Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Premier League Match 26 - Southampton 0 Liverpool 2

Brendan the Wanker Salutes Kevin the Wanker at the Final Whistle

I thought about writing a blog before the game about the return of Lambert, Lallana and Lovren but in the end I decided against it as it’s all been said and done.  In case you have been living under a rock for the past 8 months here’s a short summary.

Lambert left with dignity and respect and is a class act.  He’s been treated abysmally and disrespectfully at Liverpool by Brendan Rodgers and has hardly played and they tried to offload him in the transfer window to relegation fighting Aston Villa.  It’s a shame and he’ll no doubt be on his way in the summer.  His precious place in the England squad is almost certain to be gone in March when the next squad will doubtless feature some or all of Daniel Sturridge, Harry Kane, Charlie Austin and Saido Berahino.  Dream move? Careful what you wish for.  I’m sure he won’t regret having given it a go at the end of his career but it really isn’t working out from a football point of view.

Lallana let himself down by acting like a Billy Big Bollocks less than a year after signing a 5 year contract and disrespected the club and the fans.  Saying that you dreamt of playing for a different club whilst you were club captain was a bit of an own goal. All efforts he has made since to smooth things over have only made things worse.  His full page picture of himself in The Echo was a PR disaster and every interview has been more ammunition for those who will no doubt give him stick on Sunday.  His latest interview had a bit of an apology in it about certain aspects of his move but no specifics.  His take on why the club only gave him a 2 line send off on the website would have been interesting but I assumed that question wasn’t allowed.  The bottom line is he got in the England squad and from that moment on he wanted out.  He went to the World Cup and managed to get himself filmed signing a Liverpool shirt and saying that he ‘hoped to join them’ when he was still a Saints player and getting paid by the club (and by extension, you and me). Personally, though he undoubtedly acted like a complete helmet from that point, I give him more credit than Calum Chambers who fucked off as soon as he possibly could having given the first team a massive 20-odd games service.  Adam did much for the club over the years and in the main was a superb player for us.  It’ll die down over the years but he’ll be getting loads of stick and he shouldn’t be surprised.  He was our captain and he acted like a complete wanker.

Lovren disrespected the club and the fans and just proved what a mercenary he is.  Since he’s moved he’s proved that his form in the first half of last season at Saints was the exception, rather than the norm.  That good form got us a £12million profit on him and and he’s been shite for Liverpool.  All you can do is laugh at him really.  He’s turned out to be shit despite being bigged up by pundits such as Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher when he was with us.  He was to be the £20million lynchpin of their defence and he’s now been bombed out and is a perennial substitute.  Needless to say that once he was bombed out, Liverpool have improved immeasurably.  You’re shit and you know you are.  We should just laugh as we paid £8m for a turd that we polished and made it look like a diamond for 6 months.  When it started to revert into a turd again, no one at Anfield noticed and gave us £20m for it.

It may surprise you to hear this but the biggest wanker is not Lovren, nor Lallana but Brendan Rodgers.  Southampton have given up on their ambition.  Have we really?  We’ve been above you all season you smarmy tossser.  Everything about this bloke screams ‘tosser’.  Even his goal celebrations look fucking stupid as he puts one hand up and points at the sky.  What the fuck is that?  Sometimes he adds a windmill and point with his arm like ZZ Top used to do in their videos.  He’s a fucking arsehole.  Why sign Rickie Lambert when your whole style of play relies on pace?  He signed him to make it easier to get Lallana and Lovren as well.  It’s obvious he leaked that to the press as well as the first question any journo asked Lambert when he was the first to join was ‘how about the other two?’.  He walked out on Watford, walked out on Swansea and he’s a tosser.  He might be a semi-decent football manager but he’s a tosser.

It’s pissing down and the walk to the ground from Woolston is horrible.  The wind blowing left to right as we cross the Itchen Bridge just batters the rain into one side of your face and you end up with one wet leg on your jeans.  I’m quite proud of my son for working out that if he walked on my right hand side then fat Dad took all the buffeting and he stayed relatively dry.

The team news shows a surprise with Filip Djuricic starting and Sadio Mané on the bench.  Our bench looked very strong all over a sudden with Mané, Long, Gardos, Tadic, Reed and Schneiderlin all present.  The Liverpool selection was interesting as both Lalllana and most surprisingly Lovren were included from the start.  Sir Rickie was of course on the bench and the pre-match chanting left no one in any doubt who the hero was and who the villains were.  With Sturridge and Balotelli on the Liverpool bench as well, I’d say the chances of Lambert getting on are exactly zero.

