Thursday, 28 June 2007

New Podcast Online

Hi Folks,

Our latest podcast is online now. We discuss:

Results: Copa America, U21 Final, Gold Cup and Copa Del Rey
Pub Talk: Henry, Eriksson, Suazo, Bayern, Dowie, Ince and more.
Hate: Stefan Effenberg, former Bayern and Fiorentina man
Fixtures and a review of the the Official Chelsea magazine...

Download it here:
http://libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf28Jun07.mp3

As promised on the show, some links:
Barca youth team player Bojan Krkic: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/id/2460321805
And his team mate Dos Santos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W28o4RgRxXY

And some links on Effenberg:
http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/03/02/trinka-lowe-takes-page-out-of-ex-husband-derek-lowes-book/
http://www.uglyfootballers.com/genpage.asp?DocumentID=218
http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=267136&root=europe&cc=5739

His new woman: http://tinyurl.com/23z7ln
His old woman: http://tinyurl.com/yscbxm

Hope you enjoy the show,
Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com
http://feeds.feedburner.com/okeyDokeFootball

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Perpetual Transition

So, Henry is gone, and we're mightily glad to see the back of him too.
Despite Arsenal losing one of the best players in the past 15 years in England, some say the 'best foreign import' of all, Arsenal still have a bright future.

It was only 4 months ago that everybody was raving about the Arsenal youth team's demolition job on Liverpool in the Carling Cup and nothing has changed since in that regard. The first team squad is still exceptionally strong, top class players such as Toure, Gallas, Eboue, Rosicky, Fabregas and Van Persie are proof that things are not bleak. Also, Adebeyor is improving by the month, he has great skill, good pace, intelligence on the ball, he only needs to improve his shooting to become a great addition for the Arse. He's only 23 and that will come with time.

Realistically, Wenger has the same problems as he did before the Ego left - he needs to sign quality right and left wingers. Hleb is simply not good enough, too often great moves break down because of his ineptness. Rosicky has been filling in on the left, to little effect, and perhaps Walcott can show more as an outside left, but Wenger needs an immediate solution. Wenger will also hope Diaby can come through properly to add steel in midfield. Gilberto is sure to be named club captain but over the past few years he hasn't shown enough to me that he commands the team and drives them forward.
So, upfront then - a striker is needed, talks of Anelka and Owen would seem to be an easy link to make for the press. More likely is that Wenger will look outside England for a solution. Darren Bent would be ideal, but at 17m pounds, is priced out of the market. Jermaine Defoe, a player who I'm still not convinced about, would surely respond well to a regular run of games, and the manager's skill, but his Spurs association will cost him that chance. Owen needs to prove his fitness this season before a move. Anelka seems most likely to move but Arsenal will surely want someone to rely on for more than a season.
Arsenal don't need any sort of overhaul, they have been 'in transition' for the past seasons, which basically means that Wenger got away with bad signings and players who were too young. They will claim another transition next season, but the correct signings could propel them ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool to battle with United.
Will Wenger buy correctly? Only Arsene knows so far...

Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Resurrection of Sven


JJ here,

Well eh… he’s back. Sven Urine Eriksson is back in football management (according to about 20 football sites anyway) with Man City and could a greater combination have come about. A manager who adores trophy players paired with a side that craves mediocrity, a decent winger and the odd point against United. You can imagine the ‘social networking’ site where they hooked up…

MC: Say it one more time…
Svennis: First half guud…
MC: He’s still got it…
Svennis: Secund half, not so guud…
MC: What do you need?
Svennis: Three million a year, a nice secretary and an LA Galaxy season ticket.
MC: Get onboard!

Sorry about that, but anyway…

Will he attract top players?
Is he still the tactical cripple he was with England?
What will his budget be?
Will he continue to develop City’s quality Academy players?
Will he stay for the full three years?

In many ways it’s a no lose situation for Sven; if he succeeds and rebuilds his reputation then he’ll move on and get a job at a club he actually wants to work with. If he fails, most likely City will have to pay out yet another compensation package to him and his Mr 10 Per Cent, Atole Still.

