International breaks mean nothing to me if I'm honest, of course I watch my own contries games but I never feel as involved as I do when United are playing or even just watching another league game. So from my own personal viewpoint an international break is about as much fun as a tournament free close season.
However this international break has been different!
In recent times we have had the debate over simulation or diving or whatever you want to call it, my own personal word for it is cheating! Sparked by Eduardo's attempts at "earning" a penalty against Celtic that was hardly deserved, In Eduardo's defence it wasn't the worst example i've ever seen however it was a dive and he didn't help the matter by sporting a grin that is only equalled by a toddler who has gotten away with having his hand in the cookie jar!
However UEFA have been silly over this, Eduardo is NOT the only player guilty of this sin and to single him out and suddenly slap him with a ban is bordering on insanity. All that was needed from UEFA was a simple statement to say that anyone caught cheating in this manner is from now on subject to investigation and a possible ban, to punish without precedent or warning is not a logical step.
My own view is this, there is a VAST difference between playing for a penalty or free kick and diving for one! The Arsenal vs United game gave us 2 perfect examples however, Emmanuel Eboue (one of the worst offenders in football) literally launched himself into mid-air with no United player within 12 inches of making contact and then has the gaul to wag his finger at the referee when he was booked.
Then we have Wayne Rooney's penalty incident. Now before any of you accuse me of wearing Old Trafford tinted spectacles, I am the first to admit Rooney has been guilty of diving before and Ronaldo should've wore goggles the amount of diving he did! However like it or not that incident WAS a penalty.
Manuel Almunia made a grave error in rushing out to meet Rooney when he posed no real threat on goal, what Rooney did is what all players attempt to do and that is take advantage of an opponents mistake. Rooney knew full well that by getting to that ball first and prodding it out of the way, Almunia would clatter into him and foul him. It is not the attackers responsibility to avoid contact, it is the defenders job not to make it.
I hope you see the difference between the 2 incidents on display at Old Trafford, and the difference in the 2 theories in general.
This issue has now been lost in the wilderness and dwarfed by the larger and much graver issue of irregularities in youth level player transfers.
This to my mind, is something that must be stamped out immediately for the good of the game on a local and global scale!
Firstly 14, 15 & 16yr old boys should not be uprooted from their home (and in some cases their countries) to be brought here and pressurised into making it as a footballer or going home as a failure and with no qualification to start earning money with. Dangling the dream lifestyle in front of youngsters and then whipping it away from them in an instant is neither fair nor right.
Then we have the issue that the top clubs are scouring Europe for young talent instead of looking locally.
This is where American Sports leads the way, their treatment and handling of young sportsmen is second to none! They play for colleges/university who have academic standards that must be met in order for them to be allowed to play their chosen sport. If they don't learn, they don't play, if they don't play they don't get to chase their dream of playing in the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL.
Then the teams pick the players based on their talent, which some may say is a bit cattle market, but it gives the lesser teams the first picks which means they get the better players and if god forbid the players don't make the grade then they still have a University degree to fall back on and a vocation to follow!
Why not implement a similar system in UK sport? The better players will always end up at the big clubs, but it gives the lower league clubs a basis in which to make themselves more financially stable and then build a team for at least a few years. It could be based on a county system so teams only take players from a catchment area and that would mean less upheaval for the youngsters.
Uefa have quite rightly jumped all over this issue, but they need to know prevent this from happening rather than punish the offenders. A transfer ban on all those under 18yrs old would ensure these players get a good grounding before moving around, then it means transfer fees have to be exchanged and that the selling club can at least have some control in the matter instead of just losing promising young players for pittances.
My only reservation about this story is that suddenly after making no comment whatsoever when the transfer occurred, teams are suddenly pouring out of the shadows to claim they were robbed of players. Whilst they may well be telling the truth, it does raise the question as to why nothing was said before and why official complaints were not raised before accusations are slung around in the media??
I have a feeling that transfer bans will loom large for Chelsea, Man City, Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool and maybe more for importing foreign talent against the rules....the bigger issue is if it has been going on between English clubs and what will happen to them??