Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tis the Season to be........

So, it's only one and a bit days till Christmas. A time to eat, drink and be merry. It's also a time to take in a Christmas game, but every season and it seems after every World Cup exit, the subject of a winter break rears up it's frosty head.
The festive footballing program has been a fixture of the beautiful game since......well... since fixture's began and is still a tradition held onto by fans, how many clubs have a song that features the words "and we will fight for ever more because of Boxing Day"? I wonder.....
If we have a Winter break we are going to miss out on so much stuff........ standing (sorry, I mean sitting, after all we never stand anymore do we?!) on a freezing terrace, early kick-offs, trying to watch a game through a hangover, swapping crap Christmas present stories with the bloke you sit next to, the "winter timetable" on the Buses and Trains and even a nice warming cup of (now) overpriced Bovril (if your club still sells it). Do you mean to say we should give all that up just to make sure games actually go ahead and players get to indulge in the same frivolity as us mere mortals (are we mad in thinking that players don't partake in any of the Christmas spirit anyway?) It's also means that the season would be extended and go on into June........I mean come on who wants to go to football matches in shirt sleeves, bathed in sunshine (not that it makes any difference to fans of the Toon of course)

So no Mr FA, I say bah humbug to you! You can stick your winter break where the sun don't shine, give me tradition any day! :)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Must try harder............

So we've reached the half way stage in the season and as far as the Premiership is concerned how has it been for you?
We started the season off of England's abysmal performance in South Africa and a World Cup in general that had been....well...ok I guess, a few decent games, the drone of the vuvuzelas and a ball that for some reason meant there were few decent free kicks.
The start of the season saw a few players still carrying injuries they had taken to the World Cup with them, Torres and Rooney had both had, for different reasons quiet ones (we would find out more of Rooney later in the season!).
This was to to be the first season for Man City with Mancini in charge from the off and much had been expected from the blue side of Manchester, some even considered them title contenders, Spurs also were looking to capitalise on breaking into the top four for the first time and had the Champions League to look forward to. We had Ian Holloway's Blackpool too, surely a six pointer for everyone there?
Chelsea were fastest out of the blocks, now even they were in the shadow of City as far as spending went, but they were demolishing teams at the start and looked to be running away with it, Man United still undefeated, have so far not been quite as convincing as some seasons. The same goes with Arsenal where Wenger has brought in some new young blood to varying degrees of success. Man City as some predicted have maybe started to implode, with so many players on so much money it's not difficult to see that ego's would start to get in the way of team selection and now the Tevez saga; is he home sick? If so, he'll go back to Argentina come January obviously.....
What surprises me is that it surprises managers and fans that players with the track record they've had dealing with previous clubs should act in any other way! Gone are the days of loyalty (maybe a few home grown players are an exception) and if a player is going to move to your club for a huge wage packet then you can be damn sure he'll go somewhere else if someone says they'll double or triple it! Why not? Don't tell me you wouldn't be tempted to leave your job if someone else offered you more??
I think to a certain extent with certain players fans just have to except that "we" only have them for a while and to make the most of the time with have with them, yes contracts mean nothing but it's been going on for a while and you're not going to leave your prized asset in the reserves to rot when someone is offering you money for him? I think honesty from the player is more respected than anything.
Okay rant over! Tottenham Hotspur are still there or thereabouts, although some have said that their league form has suffered as a result of some fantastic performances in the Champions League it is still so close at the top that another run-in like they had last season could see them even improve on that historic feat.
Maybe more enjoyment for the neutral has come from those usual mid table teams all now vying for a Europa League spot, with Bolton the pick of the bunch under Owen Coyle playing more attractive football than the supporters at The Reebok were used to under Big Sam and showing that some teams are looking to more than Premiership survival at the start of each season and why not?
And for a breath of fresh air who'd have thought shy and retiring Ian Holloway would have become the star manager in the Premiership, I hope that he and his team are around for a few more seasons at least and that the cynicism and pressure of the top league doesn't spoil it for him, we need more people like Ollie in the game.
We've also had Liverpool, I for one excepted the invitation to the "Liverpool relegation party" on Facebook at the start of the season, but it now look's like I can rip that RSVP up. I think given time Roy will turn it around, but as we've seen at Newcastle & now Blackburn time is something that owners want to spend on their clubs.

And that along with player loyalty and off field affairs has been the theme so far this season, owners buying clubs and tinkering away like it's Championship Manager come alive!

