Despite His White Boots

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

Monday, September 24, 2007

Enough Of Your Trickery

A timely reminder that, even in Brazil, no one likes a show-off. If you search on YouTube for "seal dribble" you will find a few more examples. I don't know about the next Ronaldinho - maybe the next Headless Horseman if he keeps trying that on.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

QPR 1 Watford 1

This was a huge improvement. Sampsa Timoska and Gareth Ainsworth did indeed return to the team (it's nice to be right sometimes) and both players made a big difference on the right side of the pitch. Ainsworth stretched the visiting defence on several occasions before tiring and, evidently short of match fitness, being replaced at half time by Stefan Moore. Timoska had an excellent game at right back, winning a lot of headers against Watford's muscular front-line and pulling out one thunderous block to deny Lee Williamson.

To be fair, Rangers were perhaps fortunate to survive the first 10 minutes, and only did so thanks to some erratic Watford finishing and Lee Camp tipping Danny Shittu's header onto the crossbar. However, once Danny Cullip, who had an outstanding game, asserted his authoritaa at the back, Rangers were able to push forward and create a few chances of their own. Dexter Blackstock worked his way into more shooting positions during the game than he had in the previous month, but sadly didn't bring Mart Poom into action as a result. Nonetheless, Rangers went into the break with a lot of positives from a hugely improved display.

Sadly though, one very important thing did not change as Watford were gifted a goal within minutes of the restart. Camp and Chris Barker allowed an innocuous cross to bounce through to Tommy Smith, and he hooked it back across goal for Adam Johnson to apply a simple finish. Eamonn Dunphy said his the original "football diary" book "Only A Game ?" that even players have a tendency to blame the team-mates they don't trust and exonerate the ones they do, despite the evidence of their own eyes. And so it was that Barker took all the stick from the crowd when, if I have to be honest, I thought that Camp should have dealt with the situation at least with better communication.

This is something a goalkeeper can learn though, and we're very lucky to have Lee Camp as he once again proved to be an outstanding shot-stopper in this game. Before he was tested again, Rangers kept plugging away and when Blackstock's towering header was tipped onto the bar by Poom, Moore smashed the rebound in to possibly save his own Rangers career as well as the manager's. After that it was a pretty open game, Hogan Ephraim was very lively up front (having replaced Daniel Nardiello just before half time), while Camp had to save well from Marlon King and £3 million substitute Nathan Ellington. Unfortunately any remaining ambition that a tiring home side had of winning the game evaporated when Mikele Leigertwood was given a second yellow card for an innocuous challenge that barely merited a free kick. Rangers had a couple of half-decent penalty appeals late on but the referee was not inclined to even up the dodgy decision count and that was that.

All in all, it's hard to claim that Rangers deserved a win, given that Camp was much the busier goalkeeper, but it was an enormous improvement and it's a shame that the F1 guys weren't there to see it, and enjoy a very lively atmosphere. I had a seat quite near the directors box and was able to spot Gianluca Vialli, Gerry Francis and (lol) Dave Bassett in attendance (hopefully the latter was part of the Watford contingent). Martin Allen was apparently there too, but really on the basis of this display I think the current staff deserve at least half a dozen games to see if they can sustain this improvement. Let's not forget that Watford were top of the table coming in today with 5 wins out of 6, and today's performance would have been plenty good enough to see off a lot of teams in this division. A couple of wins would zoom us up the table and hopefully they won't be too long coming, although the next couple of games are difficult trips to West Brom and Colchester.

Oh, and on my way back I stopped in at the Vic to buy in for a tournament next week (not the £5000, YBA), and saw most the of Fulham-Man City game. It was very encouraging to see a Premiership game with both teams going for it like that, albeit the defending and especially the goalkeeping wasn't the best - what has happened to Antti Niemi, he was awful !?

