Physical integrity not at the centre of the refereeing thoughts in another game.

Another game and another frustrating afternoon marred by confusing refereeing.

It was a very good and even contest between Cambridge City and Cambridge United that ended up with the underdog winning 2-1 aet.  So why do I ended up being frustrated by the refereeing? I accept that I spent way too much time moaning about them, but the same errors happen too often.

I also accept that I should put myself in their shoes. And I did ref a game or two at Sunday League level. Guess what, the safety is absolutely not guaranteed there, especially when the players’ mates are threatening you on the touchline. We all remember all those videos of referees being chased o the pitch by players and fans and it is scary enough to prevent anyone from trying to become a referee.

I am also not saying the referees are cheating or being biased. I leave this to the Premier League clubs who can actually show the FA and the PGMOL that some of them have a clear statistical bias against certain teams, but it is another long story.

So what riled me today? The referee not recognizing a game changing moment and not acting on it.

With both goalkeepers being in excellent form during the game. A Cambridge City forward took out the United in the typical late charging on the goalie that get barely penalized.  While the goalie was lying on the floor in pain, the referee spent a lot of time remonstrating a player who was complaining about his decision.

Why not wave the physio in straight away instead of lecturing the player for a long time?  There was nothing wrong with booking the player for dissent. You cannot have a game, when players spend their time moaning at the referee. But the United goalie was severely incapacitated and actually had to be replaced before extra-time because she was unable to continue.

So the referee only gave a free-kick to the goalie and no card was issued. This is something that I find unacceptable. Protecting the physical integrity of the players should be a refereeing priority.  As we have seen in the recent FA WSL and FAWC incident, it is not the case and it happened again today.

To me it was really clear. It was a yellow card at least for dangerous play, then would have been changed into red for serious foul play, once we would the severity of the injury for the goalkeeper.

Cambridge City got a competitive advantage out of it and scored one goal with the injured goalie and another one with the sub goalie on the pitch and unable to catch the ball. It was an excellent strike, but you feel the main goalie would have been able to save it.

The big question is why the referee allow Cambridge City to get such an advantage unpunished. Answer on a postcard, please. Clearly this was unfair on United and I am baffled that the referee did not recognize and act on a key moment of the game.  You really do wonder what the FA actually tells the referees because the Law 12 seemed to be ignored too often.

On the side note, the game will be replayed as the pitch was not at the right size and the FA decided to replay it.


The 95-97 generation the forgotten girls for England? Part 2

Here we have a look at the players born in 95-97 that are playing in the FA WSL, FA WC in the lower division and at University in the USA.

Again it is important to note, this is not the full list of players born in those years, it is a list of players who were called up before by England at youth level. It means some late blossomer with a lot of qualities would not be not on that list.


The players currently in the FA WSL (12)

Jade Bailey (95) Chelsea

Paige Williams (95) Birmingham

Abbey-Leigh Stringer ( 95) Everton

Carla Humphrey (96) Bristol

Jodie Brett (96) Brighton

Mollie Bartrip (96) Reading

Rosella Ayane (96) Bristol

Vyan Sampson (96) West Ham

Georgia Brougham (96) Everton

Claudia Walker (96) Everton

Sarah Mayling ( 97) Birmingham

Jenna Legg (97) Brighton

Kirstie Levell (97) Everton


All those players are full time professional and therefore have the right profile for the FA scouts. It is a mix of players who suffered long term injuries and therefore did not manage to establish themselves for their team ( Bailey, Sampson, Legg). Someone like Ayane went abroad to rediscover her love of football.

Clearly all would benefit from playing U-23 international football as the step up to the Senior squad is a tough one and they will need to improve to reach the required level and closing the door to them probably means the end of the road the majority of them in an England shirt.


