Friday, 28 December 2007

Okey Doke Football End Of Year Awards




Hi All,

Our last podcast of the year is online now and it's awards time!

Best & Worst Premiership Player
Best & Worst Premiership Transfer so far this season - 1. Value for Money 2. Overall
Most Liked & Most Hated Player
Best & Worst Goal
Best & Worst Match
Hopes for the new year
Best & Worst Moment
Man of the Year

And more... including Premier League Manager Most Likely to Beat His Wife, Drink of the Year, and John Terry makes a surprise appearance in Seinfeld

We hope you enjoy the show, thanks for your support over the year and we'll see you in 2008

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf28Dec07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Cheers,
Mark & JJ

Thursday, 20 December 2007

ODF 20 Dec Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.
We discuss:

Fixtures & Results: Premiership & Carling Cup

Pub Talk: Footballer's Christmas parties - Man Utd, and more. Sol Campbell, Kaka, Bangura Watch, Jewell, Ballack.

AOB: We finish the show with some comments

Don't forget to email us with thoughts for our end of year show - best player, most hated, etc. and anything that has struck you in football this year - comments@okeydokefootball.com

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf20Dec07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Cheers,
Mark

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Capello's Job




I haven't had a chance to write about Fabio Capello yet, so here's the perfect time.

I've been amazed to see articles in the English media that are a bit critical about Capello.
The points made were:
  • He's being paid too much money - from an organisation that has loads of money, and who had previously made Eriksson the highest paid manager in football, why shouldn't they pay a better manager more money?
  • What about the root and branch review - ah yes, the old bugbear, reviews are supposed to be the FA's (or at least independent consultants) job on a continual basis, regardless of the sacking. I'll even give a quick and free root and branch review - your players, managers & coaches aren't good enough, sort it out! It has nothing to do with Capello's job.
  • But he's an Italian - yes, but no English manager is good enough.
  • He should have an English coach as part of his team - why? to teach them how to miss penalties and choke at the highest level? To take them out on the piss?
  • Why does he need a fitness coach? - you didn't have one and England have won nothing in 41 years. I think it's worth a try with one.
  • He can't speak English - do you think he can't learn it with all his free time. How much effort does it take to learn 'Frank, you're dropped' and 'give it to Rooney'?
  • He was hired too quickly, why didn't they wait a few months? - what is the point of hanging around while candidates rule themselves out or get different jobs?
So, it looks like it is impossible for England fans and media to like the manager, despite the fact that he has attained that mythical status of 'world class', has won everything there is to be won in the club game - they have got the best available candidate for the job, why are they giving out?

If only over in Ireland we had the option to slag off a manager of his genius (which we would) but we have the easy option of slagging off Howard Kendall, Liam Brady, Dave O'Leary, Ron Atkinson and Terry Venables. I mean, it's not even a challenge for Christ's sake.

So, I think a variation of Wife Swap is in order, we send Irish journos to England to try to give skillful back-handed compliments to Capello, all the while preparing for the article, for publication the morning after defeat, which slates him. And we get Harry Harris, Jeff Powell and the lads over here to extol the virtues of the prospective candidates, depending on who you're mates with (and what the betting is), while penning a 5000 word piece about the grassroots GAA in Mayo and appearing on every sports TV & radio show going. They won't last a week.

Mark,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tis the season to be a punter



There are few times in life when you can feel superior to professional footballers. Okay, intelligence-wise most of us can feel like three-time Mastermind champions when we compare ourselves to doornails like Lee Bowyer or David Beckham. Morally too, some of us will claim sainthood when compared to John Terry or any other of the spit roast brigade (should I hyphen ‘spit roast’?). But, here at Okeydokefootball we operate in a moral vacuum.

We may laugh at John Terry pissing in a cup at Shaun Wright Philips’ birthday party, but deep down we know that overall, the night must’ve still been a quality affair; besides for Ian Wright being there obviously.

As for intelligence, well for those of you who regularly listen to the podcast, you’ll be aware of the fact that week-in week-out we kill copious amounts of brain cells with cheap booze (so much so I don’t even know if ‘spit roast’ should have a hyphen, a sad day for journalism). So anyway, back to my original point about times that can leave you feeling like you’re a little bit better off than those well paid men of the Premier League and Christmas is one of those moments.

Four games over ten days, no Christmas dinner, not a bit of mulled wine, not a drop of decent stout, or even a nice nip of whiskey. While those of us in the great wide world are gorging on food, booze, Scrooged and a ridiculous amount of sport, those across the water have to train and travel to wonderful places like Wigan, Middlesbrough and Birmingham to play mud-sodden games. Further down the leagues people actually have to spend St Stephen’s Day in Scunthorpe or Luton. Scunthorpe… horrific, truly horrific.

At this time of the year, more than any other, we can feel like an audience at the Coliseum. Bring out the fools to fight for our meagre entertainment! Insert an evil laugh, chomp on a leg of turkey and you could practically feel like you’re watching Spartacus play for Man United.

The TV schedule over the festive season sees Sky and Setanta showing possible hum-dingers like Arsenal v Spurs, Pool v Pompey, Man United v Everton, Arsenal v Everton, Villa v Spurs, City v Blackburn, City v Pool, West Ham v Reading and Spanish football this weekend to boot. Not a grand slam Sunday in sight (thank god), but plenty of good games that mean you don’t have to talk to your family that much and have an alternative to Only Fools and Horses repeats (we all love them but jaysus, every night during the festive season is a bit much).

It all kicks off tonight as well with Arsenal and Blackburn squaring up for what could prove to be an excellent League Cup quarter final. Arsenal’s youth versus a Mark Hughes side that have been absolutely piss poor of late. City face Spurs too with Sven continuing his top four methods by dropping a raft of first-teamers.

Then tomorrow we have Xabi Alonso returning to the Liverpool first team down at Stamford Bridge, where the Scousers have never had much luck. I’ll go for Blackburn and Chelsea to go through and Spurs to scrape it into the semi finals as well. Certainly worth a bet so I’m heading to the bookies in a while. Of course I’ll win nothing but that won’t stop me throwing away more cash in the next two weeks. Rejoice and feel no sympathy for the players who entertain and infuriate us.

Oh and let’s not have that argument over whether or not there should be a Christmas break; or hear anyone bring it up as another reason why England are a horrible international side. The England team already ruin international tournaments whenever they qualify, for god sake leave Christmas to us, the poor punter.

JJ
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Monday, 17 December 2007

Grand Sham Sunday

Time to reflect on another highly interesting, and at times, boring weekend in the Premier League. Grand Slam Sunday, as predicted didn't live up to the hype but we can now say the title is between 2 teams.

Arsenal vs Chelsea - Arsenal got a deserved win, and should have won it 2 or 3 nil. Terry's hilarious injury helped Arsenal but they were superior in a scrappy match. More diverting though was the constant niggle in the game, with a number of players lucky more cards were not flashed. Fabregas is displaying some very annoying traits and I hope he does not continue to turn into a stereotypical Wenger player, which would be a shame against his great talent

Liverpool 0 Man Utd 1. United just edged this, they came to Liverpool to sit back and try to hit on the counter, and the plan was successful enough. They didn't have many chances to score, but Liverpool's were mostly gifted by the crazy Van Der Sar. The image of him bouncing off 'Iron Man' Vidic remains the funniest of the weekend. The 'Pool's title challenge is over, slightly more from the psychological impact of defeat than their league position

Fulham 0 Newcastle 1. An injury time Barton penalty continues the Magpies good form but every team should be beating Fulham at the moment. Sanchez is under pressure

Man City 4 Bolton 2. Etuhu scored to give me a confusing few minutes. City continue their great home form, will they have enough for a top 4 spot? Add a top class striker and they'll have a good chance.