Eriksson’s record in club management is still decent enough…


1979-82: IFK Gothenburg
Swedish Cup Winners 1979
Swedish Cup Winners 1982
Swedish League Champions 1981
Swedish League Champions 1982
UEFA Cup Winners 1982

1982-84: SL Benfica
Portuguese League Champions 1983
Portuguese League Champions 1984
Portuguese Cup Winners 1983

1984-87: AS Roma
Italian Cup Winners 1986

1989-92: SL Benfica
European Cup Runners Up 1990
Portuguese League Champions 1991

1992-97: Sampdoria
Italian Cup Winners 1994

1997-2000: SS Lazio
Italian Cup Winners 1998
Italian Cup Winners 2000
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Winners 1999
Italian League Champions 2000


… however, there are a lot of honours that are over 20 years old as well as several in Portugal where three teams dominate to a ridiculous degree. Looking at the amount of cup competitions won though, he could be just the man for City. They don’t expect to be top four; they barely expect to be top ten! A Carling Cup and more home goals than last season should have them dancing in the streets of Moss Side.

Despite the noises at the weekend about his “good relationship” with England players, I can’t see many jumping at the chance of teaming up with him again. Indeed, it’s probably only the fact that his inside man McClaren got the England post that has prevented many players from doing a complete hatchet job on him in their autobiographies.

He’ll buy foreign and he’ll buy flair players. Just what City want really. I’ve already said that I think Thaksin Shinawatra could be an absolute disaster but I’ve also said that watching City stumble from disaster to disaster could be some of the best entertainment seen next season.

Good move? Bad move? Well eh…

Monday, 25 June 2007

Apologies but...





Alright people,
JJ here,

I’ve started this blog on around six different occasions before realising I had little to write about… I’ve gone through subjects like Masters Football, watching boxing and drinking absinthe with little success before deleting everything I put down. So here goes the obvious:

It’s over, it’s done, he’s gone. H***y (he’s a bad word round these parts) has got on that plane to Barcelona where he will, I’m confidently predicting, spend half the season on the sidelines with injury and be blamed for Barca blowing the title. Maybe that’s just a crazy dream but I can’t see it going as well as the whining Frenchman hopes… he went a year too late for one thing.

We covered H***y in our hate section a few weeks back on the podcast (see here: http://www.okeydokefootball.com/showPodcast.asp?PodcastID=33) so our opinions on him are well known and the word ‘cunt’ (not a bad word round these parts) appears on numerous occasions.

But how do you think he will do? Include as much bad luck as you like. Although those who predict he’ll win the league for them and spur the Catalan ‘nation’ to victory over the Spanish oppressors will just be plain wrong.

At the very least, it will mean this story has been put to bed and this will, I promise, be the one post that has anything to do with the subject. Now back to that absinthe...

Friday, 22 June 2007

As the Fresh Prince once said... Tick, tick, tick, tick, BOOOOOOM


JJ here

Well now that Thaksin Shinawatra is set to take over at Man City, the team may be a little anxious when getting on the team bus. You see, wherever Thaksin goes, things being blown to shit will follow (as my image of the City of Manchester Stadium circa 2010 shows).
Want some proof, well here's some info on two of the (apparently hundreds) of attempts on his life.

March 2001 aeroplane bomb
On 3 March 2001, a semtex/white phosphorus bomb exploded on a Thai Airways International 737 jet minutes before new Thaksin was scheduled to board. The explosion caused a firestorm which consumed nearly the entire airplane on the ground, killing one member of airline staff.

At the time of the blast, Thaksin was walking with about 150 other passengers toward the plane at the start of a trip to attend a narcotics conference in Chiang Mai. Officials initially tried to attribute the explosion to a spontaneous explosion in the gas tank of
the plane (great excuse, bet they couldn’t wait to get the next flight), but most observers saw it as an attempt to assassinate Thaksin. Ya think?

August 2006 car bomb
On 24 August 2006, a car containing 67 kilograms of explosives was stopped near Thaksin's residence in Thonburi. Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner Lt-General Wiroj Jantharangsee noted that the explosives in the car were completely assembled, equipped with a remote unit sensor and ready to be detonated, and would have a blast radius of around one kilometre.

