TheHardTackle brings to you the worst five duds of the year as far as English Football is concerned.

5. Andrei ArshavinAi??

The diminutive Russian, once known for his crafty footwork and endearing flamboyance, has completely lost his mojo as a footballer. The captain of his national side now finds it tough to start a game for the Gunners, having done little or nothing to convince Arsene Wenger of his worth in the Arsenal setup. Arshavin, who was a fan-favorite not a long time back, has now lost a lot of those following with his impassive outings for the Red and White. The man looks lost in his own confined space every time he is thrown into the deep. Arsene sends him with hope that he will bring back the ai???Arshavin who once smacked four past the Mugmashers at Anfield in a ruthless display of footballing excellenceai???. The anticipation of ai???turning the cornerai??i?? and ai???rewinding the yearsai??i?? has been too overwhelming a feeling based on Arshavinai??i??s capability as an attacking footballer.

AA23 - A sad tale!

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Having scored just four goals in the league and that one historic goal in the ai???Match of the Yearai??i?? against Barcelona, Arshavin has lost his scoring touch, his ability to beat defenders at will and his ruthlessness of an attacking footballer which many teams feared. He is such a huge figure and talisman in his country that his starting place is well assured in this Euro 2012 but his tenure at Arsenal might see a sad ending this January, having shown so much promise initially yet failing to live up to the hype and ai???price tagai??i?? ai??i?? another Jose Antonio Reyes case. It is widely believed that the mercurial Russian is supposed to be offloaded this transfer window with his old club Zenit ai???ever readyai??i?? to get back their profligate son. The catch to that story is, however, not too stimulating for Arsenal fans; manager Luciano Spalletti is more interested in Youth Influx in his team ai??i?? with an ageing out-of-form superstar certainly not in plans. It remains to be seen if Arshavin, ai???Arsenalai??i??s wasted starai??i?? rises and shines yet again for the Gunners or departs in a melancholy state in a cold snowy winter from London ai??i?? exactly three years after he was brought to The Emirates.

4. Fernando Torres

It took all of 734 minutes, hundreds of ridiculous countdown websites and fan abuse to make Fernando Torres break his scoring duck, when he finally smashed home against West Ham in front of the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea Financial Contingent shocked the world when they submitted a 50 Million Pounds bid for the Spaniard in the winter. He was already having a tough time at Merseyside in the previous year. Justifying the price-tag was out of question, it was almost a precarious anti-climax for Roman Abramovich when Torres was unable to score or even inspire his Chelsea team ai??i?? he failed to score in 13 league games for The Blues. While many believe that the Ibrahimovic-Etoai??i??o deal between Barcelona and Inter as the worst in the history of football transfers, the Torres deal presents a very good case at least in English Football transfers. Ask Patrick Barclay, he will vouch for the same ai??i??

ai???It was by a long, long way the worst signing in the history of football, pound-for-poundai??i??

The Chelsea faithful will make a point about the signing ai??i?? it was a throw of the dice which could change the fortune at The Bridge ai??i?? ai???ifai??? Torres had got back his form, he could reignite Chelseaai??i??s title hopes and a possible resurgence in the Champions League arena. Fernando ai???El Ninoai??i?? Torres was a fantastic footballer at Liverpool, often single-handedly making Liverpool cross the winning line with his sheer brilliance. Roman had the same kind of hope as Arsene had for Arshavin, that Torres will get back his fluidity and turn the tables to bring in a new era at The Bridge. So far, nothing has happened in accordance with the plan, an ageing Didier Drogba not helping Torresai??i?? cause either. Will Chelsea give the man some more time or capitulating to Barclayai??i??s ai???worst signing tagai??i?? and sell off their prized, rather ai???priceyai??? asset in the end of this Januaryai??i??s transfer window?

3. Blackburn Rovers FC

Amidst dismal form and poor management, Blackburn Rovers, former Premier League Champions have had a torrid year of football. New Owners Venkys had promised ai???big name signingsai??i?? like Ronaldinho and David Beckham when they were installed at the club in the end of last year. The potential target for this transfer window being Andy Johnson, it hasnai??i??t really been any sort of progress for the club, with no offense to the out-of-favor English striker. The club had two highs this year ai??i?? a last day win over Wolves keeping them in the top division last season and a stunning win over Arsenal (4-3) this season when the Gunners were clearly struggling at the start of the season. Apart from that, it has been downhill for Steve Kean and his men. With almost ai???no experienceai??i?? in managing football clubs, Steve Keanai??i??s job is under tenterhooks, the fans rightfully ai???asking for his headai??i?? and also a change in management.

