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Another One Bites The Dust

It comes as little surprise to hear of a managerial sacking in our English Football League. In an industry where bosses are changed more often than kits, a month barely goes by without a handful of casualties.

This time it was the turn of Bristol Rovers boss, Dave Penney, to walk the plank after guiding the Pirates to nine defeats during their last 13 matches. When put like that, it’s hardly surprising his stint in charge lasted less than two months.

Penney’s short-lived reign of the League One club threw up a couple of questions to those sentimental few, including where this stood in terms of football’s all-time most unsuccessful terms in charge.

Micky Adams’ name is one that inevitably springs to mind. He took the reins at three different clubs during the 1997-98 season, immediately suggesting that things that year weren’t too rosy for Mr Adams. The three clubs in question were Fulham, Swansea City and Brentford. Despite a relatively successful time in charge of the Cottagers, he was ousted in favour of Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins. Cue the slide downhill for the Yorkshireman.

During his incredibly brief stint at the helm of Swansea City, he managed a 100% defeat record, something he repeated a few months later when he was in the hot-seat at Nottingham Forest. To be fair to Adams, he did only manage three matches for the Welsh outfit and one single game for Forest, but the statistics still don’t look pretty.

Following his three losses at Swansea, he ventured across the country to London club, Brentford. He bossed this club for the second half of the 97-98 season, but only succeeded in relegating them to the old Division Three on the last day of the season.

Not the best send-off, by any measures.

Another name tossed into the hat is Joe Kinnear for his time at Premiership Club, Newcastle United. The majority of the Geordie population were shocked at the appointment of former Wimbledon manager Kinnear on the 26th September 2008. Initially, the deal was only to keep the Irishman at St James’ Park until the end of October; an arrangement that continued to be extended.

Kinnear’s time in the hot-seat was unsuccessful for more reasons than what happened on the pitch. While the team were racking up more than enough draws and defeats, Kinnear wasn’t covering himself in glory in the limelight. During an interview with the national media, the player-turned-manager swore 52 times at reporters and journalists, including a particular tirade at the Daily Mirror’s journalist, Simon Bird. After that, a decision was made for Kinnear not to speak to the national press. Although, after a following incident in which he mis-pronounced Newcastle player Charles N’Zogbia’s surname, it was suggested he probably shouldn’t speak to any forms of media at all.

Add to this being sent from the sidelines and it lands Kinnear in the hall of fame for unsuccessful management stints, without even taking into account the problems on the pitch.

Next up on the list is former Watford, West Ham and Newcastle boss, Glen Roeder. Roeder knows only too well what it feels like to be managing a club flirting with the relegation zone. His first job was to take the reigns at Gillingham where, despite only winning 13 out of 51 games, he managed to escape the dreaded drop on the penultimate day of the season.

This feat was replicated at Burnley, where a last day win over Plymouth Argyle ensured the Clarets stayed up. However, for the number of close-shave survivals he’s had, there’s been an equal number of not-so-fortunate management spells. He left Watford in February 1996 as the club were languishing at the bottom of the First Division. It wasn’t an easy job for his successor, Graham Taylor, who couldn’t save the Vicarage Road outfit.

Roeder’s worst record though was with Premier League club West Ham United. His appointment in the summer of 2001 wasn’t quite welcomed by Hammers fans, who had hoped for a bigger name to replace Harry Redknapp. And Roeder did little to help his case. Two of his three summer signings, Tomas Repka and Don Hutchinson, proved to have disciplinary and injury problems respectively, which led people to question the Londoner’s ability as a manager. The 2002-03 season was one to forget for West Ham, who set a record after being relegated despite having 42 points on the board. Following their drop, Joe Cole, Trevor Sinclair and Frédéric Kanouté all left the club for pastures new. It’s safe to say that although their departures weren’t welcomed by the Hammers, the exit of Mr Roeder certainly was.

Other names may get bashed around when discussing unsuccessful managers; Tony Adams, who was sacked in February 2009 after only 16 games in charge of Portsmouth, in which they only managed to scrape 10 points.

Alan Ball potentially has the worst record on paper out of all mentioned, managing six clubs and relegating five. This could be considered slightly deceptive though as two clubs were already sinking ships by the time Ball joined them.  

