It Pays to Know the Rules


I was listening to the radio commentary of the Champions League last night and enjoying the excitement of the match between Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Things were not looking good for City when they found themselves two goals down early in the match but after a magnificent comeback and three goals they were heading for a significant victory. It was then that manager Manuel Pellegrini made a curious substitution removing striker Edin Dzeko in favour of a more defensive player in the shape of Jack Rodwell.

The move was curious as one more goal would have seen Manchester City win the group potentially giving them a much easier draw in the next round. It dawned on me that Pellegrini was not aware of the rules of the competition and his post-match comments served to illustrate that he didn’t.  With the match at 2-3 to Manchester City they were level with Bayern on points but a fourth goal would have seen them top the group on away goals scored. Pellegrini, and it would appear his players, believed they needed a three goal victory but two would have been enough if they scored four or more in the match.

The error could prove costly as Manchester city may now face one of the best teams in Europe in the next round. It definitely pays to acquaint yourself with all the permutations and that is true even if you are a fan. I recall making this mistake myself leading to a horrible moment of terror!

I was watching my team Liverpool in the UEFA cup final back in 2001. Everything had seemed to be going well as Liverpool had scored two early goals. Opponents Alaves looked all over the place and I was feeling very relaxed. Shortly after half time things started to go badly wrong and the match was now 3-3. Liverpool then scored a fourth which I earnestly hoped would prove to be the winning goal. Three minutes from time the fans started singing, celebrating what they thought would be a glorious victory. I was now feeling seriously nervous and found myself actually shouting at people not to sing as it was too early! I felt that their confidence was inviting disaster and so it was.

Alaves duly scored an equaliser and I was suddenly facing the prospect of extra time. This is never a good situation but I was then struck by a terrible thought. I had not checked the rules of the match regarding extra time and was unaware of exactly what variety of extra time we were going to get. A straight thirty minutes would be bad enough but at the time there was also the option of Golden Goal where the first team to score would win. I hastily examined the programme to discover that I was indeed about to endure the tension of Golden Goal. I then spent a hideous three minutes constantly examining my wristwatch until the final whistle blew. Liverpool did win the match but I do wish I had known about the rules before the match got that far. At least I would have been able to mentally prepare myself for the ordeal!


Article By Sally Stacey