Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Spurs Starting from Scratch

JJ here,
Ah Spurs. In the last decade or so we’ve had managers who claimed the title would soon be in their grasp (Francis and Hoddle), some who said they were a club that were world famous for good football (Gross and Santini) and some who just got on with the job of managing a mediocre side while waiting for the next man to come in (Pleat and Graham). In Martin Jol it seemed they had a bloke with both the intelligence and imposing presence to shift them from also-rans to Champions League regulars.

The story of his bizarre and frankly sad departure has been told plenty of times and now the fact of the matter is that Juande Ramos rules the roost and is now charged with unleashing the inner potential of such ‘stars’ as Steed Malbranque and Jermaine Jenas. Which is hardly an easy task now is it. Okay, okay they have some quality in the side as well – King when he’s fit, Keane, Berbatov – but they’re not overflowing with world class talent.

But, the argument goes anyway, Ramos’ world class coaching skills will turn them into contenders soon enough, with some Spurs fans eyeing up the Uefa Cup (the trophy the Spaniard has captured two years on the trot) as a decent option already. But does success in one job really guarantee similar achievements elsewhere?

A manager coming into a new club needs either some heavy doses of luck or huge wads of cash these days to be successful. For instance, Frank Rijkaard knew nothing but failure with Holland and Sparta Rotterdam, yet when handed big stars and big expectations he took to the challenge of Barcelona beautifully after a difficult start. Were he to swap this situation – where he has been blessed with such riches of talent – with say the AC Milan job where he would need to rebuild a side, would he be capable of such success? You’d have your doubts.

What about Claudio Ranieri? There is a man who specialises in charming fans in Italy, Spain and England, playing decent football and getting teams into the Champions League places but his record varies from glory to disaster – just look at the varying fortunes of his two spells in charge at Valencia for proof.

Ronald Koeman is about to take over at that certain La Liga outfit yet his managerial prowess centres around a Portuguese Super Cup, two Dutch leagues with traditional champions Ajax and one lucky one with PSV last year as well as knocking out a mediocre Liverpool and a despondent Arsenal from the Champions League in ’06 and ’07 respectively. This will be a huge step up – personally I’d rank his managerial record alone alongside Walter Smith’s before he went to Everton from Rangers – and considering the awful brand of football his teams play you can see little else but failure for the rotund Dutchman.

Elsewhere, Fabio Capello may have a great record in Italy and Spain, but at Real Madrid he was never given the chance to stick around long enough for it to go wrong. Speaking of the Spanish giants, their finest coach in modern times – Vicente del Bosque – went to Turkey after his glorious achievements at home and in Europe and flopped spectacularly.

Rafa Benitez’s record to someone who hasn’t watched his teams actually play is amazing, yet he is considered in great danger of losing his job at the end of the season. Then there’s Jose Mourinho, whose talents will be sorely tested in his next job. Add to all this Sven and his excellent record, blemished only by five years of trying to get the best out of the International Baby Bentley Brigade tm. No one would touch him for ages yet now he’s working miracles (well except for last Saturday).

It’s all luck, cash and public perception of your success really. Whether Ramos will be successful or not will depend on how much funds Spurs have left to spend after a hefty summer in the transfer market and whether the players already there actually want to stay. He could be a miracle worker but then again that rarely, if ever, exists in modern football. The thing is though, the Spurs board have laid their cards on the table by firing a damn good coach for one with little English and varying degrees of success pre-Sevilla.

Indeed, one glance at the top of the Premiership table – where the Spurs board crave to be – suggests that longevity is the key to success. As Wenger and Ferguson prepare to face off on Saturday, they are universally seen as two of the best managers in the business, if not the best. Spurs have started all over again, and somehow I doubt should it start to go wrong a season or two from now they will continue to have courage in their convictions. Which is why they may never attain the status they desire so badly.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Scary Performances

Hi All,
Well, after my long weekend it is time again to reflect on the action in the Premiership.

Liverpool vs Arsenal.
The Gunners first real test in the league was one of those type of matches that on the surface seem to tell a lot, but when you consider the circumstances of the game, we still don't know enough.
The theory that Liverpool were defensive, didn't do much the whole match and that Arsenal controlled the match is fine, but how different could it have been if it had been had Gerrard not scored early? Benitez's natural caution took hold after as he encouraged Liverpool to drop deep and keep it tight. I can't help feeling that Arsenal would not have had it so easy had the scores been level for much of the match. A superior team Arsenal may be, but Liverpool played right into their hands by conceding possession, what little of it they had, so easily.
So Arsenal proved, to some extent, that they are worthy challengers for the title, but a sterner test will come next weekend against United at Ashburton Grove.
For Liverpool, the same old questions remain, and they didn't show to any observer that they are up to a title push, and they could be out of the title race by the time Alonso and Torres are back fit if they continue this poor form.

Tottenham vs Blackburn
The on-looking Juande Ramos will be glad he's trousering an extremely large wad of cash for his new job at Spurs, as he has got a really difficult task ahead of him to get that rabble into shape. A few decent cup runs seem likely to be all to keep Spurs fans occupied this year. The next three league fixtures are against supposedly weaker teams, and Spurs could conceivably get their act together to climb the table. A league finish of 7th or 8th is still on the cards, but it would be some comedown for a team which looked set to break into the top four.

Looking to the long term, Ramos will need to spend some money (or vastly improve his centre midfielders and centre defenders by coaching) and looking at the Spurs squad, it is in a poor position considering the amount of money spent in recent years, not least this summer. Add in the classic Spurs tradition of finding a way to screw things up, and it will need a combination of Mourinho, Wenger & Ferguson (as one tabloid newspaper described Ramos) to improve their lot. I wouldn't be confident about it at all

Round Up
Avram Grant at Chelsea has started his media manipulation, by claiming that they are playing attractive, attacking football, in contrast to the previous regime at Stamford Bridge. His 6-0 win over City appears to back up his point, but Mourinho's team would have won that game 3 or 4 nil, playing the same football, then sat back to conserve energy. The old Chelsea were Liverpool-style hoofers, but they could turn it on at times, and did for the majority of Mourinho's 1st 2 seasons. Beware Grant rewriting history over the coming months...

United blew away another opponent and their attacking players look in great form. The loss of Scholes for 3 months will be a blow, but Anderson has been been playing well, Hargreaves is fit and Carrick is almost back from injury. The partnership of Tevez and Rooney looks great against poor teams, but how will they fare against Arsenal?

Of the other results, Aston Villa look destined for mid table mediocrity, Blackburn & Portsmouth continue to impress, Everton have got Cahill back and should move up the table, and surprisingly, Reading have the same amount of points now as they did at the same stage last season. That's a nice crisis to have


Friday, 26 October 2007

ODF 26 OCT Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online.

