IT WAS a pretty sickening sight watching that Barnsley fan trying to attack the referee in the Liverpool match last weekend.We do not need that violent side giving our great game a bad name but I can honestly see it happening more and more next season.
Why? Simply because FIFA are outlawing the tackle from behind. They are introducing it in the World Cup and it will become law in all forms of football from next season.
Even worse, it will be deemed a red card offence and that means more and more players being sent off. It will also cause more frustration on the terraces and there will only be one person to take that frustration out on – the poor referee.
Yes, the poor referee. I may have been critical this season about consistency and interpretation but I’ve got every sympathy for them.
If they do send players off for that offence they will only be doing their job.
I have to say now it will be a stupid law and it is one of the reasons why I am extremely worried about the general state of our game.
If we are not careful we will soon have a non-contact sport and that is simply not on. It’s all very well saying we can re-educate players but that physical side of the game has been around long before I was a twinkle in my father’s eye.
Last Saturday was bad enough when Barnsley were reduced to eight men. Next season teams could end up eight a side making it a complete farce.
Fans pay good money to see an evenlybalanced match between teams of equal numbers.
Yes, you get games when each side may have a player sent off, but the interpretation of this new law could easily mean a team of nine playing one of eight and that is something no sane football fan is going to stand for.
OUR new youth development officer Malcolm Elias started work this week and I’m delighted to welcome him on board.
He has a key role to play in the years ahead and I’m sure he will be as successful with us as he was with Oxford.
Malcolm already has strong local connections so that will help us enormously to corner the talent market in South Wales. We want to attract the best youngsters to Swansea and I’m sure his arrival at Vetch Field will strengthen that aim.
Malcolm arrives at a time of the season when we have to decide what youngsters to keep and which ones to leave go.
Although the final decision is mine, because I have only been around for five months I have discussed the situation at length with both Alan Curtis and Ron Walton.
Ultimately, though, it is the manager’s responsibility to tell youngsters what is happening. Obviously some will be disapppointed but at the end of the day it is all about opinions.
It’s never a nice thing to happen to kids but it is the same at every football club.
As I’ve said before, I am still not convinced that a two-year trainee programme is long enough, which is why I am hopeful of offering two or three players an extra year.
Some players mature later than others which is why my aim has always been to establish a little group of say nine or 10 players aged 19 and under and develop their skills.
By the time they are 21 many of them should be in the first team and then it will be time to get another group on the conveyor belt.
Having said that, it is always going to be hard for lower division clubs to hang on to their best young players.
Chester found that out last week. They needed money so Matt McKay was sold to Everton for £500,000. He is only 17 and it is probably a gamble taking someone that young, but more and more clubs are doing it and for a club like Everton it’s nothing more than small change.
I was thinking about that over the weekend after Danny Barwood had scored against Chester. It was his first goal and I’m sure there will be many more.
I’m sure, too, that sometime in the future I’ll be picking up the phone and there will be a serious inquiry for one of my younger players, whether it’s Barwood or someone else.
I’d like to think that ‘no’ will be the first thing that springs to mind, but looking at it completely coldly I honestly don’t know what the answer will be.