Free Friday: The Rest is Just Football and The Blurring of Now

Free Friday: The Rest is Just Football and The Blurring of Now
September 12, 2019 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Posts selected by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

This week’s round-up brings you some of the best comments on the site, together with some samples of the articles we’ve published.

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1 – Vinnylfc on Sept. 9th:

Not sure if it was mentioned on here at the time, but I saw something yesterday on Facebook that is worth sharing as it demonstrates what LFC is all about.

After the Burnley match, AOC spotted a young Burnley fan who was in tears as he hadn’t managed to get any autographs from the Burnley players.

Ox took him aside and brought him round to the LFC team bus where most of the players posed for photographs with him and have him a signed LFC football.

In our cynical modern world, thought that was a really nice thing to do and shows the ethos that Liverpool Football Club should be all about.

2 – Jeff on news of Matip’s contract extension, Sept. 10th:

I am aware that assumptions as a rule get people in trouble. One must remember that Joel Matip came to Liverpool on a free transfer. In the world of free transfers, I assume that Matip got a large signing bonus and a wage that reflected the fact that he came on a free which meant almost if not certainly that he got higher wages than he would have gotten if he had cost Liverpool a transfer fee. If what I have written has an ounce of truth in it, it will almost if not certainly be to Matip’s advantage to have his contract extended a year because he will continue to receive the wage packet he got when he signed.

To me the reality of coming on a free and the benefits a player accrues by coming on a free will come one way or another into the world of James Milner. I suspect with no evidence that Liverpool would like to sign him to a one year contract or a one year contract with an option for a second year. This being said will the club be willing to pay him the same wage packet he got when he came on a free? I do not know. If the club wants to cut his wages, will he be interested in a wage cut? If he sees his playing time being cut this season, will he look to move somewhere where he plays regularly but is on less money? I have no idea what James Milner nor for that matter what Liverpool are thinking but to me this will be the more difficult player to sort things out with.

Finally, if Liverpool want you to stay and you force a move or leave on a free, what does the future hold for you? Before you answer this question, I urge you to think about the life of Phil Coutinho and Emre Can. How did it work out for the lad who forced a move and a lad who took the money on a free? Okay, they  both are doing well financially, but their careers took a giant hit.

3 – Mark replies to David’s article about “the blurring of now”:

Great stuff Dave, one of my favourite subjects – quantum mechanics.

I am very inclined to add to this article, perhaps a stand alone piece, about the latest nature of reality; the bit you wrote about time being warped by a group of individuals is far closer to reality than many may have thought in the past.

In terms of football, I absolutely believe in a collective group’s ability to force a certain possibility into a reality.

In terms of VAR, I feel a sense of total despair every time I now watch the massive and unfettered fervour of the crowd reigned in. It’s almost as if, as Dave has so brilliantly put it, the powers that be are wishing to supplant, through VAR, their own incorrect blurred reality on the one before the crowd, with tragic results.

When City (who I loathe), scored that incredibly brilliant winner in their quarter final against Spurs, the scene was a true and tremendous one, even for those like me who intensely dislike them.

It was real, and emotional and it is/was what football is all about – sometimes you’re on the right side, sometimes on the wrong side, but there’s always a position to take, to get involved in, to engage with and to live.

VAR quickly removed that. Never mind that the actual offsides was so close anyway as to be almost redundant, it also occurred further up the play before the final ball was even played making the moment absurd for all watching as nobody had any incline or desire to see it called back for ‘offsides’.

The upshot of this VAR inspired nonsense, is that, as it wears on, it will remove most of the true emotional fervour of the crowd, and with it, it’s ability to impact upon its environment in a quantum sense (more on that another time, but a little example would be when a foul is committed, and the Home crowd roars with all its might to force a penalty – in this day and age that emotional attachment to the moment is vastly diminished as the crowd understands its place is not required as VAR will make the decision).

Think of all those times a through ball has been played and you have cast your eye across the line to a linesman dashing with his flag pointed to the ground, and you know as your heart begins to skip “its on man it’s fucking on!!”

That is what VAR takes away from you, the simplicity and beauty of now, which is why football always succeeded so rampantly, it’s simple, it’s beautiful and it was, until VAR, in the now.

I’m not saying remove it for everything, but curtail it to only the most egregious mistakes a ref makes (which in fairness I think they are trying to do).

