Poor old Martin Jol

yet again so close but so far.

Yes I was supporting Martin Jol’s Hamburg against Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup semi-final last night, yeah I wanted the big guy to get to the final, hopefully to win and stick two fingers up to Levy and the backstabbers at the Lane.

I love Martin Jol, Martin Jol loves me.

But much like his time at Spurs the big Dutchman’s side found themselves just missing out after being in a strong position. It was all just a bit too familiar an away goal, a cracking early strike for a two goal lead, the defence opening up for an equaliser on the night, a piece of weak goalkeeping to lose the lead, a bizarre outside influence, this time a screwed up ball of paper that created a corner from an innocuous position and then the inability to defend said corner.

An aggregate equaliser which is meaningless because the opposition now have three away goals to one. And it all could have been different if not for yet another refereeing howler in this week of ref blunders. Olic should have had a penalty when bundled to the floor but somehow the man in yellow blew his whistle for some phantom offence by Hamburg.

Another team denied a final by a ref.

Saying all that Hamburg were poor on the night, they didn’t seem to want to play the way they had in previous ties but looked like they were holding onto their first leg lead and were happy to squeak it. Olic did his usual stint of non stop action, Bremen did their best to get him into trouble with typical German style play acting, even when the player wasn’t German, but the rest of Jol’s side were poor especially Trochowski and Petric who just didn’t turn up.

But if a ref could do his job properly that would be all forgotten, but people don’t seem to realise that football isn’t about the players and the fans it’s about the refs, the officials and the commentators – if the latter is Alan Green.

Tom Henning Ovrebo needs to realise that shaving your head and having a throbbing vein on your temple doesn’t make you Pier Luigi Colina. UEFA also have to realise that when you spend all year slagging off the Premier League and various English teams, their owners and their dominance on the world stage and then the man you employ to oversee the game makes blatant decisions that deny an English team a place in the major club final it’s not the media that creates a “conspiracy against UEFA”.

And then there’s all the history within UEFA competitions of dodgy games involving English sides. Spurs v Benfica ’62 European Cup semi, Liverpool v Inter ’65 European Cup, Derby v Juve ’73 European Cup, Leeds v Munich ’75 European Cup final, Leeds v AC Milan ’73 Cup Winners Cup final, Forest v Anderlecht ’84 UEFA Cup semi. Yeah they may be a bit back but they still stink.

On other European football news it was good to see that Marco van Basten did the honourable thing and resign as manager of Ajax after a little less than a year in the job. Finishing third in Eredivisie is bad enough for a team with the history of Ajax but to finish below an FC Twente side that is managed by Scheteve McClown is an embarrassment that van Basten will struggle to overcome.

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