Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog


Best Worst Decisions Of The Decade (In Football) Awards
December 28, 2009, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

Decisions, decisionsAfter being let off my leash from work early this afternoon, I was presented with two options: go home and clean my house, or pile down to London Road and watch Peterborough play Cardiff City.

After weighing things up I decided that parting with the best part of £30 watching two teams I have little real interest over. Anyway, a match like ‘Peterborough versus Cardiff’ has a scrappy low-scoring bore draw written all over it.

Turns out I was very, very wrong.

It turned out to be the greatest game of football of all time. Cardiff raced to a 0-4 away advantage by half time (which was not too surprising in hindsight seeing that the Posh had somebody named Exodus Geohaghon playing as centre-back).

However, and aptly, the team with such an epicly named player staged a Biblical comeback. The Posh squeaked out the most unlikely of draws, pulling the score back to 4-4 thanks to two goals in injury time.

Although my living room and kitchen are now quite clean, I clearly made the wrong decision.

However, I would like to ideologically allign myself with Jonny Mercer and Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive out of this mother.

Therefore, I will bring to you the Best Worst Decisions Of The Decade (In Football) Awards. It’s a real treat for those who love oxymorons. And for those of you who do not enjoy self contradicting statements I still give the same advice: “”Le regarde… ici”;

Keith Gillespie, Frank Sinclair and Paul Dickov... oi oi!!

THE WORST RELEGATION RUN UP PREPARATION OF THE DECADE

Nowhere better to start this propa nawty noughties retrospective than the club that lost it all for a boozy holiday.

Gearing up for the last stages of the 2003-04 season, Leicester City thought a trip to a sports resort in La Manga would be the ideal tonic to help with our glorious survival push.

However, in the end the boys decided to take “what goes on tour stays on tour” a little too far. The squad apparently got drunk for a week solid, before being accused of sexual assault on some self-confessed prostitutes.

Mickey Adams’ attempts to give the squad extra focus seemed to be by letting them off the leash. However, he forgot that professional athletes are incredibly self-centred morons, and with half the team gracing the front pages of the British tabloids, Leicester City faced a slightly harder task of reaching survival.

Inevitably, it didn’t happen. The Foxes got relegated by the slenderist of margins, and even after the three players charged with rape were acquitted, you have to wonder what they were doing fraternising with people like the girls who admitted lying to the police in the first place.

As a result of the club’s folly in La Manga, they got relegated, hit more financial woes, went through about 30 managers (including four who bizarrely managed internationally – Taylor, Worthington, Wilkinson, Levein).

Only in the last few months have Leicester City started to resemble a team that isn’t an atrocious shambles.

Give the boys a trip to Spain to celebrate, Milan!

THE WORST WAY TO RUN ANY BUSINESS EVER AWARD

Well there was really only one winner here wasn’t there.

Mike Ashley bowled into Newcastle United as a lethal mixture between a 13 year old boy who has finally bought Championship Manager after hearing his mates talk about it at school for years, and a 40 year old street cleaner who just won the lottery.

He smashed his way into Geordie hearts by wearing the football shirt while eating pies befoer games and guzzling pints with fans after them. The Newcastle faithful loved all of this at first.

Big MA then decided to unleash some of the most spectacular decisions ever seen. To write about each would be a disservice to the internet, which I’m sure must be getting pretty clogged up, but here’s a bullet-point list of some of my favourites;

– giving a job to King Kev

– giving a job to Dennis Wise

– giving a job to Joe Kinnear

– giving a job to anyone who has ever been employed by Spurs (except me)

– forcing King Kev back out the club

– buying people like Xisco while selling Charlie Insomnia

– making the club play in a urine-stained shirt

– changing the name of one of the world’s most famous football stadiums into an email address

..

STUPIDEST THING TO DO IN A FOTBALL GROUND

Step forward Barry Ferguson. What better way to prove your maturity after being dropped for one game as national captain for being drunk than… sit on the bench and swear at the manager for the whole game.

This is one of those times when you have to agree that it is mental that a man like this can get paid more in a week than I get a year. Mental.

