Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Marcus Evans Takeover at Ipswich Town F.C.

Here are some links on the subject-and if you want to read what I think then scroll down:

Who is Marcus Evans from Money Week
Who is Marcus Evans from Wikipedia
This, I think, is the official website for one of his companies
The story reported in the East Anglia Daily Times
as is this story
The story reported in the Daily Mail
This article is from This is Money
..and I think that story is pretty much a reworking of the story from The Official Clubsite

As I have said elsewhere on this blog- I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Ipswich Town FC since going to school near there in the late seventies/early eighties and now I've moved back to East Anglia I've been to watch them a few times.

I guess today could feature large in the not inconsequential history of the club as it has been announced that businessman Marcus Evans has bought the club. I don't know how this story will pan out -but the fact that Evans is successful, a bit reclusive and shadowy (as in private) means that there may be the kind of moral indignation that some journo's (especially those from the Guardian and those who have been refused access) and some fans (usually those from rival clubs) like to show. I'm not sure how Ipswich fans will feel about it- the club is doing rather well- a young team- the product of what is a really good scouting system (particularly in the Republic of Ireland). They are very well organised and could quite easily make the play-offs this season. Something like this could destabalise what has been built up.

However ITFC do have massive debts- a result of getting carried away last time they were in the Premiership (and something that resulted in them in having to flog off all the young players that had come up through the club). It would be nice to see Evans allowing the club to continue to develop the way it has over the last year or so- with his money being used to support what Magilton has being doing rather than replacing it.

So here are two predictions- it's the Summer of 2010 and Ipswich have just finished in a decent mid-table position in the Premiership- the only blip being two humiliating defeats by Pompey- and the Republic of Ireland-with a team built around a number of decent young Ipswich players are about to do rather well in the World Cup.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Five Players I wish I'd seen play live

These are in no particular order.

Johan Cruyff.

I started to become obsessed with football during the 1974 World Cup. My seventh birthday was on the day of the final-and my birthday party revolved around watching the game. From that point until I was about 13 or 14- the only team that I really supported was the Dutch national team- though that support really only consisted of watching them lose in the final again in 1978 and having a Dutch Subbuteo team.

Anyway here's a video.

Brilliant Orange is the best book I've ever read about Dutch football-(and is probably one of the best books I've read about football).

George Best

I remember seeing him on the telly towards the end of his career when he was at Fulham- (I can clearly remember seeing the match when he and Rodney Marsh, who was his own team mate, starting tackling each other). However the only time I saw him in a football ground was towards the end of his life when he was a regular visitor to Fratton Park. One of the times I have felt most proud about being a Pompey fan was when, after he died, instead of a minute's silence the fans at Fratton Park spontaneously started to give him a minute's round of applause and started singing his name.


Of all the people on this list- Garrincha is probably the player I would have most liked to have seen. I guess my interest really started after reading the chapter on Garrincha in Alex Bellos' book- Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life. My impression is that he was every bit as important as Pele in laying the foundations of everything that the Brazilian team was and still is today.

Stanley Matthews.

The main reason why I've included him is because my Grandad told me about 740 million times what a good player he was and my Grandad was a great bloke who knew more about football than anyone else I know.

His biography The Way It Was: My Autobiography is a good read. It's certainly better than Ashley Cole's.

Jimmy Dickinson.

Probably the best player ever to play for Pompey- you can find a short biography here. The footage is not brilliant- but the song is fantastic- much better than most of the music people put on YouTube clips.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Great British Losers, the sacking of Jol, Holloway, Liverpool's problems.

This has nothing much to do with football- it's a list of the 50 biggest British Losers in Sport from the Times.
The main story of the day is the sacking of Jol- and here is a good piece on that subject from the Times
..and this is from the Guardian on the same subject.
This is the Telegraph's round up of what papers are saying on the subject
..and this is what the Telegraph thinks.
And this is what one of their fan's thought after Spurs lost against Newcastle.

Here is what else I read and liked today...

A piece from the Times about the sanitising of the game
Also from the Times- an article about Fergie's legacy
This is from the Guardian- Liverpool's owners expect Benitez to win the Premiership. I cannot see that happening so I guess his future is not looking too bright. This is also about Liverpool's problems.
This is about Plymouth and Sylvan Ebanks Blake- who was named after a horse and who had never heard of Plymouth
...and here is Ian Holloway's weekly column from the BBC

...and this-from the West Ham (sort of) chairman is just daft.

From an e-mail sent to me by a Spurs supporting mate.

I don't think he wrote it-and it was written after last Monday's match against Newcastle and prior to the sacking of Jol. It made I laugh

"Pointless Dawson. Abyssmal first touch. Abominable awareness. Sloppy, sloppy marking. Where's his attention?

