Suarez’s Reputation Is Shattered

11/02/2012 Leave a comment

The opportunity was there. It couldn’t have been a better stage to draw a line under the recent racism controversies.

Serial cheat Luis Suarez was making his first start for Liverpool since returning from an eight-match suspension after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra.

The United captain offered his hand, only for the classless Uruguayan international to refuse the hand shake.

On Suarez’s refusal to shake Evra’s hand, Ferguson said: “I could not believe it. He’s a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club, that certain player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again.”

He went on to add: “The history that club’s got and he does that and in a situation like today, it could have caused a riot. I was really disappointed in that guy, it was terrible what he did.”

Despite my abhoration for Ferguson, as an Arsenal fan it pains me to admit that he’s spot on.

There’s no doubting that Liverpool are a huge club, steeped in history with most probably the best fans in the world.

Suarez And Evra Clash

But it seems to me that Liverpool fans are completely oblivious to the fact that Suarez is lowest of the low. So much so, a member on twitter who can only be described as mentally challenged tried to convince me that it was indeed Evra who dropped his hand as Suarez went to shake it. Very worrying.

What worries me more is Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish. Embarrassingly silent on the matter it seems as if he is almost out of touch with modern day football. It almost seems acceptable back in the day. Not a clue now days sadly.

It’s been mentioned before that there is never one player bigger than the club. How fitting. Personally I can’t understand why passionate Liverpool fans still loyally stand alongside someone as troublesome and disgusting as Suarez. From his biting incident whilst playing for Ajax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58ILbyflta8 to the handball against Ghana in the World Cup 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUWZuioV_DY. His reputation is now well and truly shattered.

Was Capello Made A Scapegoat?

11/02/2012 Leave a comment

With all the current talk of Harry Redknapp in the press at the moment it’s harsh to critise Fabio Capello for the job he did.

A lot of people have critised the Italian for the way he apparently mis-managed the England squad. Like an awkward relationship, surely it takes two to tango?

For those who suggested his heart was never in it, perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps it was something to do with his failure to learn the language and the fact that he never really seemed to understand the mentality of English players.

Ex-England Boss Capello

What people can’t debate is that the figures don’t lie. Capello began his career as England chief in January 2008. He was in charge for 41 games, winning 28, drawing seven and losing six – the best success percentage of recent England gaffer’s.

For me, it’s a shame his resignation came because of an imbecile we called an England captain. How John Terry is allowed to play football, let alone captain his country is beyond me.

 

That’s why it suprised me Capello stood up for him.

Two years ago, he rightly sacked John Terry for having an affair with the ex-girlfriend of an ex-teammate.

Now, he appears to have left his job because the FA has said Terry cannot be his captain any longer – crazy.

Capello was later quoted by the media in his home country as saying he had been insulted by the board at the FA.

For me, they got it spot on.

 

Can Arsenal Be Saved From The Scrapheap?

03/02/2012 1 comment

The facts don’t make for pretty reading.

At the moment, Arsenal are on schedule to finish the lowest they ever have been since Arsene Wenger took charge of the club in 1996.

They are also facing the harsh reality of not qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in 15 years.

Not pretty reading at all is it?

To add insult to injury, Arsenal’s recent form is the same as relegation strugglers West Brom and QPR. 

There are a number of contributing factors why Arsenal are currently going down the pan.

Firstly, it’s about time Wenger and the board finally dug deep and brought in the world-class players Arsenal require.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis recently called Oxlade-Chamberlain’s £12million transfer “expensive.” Compare this to Stoke paying £10million for Peter Crouch and hopefully the reality hits home.

A world-class player obviously will set you back around £20million plus. Perhaps it’s about time the hierarchy at the club sat up and took notice.  The club needs to take a strong stance on transfers. If it doesn’t improve, filling the 60,000 seat stadium will become more and more difficult as fans will refuse to pay £50-£80 pounds a game if they can’t see where their money is going. 

Arsenal Boss Wenger

This takes us nicely onto the current crop of players at the club. The likes of Nicklas Bentner, Manuel Almunia, Marouane Chamakh, Sebastien Squallaci and Andrey Arshavin need to be shipped out as soon as possible. They lack the passion, determination and world-class ability to be an Arsenal player sadly. I’d argue that Walcott is slowly slipping into this bracket. Hopefully everyone understands my feelings on Walcott, see previous blogs.

The arrival of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has just highlighted how poor Walcott has been this season. He lacks composure in front of goal, struggles with his positioning and fails to play to his strengths. 

Only the other hand it’s obviously essential that Arsenal hold on to their superstars. We can not afford the likes of Robin Van Persie, Jack Wilshere and co leave the club. Last summer Wenger said that losing both Fabregas and Nasri would be the worst situation possible for Arsenal. Talk about a kick in the bolocks once they left. 