Calling for Kean's Head

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Guest Author Mike Ashworth writes for TheHardTackle ai??i??

ai???Anyone who has visited or lived in Blackburn will know that the town is heavily reliant on Blackburn Rovers Football Club and their ground, Ewood Park, for the local economy. Of course, the town is draped in history, but the sort of money Blackburn Rovers brings to the town and the local businesses is unchallenged by anything else. Without Blackburn Rovers, the town would fall into serious trouble, with many business owners losing their stalls and shops.ai???

With an incredible goal-keeping performance from Mark Bunn, Blackburn managed to pick up a point against Liverpool recently and also in the process, increased the tenure of Steve Kean at the club. Within one year of its installation, will the Venkys gracefully move out from England or will they try appointing a decent manager who is capable of fulfilling the dreams that were promised to the fans a year back, only time will tell.

2. Racism

In a year where the city of Manchester sat on top of football dominance in the English Premier League, the faces of John Terry and Luis Suarez remain more distinct among fans for disquieting reasons. While the Englishman from Chelseaai??i??s esteemed family was accused of ai???racist remarksai??i?? at QPR defender Antoine Ferdinand, the Liverpool ai???love-childai??i?? Suarez was punished for similar remarks over Not-Exactly-A-Saint current captain of Manchester United, Patrice Evra. The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) has condemned both the clubs for supporting such behavior. While Chelsea Football Club has vocally supported Terryai??i??s ai???causeai??i??, Liverpool has taken it a stage further by wearing ai???whiteai??i?? shirts with the face of Suarez on it, protesting against the law that enforced bans on Suarez for racism ai??i?? quite a baffling display of affection from a neutralai??i??s point of view.

The ugly head of bigotry has tarnished the image of English Football in 2011, with two specific sets of believers opinionating onAi?? the situation

ai??i?? The first kind who believes that Evra and the likes have used the law to their advantage and should be ai???booked for simulationai??i??.

ai??i?? The other vouches for the fault of both Suarez and Terry ai??i?? players who have used their stardom to offend the ai???race godsai??i??.

From the ai???dark daysai??i?? of racist football behavior in the 70ai??i??s and 80ai??i??s to this day, there has been a lot of change in the mentality of footballers and the fans ai??i?? a certain degree of tolerance has crept in with law enforcement and change in attitude. But, if players like Terry and Suarez cross the line of obedience, show bigotry towards their ai???brothers of a different raceai??i??, then they need to be punished not only for their reprehensible act but for their (and their clubsai??i??) inability to stand up to their mistakes and accept it.

1. Poor Refereeing

Human Beings are prone to errors ai??i?? There is nothing beyond this age-old clichAi?? that can defend referees this year. There has been some horrendous decisions taken even by the best of the lot in England, use of video technology still remains a concept rather than a fruitful implementation. Adorned by a media-based ai???blanket coverageai??i?? of football in England ai??i?? the deficiencies of these men officiating in games are even more obvious as results of matches keep changing due to ai???referee blundersai??i??. The words ai???refereeai??i?? and ai???dropped pointsai??i?? have found its place more in headlines than Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie in this year of football. Many believe that ai???hypocriteai??i?? fans take the issue to a different level but the quality of refereeing, has indeed steeped to deplorable levels ai??i?? one wonders what steps FA are taking to better the situation.

Lots of Dowd in his mind!

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Rather than doing something rational to eradicate ai???errorsai??i?? from the game of football, a ridiculous ai???RespectFCai??i?? campaign was launched to ai???protectai??i?? the referees from the fans and experts. The campaign motto said ai??i??

ai???Letai??i??s all club together and show the people ruining the game what they are up against. Join Respect F.C. and for every member, the FA will put more money into saving footyai???

The football governing bodies, which are capable of pulling off appalling stunts like banning harmless snoods and asking players to shake hands to counter racism, are not going to take any retrospective action against referees for below-par-performance on the field. There are some things one needs to accept and move on, this looks like one of them! The rotten tomatoes can sigh in relief, they wonai??i??t be thrown at anybody, and they can live on!

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One Response to “Worst Five Duds Of 2011 – Refereeing And Racism Take The Cake”

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  1. Aditya Sharma says:

    Yup yup yup