Archive | September, 2007

Next post will be comming soon, i’m sorry for the delay i hve been a little bit busy

18 Sep

Unfortuntely I have not had the time to write any posts as of yet as i have had a pretty extremly hectic week thus far. I have been working virtuously non stop and though i have plenty to write i have not had the time to do so. I have been woking at various places doing various jobs for long hours and basic pay. I was at Wembley for the Russia game, but unfortuntely i wasnt watching it but working in the “Corinthians restruant”  on one of the bars where there  i was not able to see a damn thing, all the while under a gestapo like work regime from n inept South African manager called Tim.  I saw Sir Andrew Lyod Webber in the restruant guzzling on champagne. i started at 2 and finished at 11:45 where i had to make my way back home from Hackney and nearly got into a fight with a Lewisham bad boy  who had a little too much to drink on the jubilee line. On Saturday i worked at Stamford bridge for their match against Blackburn. I’m working there gin tonight for Chelsea’s champions league game and i am at the moment in an internert cafe typing away before i mke my journey to buy my mum a present for her birthday and go to work. Tommorrow i am working from 7 in the morning till 10pm. so i can only see Friday or Thursday as the only time when i can write things. i planned to write a match report on the England Russia game, the womens world cup in China where they drew with Japan, Germany and trounced Argentina 6-1 and thus qualified for the next round. And of course a round up from the matches from the weekend. 

I really have to go now my mum wants a juicer from John Lewis so i have to go to west end to get it. i’ll be seeing you soon.

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England 3-0 Israel: an easy test for McClaren

11 Sep

Going into this important qualifier for Euru 2008, England were expected to trounce the Israel minnows. Prior to the game however, a series of circumstances helped add to the anxiety of the England manager that the Gods were working against him. There was that 2-1 defeat by Germany at “England’s Fortress”; Wembley where his number one goalkeeper produced one of the most horrendous displays in a goalkeeping jersey. Then there was the injury epidemic of his best English players. Wayne Roney dropped out early on with that metertarsal injury we have come to be most acquinted with, and after that the rest were dropping like flies. Beckham, Lampard, Hargrieves, Gerrad; add to this Gary Neville and the suspended Peter Crouch and the retired Jamie Carragher, and McClarens’s options seemed limited. He was forced to play Gerrad who was recovering from a broken toe, and had decided to bring back “former” England international’s back from the dead. David James came in as did Sol Campbell and Emile Heskey but he could not conjure up enough power to bring back Sir Stanley Matthews.

shaunwp_barry_celeb_h.jpeThe aforementioned series of events gave him the opportunity to put faith in other players. Shuan Wright-Phillips (S.W.P), Micah Richards, and Garreth Barry, all had the chance to cement their places in McClaren’s plans. Richards in particular is happy in justifying the hype surrounding the abilities of himself as a player; and in the same  process giving McClaren a new headache. When Gary Neville is fit, will he keep his new protege who is starting to appear as a player you cannot afford to keep on the bench and who has given England a new attribute for success, or does he stay loyal to his full back who has managed to achieve 85 caps for his country and in most people’s eyes has never put a foot wrong for England? This was not his only problematic dilema, the performance of S.W.P against Israel and indeed his renewed self confidence with Mourinho’s Chelsea has caused the same headscratchings of McClaren’s carrot topped head for the position on the right. There is still some life in David Beckham’s legs yet, but S.W.P. had also given McClaren reasons not to rule him out as a first choice for right midfield.

These problems, now looking back hardly seem as problems at all, but a bona fide advantage for an England team that should be topping their group table but instead lie in third place. While Richards and S.W.P. are getting all the plaundits another performance might of gone unnoticed. The quiet assured presence of Aston Villa man Garreth Barry in midfield made him assume Owen Hargrieves role appropiately, and it was revitalising to see him there after being an unsung hero for so long in English football, after a seven year wait.

