Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Posh gives Becks the bum's rush!

It wasn't all soccer for David Beckham during his days in America! There was plenty of time for rest and relaxation. A chance to survey some Californian sunshine!
He might be a "family man" - but you only have to have seen Beckham on the pitch to know about his roving eye and spatial awareness. A picture story where you can make up your own punchlines!

But Goldenballs, 21, capped by his country 300 times, obviously didn't learn his lesson from Colombia '98. You can't do sneaky off the ball stuff in front of the referee.

Posh's got her eye right on you! Well it's no good remonstrating with the ref after the event. You're in the book, son and I'd tread very carefully for the remainder of the game if I were you!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Save the FA Cup!

It's one of Soccermongery's most thoughtful writers, Marcus Stead. This time, Marcus eloquently states the case for the FA Cup. In a week when the Carling Cup truly shook a leg with two great semi-final matches, why can't the original Cup capture it again??

A popular subject of discussion on football phone-ins recently has been the question: Has the FA Cup lost its shine? I’m my view, it’s done a lot more than lose its shine- it’s now in real trouble, and time may be running out if it is to remain a serious and credible competition.
They used to say that town centres would empty on Cup Final day. The build up on TV would start while people were still having their breakfast. Those days are long gone.
However much we allow ourselves to believe Reading’s victory over Liverpool was a wonderful achievement, the fact remains there were thousands of empty seats at Anfield that night.
Last Tuesday, Cardiff City played their third-round replay against arch-rivals Bristol City in a Cardiff City Stadium that was three-quarters empty. That would’ve been unthinkable if it was a league game.
How many of us, if we’re honest, get slightly irritated when we discover that there’s an FA Cup weekend ahead? It’s become a frustrating disruption to the league programme for many.

If you’re a supporter of a big club, you have other priorities. If you support a smaller club in one of the lower divisions, it’s likely you’d swap a cup win for three points, especially if you’re challenging for promotion or fighting relegation.

I suspect ITV bought the rights because they were sold in the same package as England’s games, and I can’t help noticing that it took a very long time before anyone snapped up the rights that became available when Setanta went bust.

The FA Cup isn’t dead yet, but it needs reinventing, and must become more relevant for today’s market. All sporting events need to evolve, but many don’t notice they’re in trouble until it’s almost too late.
In cricket, the Twenty20 format has brought in millions of new fans all around the world, capturing the public’s imagination in a way nothing has done in the game for generations.
Darts has managed to re-invent itself after a period in the doldrums in the early 90s when it was all but banished from the TV screens. It’s now the second-most watched sport on Sky, and next month will see the opening night of the PDC Premier League played in front of 16,000 people at the O2 Arena.
The next few years will almost certainly see snooker brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century after years of neglect and bad management, and I’m expecting horseracing, particularly the flat, to be repackaged before too long.
Football, too, re-invented itself in the early 90s with the advent of the Premier League.
What all of these sports have in common is that they pushed themselves to the brink of oblivion before bouncing back.
Cricket was gaining a reputation as being stuffy and slow. Darts was a game played by overweight, chain-smoking, beer-swilling blokes. Snooker’s glory days had ended as the household names of the 1980s faded. Horseracing has struggled in recent years with vastly reduced coverage on non-subscription TV.
Before the Premier League, football went through a terrible decade in which hooliganism made many grounds no-go areas for families and young children, and at one point in the 1980s the BBC stopped regular transmissions of Match Of the Day on Saturday nights and replaced it with British basketball highlights.
In all of these examples, the sports in question didn’t realise they were in trouble until it was nearly too late. The FA Cup hasn’t reached that stage just yet, but it’s becoming less and less relevant by the year.
If the FA Cup is to survive as an important competition, it needs to reinvent itself, as these other events have done. There are a few ways of doing this: Firstly, introduce seeding for the third and fourth rounds. Big clubs playing the minnows is something we all love about the FA Cup, and doing this would ensure we get far more of these games. The small clubs would love it as it would greatly increase their chances of drawing a Premier League team.
One credible counter-argument to this is that the TV companies would hate the possibility of not having all-Premier League ties in these rounds. But surely the Man Utd v Leeds and Liverpool v Reading matches were the highlights of this year’s third round? Besides, come round five, the chances of there being more all-Premier League clashes greatly increases, so they’d have no real cause for complaints.
Secondly, and here’s where it gets really interesting, give the team that wins the FA Cup the fourth Champions League place. This would immediately stop big clubs from fielding reserve sides in the Cup. They wouldn’t dare risk missing out on Champions League qualification and the enormous implications it has for their clubs in terms of status and financial remuneration.
Yes, I know this would inevitably cause the number of giant-killings to reduce further, but surely fans of smaller clubs would love to see a full strength Arsenal or Chelsea playing at their tiny ground?
I’m not sure what UEFA would have to say about this and I expect a few chairmen would be up in arms about it, but these two steps would restore the FA Cup to its former glory within a year.
Make no mistake: these are dark days for the FA Cup, and it needs to act now it is to salvage its reputation as a major, first-rate competition.
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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I Hate Football

A disenfranchised Queen's Park Rangers fan wrote this. These aren't my opinions but have a read -  how far away are you to feeling this?

