Fare thee well Carling Cup 2011/12, it’s been one rip-roaring, lip-quivering heck of a ride, with highlights including the mesmeric second round bye, and the frantic googling of the name Massimo Luongo. However, when we turn back the yellowed, sepia-tinged parchment that records these travails, the outstanding memory will undoubtedly be one man and his quite astonishing inability to get anywhere near saving penalties. In a feat barely permitted by the laws of the space-time continuum, Gomes managed to dive the wrong way for all eight penalties. The poor blighter does not seem to do low-key and inconspicuous, and while the shoot-out episode can probably be excused as unfortunate, with each passing week it seems likelier that he will offer equal measures of the sublime and ridiculous between someone else’s goal-posts come the January transfer window.Gomes’ bizarre directional misjudgements handily distract attention from a pretty woeful performance by the boy Pav. Unless he’s belting in 25-yard screamers he tends to spend his time ambling around the pitch, weighed down by a giant chip on his shoulder. The awful penalty was in keeping with a typically lethargic performance. Time to call in Mr and Mrs Pav for a few choice words on their son’s attitude, methinks.
On a brighter note, there was a return for Sandro, and another clean sheet. Moreover, as we in the stands become more familiar with Masters Livermore, Carroll et al, it is reasonable to assume that they are similarly becoming more comfortable in the environs of the big wide world.
In closing, permit me if I may, to take you back to our last Carling Cup penalty shoot-out failure, way back in 2009. After hearing ‘Arry trot out the obligatory line about penalties being a lottery, I managed to prevent my blood from boiling just long enough to dig out these thoughts from yesteryear:
Tossing a coin is a lottery. Russian roulette is a lottery. The National Lottery is a blinking lottery. A penalty shoot-out is not a lottery, you hear me?Get a penalty during 90 minutes (or indeed extra-time) and hands are slapped and little jigs danced. Admittedly such joy is promptly replaced with unbearable tension and biting of nails in the build-up to the kick itself, but the point remains that during the course of a game, a penalty is seen as a cracking opportunity to score. There ought not to be any reason why the same twelve-yard pot-shot suddenly becomes a moment of doom-laden hopelessness during a shoot-out, prompting managers to concede defeat and reducing arrogant bling-toting players to spineless, mal-coordinated naysayers.
Nor is the actual taking of a penalty a complete lottery. Admittedly, the nervous tension of a 90,000-bodied stadium, and millions upon millions of TV spectators cannot possibly be replicated on a training ground. However, practise 50 spot-kicks in the week leading up to a Wembley final, and if called upon you would at least be comfortable with the technique, run-up, spot you’re aiming for etc. Heaven forbid however that the players actually dedicate themselves thus.
This isn’t a complaint about the outcome on Sunday. I actually thought that with Gomes in goal we stood a pretty good chance in the shoot-out. And I give credit to Bentley and O’ Hara for having the
cojones to step up. I’m just disappointed still. Actually, make that gut-wrenchingly devastated, and absolutely livid, but with what I know not. Dagnabbit that should have been our cup. And now on top of it all I have to listen to every man and his dog tut sympathetically and tell me that it’s ok because it was all a lottery anyway? SOD OFF AND LET ME STEW IN MY OWN MISERY.It’s a futile, and mildly pathetic rant, but I either slam it down here in literary form, or burn with red-hot pokers the eyes of the next person to inform me sagely that penalties are a lottery.