Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Howard Webb Deserves Credit for Admitting Mistake


Yes that is indeed me saying something nice about referees!

On my second guest blog at EPL Talk I actually praise Webb for admitting his mistake in last weekend's game between Man United and Spurs.

You can read the article by clicking here.

FA Cup Final ticket allocation leaves loyal fans out in the cold


The first of my guest blogs over at Soccerlens continues my rant at the Football Association following the scandalously low ticket allocation given to Everton finals for the FA Cup final.

You can read the article by clicking here.

Monday, 27 April 2009

FA Cup Final ticket details

Everton have released details of the ticket allocation for this Years FA Cup final. As expected the scandalously low allocation of 25,109 means that,tragically, some season ticket holders will miss out.
It was bad enough that for the semi-final loyal fans who had attended number of games but couldn't buy a season ticket missed out. Now those most loyal fans of all, who pay their money before a ball is kicked, will miss out too.
In a 90,000 capacity stadium that is an absolute disgrace and the FA should be ashamed of themselves. All this football family rubbish? Give England tickets out, they are the games that often need filling.
Instead sharp suited toffs with no real interest in the game will take tickets that should belong to the loyal match-going fan. Or even worse the touts will flog them off to the highest bidder, making the FA's newly launched campaign to clamp-down on touting look ridiculous.
As you can tell with the wording of this post I am very angry, even though I am a season ticket holder and have attended enough other games to be eligible for a ticket(fingers crossed). But the fact that a Blue who has attended every home league game this season and possibly for the ten seasons before that could miss out just because the FA has given us such a poor allocation makes me sick.

Right rant over.

For those that our interested the details are below courtesy of evertonfc.com

Everton has announced details for the distribution of tickets for next month’s FA Cup Final with Chelsea.

The Club has received an allocation of 25,109 for the game at Wembley Stadium and has spent the weekend discussing how best to allocate those tickets amongst the Everton fanbase.

As previously communicated the Club is extremely disappointed with the number of tickets received from the Football Association and the unfortunate consequence of the allocation is that a number of Season Ticket holders will miss out. The Club regrets being unable to cater for some of its most loyal fans.

Despite the shortfall in tickets all Season Ticket holders and Half Season Ticket holders (STH) will be invited to apply for a Cup Final ticket. Tickets will be allocated to those STHs with the highest purchase history from the current campaign.

In the first instance, the Club will allocate a Wembley ticket to any STH who has attended 3 or more additional games this season (competitive games involving Everton, home or away).

In addition to the above, and as per the ticket terms and conditions, Cup Final tickets will be allocated to STHs who are subscribed to the Autocup scheme with the following priority:

1. To subscribers to BOTH the Home FA Cup and Away FA Cup Autocup scheme.
2. To those STHs who are subscribed to the Home FA Cup Autocup scheme.
3. To those STHs who are subscribed to the Away FA Cup Autocup scheme.

In the event that further tickets remain, a ballot will be implemented, with priority being given to those STHs with the highest purchase history from the 2008/09 season. Please note there will be no requirement for additional applications and the ballot will be conducted using the information from the original submissions.

How To Apply

Tickets are priced at: £93.00, £78.30, £58.65 and £34.30 with a £10 reduction for juniors and over 65s.

Applicants must be aware that the majority of tickets available to Everton supporters in the East section of Wembley Stadium are priced at £78.30 and £58.65

STHs may apply via the official Everton website – evertonfc.com - from 12pm on Wednesday, 29 April 2009, or, in writing to the Fan Centre, Goodison Park, Liverpool L4 4EL, in both cases indicating their first, second, third and fourth choice ticket preference.
The Everton fan centre will use their best endeavours to allocate the first choice preference but in the event that price of ticket is no longer available, will allocate a ticket from the second choice preference and so on.

When submitting the application, STHs should provide their customer number (located on the season smartcard), their name, full address, a daytime contact telephone number and payment details. Please do not send cash through the post.

Supporters submitting written applications are also asked to provide a valid email address and mobile telephone number on which they will be contacted with notification of receipt of their application, and the success, or otherwise of their application.

Everton Shareholders

Shareholders should apply to Lee Newman at the Everton Fan Centre. Shareholders who are STHs will be allocated a ticket. In addition, there will be a small allocation of tickets for shareholders who are not STHs. Priority on these tickets will be given to those shareholders with the highest purchase history from this season.

Supporters’ Clubs

Due to the allocation of tickets provided by the FA the Club regrets that it is unable to provide an allocation to Supporters’ Clubs. STHs who are registered to a Supporters’ Club may submit an application as above or via club Secretaries to allow the Fan Centre to allocate tickets together. Supporters’ Clubs wishing to make collective applications should do so through the usual communication channels.

Non-Season Ticket Holders

Due to the allocation of tickets by the FA, the Club regrets that it is unable to provide an allocation to non-season ticket holders.

Deadline For Applications

All applications must be received by 5pm on Wednesday, 6 May 2009. Any applications received after this time will not be considered under any circumstances.

Collection

All tickets will be posted using Royal Mail’s Special delivery service, at an additional charge of £4.95. Any STHs wishing to collect their ticket from Goodison Park should clearly indicate this on the application. Details of when tickets will be available to collect will be emailed or texted. STHs collecting tickets must bring the payment card used to purchase the tickets and proof of identification. Tickets will not be released without this.

Other Important Information

Any STHs who wish to be seated with friends and family should submit their applications at the same time and we will endeavour to locate you together. Please note on online applications there is a primary applicant and subsequent purchaser and STHs can submit multiple applications as long as there are valid customer numbers.

STHs should note that tickets will only be issued to the STH, at the price band relevant to that person i.e. junior STHs cannot apply for an adult ticket etc. The Football Association have also advised that they WILL NOT be upgrading any tickets on Cup Final day.

It is expected the Club will notify all applicants whether or not they have been successful by the end of week commencing May 11, 2009. Supporters are requested not to contact the Club prior to this time, as it will ultimately delay the application process.

The Club regrets to remind supporters who are not STHs that they should not submit an application during this time.

Giggs PFA Award Is An Absolute Joke

Yes, sorry, this is a rant but come on, Ryan Giggs player of the year?

Read more…

Well, we all know footballers aren’t the brightest bunch but to vote for a player who has only started 12 games this season is frankly ridiculous.

No-one can doubt Giggs’ achievements in his career - you can’t argue with 10 league titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues and two PFA young player awards. But he has been a bit-part player at best this season, and has only scored ONE league goal. A lifetime achievement award would be more appropriate.

Put it this way, Keith Tracy of Blackburn, Ebi Smolarek of Bolton and Mohamed Shawky of Middlesbrough have played the same number of League games as Giggs this season.

So, how does the voting take place to throw up such an odd result? Do the voting papers arrive, en-masse, on the manager’s desk in February, ready to be dished out after training?

“Here you go lads have a read through this and choose a player.”

Did the reading bit confuse them? Did they ask their captain who to choose and follow him? Or did they read the back pages of the papers (sorry look at the pictures) and decide that way?

