Hodgson and Southgate Face the Media
Hot on the heels of the signing of Cedric Soares, came the capture of Maarten Stekelenburg on a season long loan. On the face of it, it seems like a great deal for both parties with us getting an experienced and decent keeper to cover us until Fraser returns and Stekelenburg getting a chance to resurrect a career that has stalled somewhat in the last couple of years. He made the mistake of signing for Fulham you see. They of course got relegated and he was loaned out to cut costs to AS Monaco where he didn’t get a game. Before all that of course he played for Ajaz for the best part of 10 years and was the Dutch keeper for the whole of the 2010 World Cup when they reached the final. OK, we’ll ignore the fact that Eljero Elia played in the same final and he’s been average at best.
It is another signing which has been brought in to address a specific need and he will of course, barring catastrophe, start the season as our number 1. I have nothing but praise for the way the club has signed the players they need, rather than just signing the ones they can get.
Another we need of course is Toby Alderweireld and the London media have been in full swing. Apparently he’s told his friends and family that he wants to sign for Spurs despite going to print in the Dutch papers saying he wanted to sign for Saints. I guess Saints and Spurs are similar, they sing our song, sign our manager, sign our recruitment bloke and all that shit. It boils my piss that Fucking Spurs and trying to sneak in there but I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe Toby has got confused as to who he played for last season. I doubt it though.
On the same day that Stekelenburg signed, we had the in many ways, more significant news, that our England Under 16 captain Callum Slattery, has signed his first professional deal with the club. Despite only being 16, he’s been linked with Arsenal so it’s good to get that one over the line. Of course, all it does it shunt the speculation down the line a couple of years but at least the lad has made the decision that’s best for his career and not best for his bank balance right now. If the club can remain true to it’s word about the pathway through to the first team and Slattery is as good as he appears to be, hopefully we can see him on the pitch at St.Mary’s in the Premier League before the end of the season..
Talking of England (which I was briefly) it’s good to see that we are preparing the younger generation for playing for the full England side by making them play for a manager so devoid of anything you need to be a decent football manager. You’d think the job description might include things like ‘Personality’, ‘Tactics’, ‘Inspiration’… all words that immediately make you think of Gareth Southgate. Average player, average manager, personality free yes man with no balls. You’re 2-0 down and going out against Italy and you have 45 minutes to save things and what do you do Gareth – I know, bring on a guy with 20 minutes to go who has played 60 minutes first team football in his life. Meanwhile, James Ward-Prowse, with 70 odd Premier League appearances sits on his arse on the bench. It’s not just that JWP is a Saints player and it’s not that Ruben Loftus-Cheek isn’t a decent player – it’s just how the fuck can RLC be better equipped to playing in a pressure situation when he’s got no experience whatsoever. Who out of JWP and RLC is likely to be in Hodgson’s thinking come next season? Yep, it’s JWP so why is he not playing in a U21 Tournament to give him experience of international tournament football? It’s not just about JWP, Calum Chambers who I have no time for at all, got no game time at all despite having played about 50 more Premier League games that one of the starting centre halves. Nathaniel Chalobah played every game and he can’t pass ball 5 yards. He’ll never make it at Chelsea and is this years Josh McEachran – remember him? Still, I bet he has loads of cash as his reward for fucking about in the Championship. I tell you, the first step to recovery for England at all levels is to actually pick players who are sharp from playing regularly at the best level. Then, players who are not getting picked might actually think twice about sitting in a Big 4 reserve side. We had the usual selection of players who were eligible but not picked because their clubs bitched about it. I can understand Jack Wilshere not being there as he’s had a lot of injuries but there’s no excuse for Ross Barkley or Alex Chamberlain not being there as they’re not regulars for either club or country.
