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Page last updated at 06:21 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 07:21 UK

Ask Steve Claridge

Steve Claridge
Claridge is the BBC's new Football League expert

It has been another busy week in the Football League, with no shortage of incidents to discuss - especially if you're a Crystal Palace fan!

Lots of you have been asking about all aspects of 'the goal that wasn't' at Ashton Gate on Saturday as well as Norwich City's decision to fire Bryan Gunn and hire Paul Lambert.

Thanks to everybody who has got in touch - hundreds of you did so in the past seven days - and I've answered some more of your questions below.

If you have a question, use the form on the top right of the page.


Hi Steve, I am a Palace fan and I know everyone is blaming the referee for that shocking decision not to give a goal on Saturday when the ball had clearly crossed the line but surely Bristol City should take some of the blame? Do you think sportsmanship should come first in this situation?
Andy Seabrook, England

It's an interesting question. Seventy-five per cent of me says no, I'm the manager and it is not my job to right the wrongs of decisions by the referee. There is no guilt for Bristol City boss Gary Johnson over not giving Palace a goal - when he was at Yeovil, he actually did that once. So it's not as though he has been unsporting.

Neil Warnock remonstrates with a touchline official

The phantom 'goal' that enraged Warnock

Also, how can Gary Johnson see it to give it when the referee hasn't - the referee was a lot closer than him.

But on the other hand, as Palace manager Neil Warnock says, there is a little bit of me that says, maybe, when you see something like that then, if you're absolutely sure that it was a goal, then you should hold your hands up.

The players don't have to take responsibility either. There are obviously plenty of occasions when a defender grabs hold of an attacker in the area but he is hardly likely to alert the referee to that and say "go on have a penalty" is he?

The referee is the one who has made a mistake - an honest mistake which, on this occasion, is also a ridiculous one. Football is all about human error and the bottom line is you win some, you lose some.

The linesman should have seen it too but you can also say that the net should bulge - when you have a metal bar on the ground there as part of the goal, then there is always a chance of that happening.

And, overall, there are many other occasions this season where Bristol City will be hard done by. For example, they had a very harsh penalty awarded against them in their opening-day draw with Preston and nobody will be giving anything back to them.

A few of you have asked about goal-line technology in cases like this but I don't think that can be brought in, for the following reason.

Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock
Warnock was angry after his side were denied a valid 'goal' at Bristol City

Imagine that I am playing up front and I make a fantastic run, stay onside and head the ball into the back of the net but I am wrongly given offside in a bad decision by the linesman. How is that, or an absolute stonewall penalty that isn't given, less important than a situation where the ball crosses the line and a goal isn't given?

Both situations could even happen in the same match and you could have a situation where in one case the wrong is righted but, in the other, it isn't.

You cannot have the technology only for one type of incident and the problem then is where do you stop?

You would then get penalties debated and who is to say you would get those right even with video evidence to help? Last year, BBC Sport asked me and three other lads to go in and look at 50 penalties and say which ones should and should not have been given. With 45 of them, the referee was absolutely spot on. With two we all disagreed with the decision and, with three, if we had stayed there from now until doomsday, we still would not have agreed if they were penalties or not.

And who watches these replays? If you put it all on the fourth official then, again, that is only one man's opinion and he could see it differently to 40,000 in the ground or four million who are watching on TV. It's one heck of a can of worms to open up.

Hi Steve, I agree with Bryan Gunn's sacking at Norwich. I was against his appointment in January and definitely against his full-time appointment in June. When the three new board members came in (who actually looked like they knew a bit about football) I didn't think it would be long until he went. I didn't think it would be this soon but it leaves the new manager with a couple of weeks to sign players. What do you think about Paul Lambert's appointment?
Joel, Norwich

New Norwich boss Paul Lambert
Lambert was in charge of Colchester when they beat Norwich 7-1

It's quite ironic that Lambert has been given the job. The man who got Bryan Gunn the sack has replaced him as well!

There were plenty of good candidates to take charge and Rotherham boss Mark Robins might be a bit disappointed to be overlooked but I think Paul is a good appointment. I've met him a few times and been impressed by what I've seen.

He did well at Colchester last season and I'm glad they have got someone from that level, who has served his time. I don't want to see the same old managers, who have failed time and time again, given more chances. Paul deserves his chance and good luck to him.

I'm a Chesterfield fan and wondered what your thoughts are on the monies being spent on players at Notts County? Do you think the cash spent, and what will be spent, undermines the football played at this level and it's all down to the financial clout this particular team has?
Dave Simpson, England

It's interesting that people are still talking about the 'Sven effect'. Kasper Schmeichel might not have gone to County from Manchester City if Sven-Goran Eriksson was not there as director of football but Schmeichel certainly would not have gone there unless they had been willing to give him the money he wanted either.

Of course, money will talk - the lower down you go, the more it talks - and it looks like County probably will go up this year

But having one club spending money does not undermine League Two, it just raises the bar a bit.

There are a few other clubs to have done it in the past too - Peterborough, MK Dons, Hull City and Brentford (in 1998/99) to name four in the last decade.

Of course, money will talk - the lower down you go, the more it talks - and it looks like County probably will go up this year.

Are you surprised by how well John Still is doing at Dagenham and Redbridge? How good is Paul Benson?
Gary Hannigan, England

I'm not at all surprised by how the Daggers are doing. John knows the non-League scene inside out and always picks up one or two very good players from there a year - and I don't even just mean the Blue Square Premier because most clubs in there are bigger than Dagenham and Redbridge, and can pay more.

Dagenham & Redbridge v Shrewsbury Town

Dag & Red 5-0 Shrewsbury Town

He's an excellent manager. Some bosses go under the radar in terms of how well they do with what they have got and he is one of them. When you consider what his budget must be, and how high he is punching with that, then it is fantastic.

