The Brexit club

To paraphrase a famous John Hughes film ‘the first rules of Brexit club is you do not talk about Brexit club.’

In all seriousness this might as well be the unofficial motto of May’s government regarding the UK’s discussions in leaving the EU.  Nobody has a clue what is going on only that once it’s all over nobody is going to be happy and it is going to be one huge mess.

After the referendum result it seemed that those calling for a second vote were being unrealistic.  Close as it was it seemed the best thing was to try and get the best deal possible.

Only there was one big flaw with that thought.  Namely that David Cameron was a chancer and like an aristocratic cad gambled the family estate only to lose the lot.  Even worse was that there was no actual plan in case the leave vote won.  It says a lot that the football game Championship manager investigated and replicated the repercussions of a Brexit Britain instead of the Government of the day.

Instead David Cameron stood in front of the camera for the last time before walking off to write his memoirs in a posh hut that cost £25,000.  The job was now given to Theresa May to try and sort this mess out only to be one of the worst Prime Minister’s in history.  In short she has been a complete and utter omnishambles.

‘Brexit means brexit,’ Theresa May cried which  was another slogan that nobody understood what precisely May meant.  Did she for instance mean ‘breakfast is breakfast,’ or ‘Brexit for the everyday Bat people,’ as her alter ego Nicola Murray would say in the thick of it.

The thing about Brexit is that the people involved are incompetent.  We have David Davies who is so dense that to quote the thick of it’s Malcolm Tucker ‘light bends around him.’  Incidentally that isn’t being harsh.  Look at him as he walks in for Brexit talks with the smirk of a football mascot walking onto the pitch.  Furthermore Davis has the same impact as a mascot does during the match itself.

So far even after two years since the result was announced we are no way near to getting something that looks feasible never mind satisfactory.  You would think that at this stage that May’s government would realise that this is going to end in a almighty mess akin to somebody dropping all the eggs being dropped from one basket.

So instead of working out what would be a realistic deal and letting voters decide if they would be happy with the implications of leaving the EU they stagger around like the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz.

Nobody so far seems to have the guts to realise that Brexit is a spiralling mess that has not been thought through at all.  From how it affects the peace process in Northern Ireland regarding the border to the Republic to how it will affect the economy and freedom of movement.

There are a lot of implications for how it will affect EU members currently living in the UK and then there are the British Citizens living abroad.  Even those who regularly travel to Europe for work purposes will be affected.

The economy, grants, legal and workers rights are all under threat that has protected people.  It isn’t a perfect system and after the way Greece was treated by the EU shows that the financial institutions still have too much sway yet it is best to be in it.

However remaining in the EU means there is a better chance of having a say and having some influence as well as having other EU members support.

Like it or not the UK economy relies on Europe for its business and gaining workers in vital services.  There is no paperwork just a case of providing your passport to confirm your country is a part of the EU.

Again there is the argument that the EU takes advantage of using a migrant work force that is cheap from the likes of Eastern Europe.  It is certainly true but something that can be worked on by other EU countries to try and resolve.

Part of the leave vote was not just about the worry of immigration but a protest vote against the perceived establishment.  To those that voted leave, Europe only seemed to benefit the metropolitan elite with some seeing a influx of migrants from EU nations causing a strain on local services and schools.

Leaving the EU though means that these areas won’t receive the benefits that have revitalised parts of the UK.  Brexit also means that if it affects the economy badly it could lead to a rising cost in living standards.  Workers rights will be weaker and there will be a strain on the health service as the NHS rely on migrant work force from the EU.  Whether it’s Doctor’s, nurses, porters, or cleaners they all help in supporting that the hospitals run as smoothly as they can.

Incidentally that is another lie when the Brexit bus stated how much money the UK could save and put that money in the NHS.  At the time of writing @ostendGudgeon has worked out that the NHS is owed £35.65 billion by the Brexiteer’s.  Money that is still not forthcoming and nor will it be.  After all Nigel Farage admitted ‘that it was a mistake.’