The big club stuff is of course the same shit that Hodgson pulls at full international lever – you’re better of not playing for Chelsea, than playing regularly for a smaller club in the same league. Same old shit. As for Gareth “I’d like to keep the job” Southgate – just fuck off!. Look at the recent resurgence in the England Cricket Team, brought on solely by dynamic leadership and allowing the players to express themselves. What have we got at international level – Hodgson, Southgate and at Under-20’s level, Aidy Fucking Boothroyd – a League 1 level hoof merchant. It really is staggering that anyone is surprised that we’re shit. Uninspiring, conservative, tactically inept yes men.
In the last blog I ranted about Clyne not getting picked – well he will now as he’s signed for Liverpool for a fee rising to £12.5 million. Good luck to him I guess. A couple of things piss me off about this… one is that we are trying to compete with Liverpool and Spurs in the league and we’ve just sold them yet another player and the other is that Clyne left his new contract unsigned and didn’t turn it down when he had no intention of ever signing it. The club had the impression that talks were going well but obviously not. Off you go and don’t let the door hit you on the arse. There has been a reaction on twitter from people who I respect, saying that he couldn’t be arsed in the latter half of the season and that it shows what happens when a player has his mind elsewhere. I have to say that I never really saw that in the games I saw but too many are saying it for it to be not true I guess.
We could have also done without Jamie Carragher giving it the big one about how he advised Clyne to move to Anfield when they beat us at SMS. No crime here as Carragher has no official job at Liverpool any more but you can bet your bottom dollar that Liverpool put Carragher up to it and in hindsight, it’s interested that Clyne was quoted soon afterwards as saying he didn’t need Champions League Football for his international career. We thought at the time that he’d stay with us but no. Still, Cedric Soares admitted that José Fonte has been in his ear about signing for Saints so swings and roundabouts. I honestly wouldn’t mind if Clyne signed for one of the top 4 but any player of ours ending up at Fucking Liverpool or Fucking Spurs is always going to grate more from now on.
Changing the subject slightly…. At risk of being called sexist (which you are always at risk of when discussing this next subject)… you have the England Women’s team who as I write have just been knocked out of the World Cup in the semi-final, having conceded a heartbreaking own goal in the 93rd minute. I’ve been watching the England sides’ progress since the knockout phase started and have thoroughly enjoyed it for many reasons and fair play to them. There are some things that annoy me about Women’s football but none of that is the players fault. It’s not really comparable to the men’s game at all so it annoys me when female players say ‘you can’t compare us to the men” but when I was at Wembley recently and Rooney won his 100th cap, they read out all the England players with over 100 caps and it was “Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Peter Shilton, Rachel Yankey, Frank Lampard…..”. When England reached the semi-final, there was lots of media chatter about it being our first semi-final since 1990 etc so you can’t have it both ways. Don’t complain about comparisons being made when the powers that be and the media around the womens game are merging everything together.
Also, no one says something is shit when it quite clearly is shit. An aimless ball out of play is shit whether a man or a woman plays the ball. A defender who can’t turn and is really slow is shit, regardless of if they’re male or female. Having said you shouldn’t really make comparisons, against Norway in the first half, the women were so much like the men’s team that it was amusing. 4 defenders, 5 midfielders in front of them and about 70 yards before a lone striker. Toni Duggan up front reminded me so much of Michael Owen when Sven the Charlatan was in charge in that she had a diet of throat balls to control with 4 defenders battering her all over the place. Also mirroring the men’s teams, the coach picked the wrong team and got rescued by the subs he brought on with one in particular (Jill Scott) changing the game completely just by linking play up and passing the ball to her own side. After coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 courtesy of a set piece header and a thumping shot from right back Lucy Bronze, it was host nation Canada in the Quarters.
