Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Xavi Alonso: Footballer and economist?

Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder isn’t renowned for speaking out; he generally keeps his head down and gets on with the job pretty much like his performances on the football pitch - quietly efficient.

So the last thing you would expect him to speak out about is the economy. Footballers, with their extortionate wages, fast cars and luxury mansions are hardly the prime victims of the credit crunch. In fact resentment towards them has probably increased as the masses have struggled to make ends meet, only bankers and MPs currently get a rougher ride.

But Alonso has done his best to further distance footballers with the people who pay their wages by fretting about the fall of the Pound against the Euro and the new higher tax band.

Read the rest of Xavi Alonso: Footballer and economist?

Ray Wilkins takes swipe at La Liga?

Ray Wilkins seems a nice sort of bloke. He had a hugely successful career for club and country, and had spells playing abroad in France and Italy, away from the hustle and bustle of the English Leagues. He has since chiselled out a successful career as a coach at Chelsea.

So he is not the sort of person you would expect to go and criticise another European league. But that is what Wilkins appears to have done in the wake of David Villa’s decision to reject Wilkins’ club, Chelsea, and join the Galacticos 2.0 revolution at Real Madrid along with Kaka, who also snubbed the Blues.

Read the rest of Ray Wilkins takes swipe at La Liga?

Glenn Johnson - over-rated at 18 miilion?

Every year there seems to be a player who becomes hot property for the elite clubs in the Premier League . A bidding war ensues and the final transfer fee is vastly over inflated and more than the selling club could ever have imagined. It is almost as if the big clubs have to spend money on someone, regardless of whether they need the player or not, otherwise the money will burn a huge great big whole in their deep pockets.

Read the rest of Glenn Johnson - over-rated at 18 million?

North Korea qualification to spice up the World Cup

So they have done it, no not tested nuclear weapons (though they have done that as well but that’s not what I’m talking about), North Korea have qualified for their first World Cup since 1966.

Ironically that tournament was probably the last time the country was seen in a positive light by much of the Western world. They were plucky underdogs who came away with a shock 1-0 win over Italy at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park before surging into a 3-0 half time lead over Eusebio’s Portugal at Goodison Park, only to collapse in the second and lose 5-3.

Read the rest of North Korea qualification to spice up the World Cup.

Football Filtered #11

Hello and welcome to my latest look at what has been passing through the football filter this week.

First up transfer rumours and speculation – do we love it or do we hate it? I think it is a little bit of both as I know I have a sneaky look at the back pages to see if my team is linked with the latest teenage wonderkid, even if it turns out to be complete rubbish.

SOCCERLENS is a good place to start for your football rumours fix, condensing them all into one place which is nice of them.

Read the rest of Football Filtered #11.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Wembley Experience

It was six years in the making and millions of pounds over budget but the new Wembley still cuts in impressive figure on the London skyline.

Last month it hosted its third FA Cup final between Everton and Chelsea. To mark the occasion, and the fact I actually had a ticket, I thought I would give my opinion on the new Wembley Experience.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the drive down to London from the north. My journey began at 7am to factor in any delays on the motorways (it is England after all) and to add the excitement of the day as we got closer to the capital more and more cars were adorned with flags and scarves in the Blue of Everton. Us Toffees had waited a long tome for this so we were going to make the most of it!

On arrival n London the advantage of the new Wembley is the giant arch that pierces the bright blue sky, making it visible for miles around. I have to admit I was sad to see the twin towers go – I thought they could have factored them into the new ground in some way. But I have to admit the arch is quickly becoming as iconic and makes it instantly recognisable from any other ‘modern’ stadium in the world.

Read the rest of the Wembley Experience.

Newcastle United Need Urgent Action To Arrest The Slide

It was always going to be a traumatic summer at St James' Park. The wounds of relegation from the Premier League will take a long time to heal. But in order to aid the recovery process decisive action from the board downwards can give Newcastle United's players renewed vigour ahead of the Championship season.

Closure from the last campaign, new additions, several departures, putting the past behind them and looking at new challenges ahead could finally give the Geordie fans reason for optimism ahead of their first season in England's second division since 1992.

Read the rest of Newcastle United Need Urgent Action To Arrest The Slide.

What Fergie could spend £80 million on

Ronaldo finally did us all a favour and admitted has wanted to move to Real Madrid for years, meaning we can hopefully put the most tedious of transfer stories to bed. But now Fergie has two black suitcases stuffed full of Madrista cash (and it is the close season so there isn’t much else to talk about) what could he spent it on?

Read the rest of What Fergie could spend £80 million on.

A Tale of Two Magpies

One of the amazing things about football is its ability to drag your emotions from one extreme to another in a second and despite any number of let downs by their side, the hopes and dreams of a supporter will always remain strong and they will keep coming back for more.