Away we go and we win the ball back and Pellè plays a superb diagonal ball out to the right win and Djuricic is in behind Emre Can.  He’s in the area and should shoot but goes down under Can’s challenge. Everyone in the Northam and the Itchen corner goes up as well as the players but the ref, Kevin Friend doesn’t give it.  If he does it’s a penalty and a red card after 30 seconds so he bottles it.  Later replays show Can’s hand on Djuricic’ shoulder and a slight tug.  He hits the deck too easily and appeals.  It’s soft but in this day and age it’s a fucking foul and should be given.  Put it this way – if it’s the first minute at Anfield and Sterling goes through and Fonte pulls him back – we’re playing with 10 players for 90 minutes

So, injustice is in the air as the game gets going and fuck me, what a goal.  Sadly it’s not ours as Markovic advances up the left ad plays it infield to Coutinho who has got away from Steve Davis and he smashes it over Forster and in off the bar.  I wondered for a second if Fraser should have saved it but he had no chance at all.  I’m not happy, they should have been 1-0 down and a man down but they’re 1-0 up.  I can’t see him but I bet Brendan Rodgers is being a twat.

The mood gets worse as Pellè gets up above Skrtel and flicks on a ball and Djuricic is through again.  Lovren covers round and Joe Allen dives in and trashes him from behind.  I’m the entire length of a pitch away and can see it’s a penalty as there’s no way Allen has got the ball but Kevin Friend who is considerably closer decides that it’s not.  Fuck off – what’s the fucking point?  Djuricic manages to get up off the floor and poke the ball to Elia who shoots but Mignolet gets down well to save.

We have the amusement of Lovren passing the ball straight out of play when there was no one near him and then Pellè again does well to set up JWP who does what he always does and shanks a dribbler well wide.  With Jack Cork you could play a game of guessing the row and the seat that he’d hit when he had a shot.  With JWP you could play a game of trying to guess which advert the hoarding to the side of the goal will be showing when the ball hits it.

Liverpool aren’t doing much going forward but the latest bright young thing Jordon Ibe has Targett on toast before failing to pick out Sterling with his cross.  Ibe does look like a decent player and no doubt as he plays for a big club he’ll be over-hyped.  Hopefully he’ll turn out to be decent and not another Macheda or Januzaj.

If Ibe is giving Targett problems, Clyne has too much for Markovic.   He bursts past him and gets deliberately trashed by the flailing defender.  Foul and a yellow card…. No, play on! Fuck off Kevin, again!.  On a rare Liverpool attack, Sterling breaks into the box on our right and José slides in like madman and takes the ball but wipes out Sterling in the process.  Great tackle I thought at the time but later on when I saw it again I realised that though he got the ball, it was a lot messier than I originally thought.  Not even Kevin the Wanker could give that after what he’d not given at the other end.

He finally gets a card out when arch-wanker Lovren trashes through JWP on the left wing but he’s back in full bottler mode again as we approach half time.  Clyney lifts a ball over the defence and Lovren is asleep.  Elia is through and gets to the ball first, only for Mignolet to come rushing out and block, outside the box with a combination of his chest and hand.  It’s a clear handball and it’s a free kick at least and then it should be a red card under today’s interpretation of the rules.  Not today though… play on… it really is fucking ridiculous.  I read a blog the other day which was written by a neutral who said that he thought that Saints would get referreed out of the top 4 as it wouldn’t be good for the brand if we qualified.  I generally dismiss this sort of thing as I do all conspiracy bollocks but performances like this one from Kevin the Wanker. Make you wonder.

As the half ticks down, JWP swings over a corner and via a couple of deflections, it hits our favourite asshole Lovren on the hand and he clears it.  It’s not even worth appealing.  Half time and it’s still cold and raining.

There’s a substitute each at the start of the second half as Markovic is off to be replaced with Moreno and Steve Davis who has been having a mare, is off to be replaced with Morgan Schneiderlin.  We start well and are knocking the ball about a lot more than we did in the first half and 10 or so passes later the ball lands with Pellè on the edge of the box but his shot is awful and scuffs tamely wide.

