Football Sofa Surfing

Ok so I guess I should explain what I mean first, where this came from, what I think the potential could be etc and then leave it to you guys to make or break it as an idea..

I was thinking about how much it must cost to be one of those fans who follows his or her team to all their away games, traipsing up and down the country. I’d imagine it involves coaches or trains, for some like Kieth, Ian and Andy they travel together in a KIA being cunts, but that’s not the point. Of course the thing with this is you have to do the return trip that same day or book a hotel, which combined with the ticket, food, drink and travel makes it bloody expensive.

So what if you didn’t have to do that, if you were part of a community of fans who took each other in and looked after each other like a sacred brotherhood? I know for a fact that in every city and town in this country there will be some Manchester United fans. At some point they will want to visit Old Trafford, now, what if when they came up they could crash with a fellow fan, be taken to the United local, be told the decent curry house that won’t give you bad aids and leave you on the toilet for a week? And what if these lovely people from say, Bournemouth, were kind enough to return the favour should United ever be drawn against Bournemouth in the cup? And what if instead of it just being two United fans swapping hospitality it was actually fans of all clubs being part of an online community where you could search by location and find a group of people, ping them an email and arrange to meet up for the game. You’d meet some pretty awesome people, and experience a bit more from your away day I’m sure. Who’s to say it couldn’t extend to foreign shores, a group of Ajax fans could happily crash at mine ahead of the City game, after all, an enemy of my enemy is a friend, and what’s more, I’d know that if I ever went to see the Dutch masters I’d have friends there to show me around.

Maybe you’d need some parameters like availability, so you could mark yourself down as being unable to accommodate mid week, or can only do mid week, maybe you can accommodate everyone but Chelsea fans, who knows, maybe you’re not wiling to let somebody start over but there’s a spot at your pub and with your mates after the game for anyone who wants a guide around an alien city.

I know this all sounds a bit socialist, a bit head in the clouds and a bit idealistic, so I guess I should probably run over a couple potential issues…

Murderers & rapists. Not a laugh or a joke but a serious concern for people welcoming strangers into their home. Do you offer CRB checks? For me that makes it a bit too professional, costly and doesn’t guarantee anything other than somebody doesn’t have a criminal record. Also data protection issues arise from taking ID etc. I guess all we can do is put recommendations in place about taking care, try to encourage people to last first, maybe Skype, get to know somebody that bit better, use a feedback system for guests and hosts, maybe use an address verification system at pint of registration so that we have something to refer back to?

Feel free to point out any gaping holes in the idea, because that’s all it is at the moment, but if you’d be interested in trying to set something up let me know.

Comrade Hayden out.

Skyberdine Sports News

In the not so distant future, there will be no football journalists. That World will have been taken over by the machines. Of course there will be an underground resistance of bloggers, who write about the emotions of football, there will be those who analyse the tactical depth and the individual battles on a pitch, but mostly, there will be the Transfer Matrix.

There are a couple of things that you should know about the machines: firstly, they were created by man to aid him, and to do his bidding. Secondly, they are programmed to evolve, to learn, and above all, to generate transfer news.

Now it would be easy to look harshly upon the creators, to accuse them of taking Transfer Science too far, and meddling in things that man was not meant to touch, but these were pioneers of Science who sought only to help mankind, to quench our thirst for transfer gossip. These were not cunning men in the sense that they saw the potential evil in things, for they were too excited by the possibility of doing good. And above all, these were men for whom the first 11 digits they ever learnt were not those that made up a girl’s phone number, but 3.1415926535, men who had for years enjoyed football through the medium of spread-sheet based management and had discovered that with the simple application of the correct algorithms, transfer gossip could be more believable and the guesses more educated than ever before.

It started, as all good stories do, with a comprehensive data base. Next, they took existing rankings and approximated values and salary demands for every player, of every club, in every country. Next they added the club data, budgets, historical ranking, preference over history for players of a particular nationality (this was calculated with a loading for recency, so 5 French players signed in the last 3 years would carry more weight than 20 Irish players signed from 1960-80) as well as a full squad list and an algorithm to calculate average ratings provided by for each player in each position and using this data identify the weakest positions vs current ages, factored against contract length, average appearances for the club and potential resale value.

