Friday, 31 December 2010
Six months ago as England were in the middle of a shocking World Cup, talk began of who would succeed Don Fabio if things didn’t turn around in South Africa. They didn’t of course, and the man who was on most people’s lips to replace Soho Squares famous Italian import was Roy Hodgson.
Now six months on, you have to wonder if Hodgson had been hired just how bad England’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign would be.
Instead of Wembley, Roy ended up on Merseyside and was handed a squad that whilst in need of a lot of work, still had a decent amount of talent. So how has he ended up where he is now, teetering on the brink of the sack?
For starters he has had to deal with the ownership issue and it could be argued that this has had an effect on the squad as a whole. But this was sorted out months ago now and their form is as bad as ever. Whilst seeming to raise themselves for big games in patches, they have been truly awful in ones which a club like Liverpool should be winning.
Things were tough enough for Roy before Blackpool produced arguably the result of the season. Lacking in any type of real response, it became clear then that Liverpool's problems were not limited to just off the field.
As an inept derby performance seen by many Liverpool fans followed at Goodison and since then any good result has been followed by two bad ones. Victory at home to Chelsea was followed by a draw at Wigan and a defeat at Stoke. A 3-0 hammering of Villa was followed by a lacklustre defeat at Newcastle and the latest disaster at home to Wolves on Wednesday night. They have eight defeats at the turn of the year. Eight!!!!
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Despite all the turmoil of the field, Hodgson can't point to a lack of funds last summer. Yes Mascherano was sold, however two replacements were signed in Poulson and Meireles, neither of which have paid back any of the fee that was spent on them. Then there is Joe Cole...Pointless is the only word I can come up with for his signing.
The players must take some responsibility for sure, Gerrard and Torres have been lifeless all year (granted they have both had injuries) with no one else seeming like they want to do anything about the situation. It's down to Hodgson to motivate this team and he doesn't seem capable of it. If new players aren't brought in, and by new players I mean quality players, Hodgson is on course to lead Liverpool to its worst season since the days of Souness. With no one really willing to do business in January it doesn't look good for Uncle Woy.
New Years Days Picks
WBA v UTD – Draw
I will be getting up at 7.30 to head the hawthorns on Saturday morning with a stupid hangover to watch United throw away another lead late on. Why this team can’t finish off other sides is anyone’s guess.
Liverpool v Bolton – Draw
Hodgson’s last hurrah? Well not quite. Bolton were unlucky not to beat Liverpool at the Reebok back in October and will fancy their chances here. Liverpool look completely lost.
City v Blackpool – Home Win
After thrashing Villa last week, they will be hugely confident but I’ve written off Blackpool so many times that I now hesitate to do so. That said, City should have too much here.
Stoke v Everton – Away Win
Everton have taken 4 points from there last two away games and are unbeaten in four whilst Stoke lost at home to a Fulham team who have been awful all season. I can’t remember the last time a Delap throw in lead to a goal either.
Sunderland v Blackburn – Home Win
The Mackams hadn’t lost all season at home until Blackpool turned up on Wearside, and I don’t see them doing so again here. The sacking of Big Sam is, at the moment anyway, proving to be disaster for Blackburn.
Spurs v Fulham – Home Win
It’s hard to see past anything past a Spurs victory here. If they can beat two teams win three days with ten men then I can’t see them slipping up against Fulham.
West Ham v Wolves – Away Win
Both teams have had some good results recently but I’m picking Wolves here. Confidence will be sky high after winning at Anfield on Wednesday night and after winning 3-1 in the corresponding fixture last year they should be confident of repeating the same trick here.
Birmingham v Arsenal – Draw
Can anyone remember the last time Brum lost at home to a so called big team? Last season is the answer you are looking for my friends. Everton won in early October at St Andrews but no other team has managed it all season and the Gunners will need to be on their best form in order to take all 3 points here.
Chelsea v Aston Villa – Home Win
Mainly because Villa are so bad, even a severely lacking in confidence Chelsea team shouldn’t have any trouble here. Villa has some talented youngsters but Houllier needs more experienced players in Jan.
