Tuesday, 26 October 2010

You Can't Have it Both Ways Mate!

So, in the spirit of becoming a better writer I spend a lot of time reading newspapers, blogs and other websites. A lot of which I find through twitter.

I don't know how many of you know him but today I read an article by a footballer, Rohan Ricketts. He currently plays in Moldova for FC Dacia Chişinău after a career at varying levels in England. Rohan also writes regularly for a few Internet publications.

But it was the article he wrote today that caught my eye, it was in Sabotage Times.

He discusses what footballers really think about us fans. Don't get me wrong, he makes some reasonably good points.

"Players have a right to leave a club. After all, there are plenty of situations when the clubs screw the players. Sometimes you’ll have a player who wants to stay but he’ll get kicked out."

There are times when we have seen players encouraged to move on because they don't get on with the manager or they don't fit into his plans. Players who have been loyal to the club, signed long term contracts and kissed the badge. I'm sure there are but excuse me if I can't name any.

Now, don't get me wrong. I DO NOT condone threatening anyone with physical violence and the 'idiots' that turned up outside Rooney's house clearly need to get a grip. Invading someone's privacy is not right and crossing a line. The problem is some players have removed that line for us, so of course less thoughtful fans can become confused.

Let me ask you a few questions:
*What are the names of Paul Scholes' children?
*Where did Ryan Giggs get married?
*How many children does Shay Given have?

Do you know? Because I don't. And I don't know because they haven't made money by telling me through exclusives 'celebrity' magazines. They have chosen to keep their personal lives private, to raise their children away from the glare of flashlights and VIP events. They realised early on that their job was simply to play football.

If you choose to air your clean laundry in a public arena then of course there is going to be a heightened interest when it's dirty. It's basic human curiosity and when that 'dirt' is down to your own lack of morals, excuse me if I don't feel sorry for you. If you are man enough to make that mistake, then surely you have to be man enough to deal with the consequences. To be honest, most people don't care but we've been force fed so many details about their life, people feel as if they know them, which leads to people thinking they have the right to judge. Even if they don't.

Whether or not they will like to admit it, certain players readily invited the media into their homes. And like a vampire; once you invite them in, it is very hard to kick them out.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sort Ya Life Out!

I know it's a bit late, but hey ho.

This is Ian Holloway's first season in the Premier League. What started as a pipe dream turned into reality for the Tangerines as he led them to Wembley, where they won the Championship play-off final against Cardiff. He and his chairmen may be the newest diners at the top table, but him and his 'original' statements are known to all.

Some may see him as a joker or the light relief in comparison to the serious manner of those at the top of the league. Regardless of that, one thing that is always stated about Ian is that above all else, he is a 'football fan'. A trait that exudes from him and brings a sense of purity to the financially oriented most watched league in the World.

A honest man who appreciates the purity of the beautiful game. Lets be honest, his press conferences are a rare gem in a time of contrived and preprepared media moments. Friday would have been the first time some supporters had ever seen or heard a manager speak with so much passion - unless arguing over a penalty appeal. Because of who said it, some may not have listened.

I agree with him when he questions the weight a contract holds in this era of obscene wags and the Bosman + Webster rules. I also don't think he'll be the last to question the ever increasing involvement of agents and 'player advisors'.

These worries have been raised before but because it was England's talisman trying to orchestrate a move, it becomes front and back page news. Come on, modern contracts are worthless to a football club. The only people they benefit are the player and his 'team'.

At the end of the day, if and when a player wants to engineer a move then they will do whatever it takes. We have seen players under contract covet other clubs in the media. Some have gone on strike or underperformed. Others have created such a bad atmosphere in the changing room, the manager has to let them go for the god of the club. Without any consideration that player will make sure he gets his move or pay rise, citing whatever reason his PR decides sound best in print.

While football clubs continue to pretend they aren't actually businesses first they will never be able to ensure their 'employees' abide by their contracts. This is a problem of football's own doing, no matter how they try to deny it. They gave the players the power and now their annoyed when they use it in a way that doesn't benefit them.

So yes, most of what Ian Holloway said was right. But he needs to look around that top table for who is really at fault.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Champions Leage: Match Day 3 Review

UEFA Champions League Review: Match Day Three

At the halfway point of the group stages the top teams continue to show their mettle. Free-scoring Arsenal and Raul broke records and some new faces made their mark in the Champions League.

Group A – FC Twente; Inter Milan; Tottenham Hotspur; Werder Bremen
Never has a game been so aptly described as 'a game of two halves'. The first belonged to Inter as they were 4-0 up at half-time. But ten-man Spurs owe their comeback to Gareth Bale who put in another performance to attract the plaudits, while becoming only the sixth British player* to score a hat-trick in Europe.

Twente drew at home to Bremen to leave both teams on two points and fighting for the chance to take the consolation prize of playing in Europe's second string competition.

