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Turkish Delight and Brazilian brilliance

Our win against Bolton was solid if unspectacular.  After edging ahead we rarely looked likely to relinquish the lead.  We were on top all over the park.  The only phase of the game that Bolton got involved in was the period after half time when they looked as if they had received the proverbial rocket up their collective backside, but we soon extinguished that fire.  Keeping clean sheets is a priceless habit and Bolton couldn’t find a way through, this in itself was the most pleasing aspect of the game.  Another great positive was the performance of Tuncay.   He was instrumental in our attacking play often adding those quirky little touches that gave our game an extra dimension, and his pass for Ethers run, which led to the penalty, was simple but perfect!   The real endearing thing about Tuncay is that he smiles when he plays!  In a football world where players can look thoroughly indifferent after reaching a European Cup Final, it’s refreshing to see a player who actually looks as if he enjoys playing football.  Some of his supercilious fellow professionals could do with following his lead.  Another memorable point from the game was late on when the black bin liner blew across the pitch.  Not as amusing as the halcyon days of a dog on the pitch but  memorable all the same.

After a comprehensive victory it may seem overly niggly to pick fault BUT is there any chance at all of our players improving the free kicks at goal?  Wilson’s on Saturday was dire.  They either go into the wall or fly miles over the top.  Pennant hit the bar away to  Bolton but apart from that there has been  no threat at all.  For a side that doesn’t create much from open play a free kick gives a great chance to get a shot on goal but after each one I can’t be the only aghast Stokie pondering what they do in training all week.  If the time spent practicing Rory’s throw ins, (which are increasingly looking a spent force) was taken working on free kicks on goal, and shooting in general for that matter we’d increase our scorability, which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all!

It’s quietly pleasing to have made some progress in the FA Cup.  The game at Cardiff certainly wasn’t a cup classic but you can’t do more than win.  Several of the fringe players got a much needed game and came through.  Soares involvement was a surprise as I’d totally forgotten about him!  It all provides more experience for Ryan Shotton too who appears to be one of our bright young things.  Walters leaague form is patchy but scoring those two goals won’t harm his confidence at all.  Wolves away next and it would be preferable not to face a Premier team away.  However, I don’t like to focus on omens too much but in the last two seasons the team that has knocked Cardiff out has gone on to lift the trophy.  Is that a reason for optimism?  No, probably not. 

Despite being a lover of football traditions, it’s foolish to deny that the FA Cup has lost much of it’s polish in recent years.  Seeing games played out on front of half full stadiums and managers clearly regarding the whole competition as a nuisance isn’t an inspiring spectacle.  The FA holding this years final on a weekend of a full Premier League programme hardly suggests that it’s a priority for anyone.   But that  shouldn’t  stop us dreaming!! 

Such was the media furore surrounding Avram Grant’s position at West Ham, their game against Arsenal had the air of a public execution.  Each close up shot of the beleagured gaffer greeted with a comment about his impending sacking.  By half time Grant had become little more than a figure of pity.  The mismanagement of his proposed dismissal from the powers that be at Upton Park is as haphazard as it is disrespectful.  Treating the manager with that kind of contempt is ludicrous.  Allowing the approach to Martin O’Neill to become public was clumsy and damaging, esspecially as they were to be in a live televised game later that day.  If you want to sack a manager you sack them and pay them off.  That O’Neill has rejected the offer leaves Gold and Sullivan with some much derserved egg on their faces.  Amazing that after undermining Grant, David Sullivan had the audacity to come out and call for everyone to support him…..  even in the glib world of football speak that was a bit rich.  As for Martin  O’Neill, At 58 O’Neill has one big job left in him.  Methinks West Ham isn’t it. But if Dalglish doesn’t fancy it long term it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he was to turn up at Anfield.

Steve Bruce has expressed his disappointment that Darren Bent has chosen to join Aston Villa.  Shouldn’t he have balanced that with showing his elation at the size of the fee?  18m which could rise to 24m.  Despite the initial shock of the fee, if Bent injects the goals that Villa’s forward line is missing it could prove to be a shrewd investment.  Houllier will be painfully aware of the ramifications if Bent doesn’t succeed at Villa Park.  

One of the best moments of the weekend’s football came here in the A-League, Alex Terra’s goal for Melbourne Heart against Perth Glory was spectacular.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewQUsDq1dr8  You could drag out the well worn cliche about ‘if a Brazlilian had done that’…  but for the fact that Alex Terra actually  is a Brazilian!

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