There really isn’t much going on in the first 15 minutes of the second half from either side.  The pattern is that we have possession but do nothing with it.  Liverpool try and break and get nowhere.  There are a few players who are barely involved – Sterling and Lallana for Liverpool, Djuricic and Elia for us.  On 56 minutes, Ronald has had enough and off comes JWP to be replaced with Sadio Mané.  This moves Djuricic into the midfield three so I think we’re definitely going for it.  We have to, to be fair. JWP hasn’t produced anything.  There is an immediate improvement as Mané looks way more dynamic than anything on show beforehand.

Aside from Lambert not getting on, the most predictable thing about Liverpool was that Adam Lallana would be hauled off after an hour and so it was, with Daniel Sturridge coming on.  There’s some booing as he goes off but not as much as I’m expecting.  Maybe I can’t hear much from the Chapel End.  There is nothing much to boo as he hasn’t done anything and has been completely anonymous – I have a feeling that the stick he was getting throughout from the Northam had affected him.  If he doesn’t understand how much he pissed everyone off now then he never will.

With 20 minutes to go we have a great chance as Mané skips across the top of the penalty area before being felled by Skrtel.  With JWP and Tadic off the pitch, it falls to Morgan to take it.  Instead of shooting though he tries to slide a ball past the wall to Djuricic but over hits it so it goes straight out for a goal kick.  Fucking hell.  We even pass free kicks from the edge of the box now.

Having passed the free kick out of play, Morgan has another shocker a few minutes later by playing a loose crossfield ball which allowed Moreno to nick the ball.  He drives down the left and squares behind Sturridge but Targett slips as he tries to clear and just gives it straight to Sterling.  His shot flicks off of Fonte and finds its way into the net past Fraser’s powder puff effort to stop it.  Oh fuck off.

Tadic is on for Djuricic who has not done a lot since the 5th minute and the next time Mané gets chopped down on the edge of the box (this time by Moreno) at least Tadic has a shot but Mignolet pull off a solid save to keep the low effort out.  We’re never going to score and even Tosser Rodgers realises this and even knows it’s safe to put Glen Johnson on.  Elia has one chance at it and flies past him like he isn’t there but the cross is half cleared, Morgan tries an overhead kick but it’s easy for the keeper.

I hate coming away from games with the feeling that you can’t shake that you’ve been done.  I hate feeling that whatever we did would have ultimately made no difference.  I hate moaning about referees first and foremost but Kevin Friend was fucking useless from 30 seconds in until the final whistle.  We should definitely have had one penalty for the second foul on Djuricic and like I said earlier, the first one, with way the game is these days, should have been given as well.  Not even spotting that Mignonet handled outside the box is a fucking scandal as well.  Friend is either shite or bent.  He could of course have given one against José Fonte as well but having already denied us two shouts there would have been uproar if he’d given that.

Our performance pissed me off as well.  Too much fannying about and not enough taking responsibility to shoot or play a forward pass.  Graziano is having a mare at the moment and it seems no one else is interested in helping out regarding getting a decent cross in to him or heaven forbid, scoring a goal.  Three home games in a row without scoring against teams that don’t look great at the back.  Certain players are getting on my goat with a lack of positive play and a lack of incisive effective football.  If you play at the front of the midfield three and are just behind the striker then you should be scoring 5-8 goals per season at least and there is no goal threat at all from JWP or from Steve Davis when they play there.  With Big Vic and Morgan fit I really think we can afford to play Tadic in a midfield 3 and get Mané and Elia on the wings or up front with Graziano.  Maybe it’s time too give Shane Long a run in the side – at least he’ll fucking shoot.  As it’s only one game I’ll reserve judgement on Djuricic but I wonder straight away how much we needed that type of player.  We now have 4 attacking midfielders – Tadic, Mané, Elia and Djuricic – all left footed and most comfortable in the same position.

Ronald Koeman told us the reason for Sadio Mané not starting was that he was late to the stadium.   I think that’s absolute quality that he got dropped for that.  I’m sure that not many managers or clubs would do that but in my opinion it’s the correct thing to do – otherwise you’re sending out a message that you can do what you like and nothing will happen.  Fining doesn’t hurt a player but being on the bench will.  In my opinion, Ronald was overstating how well we played.  Yes, we had possession but as mentioned earlier, we didn’t do much constructive with it.  Not enough chances were taken to shoot or play a forward pass and two of the starting midfield had shocking games.  They weren’t alone either as Elia was quiet despite having Donkey Lovren on his side and after the first couple of minutes, Djuricic faded until substituted…. And then there was Pellè.  I was kind of hoping that after 10 days without a game and a good rest that he’d come back firing but he didn’t.  It’s worth mentioning that he created the two penalty shouts for Djuricic but there was no goal threat from him which is partly down to service and partly down to his own lethargic looking display.