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AWARD FOR MOST BAFFLING INTERNATIONAL MANAGERIAL APPOINTMENTS

A shame to resort to a tie, but frankly any other result would be a disservice to fair and accurate reporting.

At around the same time I was sneaking into Soho Square looking for an internship at the FA, they were appointing Steve McLaren. The move prompted Massimo Maccarone to dusprove theories he was dead when he penned a 27 page rant about how the English FA had made the wrong decision.

Well Massimo, if I had been on that employment panel I would have “pulled a Simon Cowell” and  killed McLaren’s dreams there and then.

A talented coach, but nowhere near international level. As was proved by England laughably failing to qualify against Croatia while Steve hid under an umbrella sipping what I assume to be hot chocolate.

Alas, Stevie was not the only baffling appointment made by a footballing association.

At a similar time, Steve Staunton was unveiled to the media as the new Ireland manager. After realising it wasn’t April 1, most journalist presumably phoned up Roy Keane to apologise for any criticisms they made over the Manchester United legend saying the Irish FA were jokers.

Like McLaren, Staunton was swiftly sacked after an appalling qualification campaign that saw them sneak a draw with the Faroe Irelands, Macedonia Women and King’s Lynn Blind and Deaf Club (under 11s).

Fortunately, some good did come from the appointments. Two incredibly competent Italians took over, and England and Ireland not only look much stronger under Capello and Trapettoni, but it also confound the Daily Mail argument that “British Is BETTER” to the bin once and for all.

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WORST SACKING

Chelsea under Mourinho:

2/3 Premiership Titles, 2/3 FA Cups, 1/3 League Cups

Chelsea without Mourinho

0/3 Premierships, 1/3 FA Cups, 0/3 League Cups

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.

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AND FINALLY, THE AWARD THAT SHOWS THAT EVEN THE BEST CAN BE THE WORST AT TIMES AWARD OF THE DECADE

Alex Ferguson – despite all the trophies, here’s some pictoral evidence that from time to time he is as inept as even Big Joe Kinnear.

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HOOLIGANISM CHRISTMAS RESULTS SHOW
December 23, 2009, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags:

HOOLIGANISM: it's propa nawty

For reasons best known to them, the police have released the number of fans suspended for each club in the top two divisions of English football two days before Christmas.

I suppose this is to name and shame clubs into thinking “oh cripes haven’t we got some bad eggs, I do wish that our supporters wouldn’t be such a bunch of rugrats”. However, as with anything involved with football and authorities the opposite is true.

Any real football fan wants their club to be as high on the list as possible.

In real life you would hate to interact with the kind of oik that gets banned from a football ground (how bad must your behaviour to incur such a fate, by the way?). But, although you would hate the individual, it’s strangely satisfying to know they are there.

It also detracts from the idea that your club is full of ‘plastics’: it is much better to have supporters in prison than on the sofa with a bottle of WKD in hand at home, I  am sure  you agree.

Here is the Premiership’s figures of fan bans per teams, conveniently put into a league table so you don’t have to bother working out where your team ended up;

Incidentally, the top 6 of the Championship is Cardiff City (124), Newcastle United (99), Middlesborough (82), Swansea City (65), Leicester City (57) and Sheffield United (51).

Which just goes to prove the Welsh and the north-east are scummers, and I was born in a city of (and frequented the university of) toerags.

Anyway, please feel free to study the table and proudly throw out yuor club’s position  in any fights you have over the festive season. Nothing brings the yuletide cheer quite like a good statistical row about violence.

I need to cut this one short to pack a Christmas adventure to Leicester. To prove that I still love you please take five minutes to remember what life was like when Leicester City used to be good old ‘League One Leicester City’;

Mutu Crespo!



Hughes gets sparked out
December 21, 2009, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog | Tags: ,

Santa Claus had something in his sack for Mark Hughes… and sadly for the Welsh gaffer, it was the sack.

Yes, it’s terrible that a manager who has got a team to the semi finals of the Carling Cup and only bean beaten twice in the league has been sacked. But in reality, Hughes is leaving with an improved reputation, public persona and bank balance.

And Manchester City have got a better manager.

But in doing so, they performed a public relations nightmare.

