Our regular blogger, Adam Guest, gives his surprisingly harsh views on recent events.
Biasedness in football has always irritated me a bit. I don`t mean like when you wear red-tinted specs and believe you`re going to win a match you`ll more than likely lose, I`m referring to analysis and defending the indefensible just because a player plays for, or a certain decision went, for/against your team. Chelsea fans were at it yesterday with Diego Costa, claiming how funny his antics were while the rest of football saw him for the utter disgrace that he is. Chelsea fans would have agreed, of course, had it been any other player for any other team. But because he played for them, their defending of him was as ridiculous as it was predictable. There are several other high profile examples of this; Liverpool fans defending Luis Suarez after his various mid-game meals, Manchester United fans applauding Cristiano Ronaldo on his return to Old Trafford after getting Wayne Rooney sent off at the World Cup. The list is as endless as it is infuriating, judge an incident on its merits, not merely on the players involved or the team that they play for.
Which brings me on to Dean Smith.
I think it`s fair to say he`s never quite mastered the art of not saying stupid things in his post-match press conferences. Whether it is criticising referees for decisions they`ve got right, blaming elements such as the pitch or the weather for us not winning, or by claiming we`ve played well in a game he feels we should have won and created loads of chances, when in fact we`ve played rubbish and not mustered a shot on target for the entire game.
However, his comments on the closing stages of yesterday`s game, for me, took things to the next level. Posh midfielder Jermaine Anderson threw a drinks bottle off the pitch, missed and it went into the crowd amongst his own fans. The player, inexplicably, was sent off by the referee, a decision which, had it been Sam Mantom at the Banks`s, would have seen Dean Smith go hopping mad at the official for costing us a player not only for the end of that match but potentially the next 3 games too. Everyone would have agreed with him too, our fans coming out of the ground were on social media laughing at the comedy dismissal of an opposition player, with not a single one agreeing it was a red card.
“The lad gets sent off, I feel sorry for him but you can`t do that. He didn`t mean to do it he has just flung the bottle into the crowd and that could take someone`s eye out.” This according to his comments in the Express & Star, begging the question when was the last time Smith heard of a person having their eyeball extracted with a water bottle? To even suggest such a thing is up there with Sir Alex Ferguson`s infamous “He could have been killed!” comment when referring to the ball hitting Robin Van Persie in the back of the head a few years ago. It was no more dangerous than players blasting the ball at the goal during the warm up, missing the net and firing it aimlessly into the stands. I`d have hoped if Posh were to appeal we`d support them in their appeal, but yet Dean bizarrely thinks the red card should stand.
There was more, when discussing the penalty.
“Outside the penalty box, that wouldn`t have been given.” Which in itself is an odd thing to say. Usually you find decisions that would be given outside the box end up not being given in the area precisely because they result in a penalty. If on Wednesday night against Chelsea Asmir Begovic races to the edge of his box to haul down one of or players, misses, so carries on and makes sure he gets him second time around as Neil Etheridge did yesterday, and the ref didn`t give it, then Dean would rightly be turning the air blue because it would be a penalty, just as it was yesterday. Of course, quite why a goalkeeper would be committing that sort of foul outside the box is another question entirely, although with Etheridge it would be naïve to completely rule out the possibility.
I do like Etheridge, I think he`s good entertainment value and quite comfortably the best keeper on our books. At the time of his signing I criticised it as unnecessary as I felt Craig McGillivray deserved a chance as number 1, and that if Liam Roberts wasn`t good enough to sit on our bench now that he never will be. However, Etheridge has come in and more than justified his signing. He reminds me a bit of David Grof (that`s not meant as a criticism, I think Grof was a quality keeper who has wasted his talent). He`s a bit eccentric and will cost us both goals and points over the season, but nowhere near as many as he`ll earn us. It`s just, as with his manager, he needs to try and engage his brain from time to time.
A player who`s brain has never been in question is Romaine Sawyers, who is in real danger of needing his own goal of the season competition come the end of the campaign if he keeps smashing in screamers like he did yesterday and at Blackpool. Except, he won`t.
That`s not a criticism of Romaine at all, but is mildly concerning. Since the Blackpool game, which included the aforementioned Sawyers screamer and an own goal by a Tangerines defender, the only three goals we`ve scored was yesterdays` worldy and the two top class finishes from Tom Bradshaw last week. Whilst they`re great to watch, it`s important we don`t keep relying on spectacular strikes to get us out of trouble. We need to find a way of scoring simple goals again, a knack we`ve lost since the end of August.
When better to start that than against Chelsea on Wednesday night and then against Crewe on Saturday. To be honest, in a warped way I`m almost glad we`re only second going into the big local derby next weekend. Since we knocked Coventry off top spot on the 22nd August, no side who started the day top of the league has stayed there come the end of the game. Statistically that suggests Burton won`t still be top at 5 o`clock next Saturday night, and who best to dethrone them than us having hammered the Railwaymen.
Let`s get Wednesday nights distraction out the way, and ensure it happens next weekend, preferably without any more silly comments.