Despite having won the game, Brendan Rodgers managed to be a complete cock again.  He felt the need to comment on our match day programme not having a feature on Lallana in it to which I say – what the fuck has it got to do with you how we talk of our ex-players.  Go and find out if you want the truth. So he had a go at the club and he had a go at the fans for booing Lallana and Lovren.   Apparently we lacked respect… what are you doing with Rickie Lambert’s career there Brendan?  He of course neglected to mention that no one booed Lambert or that fans were singing his songs from the last 5 years or clapping him off after the warm-up.  Oh yes… and he said that Kevin Friend had a great game – well he fucking would think that wouldn’t he.  I didn’t think he could go down in my estimation any more but he managed it. Utter Wanker.  As I write, Kevin Friend has just been banned from refereeing this weekend.  That doesn’t happen if he’s had a good game does it Brendan, you clueless bastard.  It’s also come to light that Brendan went nuts at him after a recent FA Cup game.

And breathe… we are still 5th, still above Liverpool and Spurs, just behind United and Arsenal.  There are 5 teams going for 2 Champions League spots and whilst this is a painful defeat, it’s not terminal.  Of course, we can’t go on playing like we are and we have to start scoring but we’re not out of anything as yet.  Next up is an away trip to West Brom who are there to be beaten.  Our away form is good so why not?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Premier League Match 25 - Southampton 0 West Ham 0

"Van Gaal is a right twat isn't he"

West Ham are in town again and no doubt the most sophisticated manager in the Premier League will have his usual gameplan of play for a 0-0 for the first whistle and bang the ball up front to the big bloke.  Surely though, having criticized Van Gaal and Manchester United for playing this way only 3 days ago, he’d be bringing an expansive and attractive game to the table today so it should be a good game.  Regardless of tactics, West Ham have been decent this season and have hovered around the table between 6th and 8th for the majority of it which is a good achievement.  Diafra Sakho was signed from the French Lique 2 with no fanfare for the same price that we paid for Mayuka and whilst Mayuka is piss poor, Sakho obviously isn’t.  Enner Valencia had a great World Cup for Ecuador and has turned up more often than Agustin Delgado ever did for us.  Fat Sam has been getting plaudits for the way his team have played this season, using the attacking threat of Jenkinson and Cresswell from full back and fair play to him for at least partly shedding his image.

There’s not a lot to report about the last few days since the QPR game from the Saints camp aside from the fact that Djuricic now has a work permit and is available for the Hammers game unlike Morgan Schneiderlin who has suffered a ‘bad reaction’ to his half an hour against QPR.  Matt Targett is unavailable for this game due to the bang on the head he got against QPR.  I have seen a few ‘Who will make the Champions League?’ features in the media and we are universally tipped to finish 7th behind the big 4 and the other two bunch of twats.  I’ll leave you to decided who’s who.

The Saints line-up is as expected with the only surprise being that Harrison Reed is preferred to JWP who drops to the bench.  Again we’ve gone for the tinpot approach and only have 6 players on there and the three that will be used are the aforementioned JWP and the two Serbian boys, Tadic and Djuricic.  With Elia and Mané on the wings, I am massively disappointed that the non-footballing Joey O’Brien has not made Fat Sam’s starting line up which does seem to be a bit light on midfielders.  That area contains only the lightweight Downing and Amalfitano along with Alex Song so you can see straight away that that irritating midfield area is going to be bypassed.

Away we go and hooooof up to Carlton Cole.  What a surprise.  Anyway, when we got it there appeared to be space all over the place, especially for Nathaniel Clyne who was up against Enner Valencia  who obviously didn’t fancy tracking back one bit.  Mané and Elia were looking really lively up front and it was looking very promising.  Elia tried to play a bal into the box which was clearly blocked by a hand but the referee Craig Pawson decided that having your hand down by your knee is a usual place for a hand to be so he doesn’t give it.

