There have been instances of good sportsmanship and bad sportsmanship in the AFL last weekend.
On the good side it was pleasing to see Dyson Heppell and Joel Selwood chair James Kelly off after last weeks game to celebrate Kelly’s 300th game.
On the flip side, you had the sledging allegations levelled at St Kilda players for targetting Marc Murphy in the game against Carlton targeting. This is a difficult issue and hard to assess and monitor. By drawing attention to the sledging and the content of the sledging, it brought to light rumours that I and a lot of other footy fans who aren’t on social media sites were not aware of. Where do you draw the line when it does not involve issues that are currently in the code of conduct?
Another good story in the AFL this week is the appointment of the female umpire, Eleni Glouftsis for the Essendon v West Coast game this Sunday. By all reports she has got there on her merits and deserves the chance. Another way of getting females involved in the game of Australia Rules Football.
The EPL concludes this week with Chelsea and Tottenham wrapping up the top two spots before the weekend and Manchester City almost safe in third spot. That leaves Liverpool and Arsenal in the fight for fourth position and the all important Champions League qualification. Liverpool have the easier game, but the Gunners have come with a rush in the last month and are not without some chance of finishing fourth. With Manchester United playing off for the Europa Cup and possible qualification for the Champions League, more may need to play out before the final positions are known. I have had a look at the qualification criteria and it is by no means clear. My personal view is that it would not be a bad thing for the Gunners to miss out on Europe and only concentrate on the League next season. Chelsea and Leicester have won the League in the last two years without having to worry about the Champions League.
Have a great weekend!
The biggest sports story this week was the passing of Muhammad Ali. Ali was a sporting icon and was voted in one publication as the athlete of the 20th century. He had not fought for 35 years and yet my 14 and 22 year old sons knew who he was, I think everyone knew who he was because he was not only a sporting icon, but also a champion of human rights. Ali was a wonderful promoter of the sport of boxing, but also with his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s Disease was also a testament to the dangers of boxing. When I was growing up boxing was a prominent global sport, however, the sport has now lost its way and unfortunately now lost its reatest son.
I read with interest during the week about the likely transfer of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United and Jamie Vardy to Arsenal. My feelings here were quite mixed. I thought it would be great to see Ibrahimovic in the EPL even if it is in the twilight of his career as he is still one of the best strikers in the world. However, going to Manchester United gives me no joy at all. With Vardy, I am happy he is considering a move to Arsenal, but equally I would like to see him stick with Leicester City to continue that Cinderella story.
Like most AFL fans I was a little shocked to see Tom Hawkins cop a suspension for his hit on Phil Davis. Yes he hit him in the head, but the degree of force was so minor that Davis threw his head back more in surprise than due to the impact of the strike. If this is the standard of impact that is required for a report why wasn’t Matthew Pavlich reported for slapping Patrick Ambrose in the face on Saturday night! My guess is that Hawkins was carrying an injury and probably needed a week off otherwise they would have challenged the report.
Have a great weekend!
This week sees Melbourne’s Christian Petracca get the Club’s third Rising Star nomination in the first nine rounds which is a great achievement. However, they still have a long way to go to emulate the Greater Western Sydney Giants who had eight nominations during the 2012 season. Putting aside the Giants who were given a leg up by the AFL in this regard with Draft concessions, the next best was five by Essendon in 1993 (a premiership year) and Fremantle in 1996. Then there are eight teams who have had four nominations. Of those, only Port Adelaide in 1997 and West Coast in 2004 converted their advantage into a premiership and in Port Adelaide’s case it took a further years! Fitzroy had four nominations in 1994 and were out of the competition two years later and Brisbane had four in 2005, the year after their last Grand Final appearance. So having good young talent is not the guaranteed formula for success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt and the Dees had two nominations and the winner last year so they are assembling a good batch of youngsters. It will be interesting to see if they can get any more nominees. I have heard there are some wraps on Sam Weideman so there is a chance they can get to four or maybe more. That being said, the GWS record looks safe for now.
There has been a lot of discussion in AFL circles this week about “rule of the week”. Last week the discussion centred around the deliberate behind with two examples being Lee Spurr from Fremantle and Pierce Hanley from Brisbane. Quite frankly I think both of those should have been penalised even without a “rule of the week” crackdown. Both players had alternatives to rushing a behind and chose to go with the behind and copped the penalty. Neither infringement cost their side the game. If I was to nominate a rule which I think should be tightened up it is incorrect disposal. Once you take possession there are only two ways of disposing of the ball, that is by way of a kick or a handball. Watching the game between Hawthorn and Sydney last week, I noticed that Hawthorn have added a third means of disposing of the ball. Just about every time a Hawthorn player was tackled the ball spilled from the tackle and there was no penalty and no reward for the tackle. Come on AFL tidy this one up please.
