Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Hodgson blames everything else but himself for Liverpool struggles

Roy Hodgson Manager Liverpool 2010/11 Birmingham City V Liverpool (0-0) 12/09/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

After yet another defeat away from home Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has come out fighting, stating his firm belief that no-one else could do better given the circumstances surrounding the Merseyside club.

Despite pre-season expectations of a top four spot the Reds currently lie ninth in the Premier League - nine points off the Champions League places - and have won just one game away from home, the fourth worst record in the division.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Asia's Qatar plea highlights FIFA's blinkered thinking

Dec. 2, 2010 - Zurich, California, Switzerland - Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, holds the World Cup trophy after the announcement of Qatar hosting the 2022 soccer World Cup at Messezentrum in Zurich, Switzerland, on 02 December 2010. K66982AM. © Red Carpet Pictures

Dangers to fans and players have prompted the Asian Football Confederation to urge FIFA to reschedule the 2022 World Cup to January or February in order to avoid the scorching 40 degree summer heat in Qatar.

AFC General Secretary Peter Velappan also believes European countries may boycott in protest at the dangerously hot temperatures and that the proposed air-conditioned stadiums are not enough.

After the horse has bolted springs to mind.

Newcastle’s Ashley after more for his money

Football - Crystal Palace Legends v UK Cup Stars - 'Show the Red Card to Knife Crime Campaign' Charity Match - Selhurst Park - 29/3/09..Crystal Palace Legend Alan Pardew during the 'Show the Red Card to Knife Crime Campaign' Charity Match Photo via Newscom

Mike Ashley is a man used to making difficult decisions.

The business World isn’t a popularity contest and it is obvious he has made some controversial – if ultimately successful – decision in the past, given his vast wealth.

In business you always seek to maximise the return for every penny you spend, make the money work harder for you.

It appears Ashley is taking the same approach with another one of his assets – Newcastle United.

Fans, players and pundits alike were scratching their heads when Chris Hughton was dismissed this week.

But it later emerged that Ashley never saw him as anything more than a coach, a cost-effective safe pair of hands designed to carry the club through choppy waters.

He was also one of the lowest paid managers in the Premier League, a reflection perhaps of Ashley’s determination to balance the North East club’s creaking balance book.

But the 47-year-old’s desire to bring in a man with ‘more experience’ immediately got Geordie thoughts racing as to what possible replacement was lined up – Martin Jol, Martin O’Neill and even Jurgen Klinsmann were mentioned.

To say the fans were underwhelmed by the eventual appointment - Alan Pardew - is an understatement. To quantify it he received just 15 votes in a poll run by a local newspaper, just 2% of the vote.

But by appointing the former Charlton and West Ham manager is Ashley getting more bang for his buck?

After all, despite the lengthy five and half year deal (!?) I doubt Pardew will rank among the division’s top earners. The likes of Jol and O’Neill would have demanded big, big money - money Newcastle simply haven’t got.

In Ashley’s eyes he is getting rid of a coach and replacing him with a manager – for a similar price.

It is a dangerous game taking a business approach to football though – many a shrewd business man has been stung by the passionate, eccentricities of the beautiful game, that fly in the face of business logic. This is just another in a long line of risks taken by Mike Ashley.

And with Liverpool, Man City and Spurs lying in wait in the coming weeks, I doubt he will have to wait long to see if it was a risk worth taking.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Everton take over rumours re-surface

May 14, 2010 - Zuerich, AL, SCHWEIZ - epa02156914 Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa AI Thani, left, Chairman of Qatar 2022 Bid Committee hands over the bid to host the FIFA soccer World Cup 2022 to FIFA President Josef S. Blatter, right, in Zurich, Switzerland, 14 May 2010.

The ultimate fantasy get out clause of a billionaire take-over has once again raised it's head in the murky world of internet rumourdom.

While most of the time we strive for the moral high ground when discussing our club's relative povery, saying stuff like "well I don't want us to buy success any way" or we are "doing things the right way" our morals would be swiftly dropped before you could say oil riches should a billionaire Sheikh come calling.

Pardew appointment adds to the Newcastle humiliation

Mike Ashley Owner watches from the Stands at Old Trafford Newcastle United 2010/11 Manchester United V Newcastle United (3-0) 16/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

This piece was going to be headlined "Ashley needs big appointment to appease Newcastle fans," But given the news filtering through this morning I think my new one is far more accurate.

Friday, 3 December 2010

World Cup bid leaves bad taste

July 11, 2010 - 06160734 date 11 07 2010 Copyright imago BPI FIFA President Sepp Blatter PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxFRAxNEDxESPxSWExPOLxCHNxJPN Football men World Cup National team international match Final Johannesburg Portrait Vdig 2010 vertical Highlight premiumd Football.

So there we have it.  After 18 months of political lobbying, journalist digging, scandal, corruption and a last minute Royal-infused, David Beckham inspired dash to the line, England’s 2018 World Cup bid ended in dismal failure.

We are not alone though. It was also a grim day yesterday for Australia and America as they missed the chance to host the World Cup to, of all places, Qatar.

After witnessing England and then America lose out in their bids it is easy to be accused of being bitter. And I admit I am gutted England lost. To see the World Cup come back to my own country would be a dream come true and I fear we may never get the chance again.

But, nearly 24 hours after the event and taking my England hat off for a minute, I still feel the whole bidding and voting process leaves a lot to be desired....

Read the rest of this blog

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The worst misses of the season so far

Nigeria's Yakubu Aiyegbeni misses a goal against South Korea during a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban June 22, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Featuring our very own Yakubu, someone who somehow kneed the ball over from six inches out and possibly the worst miss of all time by a Qatari international....

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Beware early Premier League contenders - the same teams will be there at the end

MOSCOW, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 19, 2010. Chelsea FC manager Carlo Ancelotti watches a UEFA Champions League game Spartak Moscow vs. Chelsea. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Alexei Filippov) Photo via Newscom

In a league that is proving close, tight and unpredictable, journalists have been falling over themselves in recent weeks to declare new sides in the title race.

After last weekend’s games Man City, Spurs and Bolton were the latest names to be bandied about as positive results for all three lifted them into the top five.

Chelsea’s little slip up at the top has also got people excited again, given the league was all but sewn up a few weeks ago.

However, despite all the hysteria it is important to remember, without risking to sound like a football manager, there is still a long way to go (ok I did but bear with me).

Mourinho up to his old tricks again

You gotta love him.

Jose Mourinho has played the system again and despite the angry blustering reaction of the commentators, there is nothing anyone can do about it.

For those who didn't see it Real players Xavi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were shown second yellow cards for timewasting in the dying minutes of their 4-0 Champions League win over Ajax.

The result is that they will miss the now meaningless final group game with Marseille but in have a clean slate for when the knock out stages begin.

The link below shows several secret discussions between Mourinho, his backroom staff and several players, presumably hatching the crafty plan.

Is there much UEFA can do? Not really, they can't prove it was done deliberately and no rules were broken.

