Archive for August, 2012


Stuart McCall should have no complaints over Shaun Hutchinson’s dismissal last weekend, despite the Motherwell boss’s adamant stance that the referee got it wrong.

Hutchinson was shown a red card for the second time in a week after treading on the back of Thomas Reilly’s ankle as opponents St Mirren chased a late equaliser at Fir Park. Referee Euan Norris immediately brandished a second yellow to give the centre-back his marching orders, a decision McCall disagreed with.

“Hutchinson’s distraught,” McCall told BBC Scotland. “He feels guilty for letting us down, which he’s not done. He’ll learn from his first booking, I’ve had a go at him [for that].

“If you’re booking people for tackles like that, I think that’s wrong,” condemned the Motherwell boss.

Yet replays on sites such as Unibet sport news suggest Norris’s decision was right, with Hutchison planting six studs through his opponent’s ankle. The foul was committed on the edge of the area as St Mirren were coming forward in search of an equaliser and the defender had already been booked for petulant behaviour earlier in the game.

To make matters worse, Hutchinson’s departure created a huge gap in Motherwell’s back line that their opponents utilised to great extent. St Mirren dominated the game with 65% of the ball and peppered Darren Randolph’s goal; an equaliser was the least that they deserved.

It was somewhat fitting therefore that 17-year-old Reilly’s stoppage-time finish came from the place Hutchinson would have been standing were he still on the field.

McCall admits he has spoken to the referee and understands the decision to dismiss Hutchinson, yet still should not defend the challenge his centre-half made. It was a reckless attempt to win the ball and cost his side three points, and although it is commendable that McCall stands up for his player, there is really only one man to blame.

What do you think? have you seen the tackle? Was the referee right to give him his marching orders?

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

After a truly great summer of sport dominated our attention, it almost feels like the new football season has snuck up on without anyone realising.

But it’s easy to forget after the past few weeks of witnessing our Olympic heroes inspire a nation that last season’s Premier League campaign will be etched into the memory of every football fan for many years to come.

A title race that came down to the last kick of the season (literally) a battle for the Champions League places that had more twists and turns than a Carlos Tevez transfer saga, and a relegation battle that had supporters of several clubs biting their nails for several months on end.

Now, the new season gets underway today with either plenty of change or plenty of uncertainty dominating the thoughts of clubs ready for the next long journey ahead.     Continue reading

Michael Carrick’s noble statement that he would definitely “consider” an England call up, this season, yet again exposes the problems footballers have with being a reserve.

The Manchester United star withdrew his name from selection in January, after a dissatisfying 2010 World Cup campaign.

Being withdrawn, he was not selected for Roy Hodgson’s side for this summer’s Euro 2012 tournament, and he recently admitted to Betfair.com that he would have rejected a call-up, even if it were formally made.

Carrick outlined the situation at the World Cup as the reasons for his decision to focus on club football. Having made the squad, he trained and camped with his teammates but did not get a minute of play in South Africa, a predicament he foresaw should he join the Euro 2012 set-up.

But, when Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry pulled out of the campaign injured, the perfect replacement in the centre of the park was back at home. Instead of Carrick partnering Steven Gerrard in midfield, responsibility was handed to the inexperienced Jordan Henderson, who was largely ineffectual in Ukraine.

Carrick’s presence may well have bolstered England’s midfield during their quarter-final defeat to Italy, where Andrea Pirlo ran the show in the centre of the pitch. In deciding not to represent his country – even simply as a substitute – Carrick has surely rejected any chance of getting back into the side.

For why should a man dissatisfied with life on the subs bench be awarded a starting role?

Jamie Carragher, Liverpool’s rock in defence for the past decade, retired from international football as he was not getting a game. His appearance in South Africa, therefore, was disheartening to say the least, as he had not earned the right from playing England qualifiers.

The noble Carrick, if he wants to be part of England again at a major tournament, must prove himself willing to work with the squad during their next qualification campaign.

Visit the Betfair Premiership website for the best odds, picks, and tips for the upcoming campaign, as well as the 2012/13 Champions League.

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