Category Archives: Ranting

Gary Cahill talks of ‘massive opportunity’ at joining Chelsea

Not to labour a point that’s already been made, but there seems to be a bit of a disconnect here. Gary Cahill, on completing his move to Stamford Bridge:

“Chelsea is a massive club, it is a club that looks to win trophies season in, season out and it is a big opportunity for me to be a part of that.

Opportunities like this, you can’t turn down.

This is the right move for me at the right time and I would like to thank everyone at Bolton because I’ve had a great four years at the football club.

My spell with Wanderers has enabled me to break into the England squad, and I would particularly like to thank the fans for their support along the way.”

Yup, an opportunity so valuable and so hard to turn down that Cahill took two weeks to agree on personal terms. Apparently, Cahill had to eventually settle for just the £80,000 a week – rather than the £100,000 that he was asking for. Tough times.

I know that the ‘players get paid too much’ opinion has been around for a long time now, but is there not an issue when average players are asking for such exorbitant wages? Even more so when players put their demands for cash above the advancement of their careers.

Football fans have a long memory, and if Gary Cahill gets off to anything other than a flying start, those protracted negotiations are going to haunt him. The moment he hesitated, Chelsea should have told him to do one – Andres Villas-Boas needs players that actually want to play for the club, not those that are happy to as long as they’re paid enough to do so. Huge difference. Cahill’s not a good enough player to be behaving like this.

Oh, he’s an England International is he? Well, only sort of – and anyway, so was Matthew Upson.

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Blackburn growing ever more bizarre

Junior Hoilett’s contractual situation seems to sum up Blackburn at the moment. Just quite how well-informed or well-intentioned Venky’s were when they bought into the club will likely never be revealed, but what’s become more obvious is that they have no business in or around football.

Rather mischievously, the company’s Wikipedia page currently claims that the Indians are ‘on the verge of going into the asset stripping business’.

The most striking moment in their short history at the club, was the incident that led to Sam Allardyce’s departure from the club. Supposedly on presenting Jerome Anderson, the eel-like super agent and head of the SEM Group – employed by Venky’s as a consultant, with a list of preferred transfer targets, Allardyce received a revised list from Anderson containing names of players that were a better fit for the owners’ ‘vision’ – and then shortly after of course, he also received his P45.

That was the moment when every alarm bell in Ewood Park should have started simultaneously ringing. Or if not then, at least when the club started being densely populated with clients from SEM-affiliate the Kentaro Group – John Jensen and Steve Kean. By the time Myles Anderson, son of Jerome, arrived at Ewood Park in the Summer, it was definitely evident that with the new ownership was going to come a different breed of chaos.

Jerome Anderson

Anderson Senior has now left the club, but that hasn’t made the waters in the North West any less murky. Bank debts, bizarre accounting, and confusion over the owners’ intentions still loom over Ewood Park, and 14 months after the club changed hands, nobody is really any the wiser over why Venky’s bought Blackburn in the first place.

Outwardly, they seem to have done everything possibly to devalue their asset; an inexperienced manager, very limited investment in the playing squad, and complete alienation from the fanbase – all conspiring to make this probably the most disliked regime in Premier League history.

And so back to Hoilett, whose contract will expire in the Summer – and who will surely have the common-sense to not even contemplate signing a new one. Given that the Canadian is arguably Rovers’ most valuable commodity, how has this been allowed to happen? If I bought a football club, my first call of duty walking through the gates would be to protect the value of my purchase – who are my players and how long are they under contract for?

“Oh really – our most promising player’s contract is up in eighteen months? Let’s do nothing about that, I’m sure it will work itself out.”

Are you joking? When journalists and commentators chastise the Blackburn fans for the ire they’re directing at Steve Kean and Venky’s, do they not take this kind of thing into account? It’s not as if the club’s financial situation has snuck-up from nowhere, Venky’s must surely have been aware of their financial obligations to the bank – so why are they letting a vital asset depreciate in front of them?

