By David Sweeney
With European qualifiers galore the Premier League took a back seat, however the International fixtures produced their fair share of controversy. Coming into the weekend all the home nations held a realistic chance of qualification, but due to some controversial decisions that will be dissected only England look likely to fly the flag for Great Britain in Poland and Ukraine 2012. I also analyse Everton’s despicable deadline day dealings which has left David Moyes with a shot-shy squad that lacks both quality and depth.
Kevin Blom – Referee from the Scotland – Czech Republic game.
Dutch referee Kevin Blom broke Scottish hearts and dashed dreams of qualification for the Tartan Army as he inexplicably made two blatant blunders that allowed the Czech Republic to escape Hamden Park with a valuable point. The first incident consisted of Blom being conned by Jan Rezek who appeared to dive under the challenge of Scotland’s Danny Wilson in stoppage time. Nevertheless the exuberant ref sporting a dated highlighted hairstyle confidently awarded a penalty which ultimately was converted by Michal Kadlec. Blom’s second showing of incompetence followed immediately after his first, this time in the opposite area where no penalty was awarded and Christophe Berra was outragously booked after being clipped whilst bearing down on goal. Despite occupying prime positions to view both incidents the bumbling blonde buffoon got both calls abjectly wrong. Angered by the Dutchman’s poor showing, Scotland Boss Craig Levein was in no doubt who to point the finger at as to why his side did not pick up the three points.
“I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the referee. Two huge mistakes.” The unjust result shaped by two terrible decisions leaves the Scots with an uphill battle on their hands if they are to qualify as they now lie five points adrift of the Czechs with only one game in hand as the two sides chase the runners-up spot in Group A behind leaders Spain.
Jan Laštůvka – Czech Republic Goalkeeper
Despite Scotland not being helped by some already elaborated dodgy decisions they were given a helping hand, or in this case foot, by debuting Czech goalkeeper Jan Laštůvka. Laštůvka’s unorthodox approach to keeping the ball out by repeatedly attempting to stop goalbound shots feet-first did not pay dividends. His ridiculous technique cost his side the opening goal as Kenny Miller’s tame drive painfully bounced on and then over the flailing goalies outstretched leg. His shaky start to international football continued as he persisted with his foot-save technique which undoubtedly left Laštůvka’s team-mates and supporters bewildered and untrusting. Surely Petr Cech’s return from injury cannot come soon enough.
Steven Davis – Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s chances of participating in Euro 2012 finals are also slim after a shocker from Steven Davis gifted Serbia victory in blustery Belfast conditions.
Rangers midfielder Davis badly underhit a backpass to goalkeeper Lee Camp who was helpless to stop the livewire Serbian forward Marko Pantelic who expertly nipped in and rounded the keeper before easily slotting the ball into an empty net.
The usually reliable midfielder was clearly both upset and sorry for his mistake and it seems harsh to criticize one of Northern Ireland’s main men, however this calamitous error has probably scuppered his countries best chance of qualifying for a major tournament for the first time since 1986.
A surprisingly bright England performance was marred by disgraceful ‘monkey’ chanting aimed at England’s Ashley Cole and Ashley Young from a section of small-minded Bulgaria supporters. The FA reported the chanting to the UEFA match delegate after England’s 3-0 victory.
Legendary former German international midfielder Lothar Matthaus – now Bulgaria’s head coach – was clearly embarrassed by the backwards attitude adopted by his team’s supporters stating; “It is very pitiful for such things to happen. Because of that I would like to apologise on behalf of the Bulgarian Football Federation.”
Racism has no part in football! Uefa need to take firm action if they are serious about kicking racism out of football and must take a hard-line approach when it comes to brandishing punishment to the offending nation/s. £2,500 fines to whole nations are not going to make a jot of difference. I’m talking about expulsion from tournaments or deductions of group qualification points instead of irrelevant poxy small-time fines.
Deadline day is always daunting for a manager whose players are coveted elsewhere but few predicted how damaging Wednesday the 31st of August could be for David Moyes and Everton FC.
Moyes has worked wonders on a shoestring budget at the Merseyside club since he took charge in 2002, continuously having to sell his star players and survive on free transfers as well as fully utilizing the loan system. However Wednesday might prove to be the straw the broke the camels back. Seeing star midfielder Mikel Arteta being sold without a suitable replacement brought in significantly weakens the starting line-up. This view might not be accepted by staunch Evertonians who claim Arteta is past his best and that the £10million they received is good business. Even if this is true how much will they realistically spend of that £10million. Precisely nothing, therefore from a footballing perspective it is not good business. To elaborate my point is it any coincidence that the club sold Mikel Arteta, Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford for around £14million so late in the window that they could not re-invest the money on new players? The fact that at the time of writing the club has not bought a player (not including loans or free transfers) for just over two years highlights the Toffees mounting problems. How do Bill Kenwright and other board members believe they can continuously improve in the Premier League without any investment? It doesn’t seem feasible and the discontent is growing with the Everton fans who are planning a protest scheduled for the home game against Wigan on the 17th of September. It clearly isn’t just me who thinks that the club is potentially descending into serious trouble that mirrors Manchester City in the mid 90s.