Which Premier League manager will get fired first

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Way It Used To Be

What remains in time that didn't fade away?
Sometimes I need to see the way it used to be

Another Premier League season will soon be upon us and after about 6 weeks of non-stop live football and various tantrums thrown by footballers supporters of teams who either haven’t won a trophy for 34 Years (yes you know who you are) and are unlikely to win another trophy for 34 Years (again you can guess who I mean) will start talking about how football isn’t any good anymore and how it was better in bygone days.

The question is though was it?

I mean do we want to go back to an era where Manchester City and Newcastle actually won trophies? I would say no simply because as a United supporter living in Sunderland I was brought up to despise both teams but there is a lot to be said for the merits of a time when Blackpool, Sunderland, Preston North End, Burnley, Swindon Town and Huddersfield Town could win major trophies and Rochdale could reach the League Cup Final.

But were those days really better and if so why?

Prior to the 1970s I would say they were certainly more competitive with 23 teams lifting the League title at some point in their history and the FA Cup over the years has had 41 different winners and 50 different finalists and despite being perceived to have lost some of its lustre there is still a lot of excitement about the competition.

Smaller clubs had nationally recognised stars and internationals who could identify with the ordinary man in the street the way today’s millionaire footballers never will, atmosphere’s at grounds were friendlier although rivalries were strong the hostility and violence that became associated with football did not really take hold until the 1970s and with prices within reach of everyone men and boys went to football matches weekly supporting their local team regardless of fortune. While larger clubs had fans outside their regions they were often as a second allegiance with supporters still going to watch their local teams.

So where did it all go wrong?

Certainly the abolition of the maximum wage made it easier for larger clubs to offer better financial incentives to persuade players to move and with the advent of Sky Sports that has advanced further to the point where ordinary journeymen players receive wages that many fans view as disproportionate to their skills.

Supporters are more disconnected with players and clubs with the community feel of many disappearing as commercial realities have begun to bite.

But I would say that the main cause has been what I call The Rise of the Reds.

Whatever your feelings on the 2 clubs the fact is that since 1972 Manchester United and Liverpool have dominated the English game winning 11 titles each, and United winning 8 FA Cups and Liverpool 5. Adding that to the extended reach of the game due to increased television exposure both in terms of matches broadcast and TV shows such as Superstars and A Question of Sport meant that smaller clubs fans didn’t just start watching bigger clubs on TV but stopped attending their local clubs which with increased prize money and the inception of the Premier League has meant smaller clubs have suffered over the years.

So were the old days better? In many ways yes, teams were more competitive, trophies were more evenly distributed, capacities were higher (although stadium safety is now much better), atmosphere’s were better and I bet the pies even tasted better.

But if the new football stops City, Newcastle and Liverpool from lifting the league title again then I can live with it (but it isn’t necessarily better).

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Monday, 12 July 2010

The Patience of a Saint

Why should I care, I’d rather watch drying paint.
But I would try the Patience of a Saint

And they really did test poor Howard’s patience although his credibility wasn’t helped by Mrs Webb saying that she didn’t know how he controls a football match when he can’t even control his kids (a statement even more damning when you consider that he used to be a police officer).

To be fair his achievement of being the first Englishman since 1974 to referee a World Cup Final was submerged under the flurry of cards that he was forced to show to control a match that had you looking around for Brian Jacks and Bruce Lee at one point. The key problem was that the game itself was awful and was almost exactly the same as the Inter-Barcelona semi-final at the Nou Camp with the Dutch forgetting that the match wasn’t over 2 legs and that they would actually need to score.

But enough of the final here are my World Cup High Fliers

Surprise of the Tournament - Chile
This was a hard one as there were a few underdogs that did well including Uruguay, Paraguay, Japan and Slovakia but Chile tried to play with pace and flair but were unfortunate enough to meet Brazil in the last 16.

Team of the Tournament - Germany
They had some really strong results and if they had not been without Mueller for the semi-final I suspect that they would have turned over Spain as well.

Result of the Tournament - South Africa 2 - France 1
This was really close as the 4-0 tonking of the Argies by Germany that sent Maradona and Messi home crying that the mean Germans wouldn’t let them win was a fantastic moment but watching Henry and Co become the first team to be on the plane home was much more fun.

Disaster of the Tournament - France
I was almost tempted to pick England as we were absolutely awful but considering we made the last 16 and the French didn’t we are at least spared that embarrassment.

Player of the Tournament - Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Not only did he perform imperiously in Germany’s midfield he also has a really funny name although Thomas Mueller and Diego Forlan ran him close.

The question is now though which player would represent a good investment after their showing at the World Cup and apart from the German trio Schweinsteiger, Mueller and Ozil, Maicon, Lucio or the young Uruguayan goalkeeper I would say no-one really stood out enough to warrant paying a premium for.

This World Cup has not been the best and the final summed it all up in that it was one of the worst matches of an otherwise poor tournament. I will leave it to Electronic to describe my feelings on the whole thing.

Disappointed, once more
Disillusioned, encore

Lyrics are from the Electronic songs Disappointed and the Patience of a Saint

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Friday, 2 July 2010

Bright Young Things

Pardon me. Mr. Murray, something's really been bugging me.
Just how did you get here?
Producer's a friend of mine. Had a teamster drop me off
(Space Jam - Daffy Duck & Bill Murray)

I’m sure if Daffy Duck was to ask this question of today’s Wimbledon semi-finalist he would get an answer of hard work and determination 2 qualities that were missing from the England football team and qualities that most MP’s show when trying to claim their expenses. Much has been made of Lord Dave’s cuts this week and many have complained that he failed to cut where most needed i.e the heads of most of the national football team.

So where did it go wrong for Capello?

Well picking or not picking players was the start no Hargreaves or Neville left him at the mercies of Gareth Barry and Glenn Johnson who are not even the best English players in their respective positions in the Premier League, picking Heskey cost him not only goals but Rio Ferdinand and against Germany when chasing the game instead of being able to bring on Bent and Walcott he had to settle for someone who hadn’t scored a goal since February. As Harry Potter would say

RIDDIKULUS (apt considering that for most England fans a Boggart would turn into Emile Heskey wearing an England shirt)

So what next for Capello well I would say it is time to say goodbye to David James, Glenn Johnson, Matthew Upson, Gareth Barry, SWP and Heskey and switch to 4-3-3 which would allow a 3 man midfield of Hargreaves, Gerrard (or Lampard) and Beckham (at least until Lennon & Walcott learn how to cross the ball properly) with Adam Johnson or Ashley Young and Lennon or Walcott flanking Rooney. Stick Bent and Owen on the bench in case you need to change to 4-4-2 and you are sorted. We do need a new right back & centre-back so maybe Gary Cahill needs a chance in a couple of friendlies and stick Gary Neville at right back until we find another decent one as at least he knows how to defend and cross the ball.

And therein lies the problem until England have a commanding and consistent goalkeeper (Joe Hart maybe) and a defence that stops parting like the Red Sea England will continue to struggle against quality opposition. On this years showing even Wales will fancy their chances so lets get back to basics make some cuts and actually start winning games or in terms of England as a world power Obituaries appear /You can leave your tributes here

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