Nigel Kahn’s Column

Oh! Take me back to dear old Boleyn, 
Put me on the train for Upton Park, 
Take me anywhere, 
Drop me anywhere, 
Barking Road, The chicken run 
But I don’t care,
I should like to see my……..

 
Well, Saturday’s game was an eye-opener that was for sure, not just the way the team performed either. VARs full introduction to the Premier League for me highlighted the very reason I have opposed it. It could turn out to be actually detrimental and destructive to the fan experience inside the stadium. 

I’m sure it was a great theatre for those at home or in a pub/bar but for me, and quite a few others inside the stadium, it was detrimental to the beautiful game. How we got to this position is too long and varied for a mere peasant like me to dissect, but i’ll throw my two pennyworth in to try and get you all to understand why I feel this way.

Oh, and before the dinosaur tag is thrown at me, I’m not anti-technology per se. Goal-line technology should have been introduced years ago, across all organised pro or semi-pro leagues. The object of the game we all watch and spend more time tearing apart than we do watch, is to score a goal. The whole ball crossing the line is a definitive non-subjective fact. It either did or it didn’t. 
 
Farewell to Stratford’s cheerless marshes 
Hemmed in like a boar between arches 
Her very Lowness with a head in a sling 
I’m truly sorry – but it sounds like a wonderful thing 
I said Dave’s, don’t you ever crave 
To appear on the front of the Daily Sport 
Dressed in your Mother’s underwear? 
And so, I checked all the registered historical facts 
And I was shocked into shame to discover 
How I’m the eighteenth pale descendant 
Of some old cockney or other 

 
The FA a few years back tried and failed to bring respect to referees after years of them being used as scapegoats by players and managers for their own failings. Game after game, week after week, in front of the TV cameras managers would blame this defeat or that defeat on a referee’s decision that changed the game. At the same time, the manager of the winning team would generally point out how well his team had played and how his tactics paid off. He wouldn’t, though, thank the ref for his great performance.  The fans of the losing team would then latch on to their manager’s blame and lambast the refs on social media and so the circle was rounded. This continued on and on with the FA failing to really protect referees from the criticism levelled at them from losing managers.

With the wall to wall coverage of football now, that was possibly started when Sky Sports ews was launched, there is far more dissection of games and as such decisions made by refs. There are now far more TV cameras in the grounds than ever before. They can record contentious issues from multiple angles, playing them back time and time again. The referee missed so and so foul but look, if we look from another angle you can see there was contact, totally ignoring the fact that the referee sees it from one angle, and actually has a split decision of fewer than 2 seconds to make the decision on whether a foul was committed. 

All put together, then the bandwagon of technology “supposedly” to help referees was first mooted. First, we have goal-line technology, which as I said above I broadly support. But that’s not enough. The referees need extra help we were told. Fans drip-fed on the ‘fact’ that referee mistakes are to blame for their club losing fall into line and demand they want technology. 

According to many West Ham fans on social media, I include this site in that. West ham lost 8 points last season due to officials’ mistakes. They cried ‘we could have finished 7th with those and qualified for Europe. It is not fair. We Want VAR.’

Looking back you could see why many now would support its introduction, yet there was a recent study of every game last season and they used VAR in all those games to see if the results would have been the same. West Ham would have benefitted to the tune of……. 1 point. Not 8 points but 1, moving us into 9th, Instead of 10th. Why is that, I don’t hear you say. Well… because what a lot of fans forget is the old adage of swings and roundabouts. If we had just played on the swings we would have got 8 extra points, but we didn’t, we went on the roundabout, that meant VAR was used against us as well, evening out the playing field it seems.
 
 
Oh, has the game changed, or have I changed? 
Oh has the game changed, or have I changed? 
Some 90-year-old tough who peddles porn 
I swear to God 
I swear: I never even knew what porn were
So, I broke into the palace 
With a sponge and a rusty spanner 
Brady said: “Eh, I know you, and you cannot write”
I said: “That’s nothing – you should hear me on a podcast”
We can go for a walk where it’s quiet and dry 
And talk about football things 
But when you’re tied to Sullivan’s apron
No-one talks about castration

Now I get to a contentious bit for me and I make no apologies for this. I don’t think I’ve really pushed the fact I’m on Moore than Just a podcast on here. I prefer to keep those separate even though the lord of the manor is a welcome stand-in on the show when we are presenter lite. This week though I alluded on the podcast to an exchange of different views with a regular poster on here who hails from Romania. It seems some heard it and brought it into the discussion on here. As per usual, some chose to misconstrue what I said but nothing new there. But I stand by what I said and that is that during my anti-VAR rant I criticised him for the fact he claimed that VAR had not held up the game unduly.
Now the fact that I and those around me got frustrated with the delays says to me I knew there were delays and they were unduly lengthy. The internet is a great invention, and without it, you wouldn’t be reading this and 95% of those reading this that know me wouldn’t of, but, meanwhile, in TV land you are fed the constant replays, you get told what’s going on and that leads to some watching on TV thinking they can tell someone at the game, “I don’t know what your moaning about there wasn’t much of a holdup.”

As the (changed) song lyrics above say, has the game changed or have I changed? The answer to that is the game has changed and if VAR is kept it is not for the betterment of fans IN THE STADIUM
 
Past the pub who saps your body 
And the club who’ll snatch your money 
The Queen is dead, boys 
And it’s so lonely on a limb 
Past the pub that wrecks your body 
And the club – all they want is your money 
The Queen is dead, boys 
And it’s so lonely on a limb 

 
What is the point of professional football, for what reason is it played? Is it for entertainment to those in attendance or those at home on TV? Is it to fund players personal lifestyles or to create wealth for owners? Years ago, it seemed it was organised for the entertainment of the local population to cheer on the team that represented where they live. Now I’m stupid enough to think that is the case or should still be the case. But TV has gone in around 50 years from showing the highlights of one game to now controlling when and now how the game is played. The Queen that I knew is dead boys. 
 
 
Life is very long when you’re lonely (repeat 4 times)
 
(my thanks to Morrissey & Marr for the influence)