To wrap up this clutch of management miseries is probably one of the worst; Graeme Souness. A huge percentage of people on Merseyside will not remember his name with fondness. Despite a long and enjoyable playing career at Liverpool, Souness returned to try his hand at leading the club to victory from the sidelines – an attempt in which he failed spectacularly. The Scotsman combined poor tactics, ill-judged transfer dealings and behind-the-scenes blunders to ensure Liverpool witnessed some of their darkest days under his reign.

The threat of the managerial axe rearing its ugly head is never too far around the corner in today’s footballing world. Just a run of defeats or a slip down the table and it won’t be too long until a manager can hear calls for his head ringing around the terraces. Labelled as one of the most unforgiving professions in England, it’s a wonder why anyone does it at all!

Maria Hudd

http://twitter.com/#!/mariahudd



We’re the famous Kevin Davies and we’re going to Wembley

The focus of the FA Cup semi finals will probably fall on the Manchester derby about 95% and probably rightly so for the neutral point of view. However I would like to think those true neutrals will be routing for Bolton to lift the FA Cup this year. With City in the process of buying success, Stoke being just horrid and United being United a team who is clearly making a conscious effort to improve the aesthetics of their game is surely the way to go.

The performance against an admittedly under strength Birmingham City was quite brilliant in its own right. The return to the team and to form of Chung-Yong Lee is a sigh that is long overdue for us Trotters being subjected to a half arsed Petrov on one wing and fatty Taylor or an out of position Elmandog on t’other. SKD absolutely beasted the Brum defence and the sight of him smashing someone into the net ala Lofthouse in the final would make me excited in my underpants.

Of course to get there we first must overcome Stoke in the semi at Wembley (I won’t even go into that farce). I hate Stoke.

From the sight of a handful of their appalling fans clambering over the Reebok partition this season to attempt to attack our chavvy corner of fans, smacking a female steward in the process, to the vomit of a goal Robert Huth scored at the weekend. They are just full of woe. Should we lose to them at that stage of the competition I will be a tad upset to say the least.

It seems to be a case of the two naughty friends who used to cause havoc around the town by throwing, launching and biffing teams into submission. At some point a local hard-but-nice-man got hold of us and Stoke and pinned us up against the wall, telling us that we’re nobody’s favourite kid and if we carry on in this vein someone is going to give us a good hiding. We went away, thought about what we had been doing and appointed Owen Coyle. Stoke went away, bought John Carew, started diving for penalties and shunned those who tried to help them change. Now we meet in a battle to be the most ignored team in FA Cup final build up for a long while and good lord I hope it goes thee way of the reformed character.

On a side note, The Sun claimed that we played Ivan Klasnic, famously lazy striker, centre midfield on Saturday. Johan Elmander, striker who has played on the right for the last 2 months up front and Stuart Holden (swoon) ever present in the middle of the park for us this season, on the right. What a rag.



Da Silva snaffles British flair

You’d be correctly mistaken if you were expecting to read about Manchester United’s sibling superstars. While the twins are undoubtedly the most exciting full backs since Carlos and Cafu, this article is a tribute our own left-back whose Samba skills took St. George to Brazil.

While it’s not uncommon to see the odd Brit popping up in America, Australia and in some cases Moldova if you look at Rohan Ricketts’ CV, Seth Burkett remains on an exclusive list of expats to have plied their trade in Brazil.

The youngster, who celebrated his 20th birthday today, spent a year playing for Sorriso in the Brazilian fifth division. I have this bizarre obsession that you’ve made it in life when you have your own Wikipedia page, to which Seth is credited. If you take a look at it, you will see that Seth was discovered by a man named Anderson da Silva playing for his local team, Stamford.

Seth snaffled up the opportunity to sign for Sorriso and soon found himself up against some well known faces from Europe’s yesteryear. Seth told me after I grilled him with a thousand questions from my intrigued mind, that he’d played against a few players who had played in La Liga. I’ll be honest, I found myself drifting into appreciation of his modest name-dropping, wondering if I could be good enough.