Pointless Chimbonda. Ooh, it's on his left foot! Better manoeuvre it onto his right foot, because he can't kick with his left! Ever. Tappy, tappy, manouevre, manouevre. That's it. Complete player, he. Well, half of him.

Pointless Malbranque. Huff and puff, dart and dash. Storm in a teacup. Ineffectual. Touch, tap, accelerate.... then lose it. Track back. Get shunted aside. No presence. No point.

Pointless Tainio. Kick and clatter, punt and pass. But pass to whom, to where and to what end? Run forward, run back. Look busy, do little. Pointless.

Pointless Jenas. Has everything going for him: young, tall, athletic. Should be great by now. Bottles it. Rises to the occasion about as frequently as the ice-caps melt. That should be soon, allegedly. Don't count on it. Greenland will turn tropical first.

Pointless Zokora. Stretch and strain, leap and lunge. Drive headlong into a cul-de-sac. If he rode a bike like he plays football, every time he braked he'd plunge over the front wheel. Used to be a good player, so they say. Must've been a while back now. Lost in the mists of time.

Pointless Lennon. Quick, quick, run, run. No control. Kick like a girl. Has been sussed. Stuck in time, frozen in development. Speed not enough now. What for those chunky little legs if they can't thump the damn ball into the net once in a while? What for that pace without craft? Just a sprinter with a ball.

Pointless Bent. Pointless, despite pointless service from pointless Jenas and pointless Zokora et al. Conjure something from nothing, lad! Deliver us a £16.5 million wondergoal! Hell, no! Just run aimlessly around and get coralled into corners.

Pointless Keane. Flick, blame, shout. Over-complicate. But don't do the simple thing. Ooh noo! Not. The. Simple. Thing.

Pointless Berbatov. A Rolls-Royce engine stuck in a Ford Fiesta. By which I mean Spurs are the Fiesta. The engine can really move but the chassis can't. Class of his own. No wonder he's pissed off. Realises he's in a pub team. He's painting Rembrandts and the rest are drawing matchstick men. Even the coach. That's what makes him really sad. Really really. And us. He knows it's hopeless. So do we. And pointless.

Pointless Spurs. How deep does the sickness go? How can a club have parts that are greater than the whole? Most of these pointless players are - in reality or potentially - good, or at least not all bad. But, as a team, they suck. They don't just suck, they blow. Then they suck some more.

Is there a Midas touch in reverse operating at White Hart Lane? Does everything that's gold turn to base metal? If not, why doesn't Jenas grow, Lennon ripen, Dawson mature, Zokora develop? Why must Kaboul's exuberance be his undoing - and that of Spurs? What corrosion is eating away at the fabric of players' confidences and abilities? And why are their reactions so slow, their movements so languid? Why is their thinking so sluggish? So often the simple ball forward into space is withheld. The moment passes and, inevitably, momentum is lost: the ball goes sideways or backwards. So often we lose out in 50-50 challenges, or even challenges that are 60-40 in favour. So often our players get caught in possession. Does Time move in slow-motion for a Spurs player? While he's got his foot over the ball - either pretending he's Colossus or else totally perplexed over what to do with it - some whippet from the other side nabs it.

Pointless: another game which illustrates the redundancy and sheer incompetence of the current coaching team. We aren't even treading water: we're sinking.

Oh, and pointless putting Cerny in goal until he's equipped with a proper defence. It wasn't his fault he let in three. No wonder Robinson looks a nervous wreck."

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Rochdale-not very good, God, Irish spin their own failure and the origins of football.

Rochdale are officially the least successful club in the history of English League football. From the Telegraph.
This is pure spin- also from the Telegraph- the FAI are eschewing all responsibility and are passing the buck over selecting their next manager- and are then patting themselves on the back over their decision making.
Cracking article this-from the Independent about the role of religion in the formation of a number of football clubs.
..and talking of origins-this from the Telegraph is about the 150th anniversary of Sheffield FC-officially the oldest club in the world. The article mentions the Cambridge University Team-which formed a year before Sheffield- so they are really the oldest club in the world and, in case you are interested, the plaque to commemorate this fact is pretty close to my house. Here's a BBC Cambridge report on the subject - (of Cambridge Uni. being the oldest club - not it happening close to my house)

Thursday, 18 October 2007

The William Hill Sports Book of the Year ShortList

Up Pompey by Chuck Culpepper has made the William Hill Sports Book of the Year short list.

You can see the long and short lists here

Could be a nice footnote to what is starting to look like Pompey's best season ever.

