Marco van Basten has swapped outrageous volleys for verbal volleys. He’s swapped his orange jersey for talk about orange cards. Marco van Basten probably couldn’t run the pitch for AC Milan anymore, but he can run a pitch for changing the rules of football…
Van Basten is now FIFA's technical director and has had his say about which 'Laws of the Game' he'd change. Basically, he wants to make it easier for goalhangers to score by doing away with offside. He wants 25-metre, eight-second run-ups instead of normal penalties - like they used to have in MLS. He wants orange cards.
We don't doubt that football could do with changing some of its laws and we've had a think about which ones we'd start with.
HOSPITAL PASS = RED CARD
Players who make hospital passes don't care about their mates. A hospital pass is a selfish act. It is usually offered with minimal accuracy, insufficient power and no god damn love. It's a disgrace that the guy who receives one is punished.
Consider this footage and tell me that the left-back shouldn't be the one sent off. You can see in Preston Edwards' face what he thinks of him after this perfect storm of hopelessness. Check out the rage. That happened 10 seconds into the game.
I thought we were on the right track a couple of seasons ago when Neil Swarbrick sent off Gareth McAuley after he played a hospital pass to Craig Dawson for West Brom against Man City. Dawson upended Wilfried Bony and Swarbrick - correctly, in my opinion - dismissed McAuley for his sh*t pass.
False dawn. The suits at the FA slapped down Swarbrick's act of revolution and claimed he had simply mistaken the identity of the Baggies miscreant. The suspension was transferred back to the 'right man' - Dawson - who committed the foul. Swarbrick or someone else should lead a panel to make sure hospital passers everywhere know there is no escape. This hidden menace has to end.
REALLY BAD FOUL = PENALTY KICK
Back to the old school yard for this one. Sometimes a tackle was so big and violent the only logical solution was to award a penalty kick – wherever the offence took place. It didn’t matter if the foul was at the other end of the pitch; if it was bad enough – the victim cried, bled etc. – then it was a pen, end of.
I like this. I think they should do it in real football. The yardstick is already there. The laws of the game discuss tackles which are "careless, reckless and use excessive force". Hit one of these anywhere on the pitch, sunshine, and it’s a pen.
SELL A GOAL, BUY A PLAYER
Suppose your super-violent midfield player has cleaned out Fancy Dan on the other team, and suppose that super-violent midfield player has been sent off for being – as we said – "reckless, careless or using excessive force". Well… what if you could buy a player back and keep a full XI on the field?
If your player is sent off, you can 'sell' a goal to the opposition and bring on a replacement. So if it’s 0-0 and you have a player sent off, you have the option of keeping things as they are – 10 v 11 at 0-0 – or selling a goal and restarting 11 v 11 with the score at 0-1. 10 v 11 is nonsense. It ruins it.
SEXY GOAL PANEL
What football needs is a judging committee at every match to hold up signs – like they do at the diving or at the figure skating – awarding every goal some kind of artistic merit mark.
The goal always counts for one, sure, but then let’s get some bonus points up and running for the sexiness of the goal. A Sexy Goal Panel decides how much extra a goal should be worth based on how sexy it was.
Scuffs, deflections, tap-ins - yes, you get your goal, well done. Long-range worldies, symphonic team goals, scorpion kicks (the Puskas list, basically)... that’s another thing altogether.
How pretty was the goal out of 10 in your opinion, judge? If it’s a nine, hold up a nine. Add all of the scores up and divide by the number of judges. Add that to the base score of 1. Players should be encouraged to go for sexy goals.
ZERO POINTS FOR A DRAW
Draws are the worst. Waste of time. Any team can stay up by drawing every game 0-0. Thirty-eight goalless draws and you get 38 points. That's hollow. Why are we rewarding this kind of mediocrity?
Down the age levels people complain about 'participation prizes'. Everyone's a winner. No one's disappointed. These kids, it is reasoned, are learning nothing of defeat, nothing of disappointment, nothing of life itself. Yet we persist in giving teams a point for not winning.
Zero points for a draw. Win, and we’ll talk. Too many teams are content to see out a draw safe in the knowledge they can squirrel away another precious little point. Bollocks to it. Zero points for a draw.
And for that matter, let's start taking points away for losing. Now it's -1 for a loss. Go on a bad run and actually slide down that table. Lose seven in a row? How about lose seven points?
And you know what else? Bonus points for scoring. You get another point for every extra goal you win by. If you smash some no-hoper team 7-0 then you get three for the win and another six for the goals. Nine points. Nine well-deserved points.