ITV do Manchester United, De Gea and football no favours

David De Gea

In the absence of players communicating the newly-intensified rivalry between the two clubs by kicking each other and using terminology that belongs in a movie based in America’s Deep South at the start of the last century, ITV needed something to talk about. Liverpool and Manchester United’s FA Cup 4th Round tie sizzled and threatened to take off, but largely involved shadow boxing mixed with bursts of the real thing. In the 21st minute came the chance.

Liverpool, in an almost Pulis-esque stroke of maximising an advantage over an opponent, crowded around David De Gea prior to a corner kick. It was football’s version of survival of the fittest with De Gea clearly identified as the weakest of the herd. The cross came into that sort of grey area where commentators presume the goalkeeper can saunter off his line and pluck it out of the air and people who have played the position at any level know it’s never that straightforward. There was a shamozle – a comedy word carefully chosen to communicate the general disorder of the situation – and Daniel Agger rose unchallenged to head the opening goal. The replays showed United players falling over each other and the Dane converting the surprisingly facile chance. All that was lacking was a Benny Hill soundtrack and some canned laughter.

The uncertainty of De Gea’s panicky run didn’t flatter him. In the eyes of the commentators the fact none of the United defenders mustered even a faint challenge to Agger could be ignored and the goalkeeper singled out as the culprit – clueless, weak and an object to be bullied. Sadly, there were plenty of things to criticise De Gea for – the overall lack of command of his penalty area; the fumbly handling of the ball we rarely saw at Atletico Madrid; the strange mix of silly overconfidence on some occasions and the obvious lack of confidence on others – both of which lead to some poor choices. Despite some decent saves, he didn’t have a good game. Any decent analysis would have highlighted this and not just focused on one supposed howler. Criticism was warranted, but what we got was a shallow attack which skirted around the actual problems.

In the studio, the producers pointed their pundits to the incident like dog-handlers directing their famished charges to prime ribeye. It was seized upon it and the opinions for hire duly obliged. Paul Ince mumbled some comments about it not being good enough in that geezer-ish manner of talk that seems to undermine his points regardless if they’re valid or not. Roy Keane – licking his lips at the free rein to have a go at United – was arguably the least helpful, suggesting that De Gea’s confidence would get the requisite boost if he could only go out there “and nail somebody”. Wise words for someone suffering a drought in the bedroom department, less so for a young goalkeeper trying to find his feet in the Premier League.

The sense of mindlessly kicking a man when he’s down wasn’t helped later in the game when – clearly riding the wave of unwarranted viciousness – co-commentator, Jim Beglin decreed that the young Spaniard should have done better in preventing Kuyt’s winner. Perhaps getting De Gea confused with Mr. Potatohead or any other toy with detachable limbs, Beglin suggested the goalie ‘could have thrown a leg at it’. If there is a hierarchy of knee-jerk comments, this was at the lower end of the scale just a step above ‘the complete drivel’ label. The keeper could have done nothing about it. Evra was sleeping. The ball fell perfectly for Kuyt on his stronger foot. Talking a conservative estimate, he would have hit the ball at a speed of about 60mph at a distance of about 6 yards from the goalkeeper who was a couple of yards off his line. That gives De Gea an approximate reaction time of around one fifth of a second, the point where any save is almost entirely down to dumb luck rather than superhuman reactions. Not for the first time in his punditry career, Beglin’s analysis was overly simplistic and hinted towards populist pandering.

The benefit of time and increased hindsight hadn’t brought much enlightenment to the highlights show. Gordon Strachan and Neil Warnock – the latter looking like life outside management has given him a new lease of life and Brylcreem – toed the line and blurted out what they were told to with the absence of genuine balanced critique. Not dissimilar to his post-match rants, Warnock focussed on an incident that didn’t decide the game and ignored the numerous issues that did decide the game. Again the incident for the 1st goal was the centre of attention and the various other errors largely swept under the carpet – chiefly the silly fumbles that gave Liverpool hope when they were rendered largely toothless by an industrious United midfield. Considering that both Warnock and Strachan have both been at various times considered hot managerial property in the British game, it doesn’t reflect well on how some managers approach the role of the custodian. If this is how respected figures are happy to talk about young goalkeeping talent, is it any wonder that the Premier League has a string of indigenous talent between the posts that has already been knocked down repeatedly throughout their careers?