Pol Major Kamthorn Ooycharoen, head of the police bomb-disposal squad at the scene, also noted that the bomb was live and ready for detonation. The bomb was composed of sticks TNT, M-8 military fuses, TNT, C4 plastic explosives, a remote control unit, and nine plastic containers containing ammonium nitrate fuel oil (all of which sounds like something from Die Hard… on a side note I can’t wait for that fourth movie to come out. Utter rubbish, but I’m there… anyway back to this slimy bastard Thaksin)

The car was driven by Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, former personal chauffeur of Pallop Pinmanee, Deputy Director of Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC). Police found that the car had left ISOC headquarters earlier that morning. Thawatchai was immediately arrested and Pallop was released from his position.

Pallop denied all involvement, noting (quite brilliantly) that "If had wanted to do it, I
would have done it more subtly...In my career, I have lead death squads. If I had wanted to kill him, the Prime Minister would not have escaped."
He also claimed that "the explosives were being transported; they were not assembled to be detonated". Government critics claimed that the car bomb was a government conspiracy. Five army officers were later arrested for their role in the plot. Three officers, including Thawatchai, were released after the military overthrew the Thaksin government.

Alrighty then…. “I have lead death squads”, now there’s a conversation opener at a dinner party. All in all, this guy is bad news but as the Guardian report today “The timing of yesterday's announcement, that Manchester City's ‘custodians’ are to sell the club to Thaksin Shinawatra and bank millions of pounds of his money on the same day he was charged with criminal corruption in his home country, served to underline Thaksin's advisers' view all along: the fans won't protest.”

I predict that Thaksin and, most likely, Sven will turn City into the English version of Hearts, with an insane chairman trying to run every facet of the club – it will be entertaining and I suppose after the rubbish that City served up last season, I’d prefer a despot and a sex addict in charge to the previous board and manager.

Thaksin also once managed a Burger King which may come in handy as, like City fans, no matter what shite his old customers were served they’d come back for more.
Let the games begin.

PS: Another safety message for Man City - look out for suspicious objects in the directors’ box as well next year lads. Then again that may just be one of the cuddly toys that Stuart Pearce left behind. Bless him.

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New Podcast up today! Ever wondered what happened to Paul McGregor? Did Mark really see Jody Morris puking? Is ‘AOB’ a shambles? All these questions and so much more answered at: http://www.okeydokefootball.com/

Thursday, 21 June 2007

What. A. Match.

JJ here,

Around about seven last night I began to watch a game of football. By eight o’clock I was in the middle of watching one of the most exciting, utterly brilliant and controversial games in international history. It even had Englishmen actually scoring penalties. What happened???

England u-21s and Holland u-21s drew one-all. Holland won on penalties. They are the facts but they don’t tell anything even remotely like the full story.

There’s so much to go over and my grain of sympathy of England stayed intact for a while – though that’s probably due to not watching the post-match punditry where the words ‘indefatigable’, ‘lions’, ‘heroes’, ‘it just frustrates’ and ‘where was David Bentley’ made several appearances I’m sure.

In no particular order here’s what we now know. Even though I only started watching at the 60-minute mark.

- Steven Taylor is the new John Terry except likeable. He was phenomenal last night and when he stuck away his spot kick I’m not ashamed to say I was delighted for him. A decent defender alongside him at Newcastle and Fat Sam could be in business.

- Scott Carson is a fine goalkeeper but needs MAJOR work on his penalty strategy. Obviously Pepe Reina likes to keep some things to himself. During the game though, Carson was excellent, could do little about Holland’s goal as well.

- England footballers at any level still don’t know how to keep the ball. I know they were down to ten men with Onuoha limping off at the start of extra time (and yes Taylor was also injured) but even at that, when they had 11 men it was hoof after hoof. Holland were bound to score. It’s a huge problem that England will need some time to fix.
I’m sorry, but it’s no good giving excuses about “lionhearts” etc. If this is what they’re happy with then they will fail for generations to come. When Holland equalised, Taylor may have been on one leg but there was plenty of opportunity in the run up to the goal for other players to calm things down and see out the remaining minutes. Instead, they hoofed. England’s best players – defenders to a man.

