Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mispronounced Names

This week Charles N'Zogbia threw his French dummy (tetine) out of his pram because, God forbid his English-born Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear mispronounced his name in an interview (well hell, if we were in the U.S.A right now Kinnear would be facing a law suit for libel).

On the chuffer coming home from work last evening, as a source of self-amusement I decided to 'seek out & destroy' the names of as many modern day players as possible in half an hour, by seeing how many I could think of that can in theory be mispronounced, mispelt, misinterpreted or misconstrued.............

So here we go:

Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz - Roque Santa Clause

Tottenham's Pascal Chimbonda - Pastille Chew-Bon-Bon

QPR's Lee Cook - Lee Seen-Me-Silver Crook

Chelsea's on loan Jack Cork - Jack Sh*t

Southampton's on loan Nathan Dyer - Nathan Hair-Dryer

Everton's Leighton Baines - Leighton Chill-Blaines

Chelsea's Didier Drogba - Did-The-Dog-Bark (said with a stutter)

Stoke's on loan Tom Soares - Tom Cold-Sores

Arsenal's Mikael Silvestre - Mikael Sylvester-The-Cat

Belchatow's on loan Carlos Costly - Carlos Costcutter

Newcastle's Damian Duff - Damian Up-The-Duff

Reading's Jay Tabb - Pay The Tab

Chelsea's Salomon Kalou - Salomon Clueless

Doncaster's on loan Gordon Greer - Germaine Greer

Blackburns's on loan Alan Judge - Alan Judge Judy

Middlesbrough's on loan Seb Hines - Seb Heinz-Meanz-Beanz

Reading's Leroy Lita - Leroy Two-Seater

I know there must be dozens more players out there worthy of a mention, so if you want to help add to my list,then please leave your players surrogate name in the comment box below.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today's Latest Tabloid Transfer Gossip

With the transfer window closing on the 2nd February, time is running out for Clubs to go out and get their man!

Will we see a hive of activity in the next couple of days, or will it be a case of 'all talk & no trousers.'

Sunderland, Spurs, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Fiorentina, Blackburn, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Bolton, Boro, Derby, Palace, Fulham, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, West Ham, Leeds, Hull, Reading, Cardiff, Swansea, Southampton & Leicester are all caught up in transfer gossip this morning.

Is your Club involved?

Here is a round up:

Sunderland and Bolton want West Ham's Calum Davenport - Times

Sunderland forward El-Hadji Diouf is in talks with Blackburn - Various

Manchester City have biid £18m for Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz - Guardian

Spurs have offered cash plus Darren Bent for Roque Santa Cruz - Times

Blackburn want £10m Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch - Mirror

Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed a long-term deal with Real Madrid worth £91m - Times

Tottenham have quit their pursuit of Liverpool striker Robbie Keane - Independent

Leeds say Fulham will have to pay £5m for midfielder Fabian Delph - Express

Charles N'Zogbia says he will quit Newcastle after manager Joe Kinnear called him 'insomnia' - Various

Newcastle keeper Shay Given wiull finally complete his £8m move to Manchester City - Mirror

Kevin Nolan will join Newcastle from Bolton for £4.5m - Sun

Newcastle want Derby's Kris Commons - Mirror

Newcastle are still hopeful of signing Toulouse defender Albin Ebondo - Times

Manchester City are still chasing Arsenal defender Kolo Toure - Mirror

Chelsea and Manchester City want Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez - Times

Chelsea are closing to clinching Fiorentina defender Branislav Ivanovic - Times

Crystal Palace want Chelsea winger Scoot Sinclair on loan - Mirror

Fulham will sign Derby midfielder Giles Barnes - Mirror

Cardiff have slapped a £6m price tag on Joe Ledley, a target for Fulham - Mail

Boro will sign Reading midfielder James Harper for £5m - Mail

Manchester City are in for Chelsea defender Alex and Inter Milan's Marco Materazzi - Mail

Leicester will offer £250,000 for Hull defender Wayne Brown - Star

Swansea will bid £500,000 for Southampton's Nathan Dyer - Star

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ref-ing Mad? Well Now You Can Do Something About It!

Another shocking refereeing performance is a 'handy' excuse when your down the pub with your pals, after your team has lost, but as handy as it may be, nowadays it has become a more regular & genuine cause for complaint amongst almost ALL football supporters.

Now YOU can do something about it! And shortly I will tell you how!

Why would you want to bother in the first place I can hear you saying?
What difference will it make?
You can't change the result?
You can't get the game replayed?

