- Everyone off the Coach, It’s Time for a Kick About
Not one of the four clubs competing in a European semi this week could manage an away win. Fulham came closest away to Hamburg as they set themselves up with a pretty decent chance of progressing through to the Europa League final with a 0-0 draw. The other three all lost.
Or, were the incredibly long journeys by train, coach, canoe then train again possibly to blame for the players performances?
As midweek turns into the weekend, I can only look back in disapproval on the silly exploits of UEFA allowing these ridiculously long journeys (24 hours for Liverpool and Barcelona, 17+ hours for Fulham, over 2 days for Lyon) to those all important European semi finals for the four away clubs. Some of the news headlines went something like this:
Arduous Trek Will Not Affect Liverpool
Liverpool, Fulham begin long journey to semifinals
Barcelona bemoans bus trip to Milan
Roy Hodgson’s men bond during ‘never-ending’ journey
You get the picture. We’ve all been inundated with stories of Mt.E. (no point spelling it out, you can’t pronounce it anyway) affecting air travel across Europe. Hell, when the Frightened Rabbits can’t make it to the Coachella festival in California, not to mention Fulham being forced into a roadside kick about to keep fresh, something is amiss in the world.
So why didn’t UEFA step in and postpone these all important matches until clubs could resume their normal method of air travel? Should UEFA make the four teams who travel next week to the return legs take the same route and mode of transportation as their opponents took? Surely UEFA must recognize the advantage they’ve handed the home teams during the first legs.
You may be thinking to yourself, “these are professional athletes, some of the them world class. Shouldn’t they be able to overcome a long coach trip and perform up to their highest standards?” And a valid point that would be, however, in a match this important, this critical and with so much on the line, UEFA has to assure the playing field is as level as possible. Ask yourself this question, when will Fulham find themselves in another European semi?
All four clubs who participated in midweek away ties have been dealt a band hand by UEFA. They dropped the ball by not acting when they had the chance and should have postponed the first leg ties until air travel resumed. There’s not a chance in Nyon, Switzerland they’ll restrict the 2nd leg away clubs from air travel and have thus given a slight advantage to those four clubs.
Good luck to the remaining English clubs left in the Europa league and hopefully the best team will win over the course of the 2 leg ties. No thanks to UEFA for not standing up and making a tough decision when they needed to, and let’s hope their lack of a pair ultimately doesn’t hinder the four clubs who were forced into those long, arduous journeys.