27 Jul 2016

Exploding Tumescent Inevitable!

There, that got your attention...now read this, reposted from somewhere a mere two hundred yards as the buzzard flies from my front door:

Every year my good, dear friend Roger and I become pundits and forecast the forthcoming football season and we put it up on our joint sports blog called Sports Discuss - which, in Internet terms, was as popular as someone's soiled underpants. Abandoning that idea, we're going to publish this jointly through our own blogs, for exposure more than anything else.

We were once known as The Wippo Brothers & Clive.


As is now well known, my predictions come from Missed It Meg, the most unreliable wizard in the universe, and a seer whose stygmatism inflicted second sight peers myopically through bottle-bottom thick glasses. Meg's predictions are to reliability what the Labour Party is to credible opposition politics, or, if I have to spell it out, a fucking shambles...so, here goes:

AFC Bournemouth
Will veer between 11th and 17th and could finish anywhere in that range. Already there have been seven unspectacular additions to the squad, replacing six leavers and this will mean they will remain the Premier League's yo-yo team, up and down like the Assyrian Empire. I predict they will beat Spurs at home.

As a Toffee it is always galling listening to the interminable moaning of Gooners, but I can grudgingly understand their grouching given the unspent zillions under Arsene's mattress. About time the craggy old Frenchy retired methinks, or is it Wenger's plan to peg it in the dug out? They'll do enough to scrape 4th as ever, having at some point been top and looking unbeatable. Plus ca change...

I know as much about Burnley than I do about lathe maintenance. Bottom, I reckon...which probably means Europa League qualification beckons. Will draw with Spurs at WHL.

Blimey, that Kunte Kante fella makes Jose look reserved, does he not? Have already spent over £60m of loose change on two new players, expect more to come, who with the gesticulating bloke should probably take a while to bed in. 2nd or 3rd.

Crystal Palace
A sort of classier version of Stoke, occasionally a bit mad, just like their manager. Will hover round the Useless League places.

I was going to hold off writing this prediction thing until we had actually bought someone, but given our track record that would mean the season would be a week old already. Even with Moshiri's wallet on board it seems we have been a bit slow off the mark, the only purchase so far being Leicester's director of football. An offer has been made for Alex Witsel who is mulling over a £100K a week contract. Ho-hum.
Koeman was the guy I wanted, but then so was Martinez, so who knows what will happen.
The obvious key to any improvement is keeping hold of Lukaku, and to a lesser extent, Barkley and Stones. Never a dull moment at The Old Lady since Moyes left, for sure. We can't do any worse than last season, so I'll go for 6th and a cup!

With no Barcodes to keep us entertained this season, 'Ull are making an early bid for the title of the Premier League Comedy Club. What an omnishables! Down, down deeper and down...

My prediction for the Foxes last season, like most, was waaay off, but at least I didn't predict them to go down. Surely there's no way they can repeat last season's miracle? I reckon upper mid-table. Right, I'm off to put a tenner on them being Champions again...

Klippety is the first likeable manager the Shite have had since Houlier, and he's now forging them into his own team, with 13 (!) departures and 6 additions so far. With no Euro distractions, I'm rather scared they'll do a bit too well for my liking. Only thing stopping them is the new team bedding in. Top four likely. :(

Man City
The team who on paper should win it every year. The key word is "team", which they seldom resemble. Is "The World's Best Manager" the man who can get them playing like they recognise each other? Hands off Lukaku or Stones, ye over-monied entitled fuckers...

Man Utd
There was an early and strong rumour that The Special One would actually take up a proper challenge (my lot), but unsurprisingly he plumped for the bottomless loaned wealth of the red half of Manchester. Like their neighbours they have been very quiet in the transfer market so far, so...hands off Lukaku or Stones, ye over-monied entitled fuckers...

A similar amount of transfer activity to Bournemouth, but unlike The Cherries they do not have a year's experience behind them. Will hover around the drop zone all year, but may survive.

They can't keep rebuilding and thriving each season, surely? Summat has to give. Another hard one to call. Mid table anonymity along with...


You can tell I've had enough of this, can't you?

Just been bought by a Yank, apparently. Good track record, Yanks owning football clubs, eh? Will scrap it out with the other three teams beginning with S for 12th.

Tottenham Hotspur
A great name that sounds like it came out of a boys comic, and a team who veer between brilliant and scared of their own shadows. The loss to Bournemouth and the home draw against Burnley will be what ultimately costs them the title. At least they'll finish above Arsenal at last.

Goodbye, Vicarage Road... ;)

West Ham
An almost brand spanking new and virtually free new ground (the bastards), a good manager and a good squad. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, probably, knowing The Hammers.

West Brom
I thought I'd finished this thing then realised I hadn't mentioned The Baggies...in the mix with the "Esses".

The Table:
1. Citeh
2. Spurs
3. Liverpool
4. Arsenal
5. Man Utd
6. Chelsea
7. Everton
8. Leicester
9. Crystal Palace
10. West Ham
11. Southampton
12. Sunderland
13. Stoke
14. West Brom
15. Swansea
16. Bournemouth
17. Middlesbrough
18. Burnley
19. Watford
20. Hull

League Cup: Everton
FA Cup: Everton
Champions League: Not Everton
Useless League: Paraguay


And I, for once, am rather more measured (with a surreal caveat)...