Portsmouth 0 Tottenham 1. Spurs continue to perplex, is this win the real thing or will they again turn to disaster? 'Arry won't be happy with this one, especially as they could have been in the top 4

West Ham 0 Everton 2. The Yakubu show rolls on, an excellent player who must wonder why didn't one of the top 4 buy him. A bit lazy but his scoring record is very impressive.

Wigan 5 Blackburn 3. What's going on with Rovers? Their defense is usually solid but they've been shipping goals recently. Santa Cruz must be feeling very unlucky after scoring a hat-trick yet still being on the losing team. Marcus Bent reminded us all he was still alive - well done!

Sunderland 1 Villa 1. A good point for Sunderland as Villa had previously had great away form but they need to start winning their home games to stay up.

Derby 0 Middlesbrough 1. A great goal from Tuncay provides a flattering 7 points from 9 for Boro.

Birmingham 1 Reading 1. Reading got their first away point in seven matches but they were hanging on here. McLeish has started well.

Mark,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Friday, 14 December 2007

2007 Okey Doke Football Awards Categories

Well it that time of the year again, time to send in your nominations for the 2nd Annual Okey Doke Football end of year awards, with the winners to be announced in our last podcast of the year on the 27th/28th Dec.

So here are the major categories:

Best & Worst Premiership Player
Best & Worst Premiership Transfer so far this season - 1. Value for Money 2. Overall
Most Liked & Most Hated Player
Best Goal
Best Match
Hopes for the new year (entries such as 'I hope Liverpool/United win xx' will not be accepted)
Best & Worst Moment

We are primarily a Premiership podcast, so we will be concentrating on awards there, but if you're a continental football buff, feel free to supply your corresponding nominations.

We will also have some other offbeat, one off awards, similar to last year's show. For example, David Moyes won the 'Manager that looks most like a homeless crack addict' award last year.

We reserve the right to veto scurrilous nominations, but we will mention it in the podcast if we do.
We were going to include nominees but it might influence the voting so you are on your own.

Please email your suggestions to comments@okeydokefootball.com rather than posting a comment on this blog, in order to keep the suspense.... However please comment below with any categories you think should be included

Thanks,
Mark

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Thursday, 13 December 2007

ODF 13 Dec Podcast Online

Hi All,

Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:

Fixtures & Results: Premiership & Champions League

Pub Talk: Capello, Gerrard, Barnes, Rooney's musk, Chelsea, Bangura Watch Day 41, McClaren, Terry Butcher, Traore, Ossie Ardiles, Kaladhze, and a blimp.

Featured Section: The Legend of Dennis Bergkamp. See his hat-trick at Leicester, his goal in the quarter final of the 98 World Cup against Argentina, and his class goal against Newcastle

AOB: We finish the show with some comments

Don't forget to email us with thoughts for our end of year show - best player, most hated, etc. and anything that has struck you in football this year - comments@okeydokefootball.com

We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf13Dec07.mp3

Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Cheers,

Mark

http://www.okeydokefootball.com/

http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Games that mean something



JJ here,

Does the name Sidney Govou strike fear into you? Sounds like a French nobleman to me, a displaced toff from New Caledonia perhaps. Well dear old Sidney – one of Lyon’s most potent attackers, rather than a monocle-wearing backgammon player as his name suggests – has been attempting to stoke up the fear of failure in the hearts of Rangers’ players.

He has heaped all the pressure on them; saying Lyon have nothing to lose in tonight’s game, unlike their ‘anti-football’ pedalling opponents. Amongst other things he said that he thinks the Scottish side “have more pressure than us”, adding, “playing away from home brings extra pressure but we don't really have anything to lose”.

Barry Ferguson must be munching nervously on his nails and scratching at his tattoos with paranoia and dread. Or not. I suppose this is all part of the (apologies for using the phrase in advance) mind games that go with big Champions League ties.

Though, as Bolo Zenden’s discussion yesterday of the kind of internal dissent Liverpool’s rotation policy can cause proved, sometimes the mind games are as effective as… well Bolo Zenden. The better team usually wins no matter what is said beforehand. Unlike Zenden though, I have a feeling that gobby Govou will end up on the winning side tonight.

True Lyon lost at the weekend. True Rangers didn’t even have to play. True Rangers spanked the French side earlier in the group. But with Benzema, Juninho and Govou all rested for seventy minutes at the weekend before being brought on, their main stars will feel just as fresh as Rangers moderate squad.

Looking through the Rangers line up – Alan Hutton, from what I’ve seen, is a solid player though how much an attacking right back can affect this game is up to question. Lee McCulloch is another solid performer while Ferguson, as always for Rangers, will be very busy and a good link to the forward line… though then again it may only be a forward line of one man, be it Daniel Cousin or Kris Boyd. Neither will strike much fear into Lyon’s championship-laden side.

French football took a hammering last night but Marseilles are a far weaker side than Lyon, though admittedly Zenden’s side did beat Lyon earlier this year when the phenomenal Benzema was rested. Of course, Barcelona only got a draw in Scotland too, which proves that Rangers can keep up the blanket defence tactic all night long if needs be. But then, that was against a Barcelona side in turmoil who expected to roll over the Ibrox side; not a team on a mission who, up until a 1-0 defeat at Caen this weekend, have looked superb ever since their defeat to Rangers on matchday two of Group E.

Rangers have a chance, though as Mark once pointed out in a previous controversial blog relating to Scottish football, sometimes you just want to see the best footballing sides go through and I’ll go for Lyon to run out 1-2 winners.

The only other game that matters tonight is Fenerbache against CSKA Moscow (yes I know Arsenal might finish second if they fail to win but they won’t, even with Gilberto in midfield), and I’ll go for the Turks this time out, thankfully damning the dreadful PSV into Uefa Cup obscurity.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

We’re recording the podcast tonight where I shall make my return after last week when Mark got along without me with disgusting ease. We shall be championing the legend that is Dennis Bergkamp; discussing the cheeky scousers who broke into Steven Gerrard’s house (let’s hope they left the 'Steven Gerrard Room' alone); giving our thoughts on the Grand Slam Extravaganza Bonanza Sunday in this week’s results and fixtures, and much more.

Til tomorrow

The Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The Old Hammer Trick, Eh?

Well there's only one major story today, and unfortunately, it's about Liverpool, so here's a preview of Grand Slam Tuesday Group A (tm) in which Marseilles face Liverpool in a bid to qualify for the next round.

Liverpool played poorly against Reading and will need to be at the top of their game tonight to resist the French. Djibril Cisse and Boudewijn Zenden, despite being in and out of the team so far this season, would be expected to make the classic old boy revenge (and I'm not talking about ripping teeth out with a hammer, as in the film Old Boy). Cisse has been rightly castigated for being rubbish season, and Niang has instead been providing threat up front. Valbuena has provided creativity and their league form is slowly coming around.

Marseilles manager Eric Gerets said: "It will be a fast-paced match and in my opinion, Liverpool are going to try to pass the ball around three times quicker than they did on the first match between us".
It must be a mis-translation, I'm sure he meant 3 times further, eh, Stevie G?

Rafa Benitez says it's the most important game of the season so far, and he's right, but there's a lot more of them to come over the coming months, especially for a man under fire like he is.
Liverpool have scored 22 goals in their last six games and should go into this game with confidence, the Reading result not withstanding. Carragher, Torres and Gerrard should be well rested after their 70 mins on Saturday, and providing Ricky Hatton didn't keep them up too long I am predicting Liverpool to get the result they need, a win. Liverpool should play with "controlled fury"* and at great pace, and Marseilles should have no answer. Any other approach and I fear the Pool could be in big trouble.

Either way it should be a great game of football, and I'm most interested in seeing what hairstyle Cisse is sporting and whether Zenden has learnt how to control a football.

In the other games tonight:
FC Porto v Besiktas - 2-0. Porto should have enough quality for the win to see them through

Chelsea v Valencia, - 2-0. Valencia seem to be a shambles. It's called Karma, Koeman!
Schalke 04 v Rosenborg, 2-1. Schalke have done well this far, the dream ends for the Norwegians.

