It’s surely got to be one of the more bizarre stories of the season. There were only twelve minutes on the clock when Manchester City defender Michael Ball was bamboozled by the many balloons still on the pitch, failed to deal with the danger and allowed Luton Shelton to open the scoring for Sheffield United. Talk about a twelfth man! However, the BBC report that Sven-Goran Eriksson is not taking the easy route of citing this incident as the main reason why his team lost the game.
“I’ve never seen a goal like that before,” said Eriksson. “The ball changed direction and the balloons played a one-two with Michael Ball.
“But we should not blame the balloons as we should have done better.”
“We asked the fourth official to tell the referee (Alan Wiley) to stop the game and take away the balloons or kill them,” said Eriksson.
“But the referee told our goalkeeper Joe Hart to do it during the game which is not fair. You can’t ask a player to clear the pitch when the ball is live.”
Would a more experienced keeper have insisted that the balloons were deflated before play was allowed to continue? There might be a new regime at City but that doesn’t seem to have brought an end to the same comical mistakes on the pitch.