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So we got to Christmas without a P Lge manager getting the sack. Quite right too, although I doubt this trend will go on for very much longer. 

Sadly, I'm fairly certain that we'll see the first change in early January, probably around the time either Leicester or Burnley - maybe QPR, Hull or West Brom - go out the the FA Cup in the 3rd round!

It's about that time that owners and chairman start to panic, with less than half the season left and the thought of the big bucks slipping away. 

I've looked at the numbers and it seems there is no magic formula to staying up. It's about 50-50 when it comes to making a change and surviving, or hanging in with your original choice and hoping that the stability keeps you afloat. 

My preferred choice would be making it 'illegal' to change at any stage during a season. Why not? It would remove all the pointless speculation about who goes and when. And perhaps owners and chairman would have to think more carefully when making appointments.

I believe it would also be much fairer to the likes of, say Nigel Pearson and Sean Dyche. They couldn't be punished mid-season for their own success. 

Think about it. What right have Burnley really got to be in the P Lge. You could fit the population of the town comfortably into Old Trafford. So what a fantastic achievement it was that they even made it last season. 

Budgets are tight and its very obvious that Dyche isn't going to be able to spend either on wages or players. He's just got to give it his best shot with what he's got. To some degree the same goes for Pearson. Neither club is going to stare into the financial abyss just to stay in the league. If either, or both stay up, Pearson and/or Dyche should be Manager of the Year. Neither should be concerned about whether they'll have a job next week. 

If either does get the sack I'm certain there's one or two at the top end of the Championship would rather miss out this season - and maybe next - to ensure they stay in a job! An exaggerated view of matters I know, but surely you can see where I'm coming from? 

Why is Steve Bruce under pressure. What a fantastic job he's done at Hull. I know they've spent more than the other two, but the principle is the same. Bruce did brilliantly to even get them into the P Lge.

It's not Alan Irvine's fault that West Brom won't spend, nor that his chairman has a history of being trigger happy. Give the guy a chance. Irvine I knew as a player at Everton years ago. He's a good man and if you talk to people who've worked with him they'll tell you he's a very good Coach. 

'Arry did his job last season. He got QPR back up so now back him. If it doesn't work out come the end of the season, ok, change it. But not before.

You can go all the way up to Brendan Rodgers. How ridiculous that he finds himself under pressure a matter of months after he came as close as anybody at Anfield, for a quarter of a century, to winning the title.

I remember a time at Coventry mid-way thro another anxious P Lge season. Poor Gordon Strachan didn't know which way to turn and, of course, there were the inevitable calls for him to go. At the time he said 'I feel like I'm in a car on the edge of a cliff. I don't know whether to put my foot on the accelerator or the brake'. His chairman was Bryan Richardson whose response was 'well I wish he'd make up his mind. I'm in the car next to him'. Gordon stayed and Coventry stayed up. What terrific supportive words from Bryan. Why can't there be more like him?

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It's a big BIG night for everyone involved with Liverpool. I hate the phrase 'must win', because those games rarely are, but this one really is. If Liverpool lose tonight then the game at Arsenal takes on all kinds of significance.

Rodgers is saying he has to deliver a trophy this season. I don't think that matters if you look at recent history. King Kenny did that - got to a 2nd final and steadied the ship. That's what was asked of him - but he was fired anyway! I believe the minimum Rodgers has to deliver this season is C Lge again. Minimum. Trophies are a bonus.

Having said all of that I do wish Bournemouth well. Theirs is a terrific modern day fairytale, all but out of business less than a decade ago, yet now on the brink of the P Lge and an historic night perhaps only hours away. Well done Eddie Howe. 

The other semi-final is anybody's. I can't call it  I'm just glad to see Alan Pardew taking Cup competitions seriously at last. For some reason he's always placed more emphasis on finishing as high as he can in the league. Perhaps he's on a bonus for a good league finish? All I know is that if he can win a trophy for those fantastic Geordie fans he'll have a place in their hearts forever.

Congrats to Sheff Utd on another memorable night - and it seems Chelsea have really have got the bit between their teeth.