- I love penalties. This was the greatest shoot out I’ve ever seen.

- Anton Ferdinand can defend! Well we knew that anyway but it’s good to see he still has some of the talent he showed off in the 05/06 season. The final spot kick miss was unlucky, particularly after sticking away his first one.

- When will referees stop letting keepers coming off their line to narrow the angle on penalties? The Dutch keeper did it every time; though the English bench should take some flak for not bringing this up with the fourth official.

- Martin Tyler talks some shite. At one point he said Carson’s positioning was “exceptionally extravagant”. Anybody know what this means? Anybody?

- The Dutch are nothing special. Drenthe is decent but not a world beater and, from much of what I saw, they resorted to pot shots from 30 yards instead of keeping it on the ground. Babel looks a decent player but it was mainly a game of ‘defence versus attack’ (as any English game always is in the latter stages of a tournament); no one can judge the attacking side on that alone…

Oh and if you didn't see all this, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1Lq1mSIzmY

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Podcasting tonight where we'll have results from Spain and the U-21s, Pub Talk, and 'Where are they now' featuring stars, wasters, charlatans and bald Frenchman. Also, plenty of slander, drinking and witty asides as per usual. All will be online tomorrow morning.

Til then folks.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Are you serious?

Hi folks,
Mark here.

News that Diego Forlan may be on his way back to the Premiership confirms the theory that managers are a bunch of chancers. Martin O'Neill appears to be the latest manager interesting signing the player who is valued at £15m - his buy out clause. Forlan was proven to be an average player in England, fluffing an amazing number of chances for United, and famously went 27 games in 8 months before scoring his first goal. His record in Spain is quite good, 1 goal every 2 games approximately. But make no mistake - all that money for a waster who couldn't even score a few for United, there will hardly be a stampede for him (assuming the Liverpool rumours were as untrue as they sounded).

If you have been listening to the podcast the past season, you will know that we think the deification of O'Neill is a bit overboard, and it was proven with a totally uninspiring league campaign finishing in 11th with a whopping 10 victories. There were also some highly dodgy signings including Carew (good to get rid of Baros, but average nonetheless), Petrov (looked good in Scotland but average so far), Young (a striker who scores no goals) and Sutton (past it).

Villa fans, and indeed Randy Lerner, must wonder where the next pile of money will go. Their ambition is European qualification, but will O'Neill buy the right players?
So far there have been no moves, and their squad looks thin. O'Neill's fans will say he doesn't have the players, but he's spent the guts of £20m so far to finish 8 points better than O'Leary did the season before last.

Am I being too harsh?

Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Important interviews



Howdy folks,


Mark here.





Well, it really is the summer - when the biggest story of the day is Alexi Lalas, you know you're in trouble.


Lalas, who had a spell in Italy and a successful career for Team USA is now stroking his ridiculous hair over in LA as General Manager of the Galaxy.

He seems to have a french fry on his shoulder about the English Premier League now. He claims it is an "inferior product" and is only the product of great marketing. Lalas goes onto claim that the MLS is one of the most competitive in the world, and then doesn't give any evidence to support this apart from the opinion that a lot of stars would struggle here.

The most illuminating part of the interview, however, is the following, when asked about his facial hair:

"I cleaned up on the outside but I'm still a mess on the inside. For a long time it conveyed a certain immaturity and I milked it all the way. And then I shaved it off in 2000. I was in Sydney, doing some TV work for the Olympics, and it was the end of a long night for me and Anne, my then girlfriend and now my wife.
"We all do strange things when we come in late at night so there's me, the beard, a hotel bathtap and a razor. It looked like surgery. We actually filmed it because it felt like an iconic moment - never before in the history of football has so much been made of so little facial hair. We should probably put it on YouTube, maybe on the day David arrives in Los Angeles. But it'll be Beckham, rather than the beard, that will give us a million hits and more . . ."

The summer does strange things to people, none more so than reading an interview with a fool who I wish had accidentally killed himself with that razor! Perhaps next week we can read interviews from Roy Wegerle and Tab Ramos to experience an exegesis on the cleaning of the fingernails, their shaving routines in general and what they think of the quality of Serie A vis a vis the Bulgarian league. Would Kaka struggle playing for Levski Sofia?

