Welcome to The Final Ball Blog! This is where we’ll have weekly a weekly detailed insight into the last week of sport for those of you who just couldn’t live by only listening to us for an hour a week!
And we have to start on the dire note of the very thing that we stare at from the moment we wake until the moment we sleep, social media. Let’s be honest, we don’t watch TV anymore. Not in the conventional way. Nobody wants to pay TV licence. Everything have a Playback service and when it comes to highlights or certain important moments that happen in life, 10 people that you follow have retweeted it or put it on their story, giving zero context explanation or back-story to what you’re seeing. It has gotten to the point where every single aspect of the world is available to see on a screen. Some of those moments bring joy and laughter, but some bring pain & trauma. Just like the world we live in.
So, where we can feel anger & fury when you hear that another player has been racially abused, we can’t even be surprised. Remember, every single aspect. It’s a flawed world. A lot of people don’t follow the same ethical or moral code instilled in us by good parenting, and we know that as people, that’s why we are wary of certain things. Things like dark alleys, Policemen, Burgess Park. There’s something in our lives that have told us that despite laws existing there are still people out there very willing to go against them and they don’t need a real reason. So, if in a world, where we have governing bodies and public services in place to protect the people and STILL the wrongdoings persist, what can we expect from a global that has no such thing? People are going to run amock in a digital world with no consequences.
With that, we see the reason why the social media problem has become something that needs addressing immediately, literally anyone on the planet can use it. It doesn’t ask you for criminal history or request the purpose of the account, it doesn’t even cost money! As long as you can access the internet, it’s yours. Like a bouncer in a small-town nightclub, let’s anybody in, no questions ask. There is really one rule on social media, one particular instance as to where social media will take action quicker than a 911 response in a white suburbia. Copyright. Flood somebody’s DM’s or posts with every swear word you’ve heard since you were 12 and nothing get’s picked up but a video with a song longer than 15 seconds and/or showing footage Adel Taarabt slipping the ball through someone’s legs in slow-mo and they won’t let you breath until you get rid of it. Of course it makes sense, you can’t mess with people’s money like that, but it says a lot about the technology that they have available to be able to monitor anything to do with people’s finances.
Moving on to something less contentious, it’s the performance of England at this year’s Six Nations. I didn’t check the odds at the start of the tournament, but England tend to be up there with the favourites, and rightly so. They normally have a lot more balance across forwards and backs than the other teams and the pressure of potential failure seems to inspire them time and time again. But it just didn’t happen this year. In fact they failed in the most spectacular fashion, with crushing defeats to Ireland, Wales & Scotland. And it seems to stem from a problem that many former England teams had but looked to have rectified until recently, England give too many penalties away. Too much indiscipline at the breakdown and crucial times, in combination with poor tackling techniques at times (although, like in football, rules have become a bit softer), which is something that can let games get away from you quickly as the backs simply aren’t able to get on the ball enough to do damage. It does feel like maybe it’s the end of the era for Eddie Jones and it’s time to move on from a squad that has brought great memories in the past. The thing that really highlighted this is the fact that Ben Youngs & Danny Care are no longer the “young & exciting” prospects that burst onto the scene and added different dimensions to England’s creativity from the breakdown. And although age shouldn’t be the reason for change, bringing some energy and hunger might just ignite some passion into these players again (fans will do this also)
Now although I’ve never shown a particular interest in women’s football, I am enjoying the fact that there’s been so much improvement in terms of coverage (especially via the BBC), and the integration of analysis from former players of the women’s game (yes you, Alex Scott 😉). And it seems like we are finally going to get the game changer that will bring the women’s game onto an equal footing at the top level with a new bumper TV deal. Yes, £8 million isn’t quite at the same level as the billions that regularly go into the men’s game but for me it’s more about growth. We had a situation where lower level football in the women’s game wasn’t considered “elite sport” and it therefore had to subside whilst the top leagues continued. Of course with the top teams being run by institutions like Man City & Chelsea, the finances aren’t necessarily required for them, it’s more about getting the game more exposure and coverage so that it can organically grow by being in more living rooms and sports bars and letting the finances trickle down to those lower leagues to be able to increase their developments of talents coming through and as more money is being seen in the women’s game, it will provide more young girls to play, meaning we’re more likely to end up with a team of Eni Aluko’s & Lauren James’s and maybe we’ll see a young player come through and be referred to as “the next Megan Rapinoe”
Finally, I have to touch on the England U21’s. Now I think it’s difficult to build a youth team when the first team manager is willing to fight a whole foreign government to ensure that a 17-year-old can leave Germany to play for the first team. Even Reece James was promised to be available for the U21 Championships in mid-February, which turned out to not be the case, and talents like Trent have been considered “first team standard” for so long the time that he gets dropped, they’ve forgotten that he could actually still play for them. But with all of this being said, Aidy Boothroyd is not the man for this job. He just doesn’t fit in with the progression that England are trying to create. To be honest, we shouldn’t know the name of the U21 manager. He should fall into the same remit as the players, young, hungry, trying to make a name for themselves. Knows that the job simply consists of developing players together knowing some will be in the first team one day and some will end up at Rochdale. Like a Brendan Rodgers at Chelsea. Someone who is aspiring to use this as a platform to get a job at Derby or Bournemouth. Basically, what Southgate was when he had the job. In fact, why not get Southgate back? He clearly loves getting young players together and developing them as people as well as England internationals, it’s just his tactical nous that is like watching paint dry. I’m not sure if his role is for him either. Maybe he should take up more of a “Technical Director” role and be more involved in the “day-to-day” rather than “match-day”. Because as much as he’s doing his very best to develop these players as men, some already are and don’t want to be “old men” looking back at missed opportunities that same way that the “Golden Generation” do.