Group B – Benfica; Hapoel Tel-Aviv; Lyon; Schalke 04
Raul showed that form is temporary, but class is permanent as he scored two goals to help Schalke to a 3-1 home win against Hapoel. Now, Europe's top scorer, he shows no signs of slowly down and it could well be his genius that inspires his new team to qualify from the group.

To read on go here

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Oh! Wayne! Part Deux

And so the drama continues. What happened to the time grown men sat in the pub and 'discussed' their problems over a pint of lager? Now, they dump someone by press release. Well, Wayne Rooney has taken this route to confirm that he does indeed want to leave Old Trafford and Manchester United. So we're supposed to forget his previous bleating's that he wanted to stay at he club for the rest of his life and he couldn't imagine playing anywhere else. Apparently that was all a dream and he woke up in the shower three days ago.

So it sounds pretty simple. Or does it?

I don't think so. To me there is a certain whiff of something about to hit the fan. Namely Sir Alex Ferguson's P45. Before I go any further, this is merely my opinion. But from the minute I read the press release I had my doubts whether we were reading the truth or just another load of PR flannel.

The statement is filled with what you would expect but there were certain comments that peaked my interest.

"Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed
me from Everton when I was only 18

He talks about Sir Alex as a man who he respects and values. Understandable considering he was at the club from a fairly young age.

"For me its all about winning trophies - as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.

You last won trophy a mere seven months ago Wayne, what makes you think the club isn't the right place for you to be? Since when was Manchester United NOT about winning trophies?

"For Manchester United's sake I wish he could go on forever because he's a one off and a genius."

Why is he talking about Sir Alex's tenure?
Did anyone mention that?
Does he know something you and I don't?

Now assuming that this statement was written by a very expensive PR agent and not Wayne himself, can we really ignore the emphasis on one of the World's most experienced managers? Surely the PR knows there will be some saddo like me tearing every single word apart to find the extra muck underneath.

And that is what I see: A lot of muck.

Personally I don't respect the way Wayne has gone about it and his attitude has been appalling - in all arenas of the media - since South Africa. In my old school head he could have at least been man enough to tell Sir Alex himself. Like Sir Alex said: "We're dealing with agents who live in players' pockets." I also remember him saying something about parents, which eludes to the opinion that players in general receive less constructive guidance than they used to.

Anyway, I'm wittering. The point is I don't think it's black and white. Manchester United may be in debt, but they are Manchester United. And their fans will tell you: normal rules do not apply.

So what is really going on in Wayne's head, or what exactly is happening behind the scenes?

I'll tell you one thing though: It won't be boring.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Oh! Wayne!

To be honest, I was trying to avoid the Rooney saga but even I can't ignore this.

Sir Alex Ferguson's press conference was candid. To say the least. He has played his hand and now we wait to see if Wayne will check or fold.

So he REALLY wants to leave, Manchester United fans are already up in arms calling Wayne things I couldn't possibly type here ;-)

The point is though: are we honestly surprised?
This is a player who has never felt shy about coming forward. We've all commented on his suspect temperament before. A man who cheats on his pregnant wife. Not just cheats but pays a escort to see him on a regular basis and allegedly participates in a threesome. A man who regularly goes against the orders of his manager - fag anyone! A player who made a snide remark to England fans who had spent their wages to watch him perform like pub player* in South Africa. Not forgetting the fact, he engineered a move away from Everton. Now who taught him how to do that, I wonder.....

So, no I'm not surprised. In fact, more surprising is that he hasn't thrown his toys out of the pram earlier. When he contradicted Sir Alex in the press about his injury, it appears to have been the final straw for the Scot.

Watching the press conference, I actually felt sorry for Sir Alex. He looked like a father who was hurt and confused after the betrayal of his youngest son. With the continual speculation in the press, he had two choices. Continue to lie and try and win the player back or be honest with the fans and media (for a change).

Thankfully, he chose the latter. Firstly, it's great news and secondly the fans that hero worship Rooney deserve to know the facts.

So here they are. Simply: Rooney wants to leave, Man United have offered him a new contract which he is not interested in. Said contract is still on the table if the player changes his mind. Now it's all out in the media, we're all waiting for Rooney's side of the story. And if he did change his mind, is there really anyway back for him now?

With 18 months left on his contract, it would be best for the club to sell him in the January transfer window, particularly with the state of their finances. Though Wayne may wish to see out his contract possibly leaving Sir Alex in the dilemma of using a player who know longer cares for the team.

So, who would have him? Of course Manchester City would love to steal another player from under Sir Alex's nose but would he sell to them. Chelsea have tightened the purse strings but I'm sure Abramovich would authorise spending on England's biggest star. Or he could fly away, with Barcelona and Real Madrid the earlier favourites. Yet, as a girl I have to wonder what Coleen would think about leaving her family. She has a seriously ill sister and may not wish to emigrate with a man she is learning to trust again. Nor, could I see Wayne dealing particularly well in a less physical league, foreign referee's would have a red card frenzy.