I'd rather read transfer gossip.

Mark,

http://www.okeydokefootball.com

Monday, 18 June 2007

A damn shame, Cookie's return and Eggert's new nickname

JJ here,

Since June 2005 an old work buddy of mine named Colm and a few more of his cohorts began to blog on a site named www.infactah.com and within a few months their daily ramblings became established as absolute must-reads.

If you like biscuits, you'd love this site.
If you liked sport, you'd love this site.
If you liked literature, music or movies, you'd love this site.

If you don't love any of those things then you're just plain weird and wrong. Particularly on the biscuits issue.

Anyway, the lads have decided to call it a day after two years of quality posts and I think ye should check them out if you haven't in the past. We've had them on our links page for over six months but if you were never tempted before well go there now and enjoy.

Fair play lads, and thanks for recommending Okeydokefootball to your audience. I'm sure we've yet to hear the last of ye.

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Back in the world of football news I see Man Citeh are weighing up a move for T4's Chris Coleman which could go very badly wrong or very averagely okay until he's sacked in 18 months.

Either way, he won't elevate Citeh to the level they somehow see as their birthright so why hire him in the first place? It has the whiff of Souness to Newcastle; solid manager gets a chance at a 'big' club, makes a fool of himself and never works again. Then again, it could all be as real as a John Hartson hair regrowth advert, ie complete bollocks.

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Finally, fair play to Darren Bent for turning down West Ham. I'd like to see him in a Liverpool shirt but if not, a move abroad would be brilliant for him. He is my anti-Lucas Neill, whose transfer has been referred to in several weekend papers as being the source of some concern in boardrooms around the Premiership. It's seen as a reason for the lack of activity in the transfer market so far with many agents and players having the opinion that 'if that chump is worth 72 grand a week then I must be worth at least 100'

Apparently, rival chairman have started calling Eggert Magnusson 'Ridsdale' in private. While there are certain similarities - the ridiculous wages for average players, champions league ambition - West Ham have a better coach than Leeds had and that's a good start. It'll be interesting to see how they do this year.

Though I hope Neill is either dropped; injured; sold to Boro or has some other horrible fate visited upon his dark, extremely rich soul.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Portals of discovery, so said Joyce anyway

JJ here,

Why? Why do I never learn? Two months before the season starts, the fixtures come out and yet again I think… ‘y’know if Liverpool get a good start they could be in with a shout’. They won’t, it won’t happen, and it won’t for some time the way things are going.

Benayoun stinks of being another Zenden, only with the tackling capabilities of Samuel L Jackson’s character from Unbreakable. And what other moves are Liverpool making? None that anyone in the English speaking world knows about anyway… the hope is that Rafa will sign several top stars from Spain once that season ends and that Arsenal are priced out of buying Malouda. But so far I’m hugely unimpressed with Liverpool’s start to the transfer market.

United have shown the way forward – spend big, spend early, spend often. As much as I detest the very sight of the United badge, if ever there needed to be confirmation that Ferguson is the greatest manager in Premiership history it’s the last six months.

Firstly he keeps a United side – with plenty of jokers in between all the talent – focused enough to win the title then he steals a march on the rest of the Prem by sorting out his transfer business well in advance of pre-season training. There is the sneaking suspicsion that next season may see him revert to form and concentrate too much on Europe, but it’s far too early to make any predictions on that score.

Fergie must be pissing himself as Liverpool struggle to sign anyone, Arsenal are forced to sell Henry and Chelsea sign up a load of washed up players on free transfers. Pizarro will make no difference, and while Ben Haim and Alex have talent they will barely be in the side should Chelsea’s first choice centre backs stay fit.

United, as of today, look like they already have the league sown up.

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This week’s podcast is awash with experimentation as we introduce James Joyce into the world of Okeydokefootball. Among other things we also discuss John Terry getting a handjob from a leper, ‘Ginga Minga’ Neil Lennon retiring to Notts Forest, and the whore that is Terence Henry. What. A. Whore.

The show was recorded in some chaos as visitors from overseas arrived, Chinese deliveries were ordered, rain pelted against the windows and cider was drunk by the gallon.

