Premier League Manager Of The Year: Not Mancini

11/01/2012 1 comment

As much as it pains me to say it, this years manager of the year award must surely go to one man. Harry Redknapp.

I was always told as a ‘journalist’ that no matter what you’re views or beliefs are, no matter who you support, you must remain unbiased and balanced. So here goes…gulp…

As much as a dirty secrets go – I have to admit that I have huge admiration for the Spurs boss and everything he has done this season. So far.

To put it into perspective, a win against Everton last night put Spurs level on points with Manchester United. An unbelievable thought considering the pence spent by Redknapp compared to the mega bucks Ferguson has at his disposal.

I think it’s safe to say Redknapp started becoming a household name during his time at Portsmouth.

Harry Redknapp

After his first stint at the club I roughly remember him returning to Portsmouth in late 2005 when they were stuck fast towards the bottom of the Premier League. That season he kept them up, the following season he led them to a ninth placed finish, the highest they’d finished for more than 50 years.

Adding to his hall of fame Redknapp led Portsmouth to their first FA Cup final in more than 60 years – 69 to be precise. What made the fact even more remarkable, they beat Manchester United along the way in the quarter finals. Not only was it a massive achievement to make the final itself – but to go on and beat Cardiff City 1-0 highlighted Redknapp’s undoubted talent.

Perhaps it made some of the bigger teams in the Premier League sit up and listen.

In 2008 he was installed as Spurs boss following a compensation pay-out of £5 million to Portsmouth. Previous boss Juande Ramos had only managed to secure two points from their first eight games leaving Spurs rock bottom of the Premier League. During the season he brought a host of new faces in, Jermain Defoe, Carlo Cudicini and Robbie Keane to name a few.

By the end of the season Spurs had finished runners-up in the League Cup final and finished in eighth place in the Premier League, just missing out on a Europa League spot. Gobsmacking.

Despite all of this, what he has done this season defies belief.

His highest finish with Spurs so far was in the 09/10 season when they finished fourth. This season I think it’ll be third.

So far this season Redknapp has brought in the likes of Brad Friedel, Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker. Great signings for any side but even better considering the fee paid.

Friedel was signed on a free, Adebayor on loan and Parker’s fee was reported to be around £5 million – bargain!

Conveniently, Redknapp has been labelled as a bit of a wheeler and dealer – rumor has it he drives a yellow three-wheeler at weekends…

Sky Sports’ Rob Palmer came a cropper when describing Harry as someone who’s “made your name as a wheeler and dealer”, to which Redknapp told him to “f**k off.” Own goal by Palmer.

While we’re on the subject, today’s papers are reporting that Redknapp is in the running for Newcastle hot-shot Demba Ba. Ba has scored 15 goals so far this campaign and is currently the Premier League’s top scorer just behind Arsenal’s Robin van Persie.

Pressed on the reported £10 million release-clause to capture Ba, Redknapp said: ‘I think you will find it is a lot less than that.’

Asked if was as little as £7m, Redknapp added: ‘Even less than that.’

Try a mere £5 million – stick your flat cap on Harry, get the three-wheeler started and grab Rodders quick!

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Football again dragged into the murkey waters of racism

07/01/2012 Leave a comment

The last thing I wanted to do was wade knee-deep-high into the whole racist debate.

I refused to write a piece on the whole Luis Suarez scandal because quite frankly, everything which needed to be said was said.

Briefly, do I think the right action was taken? Partly.

Did the FA deal with it in the right way? Let’s not be a silly billy now….this is the FA we’re talking about…

Anyway. Back to pressing matters.

Last night we saw the FA Cup kick off – England’s most proud, respected cup competition. It was billed to be an impressive night, Premier League ‘legends’ Liverpool were playing League One minnows Oldham Athletic. Neutrals hoping for a famous cup upset. It’s what FA Cup nights are about.

It’s just a shame a handful of brain-dead morons ruined a young lad’s 90 minutes of fame and again dragged football back into the murkey waters of racism.

It is alleged that Oldham defender Tom Adeyemi was subjected to vile racist abuse from a selected few Liverpool fans.

Adeyemi reacts to abuse

It has been reported that two fans wearing Suarez t-shirts had shouted from the stands “You f***ing black b***ard”.

This coming from the club that has aggressively defended Luis Suarez over the past few weeks.

