Forget The Manager, Do We Really Have The Players?

Tired of this Capello/Redknapp game? You’ll know what I’m talking about when I say this managerial exit and possible takeover has been massively overhyped since Capello’s resignation. Unless you’ve been living under a rock that is.

Let’s hypothetically assume Harry does get the job. Then what? All is rosey as England ride off into the sunset with a European Championship victory lieing in their wake? It seems unlikely doesn’t it. When a change like this occurs, all the other problems appear to leap out the window, jump on a plane, and land in Poland where we’ll pick them up in four months time. Forget Capello’s exit, and Redknapp being our supposed saviour, there are many other issues that, if forgotten, will cost us just as much as the managerial status, whatever it may be come the summer. The main one being this,

There’s no evident replacement for Rooney.

So, forget the suffocating listen that the last few days have been surrounding the media’s overdramatics about Fabio and his decision to leave, lets concentrate on the Rooney issue and who should replace him.

Rooney, or ‘Wazza’ if your indescribingly irritating, has been suspended for the first two games of Euro 2012. We all know why, with it being analysed to the point of death and all. So who is going to fill the shoes of Roo? There’s a number of candidates, all of which have their flaws, and none of which provide the intimidation to scare the French. But it’s all we’ve got. So groaning about it appears pointless.

 Daniel Sturridge has been in inspired form, playing for a Chelsea side who lets be honest, look far from the finished article. 9 goals in 16 starts would tell you he fits the bill. But wait, he plays on the right side of a three……. He’d be a certainty for that first Xl if I was to pick the team. However he’s not a striker.

Who are the other options then? Well there’s Carroll, who from Liverpools perspective, must resemble that moment after you’ve bought a really expensive car, and you find out it’s got far more faults than you first though. He’ll improve, but for now, it’s a no. Defoe works far better in a big man/little man combo which England look to be avoiding. Plus, he’s never played in a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation. Darren Bent was another that looked promising. But the work rate he delivers is just not good enough to be in an England side who could be on the back foot for much of the time.

This then, leaves you with Zamora and Welbeck. You can argue the case for either of these but for me it has to be the later. Bobby is all well and good when playing against sides that you can bully the defenses of. But when we come up against a team that dominates possession in France, Welbeck would be far more dangerous in attack. And, with Ashley Young, Welbeck and Sturridge as a front three, that has real dynamism to it. He’s my pick.

My main point regarding the England side is there are far more issues to discuss than the managerial vacancy that lays before us. The starting eleven surely has to be the focus? They’re what’s going to win you a championship, not the tactics, but the quality of player. You can win a trophy without having the best players. But they need to be of a standard where competing with the top, top players, is not an impossible task. We have to get to the point where we have determination at beating sides like Spain, rather than just admiring how much better than us they are. Our players are not up to ‘world class’ standard, and our mentality at bringing through players is too old school. We’re simply not ready to challenge for a major tournament.

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The Untouchables

For 40 years now, John Motson has graced our screens for World Cup’s, European Championships, Match of the Day commentarys, I could go on. The man is a living ledgend inside the BBC towers. ‘Motty’ is now 66 and I think we can all agree that he is getting on a bit. The Beeb wouldn’t dream of asking him to leave after the amount of time that he has served for them, and the memories that he has given the viewers. But is he becoming a bit tiresome? For me, he is in an elite few where commentating skills no longer enter the equation when it comes to being picked to report on a game or not. Stick Tyldesley in their with him and you have the 2 ‘powers’ of commentary in the 21st century. Had Barry Davies still been commentating then I’m sure he would be in that category also. Barry has been pushed to once side slightly by the BBC, as he no longer commentates on football (or at least very rarely). You could make the argument that Motson has to in a sense, due to him not reporting on live matches now, and only recorded games for the viewing of MOTD.
As for Tyldesley, it has been well documented that Clive’s commentating skills went out the window, down the road, and into another Galaxy along time ago. Many ITV collegues of his would state that despite the number of Champions League and FA Cup ties he is given, the number of complaints from the public about his incompetence to name players, facts about players, plus many more flaws, the number of tellings off from the viewer that ITV get, has only risen in the last 3-5 years or so. There is no logical reason why Clive should still be commentating on live games. He allegedly has many so called ‘friends’ in ITV that keep him in his job, which is no suprise to the regular customer that ITV draws in.
I can see where people would argue with me though. Everyone thought that before January 25th this year, Richard Keys and Andy Gray were untouchable at Sky. Andy’s touchscreen gadget was the final straw for me that he was being treated like royalty their. But as more and more people from inside Sky began to speak out about the pairs behaviour over their 20 year career, it became apparent to them as well as us, that no matter how big your boots are, your job is never safe. So for my sake, as well as yours, I hope those 2 don’t get another commentary/presenting job for a while. Leave them at talksport and they’ll be fine.
The likelyhood of Motson or Tyldesley making sexest comments off air, followed by several more videos of them doing the same thing, seems a long shot. For one, look at the people Motson is around. I doubt that conversation comes up with him and Steve Claridge over a cup of coffee on 606 whilst Chappers looks on in dismay.
My point is, Motson and Tyldesley have done a lot for their respective TV channels. But surely it’s time for them to move on, and let a young, hungry commentator come up through the ranks at BBC, and get their chance to become the new ‘Motty’. I don’t dislike either one of them, I just feel that their job description, is not met with the quality that is neccessary for such a main stream channel.

