Tuesday, 23 December 2008
Well folks, let's get cracking. We'll be rounding up the football year tonight on our one off Christmas podcast, so get your suggestions in before 8pm GMT and we'll tally up the results.
Best Player not called Ronaldo
Best & Worst Transfer so far this season - 1. Value for Money 2. Overall
Most Liked & Most Hated Player
Best & Worst Match
Hopes for the new year
Best & Worst Moment
Man of the Year
We'll be concentrating on the Premier League, but if you're a continental football buff, feel free to supply your corresponding nominations.
We will also have some other offbeat, one off awards, similar to last year's show.
We reserve the right to veto scurrilous nominations, but we will mention it in the podcast if we do.
No nominees are included as it might influence the voting, so you are on your own.
Please email your suggestions to email@example.com rather than posting a comment on this blog, in order to keep the suspense.... However please comment below with any categories you think should be included, the wilder the better.
Friday, 19 December 2008
Holy shitballs that’s a good draw. Okay there’s the possibility the quarters onwards may be a damp squib with so many big guns going out next time out but then again we hardly want the same teams in the semi finals each year. Such thoughts drove me to the pub this afternoon, well these thoughts and the fact that no one in
v Madrid Liverpool
- Arsenal v Roma
v Manchester United Milan
Now, back to the pub, Happy Christmas folks… we will be podding in a matter of days by the way, hopefully it eases a few hangovers, it will cause us some anyway.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
So, McGeady is valued at £10m eh? And Bayern Munich, and, less surprisingly, Newcastle are interested in him, because of his, in no way exaggerated, bust up with Gordon Strachan.
Anyone familiar with his Ireland performances will have raised a eyebrow higher than Glenda Gilson. His Irish recruitment was seen as a coup (y'know, what with him being Scottish and all), but after 20 appearances, no goals, and precious little end product, I wouldn't mind swapping him for Darren Fletcher right now.
Celtic fans point to his 7 SPL goals, and 19 SPL assists last season (not to mention his Player of the Year & Young Player double award) and his decent CL performances. But would he do well in the Premier league? For a mediocre team like Newcastle? Not a chance.
Villa are known admirers, but it is hard to imagine him getting much playing time, and for £10m, that's a damning statement.
Monday, 15 December 2008
“Hmm, yeah, that’s just plain box office, that’s all I’m saying, is it… yeah we don’t know for sure but what do know, as Lou Macari was saying… and I thought it was (inert camp pointing gesture here) intersssssssting… are they the real thing? Always, always here on Setanta, yeah mmm real thing… Coca Cola… yeah, squeaky bum time. Where’s my burger?”
It might not sound exactly like that but it won’t be a million miles off. Anyway, away from that utter gimp, this happens to be the best Premier League race in years. Chelsea messing up brought to an end another bizarre weekend. Liverpool went two down, came to life then died just as suddenly again for the last 55 minutes against Hull. While Arsenal lived up to all the clichés about going to pieces once they go past Watford on the team bus, and seemed happy enough with a draw at Boro.
Then there’s United. There always is and this season they really are one, long running soap opera… or maybe they’re more like a fugitive movie. You know, like that movie with the fugitive who was said to have killed his wife, and the police chased this fugitive for months, but the fugitive shaved off his beard, dived into water at great heights and the fugitive then went and solved the murder the fugitive had been blamed for in the first place. I think it was called ‘The Guy Who Didn’t Get Caught’.
Anyway, movies aside, Ferguson can now instil in his team that everyone really is out to get them – he’s even taken them on the run to Japan. There’s Evra and his four match ban (which is ridiculous in fairness), then Rooney being investigated by UEFA, not to mention Ronaldo suffering the same fate for his kick out at Dawson on Saturday, as the FA look at Mike Riley’s report on the game to see if they can take action. It’s the FA so expect an answer back on that last one in May. Add to all this Ronaldo subbing himself last week and Ferguson defending this as normal practice and you have a club with issues.
Liverpool have a few of them as well as Rafa continues to worship the altar of ‘The System’. Dirk Kuyt, we assume, is the head of this particular religion as he alone must be omnipresent throughout all acts of ‘The System’. What was wrong with Benitez’s team on Saturday? Well where do you start…
- No Agger against a team bound to be sitting back.
- Dossena looking like he’d had a skin full of pints the night before.
- Benayoun doing his usual trick of running into other players.
- Dirk running everywhere and nowhere at the same time, all at four miles an hour with his first touch getting worse by the week.
- Using Monster Masch was even a huge error – why does he need a defensive midfielder against a side they should easily beat?
- As for the subs, well not using Keane at all is pretty much telling him he has no career at the club, read the same for Babel. Even waiting as long as he did – 15 minutes left – to put someone in to freshen things up smacked of way too much caution. That the sub was a Moroccan midget barely up to Coca Cola Cup standards was the cherry on top.
Phew…glad I got that out. It’s this stubbornness that may well kill any chance of a title challenge. It seems the same at Arsenal where Wenger steadfastly refused to replace Mathieu Flamini and endures William Gallas’ unique approach to defending. At Chelsea too, Felipe Scolari seems beholden to a system which works brilliantly away but which is severely stunted at home when they play a side sitting back.
