Posts Tagged ‘Fuller’

Stupidity, frustration, luddites, corruption.

March 14th, 2012 No comments

At Stamford Bridge Stoke had weathered the early storm.  We were looking increasingly comfortable and, at times, even had possession in the attacking third of the pitch!  When the home supporters were audibly restless it was a fantastic sound.  If we could stay solid and focussed we could collect our first point at Chelsea since promotion.  As we know now, Ricardo Fuller’s foolish violent stamp put paid to any hopes we had of avoiding defeat.  Fuller’s brutal attack on Ivanovic is particularly sickening when bearing in mind our team is known for being physical.  His response on being needled was to commit an act of vicious thuggery.  In short, using school playground terminology, we could be seen as a team that gives it out but can’t take it.  Drogba took his chance well, quick feet skipping through to snatch the points. Unfortunately we’ll always wonder how we would have fared with eleven players.  That is down to the stupidity of one man.  In recent years Fuller has been instrumental in our rise to the Premier league, and achieving stability thereafter.  It could prove a sad way for him to bow out of the Brit.

On Sunday, we have an FA Cup quarter final at Anfield.  Liverpool go into the tie as overwhelming favourites.  Victory would signal a return to Wembley and one step from another cup final. They will know that to match the Manchester clubs, and a few of the London ones, there is a huge ongoing rebuilding programme.  Despite what Kenny Dalglish may say in public he must know that the signings of Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, quite simply, haven’t worked out yet. This combined with  the total mismanagement of the Suarez – racism affair have led to a patchy season.  In August their priority was a trophy.  They achieved that in the League Cup.  Disposing of Manchester City and Chelsea (and Stoke!) on the way is impressive  but deep down inside many will be fully aware that in the final they required a penalty shootout to beat a Championship club.   The trophy is the same but it does lack the frisson of a winning goal.  The victory over Everton has undoubtedly raised spirits but they know that much of their season hangs on Sundays game.    It’s a tough ask for Stoke but it’s crucial to remember that Liverpool are not unbeatable.    A parked bus will achieve nothing.   Matty Etherington is essential to any ambitions we have.  To carry the ball forward with pace will be a relief to our deep players.  This could also be an opportunity for Jermaine Pennant to re-establish himself.  If they provide the ammunition for Peter Crouch to knock his old team out the FA Cup we’ll be on our way back to Wembley!!

The only word to describe Brisbane Roar’s 1-1 draw with Adelaide United is ‘frustrating’. Another chance to reach the top of the table was wasted. Falling behind to an early goal on the break, the remainder of the game saw the Adelaide half of the field covered in orange.  Clawing back to parity on 70 minutes Roar couldn’t find a winning goal.  Thomas Broich squandered several excellent chances and we all had to settle for a point. Watching table toppers Central Coast lose at Perth only exacerbated the disappointment.  Three points would have put Brisbane at the summit with only two games left of the regular season to go.  Deeply deeply frustrating.

With Clint Hill’s ‘goal’ for QPR at Bolton, hot on the heels of Sulley Muntari’s effort for Milan against Juventus, the debate about goal line technology resurfaces.  Surely if it’s available it’s  foolish not to use it.  It’s unlike many topics of debate that arise surrounding refereeing decisions in a game of football.  For example, at the start of February Robert Huth was sent off against Sunderland..  It was my opinion that the red card was harsh and a yellow would suffice.  However, friends I spoke with, and reading assorted internet message boards, many felt it was a good decision by the ref and the sending off was fully justified.  There are varying opinions and that is part of the soul of football.  The difference between a situation like that and whether a ball crosses the line or not is that whether the ball crosses the line isn’t a subject of debate, it’s a matter of fact, and also the key factor in a match…. scoring a goal. Or not as the case may be.  In these days where lost points can lose a club millions, and to implement the change would be relatively straight forward, isn’t it prehistoric to refuse to accept it?   Mr Blatter would be OK, he should think of the favours it could generate from the companies who want to get the contracts to put the equipment in place!   The bods at FIFA have stated they are keen to see it introduced in time for the next World Cup.  That’s fine but more details would be welcome.   What form will it take?  Will it be experimented with initially?   We need a feasible schedule.  Over to you Blatter.