Hughes did a good job at Manchester City. Not a great job – but then he didn’t really have time to.

He had planted the seeds for a team that would move on, within the next couple of seasons, to challenging at the top.

If he had stayed throughout the season they would have ended up in Europe. Maybe not in the Champion’s League, but they’d have one a cup or two and finished around seventh.

But the fact is he was not good enough for what Manchester City’s owners.

And in all honesty, who can really blame them? After pumping in the GDP of a decent sized country, Champion’s League qualification really is the bare minimum.

Executive Chairman Gary Cook (left) will be lambasted, but we should judge this decision in five years. And he will be right.

So although it’s sad that Hughes – a good manager who was making good headway – was sacked, it really was quite inevitable.

He was not appointed by the billionaire regime and, although doing a good job, did not do a job worthy of a billionaire owner.

The analogy I would give would be this – if Hughes feels hard done for being ousted due to unrealistically high expectations, how must Nedhum Onouha feel?

Like Hughes, Onouha was making nice progress at Manchester City. Both are good, 7.5/10 performers.

However, much like Hughes kicked Onouha to the curb once he got to play with Kolo Toure… Sparky himself got ditched when the owners got the chance to play with Mancini.

Mancini is thus far unparalleled. He has won Italian cups with a banrupt Fiorentina and Lazio, he snared the Seria A title with Inter twice out of two attempts and, most importantly, he had an unforgettable glory period as a player for European stalwarts Leicester City Football Club.

He is, on paper, a better manager than Mark Hughes.

Therefore, although Hughes deserved better as a man, one can reason with his sacking and, ultimately, accept it as reasonable.

He will end up at a club that recognise his ample skills, but don’t expect too much. He’ll end up at a Sunderland, or an Everton.

Consistently 6th-8th, no more is expected, yet it is still celebrated as a great triumph.

Meanwhile Manchester City will push on, and they will break into that top four and eventually win a championship.

They will probably not get top spot with Mancini, but once he has served his function Jose Mourinho or Guus Hiddink will sweep in and take the glory.

Mark Hughes can moan all he wants to, but he really did take Man City as far as he could – even though that was much further than you would have expected when he took over 18 months ago.

Much like when Jeremy got punched at the end of that episode of Peep Show, he doesn’t deserve it on what he has done. But in the grand scheme of things… fair doos.



A POEM ABOUT MY TRIP TO WATCH COVENTRY CITY PLAY NEWCASTLE UNITED

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I talked to my Geordie friend Stephen Jones

Using our 21st century mobile phones

He invited me to go and sit with the Toon Army

At the Ricoh Arena, to say no would be barmy

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So off in his car we sped on our way

To the ground where Coventry play

I’d sit with Newcastle fans in the away end

If they knew I’m an outsider a hooligan they’d send

To fit in with the Geordies I’d have to pretend

Although that rhyme broke my iambic pentameter

Into the ground with the fans I did scatter

First thing we did was bought ourselves pies

The pic on the right proves these stories ain’t lies

£3.20 for some pastry? I couldn’t believe my eyes

As we got to our seats the game was about to begin

Cov’s line-up was so bad they could have played Keith Chegwin

Newcastle started to dominate from the very first kick

And while Steve on his chicken pie continued to lick

Shola Ameobi opened the scoring with a quality goal

The finish was as good as anything by Andy Cole

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The Geordies went delirious, over the moon

But still their fans only sung one tune

It’s lyrics were altogether quite dastardly

Because it was about a fat cockney named Ashley

As we entered half-time the score was still one-nill

To be honest the game wasn’t much of a thrill

It could have been sold as a great sleeping pill

But during the interval we managed to have a few snickers

As the fans on all sides of us seemed to be window lickers

There were fatties and thinnies, youngsters and old

A ginger man whose belly could shield a slum from the cold

It may be patronising but I just couldn’t get a grip

On how these thousands of weirdos could afford the trip

Before I could start planning my Geordie holocaust

The second half kicked off like a rusty exhaust

Yes I’m fully aware that my last line didn’t make sense or even rhyme

But these last two will rhyme double (oh what a fine time)

Newcastle again dominated, they were the much better side

The Coventry players had nowhere to hide

Instead they just conceded a second, I knew that they would

The goal came from Nile Ranger, who comes from the ‘hood

And he knew how to bang it in the net with a thunderous thud

The game finished two nil and the away fans gave a warning

That Cov boss Coleman would get sacked in the morning

But as I filtered out of the ground it became quite clear

That supporting anyone but Leicester it seems to appear

Is like pretending to be an elephant when you’re really a deer.



