Archive for the 'Football' Category

22
Dec
08

Sam Allardyce Reveals Unsavoury Side After Blackburn Debut

by Alex Dimond

Big Sam — dishonest?

Big Sam — dishonest?

 

On Saturday Sam Allardyce enjoyed the perfect start to his Blackburn managerial career, enjoying a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Stoke City. 

For many, the result itself was the story of the weekend — marking as it did the return to form of a side that had begun to look dead and buried under Paul Ince.

For others, however, it was Allardyce’s post-match actions that were the most intriguing. Ever since a 2006 Panorama documentary — one that suggested “Big Sam” and his son, Craig, had accepted bungs as part of transfer dealings while at Bolton Wanderers — Allardyce had resolutely refused to talk to the BBC.

On Saturday, however, Allardyce was more than happy to speak to the BBC’s John Murray at great length after his side’s “near perfect” win.

Continue reading ‘Sam Allardyce Reveals Unsavoury Side After Blackburn Debut’

10
Dec
08

Is Guardiola Taking Risks Ahead of First Real Test?

by Alex Dimond

Guardiola — probably knows what he is doing...

Guardiola — probably knows what he is doing...

 

So far so very, very good for Barcelona manager Josep “Pep” Guardiola.

His side sit proudly atop La Liga, and are comfortably through to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Having replaced Frank Rijkaard — the manager who brought the 2006 Champions League trophy back to the Nou Camp — in the summer, a lot of pressure was on the unproven Guardiola. Having had no previous jobs, the former Spanish international’s only coaching experience was gained last season while working with the Barcelona B squad.

Yes, Guardiola was an outstanding player for the club (he played 263 games for them), but could he possibly replicate such feats as a manager?

Well, after an initial rocky spell — the Catalan giants failed to win either of their opening two league matches — the answer so far seems to be a resounding yes.

Continue reading ‘Is Guardiola Taking Risks Ahead of First Real Test?’

08
Dec
08

What We Learned This Weekend… Premiership Week 16

With the terrible puns, Alex Dimond

E-boo-ue? Oh dear....

E-boo-ue? Oh dear....

 

Welcome to this week’s “What We Learned This Weekend”, where an inquisitive eye is cast over some of the key storylines that have emerged from this weekend’s Premier League action.

 

The Pressure is Getting to Blackburn’s Ince

As the fallout from Roy Keane’s shock departure at Sunderland (verdict: the Irishman is a quitter) begins to subside, the press are obviously keen to whip up a new story surrounding another manager’s precarious position. As a result, the spotlight has well and truly fallen on Paul Ince.

Yes, Ince has not had the greatest starts to life at Ewood Park, but that does not mean he is already deserving of the sack. After all, Rovers lost their most influential player in the summer—David Bentley—and one of the finest goalkeepers in the league—Brad Friedel—without being able to spend much money improving the squad.  

As a result, what could the board and fans expect? Was Ince ever really going to approach Blackburn’s 7th place finish last time out?

Continue reading ‘What We Learned This Weekend… Premiership Week 16’

03
Dec
08

Could Pennant be the key to Liverpool’s title challenge?

by Will Nichols

Perhaps it is a strange time to be highlighting failings now Liverpool top the Premier league in December for the first time in seven years, but problems were evident in the lacklustre home draws with Stoke, Fulham, and now West Ham.

Width and goal scoring are the issues to concern Benitez. Whilst the defence remains resolute, Liverpool have only managed 21 goals in 15 games – less than Hull – which compared to Man Utd’s 26 and Chelsea’s whopping 33 is a real problem.

Pennant could be the man to bring the title back to Anfield

Pennant could be the man to bring the title back to Anfield

Liverpool are struggling to partner an injury-hit Torres with an out of form Robbie Keane, who may well end up as the latest big name striker to be pushed to the Anfield flanks. It could not have helped Keane’s fragile confidence to be hauled off for the untried David Ngog on Monday but the truth is that two league goals so far is a poor return for £20m.

On Monday Keane was adrift, lacking support admittedly, but failing to create anything of note against a decidedly poor West Ham defence. Calls for Ryan Babel to be partnered with Dirk Kuyt up front floundered as the Dutchman put in a non-performance after replacing Riera for the last 15 minutes.

Riera plodded through a largely unspectacular spell with new rich kids on the block, Manchester City, but the left-winger has been excellent this season. However, he has looked fatigued in the last few games and the width he provides has been lacking.

The narrowness of Liverpool’s recent play is as much to blame for the goal-scoring woes as the strikers’ collective dips in form. Anfield is not the largest pitch, and teams coming to defend find closing the space down far easier than they would do on the green expanses of The Emirates or Old Trafford. Having players stick to the flanks pulls defenders wide creates more space for the talents of Gerrard and Alonso.