As predicted in this column several weeks ago, winning the FA Cup wasn’t enough to save Manchester United’s coach Louis van Gaal. Just a few days after the FA Cup triumph, van Gaal was dumped in favour of Jose Mourinho. There is no doubt the Club has struggled since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. He managed United from 1986 until 2013 bringing plenty of trophies and stability. Since then Mourinho is the third manager in three years. The Club seems to have lost its way and I don’t know that Mourinho is the one to get it back on track. We will see.
Have a great weekend!
The EPL season has now concluded and Leicester City won the crown by a whopping ten points. Arsenal, who by many measures had a disappointing season, sneaked into second spot. The Foxes lost only three games for the season and two of those games were to Arsenal. It just shows that with Arsenal finishing second on the back of a disappointing season, how disappointing the seasons of Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United were. Man U has the chance to at least secure some silverware this season in the FA Cup which may also save the job of Louis Van Gaal. One final comment on the EPL and that is Arsenal couldn’t have waited much longer to celebrate St Totteringham’s Day!
It was interesting to see the Bombers get cheered off after an honourable loss last week and a lot of people have suggested that this may have never happened before, however, I was at a game at Windy Hill in the late 1980s or early 1990s when they applauded the team from the ground. Essendon was playing West Coast and sustained about five or more injuries during the game and I remember Michael Long having to go back on the field with a shoulder injury and he may have even had his arm inside his jumper to protect it. West Coast won by a couple of goals and the Bomber faithful were so impressed with the effort in the face of adversity that they were clapped from the ground. I still remember a couple of West Coast supporters jumping up and down when the siren went and then going quiet when the Essendon crowd started clapping their team. After this game Kevin Sheedy embarked on one of his quests to expand the interchange bench which was ultimately successful.
There has been a lot of discussion about the shot clock in the AFL and what they can do to avoid the situation that was faced a couple of weeks ago when Mason Wood iced the clock to ensure North’s victory. The thirty seconds allowed to shoot for goal was introduced to try and force the likes of Brendan Fevola and Matthew Lloyd to not take up too much time preparing to have a shot for goal. I always thought this was a massive over reaction as the umpires have the right to call play on at their discretion anyway. My suggestion would be to do away with the thirty second rule and hand the discretion back to the umpire.
Football players are sought after commodities to promote products in the media, particularly at this time of the year. Some are cut out for it and some are completely hopeless. Jack Gunston from Hawthorn does a number of radio advertisements and I would suggest he falls into the latter category. His ads are that lame I often turn the radio off so I don’t have to listen to him. Stick to what you are good at Jack.
Have a great weekend!
With the EPL results this week it would appear that the title race and the race for the top four positions are still up for grabs with seemingly no side in contention performing to expectations. Leicester are still in front and have stretched their lead by a point with a draw and Tottenham and Arsenal wasted great opportunities to make up the ground. We now see Manchester United and West Ham United with a real chance to get the coveted fourth position with Manchester City losing again. The title is there is be taken by the side that gets into a bit of form. The result of this week’s London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal could be crucial in the end result. From a purely unbiased perspective….’Go Gunners’.
I have heard a lot of AFL commentators criticise the teams that have been selected for the NAB Challenge and the standard of the games. What must be remembered is that nothing really hinges on these games. They are purely practice matches and sides will play how they wish and who they wish. I can appreciate that the media wants more and the AFL always likes to promote the games as being serious, but when it all boils down, it is the pre-season and the expectation that teams will treat them as any more than ‘practice’ is misguided.
The NRL season kicked off last night and it is great to see action on the field replace all the off field insanity. For the record books, the Brisbane Broncos knocked off the Parramatta Eels. The Broncos seem like they have picked up where they left off in 2015 and the Eels look like they are in for a long season.
Have a great weekend!
Well Leicester City just keep rolling on and defeating Manchester City at home 3-1 is no mean feat. Their demise has been anticipated for some time, but with two thirds of the season over they have defied the odds and the pundits and are five points clear of their nearest rivals. This weekend the top four sides play each other and should Leicester beat Arsenal and Tottenham go down to Manchester City, you would have to think that it would have to be something catastrophic to prevent Leicester from taking out the title. Other than the big four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United, they would be the first team since Blackburn Rovers in 1995 to take out the Premier League title. As much as I want Arsenal to win the title, if the Gunners cannot do it, I think it would be great for the competition for Leicester City to win.
