Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Team of the year

With the year almost over, we thought we would get in early doors, with our team of 2011! With cries of 'you don't know what ya doing' ringing around the it's a football thing office we decided to sit round the big table and throw some names into the hat, the formation of course 4-4-2.
After much bickering, bribing and sulking we finally got to our best eleven.......

So lets start between the sticks,

Joe Hart:  England's number one came out on top amongst inter Office voting for his consistency in the Man City goal since ousting Shay Given from the team, an excellent all round 'keeper, kept City in a number of games last season and has come on even more this term. Let's hope he also has a long international career ahead of him.......

Next up it's the case for the defence......

Starting from left to right, This guy has all the style of a classic 70's rock n rolla! His left peg has crossed many a sweet ball into the path of his attacking team mates! He can bend it, shake it and smack it! Loves to get stuck in, and if in doubt, he don't mind whacking it out! Calm under pressure you can rely on him from the spot! Our Left back of the year is Everton's Leighton Baines

In the middle we have Phil Jones, shining out like a big bright shiny thing @ the heart of the Blackburn defence that canny devil Sir Alex saw the potential early on and he has literally come on leaps and bounds without looking back! Versatile in the extreme, this fella could probably play in goal and for England he will be one to follow for years to come...

Partnering him we have a man full of big hair! After a shocking start to life @ Newcastle, this player has shown that he can hack it in the top flight. After singing for a massive £10.3 million, many blamed him for the clubs relegation a few season back, with remarks of my dead nan could of made that tackle along with F**k off back to Argentina you c**t! But after a few nights out with a bottle or two of Newcastle brown, Coloccini soon found his feet in Newcastle! some last ditch defending  along with the odd vital goal has turned this zero into a cult hero! 2011 has been a great year for Fabricio Coloccini

On the right we have Kyle Walker, was a bit of a loan ranger after joining Spurs from Sheffield United, going out to QPR and Villa before being welcomed back with open arms after serving his apprenticeship by that old wily sorcerer Harry Redknapp! Fighting for his place in the team he soon outed Corluka for the cumbersome slow work horse he was, Kyle on the other hand is lightning quick, linking up the attack on the right flank he has also progressed to the England big boys, where with some defensive tweaking he'll certainly be giving Glenn Johnson a run for his money....

So onwards and upwards, midfielding our way through the pack, we come up to our next City slicker! Some prefer gold, but there was only ever gonna be one winner in this team! This pint sized wonder can only handle a few down the pub, but on the pitch he can ping a ball 50 odd yards with out even trying! Stand up David Silva

In to midfield then with Scott Parker, who's come a long way from playing keepy uppy on a Maccy D's advert, sure he's been around the block and he hardly plays in the most attractive of positions - basically mopping up any balls in the midfield and laying it off......but he does that so well and offers much more than that too, leadership qualities, grit and determination. He could well have still been with West Ham in the Premiership if only his team mates had shown as much fight, but now in the heart of the Spurs midfield he has added new spunk. Not only that but he looks so much like an old school footballer and we like that a lot here @ 442!

An unsung hero is about to gate crash the team of the year! Another player that came in for some hardcore stick from his own fans, This Brazilian looked more like a Scottish international than a samba boy. After keeping his head down, this hard tackling defensive midfielder slowly but surely adapted to his surroundings on Merseyside. With the return of Kenny, Lucas has transformed himself , turning in man of the match performances almost every week! Lucas is now considered a vital part of the Liverpool jigsaw!

Our final midfield maestro is Clint Dempsey, consistently consistent in a Fulham team that has had it's ups and downs, a goal scoring midfielder who can also play just behind the front two. It just shows how much the American game has come on over the years that he could even make it into our team, this Yank is playing football with the right shaped ball and showing us limeys a thing or two in the process.

Up top we start with a player, who has had to bide his time @ Chelsea, loaned out @ the start of the year to Bolton, Sturridge has now cemented himself in AVB's starting 11! It was during his time with The Trotters that Sturridge finally showed us what he can do with the goal in sight! With the arrival of Torres, Sturridge was shipped out to Bolton, Many thought this was the end of his career with the blues, but after reaching double figures with the Trotters, Sturridge was quickly recalled for the start of the 2011/12 season!

And finally we have Wayne Rooney, this young fella has a lot of potential we've heard very little of him ourselves but we're hearing big things, apparently a bit of temperament problem but provided he can keep that in check he could go far.............
He finished last season strongly and started this one in much the same fashion, will there be many people's teams of the year without this firebrand Scouser?