There is a point to all this grumbling and once again it’s the lack of understanding of the goalkeeper’s role. ITV are an entertainment business and their obligation is to deliver profit for their shareholders. They are free to take as short-sighted and sensationalist a view as they see fit. The pundits however are under no obligation to mindlessly take the bait. It was saddening that not one of the experts took an opposing view or declined the opportunity to slate De Gea for an offence his defenders were at least partially to blame. De Gea clearly has his problems, but he’ll eventually get over them. The problem of the media misunderstanding the goalkeeper may be something that’s harder to eradicate and have far more damaging consequences.

Premier League: Manchester United Need To Be Patient With De Gea

David De Gea

On the spectrum of starts, it’s not an absolute disaster. It is however far closer to the catastrophic end of the scale than it is to the successful end. It hasn’t cost silverware or points, but two games into his Manchester United career, David De Gea is on the ropes. And what’s probably more disconcerting for fans hoping to see the youngster succeed is the pace at which he has got to experience the sharp pens of the savage British press.

I wrote some time ago that my biggest fear about David De Gea being a success at Manchester United has little to do with his ability, it was more to do with the increased pressure and scrutiny that comes with being first choice at Old Trafford. He has the personality to handle it, but already the media have been quick to turn on him with the most ruthless of them crossing the line from warranted to criticism to ill-formed sneering mockery. Sean Custis, chief football writer with The Sun moronically wrote:

“The only thing that might stop this exciting, youthful United from retaining their title is new keeper David De Gea. Even his initials DDG look like a text form of DODGY and his early season howlers are causing consternation for Reds fans.”

Of course it wasn’t the finest moment in the history of goalkeeping, but such boorish ignorance is at best unhelpful and at worst the kind of brutality that has virtually destroyed the progress of countless young England goalkeepers in recent seasons. Plus it’s plainly wrong. As pleasing on the eye as some of the football from “this exciting, youthful United team” was, they failed to carve out many clear-cut chances in the second half and with the wealth of attacking talent at his disposal, that is worthy of almost as much examination as De Gea’s goalkeeping.

Sadly it wasn’t an isolated incident with many other pundits prepared to jump on the bandwagon of ill-formed conclusion and declare De Gea’s United career over before it has got the chance to get going. Attempts to pin the blame on him for City’s first goal in the Community Shield highlight the premeditated witch-hunt I believe some members of the press are on. The reason United conceded that goal was down to the fact it was superb deadball delivery and a good header from Joleon Lescott. De Gea may have made the briefest of motions forward, but he was hardly flapping at the cross or causing chaos for his defenders and his final position was pretty much where a keeper should in such a situation. A certain amount of such negative comment about his time in England so far is merited, but the relish with which Custis and certain others grasped the opportunity to deride another human being was an appalling reflection of the standards of journalism and punditry in Britain.

Thankfully, more constructive explanations have abounded in the aftermath of the West Brom game also. The excellent Shaka Hislop (@ShakaHislop) suggested that his problems are related to poor footwork and could be coached out of him by Eric Steele. The equally excellent Adie Creamer (@gkaade) , goalkeeping coach at the Watford FC academy put forward a theory that leaned more towards the mental aspect of the game and the young Spaniard’s ability to handle the overall pressure that comes from the Premier League. I can see some merit in both. At the moment, De Gea’s footwork seems a touch uncertain – as is much of the rest of his game – but from watching his development at Atletico Madrid, I know under normal circumstances his footwork isn’t bad and is actually one of his virtues. Something is happening that is affecting the very fundamentals of his game and I would say his problems are almost entirely psychological rather than technical.

What’s even more frustrating is that in between mistakes his talent is obvious. His reactions are solid and his handling sound, but he just isn’t at the races at other times. My hypothesis – for what it’s worth – is that De Gea is over-thinking at present. There has undoubtedly been a certain slowness to his game so far. Difficultly adapting to the pace of the British game may partially explain it, but I think it’s more than that. I suspect when the ball looks to be coming his direction at the moment, for a split second, either consciously or in his subconscious, De Gea thinks ‘I have to save this’. It’s a result of the pressure that comes with playing for such a huge club and the fact he has left his comfort zone by leaving Atletico. He doesn’t feel comfortable as yet and his quest to compensate leads only exacerbates the problem. It only takes a millisecond, but whilst De Gea takes this millisecond, he’s no closer to making a save, but the ball’s arrival is imminent. In the Community Shield, he seemed to be ponderous for the Dzeko goal and by the time he committed to a dive, he couldn’t adjust for the movement and dip in what was an otherwise straightforward shot. Against West Brom, Shane Long hit a shot that he would gobble up 99.99% of the time away from the intensity of a Manchester United match. At the risk of sounding like a Danielle Steele, I would equate it to breathing. Breathing is instinct to us all and for goalkeepers, throwing whatever part of your anatomy will do the job in the path of the ball feels natural almost to the point of being innate. As fanciful as the comparison is, when you start to think about your breathing or inhaling and exhaling correctly, it starts to feel somewhat laboured and far from the automated process it should be. When De Gea doesn’t have that moment to think and relies on his instinct, there doesn’t seem to be a problem as we saw with his fantastic save moments before the calamity.