JJ was unavoidably engaged this week so I decided to put together a special clip show featuring:

Our very first show, we started as we meant to continue - Libel, a fashion critique of Van Basten, and Zlatko Zahovic & Communist hats.

Our Christmas Special had a number of moments as we were both dying of hangovers, and in hindsight, it was probably best not to do the show. JJ belched, he walks into a joke and how we wish there were more Champions League semi-finals so we could see John Terry cry again.

At the end I've included the segment of the show which I think defines Okey Doke Football - the Hate section. First up is Frank Lampard, followed by Pele.

Download it or Subscribe to the RSS

There will be a full show next week, and it is our one year anniversary of podcasting, so we will try to line up something special to mark the occasion.

Thank to all who have given their support and positive feedback over the past year.


Thursday, 25 October 2007

Ugly, Ugly Football. Lovely, Lovely Halle

There really are times in life when you’ve just gotta sit back and admire Halle Berry. Because Halle, along with the other beautiful women of this world, would keep ya going through the bad times. A decent pint of Guinness, a juicy steak, a fry up or finding twenty quid on the ground help as well. All of these wonderful things could be the elements that make up a perfect day and then… you watch Liverpool. Whether you like it or not, that’s your day buggered up.

In the style stakes they’re not Arsenal and they’re not Man United. They’re certainly not Barcelona, but they may be a more expensively assembled Rangers. My melodramatic housemate said yesterday that if Liverpool beat Arsenal on Sunday he’ll give up watching football for a month, such would be the evil of this result. Now, while this is bollocks – he threatened to give up drinking once but that lasted oh… two days – I can kinda see where he’s coming from.

Of Arsenal’s seven the other night, they scored two goals ( & which, in terms of teamwork, were comparable to Carlos Alberto’s 1970 World Cup final effort (

Okay the stakes were hardly as high, ala the argument over Messi’s Getafe dribble versus Maradona’s 1986 effort (, but they still played beautiful stuff and have won 12 games on the trot which is, to put it mildly, fucking incredible.

Man United looked immense as well in Kiev (politically correct big paper spellings don’t exist at Okeydokefootball). When you consider who was out on Tuesday the only problem Ferguson will have this year is who to pick when everyone is fit. Though, then again, this is United so everyone will never be fit at the same time.

Liverpool can win a game with a few dodgy decisions against Everton, grind out away points at Wigan and beat Villa away too – but all of these have required late goals and crucial missed opportunities by the opposition. Besiktas scored when they got the chances, and many more teams will do this to Liverpool as the season wears on.

They will win nothing this year with the present hit and hope method – Monster Mash simply doesn’t have the range of passing to work with Gerrard who is consistently 20 yards ahead of him. Alonso, even when he is back, will have to pick up his form dramatically after a poor 12 months. Meanwhile Babel is not been given enough of a chance and poor old Crouchigol is being ignored to a criminal extent. As for Sami, I can’t stay mad at you chief, but you’re no longer up to a long run of games and I’m hoping Agger is fit at last for Sunday. Overall, decent players are being held back by Rafa's tactical obsession with the opposition.

At this stage, I’m not sure I care if they go through to the knock out phase of the Champions League. If last night’s game is how they will play for the foreseeable future then it will be a penance to watch them grind away with the patently unworkable partnership of Voronin and Kuyt up front. Liverpool fans currently feel like apologising to other supporters every time the team is on TV instead of some decent football. These are indeed, depressing, confusing times. Thank god for Halle.


Elsewhere, it looks as if AC Milan are doing a better impression of Liverpool than Liverpool themselves by playing pants in the league but well in Europe. Madrid continue to win and Celtic continue to be as big an enemy to football as their Glasgow rivals. Actually that’s unfair, considering Rangers’ result against Lyon the other week, Celtic now find themselves thoroughly second best in that little, and quite boring, local scrap.

Great win for Rosenborg too and Chelsea are beginning to look dangerous. Man City will be a good test for Grant’s men when they meet at the weekend.

Showmen always say to go out on a high… so here’s my effort:

Later folks, JJ

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

By Mutual Agreement

Hi All,

We all knew it was going to happen, but the Football Association of Ireland wait until past our bedtimes to tell us that Stan had parted by mutual consent. We were deprived of sleeping soundly and dreaming of Jose because those buffoons thought it would lessen the media attention by not sacking him until after the deadline for the morning papers. What do they take us for?

In a way it's sad to see a player with more than 100 caps have the mickey taken out of him in the media, and have torrent of abuse reign down on him at matches, but his hapless, distrustful & shambolic management style has brought it about. Ireland had a bad manager, but some very good players (Given, Finnan, Dunne), good players (Ireland, O'Shea, Doyle, Keane) and they failed miserably,. most importantly, in terms of performance, and in terms of points. Stan wouldn't have been sacked if we achieved plucky moral victories while showing team spirit and resilience, he was sacked because of the players attitude, his attitude and the inability of anyone to change things effectively.

I'm sure there will be more about in the coming weeks, but the managerial position now up for grabs should not go to any of - Souness, Venables, any Irish ex-pro with no experience, or mercenary types like Philippe Troussier. Please FAI, pick up a youngish manager from Europe with some experience of success and pay him what he wants, performance related, on a contract until the World Cup.

The Champions League last night threw up plenty of great goals. Arsenal's 7-0 victory was superb, as was United's attacking play in Kiev, while Rangers did well to get a draw with Barca. All 3 British teams should be in the last 16.
To tonight's matches - Liverpool are away to Besiktas in a kinda-have-to-win-but-must-not-lose encounter, but they are lucky in that Turkish football is absolute crap these days and Besiktas have lost their first two matches in Group A without scoring a goal.
They do have a couple of decent player to trouble old man Hyppia though - Edouard Cisse (ex-West Ham), Ricardinho (21 caps for Brazil, World Cup winner & ex-Boro!), Rustu Recber, Matias Delgado and Marcio Nobre.
So, not all plain sailing for the 'Pool, who have a few injury problems, but they should be strong enough.

Benfica play Celtic, and they really should look to break their Champions League away form hoodoo, and Benfica are not up to much really. However, it is more than likely that Celtic will remember their 3-0 thrashing in Portugal last year, and cave in again.

Finally, Chelsea play Schalke, and I fancy them to scutter through it, primarily for the reason that German teams have been poor in the CL for a few years now and also that John Terry is injured, so they should be more solid at the back. Peter Lovenkrands and Kevin Kuranyi could cause trouble however but it is hard to see anything other than a home win.


Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The Elano Supremacy

Hi All,
Another weekend of top notch Premier League action has passed by, and it's Elano Blumer who once again catches the eye. The former Shakhtar Donetsk man has been the inspiration behind Man City's excellent ascent to the Champions League positions, and is surely the buy if the season so far (other notable nominees - Santa Cruz, who is a man reborn, Sagna, and Torres).

On recent evidence, one wonders why he spent so long in Brazil, until 2005, before moving to the Ukraine. It was a lucrative move but eventually Sven trusted him to do the business in the Prem. 4 spectacular goals in his first 10 ten games, and 5 assists is a great return.
See his amazing freekick against Newcastle, and against Boro.

He recently gave an interview in The Times and seems an all round nice guy, an (so far) unassuming man who is the Brazilian equivalent of Michael Essien, playing in every position for Santos, bar goal. Inevitably, a player so talented will be subjected to transfer rumours, and it seems to me that City will need to finish in a high position in the table to keep him. Then again, they could give him a massive contract at the end of the season - after all, it worked for Berbatov...

Man City look set for a great season, now how about a striker to liven things up in the top 4?


The Champions League is back tonight, and after the poor quality football on display in the Internationals, it is a welcome relief. For the neutral there are not many interesting games, on the surface, but there are bound to be some interesting events, as there is always. Arsenal play Slavia Prague at home, in what should be a routine victory. Lassana Diarra has been complaining of not getting playing time (despite playing 2 full matches for France recently) so we may see him come in to anchor the midfield. Also, in his last 2 sub appearances, Walcott has done well, but will Wenger risk him from the start? Eduardo da Silva has a bit to prove after his nondescript showing at the weekend, and a goal here could do his confidence good.

Man Utd play Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine, which they seem likely to win if they can be bothered, and the Rangers v Barca tie should be an interesting affair. Barca will want to bounce back after defeat at the weekend, and Ranger's will be buoyed by their stuffing of Celtic (and their 100% record in the CL so far)

Tomorrow: reaction and more previews.


PS Goodbye Stan, :)

Monday, 22 October 2007

Writing cheques their butts can’t cash! The ‘best of the best’

JJ here,
Ah Monica Belluci… anyway

Despite the fact that the first game of the weekend had enough incidents to fill an entire edition of Match of the Day, there was very little elsewhere that surprised anyone in the Premiership this week. Arsenal won, United beat Villa as per, Chelsea realigned the spirit of sense in the universe by actually beating Boro and City won at home against a brutal Birmingham.

But of course, you knew all that and speaking of things that you all knew, it’s fairly certain that the recently-announced list of 2007’s World Player of the Year didn’t have too many unfamiliar names to yourselves on it. A good dash of Barcelona, a healthy bit of AC Milan, some English stars, and to wreck everybody’s buzz altogether, a clutch of Chelsea performers.

One of the English present was Steven Gerrard who, as is by now Mersey legend, was subject of the ‘substitution heard around the world’ on Saturday when the promising Brazilian Lucas Leiva took his place with 20 minutes left and, shock horror, created as much as Gerrard had all game and never lost the ball unlike his club captain.

Gerrard, like many others on the 2007 lit, is a man whose reputation is far bigger than his admittedly awesome talent (say what you like but the guy is a damn good player whom any side would happily take in the morning, see here: He’s been called the best midfielder in the world by plenty of commentators but mainly by Andy Gray, whose knowledge of football outside the Premiership is hazy to put it nicely. Actually, now Gray seems to think Cesc Fabregas ( is the best on the planet, yet he can’t even get in the Spanish first team.

Basically, ‘the best in the world’, whether it’s the overall award or just for a particular position is a hugely contentious accolade. Looking down the names of this year’s nominees I can point to maybe seven players that deserve to be there on the strength of the last 12 months.

Have a look at the list below and see if you can pick those seven that I actually think deserve their place…

World player of the year list: Buffon (Juventus, Italy), Cannavaro (Real Madrid, Italy), Cech (Chelsea, Czech Rep), Ronaldo (Man Utd, Portugal), Deco (Barcelona, Portugal), Drogba (Chelsea, Ivory Coast), Essien (Chelsea, Ghana), Eto'o (Barcelona, Cameroon), Gattuso (AC Milan, Italy), Gerrard (Liverpool, England), Henry (Barcelona, France), Juninho (Lyon, Brazil), Kaka (AC Milan, Brazil), Klose (Bayern Munich, Germany), Lahm (Bayern Munich, Germany), Lampard (Chelsea, England), Marquez (Barcelona, Mexico), Messi (Barcelona, Argentina), Nesta (AC Milan, Italy), Pirlo (AC Milan, Italy), Ribery (Bayern Munich, France), Riquelme (Villarreal, Argentina), Ronaldinho (Barcelona, Brazil), Rooney (Man Utd, England), Terry (Chelsea, England), Tevez (Man Utd, Argentina), Thuram (Barcelona, France), Torres (Liverpool, Spain), Van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid, Holland), Vieira (Inter Milan, France).

Here’s my shortlist anyway.

Ronaldo: Fantastic last season for Man United, scored hugely important goals (such as:, with 23 in total last year. If he could hit a free kick worth a damn he would have made it to 30. Decent for Portugal too from what I’ve seen.
Drogba: The best striker in Europe last year in a team that struggled to create chances. Somehow combines being the striker who offers himself for long balls yet also, amazingly, manages to finish off the chances as well.
Kaka: Self explanatory. Won the Champions League for AC Milan. Had he not sent Inzaghi through for that vital second, Dirk Kuyt’s goal at the death would have meant so much more. The Man United games, as well as his performance against Bayern Munich showed Gerrard, Rooney, even Ronaldo how a big game player does things when it’s ‘squeaky bum time’ (copyright Alex Ferguson).
Van Nistelrooy: Despite the calls of Sky Sports News cretins, David Beckham did not single-handedly win La Liga for Real Madrid last year. While Becks was doing video interviews with CNN and rowing with the Madrid hierarchy, Ruuuuuuuud was quietly going about scoring goals and setting up some for Raul too. No Ruuuuuuuud, no La Liga title.
Totti: Okay he was rubbish against Man United, but he won the Golden Boot and dragged Roma to the Italian Cup and second place, losing out only to the freakishly consistent Inter Milan.
Riquelme: Dusted himself down after the debacle of Argentina’s exit from the World Cup to be the man who led Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores. Was brilliant for Argentina in the Copa America too… until the final. Okay, he’s a choker, but he’s the most gloriously talented choker alive. Recently came to life in the international break too. How long can this man ( stay in limbo with Villareal?
Messi: Started the year with a hat trick against Real Madrid, finished the season second in Spain but with the title of ‘greatest player on the planet’ in his sights. Whether this is true or not is hugely debatable, however his form of the last two months is astonishing. Plus there’s this goal:

The thing is though that all of my choices have things going against them as well. For instance, Kaka has Milan’s pretty poor season in Serie A; Riquelme didn’t play for long periods due to the dispute at his club; and of course Messi was part of a Barcelona side that won nothing.