Of course there are the Brexiteers who believe that that this is all doom and gloom.  That there won’t be problems for businesses with the possibility of completing various visas to trade.  That there won’t be problems for British Citizens working and living in the EU, and that even visiting other European countries won’t mean being in a long queue.

The likes of the plastic toff Jacob Rees Mogg (he might dress like little Lord Fauntleroy and gone to Eton but he’s not the real aristocrat that Moggster would love to be)  might think you can just walk into a room tell Europe how it is and take what you want but it isn’t going to happen.

For starters the EU are in a stronger position due to the large number of countries in the Union.  Secondly they will ensure their members get the best deal as much as the Brexiteer’s like to think the UK does not have the same influence as it did in 1900.

Nostalgia for a Britain (that incidentally never was) of village greens, cricket, warm beer, and maidens on bicycles is what some Brexiteer’s want the UK to be.  That’s why there is the bizarre celebration of the return of the old blue passports as though that represents Britain.  However the inconvenient truth that the EU wasn’t particularly bother what colour the UK passport was is forgotten.  As is the fact that nobody really cares as long as you can travel on it.

It could be said that Michael Gove and Boris Johnson or to give him his full name Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson are not really Brexiteer’s but chancers who used the referendum to put pressure on David Cameron.  The theory goes that the pair expected it to be a close remain vote and hoped that it would be enough for Cameron to step down and stand for the leadership.  As it was the vote went leave and Theresa May won the race to be Prime Minister.

So far it seems that the UK is far from getting close to a satisfactory deal as the clock ticks towards the full exit date of the 29th March 2019.  The bravado of no deal is better than a bad Brexit is just that.  There has to be at least some kind of idea what Brexit will look like and a realistic one rather than the wet dream of Jacob Rees Mogg.  To him the lands of Persia, Constantinople, and Narnia are just gagging to trade with the UK.

The reality of it is both side of leave and remain will be bitterly disappointed once the final whistle is blown on this mess.

It’s why if Theresa May had Britain’s interest at heart she would put it to the public to decide whether they are happy to leave with the deal negotiated or decide that being in the EU is not that bad after all.

May though is too weak with too much self interest for herself and the Conservative party.  That’s despite being consistently being undermined by the likes of Boris Johnson who has been sniping at how poorly she is handling Brexit.  When even the likes of David Davies undermine you and you can’t sack him then you really are a lame duck Prime Minister.

A large proportion of the blame has to lay with Cameron for not ensuring that some type of plan would be put in place if it was a leave vote.  Instead it’s the bland leading the bland who have been promoted way above their abilities who are responsible for our future.  That is the scary part that nobody in power is trying to stop this madness and put forward a second vote regarding a final deal.

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The return of Pat Phelan in Corrie

Making a comeback to rival Liverpool coming from three goals down in the European cup to beat Milan in penalties, Pat Phelan survived a huge drop into the sea that Captain Scarlett would have been proud of.

Of course fiction can stretch the boundaries but as I was once told on a writing course there still has to be a dose of realism. Coronation street not only broke the boundary but snapped the elastic band.

First there was Billy surviving falling off a cliff but then Pat Phelan top trumped it by a country mile. Dropping into the plunging ice cold water screaming, everybody concluded  that was the end of Pat Phelan.

Right across the country there was probably shouts of ‘Oh come on,’ or a ‘fuckoff,’ that you give a referee for making a bad decision.  Pat not only managed to survive being dropped into the sea but somehow found himself in a B&B in Ireland. Not only that he was doing a spot of DIY surgery by sewing a few stitches on his leg.

How did Pat get there? Did he swim? Did he fall onto a unsuspecting fishing boat like Dick Dastardly or did the Irish Loch Ness monster rescue Pat? I’d like to think the latter and that it went ‘there you are Pat. There’s a cracking B&B up the road. They don’t ask any questions and do a grand Irish breakfast.’

This week Coronation street are doing a week finale of Pat Phelan going back to the cobbles of Weatherfield’s famous street.