I must admit, I love to hear about Brit’s abroad. I think there’s an appreciative stigma attached to each of those players brave enough to try it. I mean let’s face it, the English game is littered with foreign talent who have up-shipped and moved to these shores, so why shouldn’t more English players do the same?

Burkett is back in the UK now after issues with his working visa, hoping to secure a contract with a professional side back home. Not resting on his laurels though, he is also studying at University but remains defiant that his spell in Brazil was not a one-off. He could tell you more about the Copa Libertadores than Take That can sell tickets, so with a bit of luck, Seth could be back in Brazil showing off some of that British Samba flair…

This is the story of the man who not only believed in himself, but his dreams too. This is the story of the man on the moon…’ (Seth Burkett, 2010)

Simon Bourne

http://twitter.com/#!/I3orny

Premier League All Stars

Di-Canio, Fowler, Ginola, the list can go on and on of the legends that have presenced the Premier League since it’s beginning. The task is the ability to select 11 players that would be in the ultimate starting line up, I have tried to pick an all time XI plus subs but I’m still not even sure! Who would you have?

My Premier League XI

GK-Schemichel

RB-Dixon

CB-Adams

CB-Keown

LB-A.Cole

RM-Beckham

CM-Keane

CM-Vieira

LM-Giggs

CF-Henry

CF-Shearer

Subs: GK-Seaman, CM-Scholes, CM-Gerrad, LM-Zola, CF-Cantona, RM-Ronaldo

We’re not millionaires you know!

Just when your team does the most incredible thing, a semi final FA Cup destiny for Manchester City at Wembley, you think of the cost.

There’s obviously the ticket cost, getting down to London and possibly staying over as well, not to mention the cost of food etc on the day, there’s rumours it’s £8.00 for a hotdog!

But on a serious note, for the average working person that goes to football it already costs a lot, but a semi final trip to Wembley itself will cost a fortune and then if their team wins they have to go back again!

Why do the FA do this? Surely it would be better to have the semi finals at neutral grounds? It also seems as though fans feel that the trip to Wembley in the semis spoils the ‘once in a lifetime trip’ in the final.

Mind you, who am I to complain, it might be the only trip we have this year, I’d best save my pennies!

Clash of the Manchester’s, again

Clash of the Manchester’s, again.

Manchester Cities 1-0 close scrape against Reading has brought them to Wembley, and the noisy neighbours only have one obstacle in their way of a dream FA cup final against Bolton or Stoke.  Sadly the obstacle that presents itself is that of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, an obstacle that ‘Poor ole Citeh’ seem to have a lot of trouble overcoming.

Whether its last minute goals in ‘Fergie team’ from Michael Owen or wonder goals from Wayne Rooney, the noisy neighbours just seem to have no luck when it comes to overcoming their red rivals.

When looking at the sides though it must be added that United’s team is by far the weakest it has been in recent years, this is down to a combination of injuries and well age.  But all well, the strongest first team that could be fielded now by United would look like this.

Out of context this looks like a strong line-up but looking at it in perspective you have a team of players playing poor football. OK so Vidic, Berbatov and Van De Sar are clearly not a part of this generalisation, but look at Chris Smalling a player who is playing well for his development but is being carried by his defensive partner. Rafael, a player who is notorious for having one good game followed by a poor game, Patrice Evra, a player who while he has was United’s most consistent players last season and has faded this term. Antonio Valencia has just come back from injury and didn’t look fresh at the weekend against Arsenal; however his arrival could be the catalyst for more. Ryan Giggs can’t last 90 minutes anymore and while his class is obvious, he just doesn’t have the legs for the full match. Wayne Rooney has shown glimpses of class lately but still hasn’t been on top scoring form and from a striker who a lot of the time plays alone up top he needs to start scoring consistently.

By far the main problem for United though is in the centre of midfield; Michael Carrick has been nothing short of poor lately and in his duties at the heart of midfield is not contributing further forward on the pitch or defensively. Darren Fletcher has been a sight better than Carrick but has showed nowhere near the drive and passing ability he showed last season. Anderson and Darron Gibson are being expected to provide creativity in the middle and are falling short dramatically and Paul Scholes is being expected to play a lot deeper than he is used to and is therefore losing his effectiveness as a playmaker.