I can't remember an impending football season with so much uncertainty about it, yet if you read the columns and listen to the early shots from the pundits you'd think it was already shaping up to be the same old same old. I don't think it will be as predictable as the experts think. For a start two new teams in the Champions League; Man Utd in the Europa Cup and a host of new managers, new players and new grounds.
Oh and for the first time since I've been doing this (must be 10 years now), you'll have to wait until the end to find out my positional predictions.

AFC Bournemouth: The problem for Eddie Howe's men is the other big problem that hounds the unexpected survivor of an almost certain relegation - Second Season Syndrome. The Cherries appear to have spent interestingly without really raising any eyebrows. The key to a second consecutive survival battle is not just who is worse but also how they improve on some excellent results last season. It's going to be tough.Animal Most Like - Possum

Arsenal: One thing you'd be silly to do is write off Arsenal as a serious top 4 contender, but if you hear some of the pre-season banter from Arsenal fans on the radio you'd think their season was over already. It would appear the lack of investment and new players has again mightily pissed off the fans, who argue, quite rightly at times, that if their team could only scrape into 2nd in a supposedly woefully inferior last season, surely some investment is needed to ensure they don't go backwards. I think they might start to go backwards, especially if injuries hit them hard early on. Animal Most Like - Wildebeest

Burnley: I really can't see this being a season with any real high points. They are not going to do a Leicester and might find themselves way off the pace from almost the word go. Will win friends and play some good football, but it just won't ever be enough. Animal Most Like - rabbit

Chelsea: With no European participation, a slew of new recruits (and more on the way) and a little more than just their pride at stake, I expect a faltering season from the former champions, but only because it will take Conte - the new man - a few months to get it right. The success of teams around them in Europe could dictate the final standings at the end of the season. Animal Most Like - Pike

Crystal Palace: Have been nothing but ambitious in transfers and targets and will fancy their chances if they hit a rich vein of form - which they are capable of, especially at home. Will be tough to beat this year and Pardew will have learnt from the second half of last season. Animal Most Like - Bald eagle

Everton: One of the real puzzles in this year's league battle. Ronald Koeman didn't so much transform Southampton as do what you'd expect a manager to do when he follows someone who has shown the team's vast improvement, he took it to the next level and Southampton sans some of arguably their best players were better without them and with the Dutchman. He also hasn't got big shows to fill as Roberto Martinez's reign spluttered to a resounding end and a team with so much potential, in a season when they should have done so much better, was a flop. They don't appear to have signed anyone yet and despite having lots of money, this is a worry, especially if you're a Toffee's fan. Animal Most Like - Panda

Hull: A club in turmoil. Only 13 fit players in the squad. The manager has just quit and the club is essentially for sale. I'd have a fiver on them to win the league. I expect them to go down and badly but I said that about Leicester last season. Animal Most Like - Your crap dog

Leicester: And here they are, the Champions. Will they be champions in May. No. I'm positive of this. They will however begin the season like they finished last season and will remain tough to beat and difficult to play against unless you know how to close them down. A decent replacement for Kante is needed, but who was Kante last August? This is going to be as tough as old boots for them. Animal Most Like - Lupus Lupus

Liverpool: No Europe and we all remember what happened last time that happened? This time they have Jurgen Klopp, a lot of his style of players and definite signs at times towards the end of last season that a new ethos was taking shape at Anfield. This team, for the first time in years, worries me. Animal Most Like - Giraffe

Man City: The Premier League really is the Champions League of managers this season and few come bigger than Pep Guardiola. Had the other Special One not moved into Old Trafford you might have pretty much given the title to Citeh given the foregone conclusion-ness attached to them. For Guardiola, read Antonio Conte above, this won't be an easy ride, it will get better and all the signs will start to show that the future is scary, but maybe not this year. Animal Most Like - Gorilla

Man Utd: Determining factors - is Mourinho washed up? Will the Europa League hinder? Will they even bother with it? Will the weight of expectation become too high again? There's no denying the quality that's been brought in and that of those still being negotiated for. I just have a gut feeling that this could go horribly wrong and it's a real cheat to say it probably won't but I want to put it out there. Animal Most Like -Hyena

Middlesbrough: A dark horse for certain survival? There's something about them that suggests a resilience and staying in the Premier League isn't as difficult as it once seemed for newly promoted clubs. Have spent wisely and on some good players. Animal Most Like - Geordies

Southampton: my underdogs for the relegation zone. The new manager might yet be another brilliant pick and the academy still continues to churn out future stars; but it must be hard playing for a club with both a Europa League campaign and with the knowledge you play for a selling club. Unlikely to repeat last season and could struggle if things get tough. Animal Most Like - Seal

Stoke: I'm fed up with writing about Stoke and most years I write bugger all about them. Will frustrate and flatter to deceive. Mid-table as per. Animal Most Like -Shrew

Sunderland: David Moyes can turn Jermaine Defoe into a defensive midfielder. Surely a season of mediocrity but no real flirtation with relegation? Either this team will improve or no one will change their fortunes for a while. I think they'll bother neither end of the table. Animal Most Like - a very defensive minded sloth

Swansea: possibly the bottom has dropped out of Swansea a little and if Siggurdsson is prised away from them before the window slams shut then I fear for their future. Animal Most Like - lungfish