It is absurd but will no doubt get the viewers in to see if Pat will finally get his comeuppance. How will it end will be anyone’s guess. Maybe Cthulhu might make a guest appearance or it ends all rather boringly with Pat getting nicked by that red haired Police Special.

Maybe there is something in Roy’s sausage butties. Perhaps he bought a job lot of sausages from a lab that had been experimenting on pigs and gives you invincibility powers. Who knows but if only Alan Bradley had got himself something from Roy’s rolls it might have been the Blackpool tram that came off second best.

Coronation street is in a world of it’s own. Everybody lives and works within walking distance of the street itself. Nobody has to make a commute to Manchester City centre or some business park in the out back of nowhere. No one is on a zero hour or temporary office job temping across the city. Even the builders stay within the radius of Weatherfield. No jaunts to a job in St. Helens or Liverpool when Ken Barlow or Norris need an extension.

Jobs in Coronation street are easy to come by. There are always vacancies in the factory, the kebab shop, Roy’s rolls, David Platt’s hairdresser’s, even the Kabin newspaper shop which Vic Reeves bizarrely tried to buy. They even have a solicitors and taxi firm but if you’re really pushed there is always work in the Rovers.

Never mind pubs going to the wall the Rovers return has more staff than a popular Witherspoon pub. Added to which everybody is in there during their dinner hour and evening getting smashed. In the real world would you really want Kevin fixing your car or David Platt cutting your hair whilst literally half cut? Maybe that’s how Phyllis ended up with a purple hair do when Audrey had one too many back in the 80s.

Even the houses are the size of the Tardis. What might look like a small terrace house is in the inside the size of a mansion. After all there were that many living in Eileen’s at one point that it must have been one hell of a queue for the toilet in the morning.

Initially the idea of Coronation street was to highlight a dying working class world where everybody knew and worked with each other. This was a world similar to the show’s creator Tony Warren which was only meant to run for a few weeks.  It certainly was envisaged that fifty years on it would still be going.

Of course it is meant to be a bit of escapism and in some respects it can raise issues such as the male rape story line with David Platt (have a look at some of the remarks on twitter and it shows why it needs raising) or a microscope to our own world.

However it is simply not a realistic portrayal of the world we live in.  It’s a world that is more similar to the world that Tony Warren created.

The show is well written and there are some good actors.  Obviously ratings is always going to be the priority but at the same there are story lines which should simply be binned.

Maybe there should be a cross over with Emmerdale as it has one of the most dangerous roads in the UK.  What makes it even more remarkable is that it is a straight piece of road.  No awkward or blind corners but yet any major traffic casualties has taken place on this road.

If we had a cross over maybe we could have Pat ‘Captain Scarlett,’ against a car on the road and see who wins.

Liverpool v Real Madrid

In the end it was not to be a repeat of gay Paree in 1981 with Alan Kennedy surging forward and being the unlikeliest player to score the winner.  The 2018 European Champions league final will be remembered for Gareth Bale’s cracking overhead kick and the two calamitous made by Karius.

Regardless of the result Jurgen Klopp has brought Liverpool forward.  There has been brilliant football and just as importantly there has been hope which this European run has brought.

When the dust has died down and eyes start looking forward to a new season in August the memories especially of those that went to Kiev will live on for a long time.  Even the run to the final will be something that will live on long in my memory.  Blowing Manchester City away and hugging the Father Christmas lookalike sat next to me as we scored against Roma.

Klopp has reminded us that football is about having fun and being part of the collective which everybody from players, cleaners, etc. to supporters all play their part.

Of course I am gutted and yes I know Liverpool’s history is of ‘first is first, and second is nowhere,’ but football is about ups and downs.  That’s why it’s important to enjoy the good times especially as there are a lot of bad times freezing against Stoke in a miserable draw.  It is now looking forward and to be stronger to go one step forward and win a trophy.

So onto the game.  Despite the awful mistakes by Karius the turning point was the injury on Mo Salah.  It was very much a cynical foul by Sergio Ramos who looked very much to have hooked Salah’s arm and bring him down.  Ramos as I have stated in a previous article is a defender who pushes boundaries and knows how to commit the ‘professional foul.’