I know I was not going to comment further on the Essendon saga, but I would like to make a comment on the related issue of top up players. I must say I find it quite annoying that the other clubs who have had players suspended have come out saying how unfair it is. They were saying it was unfair that the Bombers were losing key players on the back of the saga and they have been happy to pick them up. The only team that has any right to complain would be Port Adelaide who picked up Angus Monfries before the story broke. In addition, what also must be remembered is that Essendon have been given access to ten top up players and upgrading two rookies and the other teams can upgrade rookies. There is a parity there and when you consider also that the players being picked up were unwanted in the recent drafts, it is hardly a panacea to success.
Have a great weekend!
Well the Chelsea manager’s job continues to be a poisoned chalice with Jose Mourinho being moved on by the same Club for a second time the year after he took the title. It is pretty clear his team is not playing for him and being on the brink of the relegation zone, it did look to be inevitable and a case of when, not if.
Sticking with the EPL, Louis Van Gaal has also come in for some stick as well. While Manchester United have not been winning, they certainly haven’t been conceding many goals with the least “goals against” in the League so I don’t think it is all doom and gloom or as bad as the situation at Chelsea.
On the local scene we have the big local A League derby this weekend with Melbourne City coming off three very impressive wins as opposed to Melbourne Victory coming off three disappointing losses. The form guide couldn’t be more opposite. Personally I would like to see City continue their winning ways as they have been quite entertaining slotting the goals away at a consistent rate.
The Hobart test match finished, as predicted by most of the pundits, with an easy victory to the Australians. I think it is time the ICC stepped into the West Indies situation to provide more finance and support. Cricket needs a strong West Indian team as they are the only test playing “nation” in that part of the world and like the AFL commission fostering football in the northern states, the ICC have the same responsibility to world cricket.
Have a great weekend!
Well the AFL Grand Final is over and the competition has seen it’s second three-peat in the space of 15 years and this is in the context of a competition which has a salary cap and draft which is supposed to even out the competition. You factor in that Geelong has also won three in five years in that same period and the Swans have played in four Grand Finals and won two as well and it seems to be an indicator that once clubs get to the top it is hard to topple them despite the draft and salary cap. It has meant that Brisbane who completed the initial three-peat struggled after competing in the last of their grand finals in 2004 and Geelong are starting to struggle now having finished out of the finals for the first time in nine years. It seems though that teams are having long sustained runs at or near the top. Free agency and trading also favours teams up the top as good players only want to go to ‘destination’ clubs.
The NRL provided a lot more interesting grand final than the AFL with the high drama of the golden point result. While it might be sour grapes on the part of Wayne Bennett, I must say I think to lose a game in that circumstance would be pretty hard to take. If they are going to have extra time, it should be ten minutes each way as the golden point comes down to luck or bad luck as Brisbane’s Hunt would attest.
It was good to see last years VRC Derby winner, Preferment win the Turnbull Stakes and last years VRC Oaks winner, Set Square run third in the same race. Too often these days the winners of those races disappear the following year to be never seen again. I hope they both go on and have a successful spring carnival as it adds to the value of those races.
It was also great to see the Gunners fight back after a very disappointing display at home against Olypiakos during the week to come out and trounce Manchester United by 3-0. The three goals came in the first 20 minutes and Man U did not look like scoring. I think this year Arsenal have a side which could be good enough to win the title, they just need to be consistent through the entire season.
Have a great weekend!
This week there has been a bit of controversy around penalties in soccer. First there was the Seb Ryall penalty in the Melbourne Victory v Sydney game on the weekend and then the Wayne Rooney penalty in the FA Cup match between Manchester United and Preston during the week.
There have been calls for a video review of penalties and I must say that I support this call. Penalties are often the difference between winning and losing and seem to usually favour the home side.
When a penalty is given there should be absolutely no doubt that it was justified. I know I have been against the DRS in cricket because it often creates as many questions as it answers, but in soccer the video review is usually pretty clear and when in doubt it would simply revert to the referee’s decision.
Some pundits suggest it may hold up the game, but there are plenty of stoppages in the game anyway so shy not spend a little extra time and get it right.
What are your thoughts?
Have a great weekend!
Who will be the first manager sacked in the Premier League this season? Louis van Gaal, head man at Manchester United must be a short priced favourite and we are only a few weeks into the campaign. After a 5-3 loss at Leicester City on the weekend (after Man U led 3-1) and sitting mid table with five points from five games, it is only a matter of time if results continue to go badly. How long before the Board bring back Sir Alex ?
Also on the hot seat must be Alan Pardew at Newcastle United. Lamenting at the foot of the table, things will need to change really quickly at St James’ Park for Pardew to hold his job! Hull City manager, Steve Bruce has already been tipped to slip into the Newcastle job with Alan Shearer as his off sider.
Whilst I think Van Gaal has the hotter seat given the expectations at Old Trafford, that Newcastle sources today said “the manager’s job was completely safe” must have Pardew feeling very uneasy.