27 Jun 2010

Up Yer Bum

Over the years I've watched some shite masquerading as football played by Ingurland, but that last one really took the sauerkraut. A more inept uninspired excuse for a performance is hard to imagine.

No doubt there will be inquests held by the press and hopefully by the FA. It's time our national game underwent a serious examination. The main reason for the demise of our national team is the lack of strength in depth available to whoever our manager may be. This is undoubtedly the result of years of laissez-faire capitalism ruining our top league. The days when teams like Arsenal, Chelsea & Liverpool, to name the chief culprits although they are by no means the only guilty parties, can field teams with at most a couple of Englishmen in the line up must stop NOW. Don't ask me how this is going to happen what with EU labour laws applying to what is essentially a sport, not a business. Maybe they should think about exempting sports from the rules?

A secondary reason is the collective greed of EVERY team in the top flight that prevents money from spreading down to lower leagues that would enable smaller teams to spend more on local youth development which is where futre English talent will emerge.

Fuck, I'm too angry to carry on with this, and I stick by what i posted on a friend's status update:

Capello should be sacked, replaced by Harry (sorry Spurs fans, he's the only man for the job). Ferdinand Terry - retire - replaced by Dawson & Jagielka. Gerrard, Barry & Lampard retire - replaced by Rodwell, Ashley Young & Huddlestone. Heskey GO. NOW. Replaced by ANY FUCKER

No apologies for the language, it's entirely justified. And I can't be arsed to spell/grammar check either.... :(((

25 Jun 2010

A Pause For A Hoarse Horse, or A Day At The Races

My partner's son Steve celebrated his 40th birthday recently with a day out at Sandown Races, in Esher, Surrey. The treat was a surprise for him, but as we were all loitering around in the car park of Four Marks Travelodge waiting for the charabanc, any pretence of keeping it a secret soon flew out the window.

The dress code was the dreaded "smart casual" and the male attire ranged from one guest who looked lke he was off to a wedding to the sort of gear worn at a smart bbq (most of the rest). As I normally wear a shirt and tie to work, I have no time for dressing up when not "on duty". If it doesn't fit, then tough!
The ladies on the other hand like dressing up as a rule, and all looked a picture.

The charabanc arrived. Now we were expecting a coach, but what arrived was an ancient minibus, the sort of thing used by bus companies in rural backwaters. Some of us were hoping it may have a tv so that we could watch the England v USA world cup game on the way home, but we counted ourselves lucky it had seats!

Luxury, sheer luxury....

An hour and a quarter later we arrived in Esher, having been subjected to Shake, Rattle & Roll all the way.

I did not know quite what to expect as I have never had the remotest interest in horse racing, which, almost uniquely amongst sports, would not exist were it not for the betting industry. I used to have an annual flutter on the Grand National at the bookies, but even that stopped a good few years back. The entry ticket (£35 for the posh seats) included £10 of vouchers for the expected over-priced food and drink, and £10 of betting vouchers, one of which was a free £2 bet, the rest essentially money off vouchers. When you add to that the race programme and sundry tote betting cards, we were each carrying around  a small forest worth of paper.

As it was Irish Tote Day I expected a lot of inebriated Irishmen and their equally pissed women to be staggering around. Although there were a few falling into that category, the majority of the spectators, at least in the posh area were loud cockernee geezers and their birds, noworramean? The blokes looked and sounded like extras from Hustle (Minder if you're older) and the women were of the classic Essex bird variety. There was one in particular that caught my eye. She was elegantly starved a la Victoria Beckham, not particularly pretty, but wearing a low cut very bright yellow dress - you could see her coming from miles away. Her mate was more attractive but less flamboyant. These were what one might call high maintenance women, paid for by their barrow boy geezer boyfriends who probably all worked in The City making more in a day than some of us do in a year.

The day started to get interesting for me when the tips I was given by Phil started winning. At one point I was even shouting along with all the punters.

I won some dosh on this race...

