Free Friday, December 4th 2020: VAR, Wind Chimes & Broadcasters in the Dock

Free Friday, December 4th 2020: VAR, Wind Chimes & Broadcasters in the Dock
December 4, 2020 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week:

Chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.

1 – Of all the myriad and excellent posts on VAR and PGMOL post-Brighton, this one from matthewyoung sums it up; sometimes less is more:

I actually didn’t watch live today as the under 10s team I help coach had a 1pm kickoff. Tried to avoid the score, but someone told me so I read the report, and yet was still astonished and enraged in equal measure when I saw the Salah/Robbo decisions.

The implementation of VAR in this country is so astonishingly shite that we, and the game, would be better off without it. Managing to fuck it up this badly is almost impressive.

2 – Manuel, however, played the long game, and is none the worse for it! There’s no mistaking the passion:

I rarely tell people what to do, but I urge everyone to seriously consider cancelling any TV subscriptions related to Premier League football. Vote with your wallet. It might just be a drop in the ocean considering the masses of dumbasses out there, but it offers some sort of peace of mind. And while you’re at it, you might as well donate a good chunk of the saved amount to UNICEF, WWF, the TTT dungeons or wherever else, the money’s spent infinitely wiser.

A few years ago I decided to not spend any money on anything related to professional football anymore (TTT being the exception, as it’s not exactly part of the money frenzy surrounding the whole circus). There are many many things wrong with football, the insane amount of money involved, dodgy actors (oily Arabs/Russians, anyone?), trash-tier refereeing and a general corruption in any football association that isn’t up a tree by the count of three just being the tip of the iceberg.

Watching PL matches on TV costs an arm and a leg where I live, so it was an easy decision to make. I’ve been using internet streams ever since, which do the trick. I’ve never had an issue in all those years watching pirated streams (I usually use However, taking some basic precautions is recommended, like using an ad-blocker, up-to-date browser and maybe even a script-blocker, as well as an anti-virus program if you’re using Windows (plus don’t click on anything stupid).

Seeing what kind of idiocy these TV fees finance is mind-boggling. Remember that ass wipes like Shearer, Richarlison or David fucking Cootes all leech off these payments! And there are hordes of other despicable people making a living from TV money, in some cases earning outrageous amounts of money.

And what is the consumer actually paying for? The shite I’ve watched this afternoon? I’d pay to NOT watch that for fucks sake! As someone has mentioned the other day, I’d rather watch my cat licking her butthole for 90 minutes.

Contrary to some on here I’m of the opinion that VAR is great. It brutally highlights how piss-poor the refereeing standard actually is. These guys haven’t got a clue what they are doing! Without VAR, there was always the doubt that the ref just didn’t see it, had a bad angle on the incident or whatever. Turns out slow mos and 420 angles to choose from makes their decisions even worse! They simply suck hard at refereeing! Completely out of their depth! Or is it corruption?

That’s the elephant in the room, isn’t it? We’re at a point where you can’t really tell for sure, but looking at this season it really reeks to high heaven. My hunch is it’s a toxic mixture of incompetence and corruption, nicely complemented with a healthy portion of xenophobia and long-fostered biases.

VAR acts like a catalyst, in that it unearths these unpleasant things and drags them into the limelight. It exposes the PGMOL and the Premier League as what they truly are: a sheltered workshop for the visually and otherwise impaired.

And I’m sick of these organisations. Sick to the fucking core. The PL is broken beyond repair. There has been too much bullshit accumulated over the years, and the toilet is full to the brim, if not comfortably overflowed. Trying to flush it is not gonna end well, it’s properly clogged.
In the match thread madchenKliop wrote something along the lines of “this is how people vote for Trump”. It seems unrelated at first but I think he might be on to something here. I feel a simmering rage and helplessness when it comes to football and officials, to the point where I just want to burn it to the ground. Get the wrecking balls out and tear that joke of a league down. I wanna see the fear in their eyes and I couldn’t care less how it’s done.

The FA, Jordan “bottom of the trash” Pickford, the broadcasting companies, the PL and the PGMOL, they can all eat shit and die as far as I am concerned. Can fuck off to where the pepper grows. They’re destroying something I love and I fucking hate them for it.

