Really Annoying Things About Football Right Now!

Football stirs emotions like little else and whilst many of us love it with a passion, at other times we can hate it almost as much. Having a good old down the pub is a good way to release some of the built-up tension, anxiety, anger or frustration that football can generate. Probably best to do that with friends though, rather than random strangers or staff. But it’s also probably a much better option than getting into some ugly social media spat, especially if it’s late and you’ve just returned from the pub!

Well, instead of letting off steam to friends, family or randoms on X, we thought we’d sum up some of the things that really irritate us right now about watching and supporting football. As the 2023/24 season draws to a close, it seems like a good time to get a few things off our chest, though this list is far from exhaustive and, by its nature, is personal. No doubt you’ve got plenty of your own pet peeves and frustrations to add to it, and we’ve ignored some of the absolutely-bleedin’-obvious ones like VAR in general – though we’ve still got a bit to say about that too!

1) Not Showing Replays of Injuries

Injured Football PlayerDon’t get us wrong, we don’t want to see anything truly horrific, or rubber-neck when a player is genuinely suffering some sort of life-changing incident. But these days, tackles that wouldn’t have been fouls 20 years ago, and injuries that players can literally just run off, are treated as if the player has lost a leg.

The overly cautious, paternalistic approach of the broadcasters is particularly strange when one considers that just about anyone with a mobile phone, no matter what their age, can access all sorts of truly morbid, grotesque and genuinely horrifying content with a few swipes of a screen.

But a bad tackle, an accidental collision of heads or a player even rolling an ankle, is deemed too much for us viewers to handle? Often these are key moments in games too, if a yellow or red card is awarded, or isn’t when it should be. But how would viewers know when they aren’t allowed to even see the incident?

In the last few weeks alone we’ve seen relatively minor incidents involving Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko and, separately, Man City’s Ederson, where the TV companies have decided we could not cope with seeing what actually happened. In both cases, the players played on, which shows just how terrible things were (even if both were subsequently withdrawn). It is not even a case of treating us like adults, because these are incidents that children can and should be able to handle and they are part and parcel of football.

2) VAR Bottling Decisions

VAR referee Bas Nijhuis

VAR referee Bas Nijhuis (Credit: Robert Hoetink / bigstockphoto)

There are so many aspects of VAR that annoy just about everyone who watches football but for us, one of the most irritating, and less talked about, is the way VAR so often bottles the decision. Why is the referee so frequently requested to view the pitch-side monitor?

VAR consists of three people, who have as much time as they need to come to a decision in the privacy and relative calm of their little studio, portakabin, or whatever it is at “Stockley Park”. If they cannot reach a decision, then first, it obviously (and indeed clearly) wasn’t a clear and obvious error. Moreover, if they can’t decide between three of them, without the pressure of baying players and fans, why do they think the ref can?

Technically speaking VAR can only recommend the ref changes a decision but if it is a real error and they are sure, why not just recommend it and have the ref accept their call? Why waste more time, not least because the on-pitch referee almost always goes with the VAR recommendation anyway? And if VAR aren’t certain it is an error, then just stick with the original call. Aggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! VAR, please go away!

3) Added Time

Referee Holding StopwatchWhether fans are watching in the stadium, or at home, they have things to do, people to see, places to be. We love football but 95 minutes is plenty, we don’t need games stretching out to 110 minutes, especially if it means we miss our last train home, or we are forced to miss the end of the game; or we have to choose between staying to watch the final few minutes in the pub and our partner deciding they want to leave us for coming home late again!

Obviously much of this is down to VAR, but it is also due to ridiculously over-long goal celebrations and flagrant time-wasting. Rather than allowing these things and adding on time, why not enforce rules that already exist and punish offenders with a yellow card?

The “six-second rule” still exists, meaning goalkeepers have to release the ball within six seconds of picking it up. And yet keepers routinely catch a simple cross, fall to the floor, slowly get up, walk to the edge of the area, wait and then, 20 seconds or more after first collecting it, put it on the floor and resume play. As for goal celebrations, they are all well and good but should be kept brief, with play restarting within 30 seconds, not two minutes! Then we can all be tucked up in bed by 10.30 after midweek games!

4) Profit & Sustainability Rules

Referee Blowing Whistle Holding MoneyP & S rules, financial fair play, FFP, call it what you will: this is just a means for the established big clubs to keep control and maintain the status quo. The rules are set to change but the outcome is the same, if not worse: the clubs that are currently rich will be allowed to spend more than the rest, with no challengers allowed.

Newcastle are the best (but not only) example. Whatever anyone thinks about the Saudi takeover, the financial clout that the club should now have means they could challenge Man City. Let’s face it, as City head towards a fourth Premier League in a row and probably the double, things are rather boring. Having the Magpies challenge them would have provided new excitement and could have brought more world-class players to the PL.

The fly in the ointment being that, despite their owners essentially having limitless funds, Newcastle may have to sell their best players to stay within regulations. All this is annoying enough and we haven’t even touched on the way points deductions could have made a mockery of the whole competition, or the way that whilst Everton and Nottingham Forest have been punished, Man City’s 115 charges are being conveniently ignored!

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