Olympiakos v Werder Bremen and Real Madrid v Lazio. All 4 teams can qualify but Real are a certainty, 2-0, and I've a sneaky feeling Werder could win in Greece, but the smart money is on a draw that will send Olympiakos through: 1-1.

Enjoy,
Mark.

The Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball


* Copyright Stephen Hunt

Monday, 10 December 2007

Compare and Contrast… and stop Andy Gray


I begin the week confused. Liverpool and Arsenal lose. Peter Crouch playing the ‘Arjen Robben’ role. Someone actually voiced our concerns about John Terry being untouchable. Then to add more oddities to my weekend I went to see Southland Tales yesterday – a two and half hour journey through pointlessness that is bizarrely enjoyable.

We’re all about random comparisons at Okeydokefootball so here’s mine for today. Richard Kelly – the director of Southland Tales – is the Rafa Benitez of the movie world. A man with a thousand and one ideas; a man convinced his theories on structure are superior to others and a man who can point to previous achievements if anyone questions his motives. For Donnie Darko (his previous movie) read two Spanish titles and the UEFA Cup.

Is watching a Benitez line up fall to a humdrum Reading side ‘bizarrely enjoyable’ too? Well kinda. Sipping a Guinness watching the oddness of the last twenty minutes on Saturday, I had to chuckle at how sure Benitez was that he was in the right by taking off Steven Gerrard. He looked absolutely positive that they could get nothing from the game so he stuck to his guns; the fat controller certain the train was coming on time when everyone else had left the platform.

Kelly meanwhile decided that no matter how much people complained about the incoherence of his movie when it was first shown in Cannes 18 months ago, that he would stick to dialogue about the ‘fourth dimension’ and neo-Marxists. It doesn’t make sense, it confuses everyone involved yet he is certain this is the only way forward. Sound familiar?

One key difference in the two men is getting a good performance out of an average talent. Southland Tales features a sterling turn from Sean William Scott; he of Dude Where’s My Car infamy. Reading versus Liverpool featured a typically horrendous showing from Momo Sissoko. The Mali international looks to have given up the ghost and barely appeared as if he was trying on Saturday, though when he did, predictably, he gave the ball to the nearest Reading player.

Watching Southland Tales, much like being a Liverpool supporter, is an exercise in futility. You give over a good portion of time for a mish-mash of very occasional brilliance and pure nonsense; all with very little reward at the end.

If Alex Ferguson were a director I’d say it would be James Cameron, a stern man who has had plenty of popular success over the years and who is begrudgingly respected by his peers. Arsene Wenger is more Woody Allen. A series of flops (Match Point/Champions League final) might stop another man but he keeps going determined there’s still an audience for his brand of entertainment (The Jade Scorpion/this season until yesterday). Avram Grant is Brett Ratner without a doubt, a friend to the rich and powerful drafted in whenever real talent has been forced out. He can do a hack job that will please many but the purists still know he’s not got the talent to do any great work of his own.

I suppose I could go through the entire league but that would only infuriate after a while and my already stretched comparisons would get worse as I went down the table. Though… Gary Megson as master of misery Ken Loach? Okay, I’ll stop.

So, back to the football and this weekend has set up next Sunday’s clashes of the big four nicely. Should Liverpool win (they won’t though) and Chelsea get at least a draw (no idea what will happen there) next week then everything will be tighter than a Scotsman on holiday. Spurs’ win on Sunday will, you’d suspect, start their rise up the table in earnest while Bolton look like they might start to get the results that will keep them boring everyone in the Premier League for at least one more season.

Blackburn’s malaise continued resulting in Morten Gamst Pedersen being fired from my Fantasy League team, something which I’m sure crushed the spirit of the horribly out of form boy band member. The weekend ended however on a disgraceful note that came in the Sky studio rather than on the field.

Andy Gray must be stopped. Not only did he defend John Terry for his role in getting Liam Miller sent off but his attitude to diving was absolutely shocking. He has been accused of having a bias towards Man United before – and he is as in love with Ronaldo as his friend Alex Ferguson – but defending the Portuguese player’s dive against Derby was simply appalling.

He championed Ronaldo’s right to go over like a sack of Nike-endorsed spuds when a Derby player put out a leg in front of him. Never mind that Ronaldo actually kicked the defender instead of the other way round before contorting his body like the seasoned diver he is to be certain of winning the penalty. The boy can do no wrong in Gray’s eyes. It’s the same story whenever he discusses Gerrard, Terry or Rooney too.

Any other day I might accept this as being a ‘striker’s view’ were it not for Gray’s reading of Newcastle’s penalty against Birmingham all of three minutes later. He claimed that when Liam Ridgewell scythed down Oba Martins that it was just a trailing leg left in that Martins’ took advantage of and it shouldn't have been given. Am I missing something? How does this differ from Ronaldo? Martins is in the wrong while Ronaldo is being clever apparently.

The answer is typical of Gray and the ‘old boys’ network that rules Sky and their bumbling, smug coverage. Gray is mates with Alex Ferguson; Gray is mates with Alex McLeish. He is quite simply a mouth for hire, an unprincipled yes man and each week Sky viewers are being conned by his supposedly expert views. Gray says whatever suits Sky’s star-hungry, non-controversial coverage as well as his friends’ interests.

He’s a member of our ‘hate’ section and you can listen to the reasons why about twenty minutes in here. Though I suspect many of you won’t need much convincing. But let’s not end on that; let’s end on this from Sully Muntari.

Later – JJ

The Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Friday, 7 December 2007

The beauty of timing



Derby County will be relegated this season. There you are, I said it and got the shock out of the way early on. I can only hope you were all sitting down when you read those hurtful words.

Thinking about it though, the thing is that the relegation of the midlands side will differ greatly from Premier League exits of the past. Most likely they won’t have any dramatic last day heartbreak like Sheffield United losing to a 91st minute goal against Chelsea in 1994. They won’t go down in the midst of meltdown like Wimbledon (RIP) in 2000. They won’t even keep a reputation as ‘happy go lucky’ chancers and drift aimlessly away from the division like the always entertaining Oldham side of the early nineties.

Instead, from the minute they hired Paul Jewell, Derby have started their game plan for Premier League promotion in 2008/09 well before their relegation this season is even confirmed. They gave Jewell a mandate of showing a bit of spirit while going down before guaranteeing success the year after. How could Jewell lose? Here was a side admitting defeat before Christmas, but most importantly one that will have financial clout that will blow away the competition in the (insert generic sponsor here) Championship next season.

They’ll get around £20 million for finishing last in this season’s Premier League. Add few more million if they manage to climb to the heady heights of 19th. Derby are a side without huge debts, with a relatively new stadium and a vast local support that will most likely stick with them next season due to the promise of a Jewell miracle. What will happen next year is far from a miracle though, it’s cold hard finance.

They’ll come down next May, hoover up available talent from around the league and march back towards the Premiership from August onwards. No one in the league can compete with them, except of course the other two sides that will follow them down. Even if they were to become a yo-yo side, their chairman and, even perhaps their fans, will welcome the status. They might be depressed getting hammered in the Premiership each week one year but they’ll know that solace is just around the corner, well down in Colchester, the next season when they’re eating up the (KP Nuts?) Championship.

When you look at their points total at this stage of the season as well, it’s clear that Derby, along with Sunderland two years ago and Watford last season, are far worse than the teams who occupied the lower regions of the Premier League a decade ago. Yet their promotion, in this rich season of all rich seasons, will benefit Derby far more than any team had dreamt of before.

Indeed, when they go down like a lead balloon they may well create a new league within a league – a mini competition between the Premier League and Championship; where recently relegated cash cows dominate. A bizarre rotating ‘big three’ almost.

