Sunday, 10 April 2016

It's not sport! It's just a little pervy now.

I don't know about you but I'm getting a little sick and tired of sports media's obsession with the partners of sports stars. In particular the wives and girlfriends of footballers.

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve never seen articles about the attractiveness of someone else’s wife (or girlfriend) as something I really want to see on a regular basis. And definitely not something I would expect to see under the header of Sport and/or Football. In fact I’d expect to see it in the journal of a prepubescent teenager who had just discovered the channels that only start at midnight!

Apologies because it’s not my intention to be flippant, but if I’m not then all I keep thinking about is how disgustingly pervy it all is. Because let’s be frank, it bloody is!

Is your personal life so lacking, that you have nothing better to do than dribble over pictures of women who are already involved? Even Nuts realised that wasn’t working any more!

Not only does it suggest that our so-called gutter press are actually camped out in bunkers underground, but it leaves me with wider concerns about sports journalism and my place in it.

Like every journalist, I’ve had to write stuff that I didn’t necessarily enjoy creating or feel was necessary. It’s what you do when you are building a career. You bite your tongue and attempt to get your head down.

It’s something I’ve struggled with, without ever being asked to rate the partners of a team of footballers. Anyone who knows me will know that that particular situation would not have ended well.

I understand not all journalists have the freedom to write what they would like, but I can imagine that after spending grands to get their degree or sports journalism diploma you’d be pretty pissed spending your afternoon’s deciding whose missus is more of a ten.

Honestly, is this really what it’s come to? Are we so desperate to create masses of 24-hour photo-story content that we unnecessarily delve into players family lives, with the possible fallout leading to even less women in sports media because they feel uncomfortable producing trash like that.

I haven’t included the article’s in question because I don’t see the point. We all know who and what I’m referring to. And if you don’t, just look for the anger on my twitter timeline.

But seriously we have to get past this kind of caveman style journalism. Surely it will only serve to damage our fragile industry and put some amazing people off working in it.

Here's an idea; if you are so damn keen to feature attractive women in your sports pages, then why don't you bother to write about our amazing sportswomen. Our football and netball stars, our medal winning athletes who continue to fight the sexist crap you troll out on a daily basis.

Because YOUR patronising coverage follows them despite their amazing talents. And frankly, they deserve a hell of a lot better from you content editors. I know it's a wild idea gents, but you never know, it just might work...

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Jack's back! In trouble. AGAIN.

Jack, Jack, JACK!!!

I felt I needed to shout coz clearly Jack Wilshere is deaf or is just incapable of listening to any of the considered advice he has been offered over the years.

Either he is just determined to aid his injuries in ruining his undoubted talent or maybe he has too much talent to handle. Or maybe I'm just giving an adult father-of-two too much credit for the latest stupid act that will only serve to prove the haters right. The video, pictures and testimonials surrounding Wilshere's drunken night out in London only serves to prove the point many have that young English players have more money and time, than sense. Because why else would he be out creating drama and acting like a teenager who has raided their parents drinks cabinet when first-team action and a possible trip to Euro 2016 in France are on the cards?

It angers me, and not just because I'm a Gooner. Is there anything more frustrating that wanting someone to prove you wrong yet they continue to prove you right?

I remember watching a teenage Jack boss the midfield against Wigan in a Capital One Cup game which saw the Londoners run out 6-0 winners. It's rare I rave about a player, but it was clear that day the boy had the ability AND the passion to make it to the top. And I laughed with everyone else when he drunkingly sang that Tottenham song as the open top bus drove the FA Cup winners around Islington. While heavily intoxicated. But maybe we shouldn't have been laughing. I'm not suggesting that Wilshere is following the path trodden by former England stars Tony Adams and Paul Gascoigne, in fact I pray he isn't, but he does appear to have a control problem. And for a professional sportsman, particularly one who has suffered the injuries that he has, that could well be equally as damaging. I'm not suggesting he live like a monk but there has to be a point when he starts to make better choices in life, not only for his career but for his children who will grow up witnessing their Dad's every exploit on the internet.

Because for all his talent, eventually those in charge will lose patience with his pathetic off-field behaviour. It is one thing to damage your own reputation, but quite another when you start to damage that of your employer.

