February 07, 2010

The Fat Lady Has Not Sung Yet

Writing about web page http://onlinegooner.com/exclusive/index.php?id=1507

Arsenal versus Manchester United has always been a big match for me during the season whether at Old Trafford or the E******s. Chelsea versus Arsenal and Liverpool versus Arsenal are a must watch for me. Aston Villa versus Arsenal has had some moments too down the years. You can imagine that I am on cloud nine for the next couple of weeks. However, this holy trinity of Premiership games did not start in the best fashion when I caught the recent Arsenal versus Manchester United game.


Does this really help?

Writing about web page http://thechels.net/2010/02/does-this-really-help/

As I write this piece, we are at the end of the first month of this World Cup year and the build up is slowly starting to crank up. By June, it will be at fever pitch. After all, within a month or so, we will be starting to get our free wall charts and some retro football stickers complete with a glossy brochure of the ‘players to watch’ during the tournament.


January 27, 2010

Harry in Print

Writing about web page http://www.kumb.com/review.php?id=27

After writing the original title of this review, I thought that I had hit a problem after only four words. The original tile was mean to be ‘Old ‘Arry In Print’ but I knew that it would not work. I dropped the disrespectful ‘Old’ and added the missing ‘H’ because I knew that some people would campaign and I would understand what they were saying. By using ‘Arry’ I would be indulging in the stereotypes that have followed Harry Redknapp to wherever dugout is he is managing at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. This manager is often portrayed as an East End barrow boy that has scrimped and saved to get a football team together against the odds. Harry’s squads have been known for holding their own in the league, although sometimes by the skin of their teeth. These teams will also deliver an occasional shock defeat on a wealthy and bigger side. To a certain extent, some of this true, but there is more to Harry and a Redknapp outfit then these clichés.


December 11, 2009

Will There Be Another My John

Writing about web page http://www.twtd.co.uk/news.php?storyid=15656

When any team fails to comprehensively demolish a away-win-shy Sheffield Wednesday on a blustery and wet Saturday teatime in November, it is not that hard to avoid the club history books and looking back into the great moments of years gone by. However, in the case of Town, it is frustrating that the ‘good times’ either happened before I was born or when I was caring more about Pigeon Street than Portman Road, and I can never change that state of affairs.


November 21, 2009

Thierry Henry: Taking Football To A New Level

Thierry Henry: Taking Football to the Next Level?

It is a Saturday morning and four days have passed since that match between Ireland and France. However, I still not quite work out whether I agree with the legions of newspaper columnists and certain members of the football public that Thierry Henry is the devil incarnate. It is hysterical commentary, which has left me breathless. I am still struggling to cope with the idea that Henry is really the most evil person in European and World football since someone decided that it would be fun to kick a pig’s bladder around a patch of grass?

The character assassinations have been comprehensive and brutal, and against a player who has always impressed me. Every Saturday, he would execute another mind-blowing move, which I would try to imitate in the Basingstoke five-a-side football league on the following Thursday. Under the floodlights in an arena where we tried to believe that our football dreams were still ahead of us. One attempted Henry styled back heal or free kick would leave me flat on my back with dodgy hamstrings, scuffed shirt and shorts and the ball whistling away into the vegetable patch of a adjoining back garden.

In the aftermath of the Ireland game in 2009, I have been treated to the highs and lows of Thierry Henry’s career whether in print or film. All those little moments that somehow managed to leave your minds during the last eleven years came back in a simple cut out and keep guide. I was helped to remember Henry’s indifferent start to his career at Highbury, and reaching the peak in English football around the 2003/ 2004 season. I am left reeling by the fact that it is six years since that season when Arsenal played jaw-dropping football that won games before the two teams had even arrived on the pitch.

Henry, Pires and the rest were the perfect antidote to a season when everyone was struggling to understand how the Russian millions would affect the Premier League. Although there was no real evidence to support the idea, it was naturally assumed that the 2003-2004 title would head to west London on the strength of one chequebook from a Russian oligarch that we had never heard of. In the unlikely event that the trophy was diverted to another destination, it was naturally assumed that Old Trafford would be the only other possible venue for this trophy. At the start of this decade, off the back of the 1999 treble, that Manchester United road sweeper was gobbling up any trophy that seemed to be in existence.

When you are watching players who are executing football to the highest quality, you either admire the view in a state of awe, or carp on about arrogance and question whether Arsenal could play in any other way. I preferred to take the first option and reflect on how Henry could bamboozle the opposition defence with the slightest touch of the ball, score goals that were dead certs to be in the running for ‘goal of the season’ as soon as the ball left his foot. He remains a player that has defined my watching of football, and my weak attempts to play the game for much of the first decade of this twenty-first century.

Icons will never leave my mind, regardless whether they handle the ball as their national team builds up to a goal. I am struggling to cope with the idea that a player, who I have admired for over a decade, did a particular action that has made him public enemy number one for many people. Can we get a sense of proportion?