As for Fergie, he may be tempted to turn to Anders Lindegaard. The Dane showed some good form in pre-season and has reportedly been making noises about not being happy with regards to his place in the pecking order. Games like Sunday only lend weight to his claims and it’s only natural that Fergie might want to give him a run out. I stand by my previous assertions that De Gea is good enough to succeed at Old Trafford, but equally the press have disproportionate power when it comes to hammering the nails into his coffin. That’s part of the deal when it comes to being Manchester United’s number 1 and he now has very little margin for error.

Van der Sar Holds The Key To Man Utd Victory

One v One – Edwin Van Der Sar v Victor Valdes
Van der Sar v Valdes

Champions League Final. Barcelona. A goalkeeping legend’s last game for the club.
There’s a delightful deja vu about the European Cup decider that will at the very least, give Manchester United fans memories of that night in the Camp Nou twelve years ago. For those who like to link coincidences with fate, the stars may appear to be aligning in favour of the Red Devils, but in truth the result of the game will be decided on 7,000 odd square metres of grass rather than the vast expense of space.

If ever there was an opportunity to go out on an incredible high, Edwin van der Sar has it. Less than a week after collecting the latest Premier League winner’s medal of an astonishingly fruitful Indian Summer to his career, the Dutchman could also be bowing out as a European champion. Whilst we need to be cautious about getting swept up in the fairytale, van der Sar is one of United’s key players – arguably the key – in their attempts to win a fourth European Cup. Hyperbolic as it may seem, he’s coming up against one of the best teams to have played the game and almost certainly he’ll need to produce one of the best performances of his fantastic career if United are to achieve victory.

If there is one area where United are significantly stronger than Barcelona, its in goals. All season long, Alex Ferguson must have watched and cursed the Dutchman’s retirement under his breath. His composure and ability to do the simple things right were a huge part of why Fergie finally achieved his aim of knocking Liverpool of their perch. With his defence not always covering themselves in glory, it was often left to van der Sar to cover for the weaknesses with a well-judged intervention or a commanding claim of a high ball. And then there were the more eye-catching moments such as full stretch saves and breath-taking reflexes. van der Sar has reached his forties, but on current form there’s another half a decade of top level football there if he wants it. It’s hard to estimate just how quickly the body of an elite athlete will deteriorate when age does catch up with a player, but based on his performances, injury-record and appetite for the game, 5 more years may only be an exaggeration of only the very slightest variety. He remains one of the best in the world and the importance of his contributions are only highlighted when looking at the player he’ll indirectly be opposing at Wembley.

At times Victor Valdes gets criticised for the ‘sin’ of apparently not having much to do. The way Barcelona take a near monopoly on the ball and rarely seem to be doing anything other than create whirlwinds of wonderful attacking play seems to have given rise to the view that Valdes isn’t especially good and Pepe Guardiola could essentially name a scarecrow in goals with little adverse effect. There is some truth in the under-employment notion. I look back and my notes and very often there’s a white space beside his name due to the absence of any significant work for him to do. That doesn’t make him useless however. Valdes is a good keeper and as little as he may have to do in the numerous romps that Barca seem to manage, he has a set of skills suited to the demands of the role. He’s generally a brave, very athletic and commanding goalkeeper who is quick to close down opponents, but his greatest talent may well be his ability to concentrate – not only in terms of making saves, but in the more general sense of watching how play develops and always being alert to the needs of his defence – whether its to make a stunning save or being available to take a backpass.

