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