The Real Football Rant & Chant
Hello football fans, as I once again bring your (ir)regular does of footie news, commentary and gossip”¦all reheated with my own half-baked opinions”¦sounds good eh? Well its even better because there’s no Mong this week so no detailed round up of results so it really is just me wittering on about various news items that have caught my eye.
As you’ve noticed this column is slightly late, so just results and then transfer news.
Weekend Premiership Results
Southampton 3 – 2 Blackburn
Fulham 2 – 0 Bolton
Birmingham 0 – 1 Chelsea
Liverpool 2 – 1 Man City
Newcastle 0 – 1 Tottenham
Charlton 2 – 1 Portsmouth
Crystal Palace 1 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 3 Everton
Man Utd 2 – 1 Norwich
West Brom 1 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1 Aston Villa
Arsenal 5 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 3 Middlesborough
Well looking at these what can I say? Well Crystal Palace are in short f*cked, Everton at home is the type of match they should be winning if they have any chance of staying up and loosing 3-1 is a bloody long way from winning. Southampton and Blackburn battled to decide who would become the crisis club of the early season, with the rules surprisingly stating that the team who won the game would be engulfed. Newcastle look shaky as my pre-season prediction that Robson’s job would be under danger within six games seems to be bearing fruit with a shock 1-0 defeat at Tottenham in the battle of the jumped-up, also rans. Liverpool still look shaky, being completely relent on Steven Gerrard to defeat a promising Charlton side.
As for the Big 3, well Chelsea continue to impress with a thorough and pragmatic approach to playing with Mourinho’s tactics masking a side lacking width due to the absence of Duff and Robben and the type of telepathy that Manchester United and above all Arsenal have developed. Manchester United are currently a clown car driven by Michael Schumacher; the likes of David Bellion and Djemba-Djemba do not belong in a side contending for the English Premiership. However, Fergie is the greatest manger in English league history and is managing to keep the ship afloat until the stars return. He’s of course helped by the superb form of Alan Smith who is finally living up to the promise when he broke into the Leeds side. Then there’s Arsenal who are simply AWESOME, there isn’t any other way to put you are looking at simply one of the best teams to ever grace club competition. The passing, movement and vibrancy of their attacking play is simply breathtaking and is incredibly matched by a steely determination to win* as shown by their comeback against Middlesborough. Very scary when you consider that their best midfielder in Patrick Vieira and their best central defender in Sol Campbell are still out injured.
Mid-Week Premiership Results
Birmingham 1 – 0 Man City
Crystal Palace 0 – 2 Chelsea
Arsenal 3 – 0 Blackburn
Southampton 1 – 2 Bolton
Fulham 0 – 2 Middlesbrough
West Brom 1 – 1 Tottenham
Newcastle 2 – 2 Norwich
Charlton 3 – 0 Aston Villa
The continuing implosion that is Newcastle United”¦er”¦continues with a hideous draw against Norwich, a promoted side that with their reliance on attacking football and Darren Huckaby should be easy pickings for any Premiership team. I seriously fear for Robson’s future with the way things are going. Charlton, Bolton and Birmingham all continued their good starts to the season with comfortable victories with Francis Jeffers’ brace against Villa for Charlton being very encouraging. Tottenham disappointly drew against West Brom, which shut up talk about an encouraging start to Santini’s reign as manager so hopefully allowing the Spurs to return to what they do best”¦self destructing. Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers both look to have had a head start on Tottenham in that regards with two mangers who were VERY lucky not to get sacked in the close season having only managed to get 1 out of a possible nine points. As for Southampton, well their excellent and unfairly criticised Chairman Rupert Lowe seems to have forced out one manger who was out of his depth for another, I doubt Wigley will be in the mange’s chair for long.
Like the shock news that Mourinho’s Chelsea scored more than one goal, okay it was against Crystal Palace and yes it was only one more goal but still”¦2 goals in one game! What’s more there’s signs that Joe Cole has finally stopped playing like an egotistical school boy (an admittedly drop dead gorgeous school boy) and is actually becoming the sophisticated playmaker he has the talent to be. Here’s hoping he improves this season by as much as Lampard did in the last.
