Archive for September, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics – Does Talk Sport = Talk Shite?

September 30th, 2010 No comments

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

“Can you hear them? Talking about us, telling lies – is that a surprise?”

Kenwynne, Eidur & Salif go all 80's

So went the Fun Boy Three song back in 1983 and here in 2010 it’s an apt question for fans of Stoke City – given the unprecedented levels of scrutiny the club finds itself under as part of Football’s Top Flight.

This is especially so this season, when with only a handful of games played, there seem to be additional critics of our style of play joining the list of “usual suspects”. Step up Mark Hughes – soft-spoken Welshman, Manager of Fulham FC and a man not afraid to throw some weight around on the pitch in his playing days. Following Andy Wilkinson’s ill-timed tackle in the Carling Cup clash last week, Hughes was not shy in adding his name to a list of vocal critics that includes among others Arsene Wenger, Mick Dennis and our old favourite Adrian Durham of Talk Sport.

Granted, we live in a free country and anyone can say what they like, but with freedom comes responsibility – and that includes not selecting someone for enough criticism (rightly or wrongly) that they acquire a “reputation” that goes before them and potentially colouring the judgement of the public, fellow professionals and most importantly – match officials.

This drip-drip campaign of hate, combined with Arsene Wenger’s continued refusal to apologise for comments regarding the team as a whole and Ryan Shawcross in particular, has obviously irked Stoke Chairman Peter Coates enough for him to comment this week. In the local press he stated that he felt that referees were not giving Stoke “the rub of the green” because of continued stereotyping of the way Stoke plays – “We have a reputation for being a strong, physical team, but the media stereotypes teams.” Coates continues – “Arsene Wenger is always complaining and trying to influence officials, but the facts don’t bear him out.”, before citing some interesting statistics that reveal that the Potters and Gunners are not so far apart in the disciplinary tables. Indeed – Stoke are 14th, while Arsenal are 17th. Furthermore, Stoke have so far recived no red cards, while Arsene’s lily-white angels Laurent Koscielny and Alex Song have collected one a piece so far.
Oscar Wilde Once said “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”. True enough, I suppose, as long as you are being talked about for the right reasons. It would be nice, for once, if the likes of Adrian Durham actually credited Stoke with a few positives from their two and a bit seasons in the Premier League. The usual criticisms of “The Longthrow”, “Physical style of play” as well as targetting of individual players such as Ryan Shawcross and Andy Wilkinson are getting tired and worn now. How about praising the club for being largely debt-free, British owned, encouraging players to get up and keep playing instead of feigning injury and diving for no reason? I could go on, but as we all know, commercial institutions like Talk Sport are cyncial and depend on “pushing buttons” with people to get phones ringing so their advertisement reps can wave the audience figures at clients.

It’s easy to say “Don’t listen to it” and “Don’t rise to it”, but as loyal fans of our club, many of us feel duty bound to defend it against perceived lies, fact-twisting and colouring of the truth – especially in the eyes and ears of the nation’s (and the world’s) other football fans – many of whom probably see Stoke City as a gatecrasher to the Premier League party, never mind being a top-flight regular back in the days when football was a different beast altogether.

At today’s press conference Tony Pulis was asked about how teams like Stoke & Blackburn are see through the media’s eyes. He responded saying ” Perception is massive – I don’t give a damn about what others say.” Well it is massive and as long as we are given a fair crack of the whip by officials involved in the game then it’s all well and good, but the evidence of recent games has not shown that. Matty Etherington’s honesty cost us a penalty at Newcastle, even though we went on to win the game, we could have and should have gone in at half time all level rather than a goal down. Let’s hope that officials see past the crap that is spouted about those Big Bad Boys called Stoke City and judge us on our merits.

If they don’t, then to quote another FunBoy Three song title – “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum”

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Football cliche 579….a game of two halves