Outside of these though there are some shocking inclusions. Cannavaro, last year’s winner, had a terrible season with Real Madrid (they won the league but he was ineffective and derided by his own fans). Buffon played in Serie B for the majority of the year. Marquez was at the centre of a Barcelona defence that leaked goals at important times. Lahm played for a Bayern side that failed to get in the Champions League positions. Ribery plied his trade for an average Marseille and a piss poor France. Thuram was a shadow of himself at Barcelona when he actually played. Henry was injured for the majority of last season too.

Then there’s Rooney, who played well in the league but far below his standards at times – especially in Europe, excluding the first game against Milan. The aforementioned Gerrard huffed and moaned out on the right flank for Liverpool for good portions of the year. Terry, like Cech, was injured for a good chunk of the season. Klose, Deco and Juninho also get in because some voters could think of no other famous names to mention. In fact, name me one thing that any of the final three achieved last year – outside of Juninho helping Lyon to a bizarrely unsatisfactory league title (their fans even hated them by the end of last year). There’s nothing, they all had so-so years, and that’s being pretty nice to them.

It’s not that the competition – voted for by international managers and captains – is meaningless; it’s just that some of the nominees make it hard to take it seriously. Indeed, there’s even the argument that there’s very few ‘great players’ out there, though this is more likely due to over-analysis than anything else. However, the list may be a testament to just how much modern footballers mistake media clout for a decent player; let’s not forget David Beckham ( finished in the top three a few times.

I suppose if international managers and captains can be collectively under the illusion that Thierry Henry had a great year when he spent most of last season in a black overcoat on the sideline of the Emirates, then no wonder he thinks he’s great too. One big ego-stroke really, and we can’t stop it as it’s only those in the game who get to vote. Kinda makes you realise why international football is s bloody poor doesn’t it.

Friday, 19 October 2007

ODF 19 Oct Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.
We discuss:
Fixtures & Results
Pub Talk - Henry, Eva Longoria, Sammy Lee, Bianchi, Diouf, Nigeria, and more

Featured section - The Legend of Brian Clough. Some classic videos here.

AOB - we finish the show with some listener comments

And a video of Stevie G vs Estonia

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it:

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Oh woe is… everybody

JJ here,

Well… that was interesting. So, in the past 24 hours we had England’s capitulation, Scotland losing to some schoolkids in Eastern Europe and Ireland serving up their worst performance in… well about a year, or less than that actually. But it was bad, really, really bad. We even had Wales getting a ‘professional’ 2-1 away victory in San Marino and Northern Ireland continuing to pick up the slack with a great result in Sweden.

First the Scots though, and Gordon McQueen cut a sad figure on Sky Sports News as he relayed Scotland’s plight out in Georgia (though obviously not as sad a figure as someone like me who was actually watching Gordon McQueen look glumly at a TV screen). Shorn of several first team regulars they lost in a place where in any other qualification campaign since 1998, it might have just been seen as another embarrassing blip. This time though, it mattered.

Scotland however, still have everything in their own hands and should they have a full compliment against Italy next month they have a chance. One game, win and your through. Would they have taken that at the start of the campaign? Well actually no, that would be insane, they’d prefer to qualify much earlier but it’s the question posed at this time by most pundits so I thought I’d throw it in there.

England. Ah England. One offside goal for good old Blighty. One dodgy penalty for the nasty Russians. Then one legal goal for them too. So that’s eh… little to complain about. After the penalty they crawled into their shells with only one half-chance, whereas smarter passing from the Russians on the break could have seen them win by one or two more. The end for McClaren? Well Israel might do them a favour but most likely not. In other news, Jamie Redknapp showed up with the biggest black scarf in the world. Triffik fella Jamie. Triffik.
Ireland. Ah Ireland. Well there’s not much else to say is there Stan? When 16,000 people who have bought tickets choose to stay at home instead of visiting one of the finest stadiums in Europe it says a lot really. As does being booed off at half-time and full-time. As does being personally heckled when leaving the field while being ushered down the tunnel under the protective arm of the kitman. That’s what you’ve sunk to Stan, a nice oul fella like Mick Byrne pleading to leave your poor soul alone. Go. Go now. You have to know it makes sense. Unlike Joey O’Brien in midfield.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Should we cheer on Scotland?

Scotland's Group B qualifying campaign has been an astounding success so far, topping the table in front of better rivals France and Italy, and, to a lesser extent, Ukraine. They have scored some great goals and showed true team spirit so far. But the question is, do we want to see them in Euro 2008 at the expense of Italy or France?

The old adage is that it's great to see the underdog triumph, but I want to examine that for a minute. Recalling recent underdog achievements is not a pleasant experience, unless you're directly affected.
Ireland's appearance in the World Cups in '90, '94 and 2002, was great fun for the whole nation, but I can't imagine many liked Jack Charlton's long ball football. In qualifying for 2002, Ireland eliminated Holland, a technically superior team in all areas. That World Cup also produced Japan and South Korea as surprise outfits, playing attractive, attacking (and lucky) football, but from recent evidence, Scotland will not do the same. In Euro 2004, Greece won, playing 10 men behind the ball, depriving a talented Portugal team in the final. After the initial reaction, were you happy Greece won?

In non-international football, neutrals have been subjected to the misery of a Porto v Monaco Champions League Final, Millwall stinking up the place in the FA Cup final against Man Utd and various other non-events too numerous to mention.

It's great to see unfancied teams doing well - to a point. Let them over-achieve into the knockout rounds, let them have moral victories, let their fans go crazy while we all patronise them, but please, let us see the heavyweights in the semis - Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, even England or Spain - I want to see proper technical, tactical battles and the strongest victor emerge.
Not a cheating, fouling team (Porto), not a team with Dennis Wise in it (Millwall), not a team relying on the linesman (South Korea), not a boring, defensive team (Greece).

Some big countries are under threat in qualifying - France, Spain, Holland, Portugal and Italy. Lets see the current best players in European football - the likes of Pirlo, Ribery, Fabregas, Ronaldo, van Persie, playing and achieving next year. And Scotland, sorry, but, please stay at home.


Monday, 15 October 2007

Pitch battle

JJ here,

The last time I remember a plastic pitch being a big issue was the week after Kenny Dalglish resigned his position as Liverpool manager in February 1991. Ronnie Moran – the number two at the time and the man who should have got the top job over Graeme bloody Souness – took his side to play Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.