Watford: Who knows? What's the new manager like? How will the 30 new recruits slot into the team? Bizarre club. Animal Most Like - Cuckoo

West Ham: We all know Bilic is a top quality manager. How the Hammers settle into their new home is a huge uncertainty. Fortress or target? West Ham were the first team to win at the Emirates, I believe, expect Arsenal to return the favour. Europa League could hinder league progress a little, depending on how serious they treat it this year. Animal Most Like -  Peacock

West Brom: God, I so hope they go down. Animal Most Like - skunk

Tottenham: Optimism has never been in plentiful supply with me and my team and after a brilliant season, the team imploded to remind us all just how good they are at fucking up when Arsenal are sniffing at their arses. I expect nothing less than finishing above the Gooners and maybe we have the makings of doing more than that. The one key factor in Spurs failure to finish higher than 3rd was their failure to convert matches against obdurate opponents intent on a draw or nicking the win. The football they played, by and large, against the so-called big boys was irresistible at times and there's no reason why that shouldn't continue even with Champions League commitments. Sensible purchases, early on, and more brilliant raw talent being promoted from the youth coupled with something Spurs haven't had for a long time, continuity, means that I'm actually more than optimistic for them in a season with so many unknown factors at work. Animal Most Like - Vorlon

The Table:
1.  Tottenham
2.  Liverpool
3.  Man City
4.  Chelsea
5.  Man Utd
6.  Everton
7.  Arsenal
8.  West Ham
9.  Leicester
10. Stoke
11. Crystal Palace
12. Southampton
13. Watford
14. Middlesbrough
15. Sunderland
16. Bournemouth
17. WBA
18. Swansea
19. Burnley
20. Hull City

League Cup: Man City
FA Cup: Chelsea
Champions League: Bayern Munich
Europa League: Kazakhstan Korinthians

29 Jun 2016

Au revoir to The Quiet Man

All of you who know me, in the real world or on Farcebook will probably know or surmise that my X has always been for Labour, and you'd be mostly right. Currently my natural party of choice is doing what it does best, tearing itself apart. Regardless of the recriminations and regret over how they got to this place, much like that stupid referendum result, we have to grit our teeth and get on with it. I say "our", but in truth that's a bit wide of the mark, as I have never been a Labour member. I joined the Greens briefly after their relative success in the European Parliament elections in the mid 1980s, but the constant factional infighting that became instantly apparent put me off party membership for life. That said, as a natural Labour voter, I have every right to express my opinion, so here it is:

Jeremy Corbyn will never win a General Election - cue foaming at the mouth by the idealist faction.

He is a quiet and dignified man whose principles guide him, a rare thing in modern politics. Corbyn is a lifelong Eurosceptic, and the fact he had to compromise his principles in the recent referendum debacle, and therefore only reluctantly entered the fray at the last minute, saying too little far too late to make a difference is at least part of the reason why thousands of natural Labour voters, especially in the north of England were not swayed from their misguided intentions to vote Leave. With such a small majority for Leave, Corbyn only had to persuade a few hundred thousand to vote the other way and the result would have been different. The fact that today we see a previously reluctant Corbyn on the news saying that Article 50 should be invoked now, not after we have a new Tory PM at the helm tells you all you need to know. He probably voted Leave himself, and is suddenly becoming forceful over the outcome.

His heart was not in the Remain campaign, that much was obvious from his demeanour, when he was visible that is. A grudging comment along the lines of "I give the EU 7 out of 10" is hardly helpful, and the first time I heard him say Labour had to look at their immigration policy, the major factor for those northern ex-Labour voters, was the day before the vote. Way, way too late. I heard one of those same voters being asked on the news what they thought Corbyn's stance was on the referendum, and his answer was he had "no idea". Much as Corbyn obviously loathes the media, and he has good reason to, if he is to stand any chance in the next General Election, which now could be a lot earlier than expected, he needs his own Alistair Campbell making damn sure he appears every five minutes calling the Tories to account. In fact, forget the GE, that should be happening right now, and it should be like shooting fish in a barrel, but Corbyn prefers to remain near invisible. It frustrates the hell out me, and no doubt countless other Labour supporters away from the membership bubble.

Leaving the appallingly stupid EU vote aside, Corbyn's biggest problem is also the reason he was voted in as leader in the first place. Part of his calm and reasoned manner involves travelling up and down the country meeting real people and explaining his vision, in his consensual manner. Marvellous, I agree, and a breath of fresh air, but unfortunately idealism has not won an election since 1979, and in the modern TV age it is unlikely to ever again. Stump politics may have worked in the 1960s, and arguably a faux version worked as late as 1992, but convincing hundreds of people at a time of your case will not win a GE in the 21st century. Corbyn has failed miserably at communicating his message to the greater mass of the public. You cannot win an election by ignoring the media, especially TV.

Labour will never get back the Scottish vote, assuming they are even part of the UK by the next GE, and so to win enough seats not to get a majority necessarily, but to be able to form a workable coalition, Labour needs to win back its disaffected northern vote, most of whom now don't bother as they feel disenfranchised, and worryingly some vote UKIP. Even more difficult, they also need to get a fair proportion of middle England floating voters to switch sides from the Tories. It will be a very tough call for any leader, and with his current outlook, completely impossible for Corbyn.

