Penalty shoot outs are exciting for a neutral observer, but are they the right way to settle an evenly contested contest?


The tense moment in a penalty shoot out

The age old argument about settling football matches by penalty kicks again raised its ugly head this week after a series of cup games were settled from the spot. A number of cup encounters on both sides of the border went the full distance before being decided by penalties. Chelsea survived a real fright before edging out Fulham in a dramatic shoot out. In Scotland Aberdeen plunged to new depths of despair as they again lost to lower league opposition. This time lowly East Fife left the Dons players with faces redder than their shirts as they claimed a place in the next round of the League Cup thanks to a sensational penalty shoot out victory.

For the neutral observer there’s nothing more exciting than penalty kicks to settle an evenly contested contest. However, with the storm continuing to hog headlines over the years Sick Chirpse has started to think about other ways to separate teams in cup competitions.

Perhaps the team who won the most corners, had the most throw-ins or even had the larger proportion of possession could be awarded the tie?

Maybe the side with the better disciplinary record during the match or who had more attempts on goal could go through to the next round instead of deciding it from the spot?

Other suggestions from those supposedly in the know include a shoot out scenario.

The theory would involve an attacker picking up the ball 35 yards from goal before trying to beat the goalkeeper in a short period of time thereby replicating the moment in a game when an attacker is through one-on-one against a goalkeeper. Just like a penalty shoot-out, five players from each team would have a go, alternating between the two teams.

The advantage is that it replicates a ‘real’ piece of football, instead of the artificial set piece of the penalty kick. But it is unpopular and few have repeated it. Shoot-outs were not held by UEFA or FIFA until 1966, a year that will forever hold a certain place in the hearts of our English readers. However, variants of the modern shoot-out were used before then in several domestic competitions and minor tournaments.

A lot of managers have criticised using penalties as a way of deciding games in the past. But former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, a stickler for Statler from the Muppets, was more philosophical in immediate after when the Blues lost to Manchester United in the Champions League final three years ago. He said: “I’m very, very proud of the way we played in the final; the spirit of the team was good, the quality was good. Penalties are Penalties.”

What do you think? Do you agree with the concept of penalty shoot outs? Let us know your thoughts.


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