By Walter Broeckx
Watching MOTD is one of the highlights in my life. I must say that from the days of Jimmy Hill it was always a joy for me to hear the tune at the start of the program. My wife knew that at that moment she could run around naked in the house and I wouldn’t notice it. Well, I would but she just had to wait for another hour.
It had everything to do with the fact that seeing MOTD was the only way for me for all those long years in the eighties and nineties to have the chance to see Arsenal play. So it has a special place in my heart. When I hear the tune there is joy in my heart. And yes I still look at it every week.
But it has changed during the years. First they only gave one game if my memory is correct. Later they gave more games and then eventually they started to give all the games. But in the old days you only had the typical face of Jimmy Hill in the studio but now you have not only someone who is presenting the show but also my dear friends the pundits.
They manage to drive me crazy at a tempo of some 5 times in each programme when they talk about anything that relates to the rules. Or when our 1989 friend Hansen (wasn’t he so kind to run out of position in those final minutes when we scored that second goal) comes up with one of his ‘all you need is grit, determination and character’ or something of that style and this said with a little Scottish accent.
Am I the only one that thinks that when Scotland plays and he is in the studio he talks with a fatter Scottish accent than he usually does? I could be wrong on this. And the expression on his face when he tells “his Truth”. That expression changes according to whether you have those qualities he thinks you should have or don’t have them.
I still wonder if they wouldn’t be better of with more pictures from the games and less talk that nobody is interested in other than the Hansen and Shearer personal fan club of course. Like the pictures from our game in Sunderland where they managed to cut out the penalty we should have for the handball. They managed to cut out a few chances we had to score more goals like the Chamakh chance.
But when they start talking about the rules they can make me crazy and angry or I can fall out of the chair in disbelief or fall on the floor and cant stop laughing until my wife comes down from the bedroom and urges me to be quiet so she can sleep. It all depends a bit on the mood I am in.
For years one of my biggest things I got angry about is the way refs do their job when it comes to protecting goalkeepers. I think I have made it clear with direct quotes from the rulebook what you cannot let go as a ref. So I will spare you those in this article.
Another man has shared my view on the attacking of goalkeepers all those years and I feel a bit proud I share this battle with him. Arsène Wenger has been complaining about it for years when we had to play the likes of Bolton in the past and Stoke and Blackburn in the present. And how the pundits in MOTD brushed if off the table. We just had to be stronger, we had to grow up, we just had to live with it. Nothing wrong when Lehman was taken out by an opponent and he couldn’t get to the ball, nothing wrong when Almunia was pushed away and they scored, nothing wrong when Campbell was pushed into Fabianski so he couldn’t catch the ball. No it was just us being to soft.
And off course it was just that French manager of us who was just moaning and didn’t understand the game and the rules as they are interpreted and played by some English Neanderthals who haven’t learned that the games and the rules have been changed. So fun was made of Wenger and Arsenal when they lost points due to the unfair tactics from the Boltons, Blackburns and other Stokes in the EPL. Did I mention that Fifa used a lot of video evidence for refs to learn them what is not allowed when attacking goalkeepers? Well they did and many images from Bolton- Arsenal featured in it.
But with the pope visiting England some old biblical sentence came to my mind (don’t shoot me if this is not literally correct) : “there shall be much joy for a repented sinner”. Because the match commentator AND the pundits in MOTD suddenly have discovered that some teams do use it as a (illegal) tactic to attack the goalkeeper and to prevent him coming for the ball. They showed it in the Blackburn – Fulham match report a few times and pointed at it. And after the game the pundits told it was unfair and illegal. And the ref should have taken action against it.
Why this change in tune? Have they taken a ref course? Or was it just the fact that this time the complaining manager was a friend of the house? Was it because of this time being it Mark Hughes that made the rightful complaints that they took it serious? Because as you could see on the images time after time Diouf only went out to block Schwarzer. You could see him looking at the keeper and just block him again and again. And the ref did what most refs in the EPL do: nothing.
But now the pundits came up to the rescue of the rules in the game. They said it was a shame. They said it shouldn’t be allowed. Even our Real Madrid manager Allardyce admitted it was maybe a bit wrong but then he immediately jumped to another bad decision from the ref and thus changing the attention to the deliberate fouling of the keeper by all his teams in the past and present.
But hallelujah and joy all around as MOTD and the pundits have finally seen the light. Or have they? It will be interesting to see how they react when we face Stoke or Blackburn again next time. Will they still expose the unfair tactics as they did now for Fulham? To be honest I doubt it but I would be glad in admitting that I was wrong if they do.
But what I would like most is that the FA finally does something about it. That the FA calls its refs together and show them the images and tell them that they have to focus about those things and punish them. That would bring me even more joy. And maybe because of an UK-manager complaining about it this could be what we needed. Sure the FA would never do anything about a complaint from our French manager.
But for the moment I just will be satisfied with the one day conversion from the MOTD pundits. And just hope the FA will see the light also. And who knows this could become a perfect world if even the refs would finally act and let the rules be respected. And then I woke up…..was it a dream?
The Tiny Totts vs Arsenal Reserves
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