OK, I accept that this issue now is not as relevant as it would have been a month ago, but hey, it’s my blog, and I want to talk about it! But I’ll keep it brief or it’ll become an essay.

I think UEFA’s climbdown on their decision to ban Eduardo was a disgrace, and an open invitation for divers everywhere. Let’s face it, whilst Arsene Wenger could justify feeling upset that UEFA had made an example of Eduardo, he could have resolved the issue himself in house. But that’s going over old ground.

The problem here is that UEFA’s climbdown has just demonstrated that the big clubs are more important than sporting integrity. Arsene Wenger achieved a victory, but at what cost? Now, the likes of Ronaldo are free to roll around without any fear of punishment, where if UEFA’s charge had stuck, there was a very strong probability that the efforts to clean up the game would have gone somewhere.

What particularly riles me was the reaction of the Arsenal fans to Wayne Rooney winning a penalty against them a couple of weeks later. At least with Rooney there was contact!

However, as UEFA have now proved, contact isn’t a must to win a penalty anymore.

And I for one think that stinks.

Whose a silly Bhoy then?

August 30, 2009

OK, you may have seen my little rant at Arsene Wenger and co over Eduardo’s spout of cheating in Europe this week, and although I am writing this through gritted teeth,  in the interest of fair play it’s only right I address Aiden McGeady’s ill-advised tumble today.

I mean, what was the boy thinking? Surely he must have known Dougie McDonald was going to be all over any kind of ‘simulation’ after the week’s events? When I first saw the incident live today I like the commentators assumed he’d been caught. Apparently not. Not that you can see it in this video, but the look on McGeady’s face after the ref pulled out the red card said it all. He’d been caught out, and despite my affiliation to Celtic, the referee got it absolutely spot on.

What annoys me most though is that there was no need at all for McGeady to hit the deck. He was in the clear, and he had the full back in his pocket all afternoon. McGeady truely is the one exciting player in Scotland at the moment, but it seems he’s seen the Eduardo incident one too many times and decided to have a go himself.

The sad thing is, as Tony Mowbray has pointed out, both diving ‘incidents’ have gone against us this week, with Arsenal’s penalty and McGeady’s red card, but maybe this will let Aiden know he needs to stay on his feet.

Now I’m not saying he shouldn’t go down if there’s contact, ala Rooney yesterday, but at least wait until you’re actually touched, otherwise you just look like a nipple.

I hope once Tony Mowbray sees the incident he disciplines McGeady, because as I alluded to the other day, I believe strong management is the way to stop diving without any involvement from the governing bodies.

As for the match itself, I thought Celtic could have been better, but it’s the result that matters. Samaras put in a good shift, but if his last minute miss had cost the points he’d have been crucified. But the star of the day was Artur Boruc. Craig Burley described his late save as ‘save of the century’. Is that true? Probably not, but you don’t see saves like that every week.

Looks like the big man is back on form, which is good news for the rest of the campaign.

Hello world! Welcome to my brand spanking new blog, I’m going to try and pick up the big talking points from the sporting world, and I hope you’ll join in too.

Right then, the big topic of the week clearly took place at the Emirates,  so I felt what better place to start than here.

What can I say about Arsene Wenger? Brilliant coach? Clearly. Protective of his players? Absolutely. Hypocrite? You better believe it!

In 2006, Arsene Wenger told the world he wanted to see players who dived punished. In Monsieur Wenger’s own words, he said;

“We have to fight it and there is only one way to punish people diving obviously: suspension.”

Yet here we are, three years later and he feels it is an “utter disgrace” that Eduardo has been charged by UEFA. What gives? Whilst most of us who watch the game acknowledge Wenger has roughly the same eye-site as David Blunkett on a dark night, Wenger generally is respected by most fans throughout the country. However, he is now taking protectionism of his players to a new level, from where he’ll struggle to claw back any of my respect.

OK, Eduardo is coming back from a horrendous injury and is lucky to be playing again. But do you really buy that he was protecting himself? Is that why he threw himself to the ground, arms flailing? Was that why he had a Ronaldoesque grin on his face when the ref gave the pen?

Yes, Eduardo may seem to be a new case, a ‘precedent’ if you will, but trust me it’s happened before. That time it was the former Hearts winger, Saulius Mikoliunas who did his best Clark Kent over an outstretched leg at Hampden. The net result was a penalty, but also a two-game retrospective ban. But if you look at the bigger picture, Mikoliunas stopped diving. That should have been a light-bulb in the head of governing bodies, and Football Associations everywhere.

But what it should also have been, particularly now in the days of TV coverage, is a message to every player and every manager in Europe that if players dived there was a chance they could be punished. And at the end of the day, these are the two most important groups.

When players dive, managers should take disciplinary actions. Am I an idealist? Probably. But can you imagine if Eduardo had played for the late, great Brian Clough? He’d have been substituted, publicly reprimanded, dropped, fined and possibly placed on the transfer list. And managers are the the people here who can stamp out diving, so UEFA wouldn’t have to get involved.

Compare that to Wenger’s response, or Sir Alex Ferguson, or Rafa Benitez.

Now the chief of the SFA has waded into the argument, but it’s fair to say he should concentrate on cleaning up the SPL from the same problem. Glass houses comes to mind. However, Celtic manager Tony Mowbray has kept a dignified silence, despite the attempts of us ‘hacks’ to drag him into the argument, and he deserves a lot of credit for his stance.

Wenger, meanwhile has announced he will personally challenge ‘every decision made against his team in Europe’, stating that UEFA have changed the goal posts for this ‘witch hunt’, and that the referee’s decision is no longer final. Altogether now…wah, wah. Nonsense. If the decision was no longer final, the match would be replayed. And have we not been rescinding red cards for years? Or upgrading yellow cards to red ones (Ben Thatcher anybody)?

UEFA now have to demonstrate a degree of consistency, but what better place to start than in a Champions League game? Does this not send out a message we’ve all been crying out for? This act will have sent alarm bells ringing in the heads of Europe’s serial divers. Look at the bigger picture, and this move is just what European football needs: a sense of fair play. A sense that diving is out of order, and players WILL be held accountable.

Wenger could have nipped the issue in the bud with a simple ‘it’ll be sorted in house’ comment. He now looks like he’s losing the plot, blaming UEFA, the media, Scotland and my nan for the ‘attack’ on Eduardo. Here’s an idea Arsene. Blame Eduardo, and then yourself. Tell your players to stop cheating, grow some testicles and ‘man up’.

Then you’ll not only be a great coach, but a manager we can respect. A bit like Mr Clough.