Those hopes and dreams have been dashed and resurrected this week at two clubs whose fortunes have been poles apart over the past few decades, but could yet find themselves on a level playing field in the coming years.

Newcastle United suffered the agony of relegation from the Premier League last season and faced with mounting debts and the financial black-hole that relegation brings, beleaguered owner Mike Ashley has put the club and the entire playing staff up for sale.

Read the rest of A Tale of Two Magpies.

So much money and not a drop to spend

Sky Sports News must be relieved. England’s inevitably comfortable win over Andorra finally signalled the end of the English football season and as players, managers and chairman disappear off to sunnier climbs, the news stories quickly dry up.

So Sky have to fill that gaping hole in their schedules. They will often switch to their alternative sports like cricket and golf, but they never have the same appeal as football. So they will always still always try and lead with a football story, however tenuous. Often it is some ex-player like Jamie Redknapp who has bumped into a reporter while on his holidays. All of sudden it’s “Liverpool will win league” with a shot of Redknapp wandering around a Spanish golf course in his flip-flops.

Read the rest of So much money and not a drop to spend.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

2009/10 Fixtures released

It's one of the most exciting days of the football calendar, partly because there is little else going on!

The fixtures are out and we open up against........................


A tough one but it should be a good game, at least we are at home, I love the buzz ahead of the first game of the season. Moneybags City away will be up next and couple that with the two Europa league matches it adds up to a tricky start for Moyes' boys.

February looks a nightmare month with United,Chelsea Liverpool(away) and Spurs, while we host Liverpool on Novmeber 28th.

It's a Boxing Day with the family I'm afraid unless you want to travel up to the North-East to play Sunderland, Burnley travel to Goodison on the 28th.

The run-in doens't look to bad with Blackburn,Fulham, Stoke and Pompey - hopefully our Champions League place will be secured by then ;-)

For the full fixtures list click here.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Everton bid for Kyle Naughton

Just seen this come up on Sky Sports news,

It says we have bid £5million for Kyle Naughton - at last a proper transfer story!!

I can't say I know too much about him, though my mate says he looked the mustard in the play-off final defeat against Burnley. If the deal does go through he will join the likes of Lescott, Jags and Cahill as players who have joined us from the Championship - and all of them have gone on to be full internationals. If he proves to be as good as them, we are onto a winner.

This could spell the end for our current right-backs Hibbert of Jacobsen. Hibbert has been a steady and loyal member of the squad for nearly ten years now but if we are to progress I do think he may have to be sacrifced, the Cup Final showed up his limitations badly. As for Jacobsen, we didn't really see enough of him as he spent most of the year injured but he looked reasonable enough in the few times he did pull on a Blue shirt. However with his contract up I doubt he would want to sign a new one if he is to be second choice. I guess we will have to wait and see.

For now just enjoy a transfer story that isn't made up by the tabloid press!!!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Kaka deal widens the gap

I actually wrote this guest blog before today's 'breaking news' (copyright Sky Sports)that the world has officially gone mad and Real Madrid are to pay 80 (yes eight zero) million pounds for Ronaldo.

I am sure will blog on that subject in the coming days but for now you can read the rest of Kaka deal widens the gap and marvel at my scarily accurate football prophecy by clicking here.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Money, madness and unwanted cups

Some have too much for their own good….. The season is barely over and already the transfer madness has begun with a select few clubs (and their billionaire owners) touting obscene amounts of money.

It’s like a high stakes poker game with likes of Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour and Florentino PĂ©rez sat on the top table rabidly raising the stakes to unprecedented levels.

Let’s start with Man City. Mark Hughes had had an Arab wallet bulging with cash burning a hole in his pocket for months now and he wasted no time in snaring Gareth Barry from Aston Villa for £12 million quid. Yes this is the same Gareth Barry who wanted to play Champions League football - Yet City aren’t even in the Europa League and at 28 Barry can hardly argue it is a long term ambition. The logic? Well it’s amazing how things can change with 80-100k a week wafted under your nose.

Read the rest of Money, madness and unwanted cups.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Football Filtered #10

Hello and welcome to my latest look at what has been passing through the Football Filter this week.

The transfer and managerial merry-go-round is upon and the papers and websites have gone into rumour overdrive.

Gareth Barry surprised some people by going against his earlier claims that he wasn’t Champions League football by signing for Manchester City. THE TIMES questions whether he was right to take the money.

Read the rest of Football Filtered #10.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fifth and a Cup Final – What Next?

For the first ever guest post on PMP Richard from the excellent Blargains injury time website looks at what lies ahead for Everton following their second consecutive fifth place finish and that painful FA Cup final defeat to Chelsea.

Do take the time out to check out his site to at www.blargains.com


What a season. I don’t think even the most optimistic blue could have predicted the finish to the season the Toffees had at the end of the 08/09 season. It had all begun so poorly and with a home defeat at home to Blackburn no less, it looked to be a season of hardship – perhaps even the R word might have been mentioned.