On the other side of the world, it’s pretty easy to assume that, despite Saturday’s draw at Spurs, Ferguson will feel that he can take advantage of the various stubborn antics of Benitez, Wenger and Scolari. He has his striker quandary to sort out still, and various suspensions may hurt him in the league, and indeed Champions League. However, as much as I hate saying this, if we are going to have a full five months of squeaky bum time, you’d have to believe the man who brought us the phrase is best equipped to deal with it. The oul' bastard.
PS: Yes, I ignored Villa on purpose.
Friday, 12 December 2008
But I think it more interesting to examine United's frontline issues.
Carlos Tevez has staked a very interesting claim for a place in the team against Spurs with his recent goalscoring exploits after a poor start to the season. So the focus has turned on Berbatov and questions on whether he should be in the team. His languid and nonchalant style infuriates old school types who like passion at the expense of skill (that's pretty much everyone in Britain and Ireland then...) but it is clear he adds a different dimension to the team from last season. His 6 goals and 6 assists is a modest start, but I think acceptable for a player of his value fitting into a new team. As the season progresses, so should Berba.
Similarly with Keane, at £20m he was always overvalued, but playing in the right system (i.e. not on his own up front) and with confidence, he should turn good this season.
More pertinent then is Rooney's role in the team. It has already been pointed out his tendency to go on a goal scoring streak, which then turns into a drought, so there is a big question mark on his consistency. His temper issues are well known, not least his despicable display in midweek against AaB, and his abuse of referees. His career seems to have stagnated, no longer is he the golden boy (and don't believe anyone who tells you he is still 'world class') - he is a hot head who can be a liability to the team when things don't go his way. No longer can his youth be used as an excuse, and he is indulged by referees due to being English but that can't last forever (unless you're Alan Shearer).
So the solution is to drop Rooney and play Tevez - Tevez can do everything Rooney does only, crucially, without the aggro and risk. And seeing as Rooney is likely to receive a CL ban, a perfect opportunity has arisen for Fergie to try a different front pairing in the coming weeks.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Where to now for Keane? How long until Terry Venables is linked to the job? Is it the right move? Will Eamonn play this out in his usual understated way in his newspaper column? Will Quinn be next? Am I running out of questions marks? Am I????
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
While it’s troubling enough to hear Dunphy being pally with John Motson (you can hear hell freezing over the in the background), the most worrying thing is that RTE may have to look at one of their top pundits and realise that the man has finally gone a little off the deep end.
The “mythology” he's speaking of is pretty much the creation of a certain Mr E. Dunphy; writer of Keane’s autobiography not to mention defender of the former Man U man to the last on RTE for years (and indeed every media outlet in the known universe back in 2002). The fact that he did this interview on the Beeb of all places, is a little on the funny side too as in the past he’s been pretty vocal about their spoofery supreme.
He tries to dress up the attack by talking about Keane as an intelligent man (“he’s not a headbanger”) but in the famous words which he apparently put in Keane’s mouth, you’d imagine this is just in the hope that Roy won’t turn up on the door of Dunphy’s Georgian mansion with that old Cork greeting, “Bang! Take that ya c**t”.
There are always two sides to a story though, and the irritating thing about Dunphy is that in between all the ranting and raving there is usually a decent point or two buried in the hyperbole. Whether he’s talking about Ronaldo, Liverpool, Ronaldo, Arsene Wenger, Ronaldo, Italian football or Ronaldo; he generally speaks something approaching sense in between the guff, and this is no different. Keane will most likely not be at Sunderland next year for one reason or another, what Dunphy’s opinion on things will be when/if that happens will be interesting anyway. As will Keane’s next press conference.
Monday, 1 December 2008
Friday, 28 November 2008
Is Arsene Wenger sounding more like Arnold Schwarzenegger each day? I’ve heard the question mentioned a few times in the recent past and I’m slowly but surely giving it some credence. Perhaps this whole professorial image of his is burdening Wenger.
Maybe teams see him, and by extension his team, as a bunch of chin stroking softies. Perhaps he’s actually been toughened up by the bad times that haven’t seen an open top bus tour of
Once again Wenger is facing into the prospect of heavy criticism as his Arsenal side – apparently tearing apart at the seams – face
Anyway, prediction one… 2-1 Chelsea to lay on more hurt for Arsene’s girly men.
Prediction two, and it will most likely come back to haunt me, is that
Aston Villa v Fulham: I think this has nil-all written all over it. But then my instincts are balls so what the fuck – 3-2 with at least one missed penalty and something like this happening midway through the first half.
Sunderland v Bolton: Surely a home win – Sunderland have created loads of chances in their last two home games and have been shafted by a combination of luck going against them and having fools like Diouf or Ferdinand in their side. Keane still has to explain all his odd signings in the fullness of time but he should get the win here.
Wigan v West Brom:
Sunday, 30 November
Tottenham v Everton: See aforementioned ‘Everton/shite’ comment above. 2-0
Monday, 1 December
Thursday, 27 November 2008
Tuesday and Wednesday night showed us the worst of the CL action, I flicked between the 2 televised games on each night, and almost couldn't decide which was worse. Watching Arsenal huff and puff to blow Kiev's house down, Villarreal defend against United's impotent attack, Liverpool squander possession against Marseilles, or Chelsea faffing around the place against Bordeaux (to be fair, Bordeaux equalised late on, and Lamps was sent off, so that is the winner).
