Another excruciatingly predictable weekend of football.

What an exciting weekend of Premiership games. Though not too many surprises.
This Saturday I was at a proper football match, watching Bromley scrape past their neighbours Welling into the next qualifying round of the FA cup. For the record; it was two pens and red card that made the difference for the home team. It was nice to get back to basics and watch a proper game of football.
Right, enough of that, lets go back to the big league and talk about what went on at the top, and more importantly, what we learned about the teams playing there.
Aston Villa 2 – 0 Wigan
Well, I think it’s fair to say that Villa are a better team than Wigan. No surprises with the result then. It’s good for England that Bent and Agbonlahor scored. I think (what I always think) that Wigan are going to struggle this season and their survival hopes rest entirely on the quality of the promoted teams. This year might be the year that the perennial over achievers actually do us all a favour and piss off back to a league that they belong in, a league where it matters not that your pitch has huge holes in it and that only ten thousand people bother coming to your home games.
Blackburn 0 – 4 Man City
Man City are, unsurprisingly, still looking awesome. They’ve got such a fantastic array of talent at the club that its difficult not to see them finishing top three. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that off the field they’re a bunch of money-grabbing whores and that they (along with Chelsea) are ruining football, but they’ve got some seriously class players and a good manager in Roberto Mankini. Blackburn are in trouble. Big Trouble. Relegation beckons. Next.
Bolton 1 – 5 Chelsea
Now I didn’t see this one coming to be honest. Not the result, that can always happen against Chelski. Nor the resurgence of the big spending Russian billionaires fantasy football team either, but the collapse of Owen Coyle’s Bolton. I just didn’t see it, I thought they looked good for a mid-table finish and another comfortable season. That’s not how it’s turning out though. Bolton look a mess; perhaps more so than any other team in the Prem. Sure they’ve had some tough games but they’re shipping goals galore and not scoring many, and we all know what that means in the Premier League. Coyle better sort it out soon or he’ll be getting his P45. Chelski on the other hand have turned a corner. They look like real contenders. I fully expect them to be the filling in an end-of-season Manchester sandwich.
Everton 0 – 2 Liverpool
When a Liverpool fan told me that Everton were robbed by the ref then I knew that it must be true. Once again another football match has been ruined by an inept referee. Liverpool are still looking good for 4th place (for my money) and Everton will still finish in the top half. That’s about when this one stops being interesting.
Fulham 6 – 0 QPR
I thought that Fulham were going to struggle this season, but maybe Martin Jol is going to prove me wrong. QPR, on the other hand, will struggle – of that I have no doubt. Though I think they’ll just stay up, it’s going to be tight tight tight. What a goal fest this game was (that’s 5 in 2 for Johnson), lovely stuff.
Man Utd 2 – 0 Norwich
Norwich got the praise for pushing the Mancs hard. It’s good that the Canaries are playing well, they’ll need to if they want to stay up. Don’t think we learned anything from this game; Man Utd are a great shout for the title and Norwich will give anyone a good game, but will often come up short.
Sunderland 2 – 2 West Brom
Bendtner scored for the Black Cats. He will prove an excellent signing I reckon. He was always played horribly out of position at Arsenal and with a good run in a team that plays to his strengths (which Sunderland do) I think he’ll score plenty of goals. Anyway, a score draw between two excellent candidates for 14th and 15th come May. Yawn.
Swansea 2 – 0 Stoke
Proof that a footballing team can beat the formidable Stoke City. It speaks volumes that Pulis and his team are no longer talked about as relegation candidates. Though they’ll have to do better than they are if they want to be serious challengers at the business end of the league. Swansea are also looking like a surprise package and might just stay up. Might.
Tottenham 2 – 1 Arsenal
This was quite a lackluster game. Arsenal proved they don’t have the heart to challenge for the title this season. They’ve got technical skills coming out of their bum-holes, but they just don’t look like they’ve got the minerals anymore. Tottenham didn’t look much better to be honest. Their first was a handball and the second should’ve been saved. Perhaps the most interesting thing that happened was at the end when Wenger refused to shake Clive Allen’s hand after the game (earlier this year Allen shoulder barged Wenger, and like an elephant Wenger didn’t forget). Rather amusingly Allen decided to stroll down from the high-ground he briefly inhabited and retorted to Wenger that he was a see you next tuesday. Classy.
Wolves 1 – 2 Newcastle
It’s only a matter of time before Newcastle come back to earth. Obviously that time is not here yet and fair play to them. They’re not as good as their position suggests and it wont be long before they’re back in mid-table where they belong, but who can begrudge them a taste of days gone by when they would finish near the top as a matter of routine. Expect another survival by the skin of their balls season for Wolves.
So, to sum up: Nothing unexpected happened. Nothing was confirmed that we didn’t already know. The Manchester teams are favourites. Chelsea look like the only viable challengers. Liverpool are, in my opinion, most likely to finish fourth. Arsenal don’t have the stones to win the league and Tottenham aren’t as good as they think they are and wouldn’t have won today were in not for a handball. At the other end of the table; none of the promoted teams look certainties to go down. Once again, it might be more interesting watching the drop than watching the top.
Right, that’s your lot. Now piss off.