September 28th, 2010 No comments

“The best team always wins and the rest is only gossip”.   Jimmy Sirrel

It is abundantly clear now  that the substitutes are a huge part of our attacking game plan.  Seeing the eleven that started on Sunday was a real shock… I didn’t realise we were playing Barcelona.  At Newcastle the eleven that started was a  concoction of the physical and the holding.  Overall, we stifled them adequately  in the first half but our players seemed to be constantly lunging into challenges and needlessly giving away stupid cheap free kicks to invite pressure.  Some of Sorensen’s kicks were suspect too.  Fortunately for us they wasted their (far) superior possession all and we were let off the hook several times by their poor final balls.  Infuriatingly,  it was Huth’s totally unnecessary barge into Carroll that sent us in behind at the break.  A part of the game is TCUP… Thinking Correctly Under Pressure and Huth made a costly penalty box error of judgment there.  Physicality is a big part of our team but it’s vital to make the right decisions.  After the aforementioned lunges it was entirely appropriate we went 0-1 down to a goal borne of a totally unnecessary reckless challenge from a Stoke player.  Odder is that despite our inability to keep the ball in the attacking third for any longer than 0.2 seconds, Newcastle had created very little and had needed us to hand them a goal… which we had done with much generosity.  The second half was much different.   We got back to what we do well which is getting into teams and overpowering them.  Their defence has struggled all season with high balls into the box so seeing Rory enter the fray we knew what the plan was.  And it worked.  Jonesy was transformed and used his pace and strength to unsettle the opposition and us merely  keeping the ball in their half seemed to really unsettle them.  Fuller’s injury was a blow but we kept attacking them and got level.  After Jonesy equalised  Newcastle came into the game again but, like  the first half, rarely showed the craft to break us down.  Our  aerial bombardment continued and we enjoyed some wonderful Geordie hospitality when their James Perch kindly repaid the generosity we had shown near the end of the first half by scoring the winner for us near the end of the second.  I’d buy him a bottle of Newcastle Brown anytime!   In the time remaining we absorbed pressure well and despite some penalty box pinball looked pretty safe.  So well and truly a game of two halves.  Coming from behind to win, especially away from home, is pretty dam good.  And despite our lackadaisical first half we deserved to win.  Newcastle’s lack of creativity combined with our second half pace and power  meant we won the game on merit.  And it is after all a game of two halves!   For now, three league games unbeaten seven points out of nine and things are looking up.  Blackburn on Saturday and a clean sheet would be a good starting point.  GOOOAAARRN STOKE!!!

There is a lot of debate about the starting line ups that Tone is sending out.  Well,  it has always been a tactic of Brazil to allow the opposition to have the ball and drop off themselves.  The difference is that this is done knowing they have the ability and sstrength to win the ball and trust their own technical expertise to build fluent forward moves when they do.  It also obviously  means that the opposition are outnumbered whilst  trying to break forward.  As yet we haven’t quite managed to equal Brazil’s technical skills, as a result  the opposition have the ball for long spells and we are pegged back.  Also bearing in mind that we are yet to score first  this season and have had to chase every game it is apparent that the current strategy isn’t working properly.  Nothing wrong with wanting attacking options on the bench but the whole philosophy of the team is flawed when you are simply playing out time waiting for Fuller to appear after an hour.  On Saturday we need to start the game with a more attacking mindset, especially against solid underrated opponents like Blackburn. 

Who could have predicted that result at Arsenal?  West Brom played with discipline and purpose and thoroughly deserved to win the game.  WBA seem more equipped to handle the pressures of the top flight this time.  They approached the game with intelligence, closing down spaces and trying to break forward when they could to give the defence some respite.  They must have sensed Arsenal were struggling because they started breaking down the flanks and putting Arsenal on the backfoot.  I watched in the pub standing next to a Baggies fan who noticed they were doing  “All roit”  And that with a manager as good as “Towny Pewliss” they might have stayed up last time.  Those last few minutes of injury time were torture for him but when the final whistle finally blew he was suitably delirious.  He  thought he was going to make them “Ply all sodding noit” .  In his delight he bought a monster round of drinks…. everyone a winner!!  Looking across the pub the Liverpool fans were looking depressed, unable to comprehend the fact that the ongoing trauma at Anfield meant ticking over as they are isas good as they could expect.  One even reckoned Hodgson should be sacked, a notion as foolish as it is knee jerk.  Those who know football know that right now Liverpool are a long way from being a top four club.  Roy Hodgson is the right man for them right now because he’s experienced and stable and able to run the team in what is proving an increasingly traumatic phase.  I still don’t expect them to go into administration though.  The brand name Liverpool FC will dig them out of some holes there.  Man Yoo still haven’t found form.  If anything Bolton will be frustrated not to have won that game.  Alex Ferguson will be furious not to have closed the gap on Chelsea further.  Wayne Rooney’s (lack of) form is a big concern.  I agree with what Kevin Keegan says (I can’t believe I just typed that!) in this piece.   It was Rooney who piled pressure on himself by also declaring that he was about to “Write the Future” in South Africa.   If his extra curricular activities are proving to be a detrimental effect on his game Alex Ferguson needs to instruct him to stop them, it really is that simple.  Energy is so vital and having it sapped by continually exploiting his high profile could prove damaging.  Quite simply, I think he looks knackered, the World Cup and other situations in his life seem to have had an effect.   At Spurs once Gary Lineker was off form and looking  jaded so Terry Venables got the club to pay for crisphead to go away on holiday for ten days to rest.   Knowing it was a huge risk that could prove divisive he called a team meeting and explained to all the players what he was foing and why.  When Lineker returned he re-discovered his form and energy.  It was a gamble by Venables but it worked and was an excellent example of managing and motivating an  individual player.  