What sickens me is that the 20-year-old is apparently the most unassuming, well educated lad you could wish to meet. By the sounds of it he doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body.

Police have now launched an immediate investigation into the incident which I hope will bring the necessary punishments for the muppets concerned, as well as a hefty fine and relevant punishment for Liverpool Football Club.

On the other hand, it is a bone shuddering thought that a world renowned football club such as Liverpool are to be stereotyped as a bunch of hateful racists.

Following on, this evening Liverpool have released a statement on the incident stating:

“Liverpool Football Club continue to work closely with Merseyside Police to establish all the facts surrounding the incident that occurred during last night’s game.

“We take this matter extremely seriously and have today provided the police with the evidence we currently have available to us.

“This includes CCTV coverage and still photography of what we believe to be the relevant part of the stadium, statements from matchday stewards in that area and full access to all the footage captured by the cameras filming the match for our in-house tv operation.

“Finally, we would also urge any of our supporters who witnessed this incident or saw the individual involved and who have not already done so, to contact either the club or the police.”

It makes their ill-judged t-shirt stunt even worse.

Maybe now the Liverpool board, Kenny Dalglish and the Liverpool fans will stand up and finally listen. Maybe now they will realise there is indeed a problem. Not just at their club but at clubs up and down the country. And worst of all not just the fans, but also players alike.

Why Walcott isn’t good enough for Arsenal

03/01/2012 1 comment

This evening I will be mostly complaining about….Theo Walcott.

Season after season I have been left frustrated with the player Walcott could be. Walcott transferred to Arsenal in January 2006, for a fee of £12 million from Southampton. For Wenger to pay such a fee, interest in Walcott was intense.

Has he lived up to expectation? To put it politely – you must be taking the p**s!

Image text here

Arsenal Flop - Theo Walcott

Following comparisons (no idea what prat suggested it) to former/present team-mate Thierry Henry, Walcott was assigned Henry’s former number 14 for the 2008–09 season

Now Henry is temporarily back in the Arsenal squad, Walcott had the audacity to say: “I’ve got Thierry’s shirt number now but he’s not getting it back – even if he comes back for a while. I’ve already told him that.”

How dare he.

As people have suggested, if he played the game the way he talks it then perhaps that statement may be justified even if it was made in jest. Considering he can’t hit Robbie Savage’s nose with a banjo (or something like that) then I can only laugh at the kid.

Surprisingly for a shy, retiring young lad Walcott hasn’t been one to hide from controversy. His auto-biography (yes, an auto-biography at the age of 22) Theo: Growing Up Fast, caused controversy as he labelled England manager Fabio Capello as “cold and clinical”. Not a wise description for the chap that normally picks the England team – not that Walcott would get a start.

To rub salt in the wounds after everything Arsenal have done for Walcott. I read today that Walcott is stalling on a new contract deal as Arsenal are refusing to match his demands of £85,000 a week.

As a frustrated fan suggested last night on BBC 606 – Walcott sadly doesn’t have a footballing brain, the knowledge or the final ball. They went on to add that they’re seven-year-old nephew had a better footballing brain than Walcott…ouch.

The figures don’t look great either. In his first season at Arsenal (06/07) he made 16 appearances with a return of…let’s guess…0 goals. In the 07/08 season he made 25 appearances producing a mere 4 goals. The following season (08/09) was just as bad, 22 appearances with 2 goals – embarrassing. The 09/10 season saw him scoring 3 goals after 23 appearances. In 10/11 it was 9 goals in 28 appearances and so far this season he has scored 2 in the 18 appearances he has made so far. If my maths is correct – that works out at 20 goals in 132 appearances. You don’t have to be a Vorderman to figure out that’s pretty crap.

For me I’d sooner see young starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain start in Walcott’s place. His inconsistency, lack of passion and blatant lack of a football brain leaves me with no option but to say: “Theo – You’ve not grown up quick enough.”