Another factor is his seeming lack of gravitas, although to be fair my assumption is yet to be truly tested, but if I'm right, it never will be! All prominent world leaders need a statesman within, and in our recent history, Wilson had it, Callaghan didn't, Thatcher had it, Major didn't - although he seems to have grown into it years too late. Blair had it, Brown didn't. The common factor with all those who didn't is they all failed in the job. Being PM is not a bout being "nice" and "reasonable", it is about making hard choices and dealing with the consequences. Speaking of which, courage and gravitas is astonishingly lacking in that cowardly idiot Cameron, without whom we would not be in this dreadful fucking mess in the first place. Thanks, Dave, you absolute waste of space.

A modern party leader and hopeful Prime Minister has to make compromises every day, and both jobs are a triumph of pragmatism over idealism, that's the real world. Corbyn is no doubt an excellent constituency MP and is a great guy to have on your side if you want a new road crossing outside your local primary school, but PM material? Hardly, he's a back room man, an ideas man, and would make a good Secretary for Work and Pensions, but he is not and never will be PM material.

Unfortunately, the membership will no doubt re-elect Corbyn, the MPs who voted "no confidence" will defect and join up with the few Tories with a human face and a social conscience, and the Liberals...and lo...a New SDP to fill the missing centre, as nature and politics abhor a vacuum. It's 1981 all over again. Consequently the anti-Tory vote is split, Johnson gets in with the most right wing government we've ever seen in this country.

Do the Labour Party want a leader who will lead a marginal socialist rump in the House of Commons, satisfied to sit smugly on the sidelines occupying the moral high ground forever without a sniff of power, or do they want a leader who will be Prime Minister? I am a Labour voter, and to me, that is no choice at all...I might even join to give pragmatism one more vote.

...just thought you needed cheering up...and I haven't even mentioned Trump! Yep, 2016 is most certainly the Year of Stupid. Fangyewandgudnite....

21 Jun 2016

The Referendum Blues...Very Blue

On Thursday we here in the UK will be making the biggest decision of our voting lives, and for some of you who were over 18 on 6th June 1975 it is your second chance at determining the future of our country. 41 years ago that generation were young and hopeful of the future, as indeed they should be, and they and most of the rest of the country voted to stay in what was then the Common Market.

You are mostly all now in receipt of pensionable income of some form or other, and barring an absolute economic catastrophe your future income is safe, and more importantly, known. A large percentage of you have worked at some point or another for a Government department and therefore are probably well enough off to withstand the inevitable price rises that will follow a Brexit, an outcome most of you seem in favour of. Unfortunately those economic guarantees do not apply to your children and grandchildren, which is why I now ask you to think again.

I have read countless blogs, posts, articles on the Leave side of the fence, so I would like to think any Leavers reading this would do me the same courtesy, so, consider this if you will:

Whatever your reasons to vote Leave, do you really want to see a country where the opportunities to live and work anywhere within the EU without restriction is denied to your children and grandchildren? These are opportunities that some of you may have taken advantage of. Aside from the employment scenario, if any of you have married an EU citizen from another country, and brought them here to live - or vice-versa - after Brexit there is a good chance that will no longer be possible for your descendants, or at the very least only possible after waiting years for the correct paperwork. Do you really want to restrict their life chances that much, given that they are far more likely to want to travel abroad to find work than you were, and for a lot, finding a partner will follow.

Even the majority of your descendants who will always live and work in the UK will be directly affected as initially at least - and there's no guarantee we will ever recover fully - there will be an increase in unemployment as multi-nationals relocate or scale down their operations in favour of locations within the EU.

Additionally in a probably vain appeal to loftier ideals, the reason there has been no war in western Europe in over 70 years is down to the EU, and NATO. In fact the quest for lasting peace was one of the reasons the EU was formed. Breaking it up plays into the hands of nationalists and warmongers. Incidentally, I do not hear any Leavers wanting to leave NATO, where if any one of its members is attacked it is taken as an act of war on all of them. Isn't that "undemocratic", and even a close call to the dreaded and mythical European Army?

After that plea to your emotions, here are some pertinent hard facts that I would like you to think about:

The labour protection laws and benefits and H&S rules that gradually came into being since 1975 that you have benefitted from while employed all came about largely as a result of us being in the EU. Outside the EU there are no checks on what an increasingly right wing libertarian Government might want to repeal.

The mythical benefit to the NHS promised by the Leave campaign simply will not happen as the net monies we pay to the EU will not be there as the economy will undoubtedly shrink after a Brexit. Take a look at the financial pages of your paper - it's already happening as stock prices plummet in a nervous pre-vote market expecting the worst. This may affect your investments directly, investments that you rely on to maintain your standard of living, not to mention your children's investments for their retirement, one that whatever the outcome will never be as cushioned as that of the Baby Boomers, the most well-off generation of retirees this country has seen and will see for a long, long time.

A lot of you are being led by the Leave campaign and the media into fixating on immigration, and while the vast majority of you are not racists, we all know where those fears ultimately lead as recent events horrifically showed. In any event, leaving the EU will have little effect on immigration, otherwise why is it that over half of current net immigration is from outside the EU? And there is no way that Turkey will be joining the EU in either your or my lifetime. It only takes one member to object!