Russia England Match Reports.

I'm doing this to let off steam really but here is a round up of what the newspapers thought about England's defeat in Russia

This is the Times Report- there are links on the page to other articles reflecting on England's defeat.
Here's the Guardian's report.
Also from The Guardian- this is what Hiddink thought (and I think he's right about Lescott)
The Telegraph has round up of what the tabloids think- with useful links to the Sun and the Mirror.
Their match report is here.
The Independent says this.

If Russia do beat Israel the I suppose there is some solace in that the dull feeling I get when watching England failing to live up to expectations happened yesterday- and I won't have to experience it next summer.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

England Managers-by Brian Glanville. Book Review.

Brian Glanville's view of each England manager from Walter Winterbottom to Steve MacClaren.

This was a enjoyable book by a man with over half a century of experience writing about the game. In it you will get Glanville's measure of the various men who have held this difficult and quite strange job.

Briefly stated he argues that:

Walter Winterbottom held the job when the F.A. could almost be regarded as a branch of the civil service and that you could almost view Winterbottom as a bureaucrat- secure in his job despite mediocre results. Also that he suffered the loss of key players in the Munich aircrash, was compromised by in-fighting at the F.A. and was still, at least formally, expected to produce results despite the existence of the F.A. selection committee.

Sir Alf Ramsey was clearly successful as a manger- but as a man he was always keen to distance himself from his working class background in Dagenham- and who ended his days unhappily in a modest house in Ipswich.

Don Revie- was thin skinned, deeply superstitious, possibly a cheat and whose main motivation seemed to be money.

Ron Greenwood's biggest influence on the national team probably came in the sixties when his West Ham team produced Hurst, Peters and Moore who would be key players in the team that won the World Cup. By the time he becomes England manager he is past his prime.

Bobby Robson is a manager who rode his luck only to find it failing him at key moments (Maradona's handball and penalty defeat by Germany). He also had a troubled relationship with the press- as did....

Graham Taylor, a poor manager who was out of his depth.

(In defence of these two managers the eighties and ninties saw a loutish, ill mannered style of football journalism establish itself. If you study it I'm pretty sure that you can trace the origins of the "footy" fans' habit of booing England players-like Lampard, Heskey and Hargreaves- back to this style of half witted journalism.)

Terry Venables, who unlike Ramsey never seemed embarrassed about his Dagenham roots, got the job too late. A bright, creative man but he was distracted by questionable business dealings.

Glen Hoodle undermined his own abilities with his awkward relationship with the players. (Strangely Glanville feels that the problem with Hoddle's use of a faith healer was that the players were too conservative to accept it-rather than the more orthodox view that it is rather odd for the England manager to be using a faith healer)

Kevin Keegan at times had the ability to transcend his limitations- but ultimately proved to be feeble and was prone to being over emotional.

Eriksson handled the pressure well and was unfortunate with injuries to key players at key moments. He was also totally irresponsible in his behaviour of the pitch and was the beneficiary of a ridiculous contract.

Steve MacClaren- Wretched- a man who scribbles notes on the sidelines while the team play awfully on the pitch.

This book was written before MacClaren's England beat Russia 3-0- a game shaped in part by the selection of Heskey- which I'm sure only happened because of injuries and suspensions. Since then MacClaren's fortunes have been on the rise and he now has a chance to save his job, his reputation and maybe his career. Glanville points out the role that luck plays in the job- and maybe a few more strokes of luck, like the one that saw the Heskey selection, might mean that England manage to get to the later stages of the Euro 08 finals despite the fact that job did once seem to be a little way beyond MacClaren's abilities.

I do have a couple of reservations about this book. Glanville is a journalist and his skill is writing pithy and engaging assessments of managers, players and matches for newspapers and this is how this book reads- a series of succinct insights- often very accurately made- but made at the expense of any overarching narrative. At times I found it difficult to follow the line of his arguments obscured as it was by a list of rapidly made observations made about players, matches and opposition managers. I felt that the book could have probably been edited a little bitter.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Euro 08 Previews, Bobby Robson, 50 Greatest Transfers.

The European Cup is still a year away- but this article is a pretty good preview focusing on the host nations Austria and Switzerland. (Guardian)
Also looking forward to Euro 08 here's a good article about the recent success of the Romanian national team. (Guardian)
It looks like Northern Ireland will not be going to Euro 08. This article, from the Independent, looks at why.
As a preview to the England Russia game this article from the Telegraph looks at previous crunch matches that England have faced. It's by Henry Winter- who writes like an ITV football commentator commentates- never knowingly understated and just jam packed and rammed solid with hyperbole- which, depending on my mood, I either find entertaining or irritating .
Here's a respectful article about Bobby Robson in the Telegraph
The Times suggest that these may be the 50 greatest transfers ever.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Ipswich V. Preston


Because Pompey were playing on the Sunday I decided to take the opportunity to use the Saturday afternoon to go and watch the Ipswich Preston match with a mate.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ipswich, I suppose it comes from when, as a kid, I was sent to a military boarding school ten miles south of the town. I was there in the late seventies and early eighties and during that period Ipswich had a fantastic team and a fantastic manager.