Pete Doherty would have done a better job at Forest…

28/12/2011 2 comments

I’m writing this after reading a refreshing piece from John Percy about the turmoil of free-falling Nottingham Forest. For those of you on Twitter, I urge you to follow him (@John__Percy ) and check out his article here: http://seatpitch.co.uk/2011/12/28/the-nottingham-forest-half-term-report/

To summarise, he brings up the point that Forest are in serious danger of making a return to League 1 after a series of morons over the years have rotted the club of its foundations. One of these self-centred monkeys, Nigel Doughty, must be held responsible for the decline of the club over the years. Pete Doherty would have done a better job at Forest. He has thrown money at the club for years sure, but without any real direction, you might as well of given the cash to Mr Tax Man to stick in his back pocket. Failing to back Paul Hart and Billy Davies will go down in supporters memories as the lowest of the low. Perhaps if he had backed these two managers in the past then Forest wouldn’t be in the mess they are now.

And don’t get me started on David Pleat. I’m ashamed that this imbecile was born in the same city as myself. In 2006 he was installed as a ‘football consultant’, whatever that is, alongside all the other big-time-Charlies at the club. My day-to-day job is a recruitment consultant – does this give me the right to stick my oar in to team affairs and advise them to sign a two-bob player from the Croatian 4th Divison because I’ve seen him on ESPN Classics? No. Pleat always has been, and always will be a liability when it comes to football – so the decision to employ him as a football consultant was laughable, and still is to this day. When you have managers like Davies and McClaren complaining about the lack of new faces being introduced to the club the blame has to lie at Doughty and Pleat’s door.

In my opinion Forest are a Premier League club. Not one that deserves to be stuck in the Championship for as long as they have, and certainly not one to be flirting with relegation. I don’t feel sorry for the backroom staff, I don’t even feel sorry for the players. I feel sorry for the fans. The one’s who pay to watch the drivel, home and away, week-in-week-out, come rain or shine. The one’s who bought a season ticket at the start of the campaign in anticipation of this year being the year.

My grandad was a season ticket holder for 40 odd years – having seen Forest win their European Cups and numerous other trophies, I’m thankful he hasn’t renewed it this season. My brother now takes up the reigns with their being no sign of a European Cup in his lifetime.

For Forest to stay up this season will be a huge ask. I just hope the fans have something to smile about in May.

Arsenal V Wolves V Stuart Attwell

27/12/2011 Leave a comment

Well here goes…after a Christmas period of watching a series of naff films, today we saw a thriller between Arsenal and Wolves, unknown to us ‘elite referee’ Stuart Attwell had the starring role.

For those unaware who Mr Attwell is, or what his supposed job is, here is a bit of background. He made news for becoming the Premier League’s youngest referee at 25 years of age – all be it not a very good one at that. During his time refereeing in the Championship, he made the best gaffe known to man. Better than Ronnie Rosenthal’s howler even. He incorrectly awarded a goal in the Watford v Reading match after Reading’s Noel Hunt hooked the ball back into play after it had gone out. (see video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWagKCB3Wo8

Since then he’s disallowed two late credible goals for Derby in the Derby County v Nottingham Forest match and recently sent off Bolton’s Gary Cahill for denying a ‘clear goal-scoring opportunity’ after fouling Spurs midfielder Scott Parker on the halfway line (yes, halfway line) in this months Premier League match. Bolton chairman Phil Gartside added that he felt Attwell’s decision was an “absolute disgrace” and said the club would appeal Cahill’s automatic one-match ban, which they did successfully.

Today in the Arsenal v Wolves game, Attwell has added to his portfolio of cock up’s after sending off Nenad Milijas for a perfect back-in-the-day, hair’s on your chest challenge on Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta. The tackle ended up as the big talking point, taking away the fact it was a fantastic advert for the Premier League.

Forgive me, I’m not saying refereeing is as easy as breathing, decisions have to be made within a split second but perhaps sometimes a bit of common sense would be a breath of fresh air. It’s quite clear to see that Attwell has probably digested his rulebook after mistaking it for a kebab on a night out with his mates. He sticks ridgidly to the rulebook rather than taking a moment to consider what he thought he saw, to what actually happened. As Giorgos Kambouroglou said on Twitter: “[Alex]Song stays on the pitch for kicking two Wolves players and the ref sends off Milijas for a badly timed challenge, no consistency.”

Welcome one and all…

27/12/2011 Leave a comment

Welcome one and all. Thanks for taking time out to visit my new blog which will be dedicated to all that is good in the world of football. Have a read and feel free to to join in with your comments and opinions. You can also follow me on Twitter @jack_van