Sackings & Snow

25 03 2013

On a week of international fixtures we saw a couple of sackings, some disciplinary action, a lot of bad weather and the retirement of one of Englands best strikers.


Monday saw the first disciplinary action announced as UEFA said they were going to take action over the racist abuse directed at Tottenham players from Inter fans during their recent Europa League match. No action has been taken so far but they have scheduled for the case to be sorted out on April 19th.


A lower level of discipline is likely to be dished out at West Brom where once again it was Mr. Odemwingie being controversial. Having taken to twitter to attack his employees, it was announced by the club that the problem was being dealt with internally.


The other item of note was Rio Ferdinand’s withdrawal from the national team. Having been recalled by Roy Hodgson it was expected that he would play a big role in the countries two qualifying matches but he pulled out stating that he had a pre-planed training regime that he would not be able to follow with England. Steven Caulker was called up as his replacement.


The big news on Tuesday was that Michael Owen announced that he is to retire from professional football at the end of the season (obviously he hasn’t ruled out a return to Newcastle). Owen burst onto the scene as a teenager scoring on his debut for Liverpool but he really came to the attention of everyone with his wonder goal against Argentina at France ’98. From there he went on to make 89 appearances for his country, scoring 40 goals to put him 5th in the list of all time England goalscorers. His club career has seen him score 222 goals in 480 matches to date but injuries have denied him what may have been an even better record during his career.


The next piece of news was another disciplinary one but this time a lack of punishment was the news. Callum McManaman managed to escape punishment from the FA after his poor challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. The FA stated that they were unable to give retrospective punishment for the incident as one or more of the officials had seen it during the match. Haidara avoided serious injury but there have been many calls for the FA to change their system to help protect players in the future.


The first sacking of the week also came on Tuesday when Blackburn decided to dismiss Michael Appleton after just 67 days in charge, although this still didn’t make him the shortest lasting manager for Rovers this season (that honour goes to Henning Berg who lasted 57 days). The fact that Blackburn have had more managers than away wins this season shows that something is clearly wrong with the way the owners are running the club and has had a lot of people questioning whether they are fit to be in charge.


On the pitch there was action in Leagues 1 & 2. League 1 saw wins for Bury, Oldham, Crewe and Swindon. The results moved Swindon into the second automatic promotion spot while their opponents Yeovil dropped out of the playoff places on goal difference. Bury moved off the foot of the table and Oldham moved out of the relegation zone. League 2 had a surprising set of results as four of the bottom five teams won, with the other side not playing. These results moved Accrington and Barnet out of the bottom 2 places.


Wednesday was a quiet day but the only notable thing was the sacking of Gary Smith by Stevenage. having been second in the league after 16 matches the side went on a run of four wins in 18 matches and found themselves sitting 15th in the league. The chairman decided that the run was bad enough to get rid of Smith and captain Mark Roberts is managing the side until they find a new manager. Former boss Graham Westley is favourite to return the club for a 3rd spell.


On Thursday, the FA announced that Greg Dyke, the former BBC Director General, was to become the new Chairman of the association. He is set to take over from David Bernstein on July 13th.


Thursday also saw the first of the international matches as Brazil took on Italy in a high tempo friendly. The hosts of the 2014 World Cup took a 2-0 lead in the first half but the Italians turned it around to earn a draw.


On Friday it was announced that West Ham were confirmed as the new tenants of the Olympic Stadium and will be moving in for the 2016/17 season. Leyton Orient are still considering a legal case stating that they weren’t offered the option of a possible ground share that would have appealed to them.


Friday also brought the first block of World Cup qualifiers. England did exactly what was expected of them with a very comfortable 8-0 win in San Marino, Ireland took a good point away from Sweden and Wales came from behind to beat Scotland for a second time in the group. the shock of the round of games was Finland taking a point off of the current world cup holders Spain in Gijon. Northern Ireland’s match against Russia was called off due to heavy snow.