Another weekend surprise  was in Germany where Mainze went away to Bayern Munich and won to stay top of the table.  Mainze had to travel on the morning of the game due to all Munich’s hotels being booked out for Oktoberfest!   It may be a bit too much to expect Mainze to stay at the pinnacle but the Bundesliga can be quirky.  Repetition of Wolfsburg’s 2009 title win would be welcome.    Diversifying the gene pool of Europe’s top table would benefit the  game. 

It’s a pleasant surprise to see Paul  Gascoigne back in football, even if it is only managing Garforth Town in the amusingly named Evo Stik League.  Whether it will be the pivot which helps him to leave some of his traumas behind remains to be seen.  It can’t be any more of a calamity than his disastrous time managing Kettering in 2005.  Hopefully he can use this opportunity to start getting his life back together.  Good luck Gazza.

David Beckham makes the right noises.  He’s in the Caribbean promoting England’s World Cup bid.  Head of CONCACAF Jack Warner remains a vehicle of corruption.  To see Beckham having to schmooze up to him is a bit galling but in this case the end can justify the mean.  Hosting a World Cup would be a special time in the lives of the nation.  There has been talk of leaving behind a global legacy which is glib yet politically appealing at this precious late stage.    So much of what occurs at that level is politically motivated.

Mixing matching and incompetent administrators

September 21st, 2010 No comments

So, the BIG question,  who should start up front with Jonesy?  And the key word is start. It is increasingly clear that the manager sees the substitute bench an important part of the overall game strategy.  You can’t have too many striking options.  It’s reminiscent of Italy in 2006 who, as opposed to the usual four,  took six strikers to Germany in their World Cup squad.  In the semi against Germany alone they used five of them….. excellent use of the squad.  Different attacking possibilities are an important luxury to enjoy.  As long as we aren’t three down and game over before we get the chance to mix and match!   Although against West Ham our biggest problem was defensive.  It was a dreadful free kick for Collins to give away  that led to their goal.  Like  against Villa, we fell behind and got overran for a while.  We equalised with a well worked goal and had the better of the second half but didn’t really do enough for us to be able to say we really deserved to win the game.  Four points from the two home games isn’t a bad return though.  Newcastle on Sunday and a long overdue clean sheet will be a fine starting point.   Reaching the next round of the League Cup would be most welcome too.   Come on stoke.

Despite playing the usual vacuous superficial lip service, FIFA have decided that the votes to decide  2018 World Cup hosts  must not be influenced in any way by the subject of racism.  So what is the point of that campaign they have been running?  During the recent Russia v Andorra match the black players were targeted throughout.  Wouldn’t the threat of being cast aside in the World Cup bid be a just action and a deterrent?   In 2006 Ukranian coach Oleg Blokhin made a grand statement that black players shouldn’t play in Ukranian football at all… yet there he was participating in that inane irrelevant ceremony before his teams quarter final against Italy. If the administrative bodies are serious about eliminating racism from the game they can do it by properly punishing those who display bigotry and making an example of them.    The last time England played in Spain the black players were abused throughout the game.  An appropriate punishment would have been to make them play their next competitive game behind closed doors.  This means everyone would suffer and the knuckle draggers would be forced to consider the consequences of their actions on their fellow supporters.  The players would have to play a competitive game in near silence and, most importantly for them, their FA would miss out on a load of money. 

