|Tickle Tackle - Five Wishes for 2008|
Tue 01st Jan 2008 22:23 by Steve Tickle
2008 is here and here are my five wishes for it from a Rams and football point of view.
With the Rams now virtually adrift at the bottom of the league, it seems almost superfluous to make a wish that they escape relegation this season. Nevertheless, although I've long since come to terms with the fact that we'll almost certainly be playing Championship football again next season, that's exactly what I'm going to spend my first wish on.
Well, I think by the end of January we'll know whether the Rams have any chance at all of staying up. If it looks like Wish No.1 is a write-off, (as I suspect it will be), I hope at least Paul Jewell can do something about Wish No.2.
Once the final Wembley Play-Off whistle had sounded and before ever a ball was kicked in August we knew this season was going to be a test. We all knew there was a very real chance the season could end in relegation back to the Championship but I doubt any of us thought we'd be so completely uncompetitive as we have been in the first half of the season.
My second wish is that if we are to be relegated, at least we don't finish bottom. This wish, I believe, is at least more achievable than Wish No.1.
It's going to take something of a transfusion to bring a reasonable amount of confidence back into the squad. Some players' confidence has completely evaporated and it's pretty clear they don't have the stomach for the fight any longer... regardless of whether they have the required ability or not. Those players need to be moved out and fresh blood brought in. It looks like Paul Jewell has made a start by selling Steve Howard to Leicester and replacing him with Emanuel Villa from Mexican club UAG Tecos.
I hope Emanuel can do as good a job for us as Steve did last season. If he can, my second wish of the Rams not finishing the season as the worst club in the Premier League is a real possibility.
My remaining wishes don't relate directly to the Rams but rather to the football authorities and the referees and their linesmen.
Wish No.3 is that the FA and Premier League get tough on the cheats and divers. Video evidence is used retrospectively to punish players who've committed fouls which were seen by the TV cameras but they don't seem half so keen to take action on those players who've been clearly shown to deceive both the match officials and their fellow professionals. We all know who they are and I'm not going to mention any names. The FA and Premier League know who they are too and they see the same video footage as the rest of us but yet choose to do nothing about it. Why is that? Wish No.3 is that they rectify that... straight away please.
My last two wishes are aimed at the match officials, but they need the support of the authorities to make these come true.
Wish No.4 is that referees remember that probably (in my opinion at least) the major part of their job is communication. Too many of them seem unable to control a game without flashing yellow or red cards at every available opportunity. Surely, like a parent who can't control their children without hitting them, not being able to control a game without flashing cards is a sign of not being able to communicate effectively and ultimately, a sign of weakness. Of course, to be able to do this referees need the support of the FA. I wish they (the FA) would allow referees to officiate with a little more freedom and perspective. The seemingly endless stream of directives coming down from on high only serve to confuse and restrict.
Finally, my fifth wish is that referees would get tough on dissent and bad language. As a parent of two football playing youngsters, I'd like to see top players act as better role models. You don't have to be an expert lip reader to tell what players are screaming from time to time... especially with TV close-up shots. This of course is down to the players themselves but referees could help by adopting a zero tolerance policy. If clubs found their top players suddenly unavailable through suspension because of dissent or using foul language they'd soon take a dim view of it.
So there are my five wishes for football for 2008. I do have a sixth wish though, and that is that you all have a happy and prosperous 2008, wherever you may be.
© Steve Tickle 2008
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