Arsène On Good Technology: Fact, Dive Or Seven Types Of Ambiguity?
As the rest of the world focusses on the FA Cup semi-finals or Grand National, we remain resolutely turned towards Arsenal despite the absence of a match this weekend. We cannot even reminisce about league football returning to Highbury as Fleetwood Town were made to wait a little longer for their promotion to the Football League following last night’s 2-2 draw with Lincoln City. Still, if you want to look back on the past or learn more, pop over to Arsenal On This Day. Enough with the shameless self-promotion.
Whilst the match may be on Monday, Arsène’s press conference was no less illuminating. Unsurprisingly he is in favour of video technology but recognising that knees have been jerking faster than the annual St Vitus Dance Grand Ball, he is in favour of a more measured approach to the topic,
I would like to assess the situation as a whole at the end of the season. Last weekend was a very bad weekend, but we need to assess the global situation. I think the football authorities need to sit together and see how we can improve it. It is time for us to help the referees and not be so conservative and finally opt for video. Video will help the referees, not question their authority. It will give them more credit, more authority and [produce] fewer mistakes.
Whatever system is introduced will need careful monitoring. For example, knowing that an offside decision is 50:50 and subsequently stopping the game just because the video official will vindicate the decision or not is, to my mind, the quickest way to destroying the credibility of officials on the pitch. If a player is onside yet called offside, then attacking impetus and any advantage which might accrue, are lost. If play is allowed to continue and then called offside, surely this brings the linesman into more question. You might get the decision right yet surely the bigger question is why bother with officials at all? Why not have the whole match refereed by video.
It appears to me that the conservatism which this issue brings about in football is actually what is stopping the game losing its soul. A headlong rush into technology without proper planning is not going to improve matters. If video technology is to be used, surely the limit has to be penalty area incidents where doubts arise rather than extending it to the game in general itself? At worst, the video official might draw the referee’s attention to incorrect decisions such as the one not to send Balotelli off last weekend for his first assault on Alex Song.
The team news ahead of the visit of Wigan is pretty much as expected. No Diaby or Coquellin, Gibbs might make it, Gervinho more likely. And what of Jack Wilshere? With the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders, the youngster seems highly unlikely to make the trip to Eastern Europe in anything more than a spectatorial capacity,
We are now in mid-April. The Euros start in the middle of June. Jack has not played the whole season and knowing what is required at the top level, in terms of intensity, it’s getting short now. Jack is mentally strong. But what is holding him back is that he can’t play football, so he can’t be happy. When you’re only dream is to play football, you are going to be down. He has not joined the first team yet. He is still in the gym and running. I will not take any risks with him.
It is not Arsenal taking risks with him that causes the most concern. Understandably the player has stated his aim to play at the European Championships and Olympics. Whilst Fifa continues to be out of touch and insists that players called up for London2012 must be released by clubs, the FA seems positively enlightened by ordering that any participants at Euro2012 cannot be selected for TeamGB.
TeamGB might prove the more beneficial option for Arsenal and the player. Taking place closer to the season’s start, the Olympics would put Wilshere onto a faster track for 2012-13 than a June competition. Whilst he would miss Arsenal’s pre-season, he would come back with a higher degree of match sharpness than he might ordinarily have. This though is some time off yet.