So after a pack of hob nobs and pot and half of tea between the team, we finally came to an outcome for our team of 2011, The Midweeker stormed out half way through, after finding out we had no intention of including Gomes between the sticks! His shout of Andy Carroll up top also fell on deaf ears! as for the Weekender he came out with so many stats that by the end of his argument he ended up disagreeing with himself!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

pub mates!

It's Wednesday night, which means one thing! Pub talk! Last week the Weekender and the Midweeker finally got to share some 'man time' in front of some classic pub grub and a few cheeky pints of best! This week the pair of them are @ it again, They've got more variety than a bag of pick n mix! From Beckham to 'Arry, From Rio to Blatter, if it's involved a round shaped object otherwise known as a football the pair of them just can't keep away from it.

The Weekender: So what shall we drunkenly ramble on about tonight? The Dictatorship that is FIFA? Beckham winning some two bob trophy in a country that plays football with the wrong shaped ball? Or anything else on the agenda?

The Midweeker: Lets start with Beckham, rumour has it that he rang Sir Alex before kick off, waking the OAP up @ silly o'clock to ask him what colour boots he should wear! What ever Sir Alex said to him, it seemed to do the trick! With another title in the bag, and his contract about to run out, Will we see this Iconic player back in the top flight of the English league? or would the Blue Square premiership be more his pace?

WE: Well if you hadn't been neglecting your duties this week, you'd have seen Becks rule out a return to England, he's off for a French fancy, by the sounds of it. Him and the whole England debate is a joke, he's like an ex-girlfriend who won't take no for an answer!

MW:That's a knock out blow! I'm on the ropes! Yeah i think he should give it another season, Maybe cash in on more big contract for someone like the Cosmos? Fair play to him though, his done a lot for the sport, unlike that mother f*****g knobhead Blatter, The only way anyone is gonna shift that bloke out of the game is by shooting him in the head from point blank range! How would you tackle someone like Blatter? two footed?

WE: The last time we had a bloke holding such a sway over Europe it ended in a war! I'd stick a Toblerone where the sun don't shine and pull it out slowly! How can someone so out of touch with the game be in charge of running it?? Maybe we should boycott FIFA competitions till it all gets sorted?

MW: Boycotting would get my vote, but every country would have to do it! And there could be repercussions with UEFA with the Europa & Champions League, speaking of the Champions League, City need to up their game if they want to reach the knockouts, it's like watching chalk and cheese!

WE: Their running away with the Premiership but have they got what it takes in Europe? They'll drop down to the Europa League and win that though instead, you mark my words......
If we're talking European aspirations how about Spurs having another go in the Champions League next season...

MW: If 'Arry can keep fit then they may even grab the title! Their rivals are on the up again, but that is mainly down to RVP, If he goes then they are in big, big trouble, with rumours that Wenger is wanted @ Real to replace the special one, The Gooners could be in danger of becoming a mid-table team!

WE: Mourinho to take over from Fergie after he finally hangs up the hair dryer? Then Professor Wenger in at the Bernabéu? Maybe 'arry will arrive @ The Emirates???
Changing the subject, there was also talk of trimming the Premiership down to sixteen teams? That'd get rid of the also-ran none entity teams, I mean what's the point of Blackburn or Wigan, without being harsh it's a wonder anyone bother's to support them!

MW:Yeah, or the idea of maybe capping how much the top teams can spend or how many signings one team can make during a window? I miss the days of players, playing @ one club for longer than the odd season! I think Wigan will drop out of the league this season.

WE: I remember when Burnley were in the top division, but I'm showing my age there. Maybe we're too old for this modern football malarkey??

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Playing for Keeps?

When the latest England Squad was announced for the recent Friendlies @ Wembley which players would have been first on your team sheet?
John Terry? Not everyone's cup of tea but he is the team captain & has leadership qualities. Wayne Rooney? Nine goals in six League games he's a must surely?? But with his imminent ban maybe not this time....
How about Joe Hart? England's Number One? Playing for a top team in The Premiership and now Europe, he's another dead cert - isn't he?.

But what if he were injured? Who comes in then?
Over recent years it seemed that England's problem position was on the left side of Midfield with such luminaries as Steve Guppy, Alan Thompson and Jason Wilcox given the task to balance up the side. Eventually that puzzle was solved - by maybe jamming some square pegs in round holes but resolved none the less. For me now, our problem position is that of Goalkeeper and I can't see it getting any better.

Not taking anything away from Joe Hart but when was the last time we had an England goalie that really stood out and claimed the number one spot as his own or had to fight off rivals for the right to wear the jersey?

