Apparently Man City are angry at the reaction to their recent managerial swap
I don't think they have the right to be angry - they're the ones who sacked the manager with the fewest losses in the league, the manager who took them to their first semi-final in three decades, AND the manager who was pretty much bang on with the targets set (70 point season - top 6)
You expect kudos for this petty decision to sack a decent manager for not instantly leading the league and replacing him with a big name who has virtually no experience of the league? As far as I can tell, the media are spot on - hopefully they'll be proved right when Mancini produces their first home defeat of the season and fails to lead the team to every trophy available - at the very least we will ask 'what was the point, you childish tossers?'
23 Dec 2009
Apparently Man City are angry at the reaction to their recent managerial swap
19 Dec 2009
Steer clear of these predictions, I have just cursed them...
Aston Villa 2 - 0 Stoke City
Blackburn 2 - 2 Tottenham
Fulham 1 - 2 Man Utd
Man City 3 - 1 Sunderland
Blackpool 1 - 2 West Brom
Cardiff 2 - 1 Leicester
18 Dec 2009
Inter Milan v Chelsea
Porto v Arsenal
Stuttgart v Barcelona
AC Milan v Man Utd
Olympiakos v Bordeaux
Bayern Munich v Fiorentina
Lyon v Real Madrid
CSKA Moscow v Sevilla
17 Dec 2009
How can you not love the Voyeur when he comes out with such gems as this
And all because Hull got a Wednesday off and he didn't
It's Hull, Wenger, at home, grow up (oh, and please win, I have money riding on this)
"We have some teams who do not play at all. We play Sunday and Wednesday away and at home on Saturday against Hull, who have not played all week."
By 'some' he means two - Hull and Stoke get a week off because Everton and Fulham have Europa league commitments
This does of course mean they will have to play catch-up at a later date, but really Wenger should be taking this up with the ridiculous Europa league - and every year we get six games in December, how long does it take a Frenchman to get used to this?
I would also like to point out that Hull played an extra game on the 25th November, as did Everton, Blackburn and Fulham - this was not Hull's fault, but Arsenal got a mid-week off (then lost at home to Chelsea, while Hull got a point at City...) - did I here anyone complaining (well yes, David Moyes, but that's a different story)
Of course, Arsenal do play in the Champions' League - but for the purposes of this argument Wenger is sticking to the concept of league fairness - presumably then Hull shouldn't be playing extra games in November to benefit Everton? I didn't hear Phil Brown whingeing about City getting a week to prepare while he had an extra game to deal with
But wait, there's more!
Wenger went on to criticise Mick McCarthy's decision to rest players against United
"We will have to compete with Manchester United over 37 games instead of 38," said Wenger.As I mentioned earlier - were Wolves expected to get anything at Old Trafford - did I miss that hot tip? If we are going to subjectively judge Wolves' team as worthless then there's no reason for me not to state categorically that United were always going to win that match, I guess it's ok to send out the reserves as long as you keep it to one competition eh, Arsene?
And let's be honest - you're competing with Chelsea, and you're really just narked that you lost two points at Burnley because your team doesn't have staying power
Truly, the Voyeur is worth every penny Arsenal pay him (especially when he's taking his team up north mid-week) - and I can't resist posting this:
In tonight's 2-1 defeat to Chelsea, Avram Grant made seven changes to his already-meagre squad from the weekend - albeit a few were enforced, but he still rested a few, such as that well known midfielder Hassan Yebda and Michael Brown
But nevertheless, these were both players who had become first team fixtures in the past months and were not injured, likewise leading scorer Dindane was on the bench - so will the Premier League be asking them to explain themselves?
It is true that "Premier League rule 20, section E, says teams must field a full-strength side in all top-flight matches"
But how exactly do you enforce this rule? Does Rafa get picked up for resting Torres or Gerrard (he started N'gog over Torres this evening)? Does Fergie always have to play Vidic and Rooney when fit, and indeed, the Lord Giggs himself?