Last Saturday I was at Selhurst Park to watch my team play host to Ipswich Town in a Championship League game. The 4-1 reverse suggests Palace were well beaten BUT the performance of the referee Mr. Penton from Sussex was awful, dire, atrocious, diabolical, calamitous........the list of expletives could go on & on!

Now I realize every supporter of every football club has got MANY a hard luck story they could instantly recall if asked, that involved a refereeing decision that changed a game, cost your team points, perhaps promotion or relegation, even administration!

To swallow these travesties of justice can take some doing as a fan & I am simply pointing out a recent one that affected me & more importantly MY club!

In just 90 minutes the referee awarded Ipswich a free-kick following a clean ball winning tackle made by a Palace defender that Town scored directly from, a second goal that looked suspiciously offside, a third goal where during the build up the ball quite clearly went out of play & the resulting cross led to a goal. And to put the icing on the cake, at 2-1 down Palace midfielder Nicky Carle was unceremoniously tripped from behind in the penalty box. A penalty & a red card should have ensued, but nothing was given.
Sound familiar?

To emphasise the point here are a small selection of comments left by Palace supporters on the messageboard of their own fans website following the game.
(Warning: Some strong language now follows!)

'Over and above the fact that the team were utterly devoid of any creation or desire yesterday, the ref was totally shocking. It took him 5 minutes to decide we'd actually scored (because he was no where near the play), he missed the penalty and several other decisions were so blatantly wrong even some of the players from both teams were left scratching their heads. The man was a joke.'

'The game is rotten to the core. Decisions can't be challenged, speaking out brings charges of bringing the game into disrepute, rules are openly flouted with impunity and criticism is silenced.
Football is f*cked, my friends. Get used to it.'

'Mr Penton is clearly a blind, incompetent w**ker who shouldn't be let loose on an under 7's game, let alone an important match like yesterday's. The tackle on Carle was one of the most blatant penalties I've ever seen in 35 years of watching football and, in the context of the game, robbed us of at least a point.
As others have said and I commented at the time, the defender should also have walked, which would have given us a great chance of what seemed like, at 2-0 down, an unlikely win.
And as Lombardo said, it was a fantastic move which deserved a goal at the end of it. I hope Mr Penton is happy with his act of daylight robbery, the useless pri*k.'

'A couple of weeks ago I saw the worst penalty in 40 years of watching football that was given against Exeter v Brentford. Amazing how, for such a culturally important sport not to mention the thin line between success and failure, that decisions rest with one man who hasn't even played the f*cking game.'

'Thing that annoyed me about it was the fact he gave them a freekick, which resulted in their first goal, when Clint Hill slid in from behind and clearly got the ball. Yet when an Ipswich player slides in from behind and clearly doesn't get the ball, we get f**k all. Can't help but think if it was outside the box he would have given it as a foul.'

'By the way did anyone notice that on their 3rd goal the ball CLEARLY went out for a throw in right next to the linesman but he did not see it!! Really annoyed cos otherwise we could have continued to fight back...'

So there we have it..........a group of very unhappy fans!

Now here is what WE as football supporters can do in an effort to clean up the game. We exercise OUR rights & using the particular example described above, do so by demanding that all match officials:

* Meet a standard above & beyond the current one in place.
* That they should be held accountable for their errors of judgement.
* That they should have to stand up & explain the reasons behind their decisions.
* And if necessary introduce new technology, if it will help cut out some of the
abysmal errors of judgement that occur, all too frequently week in, week out.

Now you & I know that this is not going to happen because of a few dodgy decisions made by a Sussex official in South London on a wet afternoon in January. Yes, you can write to the Football Association & complain, but I know you will be lucky to get your grievance even acknowledged.

However, The Independent Football Commission(IFC) was for six years (2002-08) an integral part of football’s self-regulatory system.
The IFC has now closed & has been replaced by the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO).

The Independent Football Ombudsman was established at the beginning of the 2008-09 season & has a clear remit to receive & adjudicate on complaints from football supporters & participants which have not been resolved by the football authorities, and to raise any policy issues which have been highlighted by those complaints, directly with The FA, Premier League & The Football League.
The creation of an Ombudsman will maintain a position as the independent and final arbiter of football complaints.

Here is a piece of text from their website regarding complaints:

The IFO is the final stage on complaints involving customer issues. An individual, a group of individuals or an organisation who feels aggrieved at the service received from a provider should, in the first instance, take that complaint to the provider. That will usually be the football club which provided the service, but it could be one of the Football Authorities if they were responsible for the service (for example, the FA in the case of England matches).

