Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Cracks In The Barcelona Shell - April 2013

Barca’s capitulation to BAYERN MUNICH – Very odd that the likes of Wilson, and others I’ve heard pontificating post Tuesday night, was surprised by this performance and result. Not only has it been coming for weeks; they stumbled over the line against PSG, and despite a good 2nd leg against Milan, if Niang scores in the Camp Nou, a different story written, but this was against the strongest and most confident team in Europe at this current time. So many factors have resulted in this but still some choose to think this is the same team that stomped all over Man U at Wembley in 2011. 1) A poor summer recruitment policy. Alba has been a success as an attacking force but does not offer the opposite flank security when Alves is bombing forward others have done in the past, but overall will be a good signing long term. The same can’t be said for Song, who never was, or never will be good enough for FCB. Not only lacking in ability at this level but has not even displayed any indication in games that he has tried to compensate with 100% determination and effort, as another player Mascherano, not the greatest technically, has. So not good enough to fill the Keita or Busquets roles, and a million miles off being a top draw centre half. 2) This policy has resulted in a ludicrous over reliance on Pique (form has dipped) Puyol (injuries have increased) Mascherano (improved but not the real deal) Abidal (obvious reasons) and Bartra (could be a good player in the future but at the moment looks frightened and clearly not 100% trusted to step up by Tito/ coaching staff) Obviously Thiago Silva would have been the player to have filled a key gap, but once the newbie, repugnant riches of PSG got involved, there was no chance. A failure to target a credible back up found them wanting. A gamble that has failed. If the 4 key centre backs had stayed fit and with form, they probably wouldn’t be in the mess they are now, but a big lesson learned. 3) Injuries/ loss of form – All of the above, plus Xavi – knackered and playing at 85% at best I would say for most of the season. Busquets – dip in form and according to Sid Lowe (I think) another one carrying long term injury. Villa – not the same player after a series of bad breaks. Messi – only for a very small portion, but just at the wrong time. This guy is so unique, not someone who’s loss can be covered. Cesc – although not been inflicted with injuries, his form has been very erratic and suffers from not having any sort of defined role. He’s no false 9 long term but cannot shift any of the three key midfield players, so will have to bide his time. The same could be said for Thiago Alcantara, not shown anything to write home about this season. Not really sure why Tello has not been utilised more in the big games. Yes still raw, but direct, can score a goal from wide, and has a physical presence much needed against powerful opposition like Bayern. Both wide players on Tuesday, Sanchez and to a lesser extent Pedro, have pretty much bombed this season. 4) Illness – The biggest factor dominating the club for all but the opening few months of 2012-13. Tito Vilanova - The poor guy doesn’t look right and yes it can only be speculation, but after such a major part of your life being affected this way; very difficult to recuperate fully in such a high profile mentally and physically stressful position. The enormity of the effect on everyone else at the club has also got to be a major factor. The players, Jordi Roura and the rest of the coaching staff and club officials. Leaving aside all the other factors, IMO this has steered the course of the season. It was only in November or December that SOME were contemplating that the slight technical changes in style and goals of these opening matches, could be a sign that Tito was moving the club on from Pep! Not the case of course and I think those saying that Pep could see some of the writing on the wall is probably true, but honestly what would have happened with Tito in full health, for the whole season? We mustn’t forget the problems that have affected Abidal as well, no one could be criticised for thinking sod football, all that matters is a clean bill of health for both, above all else. It’s possible that the end of the Pep era ‘best team in the world’ is going through its final moments (another league title) but it’s certainly not the beginning of any sort of period of major decline. Disagree that ‘outsiders’ haven’t worked, as has already been mentioned further up the thread; Eto'o and Villa have been major parts at keys times to the team. Of recent years add in Keita, Ronaldinho, Deco, Giuly, Larsson, Henry, Belletti who have all played their own part in different degrees. Tuesday night was always a big possibility as long as they stayed in the tournament, but in reality it plays a very small part in the current status of FCB.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Woes of Villa Park 21/03/11

