Recently, I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the attitude we have in football towards handball appeals. Other issues, like diving, get more airtime and instigate more debate, but the differing and ridiculous attitudes we have towards handball appeals is worthy of debate in its own right. Multiple close up replays about whether a ball hit an arm, or a junction of arm and shoulder, slowed down, forward, rewind, forward - pointless, pathetic, and besides the point.It feels that every highlight package put together of a game tends to focus disproportionately on balls either shot or crossed straight at defenders and hitting them on the arm, often at the expense of much more discussion worthy incidents.Last Saturday’s Sunderland versus Fulham game was an example of this.
The case against the Brendan Rodgers regime at Liverpool is mounting.. His transfer dealings have been atrocious - Fabio Borini has been an outright flop, Nuri Sahin already gone despite Liverpool having paid for a year’s loan, Oussama Assaidi hasn’t been deemed good enough to feature more than a handful of times all year, and the man he called the "Welsh Xavi" and paid £15 million for, Joe Allen, has lost all his confidence and poise he showed at Swansea.
The botched Andy Carroll loan deal that left the club short up front for the first half of the season was an abysmal bit of squad management, the bullying and condescending approach that soured Fulham on coming up with a deal for Clint Dempsey who ended up going for a paltry 4m damaged the clubs negotiating position.
What Can The Combined Record of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic And Murray's Opponents Tell Us About Tennis' Greatest Era?
Having watched Stanislas Wawrinka unexpectedly push Novak Djokovic all the way in the 4th Round of the Australian Open, Federer summarily dispatch two of the game’s next hottest talents in Raonic and Tomic, and watched Andy Murray move to 39 wins and 1 losses against French players in the last few years, I was struck by the notion at how good the top four players in the world – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, have been at dispatching their nearest competition on a consistent basis.
I decided to take a closer look at their records against ten of the best players whom they have faced – five of them current players, and five who were at their peak in the past.
I recognise that whether one includes Andy Murray within a group containing three of the greatest players of all time is controversial given his meagre success in comparison, but have included him as it has felt for the last couple of years that he truly has earned status as the fourth force. While not as celebrated as the other three, and the numbers tell this story, he has elevated himself from the chasing pack to be a significant factor in tennis’s greatest era.
The Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) still have their destiny in their own hands, but after last week’s devastating buzzer-beating loss to the Cowboys in Ohio that snapped a four game winning streak, a win in tonight’s game against the struggling Philadelphia Eagles is a must for Marvin Lewis’s men if they are to reach the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
One of the major obstacles the Bengals must overcome is complacency – throughout their history, the Bengals simply haven’t been able to be complacent as they’ve barely ever been good enough to beat anybody, though they boast a 4-3 winning record against the Eagles in Philadelphia and own the all-time series 7-3-1. The Eagles showed last week with their walk off victory over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay that while they might not have any playoff aspirations remaining after a seven game slide, they have a lot of talent, and many of their playing and coaching staff are now performing with their jobs on the line, such as Andy Reid, the longest tenured coach in the league, and backup quarterback Nick Foles who has shown brief flashes in relief of the injured and clapped out, concussed Michael Vick.
Often, football chairmen and owners who make seemingly impersonal decisions that fans can’t relate to are denigrated because they never played the game at the highest level themselves, and aren’t what the media would call “football men” who know what they are doing. Michel Platini is doing his best to turn this debate on its head by showing that even a former Ballon D’or winner and the top European Championships scorer of all time can decisions so utterly ill-judged and out of step with the average football fan that Roman Abramovich suddenly looks like a man of the people.