And lest we not forget Emile “Bruno” Heskey. His renewed inclusion in the England set up after so long being a brilliant presence in Wigans shirt gave him the impetus to perform for his country. A goal would of proved all his doubters wrong and an opportunity came in the 10th minute with the game poised at 0-0. Owen did well to find Heskey who was faced with Israel’s keeper in a one on one situation. An ugly strike of the ball saw his effort sail over the crossbar and he was rightly angry with himself. However his strength and athleticism made sure that the Israeli defenders never got a moments peace.

owen_rp.jpeEngland were good but it has to be said that Israel were terrible and if Paul Robinson wanted to win hearts and minds again from the supporters and the boss, this was not the match to do it as he was hardly ever tested. England’s goal came in the 20th minute from S.W.P. Israel’s left back Yoav Ziv, who was having a torrid time and swho seemed to be the weak link in the Isreal team failed to intercept a great ball from Joe Cole that was played in behind him, and the Chelsea’s right-winger hit the ball first time into the Israel net past Aoute. 1-0 to England soon transformed in to a comfortable 2-0.  In the 49th minute Owen recieved Barry’s pass to control swivellthen released an incredible half volley that bulged the Israel net in the top corner.

About bleeding time Heskey has got the credit he deserves

6 Sep

player-image-1741.jpg 

Emile Heskey being called up for the England squad is perhaps one of Steve McClaren’s most inspired moves since he has been in charge. It is undisputably more inspiring than when he ommited David Beckham from the England set up, then reinstated him (after media pressure), causing him to emerge new and better player. The media frenzy concerned with Heskey’s recall is a welcome and deserved one. Tony Cascarino in the Times said that: “Heskey has done nothing wrong in an England shirt”, and Andy Hunter  commenting on his performances with Wigan in the Guardian claimed that that the striker had “rediscovered his purpose as the focal point of the Wigan Attack”.

Indeed Heskey’s inclusion in the England squad is welcomed on many fronts; the England manager, Michael Owen who’s goal tally was at its best when teamed up with Heskey, and the media. But it is perhaps the fans, who’s disenchantment with the Wigan forward during England’s exit to France in Euro 2004 , culminated in Sven-Goran Eriksson’s given in to peer pressure and never included him in his plans again. While being shunned out of the England set up, and moving on from Liverpool (a top four team, which can be beneficial if being considered by a manager for national call ups) he went from Birmingham City to Wigan where he now resides. He never complained, he just carried on with his job.

Heskey’s humbleness is not what prompted McClaren to include him in the set up and buck the trend of including someone from outside the big four as a major part of his plans in beating Israel and Russia. The reasons are two-fold of which fans should take note. The first is that he has the most International exprience from the players available to McClaren bar Michael Owen. The second is that his partnership with Micheal Owen compliments Owen superbly. As it were Owen was at his most prolific when teamed up with Heskey, and as Owen is England’s lethal weapon, his partnership must be rekindled with Heskey (in the absence of Crouch and Rooney) to form one of the best partnerships since Riggs and Murtaugh.

Those reason are however not the most important reasons for Heskey’s inclusion, and not because McClaren was running out of options neither with Crouch suspended and Rooney injured. No his inclusion is worthy of his performances for Wigan in the Premiership, that goes unoticed by mostly everyone exept Wigan fans, who are greatfull for him consistantly giving his all in a Wigan shirt, and many acknowledge that he was the main catalyst in their victory in avoiding relagation last year. When most of their players going missing last season Heskey was always their to help grind out results scoring goals and supplying his teammates with chances. Wigan’s manager Chris Hutchings said of the striker: “I can honestly say that in all my time in the game I haven’t come across a better professional, a player who shows more dedication to his game or to his teammates”

Heskey is not the most graceful forward player and his goal ratio for England is not impressive but his criticism in an England shirt is an unfair one.  Alan Hansen had said that “Heskey’s inclusion is a step backwards for England”, but reminiscing about his performances in an England shirt excluding performance against France  in Euro 2004 to which he was made a scapegoat, Chris Hutchins  key words such as “professional” and “dedication” reverberate in my ears. After all he did not gain 43 caps for England for no reason. Heskey is indeed England’s unsung hero and I am glad that people have started to realise this. His key display in an England shirt was in the demolition of Germany where England won 5-1 on German soil.Owen got a hattrick, Gerrad scored a goal and so too did Heskey. Owen unsurprisingly got all the plaudits but without Heskeys contribution, Owen would not of been able to have free reign against a well organised team and seal his hattrick, and of course have one of his best games in an England shirt.