I can't let Thierry Henry's retirement pass without a word. What a player. What a career. He's done - and won the lot. Time and again down the years he'd have me out of my seat marvelling at his ability. How about that wonderful volley at Highbury that beat Fabian Barthez? Or when he sat half the Liverpool defence on their backsides before scoring? Or when he danced round Tottenham's defence, while running full length of the field to score? Memories!

Sadly I also remember him v Barcelona in Paris to make it 2-0 with about 12 mins to go in the C Lge final. Sadly he fluffed his lines, which was most unlike him. Sadly in that moment went Arsenal's best chance to win that trophy. His post match tantrums postponed a move to the Camp Nou for 12 months.

And, I know! There was the handball incident v Ireland. But what was he supposed to do? Had Robbie Keane done it at the other end no one in Ireland would've been complaining. It's like Maradona's 'Hand of God'. I'm still sore about that, but I also appreciate that Maradona had to do it. The opportunity was just too inviting. Did England complain when Michael Owen fell over v Argentina in Japan? Of course not. In every case the real villains of the peace were the officials. They should've spotted them all.

Henry talks a lot about his love affair with Arsenal. I believe he has a deep affection for the club, but it didn't run deep enough to stop him leaving when Barcelona came calling with buckets of cash and lifestyle promises. And it obviously isn't deep enough for him to return now, or start out in management somewhere, with a view to returning to Arsenal to fulfil his 'dream' of managing them one day.

I'm sorry to see him chose television over that opportunity. Just as I am Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher. Our game is being over run by school teachers and manufactured coaches. 

At the end of their careers now the top players today have all earned enough to be comfortable for the rest of their lives. They're not hungry. They don't want hassle. The media is the soft option. It's such a pity.

I've worked with Andy for more than 20 years now. Although he's never actually said it, I know that he regrets not having tried his luck in management. It gnaws away at him and he can only ever wonder now. My belief is that he would've been terrific at it. I suspect he feels the same way!  But it's too late.

I think Gary Neville would make a go of it as well. And Carragher, who's a real student of the game. I'm not sure about Henry. I suspect we'll never know. What a pity.

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I noted that The Football Association decided to reject the appeal by Swansea City following the dismissal of their goalkeeper Fabrianski by referee Chris Foy at the week-end.

Like many other referee experts around the world I was shocked and a little confused by this decision to support the referee.

The rejection of this appeal creates confusion for referees at all levels of the game, when clearly the criteria for the Denial of an OBVIOUS goal scoring opportunity was NOT fulfilled.

So lets examine the incident in more detail.

Did the attacking player deliberately use his arm to propel the ball forward to maintain possession of the ball. The answer is yes and at that point the game should have been stopped and the award of a free kick to Swansea City.

(The referee must have failed to see the deliberate handball)

Did the Swansea City goalkeeper who came out the penalty area commit a foul challenge. A collision did take place and it is evident that the referee decided that a foul had been committed. (To confirm this action he re-started the game with a direct free kick to West Ham United) It was a careless action by the goalkeeper so I support the award of a free kick.

Immediately the collision took place the referee stopped the game by blowing his whistle for the free kick.

In doing so he now has to consider the following criteria for Denial of an OBVIOUS goal scoring opportunity.

The distance between the offence and the goal

• The likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball

• The direction of the play

• The location and number of defenders

• The offence which denies an opponent an obvious goal scoring opportunity may be an offence that incurs a direct free kick or an indirect free kick

The offence was outside the penalty area and certainly in shooting distance – so point one is fulfilled

The likelihood of keeping or gaining possession of the ball was carried out illegally and not seen by the referee so at this point the review panel should have supported the appeal. Remember the panel look at the dvd evidence supplied by the club.

The direction of play really is quantified by the direction of the ball itself it was travelling not towards the goal but parallel to the penalty area line parallel to the touchline. The player managed a shot on goal because of his action of unsporting behavior by deliberately handling the ball to gain an unfair advantage over his opponents.

So  it is not DOGSO because the criteria has not been fulfilled Swansea City have cause to be disappointed