I suppose it is slightly against the spirit of the game but as Mourinho fan I say fair play to him. He has played the system and got away with it.

Have look below to see for yourself:

The real players/staff discussion the crafty scheme can be seen here.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What a difference a year makes

Jan 26, 2010 - Bolton, United Kingdom - Premier League: Bolton Wanderers 1 v 0 Burnley.Bolton's Owen Coyle delighted with KEVIN DAVIES and the win.

Twelve months ago Bolton lost at home to local rivals Blackburn to slip into the bottom three. They had conceded 17 goals in six games, lost four on the bounce and boss Gary Megson, deeply unpopular with the fans, stood on the brink.

Do Gunners lack the fight needed to win Premier League?

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur , Premier League 20/11/2010 Arsenal Manager /Head Coach, Arsene Wenger reacts as his team loses 2-3  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

The sight of Arsene Wenger slamming a bottle of water to the ground in frustration (giving Pat Rice a soaking in the process) is perhaps one of the images of the weekend.

It was also the only sign of passion or fight emanating from the Arsenal camp in a game against Spurs they should never have lost.

After two battling away wins at Wolves and Everton – results that caused many to tip the Gunners for the title – old flaws were once again exposed at home to their bitter rivals.

West Ham on the brink

A Dejected Avram Grant Manager West Ham United 2010/11 Aston Villa V West Ham United (3-0) 14/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

The rapidly emptying seats in the away section at Anfield on Saturday said it all.

A section of West Ham’s beleaguered supporters voted with their feet as their side slipped to another disappointing loss against Liverpool.

The Hammers were 3-0 down within 38 minutes and the fans who did stick around to watch the rest of the game chose to voice their anger and frustration at what has been a nightmare season for the London club so far.

Monday, 22 November 2010

New boys enter title race - can they last the pace?

Fulham v Manchester City , Premier League 21/11/2010 Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City celebrates scoring the second goal 0-2 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

In a Premier League season that is proving as unpredictable as ever it also seems the title race is just as open.

The ‘big four’s’ monopoly on the top four positions may have been broken last season but many still saw the Premier League title as an honour bestowed on a select few clubs – namely Man United and Chelsea
in recent years.

Are Spurs genuine title contenders?

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur , Premier League 20/11/2010 Younes Kaboul of Tottenham celebrates scoring the winning goal with team mates 2-3  Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International 07783 913 777 Photo via Newscom

In a refreshingly honest and positive post match press conference (perhaps helped by the feel good factor a first away win over Arsenal in 17 years brings) Harry Redknapp declared his Spurs side as genuine
title contenders and capable of ‘beating anybody’.

PMP 2.0

Goodison Park Everton v Arsenal (1-2) Premier League 14/11/2010 Tim Cahill (Everton) Photo: Roger Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

After an enforced absence PMP is being ressurected and hopefully will be as informative and witty (ahem) as ever....

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

There must be more to Rooney’s Goodison exclusion.

England manager Fabio Capello (L) and Wayne Rooney attend a team training session at St Jakob Park stadium in Basel September 6, 2010. England is due to play Switzerland in a Euro 2012 qualifier soccer match in Basel on September 7. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson maintained that he was right to drop Wayne Rooney for last weekend’s draw with Everton after the sordid tabloid revelations about his private life.

It certainly can be argued that they coped without him, despite the 3-3 draw. The Red Devils were comfortably 3-1 in front going into injury time and only two goals in two stunning minutes led to debates about Rooney’s whereabouts.

But regardless of whether United missed him on Saturday, questions still remain as to whether Sir Alex Ferguson’s reasons are strictly true.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Duncan Ferguson - An Everton hero

In a shameless act of self promotion I am pointing you the way of another blog - Royal Blue Mersey - where I wrote a tribute piece to the legendary Duncan Ferguson. It is part of the new Everton: Classics section of the site detailing memorable players, seasons and matches.

I'm sure I'm not the only Evertonian to list big Dunc as their favourite player (especially those of a certain age) and certainly couldn't fit all of his special moments in one blog so if you have any special Ferguson memories you would like to share feel free to comment either below or over at Royal Blue Mersey.

To read the article click here

Should this the end of Lampard and Terry’s England careers?

The wounds may not have completely healed from England bruising World Cup but two wins out of two in EURO 2012 qualifying has at least given the fans something to cheer about, even if it was against relatively weak opposition.

But two players, previously cornerstones of the England side, were absent from this round of games and you wonder whether they should ever return.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cup win should kick start Everton's season

Villa park , Aston Villa v Rapid Vienna, Europa League Qualifier Leg 2 26/08/2010 A dejected Ashley Young of Aston Villa looks on as the Vienna players celebrate the win 2-3 Photo Marc Atkins Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

After a stuttering opening two games it was a relief to see Everton finally win and score some goals in the process.

Speaking of goals and I feel it was important Jermaine Beckford got off the mark. I get the impression people are queuing up to dismiss him as out of his depth at this level if the scathing write ups after the Wolves game are anything to go by. Even the BBC singled his performance out for criticism.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Six reasons for Everton to be cheerful (and counting!)

July 08, 2010 - Sydney, NSW, AUSTRALIA - epa02242129 Everton FC players take part in a training session in Sydney, Australia, on 09 July 2010. English Premier League team Everton will play A-League team Sydney FC in an exhibition matchon 10 July, followed by the Melbourne Heart and the Brisbane Roar next week as part of their pre-season preperations.
It may only be pre-season but Everton's form so far has given all Toffees fans reasons to be optimistic.

The Blues have often been slow starters in the recent past, including last season's injury ravaged shocker. But David Moyes seems determined to shake off that tag this year.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Agents keen for a piece of the Man City pie

"Today he's at Chelsea. Maybe there will be surprises before August 31. I haven't spoken to just anybody. The only contact I've had directly was with City."

"At his age I can no longer hide the financial aspect. The club that want Didier will have to meet the price."

Thierno Seydi – Didier Drogba’s agent

There are so many things wrong with this quote it is untrue - starting with ‘we can no longer hide the financial aspect’.

What, because money wasn’t an issue when he moved to Chelsea in 2004?? In fact I bet the financial aspect has been at the forefront of any of his £80,000 a week contract negotiations since then and the very reason agents are so involved in football.

Jol leaves Fulham and the rest of us all confused

Football - SV Hamburg Press Conference - HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg, Germany - 16/12/08..SV Hamburg manager Martin Jol during the press conference Photo via Newscom

I think Fulham would be doing a fantastic bit of business if they lured Martin Jol away from Ajax and back to the Premier League.

Apart from appearing thoroughly likeable  (and we can’t have enough likeable coaches in the division in my opinion) they are getting a manager with a decent track record and European experience – attributes many Cottagers fans probably thought they had seen the back of when Roy Hodgson left for Liverpool.

That move is still in doubt, with Ajax scrambling to keep their man with promises of transfer funds and a stop to player sales. Indeed the reports surfacing this morning suggest The Dutchman has had an about turn and decided to stay in Amsterdam after all (the cynical side of me suggests he has played Ajax and Fulham off each other - maybe he isn't so nice after all!)