"...I take more pleasure in seeing Chelsea lose than I do in seeing QPR win at the moment.

I sat through so many matches when we were absolute dog**** under the likes of Ray Harford and with people like Paul Bruce, Matthew Brazier and Mark Perry in the squad and I never felt like this.

The club isn't ours anymore but moreso than that - football is just properly ga*h these days. I mean really ga*h.

Football generally.

I hate nearly everything about it these days....

I hate the Prem and the myth that it is exciting this year. Man City breaking into the top four isn't exciting. They spent loads of money. It's no more exciting that Nameless C*** getting to number 1 in the charts after winning the X-Factor.

I hate the myth of Arsene's kids. Buying some French kid when he's 17, playing him in the League Cup and then selling him when he's 20 after about 3 appearances in the league is NOTHING SPECIAL.

I hate hearing about Liverpool/Man Utd's debt but nothing ever happening about it. A club needs to go to the wall for the money thing to change but it doesn't happen. Why the **** are Charlton, Leeds and Southampton still in business?

I hate Frank Lampard's stupid ****ing face. I hate that Joe Cole's tongue is never in his mouth, the downsy spacker. I hate John Terry being England captain when he's CLEARLY AN OAF.

I hate young exciting wingers who have nothing but pace. Tony Scully had nothing but pace.

I hate Harry ****ing Redknapp. And Jamie Redknapp. And Louise Redknapp.. And the Wii.

I hate Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.

I hate Garth Crooks.I hate Garth Brooks a lot for that matter.

I hate that when a lower league player beats 10 players and chips the keeper it doesn't matter but if Rooney scores from more than 20 yards it's amazing.

I hate that female sports journos are now mandatory.

I hate Mark Lawrenson for not coming out. 'I do like a big man at the back'. I bet you do.

I hate any advert that portrays football to be about anything other than pain and disappointment.

I hate Lee Hughes and the fact that he makes a living from the game. I hate Marlon King and any team that signs him when he gets out. I hate that it'll probably be us.

I hate Phil Brown.

I hate 'well the ball is a lot lighter now and will cause goalkeepers real problems this summer' before EVERY ****ING TOURNAMENT!

I hate that Kieron Dyer earned more in the time I took to write this post than I'll earn this month.

I hate radio football phone-ins.

I hate Gazza. Either die or shut up. Stop ****ing lingering.

I hate hearing about Hillsborough more than I hear about Heysel or Bradford.

I hate Leeds.

I hate Roy Keane.

I hate grown men wearing football shirts of their team whilst shopping on a saturday when their team is playing at home.

I hate that I don't hate Roy Hodgson.

I hate Jermaine Beckford and any player who has neck tattoos.

I hate songs being inappropriately taken as club anthems and then sung in a manly way. 'I'm forever blowing bubbles....'. Gaylords.

I hate Danny Dyer and anyone he's ever interviewed.

I hate the book 'Cass' by Cass Pennant. It is honestly the stupidest thing I've ever read. Chapter 1: Millwall. 'Yeah we took 50 to Millwall. They had 1000 in their mob but we ran 'em up and down the street'. Chapter 2: Liverpool. 'Yeah we took 50 to Liverpool. They had 2000 in their mob but we ran 'em up and down the street'. **** me... Jade Goody's autobiography is probably better. Even her non-ghost written one.

I hate that all good youngsters end their careers at Spurs before they start."

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Monday, 11 January 2010

"Idiot" Spawn of Tom Hicks resigns as Reds director

Tom Hicks Jnr has resigned as both a director of Liverpool and the holding company which owns the club, after a foul-mouthed e-mail rant to a fan.
The son of co-owner Tom Hicks became embroiled in controversy when it emerged he'd responded abusively to a fan who contacted him directly about the state of the club and its finances.
Having initially called the fan an "idiot", Hicks Jnr reportedly then sent a second e-mail saying: "Blow me fuck face. Go to Hell. I'm sick of you."
Hicks Jnr subsequently apologised but it was too late. He's now quit.
The Spirit of Shankly fans' group, committed to the removal of the American co-owners Hicks Snr and George Gillett, had called for wee Tom Jnr to resign.
However, with his father as co-owner it appeared there'd be little pressure from the top to do so. But this episode is problematic for the troubled owners.

