Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Busy Doing Nothing

Time-wasting in football is basically a risk/reward exercise. Assessing it is a question of degree. I saw a lot of football at Barnet the season they were relegated from the league. About 3 games from the end of the season, they were leading Rochdale 2-1 in injury time when John Doolan saw the keeper off his line and tried to lob him from 40 yards. It was a good effort, but the keeper caught it and immediately launched it downfield. When the ball came down, Rochdale won a free kick on the edge of the area. They scored from it and the ref promptly blew up. Barnet were relegated on the last day of the season and spent 3 years in the conference.

So there's a case where, in hindsight, kicking it in the corner and trying to keep it there might have been a better option. What's more of a concern is where teams are habitually wasting time in situations where the reward is much less, and I stress that by and large QPR are no better than anyone else. By and large that is. I just came across this today. This is how far some people are prepared to go to for the tiniest of edges. If people can't/don't want to access the link, Luis Garcia is preparing to come on as a substitute with Liverpool a goal up away from home. He takes his wedding ring and puts it in his mouth. Shortly after taking the pitch, he puts the ring on his finger and makes sure that the referee sees it, causing a 20 second delay as he is sent to the touchline to take it off. (Correction : the score was 0-0 and there was half an hour to go).

I wouldn't recommend reading the comments from Liverpool fans on this blog as they are incredibly depressing. Several basically excuse it by saying that it hardly gains Liverpool much of an advantage. Well, to me, that makes it even more pathetic. And his manager is standing right next to him while he does it. Is this what we're paying £40 a throw to watch ? Fuck that.

Take No Prisoners

From BBC Sport today :

"Leicester and QPR have been charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players during a match at the Walkers Stadium on 24 September. There was a mass brawl during the game, which QPR won"

Yes ! No one fucks with the SuperHoops !

And no one fucks with Johnny Giles either. Here is a selection of his comments on last night's Liverpool-Chelsea irrelevance (courtesy of Football 365)

"Didier Drogba....look, there he is again, rolling around like a big baby. Chelsea are notorious for this....look! he's up again. Get on with the game like men and don't be rolling around the bloody floor!"

"How on earth Traore gets into this team is beyond me. And he's a Champions League winner? Gimme a break. They've Riise sitting on the bench who's a different class to this fella."

"Luis Garcia would want to be scoring a goal a game to justify being picked. His touch and general play are absolutely awful."

"At least Liverpool are trying to take the game to Chelsea. Chelsea's approach has been totally negative, and on the evidence of this game, very boring.."

"They tell us that Lampard and Gerrard are the best midfield players in the world. Neither of them have strung two passes together all night so how can we tell?"

"That was just stupid play by Drogba. He's a very stupid player"

"I think Mourinho just likes annoying people. He's annoyed everyone in the stadium here tonight with the way he's approached this game."

Now that's punditry. And who would argue with a single point ? If Sky had Giles doing this on a regular basis, I'd still be paying as much as they wanted. Marketing weasels around the world seem to think that if you say something often enough, people will eventually believe you. Wrong. If you say something that's blatantly not true often enough, people will eventually lose respect for you.

Monday, September 26, 2005

To See Ourselves As Others See Us

A geezer at work is a Leicester City fan. In fact he's from up that way so I suppose he's not really a geezer. Whatever is the Midlands equivalent. Anyway I asked him about the game on Saturday as he'd been there while I was at the poker wedding of the year (to follow). Er, not that I would have gone anyway to be honest.

He's a nice enough geezer/bloke/whatever, very polite, always respectful when talking about football, and was almost embarrassed to relate that he'd never seen a game where so little football was played. By which he stressed he didn't mean that the ball was in the air all the time, but that there were so many stoppages. He said that the ref added 4 minutes on the first half and 5 on the second "but it should have been 10 each time".

In other words that we were a bunch of time-wasting gits (Rangers having been a man up and a goal up for most of the game). And frankly we are. Knowing him as I do, if anything he was probably understating the case. This issue is coming to a head in football - on the first day of the season Middlesboro took a short corner and stood on the ball with a minute to go in their home game against Liverpool. When the score was 0-0. The standard response is "you never complain when your team does it".