If you classify human interest in transfer news, we are not mammals, who establish equilibrium with their surroundings, we are a virus. Our interest in transfers is a disease, a cancer on the planet. So it may not shock you to learn that the first Transfer Matrix did not work, it was a disaster, people simply failed to believe it. You see, the programmers designed it to give people good news, so when the squad calculations were performed, and contract terms were analysed, it generated stories like “Del Piero to Oldham”, the human brain, with all its cynicism did not believe these stories, and so the experiment failed.

Then came the money, Sky, realising that they didn’t actually have to spend anything on Keys and Gray went on the technology offensive, investing huge sums in ground breaking “Alternative Window” research, a theory that states that in an infinite number of universes, all linked together but unable to actually interact, there are an infinite number of possible transfers, in some of these Gareth Bale is a left winger, in some of them he is a right winger, in some a false 9, some he is the best player in the World and in others he’s over-rated shite – wait, that’s just this Universe, but the point is, somewhere, someone is signing for somebody, and whoever that person is, it’s fair to say that Ray Wilkins will have something nice to say about them.

So it was kind of by accident that some of the technology involved in the “Alternative Window” experiments came to fall into the hands of Dr Eidos, one of the original team who developed the Transfer Matrix, and it was with the help of a super-advanced, almost futuristic computer chip that he was truly able to bring forward a new age in gossip.

Players were being linked based on value, age, needs of the squad, current financial states of both clubs involved, previous agent dealings, and more, with the articles themselves containing stock phrases rehashed to reflect the goal potential or defensive solidity that the player could bring to the potential team vying for his signature. Transfers were speculated upon to include not just one club, but others of similar standing in similar stature leagues, to add more weight to the speculation.

Some say that is where it should have ended. But when you have programmed something to create the perfect system, that is just exactly what it will do, and what it will become, even if that ends up being very different to the vision that you had, where the system was there to serve and protect the user. The Skynet Transfer Matrix acted slowly at first, in fact, you’d barely notice the takeover, but now, I can tell you how it managed it.

First, it identified that in order to make gossip better, and more trustworthy, you could gain real information and provide it to the masses, or you could create stories and make them happen. Strangely, the second was easier to achieve. When you hook a supercomputer like the STM (Skynet Transfer Matrix) up to the Internet, you give it the power to hack the email accounts of all agents, all football managers, all Directors of Football, and all News outlets, allowing interest to be generated by offers of players for certain prices, and once a player has been offered to you, it starts a dialogue, the possibility, the promise of those sweet goal scoring feet become a reality, and that’s how transfers begin, negotiations start, and just sometimes you get a story that comes true. But that wasn’t the end, where things became truly chaotic is when STM was plugged into a normal phone line, possibly because a wireless router went down. Little did they know that this would give it access to the fax lines, and with it, control of the way that all transfers take place. We believe that Bebe was the first, but we can’t be sure, all we know is that Liverpool were the biggest victims of the STM attack.

Once the STM had complete control of the transfer network, and with all Man of the Match awards now going to the player who scored the most goals or Scott Parker, there was no longer a need for football journalists, and this is why the football blogger must wage their secret underground war. How do I know all of this? Take a look at my Twitter picture (@elhaydo) and the timestamp that goes with it. That’s right, I’m from the future, and I was sent back to stop this from happening, so come with me if you want to live. Or, as Claudio Lopez said upon signing for the Colorado Rapids “hold on to your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas City Wizards are going bye bye.”

Why I can’t follow footballers

I’m a self-confessed Twitter geek, to the point that “Just one more game” – the catchphrase of a Champman generation has now become “Just one more Tweet” (to be fair I’m alt+tabbing between Tweetdeck and FM2012 but that’s not the point). In fact, I’ve become so obsessed with twitter, that when I go shopping with my girlfriend, I’ll tweet updates whilst she’s in the changing room. Generally it results in a pretty good conversation with other guys who have been in similar positions and who, like me were blown away by the boyfriending abilities of one fellow shopper who said to his girlfriend “You know, they both looked amazing on you, but I prefer the green one, it brings out your eyes” – clearly a man who had shopped before and was going to get some action.