The snow also affected Saturday’s matches in the football league as well as Northern Ireland v Russia being postponed again. Almost half of the matches in the football league were called off but there was still a decent amount of action for fans to enjoy. In League 1 Swindon drew 0-0 with Notts County which allowed Bournemouth to go level with them after beating Bury 4-1 but Swindon remained in the automatic promotion place on goal difference. Yeovil moved back into the playoff places after drawing 3-3 away to Carlisle thanks to the fact that Tranmere weren’t playing until Sunday. Portsmouth managed to move off the foot of the table with a 2-0 win over Coventry, while Hartlepool now prop up the league after a 0-0 draw with Walsall. There was no major movement in the League 2 table with only six matches surviving the weather. Barnet and Cheltenham drew 0-0, Fleetwood beat Dagenham 2-1, Gillingham beat Accrington 1-0, Northampton beat Oxford 1-0, Torquay beat York 2-1 and Wimbledon won 2-0 against Morecambe.


Sunday saw the 3rd sacking in a week that saw LMA chief executive Richard Bevan call the culture of sackings an ‘arrogant embarrassment’. Paul Sturrock was sacked by Southend with a new manager to be named on Monday. Sturrock will however still lead the Southend side at Wembley for their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final tie against Crewe, although why he’d want to when he’s been sacked I’m not sure. Sturrock was the 34th manager to be sacked this season.


On the pitch Tranmere beat Stevenage 3-1 in the only football league game of the day to move themselves back into the playoff places and continue Stevenage’s poor run. Wrexham took non-league silverware as they overcame Grimsby to take the FA Trophy, winning 4-1 on penalties after the sides ended 1-1 after normal and extra time.


The Football League Awards were also presented with Player of the Season going to Watford’s Matej Vydra in the Championship, Matt Ritchie of Bournemouth in League 1 and Port Vale’s Tom Pope in League 2. Phil Parkinson took the Outstanding Managerial Achievement Award for leading his Bradford side to the Capital One Cup Final.


We’ll be hoping for a warmer week coming up with not so many casualties of the managerial merry go round and plenty of exciting action on the field. And maybe a bit more fun from Peter Odemwingie if we’re lucky.


Saturday 23rd February – Going With Form

23 02 2013

Today saw a day where the results threw up very few surprises. The top teams won their ties and the strugglers continued to struggle.

Starting in the Premier League, Manchester United stretched their lead at the top of the table to 15 points with closest challengers – both in terms of points and geographically – Manchester City playing against Chelsea tomorrow. Arsenal also won to strengthen their position in the hunt for Champion’s League football, by moving just one point behind their local rivals, Spurs, who don’t play until Monday. Elsewhere there were wins for Fulham, Norwich, West Brom and Wigan.

Manchester United won their trip to Loftus Road by a two goal margin over QPR. Rafael opened the scoring for United in the 23rd minute with a fantastic strike. Ten minutes from the end Ryan Giggs made it 2-0 with a goal in his 999th match.

Arsenal got a much needed win after a difficult week. Santiago Cazorla put Arsenal a goal up after just six minutes but midway through the second half Weimann equalised for Aston Villa. With five minutes remaining Cazorla grabbed his second of the game to restore Arsenal’s lead and secure them a win.

In the day’s early kick-off, Fulham saw off Stoke in a close game. Stoke could have ended the game with 9 men, Nzonzi slapped Ruiz in the first half and in the late in the game Robert Huth hit Senderos with his forearm. Dimitar Berbatov scored the only goal of the game with a fantastic volley just before half time but Stoke had the chance to equalise in the second half with a penalty. Jonathan Walters stepped up to take it but Mark Schwarzer guessed the right way and got down to save it.

Norwich came from behind late on to beat Everton 2-1 at Carrow Road. Leon Osman put the visitors ahead after 39 minutes when he was found open in the box to head home Leighton Baines’ cross. It took until the 84th minute for Norwich, when Kamara headed in a corner. It was the 94th minute when they got their second as a far post cross was nodded down and Grant Holt was on hand to poke the ball past Tim Howard.

