Monday, 28 September 2009

Kevin Campbell's Anfield Derby - 10 years on

Yes, it is indeed a full decade since our last win at Anfield. And while that record is not something to be proud of, there are plenty of other teams with longer winless runs at our original home, so why not celebrate that win and see the anniversary as a motivation for a better future.

lets zoom back to the end of the last century, to the 27th September 1999 to be precise, and a Monday night clash with the old enemy.....

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Arise King Louis!!

While much of the country (and indeed the footballing world) was engrossed in the fascinating Manchester derby last weekend I had the good fortune to be at Goodison Park to watch David Moyes’ Everton continue their upturn in form against a dour and bedraggled Blackburn Rovers side.

Though the match was over as a contest after 55 minutes I saw enough action to glean a few post-match points to ponder:

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Phil Brown feeling the heat

Anyone who was at the KC Stadium for Hull City's recent Carling Cup defeat to Everton can’t have helped but noticed the eerie silence hanging over the stadium. I don’t think that silence was purely down to the lack of hardy souls willing to turn up to game - there were enough fans there to make a racket.

No I think it went deeper than that. In a year that has yielded just four home wins I think it was the grim anticipation of a tough winter ahead that hung over the Tigers crowd.

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Friday, 25 September 2009

BOGOF at Dominoes Pizza!

It’s a Tuesday, all of your mates are around watching the footie, you are hungry, so what do you do?...

Good news!

It is 2 for Tuesday every week at Domino’s! That’s right buy 1 get 1 free every single Tuesday!**

You can find details of this offer and a whole lot more at the Domino’s Pizza Facebook Fanpage.

**I can't confirm whether those blonde lovelies come with the pizza (I wouldn't count on it)

Thursday, 24 September 2009

City Slickers

Even as a neutral I couldn’t fail but be taken in by the Premier League Manchester derby on Sunday. As both City and United gave everything in a match that will no doubt be ‘Sky Classic’ before you know it.

Even the build up was entertaining, with Sparky becoming ever more vocal about his nouveau riche teams chances. The ultimate compliment you can pay to the Blue half of Manchester is that Fergie paid them some attention and took huge offence when a journo questioned whether City would soon go into a derby as Premier League betting favourites. ‘Not in my lifetime’ Ferguson scoffed. Were his closest rivals, so often slipping under the radar, finally getting under his skin?

It certainly felt like it as United started like a house on fire – Rooney’s early goal adding to United’s determination to put City in their place.

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Old Trafford Classic

Despite the Premier League’s reputation for being the most exciting league in the world matches like Sunday’s Manchester derby don’t come around too often.

I am supporter of neither team but I couldn’t help but be caught up in the breathless drama of it all. Local tussles such as this can often degenerate into passionate but scrappy affairs, with the fear of defeating leading to a drab draw.

But Wayne Rooney’s early strike on Sunday appeared to unleash a spring that had been wound up tighter and tighter during the build up to this encounter, with managers, players and fans all trading verbal blows. It became a derby match full of everything a spectator would hope to see. Great goals, great saves, great tackles; passion, drama and excitement - A true advert for the Premier League.

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PMP @ Wolrd Soccer Daily

My latest blog for my "Tom Talks Soccer" column over at World Soccer Daily:

The Premier League is commonly seen as the most exciting league in the world, but regular viewers of the matches will agree that games like Sunday’s Manchester derby do not come around very often.

These are the games that form the cornerstone of football folklore. Ask any fan and they will tell you one the best feelings you can get as a supporter is scoring in the final seconds. Similarly it is the worst to see your side concede in the last moments. Add them both together like on Sunday and you are plummeted from one extreme to the other in a matter of moments – No wonder those in Sky Blue looked so glum yesterday.

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Thursday, 17 September 2009

PMP joins Everton banter!

Yes my blogging knows no limits and I've become an Everton Banter blogger!

Another perfect excuse to write about the (not so) mighty Blues. Read the first part here then click the link to read the piece in all its glory...

That's how I view Everton's start to the season.

After all the talk of lessons learnt and exciting new signings in June, the club were once again left to scramble around for new players around the September deadline day.

Consequently that vital pre-season bedding period, we last enjoyed when Messrs Lescott, Howard and Johnson joined the club in 2007, was sadly missed.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

John Barnes on the brink as Tranmere plummet.