I thought the manager was in control of his team - I was not aware that the Premier League issued 'preferred team sheets' to all clubs and sought to discipline a manager for making a tactical decision
Perhaps from a point of view of match fixing I can understand, but considering United already had odds of 1/9 prior to the changed team I found that an unlikely concern in this case
And while there may been ten changes, there were still a few first-team performers, much like how several of the seven at Portsmouth weren't just being rested
For example, one of Wolves best players, Mancienne, started after being on the bench at the weekend, as did league regular Greg Halford, who's been injured, and George Elokobi made his ninth start of the season, as did Castillo - would you question these decisions in any other game? No, so that's already got this figure of 10 down to six
Then there's Chris Iwelumo, who needs no introduction - is he considered a Wolves trainee?
So all in all you can see that there were only five players who you wouldn't expect to be there (and David Edwards picked up a serious injury against Spurs), does anyone at the league have a problem resting Doyle for Iwelumo? Do they regard it as a sin for Mark Hughes to rest Adebayor and Tevez for Santa Cruz and Bellamy?
No, of course they don't, the manager has the right to pick whoever he wants - McCarthy certainly picked a weakened side, but that's a subjective opinion - at least half his squad can be considered first team regulars, while only one player made his debut - George Friend, so he was hardly 'doing an Arsenal'
He rested several key players, just like any other manager who needed his team fit for the weekend would, and he gave a run-out to several deserving players like Mancienne, Halford and Iwelumo - what the league are effectively doing here is disapproving of a manager who uses a bit of rotation (see: Mourinho)
Or rather, what they are doing is passing judgement on Wolves because they don't respect a few of the players fielded, they would never do this if Fergie played Nani, or rested Berba for Owen
I can't say I'm McCarthy's biggest fan, but he made a decent tactical decision - he's got a weak side as it is and faced playing three league games in a week, when you are facing the reigning champions days before a potential six-pointer against Burnley wouldn't you want to give yourself the best possible chance against Burnley and cut your losses against United? Yes, they might have done a bit better with Craddock, Berra, Stearman, Henry, Jarvis and Doyle on the pitch, but be realistic - Old Trafford the game after United were beaten at home? If they had Arsenal or Chelsea the weekend after maybe, but it's completely sensible to write off the mid-week game when faced with a very good chance a few days later, nobody seriously thinks they stood a chance - I predicted four before I even knew about the team, 3-0 is hardly a travesty at Old Trafford ....it could've been two, big whoop
To be honest I find it quite disrespectful for the league to judge what is and isn't a full strength team - he hardly fielded the under-12s, don't all members of a squad (only one of whom hadn't played before) deserve the occasional run-out?
I will finish my rant with a response:
Wolves supporter chief Arthur Williams - "Hopefully he will pick a full-strength team against Burnley and make amends."
Of course he bloody will, you numptie!... What is the obsession with wanting to see a full-strength side lose at United? Take your blinkers off and look at the bigger picture - it's about 20 miles to the north...
15 Dec 2009
Last week Tarquin asked if it was time for Benitez to go. I agree, in fact I think the time is past due and that Liverpool are heading for tough times unless they make a change before the January transfer window opens.
I also agree with Tarquin that Harry Redknapp and Martin O’Neil would be replacements that could do more with the team than Rafa has, and could build a genuine title challenging squad in a relatively short spell of a couple of seasons. But in my mind the man who has to replace Rafa is Jose Mourinho, because not only his Chelsea Team tactics would suit Liverpool very well, he is a winner, and Liverpool needs a winner at the helm.
I did float an alternative earlier in the year about another alternative; I still do not think this is an unreasonable suggestion, especially since the man in question is currently in the employment of Liverpool FC. That would be Kenny Dalglish, who also happens to be the last Liverpool manager to have won the league with them. But this was back in February, when Benitez was under fire, and had not signed his new five year deal. If Benitez is to go, Liverpool will have to open the cheque book just to pay him off; they might as well clear enough funds to pay off Inter for Mourinho as well who I think has the pedigree to guarantee at least one Premier League title.
