14 July – quick poll
12 July – old post
How nice is it to be able to crane the old neck away from the World Cup, and back in the other direction, towards the league, and towards Arsenal. I was getting a crick.
Looking back, itâ€™s very clear that Iâ€™ve barely troubled my laptop for blog updates. Itâ€™s really not had much of a workout at all since the end of the season â€“ since the blind shock of the Wigan debacle – and has gained a little girth around the space bar as a result. Thatâ€™ll have to come off.
Thatâ€™s not to say Iâ€™ve not enjoyed the World Cup â€“ I absolutely have. Whatâ€™s not to enjoy, other than, as an Englishman, watching my team floundering around miserably? Even that enabled the country to let off a bit of steam with a good old moan and a navel gaze. Thereâ€™ll be a post mortem, and much huffing and puffing, but will anything really change? Donâ€™t Gordon Banks on it.
Respeck? What respeck?
The final was pretty dismal, if eventful.
There are plenty of disheartening things in football, many of which are not easy to address on a global level. Money tends to be at the heart of them â€“ at owner, player and fan level (making money, making money and paying money respectively) â€“ but there are some things that could be done to clean the game up on the pitch, but which never, ever get properly addressed.
One such is the total lack of respect shown to match officials â€“ especially when you compare it to other sports. Watching the World Cup final on Sunday, it struck me how impossible it must be to referee. Sure, our very own Mr Webb did not help himself by failing to correctly punish several atrocious early tackles, but players haranguing referees, trying to con them and pressure them is far too common a sight in football the world over. And not just players â€“ managers do it too. Without proper rule changes â€“ zero tolerance â€“ refereeing will remain the impossible job.
How hard would it be to tell players that they simply cannot dispute a refereeâ€™s decision? Or to look back, after a game, at any incidences where players have tried to deceive, persuade or cajole a referee and punish them retrospectively? And to do it fairly?
Of course, the referees need to improve too, but making their job a little easier would be a good start, and itâ€™s totally achievable.
The simple fact is that footballers will try something if they are confident they will get away with it. And in football, itâ€™s too easy to get away with it.
Underhill, around the corner
The best and most important thing of all is we can now concentrate on Arsenal. Weâ€™ve got Barnet on Saturday, squad movement still to come – plenty of sticky rumours on that front but little by way of certainty – and weâ€™re only a month or so from the big kick off.
Really, it’s only a month. If I tell Mrs Lower that, she will throw plates at me.