Add to that the fact that voting also takes place far too early – the award should be for a season’s work rather than until February. United’s creaking defence hardly warrants three nominations at the moment does it?

Listening to some of the comments from the players on Sky Sports News made you realise that not much thought went into the voting:

“He’s a legend” – What? That doesn’t mean anything as far as this season is concerned!

“He has been on fire for United this season” – No, no, he hasn’t

Paul McCarthy of the News of the World said he deserves it because “he has never been embroiled in any sort of controversy.”

So the award goes to the most well-behaved player does it?

So what was going on in the football world in February when the players sat down, pen and paper in hand, with rather confused expressions?

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Dangerhere.

Andoni Zubizarreta Blog

An extract from my guest blog over at La Liga talk:

Goalkeepers are a special breed. The sole guardian of the sticks - they live and die by their mistakes. Because of the cut-throat, merciless world that goalkeepers inhibit they are often remembered for the right and sometimes, wrong reasons.

One shotstopper destined to go down in history is Spanish legend Andoni Zubizarreta. A list of honours as long as his arm and a record number of international caps and La Liga appearances he is considered one of the greatest keepers in Spanish football. And I consider him to be one of the world’s best.

He began his career at his home-town club Aretxabaleta and then Deportivo Alaves before his big move to Athletic Bilbao in 1980. He won the first of his six career La Liga titles there in 1983 and again lifted the Spanish title a year later. His performances at this point certainly deserved international recognition, but in front of him was Luis Arconada - another Spanish goalkeeping legend.

Arconada had held the number one jersey since 1977 before a horrendous error that gifted France a goal in the EURO 1984 final signalled the beginning of the end for him. Zubizarreta finally earned his first cap in a 3-1 victory over Finland on 23 January 1985.

The following year he made the biggest move of his career to Barcelona. It was there he truly made his name and, well, the football stats speak for themselves:

- Games played: 490
- Goals conceded: 435
1 European Cup (1991/92)
1 Cup Winners Cup (1988/89)
1 European Super Cup (1992)
4 La Liga (1990/91, 91/92, 92/93 and 93/94)
2 Copa del Rey (1987/88 and 89/90)
2 Spanish Super Cups (1991 and 1992)
2 Copa Catalunya (1990/91 and 92/93)

‘Zubi’ as he became known, formed the backbone in one of the Catalan club’s greatest ever sides - and that’s saying something given Barca’s illustrious past. The so called ‘dream team’ under boss Johan Cruyff, who had returned to the club as manager, featured players like Josep Guardiola, José Mari Bakero, Gheorghe Hagi, Ronald Koeman, Michael Laudrup, Romário, Hristo Stoichkov and, of course, Zubizarreta.

1992 perhaps saw the peak of their powers, when Ronald Koeman’s extra-time free-kick overcame Sampdoria at Wembley and brought the European Cup back to Cataluna. But after that famous night Cruyff’s team began to break up and after eight successful years at the Nou Camp Zubi transferred to Valencia in 1994 where he racked up another 152 La Liga appearances.

Internationally Zubi matched his excellent form at club level. He had an.....

Read the rest of my guest blog at La Liga Talk

Guest blog: Football filtered #7

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

Keano’s back!

The assorted media are rubbing their hands with glee now that Roy Keane is back in management as reported in THE GUARDIAN. The choice of Ipswich town is an unusual one though, given as Keane’s brash, passionate style doesn’t necessarily compliment the Tractor boy’s sleepy, family club image. But with a new owner who looks like he means business, exciting times could lie ahead for Town fans.

We saw a mini-classic at Anfield on Wednesday as Liverpool, who can’t stop scoring at the moment, shared eight goals with Arsenal. Missed the action? Well you can see all the goals over at MIGHTY FOOTBALL.

Jose Mourinho has been speaking out again, this time claiming life as a manager is tougher in Italy due to the impatience and unfair expectations of Serie A clubs boardroom hierarchy. He claims England is ‘a paradise’ for managers, as reported in THE SUN, as they have time to plan for the future rather than achieve instant success. Is Jose pining for a move back to the Premier League? Well there is a vacancy at Stamford Bridge this summer……

Real Madrid’s Pepe had what can only be described as a moment of madness this week, giving away a penalty before proceeding to kick and stamp on his opponent, as reported in THE TELEGRAPH. He has since come out and apologised for his actions, though that is unlikely to stop him from escaping a lengthy ban.

Nostalgia time as DAILY MOTION count down the top ten..........

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Football Filter.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

More leaked 2009/10 Football kits

As promised some more leaked football kits for next season, including the obligatory fake Man United effort.

Enjoy!

AC MILAN 2009/10


BARCELONA AWAY 2009/10

REAL MADRID 2009/10

SPAIN 2009-11

SHEFF WED 2009/10

NEWCASTLE UNITED 2009/10

MAN UNITED 2009/10??? Hmmmmm

I have had a few requests for Sunderland and West Ham 2009/10 kits but as yet I have been unsucessful in finding them online. As soon as they are leaked I will post them up.

For more new kits click here, here or here

'Best Bet' - Championship Betting Tips with Betfair

Hello and welcome to my latest football betting preview.

Hello, I'm Tom Mallows and welcome to my latest fortnightly football betting preview on behalf of this site.

I shall be looking at this weekend's Coca-Cola Championship fixtures, along with some of the LIVE TV games in more detail.
Hopefully I can try and win you some cash with my 'best bet' football tips.

Last time out I correctly predicted a 1-0 Sheffield United win at Reading at 11/1, as well as correctly picking two home wins and a draw from my sections list. Here’s hoping for more success this week.

Here’s my pick of the action this weekend:

Birmingham v Preston
Saturday 25th April April KO 17:30 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

It’s a day of destiny for Alex McLeish’s Birmingham. With Sheffield United losing to play-off hopefuls Burnley in midweek, the Blues know a win can seal a return to the Premier League at the first attempt. Preston’s play-off hopes are fading fast and they know they have to win both their remaining games, and hope the likes of Burnley and Cardiff immediately above them lose theirs - if they are going to crash the party.

Current Match odds:

Birmingham 4/5 Preston 4/1 Draw 13/5

Scorecast:
Birmingham 1-0 6/1 2-0 8/1 2-1 17/2 3-0 18/1

Preston 0-1 13/1 0-2 31/1 1-2 18/1 0-3 109/1

Draw 0-0 10/1 1-1 13/2 2-2 21/1

My ‘best bet’ prediction:

There is no margin for error for either side, but with the carrot of the Premier League dangling tantalisingly in front of Birmingham I think they will do enough to win and secure automatic promotion.
Birmingham 2-0 win @ 8/1


Norwich v Reading
Monday 27th April KO 19.45 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

Two sides at either end of the table who need the points for very different reasons. Reading would have fancied automatic promotion at the start of the year, so will be disappointed that the play-offs is the best they can do. Norwich are staring relegation in the face following a disappointing derby defeat against Ipswich last Sunday. They remain third bottom, two points adrift of safety with two to play.