Either way, I really do feel if Liverpool persist with Rafa, they will have to sack him later in the year and will regret not acting sooner.
Speaking to a couple of Liverpool fans Saturday night in the pub, they seemed despondent even though United had just been done at home to Villa. They want Rafa out of the door, with Lucas following quickly behind. The sale of Alonso and the absence of a strike partner and back up to Torres despite exit of three decent strikers in Crouch, Bellamy and Keane who were all purchased by Rafa also feature highly on their list of grievances; the failure to look at Michael Owen was not mentioned which I latterly assumed to be a self-imposed mental block placed on the Man Utd Striker. Finally, their hopes now rest on success or failure of unfit acquisition Alberto Aquilani. If the Italian fails to shine this will be the final straw for Benitez in the eyes of the fans.
The fact is, Tottenham, Man City and Villa all can stake a stronger claim for fourth place than Liverpool and Everton could also be a factor in the race later in the season. Liverpool have already lost six from sixteen in the league and drawn a further three. On present form they would finish in the fifty to fifty-five point bracket, which may not be good enough for Europa League qualification, let alone Champions League qualification. And if that happens, Gerrard and Torres would almost certainly have to be sold so keep the clubs finances in order and lower the wage bill, leaving Reina and Carragher as stars in an ordinary team. Liverpool fans and Board Members will need to act soon, because the January Transfer Window will be needed by whoever the replacement is because there are more than a few average players that might need to make way.
12 Dec 2009
In my worst year ever for tipping, it's probably best that we drop the pretences now... Here's what I picked, so steer clear.
Birmingham 2 - 1 West Ham
Bolton 1 - 1 Man City
Burnley 2 - 1 Fulham
Chelsea 3 - 0 Everton
Hull 1 - 1 Blackburn
Tottenham 3 - 0 Wolves
11 Dec 2009
God I love Beat Victor - it's on virtually every week this year - I think I've won 40 quid out of it since August, all at no risk! I think Victor's a bit barmy, must be worth the extra business I guess
Anyway, enough fawning, Viv Anderson's preds for this week are
Bolton 2-0 City (eh?)
Chelsea 3-0 Everton
United 1-1 Villa
Liverpool 1-0 Arsenal
I've gone for:
and Liverpool 2-1
I have also got a weekend multiplier going on - Stoke, Birmingham, Sunderland and Spurs all to win
9 Dec 2009
As former Champions League champions Liverpool further compound their misery by losing yet another group game at home, while languishing down in seventh in the league at the same time, 12 points off the pace (and it's not even Christmas), is it not time to seriously consider that Rafa's time is up?
I don't mean sack him right now and go fetch the biggest name the yank owners can find, but surely the time has come to look for new blood? Where are Liverpool going? What is Rafa doing to boost their chances?
All he has done this year is swap Alonso for the untested (and injured) Aquilani and brought in a decent right-back, that was never enough to take the league (for those that remember I asked if it was worth a punt on them winning the title a while ago, that was about profitable odds, I didn't think they would, although I didn't expect it would be this bad) - there comes a point where you have to admit that very little is going on at Liverpool, this is now potentially the fourth year without a trophy and with no sign of improvement on the horizon surely the head honchos have to think that Rafa is a spent force, even after last year's decent performance
Both Martin O'Neill and 'Arry are proving better at building a side capable of cracking the top four, imagine what they could do with Liverpool's funds, not to mention Gerrard and Torres, while Rafa relies on mediocrities like Lucas, Babel and N'gog they have built solid sides, with more English players to boot
I think the gratitude for the Champions League victory should be wearing a bit thin now, and while I don't think Rafa should be given a hasty, ungracious booting I think it's time for Liverpool to realise that their ship is currently rudderless and the manager is out of ideas
8 Dec 2009
Not even in the worst, most challenging moments whilst playing away on Football Manager and Champ. Manager over the years has the computer programming deemed it realistic or fair to deal out in a football simulation game the selection crisis currently facing Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of tonights Champions League clash against Wolfsburg.
