Sky Sports’ Super Sunday is designed to be the perfect fodder for a hangover-soothing day in front of the TV; a chance to witness the country’s top teams and players do battle in the search for vital Premier League points.
Last weekend, however, it was anything but that.
Billing Cardiff vs Burnley as the sole fixture on “Super” Sunday is more than enough evidence to report the broadcaster under the Trade Descriptions Act.
But for all the mockery it quite rightly received from just about every football fan in the country (we suspect even Cardiff and Burnley fans were somewhat apologetic for it being on air), it actually produced a momentous football occasion.
Burnley’s 2-1 victory in the Welsh capital saw the shortest amount of actual playing time in a Premier League game since Stoke vs Aston Villa back in December 2013.
In total, the ball was in play for just 42 minutes and two seconds. Just take a moment to think about that in practical terms: more than half the match was spent spent faffing around with the ball out of play. To beautifully sum this fact up, of the 48 minutes lost to delays, eight minutes were spent waiting for Cardiff’s Sean Morrison to prepare himself for no fewer than 20 – TWENTY – long throw-ins.
But some good may just come of this particular horror show. Following outcry over the lack of on-pitch action, the International FA Board (IFAB) – the suits who decide what rules the sport plays to – have promised to look at ways to reduce time wasting during games when they meet in the new year.
One potential new rule to be looked would be referees stopping their watch from the time a throw-in, corner or goal kick is conceded to the time it is actually taken.
While that’s all well and good with us, we reckon there’s a few more things they should whack on to the agenda at that meeting, too…
1. If a time-wasting team concedes a late goal, added time should not be played
How many times have we seen seen teams settle for a point early on and take aeons to restart play, using every single opportunity to wind the clock down? It’s immensely frustrating to watch (unless it’s happening against Sam Allardyce and other purveyors of this tactic, in which case it’s hilarious) and pushes fans of the other team close to a dangerously high blood pressure.
Then comes the moment they fall behind to a late goal. Cue the time wasters suddenly start playing as if they’re stuck on the fast forward, scrambling to find an equaliser during the six minutes of added time they’ve created.
Rather than give them the chance to do so, they should be punished and made to suck up the defeat. It’d certainly help keep the ball in play longer during the 90 minutes, eh?
2. Mike Dean must save all his shtick for the pre-match warm up
You know something is wrong with the game when the man in the middle is more famous/notorious than half the players on the pitch. The king of the show-stopping referees has to be none other than Mike Dean, whose attention-seeking reputation very much precedes him.
See what we mean?
Forcing Dean to get it all out of his system – dramatically pointing to the penalty spot, running off to celebrate imaginary goals and pretending the invisible man is touching him up – during the pre-match warm up will leave everyone able to concentrate on what actually matters during the game.
3. Marouane Fellaini is forbidden from playing up front
For the sake of the game’s very integrity, Fellaini should never be allowed to be thrown up front when his team is chasing the game. The Premier League is now a glamorous worldwide product, with its quality of play ensuring record-breaking TV deals.
What good does it do the league’s image to see Captain Elbows flying around the penalty box looking for a knockdown?
We’ll tell you: absolutely bugger all.
4. Penalties must be taken by the person who is fouled
Mixing up the bog standard penalty rule would bring two tangible benefits to the Premier League.
Firstly, it would make penalties a much more interesting lottery – just imagine an incapable no-hoper like Alvaro Morata having to step up from 12 yards out! It’d be hilarious viewing.
Secondly, it would of course stop Harry Kane erroneously winning the Golden Boot every bloody season for the next 10 years. Surely everyone can get on board with that?
5. Mark Hughes to be banned from football management
Because, well, why not? He is an annoying arse, after all.
6. Goalkeepers can actually be sent off for time wasting
OK, we’ll admit we haven’t actually double checked this one, but we’re assuming it’s against the rules because it never happens.
How many times have you seen a goalkeeper time waste all game long, only to be pointlessly booked late in the second half?
Even then it acts as no deterrent whatsoever, with the smug keeper carrying on as he was for the rest of the game. And all refs do is to keep telling them to hurry up.
We have to assume there’s a secret rule only the IFAB knows about which blocks keepers from being sent off for time wasting, so let’s get that changed pronto, please.
7. Jose Mourinho is only allowed to sign two-year contracts…
…and with absolutely no chance of an extension. By Paddy Power’s rough workings out, he’s received approximately £1.3trillion in pay-offs from previous employers so far.
Just think where all that money could be better spent rather than on the world’s most miserable manager’s retirement fund.
Pumped back into grassroots football across the world, perhaps? Academy training facilities to bring through the next generation of elite footballers, maybe?
Cheaper tickets and merchandise to reward loyal supporters, per chance? The possibilities are endless.
Sadly, something tells us this rule change will probably come a bit too late for Manchester United…