After 5 matches, 13 teams have already qualified, with only group A & B in the balance. As far as teams hoping to win the group and thus earn themselves the chance of an easier draw in the second round, it's hardly riveting is it? And with Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid currently occupying second in their groups, there's not much of an incentive to finish top.
In group A, Chelsea need to beat Cluj at home to progress, while Roma should be able to tackle Bordeaux at home. In group B, there is excitement, the 2 European powerhouses, Panathinaikos & Anorthosis Famagusta go head to head for qualification. But that won't be on TV.
No, we'll see Chelsea winning at home, and Liverpool doing the necessary away to PSV. Man Utd will be shown showboating around whilst crushing AaB, and Arsenal will try to draw against Porto to seal top spot.
So that's all done and dusted then.
Over to the UEFA Cup tonight (no, wait!) and Pompey take on AC Milan. Milan will be resting players, so the story goes, and even old Sheva is likely to get a run out.
Tony Adams meanwhile has said that it is nights like this that made qualifying Europe so great, and it is the biggest match in their history. He then went on to say that he wants to looks at some of the lads who have been out of the team and it is important to stay in the Premier League. Is he mad?
Firstly, I'm sure all the players want to test themselves against AC, and a good performance will do wonders for their confidence, while being left out is sure to infuriate . Secondly, why reward players who are out of the team with a start against the 7 times European Cup winners? They are out of the team for a reason. Thirdly, Portsmouth have a good team, and thus have a good chance to win the competition, and after their 3-0 loss last time, need to pick some points. Do you really want to be despised like Megson & Bolton after their shameful antics last year?
Fourthly (I think I need to stop after 'fourthly', in fact, I'm not even sure it's a word.), Tony says "What we need to be focused on is staying in the Premier League" - no Tony, you need to be focused on going far in the UEFA Cup and qualifying again via the league with your expensively assembled squad.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
My predictions of late have, like a recovering alcoholic in winter time, been a little on the shaky side. Therefore I approach tonight’s Champions League fixtures with a fair amount of trepidation. There are teams deemed to be in crisis, teams with little to play for and, of course, there’s Celtic, whose continued redefinition of being pants on the road has to end at some stage… or does it?
Go through this season’s Champions League and there’s been a fair few surprises (Villareal getting the draw in Manchester, Cluj winning in Rome, Madrid losing twice to Juve, Chelsea coming unstuck in Italy, everything that’s happened involving Anorthosis Famagusta), yet when it comes down to it, the top seeds from each group will most likely end up in the last sixteen. But that doesn’t make the odds of me calling any of the below correctly any better. Fuck it though, here goes…
AaB v Celtic: Celtic’s general inability to score in the Champions League has been pretty painful to watch this season. All in all, they just aren’t a very good side and they tend to play woeful football once they leave the confines of that Sunday league they play in each week. They might sneak a draw though. 0-0 or 1-1.
Arsenal v Dynamo Kiev: Prepare for another round of articles on the genius of Wenger after a 2-0 or 3-0 win here. Really the press are so bloody up and down when it comes to Arsenal this season. They lose to Stoke and they’re in a state of crisis not seen since the mid-nineties, all of a sudden they beat Wigan reserves at home and they’re a collection of Peles. Throw in a win over Man United, followed by two comprehensive defeats and column writers are once again going from deifying them one day to writing them off the next (I’m looking at you Kevin McCarra). They may well pull of ‘a Liverpool’ and be brutal in the league and go far in the CL this season. Like I said, two or three nil here.
BATE Borisov v Real Madrid: Madrid, so says Sid, have been absolutely woeful of late but my poor man’s cable package has meant I’ve only seen CL highlights of them for the most part. They have to beat these guys though surely? Surely? 0-1.
Bayern Munich v Steaua Bucuresti: Ah, a meeting of the old guard in Europe, lovely. Bayern shoudl win this and march towards the next round. Oh, and if you haven’t seen this vid of Frank Ribery by now, feast your eyes. Genius. 2-0.
Fenerbahce v FC Porto: So bad I forgot to put a score in here in my first edit of this blog. We’ll go with 1-3.
Fiorentina v Lyon: Could be a good one here, Fiorentina have to win to have any chance of progressing but may bee missing Mutu and are also hampered by having Gilardino up front who, in the finest tradition of Andy Cole and Robbie Keane, takes ten chances to score one goal. Much like the Bayern game last time out, I’d say they may take the lead and try to hang on, but they won’t though. 1-2.
Villarreal v Man Utd: I hate this – a tasty looking fixture that has its balls ripped off by being a pointless game at the end of the group stages. It happens every year in the Champions League and at any major tournament as well – as anyone who watched Holland and Argentina at the 2006 World Cup will no doubt agree with… wait a minute, did I say Holland and Argentina? That gives me an excuse to show this…. Where was I? Oh yeah, 1-1.
Zenit St Petersburg v Juventus: Home win this time out with Juve licking their wounds after the weekend. No one wants to see an old lady licking her wounds. 1-0.