If Jol does return he probably fulfills all the criteria Fulham fans will have wanted in a new boss and perhaps more importantly will have a coach that has a point to prove.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Arsenal in for Jags, Rafa in for Pienaar – another Everton exodus begins?

May 01, 2010 - United Kingdom - Football - Stoke City v Everton Barclays Premier League - The Britannia Stadium - 1/5/10..Everton's Phil Jagielka.

Well at least we beat Brisbane, is perhaps what most Evertonians will be consoling themselves with this morning after the Sunday press once more linked two of our best players with moves away.

The first is not a new one.

Arsenal have been linked with Phil Jagielka for weeks now and the Mirror alleges we have rejected a £14million bid with the Gunners set to raise their offer to £16million.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

And the latest star to roll off the Everton production line is....

Jan. 16, 2010 - London, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - Football - Everton v Manchester City Barclays Premier League - Goodison Park - 16/1/10..Seamus Coleman (L) of Everton and Carlos Tevez of Manchester City.

I don’t know where Everton would be without its excellent youth Academy.

Ray Hall and his staff deserve enormous credit for the fantastic job they have done over the past 20 years, producing some of the country’s best young talent.

I know many people talk about the West Ham Academy and the ‘golden’ generation of players at Manchester United, but you would be hard pressed to find a youth set up that has consistently produced quality young players like Everton’s.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Arsenal and the great World Cup pundit conundrum

Spain's national soccer team players celebrate their World Cup victory on a stage in Madrid July 12, 2010. Spain stunned the Netherlands to win their first World Cup on Sunday in sensational fashion with a goal in the last minutes of extra time. REUTERS/Andrea Comas (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

It was interesting to hear the thoughts of the so called ‘experts’ following Spain’s World Cup final win over Holland on Sunday.

The Spanish were roundly praised for their dominant brand of possession football and were seen as deserved winners of the tournament. Holland meanwhile were heavily criticised for their aggressive style as they sought to unsettle the Spanish midfielders.

But one thing struck me as rather odd.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Gosling is making a far worse error than Everton

Football - Everton v Tottenham Hotspur Barclays Premier League - Goodison Park - 9/5/09..Everton's Dan Gosling and Gareth Bale of Tottenham in action Photo via Newscom

It was the transfer story that came out of nowhere. Dan Gosling, a steady if promising young player at Everton, suddenly taking the club to a tribunal to force a free transfer away from the club.

We may never know exactly what went on but it seems Everton believed Gosling would sign a contract extension that they verbally agreed on some time ago.

Somewhere in the middle of that though Gosling has suddenly developed an oversized ego and began making demands regarding regular first-team football, his preferred position and level of wages.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Collective failure led to England’s demise.

Dejecte England players at full-time following the Round of 16 match at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa on June 27, 2010. UPI/Chris Brunskill Photo via Newscom

England’s crushing and ultimately humiliating exit from the World Cup was the result of critical failure from all levels of the national game.

It is still fashionable to blame the manager for the Three Lions failure, but as each manager comes and goes - with the same problems remaining - we are now waking up to the fact that serious changes need to be made if we are to re-build the England team.

That is not to say Fabio Capello is blameless. His strict and authoritative approach went completely out of the window in the run up to the tournament. It seemed like he had a look at the squad and panicked, resulting in some bizarre team selections that went against his wise policy of only picking fit and in-form players. During the tournament when things went wrong his stubborn refusal to change the formation made England look dated and rigid. But when people mention Harry Redknapp as a replacement and keep a straight face, it is critical Capello keeps the job as there is no just one better qualified out there at the moment.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

New Twidget on PMP

Apr. 04, 2010 - United Kingdom - Football - Everton v West Ham United Barclays Premier League - Goodison Park - 4/4/10..Everton's Phil Jagielka.

As you may have noticed I have added an excellent new Twidget on the left hand side bar of this site. It aggregates a number of excellent blogs (including this one!) and displays them in it's scrolling feed. It can also be found at sites such as and
Thanks needs to go to the people at casino online for making the twidget possible

Shattered England divided by money and oversized egos

June 22, 2010 - South Africa - Football - England Training - England Team Camp, Royal Bafokeng Training Complex - 22/6/10..England's Wayne Rooney arrives for training.

Forget the scripted ‘apologies’ put forward by Wayne Rooney and John Terry this week. They were merely the FA’s attempts at firefighting the wreckage of England’s World Cup campaign.

No, the most eye opening revelation was Rooney’s impromptu outburst, spoken directly to the fans, at the final whistle in Cape Town on Friday.

There was Rooney without the backing of his media team, or the FA press officer, or his manager, it was his own views and I imagine one shared by the rest of the ‘senior’ (i.e. the most arrogant and therefore the most overpaid) players.

Are we surprised at the England crisis?

England's fans looks on dejected at the final whistle..FIFA World Cup 2010 Group C..England v Algeria..18th June, 2010.

Given the bouts of mass hysteria breaking out across the country, the inevitable war-related tabloid headlines and angry boozed up, flag-clad supporters, England’s slow and painful elimination from the World Cup must be nearing its depressing conclusion.

There is something incredibly predictable about what has happened over the past two weeks. The England players, with oversized egos massaged by their Premier League stardom, carried their overstated sense of entitlement and self-importance into a tournament they were always unlikely to win.

However, throw in a frenzied media determined to refer to either 1966 or the second world war in every other sentence and some washed up celebrities releasing ridiculous ‘Eng-gur-land’ songs, all of a sudden then nation began to believe the team could actually achieve something.

Friday, 11 June 2010

England Should Beware Slow Start (and Germany) in Rustenberg

Jun. 09, 2010 - Rustenburg, South Africa - epa02193380 England players Wayne Rooney (5L) and Frank Lampard (front R) jog with their team mates during their training session at Sun City in Rustenburg, South Africa, 09 June 2010, in preparation for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. England is in group C and will face the USA on June 12 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

Whether it is the fear of losing, lack of fitness or early tournament nerves England have consistently struggled to grab all three points in their recent opening matches at International tournaments.

The predictions for the England squad are varied when you compare football opinion, but one is for certain and that's a quick look at the history books shows that since 1986 The Three Lions have only won their opener on two occasions – against Paraguay in 2006 and Tunisia in 1998.
The 1-0 victory over the South Americans in Germany was also the first time in that period England have won their first game and also gone on win their group.

Which Everton star will shine brightest in South Africa?

Australia's Tim Cahill is reflected in the water as he speaks to physio Phil Coles during a training session at Ruimsig Stadium in Roodepoort, just outside of Johannesburg June 7, 2010. Australia will play Germany in their opening World Cup 2010 soccer match on June 13. Picture rotated 180 degrees. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP IMAGES OF THE DAY)

With just days to go now until the big kick off a number of Everton players have touched down in South Africa in readiness for their countries’ opening matches.

But who will go furthest, whose reputation will be enhanced and who is using the tournament to engineer a transfer?