Current Match odds:

Norwich 8/4 Reading 2/1 Draw 12/5

Scorecast:
Norwich 1-0 17/2 2-0 14/1 2-1 9/1 3-0 35/1

Reading 0-1 9/1 0-2 16/1 1-2 10/1 0-3 43/1

Draw 0-0 10/1 1-1 6/1 2-2 14/1

My ‘best bet’ prediction:

Reading may be riding high in the table, but they only have one win in their last six matches. Norwich are scrapping for their lives, but I don’t think they have enough quality to take all three points, so I predict a share of the spoils.
Draw 1-1 @ 6/1

The Best Of The Rest:

Fancy a sections list this weekend? A multiple bet can win you some 'serious' cash.

Here are my tips for this weekend's matches:


Read the rest of my guest blog over at beerfootyandbirds.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Everton v Chelsea FA Cup Final 2009 - The gift that keeps on giving

Come down from Sunday yet?

Nope, neither have I.

I thought by midweek the sheer, thought-clouding euphoria of Sunday will have cleared and I could present a more forthright, thoughtful review of the days events (for example, on second-watching the match was truly dreadful - it didn't seem that bad at the time when I was pacing on the spot, a complete bag of nerves.)

But I think I am still in shock and disbelief - Everton, yes Everton, are in the FA Cup Final - yes the FA Cup Final!

Every time my mind wanders, be it in the shower, or on the way to work - or even at work, It fixes on that moment when Jags tucked home the decisive penalty, the Blue roar like no other I have ever heard (or felt), and the realisation that we are finally back after 14 years of torment. You will have to surgically remove the grin from my face.

Now all that may sound a little over-dramatic, especially to fans of the 'big-four' who, as Fergies team selection showed, don't see the FA Cup as that much of a priority.

In fact it is often seen as a consolation prize. If bids to win the League or Champions League fail to materialise the FA Cup is the final chance for the sky four clubs to show to prospective signings that they can win things - but they will always go for the Premier League the following season.

With that in mind I get the general impression after reading media reports and speaking to mates and work colleagues that most people want Everton to win the Cup and were glad they triumphed on Sunday, albeit after 120 minutes of tedium.

Unfairly priced out of the top four, the Premier League and Champions League is just too far out of reach for Everton so the Cup is our only chance to try and push our way past the cash rich behemoths and win a trophy of our own.

The desire for success was there for all to see, both on the pitch and in the stands, but it wasn't the kind of 'we will enjoy our day in the sun while it lasts' kind of desire. It was a joyful release of 14 years hurt and frustration, and the hope that this should be the norm again, as it had been for the 100 years previous to it.

The club have been building up to a moment like this under Moyes, I felt it was only a matter of time that we would have a day like Sunday under the 'canny Scot' (copyright, The Times, Telegraph, Mirror etc etc....) But I never thought it would end in a victorious penalty shoot-out - we never win penalty shoot-outs!

The Everton end was full an hour before kick-off, with a full repertoire of songs completed before United fans quietly ambled to their seats a few minutes before four o'clock. If they aren't that bothered then they don't deserve to win, that's my opinion and I sense many people agree with me.

We were certainly stung by Fergies team selection. The appearance of the reserves suddenly put the emphasis on us to attack, rather than stifle. But with the nerves of the occasion getting to the players I think they reverted to type, where they were more comfortable (as it took less risks).

But it did have a negative impact on the game as neither side had the creativity to break arguably the two best centre-back pairings in the division down.

Despite fear and nerves gripping the crowd the Blues fans never let it strangle their voices as the chants continued well into the second half and extra-time. Again watching replays on TV made me realise just how loud we were, forcing even the red-tinged commentators to acknowledge our presence.

In the end it went to spot-kicks and I'm sure like many Blues I was preparing myself for the worst, especially when Cahill - the only penalty taker I correctly predicted - blasted into next week.

People talk about a winning mentality, a supreme confidence and knowledge that you will never be beaten. Hidden amongst that confidence is the ability to win penalty shoot-outs. If you are good at them it is a massive get out of jail free card, meaning you don't actually have to win the game to go through. Liverpool are a prime example of this, failure win a penalty shoot-out would probably halve the number of cups they have won (FA Cup 2006 and Champions League 2005 for starters).

So the sight of the Everton players tucking away their spot-kicks with aplomb was the biggest statement of intent by Moyes and his players that they can handle the pressure of a big occasion.

Conversely that lazy good-for-nothing Berbatov summed up United's half-arsed attitude to the game and the competition by rolling the ball off Howard's legs (our Timmy could have dived the wrong way and still would have had time to get back and keep it out)

The playing of Z-cars was a nice touch, and made the hairs stand-up on the back of my neck. I honestly hadn't contemplated reaching the final, but like that bike or computer you never thought you would get for Christmas, Phil Jagielka delivered it with big blue bells on.

I honestly believe we can go on and win the damn thing now, why not as we have knocked out the first, second and fifth placed sides in the Premier League. But it will certainly be a tough one against an in-form Chelsea.

I'm a fan of Guus Hiddink, he seems one of football's gentlemen and an astute tactician to boot. Moyes will have to work more wonders if we are to secure FA Cup number six.

But that's for the future, for now we can bask in the glory of Sunday and the moment the Toffees announced to the world : "Were back!"


Also see:

Everton Battle Through To Break Big Four Stranglehold

and

FA Cup final ticket prices


Toffeeweb and Youtube reaction:

http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/08-09/comment/edblog/edblogitem.asp?submissionID=11486

http://www.toffeeweb.com/season/08-09/comment/editorial/article.asp?submissionID=11495

Everton Battle Through To Break Big Four Stranglehold



What do Everton and FC Barcelona have in common?


Well, even as an Everton fan I can’t say it’s the playing staff. As talented as David Moyes’ side is, it isn’t anything compared to Lionel Messi and co.

But what they DO have in common is that they are the last teams standing who can break the ‘big four’ dominance of Europe’s two biggest cup competitions.

Barcelona, of course, tackle Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the right to play Manchester United or Arsenal. Everton meanwhile, victorious in dramatic style at the weekend, will also face the Stamford Bridge side in the FA Cup Final at Wembley on May 30th.

But while Barca are widely regarded as the best team in Europe at the moment - and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they win the Champions League - Everton are revelling in their status as plucky underdogs, smashing their way past all obstacles put before them.

I think we all knew Fergie would play a weakened team in the semi-final, but the extent to which he rested his players surprised most observers and it certainly gave us clues as to his priorities. Don’t forget however, that Everton have injuries of their own. Our best striker, Yakubu, and main creative force, Mikel Arteta, are out for the season, while Jo was cup-tied and Louis Saha and James Vaughan were half fit.


As a result we were ‘treated’ to 120 pretty uneventful minutes, punctuated only by a questionable non-penalty award by Mike Riley and the noise of the Everton fans. We have waited a long long time for a moment like this and were going to make the most of it. If the semi-final was going to be decided by a battle of the supporters, Everton would have won hands down.