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Wayne’s Shame

I remember discussing his fury 5 years ago. Some things just don’t change do they. July 1st, 2006, Rooney was sent off in the World Cup Quarter-finals against Portugal for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho which could be interpreted as England’s downfall for going out that night in Germany. Now, 3752 days, 63 Months, and 5 years on, the same scene has been replicated.
Last night, in Montenegro, as England slumped to a 2-2 draw, Wayne Rooney’s ability to control his alreadyvicious temperament took another damaging blow as he lashed out at Dzudovic. As he trudged off the pitch, Capello’s mind began to wonder what more can possibly be thrown at him before the Euro’s commence in 9 months time.
As for Rooney, in Germany 5 years back, the England fans were angry, rage filled, and dejected at his dismissal. But for the most part, it was understandable. He was 20 years old. A young lad who had really, only been on the scene for 3 years or so. Being thrown into the biggest football tournament in the world, clearly was too much for him. But now, at 25,and in his peak, yet he still hasn’t learnt. The mind boggles. It seemed that for the very first time in his career, he was learning. The berating of referees has calmed somewhat, as have the reckless tackles. He looked to be finding his feet again, since the incident at the DW last season where a frustrated Rooney shoved his elbow into an innocent Cleverly.
Wayne’s career so far, has held 480 appearances. He has scored 201 goals. The stats say it all. For my money, and the facts will give back up to this, that Rooney is the most talented footballer to come out of this country since Gascoigne. No-one doubts his ability, he has nothing to prove. So why is he seen as a villain and not a hero to the British public? That’s what a close source to Rooney said he doesn’t understand. Well, son, the answers last night.
It’s such a shame. And no, not because Euro 2012 and Fabio Capello’s last major championship as England Manager could now be jeopardised due to Rooney’s antics, but it’s the idol to kids that Wayne could be, but seems to consistantly produce reasons why he’s not. If he had the application that Messi has for Barcelona and Argentina, then he would be right up there with him. Maybe not in the way of technical ability, but in the sense that he would be just as much of an idol to young kids around the world, just like Lionel. But the application just isn’t there. He’ll never be loved by England fans like the greats were, and still are to this day, due to incidents like last night.

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Champions League: Quarter Final Preview

The 3 Premier League Managers left in the Champions League

On the dates between the 5th and 13th of April, Chelsea, Man Utd, Tottenham, Inter Milan, Schalke, Barcelona, Shaktar Donetsk and Real Madrid will fight for a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Two weeks ago the draw was made and this is what came out:
Real Madrid vs Spurs
Chelsea vs Man Utd
Inter Milan vs Schalke
Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk

So, whos going through to the semi’s? Here are my predictions for the overall aggregate score, over both legs.

Redknapp and Mourinho will square off this Wednesday

Real Madrid vs Spurs. The first leg at the Bernabeu should be an absoloute belter, as should the second leg. But I can see Madrid coming out on top in this one. Their league results at the Bernabeu read Played 18, Won 18, and I can’t see Spurs being the first team to create a slip-up here. I hope for the sake of Tottenham that the tie is still alive come the return leg because it should be a great night at the lane for sure. I want to give the lilywhites a chance but I just can’t see it myself. 3-0.
The second leg will be at the Lane, and, despite Tottenham not having as good of a home record than Madrid, they will make that place a fortress come the 13th. To be honest, I can see a Spurs victory but not enough to see them advance. Still, it would be a tremendous achievement for them to beat Madrid and one that will go down in history as a great night. 2-1 (Aggregate score, 4-2 Madrid).

2 of the 3 managers that are fighting for the Premier League Title will battle it out for a place in the semi's

Chelsea vs Man Utd.