That said, Valdes clearly has the capacity to make a mistake. At the Emirates, a poor piece of positioning allowed Robin van Persie to hammer in a goal that ultimately didn’t cost Barcelona, but made it a more uncomfortable passage. Equally, in the second leg, I recall Barcelona utterly dominated the second half, but Nicklas Bendtner was presented with a glorious chance to send Arsenal through. In the end, it was a poor touch that snuffed out the move, but Valdes – in conjunction with Mascherano – made life as difficult as possible for the Dane. A slight daydream or moment of hesitation from Valdes could have given Bendtner the space he required to finish and knock the Catalans out of the tournament.

Looking back at the 2009 final, the early stages of Valdes’ performance highlight the need for composure and an ability to do the basics right when it matters. In the first seven seconds, Valdes gives United a throw-in in an advanced position courtesy of a misplaced pass and about a minute later, the English side have worked themselves into a promising free-kick position. Cristiano Ronaldo hit it relatively well, but in reality it was a shot straight at Valdes which he couldn’t gather and somehow United failed to score. To be fair to Valdes it did bounce before in front of him and take one of the more erratic trajectories Ronaldo managed to achieved with his woefully over-rated free kick taking, but goalkeepers wanting to be considered amongst the elite in their profession need to deal with them in the overwhelming majority of cases. Games, ties and Champions League runs turn on such moments and had United snapped up the gift they were presented with, the pattern – and quite possibly the result – of the game could easily have been different. At the other end van Der Sar did everything that was asked at him and his stops not only prevented it from being a cakewalk for Barca, but gave United a punchers chance of taking the game.

I also wonder if his defence fully trust Valdes. I’ve seen him get involved in mix-ups with his defenders who at times seem anxious not to have to resort to him (case and point would be this goal against Levante from a couple of weeks ago – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe2-ACui1hk). The frequency of misunderstandings may have a lot to do with the difficulty in communicating in the atmosphere of the colossal Camp Nou, but it seems to be an issue. Maybe it’s trust, more likely it’s just a breakdown in communication – either way, they afford too much of it in the Champions League final.

It’s a true goalkeeping great versus a good goalkeeper. Where van der Sar is strong, Valdes sometimes struggles. Barcelona may well have the talent to render the discrepancy null and void, but the stage might be set for van der Sar to make it count.

Van Der Sar Retirement Confirmed

Van der Sar Retirement

The cat is finally out of the not particularly secure bag.

It has been confirmed that Edwin van der Sar is retiring at the end of the season much to the shock of no-one. Fergie’s scouting activity gave a few subtle hints the move was on the way and a further less subtle clue came when Manchester United goalkeeping coach. Eric Steele came out and effectively said ‘Edwin is retiring at the end of the year.’

Barring a sudden and catastrophic downturn in form – think Chelsea but isolated to the United goal – Van der Sar is going out on a high. I’ve made that argument several times this season that despite turning 40, Van der Sar is still playing to a very high standard – arguably the best he’s ever played. He’s getting plenty of chances to show there’s life in the old dog yet thanks to United’s defending and there can be no doubt that without his contribution, the plump cushion the Red Devils enjoy at the top of the table would be slimmer if not non-existent. A reflex save here, some assured command of his penalty area there and all of a sudden United have picked up points their performances probably don’t merit, but that’s the advantage of having a world class keeper. Even in the winter of his career, Van der Sar deserves to be considered one of the world’s best.

Keane, Cantona and Schmeichel are often touted as Ferguson’s best bits of business, but Van der Sar should be mentioned in the same category. Having been displaced by Gigi Buffon at Juventus, it looked like Van der Sar was trying to rake in the cash as he winded down his career when he joined free-spending Fulham in 2001. It wasn’t quite on the Man City scale, but surely silverware wasn’t to the forefront on the Dutchman’s mind when he joined the Cottagers. Where some saw a glorified halfway house to retirement, Fergie saw a top class goalkeeper capable of performing at the highest level. I looked to be a risky move at the time, but the £2 million odd he parted with for the 34 year old back in 2005 looks like small potatoes at this stage. Without him, you’d seriously have to question how much of United’s haul of 3 Premier Leagues and one European Cup would have actually come to pass.

It leaves Fergie with a serious headache. There are few goalkeepers of Van der Sar’s quality around the world and those being mentioned as possible replacements lack the consistency of the Dutchman. A whole host of young goalkeepers have been linked, but they’ll be expensive and Fergie tends to like an older and more experienced hand in goal – generally a player in his late twenties at least. Julio Cesar, Shay Given and Gigi Buffon have all been mentioned, but do any of them sound like they’ll be an improvement on even a 40 year old Van der Sar?