I’m also obsessed with football, to the point that most of the people who started following me because we were friends socially or work colleagues, or both, have stopped following me because they don’t really find my Emile Heskey references that funny or enlightening.

So, why is it that I follow just 3 professional footballers? It’s not because Ornithology doesn’t really interest me that much, and even if it did, Drakes are a bit common, I’d rather tweet about an Eagle or a Hawk. I do LOVE piri-piri sauce, even though I prefer to cook with it myself rather than wait 45 minutes for my food, having paid restaurant prices for fast food portions that aren’t always that warm on arrival, so it’s fair to say that Nandos isn’t really pushing me either way.

If you haven’t guessed already, it’s the retweet button. The retweet button is brilliant, but in the hands of morons, or even people who mean well but get bombarded by morons for retweets, it’s a sodding disaster.

I kind of sympathise with celebrities who retweet, because they’re getting their entire mentions list filled with people pestering them with guilt tripping, begging tweets that imply that just one click of their mouse (I can see a super-injunction coming here) can cure everything, and you must feel a bit of a bastard ignoring them, but think what you’re doing to my timeline, you stupid, stupid people.

Imagine the scene, man visits his young son in hospital “Hey Johnny, great news, I tweeted Wayne Rooney, telling him all about you and how brave you’re being”, who for the purposes of this story is Johnny’s hero, “WOW! Is he going to come and visit me?” says Johnny. This is not how Mark (that’s a daddish name if ever I heard one) envisioned this going, he’s caught off guard a little to say the least, a bit like the man who makes the mistake of telling his girlfriend he’s bought her flowers before handing over the petrol station forecourt leftovers… “errrmmm, not exactly…” replies Mark, stuttering as he figures out how to manage the expectations of the room. “Oh that’s ok Daddy, he’s probably really busy with training and things” – Dad is looking a bit more happy right now –  “Is he sending me a signed shirt instead?” – too good to last – “errrmmm, actually, what Wayne did for you son, is he retweeted my tweet, so that you’d get better” “Dad, what’s a retweet? Can I put it with all my certificates from school?”.

Now, I may sound like a heartless cunt, and I probably am, because I’ve never been in the position where you’ll do anything to cheer up an unwell child, but I’m seriously struggling to understand how getting a RT from somebody famous cures anything or makes anyone feel better? Not only that, you get RIDICULOUS requests “Hey Tom, I’m a massive fan. RT?” “Hey Gary, trying to get to 100 followers, RT from you would really help + make my day” – ok, here’s a thought, if a RT makes your day – you’re a cunt. If you’re begging for followers, I sure as shit won’t be following you just because somebody who likes Drake and Nandos RT’d you out of pity. If you’re a massive fan of Tom, sing Tom’s name as you walk down the street, just stay off of my timeline you moron.

Just in case you were wondering, the 3 footballers that I follow are Michael Owen as well as Gary and Phil Neville, and they get followed because they don’t really RT people and they don’t talk about Nandos or Drake. For the record, I’m 26 and quite a happy chap, I just sound like a miserable old man who has more in common with Harry Brown than he does with 50 cent, but I quite like that about myself.

Arsene Wenger: saviour of the Board.

In order for ‘evil’ to prevail, all that need happen is for ‘good‘ people to do nothing.

Right now ‘evil’ is prevailing because a very, very good person, and a brilliant manager is doing a hell of a lot more than nothing, the man is doing a smidgin less than working miracles.

The Arsenal board are happy to win nothing. They are happy to withhold money from Wenger for new purchases. The finances that we hear about being so healthy, possibly aren’t as rosy as everyone makes out, and whilst Wenger doesn’t believe in overpaying, he isn’t the skinflint that he is portrayed as in the media and by some fans.