3 -Schallis11 with some VAR facts and figures:

This was a VAR breakdown for Liverpool BEFORE today’s game (from ESPN). Tell me there’s no bias:

Overturns: 9
Leading to goals for: 0
Disallowed goals for: 5
Leading to goals against: 2
Disallowed goals against: 0
Net goal score: -7
Subjective decisions for: 1
Subjective decisions against: 3
Net subjective score: -2
Penalties for / against: 0 / 3

4 – Anthony O’Brien on the issue of broadcasting and the 12.30 Saturday slot:

Unless the broadcasters are particularly shortsighted, then the duty of care to the shareholders may well be best served by not picking the Wednesday night teams for a 12.30 Saturday match.

Why do I believe this is the case?

The players are central to the the product that is a Premier League fixture. To listen to the bollocks being talked since Klopp brought this up one would think that the analysis is the main event and the match itself is an inconvenience. To my mind the broadcasters should be reminded that the people primarily tune in to see the match, not hear to her analysts talk rubbish.

If the TV schedules damage players, causing “poorer” squad players to be played, then fewer viewers tune in to watch matches, which damages the bottom line. We can see this in the amount of subscribers here who have stated they are seriously considering dropping one or more subscriptions due to the impact of poor officiating on Liverpool matches (I’m being kind to the officials here because my actual thoughts are probably defamatory).

The only logical way it makes sense for BT to pick a Wednesday night team against one that had perhaps not played in Europe mid week, is that they are hoping the general superiority of the CL team is nullified by the freshness and time to prepare of the “underdog”. Again this is shortsighted as people will stop watching these matches if they think it will be poorer because of this therefore damaging the value to the shareholder.

The case that Klopp, OGS, Frank & Pep need to start making to the broadcasters, especially BT, is that by persisting in selecting Wednesday night teams for the 12.30 match against teams that have not played midweek, they are harming the value to their shareholders.

5 – Mike Taylor on the cliches used in football commentary:

All very true! And what makes it worse is that a lot of the chichés that commentators use are language abuse anyway. One that annoys me particularly is “gone to ground” when a player falls over. That phrase is used of, for example, a hunted fox that returns to a hideout. It doesn’t mean “changing one’s vertical location to be closer to the ground”. Yet it’s so ubiquitous that people are probably growing up now thinking that’s what it DOES mean.

And while were here, another thing that infuriates me about commentators — because of its sheer laziness — is commentating on what a player does based on his reputation rather than how he’s actually playing. Often, a reputation that is a year or more out of date. This was particularly apparent when Wayne Rooney was playing for England, and commentators would have orgasms every time he played a ten-yard square ball.

Of course this doesn’t only apply to giving players credit for playing better than they actually are. It works the other way round, too, when a player is having a superb game but commentators don’t notice it because they are primed to have a particular opinion of the player — it’s as though they literally don’t see what he’s doing. An example we’re seeing a lot right now is Fabinho, who has been pigeonholed as “out-of-position midfielder doing his best in an unfamiliar position” rather than as what he actually is: the best central defender currently operating in England. He can have a game — as he did last night — when he repeatedly materialises as if by magic, exactly where he needs to be, to make an interception that prevents an attack developing; where he makes multiple amazingly clean tackles; where he repeatedly stops attackers in their tracks and plays an intelligent ball that initiates a fast break. And the commentators simply can’t see what’s in front on them.

6 – Tash also commentating on Bob’s article:

A great effort there by Bob.
That’s what he offers this team.
He’s seen the pundit off his line, but he still had a lot to do.
He showed great confidence to take that on.
What vision etc. etc.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Saturday Nov. 28th:

Tomkins Rants; Tomkins’ Head Explodes; Fuck The PGMOL, by Paul Tomkins.

There is some kind of implicit bias at work in how referees choose to see the footage. They can ignore assaults one week and see the slightest of touches the next. It often seems to hinge on who is involved; an England international almost always has a free pass.

We also know that David Coote forgot to even view the assault on Virgil van Dijk due to forgetting the rules, in a game that continues to leave Liverpool without two players shortlisted for the best player in the world due to serious foul play damaging their fucked-up knees; but then we get about three different explanations from the Premier League afterwards, as they make stuff up to cover their tracks.

That’s the most galling thing, how they change their explanations like guilty criminals giving a fifth account of what really happened. They give us a load of old flannel, to fit a narrative, not the facts.