But just as on Manchester United’s previous two visits to Wembley, the game finished goalless and had to be decided on penalties. Even Ben Foster’s Ipod could not save United this time as Everton triumphed –with four English penalty takers – in the shootout.

To be honest all the...............

Read the rest of my guest blog over at just-football.com

FA Cup final ticket prices


Ouch!

The euphoria of Sunday has yet to die down but already my wallet is gearing itself for another hammering at the end of May.

Ticket prices for the FA Cup final are below and as you can see, are considerably higher than the Semi-final prices, again putting on us credit crunched Blues to fork out. My £44 tickets gave me a cracking view on Sunday but if I want similar ones its another £34 on top. Bloody FA trying to claw their way out of trouble over going massively over budget.

And they still can't get the pitch right.....

The prices are as follows:

£93
£78.30
£58.65
£34.30

Source: evertonfc.com

It has also been revealed that we will have the opposite end to the one we had on Sunday, and will have 'considerably less' (i.e. probably about 5-6,000 less) tickets. The rest will be dished out to the 'football family' (yeah and how many of them will be touted outside the ground) I'm sure I will have another whinge about that one at a later date.

The battle for tickets begins..........

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

New Everton home kit 2009/10

It has been one of the worst kept secrets but it is looking like Le Coq Sportif's retro 1985 kit will be the shirt of choice for Everton in the 2009/10 season.

Pics are below, and I like the nice touch in the collar with the 1985 team printed on it. Lets hope the class of 2009 can replicate their success in the FA Cup final on May 30th.

p.s. I still haven't recovered enough to put the drama of Sunday into words, once I've calmed down I'll post something!





For more 2009/10 football kits click here, here and here.

New Chelsea, Man United and Portsmouth football kits 2009/10

As promised here are some of the latest kits leaked onto the tinterweb. Not sure about the zipped front on the Chelsea shirt - though the third kit actually looks quite smart. The Pompey one looks smart too, while the United one is almost certainly a fake.







Almost certainly a fake this one..........





Pompey's new one looks ok, though I can't see much difference from their current away kit.....



For more 2009/10 football kits click here, here and here

Monday, 20 April 2009

Jagielka shows international character



The sight of Everton defender Phil Jagielka tucking away the winning penalty at Wembley was significant, not just for Everton’s FA Cup fortunes, but for what happened at Goodison Park 13 months before.





Back in March 2008 Everton had just played out of their skin against Italian side Fiorentina, but unable to grab the third goal that would secure a 3-2 aggregate win, the game had to be decided on penalties.

Up stepped Jagielka, who had performed immensely again on the night, but the keeper guessed the right way and palmed away the defender's effort. Everton were out and Jagielka faced the long walk back to the halfway line.

That moment must have played on his mind as he walked towards Ben Foster’s goal at Wembley on Sunday. He knew that if he scored his side would triumph, but John Terry also knew that in Moscow and we all know what happened there.

So, the fact Jagielka tucked it away with aplomb proves he has the mental strength to go with undoubted abilities as an international centre-half - which is definitely a boost for Fabio Capello.

He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Back in December he played a back pass blind towards Tim Howard and failed to spot Ashley Young closing in, the Villa winger tucked the ball home and Jagielka once again wanted the ground to swallow him up.

It’s the sort of mistake that would shatter many players' confidence, but the Everton man responded by performing even better, leading, of course, to an England call-up in February. It is a shame therefore that many people blame Jagielka for the defeat in Spain, when his mistake led to the first goal. Again, it is a moment that can affect a player’s mental strength and confidence, but once again Jagielka retuned to his club and maintained his excellent level of form.

That didn’t go unnoticed by Fabio Capello, who gave him a massive vote of confidence by bringing him on as a late sub against the Ukraine a few weeks ago. The international stage is a tough arena to play in, you can have all the talent in the world but it is worth nothing if you crack under the pressure. I just need to mention the words penalty ‘shoot-out’ to any England fan to prove that.

Jagielka booked a return date to Wembley with his club side on Sunday, and banished the ghosts of Fiorentina to boot. If he continues to show such mental strength and character, it's my football prediction that...............

Read the rest of myguest blog over at theengland.blogspot.com

The Master And The Apprentice

Many people have touted David Moyes as the next manager of Manchester United when Fergie retires. Well if his dealings with the media last week are anything to go by, he has perfected Fergie’s art of mind games to a tee.

Last week started off with the BBC being banned from Everton’s FA Cup press call due to their rather bizarre decision to, in the week of Everton’s biggest game in years, run a montage of afro-headed Belgian Marouane Fellani’s flying elbow.

This came after a terrific game at Villa that finished 3-3 with no red cards or controversial moments. Moyes, understandably incensed and fearing a Fellaini red card at Wembley, chucked the Beeb out of Everton’s Finch Farm training ground.

Who else has a dodgy relationship with the BBC? Yes, Fergie.

A BBC documentary in 2004, called Father and Son, portrayed his agent son, Jason, as somebody who exploited his father’s influence and position to his own ends in the transfer market. Jason Ferguson was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, and Fergie has since said he would never speak to the BBC again, a promise he has kept. Instead we have to put up with the puzzled gaze of Mike Phelan when watching Match Of The Day.

Next up for Moyes, that other favourite topic –referees. I think anyone who knows anything about football will have let out a groan when Mike Riley was appointed to referee the game on Sunday. The Yorkshire whistle-blower has shown himself incompetent on a number of occasions, plus his habit for giving United penalties – and his supposed United leanings – has become a well-known topic for debate.

The question was inevitably raised by a journo and put to Moyes, who answered it in true Fergie style. He didn’t accuse Riley of supporting United (contrary to subsequent reports in the media) but he chose his words carefully enough to put pressure on the Yorkshire official to prove his impartiality.

Fast forward to Sunday, and the game locked at 0-0, Danny Wellbeck falls over Phil Jagielka’s legs in the area. Everton fans hold their breath, United supporters rise to their feet in Unison. Penalty surely? It’s United and Mike Riley after all?

But perhaps with the dulcet of Moyes echoing in his ears Riley waved play on, which gifted us the best moment of the game, the sight of an increasingly burgundy-faced Ferguson jumping up and down on the touchline like a child in a strop.

When Moyes was asked about the incident after the game, and whether his comments affected Riley’s judgement, he played it with a predictable straight bat, saying referees aren’t affected by what managers say.

Yeah right.

You probably had to surgically remove Moyes’ tongue from his cheek after the interview, and I’m sure I could detect a smile hiding behind his stone-faced expression.

So.......

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Dangerhere.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Everton v Man United FA Cup Semi-Final Preview

Well...as much of a preview as my excitement will allow. Wembley is so close now I can almost taste it and in a deliberate attempt to avoid doing work I have dosed myself up on preview, hype, banter and nostalgia.

