By Tony Attwood in Australia
I have seen Arsenal on TV in all sorts of somewhat unusual places – including I recall watching the 1971 Cup Final in Algiers – but I don’t think I ever anticipated watching a live Arsenal game eight miles above ground level.
But that is what happened with the Chelsea game – for it turns out that there is now a set of live TV channels on long distance flights of which one called Sport 2, carries live Premier League games as one flies.
So it was that while passing over southern India on the final leg of my trip to Australia, and while it was totally dark outside (suggesting, so I am told by those more knowledgeable than I of such things that it was night time) I could follow the game live.
Most of the passengers, not knowing what was good for them, were sleeping at the time, but a few of us stalwarts followed the game. A shame that it turned out as it did, but at least that’s another, if truly unexpected, box to tick.
Apart from an occasional slight jumpiness in terms of the picture, which really didn’t affect things too much, the quality was very good, considering the technological issues involved.
Other than that the trip to Oz was taking up by reading, writing a little, eating a smattering of the rather revolting airline food, sleeping a little (I’m never very good at snoozing while seated) and contemplating quite a lot. And one little thing that struck me during the contemplation mode was how there seems to be a move by the media away from just making statements without evidence, to making contentious statements with fragments of evidence. The result is that they are then able to draw “conclusions” which look as if they are supported by research, but which are just based on incidents which support the conclusion they want to push.
One piece I saw claimed to be an examination of Mourinho’s treatment at the hands of referees while complaining, shouting, arguing and the like, and an “analysis” of how this panned out when other managers were considered. What the journalist did was take just give incidents, give a very short summary, and then compare these opinions to a handful of incidents involving other managers. Their conclusion was that Mourinho was treated differently from others.
It is a wholly false approach in my view, not least because there was no taking into account past offences and the severity of the infringement. It appears (although I don’t think it is written down anywhere in the rulebook) that when managers are fined or barred from watching a game the longer term punishment (eg a four match ban from being in the technical area) can take account of what has happened before, but the immediate action by the ref (for example in warning, or sending the player off) should not.
But of course the article writer didn’t want to know anything about such technicalities. So instead there was a general mish mash of opinion, without any division into the distinctions between past and present crimes and how they should be considered.
The problem is that although the referee and the officials are not supposed to take account of past histories in a match, they often seem to – except when it involves goal keeper time wasting in which they just wag a finger or turn their back, until there are just five minutes to go and then they dish out a yellow card, knowing that it is too late for anything else to happen.
But what makes this a lot more confusing is that managers can and do say anything they want in interviews, unless it is to complain about the fairness of the officials.
It all seems a bit of a mixture to me, and as I sat in the glorified tin can flying over the ocean, eight miles up in the air, with a captain who I suspect supported Tottenham (in that he kept switching on the seatbelts sign on the grounds that we were approach turbulence, every time I joined the queue to go to the toilet) I reached this conclusion…
We should not have managers on the touch line at all, but rather a collection of dummies representing each manager. A member of the club could be nominated to activate the manager at odd times, walking up and down, waving arms, chewing gum and pointing in ways that appear to have little to do with the game. Sky could put a camera on the dummies throughout the match and offer occasional action replays and the papers could select various dummy movements and draw conclusions.
Those conclusions are likely to be as valid as those drawn by the Telegraph in choosing events at random and claiming they have got their experts to examine the behaviour of the managers.
On the other hand, maybe I just thought of that because I have jet lag.