A damn good show though, then again I may still be drunk.

You can download it here by right clicking:http://libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf15Jun07.mp3

Or subscribe to the RSS feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/okeyDokeFootball

Enjoy folks,JJ,http://www.okeydokefootball.com/

Latest Podcast Available

Hi,

We've just put our latest podcast online.
The format is:

Pub Talk,
Euro U21 results and players to watch,
Copa America preview,
James Joyce's quotes about footballers, in celebration of Bloomsday tomorrow (16th)
and our hatred of Thierry Henry

You can download it here by right clicking:
http://libsyn.com/media/okeydokefootball/odf15Jun07.mp3

Or subscribe to the RSS feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/okeyDokeFootball

Hope you enjoy the show,
Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com/

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Condemned Before They Fail

Howdy Folks,
Mark here.

I was suprised to see the sniping against the England U21's (should that be u23's?) this week.
It was perhaps accelerated by Gianfranco Zola's comments to the press, but it seems the resentment and disappointment is carrying over from the senior team.

People have been saying English players are not the equal to their counterparts, but take a look at this squad list:

GK: Ben Alnwick, Scott Carson, Joe Hart
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Anton Ferdinand, Justin Hoyte, Nedum Onuoha, Liam Rosenior, Steven Taylor, Peter Whittingham
Midfielders: Tom Huddlestone, James Milner, Mark Noble, Nigel Reo-Coker, Kieran Richardson, Wayne Routledge
Forwards: Matt Derbyshire, Leroy Lita, David Nugent, James Vaughan, Ashley Young

The squad would have been even stronger with the inclusion of Richards (injured) and Bentley (sleeping).
The outstanding players are there, they will surely make the step up to senior level - Carson, Noble, Derbyshire, Nugent (who already has) and Vaughan.

So what's the fuss? Well, they drew their first match 0-0 against the Czech Republic, primarily because Lita missed a penalty. Are the Czechs bad? No - just because we've only heard of a few of their players doesn't mean a draw wasn't a decent result.

Up tonight then for England is Italy, containing the likes of Pazzini (hat-trick against England in their 3-3 draw at Wembley) and the winger Alessandro Rosina as the standout players. The squad also includes Rossi, Padalino, Aquilani and Padoin. Tonights result is important for both teams (Italy lost 1-0 to Serbia in their first game) so I would say to tune in if you can.

A bad result for England will see the press jump on them again, and a victory will mark a 'new dawn' of hype and expectation - the papers tomorrow should be interesting...

Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com

P.s. Podcast out early Friday morning

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Podcast Season

Hi Folks,
Mark here.
I just finished listening to the last Guardian Football Weekly podcast today. It has now really sunk in with me that the season is over, that I don't have it to look forward to on horrible, boring Mondays. There has been an excellent dynamic all season, especially with the pun-tastic James Richardson and the bongo-watching Barry Glendenning on board. Top quality stuff.
(On a side note, I had planned a 'what the hell happened to Belgian football' in past weeks, then it was all taken away from me by the Guardian, I have just wasted my time...)

The Game, over at the Times, finished a couple of weeks ago, and it's one that is also excellent. It started out slowly, and there is a couple of things that need to be changed, but there is great value to be had from arguments between Guillaume Balague and Gabriel Marcotti. The show, however, hinges on the likeability of Danny Kelly. I don't mind him but people I've spoken to have a deep reservoir of hatred for the man.

We have some other competitors, and common sense precludes me from making comments on their shows. They're all good guys, and we have engaged in a bit of cross promotion.

Myself and JJ will be around with our weekly podcast next season, we're going to have a think about it over the summer, and decide on the format of the show, try to freshen a couple of things up and generally try to have as much fun as we did the past season, though with better sound quality and less "ehs". So we'll be going for some sort of a re-launch before the English season starts. More on that to follow...

By way, our podcast went online on Saturday, download it by following the link below or on the left,
Cheers,
Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com

Friday, 8 June 2007

Such a major turn off?

The ‘sawker section’ of ESPN’s website recently asked visitors to vote for their favourite player in a poll unlike any other. Instead of meaningless popularity contests – the ones that you suspect actually matter to Frank Lampard – this poll by America’s leading sports channel decides which players go forward to perform in the league’s showpiece All Star game against Celtic in July.