I know that all seems to be a disproportionate level of anger for a contractual issue, but it’s just the straw the broke the camel’s back. The whole thing, from top to bottom, from Venky’s through Jerome Anderson, his son, Steve Kean and back to Hoilett, is an absolute farce.

Hard to get excited about the FA Cup

So welcome to another pulsating weekend of Premier League… Oh. Oh no. It’s an FA Cup weekend.

I don’t know when I stopped being interested in the FA Cup, but I imagine it would have been at around the same time that I was able to see through rhetoric of romance and excitement that we get smothered with at this time of year.

Take the obvious points out of this; the FA Cup doesn’t suffer in my mind because of the growth in importance of the Champions League and contest to qualify for it, moreover I just don’t enjoy the footballing experience that the ‘world’s oldest cup competition’ offers.

The manner in which football is packaged on the terrestrial television channels in this country is dreadful. Either I have irritating ‘everyman’ Adrian Chiles asking purposely obvious questions to bland pundits, or I put up with the sycophantic mateyness of the BBC studio. Sophie’s Choice.

Then the commentary, with each microphone man’s tone of voice betraying just how desperate they are to see a ‘big’ side fall flat on their arse. The hyperbole, the monologues, the cliches – it’s relentlessly dull. I wouldn’t reject the competition quite so wholeheartedly if its significance wasn’t rammed down my throat with such force every year. Yes, I get it; it’s old, it has a lot of history, every now and again a big team beats a little one. Whatever.

But it doesn’t actually stop with the football; if just one year could go by without The Sun publishing one of their ‘look how little this dustman from Nowhere Town earns in comparison to the kit man at the big Premier League monolith’ graphics, then you’d see my apathy half itself.

Call me a killjoy if you like, but it’s a lesser brand of the game. The pitches are worse, the balls are invariably slightly strange, the presentation is inferior, and the whole exercise is templated within an inch of its life – the same interviews with the same ‘characters’ on the same subjects.


Angered by Phil Dowd’s decision during Manchester United vs Wigan

Phil Dowd’s decision to dismiss Connor Sammon angered me, it was so symptomatic of the way the game is refereed in this country.

Sometimes officials have to accept that contact between two players is incidental, and not malicious. Anybody that has played the game – to any standard – will tell you that sometimes contact occurs and that it’s perfectly plausible for it to be accidental. Given the pace with which the game is played, there has to be more common sense applied.

There’s too much of this in the Premier League, there are too many referees who see contact during an aerial battle and feel the need to get the red card out. It’s irritating; they must learn to distinguish between a fair contest and serious foul play. It’s not actually that difficult, because very rarely do you see a Premier League player deliberately swing an elbow into his opponent’s face.

There are no mitigating circumstances for Dowd either. He has a direct line of sight to the incident, neither Michael Carrick nor any other Manchester United player is demanding retribution, the crowd is unmoved, and the incident doesn’t take place at any great speed. It’s just inadequate refereeing.

“I’m at Old Trafford and I think I’ve seen a swinging arm – maybe it’s best just to send the player off. It’s only Wigan.”

I’m someone that’s reluctant to slag off referees, because the ‘conspiracy culture’ in our game is too prominent already – but when the officials are consistently making incorrect decisions, every week now, that change the course of a game, it’s hard to ignore. It’s so, so boring.

Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge fires back at Roberto Mancini

Prepare to have absolutely no sympathy here…

I can’t stand it when players do this, when they revert back to teenage levels of sensitivity. You’ll remember Roberto Mancini’s comments about part-time footballer Wayne Bridge a few days ago, where he pretty much accused him of staying at the club purely for financial reasons. Well Wayne didn’t seem to like that much, and has come out swinging at his manager:

“When I was at Chelsea I was playing for a team where Ashley Cole was the best in the world and I still got games.