The more idealistic of you are voting Leave in some laudable but naive hope of better democracy. We had our chance at better democracy when we rejected PR a few years ago. Remember, we currently have a Government that was elected by less than a quarter of the electorate, who can force their legislation through an unelected second chamber flooded with unelected members for that purpose. It is ironic that the unelected chamber has 200 or so more members that the elected one. A Brexit will certainly lead to an unelected (that word again!) Government led by Boris Johnson, of a more right wing nature than we have ever seen in this country, as Cameron's position will be untenable following a Brexit. Rather puts complaints about the EU being undemocratic into perspective don't you think?

I could go on, but I doubt there is any point. If any Leavers are still reading, I congratulate you on keeping an open mind, but I fear that most have entrenched opinions and will not have read past the first paragraph, so I won't waste any more of your or my time. The EU is far from perfect, and yesterday I heard a German Eurocrat saying that whatever the outcome of the UK referendum it will cause the EU to take "a serious look at itself". Surely it is better to be part of that process than declining in isolation on the fringes? Vote Remain on Thursday 23rd June for a better future!

2 May 2016

Phenomenally Below Par

Well, what a strange old season this has been. Here we are with two weekends to go and Leicester are currently standing one point shy of almost certainly claiming the most unlikely of league titles, and their nearest challengers are Spurs, yes, Spurs, who could have predicted that? With my best mate being a Spud I almost feel sorry for them as undoubtedly from a pure footballing perspective the perennially underachieving north London team have played the most attractive football, and Phil, being now comfortably the wrong side of 50 has never witnessed his team lift the top domestic honour. Still, there's always next season, eh? I can't see Spuds anywhere but challenging next time, while only the the daftest fox would assume anything more than a decent top half finish for Leicester next time out, what with their Champions League commitments, and the possibility of losing Mahrez and/or Vardy, and Kante.

Talking of perennial underachievers, my lot missed a big opportunity this time out, what with two of the usual top 4 suspects misfiring badly, and a third coasting along like a comatose Oasis album. This was the season that Roberto Martinez, who is A Nice Bloke, had to improve on the lacklustre 2014/15 campaign, when at least he had the justified excuse of a Europa League charabanc to explain our poor league showing. This time, with no such distractions we have gone backwards. It seems as a coach, Martinez is incapable of getting the best out of players. To do that you need a bit of steel, the ability to switch on the "hairdryer" when needed. Putting your arm around the shoulder of your young centre back and telling him to play his way out of trouble because he has the obvious talent is the limited and failed tactic of A Nice Bloke, I'm afraid.

John Stones, more than any other player reflects Martinez' backwards progression since taking the job. In his first season the team were still possessed of a solid spine built on years of no-nonsense Scottish Presbyterian work ethic, and that, combined with Martinez' natural flair made for a winning combination and our highest ever Premier League points tally. For some reason thereafter Martinez decided to coach out of the team any sort of defensive shape when without possession, or maybe it just happened because Roberto, who is A Nice Bloke, just doesn't know any better? Fine if you are Barca or Real, but we simply do not have the talent in depth to rely on continually scoring more goals than the opposition. It seems Martinez' defensive coaching team consisted of a couple of hairdressers and a Sunday pub team manager. I can't even tell you who they are, such is their anonymity, assuming they even exist.

Going back to Stones, here is a lad that immediately after all the transfer speculation linking him with Chelsea played a blinder in the home game against that very team, and we thought, yep, all is well. Unfortunately that was a peak from which he swiftly tumbled, as Martinez' baffling tactics drained every last bit of confidence out of him to such an extent you could almost see it in his face sometimes. Endless mistakes and goals given away, aided by Martinez relying on Howard for far too long - Martinez is A Nice Bloke, you see - meant we gave away leads like Tories giving away different bits of the NHS every week.

The other player who suffered more than most at this strange lack of direction from Martinez was Ross Barkley, who seemed to have been given the responsibility of launching every attack, a fact opposing teams quickly spotted by putting three players on him at every opportunity. Luckily our one top class player Romelu Lukaku still managed to get the ball often enough to bang in his now customary shedload of goals, without which we would be keeping the north easteners and Norwich company down the bottom of the league.

Many fans keep banging on about how this current squad is the best we've had since the 80s, but is it, really? We have one player who would get the centre forward spot in most PL teams, a couple of very promising kids who hopefully one day not so far away will be the best in their positions in league, whether or not with us, who knows? The rest are mostly competent PL players, no more. Jags is a great captain and CB but he won't go on forever, Baines is no spring chicken. Barry shows how much we rely on him when he's missing, and for me he is our player of the season. Doofyloofy blows hot and cold, there's no danger of Barca wanting him back. Robles is OK, no more, if we are to challenge for top 4 we need a better keeper. Funes Mori is unpredictable and has poor judgement. The guy can go from brilliant to calamity in the space of one move. In other words, a typical South American - Tim Vickery was right. So, best squad since the 80s? Is it any better than Moyes' best squads, given the standard of competition then and now? I don't think so. Wholesale changes need making.

No single game summed up our appalling total lack of defensive nous than the Man City League Cup semi final, a game that at one point we were 3-1 up on aggregate, enough to see most other teams through - imagine Moyes being 3-1 up and losing a game like that? Of course, a two goal lead was nowhere near enough for us that time, nor has it been on many other occassions this woeful season. Many fans have suggested employing a defensive coach, but this simply will not happen under Martinez, as to defend as a team without the ball dictates a complete change of tactical philosophy, something the increasingly stubborn Martinez is unlikely to ever contemplate.

