Friday, 23 May 2014

Are there too many fouls in the Championship?

I remember my playing days fondly as all middle aged men probably do. I used to play on the playground as well as on the school pitches and while we used to tackle pretty hard I don't remember so many poor challenges as we see in the professional game today. One of my friends did have his leg broken during a school game but that was the only major injury that I recall. As boys playing for your school team the aim was never to hurt the opposition or to try and get an advantage by fouling deliberately to break up a move, but today you see shirt pulling and arm pulling all the time at corners and during general play. But I wonder if such tactics are self-defeating?
If referees didn't allow a few infringements to go unnoticed
we would probably have 5 against five on the pitch by half time.
It is good to know that AFCB are top of one table. The Cherries were the best team in not conceding too many penalties (just 3 all season) or suffering many goals from free kicks, but I can think of one or two last season that were costly challenges. The Cherries only committed 390 fouls in total, which was by far the lowest in the Championship with the next cleanest team being Doncaster on 429 - so much for the dirty northern slogan. Bournemouth did collect their fair share of yellow cards though, a healthy 65 and 4 reds, but Watford managed to pick up 102 yellows and Blackpool went to town on 10 red cards with 11 penalties conceded. The chief fouling team of all though were Yeovil Town with a whopping 588 free kicks taken against them. Perhaps Gary Johnson no longer needs to wonder why they let in so many goals from dead ball situations.

The game has changed though and it is such a game of chess that dead ball situations are sought after today, especially with so many free kick specialists. And yet defenders still try and get away with near-like rugby tackles if the referee is not watching and it does not make for great spectator viewing. A full table of the discipline for clubs in the Championship is give on the Football League website.

It makes me think are the yellow and red card punishments really the only way of dealing with persistent foulers? I know sin bins have been considered and even trialed, but I am not a fan of 9 against 11 etc. We want teams to see that ability should win the day and not cheating, but the money involved in the game today is so vast that winning is a must at almost any cost. A foul if you can get away with it is deemed worth the risk nine times out of 10. 

We may like to see a clean game of football but it just isn't so easy anymore. Is it any wonder that the referees are becoming more well known when they have to make decisions on players that are stretching the rules all the time? Sometimes, we don't know how lucky we are at AFCB to see a good game of football most weeks rather than a stop start free kick horror show, but we are not in the playground anymore and Championship teams will be taught such gamesmanship by some coaches that are well learnt in such under hand tactics. Ask yourself though is it football? 

Today, we also have written a small piece on World Cup Chimes about the Brazuca - do you know what that is? 

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