All 22 entries tagged Football

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February 23, 2009

A prediction

I’m kicking myself a little for not blogging my predictions for last night’s Oscars. Or the Baftas before that.

Because I got it dead right. Not only did I know Slumdog would win best film – I blogged it so on January 16th – but last night I also decided (in my head) the film would win eight awards.

Which it did.

So here’s another prediction, one that I’m not so keen to make.

On January 31st I suggested to a friend that Man United had peaked too early in the season and would suffer a big dip in form before the prizes are given out in the early summer. I was heartily laughed at. Well, I think the dip starts tomorrow against Inter Milan.

I hope I’m only good at predicting film award ceremonies.


November 21, 2008

Is it 'cause he is French?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/a/arsenal/7741430.stm

So it looks like William Gallas has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after publicly questioning the courage of his teammates.

My main problem with this is… wouldn’t Roy Keane have got away with it?

Keane, in fact, criticised several of his team-mates shortly before quitting Manchester United in 2005 – but it was a combination of that and other factors that led him to leave a few weeks later.

Keane also criticised the ‘prawn sandwich’ brigade, and made similar criticisms of his Ireland team-mates. Admittedly, that one got him shown the door.

And so I wasn’t surprised to see Keane stand up for Gallas.

But the Gallas affair just feels different. I think it comes down to a few factors:

  1. He’s French. Roy Keane’s outbursts could, to a limited extent, be put down to his slightly more charming Celtic manner and longstanding ‘cheekyness’. Gallas doesn’t have that luxury.
  2. Gallas hasn’t been at Arsenal for that long – even Arsenal supporters probably thought giving him the captaincy was a bit premature.
  3. Attitude – Gallas has been an abysmal captain in the last twelve months on the pitch. He’s shown babyish tendencies that David Beckham even at his worst moments would have been embarrassed by.

(It’s to football’s credit that ‘race’ isn’t a credible reason nowadays.)

So I’m torn. Part of me thinks Gallas’s outburst should have been taken more lightly. The other part thinks he’s had this coming for a while.


April 30, 2007

Empty stadiums, empty wallets, empty souls

Sunderland are a massive club with great support and let’s hope when they come up this time they stay up as the Premiership needs the big clubs.

Alan Hansen’s right. The Premiership’s had a dodgy season because some of its biggest clubs have hit the doldrums while others have been promoted but didn’t really deserve to be. Leeds – once a massive Premiership team – are plummeting towards oblivion like Nottingham Forest once did, along with Sunderland, Derby and Southampton. Luckily, Sunderland are heading back up, along with Birmingham and probably one of the other two I just mentioned.

But in their place have come Watford, Charlton, Wigan and Sheffield United. Teams who don’t play a Premiership style of football, despite their foreign players, and who don’t really have the support to justify their place in the top division. There’s been some horrifically low attendances at some games involving these teams. With ticket prices so high and rewards so slim, why would anyone pay to see them?

An Observer article this weekend suggested that the answer to many of football’s problems may lie Stateside. Simply, scrap relegation. A guaranteed place in the top flight leads to lower transfer fees (it’s complicated but logical – read the article) and ensures the best supported teams play in the top flight.

It has its attractions, but not for long. It plays against the egalitarian nature of British football where a top flight team can be beaten by a minnow in the F.A. Cup.

The real problem is the Premier League. A separate body from the F.A., it takes almost all of the cash going from TV rights and gives it to the top 20 teams in the country. The others have to fight over what remains (just don’t mention ‘ITV Digital’ to them). The current system has led to the Premiership becoming, arguably, the world’s best football league again. But it’s also led to the erosion of passion in the lower ranks of the game, where your local team could one day make it to the top.

We have the best football stadiums, the best players, and the best competition in the world. It’s just a shame it’s exclusive to the three or four teams at the very top.


April 13, 2007

Do Ron, Ron, Ron, You Do Ron, Ron

After several weeks of scintillating football, many thought Cristiano Ronaldo couldn’t endear himself to Man United fans any more than he has already.

They were wrong.

He’s just signed a new five-year contract despite interest from every big football club in the world.

On current form, that’ll be five more years of silverware in the bag then.


April 10, 2007

Man Utd 7 – 1 Roma

The gods weren’t just smiling on Old Trafford tonight. They were on the pitch.

An incredible first twenty minutes wrapped up the game for United, with simply superb goals from Carrick, Rooney and Smith sealing the deal early on. None were just pieces of brilliant individual flair. They were all the result of smooth, efficient and often incredible teamplay, usually finished with a sublime strike.

Carrick's first strikeCarrick’s first two goals in Europe will be long remembered. With Scholes out and expecting only a few more years in the game, the £14m signing from Tottenham made his claim to be the team’s best long-range shooter. Both his shots were completely out of reach for the unfortunate Doni.