The fan base was split at the end of last season between those who wanted Martinez out, and the rest of us who were willing to give him one more season. Those of us in the second camp have now lost our patience, with one exception on the Facebook group at least...you know who you are! With the influx of Moshiri's loot and the new TV deal, does our new money man trust a bumper transfer kitty to A Nice Bloke, or does he get a proper manager in? The answer might be obvious, but it all depends how much he listens to Bill Kenwright, that most loyal of chairmen. Even Bill must now realise that A Nice Bloke is not necessarily what you need running a football club with ambitions of European football.

Finally, a word of congrats for my home town club, whose story is every bit as emotional as Leicester's. From being two days away from being wound up to ending up League Two champions a few months on, it doesn't get much better than that. They cheered me up at times when Everton continually heaped disappointment upon let down, something the club have become expert at since 1878, so I suppose I should be used to it.

11 Nov 2015

Spiny Norman loses cherry...

So, a Tory MP wants the humble hedgehog to be adopted as our National Animal does he? A hedgehog! I ask you....mind you, they say a country's symbolic beastie reflects its characteristics, don't they? The Russian Bear - lumbering but scary, aggressive and surly; the American Eagle - keeps out of reach, a circling predatory killer with a beady eye for the main chance; so why not the British Hedgehog - small, a bit slow, easily provoked into a ridiculous defensive pose, overreacts to the onset of "winter", prickly.

Phil Collins is mulling over coming out of retirement. Fair play to the bloke, it's not like he needs the money, even after all those divorces. As I'm sure you know by now, some wag set up a petition calling on the United Nations to prevent Mr Collins from inflicting his pop ditties on the world, saying "Phil Collins has announced he is 'no longer in retirement'. There is far too much suffering in the world as it is. This must be stopped.", and more in a similar mildly amusing vein.

As the author himself has said it was an attempt at "lowbrow satire" obviously lost on Collins' po-faced fans who, missing the point entirely took to ye interweb in droves defending their hero, with one fine rant in particular by some humourless bloke with a broom handle so far up his arse he was having difficulty breathing, going to extraordinary lengths spelling out why Collins is on a par with Mozart, and how the petitioner should have his testicles speared by Collins' drumsticks. Well, the holier-than-thou righteous brigade have won the day, as the author has now removed the petition saying:

"People who signed this get that it was a joke. Some others didn't. It very obviously wasn't a serious petition. Surely no one could think this was going to be sent to the UN?

It was lowbrow satire, a farcical jest that I shared with some friends...I doubt very much that Phil Collins would give a damn about my musical taste...It's gone now, so people who were annoyed about it and gave their attention to it... may direct their attentions to something of real importance. This petition wasn't that."

Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/phil-collins/89588#W0Mmvdgs42ajLQ2t.99

If I were Collins I would have signed it myself for a laugh, and one wonders if those same riders of the moral high horse would have got so hot under the collar were a similar satirical petition set up calling for Justin Bieber to stop, now.

After over 20 years, Burwood Towers is no longer receiving TV signals from a subscription service, a change I should have made some time ago to be honest. Several years ago, we switched from Sky to Virgin, partly because of the ever-increasing cost of largely unwatched Sky Sports, which I ditched, and partly because Virgin offered by far the fastest internet speeds in our area. Over the years since we have seen the basic Virgin TV package we subscribed to slowly but inexorably increase in price to the point where our paying £16 a month for the privilege of my watching Sky Sports News on Saturdays, and access to a few other Sky channels neither of us ever bother with was a daft waste of money.

The main attraction of the Virgin TV box was its catch up TV services and its recording capabilities. Now we have recently finally entered the modern age chez nous, and got ourselves a smart TV, we no longer need the Virgin box for catch up services, and the addition of a cheap HD recorder has provided the final piece in the jigsaw. Kudos to Virgin, who only half-heartedly tried to talk me out of returning their box of tricks, they also re-wrote my contract for broadband and landline and gave me a £9 per month loyalty bonus for 18 months - a consumer company offering loyalty payments, whatever next! - making a grand saving of £25 per month on my old bill. Woohoo!

It will be interesting to see how subscription TV adapts to the rise of internet capable TV systems and cheap HD recorders, as I guess folk who are or will soon be suffering at the removal of tax credit payments find they have to cut luxuries out of the family budget. Ultimately this may have a big effect on my sport of choice, and it would be great to see a more level playing field in the Premier League. There are only two clubs who would not be affected by a big reduction in TV money, Chelsea and Manchester City. Most of the rest would go bust and start again, but a few (Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs possibly) would carry on but be unable to afford to renew massive player contracts or pay ludicrous transfer fees. The effect on world transfer markets would be huge...one can but dream!

Hello! I Must Be Going....

16 Oct 2015

TV on Earth...

I thought it was probably time to blow the several layers of dust off Brouhaha, and give you some semi-formed nonsense about terrestrial TV on planet Earth - well, in the UK, at any rate. Here's my completely irrelevant thoughts on some stuff wot I bin watchin'...