Reading suffered a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Wigan. Aruna Kone put the away side ahead in the 44th minuted when the ball was headed into him a yard out and deflected in. There were suspicions of hand ball in the build up but the referee hadn’t seen it and allowed the goal to stand. Kone the doubled his tally and Wigan’s lead in first half stoppage time after a quick counter when Reading sloppily gave the ball away. Maynor Figueroa then netted a third for Athletic just three minutes after the break. Figueroa was involved again seven minutes later when he was on the end of a horrendous tackle from Pavel Pogrebnyak, which saw the Reading man sent off.

West Brom took the lead in their match against Sunderland when they were awarded a penalty for handball. Romelu Lukaku stepped up and slotted the penalty home having sent the keeper the wrong way. Lukaku doubled the lead when he refused to give up on the ball when it had gotten away from him and Mignolet’s clearance ricocheted off his fellow country man and back into the net. Sunderland managed to get one back when Sessegnon had a shot that took a slight deflection to nestle into the corner of the goal.

In the Championship, Watford continued their impressive recent form with a 2-1 victory over Drby that moved the hornets into the automatic promotion places. It was Hull that they overtook after the tigers suffered a 4-1 defeat in their trip to Bolton. A high scoring affair saw Bristol City win 5-3 against Barnsley meaning that with a win tomorrow Wolves could move above Barnsley and out of the relegation zone. Brighton’s 1-0 win over Burnley saw them move into the playoff places at the expense of Middlesbrough who lost 2-1 at home to Millwall. The other results in the division were Charlton 0-2 Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Crystal Palace, Blackburn 0-0 Leeds, Blackpool 0-0 Leicester, Peterborough 0-2 Birmingham & Huddersfield 0-0 Ipswich.

Sheffield United won 1-0 away to Bournemouth to take top spot in League One as Swindon ans Doncaster could only manage 1-1 draws against Preston and Yeovil respectively. Train mere got back to winning ways thrashing Colchester 5-1 to move level with Swindon and Doncaster on 59 points. Stevenage threw away a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at Shrewsbury, boro’s 9th defeat in ten games. Elsewhere Portsmouth lost 1-0 at Oldham, Hartlepool won 2-1 at Scunthorpe, Coventry lost 2-1 at home to Crewe, Leyton Orient lost 1-0 to Crawley, Carlisle drew 1-1 with MK Dons and Walsall drew 0-0 with Brentford.

Down to League Two where Wimbledon moved off bottom and out of the relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 win over Dagenham. Southend won 2-1 away to Wycombe to move just 2 points off the playoffs after Exeter lost 4-2 to Burton Albion. The rest of the results were Accrington 2-2 Cheltenham, Aldershot 2-0 Fleetwood, Barnet 0-0 Rochdale, Chesterfield 0-1 Gillingham, Morecambe 1-1 Bristol Rovers, Northampton 1-0 Plymouth, Oxford 0-0 York and Torquay 0-1 Port Vale.

Thursday 21st February – One Goal The Difference For English Clubs

21 02 2013

Tonight saw three of the English teams continue on their progress in the Europa League all by a single goal over two legs whilst Liverpool crashed out due to an away goal.