Chelsea will go into this all English Quarter Final off of the back of an enthrawling game against Stoke whilst United had a similar type of game against West Ham. Chelsea are now out of the title race but United are still in 3 competitions which ironically could work against them. Despite Chelsea sitting 4th in the Barclays Premier League, I put them as favourites for this encounter against the possible future League champions. The first leg here I can see as a 1-0 victory for the Blues which would leave the tie beautifully poised for the return leg at Old Trafford. In recent travels, Chelsea have a decent record at Old Trafford and I can see them doing a job once more. I think it will be a draw on the night, maybe 1-1? Obvoiusly that will take Carlo Ancelotti’s side through to a semi final, 2-1 on aggregate.

These 2 are friends but they won't be come the 1st legs in the Nou Camp

Barcelona vs Shakhtar Donetsk

The favourites for the competition, Barcelona, will come up against what may be regarded as the form side of the tournament so far. Donetsk peformed very well in the group stages, beating Arsenal at home 20 and topping the group emphatically. And then thumping Roma in the last round 6-3 on aggregate is a great result which included a great away win in Rome, proving that their home form is not the only thing keeping them in this competition. Barca obvioulsly taught Arsenal how to play the beautiful game in the round of 16, swiping them aside. It looks to me as if they may win the European Cup this term but Shakhtar will be no rollover. I fancy Barcelona to beat Donetsk 3-1 at the Camp Nou, and beat them 2-0 away. Having said this, that could flatter The Catalans. (5-1 on aggregate)

Inter Milan vs Schalke 04.

Inter provided the biggest shock of the Champo! (Champions) League so far, when they fought back from a 1-0 defecite coming into the away leg against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Stadium. But thanks to a Goran Pandev winner 3 minutes from time, Inter grabbed a 3-2 win in Munich to win the tie on away goals. So, could the team that looked dead and buried when beaten by Spurs at White Hart Lane make it into the semi’s for a second successive year? Well, they’ll have to overcome a very inexperienced team in Schalke 04, especially when it comes to the European Cup. But, I think, despite the fact that Inter could win the first leg 2-1. I’m going to go for a 2-0 Schalke win in the second leg, and for them to go through to face Ancelotti’s Chelsea in the semi finals.

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The Football Ramble, The Lads!

The Football Ramble! Incase you didn’t know, the football ramble is 4 blokes, who know jack-all about football and all support idiotic clubs. Oh wait, thats the Football Weekly.

The Football Ramble line-up consists of Marcus Speller. The level headed host of the show who keeps everyone in check. A bit of a Gary Lineker type character who was very calm and collected but also leads from the front. However their is one fundimental difference between Speller and Lineker other than the footballing ability that Marcus has and Gary doesn’t, is the ears. I think Lineker’s ears are considerably bigger. The shows John Dorian, his witty humour holds the show together with the scruff of his neck.

Lukey Moore (Derby County Striker). Luke Moore is the joker of the group. The Joey Tribiani of the Ramble. I think the only way I can some Luke up is by saying “His got a MySpace page”! I’ve looked but have not found such a page…… The Pompey fan who swims in his own confidence yet when talking about his beloved club, it seems to sink out of him, Moore has the most knowledge out of the 4 and uses that to outwit his fellow team-mates!

Pete Donaldson. Pete has had some great one liners. For more recent viewers, in last weeks show he exclaimed, “I quoted Hitler earlier and nobody noticed, Goodbye!” I laughed into obscurity when he made this point. I love the way that the other lads, after everything great a footballer does, it is refered to as “Donaldson-esc”. Beautiful. Pete’s Newcastle are doing well however Donaldson doesn’t seem to have much good to say about his team and prefers to look upon Mike Ashley as someone who just likes to “casino time” his way around Earth. I love Pete’s quote after Newcastle were promoted last season when asked if they were going to have an open top bus, Pete decided to say “I think Ashley will have an Open top Buffet”.

And last but certainely not least it’s that Gunnersaurius James or Jim Campbell! I will squirm past the fact that Jimmy Campbell is an Arsenal fan, although being a Spurs fan myself, I can’t promise on being down the middle. No doubt James’ highest acolade is his ability to do the best Andy Gray impression in the whole of Edinborough. Not coming across as your “typical Arsenal fan”, James also has some delish one liners in which he uses to perfection. When talking about Andy Gray he replied “It’s drinking on the job innit”!

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Blackpool vs Manchester United Preview

Will Ian Holloway be celebrating come half 9 Tonight?