Garry Cook Reveals His Tender Side

I love it when powerful people get caught with their pants down. The best bit is when they come up with fantastic excuses to try and get themselves out of the shit. Rather than ‘fess up and move on, they just come out with total nonsense as they try and get themselves off the hook.
Garry Cook, the chief executive of Manchester’s richest club, Man Citeh, has (allegedly) accidentally emailed a colleague (he thought he was emailing someone else) ridiculing them for having cancer and being ‘ravaged with it’. Not only is the man hateful, but it seems he cant operate his emails properly. That’s a big fat oops on his behalf.
The colleague in question is defender Nedum Onuoha’s mother, Dr Anthonia Onuoha. Apparently she’s the person at the club who looks after player’s contract arrangements.
This story is both hilarious and sad at the same time. Sad that Cook thinks its funny to mock or make light of people with serious illnesses. Hilarious because doing so, and getting caught in the act, has revealed to the world what a giant wanker he is.
What I enjoyed most about this revelation was the fact that rather than man-up and deal with it properly, Cook has gone on the defensive, suggesting that some naughty little scamp has hacked his email account and sent the message on his behalf.
I’m sorry Garry, but that’s a load of bollocks.
Why would anyone in their right mind hack someones account and send someone such a hateful mail?! Let’s face it, even if a hacker had got into his emails, there are any number of ways of discrediting the man without resorting to such remorseless levels of bullying.
Surely any hacker worth his salt would have sent the message to Sheikh Mansour ‘accidentally’ telling him what lovely tea towel he wears on his head, or they would have emailed the secretary ‘accidentally’ saying something inflammatory about her great rack. Not according to Garry though, no no no, apparently his hacker mocks the critically ill.
Hopefully the Man City board will investigate the matter properly, confirm that he did what it’s alleged that he did, and then sack the bastard for being a bastard. If and when that happens, I doubt I’ll be the only one laughing my arse off.
PS. Garry Cook came onto my radar recently when he alerted the world to his and Samir Nasri’s shared parentage. The video is long and boring, but at the end Cook definitely refers to Nasri as his ‘brother’. It made my soul shudder; here is a man trying too hard to be cool. Click here to see it in full.