The rest is just football.

4 – Fady, highlighting the quality of the whole thread, replying to Mark above!

Excellent comments Mark. I’ll highlight a couple of your points:

That is what VAR takes away from you, the simplicity and beauty of now, which is why football always succeeded so rampantly, it’s simple, it’s beautiful and it was, until VAR, in the now.

Yes. One of the many beauties of football is its seamless and (for the most part) uninterrupted action. Action and counter-action and refereeing decisions happen so quickly that you don’t have time to really think. When the next break in play you might get a replay which either showed the referee to be correct or wrong and sometimes neither. I didn’t mind that. It’s just like life isn’t it? Sometimes there is black, sometimes white, other times, grey. Why must there always be perfection? Why can’t there be mistakes that we all just learn to live with or should we spend the rest of our sad lives bitterly recalling an incident as a “ghost” goal whilst ignoring the obvious fact that a different decision could have resulted in a slightly different but possibly worse outcome (red card, penalty, an almost certain goal and a player down for the majority of the match*). VAR simple kills this unique and beautiful feature of a simple game.

I’m not saying remove it for everything, but curtail it to only the most egregious mistakes a ref makes (which in fairness I think they are trying to do).


The referee misses a blatant red card offence? Simple: the fourth official lets him know and the player is sent off. The referee gives a penalty for a blatant dive? Simple: the fourth official let him know and the goal is chalked off and the offending player cautioned.

Clear and obvious error? Think about that statement. What seems clear to you might be blurred for others. For instance, chalking off a goal because the attacking player’s fingernail was slightly in front of the last defender is ridiculous in the extreme. Yet, that is supposed to be the barometer for a “clear and obvious error”? Those who argue for VAR intervention cite the example of Thierry Henry’s blatant handball against Ireland in the WC qualifier. Well, that is where the fourth official sends a message to the onfield referee to let them know. Simple.

One of the biggest problem with the world is that we want someone else to be held responsible for any perceived flaw. If a child fails at anything then it must be somebody’s else fault. If I trip and break my leg then it’s because the council didn’t repair the divot in the park – not because I was looking at my mobile phone and wasn’t watching where I was going. If a team loses then it’s because the referee made the wrong decision and not because the players made 20 worse decisions during the match. So instead of VAR, how about we educate ourselves and those around us about excepting decisions, good or bad, and learning to live with them. Surely that will better prepare you for what life throws at you. Because life isn’t always about right or wrong or fair. It’s about learning to live with whatever it throws at you.

*Why doesn’t anyone ever mention this alternate (and obviously) worse scenario to Mourinho whenever he complains about the so-called “ghost” goal?

5 – David himself on Sterling in the England game:

I thought Sterling was the difference in that game. He has most definitely arrived as a player. He just looks like he relishes terrorising defences now, whereas when we had him he was a bit tentative or he would do more ghosting.  Now he just goes full frontal!

Sancho’s finishing was good and to be fair, so was Kane’s  for his goal, but without Sterling Kosovo would probably have won that game.  He is turning into quite a sensational player with the added confidence.  It’s the way he seizes the initiative now.  And whether he’s got the greatest strike or not, he’s scoring a lot of goals.  He’s got the appetite and I expect him to improve his striking technique also.  I can’t see any point in denying he is turning into a great player.

Articles published since last Friday:

Wednesday Sept.11th:

The Blurring of Now – How Time Affects the Game We Perceiveby David Fitzgerald.

The big lie is that there is one universal truth out there. As has become almost accepted fact, (and VAR has reinforced this) a referee’s perspective on almost every situation he (or she) makes a judgement on is a subjective one. In the same way, a commentator or ‘expert’ pundit’s view is also an interpretation. As Iris Murdoch says, ‘’ we are all literary artists, we are constantly employing language to make interesting forms out of experience which perhaps originally seemed dull or incoherent.’’ Commentary is quite clearly in the realm of narrative elaboration, but the referees too have virtual encyclopedias of rules at their disposal that give an illusion of universal truth but this is in fact, just as much of a narrative as anything else. Much of it self-contradictory.

If we want some peace and to enjoy our football, I think the sooner we abandon the pursuit of absolute truth and embrace our excellence at approximation the better. It’s all about the blur!*