, Van Dijk incident as an example resulting in the need for Pickford to employ a security company to guard against the prospect of an attack on his home.

It may be that, as a consequence of all this, more folk will go to games in the lower divisions/non-league where you can still stand and watch amongst people who want to see sport played with enthusiasm and endeavour and care – not for the glamour and riches of the so-called elite.

Michael Low
79 Posted 14/11/2020 at 04:39:19
I agree regarding the the theatrics. When I saw Wilson flash a grin after Newcastle were awarded a penalty, it really pissed me off. How that was given is beyond me. He clearly and purposely moved into that position – in front of Gomes's foot – so as to maximize the effect of his swan dive and fake scream. It's happening with ever increasing and sickening regularity.

I live in North America and have a friend I was trying to encourage to come and watch some matches with me; he said he's not interested as there is too much of “players going down faking injuries then jumping back up after they get the foul awarded”. What's even more sad, though, is when I find the Trump circus rated in contention for entertainment with the Blues! :)

Mick Roberts
80 Posted 14/11/2020 at 15:12:16
The only way to stop the blatant cheating is not to fanny about with a waste-of-time yellow card although the majority get away with cheating anyway. Harry Kane and Mo Saleh are two of the biggest culprits; give them a red card and a three-match ban.

I also think when we are allowed back into the grounds, we should make our voices heard and call the cheating gets out.

Tony Heron
81 Posted 15/11/2020 at 16:30:56
Further to my previous post decrying the tactics of the modern game, I write about two recent experiences.

For reasons I'm still struggling to fathom, I decided to watch the 2nd half of the England v Ireland friendly the other night. I lasted just over 15 minutes, before turning it off. Can someone enlighten me as to when the rule was introduced banning crossing the ball?

Time after time, I watched the ball being played down the wings (sometimes with as little as 400 passes!) but, just when you were expecting the ball to be sent over to Calvert-Lewin to rise and plonk it in the net, the player in possession would check back and the whole process would start again, ending in the same result.

Then, on Saturday night, while channel hopping, I happened across the Newcastle v Man Utd game from 1996. What a brilliant game. Fast, close brilliant football from Newcastle; effort, hard-tackling, nobody falling down if someone breathed on them, 3 passes to get from one area to another, fantastic goals (Albert's chip over Schmeichel was perfection). All-in-all it reminded me of what football used to be all about: Passion, excitement and ENTERTAINMENT.

Eddie Dunn
82 Posted 01/12/2020 at 17:43:10
Tony, well said, mate, things are nowhere near as good as back then.
Eddie Dunn
83 Posted 01/12/2020 at 17:43:11
Tony, well said, mate. Things are nowhere near as good as back then.

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