Controversial Rant No. 157: What Has To Change for EPL '08-'09

Simon MartinSenior Writer IMarch 31, 2008

The season 2007/08 isn't quite over, but we've seen enough football to know that there are things that must change before next season, to avoid repeats of the controversial, sometimes farcical, incidents we have all been privy to.

I'll start with something very close to my heart: respect for the officiating body, namely referees. The FA and EPL must take a harder stance with players who cause dissent and aggravate the referees.

I have not been best pleased with the behaviour of many of the EPL clubs this season, and especially with those in the top half of the table.

Chelsea, most notably, have been violent and particularly volatile, and I lay the blame at John Terry's door for failing to control the team he captains. When he grabbed Luis Boa Morte by the neck in November, and did not receive any punishment, I questioned for the first time whether or not the referees or Chelsea were running the show.

I was forced to ask the same question last week with the Ashley Cole saga. I don't care how many crocodile tear apologies he gives to the media, his behaviour both on and off the pitch this season has disgraced the name of the Premier League and his country.

Retrospective punishment MUST be introduced with respect to such crass and disgraceful behaviour, otherwise we will never curb it.

Which brings me neatly onto the next subject. Referees. Mike Riley last week made the profession a complete joke, whereas before it was only half a joke. I'm sorry Mike, you copped out, and it gives a bad name to everyone in the profession, from the Premier League with you to the grass roots with me.

Even if you get it wrong, BE DECISIVE. Don't take the rubbish, give a yellow for dissent if they swear at you, and give a second if the player continues to rant and rave.

Now for tackles. I don't care how many people tell me tackles like Martin Taylor's happen week in, week out, and you can't get it out of the game, YOU'RE WRONG, YOU CAN REMOVE IT FROM THE GAME, by firstly coming down extremely heavily on poor tacklers who risk the playing careers of others, and secondly by teaching players to tackle properly and safely!!!

It is a lost art that we MUST get back. Otherwise more players like Eduardo are going to suffer horrific injuries at the hands (or feet) of reckless players like Taylor.

Next comes diving. Nobody likes it, everyone condemns it, IF it happens against their team, but nobody will condemn their own players or team if they happen to get away with it!!!

When Paulo Di Canio played for Charlton, he dived and got a penalty against Blackburn, and we won 1-0 with the resulting goal. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and it must have left a bad taste in Alan Curbishley's mouth too, because he dropped Di Canio for three matches afterwards.

Would he do the same thing at West Ham now? Probably not, his job's on the line enough already.

And that brings the rant neatly onto sacking managers. It's not always their fault, it never brings the result anyone wants, and—lets face it—some managerial positions are becoming untenable because they change managers so often.

Tottenham and Newcastle, take a bow—it's a safe bet that Ramos and Keegan won't be managers together in the EPL in two years time—one or the other or both will have been sacked. You can quote me on that.

Forget the lazy, overpaid players who aren't fit to wear their shirts, it must be the fault of their tired, overworked and somehow always stuck in the spotlight manager. He can't play the football for them, SO GET OFF HIS BACK and get stuck into the lazy louts that get paid £30-50,000 a week!!!

Lastly, MONEY. The bane of the modern game, and of society in general.

Sporting events are no longer about glory, it's about what's most financially viable for the business. And that irritates me too, football clubs as businesses. We pay to watch them play football, not advertise shaving cream, or in Wayne Rooney's case, children's cough mixture, and the amount of money the clubs get—and then pay their players—borders on the insane.

No normal person can even relate to this filthy amount of wealth. My father earnt in one year the amount these so-called professionals are earning in a week. That's £42,000 a year he was paid, by the way.

Everyone and their grandmother will now come on here and say "get real, this is the real world, and money runs it", and yes, you are right. But think of this: what motivates you to play football? Is it £50,000 a week, or lifting the FA Cup, or the Champions League trophy? Or maybe the World Cup?

You see, the worrying thing is—with the England squad, how many of them can you honestly say aren't thinking about the money when they play?

How can you be motivated to win the world cup when you have everything you've always wanted handed on a plate?

Where's the fight, where's the passion, where's the soul?

2007/08 was the year we saw the soul of English Football take a great knock, from all of the above.

In order to stop the rot, we have to fix the problems inherent in our game, otherwise the EPL—and the English national team—are destined for mediocrity, forever.


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