Have I Got News For You
Unbeknownst to yours truly, yet another series of this ancient satire show creaked into action a few weeks ago, so last night I watched the first episode on Catch Up. Having been a fan since series 1 back in 1990 (!), I probably now watch out of habit more than anything else, but it still makes me laugh now and again, and that's good enough for me.

Since 2007 as well as the usual half-hour programme, now broadcast at primetime on BBC1, an extended version with extra footage edited from its smarter prime time BBC1 cousin has been shown a few days later, buried on BBC2. I would guess that after all these years, HIGNFY's audience is 99% longtime fans who only watch the long version, so why they bother with the shorter one at all is beyond me.

Anyway, Episode 1 of Series 50 (no, really!) was chaired by that self-confessed dinosaur and professional oaf Jeremy Clarkson. Joining Hislop we had Jemima Daddysgotaporsche, an extremely irritating and entitled yahoo posh bird journo. Her actual name is apparently Camilla Long, and she writes for The Times, a Murdoch rag - 'nuff said. With Merton was the unfeasibly tall quiz show creator and all-round uber-brain and good bloke, Richard Osman.

As this show was filmed just after the Labour conference, and with Clarkson and Jemima on board, joined in tacit agreement by Hislop, it soon turned into a "Let's rip the piss out of Jeremy Corbyn" contest. I've always liked Richard Osman, a guy with a sharp wit, and I suspected a bloke in possession a top quality bullshit detector. My suspicions were confirmed, as he turned out to be the only one defending Corbyn while the aforementioned other three took great delight in highlighting the old boy's admittedly many shortcomings. Strangely during the Corbynfest, Merton remained largely silent, leaving his team mate to fight the red corner alone, although his question "Why have we got Trident?", which he answered himself with "...is it (to protect us from) attacks on the Undergound?" raised a smile.

Osman, when not defending Corbyn against the baying public school contingent, spent his time winding up Clarkson, a noble pursuit if you ask me. The very tall one likened not pressing "The Button" to never selecting ITV2 on his TV remote, with Clarkson chipping in with "What is ITV2?" Quick as a flash, Osman retorts "You'll find out soon enough, Jeremy" LOL, indeed! However, credit must be given where due to to the suddenly very old-looking former employee puncher, who for the most part held his cool against Osman's rapier-like incisiveness. Great telly!

Hislop, who quite rightly will have ago at incompetence or injustice wherever he sees it, redeemed himself with some typically astute observations, at one point getting righteously angry about the way in which the meeja has used the Cameron "Cock and Pig Story" to gloss over the real crimes our glorious leader and his party have committed against the poor of this country.

Yes, it's tired and arthritic, but it still makes me laugh. HIGNFY is the Beeb's equivalent of an eccentric, curmudgeonly but essentially loveable uncle in a care home. Of course, the care home is under constant and thoroughly unjustified threat of privatisation or closure, but while it stands, so does the show.

Just because you're using a Swedish lead actor and your story is seemingly about loss and grief does not mean you have a series to rival The Killing, no siree. River is based on a preposterous premise wherein our titular hero, a Detecive Inspector (what else?) is literally haunted by ghosts, or "manifests" as he prefers to call them from his troubled distant and recent past. He holds long conversations with these spookies, and he even gets physical with one of them, beating "him" up while incarcerated in a police cell (don't ask). This wildly eccentric behaviour while noticed by his colleagues seems to have no effect on his ongoing employment status, other than a few enforced but brief and truculent sessions with the in-house psychologist.

Even a committed Dr Who fan will find their credulity-o-meter stretched to breaking point by this daft programme. River is a ridiculously OTT failed Anglo attempt at Nordic Noir, right down to the introspectively gloomy theme tune. I won't be wasting any more time on this, needless to say.

Dr Who
Well, it had to get a mention, didn't it?

They shoot horses, don't they?...or...Why? When will it all end?

Cradle To Grave
Just to prove it's not all crap, this delightful and occasionally hilarious series has ticked all the right nostalgia buttons for those of us who entered the 1970s as kids, and left it as young adults. Great soundtrack, and a great theme tune, the title track of Squeeze's new platter, and if the rest of it is that good it shows that not all ancient bands should be banned from reforming. By the end I even got used to Peter Kay's variable take on a Cokernee accent, dinneye?

2 Apr 2015

A Cautionary Tale...

Thursday May 16th 2019, a lovely day. The sun was shining, we were under a mini-heatwave, which at this time of the year meant the temperature was a pleasant 72°F. The weather was of minor concern to Jason, who had just woken to the sound of his alarm clock. Unemployed for nearly nine months, he still got up with his alarm at 7am, as he didn't fancy slipping into the morass of ennui that some of his mates wallowed in. Steve was actually proud of the fact that he never arose from his pit before noon, the lazy bugger.

Jason awoke with a rare smile on his careworn face, for he was looking forward to the weekend, as a £300 scratchcard win a couple of days ago has given him the wherewithal to take his wife out for a meal for...well, he couldn't remember exactly when it last happened, must've been over a year ago. Linda and Jase both liked a curry, and luckily Linda lived in one of the few conurbations where a few curry houses still existed, as the coalition crackdown on migrant workers had led to thousands of restaurant staff leaving the country, some willingly, some not so, rather than put up with constant suspicion and finger pointing, not to mention the steady withdrawal of benefit entitlement.

