Day: January 11, 2011

Whether For Pragmatic Reasons Or Emotional, Eddie Howe Has Made The Right Decision

We have mentioned the madness surrounding the current employment of football managers on this site before in recent weeks, but today there was a rare outbreak of common sense as Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe decided, after much speculation and tribulation, to stay with the club that gave him his chance in management and turn down the overtures of Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic. Howe was honest enough to say that he had been seriously considering leaving the club on account of the offers made to him, but stated that it was ultimately the quality of his players and the momentum behind his team that led him to make the decision to stay. Howe cuts a singular figure as a football manager. He was brought up in Verwood, barely fifteen miles from Bournemouth, and had two spells at the club as a player, making over two hundred and fifty appearances for them before returning as their manager at the age of just twenty-nine, having retired two years earlier on account of a persistent injury. Financial difficulties meant that the club had a transfer embargo in place for much of last season, but he still managed to guide the club to promotion to League One and has continued his good work there this season – a win for Southampton this evening knocked them down to third place in the table, but such...

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Qatar, Eurosport and Russell Osman: The 2011 Asian Cup

With all the personal arrogance and Euro-centricity he could muster, which is quite a lot, all told, Alex Ferguson dismissed the leading international football tournament of the world’s most populous continent in those four words. But the tournament which started in Qatar on Friday is rather more important than that. To the players and teams involved, of course. And to the world of football as a whole, because it started in Qatar, whose World Cup 2022 success has certainly been deemed ‘important’ by some. At first glance, the “Asian Cup”, to give it the correct title, sounds like one of those pre-season tournaments which give Manchester United’s multi-million fan base a chance to see their heroes in late July/early August. Such competitions have been going a while, long before the Premier League and its belief in the need to boost the “EPL” brand around the old and supposed third world. My old school bag had “Spurs – League Cup Winners 1973” emblazoned on it, to which I added in blue (somehow rainproof) biro, “Japan Cup winners 1976.” But the “Asian Cup” isn’t Hull City v. a Hong Kong select XI on Sky Sports 64 at nine o’clock in the morning. It is, to repeat, the leading international football tournament of the world’s most populous continent. And for Ferguson to bemoan its very existence because he’ll have to do without...

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Match Of The Midweek FA Cup Special: Crawley Town 2-1 Derby County

When the full-time whistle blew at Broadfield Stadium this evening with Steve Evans gesticulating at the referee in the background over the amount of time added on at the end of the match, there was an outpouring of joy and delight that the stadium has probably never seen before. It would probably not, however, be overstating things to say that this joy was only scantly mirrored in the outside world. Non-league football probably hasn’t ever seen a less popular set of “giant-killers” (if, considering everything, that is how this match can really be framed) and, for those of us that love non-league football, the feeling of ambivalence towards Crawley Town on an evening such as this has felt odd, almost unnatural. We’re supposed to love our giant-killers. Instead, tonight felt lop-sided, as if the planets had slipped out of alignment. The Daily Mail chimed in this morning with a hagiography of the club that contained some surprising assertions. It claimed, for example, that “Crawley’s home gate has doubled to around 1,200” this season, which is just plain wrong – their average home crowd this season is 1,694, up from 913 last season but almost identical to their average home attendance – 1,682 – of two seasons ago. In addition to this, it would appear that, according to this report, the selection of lower division footballers that have pitched up...

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