Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Sheva... where did it all go wrong?

JJ here,

One of the enduring mysteries of last season was the failure of Andriy Shevchenko to spark into form and become a force to be feared by all defenders. Instead, he became a token scalp for the backlines of Charlton, Watford and even bloody Macclesfield as ‘the world’s greatest striker’ failed to score against them. Sheva’s plight came to mind when thinking – albeit briefly – about Sunday’s Community Shield game (whatever happened to the Charidee Shield??).

In last year’s season opener, when Chelsea played Liverpool in the Millennium Stadium, Shevchenko looked every inch the deadly striker. He scared the crap out of opposing supporters every time he touched the ball, running purposefully at defenders and scoring with a beautiful chest and finish (http://youtube.com/watch?v=JYrYpmzmol0 ). Little did we know that it wouldn’t be until an FA Cup replay against Tottenham eight months later that he would reach such heights again (http://youtube.com/watch?v=AwtOY7eTwe4 ). In between he’d scraped in a few goals here and there but overall he looked like a journeyman, a nervous and fragile one at that.

This year another Ukranian striker has made his way over to the Premiership as Sheva’s international teammate Adriy Voronin signed for Liverpool. Expected to do little he has so far received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Though then again so did Erik Meijer in his pre season days (http://youtube.com/watch?v=nCCP2vR-_jc ), so we won’t be ‘Waltzing in a Voronin Wonderland’ just yet.

But for a free transfer he looks like good business; while for £30 million Shevchenko looks like a washed up superstar. Can one bad season be turned around by a man with undoubted talent? Well not by the looks of how Chelsea will play this year – most likely with two wingers and one up front. Even when they go 4-4-2 there will still be too many central midfielders present (Lampard, Essien, Ballack or Makelele) to have a fluid attacking formation, leaving only one winger to throw in crosses.

Voronin himself has chimed in with his two cents saying: “Shevchenko didn't perform as well as he was expected to last season, but he played in Italian football for seven seasons with AC Milan and that league is totally different to the English game. Maybe he just needed a little more time to get used to the English style. I think he'll do better this season because he is a goalscorer.”

It’s all possible but then nobody else – even those in the Chelsea side or their manager – seems to be voicing this opinion. We’d all like to see a world class talent like Shevchenko come back to form and score a hatful. However, the suspicion remains that he’s just an average six months away from a loan deal back to Milan or another European giant during the January transfer window.

I never feel sorry for a millionaire but we all like to see good football so let’s hope wherever he is come next May, the legend of Sheva might have been resurrected. Chelsea, it seems, is a dead end for talented men like him.

Here’s a pic of his wife for good measure… like I said, never feel sorry for a millionaire.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Svennis Shows Presence

A while ago, as JJ pondered the arrival of Sven to Man City, he asked some questions (http://okeydokefootball.blogspot.com/2007/06/resurrection-of-sven.html):

Will he attract top players?

The answer to the question is yes. Well, at at least as good as Man City could possibly get, in their current situation. So, here's a quick run thorugh of their recent signings.

Gelson Fernandes - 20 year old Swiss U21 International, 6ft tall midfielder. Sven believes him to be the best young Swiss player, but in fairness, the competition is hardly stiff. Verdict - youth on his side and relatively cheap, not bad

Rolando Bianchi - 24 year old Italian striker, scored 18 Goals in 37 Games last season for Reggina. A slow starter, in 05/06 he had 1 goal in 9 games and the season before, 04/05, 2 in 25. Verdict - a risk, especially for £8.8m, but he can't be as bad as Corradi. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=VFwlltfhXdo)

Martin Petrov - 28 year old Bulgarian left winger, a £4.7m signing. Verdict - a good player, will give City some much needed creativity and cheap at the price. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=dhql3KggcXI)

Elano - 26 year old Brazilian attacking midfielder, a £7.4m signing from Shakhtar. Recently won the Copa America, he has good skill and passing. Verdict - he's no Kaka but looks a decent bet. (http://youtube.com/watch?v=WututalcjUw)

Geovanni - 27 year old Brazilain midfielder, once bought by Barca for €18m, his career has waned since his youth. He spent much of his time with benfica and last season on loan at Cruzerio. Verdict - a man with talent on a 1 year deal, a no risk signing who could come good.(http://youtube.com/watch?v=LOT-eI3x1lQ)

Further signings will come - moves for Juventus defender Chiellini, and Mikael Silvestre are rumoured, and I think we will get a good season from City.

Will the tactics or football be any good? We'll see soon,


Friday, 27 July 2007

ODF Podcast 27 July 07

Our latest podcast is online now.
We discuss:

We hope you enjoy the show.

Download it: http://libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf27Jul07.mp3

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




Thursday, 26 July 2007

He might be a millionaire… but is he happy?

JJ here,

Through an odd set of circumstances yesterday I ended up talking to the sister of a guy with a new three-year contract at Man United. This girl’s brother is on the under-18s squad and is in the first year of his deal.

His sister is delighted even though she’s a Pool fan (indeed the poor thing has gotten tickets to the last two defeats Man U have handed Bentiez’s men at Old Trafford) while the brother is apparently seen as a very decent prospect and a future international. Of course, things like this can often change.

After all, John O’Shea – the butt of many a joke over the years – was the best of a bunch of talented Irish youngsters who went to Old Trafford nearly a decade ago. Progress at youth level is extremely hard to gauge – Julian Joachim was once regarded as the top prospect in Britain, and now… (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_Joachim)

One interesting thing that the guy’s sister mentioned was how the United training ground is set up. Apparently, once you get in at youth level you’ll pass by Ferguson’s office most days and get a word or two from him on a regular basis; you’ll interact with the first team whenever possible; get two tickets to each game and are invited to a load of team events. This whole ‘Family Man U’ concept that Ferguson tries to put across whenever he wants a young player to stay is apparently a reality after all.

