Despite His White Boots

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Iron Man Live Again

Lincoln Recruit Iron Man On Loan

Iron Man ? Cool ! That should stiffen up their defence. Altogether now : Daaa Daaa Da Da Da / DaDaDaDaDaDa Daa Daa Daaaaa.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Instant Karma

I don't mean to make sport of Eduardo's injury but in its way this is pretty funny. The Camel said to me when we met up at Loftus Road, "What price will you lay me that Steve Bruce will say 'He's not a malicious player' in response to the tackle" ? Instead of booking the action on the spot my good nature forbore me to do so, and I instead pointed out that he could have 1000 if he wanted because Steve Bruce now manages Wigan, not Birmingham.

Then today, via the Telegraph :

"Wigan manager Bruce, who signed Taylor from Blackburn in February 2004 in his time at St Andrews, said: "I was watching it and you are very saddened.
"But let me tell you Martin Taylor is the biggest, gentlest man. There will be nobody more upset and sickened than him.
"He is an absolute model professional who would never cause you any problem. With 'Big Tiny', I worked with him for a few years, and there is not a bad bone in his body.
"He would never, ever do anything malicious. He has mistimed the tackle, and I've seen it. Some would say it is not even a yellow card."

Some would say it is not even a yellow card, lol. Some would also say that Steve Bruce is a cunt. At least I dodged a bullet that would have stopped many a ruthless gambler :-);

QPR 1 Sheffield United 1

This game was rather optimistically previewed on the club website as a "mouthwatering mid-table clash". I don't think anyone was really expecting that but it turned out to be a fairly flat game with few chances for either side. Angelo Balanta scored his first goal for QPR when he applied a neat finish to Hogan Ephraim's cross after a passing move that was by far the best of the game. United had the majority of possession in the second half as Rangers completely failed to get to grips in midfield, and the visitors equalised when Chris Morgan's low shot found its way into the corner. The end. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, hopefully Rangers can do better in the next few games when Akos Buzsaky returns from suspension.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wednesday Woe

Sheffield Wednesday look a good bet to be relegated from the Championship, 3.1 currently on Betfair, I've put an offer on for 3.5 which would definitely be tasty. Possession is nine tenths of the law at the bottom, and Wednesday are currently 23rd in the table, with a game in hand but even so it looks a lot like 3 from 4 at the bottom right now. They've lost their main striker Akpo Sodje, and if they think Ben Sahar is going to get them out of it they can think again. Tonight's game at home to Coventry has been postponed, now their next three home games are Cardiff, West Brom and QPR. They still have to go to Colchester and Scunthorpe. Preston have some easier games coming up and are in better form. 5-2 would be top value and 2-1 is still very good IMO. And of course if you think I'm full of it, take my bet yourself :-).

I'm also very tempted to lay Liverpool tonight, Inter are the best team in Italy by a street this season and as for Liverlol, where to start. There's always the last chance saloon/win this one for the gaffer factor but motivation only takes you so far against better technique, and 2.66 looks plenty short for the Scousers to win this one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

QPR 2 Burnley 4

A disappointing result but a highly entertaining game in which Andy Cole's predatory instincts were too good for the home defence. As has been the trend recently at home, Rangers turned on the heat in the first half hour and were soon two goals to the good. Patrick Agyemang, who looks better with every game, sent Akos Buzsaky into the box with his deft backheel, and the Hungarian's inviting cross was met by Gavin Mahon at the head of a posse of Rangers players queueing up at the back post. The second goal arrived when Damien Delaney poured forward (in as much as one man can pour forward). There didn't seem to be too much danger with just Delaney and Agyemang up against four defenders, but pass and run were timed to perfection. When Agyemang gets one on one at the moment you'd put your house on him scoring, and he waltzed past Jensen to slide home the second.

Rangers were good value for 2-0 at that point, and Buszaky and Rehman both tested Jensen further (the latter after an unbelievable 60 yard burst). However, the visitors pulled one back out of the blue when Gudjonsson's free kick appeared to be going nowhere until Cole flashed out a boot to send the ball flying past the wrongfooted Lee Camp. After the break Rangers pushed forward again, and both Agyemang and Buszaky were unable to pick out a team-mate from fantastic positions deep in the penalty area. Burnley substitute Ade Akinbiyi showed them how to do it when he picked out Cole, whose top-class movement allowed him to finish easily at the far post.

For 20 minutes it was an even contest, Rangers were weakened somewhat by injuries to Rowlands and Ephraim, but even so Leigertwood and Connolly both tested Jensen from 20 yards. At the other end Lee Camp was probably slightly aggrieved when he touched Elliot's piledriver onto the post only for the referee to give a goal kick. Unfortunately Rangers then conceded the sloppiest goal of the evening ; Damion Stewart met a deep corner but could only head the ball up instead of out, and the home defence unforgivably failed to come out and play the visiting forwards offside, allowing Akinbiyi to score with ease when Caldwell returned the ball into the six yard box.