Perhaps that’s the greatest indication of how good United’s retiring no. 1 has been for the club.

Goalkeeper World Rankings

The Ministry’s Top Ten Goalkeepers In The World

Current (Former)
1. (1) Iker Casillas (Real Madrid and Spain)
2. (2) Petr Cech (Chelsea and Czech Rep.)
3. (3) Gigi Buffon (Juventus and Italy)
4. (4) Edwin Van Der Sar (Man Utd)
5. (5) Pepe Reina (Liverpool and Spain)
6. (7) Victor Valdes (Barcelona and Spain)
7. (6) Shay Given (Man City and Ireland)
8. (8) Hugo Lloris (Lyon and France)
9. (9) Joe Hart (Man City and England)
10. (-) David de Gea (Atletico Madrid)

For yet another month, there can be little debate about Iker Casillas at the top of our Goalkeeper World Rankings. Critics may point to a costly error at the San Siro that handed AC Milan a goal, but on that occasion, it was a handling error accentuated by over-aggression and over confidence. Anticipating a cross along the six yard box, he took a step off his line, only to be left virtually stranded as the pass was skewed towards goal. His other performances in the last month were largely flawless however and he has plenty going for him in the pro column. Not for the first time, it’s the quality of his saves rather than overwhelming quantity that makes him so impressive. With Real’s new Galacticos routinely dismantling opponents, his involvement is kept to a minimum, but time over time throughout November he came up trumps for his team when called upon. His concentration is supreme and a great addition to his obvious athleticism. His performance could be the decisive factor in the first Clasico of the season on Monday,

Chelsea’s swift reversal of fortune has been dramatic, but the sudden glut of balls Petr Cech is now picking out of his net are no reflection on his performances. Throughout the crisis, he has remained firm and in actual fact minimized the impact of the faltering defence in front of him.

In an interesting twitter exchange with Shaka Hislop, we learned the former Newcastle and West Ham goalkeeper thinks our #3, Gigi Buffon is “well past his best”. It seems a harsh assessment for a players we haven’t seen since the World Cup in June, but clearly there’s something in the Italians game that Hislop has identified as being a concern. By his own admission, the Trinidad and Tobago international said he felt a deterioration in his own performance at around the age of 36 or 37 whilst he was still at Upton Park. Although it feels like he’s been around since the advent of the wheel, Buffon doesn’t turn 33 until next January. That would give a few more years in his relative prime to defy the predictions of Hislop. For the time being at least, we’re giving him the benefit of the doubt and leaving him largely untouched in the World Rankings until he eventually returns from injury.

Elsewhere on the list, there is little change. Pepe Reina is performing well behind a misfiring Liverpool team and something similar can be said of the 40 year old Edwin van der Sar. Shay Given continues to slide based almost solely on his inability to usurp Joe Hart in the Man City team. Hart is doing little wrong and with Mancini struggling to keep fans onside, he may just stick with the residual benefit that comes from sticking with the Englishman.

David de Gea makes his first appearance on the World Rankings list after another strong month, taking the Spanish representation to 4. Atletico Madrid are being their typically inconsistent selves, but were it not for his performances, they’d be simply be their atypical woeful selves. As we’ve said many times in the past, De Gea looks to have the complete package and one thing that’s stood out over the last few games is his desire to take command in his penalty area. It’s standard for most experienced keepers, but for man who only a few weeks ago left his teenage years, it’s impressive. Igor Akineev is the goalie to drop out of the Top 10. A few weeks ago we expressed concern about his handling and over reliance on punching when Ireland hosted Russia in a Euro 2012 qualifier and our follow up scouting missions of CSKA Moscow games found this to be the norm rather than the exception. It’s probably rather telling that speculation linking him with a move to Europe’s top clubs has died down in recent months.

The keeper of the month award goes to Casillas with Cech and De Gea occupying the places. He’ll no doubt be delighted.

Anders Lindegaard to Man Utd

Anders Lindegaard

‘He’s not good enough’ almost says United legend

There was some frantic googling done yesterday afternoon after news broke that Man Utd were planning to sign Danish goalkeeper, Anders Lindegaard. It didn’t help that we did a lot of this searching under the assumption he’s planning in Denmark when in fact he’s move the move north to the Norwegian top flight. ‘The new Peter Schmeichel’ you say. ‘Middling career in Norway is a sign of real quality, eh?’ It’s not looking good.

