Good week or bad week for English football?

by Jack Hayes

Monday, March 1st, 2010

As the curtains drew in on an eventful week in football, there was only one real talking point. How did Clarke Carlisle win countdown? In all seriousness the only big talking point is how did Pompey end up in administration?

I must do something I rarely ever do, agree with Richard Scudamore, the only way a well established and reasonably successful Premier League club can end up in administration is ‘rank bad management’. I will reiterate my lack of sympathy for the club, as I must again do something unsavoury, agree with Phil Brown. Tango  made the point that players like Frederic Piquionne and Aruna Dindane turned down Hull and went to Portsmouth due to the fact that Portsmouth were offering more money. Clearly Portsmouth were living well outside their means and have reaped their rewards. A wise man once said that debt in football was the equivalent of doping, if this was literally true then Portsmouth would be higher then Pete Dougherty. It is very easy to judge from my high horse, especially when I have a fantastic example in how to manage a football club in my beloved Arsenal, but it’s not fair to judge everyone to the standard that is Arsenal FC. Us Gooners have a huge advantage over all other clubs, that advantage is Arsene Wenger. If you want a quick fix, you appoint ‘Arry Rednapp to splash the cash if you want to become a ‘superclub’ and one of the superpowers in world football you appoint Arsene Wenger. People don’t appreciate what this man has done, Arsenal consistently live within their budget while all other teams splash the cash and accumulate huge debts, he also accomplishes this while also paying off a brand new stadium which makes Wembley look like a shambles. It can’t be a coincidence that every club ‘Arry leaves end up in financial trouble (Southampton, West Ham, Pompey and even Bournemouth!),

People claim Arsenal are underachieving, I completely disagree, we have been overachieving for the past 13 years. This claim is backed up by the fact that almost every season Wenger has been in charge we have made a profit. Wenger could quite happily go out and spend hundreds of millions on superstars and yes in the short term maybe it will bring some success, but he knows when he leaves the club he wants to do it with the club in great shape financially and still competing on all fronts.

Anyway, sorry about the worship of the mighty Arsene back to the week of football. Wayne Bridge has decided to pull out of the England squad indefinitely, is it just me or is this the greatest news ever? Don’t get me wrong, I have sympathy for the lad, but this is great news for England. Bridge has never been international class, he gets found out defensively and at the world cup we can’t afford to have liabilities at the back. Leighton Baines has been fantastic this season, I can’t believe people still rate Bridge higher then him. Baines has shown he can defend superbly, but also his delivery from wide areas has been top notch, he may not have proved he can do it at the highest level, but neither has Bride, and give Baines a chance and I’m going to put my neck out and say he will be our star performer at the world cup.

Carlo Ancelotti claimed before his team were beaten by Inter, that the whole of Italy would be supporting Chelsea, but wait a minute Carlo, the whole of England were supporting Inter so that evens that out. That said it really was Sophie’s choice, support an Inter team led by the self proclaimed ‘Special One’ or support a team full of cheating scumbags, in the end the special one was the lesser of two evils.

In Liverpool it was a mixed bag. For the red half it was a case of restoring some pride by humbling Unirea, for the blue it was a lesson in how to pass the ball. Lisbon taught Everton a lesson in movement off the ball and were well worth their win, in particular Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso impressed and I believe both are destined for much bigger things.

Surely, surely, surely Bobby Zamora can’t keep scoring. But what if he does? Can Capello justify not picking him on the grounds he’s Bobby Zamora? He definitely deserves a chance against Egypt.

The fair play award must go to Yossi Benayoun for staying on his feet when he was blatantly fouled against city, but this throws up the question, should professionals stay on their feet? I’m almost 100% certain that if Benayoun goes down the ref will give a penalty, so why should he be punished for being honest? In secret Rafa will be furious with Benayoun who quite possibly could have cost the team 4 points in the race for 4th and what happens if Liverpool miss out on 4th place and the millions that the Champions League brings. It will be interesting if the Liverpool fans applaud the fair play of Benayoun then.