As for Benson? I'm actually surprised he is still there. He's a bit more than only a goalscorer, which would help him out the higher up the League he goes.

I am very interested what you think Coventry's chances are over the next couple of seasons. We have got used to the Championship and consolidated our position. I always used to think that if we ever went down from the top flight, we would never get back up. I don't like being negative and it's a bit dull supporting what you call a 10-15 club but do you think the Sky Blues could be close to getting back into the big time?
Chris Parkhurst

They've made a great start but, no, I don't think Coventry's squad is big enough to sustain a promotion challenge and I'm not sure if there is enough quality in it.

Coventry will be relying on one or two players and it is very unlikely that those players will be able to sustain their form and fitness for the whole campaign.

I've seen teams top of the table after five games on luck. I am not saying that is the case with Coventry but there is plenty of strength in depth in the Championship this season and they don't have it.

They will be relying on one or two players and it is very unlikely that those players will be able to sustain their form and fitness for the whole campaign.

Steve, what are your thoughts on awarding teams who score more than a certain amount of goals in a game or keep a clean sheet an extra point? Or how about a relegation play-off between the third/fourth from bottom teams to decide who goes down from each division?
Dave King, Cornwall

The first one is not for me - the three points for a win system works well enough and gives you enough reason to go out to try to beat teams. Football is not only about scoring goals, there is an art of defending and of working hard without the ball. And, aside from scoring goals, there would be undeserved ways of getting that extra point too - you might meet a team that is in complete disarray at one stage, that has just entered administration.

For the second part of the question, well, we have promotion play-offs and they help keep the season interesting and keep managers in their jobs because if you are between sixth and 15th in the table you have often got chance of making them.

But a relegation play-off would only help people lose their jobs because you are putting another team in trouble. That would cause even more panic - you don't want anyone else feeling more pressure because you are including another team in the relegation battle.

The promotion play-offs could be done differently but let's save that one for another day.

Just wondering why it was that you immediately counted Blackpool out of contention for promotion this season. I think we're a club going in the right direction and have a fair chance of making the play-offs after a fantastic end to last season, an optimistic new manager and a Latvian with a lot of cash backing the club with new signings.
Rob, Southport, UK

What I said was, by rights, with the size of Blackpool's budget and the size of the club, they should probably, along with Scunthorpe, be the two teams to struggle in the Championship this season.

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway
Ian Holloway succeeded Simon Grayson as Blackpool boss in May

But, as we've seen before - and we saw it with Blackpool last year - it doesn't have to happen like that. With good management, because they don't spend a lot of money, they can hold their own and credit where credit is due.

I would never disrespect them. Sometimes you have look and consider what would be the bigger achievement - a club like Ipswich or West Brom winning the Championship or Blackpool finishing 13th.

Those clubs can get the players they want. Blackpool have to wait and see what is left.

Hi Steve, a nice easy question for you! Do you see Reading as a potential promotion contender or a team in transition, what with all the comings and goings in all areas of the club?
Ian Holder

No, I don't see them as contenders at all. I am not convinced about the shape of the side - Newcastle lacked width and balance on the right flank on Sunday but Reading could not make top nor tail of them.

Newcastle v Reading

Newcastle Utd 3-0 Reading

And 4-3-3 is a difficult system to play unless you have players who are used to it or can play it so it is 'work in progress' for them at the moment.

I think their manager Brendan Rogers is a thoroughly decent person but can he manage? I don't think we know yet. Just because you have an association with Jose Mourinho doesn't mean you are the next Jose Mourinho. There are plenty of bosses put up by other people who don't live up to their billing.

I've spoken to him and he's a great guy but I'm not convinced he can manage because I haven't seen enough. He still has to prove himself.

And this is a difficult job for him to take on because they fell at the final hurdle last year, losing in the play-offs, so if they do not match that this season, is that failure? It was never going to be easy to follow Steve Coppell and Brendan needs to make the whole team his own.

Hi Steve, last week Nottingham Forest played in the Carling Cup with a weakened team because Wales called up Bobby Earnshaw and Chris Gunter at short notice. Although we have great young talent to cover, it made things tricky for our back line. What do you think about internationals removing players during cup competitions and do you think there is a compromise?
Dave Prichard, England

Nottingham Forest and Wales defender Chris Gunter
Gunter missed Forest's Carling Cup tie to face Montenegro

They should be able to put these international games on when there are no club games in the week but, when the two do collide like that, then if it is a competitive game your country takes precedence. If it is a non-competitive game then your club should take precedence.

It should be down to the club to decide if it is a international friendly and there is a Carling Cup game on.

I'm not really sure what you learn from those sort of friendlies anyhow but there should definitely be more communication, especially if the player is only going to end up playing 20 minutes for his country anyhow.

Do you think the transfer window should be scrapped? If they were, clubs could raise much-needed funds by selling a star player at a critical time, and possibly avoid the ignominy of administration, thus avoiding the recent trend of teams starting on minus points and uneven leagues.
Tom Scargill, Bradford

The window should be scrapped full stop. It is costing people their jobs.

But let's be honest, we have got the 'emergency' loan system haven't we? By rights, clubs should not be able to loan anyone other than a goalkeeper but the rules are totally overlooked.

It probably has more effect in the Premier League than it does in the Football League. Each club has got 12 loans and you often see them happening with a view to a permanent move so, whether you are buying or selling, there are loopholes to exploit.

Steve Claridge was talking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan



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see also
Your chance to quiz Claridge
10 Aug 09 |  Football
Football league on the BBC
02 Aug 10 |  Football
BBC announces live football dates
01 Jul 09 |  Championship
BBC wins Football League contract
06 Nov 07 |  Football


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