Here is a few of my picks to get yourself prepare for the game:

"I have no problem with the Everton fans' reaction. I understand they were upset when I left and with the way it happened."

A very honest assessment from our Wayne, his realisation that it was the manner of his departure that angered fans so much (we expected him to leave at some point, but slapping in a transfer request on deadline day and then slagging off Moyes in a book wasn't the way to go about it) may go someway to repairing the bridges that were so brutaly burned five years ago. Read the rest of his interview at the Guardian website.

From Everton hero past to Everton hero present and Tim Cahill gave a revealing interview to Brian Viner of the Independent. The Aussies stock with the fans rises by the day and if he can grab the winner on Sunday, his status as an Everton legend will be set in stone. Read the full interview here.

Nostalgia time!

The last time we met United at Wembley was,of course, in 1995. Fair play to the BBC, who have given the two semi-finals decent coverage on their site despite not having the TV rights (which is more than can be said of Sky, who conveniently skirt over matches they can't show) You can see extracts from FA Cup Final '95 Grandstand from the day itself, featuring the Blues' preparations before the game and their celebrations after. Worth a look here.

Two interesting sub-plots in this weeks build-up was the questionable focus by the BBC on Fellaini's elbow and the appointment of United's No1 fan (allegedly) Mike Riley as ref.

Now I’m not going to defend Fellaini as the evidence was there for all to see, it is something he needs to cut out, though it is a matter of technique rather than anything malicious.

But it is the timing of Brighty’s handywork on MOTD 2 which has irated Moyes (so much so he banned the BBC from the FA Cup press call at Everton’s training ground on Tuesday). Firstly it came after a great game played in a great spirit with no red cards – why not focus on that? Secondly a week before Everton’s biggest game of the season, it puts an uncomfortable focus on Fellaini and could influence the officials thinking, consciously or not.

A third and final kick in the balls for Moyes was the unbalanced nature of the piece. There was not one mention of the treatment dealt out to Fellaini by opposing defenders, and many of the stray elbows came in the first half of the season when his disciplinary record left, ahem, a little bit to be desired. Fellani deservedly received a string of yellow cards but since missing both derby games in January after collecting 10 bookings he has sought to clean up his game – despite provocation from unruly central defenders.

For example in the recent FA Cup quarter-final the actions of Middlesbrough's resident thugs, David Wheater and Robert Huth, was nothing short of brutal. I thought Fellaini did really well not to react to the provocation and gave the perfect response by scoring the equaliser. But, surprise surprise, there was not a mention of it after the game.

Referees always claim to be impartial but they are human so don’t be suprised if Fellaini receives a yellow – or red – card on Sunday for his aerial conduct.

As for Riley, well he has never been the most popular figure with Blues fans and he does have an annoying habit if giving United penalties, including one the worst decisions I have ever seen at Goodison on the last day of the 2003 season. I am just praying he has quiet game Sunday and doesn't cost us.....again.

You can read more of the Riley rumpus in my guest blog over at EPL Talk. Details of the FA defence of Riley can be found on the BBC website, Meanwhile I also discussed the Riley affair over at Leftbackinthechangingroom.

Fancy watching Gosling's moment of glory in round four? Or Osman's cracker in round three? Maybe 'king' Louis Saha's decisive header against Middlesbrough is your goal of choice? Well you can see of our goals in this years FA Cup over at ITV.com

Enjoy!

Investment The Final Piece Needed In The Everton Jigsaw

Thi blog first appeared as a guest post at www.just-football.com A site well worth checking out.

The impressive level of consistency shown by Everton over the past few months has set them well on their way to European qualification for the third season in a row.

Couple that with Aston Villa’s sorry slump and there is now just one point between the two sides after 32 games played, meaning a second consecutive fifth place finish is now looking like a good bet for David Moyes’ men. But it will only be the UEFA Europa League next season for the Toffees, not the cash rich Champions League a fourth placed finish would bring.

So how can Everton go one further?

They are, of course, the only side since Newcastle in 2003 to break the big four’s stranglehold on the Champions League positions. Since that miraculous achievement in 2005 (given they had finished 17th the previous year) the gap between the ‘big four’ and the rest is perhaps now even greater, and it will take a massive effort for Everton to break that monopoly again.

Having said that, effort is never something you will find in short supply at Goodison Park. Everton are one of the most hard-working and organised sides in the Premier League.

Moyes gained much of his early success at the club through this work ethic, but has since embedded more and more skilful players into the team - players like Marouane Fellaini, Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, as their rise up the Premier League over the past five years has shown.

The only thing holding the Blues back now is numbers, or lack of them to be precise. Everton haven’t got the budget of nearly half the teams in the Premier League and are regularly outspent by rivals who consistently finish below them in the table.

Don’t forget they started this season with barely 11 fit senior pros. The fact they have established themselves yet again in the top six shows what may have been achieved had they started the season with more players.

If they could break into the top four again it would certainly shake things up at the summit. The big four are in a comfort zone at the moment and it would be interesting to see what would happen if their cushy, Champions League carpet was pulled away from underneath them.

Moyes has achieved so much with Everton with so little money, so it is scary to comprehend what he could do with even a small investment.

It would only take a few extra players - one of this side’s strengths is the unity created by having a small squad - but an extra quality player in each position and Everton could be there. Everything else is in place.

Classic Kits - Norwich City Home 1992-1994


Sometimes a side goes through a golden spell of games and the kit they wear defines that period and will always be associated with it. The, er, interesting Norwich City kit of 1992-94 certainly fits that bill.

The fans commonly call it the ‘bird-poo’ strip, though I think it also looks as though Canaries have exploded all over it. It regularly features in ‘top ten worst kit’ lists, but for Norwich fans it holds a special place in their hearts.

At the time City were founder members of the new Premier League and under boss Mike Walker took to the new competition like a duck (or should that be Canary?) to water. They finished the 1992-93 season in an impressive third place, well ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.

The team played an attractive, attacking style of football and featured some of the best players in the club’s history. The star was perhaps Chris Sutton, who went on to represent England and won the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995, though the likes of Efan Ekoku, Ruel Fox and Bryan Gunn also played a key part in their success.

The following season saw arguably the high point in their recent history. They travelled to European giants Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup and upset the football odds by coming away with a famous 2-1 win thanks to Mark Bowen and a spectacular volley from Jeremy Goss.

Sadly for Norwich, the success Mike Walker was having at Carrow Road attracted the attention of bigger clubs and when Everton came calling in 1994, Walker flew the nest. They finished the season in......

Read the rest of my guest blog over at oldfootballshirts.com

Is English dominance of the Champions League a good thing?

Am I the only Englishman hoping Barcelona win the Champions League?

United, Arsenal and Chelsea fans apart, of course, I wonder what most neutrals think of three English teams making the semi-finals - AGAIN?

Usually when watching an English team in Europe I would prefer them to win for sheer national pride. But the top heavy nature of the Champions League recently towards English clubs can’t be good for the game. The English sides are threatening to over-run the competition and I think it would be to the detriment of the European game if we saw another all-English final, no matter how significant it would be for the Premier League.