The England Woman raced into a 2-0 through Jodie Taylor capitalising on a horrific error by the Canadian centre back and running through to score and then Bronze looping a good header from a set piece over the keeper and in off the bar. It was very comfortable and then just before half time, our keeper Bardsley dropped a horrendous clanger, pushing a low cross straight to a striker to make it 2-1. In the second half, despite losing the first choice keeper, the ladies battled like fuck to hold on and win 2-1. I sat up until 3am to watch this and I have to say, they put so much into it that they thoroughly deserved to win. When it comes to talking about heart and guts you can definitely make comparisons to the England mens team – the women have it and the blokes don’t. Remember the pathetic exits from the last two mens World Cups and compare the attitude the women who are giving everything. Technically they’re not the best in comparison with other sides in the tournament and the ball retention is shocking but despite this, when our clearly nervous sub-keeper had to come on for half an hour, England restricted the Canadians to a couple of half chances and they did this through making every tackle and header that they needed to. Great stuff and all power to them.
In the semi, they played well against a technically good Japanese side, going 1-0 down when the Japanese got given a penalty for a foul outside the box and then equalising when captain Steph Houghton took a horrible dive under the slightest contact and Fara Williams stuck away the penalty. Needless to say, the dive wasn’t called a dive by anyone commentating but it was…. a horrible dive. England hit the bar through Toni Duggan and Jill Scott should have scored with a header (being about a foot taller than the Japanese defenders) and so it came down to a 93nd minute Japanese break down the right, a low cross and poor Laura Bassett in trying to stop the cross, saw it come off her foot, balloon over the keeper, hit the bar and bounce behind the line. Shit. I was gutted for them. When the men lose I’m gutted for myself as in the main, the players deserve to lose and here you can make another comparison between the two sets of England internationals and it’s down to Adam Lallana.
Adam Lallana ripped away the last shred of me thinking that the England men played for their country for the right reasons, for the honour and for the fact that they wanted to represent their country. No… Lallana was interviewed when he first got in the England squad and said of Nathaniel Clyne, something along the lines of…. “Clyney will want to get in the England set up…. because it gives you options”. I thought it was a strange thing to say at the time but history has proved that what he means is “opportunities to earn more money”. So, there you have it, the England men, bar a couple are playing for England because it increases your commercial viability and you’ll get a move to a bigger club on a bigger contract etc etc etc. I have no doubt that most footballers think this but don’t actually say it but trust Adam, the thickest of a long line of thick idiots to actually come out and say it. There are of course some like Rickie Lambert who would have wanted to play for England for the right reasons but most of them… no.
The women play like a club side. There don’t appear to be any cliques, no haves and have nots and they wanted to win the World Cup for the country and to spark a legacy for women’s football in this country. Ok, so they fell short but they’ve captured the imagination of enough people to positively affect the game in this country. Fair play to them.
Back at base, pre-season training has started with the kids and those not playing internationals back at Staplewood. Morgan Schneiderlin was there and this got reported as ‘Morgan forced to train with the kids’ by Alex Crook in the Daily Star. Crook is a locally based journo who reports on Saints, Pompey and Bournemouth and Crook blocked me on twitter for questioning his journalistic pedigree last summer, in a display of thin skinned petulance. I honestly can’t remember what I said but I expect that it was pretty minor – he can write made-up shite and try and pass it off as fact but I can’t tell him he does. So, Crook is right up there with Neil Allen of the Portsmouth Evening News. As I write, since his latest bullshit, he’s been very quiet on social media.
Ronald Koeman talked positively about the Europa League and about the prospects of Toby Alderweireld joining. Oddly, he didn’t mention Spurs. Social media a nightmare during the transfer window especially concerning Arsenal, Spurs and Man United. So much bullshit, such a high percentage. If we do manage to get the Alderweireld deal over the line, I hope all of you on twitter give it the large one to any Spurs fan on there or especially all the Spurs Hub sites.
I could list all the players we’ve been linked with but there are too many but there is one bit of good news and that’s that we’ve cancelled the contract of one Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, he cost us a fortune, scored 3 goals, one of which was amazing, kicked a Newcastle coach in the bollocks, nutted his captain in training, slapped a player at a club he was loaned to, organized an orgy at another club, disowned his son and probably countless other things – he could have been brilliant but he chose to be a piece of shit.