I’m no great fan of the Scot; but that is solely because of who he manages... and maybe his wild paranoia and wallowing in denial over refereeing decisions too. So maybe I’m just no great fan full stop… but without doubt his teams play excellent football and I’ll always watch them. Even if I do hope they lose most weeks.

The Man U youth player in question also told his family that – from talking with other players at different clubs – things at Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Celtic and most other big teams are vastly different. Youth players elsewhere are segregated and not even given a glimpse of the first team. Maybe this leaves them awestruck and open to poor form once they do break through.

The Liverpool youngsters who played in last year’s Carling Cup looked like a bunch of scared kids as Julio Baptista ran riot. Chelsea’s youngsters never even get a look in. While over at Arsenal it seems that – and throw some examples at me if I’m wrong here – local guys who come through the youth ranks barely get a look in as foreign starlets signed in their late teens are promoted straight into the first team.

Unhappy players are generally useless players, and I suppose that goes for all levels, whether they’re suffering from homesickness or not feeling appreciated (like them poor fellas left to survive on £55,000 a week... taking the piss so they are). The amount of players that stay at United for life is a testament to that. While those who get grumpy and start to upset things – Ince, Van Nistelrooy, Stam and even Roy Keane – are shipped out once they become too much of a problem.

I’m not saying that others should attempt to emulate Ferguson’s approach – he’s a man 20 years in his job so should know everything that’s going on at his club – but I just think it’s interesting what effect these little things can have. We see players on the pitch, in press conferences and in media appearances but what goes on behind the scenes (where even the ‘close sources’ of the tabloids get nowhere near) is generally kept secret and must be of huge importance.

The effect of a happy club can be seen in Reading’s success last year; and indeed Sunderland’s where Keane has fostered a fairly relaxed sounding atmosphere. I suppose it’s all about buying into a manager’s vision and if that is the case then that’s another reason I think that Newcastle players who are willing to work with Fat Sam will have a great season while West Ham players who couldn’t give two shits about what Alan Curbishley says will be in for a hard slog this year.

It’s about getting things right throughout a side, from youth team upwards, and it can’t be a coincidence that Ferguson’s approach has yielded nine league titles while United’s often shambolic peers go from manager to manger and plough cash into youth team set ups that often lead nowhere.


Now, after that ramble… we’re preparing for this week’s show which will feature results and fixtures (including the wonderful, wonderful Aussie defeat and mad Iraqi celebrations); Pub Talk featuring Kluivert, Fiendish Freddie Ljungberg (a reference for all old Commodore 64 owners there), Ireland ‘ace’ Joe Lapira, and much much more. We’ll also profile the Legend that is Jurgen Klinnsman. We’ll be online by Friday afternoon.

Later folks

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

A Footballer's Life

Tonight the Irish lottery prize is somewhere above €10m. It got me thinking, as these things do, of what I'd do with the money. Visions of Father Ted in Las Vegas throwing money up in the air, whilst surrounded by ('lovely') girls immediately entered my head but in fact, I think I'd be more likely to be living the life of the modern English footballer.
With the news today, allegedly, that Rob Lee and Warren Barton have reportedly been arrested for taking a limousine and driving when unfit, it seems there is no end of capers that the modern footballer will get up to.
We have the lovely Mr Bellamy (http://www.okeydokefootball.com/showHate.asp?HateID=6), a regular visitor of Welsh Nightclubs, and all round sane person. Dyer, Ferdinand, Terry, Lampard get up to all sorts of tricks, sometimes in Aiya Napa. The first professional footballer in the world to ever wear an ankle braclet, so that the police know where he is - the charming Jermaine Pennant. The Sunderland Roast last year was a particularly funny incident (http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006560734,00.html).
Even the nice guys get up to some serious drinking - Gazza, Robbo, McGrath, the entire Irish team of the 90's a few days before every match and the not so nice - Alan Shearer, Dwight Yorke, Jody Morris, Lee Bowyer, the list is endless.
Of course, it's not just the drink and crime, there's the Wags & the celebrity 'Hello' weddings, the country vanity mansion (even the Nev has one now!), the selection of supercars with personalised numberplates and the deeply unfortunate forays into pop (http://www.discogs.com/release/417883).
So, if I was a professional footballer I would have done many stupid things by now, I would have emulated the very people I sometimes hate. Pretending to go visit my granny, so I can bunk off on a binge in America. Check. Nightclubs til 4am with a battered burger afterwards. Check. Assaulting people. Check. Orange Lamborghini. Check. Roasting. Not unless there were many, many drugs. Career down the pan at 22. Check.
In fact, it doesn't seem bad at all, or that different from my current life... Roll on the prize draw,

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Art Of Patience

While some clubs are going wild with their newfound wealth and snapping up every journeyman on the go (vide: West Ham) others are taking it handy, so let's have a quick look.

Everton are currently around £29million in debt, which, relative to the new TV deals, is pocket change compared to a few short years ago. Since Moyes has taken over he has had to be wise with his money, a succession of managers having turned Everton from League Champions in 1986–87 to mediocrity in the new Premier League, with debt increasing.

The purse strings have surely been loosened, but Moyes appears to be trying to pick up bargains again. A suspected bid for Nugent never materialised, only Jagielka has signed for about £4m. Steven Pienaar, the classy (well, last time I saw him) former Ajax midfielder should join on a season long loan. Perhaps Moyes is right to be hesitant in bringing in too many faces, his team finished 6th last year after all, and the amount of money required to push them up to 3rd or 4th is not available. A stable squad that includes the talent of Arteta, Cahill, Lescott & Johnson, as well as the rising stars of Vaughan & Anichebe does not need much surgery.

