Mick McCarthy says he is relieved that the new handball rules do not come into effect during the European Championship qualifiers next week. The Republic of Ireland coach believes they will make life even more difficult for defenders who are already struggling under pressure to avoid conceding penalties.
“I think the second goal conceded by Spurs, I think the penalty decision had a real effect on that because I think the defender should have slid to the ground all the way,” he said during an event at Aviva Stadium to promote FAI sponsorship. Benetti menswear suppliers.
“But if he hits you in the arm, it’s a penalty, so he goes like this (McCarthy, holds his arms behind his back) and it’s an unnatural position. You can’t move too quickly, as quickly, as energetically as that; no question.
“You try to run with your arms behind your back or with your arms up. I think VAR has [been a good thing]. Ultimately, it affected who ends up winning major competitions, which is true. But the new rules? I will be interested to see.
The handball rule is just one of many changes introduced on Saturday, but it is the main one, as the makers have sought to bring ‘clarity’ by moving the basis for the referee’s decision from ‘the intention” with a “physical” effect.
Essentially, touching the ball with an outstretched arm is now much more likely to be penalized, as referees generally won’t have to assume the player acted deliberately in order to act. But as the qualifying campaign, like the Champions League, started before the changes came into force, the organizers don’t have to adopt the new rules this time around. McCarthy, who looks like a man who feels he’s had enough trouble under the old system, is clearly relieved.
It gets to the point where if it touches your hand or arm it will be a penalty
“I will go back to Macedonia [22 years ago] and Jason McAteer getting a penalty against him. I still don’t think it’s a penalty. . . but I got over it!
“He came on it and it hit his arm, didn’t it. He gets to the point where if he touches your hand or your arm, it will be a penalty. But then it will be a tactic used where players are cute and will chip the ball in someone’s hand unless they have it behind their back.
“If they hit it against their hand, it will be a penalty. It will be so nauseating for anyone who concedes. But I would tell them to do it! Of course I would, because they will.
The manager confirmed that Shane Long will miss Friday’s game against Denmark and Monday’s home game against Gibraltar with a hamstring injury suffered in training, and expressed fears that if he doesn’t start the next season as a starter at his club, it will be difficult for the 32-year-old to fully regain the fitness levels his high-powered game is based on.
“Well, he was always a very explosive player and a physical player,” he said. “I’ve looked up to him since he played for Reading. He was another that we watched. And at West Brom, when he played against us in the play-offs, he was a real threat.
“With his power and pace, he really bothers defenders. And if you play like that all the time, it will cost you dearly. There are times when you get hurt, though, and it’s one after another, you don’t really get over it. You come back and you’re so desperate to play and you get another little problem. He must have a full pre-season now and I hope he comes back. If he starts the season. . . there’s a problem if you don’t; you can never replicate playing those 90 minutes.
I have a lot of choices, so losing one, even if it’s disappointing, it’s not the end of the world
McCarthy, however, all but said he would stay with the team that started against Georgia, the one that featured David McGoldrick up front with James McClean and Robbie Brady on either side, so the loss of Long n It’s not quite the shot it could have been – although it still looks likely to have featured in both qualifiers.
“Well we have Didsy [McGoldrick], Sean Maguire. Callum Robinson is playing up there,” McCarthy said of his remaining options. “We also have Scott Hogan. I have a lot of choices, so losing one, while disappointing, isn’t the end of the world. It’s probably the strongest selection pool I have.
“But I came here the other day and I was asked about the team and I talked about the game against Georgia and the quality of their play. So if you’re picking a team, would you you things differently?”