 

Fulham 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur

5 Sep

If we are to compare Martin Jol to a former Premiership league manager, then the results would come up with the match: Claudio Ranieri. The Italian maestro whilst in charge of Chelsea had made the West London club a force to be reckoned with in the Premiership. He had seen something in Frank Lampard when he brought him for £11 million from West Ham where others felt that that was a price too steep for an English player, he also brought Claude Makalele from Real Madrid who did not fit into the Gallactico philosophy, and he also nurtured the talents of John Terry and Robert Huth. Of course there was some negatives along the way: selling Dennis Wise, one of Chelsea’s most popular players, and finishing 6th in his first season. But he had propelled Chelsea in his last season in charge, to 2nd place in the Premiership and reaching the semi finals of the Champions League beating Arsenal along the way. It had taken time but Chelsea was finally going places with Ranieri and the fans had begun to warm to the mild mannered, and diplomatic Italian manager. Which is why when Roman Abramovich seemed to stress his impatience with Chelsea not winning any trophies, and outlined that Ranieri’s position was under threat if he didnt deliver, the fans got behind the Italian one hundred %.

Looking back in hindsight, Amramovich’s dismissal of Ranieri  in opposition to the fans pleas and appointment of Mourinho was probably the correct one as it had brought one of the club unprecedented success. Here is where the similarities lie with Martin Jol and his situation at Tottenham. At Craven cottage, where he emerged from the tunnel before kick-off, the Tottenham faithful made it clear where their sentiments lied with a warm appreciation for the Dutch manager. Martin Jol’s only ally in recent weeks had inspired his team to give an encouraging display against Fulham, but having played better than their counterparts and seemingly in a comfortable position with the score at 3-1 to Tottenham, Mr Jol felt secure in taking off their most influential players; replacing Robbie Keane for Jermaine Defoe.

So with 13 minutes left to go and three points apparently in the bag, those three points decrease to one point as Fulham pull back two late goals, and that enthusiasm which had galvinised Martin Jol’s moodat the beginning of the match; was forgotten and he stood a despondent forlorn figure. If anything the result was awelcome one for  Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy and his fellow directors, giving him enough impetus to begin preceedings in letting his manager go.

Tottenham started well with new signing Younes Kaboul tipping in the opener after Fulham’s keeper Antti Niemi had flapped from Gareth Bale’s corner. Tottenham were all over the West Londoners and thier dominance and goal threat was rewarded further when Robbie Keane and Dimitri Berbatov worked well to increase the lead. Fulham gave themselves a lifeline through a header from Clint Dempsey. While Tottenham’s other new signing Gareth Bale whose influence on this game was immense, completed a great solo run to smash home the third for Tottenham.

Tottenham’s problem in the match was that they could not finish Fulham off. Scoring three goals agaist the West Londoners was fine enough but they had countless other chances to put the game beyond reach, and the chance gifted to Jermaine Jenas in the 31st minute where he was put clean through with Fulham’s keeper and where he could of squared for Robbie Keane but ran into trouble summed up Tottenhams performance in this match. Eventually the tables turned and with roughly 13 minutes left to go a shot from Alexy Smertin that seemed to be going nowhere deflected off  Ricardo Rocha to enter the net past Paul Robinson. To add insult to injury and not in anyway reflective of the score or Fulham’s effort, they managed to claw an equaliser when Diomansy Kamara found himself at the edge of the area with his back to goal and executed a sublime overhead kick that beat Paul Robinson and earn his side a fortunate point.

Man of the match : Gareth Bale.

Weekend matches:

4 Sep

In a weekend that saw 28 goals, the premiership proved why it is probably the best in the world. Courtesy of BBC FOOTBALL and A CULTURED LEFT FOOT read the links to the match reports. Next post is what was to GoalPost the best of the weekends matches.

Aston Villa 2-0 Chelsea

Villa inflicts Chelsea’s first defeat of the season with Gabriel Agbonlahor and debutant Villa new boy, Zat Knight getting on the scoresheet.