It won’t happen at City. There has never been an explanation, but it’s obvious they don’t want me.

Mancini doesn’t really speak to me, he doesn’t really speak to any of the players. The only time I’ve known a player isolated like this was Winston Bogarde at Chelsea. Usually you still train with the first team, even when they want you out.

I’ve never caused trouble, I’m not that kind of character.

There will be days when I’m frustrated – not depressed, but down. Training helps take my mind off the fact that I don’t play.

If I kicked up a fuss I might have got out easier.”

Yeah Wayne, you’re a real hero for not ‘causing trouble’. There ‘are days when’ you’re ‘frustrated’ are there? Poor you, it’s so very difficult when you’re stuck at a club that doesn’t want you and you just have to sit there and collect your money.

Regarding the lack of an ‘explanation’ – grow up. If Bridge is not playing, the chances are that it’s because Roberto Mancini thinks that he’s not capable of performing at the level that the rest of his team is. Which, incidentally, isn’t unreasonable given the abomination of a loan spell he phoned-in at West Ham last season.

Maybe Wayne Bridge’s quest for first-team football would be helped by reconsidering what he’s worth on a week-to-week basis? Just a thought…

Man City’s Tevez wants to play for Boca

Of course you do, son. It’s a language problem, or a manager problem, or a lost-in-translation problem, or a not-enough-money problem.

Carlos Tevez has publicly declared that he’s only really interested in playing for Boca Juniors – the team he supported as a boy.

“I won’t return to play in England. My dream is to work from January with Boca Juniors.

There is not a money problem. I am very tired of travelling. I only want to prepare with Boca.”

Not to be a pedant at all here Carlos, but wouldn’t you be doing less traveling if you didn’t flounce off to Argentina every time you don’t get your own way about something? Cutting the melodramatics might just reduce your air miles.

The tragedy of this situation, is that an extremely gifted player has developed a sense of entitlement because of the people around him. He’s got so used to Kia Joorabchian spinning a web of lies to protect him that he’s completely lost touch with reality. Carlos Tevez is a football player, and he should realise that nobody has any sympathy for the supposed difficulties of such a profession.

Honestly, I couldn’t possible care less where Tevez ends up, as long as it’s not at another English club.

Right now, I’m sure he would dearly love to play for Boca – although that will doubtless change when he sees the wages that AC Milan offer him. He wants to be back in Argentina, although Italy or Spain or England or France will do if the money’s right.

Just get out. Go away. This situation is entirely of the player’s making – it’s not Manchester City or Roberto Mancini. Just as it wasn’t a problem with Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, West Ham, or Corinthians – as Tevez and his entourage are the only common denominators in the acrimony that accompanied his departure from all of those clubs as well.

He’s a cancer in the game – the sooner he leaves England the better.

Everton’s Jack Rodwell being linked to Manchester United

Not this again.

Darren Fletcher’s hiatus from the game has led to a flurry of speculation about how Manchester United will restock their midfield. Predictably – and lazily – Jack Rodwell’s name is now being banded about, as is a price tag of £20m.

Is £20m just the default press-value of any promising English player? You can’t even really blame the press for this, because there are clubs – ok, mainly just Liverpool – who will actually pay that kind of money for under-developed British talent.

Jack Rodwell is a good player, and he has the attributes to grow into a solid international in a couple of years – but notice the future tense. Why, in the middle of his development curve, would it be wise to go and sit on Manchester United’s bench? He should stay at Everton, and become an integral part of that team first – build a proper reputation, lest he should become the next Jordan Henderson.

I find the lack of patience in the game so frustrating. Another Everton player, Ross Barkley, had barely played an hour of Premier League football before he was being anointed and linked with £20m moves to Manchester United, Chelsea etc. Note again the ‘£20m’ fee.

I can’t stress enough that I think that Rodwell will become a good player – maybe not in the ‘second coming all-conquering way that Henry Winter does – but at the moment he’s still quite limited. He needs to learn the nuances of midfield play, and actually develop his understanding of the position – that’s not a criticism, just a reminder that he’s only 20-years-old.