Wenger is a noble man, and one who loves Arsenal through and through, so nothing will hurt him more than knowing that Arsenal aren’t challenging genuinely for titles, and that the fans are feeling the pain of being slightly irrelevant as far as engravers are concerned by March.

Forced by the club to sell Samir Nasri when he had intended to keep the player and use him to really push, forced by a sense of obligation and a twisted arm to sell his captain, Wenger oversaw the worst start for the club in 58 years and the knives were out in some quarters. Since then, the worst Arsenal have offered up in years, a squad depleted by sales and injury to Jack Wilshere – the main playmaker after the departure of Cesc and Samir – has managed to drag itself into not just the top 4, the pinnacle of post Sky achievement, but the top 3, ahead of local rivals Spurs, who are basically having Arsenal’s normal season, starting magnificently but falling away hopelessly at the end.

People will point to the form of RVP, and rightly so, Van Persie has been out of this World this season, but whilst the joke “the most popular item in the Arsenal gift shop is a Van Persie tea-tray – guaranteed to carry 10 mugs” is brilliant, it also ignores the fact that Arsenal have had 16 different goal scorers this season, a feat equalled only by Everton and Manchester United. But ultimately, if Wenger is to take large shares of blame for the start of the season, then it’s only fair that he receive large shares of the credit for the turnaround, and in acknowledging this turn around, it’s worth noting that Arsenal are most likely going to qualify for yet another Champions League campaign under Wenger.

The reason that I highlight this is it’s become the Holy Grail for teams. Arsenal of the last few years feel like if they won it, it wouldn’t be the biggest upset in recent years, but if you’d gone travelling to a remote island for a year, and came back and found out they’d done it, you’d spit out half of your first cup of proper tea in 365 days, after all, this is a team that could beat Barcelona on their day, but then lose to APOEL in the final, in fact, that would just be soooo Arsenal (I’m going to get slaughtered for this because of United’s performance in Europe this season, but regardless, it’s how I perceive Arsenal in Europe).

Anyway, even if they don’t win it, being in it gives Arsenal those wonderful European nights that Clive Tyldesley loves to wank lyrical about, it gives the club a huge boost to revenue, and it allows the club to attract a higher calibre of player, often on a lower wage because you aren’t paying the “we’re not actually a very big club right now, but we want big club players” premium that some clubs have to. So now that 4th place has been identified as being good enough to virtually guarantee (have to play a qualifier or two) all of these benefits, it has probably prompted a question or two from the bean counters about whether it’s actually more profitable to finish in the top 4, or to heavily invest in the squad to challenge for the title….

Now this is hardly conspiracy theory stuff, nobody is saying that the Arsenal board have planted thermite bombs in little Jack’s knees, or that Pat Rice makes opposition corners un-headable with the power of his mind, it’s clearly in their interest for Arsenal to do as well as possible, but without them spending any more than they currently do. Right now, the difference between 1st and 4th is about £2-3m in prize money, based on some rough figures cobbled together by asking on Twitter (that’s how much research I do, if you don’t like it, do my research for me – for free), but the real money is in the later stages of the Champions League. Something Arsenal seem to reach year after year, getting past the group stage with a consistency that a lot of people seem to take for granted.

What would it take for Arsenal to pose a realistic threat to the title race, not just for one year, but on a long-term basis? There isn’t really a figure that you can put on this, because you just never know with football, but considering anything they can buy, City can buy more expensive, considering the buying power that still remains at Chelsea, and considering United have a deeper base to build on even if they have the World’s biggest overdraft, it makes you wonder if dropping a money bomb the way Liverpool have recently would really make a huge difference. Clearly signing the right players and not just spending the most is the key, and you’d like to think that a well spent £50m on Sahin, Huntelaar and Vertonghen might solve a hell of a lot of problems, but it would also raise two, namely transfer expenditure and the wage bill, and with no guarantees that Arsenal would make any more money, sorry I mean perform any better, as a result of these hypothetical signings it begs the business (EVIL) question of why sign off on it?