In Doctor Nigel We Trust
December 9, 2009, 5:05 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog

Image taken from Barry Hayles' very own website. If you don't believe me click on it.

As Leicester City slumped to a second thumping defeat in a week the inevitable has happened; the idiots are rising.

Murmurs of discontent about Dr. Nigel Pearson’s abilities as manager have been whispered by the great unwashed at the Walkers Bowl.

The Blue Foxes stumbled to a 3-1 reverse at home to Bristol City, which coming off the back of a 5-1 mauling away at Nottingham “Notts” Forest made for a catastrophic week for the world’s favourite football team.

Both performances were devoid of any life, featuring 11 very uninterested athletes for whom the presence of a football got in the way of an otherwise nice winter stroll.

Modern football is such that, irrespective of the manager’s record before a dismal game, they are always deemed the sole factor for any bad performance. Although Pearson should (and has) taken responsibility for the recent wobble, the fans have got to remember the fantastic 15 months that have preceeded it.

Dr. Pearson supervised over Leicester City getting the most number of points ever in any season of all time in history. This may not be quite true, but we did stonk in close to 100 points in our first ever season in League One, romping the division.

Although the league is not prestigious, the quality of Pearson’s job can be seen by compaing our immense success compared to the struggles of teams like Forest, Leeds and Man City in the same division.

Even before the “wobble” began, we were third in the Championship. THIRD!  That’s ridiculously high.

The problem is that Leicester City fans, like most clubs, are generally morons. This is not a subjective opinion – even a footballing virgin would identify that by listening to one of our reliably farcical radio phone ins.

Who can forget the woman saying the man for the manager’s job after Holloway got us relegated was Jose Mourinho?

Anyway, these morons have now started to turn on Dr. Nigel. Nonsense, of course.

For me, this wobble (which, although only two games, is pretty accurate from the lamentable way we lumbered to those two ‘results’) actually has more to do with this man.


That’s right… Big Edgar.

Ex-World Heavyweight Champion of the World Davids was courted publically by Drs. Pearson and Mandaric. However, he eventually wanted too many pennies so the deal never came off.

Although Davids is almost certainly not a great player any more, and there’s plenty of credibility to the opinion he may now be awful, courting him in such a public way could have been a huge mistake on a team that looked like a play-off team getting solid results.

Firstly, it left the fans with a bit of a damp squib. Instead of having the glamorous former captain of footballing heavyweights Holland, we were watching Matt Oakley.

Although we had always been watching Matt Oakley, you only realise you’re watching Matt Oakley once Edgar Davids has been thought of as a replacement.

It’s pretty natural that courting such a high profile means the fans start to question the ones we’ve got already, and wondering why we’re not playing more footballers on the front cover of bygone FIFA computer fames.

Secondly, and more pertinently, failing to bring in Davids showed a lack of ambition to the players. He may have been rubbish now but, after looking like they’d be rubbing shoulders with a legends, you can imagine why young players like Andy King or Matt Fryatt would be excitably updating their Facebook status/Twitter feed about their new teammate.

Instead, the tagged photos will be of that pesky Matt Oakley again.

Matt Oakley?

Matt Oakley!

Matt Oakley.

Exactly.

Anyway, Dr Nigel will sort it out. I’m holding out for an inspirational signing to re-invigorate the club. If we’re sticking with the OAP route, Sol Campbell appeared to be a great option until Manchester United seem to have grabbed that one.

On the other side of the scale we could just get an Arsenal youngster. That Tom Cruise lad sounds rather exciting.

Alternatively we could sack Pearson and appoint Joe Kinnear or Harry Bassett.  Oi oi!