Let’s just relax and let him play. Why the rush for the big transfer fee and the big stage?

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Melodrama in The Sun over Chelsea’s progression in the Champions League

Why must we react so fully and conclusively off the back of everything that happens? In this country, individual games seems to create opinions one week and contradict them the next.

Why the rush to pass judgement? The opening lines (or paragraphs) of Steven Howard’s hyperbole riddled match report from Stamford Bridge:

“AS the second Chelsea goal hit the back of the net, Andre Villas-Boas went quietly mad.

The leap into the air that saw him seemingly hover above the Chelsea dugout for a few seconds would have earned him automatic qualification for the Portuguese Olympic high-jump squad.

And who could blame him?

We had come to bury little Caesar not to praise him.

And here he was doing the near impossible — turning round football’s equivalent of the QE2.

Any more of this and he may have a future at Stamford Bridge.”

The near impossible? ‘May’ have a future at Stamford Bridge? Exaggerate much do you Stevey? And that’s not even including all the ‘Lampard-is-definitely-finished-because-he-didn’t-start-a-game’ rhetoric that makes-up the rest of the article – is that ‘more definitely’ finished than the last time he was left out only to be reinstated a week later? Have you not learnt this lesson yet?

How about this for an idea – maybe we can form opinions on more than just isolated matches? How about we give managers more than just 3 months of a season until we decide whether they’re fit for employment or not?

Maybe we could actually discover some middle ground between triumph and disaster – must everything be either brilliant or hopeless? That Chelsea beat a Valencia side that badly let themselves down last night, doesn’t mean that corners have been turned – just as the defeats to Arsenal or Liverpool didn’t represent a footballing dead-end.

Let’s apply some perspective, even if that does force the press to abandon their infatuation with sensationalist reporting.

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Baffled by Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou

Apologies for this, as it’s going to be a bit irrational.

I really don’t like Salomon Kalou, and I can’t for the life of me understand how he’s still at Chelsea. He embodies the attitude of ‘cash before playing minutes’ that infects big, wealthy clubs – he’s made 147 appearances in nearly 6 years, and the heavy majority of those were as a substitute.

It’s not even so much his lack of ambition, but more that Chelsea keep him at the club. He’s not one of those bench options that can really change a game – I don’t understand how 5 consecutive managers have failed to move him on? He doesn’t offer anything different to the team, just a lesser version of what other players already bring. It doesn’t make sense.

He’s one of those players that, no matter how many goals he scores, your valuation of him never appreciates. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because he comes on when Chelsea are 4-0 up against bottom half teams, or maybe it’s the throw-away goal celebration – no idea. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t score important goals – and when he does score they’re always second-attempt rebounds or tap-ins. Maybe that’s harsh, but that’s certainly what comes to mind when you think of Kalou.

Alright, rant done.

Sam Jacks’ Gary Speed T-Shirts defining bad taste at Newcastle game

Whoever came up with this idea should be ashamed of themselves.

Anybody who watched Newcastle/Chelsea yesterday, or who was at St James’ Park, will have seen the Gary Speed tribute t-shirts that were issued by Sam Jacks – a Newcastle bar. Apologies, but I can’t find any images if you missed them.

I’m all for remembering Gary Speed and paying a proper tribute, but did the name of the bar really have to appear on the t-shirt as well? At no point during this ‘marketing initiative’ did anybody say ‘maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to be seen as trying to profit off such a tragic situation’?

Really, nobody? Nobody thought that they might be seen as completely tasteless and inappropriate. It’s calculating and cold-blooded, and absolutely revolting – there are no mitigating circumstances.

Whoever you are, you used suicide as a means of advertising your bar – dressing something up as a tribute, but all along it’s just a Trojan Horse to widen a profit margin.