Ruscoe's Column: 'Oumar Niasse, Leo Messi and the Golden Generation debate'

Reporter:

Barrie White

After Everton’s Oumar Niasse was punished retrospectively for his dive that won the Blues a penalty last week, I still think there’s a fair few that go unpunished.

At the time, Niasse dived and won the penalty against Crystal Palace, and they’ve taken the retrospective action. If it’s right, and they get it right, then it’s good to not get these decisions wrong.

Sometimes, your momentum takes you in a way that you can’t do anything but go down. Yes it’s good that justice has been done afterwards because in the past the FA have always said that there’s nothing they could do about it.

But now, it is in place that if you're driving and you can clearly be seen that you are, then you’re going to be in trouble for it. If you're a good player too, it will have an impact.

For example, when he was at Liverpool, Luis Suarez used to do it all the time. When I saw Niasse, he was the first example I thought off as he was always going down.

He did it many a time. You’d walked past the television and Suarez would fall over. That’s the South American style and he would have no hesitation to admitting he was trying to win a free-kick or a penalty.

But it’s very true to say that retrospective action isn’t going to get Palace those two points back they dropped against Everton.

It’s reinforcing the call for video refs – if there’s three of those in the game then the ref can go and have a look at the screen or however it is set up.

If these things are brought in, Niasse’s dive is something that could be looked it straight away and dealt with – there’s no comeback 10 days later.

Lionel Messi has finally signed a new deal at Barcelona and I think he will be at the club for a very long time. He’s 30 now and this deal will take him up to 34, and he will choice to still be at the Nou Camp.

He’s signed the deal with a clause of £636 million buy-out clause which if you consider other players have got £200 or £300 million, then he’s worth every bit of it.

reading the figures, he’s rumoured to be getting half-a-million pounds a week so he’ll probably spend the rest of his career there. I think there’s a good chance that this deal has been signed because of Barca’s start to the season.

It must have played a part because there was a lot of doom and gloom around August after Neymar left.

I read that Messi is now having a say in future transfers; if Barca want to sign a player, they’ll run by him at first to see if they fit in. It shows how in a high regard they hold him in.

There may even be a place on the management staff for him one day. I don’t know whether he would want to do that but it’s an option.

This period of four years from the 2018 to 2022 World Cups could be crucial to deciding if he’s the best ever. His goal record is incredible – he’s played 395 games and scored 361 goals.

That is just amazing – whatever the era, whatever you can say about pitches and players, or even the ball, if you’re scoring that many goals in a league like Spain is incredible.

It’s a tough league to play in and he’s scoring 40 or 50 a season. The challenge for him now is to do it well into 30s, and he will have to pick and choose his games over the years, like the other night against Juventus.

Will he still be able to do when he’s been rested? I don’t know, but if his body holds up and he’s consistently performing then why not? He’s been at his peak around 28/29 but if he’s enjoying his games and his training, then I hope he continues to play well because he’s a joy to watch.

I caught the debate on BT Sport on Saturday between Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard about the failure of the ‘Golden Generation’ as well as their inability to maintain personal friendships while on England duty.

Ferdinand was telling how despite he and Lampard growing up together at West Ham, once they had gone their separate ways when they went to Chelsea and Manchester United, they couldn’t be friends.

It would be the hatred for the clubs but as Ferdinand said, he didn’t want to give any of the other sides an advantage. Gerrard said in his book that there would be cliques at tables for dinner.

There would be a Liverpool table, a Manchester United table and other tables. They obviously had respect for each other, but there was never a togetherness and a lack of team spirit.

You could see in certain games that there was no harmony, and there was always the argument about where the midfielders, including Paul Scholes, should be played.

I was surprised to see that from Sven-Goran Eriksson, where he was so rigid with that team because the players were of the highest quality. I know they nearly reached the quarter-finals, most famously when it took Ronaldinho to beat them in 2002.

Gerrard did remind viewers how close England came to the semi-finals on a number of occasions, and also addressed the tables situation.

One of the England managers put the players all on one long table. Lampard started laughing and said it went from tables to the Chelsea end or the United end.

I think it’s also fair to say the players should take ownership of that. They need to mix it up and not just stay with the safety net of the people they see every day.

It might be that some of them didn’t like each other; the management might have wanted them to do stuff together but they didn’t want to.

Also, certain players wanted to play in certain positions and that didn’t help, nor did the cliques in the team. Was it any different under Kevin Keegan?

He was one to bond the players but you hear it was so removed from tactics because players were only interested in the card schools. The players were just set up to go out and play.

It’s frightening to think that players were picked and told they were good enough to go out and win.

Ferdinand did say it was pleasing to see there's three generations of England teams winning together and they will have friendships as well as professional respect.

He’s right to say it. For all the bad press about Gareth Southgate, he's trying to do it the right way. He has Steve Holland in there and he’s one of the best coaches in England.

There’s players overlapping from these teams and coming into the England squad, having done well at other levels. It looks like it’s moving in the right direction.

Email:

barrie.white@nwn.co.uk

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