Arsenal 3 Sevilla 0

Just cleaning house, I was at this game but didn't get around to a report in the week. This was a slightly strange game, in that Arsenal were comfortable winners but even so 3-0 kind of flattered them compared to what they created in terms of clear chances, which wasn't all that much. Despite some good possession from the visitors, Almunia had next to nothing to do.

Thanks to Dom for the loan of the ticket, the Emirates certainly is impressive with 60,000 in it. It's very strange to remember back to times when QPR competed with Arsenal on an equal footing and, while I'm sure Arsenal had the best of it overall, Rangers gave as good as they got several times. The last time the two met, however, Arsenal's second string won 6-0 at Loftus Road and on current form that would be a let-off for the hoops.

Speaking of which, I will be going along today. It's another strange one. Watford are available at better than evens and if they score first that will look like huge value. Should Rangers fluke the first goal somehow, well who knows. We haven't scored first yet this season and heads have been dropping at 0-1 lately, certainly at home. I think some of the players owe Gregory this one (Bolder and Blackstock in particular) and as I said in the last post I hope we can just make a better game of it. Gareth Ainsworth is back in contention and that should be a boost ; meanwhile if Sampsa Timoska doesn't see any action today I'll be wondering whether he ran over the manager's dog or something, it's so inexplicable why Rehman is preferred at full-back. As and while we're still in the game it should be lively ; but if we just fold again I will expect (but not demand) P45s to be handed out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

All Change In West London ?

As I said on Facebook, I was kicking myself this morning when Mourinho's exit was confirmed, having heard the rumour late the night before. It's impossible to know what kind of odds were available on Betfair at that time, but clearly someone was in on the coup given that a fair amount of money was wagered at the unholy odds of 1.02. Really, who lays this bet at 1-50, by that time don't you wonder whether people know something you don't ? As for how it happened, frankly who cares. Mourinho said he would never walk and Kenyon said they would never sack him. I have better things to worry about than which one of those two is the biggest lying cunt.

Nonetheless, the Special One reminds me of Eric Cantona in some ways. However much you didn't like him, he always gave you something to write about (in my fanzine days in Cantona's case). And that's why the press, whatever they actually wrote about him, loved Mourinho and encouraged him at every turn. Because you'd never have to chew your pencil wondering what to write when Mourinho went off on one. Any or all hagiographies must be read bearing this fact in mind. I wonder where he'll pitch up next. Italy would be my guess, they don't mind a negative cynical bastard over there that's for sure.

If he wants to give it till the weekend, I suspect there might be a vacancy just down the road. My prediction is that if Rangers don't show a bit of fight against Watford on Saturday, that could be it for The Boss. A home record of P4 L4 F1 A10 (and the goal was against frigging Orient) is not going to cut it for much longer. While I think Gregory did very well last season it's really looking like that was mostly on adrenalin and desperation to avoid relegation. This time around we've looked like a rabble, players like Moore and Rehman are still turning out despite being way out of their depth and I don't think the new owners are going to stand for much more of it. I won't write any obituaries just yet, or start running through the contenders, but if you can find a market on that, lump on would be my advice.

Update : No, wait. Of course laying 1.02 isn't that bad. It's a good job I don't have much money on Betfair. I'd be the egg who lays 100-1 thinking he's laying 1-100. Or the other way round. A better question is who lays these managerial coups at say evens, when it's come in from 20 in about an hour.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Barnet 0 Rochdale 0

Not much in this one, although it was pleasant enough in the sunshine. On the evidence of a couple of games, Barnet's forwards are lively enough outside the box and in the channels, but just don't have the nous to score enough goals. Jason Puncheon was their main threat once again, and he came closest to scoring when his free-kick was touched on to the post. And, er, that was about it really.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What A Tangled Web We Weave

when first we set out to deceive. I'm not sure this needs any further comment at all. Oh well, just one. I love how, when his initial plan was foiled by people finding out that his grandmother was, in fact, still alive, he threw them off the scent by saying it was his other grandmother. But damn it all and would you believe it, they found out she was alive as well !

Another cunning plan foiled.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's The Beginning Of A New Age ?

