Category Archives: The Layman

When the fists start flying… (Video)

 

It is something of a guilty pleasure but everyone likes a good mass brawl on the football pitch and this is a good one.

It’s full time in the African Cup of Nations qualifying match between Algeria and Libya with the Algerians leading 1-0.

Cue all hell breaking lose with all the players from both side, coaches, security, fans and who the hell else knows getting involved in a situation that Danny Dyer would describe as “pwoper norty”.

There are too many highlights to go through all of them although a personal favourite is the man running with the corner flags across the pitch nonchalantly.

And there’s still a second leg to come yet too…

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Real positives to be taken from Ukraine draw

On the face of it, after a 1-1 draw at home against Ukraine, England shouldn’t have too many positives to take out of the game.

Without coming over as the typical England fan and thinking we should win every game we play, home fixtures in qualifying should be won if you have any intentions of making it through to the finals stage.

So, in this regard, England should feel disappointed. However, the performance itself should be praised.

Ukraine were restricted to few clear cut chances outside of the semi-dangerous breaks towards the end of the game when England were committed to all-out attack and their goal itself was simply a superb strike.

But an important point to be taken with England’s performance comes from the last 30 minutes or so when the team put together football that combined the defensive solidity evident throughout Roy Hodgson’s reign with some incisive and easy-on-the-eye attacking play.

Indeed England carved out enough chances to win the game and would have done so were it not for some wasteful finishing.

The first half performance was far from outstanding but, aside from the goal itself, England looked very solid in defence and unlikely to fall apart; a trait consistent with the Hodgson reign, a period of time in which England have still yet to lose inside 90 minutes.

However, in the first half, England lacked consistent incisive play in the final third but still carved out two good chances for Tom Cleverley and a harshly disallowed goal from Jermaine Defoe with Steven Gerrard putting in his now customary influential performance pulling the strings and creating the majority of the chances.

With half an hour to go, Hodgson changed his system by bringing on Danny Wellbeck and Daniel Sturridge which resulted in greater attacking flair but still retaining the width needed to stretch Ukraine.

Furthermore, he didn’t go entirely for broke as he brought on Ryan Bertrand for Leighton Baines (a move which was ultimately vindicated in Bertrand’s contribution in winning the penalty) rather than sacrificing the solidity and attacking influence provided by Gerrard, Frank Lampard and James Milner in the centre of the park.

What the three midfielders and Wellbeck, Sturridge and Jermaine Defoe provided was incisive, short passing football that looked set to cut open Ukraine often and, again but for more wasteful finishing, could have seen England win the game instead of relying on a penalty to secure a point.

Bertrand and Glen Johnson also helped in this regard with probing runs and offering themselves up as the spare men with only occasional risk from counter attacking.

This attacking incisiveness, very much in it’s infancy in the Hodgson reign who has rightly concentrated on defensive solidity so far, all came without players of the calibre of Wayne Rooney, Darren Bent and Theo Walcott to name but three which bodes well for Hodgson.

Whilst the result wasn’t ideal at the start of the game, it was a point earned for England and the fact that the intelligent, game-changing substitutions made by Hodgson were all young players with a big future for England will quietly please him in the week he extolled the values of youth in the national squad set up.

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Coming soon to a bloopers DVD near you (Video)

Every football fan knows if you want something a bit mad and zany, you go to South America home of the word “loco”.

There is countless gold to be had from videos of games across the continent and now we can add this particular howler to the records.

Quite how it happens remains something of a mystery but the goalkeeper in this match from Brazil last weekend contrives to produce perhaps the most bizarre own goal ever.

The keeper himself probably doesn’t know either to be fair which just adds to the whole spectacle.

Enjoy the existential despair.

 

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Referee knocked unconscious…in a friendly (Video)

Many a sportsman’s autobiography has described going into the ‘zone’ when crossing the white line on to the field of play.

When players get into the ‘zone’ they become a completely different person to their normal character; capable of doing things they would not do in real life. For better or for worse.

It would appear Benfica’s Luisao is one of those players who, even in a friendly, is in the kind of ‘zone’ which can probably be best described frightening.

