Denglischer Fussball is a comment blog on German and English football written and edited by Kit Holden. It was born in January 2011.
Goal line technology
And so it returns. The much maligned debate over goal line technology. The bile riven indignation of an entire week’s headlines as sport proves once again that, despite the best efforts of EA Games, is not as simple as a computer program.
Juan Mata’s goal to put Chelsea 2-0 up in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham should perhaps have not been counted. The ball, from several angles, appeared not to have crossed the line. Even that famous bastion of sly dishonesty John Terry admitted that the ball did not cross the line (though, for all such gallantry, he notably failed to tell the referee that at the crucial moment.)
And yet, when Chelsea, not Spurs, walk out at Wembley next month, will North London really feel that there has been a grave injustice levelled against it? Will the fury currently littered around the media really still be echoed by legions of depressed Tottenham fans? And for those who do, might I be so bold to suggest that they are wallowing – somewhat typically of Spurs – in self deception?
Chelsea won 5-1, a fact which has largely been accepted to mean that Mata’s goal, for all its calamity, did not have a huge significance in a game which Chelsea dominated for long periods of time. But even if it had been the winner, even if it had come three seconds from the final whistle, even if Spurs had outplayed Chelsea for ninety minutes, would we really sacrifice the pure emotion of such a moment, simply to get a decision right?
When Geoff Hurst scored a non-goal in 1966, it sparked a footballing rivalry which has endured - albeit it has become a little one sided – for nearly half a century. Even the Germans, who are less wont to dwell on misfortune than the British, still refuse to shut up about it. England fans are much worse whenever the word “Maradona” is mentioned.
Injustice is a huge part of football. The beauty of goalline decisions is that, unlike diving, career threatening challenges, and match fixing, they are injustices which are, to a large extent, completely unavoidable and objective. Yes, there will always be a beneficiary and a loser on a goal line call, but such decisions do not put the spirit of the game under threat.
After all, the spirit of football, and of any sport, has never been 100% accuracy. If it were, there would be far fewer brilliant anecdotes. There would also be far less emotion, far less romanticism and, in general, far less fun.
Aside from the fact that goalline technology is not the foolproof, messianic revelation it is often depicted to be – tennis has shown that technology offers just as many mistakes as human officials – why has the football world suddenly decided that 100% accuracy is integral to the sport’s future? Should it not be more worried about diving, match fixing, and financial corruption? Those are the things which are really threatening the game. As far as goal line calls are concerned, bring on the mistakes. Bring on the stories. Bring on the emotion. It’s football, not FIFA 12.
The curse of Michael Preetz
Rarely has the Old Lady looked so bereft this season. Far from the glorious return of King Otto, Herr Rehhagel’s temporary tenure at Hertha BSC has proved merely to be yet more proof that, without a certain Michael Preetz, the capital club may well have found themselves in a very different situation by now.
Since June 2009, when Preetz took the reins from Dieter Hoeneß as Hertha’s General Manager, it has become ever more difficult to not view Preetz as the harbinger of doom in Berlin. Having served the club as a player, Preetz is now doing his best to balance the books by dismantling it season by season in a management capacity.
For the very first Preetz-Patzer, we need only wander as little as three months into his tenure, to the moment in September 2009, when Lucien Favre was, in a flurry of verbals, given the proverbial boot. The Swiss, who had taken Hertha, albeit briefly, to the top of the Bundesliga the previous season, found himself struggling against a tide of financial issues, player departures and, as it transpired, his inability to forge a relationship with Preetz.
His successor, Friedhelm Funkel, somewhat bizarrely, had a longer leash. While Hertha’s situation went from bad to worse, Preetz refused to condemn his own man after Favre’s display of indirect loyalty to DieterHoeneß. Hertha went down.
From having touched the dizzy heights of the Champions League places in the previous season, Hertha, under Preetz had sunk without a trace.
One disastrous season could perhaps be put down to teething problems. And after Hertha’s immediate promotion from the 2. Liga last season, even Preetz’s detractors were willing to accept that the club had made an emphatic return to where it allegedly belongs. Halfway through the current season, however, he managed to drive even Markus Babbel from the club. A petty dispute over communications regarding Babbel’s contract turned into a full blown fall out, culminating in Hertha’s saviour packing his bags, and making way for a fourth manager in two and a half years.
The diplomatic genius of Michael Preetz perhaps had its most glorious moment with the hiring and firing of a man who had walked Eintracht Frankfurt into automatic relegation barely twelve months previously. Michael Skibbe was, as expected, another disaster, while his dismissal proved yet another chance for Preetz to show conviction in his own decision, by cowing immediately to fan pressure, and accelerating an inevitable decision by a full 24 hours.
By the time Otto Rehhagel, Preetz’s fifth manager, came in, any morsel of team spirit that might have remained in the Hertha dressing room had conclusively dissolved. The old gentleman of the Bundesliga has had better days in his career, and despite some good results, the Preetz Effect has taken its toll on Hertha.
Since Preetz’s cack handed diplomacy saw them driven out of Berlin, Lucien Favre has taken Gladbach from almost certain relegation to a probable place in the Champions League, and Markus Babbel has continued his promising if not remarkable career with a solid half season at Hoffenheim.
As for Skibbe, Funkel and Rehhagel, none will wish their days on the Hertha bench to be featured too prominently in any future biopics. It seems that the talent of a given manager means very little when he is forced to work with Michael Preetz.