Edwin Van der Saar (Knee Injury)
Gary Neville (Groin Injury)
Rio Ferdinand (Back & Calf Injury)
Wes Brown (Hamstring Injury)
Nemanja Vidic (Illness, Flu)
Fabio da Silva (Groin Injury)
Rafael da Silva (Groin Injury)
John O’Shea (Thigh Injury)
Jonny Evans (Calf Injury)
Ritchie de Laet (Ineligible)
Owen Hargreaves (Not Yet Fit)
Ryan Giggs (Rested – Did not travel)
Wayne Rooney (Hamstring Injury)
Dimitar Berbatov (Knee Injury)
Frederico Macheda (Injured)
Promoted – Available for selection
Oliver Gill (Defender)
Magnus Eikrem (Midfield)
Cameron Stewart (Midfield)
Matty James (Midfield)
Oliver Norwood (Midfield)
So, I will do my fortune teller bit, here's my guess for the line up, 15 into 11 leaves few options....
GK Tomasz Kuszczak
DL Darren Fletcher
DR Park Ji-Sung
DC Patrice Evra
DC Michael Carrick
MC Paul Scholes
MC Darron Gibson
AMR Antonio Valencia
ST Michael Owen
7 Dec 2009
4 Dec 2009
Have to do it don't I
Here's the full world cup draw
Group G is the group of death, Group D is the group of death-lite
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Japan||New Zealand||Ivory Coast||Honduras|
We will hopefully face Australia, Ghana or Serbia in the second round, we may then get a crack at France in the quarters, but we could also end up with a run of Germany and Argentina
We can't meet Brazil or Portugal til at least the semis, nor Italy, the Netherlands or Spain, what a shame...
You have worked hard all week, and you are wanting to know if I will publish tonight or not, eager to take a sneak peek prior to making your own entry. Fear not, here they are.
Arsenal 3 - 0 Stoke
Aston Villa 2 - 1 Hull
Blackburn 1 - 1 Liverpool
West Ham 1 - 2 Man Utd
Wigan 1 - 0 Birmingham
Wolves 2 - 2 Bolton
Former South African president and all-round good guy, Nelson Mandela, will address the world later today at the FIFA World Cup draw in Cape Town, via video, as the 91-year-old is very frail these days
We, at Football Banter have got exclusive access to a clip from that address
It would seem he's a bit short of cash...
3 Dec 2009
Congratulations to Lionel Messi who was awarded this year’s Ballon d’Or by an impressive margin, scoring 473 points to second place Ronaldo’s 233 points.
The award is decided by a poll of world football journalists from a shortlist of 30 players. The highest placed Premier League star was Wayne Rooney in eighth position, followed by Drogba and Gerrard who were ninth and tenth respectively. Michael Owen was the last Englishman to win the award back in 2001.