Think about it, the three who go down this year will instantly be favourites to come back up, while the three teams promoted this season from the (McMuffin?) Championship will most likely be relegated next year and pick up more huge pay cheques for their troubles on the way back down. So the cycle could well continue. Granted, generally the lower leagues provide a bit more room for shock results each week. But the future power of the millions of pounds belonging to the sides that are promoted and demoted from the Premier League in the next few years shouldn’t be underestimated.

Back to Derby though, and while some of their forums suggest that in Jewell they have found their ‘new Brian Clough’, the achievements of that particular managerial genius will never be repeated. Division Two champions one year, Division One champions only a few years later. Clough even repeated this, but incredibly in successive seasons, with Nottingham Forest a few years later too. It’s doubtful though that even he would have a hope in modern football; where the order of things is very clearly stated.

Clough’s was a system built on assistant manager Peter Taylor’s genius at spotting quality players in the nether regions of British football and the manager’s own inspirational oddities. Jewell, fine man that he is, will owe a large part of his success in the coming years to parachute payments as much as anything else. Not quite as romantic.

So, just when we were getting used to the pretty dull routine of four teams dominating the top of the league, the next few years may see the same six or seven sides dominate the relegation and promotion places. When you have to look towards the mid-table ‘battle’ for Uefa Cup spots for an actual fair battleground you know there is something amiss in the ‘best league in the world’ tm.

Oh and yes I do think United might squeeze a win against Derby tomorrow which is what started that whole train of thought.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ODF – New Podcast Online

A podcaster scorned is a… problem halved… or something. Anyway, I couldn’t make the podcast this week so Mark found a more than able replacement in Cathal; whom you’ll be happy to know is in the David Fairclough/Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mould of super sub rather than the Gary Doherty mould of useless impact sub.

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf07Dec07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

If that’s not enough for you then listen to this because, well, it’s excellent.

Later - JJ

Thursday, 6 December 2007

ODF 07 Dec Podcast Online

Hi All,

Our latest podcast is online now.



JJ is off this week, and Cathal is the impact sub replacement. Apologies if the sound is a little off, there were microphone complications but it should be fine...



We discuss:

Fixtures & Results: Premiership & Champions League



Pub Talk: Kaka, Romario, Drogba, Sanchez, Liverpool, McCarthy & Houllier, Houghton, Mendieta, Ashley Young, Kuyt & Ferdinand





We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf07Dec07.mp3

Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball



Cheers,

Mark

http://www.okeydokefootball.com/

http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

One Game To Save A Season...




I must be getting old because I feel like saying, "In my day the manager would be given more time"

Big Sam was under pressure, from the fans and media. The Newcastle fans never wanted him in the first place and the media love a good kicking. The rumours of his demise probably contain fact but I can't help feeling the matter was exacerbated. Newcastle are 11th in the table, level on points with West Ham, a team who have spent an awful lot of money on crap players since last January. Newcastle have been underperforming, and Allardyce is to blame for most of it - strange team selection (Alan Smith seems to be the new John O'Shea or Phil Jagielka, I expect a centre back berth soon), changing formations, leaving your top scorer (Martins) out and frantic defensive rotations.

Naturally the players aren't happy. But when are Newcastle players happy? The day they sign their £60,000 a week contract. After that, they look around and see more mercenaries like themselves, which I will now list.

Shay Given - a man who could have walked into any Premiership team a few years ago keeps signing contract extensions, even when Arsenal and Man Utd were looking for keepers.

Stephen Carr - not a bad bloke, a great right back for Spurs but has been rubbish since 2002

Emre (Not a Racist) - left Inter, a team that challenges for honours, for a big fat contract

Martins - see Emre, add in a release clause

Duff - one of the best wingers in the league, got the hump at Chelsea for no reason, will never win a medal again

Alan Smith - once described as having the best skills at Leeds, he's a hard worker, but no team has much need for a non-goalscoring striker or poor midfielder.

Mark Viduka - the man who inspired today's piece, plays well for 6 games a year to get the fans off his back and 'earn' a new contract.

Geremi - one of the best midfielders while at Boro, happy to sit on the bench for years at Chelsea, the rich man's Bogarte

Nicky Butt - has a large collection of medals despite his performances. In semi retirement

Celestine Babayaro - the only good thing he's done at Newcastle is slap Dirk Kuyt in the face. Was shipped out of Chelsea with Wayne Bridge keeping him out of the team - a deep insult.

What a collection of losers - a collection of never will be's and has beens that Big Sam (or his replacement) needs to ship out of St James Park before we can judge with accuracy the manager's effect.

Now, Alan Curbishley, my bet for the next media witch hunt, but in this case it will be 100% deserved. He's the big money flashing, mediocre transferrer, over payer who has done an average job so far. Check out his West Ham League record P 27, W 11, L 12 D 4.
He genius idea of saving them from relegation was to drop Mascherano.

Thrilling.

Mark,

The Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Not lovin’ it


Why is that even with all their money they just can’t get it right eh? I mean it can’t be that hard, not when it’s a global brand who espouse their world domination through relentless marketing. There has to be research done, there has to be questions asked, there must be an inquiry I say.

Why is it, that McDonald’s has without doubt the worst ketchup on the planet?

I ate there recently after pints with Mark and it was my first visit in some time (not that I’m not a junk food eater but I’m normally a kebab man), and it was dirt. A salty mess of redness that has never been within 50 yards of a tomato.

In today’s blog I was going to go on a rant about the Premier League trying to fool us all into thinking they have a great product when in fact they only have more exposure and bigger stars than any other league. But then I realised that if McDonald’s have been getting away with their red gunk for decades, that it’s just the way of a global brand to make people believe they’re getting the best for their money.

Forget the ketchup, McDonalds say. We’ve got the Big Mac. Forget the rumours of corruption the Premier League tells us. We’ve got Grand Slam Sunday. Two completely different matters but we (and by ‘we’ I mean football-gorging, can drinking, fast food eating men like those at the OkeydokeFootball ranch) swallow both stories up all the time and accept our lot. Crap ketchup and Boro v Bolton. It’s just the life we’ve chosen.

I feel Mark’s attempt to repel from all this evil (the Premier League, not McDonald’s) yesterday was noble; yes we can all get a little sick of the game but we can’t really step away from it. Much like we should get in a cab after a belly full of pints but instead feel the need to top off that belly with a burger and chips; it’s in our nature. As Mark realised by the end of his rant, there is no escaping it.

However, despite this addiction, it’s never been a problem to do a Grange Hill on it and ‘Just Say No’ to watching Celtic games. Last night’s away day at Milan had little to appeal about it. An AC side virtually through, a Celtic side playing for a draw; even the most blinkered of Hoops fans – with their Celtic cross tattoos on their arms and ironed tracksuit bottoms for court – must have known this would be a stinker.

At 93-minutes I flicked over and saw that despite being one-nil down their fans were celebrating after Shaktar’s surprising home defeat to a fairly average Benfica side. Talk about feeling your decision was justified.

Of more interest tonight will be Arsenal’s visit to Newcastle which has plenty of decent subplots. With Fat Sam struggling to revive his career in the land of brown ale and shirtless supporters, he needs a decent result and who comes to town but a team who can feel justified in claiming to be the best in Europe at present. However, Arsenal are managed by a man whose sides often came up short against Allardyce’s former team Bolton. The Bolton team who played a system that Fat Sam is determined to inflict (and yes inflict is the right word here) on Newcastle.

The Gunners are also a side that still haven’t got more than a point when they travelled north of the midlands this season having drawn at Blackburn and Liverpool. And let’s not forget the injuries to Flamini, Fabregas and Hleb, with the useful Abou Diaby also out; indeed those first three have proven to be match-winners for them on a good few occasions this year already.

It’d be a huge upset if Newcastle do manage to pinch even a point... but feck it anyway, I’ll go for one-all, with at least one side finishing with ten men. Though, at this point I’d like to publicly denounce Fat Sam for not signing Patrick Berger during the summer and giving me a decent sign off joke for this blog.