Wigan v Newcastle – Away Win
“Ladies and Gentlemen, CLEVERLEY vs CAROLL, its Super Sunday live on Sky Sports”. Seriously, this is the first “Super Sunday” of the year. I couldn’t be less excited. The Geordies will sneak this because they have, despite the sarcastic intro, a top player in Andy Carroll who will make the difference here.
Happy New Year to everyone.
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Friday, 17 December 2010
So the draw for this years knockout stage threw up some interesting ties with Arsenal preparing for a tonking off Barcelona whilst Bayern will be confident of getting revenge on Inter for last year. United and Chelsea will fancy their chances of getting through but Spurs will find it tough to get past Milan. If they don't win at White Hart Lane they are going out as they concede way too many goals away from home and Milan have been on fire this year.
Initial predictions on Quarter Finalists:
And onto this weeks picks. Last week a respectable six out of ten although I must add that that is in part to Didier Drogba and his inability to score from twelve yards.
Sunderland v Bolton Home Win
Gut feeling here is a Sunderland win. Bolton played with ten men for a decent amount last week and got a great result but this has the feeling of a let down game for them.
Arsenal v Stoke
Flat track bullies win comfortably here.
Birmingham v Newcastle
Brum look good at home. Pardew might find out he has only really 4 players of quality.
Blackburn v West Ham
Big Sam's sacking is hilariously stupid and what these guys who've taken over are thinking I don't know. It's ironic that he will take Avram Grant's job after he gets beat at Ewood on Saturday.
Wigan v Aston Villa
Despite them drawing the last couple of games, I still believe they are the worst team in the league.
Liverpool v Fulham
Liverpool reasonable at home, terrible away. So logic dictates they win on Saturday night.
West Brom v Wolverhampton
This West Brom team is the best of the three teams promoted, and Di Matteo could get a better job somewhere next year if they keep doing what they are doing.
Blackpool v Tottenham
This game may not happen if the cold weather sets in. Maybe they could play it on the beach. Even if they did play on sand Spurs are still winning this game.
Chelsea v Man Utd
Chelsea had looked below par to say the least in the last few weeks but were showing signs of life at Spurs last week. Add that to United's rubbish record at the bridge and I'm worried.
Man City v Everton
The Tevez story is just strange. What message it sends the rest of their squad is another matter. Add that to Balotelli's strop last week at West Ham and they would in theory be a complete mess. Yet they are still getting results and with Everton being all over the place they should win here.
Friday, 10 December 2010
"People think I'm mad to take the job" I don't Alan, not at all. If anything you are a genius. You've managed to get yourself a five year contract at the most unstable football club in the country. Succeed and you are a genius. Fail and you get a lovely compensation payoff. Incredible!
Why Houghton was sacked is beyond me. You take a club back into the Premier League and have them mid table at Christmas and that’s the thanks you get? Holloway and Di Matteo must be crapping themselves.
The only way that this decision could have been justified was if they had brought in a big name, and when Martin Jol resigned from his position at Ajax, it seemed that Mike Ashley might have pulled off something of a coup. But instead they have gone for a man whose sole achievement in football management is a trip to Cardiff with West Ham back in 2006. Since then Pardew was sacked at West Ham, albeit slightly harshly, struggled terribly at Charlton and left League One Southampton under a cloud of controversy.
But this isn’t Pardew’s fault; Ashley is the man to blame here. Just when it seemed like all was quiet on the Anti-Cockney Mafia front, the owner of the world’s worst sports store has managed to once again rile up the Geordie faithful. Will he ever learn? I can understand that he is ambitious and wants to take Newcastle to the next level but this season isn’t about that. Survival should always be the aim for a newly promoted team. And if European Football is Ashley’s ultimate dream Pardew is hardly the man to take them there.
And with that here’s this week’s SS Selections. Three out of nine last week was a truly atrocious performance and this week’s games are also to tough to call.
Villa v West Brom - Draw
Villa look knackered at the moment and the baggies appear to have hit form again with a couple of good wins.
Everton v Wigan - Home win
Cos Wigan are awful really. Not much more to add here.