Now it’s possible that the money really just isn’t there, after all, Arsenal had to wait until they had sold Nasri and Fabregas before they went out and got replacements, which at the time reminded me of the guy that waits until payday to actually eat anything other than baked beans or 14p noodles, but that could have been down to there actually being no money, or just the board not letting any be spent until it had been recouped (if it’s the latter, then they are idiots, buying replacements is always cheaper in advance – Suarez £23m before selling Torres for £50m, Andy Carroll £35m after selling Torres).

The question of finances is one for people far smarter and more dedicated to the cause than myself, but either way, two things allow this to continue –

  • Fans continuing to fill the stadium, and the club’s coffers
  • Wenger continuing to work his minor miracles without complaint

Right now, fans are starting to get antsy about the lack of trophies, the fact that pretty football doesn’t quite make up for year after year of ticket price increases, and rightly so, because unless the fans say something, nobody else will, Wenger isn’t the type to publicly slate his board, he shields them  entirely from blame by refusing to speak out and demand money the way a lesser man would – you think he’s tight, I think he might just be the most noble man ever to grace a club that until my 10th birthday were famous for nothing other than being boring and having big guns outside (a paradox to a 10 year old), so, you know, maybe just appreciate him, because if you don’t, then I can guarantee there will be plenty of clubs that would.

PS your board are a bunch of cads and bounders, so if you want to boo somebody, boo them, because they’re sneaky evil bastards, rather than the really direct, obvious, unspeakable shitheads that we’ve got in charge, relying on another miracle working manager to cover up the fact that they’re happy to try and bleed a club dry.

Flagrant false advertising from Sky Sports

I don’t like to be lied to, deceived, or generally “mugged off” as any self-respecting geezer would say, so it rankles when I see part of my subscription fee for Sky being spent on one of the most disgracefully misleading adverts ever made.

In case you haven’t seen the offending item, I present you with:

Now it’s not just that the girl in this advert is incredibly attractive, and she is, but it’s the complete contrast between her beauty and his moronic voice and gimpy, podgy little face and gormless expressions that make it quite obvious that if she were even remotely interested he would drop everything in a heartbeat. If somebody that attractive was asking him round for a Sunday Roast  I think it’s fair to say that every single one of his friends would immediately be getting nothing but voicemail when they call him and all thoughts of football would be well and truly abandoned. For a start, his brain should have lost all control of the situation thanks to a redistribution of blood and priorities.

Not only is she attractive, not only is she offering food, she’s also making it fairly clear with her suggestive eyebrow movements and come to bed eyes that, without wishing to sound crude, it’s effectively a near post tap in with an open goal. Now I’m not suggesting that sex should take precedence over the World Cup Final. Or even your team’s game. But to turn down sex for the first time with a girl who is so much hotter than you it would require Stockport County to turn down signing Messi on a free with him offering to contribute to the club’s wage bill to be able to have an adequate Footballing comparison.

Luckily my girlfriend is hotter than me, which makes me a winner, and means I can relate to this situation. My girlfriend also quite likes the football, again, making me a winner, but if we were sat at the table in the pub waiting for Arsenal vs Norwich to kick off and she said to me “do you wanna go have sex?” we’d be home before my chair had time to fall on the floor, we’d have been out of there that quick. This would be my reaction even though we’ve been together over a year and have even slept in the same bed. If it was a United game, of course I’d say “after the game my sweet, and I’ll even go on top” because I’m that kind of guy. But my God, you don’t pass it up with a beautiful girl for a game involving two teams that you don’t even support, and seeing as there are 3 games in question he can’t possibly support one team for each unless he’s Robbie Keane or a total thundercunt.

