Der offizielle Spielball der UEFA Europa League von molten. Fussball Europa League, Viertelfinale Rueckspiel: Atalanta Bergamo - RB Leipzig 0:2. 14. April 2022: Bergamo Italien. Atalanta Bergamo - RB Leipzig 0:2 *** The official match ball of the UEFA Europa League by molten Football Europa League, quarterfinal second leg Atalanta Bergamo RB Leipzig 0 2 14 April 2022 Bergamo Italy Atalanta Bergamo RB Leipzig 0 2

It’s been a few weeks since I last put metaphorical pen to paper regarding all things football. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in that time and we’re still talking about VAR. Whilst I have a degree of sympathy for some of the unlikely scenarios that have reared their heads, you can’t help but feel so much of this could have been avoided. But I have a different thread to pull at this week…

Voice of the people

I think we can all agree that VAR hasn’t been perfect. I would, however, say it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. The main worry pre-VAR was that every game would have 10 penalties. That hasn’t ever looked likely and the main outrage seems to be at goals being disallowed after the unprecedented act of following the rules. Surely that’s a good thing?

I was particularly disappointed with Martin Tyler, the voice of the game for many and tasked by Sky with guiding us through Chelsea vs Liverpool on Sunday. After Chelsea had a goal chalked off because Mason Mount was half a yard offside, Tyler went on an Alan Partridge type rant about “pedantic offsides” before aiming a bizarre blast at referee chief Mike Riley. This is the sort of nonsense which is damaging to VAR. Offside is offside, whether he is one toe or one metre offside.

Glenn Hoddle was no better on BT, either. He spouted an inordinate amount of drivel regarding Ayoze Perez being blatantly offside, but I will forgive the discussion over the Son goal as for me, that is what “level” is all about. The point is though that people will believe what they are told by these so-called experts. Jermaine Jenas and Tim Cahill did themselves no favours the other week so it’s not an older generation thing, it’s just ignorance. Take a leaf out of Alan Shearer’s book and actually research how it all works.

Soccer not so special

For a long time now I’ve felt Soccer Saturday has needed a bit of a refresh. I felt the spark had gone a little from my favourite way to waste a Saturday. To be fair, it seems the people in power at Sky towers have realised this and tried some new and exciting pundits in the role of studio guests. What an utter disaster that has been.

For all Merson, Le Tissier, Nicholas and Thompson have been out of the game for a fair while, it is easy to look past what they bring to the show. Sure, Merson can’t say half the names and Charlie is still sitting there thinking, but they actually do what they are there to do – make the show entertaining. Troy Deeney, Kevin Nolan, Clinton Morrison and others have all been given a turn and whilst they may get better with time, they should be doing that on the midweek shows and not the flagship edition. When one or two of the old favourites were removed the show was undeniably worse. I’ve spent more Saturday afternoons with these five than most of my immediate family and frankly you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Long live the old guard.

UEFA Europa Conference League

You’d love to sit in on UEFA meeting every now and again, wouldn’t you? It was announced last year that the overly bloated Europa League was going to be split, with Europa League 2 being launched in 2021. That was a working title, but it was still better than what they’ve actually come up with.

Yes, step forward UEFA Europa Conference League. This is basically Europe for the domestic cup winners (the Carabao Cup in England for example) and the lower coefficient European nations. It’s still going to be on Thursday nights so my first question is, who is this aimed at? UEFA are rapidly running out of nights of the week and running this alongside the Europa League seems short-sighted at best.

At least the winners will get into the Champions League, right? Nope. They’ll get to play in the Europa League next season, so they get to do it all again but at a higher level. What a treat.

As if the Carabao Cup could be pushed any lower down the priority list, the reward for it is now a punishment. More so. Still, I’m sure Colchester will thrive in it.