Manchester 13 London 3

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. There are bound to be some seriously embarrassed supporters, players and managers in the capital today.
As a friend of mine noted; yesterday was ‘The day Manchester spanked North London’.
Ferguson has once again proved that he is the grandmaster of English football.
Mancini has proved once and for all that if you keep throwing money at a team, eventually it will be awesome.
Lets look at this chronologically. First the Spurs vs City.
Spurs started well. Then they got spanked. City looked depressingly superb. I watched the game and thought to myself; this team are definitely in with a shout for the league.
Nasri looks like an excellent signing. Dzeko was in imperious form, at last justifying his dizzying price-tag. Add to that Toure, Aguero and a whole host of equally accomplished international players and you’ve got yourself some serious title contenders.
They pulled Tottenham apart. It was like watching a cat toying with an injured mouse. It was, towards the end, embarrassing. Nobody likes getting a hiding, but to get one at home….. ouch. There must have been Arsenal fans watching, waiting for their big kick-off. Oh how they must have laughed.
I think the only consolation that Spurs will have taken from yesterday was that theirs wasn’t the most humiliating defeat. Which takes us nicely to the afternoons big game.
Yesterday, Manchester United look every bit like defending champions. Despite lacking their first choice centre-back pairing they looked confident in defence. What’s even more worrying for everyone else is that going forward, despite fielding a relatively young team, they were excellent.
With every attack they looked like they were going to score. Arsenal just didn’t turn up. in truth, it really could have been double figures for the Mancs.
In fact, Arsenal didn’t just not turn up, Arsenal were truly woeful. I have never seen such an inept defensive display from the Gunners. This was the opposite of Adam, Keown et al.
Sure, they can site an extensive injury list and tiredness from the midweek champions league qualifier, but nobody is going to believe that, are they?! If he does call on those tried and tested excuses, surely Arsene Wenger is now ‘the boy that cried wolf’. We’ve heard it all before. Arsenal need extensive surgery, and not merely a face lift.
I think the only consolation that Gooners will have taken from yesterday was that they are not bottom of the league, Spurs are.
The two Manchester clubs exposed some serious flaws in their rivals yesterday.
City showed the Spuds that whilst power and pace are all good, you’ve got to blend that with being clinical. However, I’m not prepared to write Spurs off on the basis of one bad match. They’ve got a quality manager in Harry ‘fuck off I’m a football manager, not a wheeler dealer’ Redknapp and I have no doubt that if he were given the same level of investment as Mancini has been given at City, then we’d be singing their praises instead.
Arsenal, on the other hand, need to be worried. Ferguson had to stick up for his opposite number after the match. Surely that’s got to hurt the most; your once fierce rival effectively giving you a sticker and a lollipop and congratulating you on being a brave boy. Ouch.
United have exposed some serious flaws at Le Arse. The Gunners have spent the last five years selling their best players and replacing them from the bargain bucket. Whilst nobody can argue that the football they play can be exquisite, it only works if you have players who are good enough to do it. There are far too many them there who haven’t got the skills, or the minerals, to compete at the top level, it would seem. The rest have just had too much thrust upon them at too young an age, the risk being that if Wenger isn’t careful, he’ll ruin that talent and they’ll end up being 22 year old has-beens.
Both London clubs need to recruit some new players. Wenger has a substantial war chest and he needs to spend it all on proven talent, not potential. If he doesn’t he’s, for want of  a better expression, ‘up shit creek without a paddle’. Redknapp, on the other hand, needs to get rid of the unsettled Luca Modric and use the cash to buy a suitable replacement. He may also want to strengthen his defensive and striking options.
On the basis of yesterday I’d say that the title is almost certainly heading up to the North-West. Both Manchester clubs are looking like the real deal. There is also something in the back of my mind that refuses to rule out Liverpool. For me, they’re the dark horses in the race for the title and if they can get some momentum going who knows what they’re capable of.
Whatever happens, it’s certainly going to be an interesting season.

Nasri and His Parting Shot

I know, I know, I keep banging on about Samir Nasri. But something about this whole transfer reeks (of oil maybe?).
Upon completing his move to the footballing mecca of the Northern Hemisphere, the Etihad Stadium (does anyone else appreciate the irony that Etihad reportedly means United?), Nasri has tried to ingratiate himself with his new supporters by insulting his previous paymasters.
“I can see they are really passionate and it reminds me a little bit of Marseille. Arsenal have good fans, but not that passionate since they moved from Highbury to the Emirates. I remember when we played against City, when we lost 3-0, the crowd was amazing. That is what I want. When you play football it is for a good atmosphere.”
Also, it seems that Nasri likes his men with lots of tattoos;
“They’ve got tattoos, the fans, of Man City. That’s what I like”
Each to their own, Samir, each to their own.
You can’t blame him for trying to win over the new support by telling them how much he likes their tattoos, or that there is nothing sweeter than the sound of 40,000 drunk Mancs singing Blue Moon whilst stroking the aforementioned tattoos and winking seductively at the players.
But did he need to stick the knife into the backs of his old supporters? I know he has since moved to clarify his remarks, but he’s a giant moron if he thought that the Arsenal supporters weren’t going to mind him using them as leverage.
For a start Nasri never even kicked a ball at Highbury. Why he even had to bring that up I’ll never know. And as for atmosphere, someone needs to point out to the sniveling little brown-nose that last season, in an independent study, Arsenal fans are (on average) a whole 6 decibels louder than their counterparts in Manchester (City, not United). If you don’t believe me click here for proof.
Now I’m not suggesting that Arsenal supporters don’t disappear from time to time. Their old stomping ground wasn’t called ‘The Library’ by visiting fans for nothing. But come on Samir; MAN UP. I’d have much more respect for the man if he just ‘fessed up and said; ‘you know what? City have tripled my wages. I like to go home after a hard days training and rub used £50 notes over my body as I dream about big hairy Northerners with lovely tattoos. That’s why I’ve moved.’
Instead he’s dressed it up as something completely different. He’s tried to make it sound like this transfer is purely about sporting reasons. Well, Samir, it quite clearly is not.
Considering all this has led me to think long and hard about what it must be like to be a supporter or player for a super-rich club.
At what point do you say; ‘it’s all about the money for me’, turn your back on your team mates and go off in search of that big pay day? And how can you justify it? Why not come clean and be honest with us; after all, most of us aren’t stupid.
And, if you’re a supporter, at what point does the team you’re following stop being your team? We’ll see the City fans gleefully crowing about their achievements, much in the way we’ve seen Chelski supporters do over the last decade. But when does the act of winning become more important than earning your win through graft and determination?
I don’t care what City go on and do over the coming years. I’m sure they’ll do pretty well. After all, they are paying top dollar for their success. But after the initial buzz of winning wears off, will it feel as sweet? Sadly the answer to that, judging by Chelski fans, is probably yes. But we know, and they know, that they haven’t really earned it. It’s like buying all the tickets to the raffle and then jumping around the room when, surprise surprise, you win all the prizes.
Nearly every other team in the country can be proud of what they win (if and when they win it). Why? Because they’re earning our success. And you know when you look at your team that you helped to build it. Our teams are an extension of us and our support. All the money in the world can’t replicate that.
Enjoy your success at City, Samir. You really, really haven’t earned it.