It worries me that last season Jack Wilshere played 50 games for Arsenal, the most by any player in the squad. He is one of the country’s most talented prospects but, at 19 years old, the midfielder may have been pushed too far, too soon. This season he’s been out injured with a stress fracture – relevent?

 The same could happen to Aaron Ramsey, the Welsh international has played 31 games already this season and exhaustion/injury will soon set in for such a young lad still recovering from a horrific double-leg break.

This summer all eyes will be on Arsenal. No big buys and Wenger has to go, sadly.

Don’t Be A Silly Billy Mr Davies

24/01/2012 Leave a comment

Sorry to burst your bubble sports fans, Billy Davies would be an idiot to make a return to Nottingham Forest.

Davies joined as Forest manager in January 2009, but despite two top-six finishes, his dismissal came as something as a shock.

His relationship with the board at the club had often seemed strained. The club’s transfer acquisitions committee led to Davies expressing his frustration at the lack of signings.

When transfers were able to dribble in, the Scot spent £4 million on new players during his first season in charge and lead the club in an 18-game unbeaten league run that took them into the 2009/10 playoffs, where they were beaten 6-4 on aggregate by eventually promoted Blackpool.

Davies was eventually replaced by ‘Wolly with the Brolly,’ Dutch supremo and England managerial reject – Shhhhhteve McClaren.

Davies told BBC Late Kick Off last night: “I’d be delighted to go back. I have great feelings for the club.”

Ex-Forest Boss Davies

Obviously every Forest fan sat at the City Ground on a Saturday would love to see Billy Davies make a return. But would it solve all the problems at the club?

Chairman Nigel Doughty left the club in October, leaving Forest with no real substantial finances to buy the players they require. Put simply they must sell before they buy.

As it stands at the moment, Forest are third from bottom in the Championship and have lost nine of their last 11 games.

With them sitting third from bottom and four points adrift of safety Forest fans can only fear the worst.

Forest have been out of the top flight since 1999 and it might be argued that, 13 years and nine managers on, they are a club in free-fall.

It seems the job at Nottingham Forest is one of a poison chalice. The job no-one wants. Unless you’re a ‘Silly Billy.’

Have Arsenal Fans Finally Lost Patience With Wenger?

23/01/2012 Leave a comment

What a mess. It was all going so well at 1-1.

Debutee, 18-year-old Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had torn through Manchester United’s back line and laid off striker Robin Van Persie who managed to squeeze the ball into the far corner.

Arsenal were in the ascendancy, United were on the ropes and it looked as if we might actually sneak a win. Wrong.

As the board went up on the sideline you’d assume that Arsene Wenger might have been bringing on an extra attacker, some fresh legs to win the match. Wrong again.

The numbers went up. At first glance it looked remarkably like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s number was being held aloft. To rub salt in the wounds – it was (far from) fan’s favourite Andrey Arshavin.

Oxlade-Chamberlain Makes Way

Then the chants started. “Spend some f***ing money,” they yelled at their manager. Wenger looked up and shook his head wearily.

Post match, Wenger cited fatigue for withdrawing Oxlade-Chamberlain. Then he went on the offensive: “I’ve been a manager for 30 years and have made 50,000 substitutions. I don’t have to justify every one,” he said.

Sadly Arsene, you have a lot to answer for.

He went on to add, “He [Oxlade-Chamberlain] was sick in the week. Arshavin is captain of the Russia national team. You have an 18-year-old kid making his first Premier League start and a player who’s captain of his country and they are querying the substitution?”

Woah wait a minute! Point one – if Oxlade-Chamberlain had been so ill, why start with him? Point two – Arshavin is captain of the Russian team because no-one else sadly wants it. Point three – starting with Oxlade-Chamberlain shows how much faith Wenger has with Arshavin. Point four – refer to point three then ask yourself, why bring Arshavin on when he’s an idle nuisance?

Gary Neville got it spot on. Arshavin looks so un-interested it’s laughable. He doesn’t want to be here, the fans don’t want him here. So not only was it a crap call to haul Oxlade-Chamberlain off, the bad judgement to bring Arshavin on was something a none league manager would snigger at.

Ultimately Wenger threw the match by subbing off a player in the midst of a brilliant Premier League debut to bring on a player whose form has ranged from inconsistent to dreadful this season.

To take off a player who’d set up the equalising goal and had been the sole bright light in a dismal first half, for a sputtering dud like Arshavin, reeks of bad judgement—if not incompetence.

Wenger managed to somehow snatch defeat from the jaws of victory—or at least a respectable draw against one of the world’s top teams.

Magician Mancini And His Magic Cards

18/01/2012 Leave a comment

One of my biggest pet hates in football is simulation – put simply it’s the biggest form of cheating going and it’s a disgrace.

Seeing a player dive or feigning an injury is one of the many sight’s that drag football into the gutter. I’m very well-informed that ‘back in t’day’ players were made from granite and simply ran off a broken leg.