Once Salah was forced off in tears it knocked Liverpool out of sync.  Take any of the front three off and Liverpool struggle to impose themselves in the game.  Certainly for the first twenty-minutes Liverpool looked the better team.

Madrid had packed the midfield to try and restrict the movement of Liverpool and no doubt to try and hit on the break whilst hoping Liverpool would run out of steam.  The defence though was struggling a bit as the Reds looked to try and find a way through.  As it was the options on the bench was pretty much restricted as half fit Lallana came on for Salah.

Another miss for Liverpool was Oxlaide-Chamberlain.  Prior to his injury his surging, direct runs, and ability to score from midfield was also instrumental in Liverpool getting to the final.  Something seemed to be lacking without Oxlaide-Chamberlain and at times in the league could be pedestrian in the midfield.

The difference in the end was that Madrid did have that bit of extra quality which was seen on the bench when Bale came on for Isco.  It was one of the best if not the very best goals to be scored in a European cup final.  Liverpool were hardly spoilt for choice for who they could bring on to try and change the game.

Goalkeeping has been something that has been discussed at Anfield since Reina left.  Mignolet was inconsistent and Karius didn’t seem to have the ability required of a top class goalkeeper.  Positioning, communication, distribution, organisation, kicking, and concentration all requirements of a good goalkeeper.  It is a much underrated position as a good goalkeeper such as Neuer or De Gea have proven.

Sadly Karius chose the biggest game of his professional career so far to not make on mistake but two massive ones.  With the ball in his hands he had just had to wait to be clear of Benzema but hit it straight at him and rolled into the net.

From a corner Mane equalised and suddenly the belief soared again that Liverpool could come through adversity again.  But then Zidane made the substitution with Bale scoring that overhead kick.  The game was wrapped up after Karius fumbled at the ball for it to go through his hands and into the net.  No doubt he probably wanted the earth to swallow him up.  Incidentally it took Karius great courage to go and apologise to the fans and being a Liverpool player he should never walk alone.

As it was it was the quality and experience of Real Madrid who have consistently stepped up to the occasion to win their thirteenth European cup and third in a row.

For Liverpool it’s about looking forward and trying to go one step further by challenging for the league and looking to go one step further in the Champions league.  Just as important though has been the memories that Liverpool have brought this season.  Hopefully next season it will be a happier one.

 

Is this the most incompetent Government ever?

This Government appears to be a spin-off from the thick of it. Theresa May is a hapless Nicola Murray as Prime Minister, Hugh Abbot is the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, whilst a PG Wodehouse character plays Boris Johnson.

All of them have ambitions way above their actual talent and competency. Somehow they have found themselves in the big jobs but are so out of their depth that the shark Jaws is already circling them.

What is frightening is that May’s Government are tasked with attempting to sort out the mess that is Brexit. Despite the stern talk of no deal is a bad deal they have so far capitulated easily. Then of course there is the issue of the border between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. A matter still yet to be resolved.

There is an abundance of incompetent cabinet ministers that in more ordinary times would never be allowed near the front bench. David Davis for example is somehow responsible for leading the talks on Brexit. It would help if he at least looked the part but instead has the look of a football match day mascot being allowed onto the pitch with his footballing heroes.

Davis has shown more skill for being lazy and inept when he was dragged before the select committee. Despite talks of a impact assessment on Brexit, Davis admitted in the tone of a school kid being caught out that he had not done so. What was more infuriating was the titters of laughter rather than finding him guilty of contempt.

Another shallow and idle big mouth is Boris Johnson, who has not only shown incompetency of huge proportions but has acted in a manner not befitting the Foreign Secretary. There was the time he made the disgusting remark about Libya becoming another Dubai when they ‘cleared away the dead bodies.’ Then there was the case of the British Citizen Nazanin Zagarhi-Ratcliffe languishing in an Iranian jail where he made it ten times worse by indicating that Nazanin was a spy when she wasn’t. Neither of these incidents was Johnson not forced to step down.