Here is how I think our international Toffees will progress:

Read the rest of this entry

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

David Beckham, Noel Gallagher, Ian Brown and Snoop Dogg in awesome Adidas advert

Yes the big guns are pulling out all the stops in order capture our attention during the World Cup ad breaks - to and from visits to the bar of course.
We have already seen Nikes effort, premiered (I can't believe adverts now have premieres!!) during the Champions League final and now we have the effort from everyone's favourite training shoe maker (well, mine at least). The fact that it parody's one of the most famous scenes from Star Wars,another favourite of mine, guarantees it will be a hit.

I just hope Beckham doesn't take up acting, even his one line was unconvincing. Still a great advert though!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

New Everton away kit 2010/11

It's er...interesting!

I can't really see electric pink going down well on the streets of Walton but as pointed out by a mate of mine similar coloured rugby shirts have sold well. But then as I pointed out, not many Everton fans like rugby.

I'll leave it to you to decide but it's safe to say I won't be buying!

If you however fancy a purchase skip over to the official site.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Royal Blue Mersey: Baines World Cup snub

Football - England v Mexico International Friendly

While much of the footballing World focused on Theo Walcott's exclusion from the England squad, I for one was still digesting the news that Leighton Baines had somehow missed out too....

I admit that Baines had a poor game in the recent friendly with Mexico. But he wasn't alone in that respect. Indeed his lack of experience should have excused him from the bulk of the criticism when you consider the likes of Michael Carrick, with 22 caps to his name, was just as poor yet finds himself on the plane.

What makes the decision even more bemusing is that his replacment, Stephen Warnock, played no part in England's recent warm-up matches.In fact he has only played five minutes of international football ever.

Read the rest of this entry.

The rise and fall of Theo Walcott

Theo Walcott England 2009/10

From England hero to England reject, it has been quite a couple of years for Theo Walcott.

The Arsenal winger was the headline making absentee from Fabio Capello’s England squad; paying the price for an indifferent 12 months with Arsenal, admittedly hampered by a succession of injuries.

Many Arsenal fans will not surprised at the decision. They have been underwhelmed by Walcott this year as he repeatedly failed to match his blistering pace with an end product (much like Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was included, but that argument is for another day).

But once again I feel Walcott has been a victim of English football’s media hype machine. Ever since Wayne Rooney, a once in a generation talent, burst onto the Premier League scene eight years ago, the press have been hungry to discover the next hidden gem, no matter how young they maybe.

Walcott stood out as a 16-year-old at Southampton, then a middle ranking Championship side. But a promising talent was all he was. Yet the sensationalist headlines soon followed making him out to be England’s next wonderkid.

But still, despite is raw talent, St Mary’s would have been the ideal place for Walcott to develop as player.

In his defence I think he then became a victim of circumstance. Firstly Southampton, heavily in debt, saw Walcott as an asset and when Arsenal came calling, they were only too happy to take the money.

All of a sudden Walcott was rocketed up into the Premier League’s top four, under a manager renowned for nurturing young talent. But he isn’t a Rooney or a Fabregas. Those two developed at much quicker rates than Walcott, yet he was judged like them and expected to hit the heights immediately.

Again things weren’t helped by his ridiculous inclusion in England’s World Cup 2006
squad. It was one of the final acts of a man truly losing the plot when Sven decided to include Walcott, despite never seeing him play and watching just half a training session.

Walcott’s image was racing way ahead of where he truly lay as a footballer. He was nowhere near international standard and to be honest, could have done with a few more years down out Southampton to aid his progress.

The ensuing years have been seen one injury after another and, one magic night in Zagreb aside, a stalling career that is threatening to never meet people’s sky high expectations.

His exclusion from the squad must now be turned into a positive. A clear summer to rest and re-cooperate before a committed bid to rediscover that lost potential.

Is Mourinho the right man for Real Madrid?

On paper it is a match made in heaven. In one corner we have Real Madrid, the biggest club in the world, a side with some of the biggest superstars on Earth, men who are used to winning trophies year on year but have recently been usurped by their bitter rivals.

In the other corner we have Jose Mourinho, the self-styled Special One - a born winner who has now won the domestic title in three different countries as well as the Champions League with two different clubs. If there is anyone who has the self-confidence, charisma and the CV to take on the job at the Bernabeu it is Jose.

Read the rest of this entry.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Football - Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton Barclays Premier League

Although the ongoing Steven Pienaar contract farce continues to haunt our close season, the news that a number of key players are willing to commit their futures to the club should be more than enough to keep Everton fans feeling positive.

This week Jack Rodwell will sign a new five-year deal to ward off interest from Manchester United and Arsenal. I’m sure Toffees can’t hide their delight at this news as Rodwell is undoubtedly a star in the making. His progress in the past two years has been astounding and his calmness and composure on the ball belies his tender years. His strike against Manchester United gave us a glimpse of the sort of player he could become and it now looks like the fans will see Rodwell fulfil his potential in a blue shirt, rather than the red of United or Arsenal.

Read the rest of this entry.

Blackpool to live the Premier League dream

The future’s bright, the future’s orange, or, to be precise about it, Tangerine. Blackpool’s promotion at the weekend was a headline writer’s dream come true, with “Blackpool rocks” and “tangerine dream” two of the more heavily used phrases in the wake of their play-off win.

The odds make them favourites to go straight back down and, given that many people were tipping them to be relegated from the Championship at the start of this season, this should come as no surprise. In fact, manager Ian Holloway had a clause in his contract giving him a bonus if he kept them up – promotion wasn’t even mentioned.

Read the rest of this entry.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Soccerpro Review

Once again the lovely people at Soccerpro sent me some gear to review for you lucky people. First off I had a pair of Adidas Samba World Cup Edition trainers.

Now I admit from the off, I am a fan of Adidas trainers, so my review is always going to be tainted with favouritism but I will do my best to be impartial.
First off the Samba design, once of one Adidas’ earliest football shoe designs, is now a classic casual footwear design in its own right. And this latest incarnation is no exception. The modern twist is, of course, the colouring of the iconic three stripes which, in tribute to the upcoming World Cup, is yellow and gold for the countries of Brazil, Australia and Ghana.

Not that I will be supporting any of those countries mind, but I think they look good anyway!

The colours are, of course, personal taste but as the Samba shoe can be bought in a variety of colours you can disregard them for the rest of the review.

It is a good job these are for leisurewear as its comfort and design upon wearing is not suitable for sport at all. They fail to offer the ankle support for physical activity and quickly picked up scuff marks. My previous Sambas have also done this, becoming worn and marked very quickly.

However, if you’re watching the match rather than playing in it or you fancy a few drinks with your mates and you want to look good as well as feel comfortable, you can’t go wrong. They look smart but are also extremely comfortable to wear, as you would expect with a brand such as Adidas. They come highly recommended.