The dust has settled on another pitiful performance at Villa Park last Saturday, but two days on after leaving that negative hyperbole, I'm still confused about a few things that just don't add up with our manager in his squad selections!
So we have what the manager would call our number one and two centre backs (Dunne & Collins)injured (and sitting in the naughty boys corner!) but thankfully we have King Carlos, centre back number three (or is he four?)back, which is great timing because as well as Dunne & Collins, centre back number four (or is he three?) Clark is suspended. On top of that emergency centre back Luke Young back after a long term injury is, yes you guessed it, out injured again! So here's the starting block. How do we fill the rest of the back four so depleted in numbers? Now I have to admit I don't attend reserve games, so would love some input about Nathan Baker. I was under the impression that his primary position is at centre half, but so far in his fleeting first team performances, he has played at the problematic left back position. So if he has previously played in the centre before for the youth team and reserves, why does he not get the nod? I have to say on opening glances I'm convinced he is not a natural left back. A very young player and don't want to be over critical, but he shows no ambition to get forward in support (something it seems the modern full back must possess)and he looks very nervous in his defending when faced with a one on one. Do we know yet whether he was withdrawn so early on Saturday because of injury, or did it cross Houllier's mind that the combination of Jarvis and Hammill etc were already causing us too many uncomfortable moments? So he gets replaced by another very young player, also out of position, and much as I admire Fabian Delph's attitude and vigour, again it's apparent he is uncomfortable in this left back role.
Looking at the rest of the defensive dilemmas, again I found it very odd to see Chris Herd thrust into the key position at the back after having a few minutes as sub on previous first team outings, plus a torrid 90 minutes in the Manchester City farce, just a few weeks earlier. Again followers of the reserves and youth will know more about this player, but he is listed as a midfield player. I actually think he did well on Saturday in what was a massive ask in the tense circumstances and would not single him out for any of the blame. Was this Houllier's only options to try to fill gaps in a leaking defence bereft of confidence?
So I wonder why Baker did not take the 2nd centre back slot alongside Carlos, and then the left back role could have been looked at differently.
Missing players? I find it very odd that in this injury crisis we have Shane Lowry, who is without doubt an out and out big, old fashioned centre half, plying his trade on loan at Sheffield United (and previously at Leeds) when we new that Saturday was crisis time? I would have thought last Monday, Lowry should have been summoned back to Bodymore Heath and told that he was in the frame for Saturday. Now maybe the extended loan spells in The Championship are saying that he's not really a Premier League player, but in these extreme circumstances, surely having him around would have been worth it?
Warnock and Beye? Something is drastically wrong when you have two experienced players, on massive wages, kicking their heels in the reserves, or not even that on some weeks, when they maybe could have been used for benefit of the club, the manager and themselves? What was needed was a bit of grown up behaviour on all parts and an end put to this cold shoulder nonsense. Habib Beye I will admit that, after his dreadful performance at left back in the Vienna game, would have been happy to see him leave the club the next day, but unless we know what and why, we will never know if anything more could have been got out of this player, who was deemed a success at Newcastle and others previously.
When Warnock signed I was really happy as I thought he was just the type of character we needed in the team. His previous two games at Villa Park for Blackburn, he had been superb, not only playing wise, but in the way he displayed a very competitive attitude. Don't know what has gone wrong but he has admittedly been appalling for the best part of the season when he was playing every week. It looks like point of no return , but again I stress in this situation we find ourselves in, isn't it the manager’s job to motivate and deal with difficult situations like this?
To conclude; all the above leaves me baffled as to what goes on behind closed doors, then if you add in the other head scratching stuff from Saturday; Albrighton has as a good opening thirty minutes on the right, in a right old battle with Elokobi, and was linking well as usual with Walker. So what tactical genius follows the actions of our only player looking likely to create? Of course, SWITCHING SIDES WITH DOWNING...AGAIN! Now I know this paid off against Bolton, but there just seemed no need to do it at that stage of the game, and then 2nd half, no change back, with the inverted wingers still the preferred choice. We all new that when the changes came to be made, it was poor Mark that was going to be sacrificed. I would not have complained if any of Young, Downing or Bent would have gone off instead, all three were abysmal. The other galling things was that, again I say it, our most likely to create player was replaced by Agbonlahor, who probably touched the ball about five times when he came on, and added exactly what I thought he would, absolutely nothing! How can they sit there and see a brilliant right footed, but excellent left winger (Young), playing so poorly in the number 10 role, that he quite obviously can't play, and a supposed centre forward (Gabby) floundering around on the left wing bringing nothing to the party? Sounds stupid, but even the introduction of Heskey made more sense to me than Gabby and Pires using up our remaining subs, and I have never been Emile's biggest fan, but I'm sure Berra and Stearman were quite happy to only have to deal with our ineffectual 18 million pound striker!
Finally I still see no point in Delfouneso and Bannan being out on loan. Fonz has been better, even in his limited performances this season than Gabby and Man City FA Cup apart shows more endeavour and effort, and Barry Bannan has that eye for a pass and surely deserves a chance, even just as sub, in the Young creative role? Has even started for Leeds yet?
Very frustrating all round and I have feared for some time that this was our lot for this season. Obviously, sincerely hope I'm proved wrong, but it will only be the even more ineptness of others that will save us this season.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The big top world of BBC football...