From a Clyne bust down the right the ball found Davis who fed it in to Mané who just ran directly at the goal.  He looked to have overrun it but dinked it over Adrian and jenkinson got in to clear off the line before Elia came sliding in.  Elia has our next effort on goal when he timed his run superbly to pick up a Big Vic ball, cut in past jenkinson and then hit it right footed but wide of the far post.  There’s another chance straight afterwards as Alex Song pisses about with the ball and loses it to Elia who knocks to Pellwho tees up Mané who tries a side footed from the edge of the box but it doesn’t come back in enough and goes wide.

As we approach half time there’s a rare West Ham attack down the left and when the cross comes in, José throws himself in to block, the ball hits his hand and it’s a free kick.  Not only that but it’s a yellow card from the wanker with the whistle.  There’s consistency for you.  We clear the free kick and Steve Davis exchanges passes with Big Vic before hitting a shot from 20 yards which is deflected wide by Tomkins.  It’s a great block and it moves about 10 yards sideways but Pawson and the linesman don’t see it and give a goal kick which is fucking ridiculous.

The half time interval sees reluctant left winger Enner Valencia replaced with Matt Jarvis and the first action sees Maya win a header, just before Carlton Cole steams in and kicks him in the face.  I don’t actually think he meant it but Maya’s having a black eye sorted out for a couple of minutes.

As we know, Graziano is having a mare in front of goal at the moment and we get another example as Mané makes ground down the right and plays it in first time for Pellè to harmlessly scoop it straight to the keeper.  Jarvis leaves Fonte on his arse and maked a decent run down the left, eventually teeing up Downing to hammer in a shot which id deflected over the bar by Gardos.  Before the corner is taken, Fat Sam plays the opportunism card and throws on Andy Carroll for Sakho and his next substitution isn’t far around the corner.

From the next clearance, Kouyate picks the ball up and knocks it back to Arrian.  It’s a bit casual but he’s got plenty of time to put his foot through it in time honoured Fat Sam fashion but with mane approaching he decides to take him on, as you do.  With a shit first touch he ends up with mane in between him and the ball on the edge of the box.  They’re both facing away from the goal but Adrian dives on the ball before Mané can shoot or lay it off and even this penis of a referee has no choice but to send him off.  Cue lots of arguing whilst Fat Sam readies Jussi Jaaskenlainen and takes off Carlton Cole.  Ronals takes the opportunity to throw on Dusan Tadic for Eljero Elia who has faded badly in the second half.

The time to take advantage in this situation is straight away of course, before West Ham can reorganize cos you know they’re going to put 9 men behind the ball from now on but we try a clever free kick where we screen the ball with two player and Tadic’ strike hits the wall and goes for a corner.

JWP comes on for Harrison Reed who has been excellent but it gives us more attacking guile I suppose but it was Mané again who fed Pellè who took a good touch round a defender before driving over the bar from the edge of the box.  JWP then picks out a lovely cross from the left to pick out Tadic in acres at the far post but all it takes is a shit first touch for you to suddenly have no time at all and that’s what happened.

On came Djuricic to try and win it but it was Sadio Mané who came off which was a shock to me.  I’d have taken off Steve Davis or even Pellè before Manè who was certainly looking our most likely source for a goal.  The new man was quickly involved though and fed a good ball into Clyney in the box who fed it on to Tadic but his floated ‘nothing’ cross summed up all that was hopeful rather than purposeful about our attacking.  My outburst of ‘just hit the fucking thing for fucks sake’ is probably not a great thing to have said in the Family Stand and I apologise if your kid was in earshot.  I think most kids would understand though that he should have fucking hit it.

Tadic does my head in a minute later when he finds himself in the penalty are and facing the wrong way after a great cross from Big Vic – he should lay it back for Maya to shoot but instead he twists and turns and twists again and then loses it.  It’s not happening – we win a corner and JWP swings it in and Maya gets up in front of Jaaskeleinen and heads it over the bar.

As we reach 88 minutes the extra time board goes up and I’m seriously expecting 8 or 9 minutes and instead we get 5.  You are taking the piss.  In the five minutes we have three more chances.  Firstly Fonte cuts in from the right and drills in a left footed strike which the keeper sprawls and saves.  Tadic finally does something right and gets in a great low cross from the right.  Pellè throws himself at it and it’s the sort of chance he normally buries but not at the moment as it flicks off the defender for another corner.  The final chance falls to Tadic who jinks and gets away a good right footed effort from the edge of the box but Jaaskeleinen again defies his zimmer frame and throws himself in the way again. Bastard.

