There’s a reason the transfer window is also called silly season. With the tabloids ready to jump on the slightest hint of a sensational move, every window comes with its fair share of scarcely believable rumours.
That’s why you can get talk of Sergio Aguero crossing the Manchester divide, or former Arsenal star Lukas Podolski taking to Twitter to instantly shoot down speculation linking him to Tottenham. There have even been summers where someone has suggested Real Madrid could buy Lionel Messi from Barcelona!
— Lukas-Podolski.com (@Podolski10) October 20, 2014
But it’s not just rivalries that make some transfer rumours laughable; sometimes, it’s just the sheer absurdity of them. Who would have believed that Nicklas Bendtner would go to Juventus, or Emmanuel Adebayor could end up at Real Madrid?
Those particular crazy rumours actually ended up being true, of course, but there are always plenty, in every window, which would make any fan think, “no way that’s going to happen”.
The current window’s crazy rumours feature players like Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll – always favourites of the rumour mill. Check out the video to see who they’ve been linked with.
Real Madrid defender Marcelo loves to attack when he’s on the pitch, so the guys at COPA90 put his skills to the test in front of goal with their five-shot challenge.
It’s fair to say the Brazilian international may have showed why he’s better at providing assists for the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, rather than finding the back of the net himself!
Whenever a match is decided by a controversial refereeing decision, the cries go out for technology. But did everyone really believe it was that simple?
The MLS and Portugal’s Primeira Liga have implemented the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, as have, more notably, the Bundesliga and Serie A. On Thursday, it was revealed that VAR will be introduced to France’s top division Ligue 1.
“Video technology will be in Ligue 1 next season,” said the president of Giungamp Bertrand Desplat after Thursday’s general meeting of the French football league (LFP).
“If everything goes well, we should start at the beginning of next season,” added the president of the French football Federation (FFF) Noel Le Graet.
“I think it’s a good initiative, all the club presidents want it, as do the referees and other observers.”
It’s being used at the Club World Cup, where, on Wednesday, both Real Madrid and Al Jazira had a goal ruled out thanks to VAR. And by March, FIFA will have to decide whether VAR will be used at next year’s World Cup.
While the introduction of goal-line technology has been successful, VAR has so far had mixed results.
The point of both is to counterbalance human error, which is inevitable, but VAR can only go so far in doing that. There’s the issue of what can be reviewed – penalties, goals, fouls in the build-up to a goal, straight red cards, and cases of mistaken identity.
That still leaves plenty of potentially game-altering decisions that can’t be brought to the VAR.
Then there’s the most common complaint, from the purists, that the pause in the game while the referee is consulting the VAR system kills the flow and the atmosphere of a match.
While there’s plenty to be said for the argument that getting crucial decisions right is more important, there’s no doubt that the spectacle is ruined somewhat by everyone standing around in front of a hushed crowd waiting for a decision.
Fans in Germany in particular have been quite vocal with their opposition, with groans echoing around stadiums whenever the signal goes up that the VAR is about to be called into action.
But there’s no doubt that with so much at stake in many matches, allowing refereeing mistakes to dictate the outcome is problematic. Not to mention, it seems inexplicable that in an age where so much technology is available, football would refuse to use it.
However, using technology is no guarantee of eliminating human error. Back again in Germany, the Bundesliga demonstrated how the VAR is far from perfect, in one of the scandals of the year.
The head of Germany’s VAR system, Hellmut Krug, was sacked last month amid accusations that he influenced two key decisions in favour of Schalke, the team he supports.
The point there is that no system is incorruptible when it still involves human decision-making. It need not be nefarious – even after using the VAR, an incident can be a 50-50 call, open to interpretation, allowing plenty of room to debate and criticise referees for their final decision.
Geoff Hurst’s crucial goal for England against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final. Frank Lampard‘s goal that never was against Germany in 2010, despite clearly crossing the line. Is the game better because these errors went down in footballing legend, or would it be better if the right decision were made?
That’s the call FIFA has to make in March. We’ll leave it to you to watch the video and make up your mind.