Personally I'm still waiting for the season to ignite on the pitch, I want to Champions (whoever they are) to finish with a flourish and not creep over the finish line with a whimper!
And one Christmas wish? You see that spherical object that you footballers kick around the pitch? Let's make the game more about that please...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Money power pride loyalty

A Quick Sunday night overview!

The early 1990's are my first memories of football, Money had started to be pumped in to the sport, sponsors branding everything, kits started changing every 2/3 seasons, the Premiership had just begun, and sky started their world wide domination of British Football! Teams would at most trade only a few players, Squads were settled, players played for the shirt, the love, the fans, if you were lucky you would get an autograph on your (£1) programme!

20 years on, Kits change every season, sponsors change every season, players are on hundreds of thousands of pounds a week! and players move clubs at an alarming rate! as soon as they seem to settle they want more money, or become unsettled by a big club and then they are off on the move! Spare a thought for the fan, They get the short straw over and over again, Like Newcastle have shown again this week!

The fans get it from the owners, the players, the managers! an average fan spends at least £100 on his or hers club a year just on memorabilia! And at least £200 extra on tickets! What do they get back in return? There favorite players being sold, ticket prices increased! Being told they can't boo if their team puts in a shocking display!

Money is a powerful tool, and is splitting our game in half! Teams are chasing a quick quid, look at Pompey, Crystal Palace, Hull!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What's Black & White and Red all over....?

The latest twist in the soap opera that is Newcastle Utd shocked many yesterday. Chris Hughton, the man who had steered the Toon Army back to their rightful place in the Premiership had been sacked. After relegation last season the club seemed to have realistic ambitions this time around and knowing how hard it can be staying in the elite league, a mid table position would have seemed sufficent before building upon that in the seasons that followed.
They hadn't started that badly, beating Arsenal at the Emirates as well as thrashing bitter rivals Sunderland 5-1 at home. The players too had stepped up, Williamson at the back, Gutierrez showing flashes of form, Nolan of course a very underrated player even back in his Bolton days had showed that he could still perform at the top level and the revelation of Andy Carroll the much heralded "old fashioned centre forward" causing defences no end of problems.
So why has Mike Ashley now decided to try and run before he can walk?
Everton, Tottenham, Manchester City & Newcastle all supposed "sleeping giants" have had there fair share of managers and players over the years bought in to try and turn their fortunes around. But Everton apart they have all lacked some stabilty which is needed to build on. There have been rumours of Mancini going and while Spurs now have Redknapp and some success in place, come 2012 they too could be looking again for a manager.
Football managers are sacked without being given the games they once were and it's a results game, but Ashley's descision is bizarre. The rift that Ashley and his "cockney mafia" had created may not have been healed but it had been a bit quiet recently with hostilities spared now the fans had a manager that had got them somewhere and happened to be a decent unassuming bloke at the sametime.
But obviously being a glutton for punishment the owner has now decided he needs someone "with more managerial experience". Well Mr Ashley how do you become experienced if someone sacks you after barely two years?? And why not appoint an experienced manager in the first place??
With that remit in mind, who is about to take on the Newcastle job? Martin Jol? 14 years a manager, won the Dutch Cup twice and got Spurs to fifth, Martin O' Neil? More experience sure, but what has he won? A League Cup and the inferior Scottish Title or Alan Pardew possibly?? Pardew's honours? Erm.......................

One thing you can be sure of just like all the decent soap operas this one will run and run!

Monday, 6 December 2010

FIFA and Twatter

So we've had a bit of time to swallow our pride, and swear left and right towards FIFA! But have politics played a part in ENGLAND not getting the 2018 World Cup? It's all about politics and money, very much like the day to day world we live in! Ok so it's great for Russia, but did they really have the better criteria? Stadiums such as Wembley, The City of Manchester, blow any supporter, architect away, our transport links be it they run late, get you to the entrance to many a stadium across the UK!

Our fans are among the most passionate in the world! We all live and eat football, be it a supporter of Oxford, or a supporter of Liverpool, we all live and die by the badge, Look how we picked ourselves up after South Africa, we got behind our national team! Could the fact we asked for goal line technology have got FIFA'S backs up?

It's a shame as i feel i will never witness a world cup in ENGLAND in my life time! and that in itself is a crying shame!

Oh and one last thing FIFA! Russia didn't even qualify for the last world cup!