Ballon d'Or standings:
1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona) 473 pts
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Man United & Real Madrid) 233 pts
3. Xavi (Spain, Barcelona) 170 pts
4. Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona) 149 pts
5. Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Barcelona & Inter Milan) 75 pts
6. Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan & Real Madrid) 58 pts
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Inter Milan & Barcelona) 50 pts
8. Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester United) 35 pts
9. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea) 33 pts
10. Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool) 32 pts
11. Fernando Torres (Spain, Liverpool) 22 pts
12. Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Arsenal) 13 pts
13. Edin Dzeko (Bosnia, VfL Wolfsburg) 12 pts
14. Ryan Giggs (Wales, Manchester United) 11 pts
15. Thierry Henry (France, Barcelona) 9 pts
16 Luis Fabiano (Brazil, Sevilla) 8 pts
16 Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United) 8 pts
16 Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid) 8 pts
19. Diego Forlan (Uruguay, Atletico Madrid) 7 pts
20 Yoann Gourcuff (France, Bordeaux) 6 pts
21 Andrei Arshavin (Russia, Arsenal) 5 pts
21 Julio Cesar (Brazil, Inter Milan) 5 pts
21 Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea) 5 pts
24 Maicon (Brazil, Inter) 4 pts
25 Diego (Brazil, Werder Bremen & Juventus) 3 pts
26 David Villa (Spain, Valencia) 2 pts
26 John Terry (England, Chelsea) 2 pts
28 Franck Ribery (France, Bayern Munich) 1 pts
28 Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Barcelona) 1 pts
30 Karim Benzema (France, Lyon & Real Madrid) 0 pts
Previous Ballon d'Or winners:
1956 - Stanley Matthews (England), 1957 - Alfredo di Stefano (Spain), 1958 - Raymond Kopa (France), 1959 - Di Stefano, 1960 - Luis Suarez (Spain), 1961 - Omar Sivori (Italy), 1962 - Josef Masopust (Czechoslovakia), 1963 - Lev Yashin (USSR), 1964 - Denis Law (Scotland), 1965 - Eusebio (Portugal), 1966 - Bobby Charlton (England), 1967 - Florian Albert (Hungary), 1968 - George Best (Northern Ireland), 1969 - Gianni Rivera (Italy), 1970 - Gerd Mueller (West Germany), 1971 - Johan Cruyff (Netherlands), 1972 - Franz Beckenbauer (West Germany), 1973 - Cruyff, 1974 - Cruyff, 1975 - Oleg Blokhin (USSR), 1976 - Beckenbauer, 1977 - Allan Simonsen (Denmark), 1978 - Kevin Keegan (England), 1979 - Keegan, 1980 - Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (West Germany), 1981 - Rummenigge, 1982 - Paolo Rossi (Italy), 1983 - Michel Platini (France), 1984 - Platini, 1985 - Platini, 1986 - Igor Belanov (USSR), 1987 - Ruud Gullit (Netherlands), 1988 - Marco van Basten (Netherlands), 1989 - Van Basten, 1990 - Lothar Matthaeus (Germany), 1991 - Jean-Pierre Papin (France), 1992 - Van Basten, 1993 - Roberto Baggio (Italy), 1994 - Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria), 1995 - George Weah (Liberia), 1996 - Matthias, Sammer (Germany), 1997 - Ronaldo (Brazil), 1998 - Zinedine Zidane (France), 1999 - Rivaldo (Brazil), 2000 - Luis Figo (Portugal), 2001 - Michael Owen (England), 2002 - Ronaldo, 2003 - Pavel Nedved (Czech Republic), 2004 - Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), 2005 - Ronaldinho (Brazil), 2006 - Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), 2007 - Kaka (Brazil), 2008 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).
The French cry foul over FIFA's decision to place them in pot 2
Of course they do, we would - although I'd hope we'd have a little bit of humility after losing to Austria and only beating the Faroe Islands and Lithuania on the road, had they been in England's group they wouldn't have qualified, let alone been seeded
"...it looks like FIFA has punished France for the Thierry Henry handball against Ireland,” roared furious Goal.com France editor Alexandre Walraevens.
Leaving aside the fact that FIFA said they would use the October rankings months ago (rare that) and it was patently obvious to even my mother that the November rankings were unfair and rewarded teams for failing to win their group - why exactly is it unfair?
The argument is this: France got to the 2006 final! Give us a seed over Argentina, England and the Netherlands
Skipping the dismal exit in 2002 (and 2008 for that matter), it is also claimed it mattered that they won the 98 world cup - 12 years ago? FIFA haven't counted back three world cups since 2002 - I don't see why 1966 is more meaningless than 1998, it's all ancient history, Walraevens is the sort of man that would probably count 1986 too, while skipping 90 and 94, seeing as 2002 was apparently meaningless for the likes of Korea
While I do have sympathy for their plight, and I do dislike the way FIFA can choose their rules after the results, which is just plain wrong (in my mind it's playing the FA cup to the final and then announcing the winner as the team who scored the most goals overall) the very idea that France 'deserve' a spot is ridiculous, maybe Zidane deserves a spot on his own...but France
And remember I'm not hugely biased here - this is about the Netherlands, not us
FIFA had two options - go with the old method, and eject the 3rd ranked team, who qualified with a 100% win record, for the team that they smashed 4-1 in the latest tournament and who struggled in ridiculous fashion in the latest qualification
Or... go with the ranks - which while debatable, but were pretty fair - there's only nine teams that should really be considered for seeding, and if you had a toss-up between France and the Dutch who would you go for?
