Let’s hope the break has been beneficial for Norwich City
15:34 22 February 2013
I can’t wait for the game tomorrow for the simple reason I will be attending as I have a rare Saturday off as I’m working on Sunday at the Capital One Cup final.
It will be exactly two weeks since Norwich City kicked a ball in anger, and in those two weeks tomorrow’s opponents Everton have played twice, losing to Manchester United in the league and drawing with League One club Oldham in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
I think we’re all hoping that the lads had a good few days training in Abu Dhabi last week and have got another full week’s training up at Colney this week in preparation for the game.
It promises to be a very tough test for Chris Hughton’s men as Everton are having a fantastic season. They are sixth in the league, six points behind Tottenham in fourth.
David Moyes has assembled probably the best squad of players in all his time at the club. He has some very talented players at his disposal, and add to that the battling qualities of the likes of Phil Neville, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, and Marouane Fellaini – they really are a force to be reckoned with this season.
I’m a big fan of Fellaini – he’s a proper handful. Even when he’s not at his best, his height and upper body strength still make him very awkward to play against. I remember Everton’s first game of the season at home to Manchester United when Fellaini was simply unplayable. The United defenders just didn’t know how to contain him. He dominated them from the first whistle to the last, and it was no surprise when he headed the winning goal in front of the Everton fans at The Gwladys Street End of Goodison Park.
The Toffeemen are in great form, and since November 24 they have only lost twice in 18 games in all competitions. Those two defeats came against Chelsea and Manchester United, so it clearly displays what a tough task stands in front of the lads tomorrow.
As I said, I’ll be working at the Capital One Cup final on Sunday afternoon, and it promises to be a great occasion for both Bradford City and Swansea City.
Bradford have done unbelievably well to reach the final, knocking out three Premier League clubs on the way. However, I really don’t think that they will make it a fourth scalp at Wembley.
I think that large playing surface at Wembley will suit the passing game that Michael Laudrup’s men play down to a tee. They will have plenty of space to utilise the pace of the likes of Routledge, Dyer, and Hernandez, and if Michu is on song there is only going to be one winner.
Since beating Aston Villa in the first leg of the semi-final, Phil Parkinson’s lads have won only once in their last seven games and dropped from a play-off position to 11th in League Two. I think it’s fair to say that this fantastic cup run they’ve had has been a big hindrance on their league form.
Mind you, they are dangerous from set pieces, and if Swansea do have a weaknesses it is defending from corners and free-kicks – more than 60 per cent of the goals Swansea have conceded have come from set-pieces.
• AT LAST WE CAN DRAW A LINE UNDER GETTING KEY DECISIONS WRONG
Finally, Fifa and Sepp Blatter have decided to bring in goal line technology for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
They experimented with it in the World Club Cup in December, and it will be used again in the Confederations Cup held in Brazil in June.
And, by the looks of things, it will be used in the biggest football competition bar none. The World Cup is the pinnacle for most footballers, if not all. The use of technology in football is overdue.
If it can help to improve the game then it should be used, and even more so if it help officials get their big decisions correct. Don’t get me wrong, I do think human error is part of the game, but to help officials decide whether a ball has crossed the goal line or not is a necessity.
If we’d had the technology back in 1966 when Sir Geoff Hurst scored that goal at Wembley against the Germans it would have taken the “Was it/wasn’t it over the line?” argument out of the equation.
It would also have helped more recently in the 2010 World Cup with, England once again facing the same opposition (Germany) in the knock out stages. After the Germans took a 2-0 lead, Matthew Upson pulled a goal back just before half-time, and barely 60 seconds later Frank Lampard smashed a volley past German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, only to see the ball hit the underside of the bar and cross the line by a couple of feet – it was clearly a goal. However, the ref and his assistant somehow missed it.
It would have taken only a second to see that the ball had clearly crossed the goal line, and had the goal counted the game would have undoubtedly changed – at 2-2 England would have been in the ascendancy.
That’s the importance of getting these big decisions right. It could be the difference between someone playing in a World Cup final or missing out. Many other sports use it to great success, and I think it’s a very good thing that finally football is about to.