It was then said that Coote had indeed seen the incident and deemed it not worthy of a red card, and as ever, an England international or ex-international gets away with something few others would. No ban, as the VAR saw the flying two-footed assault, and … well, who knows? Welbeck got that decision today, but no way Mo Salah would via VAR. Instead, he’d be questioned for going over too easily. (Michael Owen brought that up again, yet he dived far more for Liverpool than Salah ever has.)

Post-Match Analysis: Brighton 1 – 1 Liverpool, by Daniel Rhodes.

In a match that will be remembered for numerous decisions by the Video Assistant Referee, it is also important to look back over the key stats in match that ended up level in the end. And, in this game, it turned out to be one of the Reds’ worst performances under Klopp in the Premier League. The list of potential reasons for that is a very long one: scheduling, injuries, lack of cohesion, inexperience in key positions, players playing out of position, fatigue, unable to play fit players because of extra load on them, and finally, fucking VAR. Whatever the distribution and influence of each potential reason, the numbers from this match are not pretty.

Monday 3oth Nov:

2020/21 Champions League Group Stage | Matchday 5 | Ajax | Anfield, by Gary Fulcher.

A defeat for Liverpool and a win for Atalanta against Midtjylland on Tuesday, would leave the Reds in third place with nine points, one point behind both Ajax and Atalanta.

In that scenario, Liverpool would need to beat the Danish side in the final group game in Denmark to progress, regardless of the result between Ajax and Atalanta in their final match. If the Dutch and the Italians draw and Liverpool win, the Reds would then top the group.

Lots of ifs and buts but things will be a lot clearer at 10pm on Tuesday evening one way or another.

Tuesday 1st Dec:

What Is the Premier League State of Play, a Quarter Way Through?, by Mark Cohen.

It doesn’t matter if you are in the 1st or 90th minute, if the match is level, or there is a goal in it, both teams are trying their hardest. If the match state is 3-1 or 4-0, there is less jeopardy in the outcome and thus, with the pressure lessened, the match takes on a different flavour.

When Southampton lost to Leicester 9-0 last year, there was still 9 minutes at the beginning where the game was absolutely in the balance. It was 0-0 and neither team could have imagined the blowout that would ensue. It is obvious that Southampton played with greater care and resolve in the first nine minutes then the last nine that day as there was still maximum jeopardy.

How teams perform under pressure is more important in understanding potential than the reverse, because the team that ends top of the pile is almost always the one who has weathered the high pressure situations the best. It is in those vital moments, say when you are 1-0 down in the 86th minute at Villa Park and end up winning 2-1, or you have conceded a horrible goal at Old Trafford and are struggling to imprint your will, but Adam Lallana pops up in the 82nd to earn you a vital point that titles are won, as the moment not only galvanises your team, it demoralises your opponents.

Wednesday Dec. 2nd:

Talking a Lot of Wind, by Bob Pearce.

Like a wind chime, football pundits operate with one simple criteria. What they produce must change continuously, with no discernible repetition. This doesn’t mean they must  only use each cliché once. It means they use random combinations and interplays of a limited selection of familiar sayings.

A player misses a clear-cut chance to score and triggers a pundit to rattle through one or more of their collection of sayings:

“He has to hit the target.”

“He should test the keeper.”

“He should have done better and he knows it.”

Even this limited selection of three tired platitudes can be combined with minor variations in number and order by a pundit. Using just one gives three options (1, 2 or 3).

Jangling any two together, in any order, gives them six more options (1+2, 1+3, 2+1, 2+3, 3+1, or 3+2).

And if they clatter through any combination of all three they have a further six options (1+2+3, 3+2+1, 1+3+2, 2+3+1, 2+1+3, or 3+1+2).

If you’re running out of fingers and thumbs for counting, I can tell you that even just three pick ‘n’ mix vapitidities can be clanged together to conjure up 15 variations for when this trigger event of a player missing a clear-cut chance to score occurs.

You can try playing the game of putting these three phrases together in each of their variations. Maybe try 1+3 “He has to hit the target.” “He should have done better and he knows it.” Or how about 2+3+1 “He should test the keeper. He should have done better and he knows it. He has to hit the target.”

Go on, try being a human wind chime for a minute.

I’ll wait…