The players currently in the Championship (12)

Millie Turner (96) Manchester United

Katie Zelem (96) Manchester United

Ashlee Brown (96) Aston Villa

Taome Oliver (96) Leicester

Elisha N’Dow (96) Aston Villa

Coral-Jade Haines (96) Spurs

Mollie Green (96) Manchester United

Demi Lambourne (96) Leicester

Evie Clarke (97) Millwall

Eloise Wilson (97) London Bees

Alice Hassall (97) Aston Villa

Lucy Loomes (97) London Bees

Paula Howells ( 97) London Bees

So the majority of the Championship players are student or have a full time job, they are semi-professional, so the odds of a Championship player being called up for the Senior team are very low unless you play in professional environment in the Championship ie for Manchester United.

When you see that Phil Neville calls up Chioma Ubogagu because he has a lack of left footed winger, you would think that England would have tried to see if Paula Howells in the same position could step up by giving her games in the U-23 set-up. But if the staff consider that Rinsola Babajide is a better prospect as a left sided winger, then it makes sense in that position to select the Liverpool player.

And the same can apply to every player in the FA WSL/ FA WC list that can be compared to a U-21 player.  For example, Georgia Stanway v Katie Zelem or Carla Humphrey in the number 10 role.


The players studying in the USA and playing in the NCAA (5)

Karin Muya ( 95) University of Notre Dame

Lucy Whipp ( 95) St John’s

Maisie Baker (96) University of Miami Hurricanes

Jemma Purfield (97) Arizona Sun Devils

Atlanta Primus (97)  Cal State Fullerton


Jemma Purfield was called up for the U-23 team and is an option either at left-back or as a left-winger. She is now a senior at University and you would expect her to go to the NWSL draft and maybe be drafted. And from there a potential senior call-up. The transition to the senior side for a player with a potential like her would have been facilitated by the U-23 team.


The players who play below the top two tiers in England (6)

Ellie Stewart (96) Sunderland FA WNL North

Natasha Flint ( 96) Blackburn Rovers FA WNL North

Caitlin Leach (96)

Tyler Dodds (96) Middlesborough  FA WNL North

Sophie Stamp (97) Leeds

Emma Kelly (97) Middlesborough  FA WNL North


There was a call-up for one of those player at U-23 level and is clearly a loss for her as there is no real chance the England senior  staff to be watching third tier football as they have already many games to scout in the top tier and sometimes in the second tier.

It is obvious that the 95-97 generation players that are not called up to the Seniors are not world beater, but there was certainly a potential development for five or six of them towards the senior team. Again the U-21 squad selected by Mo Marley  is really strong and you would expect a good number of them to transition to the seniors like Roebuck and Stanway have already done.

It is up to those girls who will miss out on England to improve their game quickly and show Phil Neville they are up for it. Probably not for the World Cup as the squad seems very settled and the opportunity seems gone, but more likely for the Euros 2021.

The 95-97 generation the forgotten girls for England? Part 1

Another reform for the team playing below the Senior side, it has now become the U-21 team, there is question mark about the girls born between 95 and 97, as they won’t be able to play international games unless they get selected for the full squad.

Historically the second team was the U-23 team and it was created to transition the players who were competing with the U-19 side and then had to wait for years in the international wilderness before a senior call-up. I mean not many girls are ready to step up age 19 or 20 to the full squad.

When the U-23 team started to get overage players on regular basis, it got changed to the Next Gen team name to reflect the fact that 24 and 25 years old players were selected.

Now we are going down to a U-21 team, which means the girls aged 21 to 24 in for the season 2018/19 have no international prospect any more, unless they get to the Senior squad and therefore it will be harder for them to reach that level.

We know that Phil Neville and his staff are either scouting live at games or watching the videos and therefore they know the players, but nothing replaces seeing them in training camp and match day situation.

The first thing that comes to mind is the 98-2000 generation has a few diamonds, they have competed in a U-17 and a U-20 World Cup and there are many high potential players. Therefore looking at the 2021 Euros and the 2023 World Cup, the FA has decided to go with them and develop that potential.

There is nothing wrong with that concept. The FA stated they aim to win the World Cup in 2023 and if they feel those generation are well equipped to do it, it is a fair call.