From the starting whistle, United played like they were out to win. But having done so within a quarter of an hour, they continued like they had a point to prove. Edwin van der Sar made a number of important and far from easy saves after two poor matches. His clean sheet was spoiled by Roma’s one highlight – a cheeky, quick chip that would have caught the best in the world napping.

Man United won through the sometimes controversial tinkering of Alex Ferguson. Rooney began on the left, Giggs on the right, and Alan Smith almost alone up front. But the pace on the wings and through the middle from Carrick and Darren Fletcher proved unstoppable. Giggs was beyond the control of the Roma defence, and Ronaldo was his magical best. Rooney and Sir Alex both suggested he was the best in the world this week. They were both right. And to think that a matter of months ago I was the recipient of grumbles after suggesting Ronaldo might be better than Beckham ever was.

United’s makeshift defence was tested at times, but despite the lack of Vidic and Neville, they always seemed to have control of the back third. Goals from Ronaldo (2), Evra and a second from Carrick sealed the deal. United needed a win. Instead, they gave out a good, old-fashioned thrashing to a team who were poor, unlucky, and in the wrong stadium at the wrong time.


March 30, 2007

Listen up viewer – we don't care about you

Two bits of news out this morning, both of which suggest the TV viewer is low down the list of priorities when it comes to deciding what to put on the box.

Firstly, the FA look set to award the rights to the FA Cup and England home games to ITV and Setanta. This despite the fact that the BBC’s coverage has been credited with making the Cup exciting again after several years of rubbish. Would ITV have to show the lower-league cup ties that the Beeb have loyally provided over the past few years? And if they’re paying so much more (£400m+) will they have any money left to make the coverage half-decent? The deal leaves the BBC with no live football outside of the Euro 2008 and the next World Cup, which with their range of talent must be pretty annoying. Gabby Logan – who moved from ITV recently – must be kicking herself.

Secondly, the BBC are mulling plans to show EastEnders five nights a week. I don’t think they understand why people have stopped watching the show over the years (it used to get around 16m people regularly, now it gets about half that). People stopped watching because it’s too big a commitment. Ask viewers what they really want and they’d probably ask for fewer episodes of higher quality. Even the show’s producers are against it, but the Beeb want to squeeze some more milk from the ratings cow. Laughably they’re undertaking a “feasibility test to assess the impact on the production schedule”, but don’t appear to be researching what the viewer actually wants.

Media 2, Viewer 0.


March 08, 2007

A night of good results; Democracy at last?

  • Man United go through to the Quarter Finals of the Champions’ League
  • Arsenal go crashing out to PSV
  • Oh, and the House of Commons votes for a fully-elected House of Lords.

I might be a Man U fan, but it’s the third result which I’m most pleased about. Given the recent debacle surrounding nominations to the House of Lords – as well as its countless historical anomalies – it’s high time the Lords was made accountable to the public and relevant to the 21st Century.

For sure, the Lords themselves will reject the plans. But even though the electorate will be wary of yet another round of elections, I think there’ll be a lot of support for kicking out the hereditaries.

But I have a solution which I’ve been kicking around for a few years. The Lords should be elected by Proportional Representation, using the same votes from the General Election. Votes would be added up nationally and a party list system would be used. It would keep the tradition of having ‘experts’ in the second chamber, rather than just useless party grandees.

True, the leading party in the Commons would probably have the majority in the Lords, but counting votes rather than seats would dramatically reduce the bias in favour of the winning party. Additionally, you could give Lords 8-10 year terms, with only half re-elected each time there was a general election. That would provide continuity and dampen the effect of fluctuations in the Commons’ composition.

Jack Straw, leader of the House of Commons, should be congratulated for achieving the result he did tonight. If the House of Lords is reformed to the extent voted for today, it would almost certainly be Labour’s most memorable achievement since the formation of the NHS.


January 11, 2007

Posh is wearing the trousers then

Victoria Beckham. In trousers (Prada presumably). The news that David Beckham is to move to the (ahem…) prestigious LA Galaxy team tells us who is the dominant partner in his marriage.

Presumably the Madrid shopping scene was a little too… Spanish? for Victoria and she’s demanded a transfer. Seriously, you’d think she was the one playing football.

The Daily Telegraph sports writer, Chris Davies said of the move: “The LA lifestyle would suit Posh but (for a player) it’s an elephant’s graveyard. If you go there you might as well sign off and claim your pension.”

Sure, David will get a heap of money. Although not much more than if he’d stayed where he was. And ignore “the deal’s reportedly worth £128m” that you’ll see in the press. After tax it’ll be worth little more than half that.