Fat bastard…
Later, JJ

The Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

A Break From Football



Hi All,


I came across the news today that Steve Coppell wants a break from football. This follows on the heels of Paul Jewell quitting Wigan for a break before taking over at Derby last week.

Coppell said:

"I'd do what Paul Jewell has done, play a bit of golf, get out of the environment a bit, and then try to re-educate. I'd love to go and watch all the top managers here and abroad.
"I can't enjoy management. I work all week to win a game. If we win I have an unbeatable high for 20 minutes, but then it's thinking about the next game.
"If we are beaten, it's a bottomless pit. It goes through my mind when I get beat, do I need this?"


Of course, Coppell has been here before: in October 1996 he became manager of Manchester City, a job that he quit after only six games and 33 days in charge. He cited the pressure of the job as his reason for leaving the club.


Coppell and Jewell are the lucky ones though, they are millionaires who can do as they please. But what about us poor fans?

At barely 4 months into the season, I am feeling jaded already, because of work for the podcast and blog, I am immersed in football 7 days a week - with no break til next July.

If I have to read one more article about the vacant England manager's position, I will go mad. If I have to read one more article about...


  • UEFA and FIFA messing around with football, and how much Platini hates England

  • The state of the grassroots game in the UK and Ireland, and knock-on effects on the national team

  • 'Bloody foreigners' playing in England

  • Liverpool fans having a protest, backing Rafa, booing Rafa

  • Newcastle claiming they are a big club and 'deserve' to be up there

  • Gerrard/Rooney/Lampard says 'We can win the League!'

  • John Terry's sexual encounters. No wait, that's still fun

or hear the following things on TV/Radio/Podcasts:



  • Gerrard/Lampard can/can't play together

  • Arsenal are good this season, y'know, that Cesc is a player

  • England players are 'World Class'

  • "There's physical courage and moral courage Bill..." - Johnny Giles

  • Rafa rotates a lot and no one else does

  • "Welcome to Grand Slam Sunday"

  • "The mind games have begun...."

  • "Well, wouldn't it be a wonderful tournament with England in it?"

and I will go mad, head for the nearest book depository, take out my rifle and start shooting.


So, I think I need to detox, maybe over Christmas is the perfect time to detox, to go cold turkey on it? Maybe a stint abroad where they have sensible mid-season breaks will do it? A new year resolution?


But no, I'll stay here, furiously watching a game on TV, whilst drinking beer, checking teletext scores and reading articles off the Internet, all while thinking about sex every 5 seconds, working myself into an early grave.


And women say we can't multitask?


Mark,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Big four & Big draw


So as we draw closer to the supposed crunch time of Christmas in the Premier League (yup, after four months I’ll finally call it that) the basic fact of the matter is that the big four have done it again. There, like the most obvious thing in the world, they once again take up the top four spaces in the division. Deep down we all knew it would happen but it’s sort of soul destroying that it’s actually come to pass with such sickening inevitability.

Okay Sven City did a decent job holding out for a while, but their less than adequate away form finally cost them a place in the Champions League positions. It happened to Portsmouth last year around this time, and of course the year before it didn’t happen to Spurs until the last day. But it did happen.

The top four however have always been a curious animal... although when exactly the term became common is up for debate. 2003? 2004? Maybe, but I’m not sure it was until after Istanbul that Liverpool could even conceive of being in any elite group in this league. Chelsea certainly weren’t in there until the stubbly Russian mute took over.

Each year one of their number suffer from tales of their demise; there was Man United being predicted for fifth at last season’s outset and Arsenal were seen by many commentators (okay, idiots like us at ODF) as only a top six side at the start of this season. Liverpool also had some doom merchants at the outset of the 07/08 campaign who predicted pain and plenty of it.

But despite millions paid out by other sides, there they sit. What kind of pain can a club really suffer when it still canters to a slot in the league that guarantees them millions to spend on the best players (and Dirk Kuyt) every summer?

While it’s inevitable in the short term I still hope Spurs sort themselves out, Everton (though I’ll never get sick of that ‘Two Nights in August’ joke) get some decent cash and Man City and Pompey (and to a lesser extent Blackburn and Villa) continue their upward trajectory to challenge the hegemony. I know that sentence sounds like something you should say at the start of a new season rather than approaching the midway point but the ease with which these four have come to this position shows the disgraceful lack of real challengers out there.

Liverpool and especially Chelsea have even had to survive off-field drama and on-field tedium to mount possibly serious title challenges too. Here’s hoping Man City stick with the big boys for a little while longer to keep them honest, but is this it for the next 20 years ala Scotland or what? Well, I suppose a big four is better than a big two at least.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anyway, aside from that, the draw for Euro 2008 was an absolute cracker and fair play to Uefa suits for hiring Swiss actress Melanie Winiger (above with eh... two blokes I don't care about) to host the gig as her picture made for far nicer images in the Monday papers than viewing Michel Platini’s hobo-chic look once again.

The bizarre system whereby group opponents can now meet in the semi finals aside, there’s already some great games to put in the diary… that wonderfully England-free diary. Germany can make some annexing gags towards the Poles on June 8th while Holland face Italy the night after. Then the next day it’s Spain and Russia followed the day after by the Czechs against Portugal and that’s only the start of things.

Okay, so Greece will play terrible stuff and the hosts will both lack quality but this is three weeks of generally quality football. Get the cans; get the takeaway leaflets; phone off the hook… life as it is meant to be lived.

JJ,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Friday, 30 November 2007

Updated: ODF 30 Nov Podcast Online

Due to me missing my blogging duties yesterday I thought I’d weigh in with some predictions for the weekend. Before I get on to the real world though, I will tell all that I now have Gallas, Rosicky and Adebayor in my Fantasy League team and with Arsenal playing twice this week, why world domination awaits!

Then again, I’ve made about twenty wrong moves on the trot this season (Ronaldo as captain when he got a red card; buying Hleb when he was injured; buying Elano as soon as his goals dried up etc etc) so I expect all three of the above to get injured or sent off at Villa Park tomorrow.

Anyway, back to the predictions, the temptation is always to do a Costanza on it and just do the opposite to whatever Lawro says on the BBC, but I’ll resist that and just try, at the very least, to make this interesting.

Saturday
Aston Villa v Arsenal: As Mark said on the podcast last night, it really is a rare occasion when you end up supporting Villa but tomorrow is such a time. It’s the late kick off and I expect it to be a belter. Arsenal with a fairly weak midfield – Gilberto’s ideas of a new contract seem to have vanished after Wednesday’s awful performance in Seville – could be undone by a confident Villa side. In fact, they will. 2-1.
Blackburn v Newcastle: Hmmm… Blackburn needing a win after a midweek thumping and what with Newcastle being horrendous at all aspects of the game of association football, that’s just what will happen. 2-0.
Chelsea v West Ham: Good fight for thirty minutes, collapse, brief comeback, second collapse. 4-1.
Portsmouth v Everton: A ding dong affair as some commentators, mainly ones from the seventies, would say. Or maybe they didn’t but it’s a cliché that I’m determined to use this time out. I can see Harry getting some Rafa-esque support from the crowd, though this may turn into boos by the end of the game. After last weekend’s destruction of Sunderland and with Yakubu heading back home I can see an away win here. 1-2.
Reading v Middlesbrough: Meh… 1-0. Don’t even watch the highlights of this if you want a decent Saturday.
Sunderland v Derby: Again, I can’t see there being many highlights. While a new manager tends to lift players, Paul Jewell would have to inject a batch of performance enhancing drugs and at least six new players to turn Derby into a decent outfit in the space of a few days. “We’ve learned a lot today,” I can see him saying after being thrashed to within an inch of their lives. Well actually I think they’ll just get a 2-0 away defeat for their troubles.
Wigan v Man City: Sven’s men are missing Elano, Wigan are missing 11 good players. 0-2

Sunday
Liverpool v Bolton: Easy home win, has to be… unless of course the tannoy at the start of the game announces those magical words ‘Kuyt’ and ‘Voronin’ in the starting line up. “They are clever players”, Rafa has said of them. No, no they’re not. Sensible side selection = 3-0 win. Those two, plus Momo = 1-1.
Tottenham v Birmingham: Home win, nothing whatsoever to get excited about, 2-1 after a late consolation goal from Brum.