The Hatters’ plastic pitch, which has since been dug up with pieces being sold off in the club shop, was said to have been the last thing the players wanted to face after the traumatic week and the Pool went down three-one. As history testifies since, they would continue that downward spiral for some time.

Now, I’m not blaming the plastic pitch for sixteen years of hurt (punctuated by some damn decent cup wins) but it was just one of the first things that came to mind when thinking about Wednesday’s do-or-die game between England and Russia. The game has everything already – winner pretty much takes all, one manager starting to look competent, one manager saying he could have had the other one’s job but he didn’t fancy it, injuries to key players, Michael Owen bound to break a leg and Fat Frank being shot down by his own fans.

But let’s not forget the key element. Not the plastic pitch itself. But the excuse it gives England – and particularly its media outlets – to point to for generations. I’ll make no secret of it, I want Russia to win this game and want England nowhere near next year’s tournament. If they lose, they’ll have “that damned plastic monstrosity” to pin defeat on when, of course, they will only have themselves to blame. Steve McClaren may say the pitch is “no excuse for failure” now, but that could change come Thursday morning.

In the past it’s been Rooney’s red card; or a bobble on the penalty spot; a Ronaldhino free kick that wasn’t meant to go in; a disallowed goal against the Argies; the Hand of God and much more. Examine any of these excuses carefully though and whether you come up with Alan Shearer’s elbow or Gary Lineker missing an open goal, there’s generally a far more sane explanation as to why England haven’t won a tournament in over forty years. Should they lose on Wednesday, in ten years will people point to a dire display against Macedonia as the reason they didn’t qualify? Nah, “it were the plastic pitch mate”.

I know, I know, not all English fans are like that. Of course I realise that lads, but Tommy Lee Jones summed things up well in that, on reflection, atrocious movie ‘Men in Black’ while talking to Will Smith’s character, Jay.

Jay: People are smart, they can handle it.
TLJ: A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

That’s kinda how I feel about England fans en masse, and while this most likely holds true for Irish people too (what with the whole alcoholism malarkey and that), we’re talking about England’s problems here, Ireland’s problems deserve a few books and a short movie entitled: F.A.I. – W.H.Y.

I’d like to go to next year’s finals and I think I’d enjoy it a lot more with the bulk of England’s support staying back in blighty without a team to support… plus getting to see John Terry cry so early in the season would be a real bonus. Go Rooskies!

Friday, 12 October 2007

ODF 12 Oct Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.
We discuss:
Fixtures & Results - Premiership Results & International Fixtures

Pub Talk - Sven is up to his old tricks again, Jermain Defoe's ice cream, Neil Warnock, Chelsea, Savage, Speed, Southgate and the FIFA World Player of the Year nominees.

Featured section - Where are the rubbish footballers now? Mark Atkins, Ali Dia, Ali Daei, Paul Butler, Massimo Taibi, Chris Kiwomya and Rafael Schite.

AOB - we finish the show with some listener comments

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it:


Thursday, 11 October 2007

'Goikoetxea's meaner, Champions, Argentina!!'

Hey folks,
JJ here,

As John Terry’s possible injury causes a stir in England (he’s not Iron Man lads, he’s an overrated underling of Ricardo Carvalho), the situation in Dublin is even worse. The hugely average Alex Bruce has been drafted into the squad and Steven Ireland is still busy sorting out his demons while undoubtedly avoiding his hair plugs getting caught in the wind when he’s out and about.

So, to put a little cheer back into proceedings I decided to dig up the lyrics to The Memories Italia ’90 reworking of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel. We’ve mentioned it on the podcast before but not sure if we’ve stuck up the absolutely immense lyrics in full.

Now, I couldn’t find the link to this on YouTube but I know it’s out there somewhere so any help is appreciated. To make up for the lack of link though here’s the original ( and here’s yesterday’s blog star Brian Clough giving his opinion on Mick McCarthy prior to Stuttgart ’88 ( And fuck it, here’s everyone’s favourite fat Sky Sports News monkey Kenny Sansom impersonating Ronald Reagan amongst others (

As for the song, the story goes that Joel liked this version so much he learned it for a concert in Dublin during the early nineties. This is most likely absolute rubbish but fuck it I’ll spread the myth anyway… so here goes.

‘We’re Gonna Start a Fire’ (oh to have some of that optimism again)

Jackie Charlton, Eoin Hand
Johnny Giles, Ireland
Mick McCarthy, Stephen Staunton
Tony Galvin, Niall Quinn
Packie doesn't let em in
North of Ireland
South of Ireland
Only one can go

Paul McGrath, Back Four
Aldridge got another score
World Cup
English Clubs
Kevin Moran and the Dubs
European Championship
How can we forget the trip
Andy Townsend, Kevin Sheedy
Stapleton's a supersub

We're gonna start a fire
And when Rome is burning
there'll be no returning

We're gonna start a fire
We have Jack to mind us
and the fans behind us

Butragueño, Hungary
We scared the Dutch in Germany
Charlie Hurley, Liam Tuohy
Opel Invest
Ray Houghton, Liverpool
Ronnie Whelan's so cool
O'Leary in the Sunday World
Con is in the press

Stuttgart was no dream
now we have a winning team
Billy Bingham, Budapest
Man of Magic, Georgie Best
Eamon Dunphy writes it down
Dalymount to Landsdowne
English Football in a mess
Trouble on the Terraces

We're gonna start a fire
And when Rome is burning
there'll be no returning

We're gonna start a fire
We have Jack to mind us
and the fans behind us

Dasayev, Sócrates,
Maradona, Ardiles,
Puskás, Bessonov,
René van de Kerkhof,
Hamilton, Jim Magee,
Saint And Greavsie on TV,
Maradona, Hand of God
Brady should be in the Squad

Chris Morris, score draw
Don Givens, Denis Law,
Eusebio, Junior, Ronnie Whelan Senior
Pelé #10
We'll never see his like again
Goikoetxea's meaner
Champions, Argentina

We're gonna start a fire
And when Rome is burning
there'll be no returning

We're gonna start a fire
We have Jack to mind us
and the fans behind us

Netherlands, Egypt
England got a free trip
Pleaded, Seeded
Because of their supporters
Ruud Gullit might be out
Holland wouldn't have a shout
Hoddle and Waddle
Have they got the bottle?
We have England in the draw
And the Dutch like before
One thing that we're grateful for
We didn't get the Mafia

We're gonna start a fire
And when Rome is burning
there'll be no returning

We're gonna start a fire
We have Jack to mind us
and the fans behind us

Seeded in Sicily
Off the coast of Italy
6 hour boat trip
We can take the hardship
But the fans couldn't care
They can travel anywhere
No one else can match the sound
Our supporters bring around
June 11, English Game
We can do the trick again
Egypt next and then the Dutch
Its the second round for us
When we finally get to Rome
No one will be left at home
Aldridge is about to score
Listen to the Irish Roar