As for Arsenal, I think 43 games unbeaten and 12 goals already scored in the first three games of this season speaks for itself.
Brits Abroad Results
FT Liverpool 0 – 1 Graz AK
FT Rangers 1 – 1 CSKA Moscow
FT Man Utd 3 – 0 Dinamo Bucharest
Both English teams got into the Group Stage of the Champion’s League on the back of first leg victories, however the manner they did so varied greatly. Whilst Benetiz’s Liverpool were exposed for the sham team they are when the Scouse Christ Steven Gerrard had an off day Manchester United overwhelmed Dynamo Bucharest with Alan Smith looking like a truly world class striker. Looks like Fergie’s done it again with him. Sad to see Rangers go out though.
England 3 Ukraine 0
Holy crap does this feel an age ago; to think that when I was watching this game I was still waiting for my results and still single”¦of course I’m still unemployed so some things never change. As for the game, well you can’t grumble at 3-goal victory but to be honest England were worrying. The reversion to the diamond was a failure with use being consistently beaten on the wings despite the best efforts of the full backs. Gerrard had another quiet game hampered by not being played in a good position whilst Butt’s regression as a player from his peak in the 2002 World Cup was there for all to see. That said there were some positives, Beckham looked a million bucks (well relative to Euro 2004) especially as he was full of energy and his goal and assist were very well done. Owen too looked sharp with energetic running and a trademark free header for the goal. Finally Alan Smith and Shaun Wright-Phillips both looked excellent and hopefully Wright-Phillips has done enough to force into contention for the left-wing place (or the right if you move Beckham inward). Overall encouraging, but elements are worrying.
Okay I’m sadly running out of time so just time to talk about the three big transfer stories of the past couple of weeks.
Real Madrid fail to sign Patrick Vieira but managed to sign Michael Owen
Oh boy how dumb are Real Madrid? The simple fact is they don’t need another striker they have three of the best in the world. What they needed was a midfield general, a talisman to galvanise the midfield and give cover to their defence. And yet guess what they brought? Yep give yourself a coconut they brought another striker! Very, very stupid! As for Owen well he better get use to the bench with Morientes staying put although that might not be such a bad thing for the former boy wonder. I mean look at it this way, Owen has virtually played none stop since 1997 when he played in an international youth team tournament. Since then he’s played every game he can for Liverpool, in two world cups, two Euro Championships and countless England qualifiers and friendlies. This punishing schedule has left a jaded and tired player in desperate need of a rest, something that a year warming up the bench over at Madrid could provide. I mean Owen’s a young man-far younger than Ronaldo or Raul, he can bide his time and impress in fleeting appearances and then take one of their starting places in due time. He will also stand more chance of winning medals starting 20 games for Madrid than he would starting 60 for Liverpool.
Speaking of them, they were screwed over with the transfer”¦they need a new striker and they need one fast.
Real Madrid sign Jonathan Woodgate for 13 million
I can’t quite decide what’s more shocking, the fact that Madrid brought a defender or the fact that defender was Jonathan Woodgate. Either way it’s a strange move, yes Madrid need a defender but buying that plays regularly may have been a good idea, no? I mean don’t get me wrong Woodgate’s a great player with the cultivated style to appeal to Madrid but he’s always injured! If Madrid think they can overcome that then great, however I have my doubts. Still good luck to the player and this is yet more bad news for Newcastle with their already leaky defence loosing their best player.
Manchester United and Newcastle United in bidding war for Wayne Rooney. Rooney requests transfer
Okay picture the scene you’re a club with four strikers three of which are respected internationals yet last season was ruined by a poor defensive record. To make matters worse you’ve just sold your best defender. Okay now what do you do?
If you answered with “buy a striker” then you name is Freddie Shepherd and I’ve got a lovely birthday suit I want to sell to you.