Don’t believe me? Ask Stuart Pearce. While playing for West Ham against Southampton back in 2000 he suffered a broken leg.  But rather than simply allowing himself to be taken off the field for treatment, he first tried to run off the injury, then refused the offer of a stretcher when it became apparent his injury was more serious, insisting on walking off the field. 

That was then however, this is now.

As I was saying, there’s nothing worse than seeing a player feign an injury with a triple roll into a double pike, or is there?

Magician Mancini

Sadly there is…in the shape of Manchester City boss/magician Roberto ‘flash a card’ Mancini. Recently Mancini has been caught twice on camera demanding cards from officials. Flashpoint (get it?) number one came during the Liverpool match when he asked for Glen Johnson to be dismissed for a two-footed challenge on Adam Johnson. Flashpoint number two came during  the Carling Cup semi-final match against Wigan. Magician Mancini produced another card after clearly thinking Wigan’s Maynor Figueroa should have been red-carded for a deliberate handball.

This imaginary card waving is slowly overtaking my annoyance with simulation in football.

I’m fed up of hearing the FA bang on about ‘respect’ in football. How can there be any respect when the boss of a title chasing side is jumping up and down on the sideline waving an imaginary card? Respect is not one word I would associate with Mancini at the moment sadly.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez hit the nail on the head suggesting:  “I’ve been here long enough to understand that trying to influence the referee is not accepted in the British game.

“I’ve been here since 1995 so when a player tries to simulate or to buy a decision from the referee that’s not seen as clever, that’s seen as cheating.

“It’s different ways to understand the game. In Italy and Spain and France, you try to get decisions from the referee and both teams are allowed to do that. But it’s very different from what happens here.”

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy jumped into the argument accusing Mancini of ‘cultural ignorance’ in pushing for opposing players to be sent off.

“None of us should do it – it is something I don’t like,” McCarthy said.

“I wouldn’t expect him to do it to one of my players or anyone else. I don’t think anyone should do it.

“It is wrong. It looks bad and I’m sure if it is pointed out Roberto won’t do it again” – hopefully Mick.

Apparently the FA are keeping close tabs on Mancini’s behaviour now after warning him of his future conduct. A case of strike three and you’re out for Manchester’s favourite magician.

Not enough being done for Windass, Collymore, Speed, Enke and Co…

15/01/2012 Leave a comment

Bit of a sombre blog this one….

Is enough being done for those battling demons in football? This week I heard the worrying news that 42-year-old Dean Windass attempted to take his own life at the beginning of this month.

On the surface, perhaps top professional footballers seem unlikely victims of mental health issues. Generally, they are rich successful people, adored by numerous fans and living a dream lifestyle without a care in the world.

For me, depression in football came to the fore-front on November 10th 2009. German international goalkeeper Robert Enke told his family that he was off to training that day. The truth is, there was no training. In fact it was the beginning of the end – Enke stepped out in front of a train later that day and shocked the footballing world, committing suicide at the age of 32.

Former German International Robert Enke

It’s thought he had been suffering from depression for around six years but had never received any complete help. People suffering from mental health issues such as depression can often be very good at masking the symptoms.

The tragic death of Gary Speed makes this all too clear. Speed took his own life less that 24 hours after appearing on BBC’s Football Focus. Looking happy, care free and full of life – the truth was far from what was perceived.

It was around this time ex-Liverpool legend Stan Collymore had been signed of by radio station talk SPORT after suffering a severe bout of depression. He posted on his Twitter account: “I haven’t seen daylight for four days now (sleeping mostly 28 hours a day) but I’ve done a week of talkSPORT/Channel 5 prep work and a national newspaper column all in the eye of one of the most challenging, soul-destroying bouts of this cruel illness one could have.

“To those of you who see no way out of the darkness right now, there are millions of us struggling.

“If you are poorly now, please see your GP, call a friend and at least reach out to someone who can guide you through.

“If, like me, you have been there many times then you will know this…it’s bloody dark but the clouds ALWAYS lift, so do everything you can to help yourself through.

“Open up to help and the fog will lift. You are not alone.”

But the truth is it almost seems as if they are. As I said earlier in this blog – you wouldn’t imagine a footballer becoming a victim of depression but it seems an all too common occurence.

This week Dean Windass criticised the Professional Footballers’ Association for not helping retired footballers’ when there playing days have come to an end.

“We’re not the brightest but you play football all your life,” he said. “There are hundreds of footballers in the same boat after retirement, there is nothing to get up for in the morning.

Dean Windass

“I have cried every day for the last two years since retiring. Just over a week ago I hit rock-bottom and decided to end it all.

“I first took an overdose and when that didn’t work I tried to hang myself. I felt so alone and believed I had nothing to live for.

“People outside football think we have it all. But I was in a hole that I honestly didn’t know how to get out of.”

He ended by saying: ‘The Professional Footballers’ Association or the governing body need to help us.”

Surely, everyone else would agree.