Blackburn, ever since the demise of Jack Walker, are following a similar trend, to similarly good effect. There have only been 2 signings so far this summer, Dutch forward Maceo Rigters and reserve goalkeeper Nielsen. Their squad seems almost as strong as Everton's (Pedersen, Bentley, Savage & McCarthy and Derbyshire coming also through) finishing 6th and 10th the past two seasons.

JJ ran the rule over West Ham's pathological spending yesterday and Spurs, Sunderland & Liverpool have also been adding heavily to their squads. So which is the best way to achieve success?

My opinion is, sign as few as possible. History shows the risk of destabilsiing the team with unnessary purchases (Chelsea 2006, United 2001, Liverpool 2002, Spurs in the past 10 seasons, Leeds ~2001) . Far better to build a solid team by gradual increments, and not fixing what isn't broken (Chelsea 2002-03, Everton 2005)

Agree/Disagree? Comments below.


Monday, 23 July 2007

No Plan B for Curbs

JJ here,

The news that Freddie Ljungberg is to sign for West Ham can be seen in many lights. You might think it’s a great signing – after all, he’s an experienced Premiership star with a host of medals in his Jason Bourne-esque safety deposit box (Roy Keane has one anyway). Then again the past three seasons have seen him struggle with injuries, poor form and Olaf Mellberg trying to decapitate him during international training sessions.

One thing this signing does prove is that Alan Curbishley and his scouting team at West Ham do very little homework. While Arsenal and (this summer) Liverpool scour the continent and indeed the lower leagues for bright young talent; and Spurs pick up men from overseas like Dimitar Berbatov, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Younes Kaboul; West Ham have just gone for tried and tested options in the transfer market.

Okay, so the other three clubs mentioned have foreign managers with what some would term as a greater knowledge of the game abroad. However, Jol has been in England for three years, Benitez is starting his fourth season at Liverpool and Wenger has been in the Premiership with the Gunners for over a decade. It’s not like they’ve just come off the boat with a load of unproven but exciting talent.

Each has looked around Europe to pick up the best on offer, affording some of the Premiership’s brighter lights (Bent, Benayoun) whenever needed as well. It’s a risk, but if it works – as Berbatov proved – it can be the making of a team’s year as they add an unknown element that can unlock opponents.

Curbs, as his friends and everyone on Soccer Saturday call him, signs men who he knows do a decent job in the league but who most other managers wouldn’t touch due to reputation or price. West Ham have to be aiming for the top six, maybe even top four, with the money they’ve spent and certainly with the wages afforded to those they have picked up. But is that possible with their expensively assembled squad?


The mercenary Lucas Neill;
The prima donna Craig Bellamy;
The possibility of injury prone problem-fest Kieron Dyer;
The uninspiring jinx of Matthew Upson;
The steady influence but little else that Scott Parker offers, and now the reliable when fit Ljungberg.

Curbs has tunnel vision when it comes to players, he hasn’t got the wherewithal to go out and find someone decent to add something different to his side. Does he need more foreign scouts? West Ham currently employ former player Roger Cross as their chief scout but have no other info on names that might be looking out for them in foreign territories. If they do have such scouts at their disposal one can only imagine they won’t be getting much of a pre-season bonus for their, so far less than sterling, work.

The now injured Frenchman Julien Faubert was only signed up when Curbishley saw that Rangers were taking a risk on him; Curbs hadn’t signed anyone that week so this guy would do. Well, that’s the way it seemed anyway; put it this way Rangers were first with any interest and it wasn’t until Faubert’s name had appeared in the papers a few times that West Ham took any interest. They had the cash so they could steamroll in.

West Ham’s new owners showed little mercy with Alan Pardew last year and are unlikely to this season with a man who only has a track record of keeping a side up for the guts of a decade standing to his name. True it was an immense achievement and Charlton fell out of the league as soon as he left but this still isn’t a CV that will afford him much time under his current employers.

At Charlton he could pick players that had survived the Premiership with clubs that finished above his side and it was seen as a good move. Danny Murphy, Matt Holland and Paulo di Canio came to The Valley with varying degrees of success. He seems to be going for a bigger, stronger, more expensive version of this method with West Ham.

Now Curbishley will be asked to turn a bunch of men who are used to coasting through a season (Freddie aside) as stars of average clubs (Blackburn, Newcastle, Birmingham etc) and turn them into winners. Then, in the case of Bellamy and Dyer, change them into respectable members of the community as well.

He deserves this season a least to prove his worth but come January I’d forecast plenty more panic buys from other Premiership clubs who are well aware that West Ham will pay huge prices for their average ‘stars’. Why? Because Curbs hasn’t got any other ideas up his sleeve.

Friday, 20 July 2007

07/08 Season Launch

Hi folks,

I'm delighted to say we've kicked off the first episode in the Okey Doke Football 07/08 podcast season.

On the show:
  • New sound clips
  • We announce our intentions & philosophy for the coming season
  • We cover fixtures & results - Copa America, U20 WC and Asian Cup
  • Pub Talk featuring the major summer transfers, Henning Berg vs Souness and more...
  • Season preview (part 1 of 4) - We assess the chances of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn & Bolton
  • Where are they now US special - find out what Terry Cooke, Danny Dichio & (Leonardo) Shaun Goater are up to

We hope you enjoy the show and continue listening over the coming season.