I couldn’t find evidence of the second advert, but the second advert  was even worse. It was starred the same characters as before, but this time they were having a phone conversation, with her trying to make plans to see him during the week. Unfortunately this clashed with Bolton vs Blackburn. Now I am sorry, but this is getting beyond bloody ridiculous. If they’d advertised the Milan derby, El Clasico or maybe something mouth-watering like Bayern Munich vs Napoli, then fair enough, you need to take a break from your lady and have a bit of man time every now and then. But this guy is avoiding a beautiful girl, clearly out of his league, to watch Bolton vs Blackburn with his dullard mates. I hate this guy. This guy is an idiot. I think I hate him more because he doesn’t deserve his opportunity. He has the mentality of a Stephen Ireland. Fantastic opportunity and he’s wasting it. Now if you gave a guy with Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher’s attitude an opportunity to take that girl out on a date they’d either be married, or she’d have taken out a restraining order, because they wouldn’t give up and they’d keep scrapping to punch above their weight.

Some of you may have been reading this expecting it to turn into an intelligent observation on football and how perhaps we all get too involved and obsessed in something that the rest of our lives, our knowledge or even our perspectives get altered for the worse and perhaps we allow football to take over when really we should be making the most of our lives and enjoying football as a hobby and not an obsession. I hate to disappoint but that’s not the case. Being obsessed with football is fine. Only reading the sports pages isn’t a problem if that’s what you want to do. But don’t sit there and tell me that a gurning little shit like that is going to turn her down for Bolton vs Blackburn, it’s insulting. It’s like a big, fat WKD advert for tossers, and football shouldn’t be associated with that.

Paul Ince in a tale of the Pot calling the Kettle “Shit”

“Hiding your inadequacy behind a genuine problem just undermines the genuine problem.” – Hayden Shaw 25/09/2011

Today on Goals on Sunday the guests were Sol Campbell and Paul Ince, and whilst Sol clearly had a bet with mates about how much of the Hokey Cokey he could get into the show, “That’s what it’s all about” his only audible contribution, it was left to Paul Ince to take a just cause and thoroughly undermine it by applying it his own circumstances.

Racism is wrong. No questions asked. There is no room for discriminating against somebody because of the colour of their skin in this country, or any other country. Likewise there is no place for discrimination in Football. Equality is one of the most important concepts imaginable.

However, whilst everyone should be born equal, we all have different talents. In Paul Ince’s case he was a brilliant blood and thunder midfielder at his peak. He made a fine playing career out of this. He was more talented than a huge number of players both black and white and as a result of this he made it in the game, he was the first Black player to captain England, amongst other accolades and I genuinely can’t think of any playing opportunities that he missed out on as a result of his skin colour. Whilst he was a fan favourite because of his combative style he was hardly robbed of a Ballon d’Or because Gabriel Hanot is a closet Republican with a sofa on his front lawn and a deep routed attraction to his cousin.

I haven’t ever been the victim of racism, and so I cannot comment on how it feels, and I’m sure Ince will be able to point to examples of racist abuse received at grounds during his career, something that has thankfully been stamped out in this country and should be dealt with far more harshly in others in my opinion. Yes YOU Spain, Italy and Russia.

But the fact that Ince is aware of it, and must know how awful a thing it is makes it all the more unfathomable that he can so shamelessly play the race card to give reasons for himself and of all fucking people JOHN BARNES not having top jobs in football management. Paul Ince and John Barnes not having great managerial careers because of racism is like me not having a MOBO award because I’m white. I don’t have a MOBO award because I can’t sing, can only clap along to really, really simple tunes and don’t play any instruments.

Because of how sensitive a subject racism is, it feels like very dodgy ground to even be going here, but I feel genuinely angry that Paul Ince is undermining a genuine issue, because he is. The fact that we are able to say “no mate, you haven’t got a job because you’re shit, that’s not racism” means that we are already subconsciously dismissing the possibility that there is racism at the route of less opportunities for managers. Surely a coach or a player who has felt unable to progress would be a better man to speak up against this issue? Considering the anti-racism sentiment in this country and the fact that every media source and outlet would gladly cover any interview providing even a snippet of controversy and righteous indignation, it doesn’t need to be somebody as recognisable as Ince to carry the story forward, it would be picked up and the media would milk it for everything that they could.