Brisbane Roar have existed for five years and for five years they have screamed out for a ruthless finisher. Watching them stumble to a 1-1 draw home to Adelaide on Saturday night (before heading to the pub for our game against the Hammers) was five years in one game.  Encouraging play but some dopey defending allows Adelaide in to take the lead.  Then Brisbane equalise but despite being on top rarely look like snatching a winner.  Five years of nearly but not quite.  But most importantly we do have   football matches to attend and meet mates before and after etc…  the social aspect is crucial, and the bars around the stadium are great!!   If the game to survive here it has to be supported.  However frustrating it can be!!  

Amusingly, Mourinho has already started to fall out with his board at Real Madrid!   He wants to manage Portugal temporarily for their forthcoming Euro qualifiers against Denmark and Iceland.   Initially he was saying that he’d be alone in Madrid with nothing to do for a week (yeah right!) so what harm could it possibly do?  He’s taken a step back now but that little disagreement could be the germ that metamorphosizes into a large damaging virus that infects his reign at the Bernebau.  Valencia sit at the top in Spain and after watching them masterfully hold off the energetic Hercules they are deserved league leaders.  Barcelona will be relieved to have got their defeat at Hercules out of the system with the  win at Atletico Madrid. The only problem is that Messi’s injury has taken attention away from the wonderful goal he scored which in itself took attention away from Pedro’s brilliant diagonal pass to unlock the defence.   It was just  a pity about the horrible black goal nets….. they weren’t a worthy receptacle for a goal of such skill.    Messi’s injury means he’ll have to miss a few games including one against mighty Rubin Kazan in Europe….which takes me onto another subject……..

……The European Cup started last week.  OR to give it a more fitting name… The overblown overhyped carnival of too much pointlessness started last week.  That competition doesn’t get going until March, and often in March the drama and quality of the knockout football on show serves to demonstrate how futile and irrelevant too many of the matches in the early stages are.  There were a few suggestions of romance when Chelsea travelled to MSK Zillna but by the thirty minute mark romance had given way to grim predictable reality.  Arsenal were indeed brilliant against Braga but, with all respect, it was Braga.  Obviously they some good qualities to be in the competition at all but is that victory a genuine benchmark for anything?  Quite simply, that tournament needs a revamp to freshen it up.  At the moment it’s lots of clubs playing lots of games with little to spark the imagination.   Don’t start me on that Europa league.

Liverpool were well beaten by Man Yoo.  The 3-2 scoreline is deceptive.   The strange thing is however did Liverpool get back to 2-2?  It’s lame at this point to say Berbatov’s second was marvellous but of course it was.  To control the ball on the thigh and overhead kick takes rare agility.  It’s always aesthetically pleasing to see goals bounce in off the underside off the crossbar too.   Elsewhere, it was disgraceful to see Arsene Wenger violently attack the fourth official.  It isn’t football when you reduce yourself  to vicious intimidation like that.  That kind of bare thuggery has no place in the game.  He needs to wake up to himself.

The National Football Centre in Burton is delayed again.  This saga has dragged on for years now.  In 2001 the idea was announced and it was all conceived to follow the lead and success of the French centre at Clairefontaine.  Nine years and 25m quid later it is no nearer to completion.  This whole ongoing yarn symbolises the FA’s inability to make change.  Change that is required to help English players develop into the kind of players capable of sustaining a place amongst the world’s elite.  Instead of seeing the importance of such a project it has been allowed to fizzle out and the administrators have dithered and fussed around.  But who is seriously surprised by that?


September 15th, 2010 No comments

YEEAAHHSSSSS!!!!!!!!  We finally got off the mark.  Tuesday morning’s  victory against Villa was as welcome as it was dramatic.  In addition to the result, there were many positives to take from the game.  Despite fading, Wilson’s defence unlocking through ball for Jonesy suggests he could provide  the creativity we’ve been craving.  It was just frustrating that the chance was wasted.  After starting so strongly we paid a heavy price for failing to impose our dominance by way of a goal.  Downing’s header was classy BUT, the point has to be made the marking was slack.  To lose Huth all he had to do was take a step back.  From that point we had to scramble to get to half time only one goal behind.  We had an outrageous piece of luck when Young somehow missed the free header and we spent the last ten minutes of the half  being dismantled.  When we got the ball forward our forwards were too isolated to sustain possession and we were  just put under pressure again.  We regrouped at half time and our play was more structured at the start of the second half.  After  an hour it seemed Villa were content to sit on their lead and play the game out.  Our inability to create many chances qualified their approach BUT we are made of stern stuff these days and Matty produced that peach of a cross and Jonesy produced an even better header and we drew level.  That header was fantastic and more than makes up for the chance he’d wasted earlier in the match!  As the ball came across he had to jump backwards, it showed great agility to get the power in an accurate header like that.  At that stage we’d have been relatively satisfied with the draw but that grandstand finish was the stuff of football heaven!   And even more exciting than Evertons’s comeback two days before.  A great way to dig out a win and credit to our players for their tenacity.   When we win it’s well worth getting out of bed at 4.30 am!    You spend the day riddled with fatigue but blissfully so!     West Ham on Saturday night.   The early 9.45pm kick off.  I’ll be watching in the pub surrounded by Hammers.   It’d be marvellous to start the football weekend with another three points.   Come on Stoke!!  