Hicks Jnr was seen as a key player on Anfield's finely-balanced board - of daddy Hicks, Gillett and his son Foster and managing director Christian Purslow. At the same time Liverpool announced his departure they revealed a re-structuring of the boardroom of both the club and Kop Holdings.
Casey Coffman, executive vice-president of Hicks Holdings, is the man brought in to replace Hicks Jnr while Liverpool's chief financial officer Philip Nash and the club's commercial director Ian Ayre are also both elected to both companies.
Click here Togo should have let their players play on!

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Sunday, 10 January 2010

If Togo wanted to play, their government shouldn't have stopped them.

Togo's players have returned home after the deadly rebel gun attack on their bus. Final bids by Africa Cup of Nations organizers to convince them to stay fell on deaf ears.
But Togo's squad wanted to stay on to honour those killed in the attack as their government prepared to withdraw them. They left their camp in Cabinda, Angola late Sunday night.
But Confederation of African Football spokesman Kodzo Samlan told the Associated Press he spoke to the players and "they confirmed they want to play". He said "the players understood that they had to play to honour the dead". Three people were killed and eight injured in the ambush on Friday.
Football should have won this decision. If Togo's players and tournament organisers wanted them to stay, then stay they should have. On a very bad day for sport, it was politics and terrorism which prevailed.
Sport's being eroded by the threat of terror slowly but surely. We've already seen the Indian Premier League moved to South Africa and a threat from England to withdraw from the Comonwealth Games in the autumn due to security fears.
Football should have stood firm. Now every major sports event will be compromised by issues of security and mere threats of terrorism. This decision was bigger than football, bigger than sport. Now a cloud hangs over every international sports event into the forseeable future.
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Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Champions League has less competitive integrity than the Premier League

Why is the Premier League one of the world's greatest competitions? Why do managers set their stall out to win the title as their priority?

Can the Champions League really be secondary to Messrs. Wenger, Ferguson et al? Surely the mantle of European Champion is greater than being just the domestic one?

The answer's simple. Every kick of the Premier League has competitive integrity. And you can't say that about the Champions League!
Manchester United's home defeat to Besiktas confirmed it. Fergie fielded kids because they didn't need the win. Mismatches are massive in the Champions League. United's group opponents were Wolfsburg, CSKA Moscow and the Turkish minnows. And guess what? the away side scored first in all three games!
It's just an excuse to play more games and earn more money.

The Premier League's famous for its pace, commitment and every player's never-say-die attitude from the first to the last-minute. It's an English thing.

Which is why Wolves manager Mick McCarthy got crucified for fielding a deliberately weakened line-up for his team's trip to Manchester United. He changed all ten outfield players; an astonishing concession to defeat despite having steered his boys to victory at Spurs just before.

McCarthy fears it could define his career. And it will. When he gets fired, you can guarantee "the Molineux faithful began turning on him after Old Trafford" will appear in reports on his demise.
Wolves followed up the 3-nil defeat to United with a win over fellow relegation candidates Burnley only to get mullered at home to Manchester City to stay near the bottom.
This incident is reportable only because it's so uncharacteristic of the Premier League. Not so in the Champions League.
Europe's elite league needs to curtail its group stages, concentrate on pitting the Milans, Madrids and Manchesters against each other as much as possible - and separate the cack from the Kakas.

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Saturday, 2 January 2010

Arsene Wenger: The Basil Fawlty of Football

That Arsene Wenger, always in a mood, isn't he? Here he is on the left, Angry of Old Trafford, resorting to the bottle after his Arsenal charges have a late equaliser chalked off. Manchester United ran out 2-1 winners after the Gunners had nosed in front.
His conduct on the touchline can bring on constipation in even the most casual observer - at fifty paces!
It seems each time Wenger's on telly, he appears to me like Basil Fawlty the day his car wouldn't start. His interviews are terse and he's dispensed with even the relative charm of "I did not see vee incident."

"Right, that's it. I've had enough of y-o-o-o-ou!"

Wenger insisted the bottle-kicking was over his frustration at the Gunners failure to equalise rather than the refereeing decision! Very subtle: only seasoned bottle-kickers would be able to tell.
Referee Mike Dean sent Wenger off, and the Alsatian didn't know where to sit. Boss Ref Keith Hackett later apologised to the Arsenal manager. Hackett's carefully worded apology went something like, "Sorry Professor, I know Mike looks like Jasper Carrott, so he sometimes gets carried away.
Seriously though, he's going to do himself an internal mischief. I worry for Arsene's sanity. In Wenger's Doctor We Trust? I hope not.
I know the top managers employ the language of siege mentality to gee up their players - but Wenger's allegations are increasingly unhinged in their delivery.

Wenger's strops and temper must surely be expressing an inner turmoil. How much more pressure can one man take?

Arsenal need to keep winning or they'll be carrying Wenger out in a straitjacket - at an away stadium near you soon!