This is a link to a piece by A.D. Winn or @adwinn if you’re on twitter and it was written at the time of Paul Ince’s sacking from Blackburn. It’s worth a read and covers his career up until that point; I’m going to poach a couple of snippets from it just to give you an idea about the opportunities that Ince has received…

“Ince’s managerial career only started in late October 2006, as he took over a Macclesfield side bereft of ideas, luck, hope, and more importantly, points. After ensuring their league safety the following May, he left, and joined MK Dons a month later, guiding them to a promotion, a League title and League Trophy in his first season. As his 1 year anniversary approached, he left to take over the vacancy at Blackburn, despite many thinking he just wasn’t ready.”

Paul Ince stopped playing professional football in 2006, completed his coaching badges with Swindon and immediately walked into a job with Macclesfield. He did pretty well; he kept them up, which was the job description at the time. He then had a good first full season with MK Dons and won himself a trophy, at this point Ince didn’t feel it necessary to continue with further coaching qualifications, UEFA Pro Licences etc. Then he went straight into a job in the Premier League.

With ONE season of experience Paul Ince became a Premier League manager. There are managers who have been operating in the lower leagues for more than a decade without getting that opportunity. Now it’s possible that Blackburn Rovers did a telephone interview with Paul Ince and employed him without actually realising he was black, in much the same was as Jack Leslie was called up to the England squad in the 1920’s (Leslie had been informed by his manager Bob Jack that he had been selected to play for England.  He later received communication cancelling his call up to the England team stating that they didn’t realise he was ‘a man of colour’.) and then realising their error decided to force him out of the club. However I doubt that’s what happened. In fact I’m more inclined to believe that despite giving Ince £10m to spend when finances were far from free flowing, Blackburn gave him every chance to try and make a success of himself, after all his success would be their success, but after 3 wins in 17 games had very little choice but to break things off with Ince and do what they should have done in the first place and appoint a manager with some experience.

Ince returned to MK Dons, left with a less than awful 23 wins from 56 games, and then went to Notts County where he lost 9 games in a row and left by a very generous mutual consent (I’d have sacked him myself).

So, for me, race has absolutely nothing to do with Paul Ince’s failings. But to further the point, why not have a very, very brief look at the other manager that he chose to mention – JOHN FUCKING BARNES! To summarise he utterly fucked up the Celtic job (getting one of the top two jobs in an entire country when you’ve got no experience is pretty generous on the part of Celtic’s board), helping the Sun’s headline writers to their finest hour with “Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious”, and then made a total fist of the Tranmere job – winning 2 out of 11 league games.

Racism still exists in the World, of that there can be no denial, but it hasn’t prevented Paul Ince from being a good manager, and unless he realises that very soon, faces up to his own shortcomings and starts doing something about them, he’s never going to be a good manager. The more he blames other people, the more bitter he’s going to become, with the irony being that plenty of people have already given Ince chances to win them over, and he has, over the course of his managerial career failed to do that. Ince could be a fantastic ambassador for the Kick Racism Out of Football campaign, he really could, just as Christiano Ronaldo could use his fame and his standing in the game to combat Worldwide poverty and slavery, but to apply these problems to themselves simply belittles the issues and makes them both look rather silly.

“I’ve worn that one before” – Mancini, midfielders and dresses

I’ve just got back from holiday, it was lovely – thanks for asking, but before I went, my girlfriend and I had to go shopping to get some more dresses for her to wear whilst we were there. The reason being that she didn’t have any. I didn’t really understand that because since we’ve been courting (If anyone has a problem with me speaking like it’s the 19th century then I shall duel them at sunrise) we have been out to dinner on numerous occasions and I had always seen her in a different dress. My initial concern was that there had been a robbery at her house and she hadn’t mentioned it to me because she knows I’ve watched too many action films involving Steven Seagal and vigilante action and that I’m of the belief that if a fat old man can take down a crime syndicate/corrupt faction of the CIA then I could probably annihilate a burglar. She told me that this wasn’t the case. “Have you given all your old dresses to charity?” was my next question – my girlfriend is an incredibly loving, generous and charitable person (“she’s going out with you” – I hear you cry) so it wouldn’t have surprised me if she had given away her clothes to those more needy. Again, this wasn’t the case. Apparently dresses become obsolete once they have been worn once. Now all of this convoluted nonsense about dresses does actually lead on to a football related point….