But what can be done?

Well, reducing the number of places for English teams would be a start. I find it ridiculous that Arsenal can be nowhere near the league title this season yet they will still have a shot at the ‘Champions’ league next season. It makes a mockery of it. If we halved the amount of places available it is my football prediction that this would remove that Champions League comfort zone and, perhaps more crucially, distribute the wealth more fairly.

As long as the money goes to the same few clubs the ‘competition’ in its truest sense will disappear. The infamous G14 group of rich clubs may have disbanded but the elite sides still carry too much influence with the powers that be and will not want the Champions League purse loosened too tightly.

I am sure some people will accuse me of being negative; after all it wasn’t too long ago that English sides got nowhere near the latter stages of European competition, especially in the years immediately after their European ban. English success should be celebrated they say (I say English, though most of the players and staff involved aren’t English!)

But English European dominance doesn’t extend down to the UEFA Cup, where only....

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Soccer City FC

Championship Preview

Hello and welcome to my latest preview of this week's Championship fixtures as we approach the final stages of what has been another exciting season.

It’s the day of destiny for Mick McCarthy’s Wolves. The Midlanders can secure automatic promotion with a win over QPR at Molineux, and all but guarantee the title in the process. Looking to capitalise on any slip-ups is Alex McLeish’s Birmingham who travel to Watford. Lurking just a point outside the top two is Sheffield United. Kevin Blackwell’s Blades are looking to pinch second place but will have to wait until Monday to play their game, against play-off chasing Burnley at Turf Moor.

Cardiff’s recent good run has seen them rise to fourth and they can go level with Sheffield United in third with a win over Alan Irvine’s Preston at Deepdale. Reading are wobbling at just the wrong time and have slipped to fifth. They will look to arrest the slide at home against relegation threatened Barnsley. Swansea still hold outside hopes of snatching a play-off place but they will need a win against Bristol City at the Liberty Stadium.

It is getting tense at the bottom and it's my Championship football prediction that it will go right to the very last day. Charlton are on the brink, anything other than a win against Blackpool will see their relegation confirmed. Above them it cannot be closer. Southampton are on 44 points and travel north to play Sheffield Wednesday. Above them are three clubs on 46 points - Nottingham Forest, Barnsley and Norwich. Forest have the worst goal difference of the three and will look for a repeat of their dramatic win over Bristol City last time out when they tackle Coventry at the City Ground. Bryan Gunn’s Norwich face....

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Lofty Heights.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Everton 'Dream Team'

Nice little article in the Independent listing the eleven greatest players to play for Everton (in their opinion of course)

The subject of best eleven will always provoke debate and will always differ depending on your age/generation. This team is no different, check it out here.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Hillsborough Anniversary puts Semi-final into perspective

As fans of Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Everton gear up for this weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, the poignant anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster put things into sharp perspective.

Those 96 football fans who never came home from the game will have shared the same excitement and sense of expectation I and many fans have this week, ahead of my trip to Wembley this weekend to watch Everton v Man United.

The only difference between us is that they were of a generation of football fans who, tainted by the horrors of hooliganism, were shepherded like cattle into cramped pens in dangerous, crumbling terraced stadiums.

I am not going to go into detail about where the blame lies - I was too young at the time to appreciate what really happened that day. If you want to find out the real story, ask those people who were there.

But what gets me is that it could have been any football fan that day. Fate dictated that it would be Liverpool and Forest fans at Hillsborough that afternoon, and it would be Liverpool supporters who would fatefully occupy the Leppings Lane end.

I have a number of Friends who are Liverpool fans and regularly attend away games, had the tragedy occurred five years later I am certain they would have been at the ground. Plus don't forget on the same day Everton were playing in a semi-final of their own. No-one should ever go to a football game and not return, tragically it took the deaths of 96 football fans to shake the authorities into action.

The aftermath of the tragedy brought all-seater stadia and improved policing both in and around the grounds. Though these shiny new arenas do take away some of the raw passion and atmosphere the older stadiums had, fan safety has to take precedent and if one good thing was to come out of the disaster it was that.

For the families of the dead the nightmare lives on. Many of them continue their fight for a new enquiry to be opened into the events of that day - particularly about what happened after the match was officially abandoned at 3:15pm. The tributes at Anfield last Saturday were as much for their struggles as it was for the memory of their lost loved ones.

So as I join my mates at Wembley, cheering on my team in a safe, secure environment, I will spare a thought for those 96 football fans who did the same thing 20 years ago but never came back.

I'm sure you will too.

Bad Eggs - My Easter musings

Fergie to Ronaldo: “You can’t get everything your own way.”

I thought at first it was a late April fool, but Alex Ferguson has at last acknowledged what we all knew already – that Ronaldo can behave like a petulant brat.

It was obviously OK to let him behave like that when United were winning - but his sloppiness in possession and failure to track back has directly led to goals conceded against Villa and Porto recently. All of a sudden Ronaldo’s procrastinating has suddenly become an issue.

“If you give the ball away it takes a long time to get it back. It’s hard when a player who wants to entertain doesn’t get everything his own way. But you can’t get everything your own way.”

Communication breakdown.

While Fergie’s point is ringing loud and clear in Ronaldo’s ears, down at Spurs ‘Arry Redknapp is struggling to get striker Roman Pavlyuchenko to do what he wants.

Cockney rhyming slang and Russian is not really a good mix for starters, but a reliance on a translator is proving a headache in training.

““You’ve always got his interpreter running around the training ground. Sometimes you pass the ball and he chases it. And he’s running alongside him and he gets in there and heads it in the back of the net.”

With a squad incorporating among others Russians, Ivorians and Croatians a multi-lingual defensive lynchpin could be the answer to Spurs’ defensive problems, he may even be able to understand Redknapp as well.

Mysterious injury of the weekend?

Obafemi Martins

Did he oversleep? Did he have a groin injury?

Hmmm, it seems to me the Nigerian probably hasn’t the stomach for Newcastle’s relegation scrap, especially in the bear-pit that is the Britannia.

But if you don’t want to raise suspicion, of all the places on the body a GROIN injury developed after a night away in a hotel room isn’t the way to go about it. What was he up to?

Wise choice?

If the rumours are to be believed Dennis Wise made many of the transfer decisions during his disastrous spell at Newcastle, though he remained behind the scenes. But the boot will be on the other very expensive foot if he becomes the boss of QPR.

Yes they have loads of money, but Wise will see none of it. The owners sign who they want, play who they want and even dictate the formation. If I were Wise, I’d expect half-time phone calls from Flavio Briatore, sat on his yacht somewhere off St Tropez, telling him to switch back to 4-4-2 .

The curious case of Adriano

The troubled Brazilian striker has announced his temporary retirement from the game for personal reasons - though given his comments this week his main problem seems to be his indecisiveness:

“I’ve lost the happiness of playing. I wouldn’t like to go back to Italy.”
“I wasn’t unhappy in Italy. I don’t know if I’m going to stay for one, two or three months without playing.”
“I want to live in peace here in Brazil. I’m not ill, as many say. I just need peace and quiet - I’m going to rethink my career.”