Home heads dropped at this point and Burnley completed a convincing comeback when, with Rangers possibly expecting a free kick to be played into the corner, it was instead played in to Cole who had the ball in the back of the net in a nanosecond. Sometimes you just have to take your hat off to a team or a player and say they were too good for us. Cole was the difference between the sides and I wasn't the only home fan to give some polite applause when he was substituted. Rangers will learn from this and hopefully playoff talk will be shelved in favour of more work on the training ground and gradual improvement. Meanwhile you could do a lot worse than get on the right side of Burnley for the remainder of the season, and in fact I've just had a nibble at 10 for promotion. They looked a decent side and if I've written this report properly it should have conveyed the impression that Cole is still quite good.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Silence Of The Hams

As I was in the supermarket this morning I could see the back pages of a lot of the papers, hands held in front of them six inches apart, shoulders bunched, poised to wring them sanctimoniously if anyone disrupts the minute's silence at the Manchester derby tomorrow. Doesn't anyone realise that the very best way to ensure there's a problem is to keep banging on about it ? I first heard Mike Ingham droning on about this two weeks ago on Radio 5. With his spectacles perched on his nose, he patiently explained to the class, er I mean listeners, that Matt Busby played for City and Frank Swift and so on and so on.

First of all, let's just stop and think here. What kind of person would disrupt a minute's silence ? A fucking idiot, LDO. And how do fucking idiots respond to reasoned, schoolmasterly appeals ? They ignore them. More to the point, making this into an issue both before and after is in fact likely to exacerbate the situation, because what do fucking idiots love ? Attention. FFS just ignore them. Stop going on about it. OK I'm going on about it here but at least I'm not talking a load of shite. If there's a problem on the day, either ignore it or say "well, a few idiots embarrassed themselves but that's their problem". But of course that's the one thing the media can't do. People like Alan Green and Jeff Powell, who seem to view their purpose in life as to find something to get angry about and make as many other people as possible angry about it too, will never just let these things go.

Meanwhile if you want an anniversary of horror that we can all remember, QPR lost 5-0 to Southend a year ago on this day :-)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Money Money Money

A couple of interesting articles concerning the top and bottom of the Football League. First of all the proposal to play a round of Premier League matches overseas :

In a lot of ways I can see this working, I mean I'm not necessarily a traditionalist and why not try something new. It may need a little thought. Some kind of seeding is a must, I think the guy is trying a bit too hard at the end of the article when he talks about symmetry not being the same as fairness ; it just doesn't seem right to me that say Manchester United could play an extra game against Derby when Chelsea play theirs against Everton, for example. It depends as well on how the money is shared out, but there could be some mileage in it.

At the other end, I did find this article about Bradford very interesting :

I think more lower league teams should take the plunge and go with something like this. Simplistically, if you double your attendances at half the price you're still clearly quids in because of extra programme/food sales etc. Having a bigger crowd will surely help your home results as well. So it's really a question of how low you go and how you juggle the numbers. Someone like Barnet who are desperate for bigger crowds should think hard about a £200 season ticket or something IMO.

Finally not money related but some quite amusing mud-slinging going on at Plymouth where everyone's trying to blame everyone else for their best players leaving the club :

Plymouth chairman blames Holloway for everything

Holloway and Mandaric reach for the lawyers

As ever, I expect the truth is somewhere in between, but it must be quite embarrassing for Plymouth fans having this all aired in public. Interesting comments about Buzsaky being "inconsistent" and "unpopular in the dressing room".

Saturday, February 02, 2008

QPR 3 Bristol City 0

3-0 might have been a bit flattering but, make no mistake, QPR dismissed their high-flying opposition very easily today. Hogan Ephraim made his first start since joining the club permanently, and Zesh Rehman and Michael Mancienne filled in at the back for the injured Hall and Connolly. Rangers started very brightly and forced a series of corners in the opening five minutes. Although these came to nothing, it wasn't long before Rowan Vine sent Patrick Agyemang away to finish expertly with a low shot. Agyemang is clearly sky-high on confidence and why not, this being his fourth goal in his fourth start for Rangers. The same player doubled the score after winning a ball that he had no right to in the City box, feeding Akos Buzsaky and making his way into the six yard box to tap home the Hungarian's cross-shot.

Just past the hour Agyemang held off his man to tee up Buszaky on the edge of the box, and his fierce shot deflected over the keeper's dive for 3-0 and game over. Up to this point, City had managed the sum total of one header from a well-worked free kick that drifted wide, and that was it. At 3-0 Rangers took their foot off the gas somewhat ; Dele Adebola fired a shot against the post and couldn't force the rebound past Lee Camp, before Michael McIndoe sent a tame header straight at the keeper when he seemed to have time to bring the ball down.

Bafflingly, Agyemang was passed up for the official MoM award in favour of Martin Rowlands, but the Ghanain striker has been the pick of the January signings, just as I had picked him out as the one I wasn't sure about. Shows how much I know. By my calculations, of the 7 goals we have scored in the league with Agyemang in the side, he has scored 5 and played the last pass on the other 2 ! Glory be, we might actually have found a goalscorer. With only 16 games left it's too late for genuine playoff aspirations IMO, but we've got plenty to be working with. It's also worth putting in a word for the defence who, even though they were well protected by Gavin Mahon and not really tested, were unrecognisable from the rabble of September even though 3/4 of the unit were the same players in Stewart, Rehman and Mancienne.

As for City, I've said before that I don't want to be critical of teams who aren't fortunate enough to have our resources, but it was a mystery on today's performance how they find themselves second in the league. The fact that they still are in an automatic promotion spot says a lot about the quality of the league as a whole, or lack of. What was surprising was that they didn't even look solid at the back, and could well be worth opposing for the rest of the season. None of which is any concern of mine, or any of the home fans in another bumper crowd (really) of 16K+.