There has been lots of chat again about the continuing downward slide the BBC is heading with regarding their football coverage, and in particular it's array of pundits that spend zero time doing any sort of research and are employed on the basis of how many jokes they can squeeze into the time allotted, rather than actually having any interesting or meaningful insight into their supposed field of knowledge. Anyway I've been banging on about this for years, but now it’s been highlighted by the likes of Stan Collymore chipping in with criticism (by the way, the same Stan Collymore who works for the lowest of low in quality broadcasting at Talksport, so really does not have a leg to stand on) along with various journalists. However much we point out this failing of the BBC, sadly I don't think it will make a jot of difference. They just don't care when it comes down to it. They believe that a lot of their output now has to appeal to an 'reality TV' type of viewer so dumbing down is best. The likes of Lineker, Hansen, Lawrenson and Shearer could not possibly get away with their lazy, almost contemptuous attitude to their paying customers in any other walk of life, but it appears this is the way forward for BBC football so don't expect anything to change any day soon. Please see below my email and a reply I got from the BBC when I made observations about their vacuous performance at Euro 2008. Two years on and all the comments I made, and all the pitiful feedback points received from the BBC could all be mistaken as coming off the back of the BBC World Cup 2010 coverage. The BBC do not adopt the same value to their coverage of Tennis, Cricket, F1 etc so why they think they don’t have to try with their football coverage is beyond me.

Dear Mr Barr

Thanks for your further e-mail regarding our coverage of Euro 2008.

I'm delighted to read of your enjoyment of 5 Live's commentary however I understand you continue to feel that football broadcast on BBC television is being 'dumbed down' and believe that the main protagonists of this are Gary Lineker, Alan Hanson and Alan Shearer.

I also note you've noticed an array of mistakes and mispronunciations that you feel reflects the lack of research and effort by several members of the production team.

I've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

I'd like to reiterate that all feedback we receive, whether positive or negative is always appreciated. We're committed to developing better links with you, our audience, to further enhance our understanding of your viewing needs.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your comments.