FIFA have been rather unethical here, playing with the rules to fit whatever they'd already decided, but they've got the result right - it's a case of the ends justifying the means, they need to keep the best teams in the world apart to keep the competition..well..a competition
Like I said, had this been us, cue outrage - but we aren't defending a MacLaren-level-idiot in Domenech and one of the patchiest string of results in Europe, nor a piece of cheating that made international news, they should be eating humble pie and be happy that they're in at all, it's no one's fault but their own (alright, it was Austria's, Romania's, and Serbia's) that they were ranked 9th - we were seventh despite not even playing in Euro 2008
There is no perfect system, ranks are flawed, using historical results is flawed - as such no one method will keep everyone happy, but on a balance of probabilities had the rigging been in favour of France it would've sparked far more outrage around the world - FIFA got the seven best performing teams at present, bar perhaps Argentina, the French don't have a leg to stand on, the Ivory Coast have more of a case
I shall leave with more from Walraevens:
“France are the most hated team in the world, everyone seems to be against us and I don’t understand why,”
Let me explain it to you:
“With respect to the other seeds, we think it is unbelievable and it looks like FIFA has punished France for the Thierry Henry handball against Ireland,” roared a furious Walraevens.
“Argentina has struggled like France, England has done virtually nothing in the World Cup since 1966. The same with The Netherlands.
“If France qualify then France should be seeded as they are the winners from 1998 and runners-up from 2006."
'Nuff said really
Posted by Tarquin at 00:42:00
2 Dec 2009
England are seeded!
The seeds are as follows (in no particular order)
i.e. the top ranked sides
As I guessed earlier (in the wrong order) the other pots will be:
Honduras, Mexico, US, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, S.Korea, N.Korea
Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria
France, Portugal, Greece, Denmark, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia
Posted by Tarquin at 09:43:00
FIFA will be announcing their seeding criteria later today, I can't find out when exactly, but this afternoon at the latest I'm sure
This is where we will find out if England make it into pot A rather than the second European pot (presumably)
Jonathan Pearce has written a comprehensive blog about it, as he's going to the draw on Friday
Personally I think, knowing FIFA, that the October rankings will be highly important, because they probably won't want the 3rd placed Netherlands to miss out after fairly average 2002, 2006 and 2008 results, particularly if the 2006 finalists France get in instead, this would in turn, help us out
If they go for the two previous world cups rather than the slightly more awkward regional tournaments then we should be quids in with two quarter finals, just like in 2006 when we were somehow second seeds...despite not being ranked second, ever, and not seeing a semi-final in decades, let alone a final..so you never know!
It is of course possible that it's screwed up, FIFA seem to be incredibly pro-French and manipulated the European play-offs in the same way, but it seems fairly pointless to stir up another hornet's nest in lieu of France's dire form, and of course, that Irish incident - either way, if we miss out, it's likely the Dutch will miss out, which would be utterly retarded, so it'll be a moral victory and they'll be at least two or three teams that we can avoid in the Euro pot
It's generally a given that FIFA will have decided their seeds first and will have then decided their criteria second, hopefully they will feel Capello's side is good enough
It's all theoretical, but here's the likely pots according to Pearce
There will most likely be a pot of Africa and South America
Europe will fill in the blanks, and should be simple this time if it gets 5 seeds, leaving 8
Remainders will presumably be North America, Asia and New Zealand
Seems pretty simple this time round - obviously a seeded spot would give us a better group, but we may we wanting to avoid France/Argentina/Portugal if we are anyway
Any thoughts on who we want (to avoid)? Also what will be the 'group of death' this time around?