Fulham v Sunderland - Draw
Basically because Fulham appear incapable of anything else.
Stoke v Blackpool – Away Win
I've written off Blackpool too many times this season to make the same mistake again.
West Ham v City - Away win
The Hammers are showing signs of improvement but City should have too much for them.
Newcastle v Liverpool - Draw
Pardew won't have the same luck as Gullit did years ago against the scousers. Hodgson looks a bit clueless away from home but I don't think Pardew will give the Toon a huge lift.
Bolton v Blackburn - Home win
Owen Coyle should enjoy showing Big Sam that you can keep the ball on the deck at the Reebok.
Wolves v Birmingham - Draw
Another West Midlands derby, another draw. Brum don't score more than one a game an Wolves will be up for it after getting battered by Blackburn last week
Spurs v Chelsea - Draw
Spurs are on a high at the moment and Chelsea look so out of sorts that i wouldnt be too surprised to see Ancelloti replacing Rafa at Inter by the start of the new year. That's said Chelsea will turn it around sooner or later and they have the quality to get a result here.
United v Arsenal - Home win
I am biased and I don't care.
Friday, 3 December 2010
Before I delve into this week’s Premier League picks, I feel I should take the blame for United’s defeat at West Ham on Tuesday night. In this blog I stated that I thought West Ham were doomed and were rubbish. Whilst I still believe this to be the case, I had clearly jinxed United’s second string who decided that after a long slog down the motorway to East London that they couldn’t actually be bothered to play football on Tuesday night. I don’t want to be too harsh on Johnny Evans, but I can’t remember seeing him have a worse game. As for John O’Shea; well I don’t think I have enough words to some up my feelings on him getting an £80k a week contract extension.
Last week I managed to put up a respectable performance getting half of my picks right. Not too bad, although I was way off on Everton and was saved by a couple of late goals in the Wolves and Spurs games.
Onto this week then...
Arsenal v Fulham – Home Win
Is there a manager in the Premier League who looks like he could care less than Mark Hughes. Despite some recent troubles at home the Gunners should have no probs here.
Birmingham v Spurs – Away Win
This may be a rare game where Spurs don’t have to come from behind to win as Birmingham don’t actually believe in shooting all that much. I actually believe Spurs should be deducted of all points until Aaron Lennon gets his stupid shaved eyebrow/shaved head (see number 8) concoction sorted out but that’s a whole different story.
Blackburn v Wolves - Draw
Wolves finally got the result they deserved last week against the Mackem’s and after Blackburn’s non performance at Old Trafford last week, they will fancy getting a result at Ewood. That said I think there will be some sort of reaction from Rovers so I’m going for a draw here.
Chelsea v Everton – Home Win
Everton have picked up results at Stamford Bridge in the past, but with Essien returning to the line up Chelsea should have enough with a suspended Arteta not available for the Toffees.
Man City v Bolton – Home Win
The curse of the Manager of the month strikes here as Owen Coyle scooped last month’s award today. Add that to Elmander winning player of the month and this has disaster written all over it. (Side note: if Tevez does actually in fact not enjoy the life of a footballer, can he get on with it and leave already. Every month he comes out with some spiel about this, and no one is ever going to sympathise with him)
Wigan v Stoke – Away Win
You have to fear for Wigan; they were battered by West Ham away from home last weekend and will return to the JJB to a half full stadium and a they are without Hugo Rodallega, their only real goal threat.
West Brom v Newcastle - Draw
Newcastle are very up and down and this week they are due to be down and the Baggies confidence will be high after a 4-1 win at Goodison last week, however with that all being said, Joey Barton returning is big for Newcastle as he is the best crosser of the ball in the squad and Andy Carroll will thrive off his return.
Sunderland v West Ham – Home Win
Just because they won Tuesday night doesn’t really mean anything has changed on the road for Avram. Sunderland to win comfortably here for me.
Liverpool v Aston Villa - draw
This was the game last season (despite it being only the third game of the season) where everyone saw that Liverpool were not going to be a contender. We already know that this time around, and so a young Villa team will have even less to fear this season.