Jonathan Dunlop
BBC Complaints

-----Original Message-----

>{Programme Name:} Euro 2008
>{Transmission Date:}22 - 06 - 08
>Good Morning, The date above is significant as your coverage reached, or should that be stooped, to another low last night, but to be honest it could be just about any date during your live coverage programmes of this current Football tournament. The BBC TV sports coverage used to be the best by far in presentation, production and content but sadly with football this now seems to have all be disregarded and has been replaced by a definite dumbing down policy. The main protagonists of this are of course Gary Lineker, Alan Hanson and Alan Shearer. Add to this the ever growing tiresome attitude of Mark Lawrenson. Their performances at this competition have been nothing short of scandalous. The three regulars in the studio in Vienna are more intent on squeezing in as many pathetic jokes and in house banter than actually taking this fantastic tournament seriously. It has been noted in a newspaper article that Gary Lineker got more animated and excited during the past few weeks ab!
> out a Holland player farting than anything that has happened during any of the games. We have his almost apathetic presentation, playing on the lack of England's participation hanging over his whole demeanor.
> Alan Hanson USED to be the best pundit on TV but now seems intent of matching his presenter friend with as many inane and moronic jokes and comments. Alan Shearer has quickly slotted into the role as their third stooge, gurning and laughing and acting like something off X Factor rather than a serious sport competition. Lineker and Hanson's attitude towards the excellent Martin O'Neill have been pathetic, almost treating him like someone they would rather not be there spoiling their 3 man comedy act.
>As well as all the stupid jokes and unnecessary comedy last night we also had an array of mistakes and mispronunciations that reflect the lack of research and effort by several members of last nights production.
>Mark Lawrenson who sounds more bored and apathetic with every game that passes started the night off with calling the AC Milan midfielder Massimo Ambrosini "Massimo Albertini". Then we were treated to John Motson and his ever changing and newly invented commentary style, strangely calling Xavi "Jarvi" Ramos was "Rarmos" Di Natale as "Dee Natalie" Guiza was "Geezer" and Capdevila was "Capdaveeleeaya" but David Villa was first "Veeya" and then by the end of the match "Villa"!
>Lawrenson's depressing style got us to hit the red button and switch to 5-Live. Thankfully the BBC radio production is still as good as ever and the quality and professionalism of presenter and pundit is so much higher than their TV colleagues. After saying that we did get the usually reliable and always listenable Graham Taylor calling the famous Italian coach "Donadini" twice!
>After the game had finished we had Shearer criticizing the Italians for their style of play during the game and he said how can this be when they have players from "AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan"? There was not one player from Inter in the starting 11 or the subs used! This underlines the lack of interest/reserach that the high profile team you have there put in. It has been noted the colour Shearer's tan and his golf game, we know this is another joke, but aren't they out there to work?
>It seems to me and a lot of other people I speak to that the three regular stooges and Lawrenson have such a comfortable position now that they don't really have to try anymore, where as the likes of Mark Bright, Steve Wilson, Gordon Strachan, Lee Dixon, Marcel Desailly, Ray Stubbs and above all the brilliant Gavin Peacock are just used to fill in when the egoƂ's can't be bothered.
>Why has the BBC taking this decision to dumb down? Why all the silly jokes and comments? Is it acceptable for the presentation to lack proper in depth research? The mispronunciation of so many names and mistakes last night were not about unknown players and teams but some of the biggest and well know figures in European football.
>The tournament has been great but I'm afraid BBC TV coverage has been the poorest ever for a live sporting occasion I have watched and it saddens and annoys me that ITV have taken a far more serious and professional approach than yourselves. As I have said 5-Live still remains a shining beacon of everything good about BBC coverage it's a pity the TV management cannot match it.
>I would be very grateful to receive a response.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

My Best of the World Cup so far Squad of 23¬

G Keepers
Edurado - Portugal
Enyeama – Nigeria
Samir Handanovic – Slovenia

Salcido – Mexico
Lugano – Uruguay
Nelson – New Zealand
Tanaka – Japan
Juan – Brazil
Lucio – Brazil
Coentrao – Portugal
Isla – Chile

Vidal – Chile
Meireles – Portugal
Forlan – Uruguay
Ozil – Germany
Khedira – Germany
Muller - Germany

Messi – Argentina
Higuain – Argentina
Tevez – Argentina
Villa – Spain
Honda – Japan
Fabiano - Brazil

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Whatever happened to my country...

Some fond memories of England long since gone…..Mexico 86, wearing newly purchased shirt with the tournament logo embroided on, sitting on my own in my shitty bedsit watching the Paraguay game fearing the worst, when into the team comes Steve Hodge (loved having a Villa player in the side...the 'judas' soon left us after the tournament but that didn't matter then) Peter Reid and Beardsley....bang! Lineker hatrick…! Italia 90, Platt vs Belgium…..the great Cameroon game…..England 1 West Germany 1 (Lineker's face) a brilliant piece of drama, great football and a massive depression the night before my birthday as Waddle skied that penalty. Euro 96, attended all the games, brilliant atmosphere, 3 Lions being sung by the whole of Wembley after the Holland game. Another great game vs Germany in the Semi’s. France 98…watching the Argentina game at a works do in some hotel in Blackburn, free drinks flowing…..all good times.

