Around nine years ago or so, I was on holiday in Sitges, just outside Barcelona. As is my wont at such times, I was sitting outside a bar with a cold beer whilst the wife had gone off shopping. Relaxing in the Catalan sunshine, I was reading – well reading may be too strong a word, but my fractured Spanish just allows me to understand every third word or so, so I can grasp the essence of the story – a copy of ‘Sport’, a local newspaper that covers football, and predominantly FC Barcelona. Continue reading →
News of the television rights cash bonanza for Premier League clubs has caused tidal waves of outrage and floods of advice in fairly equal measures. £5.136billion is a lot of money in anyone’s language, and deflating that down to approximately £12million per game rather puts the price of the football’s top-notch match ticket prices somewhat into the shade – but more of that later. Continue reading →
If last Saturday’s FA Cup clash between Tony Pulis’s West Bromwich Albion and Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United represented a ‘set to’ between two of the more traditional managers in the British game, the 4-0 result was a pretty clear victory for the Welshman. Allardyce, ironically born in Dudley, a few miles deeper into the Black Country from the Hawthorns, was left well beaten, and with the rancour of fans that had travelled from the East End to West Bromwich bemoaning his team’s display. For Allardyce, it must have been a frustrating experience. His club sit in a comfortable and probably over-performing eighth place in the league, having even flirted with the prospect of a European dalliance for the next season. Shorn of talismanic striker Andy Carroll however, a defeat to Pulis’s newly-invigorated Baggies is no disgrace. Two things were clear from the game. Firstly, fans have short memories, and secondly, Tony Pulis certainly knows how to organise a team. Continue reading →
Some time ago, during in a bored ten minutes or so, I chanced upon an article buried away deep in one of the ne’er viewed, dark recesses of the BBC News website where such stories abide, ever seeking to avoid the scrutinising light of day. Apparently, someone had completed a study – well I guess someone has to, otherwise what would fill those previously mentioned recesses – about the influence of supposedly ‘lucky’ items of clothing in shaping the outcome of various sporting events. In short, could wearing a particular pair of pants, socks or even having tomato ketchup on your cornflakes for breakfast make the team you favour more likely to prevail. You may not be surprised to hear that the result of the study was that donning any particular garment or partaking in ritualistic behaviour of any kind, empirically has no influence whatsoever. “Well”, thought I, “now there’s a surprise!” Continue reading →
The curtain-raiser for the new season was halfway through and Manchester City had eased into a comfortable 2-0 lead, with every prospect of denying their cross-city rivals from Old Trafford any chance of a sniff of comeback. During the break however, Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps considering there was little to lose, decided to throw a young Tom Cleverley into the fray for the second period. When the referee brought the game to an end, United had turned the tables and won 3-2, with the young midfielder, fresh from a season-long loan period at Wigan Athletic the star turn.
Probably much to the annoyance of SkySports Jim White, and despite many claims that there were “lots of things happening” transfer deadline was more dead duck than dead exciting. For Tottenham’s Togolese striker, Emmanuel Adebayor however, it must have been more frustrating than for even the hyped-up, yellow-tied, Mr White. Continue reading →
There’s been time for a period of reflection after Greg Dyke’s introspective narrative on the trials and tribulations of the English game, and what needs to change in order to get the national team back in the higher rankings of the world game from our currently lowly status of seventeenth, tucked in behind Chile and the USA.
I’ve heard and read many ideas of how to change the scenario to give young English players a better chance of playing first team football and developing the potential that they have. Some, such as Everton manager Roberto Martinez have declared that there isn’t so much wrong with the ability of players at the early stages of their careers, but unlike in Spain, there isn’t the chance for them to play in many competitive matches, to case-harden their techniques with real game time experience. Continue reading →
Linesmen, Referees’ Assistants or simply ‘Linos’, the guys running up and down the sidelines of half of the playing area are often considered the least significant characters in the passion play that is a football match. These are the ‘extras’ that make up the lower listings in the dramatis personae.’ They’re the ‘non-speaking’ participants, who have to wave a flag – or perhaps press a buzzer as well these days – to remind the rest of us that they’re there.
This evening, I’ll be off to the Bescot Stadium to watch Walsall play Gillingham in a game uniquely-timed due to a bit of fixture congestion. I haven’t been to see my local team play for a while, but meeting up with a fellow-blogger who is writing a piece about the Saddlers, for a few beers and to chew over the football world and then take in the game was too good an opportunity to miss.
The slight downside is that going to watch Walsall, always reminds me of one of the probably all too many occasions that I made myself look like a prize chump, way back in 1989. It was the first day of the season, and an overtly ‘cocky’ mid-twenties All Blue Daze writer chose this particular Saturday afternoon to display his all-encompassing knowledge of football. A dollop of egg on face was the requisite order of the day, and by the time referees across the country were blowing for full time, it had been duly delivered. Continue reading →