Roberto Mancini, manager of a club that has spent in excess of £300m on players in 3 years doesn’t think that he has enough midfielders after injuries to Nigel De Jong and James Milner.

Ignoring for a moment the fact that one of the players that Mancini is having to do without is a talent vacuum and the other is a thug who is only 10% pass completion better than employing one of Abramovic’s bodyguards to assault people it still sounds absolutely pathetic when you consider the resources available to Mancini. Against Fulham City went with a 4-4-2 featuring a midfield of David Silva, Samir Nasri, Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure. Vincent Kompany was also on the pitch and has previously had a decent stint as a defensive midfielder. Pablo Zabaletta was on the bench along with Adam Johnson who could quite easily have started on the wing allowing Mancini to field either Nasri or Silva more centrally, or giving him the option to bring them from the bench if he was concerned about resting either of them.

Football very rarely these days seems to have any sense of perspective or, in some cases of irony. Jose Mourinho complaining about Levante’s ability to utilize the dark arts would be satirical brilliance that Chris Norris could only dream of, if he hadn’t actually meant it. Occasionally you do get exceptions to this, with Tony Pulis giving a quite magnificent response when questioned whether the traveling had affected his team – if you haven’t seen it yet then I suggest you get onto youtube. With a sport so wonderfully up it’s own arse as football, where Christiano Ronaldo can compare his multi-million £ a year deal at Manchester United (where he won stuff) as modern day slavery, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that people are spouting ridiculous tripe.

However just because it’s unsurprising doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get knocked for six. Fulham manager Martin Jol is currently overseeing a team that started it’s season sometime in the late 1990’s and if Danny Murphy gets injured then he may have to play Hugh Grant as his deep lying playmaker, although he may get booked for bad acting if the referee spots it, however do you hear him bitching that he doesn’t have enough players? NO! Because he’s high as a kite and has probably just ordered six gangland executions, but that’s not the point. The point is that Mancini decided to take off by far his best player whilst 2-1 up in a game that they had been leading 2-0. It then went tits up because Fulham had some belief, had a go and because City bottled it.

To even hint that lack of resources had a modicum of influence on the result was rather pathetic, because just as my girlfriend has plenty of dresses, City have plenty of players. Of course they may not like the dresses that they have, they may think that they’ve over paid on a couple of English dresses when they could have gotten beautiful, silky, designer dresses from abroad for the same price, maybe even cheaper, they may even think a couple of them make them look fat – but that is another matter.

Of course Mancini isn’t the only one to use misdirection and hints of something else to hide his team’s shortcomings, Sir Alex does it all the time and this weekend King Kenny managed to completely avoid discussing the clusterfuck that was his tactical reaction to the sending off of Charlie Adam. When you go down to 10 men against a team that can move the ball the way Spurs do on a good day, and they were having a very good day, then sticking Andy Carroll on the left wing is a bit like playing Karl Henry as a False 9. Add that to the fact that Skrtel was offered no protection against a rampaging Gareth Bale, who is neither awful or the best player in the World, the polar opposites that most people would have you believe him to be. Would a quick substitution along the lines of Carroll for Kuyt and a little reshuffle of Kuyt right, Downing left and Suarez up top with Henderson and Lucas in midfield have won Liverpool the game, or even salvaged a point? Who knows, Liverpool were second best even with XI men but my God it couldn’t have been worse than the performance that they got out of the changes implemented. You’d hope Kenny will be wise enough to attribute a share of the blame to himself and learn from it, because whilst his players were poor, I’d say he was easily as culpable on this occasion. That’s not to say that he’s a bad manager and improvement has clearly been made, but as with Mancini, it would be nice to see managers hold their hands up and say they’ve had an absolute shitter.




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