Now when I think of England all that comes to mind and seriously makes me feel nauseous…is;

Talksport, Adrian Durham…ADRIAN FUCKIN DURHAM, Mike Parry, Russell Brand, James Cordon, Dizzee Rascal, The Sun, Harry Redknapp, Terry Venables, Gary ‘dumbing down’ Lineker, Alan Hanson(the BBC is still thankfully great, especially Radio 5, but these two clowns bother more about crap jokes than serious football coverage), Ian 'Moose' Abrahams, Andrew McKenna and his stupid 'exclusive news' that he just read on Sky Sports News, Carlsberg, Supermarkets draping anything they can find in a flag, hundreds of X Factor inspired crap songs, John Terry, Jamie Carragher (go away you glory seeking whiney voiced idiot), Ledley King (all of a sudden can play two games a week), Shaun Wright Phillips (thankfully Walcott is brooding at home, but Wright Phillips??? dear god how bad do you have to be), the culture of ‘Stevie G’ ‘Rio’’JT’ ‘Frank’ etc, God Save The F’ing Queen (life member of the things not to ever be proud of) The FA, Wembley (now, not just a shit hole in a place no one should build a ground, but a shiny, sponsored to fuck, most expensive stadium in the world, shit hole with no pitch), Mark Lawrenson (another lazy, let's make jokes and sod the analysis, moron), Peter Drury…”dare to dream” (it's football, not some 10 year old girls bedtime book you ponce), the various whys and wherefores of our wonderful English media, Henry goody two shoes Winter (does he like everyone?), John Cross, Alan Green, Darren Gough (just simply embarrassing), white shorts? “Joe Cole..the English Messi” (obviously a nice bloke and a half decent player....but being given waaay too much attention) Ian Wright (a horrible bloke when he was a player, even worse now he's 'media darling', stupid adverts……………….. good luck to Milner, Warnock and even Heskey and I will enjoy the magical world of 4 weeks of great International football packed with some mouth watering games…but as for “IN-GUR-LUND” ….it’s been stolen and ruined by the chavs, sycophants and media neandethals in the crass world of England 2010.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Joe Cole....give it a rest!

Listening to the press over the past few weeks and again today, you would not be wrong to presume Barcelona were about to get what they could for Messi, as they then could replace him with free transfer Joe Cole, obviously the most talented and best player in the world! Journo after journo have bleated on about how wonderful this bloke is and how he should be a must for the squad and the team! Harping back again to FOUR YEARS ago when, yes he did have a good tournament in amongst a sea of rubbish compared to some of his team mates, but this is 2010 when he has just come off the back of a season just finished where he played 26 games for Chelsea, 12 of which were as a sub, scoring a mighty 2 goals, although apparently he did have 9 assists. Not a first choice player for Ancelotti and very much a bit part at Chelsea for quite a while.
Another fine example of the sheep like mentality of the football media in this country where certain things almost become gospel, and at the moment, Joe Cole being the best thing since sliced bread is right up there. Chelsea, the double winners, don't appear to want to keep him for next season, but listen to the English hacks and as I say, that number 10 shirt at Barca, could soon have a little balding cockney inside it!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Capello – picks 30 players for a training squad (why not 23/ 24 if worried about Barry?!) Says before the two games that there are three places up for grabs, and then says afterwards he knew the 23 all along and has not changed his mind! Picks four players in both warm up games then leaves them out completely. Has never given one player a minute on the field since he’s been manager, then picks him in the final 23! Picks one two players in his 30 and does not give them any playing time in two warm up games! Picks players that are not first choice for their clubs and several players who have been out of form towards the end of the season and leaves out one in favour of another who has lost his club place to the player being left behind!. Picks a striker that 90% of the country knows is woeful. Leaves out his 2nd choice goal scoring striker in favour of someone who has been outscored in 4 of the last 5 seasons in the Premier League by the player left out! Picks a player who barely trains and struggles to play two games in a week. Begs (asks 7 times!) an old donkey of a player to come out of retirement, this a player over 30, who has had his worst season ever, and is only interested in coming back as his club is not in the Champions League next season. Has no specialist cover for right back. Does not know who his first choice keeper is……….
…and people say Maradona is barmy!