Hart is a fine 'keeper - starting out @ Shrewsbury Town before impressing Manchester City enough for them to sign him for an initial £600,000, a fee that would rise if he were to represent his country, after a few games in the City first team it was decided by then manager Mark Hughes to loan Joe out to Birmingham City where he first started to catch the eye picking up a few accolades along the way before debuting in the England U21 side, he certainly must be fairly decent having returned to Eastlands and seeing off the challenge of another great 'keeper Shay Given to take the number one job @ City full time.

It would appear that Joe Hart has very few rivals now, David (Calamity) James moving to Bristol City seemed to announce his International retirement even if nothing of the sort had been stated, Robert Green who himself has had his dodgy moments is currently injured, but both Paul Robinson @ Blackburn Rovers & Ben Foster now at West Brom have both asked not to be considered for England again. Scott Carson another one time number one now plys his trade in Turkey (maybe his time abroad may improve his game?) but other than that and if previous squads are anything to go by our only other hope comes from reserve or lower league 'keepers. The defeatist attitude of Ben Foster who had a decent season @ St Andrews last term is astounding, if he doesn't want to be selected only to sit on the bench then why doesn't he try to impress that bit harder in games and England training??

There simply aren't enough decent English born goalies around. In fact of the twenty teams in the English Premiership only Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion have a homegrown player between the sticks.
From a one time apparent wealth of English goalkeeping talent we now seem to have hit a barren patch, going back to Ron Greenwood's tenure as England manager he was so spoilt for choice that he couldn't make up his mind between Shilton & Clemence so instead alternated them in games, Peter playing one game then Ray the next!

In a blog of this sort after identifying a problem it should be my responsibility to now come up with a solution, but I can't see one! There is talent coming through, but would you pick a player either failing to make any first team appearances or not playing in the highest division week in week out?
Once again the dreaded influx of the foreign footballer must take some of the blame, with top clubs preferring to buy a proven foreign International stopper than taking a risk or nurturing young talent, one minor plus point is that goal keepers have a longer shelf life than outfield players and as Hart matures he will get even better, our major problem could be then finding England's number two!

Pub Talk - The Midweeker & Weekender meet up for a pint...

Usually they pass like ships in the night, in & out of the office on their quest for the footballing Holy Grail, but this week saw our two pundits meet over a pint of Best......

The Midweeker: Back in my day International friendlies meant something! Now every Tom, Dick n' Barry are getting a cap, what have we learnt?

The Weekender: Not much really, at the end of the day we can only take a squad of 23 players and Don Fabio should by now know his best team, so the remaining number are just along for the ride

Who's in and who's out? Will anyone make a late bid for selection? Kyle Walker ahead of Glen Johnson? Norwich's John Ruddy a late replacement as England's number one? Of course not, every England manager or any manager has their favourites, the only place up for grabs is Wayne Rooney's.

MW:Well we gotta look at the case for defence, John Terry's head ain't in the right place, the blokes a mess! Needs to pull his head from the clouds and let his feet do the talking! And don't get me started on Cahill... how many goals have Bolton shipped already this season?

WE: I actually agree with you on that one! An England player has got to be playing @ the top end of the League and in Europe against top players, but Rio's on his way out too, so who else could come in? Newcastle have been tight at the back? To be honest I think we'll fail @ Euro 2012 and the age old problem of too many foreigners in the English game will rear it's ugly head........

MW: Steven Taylor @ the Toon could be a shout, as could Danny Simpson? Spot on with the Johnny foreigner debate! If I'm honest Fab should be kicked into touch and replaced by an old school English Manager.....

WE: When will we learn though! Same excuse every time, Southgate & Brooking need to sort this out, we won't see England as European or World Champions in our lifetime, mark my words!

MW: One things for sure next summer the Irish will be having a party. Guided at the helm by a passionate Italian (unlike the English)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

John Burridge - Unsung Hero

Football journeymen, not so many around nowadays. Big wage packets and shorter careers, player's falling 'out of love' with football or getting into it for the wrong reasons in the first place?
A journeyman football went where the work was, for the love of the game not the glamour.

John Burridge was one such player, he signed for well over twenty clubs, over seven hundred and seventy appearances. He didn't play for every team he signed for but was always available as cover or for a spot of coaching, as long as football was involved he was there.

Born in Cumberland, helping out down the mines, baths limited to every two weeks, having your Dad throw buckets of piss out the window just as prospective football managers came to visit, it couldn't have been an easy upbringing. When he eventually signed for his local club Wokingham he had his nose broken in his debut, in his second game? Just a broken rib for his troubles.......