I can see why David wouldn’t want to play in England again. [bias] Nothing can top Manchester United. [/bias] But I find it hard to believe there weren’t more challenges for him on the continent.

In his own mind, I suspect David’s logic is that if anyone can make football popular in America, it’s him. He might have a point. If he’d done it four years ago. Instead, he’s more likely to make himself appear wet as he has the occasional injury in front of the home team who demand a bit more manliness from their sports stars than we do over here.

What Beckham should have done was branched out a bit further. Imagine how much money he’d make from

David Beckham’s Bare-Knuckle Boxing

or

David Beckham’s Extreme Tasering Championships

I know I’d pay to watch. We’ve seen him look like a bit of a wimp for over ten years now, and it’s high time he invented himself. Instead he’s done what Victoria’s told him so she can further her own career. In shopping.

Edit: Just found some interesting information in the very lengthy press release. 19 Entertainment is Beckham’s agent, who are better known for bringing us Pop Idol, S Club 7, oh, and the Spice Girls.

“This historic partnership [that’s what they’re calling Beckham’s transfer] with 19 Entertainment and CAA Sports will also create tremendous and exciting new opportunities for us to collectively develop additional worldwide initiatives,” Leiweke continued. “The synergies created with 19 Entertainment, the worldwide leaders in branding and imaging along with CAA Sports, the premier sports representation agency will result in numerous new and profitable ventures.”

So there’s more to this than meets the eye then…


January 06, 2007

Ideas above their station

Macclesfield travel to Stamford Bridge for their FA Cup tie with Chelsea today.

We’re the form team going into this game, and this is an amazing opportunity.

Surprisingly, that’s the view of the Macclesfield goalkeeper, Tommy Lee.

Relevant factoids: Macclesfield are second from bottom in Division Two. Chelsea are second from top in the Premiership. There’s 88 places between them.


December 11, 2006

A question of sport

Question. Does anyone actually like Ashley Cole? Please identify yourself in the comments. No, not you Cheryl.

Let this extract from his recent book help you:

“Ash! Are you listening?” said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [his agent]. “I’m here in the office and David Dein [Arsenal Vice-Chairman] is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?” When I heard Jonathan (Barnett) repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. “He is taking the piss, Jonathan!” I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. I suppose it all started to fall apart for me from then on. I’d trusted Mr Dein to push the deal through.


December 08, 2006

Bragging Rights – broadcasters really are better than dead trees

Well, as if we didn’t know it already, it’s been proven that broadcasters are better than newspaper journalists.

It’s always been clear from the quality of questioning in lectures, just as it’s been clear from the circulation figures, but today’s…

4-3 drubbing

of Cardiff’s newspaper journalists by the broadcasters goes to prove that we are indeed, the best.

Special praise should – I’m told (I was on a trek to Aberystwyth and back) – go to Paul “The Rock” Martin and Martin “Toe-In” Jones. And to the weather for putting on a fantastic display of hail.

It’s childish, but we’re already planning to rub salt into the wounds with rugby, snooker and badminton tournaments just to prove our virility superiority.


September 13, 2006

One for Private Eye?

Just heard on Radio 5Live:

Mark Lawrenson: According to our friends from Scotland, there’s no way Celtic can win tonight…
Alan Green: Oh…Oh…OH!!! HE’S PUT IT PAST VAN DER SAR!!!

Factoids:
  1. Van Der Sar is the Man United goalie.
  2. Lawrenson needs to find some more reliable friends.

September 02, 2006

Imbecile of the Week #4: Sven

It’s not exactly a weekly feature any more, but it’s worth resurrecting to celebrate the end of the Sven era for England football and the start of the McClaren one.

Today’s match against Andorra was hardly a challenging fixture. But it’s more Steve McClaren’s posture, style and communication skills which make Sven look like an imbecile. McClaren seemed comfortable in the spotlight, using it to his advantage and trying to bring the England supporters along with him. In a way, while his style of management makes Sven look like a fool, it’s really the Football Association who are daft for not getting rid of Eriksson sooner.

Here’s to more of the same from McClaren and Co. And good riddance to the Sven days. As Gary Lineker said at the end of tonight’s programme:

Miss you, Sven.

Not.


July 10, 2006

Whoops…

It seems FIFA decided on the Golden Boot award before last night's final…


July 08, 2006

Joe Cole leaving Chelsea!!!

Paparazzi photographs suggest that Joe Cole has decided to leave Chelsea – in fact football – behind for a new career. He's set to take on the Abramoviches of the world and give the Russian's money to poor people up and down the land. Here is the evidence:

Actually, it's not Joe Cole, it's Jonas Armstrong who's playing Robin Hood in a new BBC adaptation that's supposed to be very good (i.e. it's expensive and if it's not good, heads will roll).

But I prefer the idea that it's Joe Cole.


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