A cracking encounter at Bloomfield Road will take place tonight as the Tangerine army take on the favourites for the Premier League title. There will no doubt be a hostile atmosphere at the Road in which Holloway’s men will look to overcome the Red Devils all stars. The difference in budget’s between these two is absoloutely second to none and if Ian pulls this off then it really could set Blackpool up for a survival run in. However Ferguson knows what’s coming and will warn his players that Holloway will not send out his team to defend. Not that the Utd players need any telling as it’s pretty obvious what the players in orange will try and do. Outscore United.

In my opinion, I think United have far too much quality over Blackpool however the attacking threat of the Blackpool players will certainely cause Ferguson’s sterdy defence some problems. Theres no doubt that DJ Campbell has pace and could outpace Ferdinand or Vidic at any one time. But with the pace of Nani and Evra down the flanks, the Blackpool full-backs will have a torrid night on their hands, especially the right back whether its Crainey or Baptiste. Evra and Giggs are both quality attacking players and so Patrice could definately find a lot of space out on that left hand side.

On the rest of the season for both sides (considering I won’t be doing week-end previews anymore), I have to say that United will run away with the title. I said it at the start of the season and I still can’t see any other winner. The only way I can put it from my view is this. If you look at every game at the start of the season, NOW, and then added up all of the points, United would have won the league. They are the only team in the league, at this time, that you can see winning every game, or atleast not losing.

Blackpool have had an amazing 22 games and have done themselves a huge favour by only having to win 4 of their last 16 games to get to the magical 40. However that’s easier said than done. I always say that Blackpool will go down. I’m turning a corner by saying that there’s a possibility of them staying up but it’s still going to be unbelievably tough to motivate the side, especially if their main man Charlie Adam goes to the red side of Merseyside. I think they will marginely go down which will be a shame.

Tonight, United will dominate in both defence and attack, I think there will be fireworks and a great attacking game. I really hope I’m not let down and that this game lives up to expectations. Manchester to dominate but Blackpool to fight for their lives and have increasing levels of resiliance and spirit. Maybe take the lead and then go behind but remarkably salvage a point. 2-2

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Premier League Preview: Weekend of 15th and 16th of January

Saturday

15:00: Chelsea vs Blackburn. Chelsea took Ipswich apart in the FA Cup last time out and could have had more although Ancelotti, I’m sure, would have definately taken 7-0 at the start of the game. But that was Ipswich, a struggling Championship side. The Blues, if they are going to be feared again, like they once were, then they have to beat good sides. And Ipswich, I’m afraid, are not one. The one thing, however, that this will give them, is belief. Belief that they can go into this game against Blackburn and thump them. Blackburn’s reign under Steve Kean is still yet to be proven as a good or bad appointment. People have to wake up and realise that he will never get as much out of those players than Sam Allardyce did. However some Rovers fans would rather see their side play attractive football and lose than win ugly. I get where there coming from, being a Spurs fan, I love watching attractive football with lightning quick attacks. Chelsea have to win this and I can’t see any other outcome. 2-0.

15:00: Manchester City vs Wolves. City are rampant in the league despite being held by Leicester and Sven last week-end despite making 5 changes to the side that held Arsenal. I say City are rampant because they know how to grind results. They are learning the trade that their Manchester counterpart is so good at doing. This will bode them very well if they want to aspire to win the title this year, or atleast finish in the top 4. Wolves have clambered out of the relegation zone with a sensational win over the double winners Chelsea, by a goal to nil. Mick McCarthy will tell his team to just go out and hit them hard and attempt to grind out a point. They will have their tails up for this battle but surely won’t have enough to push past a superstar filled City side. 1-0.

15:00: Stoke vs Bolton. For the first time since I’ve started doing these previews, I’m going to think completely logically rather than go into detail about individual players. Stoke are very physical and win games by using this tactic. I don’t blame Pulis. If I had that group of players then I’d look to do that. It’s only probably Tuncay and Etherington that can play with another style other than physically. Bolton do also have the physical style that they’ve always had under Gary Megson and even before that, where it all began, Sam Allardyce. But Owen Coyle has also brought in some great football to the club. Now, I said at the start of the season in my Premier League Preview blog that Bolton would finish in the top 8. People have said to me, Why did you predict that?” I knew because at the end of last season, Bolton were 2nd bottom, half way through the season. They ended up 14th. That was a massive achievement. I could also see that there was a clear gulf in what Megson had been doing from August to December than what Owen was doing from January to May. Bolton will handle Stoke’s physicality but have that bit more quality to kill them off. 1-2.