He made his highest number of appearances for Blackpool - his second club, where years later he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame. A long way from playing for them at Manchester United where he queued before the game to get the autographs of Best & Charlton before taking his place in goal against them.

Fast forward through a few clubs and it was during his time @ Crystal Palace that "Budgie" as he was nicknamed first wheeled out the somersaults and hand stands long before Nani or Grobbelaar, in fact it became part of his warm up on the pitch - something that had never been seen before at an English football ground, during one game he even sat on his own crossbar for a better view of the action up the other end. His rapport with the crowd pre-empted many of today's modern goal keepers or daft as a brush jokers who enjoyed banter with the supporters.
He was also the first 'keeper in this country to wear gloves (of the goalkeeping kind), imported from Germany Jennings & Shilton would soon be on the blower asking where they could get their hands on a pair...

At the age of forty three he still remains the oldest player to play in The Premiership, but he just couldn't keep away from the game, moving to Oman and into coaching he discovered Wigan 'keeper Ali Al Habsi and turned down the chance to take over the Iraq national team after Saddam Hussein's son offered him the job.

Recently having recovered from both a traffic accident and depression (something with the help of Kevin Keegan he'd battled and beaten once before) he was once again amongst the footballing world, this time as a pundit on Dubai television.

Wherever he played he influenced - be it on or off the pitch. Maybe if he had stayed at one club long enough or at a different time he might have played for England, but he certainly left a legacy that would be still felt today........

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Fergie Time.........

This weekend saw the 25th Anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson's arrival @ Old Trafford, the tributes obviously have been pouring in, with pundits far and wide offering their own personal take on the man that some see as footballing royalty.
Now we don't like to be accused of bias here @ It's a Football Thing, but it would only be fitting if we in some way gave our own little contribution.....

Back in '86 with The Premiership just a twinkle in the eye of money hungry football chairmen, Everton would eventually win the First Division Title - although Wimbledon had led the way early doors. Elsewhere another Scot George Graham had taken over @ Arsenal where he had begun to turn their fortunes around, Aston Villa were up to their old tricks of trying out nearly every manager in the game to see who'd fit and Manchester City were relegated.......

With Manchester United languishing in the bottom three Big Ron was off, his replacement was suggested by Bobby Charlton, the man from Govan who'd been doing rather well @ Aberdeen. But Manchester United weren't the first club to head North and come rapping on Ferguson's door, in fact Wolves, Arsenal, Luton Town & Spurs had been knocked back previously, but to Old Trafford he went and the rest as they say is history.

First game defeat to Oxford Utd, on the verge of being sacked after three unsuccessful seasons, win against Forest in the FA Cup saved his job....etc, etc, etc.....we've all heard the story.

Love him or hate him (and there are plenty in both camps) for all his FA baiting, referee hating, manipulating and mind games, modern football as we know it today would be a whole different kettle of fish and a lot duller to boot.

Fergie's aim @ the start of his reign was the knock Liverpool off their perch - low and behold look what happened, while Liverpool became complacent by not swapping their aging stars with quality successors, that was exactly what SAF did season after season, but not before he rejuvenated the club from top to bottom first.

He has arguably nurtured some of the greatest talent this country has ever seen, whether they have come through the ranks or from the cheque book. He can also handle players, he's in charge and what he says goes, any potential troublemakers were rooted out and got rid of, if you got ideas above your station you were off too. Players like, Beckham, Ince, Keane & Cantona have been and gone but the titles have kept on coming.

This was the man who while @ Aberdeen fined a player for overtaking him in his car!

Ego's came and went but Fergie survived.

Without him, they'd be no squeaky bum time, hairdryer treatment, Fergie's Fledglings, noisy neighbours or a title for this very article!

And we here @ It's a Football Thing will have a wee dram in his honour!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Midweekers midweek specials

Only one place to start this tuesday morning and it's @ last nights game. Stoke suffered a fright last night when Ba came back to haunt them! You know what they say.... never trust a medic! I bet the doc's @ The Britannia feel sick after seeing the Newcastle player bag a hat-trick against them in a 3-1 away win! Could Ba end up the leagues top scorer come the end of the season & could Newcastle end up in the Champions League? Not bad considering the Midweeker tipped them to go down this season! 

The Midweeker sneaked into the office this morning still wearing his halloween costume from last night, the evil pub crawling monster brought with him a sack of sweets! Some poor little kid must of gone with out! So with some big games in The Champions League this week & not forgetting The Europa League, The Midweeker has published this weeks round of predictions.