Hopefully Rangers can now put the last couple of weeks behind them and push on. There has been a lot of speculation in the papers since the takeover, and I can't help wondering whether some of them (the Mail/Evening Standard in particular) still have issues with the club and/or the manager. I don't expect an immediate change of manager. However, there's an interesting interview with Gianni Paladini on this site, which is worth checking out if you're interested. It's not fair to completely steal the guy's thunder, he's gone to the effort of setting the site up, so check it out if you're interested. It does include some very pointed comments about players who have left the club.

Various loan targets have been mooted, the most exciting being that Scott Sinclair could be arriving from Chelsea after their League Cup tie when they're going to give him a runout. I saw Sinclair play for Plymouth against Barnet last year in the cup and he looked really good, scored a terrific goal. It seems to be difficult to bring in loanees from certain clubs who are trying to take the piss now we have some money, but there's a suggestion that we might bring in up to three young players from Arsenal. We'll have to wait and see.

Possibly a new beginning for England as well. I'm expecting the FA to return the £20 I laid England to qualify with at the weekend, with interest. Top bokking. It will be very interesting to see what McLaren does with Barry and Heskey once the "big guns" are fit again (pop guns more like in the case of Lampard). Gerrard did a great interview where, reading between the lines, he more or less said that he can't play with Lampard and Barry is a million times better. I get the impression that maybe McLaren has finally thought "Oh fuck this, whatever I do I get a bunch of crap off everybody. I'm just going to do whatever I like", which would be a big step forward. Hats off to Scotland while I'm at it too, that was a brilliant result for them, the awful thing for the fans is, they must be dreading fucking it up against Ukraine and Georgia (Northern Ireland style).

Update : The full Paladini interview has been reprinted here (with permission) if you don't want to sign up to the other site.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Barnet 1

This was quite fun and a nice break from the soap opera of W12. The first point of interest was that Dagenham's Victoria Road makes Underhill look like the new Wembley. Topping off the effect, there were no less than two advertising hoardings proclaiming "We help you car pass". That's good to hear. Me like car. Anyway, Barnet looked awful to start with and conceded a pathetic goal as two defenders and keeper all left it for each other, allowing ex-Barnet "frontman" Ben Strevens to poke home. However, once the visitors managed to bring the ball down and play some football they were by far the better side for the rest of the game. A good spell of pressure leading up to half time almost paid off when Anthony Thomas's free kick whistled into the side netting. Wait a minute, how can it hit the side netting at the far post ? Must be a goal then. Yes, there was a hole in the net. Er, a bigger hole. Unfortunately Barnet couldn't make their superiority pay after the break, despite a late salvo during which home keeper Tony Roberts (familiar of course to QPR fans) took a break from hamming it up for the cameras to save well from Ishmael Yakubu and Jason Puncheon.

Barnet looked quite encouraging despite their poor start to the season ; they had a man sent off in all of their first three games, but since then they beat Bradford last weekend and as I said looked comfortably the better side here. They certainly played a better brand of football than the hosts, whose agricultural style was roundly mocked by the Barnet fans because the Daggers are managed by ex-Bees supremo John Still. They looked desperately short on quality even at this level and could be a good bet to oppose for a while if not the whole season.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

QPR 0 Southampton 3

Tempted as I am to pretend this never happened, it was deja vu all over again. Just like against Cardiff, Rangers were a shambles and the opposition could have easily doubled their score. The overworked Lee Camp was the only player who emerged with any credit at all, while Damion Stewart, who I have stuck up for in the past because he is a trier, was so shockingly bad he really has to be pulled out of the team as an act of mercy.

Tributes to Ray Jones were warm and, in the light of the circumstances, the fans again weren't too hard on the players and to be fair even the Southampton fans spared us the "can we play you every week" and so on. But Rangers have no more excuses for performances like this, and while funds may be available in January, if there isn't a quick improvement they could be so far adrift at the bottom by then that no one will want to sign. Really, it's that bad right now.