Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Thursday, 23 September 2010

My Night

We're gonna light up the night like fireworks
flashing through the sky like a satellite
A series of bangs, beautiful colours
Baby, tonight this is my night

It is a fair assumption that when the Carling Cup draw was made not many people thought that Northampton, Brentford, Newcastle, Scunthorpe and West Bromwich Albion would be the teams that would be celebrating but with the assumption of Scunthorpe United that is how it has transpired and even then it would be fair to say that Manchester United were flattered by the eventual scoreline considering the boys from Glanford Park had double United’s attempts on goal, both on and off-target and had it not been for some outstanding goalkeeping by Tomas Kusczak it would have been a lot closer. You can understand Chelsea putting out a reduced side considering they were at home to a newly promoted side with some difficult matches coming up but considering Liverpool have no chance at the title this year one would have thought that they would have given Torres & Gerrard some easy target practice but Roy Hodgson felt that he would prefer to give his fringe players a run out and paid the price.

Several commentators have said that it is one thing when you are winning trophies regularly and your reserve team has players like Michael Owen, Darron Gibson, Anderson, Park, Hernandez, Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand in it and another thing when it is mainly players no-one has heard of and you aren’t winning trophies. If Arsenal and Liverpool took the competition a bit more seriously they could well have won the League Cup in the last 5 seasons but for me the worst offenders last night were Manchester City considering that they have spent more money than anyone else and were away to a Premier League side and got to the semi-final stage of the competition last season I would have thought that Mancini would have viewed the Carling Cup as a winnable trophy and played his first team or at least limited it to 3-4 changes. As it was Sky have had 2 nights of outstanding cup results to report on which should ensure higher viewing figures in the next round.

So who are most likely to be in the final at Wembley in April. Arsenal have got an excellent chance as while Wenger plays his youth they are undoubtedly talented but to have any chance they will need to avoid Manchester United, Villa and any physical sides like Blackburn, Stoke and Birmingham until the semis Realistically it will be very hard for Brentford, Burnley, Ipswich, West Ham, Northampton or Leicester to reach the final as there will be extremely tough games in the forthcoming rounds against clubs who will take the competition seriously. Stoke, Newcastle, West Brom and Birmingham will fancy their chances of at least the semi-finals and a trip to Wembley but for me I believe this years final could well be a repeat of last seasons as United have improved their side and Houllier has always taken this competition seriously. Villa have a solid side and whilst Milner has left Albrightson has come in and played very well but you wonder will Villa run out of steam again this season. If I was to nail my colours to the mast I am going to plump for a final of Manchester United vs Arsenal with United winning by a couple of Michael Owen goals as he will want to finish the match this time after his injury after scoring last seasons equaliser.

As unpalatable as it may be to non United fans I think Gary Neville will be lifting that trophy in April at the end of what is likely to be his last season at United and singing that it is indeed his night.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Between Two Islands

We sailed on a fishing-boat, between these two shores
the Island of Lovers
and the Island of Whores

Well some footballers have certainly been there recently whether it is Rooney, Crouch or half the French national team there seems to be a recent run of ladies of the night having what they call "affairs" with Premier League footballers. I've never understood how footballers fail to realise that these stories will eventually be sold to the newspapers (especially with Max Clifford sniffing about like a dog on heat) but we seem to be condemned to reading the same old sordid rubbish year after year. I personally would like to see some real scandal involving sportsmen such as England captain reads a book or Shaun Wright-Phillips crosses the ball properly you know real juicy stuff.

Of course George Best and Alex Higgins really started off the celebrity sportsman culture spending loads of time with models and ladies of questionable virtue but while unusual then it is almost a cottage industry now simply because of the vast amount of money that footballers earn and newspapers will pay for stories concerning them. In the 1980s and 1990s pop stars and actors were the main targets of kiss and tell scandals but these have faded into obscurity since the rise of the WAG who are, as we know, West End Girls who want a relationship with a footballer rather than a quick story so that they can maximise the flow of money to spend in boutiques, salons etc (for an example see Alex Curran). Now that is not to say that all footballers wives are money-grabbing self-publicists, the largest proportion of them, in all likelihood genuinely love their husbands and stick with them regardless of circumstances simply because of that, it is just a shame that not all their spouses return that character.

But anyway I promised to talk about Islands and so I shall with the Isle of Wight up in arms about Emma Thompson's remarks on a late night comedy show about torturing people and shooting Scotsmen and the Irish. Apparantly council leaders were up in arms at being confused with the Isle of Man and have demanded that such a thing never happens again. Islands however have a place in our hearts and consciousness that continental countries just don't get. After all Radio 4 don't broadcast Desert Country Discs do they and people speak about escaping to tropical islands rather than countries and there are a myriad of pop songs about Islands but why do we love them so much.

I think the key atrtraction to the Island is the perception that it is unspoilt and no-one else will be living there or if they are it will be at the other end of it providing an unfulfilled escapism that people are desperate for the more monotonous their lives become and they have a romantic view of a simpler life that will be far easier than their current existence (a view that lasts until they need the fridge, washing machine or TV) which is understandable and wuite attractive if a little unrealistic.

The sad thing is as they can't escape to an island people become islands through the paranoia and fear that pervades the media and no longer reach out to a wider community unless it is through the safety net of social networking sites, second life, or role play games. The core identity of a person shifts dependent on what online media they are using and slowly detach themselves from the people who are physically around them to dissappear into a virtual world which is a sea awash with ways of interacting without ever leaving your computer.

Safe in our life-jackets, salvaged from the sea
Now I'm drowning,
Won't you rescue me

The truth is rescue only comes about by embracing the world around you rather than constantly seeking seclusion and remembering the words of John Donne that "no man is an island"

You could follow me on Twitter but not if you live on a remote island with no phone or broadband connection