The equivalent in England would be interesting to say the least. Surely some online petition to get Lee Trundle in there could be a success. Meanwhile Jose Mourinho could talk of online conspiracies that denied his players a place. You’d suspect Ashley Cole and Gary Neville would be watching the game from their armchairs anyway.

A good idea is still a good idea though and the fact that this came from the MLS is a bit of a shock. So are there any more earth-shattering ideas from over there? Well, no… but then that may be due to the fact that aside from the players poll, that section of ESPN’s site (along with most of the official MLS site) devotes much of its front page to one Mr. D. Beckham.

They have a countdown to his arrival, they have ‘Beckham Watch’ with all the latest news, and one of the scribes has just written a piece where he predicts that the arrival of His Becksness will have the same initial impact on American sports that Pele’s introduction to the New York Cosmos had in the ‘70s.

Strong words indeed, but chances are that Beckham landing in LA will signal a huge upsurge in interest in the league across America. Over here however, there’s as much appetite for the MLS as there is for a new series of Dinnerladies or 2.4 Children.

But why so? Admittedly, the standard of the league is hard to gauge, no one will argue that. Considering a near-ancient Cobi Jones still plies his trade for LA Galaxy and former Juventus player and Time Magazine ‘Person of the Century’, Ronnie O’Brien (trust me, look it up if you don’t know the story), is also playing in the top-tier, the playing level doesn’t sound that great. But they’re the players we know – half a generation on from USA ’94 surely there’s some rough diamonds out there.

For a start, it’s competitive football and surely that has to be better entertainment than international friendlies and nonsense like the Amsterdam Tournament. At present, Sky Sports, Setanta and Eurosport have no immediate plans to screen any of the US league games though.

Yet between them they regularly show matches from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Scotland, Ireland and the Conference in addition to the Premiership cash cow. Would you prefer to watch Dunfermline or Freddy Adu trying to prove his class for Real Salt Lake?

We can watch rigged Spanish games at the end of each season due to the ‘win bonuses’ that clubs offer each other to take out their rivals. With our addiction to the game, we can even force ourselves to watch a French league so uncompetitive that the last two managers of its champions Lyon left when they get bored of constant victory. That’s what Sky and Setanta are offering at the moment anyway.

So why not screen the American games? I mean even the excuse that we’ll watch any football going in the close-season has some weight behind it at least. But no, Sky and rest won’t bite, and that even includes the Beckham-obsessed ITV who have been known to show the bloody Intertoto Cup.

It’s not as if everything that comes out of England is worth watching anyway. The FA Cup, for instance, is still marketed as the most watched domestic cup final in the world. While that may be true, the games are usually awful and the audience numbers dwindling with each run down a blind alley by Ronaldo.

In fact, FA Cup finals had the patent on “shit hanging from a stick” a long time before Champions League semi finals.

At the other end of the scale from the MLS, Serie A in the early to mid-nineties was undoubtedly the best league in the world yet after a few years of Gazzamania, viewers started to desert it. Even the football of Brazil is the preserve of the graveyard shift on Channel 4. Different leagues, it seems, just don’t sit well with Premiership or Championship viewers; even La Liga doesn’t attract huge numbers on Sky.

Maybe it’s a need to have football on TV; or maybe it’s just the curiosity of their system of blooding players in college before the big leagues; but perhaps a few folks out there wouldn’t mind a bit of ‘sawker’ of an afternoon.

“The Euro snobs will be watching, too,” writes Michael Dell Appa on ESPN of Beckham’s debut. Don’t be so sure, we’re too snobby to even get the TV rights apparently.

JJ

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Newcastle, Beckham & Ireland

Howdy,
Mark here.

Things are looking interesting at Newcastle - Shepard has agreed to sell his stake in the club to Mike Ashley, leaving the billionaire with close to 70% of the shares, following his previous purchase from the Hall family. We mentioned a few weeks ago on the podcast, could we see the Geordie Chelsea? It's certainly an intriguing prospect of an underachieving 'big' club armed an owner who has £1.9bn in the bank.