And on that note…
Friday, 21 November 2008
Chelsea v Newcastle: Farckin ‘ell Joe Kinnear’s not done too bad has he? The resurrection of Damien Duff, Oba Martins playing well again and not caving in to Michael Owen. Good man. He’ll get the shit ripped out of him here though. 3-0
Liverpool v Fulham: Hmmm… It’s been Steven Gerrard week on the ‘Pool’s official website as he’s celebrating 10 years in the first team. Will he mark it with a controversial return after his England absence? I hope he does as it’ll annoy Garth Crooks, which is always a good thing. Anyway, with or without him it’s a home win. Most likely nil all at half time but a win nonetheless, particularly with Torres likely to start. 2-0
Man City v Arsenal: Ooooooooh tough one, this should be a cracker and why it’s not on live TV is beyond me. Robinho should find plenty of space what with most of Arsenal’s defence reusing to go within ten yards of William ‘Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me’ Gallas. What a complete tosser this guy is though. First he says he has no friends at the club, then he rubbishes Theo Walcott’s style of play, has a strop at Birmingham, embarrasses himself with the team talk in their game against Chelsea last year, plays pretty poorly for the majority of his time at the club and even found himself out injured for eight weeks after kicking himself up the arse in training. Prat. Go on Citeh, increase the pain. 2-1.
Middlesbrough v Bolton: Oooooooh pointless one this… I shall talk no further. 1-0. Barnstorming.
Portsmouth v Hull: Hull stopped the rot last week and fair balls to them, I think they’ll lose a tight game here though as Donkey Kong continues to see Pompey improve after their substandard start to his reign. 2-1.
Stoke v West Brom: Oh dear. Let’s hope West Brom’s penchant for actually passing the ball helps them out here against a woeful to watch Stoke side. 0-1.
Sunderland v West Ham: Considering most of the Sunderland defence used to play for West ham, if they have any chance of a clean sheet it should come here. More pain for Zola I’d say – 2-0.
Tottenham v Blackburn: The big one, well it is for me as I’ve bet that Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs will all be up at half time in their games. Foolish considering I already said Liverpool might take a while before beating Fulham, and even more foolish considering I think Spurs might struggle here. But screw it; the betting slip is in my hands now. 3-1 Spurs, hopefully 1-0 at least at half time… poppa needs a new pair o’ shoes.
Monday, 17 November 2008
And above is Andy Reid.
This is what journalists and pretentious people like moi call a juxtaposition.
So everybody, give Il Trap a bit of credit and please don't get so upset with Ireland's midfield, which, as the manager has stressed, is to a specific system. We're not England, we don't have to shoe-horn incompatible players into the system that is working so far for us.
Friday, 14 November 2008
Okay so admittedly the fixture list this weekend has the air of George Lee news report about it but here’s a rundown of what I think will happen. (Oh and here’s a rundown of what Lawro thinks will happen. Here’s Lawro making a very strange noise. And here’s a video of what Mark gets up to in his spare time. Possibly.).
Arsenal v Aston Villa: Well perhaps it’s not all bad as this one usually provides some decent entertainment. Arsenal should be full of confidence while Villa have been pretty poor of late, which frankly I find hilarious. I can see Arsenal going behind then coming back to win 3-1.
Blackburn v Sunderland: Royston is not best pleased with life at the moment but considering Blackburn are also a pretty poor side I’d say Sunderland will nick a point anyway. 1-1.
Bolton v Liverpool: I’ll watch it but I’m pretty sure I won’t enjoy it. Hard fought 1-2.
Fulham v Tottenham: For the sake of all our sanities please let the Harry Houdini bollocks stop here and now. Hopefully Andy Johnson can do another one of his famous pirouettes in the penalty area and grab a spot-kick here. Roy Hodgson’s team can play some decent football and will almost certainly score against Spurs – well they definitely will considering I now have Vedran Corluka in my fantasy league team – so I reckon they can halt this alarmingly brilliant run of form for Harry’s men. 3-2.
Man Utd v Stoke: Two nil by half time, three nil or three one by full time. Though it will be interesting to see how the unusually nervous United defence of late deal with the Delapidator.
Newcastle v Wigan: Robbie Earle reckons Joe Kinnear is a nice bloke, but then again he appears to get on well with Andy Townsend who is clearly the antichrist* so perhaps his opinion isn’t much to go on when judging someone. Nothing to do with the game but thought I’d mention it anyway. I’ll say home win – 4-1.
West Brom v Chelsea: 0-3.
West Ham v Portsmouth: Two teams who have been wobbling of late, both managed by pretty decent blokes who will eventually be fired once their shortcomings in management become all too apparent. This weekend however, I fancy Gianfranco Zola to get some joy at last. Pompey played poorly and won last week, West Ham played excellently and lost in freakish fashion to Everton (Saha barely touched the ball before he set up one goal and scored two more). Karma says 2-0 West Ham.
Everton v Middlesbrough: Meh… 1-1.
Hull v Man City: City have been brutal on the road of late but I’d say they’ll get three points here… 1-3 maybe.
Have a good weekend folks, JJ
*Andy Townsend may not be the antichrist. Tests have proved inconclusive. Shit pundit though, that was confirmed.
