Thursday, 29 January 2009

An Ode To Rafa

Oh Rafa, you've made this season so sweet,
I sense my joy will soon be complete.
With Number 18 in our hands,
You'll be off to different lands,
As you just can't stand the heat.

(Keats - you just got owned.)

So, it was a "crazy" night for Liverpool, according to Rafa, but for the rest of us, it was the inevitable petering out of the title race, that sees United's odds slashed to 2/5. A talented squad with League winning experience will surely be no match for the stuttering Liverpool, and the inconsistent Chelsea.

So, bar a fascination with the upcoming top 4 battles, starting with Liverpool and Chelsea on Sunday, we'll have to look elsewhere for excitement.
So off to Spain where Barca are a mere 12 points clear of the pack. OK, maybe not.
Italy then, where the thrice champions Inter hold a 6 point lead and....

OK sod it, back to England. Arsenal find themselves 5 points adrift of Villa in fourth, and in true ODF style, I'm going to make an outlandish prediction that Villa will survive their soon to come wobble and scrape into 4th at the expense of Arsenal. Who will not win the Champions League and deprive Villa of a CL spot.
So that's that then.

Other opinions that I'm currently holding (that will end up with me doing a volte-face):
1. Hughes is doing a poor job, and should be sacked if City finish in the bottom half.
2. Southgate will turn it around and should be given time.
3. Vidic is excellent.
4. I hate Harry Redknapp
5. Adams will be sacked before the season is out


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Hello BitTorrent

Well, the trailer for The Damned United has been released, and if it's half as good as Goal! 2, we're in for a right treat.

- Mark

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

My Spurs blind spot

Hey folks,

Okay, Man City are a shambles, this we know and this we have all accepted. However, while there’ll be plenty more woeful/over-priced transfers coming from the Eastlands’ boardroom in the coming months, the club that really fascinates this January is a little further down the table.

At the beginning of the season, myself and Mark did our usual hash jobs of predictions for the year and much like the last few seasons the team we really came unstuck upon was Spurs. Come on, be honest, how many of you haven’t fallen into the trap of predicting a fourth place finish for them in the last few seasons? The signs were there – great players, decent managers, a good brand of football, money to burn, and the added bonus of any success pissing off Arsenal fans. What wasn’t to like? They even – in Giovani – had a player once tipped to be the best on the planet.

In the past few years, as we fell into the trap of thinking that Jol and then Ramos were the men to take this bunch of underachievers to something bigger and better, Aston Bloody Villa came up on the outside and are doing exactly what Spurs were supposed to for years by shaking up the top four. Man City admittedly also took some of their thunder too with their Dr Evil approach to football politics.

While the Villa story is a good one, and City at times play excellent football there’s still something unbelievably intriguing about Spurs which would make me watch any of their games over a Villa or City match this year.

Maybe it’s the belief that there has to be some moment this season, probably about twenty minutes into the second half of a game against Everton or Bolton, where Harry Redknapp will send on a sub and out of nowhere his team will click into place. Why wouldn’t they – the talent is there for everyone to see. Poor Adel Taarabt for one may make a difference – certainly Redknapp thinks he will – as he approaches full fitness, while Modric looked a lot stronger at the weekend, despite playing a deeper role, than he has done at most points of the season. Up front Defoe should deliver a good few goals as well.

There is, of course, a smattering of over-priced British talent such as Bentley (who was disgracefully greedy with dead balls against Pompey, seeming to suffer from a heightened form of Gerrard’s Hollywoodball Syndrome), not to mention Jermaine Jenas and Darren Bent. What with Redknapp recognising that these guys believe far too much of their own press and with Wilson Palacios on the way perhaps that moment where it all clicks is coming sooner rather than later.

The squad looks like this at the moment, surely enough talent to stay up and possible upset United at Wembley in early March.

1 Gomes 2 Hutton 3 Bale
4 Zokora 5 Bentley 6 Huddlestone
7 Lennon 8 Jenas 9 Pavlyuchenko
10 Bent 11 Gilberto 14 Modric
15 Ghaly 16 Gunter 17 Giovani
18 Campbell 19 Taarabt 20 Dawson
22 Corluka 24 O'Hara
25 Defoe 26 King 27
39 Woodgate 51

Add in Carlo Cudicini, who is apparently on his way today, and hey presto, I’ve fallen for it again and think Spurs might actually turn into a decent side one of these days. Trying to attach logic to this bout of belief, perhaps Spurs are The Wire of the Premier League; new characters each year, storylines which are never wrapped up totally and false dawns brought down by crushing reality. Man City would then most likely be The Tudors – bloated nonsense with far too much money and an all star cast who couldn’t give a toss.

The Wire wins every time.

Later, JJ

Monday, 12 January 2009

Never be too proud to take advice Rafa

What with Rafa’s receding hairline, Nicholas Cage gives him some advice on how to rebuff any future arguments from Slur Alex – I think the pic speaks for itself . The man made Ghost Rider for god sake, his advice is not to be guffawed at.*

*He made Ghost Rider, his arguments are to be guffawed at.**
** He still would have played Keane and Torres at Stoke though.