Remember, please click the Google ad links to cover our running costs,

Download here: http://libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf19Jul07.mp3

RSS Feed here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/OkeyDokeFootball

Email us at comments@okeydokefootball.com



Thursday, 19 July 2007

Viva España... and eh Italy too

JJ here,

The next season is shaping up well but that doesn’t only go for the Premiership, in Italy and Spain there has been a fair amount of exciting news during the close season. The most recent is that everyone’s favourite grumpy half-Australian half-Italian hate figure Christian Vieri will ply his trade with Fiorentina next season. A man of undoubted talent, he was plagued not only by his hatred of most of humanity last year but also by a series of injuries.

In all he only played seven league games for Atalanta in 06/07, scoring twice although one was an amazing hit from 40 yards (http://youtube.com/watch?v=bwgHQBva7kQ). It’s a long time since his heyday of 24 goals in 24 games for Athletico Madrid in the late nineties but at Fiorentina he will be taking to the field with a decent set of players. Indeed they are a team who have only been denied Champions League qualification for the last two years by various scandals and financial difficulties that were out of the players’ hands.

Elsewhere in Europe we have Michael Laudrup taking over at Getafe after four successful years at Brondy where he won the league championships and two Danish cups. It has the air of an appointment where he will try and prove himself before taking over at either Barca or Real. Considering that Rijkaard may only have a season left and Schuster could well be the victim of Real’s penchant for dumping coaches after a defeat or two he may even end up at one of the big jobs by the time next May rolls around.

He’s played for both clubs of course and bizarrely is still liked by each set of fans; then again he was a fantastic player (http://youtube.com/watch?v=vn0PS85pvqw)... but a terrible actor (http://youtube.com/watch?v=kK-bRmM--so). The other tantalising aspect of his appointment is that former Arsenal goalscoring machine John Jensen, who was his assistant at Brondby for four years, may also join up with him. There’s just something about a very average player ending up as assistant manager at Barcelona or Real Madrid that makes the world a little brighter.

Other moves of note: Yaya Toure has been talked up for some time and now that Barcelona have stepped in for the former Olympiakos and Monaco man he will be expected to live up to the hype in midfield. He’ll most likely start on the bench this season but with the amount of games Barca play each year he’ll get a few run outs.

Vincenzo Iaquinta takes his record of a goal every three games to Juve this season; David Suazo at last went to Inter after 102 goals in seven seasons at Calgiari; Diego Forlan went to Athletico and of course will be joined by the wonderful Riquelme and the annoying but effective Luis Garcia.

One prospect I’m really looking forward to is an on-form Real Ronaldo being back in the Champions League with AC Milan as well. If he can do this (http://youtube.com/watch?v=18v_z95x8Co) often enough we’ll be in for a great season in Europe as well as in the domestic leagues.

So, outside of the hoop-la of the Premiership, which moves have caught your eye?

And no mentions of T*****y H***y. The tit.


We're recording the first podcast in three weeks tonight and you'll be happy to know we're starting off the 07/08 season in style with a few new touches as well as plenty of beers. We'll have the links up for that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Keane's Risky Signing

Hi All,

Apologies for lack of blog yesterday due to communication problems, but hey, it's summer, chill out...

Roy Keane has signed Kieran Richardson and it's interesting to see the snide news stories emerging from the English press, none of whom have any time for him, mainly because of the Haaland incident and he is generally seen as a loudmouth Irish thug with no intelligence. Expect a million articles this season on his every move...

Richardson is hardly a great signing but when he broke through at United at 18, he showed a lot of light-weight skill. His period at West Brom was also successful but he went onto fade rapidly at United. The reasons for this seem to be his call up to the England squad and his 'big-time-charlie' attitude. Keane's infamous MUTV appearance and dressing room dressing down of Kieran also point to attitude problems.

After a few years in the reserves and on the bench though, I'm sure he is desperate to get his career back on track. Perhaps he is the type of player to need an extended run in the team, to get his confidence high, to be allowed make mistakes on occasion, a luxury he didn't get at Old Trafford. Roy surely knows his character from his Man Utd days and must be confident of his motivational skills.

Sunderland's signings have so far been underwhelming and overpriced, but I fancy Keane to make it work. Lets face it, we don't want to see the next Bryan Robson (won promotion with Middlesbrough to Premiership in first season, terrible manager ever since) do we?

Monday, 16 July 2007

Choking Argies


It was a disappointment to me but unfortunately came as no surprise that Argentina bottled it in a major tournament. Again. A whole generation of Argentine footballers have gone without a major trophy, and would easily be called the new England if it weren't for the fact that they play some great football.

Various theories can be put forth as to why they had lost -

  • Formation - too many central midfielders
  • Speed - Riquelme & Veron make Ian Harte look fast
  • Brazil's counter-attacking policy
  • The loss of Crespo to injury

Alas, it seems to be the psychology of the team, as was proven it the last World Cup and the last Copa America in 2004. It is even more embarrassing for Argentina as they had all their best players in the squad, and Brazil had Baptista. How can they come back from this? Will Messi have to win them something on his own? And how bad will the slagging be if you're an Argie in Brazil?

Why do I care? Well, I care because we need to see good, attacking football and the last thing we need to see is Dunga in charge of Brazil, a man who, needless to say, loves tough defensive midfielders. So, congrats to Brazil, but here's hoping for more Brazilain flair at the next World Cup, and the trophy for Argentina.