Now of course you can see where Newcastle are coming from, they’ve got money in the bank and Rooney is a special player but the fact is that they need one or two good defenders to shore up their back line. Buying Rooney won’t win games if the defence is leaking goals, just look at Everton who were in a relegation battle last year despite having the boy wonder. To make matters worse its increased tensions in the St James’ Park dressing room with Craig Bellamy protesting the thought of yet another striking being brought, no doubt aware that he’s the player most similar to Rooney currently on Newcastle’s books. This as most of the Newcastle fans have seen is a panic buy by a Chairman who wants to end the criticism that he’s been getting over saying he won’t renew Robson contract and the whole Dyer fiasco (Dyer refused to play on the right of midfield two weeks ago). If Rooney goes to Newcastle it’ll be a disaster, the dressing room is precisely what he doesn’t need with players such as loadsamoney Dyer being exactly the type of player that could lead him astray. Worse Robson seems to have lost control of the club with players regularly challenging his decisions and the chairman having taken over vast swathes of the club’s football policy.
Luckily for Liverpool’s brothels most famous customer (can’t believe I’ve had to cut that story due to time constraints) Manchester United have equalled Newcastle’s first bid of 20million and are considering beating their second 23.5 million bid with a cash-plus-player bid. Rooney has to go to Manchester United, their the only club who can afford him and yet have the expertise in bringing young players along to get the best out of him. Fergie is the only manger who can make Rooney feel small and just a player, walking into the Theatre of Dreams and being surrounding by players such as Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs who he’s spent his life idolising will nip any ego in the bud. What’s more they offer the Champion’s League stage that Rooney needs to play on if he’s to progress as a player.
In short if Rooney voluntary decides not to join Manchester United he really is as dumb as he looks. Hopefully his transfer request and the rumours of his desire to go to Manchester United show that his choice of club is better than his choice of whore (good god they were ugly).
Stop Press: Quick look at tomorrow’s Guardian (on the net) says that Everton are preparing an 8mil bid for James Beattie as a replacement. Sounds good to meJ
Anyway that’s it! Sorry this has been a bit rushed, getting my new Nexus column sorted took up more time than I expected so lots of stuff I planned to do have had to be jettisoned. They’ll hopefully back next week when/if I do another Rant and Chant.
Oh what the hell just for Mong, here’s his coverage of the Championship mid week games from two weeks ago (yes I know). Enjoy and see you soon!
You’re Midweek Coca Cola Caffeine Fix
Derby County v Leicester City attendance 26,650
I have never to this day fully understood why it is so expensive to get into Pride Park; I guess it is just a mystery of life. Doesn’t matter, its always full for this game. And much like a MasterCard advert, for a Leicester fan beating Derby County is priceless, and we certainly did that. And enjoyed it too.
The game itself was relatively even, and a little untidy at times. The stats of the game would confirm that Derby were worth at least a point, but wayward finishing cost them dear. George Burley’s men fashioned a number of good first half openings, Juan Junior was a constant thorn in the side, and alongside the pacey Markkus Reich, Derby looked good going forward. However, their best chance did not fall until the half hour, when a teasing ball from the Dane Morten Bisgaard landed at Tommy Smit’s feet, only for the ex Sunderland man to lift it over the bar from around six yards.
Against the run of play, Leicester would take the lead on 40 minutes. From a left hand side set piece, Gareth Williams delivered a dangerous cross that the Derby defence could only clear to Nalis. His speculative effort went through a crowded penalty area and somehow nestled in the bottom corner of the Derby net. It would remain one nil at half time.
The second half was far more open, and both sides could easily have won the game. Nathan Blake on his full debut forced a good save low to Lee camp’s left, whilst Derby anchorman Ian Taylor forced a good save from Walker. However, Lee camp was to come even more into the fray as what looked like a minor incident in the box involving Jeff Kenna and Gareth Williams resulted in a Leicester penalty. Referee mr G Laws judged Kenna had held Williams’ shirt in the box and awarded a spot kick. David Connolly hit the pen, but Camp dived low to his right to save, Connolly hit the rebound high over the bar.
Derby seemed energised by this, and equalised just after the hour. Juan Junior and Tommy Smith had both gone close prior to a Reich corner that was headed in from Marcus Tudgay. He had only been on the pitch 10 minutes.