The angle is a bit dodgy but he would appear to deck the referee in this friendly match with Fortuna Dusseldorf with a solid left hook.

Unsurprisingly, the match was subsequently abandoned.

Take note Paulo Di Canio.

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In praise of Leon Osman

In the Twitter storm in the wake of the extra players called up to the England squad yesterday, there was one player who’s name was most touted under the “should have been called up”.

That man was Swansea’s flying winger Lloyd Dyer who has enjoyed a storming start to the season with two goals in three games and a string of superb performances.

This too on the back of a superb last seasons at the Liberty Stadium as he stepped up from the Championship to the Premier League with aplomb, much like the club as a whole.

While the call ups of Raheem Sterling and Adam Llallana to cover the winger positions in the squad had perfectly valid reasons (and besides Twitter-folk, its not your job to choose the England squad so get over it), the Dyer-backers did have a point.

More top flight experience, better form in the current season and so on are very valid reasons also.

However, there is one another name which has been looked even more so and that name is Leon Osman at Everton.

Osman is now 31 and it is a huge miscarriage of justice that he has never even been included in a provisional England squad given how integral he has been to the Toffees ever since his debut in 2004.

Statistics very rarely tell the story with midfielder as 33 goals in 251 games rightly shows, but the 251 games is rather telling itself as that’s 35 games a season and that’s what Osman does so well.

He is consistently a 7/10 player that gives his all in every game he plays and is not short on quality either providing good ammunition for his forwards and fellow midfielders at Goodison throughout his career at the club.

Perhaps the problem has been two-fold; firstly he could be suffering from being a victim of his own ability to play in a number of positions like his club teammate Phil Neville suffered from. Osman can operate on the wing, behind a main striker and in central midfield which, as was the case with Neville, made him something of a jack of all trades that didn’t give him a true chance to shine.

A second explanation could be, in an England team that has often been lacking pace in midfield for the last decade, quick wingers have been a necessity and, despite all of his qualities, pace is not one thing Osman possesses.

All in all however, a career without an England call up or even a cap at underage levels is dreadfully sad for a player of Osman’s, not only quality, but consistency of quality too.  

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Wake up Kammy! (Video)

When a person becomes a “character” they can pretty much get away with whatever the hell they like.

Allegations of sexual misconduct? Ah he was just playing around is all. A slightly off-colour remark? He didn’t mean anything by it.

On this note, we come to Chris Kamara who has become the cult figure we all know and love thanks to Soccer Saturday which saved him from a series of poor achievements in management. Wins all round.

Now, Kammy hasn’t been accused of the above but judging from this latest clip, he may be accused of being somewhat lacking of professionalism.

That said, he does only ‘appear’ to be asleep…

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Gary Neville; great pundit, awkward interviewer (Video)

Gary Neville’s debut in the world of punditry has been surprisingly well received given his past tendency to split opinions so much.

Neville was something of a breath of fresh air to the stale punditry so often seen on TV screens in recent years.

The fact that he retired so recently is probably the reason for this as he has the finger on the pulse more than most other, older pundits.

However, this is probably doing him a disservice as his eloquence and intelligence shine through on all aspects of football.

Just, don’t make him interview his brother ever again as even Peep Show doesn’t do awkwardness like this.

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A contender for Waddle’s title (Video)

They say that Chris Waddle’s skied penalty against Germany in Italia ’90 is still orbiting out in space somewhere to this day. Other say it has been seen, thanks to the Hubble telescope, impacting on the surface of Jupiter.

It is testament to just how culturally significant that penalty was (Gazza’s tears, Pavarotti singing, rebirth of football and all that) that the Waddle penalty is so regularly ridiculed even though there have been plenty of other penalties before and since that were as bad, if not worse.

And then there is this one which could well be the worst ever.

Step forward Mr Jonathan Soriano of Austrian outfit Red Bull Salzburg with a truly outstanding effort that I shall now describe in two ways; one in literal terms, one in hyperbolic terms. Read whichever one you so wish.

  1. His penalty probably landed in about Row U.

  2. His penalty is currently sailing past Voyager 2 which has now passed Pluto and is headed for the outer reaches of the Milky Way galaxy.

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