15:00: West Brom vs Blackpool. West Brom were thumped by Fulham in their last Premier League encounter. Surely a side that concede’s 3 goals against a team that couldn’t buy a goal in Fulham, must worry di Matteo, no? They must have some defensive worries considering they have a group of players in the Tangerine Army that will come at their defence with no mercy on the back of a brilliant win over Liverpool in midweek. Your a lier if you say that you predicted Blackpool were going to do the double over the troubled Reds at the start of the season and dyou know something, I wasn’t suprised in the slightest. Some people who I’ve spoke to say that football is all about the talent on the pitch. Well that theoary has been knocked out of the park by Blackpool. With the spirit that the tangerines have and the problems in the dressing room that Liverpool have, that transfers onto the pitch, without a doubt. I think Blackpool will pick up a point here in a real good game of football. 2-2.

15:00: Wigan vs Fulham. Wigan’s form has been so uneven this season, and in previous seasons. They need to start producing successive wins because then, after that they will bring confidence into the side. They rely on their home form to clamber them up the table but were beaten by Newcastle at the DW a couple of weeks ago which is the type of game that they should atleast grab a point from. You notice that I’m ignoring the Fa Cup because I cannot judge Premier League sides in the cups as they play 2nd string teams, with the exception of West Ham that is! They got a great victory over Peterborough, however, and scored 6 goals in the process. Not that this should be looked at as Peterborough are a poor side. Diomansy Kamara will benefit well from his hat-trick and he will start, I’m guessing on Saturday. But Fulham can’t seem to shake off this record of 1 win in as many games despite that win being against Stoke recently. 0-0.

17:30: West Ham vs Arsenal. The Hammers could well go to Wembley for their first final since they beat Arsenal in the 1980 FA Cup final, 30 years ago. Nonetheless we know how much the Carling Cup reflects Premier League form. It doesn’t, to be quite frank and this will be a game that the current West Ham manager Avram Grant will look upon as one that they can afford to lose however there are no slips ups that will not cost the claret and blue side. They sit rock bottom and need a win. Arsenal saved themselves against Leeds and were absoloutely diabolical against Ipswich although I do feel that that was not the Gunners side that we see, week in, week out in the Prem. Arsenal are fragile and can’t seem to kick off teams like Wigan, West Brom etc so I’ll go for a draw. 1-1.

Sunday

12:00: Birmingham vs Aston Villa. The Blues will be disappointed with their first half display against West Ham in mid-week but will take great confidence in the type of football that they produced in the second. Alex McCleish does the right thing with his players. They are not a side blessed with attacking talent and so Alex makes them a hard team to break down. I can’t see Birmingham going down this season although they have to be careful. Villa’s form in the Prem isn’t improving In times like these, most clubs look to their manager for some inspiration. Like Liverpool have with Dalglish. But Houllier doesn’t look like he has a clue. If they get a point out of this then that will bide him some time but unfortunately, only time. 1-1.

12:00: Sunderland vs Newcastle. So we finish off with the 3 big games of the weekend, starting with the toon derby. Sunderland and Steve Bruce will want to enilhate Newcastle for what they did to them at St James’ Park earlier on in the season when the Black Cats were demolished 5-1. So don’t expect Sunderland to shut up shop if they score. They will want biiter revenge. Newcastle are also an attacking side with Andy Carroll looing like he could make his return. What a game to return to aswell, eh? He’ll want a couple of goals and that’s why I can see Pardew picking up a point from his first game at the Stadium of Light in what I can expect to be a thrilling game of football. 3-3.

14:05: Liverpool vs Everton. First of all, I’d like to state the weirdness of the starting time for the last 2 matches on the card this week. This game at five past two and hen the Spurs vs United at ten past four. Odd. Anyway, This is perhaps the biggest game of the week for both sides. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it has been quite a while since Everton fans were in a daze after doing the double over their biggest rivals. This will be massive for their fans. As a Yid, I know what it feels like to beat your closest enemy away from home (3-2 in November). And it feels good, oh so good. For “King” Kenny, this is a massive chance to show that he is serious about taking the job full time and what a place to do it. In the Merseyside derby infront of the onlooking Scousers. Dyou know something? I think he might just do it. 1-0

16:10: Tottenham vs Man United. This should be a cracker. Games with my side Tottenham in are always exciting. Whatever you think of Tottenham and their fans as a football club, you can’t argue that to watch them is a privllege and that you will always enjoy watching a terrific, attacking display. That cannot be said for United but what can be said, is that they have brilliant grit and determination to win games and salvage points from unthinkable positions. Tha’s why their top of the league, and in my opinion, as it has since a ball was kicked this season, will be there at the end of the season. Spurs will want to put an awful record against United in previous years behind them and pick up the points but Fergie knows how tough it is to go to the Lane and so I can’t separate the sides. 1-1.

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