Antonio Cassano. Prince among men.
His autobiography is out now and frankly go buy it (well if you understand Italian, we can only hope there’s an English version out soon, but here’s a few excerpts to get an idea of how it differs from the ‘I went to the World Cup, I played shit, here’s my book’ approach of most Premier League stars). He hates everybody, has sex with every woman in sight (including young Rosaria here) and eats his way across Europe. What a guy, oh and here’s his Fabio Capello impression. Antonio Cassano - one of life's more wonderful nutjobs.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
The chunky cheeseball that is Pat Dolan is snapped in Burger King - for those of you outside of Ireland he's an awful, awful pundit with Setanta. Previously he's had the piss taken out of him by Apres Match and is pretty much loathed from one end of the nation to the other.
Is he starting up some kind of Native American chant or does the food go in so quick his hand becomes merely a blur? Fat Pat, ever the mystery.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
By early August I had been alerted by a mate that Andrea Dossena may well be pants. Liverpool had just signed him for £7 million and while his absence from what was already a poor Italian defence during Euro 2008 worried me at first, I still had some hopes that perhaps Rafa Benitez had spotted a diamond in the rough as Sky pundits and assorted Eastenders clichés say.
“Generally, he stands there with one hand up his hole,” was his learned (learned son, it’s pronounced learned, sorry couldn’t resist) verdict, based on watching Dossena line out in several pre season friendlies. Now, getting this right out of the way, I fully agree at this point that the former Udinese man is pretty poor, but that really wasn’t what I wanted to talk about.
The idea of watching Carling Cup games over the next two nights has about as much appeal as those pre-season friendlies just mentioned – and frankly they seem to have as much importance these days. When it comes around to January, stick the FA Cup in there as well. All these games are pretty much on the same level of those August walkabouts nowadays, with the only ones seemingly fighting against the grain being the TV companies who are trying to flog advertising time by eulogising about the magic of the Carling Cup and FA Cup in particular.
You’ve probably seen it already (via Martin Kelner), but Setanta’s intro to their coverage of the first round of the FA Cup is the latest bit of painful TV exec nonsense that tries to sell shit as shitola (FAmous Cup anybody?). Okay it does say that it’s something uniquely English, so as an Irish blog we can hardly be judge, jury and executioner but surely there has to be several fans over in Blighty who agree that the thrill is well gone.
It certainly is with regards to the League Cup, which prior to the Champions League explosion often provided the first big ‘event’ game of the season, as silverware was handed out in March. In this year’s competition, watching Arsenal’s kids destroy
Anyway, with that little rant out of the way here’s footage of Stuart McCall falling over a car while pissed. Now had Setanta included this at the start of their intro to the FA Cup they might have got me watching. Just a suggestion lads.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
It's been a while, and I'm glad to back.
However, I'm not glad that whilst downloading an episode of Heroes last night (sssh!), I looked up to the TV to see a large fore-headed buffoon pirouetting and crashing to the ground. Flicking over from Strictly Come Dancing, Liverpool had won a penalty in the 94th minute, which Stevie G rammed home. Overall, a draw was probably deserved, though Atletico provided some menace on the counter attack. Though, it didn't matter, did it? Marseilles and PSV are 5 points off the (slow) pace in group D.
In group A, Chelsea are stuttering through as per usual, Inter have a 3 point lead in group B, while Barca and Sporting will qualify in group C.
Am I just like Barry Glenndenning and have become sick of football? Or is this now a borefest, at least where the English teams are involved? Mostly yes, and I need to start watching Inter, who rescued a 3-3 last night against Anorthosis, or head on over to group F, to see if Fiorentina can catch Lyon. Or even group G, where there should be a 3-way battle for second.
So, on to the predictions:
AaB v Villarreal, Gp E
After the last 6-3 goalfest, the law of football says this must a narrow away win for Villarreal, 0-1
Celtic v Man Utd, Gp E
Hello, are you still with me? No really, this is a battle of Britain, it'll be... eh... a relatively easy game for United, interspersed with the odd high tempo efforts from Celtic, United will rotate and settle for a draw, 1-1.
Fiorentina v Bayern Munich, Gp F
The Italians need to win to help their qualification chances. Bayern are no great shakes, though Ribery has returned from injury, Fiorentina will nick it, 2-1
Lyon v Steaua Bucuresti, Gp F
Lyon, the most implausible team in the CL - just give up and stop qualifying, you are never going to do anything in this competition, except flatter to deceive. A Benzema inspired win, 2-0.
Arsenal v Fenerbahce, Gp G
A handy walk in the park for Arsenal after the Stoke unpleasantness, which will involve goalmouth incidents galore, and a victory at a stroll. Even Alumnia can't mess up in this match, can he? 4-0
Dynamo Kiev v FC Porto, Gp G
Porto need a draw at least to keep in touch with Dynamo in the battle for runners up behind Arsenal, and they should get it. 1-1.
BATE v Zenit St Petersburg, Gp H
Wow, Zenit are crap aren't they? What happened to the UEFA Cup winners? Maybe their players are being disturbed by large wads of money being offered to them or maybe, whisper it, the UEFA Cup is a low quality tournament. They'll go for the win to try to defend their crown, by finishing 3rd in the group.