I can see why this thing is so addictive, but as it is all geared in the bookies favour, also painfully expensive. Our party must have had a good dose of luck with us though, as B & I came out about £20 ahead, even after paying for food and drink, Steve's brother Robert was about £100 up, dad Brian slightly less. There was one experienced race goer in our party who won £600 on one race, the lucky sod! Mind you he was betting £50 at a time, something my accountant instinct could never countenance.

A loud punter.....

After the last race of the day we were entertained in the paddocks by a U2 tribute band. I felt sorry for the singer who spends his spare time impersonating the world's biggest bellend! The cockernee geezers and their birds were louder than ever after four bottles of Bolly, the birds were falling off their high heels and falling out of their dresses, the blokes doing knees-up singalongs to Bonio's greatest hits. all very amusing!

The blokes in our party led by Robert having been primed by me, voiciferously decided that we would just HAVE to leave early to get back to the Fur & Feathers in deepest Hampshire, where a reception was being held for Steve, but, more importantly, a 45 inch tv had been set up so we could watch the England v USA game. By now I was, shall we say, somewhat pished, having been drinking all day. As a real ale fan, the only thing I could drink at Sandown was Guinness. Suffice to say it did strange things to my bowels the following day! At least they had Adnams in the pub, otherwise gawd knows what would have happened if I had had to carry on with the Irish Nectar!

All in all an interesting and enjoyable experience.

Whale meet again....

This world cup is turning out just like WW2 - The French surrendered early, the Italians were all empty bluster, the Yanks arrived at the last possible minute, and we're left fighting the Germans! I have a sense of foreboding about Sunday's kickabout - we're going to have to play a whole lot better than we have so far to get anything from the game. The Germans looked a good couple of yards quicker than us against Ghana who, let's face it, are a far better team than Slovenia. Hopefully Upson's performance signals the end for that donkey Carragher, and Capello finally seems to have realised that picking a non-scoring striker is not the best move. Surely Defoe must start?

This may help the girls who don't normally follow football, as it perfectly explains the offside rule:

..and finally, some nice German fans....

Bloomin' lovely :)

7 Jun 2010

Tower Of London

Yup, the cuts are coming and they’re gonna hurt, but it’s not like we didn’t know is it? Had Labour got back in there still would have been cuts, and who knows, eventually maybe even more severe, as they dithered over when to make them.

If your credit card is maxed out do you a) start making instant savings to get the debt down, or b) say “I’m not quite ready for the medicine yet” and end up having to pay even more back? I know what I’d do!

There are some good things to come from the ConDem coalition, namely the rolling back of excessive bureaucracy and general state interference in our daily lives. Whenever there is a Labour government one always sees a slow pernicious creep of rules and regulations designed to keep tabs on us in one way or another, and as we’ve just had the longest ever period of Labour rule, the situation in that respect is worse than it’s ever been.

The first to go is the totally unnecessary ineffective and costly white elephant that would have been National Identity Cards. Spend some of the savings on more effective immigration controls, and actually try to do something about the thousands of illegals over here, rather than just sweep the problem under the carpet. Get a debate going and de-stigmatise the word immigration. Under Labour as soon as anyone mentioned the word they were called racist when it simply isn’t the case with the vast majority.

Today comes news that the ridiculous and almost Stalinist plan to fine people for putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bins is being scrapped. There is now a successful pilot scheme I believe running in Weymouth, whereby residents are being rewarded for recycling. This is surely a no-brainer as carrots always have a more positive effect than sticks.

I think there are also plans to curtail the spread of CCTV cameras watching our every move, again a good thing. Under the last regime the UK populace became the most spied on in the world.

With retrospect, Blair certainly knew what he was doing when he finally handed over to his so-called “friend”, realising that years of the good times were at least partly funded by excessive borrowing, and knowing the shit was about to hit the fan in the sub-prime market. Some friend eh? You can see the difference in their characters by the way they behave once retired – Blair follows his greedy wife to make the big buck on the lecture circuit, while Brown, who I believe was a basically decent bloke who got in over his head, has the intention of doing charity work. Says it all really. And I haven’t even mentioned the illegal war!