U-turns have been numerous from May’s first budget when Hammond backed down after he stated he would not hike up national insurance for the self-employed from 9% to 11%. Then during the election campaign there was u-turn on the dementia tax which would have meant relatives having to spend their inheritance on ensuring medical care for loved ones.

Everything about May screams of someone so uncomfortable and unsure that at times she resembles a frustrated Roy Hodgson unsure of how to stop his team being outplayed.

Consequently we come to the Windrush scandal and the hostile immigration policy of the Government. Amber Rudd was caught out lying but after the likes of Johnson and Davis then Amber Rudd probably thinks that there is no reason to do so.

Incidentally May is so weak that when trying to move Jeremy Hunt from Health Secretary found herself not only keeping him in post but giving him more responsibilities.

At present nobody has any idea of what exactly May’s Government stands for or what policies they wish to implement. Brexit is being made a mess of whilst they flounder from one crisis looking far from ‘strong and stable.’

This is a Government that is drowning in a Olympic size swimming pool of incompetency. From Theresa May, David Davis, Philip Hammond to Amber Rudd each and everyone of them has looked more like a ill-prepared student who has forgot to revise, flailing like a drunk in a storm when trying to give a presentation.

Maybe this is the era of ineptitude but with a Roald Dahl’s James and the giant peach sized ego. There is no shame amongst the lot of them with no lack of any direction as they flounder around in heavy waters. All they seem to be skilled in is surviving like Chucky the evil doll. Nobody should be surprised that Amber Rudd will not be forced out as Home Secretary.

Why VAR is that crap follow up album

There are moments in everyone’s life when that anticipated follow-up album turns out to be a steaming pile of shit.  After years in the making the Stone Roses ‘Second coming,’ might as well have been locked deep into a warehouse like the lost Ark in Indiana Jones and the raiders of the lost Ark.  This incidentally can be said of the Star Wars prequels which certainly do not get better with age.

VAR or virtual assistant referee in my opinion should fall into this category of joining the Lost Ark.  It is meant t to ensure that the correct decision is made within the game.  An aid to help the referee who may initially have missed an incident.  Of course it sounds good.  Technology should be used to help improve the game but this is the craw of the matter does it hinder the flow of the game?

Football unlike rugby or cricket that does use something similar to VAR is a flowing game.  There is no natural break in play unless there is an injury or an infringement.  From what I have seen from VAR this season’s trial in the FA cup it has disrupted the flow of the game, led to confusion for spectators inside the ground, and in some cases diluted the atmosphere whilst everyone waits for a decision.

Confusion reigned over the Liverpool and West Brom cup tie which seemed to take an age for the referee to review.  Tottenham and Rochdale was also similar as fans tried to work out why play had stopped.  Then of course there was the wonky lines when Manchester United’s Juan Mata was incorrectly called offside by VAR.

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It doesn’t help that the virtual assistant referee is based in a small cramped office near Croydon but decisions need to be quick.  VARThere are those that believe that as a lot is at stake that it shouldn’t really matter how long it takes for the correct decision to be made.  Again the majority of decisions have shown to be the correct one and teething problems are to be expected.  Over time VAR will improve in the time it takes to make a decision.

This though is where I disagree and like that anticipated follow up album does not get better with more listens.  Football is meant to be a flowing game with passion shown by the teams and supporters.  VAR affects this to the detriment of the game.  For example it definitely affected the atmosphere at Anfield when Liverpool played West Brom.  Anything that has an adverse effect to match cannot be good for the game.

I am willing to accept that referees are human and that sometimes they will make the wrong decision.  Sometimes it will go for your team other times against.  Football isn’t a FIFA game where every decision is instantaneous and correct.

Emotion is part and parcel of the game.  The sheer glee if you’ve stolen one over an arch rival or the complete outrage of the referee not giving you that ‘stone wall,’ penalty.  Sometimes it can kindle an atmosphere like a bush fire as the crowd lets the referee know of their displeasure.  It can even lead to a more vocal support to the team that can help change the match.