Middlesbrough 2-0 Birmingham City

Middlesbrough were too good for Birmingham City who are finding it hard to compete in the Premiership.

Blackburn 1-0 Manchester City

Blackburn are continuing their impressive start to the season, although they dominated they found it hard to break down a tight defence. 

Liverpool 6-0 Derby

Everyone is asking to not get carried away with Liverpools performances so far especially as this was a match against premiership whipping boys, but it looks as if this is the more attack minded Liverpool even without Gerrad and Caragher.

Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland

Manchester United did not play like they were last years premership champions until Loius Saha was introduced and who subsequently grabbed the winner from a very dogged Sunderland. 

 Reading 0-3 West Ham United

Craig Bellamy scored one goal and made the other at the Madjeski stadium.

Bolton 1-2 Everton

Joelyn Lescott seals a last gasp winner and an international call up to the England squad

Arsenal 3-1 Portsmouth

Cesc, Rosicky and Adeybayour end up on the scoresheet while Senderous gets marching orders.

Islamophobia in Newcastle.

3 Sep

Kick It Out

It is a well known perception that Newcastle fans are amongst the best supporters in English football, but last Sunday’s incident involving the striker Mido, where their team played against Middlesbrough was an indication that this reputation may be tarnished somewhat. At Midledbrough’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle United at the Riverside stadium, Mido was subjected to abuse by the Newcastle supporters who are reported to of shouted comments such as “Mido, he’s got a bomb you know” in reference to him being muslim and indicating that he is a terrorist.

England compared to other European countries, is intolerant of racism in football, but Mido’s treatment should not be swept under the carpet because of this. For some the issue here is that people are jumping on a political correctness bandwagon, arguing that the abuse  is a prerequisite of banter aimed at opposition players. Players are expected to get abuse aimed at them from the opposition, which is a fair enough perception especially this being a local derby, but according to these small minded simpletons, there does not seem to be any boundaries.

Once upon a time black players, were the ones who suffered such abuse from the opposition and sometimes from their own fans. Monkey chants and banana throwing were the norm in English football, but legislation and club bans for life saw to it that these types of football fans were erradicated from football. Now if you share a view that you hate those who are black, you may be inclined to keep your mouth shut in a football stadium in fear of being arrested or getting a life-long club ban from your beloved club. In addition nearly every single club has a black player amongst their midsts so it would not be right to abuse a race that you have “adopted” to your club. Although a Newcastle representative Ian Cusack of a Newcastle fanzine, used this as a defence with the Mido issue: “Those comments weren’t racist, we have Emre; he’s Muslim.” 

But if racism against black players has been erradicated, (though there are still cases, however few) there does however seem to be no fear in racist abuse being aimed at other races. The emergence of oriental players in England has given cause for some fans to chant “DVD, DVD” at players such as Totenham’s Lee Young Po and the  Manchester City’s  Sun Jihai, in reference to Chinese illegal DVD sellers that they have encountered. Also in November 2005 Mido was again the subject of anti -Muslim abuse; this time from West Ham United supporters, while he was playing for Tottenham, and West Ham’s then manager Alan Pardew subsequently apologised.

In Newcastle’s programme at the game against Wigan, the chairman Chris Mort urged his supporters to “make sure what happened last Sunday was an isolated incident” , which of course it would be for their match with Wigan as there isn’t any Muslim players in the Wigan squad. If we do want to play “Islamophobia watch” we may have to wait for the next time Newcastle and Middlesborogh clash. His comment in the programme  is a breath of fresh air, considering we were scared to be content with Ian Cusack’s statement, that “those comments weren’t racist”. The next step though should be to punish those that were involved in the chanting. 

Mido was punished with a yellow card by the referee for celebrating his goal, whilst putting a finger to his lips at the very fans that had racially taunted him throughout the match. According to the rules  referee Mike Dean can not be faulted for showing the Egyptian striker a yellow card. Players should not provoke the opposition, but what about the section of the Newcastle United fans who were so vocal in bringing their islamophobic views to the football ground? With apparent CCTV everywhere it is possible for these simpletons to be found and punished. This should involve a red card being brandished for them, which prevents them from watching any player in black and white at a football stand, so we will not have to hear this sort of behaviour at any football ground again.