Ricardo Texeira’s departure from the top table of Brazilian football is being widely regarded as a boost for their World Cup preparations.  He ran the CBF for 22 years and his reign was peppered with allegations of corruption and constant calls for his resignation.  President Dilma Rousseff has regarded his exit as a token of personal achievement and has arranged to meet Sepp Blatter at the weekend to discuss World Cup preparations.  She’d be wise to ensure the bill passes through parliament which ensures the infrastructure funding is available.

Texeira’s successor is Jose Maria Marin. For the sake of football, and 2014 in particular, we have to hope his rule is more transparent than that of his predecessor. Anything that compromises the integrity of the game should be publicised and addressed.  Here is Jose Maria Marin at a medal ceremony. This is transparency…. the whole world can see what he’s doing!

An RIP, a lethargic start, and a cacophony of FA Cup emotions

April 12th, 2011 No comments

The most frustrating thing about Stoke on Saturday is that we started so sluggishly.  We were up against a team of genuine quality, but allowing them to totally dominate us proved suicidal.   We did however score two brilliant goals.  Hopefully Jonesy’s blast will bolster his confidence and lead him and us to a bright finish to the season.  Despite having spent most of the first half frantically trying (and usually failing) to clear the ball, at half time we were only 2-3 down and alive in the game.  For large spells of the second half we matched our opponents.  We imposed ourselves on the game and kept the ball well in their half.  We couldn’t quite force an equaliser and our spirited resurgence proved  fruitless.  The truly costly aspect of the game was the lethargic start.  For most of the first half we were dreadful, and for that reason it’s hard  to feel that we really deserved anything from the game.

Sadly, Friday April 15th marks the 22nd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.   Policing at football grounds has, for many years, been a sore point amongst supporters.   It was  former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police John Stalker in the 80s who said he was aware that many police knew that football matches were one time they were “Let off the leash”.      On the 31st January1989  we had an FA Cup replay at Barnsley. Thousands of Stoke supporters arrived late due to traffic congestion.   Outside the ground a crush developed and people were getting hurt.  Initial action was to send a police horse running in to the crowd which  only added to the chaos.   To ease the congestion the police opened one of the huge exit gates which allowed the crowd  to get into the game for free. This was the response  the same force used two months later at Hillsborough.  Had there been more Stoke supporters on the away terrace that night we could have suffered that awful disaster.    Same situation, same police force, same reaction.   We, like all football supporters, were actually riding our luck,  not just on that  night, but for years before.   There was very little consideration for the issue of crowd safety over crowd control.  It could have been any of us  with the loss of life…..  and the same scandalous tabloid allegations.  RIP the 96.

Paul Gascoigne and Jimmy Greaves will soon be touring the UK with a roadshow.  This will consist of them both telling stories from their playing careers and discussing openly their well publicised alcohol problems.  The end of the shows will consist of no-holds-barred question and answer sessions.  Showing admirable resilience Greaves has been tee total since 1978.  Paul Gasciogne’s story however has been a much more painful one.   Living out his traumas in the full glare of the media couldn’t have helped him.  I can’t be the only one to fear the worst when seeing his name in a headline.  It is however pleasing to learn that he’s been dry since Christmas.  Hopefully Gazza’s found himself a new focus that can help maintain his sobriety and prevent his life from unravelling again. 