Yes, Henry handled this sacred ball against an Irish side, who was so fancied against France that they were still locked at 1-1 into extra time. This game was treated like a spaghetti movie between the good Irish guys and French bad guys, who were accused of drowning in their own arrogance on a binge that has lasted for nearly eleven years. Were the Irish so good to get to South Africa? Yes, for a man that has been the master of communication whether on or off the pitch, Henry did not cover himself in glory with the suggestion that the referee should have spotted the foul. It is like a naughty schoolchild suggesting that the teacher should have spotted his thump on his classmate, before the injured child burst into screams and tears.

Yes, it is difficult to believe that Henry’s France will be doing much at South Africa next June other than racking up a few air miles. I am still reflecting on the idea that football’s authorities had a hidden agenda to turn the 2010 World Cup into a version of the Eurovision Song Contest and make sure that the big nations were at to the finals. However, we are still here and breathing.

Although he has his own baggage with the Irish team, Roy Keane may have been on to something with the suggestion that the Irish needed to ‘get over it,’ because incidents will continue to happen at many more games to come. An opponent may complain about a match winning incident, but can he, with his hand on his heart rather than the ball, admit that he would run to the referee to plead that a match-winning goal should be chalked off the score sheet, due to his own misbehaviour or cheating.

The furore seems to be dying down. The idea of a replay of the Ireland versus France match seems to have been rejected for reasons that depend on whom you talk or listen to. There is some talk about technology in football. In the dark misty mornings on Finsbury Park, two commuters will be rehearsing the old debates over a lukewarm cup of burnt coffee, with a resignation that the conversation is pointless and that the changes will never happen apart from in the Europa League.

Henry seems to be held up in an apartment somewhere in greater Europe, with the popular belief that he is awake throughout the night wondering how he can restore his image across European Football. I am left with the memories and respect that will never disappear. Henry remains one of the true icons that has worn the Arsenal shirt during the last fifteen years


November 14, 2009

Read All About Torres

Writing about web page http://www.thisisanfield.com/2009/11/13/read-all-about-torres-a-review-of-three-fernando-torres-books/

The clocks have changed, the leaves are falling, and daylight starts to give up around 10am each morning. The fireworks have shot into the sky so some people are starting to turn their minds to Christmas shopping and I am always slightly jealous about the people who have already brought the presents for this year. They can kick back in their armchairs with a glass of something special and the smug knowledge that they have been sufficiently organised this year. They do not need to venture into the drizzly rain where the angry shoppers are crashing around the aisles with little idea about what to wrap up for the sake of the 25th December.


November 06, 2009

How To Get Into The Premiership And Stay There?

Writing about web page http://www.thefirst90minutes.com/20091102299/football-culture/how-to-get-into-the-premiership-and-stay-there.html

Every single football club wants to know how to get into England’s top football division but only a few teams have managed to realise that achievement. Even fewer of those teams have managed to say there and make a success of their moment at the top table of football action. A quick look at the Premiership tables from the early nineties shows a whole mini league clubs scattered across the other three leagues. One team has even been renamed and now plays their football in the concrete roundabout hell of Milton Keynes.    


October 28, 2009

Kicking Or Screaming: The Decline Of The Football Museum

Writing about web page http://www.thefirst90minutes.com/20091026298/football-culture/kicking-or-screaming.html

At the turn of this decade when football clubs were building their new stadiums on deserted wasteland on the edge of cities, chairman began to wonder how their great concrete bowls would make some money on those days when football was not being played.  

Many of these stadiums were being built on various loans and guarantees and the task to recover the money had to begin as soon as the stadium doors had opened and for a while, it seemed that anything goes regarding how money could be made. In areas of a city where there had been no history of innocent casual visitors, chairman seemed to believe that fans would start to treat their new multi-million pound stadium as a shopping centre/ social club.  


October 23, 2009

So What Is So Wrong With Rio Ferdinand

Writing about web page http://www.thefirst90minutes.com/20091020297/football-culture/so-what-is-so-wrong-with-rio-ferdinand.html

Does football need Rio Ferdinand? For some fans, I sense that they would not be particularly concerned if he shuffled off the international stage and Old Trafford down the lower leagues, to Notts County and finish his career with a little bit of ITV punditry. I had never realised that Rio Ferdinand could provoke the same level of passionate hatred that I had always believed was exclusively reserved for a certain set of players including Frank Lampard. 


October 15, 2009

Football Via The Click Of Your Mouse

Writing about web page http://www.thefirst90minutes.com/20091012295/football-culture/football-via-the-click-of-your-mouse.html

A couple of nicely direct questions to kick off. Were you one of the fans that were glued in front of your computer screen on Friday night to catch the England Under 21s versus the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Under 21s via Chelsea TV? Did you decide that you’d had enough of Strictly or the X Factor on Saturday night and paid the £11:99 for the privilege of Ukraine v England via Kentaro?  


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  • great work i am moved. are u on facebook or email as i would love to share my publication ideas for … by ned on this entry
  • Any views on Englands world cup squad? by Joe on this entry
  • Interesting article. The Irish were cheated out of a World Cup final chance and to talk about Roy Ke… by Ned on this entry
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  • interesting article, it is interesting to see your passion towards museums shining through!!!!! by Joe Carr on this entry

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