Real Madrid v Juventus, Gp H
Del Piero showed the last time out that he has a bit of life left in him yet, but, despite Juve's recent good run, they are still missing some players, and Real have quality throughout the team. The opposite of their previous result - 2-1
P.S. Darren Bent has 6 goals in 14 appearance this season, and a couple of assists. I'm so happy when I'm right
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Roll out the theme tune, tis Champions League time again…
Roma v Chelsea, (Gp A): What with Roma losing their last five games and
Anorthosis Famagusta v Inter
Werder Bremen v Panathinaikos, (Gp B): Diego got a peach at the weekend and while Werder Bremen have been one of the most unpredictable sides in the Champions League in the last few years they not diving gits like the sodding Greeks they’re facing. I hope it’s 8-0, in all likelihood, more like 3-1.
Sporting v Shakhtar Donetsk, (Gp C): Eh… no idea. In the long run I’d say Shakhtar will provide stronger opposition to the top sides in the latter stages, especially when they’re at home so I hope they go through. With that in mind… 2-1.
Marseille v PSV, (Gp D): Both very, very poor sides – I’d say
Monday, 3 November 2008
After another frankly barmy week of football my favourite quote came from an unusual source. Unusual in the sense that I generally try and ignore anything Alex Ferguson says as it more often than not concerns myopic ideas of what referees should or shouldn’t do and little else.
But this time the Knight of the Realm who once got off a driving charge by using the excuse of having the shits, talked a whole heap of sense. His target? FIFA President, and all round slimeball, Sepp ‘How Tight Can We Get Those Hot Pants?’ Blatter (pictured above being the classy individual we’ve come to know and love)
“I think Sepp Blatter is in danger . . . or has reached a point now, where he is being mocked within the game … Whether he’s getting too old, I don’t know. But things can happen to people in power. Look at some of the despots in Africa.”
Not bad, but he wasn’t finished, “All I’m saying is that, from a position of great power, he has uttered so many ridiculous statements that he is in danger of seriously damaging his credibility.”
To be fair to Ferguson, he’s pretty much got this spot on. To a man like him, and indeed anyone with a bit of sense at all, a political schemer like Blatter must utterly disgust them. Thankfully, one person who Blatter wholeheartedly disgusts is investigative reporter Andrew Jennings, whose BBC documentary on Blatter in the run up to the 2006 World Cup was a window into the shady dealings of the Swiss-born backstabber supreme. His book – Foul: The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals – goes several steps further though, and essentially is an astonishing 250-plus pages full of reasons why Blatter should not be where he is in life.
Originally released in 2006, I bought a newly published edition of the book recently and it’s a tale of rigged elections; bogus payments to officials; dipping into company funds; and appointing similar scumbags like Jack Warner into power. How this can be on general release and yet Blatter remains in his lofty position is amazing. Jennings’ stellar background can be viewed here, and he recently summed up his distaste for the FIFA supremo and others in power, saying:
“Every country in the world should stand up and say stinking fish. So what you’ve got is each continental confederation, we are in UEFA in Europe, now headed by Blatter’s friend and protégée, Platini, there is CONCACAF, covering North and Central America, Caribbean, Africa and Asia and so on. There are six confederations. Once you get to be a Confederation President, such as Jack Warner in CONCACAF, they are very happy, they are making good money in addition to the rackets. They can’t complain. They keep Blatter in power so that they can get rich. They give him the vote. It does make the Mafia look quite amateur… They are the Enrons of sport in that respect.
Give it a bash if you see it in shops. To be honest, and this will tell you plenty, John Delaney looks like one of the more capable and trustworthy football administrators out there after reading this. Now there’s a horrifying thought.
Right, after that blast of ‘deep’ thinking, myself or Mark will be back with some Champions League countdown action tomorrow.
Friday, 31 October 2008
Take all this into account and at least we know he won’t be boring. Every Argentine player who had problems with the previous two regimes (I’m looking at you Riquelme) will be understandably excited by his presence. Messi, Mascherano, Tevez and Aguero have all said he’s a father figure to them, and in the latter’s case he’s about to father Maradona’s grandchild, the dirty divil.
All of this leads to one inevitable conclusion. Those of us in Ireland who’ve watched Fabio Capello – one of the most distinguished coaches in the game – take England from a shambolic outfit to a slightly luckier and, okay I’ll admit it, sometimes excellent side can rejoice. It is written in the stars people…
World Cup, Australia (because South Africa haven’t fucked it up yet, but they soon will) 2010…
England v Argies…
Did someone say penalties?
The rest takes care of itself really. Roll on 2010!
Some quick predictions for the weekend…
Chelsea v Sunderland: Maybe nil all ‘til half time but Chelski to continue where they left off at Hull and hack their way through a weaker side. “There’s a work ethic there Bill,” says Johnny. 3-0 again.
Everton v Fulham: Buoyed by a midweek win and that dude Felliani’s magnificent afro, this may be an unhappy return for Andy Johnson. 2-o.
Man Utd v Hull: Another routine 2-0. Jesus I hate United and their routine 2-0 wins.