So how on earth are they at the top of the table, well that’s something I can’t really answer. I would say a mix of ruthless efficiency in front of goal courtesy of Dimitar Berbatov, defensive strength courtesy of a when fit twitter addict Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and strong mindedness.

Can Manchester City exploit this and steal a victory from their neighbours; my opinion is that if there has ever been a time it is now. City bar their stodgy reading performance are playing good football, what they lacked in creativity earlier in the season is being provided in abundance by Yaya Toure and David Silva. The potential for goals are there with strikers Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, but will most likely come from ex red devil Carlos Tevez and defensive strength can be found in the rocks that are Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart.

Will it come down to the wire? Yes, of course when do Manchester derbies of late not come down to one or two goals. The added spice of a cup tie will surely add a different dimension, but the final result, well that’s anyone’s guessing.

John Fernandez



The Rocky Road to Dublin

Rangers FC are pushing on once again in The Europa league, and face PSV in the last 16 of the competition. This will come as a shock to many fans who have watched Rangers in recent months, lose three times to Celtic, and not manage to convert a win in the CIS cup, even with an extra man. So how are Rangers doing so well in Europe at the moment?

Their home and away form in the SPL is a strong one, and Smith and McCoist can only be pleased that each game brings in three points for them, as dodgy as their form and play can be they go into each game with confidence of the win, and this seems to be different from Glasgow rivals Celtic, who although play better football, seem to not always be able to hit home in the smaller games, maybe a bit of complacency settling in, which could lead to their downfall as the season draws on. So how are Rangers keeping up their winning record in Europe?

Okay winning is the wrong word, completely, in their last 20 European matches they have won just one of these, a record which is just embarrassing to any team, regardless of their position in Europe. Even Celtic, who failed miserably in Europe this year can boast having won more European games this season, than Rangers have in the last three years, but even still Rangers are once again looking ahead and sighting Dublin as the place where they will win a real European cup.

Attractive football, as good as it can be to watch, as entertaining and as captivating, does not always bring in the points. And really in football that is all that matters. Some teams will set out a passing game, string together lovely moves, but when they reach the goal net it doesn’t go in. Arsenal can be seen as the masters of this failed are. The word ‘sexy’ is really the only way to describe their football, and are unbeatable when they are on form…and putting the ball in the net, as when they don’t? Well then they get knocked out of three cups in two weeks. So what football wins you games? Yeah, you’ve got it, ‘Rangers football’.

Rangers football is dire. It’s ugly, it’s depressing, it’s boring and most of all it’s just terrible. Fans don’t want to see it, players don’t want to play it and the TV channels don’t want to show it. However it wins games. Grind out a draw away from home, play ten men behind the ball and hoof it up hoping for a miracle and before you know it you’re pushing for a last minute counter attacking goal at home to send you through to the next round, Rangers get this goal, always. 

180 minutes of ‘Rangers football’ takes you to the point of wanting to just sit crying watching the game, you’re hoping for action, a few goals and some good football, but Ranger send out a defensive unit to sit on the ball the whole game and make sure the opposition don’t play their game at all, they also play the Rangers way, as much as I hate to say it Rangers football works well. It may be killing the game but at the same time, Rangers are likely to be up their in Dublin, they may even win the cup this year, they may do this by going through the competition winning hardly any games, boring supporters to tears and destroying Dublin city centre while they are at it. And while we all know that this isn’t true football, we all sit at home wishing our team had that winning way, those results and maybe that cup, but we can count ourselves lucky that we are not Rangers.

Simon Kermack

http://twitter.com/#!/KermackS



Rooney will leave United – When Fergie’s done with him

The latest episode of the Wayne Rooney soap opera took a new twist this week, when newspaper reports emerged that Sir Alex Ferguson is set to cash in on his prized asset this summer, despite Rooney signing a new contract as recently as October, having declared his wish to leave Old Trafford just days earlier. The deal was immediately met with scepticism, with some believing the club were extending the remaining 18 months of Rooney’s contract, in order to raise his transfer value for a later date. While this suggestion was immediately dismissed by Manchester United, recent speculation will have only re-opened the debate.