We now look forward to Sunday April 17th and what could prove to be a very special day in our lives.  There are reasons to dislike the semi finals being played at Wembley but this isn’t the time for that debate.  The important thing is that we have reached a stage in the FA Cup that we haven’t reached for 39 long barren years.  In 148 years of history we have only reached three FA Cup Semi Finals.  39 years ago our dreams were brutally shattered.  The game was delicately poised at 1-1 when Arsenal’s John Radford was put clean through on goal but  clearly offside.  Inexplicably, the linesman kept his flag down and Radford gleefully scored to bury our hopes of reaching the final for another 39 years.  Following much confusion over Radford’s goal it transpired that on the far side of the pitch from the useless lino, there was a man in a white coat selling programmes to the crowd.  Stoke wore white that night and the flag carrying cretin thought the seller was a Stoke player.  This allowed Radford to put us out of the cup and generations of Stoke City fans to carry a chip on our shoulder the size of Heathrow Airport!  Surely on Sunday we can’t suffer such a deep injustice?  By the way, I have never ever seen Radford’s horrible goal and I’m not sure it was even televised at all.   But if anyone has a copy and can upload it to You Tube it’d be fantastic to see.  I must be a masochist! 

By the time our game against Bolton kicks off the first finalist will be decided.  It’s fair to say that if Manchester City are as poor as they were at Anfield their loathed red neighbours will effectively receive a bye to the final.  Why did Mancini start without Silva or De Jong?  Their sole consolation is that they can’t play so badly in two consecutive matches.

Our game against Bolton will be an intense tight affair.  Two evenly matched teams playing with a huge prize at stake.  Ties like this are often decided by a moment of  inspiration.  We’ll be hoping It’ll be a Fuller or Etherington making the difference as much as the Bolton fans will be hoping it comes from an Elmander or Davies!  It is great that one grand old club will be in the final. Stan and Nat will be watching proudly from above. Stan with a glass of fruit juice and Nat with a pint of brown ale!  I’ll be in the Pig n Whistle pub in the centre of  Brisbane, anxiously watching the clock and begging our players to take the sacred step 148 years of predecessors have failed to take.

Hearing Abide With Me has always brought a lump to my throat. From childhood, 2.45 on FA Cup Final day symbolised a huge slice of football heritage.  The huge noisy crowd gathered doffs it’s cap in reverence.  When The song starts the mood isn’t just about the game on the day.  We reflect on, and celebrate, the glorious history of the competition.  Cardiff’s shock win over Arsenal in 1927.  It’s George Mutch’s late dramatic winner in 1938.  Stan’s final in 1953.  Nat Lofthouse’s controversial goalkeeper charge in the 1958 final and Bob Stokoe’s ecstatic dash across the lush green turf to embrace Jim Montgomery after his Sunderland team embarrassed Don Revie’s Leeds.   If we win at Wembley we will have the chance to carve our name in history.  The memories Sunday may bring could live with us all forever.  In years to come we could cry tears of joy and reflect fondly  on that day in April 2011 when we finally, after so long, reached an FA Cup Final.  Players might find this hard to believe but that means more than money… much much more.   Come on Stoke.   Our time is now.

Emphatic victory, captaincy, an agonising anniversary and a get well soon

March 22nd, 2011 No comments

Stoke City sent out a crisis what crisis message with the impressive 4-0 defeat of Newcastle.  We were feeling decidedly edgy before the game.  Nervous glances at the league table led us to believe we could easily get dragged into trouble.  While there are still many points to be won and lost, and we need to stay focused on reaching safety… we blew away the cobwebs with a win every bit as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests.  The result was never in doubt from the moment Jermaine Pennant sneaked in to put us 2 up straight after the interval.  From that point we played with renewed viguor and refreshing confidence.  Fuller’s late goal simply gave the socreline a more realistic complexion.  Surprisingly three of our goals came from open play.     It’s pleasing that after a season of wasted  free kicks we score two in two games.  At the final whistle the Geordies looked totally demoralised.  I don’t doubt that this emphatic win is partly due to the bout of cup fever the city is currently absorbed in.  The whole idea  of a cup run being at the expense of league form has never seemed a valid  notion.  For a club like us it injects the season with fresh impetus and generates excitement.  Premier league safety and a possible cup final.  What else could we want from our football team?  What a difference two wins can make.