Each club and each Authority has a customer charter which should explain how a complaint can be registered and how it will be dealt with. If the service complained of rests with a club and it fails to satisfy the complainant, then the complainant can revert to the appropriate Football Authority (for example, to the Premier League if a Premier League club is the subject of the complaint). If, thereafter, the complainant remains dissatisfied, he or she can appeal to the IFO. In addition, if the relevant Football Authority has not responded substantively to a complaint within six weeks of receiving it, the Authority will either refer the matter to the IFO for consideration or will explain to the IFO why further time is required to deal with the matter.

Where the IFO receives a complaint prematurely, ie where it has not gone through the earlier stages described above, the IFO will refer such complaints to the relevant body for consideration.

I am bringing this to the attention of ALL football fans fed up with ANY aspect of 'the beautiful game.'
If enough supporters took the time to air their grievances to the IFO then maybe, just maybe they will be forced to review the complaint in question, whatever that may be!

If 'X' number of thousands of supporters stood up for change then perhaps something might be done. Don't just air your issue(s) with your pals, on messageboards or keep it to yourself.......write a short paragraph on the subject (be it referees, ticket prices, stadium facilities......etc) in the 'complaints' section on the IFO's website.

Here is the link to the site & good luck!

Remember, football needs football fans. Without us there would be no game in it's current format. Clubs would go out of business, it would become a semi-professional game at best, supporters would lose interest, people would lose their jobs.
It's time for the supporters to have their say & help make a difference.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Play-Offs - 21 Years Of Reasons To Shed Tears Of Joy & Despair!

As the football season creeps past the half-way stage, supporters of many clubs up & down the country must be looking at their OWN clubs current plight, & thinking not where they want to finish, (we all want OUR team to finish top!) but where realistically would be a reasonable, acceptable, honest, achievable position come the end of the season in May.

I am, as it happens just one of those fans!

My Club, Crystal Palace (a club I support with a passion) are currently a respectable eighth in the Championship, have not got a proverbial pot to piss in financially, due mainly to an oversized squad of mediocre players with limited ability on impermeable contracts, (that we cannot shift even if we were to try & offload them at a Sunday morning boot fair), along with its fair share of internal wrangling.

I am not using this as a platform for slinging mud or lambasting my own Club, as I am well aware that quite a few football clubs are in similar situations, due in part to the current financial climate.

On a positive note, we at Palace have one of the best young academy's in the country, which we acknowledge as fans & is something we are all very proud of.
It is a fantastic achievement by the Club & I am sure the quality of the young players coming through is something that other clubs of our size & ilk can only dream about!

I digress.......where was I, the play-offs.

This season the Championship has thus far been dominated by three clubs, basically leaving the rest of the league to scrap it out for the remaining three places that would secure a play-off spot, & the potentially lucrative opportunity to reach the 'promised land' of the Premier League.
In doing so this would generate an estimated cash injection of £30million plus to the successful team, depending on what one chooses to utilize as their source of information.

This Championship season boasts a number of low, medium & high profile clubs jostling for the remaining play-off places, including the likes of Sheffield United, Burnley, Preston, QPR, Cardiff, Swansea & Ipswich, as well as Palace.

The play-offs were introduced in 1986/87, so there have been 21 previous years of reasons for supporters to shed tears & joy or despair at some point since the late 1980's.
Martin Lange was the man responsible for the end-of-season extravaganza. Lange saw promotion play-offs as a means of rekindling supporter interest in the lower divisions, thereby bringing the clubs much-needed extra income.
The play-offs remain with us today because they have met, and arguably exceeded their expectations.
Since their introduction attendances across the lower three divisions have more than doubled. It is hard to argue that Lange's innovation has been at least partly responsible for such a dramatic increase.

Supporters have accepted the play-offs with a mixture of enthusiasm & intrepidation. The matches themselves invariably produce extraordinary levels of drama, incredible scorelines & the reason for this has in part been due to an astonishing number of crucial late goals!

Of course, a sudden-death contest determining a club's fate for the whole of the season inevitably leads to heightened emotions, the fall-out from which has given plenty of ammunition to opponents of the system.

In the Championship play-offs the disappointment has been greatest for Preston & Ipswich, with a record six unsuccessful attempts each. No other clubs have tackled the play-offs so often, so unsuccessfully!