Big Sam, though, seems to be carrying on as normal, so we can assume that a) he hasn't spoken with Ashley or b) Ashley has said he won't be giving him much money.

Viduka has signed today to join Michael Owen, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi in the forward line, leaving the club with plenty of firepower up front. (Surely Ameobi can be whipped into shape by Sam?). The departure of Parker will result in Barton arriving for £5.5m, and the decent Ben Haim joining Taylor at the back. Steven Carr falls into the Ameobi bracket, and I'd be surprised if he didn't recapture his Tottenham form. A left back (Shorey, possibly) and the squad is looking great. Players of the calibre of a fit Duff, Emre ("some of my best friends are black") and a fit Dyer, added to the potential of Milner and N'Zogbia point to a promising future for the Toon.

Sam has an interesting first season ahead of him, challenging for a UEFA cup place will be his goal, and he is likely to achieve it.

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I am sick to my teeth of the Beckham story, sure he can put in a cross or 2, that's all he ever did for God's sake. The whole point last summer was - take Beckham out of the team because he makes the team play slow, throw in someone else and they'll be able to play differently.

This, plainly, did not happen, which is the fault of the players and management. So, Beckham is back, they need the points and McClaren is desperate, fair enough, him and Crouch should scutter England into second in the group to qualify. The same old problems remain however - slow, long ball football and set pieces. Why wasn't Big Sam hired again?

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The Euro qualifiers were good for Ireland with Germany winning both their games and the Czech Republic drawing at Wales. Ireland have a chance of 2nd, albeit one in a million. The away games to the Slovaks and Czechs will illuminate to show whether Stan learns from his mistakes.

3rd place in the group will keep Stan's job, barring a demolition job by the Germans or Czechs, Stan will feel vindicated and subject us to another 2 years of droning cliched quotes. Still, it could be worse, we could have McClaren....

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

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Podcast this week

Hi Folks,
Mark here.

Just a quick blog on the podcast this week, we're aiming to have it online Saturday evening, myself and JJ have awkward schedules this week, and the season is over anyway, so we're practically lying on a beach, telling our agents: "They're taking the piss!", and discussing upcoming roasting sessions. Which is a long way about of saying - we're in summer mode, we're flexible and the podcast will be popping up erratically for a few weeks.

We'll be discussing our hatred of Mark Lawrenson, so please send in any bile in case we miss it ( comments@okeydokefootball.com ), Pub Talk on who has gone where and why, the Euro 2008 qualifying results, and... a surprise

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

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

The Silly Season

Hi Folks,
Mark here.
First of all apologies for the lack of blog last Friday, I had absolutely nothing to write about. Yesterday was a holiday here in Ireland, but I did logon, look around and then swiftly decide, nope nothing to write about either.

However, I have come up with something today. It is often commented on the folly of managers signing clearly rubbish or mental footballers. But I haven't seen any theories as to why they do it.

My theory is - they're egomaniacs. This week Chris Hutchings signed Titus Bramble. Now this is not the first time Chris has been involved, he also signed madman Stan Collymore and mercenary Benito Carbone whilst in charge at Bradford (1 win in 12 league games). Perhaps he felt he could mould them, could use his managerial prowess, could slap them on the back and shout 'you the man' in order to bring about the necessary performances. Sadly, it failed for him before and it will again with Titus.
Big Sam is a man who not only likes the challenge of Anelka, but also likes wheeling and dealing in Oman, Poland, Africa and Israel. I suspect that if Newcastle are taken over by this billionaire, he will buy every footballer in the middle east and try to make them a star. Also, his current club choice, Newcastle, is made for a power hungry perfectionist - it's rubbish and a bit mental up there. And he is in the process of signing the bonkers Joey Barton and the talented but unmotivated Viduka. Now that's a challenge.

I'll stop this article before I have to discuss Harry Redknapp, because I really don't have the 2 hours necessary to detail all his activities in ~1050 game managerial career but a great example is Kanu, terrible for at least 4 seasons, including helping West Brom get relegated by scoring no goals (including miss of the season). No wonder Harry wanted Bramble...

Mark,
http://www.okeydokefootball.com