2 last questions - how heavy will Baptista be in 2010 and what's with the Jeckyl and Hyde performances - last night (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2jpf3_brazil-1-0-argentina-baptista) and last season (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIFiND5oC3A) but sometimes he is both in the same match (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/league_cup/6282147.stm)



P.s. we'll have a new podcast this week (Friday morning)

Friday, 13 July 2007

Lists Glorious Lists

Heya folks, JJ here,

At the moment The Times seems to be going 'list crazy'. After there 50 best players in the world; there’s now the 50 top football transfers (Cantona to United is number 1, Michael Chopra to Sunderland number 50) and even the top five goals from Leo Messi. World Soccer have even got in on the act with their ‘Greatest’ issue where they go through the top 20 goals, games, teams and football pictures of all time. All in the name of filling that newsless gap called summer.

In solidarity with them – and inspired by a rain soaked and cold July Dublin day – I present to you my own laboured-over list. This took me hours and hours of course but I present to you… the eh…. the Top 10 eh…

Feck it, the…

Top 10 People/Things/Teams/News Stories That I Wish to Avoid Seeing or Hearing About in the Coming Season…

10. Tony Cascarino
What an absolute tool. He has a great autobiography though that’s because mush of it is complete lies. Lanky, awkward, awful and disgustingly effective at times when he played, he possessed no skill as a player and yet is omnipotent when it comes to football punditry. Exit stage left Cas.

9. Alan Shearer
Uninteresting, no charm, nothing to say and plenty of time to say it. Were I paying a license fee in England I would go to court to try and prove the BBC were defrauding me by employing this gimp.

8. Kia Joorabchian
Interpol are after the Iranian gangster apparently. I never want to hear his name again.

7. Sheffield United
They most likely deserve their day in court but after 38 games of crap last year they don’t deserve another season in the Premiership.

6. Kevin Nolan for England
He’s just not that good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMbYGF9R7tw. In fact his legacy will most likely benefit from not getting the chance to play as badly as everyone else does in that shirt.

5. Michael Owen injury news
Here’s hoping he can stay fit and do well for Newcastle. The cries of ‘what a waste of talent’ directed towards him at Anfield last year were disappointing. Hopefully, he proves them wrong.

4. Avram Grant/Frank Arnesen/Peter Kenyon
Insert any of these names with the words “rift” and “Joe Mourinho” and the tabloids are on easy street again with another made up story of Chelsea collapsing. I. Don’t Care.

3. The Ronaldo argument
Is he the best player in the world? Is he a brat? Is he a choker? How much gel is there on that slick head of his? Please lord don’t let all this crap dominate RTE’s Champions League coverage like last year.

2. Andy Gray
He calls Steven Gerrard “Stevie G”; he uses the words “bread and butter” every three minutes; he’s incredibly arrogant in regards to the Premiership’s ‘superiority’ in Europe without giving any decent credit to foreign players or managers. Need I go on? An absolute prat.

1. International breaks
We wait for months to get real football back and then it all stops so that the ‘Gerrard or Lampard’ argument can start again; along with Steve Staunton boring the arse off the lot of us; Wales bothering to play; and every manager under the sun telling us “there’ no easy games at this level”. It’s not so much the football as the crap that goes along with it.

Your thoughts?
Also, we have new 'Hate Section' articles up on Thierry Henry and Gerard Houllier. Go to http://www.okeydokefootball.com/hate.asp and check them out. More articles to follow next week.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Copa America Final

Sunday's final of the Copa America will see old foes Argentina and Brazil square up to each other, after the results of the past 2 days. Argentina beat Mexico 3-0 in the semi-final last night, largely in thanks to an excellent goal by Messi (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ionz_argentina-2-0-mexico-messi) but Mexico squandered chances, particularly up-and-coming striker Nery Castillo hitting the bar when he could have levelled the scores.

Brazil, it the other semi on Tuesday, drew 2-2 with Uruguay and won the resulting penatly shoot out 5-4. Robinho is top scorer in the competition with 6 goals (it certainly came as a suprise to me, he's the Akinbyie of Brazil) but 3 have been penalties.

There is no doubt who is treating this more seriously, Argentina, despite reports earlier in the year of a B team being fielded in the competition, took all their stars, and thus are now under big pressure to win. Brazil left many players out from the squad that went to the World Cup last year - Kaka, Ronaldinho and Adriano the notable absentees - in favour of trying some youth - Diego, Vagner Love, Elano et al.

Argentina have been mightily impressive so far, they have scored 16 goals in 5 games, winning them all. Brazil have won 3, drew 1 and lost 1, their first match against Mexico.

So a preview of the final then?
Argenitna should be favourites - old timer Veron and Riquelme pull the strings in midfield, tevez and Messi provide great attacking threat. They are solid at the back with Heinze and Ayala. Brazil are not so impressive, Doni in goal has been dodgy (witness Heinze's goal last night : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2ioj7_argentina-1-0-mexico-heinze), their defense isn't great, conceeding 5 goals in 5 games and I don't believe they have enough firepower up front.
I favour Argentina, despite their recent reputation as chokers...

Overall, the tournament appears low on quality - Roque Santa Cruz can score a hat-trick, and Robinho is top scorer. There have been many high scorelines so far, Brazil and Argentina have been blowing teams away, so I really don't think it is any major achievement to win the competition. It should be a good final on Sunday however, and, like all major finals, I'm hoping for goals and a few punch-ups.


Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Everybody loves Royston

JJ here

My god, sometimes you forget that in amongst all the Tevez drama, Torres signing, Henry wandering off to kiss a new badge and all the other stories that have covered this summer, there is one thing above all else that will make this season worth watching.

Royston Keane. Or Roy for short.

Last year’s podcast was peppered with Keane quotes. There were the players late for the team bus who “were in so early they picked up the milk” the next day. He told us he’s “basically a cool guy”. He even took his players mountain biking and told a press conference afterwards:

“There were one or two I thought would be uncomfortable on bikes, including Dwight Yorke, but he seemed to enjoy it which surprised me. He obviously enjoys riding."

