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Was Birmingham City’s goal against Everton fair?

Mauro Zarate is starting to come good at exactly the right time for Birmingham, although the Daily Telegraph report that there’s an element of controversy over the striker’s splendidly-executed free kick at St Andrews on Saturday. It appears that the striker’s team-mate Radhi Jaidi turned his back on play and instead focused on distracting Tim Howard in the Everton goal.

“It’s something we used to do at Bolton,” Jaidi said. “Kevin Nolan did it all the time, so I learnt it from him, I suppose. We scored a lot of goals from free-kicks.

“I saw that the keeper was a bit frustrated, so I thought I could maybe affect his concentration. It’s not something I practise on the training ground.”

However, Howard was less than pleased by the defender’s antics and there’s surely a fine line between employing tactics to good use and ungentlemanly conduct.

“I suppose it’s ungentlemanly conduct, but he’s got away with it,” he said. “The guy who robs the bank, if you don’t catch him, then he keeps the money.”

On the specifics, Howard said: “He’s in an offside position, he’s in my line of sight and he’s interfering with me, but that’s for the referee to make that call, and I wouldn’t bet on them making it.

“I tried to draw the referee’s attention to what Jaidi was doing. If you want my opinion, I don’t think the referees and linesmen in the Premier League are going to have enough gumption to disallow a goal on the basis of that.”

As the paper points out, wouldn’t it be ironic if something that Jaidi learnt at Bolton ends up keeping his new team afloat at the expense of the Trotters. You can bet your bottom dollar that while Alex McLeish doesn’t encourage his team to rehearse this on the training ground, Sam Allardyce probably did!

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