That Stoke are yet to take part in a goalless draw  is one of the quirkier statistics of the season.   If we got our first 0-0 of the season in the next game against Chelsea few Stokies will be complaining!

Our win was crucial because it’s unlikely we’ll get much from our next two games against Chelsea and Spurs.  It’s a relief to have the points in the bank.  Wolves victory over Aston Villa was a surprise as was WBA drawing at home to Arsenal, a game in which both teams can reflect on two points dropped.  Wigan’s  win over Birmingham keeps them alive and West Ham will be delighted to leave White Hart Lane with a point.  There are many twists and turns ahead and it’s getting complicated.  Gerard Houllier must be starting to suffer sleepless nights as will Alex McCleish.  When the season climax arrives we can hope our sleepless nights are because of the hullabaloo surrounding our first FA Cup Final appearance!

Sunday March 27th marks the 40th anniversary of our first FA Cup semi final against Arsenal.  Back in 1971 the cup held nearly as much prestige as the league did.  As a result the semi was a huge game.  In his excellent autobiography, Denis Smith describes the game in detail.  Smithy states that  for much of the game we felt we had reached the final.  We were seconds away from one of the most memorable moments in our history.  To have a seemingly unassailable lead snatched away at such a late stage is agonising even now.  Whatever happens on April 17th I hope none of us feel the agony Smithy and his teammates felt 40 years ago.  On the subject of this years  Semi final I’d have preferred to play on the Saturday, but after waiting 39 long years another day is tolerable!

David Luiz was colossal for Chelsea against Manchester city.  He ran the defence and initiated moves, using his heading prowess to give his team the lead.  The one big black mark was the avoidable yellow he recklessly acquired in injury time.  One question which must be asked is why were Manchester City so inexplicably negative?  Whilst understanding the need for a contingency plan against a side of Chelsea’s undoubted quality, couldn’t they have been just a bit more adventurous?  Given the money spent on the team they should have been able to go to Stamford Bridge with plans to attack and try to win the game.  Another noticeable aspect of the match is that Fernando Torres still hasn’t scored for Chelsea. 

Attention turns to international fixtures now, in particular England’s European Championship qualifier against Wales.  Reaching tournaments is a no win situation for England.  Qualification is expected and quickly forgotten but failure incurs the wrath of a nation.  Combine this with the fact that there are still many people who, mind bogglingly, expect us to win each tournament we participate in.  While my English feet are firmly on the ground, Wales is game we can confidently expect to win.  Should we fail to do so our presence at Poland and Ukraine in 2012 will be jeopardised and it’s hard to imagine Capello surviving the fallout.

 Does John Terry’s re-appointment as England captain really justify the media interest?  Fabio Capello must feel bewildered by the  pandemonium surrounding the decision.  The primary responsibility of a captain in football is to step forward at the start of the game to call ‘heads’.  Or perhaps ‘tails’ as the case may be.  Good teams have 11 captains (football cliche 231) so why the irrational level of interest and analysis?  It’s just another episode in the bloated hyperbole drenched soap opera that the England team has become.

It was a shock to learn that Bryan Robson, an England captain of an earlier vintage, had undergone an operation to remove a cancerous tumour on his throat.   Few could doubt that he was the heart and soul of both Manchester United and England for several years.  He was the only England player to emerge from the calamitous 1988 European Championship campaign with any credit.  Roy Keane, his successor in the Man Utd engine room, was never the all round player that Captain Marvel was.  Get well soon Robbo. 

It was sad but not so much of a shock to read that Ex Argentina coach Cesar Luis Menotti has undergone lung surgery.  One of  the abiding memories of the 1978 and 1982 World Cups was Menotti anxiously sucking  cigarette after cigarette.  This familiar image overshadows the fact that he built an exciting team.  His Argentina  were filled with flair that was balanced with a sturdy defence.  Perhaps the biggest testament to his management is that he was strong enough to omit a stroppy youngster named Diego Maradona from the squad…. much to the distress of Maradona himself and the Argentinian media.  Daniel Passarella holding the trophy aloft in the River Plate Stadium vindicated Menotti’s decision, and ensured his place in history.   Good luck Cesar Luis Menotti. 

