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Penalties, PenalBall© And Parental Issues
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 5 years ago
Every Premier League season has a different theme. I don't know who chooses the themes - I like to imagine that before every season, Premier League head honcho Richard Scudamore gets together with JJ Abrams and the shadowy Cigarette guy from the X-Files and decides what will make the most compelling footballing viewing. One year it will be terrible injuries. The next year it will be own goals. This year it is penalties - more specifically missed penalties.

I don't think I've ever seen as many missed penalties as this season. When I was a kid, footballers missed penalties once in a blue moon (see Matthew le Tissier's record). A penalty was as good as a goal. But every year that passes, footballers seem to get worse at taking penalties. Maybe there is a connection to global warming. Maybe not. Probably not. But I do think there must be a reason why suddenly Premier League players can't take a spot-kick. It might have something to with the Jungian idea of the Collective Unconscious. Maybe all footballers share a single hive mind and it has become infected with a fear of failure. It's unlikely, I know.

Maybe footballers secretly know that half the penalties they win aren't really penalties, and their subconscious minds, rattled by the knowledge that they don't really deserve a goal, force them to miss. One of the things that annoys me most about football is that too many penalties are given. I'm not talking about footballers cheating to win a spot-kick or referees making mistakes: I'm talking about penalties where it was unlikely that the player was going to score anyway. I have no statistics to back up my claims, but look at it this way: how often does a player get into the box during a game and take a shot? Loads. But mostly it doesn't result in a goal. The cross is overhit or the shot is skewed or blocked or the goalie makes a save. Nine times out of ten it comes to nothing. But if a player is fouled in the box, he'll normally get a penalty and his team should theoretically score. This should change. So, I think that if Stuart Downing is fouled in the box, rather than getting a penalty, the referee should just say: "Oh, he wasn't going to score anyway. We'll give you a free-kick. A penalty is too much." Or there should be different degrees of penalties. For example, if a player handles the ball on the line and stops a definite goal (like Luis Suarez vs Ghana at the World Cup) then the referee should remove the goalkeeper from the penalty area so the penalty is just an open goal. Whereas if it's a really soft foul on the edge of the area, the penalty taker should have to face two goalkeepers - or have to take the penalty twice and it only counts if they score both times. If it's one of those very dubious handballs where no one really knows if it was deliberate, there could be three goalkeepers facing the penalty, or the penalty taker could be blindfolded. I'm just trying to make things fairer.

Back to reality: technically, every single Premiership footballer should score every penalty they take. Every single one of them should have the ability to tuck the ball away into the far corner with enough force that no keeper can save it. But penalties have very little to do with technique and everything to do with character, nerve and belief. Part of the reason why penalty shoot-outs are so compelling is that you are basically watching someone having a nervous breakdown. I try to imagine what a penalty taker thinks about just before he kicks the ball: whether he was bullied as a child, whether his wife is having an affair, whether his parents secretly hate him. Because taking a penalty is essentially asking the universe whether you are a winner or a loser. Score the goal and you're one of life's champions. Miss and you are some unloveable wretch, who deserves to be pelted with rotten fruit. This is why I'm secretly terrified of taking a penalty. It might confirm what I've always feared...

The good thing about penalty shoot-outs is they guarantee drama. Even if the game itself is terrible, a shoot-out means it ends with excitement. I've sometimes thought of introducing a separate sport that is just penalty shoot-outs. Why bother with 90 minutes of boredom when you could have an event that takes only 10 minutes but has twice as much drama? There could be professional leagues across the world, all playing Penalball (which is what I would call the new sport). You could have 10 games of Penalball in the time it takes to play one football match. You could have leagues and cups and international competitions. And it would prove a serious point: taking penalties is a skill: It's a test of technical and mental abilitiy. It's not a lottery. If there was a professional Penalball league, it would become clear which players and teams were consistently good and which were consistently useless. Managers would have to properly coach players in how to take part in penalty shoot-outs, rather than shrugging their shoulders and pretending it's fate or luck.

Whilst you ponder these important issues: I'm working on the theme for next year's Premier League. I reckon it's going to be dogs running onto the pitch.

Blog by Greg

This blog does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of footytube or its partners.
Markodon (NK Dinamo Zagreb) 5 years ago
Are you talking about strictly missed penalties or also the saved ones? I think most of "missed" penalties are actually saved. Therefore, maybe you should take keepers into consideration?
[account-removed] 5 years ago
I agree that every year keepers are taking their jobs to the next level, studying the opponents patterns and guessing the correct way more and more. Keepers are often an undervalued part of futbo. Great observation mate
Totaldribble 5 years ago
I hope nexts years theme will be streakers, especially fit young blonde girls on a cold monday night...
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 5 years ago
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 5 years ago
[account-removed] 5 years ago
Well lets hope its not just strictly Mondays lol
Totaldribble 5 years ago
Also raining would be good
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 5 years ago
Quote: Nine times out of ten it comes to nothing. But if a player is fouled in the box, he'll normally get a penalty and his team should theoretically score. This should change.
[.... ].... The referee should just say: "Oh, he wasn't going to score anyway. We'll give you a free-kick. A penalty is too much. "

I think that´s the whole idea about this rule, the fouled team should teoretically score. It brings more entertainment to the game. In terms of media a 0-0 is wasted money, a 4-3 is worthy broadcasting
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 5 years ago
Around half of all the penalties taken this season have been missed, the historical average is about an 80% success rate. Why? A total mystery. But you are right, strikers should be able to score them 9 times out of 10 and they don't, you can just refer to England's record in major tournaments for further evidence that a penalty is a mysterious thing, like you say it's more a test of character than technique, but I always fall back on this example....