One of the reasons why football is such a popular sport because it is a free-flowing game and with the right teams can be end to end stuff.  This in turn generates the excitement amongst the crowd and even the viewers or listeners at home.  VAR without a question disrupts this and in turn affects the game as a spectacle.

Being a supporter means that allow yourself to sometimes see incidents through Arsene (I didn’t see the incident in front of me) Wenger glasses.  Even it has been a blatant foul I have argued that my team’s player has won the ball.

I am not adverse to technology and think that goal line technology is something that was long overdue.  The difference between that and VAR is that the decision is quick and clear whether the ball has crossed or not.  VAR all said and done is still someone’s opinion.  How many times for instance have incidents been replayed on match of the day and there has been divided opinions on whether it is a foul or not?

Decisions in football will not be perfect and that has to be expected.  The game can be fast or players will pull a fast one on the referee.  It is all part and parcel which in some respects adds to the charm of the game.  Not everything is perfect and football decisions is one of many life’s unfairness.

VAR takes away the excitement and the flow of the game for me.  Any new initiatives such as goal line technology or even bringing in the back pass rule is meant to enhance football.  VAR doesn’t do that.  It distances the spectators inside the stadium and dampens any atmosphere like a summer shower.

Sometimes you can’t have perfection and suffer as a result in the attempts to obtain it.  No matter how many times VAR is used it is football’s Phantom Menace and the other Star War prequels.  Football is based on emotion and VAR removes it as clinically as a medical surgeon.

There are some things you can’t mess about with in football and that is the flow and passion of the game.  Accept that there will be mistakes made by referees and just simply the game that excites us football fans.

Brian Benjamin

 

Is it time to ditch the away goal rule?

Back in the early days of European competition when it was virtually stepping into the unknown, UEFA introduced the concept of the away goal from 1965-66.  The rationale behind this was to try to introduce a fairer means of deciding which team could progress if both teams drew both legs.  Previously matches had been decided at a neutral venue or even by the toss of a coin.

Liverpool in 1965 had famously progressed at the expense of Cologne to the semi-final of the European cup after two draws and a 2-2 draw at Feyenoord’s ground still couldn’t decide the tie.  Even then it took a second toss of the coin as it landed on its side in a divot on the pitch.

 

Due to the obvious unfairness of deciding a tie on the toss of a coin, plus the difficulties of arranging a replay match at a neutral venue, the idea of the away goal was introduced.

Another reason was that the consensus amongst most teams was to be more defensive away from home with the logic that the home tie would be the best position to win the tie.  Consequently the away goal was seen as a method to encourage the away team to be more attacking.

It was first used in a cup winners cup tie in the 1965-66 season when Budapest Honvéd beat Dukla Prague on away goals in the second round.  The following season it was introduced in the Fairs cup and after being applied in the early rounds in 1967-68 and 1968-69 was introduced for all rounds from 1970-71 in the European cup as well as the Cup winners cup and UEFA cup.

Back in those days, European football was like stepping into the unknown.  Travelling was arduous and there wasn’t much information in terms of the opposition.  Crowds could be volatile with all sorts of intimidation tactics being used such as camping outside the hotel and making as much noise as possible.

Added to which the pitches were not always immaculate, getting a result away from home was pretty decent as the home leg was always the one (especially if it was the second leg) were it was felt that you had an advantage.  The consensus back then was to weather the storm and finish the job at home or to hold out if you were away for the second leg.

One of the big European giants Benfica became the first team to benefit from the away goal rule in the European cup and saved their blushes in the prospect.  After drawing 0-0 against Northern Ireland champions Glentoran at home in the second leg it was Eusebio’s equaliser in Belfast that saw the Portuguese side go through on the away goal.  Incidentally Glentoran were four minutes away from a famous victory until Eusebio scored.  As it was Benfica reached the final only to be beaten Matt Busby’s Manchester United 4-1 in extra time to claim the European cup for the first time in their history.