We're gonna start a fire
And when Rome is burning
there'll be no returning

We'll bring the Sam Maguire
We have Jack to mind us
and the fans behind us

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Revie vs Clough

Hi All,
I read The Damned United recently, and it was a fascinating, semi-fictionalised account of Brian Clough's 44 days at Leeds United. Clough was a striker for Sunderland before getting a career ending injury, and wound up managing Hartepools United for 2 years before moving to Derby County in the old Division 2 in 1967. He won 2 league titles and took Derby to the semi finals of the European Cup, in which they were knocked out by Juventus thanks to a dodgy German referee.
His relationship with the Derby board, in particular, Chairman Sam Longson, came to a head in 1973, and Clough (and assistant Peter Taylor) resigned in October of that year, saying that they had been forced out. Longson wasn't a fan of Clough's popularity, outspokenness, unauthorised player purchases and frequent media work. Maybe Abramovich was reading up recently?

After various fan & player protests against the board, Clough accepted a job at Brighton
but he left less than a year to become manager of Leeds United following Don Revie's departure to become manager of England. Such a move was surprising, given Clough's previous outspoken criticism of Revie and his team's playing style.
Shortly after his appointment Clough allegedly told the Leeds players that they should throw all their medals in the bin, since they'd won them unfairly. He lasted in the job only 44 days before he was sacked for a run of poor results (1 win in 6 games) and for upsetting many of Leeds's star players, notably Johnny Giles, Norman Hunter and Billy Bremner.

A few weeks ago we came across an old clip in which, just after his sacking, Revie & Clough appeared on a show to discuss the situation at Leeds. It's quite fascinating stuff, and we thought you'd like it, so here it is:

Clough went on to manage Forest, winning, amongst other things, 2 European Cups, playing tough, stylish football, and his legacy will live long in football.

My favourite quote, and there are many is: "If God had intended for us to play football in the clouds he wouldn't have put grass on the ground".


Tuesday, 9 October 2007

60 days and 60 nights

Among one of the odd consequences of having more analysis of sport than ever, is that occasionally the supporter, it seems, can now be congratulated or blamed for a result. I only say this as in Ireland at present there’s an awful lot of fan bashing going on in the press and on TV.

In rugby, our supporters are being disowned for not turning up at the airport to welcome home our country’s much maligned squad from the World Cup. Well not all fans, seven kids turned up (the press reports said nothing of their parents, though if they’re not counted as supporters I can only think they stood looking at Paul O’Connell shaking their fists and yelling ‘why I oughta’ until they were removed by security).

Even if Ireland won the World Cup I’d be waiting in town with a pint before the open-top bus comes around my direction rather than heading out through shitloads of traffic to the airport. Is that treason or something? And what’s out there anyway? Large men in suits walking through the arrivals section, that’s what.

The thing is, thousands of supporters went over to France and sang like patriotic drunken idiots for the entirety of games where the team played in a terrible manner unseen for nearly a decade in Irish rugby. But some commentators still defending the side and their manager think that general ill-feeling towards the team since the start of the tournament contributed to their downfall. Rubbish.

Some of these fans were also present in the Czech Republic and Slovakia when Steve Staunton’s men turned in dour, pass-less performances last month. One friend of mine who went to these games as well as the rugby, now claims he’s suffering from an odd form of depression after the whole debacle. Poor git is a Liverpool supporter too.

Yet, if he picked up some Irish papers last week, and no doubt a lot more in the next few days, he’ll be told how he should get behind Ireland again next Saturday against Germany and to feel like traitor should he dare look on the brightside if we lose. That brightside is of course that Stan would be a goner and a new manager – hey why not go crazy and even get a guy with experience this time – could be in place sooner rather than later.

What’s lost in all of this is that the fans have no problem getting behind their country; it’s an in-built thing and they need no reminders. Any ill feeling comes out of frustration that after yet more support, after outlaying yet more of their earnings to follow their team, they are rewarded with the kind of dirge Ireland fans have endured in the last few years.

Liverpool and Celtic fans have been credited with helping their sides to victory in the past. While, no doubt, they have helped, supporters don’t win or lose games. It’s a good topic for pundits but the more intelligent among them (ie Johnny Giles and eh… eh…) tend to dismiss the impact as minimal, and they’re right.

The Emirates has proven a decent hunting ground for Arsenal so far this season where the atmosphere is apparently appalling. Even in the good old days at their former home, the crowd were often referred to as the ‘Highbury Library’. The generally poor support of the Old Trafford crowd is also a well worn topic since Roy Keane’s infamous ‘prawn sandwiches’ outburst some years ago. Although, even I have to admit their rendition of “Ashley Cole’s a Wanker lalalala” is pretty special.

Back to Ireland though and RTE – Ireland’s version of the BBC for those in the UK – have been running ads this week with highlights of USA ’94 and the 2002 World Cup in the Far East, with the tagline “it’s easy to support them in the good times but now they need your support more than ever”. Frankly, shove that sentiment up your collective arse RTE, okay you get the usual bandwagon jumpers at a World Cup but that happens everywhere, even Brazil.

It’s more fun to support in the good times sure, but in my lifetime I’ve witnessed Ireland in four tournaments – Euro 88 and the World Cups of ’90, ’94 and ’02 – and collectively that’s about 60 days in 27 years. Otherwise, generally, it’s been a whole heap of misery, peppered with decent friendly wins and ultimately meaningless ‘moral victories’. I don’t need to be told to support Ireland like some halfwit plastic shamrock waving gobshite. RTE may as well have put an ad out commenting that birthdays tend to be a better laugh than funerals.

Over the weekend Steve Coppell seemed to indicate he may be interested in the Ireland job should it come up. Paul Jewell is said to be sniffing around too. Both of these appointments would be a step up obviously, and let’s be honest here, there’s not a whole heap of options for us to choose from. Put it this way, whenever a newspaper lists the most likely candidates, John Aldridge is still in the frame. If that doesn’t indicate dark times I don’t know what does.

As for Ireland fans, they will turn up at Croke Park next Saturday and support the side, but once the result comes through, if it is anything less than a win, let there be no idiotic tabloid-shouting about the fans being fairweather. We’ve watched plenty of shit down the years with this team, so frankly, fuck the FAI, RTE and assorted column writers if we want something better at this stage.


Monday, 8 October 2007

Weekend Reaction

Hi All,
So, a quick recap of the weekend's action then....

A good win for Man Utd against a very limited Wigan team. Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney look to be performing better and young Anderson's display was encouraging. Of more concern to United will be the 11 injuries they have, though the international break should come their rescue.