Monday
Man United V Fulham: Come on, I think we all know this will be 4-0. Expect a lot of ‘Hollywood’ football, though it won’t be coming from Clint ‘Deuce’ Dempsey.

Later, JJ

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi All,

Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:
Fixtures & Results: Premiership, Champions League & World Cup Qualifying Groups
Pub Talk: JT at SWP's birthday bash, Jewell, Bruce, McLeish, Platini, Bangura, Harry Redknapp
Featured section - Where Are They Now - Paul Warhust, Uwe Rosler, Guy Whittingham, Liam O'Brien, Benito Carbone - see his goal against Leeds, and being welcomed in Sydney. We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf30Nov07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball
Cheers,
Mark
http://www.okeydokefootball.com/
http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 29 November 2007

ODF 30 Nov Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.
We discuss:
Fixtures & Results: Premiership, Champions League & World Cup Qualifying Groups
Pub Talk: JT at SWP's birthday bash, Jewell, Bruce, McLeish, Platini, Bangura, Harry Redknapp

Featured section - Where Are They Now - Paul Warhust, Uwe Rosler, Guy Whittingham, Liam O'Brien, Benito Carbone - see his goal against Leeds, and being welcomed in Sydney,

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf30Nov07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Cheers,
Mark
http://www.okeydokefootball.com/
http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Weird Jerseys Reaction




The best match I've seen so far in the Champions League was last night's 2-2 draw between Lyon and Barcelona. It was a joy to watch Messi and Iniesta (the latter in an unfamiliar role) ping passes around with ease. Lyon, despite the lumbering fool that is Fred, created some great chances, and were generally composed on the ball. It wasn't good night for the youngsters. Hatem Ben Arfa was generally poor, conceding possession and making poor decisions. After a bright start, including setting up Iniesta's opener, Bojan Krkic faded into obscurity, and at 17, still has some way to go it seems. I was looking forward to seeing another wonderkid, Karim Benzema but unfortunately he missed the match through injury.


Juninho Pernambucano looked like a bum off the street who wandered onto a football pitch, but it didn't stop him scoring from about 45 yards from a freekick. It's a pity that set pieces are the only thing to his game. Ronaldinho came on and had a few neat touches but it's clear that Messi has replaced him as the heartbeat of the team. I hope Ronnie moves on, concentrates on football and becomes the best player in the world again. As for Lyon, they have a tough match in Glasgow which they must win, and I feel confident that Alain Perrin will find a way to mess it up. Rangers played what looked like a great match against Stuttgart, eventually losing 3-2, but after a fine display so far, they should scrape through to the next round


Inter Milan got a 3-0 win at home to Fenerbache, but the most important point of the game was - what is with the St George's Cross shirts? Or perhaps they are going for a Knights of the Holy Grail look.... Either way, it was disturbing, sort it out Moratti.


PSV won 1-0 away to CSKA to give them a chance of making the knockout stage, while Roma hammered Dynamo Kiev 4-1. Mirko Vucinic, scored twice and looks like he will be a threat when Ireland play Montenegro in the World Cup Qualifiers. The 24 year old currently has 4 goals in 4 games for the newly formed country.


Man Utd got a lucky win against Sporting - Ronaldo shocked the world by scoring a superb freekick. I suppose for every thousand, 1 must go in. Arsenal conceded top spot in the group to Sevilla (who seemed to be sporting Inter's shirt too) after losing 3-1 in Spain, their first defeat since losing to West ham last April. Winning the group means a chance to avoid some big guns in the next round, but frankly, if they entertain thoughts of winning the competition, they should not be afraid of anyone.


And finally, Steaua Bucharest got a 1-1 draw at home to Slavia Prague, which means Slavia qualify for the UEFA Cup. Watch out Bolton!


In tonight's matches, Liverpool face a tough battle against Porto, but I fancy them to nick a win. The commentators will again remind us of 'great European nights at Anfield' when the crowd belt out YNWA during their support of the Rafalution. Chelsea are away to Rosenborg, in a match they could do with a win. Surely they won't be caught out for second time, after their poor 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge? Rosenborg are no pushovers, as Valencia will attest, and Stefan Iversen seems to be in the form of his life so I expect an 'English grit' performance and Chelsea will draw.

Celtic will be looking to avenge their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk and I'd put good money on a home win, for no other reason than that's what the form book says.


After a lot of poor games in round 4, the 5th round of matches have started in cracking style, lets hope it continues later,

Mark,

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Boooo - a Theme





Hi All,

it was a great weekend for booing, a fan's right to rain down abuse on players. There is nothing more cathartic in sport than calling a player every name you can think of and joining in in some good old fashioned booing.


Watching the highlights of the Premiership over the weekend, I found myself subconsciously booing the TV in unison with fans.

Derby - Chelsea. Lampard, Wright-Philips, Cole and Terry were booed for their poor performances for England. (Some commentators questioned the booing of players who didn't play last Wednesday, such as Terry, somehow forgetting that each was involved in some way over the qualification campaign). Derby were also booed, but for being rubbish, and Davies got the boot.

Newcastle - Liverpool. you can always rely on the Magpies for some fun, and there was no let up here. After a 4-1 thrashing at home to Portsmouth, they capitulated again against Liverpool. Marvelous boos rang out at half-time and full-time, and there were renditions of 'You don't know what you're doing' to Big Sam.

Birmingham - Portsmouth. Another loss for the Brummies, 6 out of 7, Steve Bruce has done a legger to get Wigan relegated (probably instead of Birmingham) and they are only one point clear of a relegation place - Boooooooo!

Everton - Sunderland. Roy Keane's only bit of luck on Saturday was that his team was playing away from home, otherwise we would have heard a familiar sound to greet the 7-1 tonking they received whilst sliding into 18th position. Boooo!

Finally, Middlesbrough continued their disastrous season by losing 3-0. At Home. To Villa. There was only response to it, and surely Southgate is a dead man walking now.


After losing 6 managers so far this season (Mourinho, Jol, Davies, Bruce, Hutchings, Lee) we could see a record number of managerial changes in a season yet. Big Sam, Southgate and even Roy Keane could join the managerial merry-go-round, the most virtuous circle I know of - multi-million pound rewards for abject failure and another job lined up.
Mark,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Monday, 26 November 2007

The big bang, lap dances and 1994


Back with a bang. Is there any phrase that means the same thing in such a short, concise format? Probably, but on a tired Monday afternoon I can’t think of one. It was the most used phrase of the weekend though as English football licked its wounds and did what it does best, entertain and infuriate in equal measures.

What was there to infuriate? Well there was the question asked by Sky on at least three occasions in the build up – and that’s just the build up never mind after Gerrard’s goal – to Liverpool’s massacre of Newcastle on Saturday morning… ‘why can’t English stars reproduce that form at international level’?

As the question was twice aimed at Jamie Redknapp (the third at Andy Gray) we got searing, intense answers like “that is a great, great question Richard and I don’t know” and “you see them play week in week out for their clubs and it just beggars belief they can’t do it for their country”. So that’s not answering the question and repeating the question. Interesting method of punditry Jamie.

In fairness to the silver-suited gimp, he did mention the “fear in players’ eyes” when playing for England. Apparently there was no fear in their eyes on October 27th though when the English boys headed out for a few vodkas, lap dances and frankly inevitable tabloid headlines as they attended Sean Wright Philips’ birthday bash.

The full report is here and the video of John Terry gyrating in front of a lapdance pole while supposedly injured is on the same page. Lionheart, absolute lionheart. The question is not whether we will talk about this whole thing on the podcast this week but whether we will actually talk about anything else.