After the worst first 40 minutes of football I have ever seen at Stamford Bridge (the highlight was Wayne Bridge rejecting of JT’s outstretched hand) the Chelsea City game kicked in to life. Firstly Chelsea deservedly took a lead through Frank Lampard calmly slotting home after Vincent Kompany decided it wasn’t worth tracking his run. From then on the game became slightly ridiculous. Pathetically, the Chelsea fans were booing Wayne Bridge proving they deserve their crown as the scummiest set of ‘fans’ in the world. Bridge inevitably has the last laugh as his long clearance fell to Carlos Tevez after the rock of a player that is John Obi Mikel headed backwards straight into his path. Then both Terry and Carvalho preceded to re-enact their favourite episode of the Chuckle Brothers with both dancing around Tevez as he danced between them and managed to squeeze the slowest shot in the history of football past the flailing Hilario. For City’s second, Chelsea took a leaf out of the Arsenal book of defending counter attacks. Firstly you leave your worst player up against City’s quickest (Mikel v Bellamy) then you make sure your keeper hides behind his near post and in no circumstances let him touch the ball. From then on the belief was gone from Chelsea’s play, Drogba was little involved and Anelka, Chelsea’s best player was forced to play from wide areas and was ineffective. City’s third killed the game with sub Juliano Belleti caught behind Barry and bringing him down in the box resulting in a clear penalty and a straight red for the embarrassed Belleti. Tevez gratefully tucked the peno into the bottom left corner and five minutes later Michael Ballack showed everyone that Clarke Carlisle is the exception rather then the rule regarding footballers and intelligence. Already on a booking, Ballack dived into a tackle on the half way line got none of the ball and scissor kicked the man and deserved his second booking, ending any hopes Chelsea had. Bellamy then added a 4th on the break and Chelsea got a consolation goal after Barry brought down Anelka and Lampard slotted home the penalty.

What a day for Ryan Shawcross. First he possibly ends the career of the best player Wales have had since Ryan Giggs. He is then escorted home by his mum and a few hours later is called up to the England squad and could very well get his first cap against Egypt on Wednesday. I must again do something that I don’t like doing, disagreeing with Arsene Wenger. There was absolutely NO INTENT to hurt Ramsey at all from Shawcross. The pain on his face was clear to see, it was a 50/50 challenge and he was slightly late but in no way was he out to hurt the Welshman. The tackle itself wasn’t a red card, but the injury made it one. This horrific incident overshadowed what could be a huge game in Arsenal’s season. The mental strength showed by those Arsenal players was that of which I hadn’t seen since the days of Patrick Vieira. Almost two years ago to the day we had the exact same incident, but in that game against Birmingham we crumbled, and threw away the title. This season the unity showed by the players was exceptional, to see a friend and team mate in such pain and to play on and fight so bravely was an inspiration. This could be the catalyst for a late Arsenal comeback, twice written off, twice Arsenal have proved the doubters wrong and along the way converted Alan Hansen! A special mention must go the ref who had a shocker of a game, he missed two ‘stonewall’ penalties and booked Song for perfectly good challenge, who says the big 4 get special treatment?

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  • Stevie

    Good week for countdown lovers, bad week for Arron Ramsey, but oddly enough, I do feel for the boy, but I actually think it will inspire the gunners to go on and win the title now.

    They can then stick 2 fingers up to the following people who wrote off on countless occasions

    Mark Lawreson
    Alan Hansen
    Jamie Redknapp
    Stan Doggymore

    to name but a few

  • Dexylongshot

    Agree with everything here Jack.

    Harry “splash the cash about” Redknapp is a bit like a cockney Sven, go to a club and spend some nelson, av a bit of success and then it’s offski for a bigger pay-cheque…sort of.

    As for Wenger, i think he went a bit overboard after the match, moaning about everyones got it in for Arsenal. Firstly he should have had a butchers at the replay and secondly, he should have a look at some of his players, Eboue for starters before he starts gagging of about bad tackles. It wasn’t intentional and you can see the state of Shawcross as he walked of the pitch that he was in pieces over it. I’m just happy Shawcross has got the nod from Cappello. It will take his mind of the Wenger jibes and also hopefully be the start of a promising career for England. I’ve seen him a few times this season and he is an outstanding prospect for the future.

    Good on Bridge for giving Terry the evils and refusing the handshake, right an all. Terry looked terrible and that was before he kicked a ball. Respect to Craig Bellamy for saying what he thinks after the game, he might be a nasty piece of work himself at times but at least he’s honest and passionate.

  • Keith O’Connell

    Has Wenger said at any point that he believed Shawcross intentionally set out to hurt Ramsey? No he didn’t. It’s a lazy cliche to fall back on, intimating that Wenger is always moaning. TYry and use some empathy here. What if that was a team mate of yours and you were playing sunday league or five-a-side. Would you be commiserating and feeling sorry for the perpetrator?

    It’s a rhetorical question by the way. I know the answer.

    I also think that any sane/intelligent individual can see that Wenger has no issue with the physical side of the game. It is when teams such as Stoke, Blackburn, Bolton and there ilk are sent out to literally kick Arsenal off of the park that he’ll have a moan about it. When teams are so unsubtle as to state in the press before the match that this is what they are going to do, and the media just laughs along and condones it, you have to wonder about the mindset of these people. Tough but fair tackling is a wonderful and integral part of the game. Deliberately and continually assaulting players because they are technically superior and faster than you is not.

    And likening Shawcross’ indiscretion to Eboue? Are you serious? One of them has put at least three players out of the game for considerable periods of time (the least being three weeks, and two of six months or more) and the other is a bit of a niggly diver and a wind up merchant that is (was) even disliked by his own fans. I’ll let you guess which is which. You think they’re the same? Disingenuous to say the least.

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