Shortly before half time in the Real Madrid v Osasuna match, Osasuna forward Aranda was caught offside.  He kicked the ball away and was rightly yellow carded for his petulance.  As he walked back up the field Real Madrid’s Marcelo needlessly pushed Aranda in the back to provoke him, Marcello received no such card from the ref.  One can only conclude that England isn’t the only country where refs are frightened of the big clubs.  It’s amusing that Real Madrid have taken on the Mourinho mantra so quickly.  Playing out an uninspiring but comfortable 1-0 win is the Jose style!  Frog eyed Ozil’s pace proved decisive, his pace and ability to get behind the opposition line being the clinching factor.  The self proclaimed ‘Special one’ will be quietly satisfied.  Especially as Barcelona’s astonishing defeat gives them an early advantage.   

I’ve been going through some of my old football tapes and got to the 92/93 season and beyond and the way Eric Cantona  transformed Man Yoo is seriously impressive. There’s one goal in late 93 at Bramhall Lane where he sprints the length of the pitch and executes a ruthless finish. Colossus.  it’s an example of Fergusons brilliant motivation / man management skills. He blatantly allowed Cantona more freedom than the others. He knew that to prevent any aspect of him would be to suppress part of his football. It was all part of the same thing. Ryan Giggs says that they would plan a night out and right in front of the boss Existential Eric would ask him what pub they were meeting in. Cantona could do that knowing that unlike the others he’d never get a bollocking!  It was the purchase of Cantona that was the pivot for their era of domination and, like so many others, I wish with all my heart it had never happened but he really was a magnificent footballer.

The exclusion of Rooney from Man Utd’s starting line up on Saturday was a big surprise.   Alex Ferguson’s statement that he was protecting his striker from Evertonian abuse is hard to believe.  It’s six years since Rooney left Goodison Park and every time he’s returned he has been the target for vicious abuse.  The recent revelations give the bitterness new frisson but did Rooney need to be excluded?  Surely he’s old and ugly enough to handle the stick.  Would the level of abuse be any greater than Cantona used to receive at Elland Road?   Or what Gary Neville gets at Anfield?  Rooney would have expected it.  Not that his omission detracted from a brilliant game of football.  How did Everton dig a draw out?  With only two minutes remaining and the game seemingly drifting towards three points for Man utd the only question seemed to be whether the lead could be extended.  Now they will be opainfully aware that they are four points behind Chelsea with little sign of the West London sugar daddy’s plaything looking remotely like slipping up.  Man Utd now face their deadly rivals Liverpool although if Liverpool are as toothless as they were on Sunday at Birmingham they have little to worry about… with or without Rooney.   Why was there a mention of Bobby Zamora’s leg being broken deliberately?   That’s a ludicrous suggestion.  Karl Henry made a fair tackle.   An injury like that is horrible f0r any player  but  malicious accusations like those do nobody any good. 

It’s only mid September but it’s hard to imagine anyone but Chelsea winning the league…. or even mounting a substantial challenge for that matter.  The top two in the Bundesliga are Hoffenheim and Mainze.  Fourth are Hannover and Kaiserslautern are in fifth.  Assuming the traditional powerhouses finish in the top four spots, it’s refreshing that some  less renowned clubs can get a moment at the top table.  It would be great of one of the lesser known clubs could emulate Wolfsburg and last the pace at the top.  As it would be great if the Man utd Chelsea dopoly in England could be broken.  Fat chance. 

Finally, a word of appreciation for Tony Pulis.  Given the terrible circumstances I’m sure none of us would have blamed him for staying in the background against Aston Villa.  That he wanted to get on the touchline for the second half is an indication of his passion for football and Stoke City in particular.  It was touching to hear his name sung long and loud when he appeared.  Hopefully our win brought a bright moment in a traumatic day for him.