Well that's exactly what I am doing. I'd rather see Rangers go forward and try to score goals, except in extreme circumstances. If that costs us 8 points a season so be it. If that means we end up playing in a lower division so be it. Is how I would see it anyway. But I saw a bizarre Ian Holloway press conference on the Internet today. Bizarre really is the only word for it. Rightly upset with the back-room shenanigans going on at the club at the moment, he said that Rangers had been told that if they went into administration again, they'd be closed down. He then became angrier and angrier, and finally went off into the most surreal rant about Tony Blair and Iraq before closing with "The whole world's gone mad. Which suits me because I'm as mad as a March Hare" and stomping off, shouting "any more questions ?" over his shoulder as he left.

Which tells us two things. 1) How much pressure the guy is under because he feels that the whole club's future existence is on his shoulders and 2) how mad he is. Maybe I'll have to put up with time-wasting if the alternative is the club ceasing to exist. It ain't like the old days. There are too many people taking money out of football who have never kicked a ball in their lives. Agents, Peter Kenyon, twats like that. There's your lesson, poker. Heed it well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Infamy ! Infamy !

Alex Ferguson is well known for throwing out the toys and refusing to speak to those media outlets that dare to question him, but he's taking it to a new level now. He will no longer submit to being grilled, Paxman-style, by that hard-hitting controversial we-don't-care-who-we-offend station ... MUTV. That's right, he's not talking to his own club's cable channel.

Obviously I didn't subscribe to MUTV even when I was a slave to the Murdoch corporation, but I can't imagine that the interviews are much more testing than the QPR internet equivalent. The guy who does it has a technique of asking himself a question, creating his own interviewee-favourable answer and stating that in the form of a "Do you think" question. So he ends up saying something like "Do you think that it's an advantage to have different options on the bench so you can change things in the middle of a game ?". Holloway or whoever then either says "Yes" or (more usually and quite sensibly) ignores him and says whatever he wanted to say about something else. Much in the style of most football interviews to be fair.

Back to Sir Alex though, if this goes on, who will the master of mind-games be able to talk to, in order to cunningly manipulate M. Wenger and Senor Mourinho at a distance ? There's only one solution. AFTV. A station devoted solely to Sir Rednose should be able to get through about half a season before he stops talking to them too, I reckon.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Who Let The Riff-Raff In ?

The Championzzzz league starts in earnest this week, I am quite surprised to see that despite Henry joining Campbell on the injury list, Arsenal have shortened on Betfair to 1.5 (although at present you can only lay them direct at 1.59). My 1.54 has been snapped up and looks a half-decent lay. Especially considering two recent results : Middlesboro 0 Charlton 3 ; Middlesboro 2 Arsenal 1.

One thing I didn't realise though was the lowly status of Wednesday's visitors to Arsenal, FC Thun. Despite UEFA's best efforts to nail a "No Riff-Raff" sign over the door, the Swiss underdogs have somehow evaded security and sneaked in wearing jeans and trainers waving a crumpled ticket shouting "you can't throw us out !". Having shocked everyone, not least themselves, by knocking out Malmo and Dynamo Kiev, the plucky clock-makers (expect many such cliches on Wednesday) have had no time to sign anyone with their new CL riches. They even tried to sign Jardel, or Lardel as he was known at Bolton, where any time he tried a shot the ball would struggle to escape his gravity well. And failed !

Anyway according to the Observer, 10 years ago they were semi-professional with crowds of around 100, and even now it reports that some players are on an annual wage that is less than what many Premiership substitutes make in a week. Good luck to them, especially on Wednesday. Nonetheless if you would like to oppose Bergkamp and his similarly travel-shy chums, it might be best to wait until after Wednesday when they really ought to win, not that that will count for much in the final shake-up.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Isn't Football Great !

One-nil to the cultchie boys ! Awesome !

And that's why football's the greatest. If you just turn up and expect to win, it doesn't always work out like that. I didn't see the game but Alan Green said England were woeful, so they must have been. It's a kick up the arse that England needed from what I saw of them on Saturday. There are far too many in that team who are not under pressure, who think they are going to be picked whatever.

And while I have a foot in both camps, having grown up in Northern Ireland as I pointed out on Gutshot some 0.00003 seconds after the final whistle, I'm really pleased the boys in green pulled that one out. It's one for the Championship and the rest of the football league as well. Take that la-di-dah Premiership ! How do you like shaking hands with the boys from Hull and Luton after they've caned your arses ? You must excuse me, QPR & Northern Ireland I don't get to gloat all that often.

The papers are going to be like acid baths tomorrow, but frankly they deserve it. What England should be most concerned about is that Ericsson was outsmarted by Lawrie Sanchez. And I didn't even have a bet ! Forgot to put it on I was so busy ranting about Eurobet. Never mind, I don't care !