Usually the lower divisions offer calmer seas for managers to negotiate. Away from the cash rich goldfish bowl of the Premier League, fans and chairman are more sympathetic to the restrictions placed on lower league managers.

But given that Bryan Gunn was sacked less than a week into the new campaign those days appear to be numbered. Certainly in League One, which looks like being at it’s most competitive for years.

If Gunn was fired after one heavy defeat then new Tranmere boss John Barnes must be really feeling the heat.

To say they have made a bad start is to put it mildly. Five defeats out of six have left Rovers second bottom and the fans restless with the news of their ever increasing football odds of relegation.

While keen to give Barnes a chance they remain puzzled as to why former boss Ronnie Moore, a man used to working within lower league budgets, was let go in the first place, especially after a respectable finish last season, when only an 88th minute header from Scunthorpe’s Cliff Byrne nudged the Iron ahead of Tranmere in the play-off places.

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Diving issue will never go away.

I doubt Eduardo will have realised what a hornets nest he would stir up when he went crashing to the Emirates turf against Celtic last month.

The angry reaction of the Scottish Football Association and UEFA’s subsequent two-match ban put ‘diving’ under the spotlight. Given the attention it now haS it was inevitable that the weekend’s football action would be put under the microscope, with everyone secretly hoping something else would happen to further fuel the debate. Queue Wayne Rooney and his fall, or was it a dive, for Man United’s penalty against, ironically, Arsenal.

But when is a dive a dive? Is it just professionalism? Should Rooney be banned?

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Chelsea face two window transfer ban

Well that brightened up an otherwise dull day on Sky Sports News didn't it??

FIFA have come down on hard on Chelsea for inducing 18-year-old Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens and move to London two years ago (full details here).

Well my first thoughts were: about bloody time.

We hear time and time again stories of clubs, usually the big four, luring kids barely out of nappies away from their home country to sign for them with blatant dis-regard to the rights of the parent club.

It is 'tapping up' basically and up until now had gone largely unpunished. I am glad that FIFA have not only decided to act but dealt out a punishment that will actually act like a deterrent - a fine will have no affect.

Smaller clubs rely on their youth academies to survive with players who break into the first team sold for a handsome profit. Where is their motivation is their best prospects are tapped up at younger and younger ages? And how long will they survive if their best players are taken from them before they can command a transfer fee?

It is just another example of the big clubs slowly squeezing the smaller ones out of the picture so they can hog everything for themselves.

The problem is I predict Chelsea will appeal and have the ban swiftly over turned. The big four have so much influence now I have no doubt they will lean on the right senior members within FIFA and have it changed. Maybe just a ban in the January window as a compromise (where I doubt they will have signed anyone anyway -its next year's window that will really hurt them)

If the ban does stay then it is a great day for football. The day FIFA finally started to tackle tight grip the power hungry and cash rich have on the game, and give some of it back to the little men.

But as ever, I have my doubts.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Roy Hodgson

Now I am never one to blow my own trumpet but I wrote the following blog BEFORE Roy Hodgson was touted as the Great Britain manager at the Olympics and was seen as a future England manager.

As ever PMP is on the pulse of the footballing world.

Either that or I just got lucky...

Anyway, when I wrote this I thought Hodgson deserved a bit more credit for what he has achieved and is my choice as a future England boss.


The title pretty much gives it away, but following the sad death of Bobby Robson I searched around for another British manager who had been so well travelled in Europe and had successfully bridged the gap between old school English tracksuit boss and continental style head coach.

And I found Roy Hodgson

His continental experience is substantial with spells in Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Finland and the UAE. He is multi-lingual (fairly unique for an Englander!) and has managed to adapt to the style of play in every country he has been in while adding his unique brand of tactical nous to his sides.

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Window of opportunity

Love it or hate it the final day of the transfer window once again got us scrambling to our refresh buttons, clicking on our televisions and nervously tuning in for any breaking news. It is one of the most tense and dramatic days of the year.

The reality is though nothing much happened.

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What an Arse - ne

It was one of the early images of the season.

Arsene Wenger, fit to burst with anger, stood, arms outstretched at top the Old Trafford dugout after being sent off by referee Mike Dean.

Dean’s curious decision to send the Frenchman to the stands for kicking a plastic bottle a few yards in the 95th minute of the game capped a frustrating day for Arsenal and gave it rather a farcical, yet comical finish.

It certainly brought a smile to my face, and those sat around Wenger in the Old Trafford stands, yet the joke was lost on the Gunners boss.

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