At least we’ve got the World Cup to look forward to….. :)

5 Jun 2010

Ouvrir la fentre....

Been to the doctor's to finally get a hospital date to get my wonky finger straightened out. Doc informs me the hospital will send me an appointment request, which arrived today. Apparently the only way I can have this appointment is by Telephone Assesment. How does that work exactly?

Me "Good morning. I've been told to ring you for a Telephone Assessment"

Doctor (at least I hope it's a doctor, not a porter or a security guard on a coffee break) "Yes, Mr T. What seems to be the problem?"

"I have seven different terminal illnesses. If I give you some symptoms see if you can guess what they are before I keel over."
Or, more realistically "I have a wonky finger"

"I know. Your doctor told me. Can you describe it more fully please?"

"It's my third finger, right hand. It's bent. There's a fingernail on the end. I can see remnants of a greenie in the fingernail"

I'll try not be sarcastic, but it's going to be difficult!

On two consecutive mornings walking to work last week I passed a tattooed muscle bound geezer standing on the pavement with his English Bulldog puppy on a lead, talking to his weedy looking mate.
The first snatch of conversation I caught went something like "....so he came at me wiv a bottle, so I rabbit punched him in the throat, the c**t"
The following day it was ".....I 'ad 'im in a headlock, 'an the f***er starts crying like a girl..." His mate thought this most amusing.
Welcome to sunny Northampton........


With the news that the very fragile Rio Ferdinand has broken his fingernail and had to be sent home and therefore is no longer our captain, and has been replaced at the back by the equally delicate Ledley King, a certain Mr Steven Gerrard is promoted to captain. Much as I have a loathing for the Scouse DJ puncher, I really hope he plays out of his skin for us (for once), and lifts the trophy. Now that the Fat Spanish Waiter is no longer his boss, this could be Gerrard's last chance to impress Jose Mourinho and get his move to a big club.


3 Jun 2010

Adios, el camarero gordo - a rant

With the news today that Rafael "Rafa" Benitez Maudes has been offered a rumoured £3m to leave his post as manager of Liverpool "immediately", which sounds more like a sacking to me, it is an appropriate time to look back on his successes and failings in his 5 years in charge.

Let's start with the obvious one - winning the Champions League in dramatic fashion in 2005. Actually that amazing victory (cough, splutter - that hurt) WAS down to one man, but it sure wasn't Snr B. A certain Steven Gerrard turned the game almost single-handedly in the second half, in what can now be regarded as the high point in his career. In that night in Istanbul he showed he was truly world class. Shame he's never done it for England though, but I hope he proves me wrong in a few weeks time! Some credit Benitez for his half time talk and his tactics and that may have played a part, I'll admit, but it would be one of the few times in his tenure when his tactics made sense, even to Kopites.
One could also argue that he did it with the previous manager's team, but hey, let's not be nit-picking, eh?

Aside from that trophy the only other major triumph came in 2006 with the FA Cup. Oh, and they finished second in the Premier League in 2008/09, what can now be described with hindsight as a massive over achievement. A lot of pundits have large amounts of egg on their faces after predicting Liverpool would win the league in 2009/10 - Hansen & McNulty being two.

A manger needs 4 major attributes to be successful, regardless of the transfer kitty available to him:

Benitez has, particularly in his latter years at the helm, displayed some baffling and bizarre tactical choices such as regularly substituting Torres, and even the talisman Gerrard at crucial points in games. You could easily read into the expressions on the faces of Torres and Gerrard when being inexplicably substituted something along the lines of "this man does not know what he's doing". It tells me that he lost the dressing room, which should not surprise anyone.
Another baffler is constantly playing defensively against what Liverpool fans may consider to be lesser teams, resulting in games being drawn and sometimes lost, when they should have been won. His continued reliance on the continental zonal marking system regardless of who they were playing bemused fans & pundits alike.