It was a system that seemed to work quite well and was deemed to try to encourage the away side to score.  There were a few instances were winning by the away goal was highly celebrated.  After drawing 0-0 at Anfield, Liverpool put on a professional job drawing 1-1 away at Bayern Munich in the 1981 European cup semi-final.  Ray Kennedy’s goal enough to win see them through were another Kennedy (Alan) scored the winner against Real Madrid in the final.

As recent as 2009 a fantastic strike and equaliser by Iniesta at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea was enough to Barcelona to go through on the away goal.  The Catalan club would then go on to beat Manchester United 2-0 in Rome to complete a treble.

The question now is whether the away goal rule is still pertinent.  In some respects it could even be argued that playing the second leg away now means you have an advantage even if you draw the home leg 0-0.  For example if the away team scores then the home team has to score twice in whatever is left of the ninety minutes.  As Jonathan Wilson author the football pyramid states should a goal carry more worth than another?

Like everything else football has evolved.  There are no new frontiers with no significant secrets about teams or how they play.  Preparation is a lot more better and comfortable than it previously was where teams just wanted to get in and out.  Even a one or two nil loss wouldn’t be seen as too bad away in the first leg.  A lot of teams were confident that it could be overturned in the home leg.

Tactics have also changed were certain teams and coaches are reactive even if they are at home.  Consequently with better pitches compared to some of the mud baths that teams had to endure it can be more about overcoming a teams tactics over two legs.

It could also be said that if a reactive team gets a 1-1 draw away in the first leg then rather than trying to be more open will be as defensive as possible, knowing that even a 0-0 draw would see you through.  There is also the fact that even if the game goes into extra time then the away team has the advantage of knowing that the away goal rule will still count.  Something that the home team did not have the luxury of in the first leg.

The question being now is whether the away goal still has a relevance and is a fair away to decide a tie.  In some respects it could be argued that the rule does need to be reviewed.  No goal should be worth more especially as tactics and the game as a result have changed.

Of course the problem is what to replace the away goal with in European competition.  There are some options that spring to mind.  You could still keep the away goal but like the English league cup only counts after extra time. Others have suggested that if the away goals should only count if the away side has scored two or more. Alternatively the rule could be completely scrapped with extra time and penalties to decide the tie.  The latter would probably be the only way to go if the away goal is deemed to be unfair.

Times have changed and perhaps it may be worth UEFA reviewing the away goal.  Of course it is a fairer way than the toss of a coin and arranging a replay is not feasible.  Nevertheless should a goal be worth more than another and that is the nub of the matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotham – A missed opportunity

‘This city is even sicker than I thought,’ Detective Jim Gordon declares during the trailer advertising the first season of Gotham.  It certainly looked intriguing as it showed a power battle between Gotham’s criminal families of Falcone and Maroni.  In between this is Jim Gordon a new cop trying his best to save Gotham from the corruption and lawlessness that  has engulfed the city like a virus.

Although Gotham opens with the murder of Bruce Wayne’s Parents I had hoped that this would just be a back story.  We would see more of Gotham and how it is infested with criminality and why it needs someone like Batman to clean the city up.

It was also a new angle to explore.  Ever since Tim Burton made Batman dark again in the late 80s with Michael Keaton in the starring role, there had been various adaption’s.  Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale have all donned the famous Batman costume.  Not forgetting of course Batman the animated series which has to be the best adaption so far.

Consequently in order to avoid comparisons to the recent films it made sense to do a story about Gotham and the inhabitants.

There is no question that it has been well casted from Ben Mackenzie who plays Jim Gordon to Sean Pertwee who plays Alfred.  The actors seem to enjoy it and the show is well crafted.  Yet there is a feeling of a missed opportunity and whether the producers have played safe.

Of course some of the well-known villains can be introduced but really should be minimal.  For example Poison Ivy doesn’t fit in with her character biography.  She is after all meant to be a Doctor in Botany raised by wealthy Parents and not a scruffy street kid.

 

Also the relationship between Bullock and Gordon is somewhat different to what is portrayed in the comics and other adaption’s.  Bullock has been previously been portrayed as a lazy, incompetent cop who is constantly at odds with Gordon.  In Gotham the pair are the best of buddies with Bullock proving more than a competent detective.

