As regular readers will recall, I sometimes like to start articles with a trivia question related to something I’m going to discuss.
Today’s is this: of the 22 clubs in the inaugural Premier League (1992-93), how many are still in the PL today? As a secondary: are any of them no longer in either of the top two divisions?
What made me think of that season was Mick Dennis’s fine article earlier this week, capturing some of the ups-and-downs of that special and intense experience of being a Norwich City fan. It was a great article, enhanced by the comments it inspired.
You may be thinking “yes, but I don’t remember anything about 1992-93 in there”. And you’d be right. It’s probably because Mike Walker’s time didn’t involve a promotion or relegation.
But surely it should feature in our warmest memories of following City – and with a particular relevance to the current City side.
It’s pretty remarkable to think that we finished third in the Premier League that season. Even more remarkable, there was still a genuine chance quite late in the season that we’d win it.
We’ll skip over the negative goal difference…
It was an incredibly exciting time, and not just because we were successful. It was the way we played: positive, creative football that you couldn’t help but be proud of.
I don’t know whether Daniel Farke will win anything with Norwich. Perhaps he won’t feature at all in an equivalent of Mick’s piece 20 years from now. But I’ll always be grateful he’s brought back that excitement and pride.
Walker’s side had some outstanding talent like Chris Sutton, but it wasn’t a team of stars. Like Farke’s team of today, it was a close-knit group that believed in each other and in the manager’s philosophy. It was a joy to watch.
With the possible exception of Swansea, no Championship club made a bigger cost saving in its playing budget this summer than Norwich. In that context, to be playing as we are and challenging for automatic promotion is one of great achievements of Norwich City in my lifetime.
I’ll give the trivia answers at the end, but for now please bear with me while I change subject. (I should engineer a smooth link, of course, but I’m sadly not that skilled a writer.)
I believe in justice. That means I believe in using technology in sport, where we can.
I used to think the solution to wrong decisions was to have more officials on the field. That theory was dented by the apparent ineffectiveness of extra officials in the Champions League – and comprehensively blown to pieces on Sunday night.
Some of you will know I’m talking about the Divisional Championship games in the NFL (in effect, semi-finals for the Superbowl). With plenty of officials on the field, both games were decided by bad decisions – in the case of the LA Rams and New Orleans Saints, one so blatantly wrong that there are calls for the League Commissioner to intervene and order the game to be replayed.
There is technology available in the NFL, of course, and scope for teams to challenge decisions. But the usage of those things is limited, and – extraordinarily – doesn’t include the pivotal situation at the end of that game.
For us, of course, the issue is VAR.
Yes, it’s still cumbersome as it develops; it doesn’t correct every wrong call, and makes some pretty marginal ones itself. But it DOES put right evident injustices.
Clubs in the Premier League have been robbed of vital points this season by wrong decisions. I’m sympathetic to them if they voted to have VAR; not if they were among the majority who voted against it.
There are some genuine arguments against VAR – but also some spurious ones. I was told that officials opposed it because it would reduce their authority and credibility. Well, it’s done the opposite in tennis, cricket and rugby.
OK, dismounting from my hobbyhorse.
How many of the teams in the inaugural Premier League of 1992-93 are still there today? Nine out of 22. Of the remaining 13, three aren’t even in the Championship (Wimbledon, Oldham and Coventry). That may shortly be four, of course…
Alex B says
A good read and for the first premiership season city finished 13 places and 20 points better off than our bluenose neighbours.
VAR is and always will be an argument waiting to happen just look at the Chelsea disallowed goal VAR said offside so Chelsea came back and said our camera showed him onside, what is that all about surely clubs if wanting footage of the game to analyse how there team had preformed would use what was available from the alotted TV company for thst day.
The next thing will be clubs appealing fouls, throw ins, corners that they have got on their camera its a wonder that the Chelsea analysis didn’t run down to the touchline to show the REF his view of the incident.
VAR needs to be more open and if an incident is being reviewed then after the REF has seen it and made his decision show it on the big screen, I wouldn’t go the way of cricket and give each team 3 appeals as it would be used to break up the flow of the game, but they need ex REF’s veiwing the game in play to advise the officials.
Subs should only be allowed for injuries after 80mins again this will help keep the game flowing
Enforce the rule of captain only speaks to the Ref during play
Yellow card for verbal abuse to any official yes its a man/womans game but just because you disagree with a decision doesn’t give a player the right to tell them to F off or similar abuse.
Passion on the is great we all want to see it on the field but abusing officials isn’t passion it is bullying in the hope they give you the next decision.
Jim Davies says
For your “other changes” :-
1. Players would fake injury after the 80 minute mark to enable the manager to make a change, which would only slow things up more.
2. Referees should only be spoken to by the referee is an excellent idea, but would need strict enforcement, including yellow cards, and red if applicable.
3. Abuse of referees and officials has always been a yellow, or even red depending on the type of abuse. It’s down to referees to enforce it, so the more they ignore it, the worse it will get.
Stewart Lewis says
Interesting and thoughtful stuff, Alex. Might spark a few more comments….
Alex B says
Its good to stir the pot occasionally
Keith B says
I wasn’t a big fan of VAR before the World Cup, and some aspects of it there were not particularly well implemented.