Riera, Aurelio and to an extent, Babel, provide this width down the left, but on the right, options are limited. The willing but desperately limited Dirk Kuyt, out of position Yossi Benayoun and defensively minded Arbeloa cramp up space by cutting inside. Benitez dropping Mascherano on Monday was a positive move to free up the centre but chances were still scarce with so little coming down the right hand side.

Perhaps the solution is a player rumoured to be on his way out of the club. Jermaine Pennant’s stock has sunk so low at Liverpool that he was omitted from the Carling Cup squad that lost to Spurs. He even surprised the serial burglars of players’ houses by being at home when they attempted a break in. Mind you, as a popular football site has pointed out, with reasons as good as this you might stay at home too.

Continue reading ‘Could Pennant be the key to Liverpool’s title challenge?’

02
Dec
08

Bloody Bendtner

By Phil Seaman

Not Good Enough

Bendtner: Not Good Enough

Arsene Wenger is well known for standing by players through thick and thin, and sometimes it pays off – take Flamini, an average utility player suddenly became one of the most composed defensive midfielders of last season from seemingly nowhere.

Indeed, Wenger has a proven talent for turning seemingly average players into world beaters – Viera, Henry et all – but surely a line must be drawn at Niklas Bendtner. Lets look at his stats.

2007/8: Played: 35, Goals 8
2008/9: Played: 17, Goals 4

Pretty pitiful stats for a striker who only recently demanded that his pink shoes should be seen more reguarly in the first team. That could be forgiven if he actively contributed to the team cause – however he has managed just FOUR assists in his entire arsenal playing career.

The number of times his blundering frame has caused a swift move to break down, or he has hit a tame shot straight at the keeper whilst in a one-on-one position has cost Arsenal this season. Surely, Arsene, you can’t continue to keep faith with this prune!

01
Dec
08

What We Learned This Weekend… Premiership Week 15

by Alex Dimond

manchestercityvmanchesterunitedpremierv-fykodd2d0l

 

Welcome to this week’s “What We Learned This Weekend”, where an inquisitive eye is cast over some of the key storylines that have emerged from this weekend’s Premier League action.

 

Arsenal are Prepared to Fight for Their Right

What used to be said about Arsenal? Something to do with boring? Whatever the case, it certainly isn’t true nowadays. Win, lose, or (infrequently) draw, the Gunners have made a habit of keeping things interesting this season.

Yesterday’s win against Chelsea was undeniably brilliant — even if the Blues have not been at their imperious best at home in recent weeks. To come from a goal behind, in a game they had to win to keep their slim hopes of winning the title alive, was as unlikely as it was impressive.

Nevertheless, the win will all be for nothing if they lose to Wigan at the Emirates next week, or away at Middlesbrough the week after — results that are more than likely if past experience is anything to go by.

Weeks ago, Kolo Toure admitted that the Arsenal players were “nervous” playing against Hull, wary of the fallout if they were to lose. Clearly, while this mentality has cost them many points against smaller clubs this year, it has only helped them play with great freedom and hunger when they come up against other members of the “Big Four”.

With this in mind — is the stage set for the Gunners to have another real run at the Champions League?

Continue reading ‘What We Learned This Weekend… Premiership Week 15’

30
Nov
08

Let David Beckham Have His Cake and Eat It

beckhamdm_468x319

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Alex Dimond

It’s very rare these days that I read a football article that really provokes my ire.

Sure, I often read articles or stories that I disagree with — but hardly ever to the extent I feel compelled to respond. However, Paul Gardner, writing in this month’s World Soccer magazine, has managed to achieve that particular feat.

In his article (which, if I could find it online, I would link to — but I can’t so I won’t), Gardner expresses his disgust at David Beckham’s cameo appearances for England, describing it as a “degrading hunt” for caps.

Gardner cites the example of Bobby Moore — whose record of 108 international caps Beckham is now only one shy of — as a player whose memory is somehow tarnished every time Beckham appears on the pitch for the final few minutes of an England match.

I don’t recall Wright, or Moore, or Bobby Charlton going through this awful, degrading business of virtually begging to be picked for England,” Gardner writes.

Beckham’s quest for England appearances seems to have taken possession of the man to the exclusion of a number of other things which ought to be important to him. His dignity, for a start.

Now, of course I would not want to deny Gardner his right to an opinion — he is free to think as he pleases. But that doesn’t mean he should labour under the misapprehension that he speaks for the masses.

Gardner is symptomatic of the rather ancient scribes that litter World Soccer’s pages. Judging by his picture (which, if he is following common journalistic practice, was taken at least 15 years ago), Gardner was born in the time of Bobby Moore, and followed the former West Ham and England captain through his many career highlights.

Brought up to appreciate Moore’s no-nonsense approach, Beckham’s media circus is no doubt anathema to Gardner’s sensibilities.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean his opinion is right.

Continue reading ‘Let David Beckham Have His Cake and Eat It’




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