Adidas Samba Leather World Cup Countries - Brazil, Ghana, and Australia UK size 8/US size 9 $47.99 to buy go to Soccerpro’s Soccer Shop

Next up was a black and white Adidas Condivo Fleece Top.
Being a black and white fleece it was never going to receive any design awards and I certainly didn't see it as a fashion statement. Therefore I placed functionality above looks with this piece of Soccer Apparel.

Given my limited footballing ability (much to my eternal regret) this came in hugely handy when sitting on the bench for my football team (well, we don’t really have a bench of sorts, so I just sat on the grass!). The fleece is well made, with subtle white piping giving a classier design than those with just the traditional three stripes down the sleeves. Functionality wise it did the job, keeping my extremely warm for much of the game, before my five minute cameo at the end.

How does it compare with other, cheaper fleeces? It’s hard to say. It certainly looks and feels better than cheaper designs but whether it keeps me warmer is open to debate. At $60.00 I do feel you are paying a premium for the name, but it also guarantees you excellent design, warmth and comfort. And if that prevents you from freezing your ass off on the touchline, then it is a fair price to pay.

Adidas Condivo Fleece Top - Black with White: $60.00

To buy these products and more soccer gear please go to

Monday, 24 May 2010

Jack Rodwell signs new Everton deal

It's the news we have all been waiting for!

Hot on the heels of Seamus Coleman and Tim Cahill, it is being reported that Jack Rodwell has become the latest player to commit his future to the club by signing a long-term deal.

The Guardian reports that the England Under-21 international has signed a fiver year contract worth £30,000 a week, ending any speculation of a move to Manchester United or Arsenal.

I'm sure all Blues fans will agree this is great news. Rodwell has been long admired by the clubs coaching staff and from what we have seen over the past two years he has the potential to become an Everton great - I only hope he sticks around long enough to do so!

Read the rest of this entry.

Daily Mail misinterprets public opinion in World Cup row.

Ah, the traditional British tabloid kiss-and-tell story.

Every other week sordid revelations of a celebrity’s ( and I use that term loosely) private life is splashed over the front pages of a Sunday newspaper. All in the name of the free press.

I can’t say I am a fan of these stories, but a lot of people clearly are and I do agree to an extent that those in positions of power duly have a responsibility to behave in a proper manner. Investigative journalism can help uncover crime and corruption, as well as those who publically display and profit from one image, yet offer a different one away from public view.

But all too often in my opinion the ‘public interest’ argument is trotted out by newspapers to defend their invasion of privacy in order to sell extra copies.

Take the Lord Triesman fiasco. The Daily Mail, a conservative newspaper, was always going to go after someone like Triesman, a labour peer. But their decision to run a story featuring comments made by him during a private dinner (though they called it a meeting) with a friend and former aide Melissa Jacobs, who, unknown to him, was recording it, appears a mistake.

Jacobs sold her story to the Mail for £75,000, with the publicist Max Clifford representing her. Alarm bells about her motives should be ringing already. One of Triesman’s stand-out remarks was allegations that the Spanish and Russian football associations were considering bribing referees at this summer's World Cup, in return for votes in the 2018 bidding process. Pretty serious accusations I admit.

The story inevitably led to the 66-year-old's departure, but defending himself in a statement he felt he was a victim of “Entrapment” by a friend which was an “unpleasant experience both for my family and me.”

The article also implied that Triesman had shared an “intimate relationship” with Jacobs. He vigorously denied the allegations, saying that their friendship had been “grossly exaggerated”.

Meanwhile the FA franticly began a damage limitation exercise, swiftly apologising to the Spanish and Russian FAs as well as swiftly removing the labour peer from his position.

Now I am not going to defend Triesman’s comments. They were ill-advised to say the least. Such comments are very foolish, especially for someone in his position, and so he s not entirely blameless in this sorry tale.

But is shouldn’t be forgotten that these comments were made in private to a close and trusted friend, and he had no idea it was being recorded. The Mail’s line in the story was that Triesman’s was now responsible for England’s faltering bid for the World Cup, accusing him of a ‘serious lapse of judgement’ for making such claims regardless of whether they were in private or not.

The Press Complaints Commission code of practice (which are voluntary by the way) states that the press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices;. But while it needs to be pointed out that the paper was not involved in the recording of the conversation, they ran the story when it was offered to them. The defence on this is whether the story is in the public interest which is defined by but not restricted to: Detecting or exposing crime or serious impropriety, protecting public health and safety or preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation.

You have to ask yourself then – is this in the public interest?

It’s very hard to prove that it its. After all any journalist worth his salt would have listened to his startling claims regarding corruption and looked into it further – that is the big story to come out of all this. If, as expected, the claims are baseless, then they are simply the mutterings, however irresponsible, of a man, in private, to a woman he was looking to impress.

Was he taking the allegations further? Probably not? Where they the views of the FA, certainly not.

It’s a non story. I defy anyone to deny they have made exaggerated or ill-advised claims in a private setting. In that context Triesman's comments are hardly a matter of public interest.

So why therefore did the paper run the story? Well, everyone loves a kiss-and-tell story don’t they? Everyone loves to see the downfall of those in power and hear their sordid revelations over their Sunday lunch. And that is how the story played out, with even transcriptions of affectionate text messages sent by Triesman to Jacobs printed.

This was a cheap an smutty attempt to sell extra copies, disguised under the ruse of ‘pubic interest’. But in doing so the Mail has scored untold damage on England’s World Cup bid (the revelations did after all come just days after England submitted their bid book to FIFA)

This surely outweighs any benefit revealing a 66-year-old love sick man's inner private thoughts would bring?

Judging by the nature and sheer number of vitriolic comments on the papers website they have grossly mis-judged the public mood, with the majority of the English public angry at the paper, not Triesman, and hold them responsible for hurting England’s chances of hosting the World Cup.

It does seem ironic that for such a patriotic publication their cheap quest for sales could cost England the World Cup, and so billion of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs. Not to mention the feel good factor of having the World’s greatest tournament on our shores. Is the story still in the public interest now?

Gary Lineker, one of the ambassadors of the 2018 bid, has quit his position as a columnist in the wake of the scandal; with his publicist Jon Holmes saying it was “crass judgment” on the part of the Mail. I’m inclined to agree.

Again I feel it is important to point out that the press should be independent and therefore shouldn’t cover things up in order to protect England’s bid. If the bid committee are seeking to win the World Cup by illegal means the press have a right to bring them to account - They still have a vital role in uncovering corruption and ensuring fair play.

But conversely they shouldn’t obtain stories using dubious methods and then proceed make sensationalist mountains out of molehills in order to create headlines and sell papers, with dis-regard for the consequences of their actions. The FA have enough faults as it is without their own press working against them.

England’s bid team believe they can recover from this PR disaster and prove to the FIFA committee that England is deserving of the World Cup in 2018. But with the British press the way they are, I’m not holding my breath.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Web's Newest Everton FC blog - Royal Blue Mersey!

Yes that's right the guys over at SBNation have asked my to be editor of a bran new Everton FC blog:

Hope you like the name (it was my idea!)