Mickey Adams decided to make a triple substitution; this would win the foxes the game. He threw on Gudjonnson, Gillespie and Benjamin to replace Nails, Wilcox and Blake. In the 75th minute, a long kick from Walker was flicked on in the air by Scowcroft, and falling to Benjamin, he would turn super sub as he ran away from Tom Huddlestone and drilled the ball home past Camp for 2-1 and delirious scenes in the Leicester end of the ground. Incredibly, Derby didn’t die. Instead Huddlestone tried to make up for his error, as he unleashed an unstoppable right foot volley that beat everyone but Walkers’ crossbar. It was to finish 2-1 despite the late scare.
Leicester face Millwall on Saturday, 4 points in the bag. Derby will entertain Ipswich, having played 2 and lost them both. Life isn’t all bad eh?
At the New Den, MILLWALL lost 2-0 to WIGAN. Lee McCullough scored the first with a powerful close range header for his second goal in as many games, and this was followed by a neat finish by Jason Roberts in the second half.
SUNDERLAND got their season off and running at the stadium of light, overcoming a poor CREWE ALEXANDRA side in the process. Robinson opened the scoring for the black cats with a screaming 20 yard half volley that flew past Ademola Bankole in goal. Sunderland added to their tally twice more as a Kevin Kyle cross was nodded in by Marcus Stewart. Finally Robbie Elliot’s mazy run resulted in the third. Scant consolation for Crewe was Mark Rivers’s late tap in.
The problems build at LEEDS, as they went 2-1 down at Andy Hessenthale’s GILLINGHAM, the shock result of the fixture list. After neat build up, Patrick Ageymang saw his shot deflected by Jermiane Wright and into the Leeds net past Sullivan. And they would make it two after the break. Ageymang turned provider as he fed Roberts, whose left footed drilled shot beat everyone including Sullivan for number two. Leeds recovered some consolation from new recruit Danny Pugh from Man Utd after he tapped in Steve Guppy’s low cross to make the final score 2-1.
At Bramall lane, SHEFFIELD UNITED and STOKE CITY endured a 0-0 draw. This despite Gifton Noel-Williams’ red card for stoke for violent conduct against Steve Morgan. Stoke had Ed de Goey to thank for producing a late sprawling save from Steve Kabba to keep the score 0-0.
BRIGHTON lost 2-0 at home to PLYMOUTH ARGYLE. Dan Cullip’s own goal was followed by a Paul Wotton penalty to steal all 3 points as Mark McGhee’s side also had Danny Harding sent off.
Same scoreline at Millmoor between ROTHERHAM and BURNLEY. Paul Shaw thought he had scored, but it was disallowed for a push in the box. Both sides look like relegation fodder.
Two teams that definitely won’t go down are READING and WEST HAM. Pardew’s men took all three points thanks to a late Teddy Sheringham goal from a Luke Chadwick cross low past keepe’ Hahnemman. However Steve Coppell’s Reading deserved at least a point were it not for a string of fine saves from Steve Bywater.
WOLVES have started poorly, and only just managed to salvage a point at home against an average PRESTON NORTH END side. Preston opened up with a comedy of errors in the Wolves box that ended in Chris Lucketti scoring early on. David Healy then scored from a header for two nil, before Dixon Etuhu was sent off for the Lilywhites for violent conduct. A dramatic comeback saw Wolves score twice in the last 15. first, a Colin Cameron corner was headed in by Leon Clarke, and then wolves snatched a point from Kenny Millers rocket that rattled the bar and in.
WATFRORD beat QPR 3-0. Two well taken Danny Webber goals, sandwiched a Bruce Dyer header that eased Ray Lewingtons men home, despite Qpr having a legitimate Kevin Gallen goal ruled out for a push.
Last but not least, the honeymoon in over for Peter Reid. Taken ill, he did not attend the 2-1 defeat by CARDIFF of his COVENTRY side. Sky blues took the lead through Graham Barrett. But Cardiff turned it round after the break with goals from Lee Bullock, and an inevitable goal from Welsh international Rob Earnshaw, followed by the cartwheel, and three points.
Everything now geared up for what looks like a good weekends action. Bye bye from me.