New signings a new manager and mock shock

September 9th, 2010 No comments

The transfer deadline arrived amid the usual media bullshine and ballyhoo BUT this time it was different.  Different because Stoke City were one of the main players in the bi annual game of protracted negotiation.  Since reaching  the Premier League it’s felt at times as if nothing changed when transfers fall through andwe’ve look on enviously as other clubs seem to effortlessly acquire their targets.  Now we have turned that around and we have bought several new players in… like a Premier League team does!!  It’s hard to imagine Jonesy won’t be a first choice striker so the main interest will be who partners him.  It has been widely suggested that Gudjohnsen is a long way from match fit leaving Fuller Walters and Tuncay contending for the starting spot.  These are difficult decisions but that’s all part of a manager’s job, and there are much worse situations a football manager has to confront.  By the time we face Aston Villa  on Tuesday morning,  the new players will have had a nearly fortnight to train with their new colleagues and for the gaffer to impose on them what’s required.  Over to you Tone!! 

The Villa game takes on new levels of interest with our new signings taking their bow and it being their first game with a new manager in charge.   Gerard Houllier is the latest manager to try and squeeze Villa into a top four spot.  His excitable predecessor blew his chance when their 08/09 campaign disintegrated after a 2-2 draw with us.  Can Houllier gel all that potential into a side that can dine at Europe’s top table without getting food down their shirt?  Tuesday morning will be their first step on that journey.  We mustn’t give the genial Frenchman the warm welcome we gave to Sam Allardyce at Blackburn.  It was exasperating to read reports that Big Sam had motivated Blackburn to a much needed victory.  In actual fact, we decided to hand the game to them by way of brainless defensive errors.  Sonko’s unnecessary lunge set the tone for the rest of the first half.  No new manager anywhere  will ever have an easier welcome.  

Is anyone seriously appalled by the allegations / revelations (delete where necessary) about Wayne Rooney’s private life?  Did the populace  collectively feint in exasperated, astounded, disgusted, devastated, marinated shock?  I can’t help thinking the News of the World are tapping into the mood of the nation, that being their is still a lot of anger over the horrendous World Cup campaign.   Not that many people seem too bothered aboutwhat he may or may not have done!!  If his two England performances are any indicator the pandemonium has inspired him!  Two excellent performances that made a big contribution to two victories for England and the ideal way to start to lift the dark clouds of South Africa.  Joe Hart was impressive against Bulgaria and, despite a few edgy fumbles, was competent against Switzerland.  It’s important that now, despite the aforementioned fumbles, FabCap makes it clear that Hart is no.1.   It ends speculation and gives Hart confidence and sheds any fear he may be feeling.  Similarly Adam Johnson has surely earned an extended run in the team.  A new younger face and feet filled with talent.  Give him a starting place against Montenegro andtell him to enjoy himself.  Although it contradicts the aura a lot Englandplayers carry in tournaments it might be refreshing for them to remember it is possible to play for England and have a good time.  It was Brian Clough who’s main motivational technique was to ensure that his players never went out to play with fear in their hearts.  Two wins is an excellent way to commence the campaign, this may seem premature but victory in the next game actually gives us one foot in the finals.  And preparation for 2012 starts now.  It’s hardly a surprise that Capello has announced he’ll be leaving the job after the European Championship.  Since the World Cup he’s had the air of a man wondering why he ever took the role in the first place.   So who to replace him?  It’s highly likely the next manager will be English, and why would that surprise anyone after the roaring success of Steve McClaren?   

One of the oddest rumours is that Ryan Giggs could be poised to take the job of managing Wales. Surely this is paper talk.  There has been suggestions he could combine the job while still playing.  Well despite what gets suggested you can’t really manage part time.  He should remember that Brian Clough said he’d happily give away his managerial success to have completed his playing career to it’s natural end.  While he had the job Kenny Dalglish was asked if managing Liverpool was the best job in the world and he said it was the 2nd best job in the world….  the best was PLAYING for Liverpool.  Giggs shouldn’t be too hasty.

Only 84 days until the announcement of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.  Hosting the World Cup could be the biggest thing in the history of England.    Nobody can deny The English game has had sickening problems since 1966 but it’s time.    Many things have improved in the last twenty years and the world coming around for a  dinner party (a very big dinner party) would be the perfect  way to celebrate these developments.   Please register here and back England’s bid to host the 2018 World cup.