Arsenal experienced a few hairy moments against Sunderland, who, unlike Wigan, at least had the courage to attack. Kenwyn Jones looks like a handy player. Overall Arsenal's class took over, but their weaknesses at the back should be worrying Wenger. Almunia should have done better with Jones' header and is not the long term solution. Still 7 wins and a draw is a fantastic start.

Liverpool salvaged a late point against Spurs, in what must surely be seen as another 2 points dropped (especially with Robinson in the opposing goal). With the Gunners blistering pace, and United starting to get back to form, the next 3-4 matches are vital for the 'Pool. Torres continues to impress, but Rafa will be praying to get Alonso & Agger back in the team ASAP, to add stability (and mobility, and be able to head a ball, Mr. Hyppia) and better passing in midfield. It is strange to be very critical of a team who are unbeaten in the league, but they do not look like Champions at this stage.

Newcastle got a good win over Everton, to move into a respectable 9th, 2 points away from 4th. I get the feeling that Big Sam will need to finish in a European place to keep his job, as Mike Ashley is not an admirer. England's comedy club will be interesting this season.

Man City continue to purr along, Elano is fast becoming one of the best ever South American imports - though all this would require is to be able to play football. City surely need a striker though, perhaps 7 goal a game man, Alfonso Alves could be persuaded?

At the bottom of the table, Derby, Bolton & Fulham has an eerie, correct look about it, but Birmingham, Boro, Sunderland & Wigan all have the capacity to fall back. Bolton should survive because they have good players, but Sammy Lee needs get his side in a better position by Christmas to keep his job.

Blackburn and Pompey deserve much credit so far, and Aston Villa are doing better than I expected. Agbonlahor and Young are turning into very good players, but their squad is low on numbers, which will cause problems later in the season. Chelsea get a trademark 1-0 away victory and Sheva is in a strop because he's not starting. Back to Ukraine with you! Avram Grant still doesn't look happy, but that is more because of his permanent scowl, as his team seems to have turned things around.

And finally, West Ham now have Newcastle's injury curse, and I'm delighted, mainly because Dean Ashton looks like a fool.


Friday, 5 October 2007

ODF 05 Oct Podcast Online

Hi All,
Our latest podcast is online now.

We discuss:
Fixtures & Results - Premiership & Champions League

Pub Talk: Sven & the old ladies, Luque, Toshack, Gerrard, Bribery, Gregory, Barton, Wise, Carrick & Ronaldo

Featured section - We hate Jamie Redknapp. Some Youtube links:
Swears on TV
His love for Cristiano
Keys & Redknapp
Get in
Jay Z fans?

But we don't hate his wife, Louise. Oh no.

AOB - we finish the show with some listener comments and thank you for your advertising support

We hope you enjoy the show.
Download it:


Thursday, 4 October 2007

Here's Sissoko, Oh No, Now Marseille Have It....

These Champions League reflections are much easier than predictions, so with ease of mind, I'll get started.
Liverpool - Benitez is assuming the look of a desperate man (and no, I'm not talking about his 'goatee deflecting attention away from fatness' look) and he has started blaming his players outright. The players he bought.
"Everything was wrong" he blubbed, "it is the whole team who played badly". The team you picked, Rafa.
"Today the team was not good enough". "We were not controlling the middle".
It is hard to control the middle when you have the position-insensitive Gerrard buzzing around the place, and Momo Sissoko, the professional footballer for whom the old quote applies - he can control it further than I can kick it. His misery of attempting to control a football was shown last season against Man Utd, when he attempted to solo the ball, but instead kicked it 20 yards up in the sky. Last night he gave another reminder of his ineptiude.

So, tough times for the 'Pool, but they plays Spurs at home next, which should be the perfect chance to get their season back on track, and take the heat off Rafa. And if they can't, what fresh excuse will he dream up?

Man Utd - another lack lustre (like an empty can of pear halves) performance, but another 1-0 win. Roma had good chances to at least draw the game. Nani showed glimpses of his talent in his best game so far, but his play-acting and poor decisions are reminiscent of the old, bad Ronaldo. Anderson's cameo was lively enough, but he looks a bit lightweight yet. United have Wigan at home to continue their run of wins but the absence of Fletcher, Carrick & Hargreaves will probably mean the horror of O'Shea in midfield.
Arsenal - another game, another win, how long will it be before everyone is tipping them for trophies? Doubts remain, but they are cruising so far.

Chelsea - is the old spirit back? No, it's Carvalho. A fantastic player who made vital interceptions and organised the back line well. That John Terry fella looks like a good player with him in tow. Terry and Ferdinand must get together and pray that their co-defenders never get injured again. Sheva must wish he invested in an English teacher rather than make the move to London to learn the language. Nobody missed his witless presence last night.

Celtic - they are short on quality but they held their own against a Milan team who didn't look too bothered about the whole thing until they fell behind. Gave away a ludicrous penalty but fought back well and received their just rewards. They are handicapped by having an extremely annoying, jumped up runt of a manager and idiot supporters who think it's a good thing to run onto the pitch and caress Dida's breast.

Rangers - I thought they'd head to France and get a draw but they surpassed themselves against Lyon. Poor oul Alain Perrin must be feeling the heat over this one. 6 points from 6 for Rangers mean even a spectacular collapse should see them into the UEFA Cup.

So, it's all action this season, it's UEFA Cup time tonight but that won't get interesting until next March, join us from tomorrow morning for the podcast, where, among other things, we hate Jamie Redknapp. Like shooting fish in a barrel.


Wednesday, 3 October 2007

No one likes the cut of this Djib...

Hey folks,
JJ here,

Only a bit of time to write today so thought I’d do the decent thing and run down what is in store this evening.

Group A
Liverpool v Marseille: Will Djibril Cisse strike a blow for average Liverpool strikers down through the ages and get revenge on the club that discarded him when it became clear he was rubbish? It’s a long question certainly. While his pace may trouble Liverpool, his finishing won’t. The absence of Samir Nasri will affect the French outfit, as will the non-absence of Bolo Zenden. Two nil win, as is the protocol in Europe for Liverpool.

Besiktas v FC Porto: Besiktas lost to Marseille in a game that, on reading reports, seemed to be as bad as the Liverpool and Porto match up. The only losers will be those who watch this. Score draw, so eh 7-7.

Group B
Rosenborg v Schalke 04: Aha, so they were founded in 1904… now the mystery of their name is solved (hey I didn’t know so it was a mystery to me), Schalke go into this game needing to make up ground having lost their first home outing against Valencia. Rosenborg are no longer even the best team in Norway and couldn’t keep a clean sheet against the minnows of Chelsea. I fancy an away win here. 1-2.