PMP will still continue as a hub for all more blogs across the web but if your're looking for exclusive Everton content then RBM will be the place to be. Why not check it out an have your say. One of my first blog posts is a review of last season, check it out by clicking here.


More should follow Tim Cahill’s example

Sports News - April 15, 2010

Another year. Another transfer window. Another scattergun approach from the media.

Desperate to break the story first the press have obviously decided to throw enough transfer tittle tattle onto their back pages with the hope that one will stick, so when the player does make the move they can look all smug.

But even though I know most of these stories are fabricated, it doesn’t stop me from feeling anxious when most of them involve Everton players leaving rather than coming in.

The reason for this is because I, like most Blues, are still sore from the Joleon Lescott saga last summer. It was brilliantly orchestrated by Man City, who by consistently making public their interest in the defender, unsettled the former Wolves man (and much of the squad) to the extent that his mind had drifted across the M62 by the time the season had started. Aston Villa fans watch out, the same will happen with James Milner, trust me.

So when I read that Mikel Arteta is apparently off to Arsenal, Phil Jagielka is off to Man City and Jack Rodwell is off to United, you can’t blame me for feeling a little worried.

Loyalty carries little weight in these days of the £100,000 a week footballer. When we see players passionately kissing the badge and clapping the fans we like to think they are one of us. But the reality is very different and as we found with Lescott last year, those with the greater finances (sorry City I mean ‘ambition’) will nearly always win out.

I say nearly always because, thankfully, Tim Cahill has proved a very happy exception to that depressing rule.

The talismanic Aussie has become part of the furniture at Goodison now given the length of time he has been here. The very fact some fans became frustrated with him this season and even pondered flogging him to raise cash is evidence of the high standards he has set himself since his move from Millwall in 2004.

Even if he was not at his best at times this year, his presence on and off the field and his handy knack of arriving late in the area to grab crucial goals means he is still a vital asset to our squad, and the sort of player clubs pay top dollar for - what Man United could do with a goalscoring midfielder of his prowess to replace the aging Paul Scholes?

I reckon few would blame him if he sought one last big move, he has given six years loyal service after all and perhaps deserves to pick up more than just two FA Cup runners up medals in his career.

But Cahill strikes me as a man of principal. He is eternally grateful for what rewards the game has brought, the opportunity Millwall offered him as a young trainee miles away from home and the faith Eveton placed in him when they plucked him from obscurity.

He has since become a genuine World star and appears determined to reward that faith shown in him by the management, players and fans by committing the rest of his career to the club (and hopefully winning some trophies!)

His quotes upon signing the new deal are ones to cut out and keep:

“When you assess the situation, see where you are as a footballer, people question money and things like that, but there’s only so much more you can earn. The grass isn’t always greener.

“I don’t chase big moves. That’s the one thing I’ve done all my career, I’ve never invited clubs, I’ve never speculated.

“Everton know the way I work. It’s a sign of respect. With the history we’ve got, the future we’ve got, I feel there’s no bigger club.”

We should make a T-shirt with that on.

It is encouraging to know we have players who carry genuine affection for the club in the dressing room as they can only have a positive influence on the rest of the players. One of the most pleasing aspects of David Moyes’ transfer policy is his insistence on buying players with the right attitude as well as ability. I hope now that Cahill can be an example to players still at the club, as well as prospective transfer targets, that while we can’t offer the wages, we can offer the best environment for a player to develop in.

Yes I’m talking to you Mr Pienaar.

First published over at Everton Banter

Is debt scuppering Fergie’s transfer plans?

The announcement by Sir Alex Ferguson that he may only sign one more player this summer must have been met by bemusement by Manchester United fans.

After all, despite losing the Premier League title by just a point, a series of poor results during the campaign revealed a squad that relied too much on Wayne Rooney and the aging legs of Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

The United manager has already signed Mexican forward Javier Hernandez from Guadalajara and defender Chris Smalling from Fulham, but they are hardly the big buys acquisitions many United supporters were expecting.

Read the rest of this entry.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Drogba the man for the big occasion

With goals in two FA Cup finals and two semifinals it should have come as no surprise when Didier Drogba netted yet another vital strike at Wembley this past weekend.

The Ivorian’s superb second half free-kick, just minutes after battling Portsmouth had missed a penalty, proved the difference between the two sides, allowing Chelsea to lift their sixth FA Cup and complete a first ever league and cup double.

The former Marseille man is a controversial figure in the Premier League. Never one to shy away from the limelight, his early years at Stamford Bridge were full of allegations of diving, while his frequent passionate outbursts, most infamously after Chelsea’s Champions League semifinal defeat to Barcelona last year, have landed him in hot water with the authorities and made him unpopular with opposition supporters.

Read the rest of this entry.

Barcelona bag another La Liga

So it appears that money can't buy you everything as high-rollers Real Madrid, who spent more than £200 million last summer, lick their wounds after being beaten into second place once more by their great rivals Barcelona.

The Catalan club, astutely managed by Pep Guardiola, clinched a second successive La Liga title on Sunday with a 4-0 win over Real Valladolid, ending the campaign on a hefty 99 points with 96 goals scored. Their great rivals meanwhile could only draw 1-1 with Malaga, meaning the title went to the Nou Camp for the 20th time in the club's illustrious history.

Read the rest of this entry.

Drogba ruins Pompey’s last hurrah

The irony must not be lost on Avram Grant that missed penalties once again proved crucial in his fortunes in a major cup final.

The Portsmouth manager was in charge of Chelsea two years ago when John Terry’s slip and penalty miss in the Moscow rain cost the Londoners the Champions League.

Now, with Chelsea the opposition, he had a new nightmare from 18 yards as Kevin Prince Boeteng’s sloppy spot-kick was easily saved by Petr Cech, becoming only the third ever keeper to save a penalty in a FA Cup final after Dave Beasant in 1988 and Mark Crossley in 1991.

Read the rest of this entry.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Billy's wonder goal shows his true talents

It won't be a game that will go down in history, but a dour, drab pedestrian end-of-season match against Pompey will at least be remembered for a glorious last minute strike from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

The Russian winger has divided opinion among Evertonians this season. Many see him as the 21st century version of Kevin Sheedy, while others think he is another one of David Moyes big money flops, along with the likes of Per Kroldup and James Beattie.

I'm sitting on the fence here, I know, but I think he is somewhere in between. For starters I always think it is fair to give foreign players a season to settle in. A move to a new country and new culture brings challenges both on and off the pitch and you often see better performances from players once they have settled in.

Bilyaletdinov arrived late in the transfer window from Russia, a vastly different division to the Premier League. He has also played a whole year without a break as the league in Russia is out of kilter with Western European football.

Read the rest of this entry.

Why Tottenham need to reign in expectations

It has been quite a season for Spurs. Their eventful ride into the top four means they have the chance to play European Cup football for the first time since 1961.

Harry Redknapp has been talking about bringing in that “one special player” to brave Europe’s elite competition in a Spurs shirt, while the supporters are dreaming of a new glorious era and building a realistic title challenge.