Middlesbrough v West Ham: Wee Gianfranco is under the cosh. Considering at his size most Hammers fans could eat him whole I don’t think he’ll be long for this league. I hope I’m wrong but I’d say it’ll be another defeat, five on the spin and Zola out banners galore next week. 1-0
Portsmouth v Wigan: Meh… I hate Steve Bruce too, always have. 3-0.
Stoke v Arsenal: Ah the Arse, gotta love their unpredictable leaps from genius to a bunch of crackpots in a split second. They’ll nick this one though 1-2.
Tottenham v Liverpool: This would have been a nailed on draw had Arsenal clung on against Spurs earlier in the week. But now they may got cocky (there was a DVD of the Arse game on their website ten hours after the match) and still can’t defend for shite. With Gomes in goal and Torres expected back I’ll go for 1-3.
West Brom v Blackburn: The big one… or not. Blackburn were unlucky against Villa, they’ll get a draw here. 1-1.
Bolton v Man City: Hmmm… all of a sudden a movie on Sunday afternoon looks like the right option. 1-2.
Newcastle v Aston Villa: The revolution continues, shit on the Villa indeed. 2-1. Go JFK!
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Onwards we march anyway, and we’ll start that with predictions for this evening’s games.
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs are bound to take the lead here; such is the wave of optimism flowing through the club after Redknapp’s arrival. However, they are also bound to lose 3-1 such is the dearth of defending talent at White Hart Lane, particularly from goalkeeper Gomes. Expect Arsenal to shoot from all angles at the bumbling Brazilian with plenty of joy.
Come back tomorrow for all manner of heckling when a Crouchigol overhead consigns the ‘Pool to defeat.
Later folks, JJ
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Friday, 26 September 2008
With the pack of jokers from Sid James’ Park in mind we’ll start the weekend predictions with…
Newcastle v Blackburn: “I’m sick of talking about them, but maybe, just maybe, they’ve reached their nadir and will put up a decent fight against Paul Ince’s men. I’ll go for a hard fought, ultimately wretched to watch 1-1.” That was my original sentiment about an hour ago… now I’ll go for 1-3 Blackburn.
Arsenal v Hull: Super fun happy time for Arsenal. Hull actually try and play football which will be their downfall so let’s just hope they enjoy the day out. 4-1. The one for Hull coming late on to ruin Bacary Sagna’s clean sheet and dent my Fantasy League hopes. Born pessimist folks.
Aston Villa v Sunderland: Interesting, very interesting. Last year Sunderland got their first away win of the season at Villa Park, and both teams claim at least to have improved since then. Coming off defeat to QPR at home I think Villa might struggle as they didn’t play particularly well for large parts of last week’s game against West Brom either. I fancy Sunderland, with Keane’s strong words during the week still ringing in their ears to get a result. 1-2.
Everton v Liverpool: I always wonder if this is a decent game for neutrals? I can’t think so as even I get bored most times by the often woeful showings these sides produce. I think it’s a game Liverpool need after the dire, dire, dire, dire performance against Stoke and one they’ll win nervously 0-1.
Fulham v West Ham: Should be a decent one this, both sides have been really hard to call this season so far. There should be some decent football, cockney rhyming slag galore and hopefully goals involved. Think the home side will nick it though 3-2.
Man Utd v Bolton: Dreary win for the home side. 2-0.
Middlesbrough v West Brom: Could be a good match, Boro need some luck at some stage this year and with West Brom giving away stupid goals I’ll go for 2-0 with Stewart Downing missing four penalties.
Stoke v Chelsea: This is why Liverpool won’t win the league. 0-2.
Portsmouth v Tottenham: How many crisis clubs are there in this league? At least both these teams here are properly in the shit, as opposed to various talks of crisis at Liverpool, Everton, Man City and even Man United this year. There should be stricter criteria when it comes to the phrase ‘crisis club’ I feel. Anyway, I have NO IDEA what will happen here. In short, and for no real reason… 2-3
Wigan v Man City: Robinho, Jo, Wright Philips, Elano and Petrov in the side and Man City’s best player is Stephen Ireland. Why oh why did he have to go get a dodgy weave, figuratively kill his grannies and leave his country in the lurch? On a more relevant note, Wigan have been pretty sturdy thus far and I’d say they’ll get at least a draw here… but then I do hate Steve Bruce… so 0-3 Citeh.
Later folks, JJ
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Let’s face it, from the club’s point of view he’s one of the few guys with experience in management still willing to go there. Putting it in perspective, there’s David O’Leary and Glenn Hoddle to choose from otherwise, and the players at least might still have a hint of respect for Venables… well the English guys at least (Oba Martins admitted he had no idea who Keegan was when he walked through the door so I can’t see many of the Geordies’ foreign legion knowing who the podgy Londoner is when he arrives for training).
With the choices they have in front of them the guy is most likely the best of a bad bunch and what’s more, should they gain any hint of stability in the next few months (stop sniggering) he will be more amenable to stepping aside than ego-monkeys such as Hoddle and O’Leary.
To many though he will remain the cockney geezer supreme; un-likeable, untrustworthy and at times indecipherable when speaking about defensive systems as a pundit. Perhaps a dip into the Eamonn Dunphy vault can sum up Newcastle’s plight best. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this superb rant on the merits, or lack thereof, of hiring the former Spurs coach. Yes Toon Army – meet you new saviour.... ye poor, poor replica-shirted fools.