The other problem is the amount of known Batman villains that are in the show.  We have the Penguin, Riddler, Selina Kyle (later to become Catwoman), Clayface, Firefly, the Mad Hatter, even Ra’s Al Ghul to name but a few before we come to the Joker or Jerome as he is known in the show.  By the time Batman becomes a known presence in the mean streets of Gotham most of these villains will not only be well-known but a little past it.

Initially it seemed that Gotham was veering towards a gang feud between Falcone and Maroni.   Through Jim Gordon we were going to lift up the carpet and see how he was not only fighting the villains but the political corruption that allowed the likes of Falcone free rein.  However despite the conniving going on between the warring factions it started to veer towards villain of the week.

Maybe the problem was keeping Bruce Wayne as a major character.  That’s not to say that the actor who plays the future Batman doesn’t play the part well.  Indeed the relationship between his Guardian Alfred also played superbly by Sean Pertwee is one of the best performances.  We have Alfred playing the surrogate Father and trying to protect Bruce as we watch how he will become Batman.  However having a young Bruce Wayne distracts from what the show is supposed to be about.  After all Gotham was advertised as ‘Gotham before Batman.’  Only we still have him hovering in the background.

Barbara Kean is also a bit of a weak link and it will be interesting to see if and how she ends being married to Jim Gordon.  After all in they are meant to have a young daughter together.

The mayoral elections became a bit silly especially when Galavan tried to run the city into the ground and ended up getting killed not once but twice.  When Penguin or Oswald Cobblepot stood it became a take of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign with its ‘make Gotham great again.’

Watching Jim Gordon bending the rules time and time again to such an extent that it could be argued he is as bad as the villains he is meant to chasing.  For example he uses the Penguin to gain further information from a corrupt cop.

Gordon is meant to be the small ray of light who tries to do good, by legal means.  Indeed the question has to be would Gordon be the sort of cop that Batman in the future would  be after?

Due to Netflix’s being the only avenue to watch Gotham in the UK it is a only up to series three.  This incidentally ended with the Mad Hatter releasing the ‘Tetch,’ virus which caused mayhem in Gotham.  Jim Gordon incidentally just about saving himself and Leslie Tompkins after they had injected the said virus.

Again part of this was all a little bit daft with the spurned relationship between Penguin and the Riddler leading to the pair temporally teaming up to escape after previously trying to kill each other.

Despite the initial promise of seeing how Gotham gets up to the point that it needs a vigilante dressed as a Bat to save the city we get a show that might as well be titled Batman.  After all a young Joker has already caused mayhem and Jim Gordon just seems to be seen as a prototype Batman (albeit crossing a few lines).

Maybe the producers panicked or it just panned out that they were giving what they thought most viewers wanted.

What is disappointing is that Gotham could have been so much more.  The viewer could have seen what and how the city becomes the way it is.  Rather than seeing Bruce Wayne, Selina, the Penguin, Riddler etc. we see the real inhabitants of Gotham.

It doesn’t even have to be about Jim Gordon trying to clean Gotham but random stories about different individuals.  The tales could be how they cope with Gotham and how the culture makes it unique.  After all there has to be some good points to living in Gotham otherwise nobody would live there.  Furthermore it could show that sometimes not everything is as black and white.

For example one week it could consist of how someone gets entangled with crime, the next episode a clean politician doing their best to cut through the corruption, another of a new inhabitant arriving.  Then of course there is the feud between Falcone and Maroni.  Indeed the episodes don’t necessarily have to be about crime but could be a daft romantic tale or a story of someone incarcerated in Arkham.

The only mention of Bruce Wayne could simply be an old newspaper rolling through the gutter about his Parents being murdered.  Then we roll onto the story that Gotham can give.

Although the cast is great it still feels as though it is a missed opportunity of what it could have been.  Once the series eventually ends I don’t think it will be held in the same fondness and quality of Batman adaption’s such as the animated series.