Gyan.... Formerly of Sunderland, now of.... Missing in action. In the World Cup Quarter-Final against Uruguay he exposed the biggest pair of Cajones I have ever seen, having fallen to pieces after he smashed the crossbar with a penalty in the dying minutes of the game that would have out Ghana through, when the game went to penalties he steps and demands to take the first one, which he promptly dispatches in to the top corner with brutal power and supreme confidence.

The act of a man with real character right? Well how is it then that he abandons his team and runs off to the middle-east 3 months in to a contract for a few extra beans without telling anyone. Aren't such bravery in the face of adversity and such cowardice in relative luxury massive contradictions where penalties are the yard stick of character?

Cracking article, love the bit about Downing, if he wins a penalty your idea would definitely be the right call. How about adding an blind folded element to your Penalball revolution?
Fiasc0 (Eintracht Braunschweig) 5 years ago
In the Bundesliga this season were given 36 penalties with 5 misses. This match the 80% quote nearly perfect.  Source: kicker
Greg (Tottenham Hotspur) 5 years ago
Araz.... When I say "test of character" I am not talking about moral character. It's character in the sense of nerve and self-belief. I'm sure there are many excellent penalty-takers who are flawed in every other aspect of their lives
Araz (Queens Park Rangers) 5 years ago
But I'm soooo confused!, Why can't good just be good and bad just be bad, would make things much simpler. Then I could worship John Terry for being the captain of his country and a brave heart leader of men in times of battle, instead of simultaneously have to juggle the thought that he is also an (alleged) racist, home breaker, cretin, and liar
EvertonJezzer (Everton) 5 years ago
This concept fascinates me: the idea that a footballer's subconscious guilt compels him to miss penalties. Although players of inviolate good character miss too, I've noticed. Take John Terry, for instance. He seems to be missing quite a bit lately, and he's a paragon of moral rectitude. Oh, hang on a sec, I got that wrong. He's a moral rectum
Tanmay (Footytube Moderator) 5 years ago
A unique article - a mix of sport and your own existential issues. Football should have more of these
TheBarcaShow (Footytube Staff) 5 years ago
I know it may sound absurd but perhaps the value of a penalty shot has fallen since they are becoming more common.

Anyways just thinking.... Has anyone ever considered moving the penalty spot further back?
Totaldribble 5 years ago
How long has the rule the positioning of the spot been?  Pretty sure there would be uproar if they ever considered it nevermind actually did it
Jeroen (Barcelona) 5 years ago
Hehe, what a refreshing article. Maybe we are just puppets, controlled by a higher power for Its amusement. I can already imagine a God-like power laughing his ass off when Rooney misses a PK, when Terry literally slips up again, when Torres misses open goals.

Perhaps we should banish penalty kicks and replace them by a staring contest between the two best starers of the team if a PK is blown. Man, I'd hate to be up against Özil then.

Or perhaps we should replace PKs with a dance contest and let a professional jury (possibly Elvis, 2Pac and Michael Jackson - they aren't dead) decide who had the best moves to award a goal - or not. It would certainly spice things up a bit, and I'm sure the Power that rules us all would be very amused
[account-removed] 5 years ago
Connection with global warming LMAO brilliant! Thanks Greg for a good read
Flavio1975 (CA River Plate) 5 years ago
What about video technology, like american footy or cricket? That could be a solution. If a player goes down, the referee could decide whether its a penalty or if its a dive or if it warrants 'going upstairs' to have a look at the replay. You could also use it for goals scored in offside positions, in other words let play go on and then depending on the outcome, decide whether to review the action or not. If the video system works, then who knows, maybe it can be used for yellow and red cards. I'm not saying to make the game a start and stop bore. I'm the first to admit I love a free flowing game, but I also get upset when I watch a team lose an important match or get knocked out of a tournament due to a refereeing blunder...
Totaldribble 5 years ago
True said. I think when/if it does get implemented its only going to be goal-line
I think the FA should grow some balls and do it before anybody else
LeagueStar (Chelsea) 5 years ago
I missed a penalty this week three times the stupid ball hit the post.... Oh no that b**tch is having an affair. I knew it but I told myself it just wasn't true. Lmao nice article mate
Ant (Liverpool) 5 years ago
Fantastic article

"Because taking a penalty is essentially asking the universe whether you are a winner or a loser. Score the goal and you're one of life's champions. Miss and you are some unloveable wretch, who deserves to be pelted with rotten fruit. "

Classic. Thanks for this
Mik0lai (KS Widzew Lódz) 5 years ago
The collective unconscious, morals, luck, skill, success rate, weather (pitch conditions), rules, referees, money, hooligans with lasers, goaltenders, gambling, so many variables!

Brilliant Article and great comments, really enjoyed reading this! Araz, Evertonjezzer and Greg make very interesting points. It is my belief (opinion) that referees are way too loose when it comes to calling penalties, and that's why we have seen so many. In a sport where a single goal can have such profound effects on the outcome, referees should be more conservative when it comes to handing them out. Such important decisions should definitely by looked at under a microscope, but it still has to be done fast and with little outside interference.

Someone mentioned weather, and that's a big one. We have all seen really wet matches, it can affect fouls, disadvantage goalkeepers, impair judgement, and effect the kick itself. The referees do what they can

References like Gyan and Suarez wreak of the notion that cheaters win in this world. And what about the hand of god? (sorry england fans) This penalty kick is certainly a subject of hot debate, especially when your nation’s success falls victim to one. To me it’s obvious, penalty kicks need to be more transparent, and referees need a change in protocol. But at the same time, it goes much deeper than that.
Mauijim (Manchester United) 5 years ago
Great stuff Greg.
The paragraph "Back to reality: technically, every single Premiership footballer should score.... " is my favorite paragraph ever read on footytube. Maybe the best paragraph ever read period. Nicely done

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