What more can I say? Not much, so I'll leave the final words to Sir Alex: "The one thing I said to him was 'respect this club', I don't want any nonsense from you.

"I don't know if he has done that. I have doubts on that, we are reading all these things about falling out with me and all that nonsense.

"It's disappointing because we have done everything we possibly can to help Wayne Rooney ever since he came to the club.

*No disrespect meant to any pub players.

Champions Leage: Match Day 3 Preview

Champions League Preview: Match Day Three; 19-20 October 2010

Following an eventful domestic weekend, players minds will now be back on the Champions League. Didier Drogba makes his return to the competition, two footballing giants meet in Group G and a friendly face return to the Emirates.

Group A – FC Twente; Inter Milan; Tottenham Hotspur & Werder Bremen

Tottenham face their first real test when they travel to the San Siro and to play the might of Inter Milan. Harry Redknapp is familiar with their boss, Rafa Benitez and will enjoy pitting his wits against the former Liverpool man.

FC Twente will be looking for revenge against the side that knocked them out of last years competition. Like Werder Bremen they only have one point and will be aiming to secure the third spot and possible Europa League participation.

Group B – Benfica; Hapoel Tel-Aviv; Lyon & Schalke 04

If Michel Bastos can continue scoring in the CL, Benfica will cement their first-placed position at the top of the group. Although they won't expect an easy trip to seasoned French team, Lyon.

To read the rest of this article go here

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Fall and Fall of Fabio

Can things really get worse?

Are our first 11 really that mediocre?

4 year contract you say?

So here we are again, a few months later but us England fans are just as miserable as ever. We thought the 'Wally with the Brolly' was bad, but Don Fabio seems content on making Steve Mc look like Sir Bobby.

Montenegro at Wembley, even the bookies thought it was a home banker.

But England, oh no. They like to make us sweat, make us smoke an extra five fags, scream that bit louder at the tv. Because..... well because they're England, that's why.

What can I say that hasn't already been said? Not much, so I'll just say it my way.

*Rooney is not right! I dunno if he's lacking fitness or the scrutiny of his personal life is too much. Either way he's not the Wazza we know and pretend to love - when he sticks on a three Lions shirt. He's never been the most composed of fellas but he looks lost and searching for something. Maybe Sir Alex shouldn't have given him those three weeks off as it certainly hasn't done him any good.

*Gerrard should have stayed as Captain. Lack of continuity has never helped anyone and personally I feel Stevie G shows more of the fighting spirit we need than Rio.

*It's time for change. After the dismal South African adventure, Fabio, the FA et al talked about change. Not just the personnel but the approach. He's chucked in a few new players but the majority are exactly the same. Who to omit you ask? Well I'd start with Barry, Glen Johnson and Lescott for a start. Really, do you think you would miss them? I wouldn't, I know that.

*And finally, get rid of Fabio. I don't care how much it would have cost but he should've gone when we left the World Cup.

I'm not saying he's not a good manager, I'm just saying he's not a good manager for us.
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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Now you all want to listen to Wenger

So, I beleve there's a lot of people out ther that owe Mr Wenger an apology. For the past two seasons he has been talking about the horror tackles in the Premiership. The danger they place on footballers careers and the need for futher punishment. Well this weekend everyone seems to finally agree with him.

Now, Karl Henry to me is a decent player and a key man for Wolves but what good is he to them now he's suspended after upending Gomez at Wigan. I'm not saying he's dirty or aiming to injure his man but he clearly needs to put more thought into the way he launches into other players on the pitch. I also respect Mick McCarthy fining the player two weeks wages. It shiows he soesn't feel his players style of tackling has any place on the football pitch.

Nigel de Jong on the other hand is a different kettle of fish completely. We all saw him try to cave in Xabi Alonso's chest in the world cup final and a 'tackle' like that isn't down to enthusiasm. In my opinion it's far nearer homicidal tendencies. Again, I'm not saying he went out to hurt a player. But Hatem Ben Arfa's tibia and fibia would be sure to disagree. And so did the Holland coach who removed him from the squad.

Another young promising player has been left facing an operation and lengthy recovery, before he even thinks about stepping on the pitch. That's if the mental scars don't damage him.

As unfortunate as I find it to be discussing this, we've seen three legs broken by match day 7. I certainly don't want to see more.

So what to do? Who has to put their foot down and stop these violent tackles before a career is actually ended. McCarthy and Burt van Marwijk have both made their feelings clear, though Roberto Mancini has been conspicuous by his silence.

I feel it's time for the 'powers that be' to pull their finger out. They want all the power, they've got all the power and now it's time to use it.
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