The task was always going to be tricky for Liverpool at Anfield but the side started brightly and looked dangerous in the early stages. 19 minutes in however it was Zenit who took the lead and got the vital away goal. Hulk was able to capitalise when Jamie Carragher badly mishit a backpass, and he coolly slotted the ball past Reina. Liverpool struck back 10 minutes later though. Agger was brought down after a long run leaving Liverpool with a freekick close to the edge of the area. After a bit of moaning by the zenit players about the positioning of the ball, up stepped Luis Suarez to power it through a gap in the wall and get his side level on the night. Just before half time a well worked bit of passing down the left between Enrique and Henderson allowed a ball to be played across the box. Allen got on the end of it and put Liverpool ahead at the second attempt. Going in at halftime with a 2-1 lead there was a real sense of belief that Liverpool could get the two goals they needed to progress. Liverpool were denied what looked like a clear penalty to most early in the second half when the ball appeared to be handled by Hubocan but the referee waved play on. Just before the hour mark, Liverpool had another freekick and up stepped Suarez again to bend in an unstoppable strike past Malafeev. Hulk came closest to scoring again for Zenit with a freekick from range that whistled narrowly wide of Reina’s left hand post but Liverpool still looked most like scoring. A good effort from Steven Gerrard saw Malafeev pull off a fantastic save and Jonjo Shelvey struck into the side netting when he really should have done better. Despite the dominance of Liverpool it was Zenit who progressed and will now face Basel in the last 16.

It was a better night for the other three English sides in the tournament all going though by a one goal margin. Newcastle were outplayed in a tough match away to Ukranian side Metalist Kharkiv but despite creating less chances they got the games only breakthrough 64 minutes in when they were awarded a penalty and Shola Ameobi sent the keeper the wrong way. They now have a tough tie against Anzhi Makhachkala (yes I did have to check the spelling several times) in the last 16.

It was even tighter for Chelsea who despite taking a one goal lead back to Stamford bridge had to rely on a 92nd minute equaliser on the night to take them through. Sparta Prague had managed to cancel out Chelsea’s aggregate lead with a 17th minute goal from David Lafata. With Fernando Torres having another night to forget in from of goal it looked destined to go to extra time but Eden Hazard came up with the goal for Chelsea that saw them take their place in the next round where they will meet Steaua Bucharest, after the Romanian side overturned a two goal deficit from their first leg and beat Ajax on penalties.

Tighter still was the Spurs victory. 2-1 up from their home leg Spurs knew that losing 1-0 to Lyon would see them knocked out and when Maxime Gonalons headed home for the French side after 17 minutes they had it all to do. It was an evenly contested game and Spurs were finding Lyon hard to break down – the french side putting 10 men behind the ball whenever they lost possesion – but they finally made the breakthrough when Moussa Dembele produced a fantastic strike from 30 yards in  the closing seconds of normal time. That goal was enough to get Spurs through to face Inter Milan, a side that Gareth Bale will no doubt look forward to facing.

Wednesday 20th February – Shocks Galore!

20 02 2013

This evening’s football threw up a few surprises. There was AC Milan beating Barcelona in the Champion’s League, Southend reaching the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final and even a win for Leeds!

AC Milan fans can’t have been expecting much from the game with Barcelona coming to the San Siro but having soaked up some early pressure well they were able keep it at 0-0 going into half time. Then the Pompey boys came to the party! Just 12 minutes into the 2nd half Kevin Prince Boateng struck from the edge of the box to put Milan ahead after a freekick had fallen kindly at his feet. Barca were in control for much of the game after that without creating too many chances but with 10 minutes to go it was AC who made another breakthrough. Breaking quickly from the halfway line they managed to work the ball across the box for Sulley Muntari to volley home the 2nd goal of the night. This win could be crucial with a very difficult game at the Nou Camp coming up in a fortnight.

Onto a smaller competition now, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Many people had been surprised to see Southend come away from the first leg with a goal advantage, which in the end proved crucial to them reaching the final. Leyton Orient were always likely to come out stronger for this second leg and after just eight minutes had taken the lead through Shaun Batt. Southend responded well and restored their aggregate lead just after the hour mark with a goal from substitute Barry Corr. Orient pressed on from here and found a goal through David Mooney. Still dominating until the closing stages, Orient looked most likely to snatch the next goal and win it but Southend manage to break out and score a 90th minute equaliser on the night with Ben Reeves the man taking them to Wembley.