Transfer market
This was probably his biggest failing. It soon became plainly obvious that he knew next to nothing about the English leagues and English players, as by the time of his (yet to be confirmed) departure his squad was stuffed to the gills with journeyman Spaniards and sundry other overseas players who, while maybe displaying capabilities in their home leagues simply could not cope with the faster and more physical Premier League. Last season he replaced the sublime Xabi Alonso with a glass-shinned Italian who arrived on a stretcher - genius!
The 4 class players he bought in his time at Anfield, Torres, Alonso, Mascherano, and Reina were all proven quality players that any casual football fan could have spotted. Can you honestly think of any one player that has improved as a result of being bought by and playing under Benitez?
The one I feel really sorry for is Ryan Babel, a young player with a great future, who as a result of constant bench warming has turned into a player with zero confidence. Just you watch the new manager turn him back into the world beater he should be.
Benitez apologists will tell you that he was restricted by the financial constraints placed upon him by Waldorf and Statler - don't make me laugh. In his time in charge if you compare what he spent with the budget of the best pound for pound manager in the Premier League (yes I know I'm biased, but it's difficult to argue with this), a certain David Moyes, we are talking 2 1/2 times the amount. In terms of net spend it's nearly 5 times the amount. Benitez has only been out-spent by Chelsea & Man City in his time in charge.
OK, so Everton never won anything in that time, but Liverpool only won one FA Cup with what could even remotely be described as Benitez' team, in his second year in charge. Had Everton had £25 million or whatever it was to spend on a Torres things would have been very different. You're talking Goldman Sachs vs The Renfrewshire Building Society. That's why Moyes is a far better player in the transfer market than Benitez ever was. In fact I can't think of a worse manger when it comes to transfer dealings!
What makes neutrals, and I'm sure the more level headed Liverpool fans laugh is Benitez' stating at the end of last season that he needed 4 or 5 quality players (his words) in order to challenge, after having spent £250 million or thereabouts in his time in charge, and having seen 80-odd players break the revolving door at Anfield's training ground. There have been more comings and goings at Anfield in the last five years than at Spanky Madam, the most popular whorehouse in Bangkok!
He is also always moaning about not having any money to spend - the sheer gall of it is astounding!

Man management
The way he treats his players is bloody awful. If he worked in any other industry he would have so many black marks on his HR record nobody else would employ him. I've already mentioned Ryan Babel.
Then there's Robbie Keane. Regardless of whether or not you believe that buying him was not Benitez' idea, and I can't for a moment entertain the thought that he had nowt to do with it, once on board he should have treated him with a little respect. Here's a player who gets what he thought was a dream move to the club he supported as a lad, only to spend most of his time as an unused sub, this being Benitez' way of giving the board the finger. How demoralising is that?
Another one treated shabbily (sic - heheh) was Xabi Alonso, who was playing for a whole season knowing that his manager was actively seeking to replace him with Gareth Barry. It's no coincidence that his game suffered, and when the Barry move fell through, the following season he plays out of his skin playing a major part in the second place finish, before going back to Spain. He's telling Benitez "this is what you'll miss", and good on him.
Then there was the full back (can't recall his name - yet another Spaniard) who let it be known that playing for Benitez was a nightmare.

Respect of your peers
No apparent sense of humour, constant displays of petulance, blaming everyone and everything but himself when results didn't go his way, a complete lack of respect and class when discussing his nearest rivals, geographically (Everton) and in football terms (Man Utd) won him no fans. Love or hate the likes of Ferguson & Mourinho, they get respect simply because of the success they've had, something Benitez can only dream about.

In conclusion, I can only say that sensible Kopites, and there are a few, must be punching the air in delight, while the rest of us will sorely miss him, as with him in charge Liverpool were becoming a joke and a pale shadow of their former selves. His comedy value will be irreplaceable!

Inter must be mad if they replace the mighty Mourinho with the clown that is Benitez. Please Liverpool, don't get rid of him, sign him for a lifetime - SAVE RAFA!!!!