Crystal Palace though, are the undisputed play-off masters. Palace have one of the best overall records in the play-offs, with three victories, a losing final and two losing semi-finals. And all of them were for a place in the top division.

In the first two seasons the play-offs were introduced, the third to fifth sides from what was then the 'old' Division 2 competed with the fourth from bottom side in the 'old' Division 1.
In most other seasons the play-offs were for the third to sixth placed sides, but in both 1990/91 and 1994/95 this was different due to League restructuring.
In the first of those years the fourth to seventh sides took part whilst in 1994/95 it was the second to fifth sides.

Ignoring those first two seasons when the format was significantly different, the winners of the play-off final in the other 19 seasons have been:

Highest placed club - 6 times
Second highest placed club - 4 times
Third highest placed club - 5 times
Lowest placed club - 4 times

These statistics simply emphasise the fact that there is no real benefit in finishing in a higher League position.

Of the six teams in total that have finished third in the league and were promoted via the play-offs to the top flight, three of those teams have been in the last three consecutive seasons, namely Watford, Derby & Hull.

For the record in 1989/90 the winners at Wembley were not actually promoted. Although Swindon Town beat Sunderland in the final, it was the losing side who were eventually promoted after Swindon were punished for financial irregularities.

If Palace can make the play-offs come May, then I feel as a fan we will have by far & away over-achieved our pre-season expectations, but once there we all know it becomes a lottery, & in Neil Warnock, Palace have a man & a manager who CAN win the jackpot!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Today's Latest Tabloid Transfer Gossip.

Real Madrid, Wigan, Manchester United, Chelsea, Villarreal, Manchester City, Blackburn, West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Tottenham, Bolton, Sunderland, Hull City, Derby, Celtic, Everton, Hearts, Benfica, Wolves, Watford, Crystal Palace, Coventry, Birmingham, Preston, Carlisle, Huddersfield, Swansea, MK Dons, Reading, Bradford, Burnley, Sheffield Wednesday and Shrewsbury are all involved in transfer gossip this morning.

Is your Club involved?

Here is a round up:

Real Madrid want to seal a £15m deal for Wigan's Antonio Valencia. (Star)

Manchester United and Chelsea face a summer battle for Villarreal's £12m-rated keeper Diego Lopez. (Star)

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes fears he will be priced out of a move for Roque Santa Cruz, who Blackburn are valuing at £18m. (Star)

But Hughes is set to make a £17m take-it-or-leave-it offer for Santa Cruz, which could be enough to seal the transfer. (Mirror)

And City may make improved offers for West Ham pair Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy but say they have not bid for Newcastle keeper Shay Given. (Star)

Arsenal's hopes of signing midfielder Niko Kranjcar have been dashed after Portsmouth insisted he will not be leaving the club in January. (Star)

Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate wants to keep Tottenham target Stewart Downing until the summer. (Star)

Bolton have bid £2m for Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton. (Mirror)

Sunderland have insisted El-Hadji Diouf and Michael Chopra will not be sold this month. (Star)

Hull are eager to complete a £1.5m deal for West Ham midfielder Luis Boa Morte. (Mirror)

And Hull boss Phil Brown is also set to make a £2m move for Derby midfielder Paul Green. (Star)

Portsmouth defender Herman Hreidarsson is set to become the latest player to leave Fratton Park by joining Celtic in a £500,000 deal. (Mirror)

Everton want Hearts duo Christophe Berra and Andrew Driver. (Various)

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce is taking Benfica's Ivory Coast defender Marco Zoro on trial. (Mirror)

Wolves have lined up an improved £1m offer for Watford midfielder John-Joe O'Toole. (Star)

Crystal Palace will try to hijack Coventry's bid to re-sign Birmingham striker Gary McSheffrey. (Star)

Preston are leading the chase for Carlisle striker Danny Graham, who has already been the subject of a £250,000 bid from Huddersfield. (Star)

Swansea are set to break their transfer record to land MK Dons skipper Dean Lewington for £450,000. (Mirror)

Reading manager Steve Coppell is ready to bid £250,000 for Coventry midfielder Jay Tabb. (Star)

Bradford are favourites to sign Burnley's Steve Jones after the winger's loan spell at the club. (Star)

Sheffield Wednesday manager Brian Laws has his eye on Hull midfielder Bryan Hughes. (Star)

Shrewsbury are set to complete a £150,000 deal for Preston duo Karl Hawley and Brett Ormerod. (Star)

Thursday, January 01, 2009