I hope the midfielder looks at the videos and pictures circulating and feels embarrassed, because frankly, I feel embarrassed for him. I hope he realises that if he really wants to get drunk and act the fool, he's better off doing it in his lush million pound house. I hope someone he listens to gives him the kick up the arse that he clearly needs.

And I sincerely hope my fears for his career are wrong.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Big Sam: The Right Man

In the era of super-agents and multimillionaire teenagers, it often feels like the Premier League is a weird nation all by itself. That's why the appointment of 'Big' Sam Allardyce as Sunderland manager is one of the most sensible decisions we've seen in a while.

Just eight games into the campaign many felt the club was already drowning in the choppy waters of relegation. Last season's saviour Dick Advocaat has left to return to the peaceful sanctuary of retirement, even sporting director Lee Congerton was rumoured to have his life jacket ready earlier this month. The Black Cats were in dire need of a new man - and for once - Ellis Short has picked the perfect one in the shape of the former West Ham boss.

Were it not for the arrival of the charismatic J├╝rgen Klopp in Merseyside the previous day, we would all be hailing the former defenders return to the managerial hotseat. A move that could dramatically alter the trajectory of the Wearsiders.

They currently sit 19th in the table and the only part of that which will please the Sunderland faithful, is the fact that the team below them are neighbours and local rivals Newcastle United. Although they are only there because of goal difference. Even the bookmakers continue to class them as favourites to start next season in the Championship, pricing them at 11/10 to finish bottom of the pile. Which would be the nightmare scenario for all involved with the new TV deal kicking in next year.

Allardyce takes the job after his unceremonious sacking by the Hammers in May. And while his new team need a boss with the nous to navigate the worlds most competitive league, he also needs a fanbase who will back him - and possibly, more importantly - one who want him there. Despite having taken the Londoners back to the top flight, the 60-year-old never really had the backing of the Upton Park faithful. They saw his result-driven style as the antithesis of their self-proclaimed West Ham Way. Many outside the club felt it was a harsh assessment, but it wasn't the first time he found himself at a club with unsupportive fans. The least said about his time at St. James' Park the better.

That said, it is ridiculous to expect him to suddenly turn the squad into world beaters. He may be many things but I don't have Sam down as a magician! The Stadium of Light houses a football club whose problems have been visible and multiplying for several years, and somewhat naively Short and his board have sat and watched it happen. Yes, Allardyce's welcome to the club is aided by the fact that he both played and coached there in times gone by, but that will count for nothing if they continue to struggle.

They had a win ratio of 26% in 2013/14 which shrank to 18% the following campaign as they won just seven games, the same as bottom club Queens Park Rangers. Of their last 84 league games they have lost 39 and it was only their ability to draw that kept them eating at the top table last season.

Now that his players are back from international duty, you can be sure they'll all have been made aware of how life will be in Sam's World. Hopefully they won't have to give up their ketchup this time.
His first game is against a club managed by another manager known for his relegation prevention techniques. But he won't take Tony Pulis' side lightly even if they have only scored six goals this season, in comparison to Sunderland's eight. Allardyce will be hoping for at least a point in the Midlands, but he may feel the result is secondary to the performance of his team. In their eight games until now the work application at times, has been unacceptable for a professional football team with fans leaving early to ensure their feelings are known. Big Sam will not settle for half measures.

He's known as a man who believes in a high work ethic and it's fair to assume he will be paying close attention to whatever data the analyst shares with him. It is key the players know that at the final whistle or maybe even half-time their boss will know how far they have run, how many tackles they have failed to win and where they were on the pitch. They will have nowhere to hide. There will be no excuses anymore and the bad apples will swiftly be pressed into juice. But that is exactly what this squad of overpaid misfits, failures and mercenaries need in order to repay the 45,000 supporters who deserve far more than the dross they have been subjected to for months.

For now they have a steady hand at the helm. Someone who understands the Premier League and more importantly, someone who knows what it takes to keep a team in the top flight.

Safety is a long way off for a team that hasn't won a game this season, but there aren't many who would bet against Allardyce keeping them up. For a start, he won't want a northeast relegation on his CV if he is to finally get the Real Madrid job!

Whatever may be; they have got the right man for the job at hand and I personally hope he gives the Stadium of Light faithful something to smile about, because they damn sure deserve it.

With the fans behind the team, the players getting their heads out of their rears and the board backing their new man in the January transfer window, well it may not be such a bad season after all.