Quite what happened last summer is anyone’s guess. The fact that we were so poorly prepared for the season ahead, and had made no signings until after the season had started, David Moyes looked odds on for the exit door. The summer of discontent had followed a very good previous season, but once again, Everton had failed to build on it – at least in regards bringing players in.

Major injuries throughout the season looked to further derail things, but in fact, it was all these bad things that galvanised the team and produced a team spirit unlikely to be bettered anywhere. Despite losing the three top players to season ending injuries, and a host of other long term injuries to important players, Everton somehow managed to claw their way up the table, and finally overtake an Aston Villa side that the media were clamouring for them to remain in the top 4 so as to break the monopoly.

Incredibly, the same team also managed to get to the final of the FA Cup, with the scalps of Villa, Liverpool and Man Utd along the way. Unfortunately, Chelsea proved a step too far and 300 million quids worth of talent blew the Toffees aside.

So, with a second successive fifth place finish and a final, what now for Everton?

Firstly, it is essential that the squad be strengthened. And this must be done as soon as possible, and the quality must be better than that acquired late last summer. Fellaini has done remarkably well for a young player in his first season in a proper league (finishing joint top scorer too), but the rest have been quite luke warm.

So, which areas need improving? Easy answer. Our whole right side needs a major overhaul. This was highlighted by Chelsea ripping it to shreds. Hibbert was awful that game, but while he has been steady, he has never been consistent. Osman is not a right midfielder/winger, and has been poor there all season, save one or two moments. He should now be used as a squad player.

A new right back and right midfield man is required. Personally, I would love to see us get Moutinho. I know he’s primarily a centre midfielder, but he is very versatile and could fill the right midfield spot in a manner similar to Pienaar on the left. Arteta needs to stay in the centre, as with him there, I have never seen Everton dominate midfield and matches the way they have with him there, since the mid 80’s.

Also, as Moutinho is young, by the time Arteta does move on, he will be ready made to move to the more central area and make the spot his own.

Whether we get him, remains to be seen. Sporting didn’t like our offer last year, but rumours are that he’s available for around £10 million, as there have been problems between him and his manager.

For right back, Glen Johnson would be a fantastic signing, but there’s no way we could afford him and Moutinho, so we should either sign the average Jacobsen on another years contract, or preferably, move Neville back to right back and look for another good quality ball winner for central midfield, one with a bit of pace preferably. M’Bia of Rennes could fit the bill, and noises are that he is available for around £4 million. Could be worth a shout.

The question is money. How much do we have? Well, we’ve just finished fifth in the richest league in the world and reached a major cup final. But noises from Everton are that there will be no record breaking deals this summer (how could there be, our previous record signing is injured, so we can’t sell him to fund one like previous summers), but that could just mean David Moyes is looking at buying several quality players rather than one top quality player.

Or it could also mean we have very little money – again!

One thing’s for sure, we desperately need to strengthen. Our rivals will be hot on our heels again. Villa have lost Barry and so are currently weaker, but no doubt they’ll strengthen. Spurs may well struggle to get anyone decent on board, seeing as they’re not in Europe next season.

The biggest threat from below now comes from Man City. They are going to be buying big, and will offer big £££ to get their men. Whether they will be able to get the team to gel is another thing, and from what Jo said about them, they seem a team of strangers (incidentally, I’d love us to get Jo back, even on loan again – fantastic attitude).

If we can get the right faces on board and give them a proper pre-season’s training, in addition to getting our wounded heroes back, there is no reason why we cannot press on. Arsenal are there for the taking, perhaps even Liverpool are too, given their recent financial problems in that they may have to sell to stay afloat.

One thing’s for sure, if we get quality faces on board, our walking wounded fit and some luck on the injury front next season, we could see fourth or some silverware within the next 12 months!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Valencia on the brink?

A sixth place finish in La Liga and a place in next season’s Europa League may be satisfying on the face of things. But a limp end to the season, discontentment on the terraces, and growing financial problems only darkened the thick storm clouds already lurking above Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium.

Their long-standing money troubles look to be coming to a head this summer, with the crippling costs of their new stadium taking its toll.

President Vicente Soriano, who only took office last July, has resigned after admitting he couldn’t put a business plan in place that would safeguard the clubs financial future.

Read the rest of Valencia on the Brink.

If you cant beat em, join em?

So the first major transfer of the summer has been completed - in double quick time. I have to admit I thought the Gareth Barry saga would drag out across another close-season, but I suppose when you are offered 100k a week it won’t take you long to make up your mind.

The Barry move is only to be the start of a summer of lavish spending from Man City who have had a wallet full of Arab cash burning a hole in their pocket since last September.