To be frank, we know very little about him. If Fergie was going to opt for a young Danish keeper, we would have recommended Jonas Lossl, a keeper we’ve heaped much praise on in the past. To his credit, Lindegaard does a handful of Danish caps to his name, but all that we can deduce from that is he’s slightly better than Thomas Sorensen and little else. Just because he’s the Danish number 1 doesn’t bestow him with any superhuman powers.

It’s times like this that we could use the opinion of a Danish Man Utd goalkeeping legend and right on cue, Peter Schmeichel has piped up. Speaking to the Guardian, he revealed he doesn’t think Lindegaard is good enough to be United’s first choice.

We are talking about Manchester United here. You can look at talent, you can look at young good players, [but] you don’t want that, you want someone who can go in straight away and give performances in 80% of the games that the number one choice goalkeeper will play for Manchester United.

That would seem to tally with our rather more ill-informed and stomach based gut instinct. Our best guess is Van der Sar is retiring and it’s dawned on Tomasz Kuszczak he won’t be getting the promotion so Lindegaard is being brought in as mainly a bench-warmer/Carling Cup starter and the pursuit of David de Gea will continue for several months to come.

Heurelho Gomes Howler v Man Utd

Heurelho Gomes

It was an error compounded by an error, compounded by couple of serious doses of egotism.
The records will see it as another howler for Heurelho Gomes and God knows that wasn’t exactly a file in need of further boosting. Events in Old Trafford on Saturday evening showcased all that’s worst about modern football – a lack of sportsmanship, referees obsessed with being the centre of attention and the inadequacy of rules that are poorly administered in the first place.

First and foremost, Gomes made a mistake. From an early age, the phrase ‘play the whistle’ is drilled into the heads of all aspiring football stars as if it were the mantra of a cult religion. There was no whistle and as blatant as Nani’s handball was, making assumptions can only lead to trouble. With the clock ticking down, the noise of Old Trafford at full capacity and his team in desperate need of an equaliser, it’s easy to understand the haste Gomes employed in taking the ‘free-kick’, but more a touch more concentration would have established there was no whistle.

Blame must also go to shameless cheat, Nani. The Portuguese winger was supposed to step into the shoes of Ronaldo and for most of his time with Man Utd, that hope seemed hugely unfounded. In recent months however, he’s raised his game and he’s been a joy to much for the most part. Sadly now it looks like he wants to step into his compatriot’s shoes not only in terms of contribution to the team, but in seeking to make ill-gotten gains through simulation and gamesmanship. Having been the player to have so clearly handled the ball, Nani should have recognised the mistake Gomes had made and left well enough alone. Ironically, the fact that he played the whistle in this instance is not to be applauded because any player with an ounce of sportsmanship would have refused to take advantage of a clear misunderstanding.

Third and most culpable are Mark Clattenburg and the rules of the game. When the goal was scored, there was an opportunity to rectify the error. He could have ruled it out and awarded the free-kick or alternatively he could have allowed the goal stand and insist Man Utd allow Spurs score an uncontested goal. As ludicrous as the latter solution sounds, there are several precedents for this. Just what the referee and his assistant referee discussed will probably never fully be known, but it was clear from the events it was an unfortunate misunderstanding. Clattenburg seems to enjoy the infamy that comes with controversial decisions and one has to question whether – given the option – he’d choose what is just over what is going to get him talked about. The advantage rule is still a grey area in football. It was hurriedly added to the rules a few years back and contains a couple of loopholes. What exactly constitutes an ‘advantage’? Having the ball is a start, but there are many occasions when a player finds himself surrounded by opponents and would surely prefer to have the free-kick. In other common situations, a team may prefer to take the free-kick if only to waste a few seconds or stabilise a team that may have been struggling. In rugby a team can turn down advantage by committing an error of their own. Should the situation dictate many a player has deliberately knocked on and taken the ensuing penalty. In football, some sort of a signal or action by a player to signify the rejection of advantage.

Review the incident again here and if we get enough support we’ll take our idea to FIFA who’ll listen attentively before doing nothing.

As an aside, it must be particularly disappointing for Gomes who has worked hard and improved significantly to overturn the calamitous reputation he earned from several spectacular howlers during the early days of his time in England. He’s still some way to go to be considered genuinely top class, but he’s progressed substantially from the laughing stock of a couple of seasons ago. It’s a shame he’ll forever be associated with this comical indcident.