The new pod is online - short and sweet and possibly familiar. Mark is away, and with our hoped-for supersub gone MIA I flew solo before realising that (a) my laptop's soundcard is horrendous and (b) a solo pod just ain't my thing. So, like any great man of the people I found a compromise and have given ye a short, sharp dose of hate we recorded a while back on Lee Bowyer...
We will, at last, have a normal pod again next week - thanks for the patience but circumstances have been a backstard.
Anyway, you can download it here, or subscribe.
PS: The pic above was sent to me under the heading: 'Argentinian Special Olympics Trial'... Cruel? You decide.
Til next time folks, JJ
Friday, 19 September 2008
Quick apology but there won’t be a podcast this week as the supersub has unfortunately had to cancel his debut appearance. I was tempted to fly solo but to be honest I think I’d be as entertaining as this soul crunching commercial.
So anyway, with no pod for the moment (the plan is to do one next Tuesday – unless I drunkenly record something over the weekend) I thought I’d give a ramble in text format rather than the usual Polish-beer induced insight myself and Mark specialise in most weeks.
I write while watching Spurs in a horrifically boring UEFA Cup game against Wislaw Krakow (though the return match should be interesting considering Wislaw fans’ fairly interesting views on World War 2) and really the north London team are a bastard to figure out. For the third time in four years they have lost three of their opening four games; they also have a side bursting with creativity but one which also lacks experience in the Premier League.
I know that most managers wish to mould their squad but Ramos has taken that to new heights with the signings of Modric; Dos Santos; Bentley and Pavlychenko. It’s as if he wanted to rip apart anything that Martin Jol had done whether good or bad and create something completely new. A noble idea but he must be confident that Daniel Levy will leave him at it (and indeed Levy’s fairly obvious jibes in director of football Damien Comolli this week indicated that there will at least be one fella leaving White Hart Lane before Ramos anyway).
I hope Spurs click because if they do there is the potential to play better football than Arsenal.
With absolutely no segway – and because I started writing about Newcastle but lost the will to carry on – here’s predictions for this weekend. Can I beat Lawro? If not, I feel I should really think about never doing predictions again and leaving it up to some mystical spider or a magic eight ball to take on the mantle.
Sunderland v Middlesbrough: Derby time and after two defeats at home Sunderland are under a bit of pressure. I think Keane has brought some absolute fools to the club this year to be honest – Cisse and Diouf being the primary examples – and I fancy a well organised Boro (who have been very unlucky on two occasions away this season losing to undeservedly to both Pool and Pompey) to take at least a point. I’ll bank on entertainment and shoddy defending to say 2-2.
Blackburn v Fulham: Paul Ince’s place in ODF history is well established. But while we don’t necessarily like the guy we certainly don’t think he’s a terrible manager. After some horrific defending in the last two games I think he’ll sort Blackburn out and they’ll beat a decent Fulham side 2-1.
Liverpool v Stoke City: Many moons ago Liverpool always followed up an important win with a terrible defeat to a lower side but I think on this occasion (unlike the many, many occasions I’ve said this before) this time it’s different. Roll on 2-2 draw with a last minute Torres equaliser then. No actually, I’ll keep the faith and go 4-1 to the Pool.
West Ham v Newcastle: Could little Franco Zola have picked a better team for a home debut? Alan Smith is out for three months so obviously that will be a big blow to Newcas… oh wait; he’s been a disaster there, just like most of their signings. 2-0.
Bolton v Arsenal: Whoopee, commentators up and down the country can talk about Arsenal being soft ‘up north’ when the stats actually saw they have a great record at Bolton and Blackburn. Gotta love ill-informed pundits. We can only hope Jeff Stelling stops Phil Thompson or whichever other gimp they have in for this before they start blabbing on about the whole sorry myth. Away win 1-3.
West Brom v Aston Villa: Meh, 1-1
Chelsea v Man Utd: Big matches are sometimes great; and sometimes pants. But this one at least allows us the opportunity to watch this again (though attempts by United to mend bridges have been admirable). In a way I hope karma kicks Chelsea in the Scolaris and Terry makes the mistake that costs Chelsea the game; but that’s a little bit small considering the talent on display. Tevez; Deco; Rooney; possibly Ronaldo and more – come on lads at least give us a decent first half before we switch over to the bog ball on RTE. At a guess, it’s got to be Chelsea due to their excellent start… in fact, I think United may get a hiding if they go down to an early goal. Screw it, 3-1.
Hull City v Everton: Probably the same story as last week, when Everton did a number on Stoke (they should have won by a lot more than one goal). Away win city – 0-2.
Man City v Portsmouth: ‘Arry versus the Sheikh; it’s like a Guy Ritchie movie with some Brazilian pikeys thrown in for good measure. City looked very, very disjointed in the UEFA Cup last night and I think they’ll do well to get a draw here against a Pompey side that seem to be many people’s second team. So what if it’s only due to the fact they have a player with the nickname The Herminator, everybody loves Portsmouth. 2-2.
Tottenham v Wigan: Back where we started… good old Spurs. The revolution starts here – 3-0.