But opinion appears to be divided as to whether what they are doing is good for football. On one hand people would like to see the top four face competition. The same four teams have comfortably shared the same spots in the Premier League table in the past few years to the detriment of the league. Any club who is looking to challenge that exclusive club should be applauded.

Read the rest of 'If you can't beat em, join em?'

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Everton So Near Yet So Far | The FA Cup Final 2009 Through Toffee Blue Eyes

As Phil Neville and his players looked on ruefully while John Terry lifted the cup for Chelsea they could proudly reflect on a memorable season, but one which had just one game too many. Injuries, fatigue and that lack of extra quality told for Everton in the end, as they were deservedly beaten by a Chelsea side determined to give interim boss Guus Hiddink a happy send-off.

It could have been so different when The Toffees took the lead after just 25 seconds – the quickest goal in FA Cup history. Louis Saha, defying questions over his fitness, lashed home Marouane Fellaini’s knock down from eighteen yards past a startled Petr Cech. Both sets of fans were stunned, but you have to give credit to Chelsea, who weathered the storm and actually settled into the game quicker than their opponents.

Read the rest of Everton So Near Yet So Far | The FA Cup Final 2009 Through Toffee Blue Eyes

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Top Five Funny Moments of the Season

So the season is over and now is the time to look back on what has been a frantic, exciting and sometimes amusing nine months of football. Here are my top five moments of the season that brought a smile to my face.

5) Hiddink and Abramovich dance-off
Popular boss Guus Hiddink had already given us a brief hint of his dancing skills at his final league game at Stamford Bridge when he gave a little jig on the touchline. But fresh from his FA Cup victory over Everton Hiddink went all the way and, complete with huge cigar, gave us some sort of Russian/African fusion dance alongside Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. It was the sort of moment that makes us wish Hiddink was sticking around in the Premier League for longer.

Read the rest of my top five funny moments of the season.

Top Five Rants of the Season

The 2008/09 has certainly been the year of the rant. Whether it is the intense pressure of the modern game or the glare of the media spotlight that has tipped people over the edge I don’t know - but it has provided immense entertainment for the fans.
Here are my top five whingers of the season:

5. Didier Drogba

Coming in the immediate aftermath of Chelsea’s agonising last minute defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, Didier took offence to the referee, who had turned down four penalty appeals. At the final whistle Drogba, who had limped off as a substitute minutes earlier, stormed over in his flip-flops to the Norwegian official to make his feelings known. He then ran up to the live TV camera shouting “It’s a f***ing disgrace” to millions of TV viewers across the country. Methinks a UEFA ban will be on its way to Drogba after his latest performance.

See Didier Drogba - It’s a Disgrace

4. Joe Kinnear

A surprise choice for the Newcastle job back in October, the former Wimbledon boss came out fighting in what is surely one of the most bizarre press conferences of all time. Here is an extract:

Kinnear: Which one is Simon Bird?
Bird: Me.
JK: You’re a ****.
Bird: Thank you.

Classic stuff.

Read the rest of my top five rants of the season.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Everton melt in the sun

The Cup goes to Chelsea then, and all the praise goes to Guus Hiddink for his miraculous achievement of winning the cup with a squad packed with internationals.

Now I’m not knocking him, he seems like a thoroughly decent bloke and one that would be of benefit to the Premier League should he return, but the praise he is receiving is a bit over the top considering he inherited one of the best squads in Europe. Their main problem seemed to be that the players didn’t like their last manager ‘big Phil’ Scolari and, if tabloid rumour is to be believed, refused to play for him.

Therefore all ‘big’ Guus needed to do was turn on the Dutch charm and massage those huge egos that are found in the Stamford Bridge dressing room. Perhaps compliment them on their hair, their flashy cars or latest Gucci man bag?

Read the rest of Everton Melt in the Sun.

England look to end season in style

The league and cups may have been decided and we may be into June, but the football season isn’t quite over yet.

Two crucial World Cup qualifiers lie ahead for England – a trip to Kazakhstan on Saturday and the home game with Andorra four days later.

With Fabio Capello’s men five points clear at the top at the halfway stage of qualifying, six points from these fixtures would almost certainly guarantee a place at the 2010 World Cup – especially as two of the final three fixtures are at home.

On paper two wins should not be a problem, these are the two weakest sides in the group. But the Kazakhstan fixture in particular has ‘banana skin’ written all over it.

Read the rest of England look to end season on style.

Play up Pompey

The season is barely over but already another Middle Eastern owner has bought a Premier League club. This time it is Pompey who are now controlled by the ‘Alan Sugar of the Middle East’, Sulaiman Al Fahim.

Al Fahim, as a celebrity in his home country, appears to relish the spotlight. We first saw him last summer when Man City were taken over and he has obviously decided he wanted a piece of the action after seeing City roar to a mid-table finish this season.
Read the rest of Play up Pompey.