Later, JJ

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Blog like it’s 1994

Hi folks,

When Champions League nights roll around again, recent figures from RTE will tell us that more will actually tune in to watch the punditry than the actual games. It’s hardly a surprise finding given that the early rounds of the competition weren’t exactly mind blowing entertainment but also because of the fact that the chatter of Giles, Dunphy and the patron saint of this site, Billo, is generally fantastic to watch.

However, much like an average full back in the lower reaches of the Premier League, one gelled up Portuguese git has been their undoing. Like many I’ll head for the fridge or even flick to The Simpsons (hoping it’s an older episode of course) when the argument comes up over whether or not Ronaldo is a great player. Cue the outrageous statements about Ronaldo proving nothing, Rooney actually being a great player “in time”, Scholes being some god-like human and other discussions on the merits of current stars such as Gerrard, Lampard, Raul, Ronaldhino and Messi.

The general rule of thumb as far as I can see is that the less we can see of the player the more chance there is of the RTE guys calling them a legend/genius/great player. If they play in another league (Messi), are near retirement (Scholes/Giggs) or, better yet out of the game for at least 20 years (Cryff/Charlton/Brady and Giles whenever Eamonn is talking) then you can call them a genius.

I’m all on for debates about great players of course but considering the lads in the RTE studios tend to concentrate on either the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and to a lesser extent the ‘80s (whenever they’re not discussing/tearing apart players of the modern day that is), I thought I’d throw out a general debate on who was the greatest player of the 1990s?*

As most people reading this have to smile and nod every time Giles or Dunphy mention anyone who played pre-1985, at the very least, this debate can focus on players we have a decent memory of seeing live, but also ones who are far enough in the past for us to have a clearer picture over whether they were truly a great player or a bluffer.

Personally, I’d go for Roberto Baggio (the reasons for which can be read here and seen here).

Your choices?

Later, JJ

*Yes, I’m aware that was a long winded way of asking a simple question.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Been around the world and I, I, I, I, I… I can’t find my Clustr… map

Howzihgoin folks,

Seeing as how our current ClustrMap now looks as bare as James Richardson’s head (if you can’t take a simile, don’t give out a simile chief), I thought I’d start off one of the first posts of the New Year with a nod to those who’ve visited us over the past few months; when we finally got off our arses and included the aforementioned map and indeed the hit counter.

The company who supplies the map says this reload is so it doesn’t just become a “giant red smear”, which frankly sounds pretty painful.

Ireland, the UK and US led the way on hits in the months since the blog was revamped, with those crafty Canucks (or at least a fair few Irish living in Canada) visiting us a decent amount as well. Scanning down the list of countries where visits have been recorded and we have entries from some hardy souls – most likely ex-pats in far flung parts of the globe or just simply EPL geeks/drunkards like us – who have found us from pretty far off places.

The fact that the blog has made its way on to a few PCs or laptops in Mexico, Egypt, Kuwait, Peru, Iran and even Cote D'Ivoire (we’d like to think it was Didier Drogba getting in his fill of John Terry-hating from afar) is pretty damn cool. We’ll leave it to an enduring mystery as to whether that one hit came from Trinidad or Tobago; and whether or not the hit from Kyrgyzstan came from the bad guy in Highlander. Some conundrums must be left for the ages.

Anyhoo, after all that back slapping – and yes we appreciate a hit from Mullingar as much as one from Mozambique before anyone asks – let’s get back to what we do best…. Here’s John Terry crying.

Later, JJ

Cup runneth over…

Morning folks,

I don’t know if this is a hangover from no EPL games on New Year’s Day but I actually found myself enjoying the early rounds of FA Cup for the first time in years this weekend. Some good games (Villa v Gillingham, second half of Spurs and Wigan) and some surprisingly decent highlight programmes from ITV – made all the more bearable if you head for a can when the pundits appear.

It all finished up last night with Blackburn churning their way through against a team over 110 places beneath them and while it was a second string side from Blackburn it did at least give an indication of how poor their reserves are and in turn give hope for all those wishing a long, tough slog for Samio Allardicio this season.

For those who are Allardyce apologists remember that that foreign bastardization of his name was his own; when he made the claim that he would be far more respected if he was foreign considering his achievements at Bolton. Nope Sam, we’d all be wondering why this foreign fella has his team playing such shite football not seeing you get one of the big jobs in English football. Delusional arse that ya are.

Ah, that was nice… I started out on a positive note and ended up hating Sam Allardyce, now that’s the magic of the Cup in a nutshell surely???

This year’s competition should be decent enough what with the title race being so tight, not to mention the tricky Champions League draw all round for English sides. Each of the top four – with the exception of Man United because of their disgustingly brilliant last two seasons – need a trophy badly. Any will do, so this should see an interesting competition until the final stages. Throw in the 20-year anniversary for Hillsborough; some decent challenges from other EPL sides and there’s potential for plenty of drama to banish the memory of that shocking final last year.

There will of course be plenty of dross along the way, and horrific media coverage (watch out for someone tying together these three strands: recession; return to old fashioned ideals; and of course the FA Cup… I can hear ye shuddering from here). It may only be some tit like David Pleat but it’ll happen and it’ll be nauseating. However, even those of us at ODF would have to admit the competition made a good start was made this weekend.

Later, JJ