Milan’s defeat at Palermo gave both Inter a priceless opportunity to get within touching distance of Milan.  They seized that opportunity by edging past Lecce 1-0…. a lacklustre performance but at this stage of the season you ask how not how many.  Despite the lethargic showing you can be assured that Inter are delighted to be only one point behind their neighbours.  Their next league game is the Milan derby.  Each team will know that victory will provide pole position in the struggle for the Scudetto.  It’ll be a huge occasion.  It was a good week for Inter.  In knocking Bayern Munich out of the Champions League they emerged victorious from a thrilling encounter.  Leronardo’s hyperactive touchline presence added to the spectacle.  The Brazilian has rejuvenated his team.  So impressive is the turnaround it’s hard to believe it’s the same club that Benitez left with  abject indignity.

A good point, devious voters and an impulsive knee jerk reaction

December 7th, 2010 No comments

In front of some gloriously raucous travelling Stokie support, we deserved the point we earned on Saturday at Wigan.  Some aspects of the match were fortuitous, it wasn’t a foul on Fuller that led to Huth’s deflected free kick.  Wigan missed some simple chances before equalising through Collins being seemingly wrong footed to slice the ball into his own goal.  We responded immediately with in delicious style.  Jonesy released Fuller who jinked in the box and threaded a ball through for Etherington to drill home.  Again we couldn’t hold onto the lead and a hopeful Wigan punt was again deflected in, this time by Rory.  In the second half either side could have won it but our forward play was usually far too disjointed, but there is little doubt in my mind that the best strike partnership we have is Fuller and Jonesy.  On of the things a Jonesy brings to the team is that he’s so hard to mark.  Sometimes he hangs deep knowing he keeps two markers with him and that stretches defences when Etherington or Pennant break forward…. especially when they cut inside. It means he looks lazy but at times it’s deliberately done to bring colleagues into the game.  So a well earned point and another small yet crucial step en route to the magical 40 mark!  As ever, upwards and onwards and it’s Blackpool next.  In his post match comments Tony Pulis said that Blackpool would be the toughest home game of the season.  Methinks our gaffer was sensibly  managing expectation!  There are few times when we can go into a game (even a home game) confidently expecting a victory.  Trying to keep a lid on the expectancy was a wise move but he must know that Blackpool are preferable opponents to Chelsea or Man Utd!!   Not that Blackpool will be an easy game of course.  There are no easy games in this league… cliche number 112!!

Despite playing the usual inane vacuous superficial lip service, FIFA  decided that the votes to decide 2018 World Cup hosts must not be influenced in any way by the subject of racism. So what was the point of that campaign they have been running? During the Russia v Andorra match the black players were targeted throughout. Wouldn’t the threat of being cast aside in the World Cup bidding process be a just action and a deterrent? So the nation in which racist abuse is commonplace get the punishment of…. hosting the 2018 World Cup.  Preposterous though it may seem, that’s FIFA justice.  The fallout from the humongous scale of the England bid’s humiliation continues to resonate.  There was some bombastic talk of withdrawal from FIFA which would ultimately prove self defeating and  futile.  An underrated aspect of England’s failure is that the ruling bodies need to learn to develop positive relationships with other associations not further isolate themselves.  The talk of betyrayal regarding promised votes that didn’t materialise was naive in the extreme.  Did those running the bid really think upstanding ethical bastions like the hideous Jack Warner could be trusted?  There is a precedent, in 1920 England did withdraw from FIFA and, in some respects, particularly in regards to internal politics, has never fully recovered from self imposed exile from the international football community.  In the immediate future England need to focus on applying long term strategies to win a tournament on the pitch, not just a bid behind the murky walls of Zurich.  