This man is a stone cold legend. Even before his managerial career began he would occasionally surface with a deluge of fantastic lines.

Exhibit A: “Before the game there was all this stuff about anti-racism and anti-bullying. It would be a good idea to start wearing wristbands for anti-diving.”

Exhibit B: “Maybe Gary (Neville) deserves to be chased up a tunnel every now and then - there would be a queue for him, probably. But you have to draw a line eventually.”

Exhibit C (while slagging off his own team on his own team’s TV station): “There is talk about putting this right in January and bringing players in. We should be doing the opposite - we should be getting rid of people in January.”

Keane’s lack of signings during the summer has been questioned in some quarters and you would find it difficult to imagine Sunderland could make an impression on the Premiership with the side they had last year. That’s a side that have lost one of their vital squad members already as the highly impressive Johnny Evans went back to Macnhester United after his six month loan deal expired.

However, in two successive seasons we’ve had Wigan and then Reading make an impact in their first year in the Premiership. What differentiates these sides from Keane’s is that even in their second, and in Wigan’s case third, years in the league they are still finding it difficult to sign quality players. Should Keane get Sunderland to a top ten finish then next season players with ambition will have it confirmed that Sunderland is a club worth signing for. European players in particular will see a solid league position and Keane’s reputation as plenty of reasons why they should sign up.

We’ll profile Sunderland in detail in the run up to the league campaign but I thought today I’d have to refer to yet more of Keane’s ruminations. Asked about those concerns over a lack of signings (before the £ 5million capture of Michael Chopra) he replied: “The fans, everyone, needs to just chill out and relax and let me do the job. That's what I'm paid very well to do.”

He added, “"Everyone is panicking a bit at this moment in time but I'm quite relaxed. It is vital that I get the right ones in and that I don't sign a player to grab a headline - that's no good for the club, the players, the supporters... or my health."

This is tame stuff by his standards and no doubt he will get better and funnier as the season goes on. With the carpet coverage of the league we can only hope Keane doesn’t ‘do a Ferguson’ and get in a row with any TV stations and stop talking to them. His cool persona since becoming manager at the Wearsiders might rule that out though.

Keano, the Premiership welcomes you back with open arms. I can’t wait.


There’s plenty of Keane’s quotes elsewhere on the Okeydokefootball site at: (http://www.okeydokefootball.com/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=5)

Insert accusations of lazy journalism below….

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Timofte & Blogs - Together At Last...

Hiya All,

As promised a few weeks back (apologies for our tardiness) here is the link to the excellent article on Daniel Timofte from the Sunday Tribune a few years ago. To anyone who missed the show, Timofte missed the 5th Romanian penalty against Ireland in the 2nd round of the World Cup in 1990. Dave O'Leary cooly won the match to spark a massive party...

I've been rumaging around the internet today, reading some football posts and it drives me mad sometimes. What - these guys whose only purpose in life is to go onto a blog and post a comment of "lazy journalism", "what would X know" and various combinations of "you're stupid" etc.
Our blog hasn't been going long, and thankfully we don't write about anything too controversial, but to be honest, we expected a lot of flames and cheap shots, especially for the podcast, what with our drinking, cursing and libel.
You might argue that professional websites should expect some criticism, and I would agree. And blogs should too. But too often it descends into petty oneupmanship that is the bane of the interent.

You can see 2 examples of what I'm talking about here.
1 From the Guardian today, Steve Claridge's scouting report, the first 10 comments are illuminating. (and yes, that is my username)
2 From http://101greatgoals.com, the best blog of it's type on the net, and the guys who run seem to put in an awful amount of work. The comments 1, 2 and 5 are pathetic

I have read many articles that although the amount of blogs is increasing, the amount of people stopping is also great. The main factors are time and the constant sniping. Female bloggers are constantly harassed if they hold political opinions, numerous police complaints have been filed. (http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/2007/03/28/kathy_sierra/index.html)

To clarify, I have no problem with disagreement or with constructive criticism, and maybe you could say that the insults are all for a bit of fun, but frankly, I could do without it...

Anyone agree with me?


Monday, 9 July 2007

Size matters... it's Random Monday

JJ here,

There’s little going on today so here’s some random thoughts…

Last week I was on a train that passed the site where once stood Lansdowne Road. The stadium had been described as ‘crumbling’ for about 15 years now so it’s good to see that work has, at last, started on a new home for Irish soccer and rugby.

Over the years, for those of you who may not be familiar with stadium politics in Ireland, there were plenty of arguments and a good amount of humiliation over where exactly a new national stadium should be built. Indeed for those who don’t know what I’m on about just look up ‘Eircom Park’ or ‘BertieBowl’ (in reference to our newly-re-elected leader Bertie Ahern) on Google and you’ll get a flavour of the decade-long battle to build the new stadium.

Above is a picture of what the finished product should look like when Ireland will play their European Championship qualifiers there in 2010, and while it seems like a quality piece of architecture and very modern design there is one huge flaw. The stadium will only hold 50,000 fans; a hugely disappointing number considering Ireland used to play in front of over 40,000 in the old ‘crumbling’ stadium during the early nineties. The capacity lowered with new FIFA rulings on crowd safety but it still had an excellent atmosphere even as the numbers were forced down.

Property prices and complaining neighbours have made the project smaller than originally intended but despite these excuses I’m still a bit bemused that the IRFU (who have plenty of property up their sleeves) and the FAI (who have plenty of dodgy fellas on their board), didn’t try and swing somewhere else with a bigger capacity and therefore bigger earning potential.

