by Rob Shepherd.
Red is Good!
Most seemed to think Raheem Sterling was hard done by with the red card he suffered in England’s 2-2 draw against Ecuador. But much ridiculed American referee Jair Marrufo could well have done England a favour…
The incident when Sterling brought down Antonio Valencia highlighted the restraints players will be under at the World Cup. They simply cannot afford to go diving in with the flying feet.
Even if Sterling did get a bit of his foot on the ball his follow-through did catch Valencia. Yes, Valencia’s reaction seemed to make the situation worse.
But ref Marrufo will have viewed that Sterling’s challenge endangered the opponent, regardless of whether he got some of the ball or not.
Make no mistake refs, certainly in the early stages, will be under pressure from FIFA guidelines to show red for such tackles.
Over the years England players have fallen foul of strict guidelines over certain incidents that are regarded as “soft” in this country.
Take Ray Wilkins in 1986 then David Beckham in 1988. And of course Wayne Rooney saw red in 2006.
So Roy Hodgson should use the Sterling incident as a foot-on-the-ball warning to his team – not least because players don’t need to be making such lunging tackles by the touchline in the first place.
And whiles he’s at it remind Jack Wilshere if he gets seen by an official losing his rage like that he’ll be shown red too!
Anyone For A Nil-Nil…?
England’s last two meaningful matches versus Italy have ended in goal less draws.
Two years the 0-0 was regarded as a dire display as Italy won the penalty shoot out 4-2 to knock England out of the European Championships.
Agreed, Italy were the superior side but in the end the margins came down to the cruel cut of pens.
In October 1997 England played a 0-0 draw with Italy in Rome to clinch a place at the 1998 World Cup finals and force Italy to get their the hard way via a play-off.
The 0-0 draw was deemed a triumph. True, England inspired by the head-bandaged Paul Ince and disciplined Paul Gascoigne produced one of a tactically stoic display under Glenn Hoddle, but it could easily have ended in tears.
In the final minute after Ian Wright had hit a post Italy should have snatched a last gasp winner but Chrstian Vieiri headed a fraction wide.
Again the slimmest of margins.
One suspects it will be very tight and tense once again in next Saturday’s opening game.
But if England needed any added inspiration they could do no worse than watch a re-run of that game in the Rome nearly 17 years ago.
It was great to be a guest of FootballFanCast and Strongbow last Wednesday who hosted a TV link of the England – Ecuador match and the results of their RioChallenge competition at Riley’s sports bar in Pimlico.
In a nutshell the winners of a Strongbow male five aside competition went over to Rio in Brazil to take on a ladies team.
Former footballer now Sky pundit Chris Kamara was a speaking guest and he suggested that in the near future a woman would be in the squad of a Premier League team.
I disagreed with “Kammy” who coached the chaps in Brazil. That caused some waves with the PC crowd.
But despite their skills I can’t ever see women competing with men physically at the top level. That’s not sexist.
Besides, why undermine the growing sport of Ladies football..? Woman’s tennis, golf, cricket, hockey, athletics etc all get on in their own right .
Indeed after a good start the skillful Vasco Ladies eventually lost 7-1 to a team from the Royal Navy (footage below).