Valencia v Chelsea: We’ve written far too much about Chelsea in the last few weeks on this blog but then again they have been the big story of the last month. The drama will continue I’d say. Glorious home win, 2-0 methinks.

Group C
Werder Bremen v Olympiakos: I hate Greek football. Big bunch of feckin diving girls. I hope Werder spank them four nil.

Lazio v Real Madrid: Hmmm…. Fascist v Fascist rumble. Should be interesting; Madrid have played some awful football this season ala Man United, but keep winning ala Man United. Lazio meanwhile… well they have feck all players I know of, so I can’t really talk that much about them. I’ll go for a Madrid win and Lazio to end up in the Uefa Cup. 1-2.

Group D
Benfica v Shakhtar Donetsk: A good win for Shaktar last time out against Celtic but beating the Glasgow ‘giants’ at home is the hobby of many a European side. Huge guess: 3-2.

Celtic v AC Milan: Well, well, well the Celtic crowd will be fairly pissed off with Rangers’ start to the competition, so AC Milan won’t be the only enemy they’ll be thinking of tonight. Milan will have too much for them though; here’s hoping that the goals come after about an hour or so… just long enough for Celtic to get their hopes up about a result before these hopes are dashed. I hate Rangers too, in fact I hope they both get knocked out early. 0-2.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Paul Robinson & The Rocket

Who's that idiot with a desperate look on his face? Why, it's every opposition's favourite goalkeeper, Paul Robinson. The latest in a list of calamities occurred last night as he dropped a cross, allowing Villa to score. A freekick later exposed his inadequacies further, poor positioning of the wall and himself gave away another soft goal. This man has done more than anyone else to try to lose Jol his job this season and how is he rewarded? Constant selection and the England No. 1 jersey. Tottenham have been a disaster at the back this season, making a mockery of rubbish predictions of 4th place (i.e. mine) but with Lardy Robbo in goal crumbling to pieces at the sight of a cross into the box it is hard to see it getting much better in the short term. Jol should be smart & ruthless and bring Cerny into the team but doesn't it strike you as strange that Robinson has been the most vocal backer of Jol? I wonder why that is....

The Champions League is on tonight and the most interesting encounter is Man Utd vs Roma. Roma have conceded plenty of goals lately (not least a 4-1 loss at home to Inter) but should be a bit more savvy this time round. United's lineup will again be interesting, a miserly defense and flukey 1-0 wins are OK in the opening weeks of the League but I get the feeling that they need to improve quickly to stay in the title race. The loss of form of some players is alarming from United's perspective - Rooney, Tevez, Scholes & Giggs have been poor by their standards, while Ronaldo is in the 'could do better' bracket. They are relying on their defence heavily, and with Hargreaves scheduled to play tonight, I can't see much luck for Roma, and sooner or later, United will click past 2nd gear - unfortunately for neutrals, probably not tonight.

Arsenal are off to Bucharest to play Hagi's former charges in what should be a leisurely stroll while Lyon take on Rangers in a much more interesting match. Rangers got off to a flyer by beating Stuttgart while Lyon took a 3-0 pasting away to Barca. Lyon have had a poor start to the season, not helped by injuries in goal and defence (or by the fact that Alain Perrin, former Pompey 'supremo' is the man in charge). Walter Smith has turned around Rangers and I'm taking a punt on a draw here, with the wonderfully named Jean-Claude ('The Rocket') Darcheville to be fit and throw his considerable weight around.


Monday, 1 October 2007

It’s not what ya know, it’s who ya know…

JJ here,
Now, not that I would want to dance on the misfortune of a thoroughly awful human being, but by god it’s good to see John Gregory has been found out again as the joker he truly is. I watched the 5-1 drubbing that West Brom handed his tepid QPR side on Sunday and, looking like an eighties vampire as per usual, oul Johnny was not a happy fella.

His chairman, Gianni Paladini, would take only 24 hours to give his good friend Gregory the heave-ho and with a heavy heart he told the BBC, “It was a very hard thing to do. I have nothing but admiration for what John has done for the club.”

This is the point that you realise that Paladini had long since ceased to be a sensible chairman and instead become an over-protective friend. Gregory’s time in charge saw QPR play 48 games, lose 23, win 13 and draw 12. Yup, with a win ratio of less than 30 per cent, Gregory’s mark will stay with the club for a long time Gianni. I’d say the fans will miss him as much as Nottingham Forest supporters treasure their memories of David Platt’s infamously idiotic time in charge there.

The sad thing is, in football, it’s really not what you know at all, but who you know… and what they can get you and how large can your buy-out clause be. Hiring your friends to positions that are worth hundreds of thousands of euro (and that’s at the lower end of the scale) is common practice in the game, yet few chairman seem to realise they’re on to a loser.

Being friends with those in charge might get you the job but it won’t keep you there. Just as sure as Gregory will prop up the dole queue in west London in the coming days, John Barnes shall never return to management. The Liverpool legend was brought to Celtic at the turn of the century, during which time his brainwaves seemed to be the only thing affected by the Y2K virus. He was a good friend to Celtic’s then kingpin on football matters, Kenny Dalglish, and got the job because of that and nothing else.

When Barnes was being escorted out of Celtic Park in a police van surrounded by thousands of angry supporters as Celtic crashed out of the Scottish Cup to Inverness, even he had to realise that perhaps he wasn’t up to the job.

Bryan Robson was Boro chairman Steve Gibson’s best mate for the guts of a decade before the latter saw the light at last and off-loaded the once great player and his awful brand of football. They became too close and had Robson been given the sack earlier, the talent that was in his side could have been far better utilised.

But episodes like this haven’t stopped chairman from ignoring logic and their fans’ wishes when making appointments. Dennis Wise being chosen for Leeds United by his mate Ken Bates springs to mind (nope, seven wins and a draw in the third division does not count as good management when you consider last season). Then there are the obvious two examples that currently have fans of their respective teams tearing their hair out: Avram Grant and Stan Staunton.

Grant was hired due to being good company around a dinner table. Stan was hired for being great craic whenever he met up with FAI (god I shudder when I write this) ‘supremo’ John Delaney for a few scoops.

It doesn’t work. Managers should be hired on their record and not a friendship with a chairman. Gregory had not been in management since 2003 before he was hired last year by Rangers; this surely should have said something to his friend. But no, against all sense in the world he hired him and Paladini now must deal with the consequences.

But like Gibson, Delaney, Dalglish and countless others, he can have no one to blame but himself. There are even rumours that another friend of his, Gianluca Vialli, may take over. Well what with his sterling record in the Championship (a 40 per cent win-rate from five years ago with Watford) who could argue with that.

He’ll be hiring from Facebook next.