Mercenaries of the Modern Game

Samir Nasri has today signed for Man Citeh. I hope he enjoys spending a fair chunk of time the subs bench because that’s exactly what he’s going to be doing for the next few years.
So…. Man City have done it again. They’ve spent an obscene amount of money on a player. They wanted him, they got him. Well done to you. Bravo. Didn’t you do well!
It’s already tiresome. Chelsea have spent the last few years tapping up players, offering inflated wages and paying out transfer fees that ethically sourced football clubs just can’t compete with. City are merely following suit.
Forget goal-line tech. Forget FIFA corruption. These super-rich clubs are the biggest evil in the modern game. They operate without fear of reproach. They do whatever they want. FIFA and UEFA let them, but that’s beside the point.
How are clubs supposed to compete with these teams? How are they supposed to stay in the game when these rich clubs (notice I didn’t call them ‘big clubs’) can offer three or four times the wages that others can.
After two indifferent seasons at the Emirates, Nasri finally started playing the football they’d be paying him for. They’d nursed him through injuries and they had played him through some seriously mediocre form. Last season he came good, it was time for him to pay them back on the pitch.
He was rewarded for his efforts by an offer of a new contract. A staggering £90,000.00 a week. Let me say that again with caps lock on; £90,000.00 A WEEK! That is an incredible amount of money for anyone to earn and for a club like Arsenal it is a substantial amount of money to commit to paying a player.
Now lets get one thing clear. Nasri is already rich. This new contract was only going to make him richer. But was that enough?
It’s clear to me that Man City have gone and tapped up the player. Whether his agent was told what the deal on the table was, or whether he just took one of the figures leaked by City through the media, Nasri knew that there was more money up in Manchester and that they were interested.
It’s one thing to compete against clubs with unlimited wealth. It’s possible, but very hard. It’s another thing completely when the said clubs then wiggle wads of money under noses of other teams best players in order to make them jump ship.
Sure, you want your players to have a little backbone and to show some loyalty. But this loyalty is becoming less and less common in the modern game.
Half a season is what Arsenal got from Nasri. Three years of undeniably hard work, and half a season of footballing excellence. Instead of repaying the club for their loyalty to him, he’s now off to pastures light blue.
I know the counter-arguement. If in any other job someone offered to pay you treble what you were currently on then you’d go in a heartbeat. But treble the wages for you and I would make a massive difference to our quality of life. This isn’t the same for top footballers. What can Nasri buy now that he couldn’t buy last week?
It all comes down to greed. Pure and simple. The premier league is drowning in a sea of mercenaries. Nasri has had his head turned by a big pile of cash. Shame on you Samir.
I don’t know what the solution is. Wage caps or financial fair play, I just don’t know. What I am acutely aware of is that Arsenal have been pushed back on the ropes and are currently reeling from losing two of their most influential players in as many weeks.
Man City are ruining the game for everybody else. It is becoming a farce. It is becoming deeply unfair. Until something is done to curb the spending power of these middle-sized super-rich clubs, honest teams are just going to carry on getting ***************.