Now far be it from me to rain on their parade and dampen expectations, but the fans need to keep their ambitions in check as plenty of banana skins lay ahead. The online odds suggest they will struggle to mount a title challenge again next season, and securing fourth could be just as tough as it was this time around.

Read the rest of this entry.

Chelsea hit 8 (eight) while United turn into Norwich

You know you’ve had a hiding when the videprinter has to display the number of goals you conceded in brackets, just to stick the knife that little bit further – “Yes Wigan that was eight goals you conceded against a rampant Chelsea on Sunday.”

Given the Latics had already conceded nine in one game this season, and Chelsea had hit seven on three occasions at Stamford Bridge, it should have come as no surprise when the Londoners ran riot to secure the Premier League title.

Add to that the fact Wigan’s best defender, Titus Bramble, was missing, they conceded after two minutes, and they had a man sent off midway through the first half and you had all the ingredients for a nightmare.

It was no wonder the Man United fans up at Old Trafford quickly gave up hope of a shock title win and began shouting about the Glazers instead.

Read the rest of this entry.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Blatter looks to everywhere but England

Another day, another comment from Sepp Blatter praising a county other than England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

What we have done to deserve such hostility from the suits at FIFA I don’t know, but it seems England’s hopes of hosting the World Cup rests not in their ability to host the tournament, but the bid committee’s skills of political persuasion.

Take Blatter for example. He has recently returned from Russia and has been quoted as saying: "...what they presented is remarkable. Russia is not a country but a continent and Russia has big plans to expand.

“Listen, it (England's bid) is the easiest bid in the world. They have the football already organised. They have everything. England has no problem in delivering a World Cup.

"The other bidders must convince the executive. England does not have to convince us.
"We know England can stage the World Cup. But England winning (the right to stage it) – I am not so sure."

So basically what he is saying is the decision will not be based on practical (and surely the most important) reasons, which is England’s strongest card.
Legacy has become a buzzword ever since Seb Coe’s successful London Olympic bid talked of a future for the capital beyond the games.

Blatter appears on a one man crusade to do something similar with the World Cup, handing out tournaments to developing football nations like sweets to children - he has already been quoted as saying it is the Arab World’s turn to host the tournament.

This is all well and good I agree, football is a global game now and it is only fair that a variety of countries and continents get the chance to host major competitions.
But you have to ask whether these countries are ready to host World Cup’s and European Championships?

A huge amount of infrastructure is required, not just Stadiums but transport links and hotels. Huge questions still remain over South Africa’s ability to host the tournament smoothly while the Ukraine, co-host of the next European Championship, have had to make promises to UEFA that they will have the stadiums built in time. England don’t need such timescales, they could host it tomorrow if they had to.

Yet that strength, the stadiums and infrastructure, has been dismissed as irrelevant, as though it is somehow their fault they built their stadiums 20 years ago. You can’t help feeling England are being made to fight on unfair ground.

Instead they have to play the political game to turn the executives heads, something we don’t appear very good at after the handbag fiasco, which saw vice-president Jack Warner return the gift for his wife to the FA complete with angry letter, saying it was: “a symbol of derision, betrayal and embarrassment for me and my family."

England face a huge challenge on the pitch this summer as they seek to replicate that 1966 World Cup win, but the task of playing another World Cup on home soil, appears much, much harder.

Originally posted at

What’s going on at Liverpool?

The glee of almost certainly preventing bitter rivals Manchester United from claiming a record nineteenth league title was far outweighed by the multitude of problems Liverpool’s defeat to Chelsea highlighted on Sunday.

Although I doubt the players deliberately set out to gift Chelsea the win – all talk of letting the Londoners triumph was confined to the stands – the players did a pretty good job of disproving that theory as they cantered through an alarmingly desperate 90 minutes in front of an increasingly dispirited Anfield crowd. Yes, the football odds suggested Chelsea should win, but Liverpool barely even turned up.

Read the rest of this entry.

Steve McClaren - back from the brink

He was subject to a torrent of abuse and ridicule when he led England to dismal failure in their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, but 30 months later, Steve McClaren has bounced back in style.

Soon after that now infamous, wet November night against Croatia, where he was dubbed, the "Wally with the Brolly", McClaren made the unusual, but ultimately wise move to take a job aboard.

It is unusual because most English players and coaches choose to stay at home. And it was wise because it gave him the time and space to rebuild his shattered career which had hit an all time low.

Read the rest of this entry.

Tottenham Players Set For Major Role In England Squad

Spurs have had one of the best season they have had for a long time this year and, with only a couple of games left, Spurs have a real chance of breaking into the top 4 and playing Champions League football next season. Spurs are currently in pole position for 4th spot but face a crucial match against Manchester City tonight with a victory securing 4th spot.

The Spurs players have played out of their skin this season and a number of these players will play a key role at the 2010 World Cup for England. There are a number of players who, as long as they are fit, are certainties to be in the England squad with a number of players also on the sidelines and in with a chance of making the World Cup squad.

Strikers Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch will almost certainly be in the England squad and will play a key role up front alongside Wayne Rooney in the England attack. Aaron Lennon has unfortunately missed a lot of the season due to injury, but was outstanding at the start of the season and very much in Fabio Capellos plans so there is still a good chance if the Spurs winger can prove his fitness in time for the World Cup he could be included in the squad.

A major part of Tottenham's success this season has been their defence with both Ledley King and Michael Dawson being outstanding. There are a lot of rumours circulating that Ledley King could get an England call up for the World Cup even though he will be unable to play every game and he will most likely not be able to train, but whether Capello takes the chance on him with his other defensive players like Rio Ferdinand also being injury prone at the moment we will have to wait and see. Michael Dawson has had his best season by far in a Tottenham shirt this year and the defender has received a lot of praise recently that could see him earn a call up, at very least to the provisional England squad.

Although at the moment they don't seem to be in the running both David Bentley and Tom Huddlestone have had a good season this year and both could add something to the current England squad. The problem for these two players is that there are a number of players in the Premiership at the moment playing similar roles and are ahead of them in the pecking order, however it can't be ruled out that they could be included with Bentley probably the most possible one to be included in the squad with a spot being available for a right midfield player due to Beckham getting injured.

The number of players, and potential players, that could get called up for England this year for the Spurs team is a real testament to the progress the team has made this season under Harry Redknapp. Redknapp has done wonders with the team and has built up a fantastic squad which you imagine will only get better if they do secure 4th spot as summer investment would surely take place.

Written by Sandy MacGregor a football blogger blogging about football news and football kits.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Mourinho master-class reason why Argentina won’t win World Cup

Anyone who doesn’t take an active interest in football could have been forgiven in recent weeks for thinking Lionel Messi was some four-legged, turbo charged mystical deity, such was the praise lavished on the Argentinean’s shoulders.

It is true that his recent performances, particularly in the Champions League demolition of Arsenal, were spell binding and he was deservedly put on a pedestal with the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona, but the praise did get a bit hysterical in places.