When Rooney originally announced his desire to leave the club, the age-old debate of player power reared its tabloid-inflated head once again. Some had even suggested that the great Sir Alex had been dictated to by one of his players, in what would have surely been the biggest suggestion yet, that players were becoming the face of an army of agents and advisors, dominating the game with financial demands and commercial exploitation. However, if anyone was to take a stand, it would be the wily old fox that has been seeing off the challenges of inflated footballing egos, since his appointment at United in 1986.

History will show that should Rooney depart in what would undoubtedly be the big transfer of the summer, it would not be the first time Sir Alex has disposed of a key player, seemingly in their peak years, often when a player is believed to have an over-inflated sense of his own importance.

In the summer of 1995, with United licking their wounds after seeing Blackburn pip them to the Premier League crown on the final day of the season, Ferguson would set about re-inventing his side to reclaim the title. At this point, Sir Alex had had reportedly endured a tempestuous relationship with Paul Ince, believed to have stemmed from an altercation after United’s 4-0 drubbing at Barcelona the previous year, where Ferguson was less than subtle in his assessment of Ince’s apparent self-worth. Ferguson later said in his autobiography, Managing My Life, “He’d attached a rather silly title to himself: ‘Don’t call me Incey, call me the Guv’nor’. That didn’t go down too well.”

He would then cash in on Ince, with the self-styled ‘Guvnor’ moving to Intermilan for £7.5m, a move which was met with criticism from all angles, as he followed United legends Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis out of Old Trafford. Ferguson, however, would back his instinct and promote his youngsters, with Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt and David Beckham all pushing for first team places at the start of the 95/96 season. This would of course lead to Alan Hansen’s infamous ‘You’ll never win anything with kids’ comment after United lost their opening fixture at Villa Park, before a trademark United new year surge saw them win a historic double.

Despite Ferguson’s defiant stance ultimately returning results, this would not stop others from making the same mistake. In 2001, Jaap Stam published his autobiography, where Stam dared to criticise the methods of his then manager. The story was serialized in a national tabloid and days later, Stam was relocating to Italy, with a £16.5m transfer to Lazio. While today, Ferguson admits selling Stam was a rare mistake in his managerial career, it did not stop him leading United to six trophies by the time Stam announced his retirement, then at Ajax in 2007.

The list continues, with the well-publicised boot-kicking incident which saw Ferguson leave David Beckham with a media-frenzy inducing wound above his left eye, following a dressing room incident in February 2003. Four months later, Beckham’s £24.5m move to Real Madrid was announced, with no fewer than fourteen winners’ medals under his belt. While Beckham went on to win the Spanish Supercup, followed by the La Liga title in 2007, before leaving for his current club, LA Galaxy, United have gone on to lift trophies on thirteen occasions.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy, broke numerous goal-scoring records following his £19m arrival at Old Trafford in 2001. He scored 100 goals in his first three seasons at Old Trafford, overtook Denis Law as United’s top scorer in Europe and reached 150 goals in less than 200 games. This firepower led united to four domestic trophies in his five years at the club. As the squad evolved, and signings such as Louis Saha began to overshadow Van Nistelrooy, he became frustrated with life on the fringes, and when he refused to join the celebrations having been an unused substitute in United’s victorious 2006 League Cup Final, the writing was on the wall, as he was left out of the final game of the season, with the manager blaming issues around ‘the spirit of the club’ for the Dutchman’s omission. He would follow Beckham to Madrid in 2006, winning two La Liga titles and a Spanish Supercup, before moving on to current side Hamburg, while United have gone on to win ten trophies since his departure.

Sir Alex Ferguson has played a major part in enhancing the careers of many players during his near-quarter-century at the club, from big-money signings to products of the youth system. They, in turn have delivered the trophies which have made cemented Ferguson’s legacy as an all-time great. However, no United side has ever achieved this without knowing who was undoubtedly in charge, as Ferguson has shown time and time again that any player is replaceable. The previously mentioned names are just a sample of those who dared to cross the boss, and each individual ultimately proved to be just another victim, as Ferguson demonstrates how the stature of the club will always dwarf that of any player. While some have gone on to further success, when the medal collections are counted up, Sir Alex generally wins every time.

Will Wayne Rooney be added to the list? Don’t bet against it.

Daniel Clarke- Twitter.com/DanClarke26