Happy New Era

And so another year draws to a close. I know it’s barely the half way point in the league season but it’s got me thinking about new eras and new dawns.

And I think we could all do with a year off.

This season should be announced as the last one of the ‘post-war era’ and next season should be declared null and void and treated as a watershed year. That way we could all recharge our batteries and enjoy a year’s worth of frivolous, bounce matches with nothing too serious at stake.

As well as being a welcome breather for football statisticians who haven’t had a break since the post war era began, managers up and down the land, free of the burden of expectation, would be encouraged to employ dramatic offensive formations in the name of entertainment. The old style 2-3-5 would be back in fashion and we could even return to those halcyon days when the fixture list forced teams to play each other back to back during public holiday periods.

Thus I envisage Manchester United coming to Anfield on Christmas Day 2012 and stunning Liverpool with a 5:0 victory, thanks to a dazzling cameo appearance by Clayton Blackmore, only for a vengeful Liverpool to wreak havoc at Old Trafford on Boxing Day with a comprehensive 9:2 retort (Martin Skrtel scoring a double hat-trick in his new found free spirited attacking role).

This null season would also be applied north of the border paving the way for the return of the old ‘wartime’ Scotland v England fixture at Hampden Park. Scotland, employing a radical 1-1-8 formation, will beat England something like 7:1 courtesy of their ‘guesting’ players, Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi Hernandez and will thus become European Champions (England having been previously crowned Euro champs in 2012). A crowd of 170,000 will pack into Hampden Park (official capacity, 52,000) to see the rout and will describe the game to a man as the ‘best of all time’.

It will be an ideal time for the hapless referees of the land to realign themselves with the players and the fans. Refs are having such a crap time at the moment, what with having to answer for unutterably inconsistent decisions from one game to the next, instant TV replays showing them up, and players diving around all over the pitch. There would be a move to grant refs more respect and to that end they will be given special new powers, including …

  • Being allowed to clip players around the ear ‘ole for being a bit lippy.
  • Persistent divers to have their legs slapped and made to stand in the corner behind the flag.
  • The likes of John Terry, Charlie Adam, Nemanja Vidic and Vincent Kompany to be yellow carded before the start of games in the comfort and safety of the dressing room, thus saving time and allowing for free flowing matches.

The game’s paymasters, Sky, would also be forced to change their scheduling. All weekend games would kick off at 3pm on Saturday. There would be no Sunday afternoon or Monday evening matches and Jamie Redknapp would have to get a part time job for a year, perhaps a paper round or something.

Undoubtedly cynics amongst you will say that there is no need to create an artificial break in the football calendar as World War three will be along very shortly if we all just hang on a bit. Maybe. But let’s take the bull by the horns and be pro-active.

Yes, the current season should be the last of the post war era. This way we can instantly consign those irritating United supporters who crow about Premiership titles to the history bin. Fresh statistics would now be generated in a brave new era (an era we have yet to name – in the meantime the ‘Post-Fergie Era’ sounds good enough to be going on with). Obviously, youngsters like Aaron Ramsey and Phil Jones will lose a year of their careers, but that’s just tough. Bill Shankly, Tom Finney and co. lost seven years of theirs and they never moaned about it. Not once.
And the more I think about it the more sense it makes to introduce a few radical rule changes. So, how about …

  • Teams able to swap players with each other if the game’s a little dull or one sided.
  • Games to last four or five hours, or until so many players have drifted off home for tea it seems pointless going on.
  • As no one understands the offside rule any more, abolish it.
  • Teams to employ blatant goal-hangers – in the wake of there being no offside rule.
  • In any game, at any point, any player on the pitch can simply shout ‘next goal wins’ and it becomes law.

Yes, I think these innovations will serve the game well in the long term. Imagine the sheer joy on pouring out of, let’s say the Emirates Stadium, and hearing the news that the game up at Old Trafford between United and Stoke that was sitting at 3:0 at half time, has finished 4:5 to Stoke after United agreed to swap Rooney, Vidic and Nani for Etherington, Woodgate and Delap.

And how amusing would it be if the game at White Hart Lane, between Spurs and Everton, was abandoned after six hours because Rafael van Der Vaart got the hump over something and took the ball home with him, with the match tantalisingly balanced at 17:3 for Spurs!
Yes, let’s start an online petition now. Bring it on.
Happy New Era!

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