This quote has a certain ‘schoolyard denial’ ring to it :

“It’s not true my friends are criminals. Certainly, you can find drug dealers in the favela and as I was born there I know who they are, but I definitely don’t hang around with them.”

It wasn’t me sir, it was them sir.

Peace is the word

A quick mention has to go out to the brilliant example set by the players and staff of Brazilian sides Juventude and Caxias, whose meeting had been preceded by a campaign to promote peace between the near- rivals’ sets of supporters. The result?


Read the rest of my guest blog over at Dangerhere.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Football Filter #6

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

The Champions League dominated most of the back page headlines this week, with plenty of fall-out between the four games and the four English clubs involved.

Liverpool’s inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard injured his groin in the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea and THE GUARDIAN reports that he now may miss a crucial part of the Reds run-in.

John Terry meanwhile has accused the Liverpool players of influencing the referee during the Anfield clash in an article in The SUN. Terry was booked for a challenge on Pepe Reina and will now miss next week’s return at Stamford Bridge. Terry only believes he was booked because of the reaction of Liverpool players, who surrounded the referee asking him to brandish the yellow card. Liverpool are up against it in the second leg and football odds suggest they will go no further in the competition but the absence of Chelsea’s influential captain gives them a glimmer of hope.

A few weeks ago Man United appeared to be coasting towards a quintuple and barely looked like conceding a goal let alone losing a game. But after a disastrous few weeks things have changed quickly, the gap at the top is down to just a point and their Champions League hopes are hanging by a thread. The INDEPENDENT tries to examine what just has gone wrong at United.

Across Manchester and perennial bad-boy Craig Bellamy told the DAILY MAIL he would happily clean the other players’ boots if it meant prolonging his City career. Some people may say they would rather have him cleaning boots than be on the pitch, but that debate is for another time!

Headline of the week? Adriano: I’m not dead.

Inter’s troubled Brazilian striker reassuring us in THE SUN that he is not dead, but is, in fact, alive and well at his mother’s house in Brazil Well, I’m glad we cleared that one up.

The best excuse for losing a game has to go to.......

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Football Filter.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

New look Post Match Pint!!!

Welcome to the new look Post Match Pint!!

After messing around with various templates for a few weeks now I finally decided on one I like.

I hope you like it and continue to enjoy the site. As ever if you have any feedback, comments or suggestions for the site please send me a message.

Enjoy!

Tom.

'Best Bet' - Championship Betting Tips with Betfair

Hello and welcome to my latest guest blog previewing this weekend’s Championship fixtures as well as looking at some of the LIVE TV games in more detail.

Hopefully I can try and win you some cash with my best bet football tips.

Last time out I got my prediction for the Bristol City v Preston game spot on as well as correctly picking three draws in my sections list. Here's hoping for more success this week.

Here’s my pick of the action this Easter weekend:

Reading v Sheff Utd

Friday 10th April KO 17:30 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

It's third versus fourth in this Good Friday clash, live in front of the Sky cameras. Kevin Blackwell's Blades have won four in a row, a run of form which has seen them overtake Reading into third and are now just three points behind Birmingham in the race for automatic promotion. Reading meanwhile have had just one win in six so will look to stop that slide against the Blades.

Current Match odds:

Reading 5/4 The Draw 13/5 Sheff Utd 5/2

Scorecast:
Reading 1-0 8/1 2-0 12/1 2-1 9/1 3-0 26/1
Sheff Utd 0-1 11/1 0-2 20/1 1-2 13/1 0-3 54/1
Draw 0-0 10/1 1-1 13/2 2-2 17/1

My 'best bet' prediction:

Two talented sides who would not look out of place in the Premier League. The Blades are coming up on the rails of Reading at the moment, they have the momentum and I fancy them to come away from the Madejski Stadium with a narrow victory.

Sheff Utd 1-0 win @ 11/1

Wolves v Southampton

Friday 10th April KO 15.15 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

It’s not been a good few weeks for Southampton. Their parent company has gone into administration, they face the threat of a ten point penalty as a result, added to their precarious league position as they face the threat of relegation to the third tier of league football (even without a points deduction) - it would be safe to say that things down on the South Coast right now are looking bleak! They left Watford on Tuesday night with a point when three would have seen them jump out of the relegation zone. They now have only five more league games to save their Championship status, beginning with a tricky trip to the Black Country on Good Friday.Wolves remain top of the tree, although their lead was cut following a disappointing derby defeat at Birmingham on Monday night. Mick McCarthy's side will look to secure automatic promotion as soon as possible, starting with a victory against the Saints.

Current Match odds:

Wolves 4/7 The Draw 3/1 Southampton 13/2

Scorecast:
Wolves 1-0 6/1 2-0 7/1 2-1 10/1 3-0 12/1
Southampton 0-1 20/1 0-2 49/1 1-2 23/1 0-3 189/1
Draw 0-0 13/1 1-1 8/1 2-2 17/1

My ‘best bet’ prediction:
Southampton look doomed in my opinion. Wolves may have lost their last game but I think they will have enough quality to get the win and hammer another nail in the Saints coffin.Wolves 2-0 win @ 7/1

The Best of the rest:

Fancy a sections list this weekend? A multiple bet can win you some 'serious' cash.

Here are my tips for this weekend's matches:

Read the rest of my guest blog over at beerfootyandbirds

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Buy your own football club -for just a pound!

I had to add this mini-post when I saw this article on the BBC website. Mid-table Blue Square Premier side Salisbury are up for sale for just a quid, even the most credit-crunched person could afford that!

I am sure there are various debts that would require paying off, making any real take-over cost considerably more, but why don't they just give it away than sell it for a quid?

Or if it has to have a price just go the whole hog and put it at 99p to be price-rhetoric?? Or do a BOGOF and throw Weymouth in while you're at it?!

So go on, dig-deep and own your own football club, you know you want to - I'm sure Ken Bates bought Chelsea for a quid in the mid-80's (do correct me if I'm wrong) and look where they are now!!

Just don't put up any electric fences though eh.

Everton v Man United FA Cup semi-final tickets latest

Hmmm.. It's not looking good for those who want one of the last remaining semi-final tickets. A quick check on the Everton website revealed that the remaining Wembley places will be decided by a ballot of those fans who have been to three or more home games this season. If that's you, get your ass over to evertonfc.com quick and register! You only have today to do so!

If that isn't you then you are running out of options, so I guess the best bet is to try and buy tickets online.

I am loathed to do this normally, especially for domestic games, as you end up paying way over the odds to the benefit of an unscrupulous tout. But I realise I am one of the fortunate ones who can get to plenty of matches so, when the big games come along, I am not at the back of the queue when they dish out the tickets.