But it’s not just the team that I’ve a soft spot for- I also like the town. The reason why is because the school I went to was Edwardian in outlook- a grim, cold, backward sort of place. So I looked forward to trips into Ipswich- which was the nearest town- with the same enthusiasm that I might have today for a trip to Dublin or New York, and odd as it may sound I’ve never quite lost that feeling.

I’ve been to see Ipswich a few times over the last couple of years and I thought this was their best performance. It was not a particularly entertaining game– but that was because for about 80 minutes Ipswich played with a structure and a discipline that gave them total control. From where I was sitting- very high in the Greene King Stand I had a great view of how Ipswich kept their shape in a way to constantly dictate the pattern of the game. Preston on the other hand looked clueless and totally out of their depth when confronted by such a professional performance. So it was no surprise that Ipswich took a two goal lead.

I was impressed with the way Ipswich played-though from what other fans said they are not like this away from home, but based on this performance I could see no reason why a team that plays with such professional diligence wouldn’t make the play-offs. But what about after that- could they cope with promotion?

I think the answer came in the last five minutes. Preston brought on Neil Mellor and suddenly the whole game changed. Mellor is a Premiership quality player though problems with his weight and with injuries has seen him drop down a division.

Here’s a video of what he was capable of.

He instantly transformed the game, he took up positions in between the Ipswich defenders in a way that forced them to adapt to what he was doing- and he could drop deep-and in doing so hit one fantastic pass out to the wing- a real flash of Premiership quality. In the end he won a somewhat dubious penalty- which he scored. You were left wondering why Preston did not bring him on earlier.

And that will be Ipswich’s problem – being well organised and professional in the way they play could possibly take them out of this division - but I don’t yet think they can cope with the kind of quality that Mellor showed in the last few minutes of the game , which is exactly what they will find week in, week out in the Premiership

Click on the picture of Paul Mariner to see Ipswich in their prime beat Man Utd 6-0

What I thought about Pompey V. Fulham.

Benjy's goal

Here’s a few thought’s about Pompey’s performance in last Sunday’s game.

1. The atmosphere amongst the Pompey fans was great as usual- but there did seem to be the kind of buzz that I last felt when we got promoted.
2. It was a great defensive performance in the first half – Fulham were working hard but James and the back four were able to deal with them.
3. However in the first half the Pompey midfield were not really clicking- there was a lack of ambition and imagination in the passing, and there were too many miss-hit passes. The wide men- particularly Utaka seemed reluctant to push forward- probably nervous about exposing the full backs after last week’s 4 conceded goals.
4. Which meant that in the first half Benjy was isolated - I remember one time when he received the ball whilst being marked by 4 Fulham players.
5. So in the first half with the exception of Utaka’s counter attacking break away run (…and what a goal that we have been) a Pompey goal seemed to be unlikely – at half time I thought we were looking at a 0-0 draw.
6. But – in the second half the Pompey midfield started to play with the verve and swagger of a team that had just scored 7 goals in 1 game.
7. The fact that Benjy’s goal was deflected takes nothing away from how good it was. He took the goal with the immense confidence of a top quality player who is at the peak of his game. Davis’ pass wasn’t bad either
8. Having our left back score in two consecutive games means that we are now a bit like the great Ajax team of the early seventies. ( I just wanted to type that)
9. 2-0 was a fair result- but it should have been 3-0 and I don’t think Fulham would have many complaints if it had been 4-0.

I think a lot of people are saying that this is the best Pompey team for half a century- and with this defensive performance ( my MotM was Distin- he was immense) and with the flashes of attacking brilliance in the second half I can see why.

My journey back to Cambridge after the match was awful (though the fact that the phrase “replacement bus service” fills me with an awful chill dread probably indicates how easy my life probably is). To alleviate the boredom I got chatting to a 15 year old Fulham fan, also from Cambridge – who wished Fulham could defend half as well as Pompey had- otherwise they might be relegated. I hope they do stay up- I like Craven Cottage- especially the walk there along the Thames- and it is an away fixture that always feels like we are at home.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Last Time Pompey Got Seven

..we won the League