Plus: A mindfuck of a World Cup
After a week’s reflection on derby day, some thoughts on the game from myself and today we also have Adam Haworth writing on the decision not to wear a rainbow armband during the World Cup. Then it’s me again on Anass Zaroury’s call-up.
I’m still pinching myself. Did we really beat that lot 3-0? With Ashley Barnes rolling back the years, scoring as many goals in one half as he’d managed in nearly two years?
It all happened…
After the debacle at Bramall Lane - which thankfully I missed due to being on a football-watching trip to Germany instead - I wasn’t sure what to expect of the derby.
Being beaten all ends up by a physical Sheffield United side offered opponents a blueprint to getting results off us. I expected Rovers to follow that game plan.
They didn’t. Rovers were beyond appalling. I’m not surprised their whinging fans were demanding the head of their manager, and a refund, after the game.
The first half wasn’t great. Jay Rodriguez missing out meant Barnes started in attack. Before the game I felt it was probably the right call. Half an hour in, I was fuming.
Luckily, near the end of the first half, Barnes seemed to remember he is a footballer. Two fine saves by the Rovers goalkeeper were forced and the break came with us well on top after both teams struggled to build attacks through a stodgy opening period.
Unfortunately, the second half saw us regress to the slow, stale football I’ve grown frustrated with. Until a silly Rovers player shoved Anass Zaroury into the ad boards.
A bad idea.
Zaroury woke up and, within a 20-minute spell, he had won us the game. Barnes got the headlines due to his brace but rest assured: this was really Zaroury’s day.
The skill and cross for Barnes to convert from close range was absurdly good and Zaroury’s finish for the clinching second was far more difficult than it looked.
I had been surprised to see Nathan Tella on the bench but he was sharp and hungry off the bench, making a ridiculous impact after replacing Manuel Benson.
Tella’s skill for the second and third goals was absolutely absurd. Truly disgusting. By the end, we were taking the piss. The Sunday morning worries had faded away.
Our unbeaten run stands at 12 years and counting in the derby. Long may it continue.
And long may Barnes remembering he is a footballer continue as well!
A mindfuck of a World Cup
As a gay football fan, this World Cup has been somewhat of a mindfuck.
I love the World Cup, its dramas, its emotion. But how can you enjoy something fully, when you know its existence legitimises hate and human rights abuse?
One solace I had was that at least the English FA was willing to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Harry Kane was to wear a rainbow armband.
A small gesture, yes, but an important symbolic act of defiance under the spotlight.
That was until this morning. The FA reneged on its plan for Kane to wear the armband. Many other national associations have followed.
It's a disgrace. I'm fuming.
You simply cannot commit to protest unless you are willing to pay a price for the protest. Otherwise, it's meaningless. Especially when the price is as measly as a yellow card: a punishment that doesn't even deter diving.
And are we really to believe that The FA announced its participation in this initiative thinking that FIFA and the Qatari organisers would simply nod it through? And if they did, why has no one got the sack for failing to foresee such an obvious eventuality?
My one hope is that captains will defy orders from their associations and wear the armband anyway. I've set up a petition calling for Harry Kane to do so.
Footballers over the last few years have shown that they are far more willing to get involved in social issues than ever before.
On the issue of LGBTQ+ rights, Kane has supported the rainbow laces campaign.
Often, the most footballers have to fear after speaking up is a negative headline in the Daily Mail.
It's time to see how strongly they truly feel about the causes they claim to support.
Massive Morocco Fans
Burnley interest in the World Cup seemed set to be fairly limited until recently.
Connor Roberts is a regular for Wales but may not start given the emergence of Neco Williams in his position, though some experts seem to think he could do a Kieran Trippier and fill in on the left. (I’m pretending Wout Weghorst doesn’t exist.)
However, we all have a small reason not to boycott Qatar 2022 after the late call-up of Zaroury by Morocco. That news came somewhat out of nowhere, with Zaroury having represented Belgium at various age groups, but Morocco made their move in the wake of an injury to key playmaker Amine Harit. That Morocco and Belgium are in the same group adds even more interest around Zaroury’s addition to the squad.
How involved Zaroury will be is hard to predict given the circumstances of his call-up, but Morocco v Croatia has become a must-watch game for Clarets fans.
That’s on Wednesday. Fingers crossed he gets a chance to show what he can do.
Er, I guess that’s it for now with the newsletters, given we don’t play for a few weeks!