I had a quick scout around on the net to see what tickets are available. I found here a wide choice of both Everton and Man United tickets, or ones in the posh areas if you like your prawn sandwiches, But once again it depends how much you are prepared to pay as prices generally started at around £150..

I'm always wary of ebay too. I typed in "Everton v Man United Semi-final tickets" and all I got was ticket stubs from about 1985!!!

If you don't want to pay through the nose check out the forums at Toffeeweb and NSNO to see if there are any generous Blues who will help you out, sometimes people have spares you never know.

If you are going to use the Internet to try and get tickets, be it for the Semi-final or any other games, then check out my guide to buying football tickets online here

oh and good luck!

New football kits 2009/10

Ahh god bless the Internet and the already infamous 'leaked' new football kit stories!

Tucked away in some secret underground sweatshop are the hardworking scientists of Umbro Adidas et al beavering away making cutting-edge design shirts with all sorts of fancy material ( to try and justify the £45 price tag of course).

They can fill the promotion material with as much guff about space-age fabric as they like, but if they fans don't like they won't buy it, simple as. Therefore these leaks can be a good way of gauging the fans reaction to a shirt design.

Or it could just be the work experience kid illegally taking pictures of new kits with his phone and posting them online.

Anyway here is a few of the more interesting ones, both confirmed and unconfirmed, that I found online:



Liverpool away kit 2009/10



Chelsea home kit 2009/10



Arsenal away kit 2009/10

or....................
Man United home kit 2009/10 (please let this be genuine!!)
Everton home and away kit 2009/10 (not sure about these - especially the away kit, is that pink pinstripes I see??!)


For more 2009/10 football kits click here, here and here.

PMP'S guide to....buying football tickets online

In the first of what might become a regular feature (if it goes down well!) I thought I would give you a small guide on how to buy Premier League, FA Cup or Champions League tickets online.

In fact, if you look in the right places you can buy tickets online for all sorts of matches across Europe, often with accommodation packages included.

The inspiration behind this piece has been the mad scramble for Everton v Man United FA Cup semi-final tickets. Even Everton season-ticket holders had to queue for over five hours (or in my case sit on the end of the phone for two!) book their seats, so what chance those who are unable to get to every home game, but still would do anything to see the Blues at Wembley for the first time since 1995??

Well there is the old way, heading down to Wembley on the day and seeing what some shady tout stood outside the tube station will offer you. But thanks to the internet an increasing number of well organised and professional ticket agencies have sprouted up, offering tickets for football matches across Europe.

So why buy online?

Well if you have turned to the internet for salvation it usually means the event you are hoping to get a ticket for is in high-demand and (probably) sold out. Therefore you will have to pay market price for the ticket - i.e. as much as people are willing to pay in the open market. The fact of the matter is that there aren't many sites out there who will sell in-demand tickets at face value.

Therefore if you are going to pay the money, you have to ensure the site is reputable, your money and personal details remain secure and ,of course, the football tickets themselves are genuine.

'The Online Ticket Shop' is among a long line of disreputable online ticket Sellers who were named and shamed after selling phantom tickets in recent years.

Don't forget ,of course, the risk of buying online is often greater than if you go for the touts outside the ground. The most you lose is with them your cash, but once you've inputted your credit card details onto a disreputable site in could cost you over and over.

Don't panic though!

That's doesn't mean to say all football ticket sites are dodgy, far from it. Yes they charge large prices but often the sites are secure and reliable. They are particularly handy for buying tickets abroad, so you can be sure you can actually to get to that big game before booking your flights.

When checking out the sites my advice is to:
  • Check what you are buying! Make sure the event, date and time is correct.
  • Check for hidden fees and double check the final amount you are paying.
  • Check the website out thoroughly, where are they based? how old are they? Consult forums and message boards to see if they have a reputation.
  • Make sure they have a returns/refund policy.
  • Make sure they offer safe, secure ordering on the web and safe methods of delivery.
  • Remember, you will almost certainly pay over the odds for a ticket, if it looks to good to be true it probably is.
  • Use a credit card for extra security.

There are so many sites out there it would be impossible to list them all. One I have used previously is www.1st4footballtickets.com, which has a reliable transaction process and a wide range of tickets ( I have no affiliation with them by the way, it is just one site I have had experience of).

Others I have found include:

http://www.tickazilla.com - Particularly good for games abroad.
www.footballticketshop.com - Mainly Premier League games.

Other than that it is down to your own determination or desperation to get those tickets. But if you follow the above tips, you should be fine.

Good luck!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Teenage Dirtbag


So the boy done good for United in the final seconds on Sunday.

You could see it coming though couldn’t you - especially when the referee somehow conjured FIVE minutes of injury time out of nowhere! At that moment it seemed like a good football bet to make that United would grab a winner.

But while the tabloids go crazy over the latest ‘teen sensation’, Federico Macheda, a word of warning. For every success there is a failure, like a Premier League rule of nature balancing things out.

Here are a few examples of teenage Premier League stars and their failing counterparts:

Robbie Fowler – Made his debut as an 18-year-old and bagged a debut goal. He then went on a run of 12 goals in his first 13 appearances and has since amassed more than 160 goals in his career, winning 26 England caps.

But for every Fowler there’s a…….. Francis Jeffers.
Franny made his Everton debut as a 16-year-old and quickly formed a goal-scoring partnership with Kevin Campbell. But the big eared wonder got too big for his boots and was sold to Arsenal for a rather ridiculous £11million. It was all downhill from there as Franny flopped at Highbury. In fact he flopped at Everton (again), Charlton, Rangers, Blackburn, Ipswich and now, er…. Sheffield Wednesday.

Wayne Rooney – Everton’s most successful youth product, he announced himself on the world stage with a goal to end Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run aged just 16. Like Jeffers he outgrew Everton and demanded to leave, this time to United, and is now a regular for club and country.

But for every Rooney there is a…. Danny Cadamarteri.
Cadamarteri scored five goals in his first nine games for Everton as an 18-year-old, including a goal against Liverpool. But then he disappeared and was flogged to Bradford in 2002. The fact that his career has encompassed Bradford (twice), Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield United, Grays, Leicester, Doncaster and Huddersfield shows where his career gone.

Cesc Fabregas - Made his debut for Arsenal at 16 and quickly established himself as a first-teamer. He has since become a full international and was appointed captain of the Gunners this season.

But for every Cesc there is a…. Hugo Viana. (Or a David Noble, Alberto Mendes or Stephen Hughes if you prefer) Signed for a massive £12million by Bobby Robson at Newcastle, a then 19-year-old Viana disappeared off the face of the earth, barely playing in two years before being flogged back to Sporting. He barely played there either so was sold to Valencia for just £1.5million. He has yet to make a league appearance for them this season.

Michael Owen - England’s boy wonder. He made his Liverpool debut at 17 and scored 18 goals in his first full season before going on to star at the ‘98 World Cup. Owen has since had spells at Real Madrid and Newcastle, with a current total of 157 goals, 89 England caps and 40 international goals.

But for every Owen there is a….

Read the rest of my guest blog over at Dangerhere