Since they lost the flat, Jason didn't get to see Linda much now, as he couldn't afford the exorbitant return train fare charged by the new rail franchise to her parent's place 70 miles away. There's half the win gone already...still let's not worry about that, for after he had given his mum a rare £50 there will still just about be enough left over for the meal, that's the main thing. Food prices had shot up since we left the EU two years ago, and he had wanted to give his mum all the money, as things were not exactly flush for his parents either, since their teachers' pensions had been reduced by 25% as part of a "rationalisation" in the last coalition Budget. "No, you take Linda out, it will do you both the power of good" she had said, bless her.

After that initial and uncommon burst of waking optimism, he got out of bed and promptly nearly fell over, the pain in his ankle reminding him that he couldn't put off going to A&E any longer. He had vainly tried getting a doctor's appointment, armed for disappointment as it was well known that unofficially you only got a appointment now if you were usefully employed and at death's door, or could afford to make a hefty donation to to the "Surgery Roof Restoration Fund" as it was euphemistically known. Jason's anticipated kickback came with knobs on as he thought he heard the disinterested receptionist at the other end of the phone suppress a cynical snort as he described his condition. "Try A&E" she had said and brusquely hung up. That prospect filled Jason with dread, as he resigned himself to losing a day and most of a night by spending the now average 18 hours in the desperately overcrowded and frankly dangerously grubby A&E waiting area. The long waiting time and dilapidated state of his local NHS hospital (at least he had one) being the result of the coalition's cutbacks, privatisation, and draconian immigration restrictions leading to hospitals up and down the land being unable get the staff to do the menial jobs, jobs that only the most desperate of the indigenous population would apply for.

Jason hobbled to the bathroom, only to find it already occupied by his Dad. "Fuck" thought our Jase, as Dad never spent less than half an hour in there of a morning. "It's either cross my legs or go piss in the kitchen sink". Oh the joys of living with your parents, something over half of Jason's 30-something generation were now doing out of economic necessity because housing, both owned and rented was way out of reach for the ever-increasing millions in Jason's jobless position what with the huge reductions in Housing Benefit, as well as being an increasingly unrealistic aspiration for those on the average working wage, which was shrinking every month, that and the burgeoning unemployment rates again thanks to the UK leaving the EU.

Jason was ever grateful to his parents for putting up with him and keeping him housed, fed and clothed after his meagre unemployment benefit stopped three months into his current workless state and he lost the marital flat, Linda's low wage not being anywhere near enough to support them both. Jason was thankful they didn't have kids to worry about on top of all that.

Jason's last job was at the local car plant until it announced that owing to the UK's imminent leaving of the EU it was relocating to Lille in France three months prior to our upping anchor and sailing off into the open arms of the Third World. They did offer Jase a position over there, but he just couldn't see himself putting up with all those Frenchies, a decision he soon came to regret, as France would no longer let him in as a now non-EU citizen. Desperation was taking hold for our hero, and it looked like he now had no choice but to apply for one of the hundreds of very low paid hospital cleaner jobs, assuming he's not forced into one on Workfare. Even if he could get paid a wage for it, the minimum wage had been frozen since the election, and let's face it, it was nowhere near what you could independently live on anyway, especially as the powers that be had recently withdrawn the right to tax credit to people living with their parents.

As Jason limped downstairs towards the kitchen, his bladder by now tripping the light fantastic and praying his Mum wasn't in there, Jason fretted over the circumstances that have led to this coming day out at the hospital. If only the bloody council would fill in those potholes instead of wasting their money on that immigration processing facility, then I wouldn't have tripped while crossing the road last week, he pondered. He could forget suing as that was now a legislative minefield that only the wealthy could afford to negotiate. Still, it could be worse, his mate Dave had been in prison for nearly four months now on suspicion of an unspecified terrorism-related offence, simply because some lackey frightened for their job at PC World found some writings on Arab sponsored militant Islamic groups on his computer when he took it there for some routine maintenance. The fact that Dave was doing a thesis on Middle Eastern politics didn't seem to have any effect on his case, and now we were no longer part of the EU Human Rights Act, the State could do whatever it liked if the "T" word was bandied about enough. They wouldn't even allow visitors, the bastards.

Thankful to arrive at the kitchen to find it empty, Jason stood on the footstool and blissfully relieved himself into the kitchen sink, as he ruminated some more on his unfortunately brainy mate. Dave had always been a leftie, and was forever banging on about justice and equality and other subjects Jason couldn't give a toss about, let alone grasp, but Dave always made him laugh and always got his round in, that was what really mattered after all, eh? Smiling at the memory, Jason recalled that Dave once tried to physically stop him from voting "Out" in the EU referendum by unsuccessfully attempting to lock him in his flat on that fateful Thursday. Fuck, that really tested the friendship that did! For all that, it was slowly dawning on Jason like a sunrise through the thick sulphurous fog of his prejudice-clouded brain that he along with many thousands of other dimwits voting for UKIP in droves back in 2015, thereby giving Farage's poisonous little cabal a big say in the current Tory/UKIP coalition, and then voting "Out" in the EU Referendum were possibly the two biggest mistakes he had ever made in a voting booth...apart from that time he voted after an afternoon session at the pub and threw up all over the ballot box, but that's another story.