Though it was a long shot Australia’s failure to win the right to host 2022 is a huge blow to the game here.  45 million dollars have been spent with nothing to show.   It has increased  Australia’s football profile  on the world stage slightly but when A-League clubs are struggling to pay the bills, and one could have to fold at the end of the season it doesn’t look like money spent wisely at all.   It’s another watershed point for the game here.  Another stage where Australia has the sheer scale of football imposed on it.   It’s all part of the steep learning curve. 

It’s widely believed that much of the Russian infrastructure for 2018 will be funded by Roman Abramovic.  If that’s the case it’s a huge financial commitment, even for someone with that colossal wealth to their name.  With a project of that scale on his hands, could he soon lose some of his interest in Chelsea?  It’s a while now since blank cheques were handed out and the curiously timed dismissal of Ray Wilkins, ill advised though it was, may well have simply been a cost cutting exercise.   There is nothing to suggest they will be spending big in January and Carlo Ancelotti may have to sell before he can buy.  The players are clearly edgy, the manager said as much in his post match comments.  The habitual six  goal hammerings of August must feel like a lifetime ago.  Even with those backstage wranglings Chelsea is a haven of stability compared to Newcastle United.  After seeking and appointing messiahs, Chris Hughton demonstrated that the answer had been in front of their nose all along.  What more could Hughton have done and what exactly was expected?  Was he sacked solely  because of the admittedly lacklustre showing on Sunday?  There can be little else to explain it?  He took over when they were a club depressed from top to bottom, won the league to get promoted straight away and were well on their way to stabilising in the Premier League, and adding  stability to the club they have required for many years.  His reward is the sack.  Mike Ashley is known for his impulsive nature, after this debacle he’ll soon be known for his stupidity.  The perfect example of someone who doesn’t have an understanding of the game.  Isn’t Hughton a big enough name?  The word supercilious springs to mind.   

Congratulations should be offered to Alloa Athletic, in a fixture programme decimated by freezing weather and postponements and snopw and a litany of unpleasantness they managed to host the only match in Scotland at the weekend.  They might not have the best team in the land but the groundsman is a superstar.    A move to and old firm club is imminent!!

 Milan are looking increasingly comfortable on top of Serie A.  It’s Amusing that there has been talk for a few years about having to offload Gattuso yet he continues as strong as ever.  Robinho’s hunger for football has clearly returned and as well as intrinsic touches of skill, he’s working aard and supporting Ibrahimovic.  It’s hard to mention the Italian game without pondering how long Benitez will last managing Inter.   It was always goint to be tough to follow Jose Mourinho but surely the most pessimistic of the black and blue half of Milan couldn’t have anticipated a fall so rapid and comprehensive.

Elephants in this red and white room, fan power and a triumph of temperance

November 1st, 2010 No comments

Of course Tuncay’s goal should have stood.    Everton well and truly rode their luck with that.  This wasn’t as conclusive as Marriner’s cowardly inaction against Man Utd though.  Everton should have had a penalty and we were fortunate the ref inexplicably chose not to book Etherington for cheating.  In the week Tony Pulis called for extended bans for diving players it was almost inevitable a Stoke player would embarrass him.  Unfortunately it embarrasses us all.  I for one don’t like our players behaving like that.  So Tuncay’s goal should have stood but to place the blame for this defeat solely in the hands of the ref is to avoid some worrying elephants in this descending room.  As you’d expect we matched Everton’s endeavour for much of the game.  We got behind the ball and squeezed the play well when Everton were in possession and we got forward  when we could.  Our attacking still isn’t as creative as it should be but Tuncay’s  jinky movement unsettled Everton at times and we competed well.  So to lose because of sloppy defensive play AGAIN is inexcusable.  Our defensive record isn’t half as good as it’s sometimes made out to be.  One clean sheet this season in the league, our defenders too often the architects of the collapses.  At the other end Jonesy appears to have hit one of his notorious dead ends.  He barely won a header at Goodison Park let alone look likely to test Tim Howard…. so a goal was an outlandish suggestion. When Fuller returns he’ll add a new dimension and some much needed fluidity to our attacking play, and we need it right now.  It’s not that we played badly, in fact in spells we played well, and it could be said we deserved a point.  In reality nobody simply ‘derserves’ anything…it has to be earned. Giving points to the opposition is clumsy and any more repeats of such inexcusable generosity could see us slide headlong into the relegation struggle.  Sunderland next and if they are as docile on Saturday as they were against Newcastle we have a chance of getting something but if we are in control we have to score.  A near miss is a miss.