With the World Cup on the horizon many then turned to the underperforming Argentina national team, and whether like in 1986 one specially gifted player could carry the rest to World Cup glory.

This ‘Messi’ effect certainly had an effect on the World Cup betting, with the odds on an Argie win shooting in on the back of his Barca performances.

But the manager-of-the-moment- Jose Mourinho dampened the spirits of those backing a shock Argentina victory. Mourinho’s tactical master class against Barca, which saw his Inter side defeat them 3-2 on aggregate to make the Champions League final, showed just how to handle the little genus - namely to stick two men on him.

Every time Messi looked to break into even a trot, he had two, sometimes three Inter players surrounding him like flies round, yeah well you get the rest.

Consequently Messi was nowhere near as effective as he was in previous games.

What has this got to do with the World Cup?

Well it means that Argentina will need to have more than one player if they are to progress in the competition. The secret of Messi is well and truly out and he can expect some close attention in South Africa. So therefore it is up to the Tevez’s and Aguero’s of this World to prove they are better than their ordinary qualifying campaign showed.

Something that is easier said than done if recent Argentina performances are anything to go by.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Europa League final tickets - fans lose out again

Ever since my experience last season with the FA's scandalously low allocation of FA Cup Final tickets I have always had a bug bear with the amount of tickets that don't go to 'real' fans for big matches.

The same can now be said of this year's Europa League final, with Fulham and Atletico only receiving 12,500 tickets each - in a 50,000 stadium!

Yes some seats need to be open for the general public to apply for and,of course, the sponsors will get some for their generously backing, but does really require half the total allocation??

Fulham's biggest game in their history and although they don't have the biggest o support, they could comfortably sell double their allocation.

SO instead of a guy who has supported the Cottagers for 50 years getting to watch the biggest match in their history, some suited corporate type with no attachment to either team, maybe even to football itself will go there to quaff steak and red wine on a company freebie.

As you can tell the whole situation makes me angry!!

Roy Hodgson to replace Rafa Benitez at Liverpool?

OK, it is in that notoriously unreliable rag the News of The World. But the increasing crisis at Liverpool is pointing towards a managerial change in the summer, with boss Rafa Benitez conveniently blaming the board for the teams failures, perhaps in a desperate attempt to keep his reputation in tact (£40 million he spent last summer by the way)so their Sunday gossip stories may hold some water...

... with Fulham grabbing the headlines this week with their heroic journey to the Europa League final, boss Roy Hodgson's stock has never been higher in his own country (though he has always been highly rated on the continent). So it is perhaps inevitable he is being linked with a move away.

Would Liverpool suit him?

I would be perhaps a good time to leave Craven Cottage - a Europa League final, win or not would be a pretty special way to go out and it can be argued he can take the club no higher. But I get the impression this is just tabloid journos putting 2+2 together.

Click here and here to make your own mind up.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Man United shirts 2010/11 leaked

The new Manchester United shirts have been leaked and it looks like they are taking an 80s retro look to things.

Thanks to the guys at for the pics.

New Australia football shirt 2010/11

More new kits this time the shirt that Cahil and the lads will be wearing in South Africa:

Can Van Gaal complete turnaround against Lyon?

Bayern Munich face one of their biggest games in recent history this week when they tackle Lyon in the Champions League semi-final second leg.

Carrying a 1-0 lead from the first game, reaching the final would be a personal triumph for their manager Louis Van Gaal after his career looked to have stalled a few years ago.

After a trophy laded spell with Ajax and then Barcelona in the 1990s Van Gaal took charge of the Dutch national team and infamously failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

Unsuccessful second spells at Ajax and Barca followed before an 11th place finish with minnows AZ Alkmaar in 2007 seemingly put Van Gall on the road to mediocrity.

Read the rest of this entry.

Fine Margins define success an failure for Everton

David Moyes echoed most Evertonians thoughts on Sunday when he said their chances of a Europa League place were "slim" despite a last gasp win over Fulham.

Liverpool's win over Burnley the same day means the Reds have to lose their final two games while the Toffees have to collect maximum points in order for Europa League football to return to Goodison next season.

But the very fact we are even talking about Europe with two games to go is credit to the way the players have turned the season around and displayed title winning form since the turn of the year. However, that positive also brings huge frustration.

The year Everton decided to make a poor start to the season and not challenge for the top four is the year when the race of a Champions League spot is at its most open.

Read the rest of this entry.

Premier League football - it makes you sick

Was it the shock of Nani scoring a goal? Were the half-time prawn sandwiches a bit iffy? Or maybe some volcanic ash had descended on Old Trafford and made everyone a bit nauseous?

Whatever it was, the Old Trafford groundsman had more than just mud and sweat to clean up from the pitch after United’s 3-1 win over Spurs following Patrice Evra’s on-field vomiting ten minutes into the second half.

And with millions of people watching Evra’s, and later Nani’s, affliction was shared to the world thanks to the sharp focus of a TV camera – I’m glad I haven’t got HD.

It seems odd that most TV companies refuse to show pitch invaders, choosing instead to show clips of the corner flag or the subs warming up while the commentators talk about everything except the half naked man being rugby tackled by three stewards, but they will gladly show Evra bring up his lunch. It is just as well Carlo Ancelotti took his Chelsea players to the cinema on Saturday lunchtime instead of watching the game.

Read the rest of this entry.

Steven Gerrard - latest

Will the expected media explosion didn't happen did it? Either the supposed 'super-injunction' worked or it was all a load of Twitter/football blog inspired internet nonsense (I suspect it was the latter)

The Echo picked up on the internet rumours and posted this denial story with quotes from Alex Curran herself. I guess it was too sensational to ever be realistically true.

Now England fans can focus back on Wayne Rooney's fitness.....

Monday, 26 April 2010

The worst miss of all time??

The MLS has never really enjoyed the best of reputations and it can't have been helped by Kansas Wizard's striker Kei Kamara,who somehow managed to miss an open goal from SIX INCHES!
I missed an open goal from that distance once I admit, but I was 9 at the time so I think I can be forgiven.

As for Mr Kamara, well, lets just say it's a shocker...

Miss of the century

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Wayne Rooney injured again - season over, World Cup in doubt?

We all knew it was coming didn't we?

After a fantastic season in which he has carried United almost singlehandidly in the Premier League title race it was invetibale Wayne Rooney would pick up an injury in the build up to the Word Cup.

Playing him just a week after spraining his ankle was bad enough but now it appears a groin injury, which saw him sit out the 3-1 win over Spurs, will curtail the striker for the rest of the season.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed before the Spurs game on Saturday the injury could keep him out for 2-3 weeks. If that is the case then a months rest should see him right for the big kick off in South Africa. However what worries me most is United gambling on Rooney'a fitness to secure them the title(which will happen I gurantee you!) running the risk of a serious injury which will keep him out for longer - a serious groin strain could rule him off for a month or more easy.

I suppose it is all part of the hysterical build to the biannual soap opera that is England in a major tournament - but it would be nice if it could be straight forward for once...

Crossed fingers all round!