But one thing I did notice is that there were no “accidentally late” leg-breaking tackles, of the Shawcross on Ramsey kind, nor any “accidental” treads on legs as demonstrated by Colin on Vrancic last Friday night. Co-incidence? Or could it just be that when players know justice can be instant, even if the referee doesn’t spot it, they desist? Would Vincent Kompany have made that naughty tackle if VAR had been in place a couple of weeks ago. Or Jay Rodriguez in our WBA game? I suspect not.
I think the argument, entirely spurious as you say, that VAR reduces the credibility and authority of officials is one that comes more from those who run the game, rather than the referees themselves. A similarly misguided attitude is the one that allows villainy to go unpunished if the referee “sees” it but doesn’t immediately recognise how serious it is.
As for comments about referees enforcing this that and the other. Yes, of course they should – in theory. The trouble is they face weight of numbers both on and off the field.
There was a brief time for example when they started booking all those in a wall that didn’t move back promptly. They were lambasted for it, especially by the pundits – mainly ex-players of course. “They think the game’s all about them” and that sort of carp, And that’s what happens any time there’s a new initiative.
When Roy Keane and his pals used to gang-harangue officials on a routine basis it was easy to sit at home – or in the press box if that was your job – and say he should book the lot of them. It’s a damn sight harder to actually do it, holding the game up for several minutes, trying to spell one guy’s name and write a lucid comment in your book whilst several of his mates are yapping, literally, in your face.
In the end the way VAR is used will be slicker and smarter, and it will be come part of the answer much more regularly. I suspect that reviews of incidents, whether spotted at the time or not, will be more common too.
It’s just a shame the football authorities are so slow to learn from other sports – independent time-keeping, citing, sin-bins should all have a place in the game. Hanley v Portsmouth for example, wouldn’t that have been the perfect use of the sin bin? And we certainly ought to be able to cite Colin for his action last week, given that nobody else seems to have done anything about it.
Don Harold says
What a year 1993 was. Our highest ever finish which I felt at the time (incorrectly) was going to be the start of something big. The European run with the earth shattering result in Munich and I got married. I’m just glad I still love everything and everyone I loved in 1993!
I accept VAR is happening and am just about in favour of it. However, I want to celebrate a goal the moment it hits the net, not when some blokes at a glorified dressing up event in a remote studio have watched telly for a while. I don’t have any answers, I just know what I don’t like (can I be your MP?)
Colin M says
To clean up the game I’d like to see VAR used for blatant cheating, dreadful tackles and the ‘taking one for the team’ challenges and to see these more severely punished in real time and if unseen by the Ref or assistants then Ref’s made aware whilst in play once VAR has been reviewed by A N Other.
Marginal off-sides or slight pushes, etc should all be left as just part of the game I believe. Most importantly goal-line technology has been brilliant of course.
Loved your final sentence, Stewart. Many feel given the way we have been playing that one of these weeks we are going to give someone an absolute shellacking. Oh wouldn’t it be lovely for that to happen on 10th Feb, mind you I’d be happy if it’s tomorrow afternoon as well.
David Bowers says
I think Technology in Sport can be broken down into two varieties.
1. Technology that provides information or an exact decision or piece of information that is not debatable. Hawkeye in Tennis would be an example.
2. Technology that provides information, but still requires interpretation by an official(s)
VAR sits in the second. A human element remains along with limited angles and interpretations of rules. As a result, I’m not a fan, as it outsources the decision to another human being, adds delays, and controversy will remain while a human is in the picture.
I love the NFL, but the constant reviews are annoying and often the decisions flummoxing. Largely because the sheer number of NFL rules, their interpretation, and order of being applied, is so complex. I’m sure the results are correct more often than not. But anything that breaks up a Brady no huddle drive is a travesty!.
Stewart Lewis says
Even if we’re partisan, though, shouldn’t we be worried when the wrong team goes to a Super Bowl or Cup Final, or gets promoted or relegated? When we have the means to ensure justice being done?
David Bowers says
Justice is a strong word. What if VAR correctly gave a penalty that resulted from a corner that was incorrectly given (and not subject to VAR review). Would that be justice?
To how granular of a level should technology be applied?
What about rules that require the showing of “intent”, how does technology accurately identify intent vs. accident vs. unavoidable. Why can that not be judged by 4 officials on the field, but can by a few others in a VAR studio?
What if a microphone picked up a player abusing another that the ref missed. Should all mics be monitored?
What about penalties. Technology can be used to judge whether a ball goes over the line, but doesn’t judge whether the keeper remains on the line. Both are knowable.
What about the ball going out of play? We coule probably now accurately determine if a throw-in should be given, but we’re some way off AI knowing who the last person to touch it was. So we could accurately give a wrong decision.
My long winded point being, when, where, and how we use technology appears arbitrary and if used to all possible extents, what impact would it have on the fluidity of the game, in the name of justice?
Stewart Lewis says
I was referring specifically to Sunday’s Divisional Championship games. Everyone agrees the Saints should be going to the Super Bowl; the Rams are only going because of a bad call which could easily have been rectified. As a sports fan, you happy with that?
Colin M says
I’m with you David.
Cheats should be dealt with more harshly but the human element when it comes to routine decisions is all part of the game.
We have to stop thinking that a penalty or marginal off -side/ on -side only proven by a certain TV angle is correct and an injustice has been done, it hasn’t. The Ref’s decision is correct the Referee is in charge and that’s the end of it. We all disagree with lots of decisions people make but it’s called life and it is much better and far more fun if things aren’t perfect, our weaknesses and imperfections prevent life from becoming boring and footy is no different.