Anyway, back to the weekend and Arsenal again pulled out a good win when perhaps they would have drawn last season, especially with their decimated midfield. Liverpool, as I said earlier, played Newcastle off the park. For what it’s worth, I think Fat Sam should be given time up there, it’s an okay squad but he’s been unlucky with injuries; as well as the legacy of a terrible chairman in Freddie Shepherd and the curious stewardship of Mike Ashley who must spend big in January. Note: wearing a jersey like a regular fat Geordie, will only fool the real fat Geordies for so long.

Villa beat a poor Middleborough side with another one of those ‘promising’ English managers Gareth Southgate looking under pressure. He will though be given time by an understanding (too understanding at times) chairman, as is the case with Roy Keane whom you’d suspect were he nearly anyone else, would have fans calling for his head. Sunderland need points quickly but then they are playing Derby next week.

Manager-less Derby that is, as my ‘Billy Davies living on borrowed time’ predictions came to pass at last. It is rubbish timing though with few likely to be willing to take on the job. Davies also left with the fair complaint that had a linesman not incorrectly ruled Kenny Miller offside on Saturday evening he could have taken points off one of the ‘big four’. Would he of been sacked after that? Doubtful.

Derby’s season will now most likely plod along with falling attendances, yet more shambolic losses and the frankly pathetic target of beating Sunderland’s all-time low points score of 17. Good times, good times.

Speaking of good times, Jermaine Defoe missing a penalty is always a happy occasion, so well done Robert Green. While, keeping that happy vibe going, Bolton beating Man United was a great result for Gary Megson’s team who have cleverly realised that playing like Sam Allardyce’s team tends to win points (except up in Newcastle of course).

The Tevez miss, the Pique mistake, the blinkered Ferguson whining all made for great TV. United will be very angry in the next few weeks though and will also have Vidic back in defence. Expect a long unbeaten run coming up and I still think they’ll win the title. The bastards.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Elsewhere the World Cup draw took place and we will talk about it in this week’s podcast, though making predictions for games that are the guts of a year away is kinda ridiculous so we won’t be going overboard. Can Ireland get a play-off place behind Italy? Can England get revenge on Croatia? Yes and, through gritted teeth, most likely yes. All a matter for another time though, next year perhaps.

But, just because I can't resist, here's six minutes from June 1994.

Later, JJ

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Friday, 23 November 2007

ODF 23 Nov Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:

Fixtures & Results: Premiership, Champions League & Internationals

Pub Talk: All the fallout from the England mess, Lippi, Bruce's image rights, Kuyt & Peter Reid
Featured section - We hate Lee Bowyer

AOB - we finish the show with some listener comments.
Don't forget to sign our Keep Houllier out of the Ireland job petition.http://www.petitiononline.com/jxz81c/petition.html

I will forward the results to the FAI once we have enough votes.

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf23Nov07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball
Cheers,
Mark
http://www.okeydokefootball.com/
http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 22 November 2007

God save the Bilic


For all those who weren’t overly excited at the thought of England being at Euro 2008, last night was one of the most delirious evenings of football seen in some time. I won’t go too in depth into English misery or the reasons for it. Instead here, simply, is a run down of some of the texts I received last night from a few mates during the genuinely enthralling 90 minutes and hilarious punditry at half time and full time, (some of which I unfortunately missed but got updates as you’ll see).

It all started with this one…

Pre-match:
‘New keeper, Terry and Rio missing, no Owen, no Rooney and Croatia top of the crop and wanting to beat the brits. Believe lads, believe. Have Croatia at 7-1’

0-1
‘Isn’t sport funny sometimes’
‘England one nil down… come on!’

0-2
‘Just when life can’t get any better, it suddenly does.’

Russia go 1-0 up
‘Lawro’s starting to get a bit upset with things. Can’t wait to see Wrighty’s mug at half time.’
‘Stan for England’

45 mins
‘Gary is straight into it at half time. “I don’t like to be in negative… eh town, but eh, I am Ian”… who was formerly called Wrighty before the game’
‘The look of pain on Ian Wright’s face is worth the Sky subscription alone’

1-2
‘Back in it and a miracle save from Carson. It’s starting to look a bit ominous.’

Now, from here there was quite a bit of silence, as people returned to their everyday lives fearing the inevitable. When that came from Crouch’s goal every man and his dog thought England were through. We didn’t reckon with England sitting back and seemingly refusing to pass to each other. Then…

3-2
‘Jesus I was so depressed thinking England would get through. Thank fuck!’

Final whistle:
‘Hansen came out with a good one there… said it’s a low point in English history. That’s no nonsense. He didn’t even mention football.’
‘Oops!’
‘Pure comedy genius’
‘Slaven Bilic, absolute legend – “listen England didn’t lose tonight because of McClaren’s tactics, you lost because we are a better team than you".’

And in the finale, we go back to where we started and my mate Mick with his 7-1 bet…
‘Let me help you with those champions league pools in future. Young lad operating on his own like you is easy fodder for the bookies.’

He’s right; my Champions League predictions are generally as piss poor as a 60-yard pass from Steven Gerrard, who incidentally changed his tune about McClaren fairly damn quickly after the game, having backed him for the last ten days. All in all, I won’t hide it, I’ve said plenty of times on the podcast that I didn’t want England to go through as – since Ireland have been dirt for a good five years now – I hate watching tournaments where my only interest is in seeing England fail.

Euro 2008 will lose very little with England’s elimination and I’m really looking forward to the tournament at last. Now here comes karma to kick me up the arse and we’ll get England in the World Cup group draw tomorrow afternoon.

Later, JJ
(ps: the name of the pic above, nicked from the BBC website is: '44254068_losers2_getty416'. Pretty much sums it up.)

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning,
subscribe here http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

He's Rodney... keep him on telly!




Hi All,
the latest installment of the snore-fest "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!" started recently on ITV. Imagine my surprise, when flicking channels last night, that I was faced with the gurning image of Rodney Marsh been stretchered away for ligament damage. True to form, he has already caused controversy on the show by being amazingly sexist. He said: "She believes in equality of women and that women should be paid as much as men and that women are equal to men [but] what has a woman ever invented?"

Marsh is a former Fulham, QPR, Man City and Tampa Bay Rowdies striker, he also made 9 appearances for England, scoring once, against Wales. His international career ended after a smart remark to Alf Ramsey.
Ramsey said: ‘I'll be watching you for the first 45 minutes and if you don't work harder I'll pull you off at halftime," Marsh replied: "Christ, we only get a cup of tea and oranges at Fulham!"

Most will remember him for his outspoken TV work, he was a joy to watch amid all the current blandness on Sky Sports and the BBC.
In 1999/00, he predicted relegation for Bradford and offered to shave all of his hair off if they stayed up. They duly achieved it, helped by this last day win over Liverpool, check out David Wetherall's goal. Marsh subsequently got his head shaved in the centre circle of Valley Parade.

In 2005, he was fired from Sky Sports for making a joke about the recent Tsunami and David Beckham, along the lines of: Beckham's move to Newcastle is on hold after trouble with the Toon Army in Asia.
Marsh moved to Talksport and caused further controversy after he made news reader Robyn Schonhofer laugh uncontrollably while she was announcing the deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan.

So, all in all, a bit of a legend then. Some good video links here, here, here, here, and his legendary skills pretending to be Rooney! See also his Times interview, and official website.

Mark,
Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning,
subscribe here http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Why Garth, why? And other questions...


With the end of the Euro 2008 qualifiers in sight, many people are finishing up with some very important questions on their mind. While the problems of Ireland and Wales are well worn topics, so I won’t go into them here (most of them rhyme with ‘banager’ though) there’s a few issues that are left outstanding now that – for the most part – the participants in world football’s second biggest showcase have been decided.

