Category: Latest

It’s All In The Head

As last season kicked off, Scott Carson must have thought that the world was at his feet. He had come a long way very quickly. He had been spotted in 2002 playing for non-league Workington’s youth team by scouts from Leeds United, and was just nineteen years old when Rafael Benitez was persuaded to pay £750,000 for his signature in January 2005. Before the season was out, he had played for them in the Premier League and in the Champions League against Juventus. He was even on the bench in Istanbul, as Liverpool came from three goals down to salvage that extraordinary win against Milan to lift the European Cup. Of course, it was always going to be difficult for a goalkeeper of his age to get regular first team football at Anfield. He spent time on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic before agreeing a year-long long deal with Aston Villa last summer. It might not have been stepping into the shoes of Ray Clemence and Bruce Grobbelaar at Anfield, but he was a 22 year old English goalkeeper looking forward to a full season as a Premier League goalkeeper under the careful tutelage of Martin O’Neill, who was making steady progress at Villa Park. Then, along came Steve McClaren. Carson might have been forgiven for thinking that it was his own, solid performances for Aston Villa...

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The Tyranny Of Football

A curious article appeared in “The Guardian” on Saturday, in which the actor, writer and comedian David Mitchell tried to sum up his dislike for football. Reading it back this morning, one cannot help but be struck by the overwhelming impression that he is somehow holding back the worst of his ire – that he would like to unleash a torrent of abuse in our general direction, but has been advised by the newspaper’s editorial team that this might not be the most advisable thing that he could do. As with most people that try to tackle this sort of issue, he betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the game. The comment, “they randomly kick it around and, very occasionally, with little or no warning, a goal happens” is typical of the sort of comment that emanates from people that don’t understand football. It assumes that the fact that he doesn’t understand it is somehow not his fault but, if we are to equate football in this context with anything, it would probably be fair to compare it with a foreign language. Would he make the same criticism of, say, Italy if he found himself there and unable to understand what the people there were saying? Minor quibbles aside, it was a balanced and well-written article, and the depressing nature of the comments below it (an all too...

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A Kewelling Off Period

It’s unlikely that Leeds United will be playing Galatasaray in the next couple of years or so. An element of racour still exists between the two clubs following serious crowd disturbances surrounding their Champions League matches played in 2000 which resulted in the death of two Leeds supporters in Istanbul. The subsequent police investigation and failure to prosecute those suspected of having committed the murders has left an arguably justified feeling of injustice in that particular corner of West Yorkshire, but the reaction to Harry Kewell’s decision to join the Turkish club has demonstrated that there can be such a thing as an over-reaction to such a set of circumstances. Kewell’s departure from Leeds to Liverpool was shrouded in controversy, with rumours abounding that Kewell’s agent, Bernie Mandic, ended up pocketing a sizeable amount of the transfer fee. It would be pushing the bounds of credibility to suggest that Kewell’s spell at Anfield was an unqualified success – he’s probably best remembered amongst Liverpool supporters for his early substitution in the 2005 European Cup Final. At this stage in his career, a move away from the Premier League might prove to be the right thing for him, but Leeds supporters have hardly been sympathetic to his choice of clubs. Whilst the choice of club has been unfortunate, it’s difficult to see what Leeds United’s supporters stand to gain from...

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Slaves To Fortune

Is there any sound more grating than that of the petulant millionaire? One of the curiosities of the situation concerning Cristiano Ronaldo’s on-off move to Real Madrid is the lack of media training that he appears to have received. In an era in which players seemed to have been groomed from puberty, Ronaldo’s candour has been most refreshing. He has made more comments of any interest to the casual observer than David Beckham has managed over the last twelve or thirteen years or so. Unfortunately, most of the things that he has said have revealed him to be a petulant, over-grown schoolboy and, more-over, something of a liar. It’s difficult to say what motivated him to say that it would be fulfilling some sort of childhood dream to sign for Real Madrid other than stupidity, because everyone knows that to be a lie. The best guess that one can put forward would be to presume that Ronaldo’s statement was meant to make friends in influence people, but whether the world-weary supporters on Real Madrid will be impressed by vacuous nonsense is a highly nuanced question. Was it his “dream” to play for Real Madrid when he signed a five year contract to play for Manchester United last year? We’ll probably never know the exact truth. One can forgive Ronaldo his little outbursts on account that he is, in the overall scheme...

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Just In Case You Thought That They Actually Cared…

“All animals are created equal”, wrote George Orwell, “but some animals are more equal than others”. The images of “Animal Farm” are easily invoked when considering the running of football in England, and none are quite as apt as the pigs in their ceremonial blazers with self-awarded medals if one is trying to imagine what was going on at today’s meeting of the Football League, which culminated in Luton Town being docked a further twenty points on top of the ten that they had already lost earlier this year for falling into administration again. The League’s chairman, Brian Mawhinney, has claimed that the decision was critical, in order to, “to protect the integrity of their competitions”. He also stated that “This often means making difficult decisions which require balancing the interests of fans, the club’s creditors and the other teams in the League”. One club in particular may well come to benefit from this decision, but we’ll come back to that later. This is a sanction that will almost certainly cost Luton their place in the League at the end of next season. In truth, Luton Town were bent over a barrel by the Football League. The alternative was expulsion from the Football League, which, with everything ready to go for the start of the new season, would have meant the club folding altogether. The Football League is insisting...

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