In the only football league match of the night Leeds welcomed Paul Ince to his new job by beating his Blackpool side 2-0. Two goals in six minutes was enough for the Yorkshire side to sevure a win in a game where Blackpool failed to threaten much. This win moves Leeds 6 points outside the playoffs with a game in hand on three of the four teams currently occupying the places. Blackpool meanwhile continue to struggle and now find themselves just five points above relegation.

Off the pitch there were several managerial changes today. Torquay appointed Alan Knill as an interim manager until the end of the season while Martin Ling recovers from illness. Barry Smith was fired by Dundee having yesterday added Don Cowan to his squad. Obviously the board saw this as the final straw and as a fan of Stevenage who Cowan left a month ago I can see a funny side to this story. Aldershot also parted company with their manager, Dean Holdsworth, despite a 1-0 win over Toquay that moved the Shots out of the League 2 relegation zone.

The most surprising move however may be that from Swindon. With Di Canio stepping down on Monday, the League One side have chosen not to find a new manager but have instead put defender Darren Ward and midfielder Tommy Miller in temporary charge of the club. This may only be until the club are taken over however as a statement on the clubs website read: “This initiative has the full support of the prospective new owners, allowing them the opportunity to assess all of the applications that have been received in relation to the vacant managerial position and take a considered view for the long-term benefit of the club.”

That’s all from me for today… more on the way tomorrow (assuming something happens!)

Technology Finally Arrives In Football

9 07 2012

Since 2005 when Pedro Mendes had his shot spilled across the line for all but the officials to see clearly there has been call for goal line technology to be introduced into football. Technology was originally tested in 2005 at the Under 17s World Cup in Peru but the results were inconclusive and therefore brushed aside. Sepp Blatter then announced plans for additional trials in junior competitions during 2007 but these never occurred and by 2008 Blatter had disregarded technology all together stating that it was ‘only 95%accurate’.

After this the talk of goal line technology went quiet for a long time until another controversial moment with Frank Lampard being denied what may have been a crucial goal in the 2010 World Cup against Germany. This reopened the debate about the sports need to adapt to the modern era with the introduction of technology. UEFA boss Michel Platini who is against technology introduced the use of an extra official on each goal line for European competitions however these officials seemed to do very little and the criticism of them increased after Ukraine had a goal not given against England during the recent European Championships.

Following this and several high profile errors in the English domestic game, Blatter announced on Friday (6th July) that he would give the green light for the testing of two goal line technology companies, GoalRef and Hawk-Eye at the Club World Cup in December. Blatter also stated that technology will only be used for goal line decisions and would not extend further.

How The Systems Work


The GoalRef system has a chip in the ball paired with low magnetic waves around the goal. When the ball crosses the goal line it will change the magnetic field and this then send a signal to the referee’s watch informing him that it is a goal. The whole process is complete in under a second and shouldn’t disrupt the flow of the game.


Hawk-Eye uses 6 cameras focused on each goal. It then sends the information from these cameras to a piece of software that triangulates the data to give an exact location of the ball. Like GoalRef a signal is sent to the referee’s watch within a second.

The next problem if the technology gets approved is who will be able to use it. Some smaller clubs may be unable to afford the technology if it is expensive and a lot of people will argue that it shouldn’t be brought in unless it can be installed through all levels of the game. Another issue is that if it is only used in certain competitions, will teams be banned from entering if they do not have the technology? Personally I believe that the technology should be used in all competitions where the teams are all professional and all continental and global tournaments.

Overall the fact that FIFA have decided that they must introduce technology as soon as possible can be seen as a big step forward for the game. The fact that it is only to be used for goal line decisions is a welcome one as it will help the game to flow and incorrect calls are normally balanced out during a season, whereas a goal may be the difference between getting one point or all three, and ultimately those points may see a team stay up as Bolton could have last season. Hopefully the trials during the Club World Cup are successful meaning that we may see goal line technology introduced into the world’s top leagues as early as January and this controversial matter can finally be put to bed.