Here’s a rundown…

Should they stay or should they go?
While it’s fairly obvious that many of the men who have led sides to unsuccessful campaigns will lose their jobs, there’s a few that have fate in their own hands. Marco van Basten for one has led Holland to the championships after a rough start to the campaign.
However, with Chelsea supposedly sniffing around and with his old team-mates Carlo Ancelloti and Frank Rijkaard looking shaky in their current jobs, he could yet jump ship prior to next June. There is also the suspicion that the Dutch will be far less than the sum of their parts next year, as was the case in the last World Cup. The fact that many of the players would happily see their national coach head off may also point towards an early exit for Marco Goalo.
Slaven Bilic too has said that he would like to manage in England and the poker-faced Croatian could well make a move to a decent Premier League side in the coming months. With Alan Curbishley continuing to provide plenty of bills but little answers for West Ham could the former Hammer, Bilic end up at Upton Park? Personally I hope so; the guy always talks with intelligence and likes to play good football, just what the league needs. The new Luca Vialli perhaps.

Check their heads
Scotland. Ah, poor old Scotland. Nearly there, not quite, within a whisper… say it whichever way you want but they didn’t make it. While their achievements in their group no doubt deserved more (any country would struggle to qualify from their group ahead of Italy and France); football is cruel and Scotland won’t have a competitive game for the guts of a year. Will their players be able to get themselves up for another mammoth campaign? A lot, obviously, depends on the draw for the World Cup qualifiers but consider these two questions:
(a) Their start striker McFadden has been playing well above himself, can he continue to do this at a high level? And…
(b) Can they overcome their inability to beat middling Eastern European sides away from home? The victory away to France was amazing, but victories against the Ukraine and Georgia would, most likely, have seen them through. Games like this will almost certainly feature in the next qualifying series.

All in all, these aren’t massive challenges, but the assumption they will qualify for the next major tournament is something that might come back and bite them on the arse next time around.

Major tournament England
Will the lessons be learned from the World Cup? Will the hype die down? Will the players play down their chances? Will McClaren be brave enough to drop Beckham for a second time? Will be brave enough to separate Gerrard and Lampard in a major tournament game? I’m guessing… no, no, no, no and just for a change eh… no.

There will be a lot of water under the bridge and no doubt plenty of broken metatarsals in the headlines before England head out to the tournament but you suspect that come next June it’ll be the same damn story. They have some decent players and let’s hope that now it looks like they’ll get there they play some decent football as, though I hate myself for it, I always end up watching their games.

Coverage c**ts
Will the BBC and ITV provide decent, un-biased and interesting coverage? With not a hint of Jonathan Pearce and Clive Tyldesley to be found anywhere? Will they bollocks.

“And now over to pitchside where everyone is shifting nervously next to our man on the inside, Garth Crooks.”
“Slurp…thanks Gary.”

Some things never change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cugYQ35vtvQ

Later, JJ

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here
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Monday, 19 November 2007

Weekend Reflections

Hi All,

International week is half way through, and only a few more days of misery to go.

Ireland got a 2-2 draw in Wales in a match they should have won easily, given the difference in resources. Wales were depleted by injuries to Bellamy and Bale and started the match with two teenage fullbacks, Chris Gunter and Neil Eardley. Robinson went off injured in the first half and Ireland should have seized their chance. Overall it wasn't bad for an Ireland game, but the endless references to saving pride made me want to puke. I think pride went out the window a long time ago.
Steven Hunt came off the bench like a man possessed and added to his reputation as an impact sub. Because of 1 or 2 games, people are willing to box off his career. Let him start more in the next qualification campaign and we can properly judge his effectiveness. He starts every game for Reading, after all.
Don Givens, the U21 coach took charge of the match on Saturday. He has been in the job as long as I can remember, and I think the FAI should look at it's strategy. Many countries use the underage teams as a learning ground for potential future managers. Givens has no ambition for a top job and is happy in his role (why wouldn't he be - loads of cash - no results expected). It's time the FAI took manager development as seriously as player development. Staunton could, and should, have been asked to take over the U18's 2 years ago, so he could make his mistakes there.

In a game that was actually meaningful, Scotland lost 2-1 at home to Italy. It was cruel luck on the Scots, the Italians got a freekick that never was and Panucci scored the winner. A draw could have been enough, depending on Wednesday's Ukraine France game, but their hopes were over. I feel sorry for the Scots but I'm happy that Italy and France will be at the finals.
Credit must be given to Walter Smith, and Alec McLeish. I have long felt that McLeish did a good job with Rangers, winning titles despite a lack of money compared to Celtic. After the game, he was non-committal on his future, and it could be a perfect time for a Premiership club to pick him up.

Over to Israel - I was hit by the inevitability of it all. Despite the conspiracy theories floating around in the run up to the game, that the Russian connection would influence things, Israelis in general are pro-England and they won the game in time added on. Amazingly, England only need a draw at home to Croatia to progress, and I think it will be one of the most undeserving qualifications in a long time. I'm glad they are through though, it creates a buzz around the competition, there are countless articles and TV programs which are widely optimistic and then it all goes down the pan.

Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com

Okey Doke Football Podcast is available every Friday morning, subscribe here
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Friday, 16 November 2007

ODF 16 Nov Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:

Fixtures & Results: Premiership & Internationals

Pub Talk: Phil Neville, Welsh Player of the Year, Quotas, Wigan & Bruce, Anton Ferdinand, Thaksin, Benelux, Appiah's 'passion for fashion' and Chelsea

Featured section - Drunk Footballers - who would we like to get drunk with.
  • Hayden Foxe at a Christmas party
  • Don Hutchinson in Aiya Napa
  • Shearer, Albert & Gillespie in Dublin
  • Fowler & Macca share a moment. Steve's wife wasn't impressed. Robbie's wife kicked him out for 2 days.

AOB - we finish the show with some listener comments.

Don't forget to sign our Keep Houllier out of the Ireland job petition.
http://www.petitiononline.com/jxz81c/petition.html
I will forward the results to the FAI once we have enough votes.

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it: http://media.libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf16Nov07.mp3
Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Cheers,
Mark
http://www.okeydokefootball.com/
http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/

Thursday, 15 November 2007

No Negativity Day - Players I Like

Hi All,

Amidst all the negativity we pour out on the blog and podcast, I thought I'd lighten it up a bit by naming a team of players who i actually like.




GK: David James - gets my sympathy for previously being a laughing stock, is now environmentally cool and intelligent.


RB: Steven Carr - made a living being a short round fullback. Respect!
LB: Graeme Le Saux - has a face you want to punch but has a degree and speaks for gay rights in football. Right On!

CB: Linvoy Primus - not only has he a cool second name, he's an all round good guy who does work for charity. Shame he's a Christian...

CB: Sol Campbell - the hate disappeared once he left Arsenal, he now dreams of acting and learning languages, while putting in a good stint at Portsmouth.

CB: Arjan de Zeeuw - has a degree in medical science and doesn't really like football. Diouf spit in his face and he didn't retaliate.


CM: Jimmy Bullard - has a fantastic haircut, looks a bit mad.

CM: Steve McManaman - articulate, engaging, easy-going and witty.

CM: Pedro Mendes - has appalling luck such as goals disallowed, violent assaults but keeps on trucking.

CF: Ole Solksjaer - kept his nose clean, model pro, didn't talk shite to the press. CF: Teddy Sheringham - lived the dream, football, models, Ferrari's and yet always seemed a decent bloke.


Subs:



GK: Marcus Hannemann - listens to Slipknot and loves guns.

FW: Brian McBride - good footballer, hard worker, keeps his head down

DF: Nedum Onuoha - is still young, but is an intelligent and reasoned young man.

CM: Elano - modest despite his skill

LW: Stephen Hunt - looks mad, is a big bogger and everyone in England hates him for his challenge on Cech


Manager: Steve Coppell - Twice LMA manager of the year, had Man City's shortest managerial career and his degree in Economic History could come in useful here...

I expect to be slated for some of these, so please leave your comments, and your choices below...

Mark,
Http://www.okeydokefootball.com