Having moved house last week I was emptying the mountain of boxes and found my England flags.  I realised that throughout the World Cup I’d never even had the enthusiasm got them out to put around the house or take to the pub.  Reflecting, four months on, it really was an horrendous campaign.   There’s always 2018…. IF England are hosts we might reach the quarter finals, and get knocked out on penalties of course.   That sounds bleak but at least i’ll get chance to use my flags! 

Whatever happened to the Premier League’s marvellous 39th game idea?  It must filed in the great ideas draw alongside Blatter’s World Cup every two years and Havelange’s bigger goals.   A positive  result of this daft idea is that it was the outrage of supporters which brought the end to this diabolical barstewardisation of football.  A shining example of fans using their power as supporters and consumers (sorry for using that C  word) to ensure it never got off the ground.  I remember being in the FSA and before a Stoke home game we handed out about 2,500 leaflets about the campaign opposing all seater stadiums. Every person we spoke to agreed with the campaign and was repelled by the prospect of all seaters and willingly took the leaflets. Despite so much support from everyone we didn’t receive one application to join the FSA or one contact regarding any action that could be taken. Remember too that all seaters becoming compulsory was a long way away at that point. In short, nobody wanted them but at the same time nobody was actually prepared to do anything to prevent it happening.  So when people get emotional and nostalgic about terraces, remember there weren’t many people prepared to actually do anything to keep them.  Is unpopular change  inevitable?  If fans can realise their power and influence   it is far from inevitable.   Its important to remember that amid talk of TV monies sponsors and billionaire oil oligarchs supporters still have an influence that, if asserted en masse, can change decisions and rattle administrative cages. Anything which effects goings on at clubs like Man Utd  and Liverpool is BIG news. So ensure the way the vast majority of supporters feel… and what is at stake… is on appropriate agendas.  Standing in Lime Street all those years ago I naively felt that perhaps, just perhaps, we had a chance. That maybe people were motivated enough to want to actively seek to achieve something together. I was wrong. But what about this time? Write those letters send those emails ring those phone ins and make a noise…. and abuse of supporter loyalty  won’t be inevitable.

A fortnight ago Alex Ferguson confirmed Wayne Rooney wanted to leave Man Utd.  After much persuasion and a chunky pay rise  Rooney decided to stay at Old Trafford.  No more or less than that.  There was really no need for helicopters to be dispatched to cover the ‘big story’.  It was all a non event.  During our game against them on the Sunday the commentators talked of a traumatic difficult week for them.  Was it heck.  Wrexham Southend or Wimbledon know what a ‘traumatic’ time for supporters is.  The Rooney situation  merited coverage but not the melodramatic hyperbole that ensued. More important than all the tabloid tittle tattle is that he soon regains his form for England.  He is after all, even after the recent mock shock,  a footballer.

Bless Arry for defending Gomes over the Nani goal.  But even Arry must know Gomes was culpable for this moment of football oddness.  The biggest surprise is probably that it happens so rarely!  Hopefully a Stoke player will have the presence of mind to sneak in like that.  The peculiar nature of the second goal overshadowed the fact that Man Utd are returning to top form.  Unlike their sky blue neighbours who seem to have hit a momentary dead end.    Mick McCarthy’s post match interview after his teams deserved victory was amusing.  Seeing him trying to be rational and balanced when he clearly wanted to jump up yelling with his hands in the air was a triumph of temperance!