Here, I am going to have a look at the generations that played at the U-19 Euros in 2014, 15 and 16 ie the girls born from 95 to 97 to try to understand why those ones have been “abandoned”, and if there are players with potential among those “forgotten” generations. It is important to note that some players from that generation are regulars with the senor team already and will be mentioned.

Note as usual with the FA website, it is hard to track down the information about the old squads and therefore I will only get a sample of the names selected in that period. You can have an  idea of those squads by looking on the UEFA websites, wikipedia and other FA’s website. Shame the FA website is not easy to navigate and does not archive old data.

The players from that generation that are regulars with England seniors (3)

Leah Williamson (97) Arsenal, FA WSL

Gabrielle George (97) Everton, FA WSL

Keira Walsh ( 97) Man City FA WSL


Interestingly the three regulars with England from that generation are all younger players. They are all defensive players with two centre-backs and one defensive midfielder.

The players on the fringe / close to be selected for the Senior squad (3)

Aoife Mannion (95) Birmingham, FA WSL

Sophie Baggaley ( 96) Bristol, FA WSL

Jessica Carter (97) Chelsea, FA WSL


Mannion has a lot of competition at centre-back with Houghton, Bright, Williamson, George and McManus ahead of her in the pecking order. Does she perform better on regular basis that some of her competitors.  Now only someone who has access to the full games would have a proper idea if this is true or not, because highlights only show certain moments.

One key point for me is Mannion is smaller in height than her competitors and I remember under Hope Powell one U-23 player being told, she would not make it to the Seniors because she was too small as a centre-back. At the end of the day, the centre back pairing is a question of finding a partnership and a balance. For example, you can have a slow centre-back if you have a quick one alongside her.

Baggaley also has a lot of competition with Telford, Earps, Bardsley, Chamberlain and now Roebuck who has been called up. With Telford, Chamberlain and Bardsley who is currently injured, experience is on their side to justify their selection. Earps has performed consistently well for a couple of season at least in the FA WSL and now plays, not very often, for the second best team in Europe.  Her  performance level is very high this season and would deserve a call-up on current form.  Was it as good last year?

Now why would Roebuck would have overtaken her in the pecking order. We have to remember that strangely enough, she did not get a game at the U-20 World Cup and in all logic, she should be behind that goalie.Saying that Sandy McIver is probably not available due to the NCAA tournament taking place soon.

But, it is obvious that Roebuck has a big potential and the England coaches value the games she played with Manchester City in the League and in the Champions better than the ones played by Baggaley with Bristol in the League.

It is like an equation with multiple parameters where rating = intensity x performance x potential x behavior x factor X and it ends up with Roebuck > Baggaley for Phil Neville. Factor x could be anything like the player’s height for the centre-backs.

Carter seemed to have much more credit as a right-back under Mark Sampson and is behind Bronze and  Blundell and maybe even McManus in the pecking order. Obviously no English player is a better right-back that Bronze, you cannot find me player i the world that is as good as her actually. Why Blundell is preferred to Carter, it is all in the strength and weaknesses and what the manager thinks the player can offer in his system and football style.


The players currently playing abroad

Jenna Dear (96) Valarenga,  Topserien

The playmaker has played for numerous team after starring in Chelsea’s youth team and now plying her trade at the top level in Norway. U-23 games would certainly players like her who are not on regular basis in the manager’s mind as they could see how she is developing over there.


Now, we have to remember that the U-21 team is a tool for the Senior squad. As we are talking about international football, it is different from club football and the England manager is looking for players with potential that fit his idea of football.  International football squads are never about taking all the best football players together.

The number of non football parameters like social interaction, players personality etc are important in a squad, because a fractured squad is a guarantee of failure in a football tournament. Off the pitch time is so much greater than to on the pitch time. And I am not even going to try to mention the squad hierarchy stuff because it is another long subject.

There are certainly a number of talented players among those born in 95-97 that could do with playing U-23 games to carry on developing their game, but they will probably have to do this with their club. Champions League football  is one way to confront themselves with the highest football level, but not many players get access to it.

In Part 2, we will look at the players who are not close to being selected for the Seniors so far and are playing in the FA WSL, in the championship and at  University in the USA.