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Premier League sin-bins would kill the game and make everything boring, says Paul Merson – Sky Sports

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Sky Sports’ Paul Merson on why sin bins would ruin the Premier League, why Wolves aren’t getting decisions because of Gary O’Neil’s honesty about referees and VAR and why Tottenham will get thrashed by Manchester City live on Sky Sports unless Ange Postecoglou changes tactics
Football Expert & Columnist
Wednesday 29 November 2023 19:57, UK
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So they want to bring in sin bins. Sin bins? Pathetic. In rugby union, you go down to 14 players, the other team’s looking at scoring seven to 10 points. It’s a massive advantage. A massive advantage.
You put someone in the sin bin in football for 10 minutes, you’re killing the game. You’d get 10 players sitting behind the ball the whole time, it’d be the most boring football ever. It’s an absolute waste of time, a waste of time.
Everybody loves the Premier League, you have a shot at one end and there’s a corner up the other end 30 seconds later. That just goes out the window for this 10 minutes, the team with the man down have got no choice but to sit behind the ball.
All they’d be doing then for that 10 minutes is taking their time over taking a throw-in, they’ll take a goal kick, they’ll buy a foul, and it’ll just grind out the worst 10 minutes you could imagine.
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You’re playing in the biggest league in the world, there’s going to be emotions, they get high – that’s the way it is. You’re playing to win, everybody wants to win. The thing they need to really get rid of is cheating.
Reece James gets booked for kicking the ball away the other day at Newcastle, but someone’ll run into the box, dives and falls over and everyone says play on, no penalty.
Which one should be booked? The cheat should be booked, the one who’s tried to buy a penalty, over kicking the ball away. Just put another 30 seconds on for that.
Sin bins to be trialled in professional football
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We’re talking about people who know the rules but don’t have a clue about football. Not a clue. It’ll just make people argue even more! ‘Oh, he should’ve been sent to the sin bin last week.’
When are they going to stop? Don’t put new things in when you haven’t fixed the problems with the rules you’ve already got.
It’s like going to a restaurant and having a spaghetti bolognese, it comes out and you take a taste and say ‘Oh, that tastes horrible’. You don’t put it back in the kitchen and start putting extra stuff in it! They’re putting more pressure on themselves.
Wolves are getting all these decisions against them because of Gary O’Neil. I’ve played with him, he’s a top lad, passionate about football, even when I was at Portsmouth and he was a kid.
I don’t care what anyone says, it’s always happening to him. Always. It’s because he’s vocal, and he speaks his mind.
Why is it always Wolves? I’m talking silly decisions, too. Fulham, shocking. Man Utd, shocking. Bournemouth, shocking. Luton, shocking. You can’t tell me it’s not Gary O’Neil. It’s wrong.
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He’s right what he says. He loses his next two games, he could be under pressure and he shouldn’t be.
They’re a good team, they play some good football, and he’s turned them right round. I’ve just given them seven points off the top of my head, and then they’re seventh or eighth in the league.
Then we’re going mad about O’Neil, saying he could be the next England manager. But you’ve got people upstairs who haven’t got a clue. He’s done an outstanding job, but it should be better. He should be enjoying his football.
The first Fulham penalty on Monday, never a penalty. He touches the ball. He touches the ball! He can’t help making contact with the man, unless you’re Bobby Moore or Franz Beckenbauer, you’re making contact.
The head-butt on Max Kilman – honest player, honest pro, 6ft 4ins, honest as the day is long. He’s not going to roll around like a little kid, embarrassing his family. Because he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t get sent off. But why? Why has that got to happen?
It’s like when Destiny Udogie didn’t get sent off for the foul on Raheem Sterling because he didn’t break his leg. It winds me up.
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I’ve said it before but these refs haven’t played the game. You need more people involved in the PGMOL who have. It doesn’t have to be the best player in the world, who played in the Premier League or whatever.
I could sit with someone who hasn’t played and we’ve had the best discussion ever, because they still watch the game. But all I’m saying is if you’ve played, you know if someone’s fouled someone, or bought a foul, or gone over easily.
You go back to last season, Arsenal and Man Utd. Gabriel Martinelli scores, they go back and give a foul against Christian Eriksen. He got the foul because he fell over, he thought if he went over they’d have to go back and have a look.
That’s what players are doing now, thinking they might as well fall over because the referees haven’t got much of a clue.
There’s no way Tottenham can go and play the way they do against Man City. Great managers change things up, you change it up. I like Ange, he’s a top manager.
He’s come into the Premier League to a big club and said he’s going to play his way, front-foot football – and I have all the respect in the world for him doing that – but when you haven’t got the players, you’ve got to take a step back. You’ve got to change it up.
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When he’s got his full team, 100 per cent play like he’s playing. I remember many years ago I was in the studio when Arsenal went to Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger, never sits back, plays on the front foot. He’d got about seven injuries, played exactly the same way, got beat 8-2. 8-2. That’s not clever.
You’ve got to play to your strengths. Sometimes you’ve got to say, ‘you know what, it’s not right to do that this weekend’, and they’ve got to change it up.
Watching Tottenham’s a lot better than it has been over the years, but it can soon change quickly. Lose this game, that’s four on the trot. For the last four games with those injuries, at least three of them you’ve got to rein it in and think about nicking a point here, a point there, and maybe nick a win on the way too.
But trying to win all three of those games… Sometimes you just haven’t got the players. The fans aren’t silly, they’ve seen enough of it over the years at Tottenham. They know he’s trying to entertain, but if you’ve not got Robbie Williams’ voice you’re not selling out Knebworth.
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I said it on Soccer Saturday, he’s come from Australia to Japan to Scotland to the Premier League, one of the best leagues in the world. Why change? That’s his way, he got to where he is by doing what he does. But when you name all those leagues, they’re not the Premier League, that’s the problem.
If you’re the manager of Celtic, you can have four or five injuries and still open the game up at St Mirren. You shoot, we shoot, we win. We’ve got better players. That’s not the case at Tottenham with the injuries they’ve got.
Manchester City couldn’t cope with the injuries Tottenham have got. Eight players out, and a lot of those are key players too.
If they go to the Etihad and open the game up they’ll ship five, I’ve got no doubt.
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