Looking at the new Wembley and its 90,000-plus capacity it makes the Lansdowne plan look a little second-rate to say the least. After a decade of drama, looking at all that rubble and thinking of all the cash (at least €400 million) that will be pumped into the project, you really can’t help but be a little upset that it came to this.


So Bernt Schuster is on his way to Madrid to bring sexy back to the newly-crowned champions of Spain. It’s an appointment that’s been a season in the making and having watched Capello’s team play some awful, awful football at times you can’t say it wasn’t coming. They have a record of getting rid of managers after winning the league – The Tragedy of Del Bosque as we call it here at Okeydokefootball – but they also have a formidable record for pedalling complete and utter bullshit.

Ramon Calderon spent the season lying his arse off about, amongst other things, Beckham’s house in LA; the clause in his contract that could keep him at the club; Wenger becoming the next manager; or even Robben being at an ‘advanced stage’ of contract negotiations six weeks ago. While the last rumour may, in the end, have a grain of truth in it, this fool should never be the source of any future headlines.

Want proof? He said that the club also talked to Ronald Koeman about the manager’s position. Yeah, that Ronald Koeman; former Barca legend who managed the two most boring, unimaginative teams in the last two years of the Champions League in Benfica and PSV. Even if he did talk to Koeman, it’s proof he knows nothing about the game. Good luck to Schuster but I would hope Calderon loses his position as bullshitter in chief as soon as possible; the summer is full of enough made-up transfer nonsense without him adding to it every fifteen minutes.


William Gallas is a tit: See this story for proof: http://football.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/0,,2122142,00.html


Juan Roman Riquelme is a god: See his two goals and pass for Messi for proof:

And on that positive note, later folks.

Friday, 6 July 2007

The Chop

JJ here,

While I’m looking forward to the league coming back in August there are a few teams that I hope to see very little of. I think you can probably guess them as they’re most likely the ones you’re dreading as well.

There’s the all new long ball worshipping Fulham who will be dire to watch under Sanchez.
Then there’s Derby who have a man in charge so foolish that he believes £3.5 million for Robert Earnshaw represents good business.
What about Wigan where Chris Hutchings will now field a side with both Emile Heskey and Titus Bramble in it.
And of course, Boro, as always, will be terrible.

Everton may also be as horrendously dull as usual but their new young strikeforce of Vaughn and Anichebe look like they could provide a spark where once there was only the lumbering James ‘Isn’t that your fourth cheese sandwich’ Beattie.

Of those mentioned above I think Bill Davies, Lawrie Sanchez and Hutchings will all be under threat of being sacked from the first moment of the new season. Hutchings has a track record of failure at Bradford and his signings leave a lot to be desired in a team that played very poorly last year.

Sanchez will turn Fulham from a team that everyone rooted for into hoof merchants that will alienate fans in their droves. Mohammed Al Fayed has all of a sudden become more visible around the club again and I think this may lead to some tension should results go against them.

Davies though has made the most questionable decision of all by allowing the appointment of former Scotland manager – and one of the most boring pundits on the planet – Craig Brown as ‘football consultant’ for Derby. For a man who is managing in the Premiership for the first time this wreaks of someone who is trying to make himself appear to have as professional a set-up as possible. Instead I’m predicting he’ll lose several of his first ten matches (which include games against Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Sven City) and get the sack.

The board will then look around the table and see a former international coach who can not only take the job but do so on the same pay as they have him on now.

Davies has, I think anyway, made a major error. He may have a contract until 2010 but faced with a losing team the Derby chairman Peter Gadsby would have to weigh up a settlement with Davies or losing £30-50 million by dropping out of the league. Then again, maybe he’ll do brilliantly, though I doubt it with their squad.

So there you have it folks, my choice for first manager to be sacked is Billy Davies, followed by Sanchez and then Hutchings (only because his chairman is so f**king pig headed he’ll stick it out for a while longer). The Derby manager is currently available for 8-1 on PaddyPower.com, Hutchings at 4-1 and Sanchez at 10-1. I’m off to the bookies to put my money where my blog is… so who’s your pick?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

The New Generation

The under 20 World Cup is in process in Canada (seriously, why have it in Canada? Is it one of those things to promote the game or was there a shedload of cash involved...) so I thought I'd have a look at some of those involved.

The new generation of Argie chokers can be seen beating Panama 6-0 here:

Argie squad list: http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/teams/team=1888242/squadlist.html

Ones to watch:
Emiliano Insua (Liverpool)
Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid)
Federico Fazio (Sevilla)

Bruno gama, right winger, Portugal http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/news/newsid=545305.html#a+figo+little+lisbon

Spain squad http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/teams/team=1888256/squadlist.html

Portugal squad http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/teams/team=1888287/squadlist.html

One to watch - Zequinha - only because he has a cool name

Brazil have some class players: http://www.fifa.com/u20worldcup/teams/team=44018/squadlist.html
Willian (in the new nike ads…. http://nikefootball.nike.com/nikefootball/siteshell/index.jsp#,en,0;shootinggallery,)
Jo (striker - CSKA - http://youtube.com/watch?v=HO7NAVdXLKI)
Alexandre Pato (Chelsea and Milan want him, along with the rest if the world - see The Duck here http://youtube.com/watch?v=JvgS7AM5e1M)
Luis Adriano - Shakhtar - http://youtube.com/watch?v=X5_HAMfCw6E
Ji Parana - Internacional

Incidentially, I'm in Spain and was reading Marca the other day. Despite my Spanish being poor, at best, this line was unmistakeable: "The black power trio of Henry, Abidal and Toure seem to be the perfect antidote for Barca".

So, it's good to see they're keeping a lid on the old racism....


Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The Striker Conumdrum

Hi Folks,
Mark here.

So, Liverpool seemed to have signed Torres. At £27m and 90K a week, it is a substantial investment in a player. There is no denying that Torres has skill but Liverpool fans should worry about his scoring record.
It would be unfair to include his early years, so lets look at the past 4 years:
Year Apps Goals
06/07 40 15
05/06 40 13
04/05 49 20
03/04 40 21

Goal average: 69/169 = 0.4 goals a game.
On the face of it, it doesn't seem to be bad, but the last 2 seasons were a worrying trend, especially with Athletico doing better in La Liga in that time. His record of 14 goals in 40 games for Spain is hardly remarkable, given that Peter Crouch has 12 goals for England.

Maybe I'm being over-pessimistic here, but the past few years have seen many strikers "ruined" by the Pool, and frankly, I think Torres will find it tough in the Premier League. Benitez has gambled big, I believe failure will cost him his job.

Over at Arsenal, having dumped Henry, signed Brazilian/Croatian Eduardo Da Silva yesterday. The claim of a £16m transfer fee by Dinamo Zagreb would seem to be well wide of the mark, an unsubstantiated claim of 8m is more likely. I think it is a good signing, in theory he is what they need. Briefly watching him play for Croatia, he is an old sytle centre forward, a man who would generally score scrappy goals and is useful in the air. His hat-trick against Israel was impressive, as was his performance against England (Selection of goals here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfXGOGzEAwk), his success will depend on adapting well but he seems to have the talent.

Blackburn have signed Rigters, a guy we bigged up on the last podcast. His performances for Holland in the U21 Euro Championship were excellent, 4 goals in 5 games, including a last gasp overhead kick against England, point to his class. Mark Hughes has again made a canny signing, and is doing very well at Blackburn on a relatively small budget.

What about Forlan, I hear you ask. Well, last week I laughed at the idea of him returning to England, but his move to Athletico Madrid should be good for both parties. Forlan has proven himself in Spain, with 1 goal every 2 games, and his headless chicken style should suit the bottlers at Athletico.


Monday, 2 July 2007

Saga Samba and Fat Frank

JJ here,
The word saga is used all-too often in football these days. The favourite usages relate to transfer sagas and new contract sagas. They’re both really the same thing considering a contract saga will, no doubt, clash with a transfer saga which in turn escalates the original contract saga to proportions that few saga watchers thought possible.

There are other sagas – the Tevez one(s), the takeovers, the odd managerial one to boot. There’s even a ‘new stadium saga’ every once in a while; in fact thinking about it, any situation that goes on for more than three days in football now seems to be saga-worthy. Except that is, for Frank Lampard.

Frank has, apparently, turned down his latest Chelsea contract – rumoured to put him on wages marginally above those of Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack – and is playing ‘hard ball’ as they say in ‘80s dramas. Fat Frank has been holding out now all season with his buy-out clause of £8 million said to be interesting clubs across Europe. His agent was quoted as saying that as a “marketing icon” Frank should be given the contract he deserves. To push things along Lampard has also made noises about possibly liking the idea of playing at Barcelona.

So why no saga? Well it’s because no one seems to waste their time thinking about this. That even goes for Barcelona, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Real Madrid who have all apparently been offered Frank by his agent and who have all apparently turned him down.

The thought of losing a man who scored them 21 goals last season doesn’t even appear to be worrying Chelsea fans or the manager. For instance, there’s been no outpouring of goodwill ala United fans and Fergie when Roy Keane was deciding his future in 2000. Back then the Real Madrid board wanted to build a side around Keane (who was the same age as Lamps is now); he even had talks with Bayern Munich where they offered him wages approaching what Frank is after seven years on.

Keane didn’t claim to be a marketing icon, he didn’t go to the press and say how he ‘admired the football’ in Spain or elsewhere; he just weighed up his decision, was straight with everyone and stayed on with the club who had shown loyalty towards him in difficult times.

Lampard professes his adoration for Chelsea and they offer him £121,000 a week. A fair deal surely but he has turned it down. Though, unlike when Gerrard or Henry were stalling over new contracts the fans of Chelsea aren’t paranoid about losing an idol. In fact, they’d probably like to see how Ballack would do when unchained from clumsily hoovering up behind Lampard in midfield.
Jose Mourinho called Lampard the best in the world but has said nothing about the contract; maybe he’d like to see the best of Ballack too. The German offers a more versatile game than Lampard and should be given his chance.

Why would Barca or Real be interested in a midfielder who doesn’t even like to play in midfield? Lampard has said that he likes to have two others sitting in the middle to allow him to run on. In all honesty, how hard can this position be? He barely has to defend; he has all the time in world to run on to loose balls and his method of free kicks amounts to ‘run up then whack then hope’. Barca have such a crowded frontline at the moment that they hardly need this type of midfielder at all.

There’s rumours they will go for him if they can sell Deco but this is only another of Laporta’s ego buys; Deco’s life off the pitch apparently ‘leaves a lot to be desired’ as one top European football journalist puts it (details man, we need details!!). But no one has come in for Deco and plenty of other top European journalists have claimed that the Brazilian-born Portuguese international is going nowhere.

Lampard will, in all probability, sign the deal in front of him. Though his agent will try and put out the idea that in fact it’s Chelsea climbing down. The lack of desire for his services compared to when Ballack was on offer last year; or Gerrard the season before is notable though. Lampard is not the great player that many claim him to be.
Keane was the real deal, Lamps is a “marketing icon” – and not even a particularly good one once you take him out of a Chelsea shirt. Every top side in Europe knows the difference. Wake up fat boy, we all know you’ll sign. And that is why there’s no saga here.