The referee Craig Pawson obviously just wanted to get off the pitch.  If you are being miserly with the time in the second half we had the injury to Yoshida which was 2 minutes, the sending off which was another two and then 5 substitutions at 30 seconds each so that’s 6 and a half anyway before any of the West Ham timewasting so it should have been 8 minutes extra at least  Then you had the timewasting in injury time which wasn’t added and I don’t reckon he even played the 5 that were shown.  If he’d added the correct amount of time for all the West Ham timewasting we’d still be playing now… and we probably still wouldn’t have fucking scored.  This is not West Ham’s fault as they did what they had to do once Adrian had been sent off but the refereeing was fucking atrocious on that issue and many others.

Fresh from having accused another team of playing long ball tactics, Fat Sam sent his team out to park the bus and just launch it long,  What was it – “no one’s a more sophisticated manager than me’.  He was on legendary form afterwards, saying that Mané fouled the keeper and he would be appealing – good luck with that one mate.   Regardless of the sending off and the injury to Carroll (who was a virtual passenger for the last 15 minutes) – they came for a point and a 0-0 right from the start – same as they do every year.  It’s just frustrating that we didn’t break them down and to be honest, didn’t look like breaking them down.  Fat Sam is what he is and he’ll never change.  Everyone knows this apart from the man himself it appears.  Sophisticated my arse.

I think the Swansea loss was praying on Ronald Koeman’s mind a bit.  In that game he took off a defensive midfielder and we lost the game.  I can’t get my head around the last substitution – Mané was going to be dangerous until the final whistle and with 9 fit men, West Ham were no threat s why not take Steven Davis off, put Tadic in midfield and bring Djuricic on?

The positive way of looking at this is that we are better away from home at the moment and we are still 4th in the league.  Everyone is closing up for sure but this result is in no way terminal to our chances of qualifying for Europe.  The ten days off that we have now should be good for getting Graziano rested and getting Morgan and Toby fit.  What’s our next game?  Liverpool at home which is going to be odd as we’ll get 90 minutes of abuse being directed at the Liverpool bench where Lovren and Lallana will be sat.  It’s going to be tough to applaud Sir Rickie and give shite to the other two but I think they’ll know what’s directed at who.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Premier League Match 24 - QPR 0 Southampton 1

Complete Your Weekend With a Picture of Ballsack Looking Miserable.

Well it looked like it was going to be a chance to put a nail in Redknapp’s coffin but as it turned out, by the time the game had come around, Redknapp had jumped in his own coffin and managed to nail it down.  He wasn’t pushed allegedly, oh no, he jumped.  Or did he jump… he’s got a dodgy knee after all which is why he jumped… with one leg, obviously.  Now I’m not questioning ‘Arry’s integrity at all here but a month ago he gave an interview where he said he was the first man on the training pitch and the last to leave and that he loved his life and walked his dogs every day.  Now he’s quitting because he can’t walk and has a dodgy knee.  I don’t believe that the passing of a transfer window when he didn’t sign a single player had anything to do with it either, oh no… nor 11 away defeats in a row, nor another relegation staring him in the face.  Tony Fernandes, the Rangers owner then came out and gave the description of the type of manager he’d like at QPR, how he has to work with what he’s got and play the youth and all those things that are the complete opposite to what ‘Arry does.  Still, dodgy knee, that’ll be it.  Tosser.

So, Redknapp does his usual and leaves a team in a worse state than he found it but having spent millions and lumbered the new manager with the job of shifting the 35 year old deadwood on 3 year contracts.  The amusing thing is that the favourite to get the QPR job is Captain Massive Helmet Colossal Bellend himself, Tim Sherwood.  This is because his coaching staff at Spurs, Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey are now with QPR.  This appointment hasn’t happened yet though so Ramsey is in the dugout today, trying to right Redknapp’s dreadful mismanagement.  Let us not forget also that Glenn Hoddle was working under Redknapp as well and he quit rather than stick his head above the parapet which was a bit odd I thought.  QPR are basically a likeable club so I hope they sort themselves out and that starts after this game.

Since our last game, the transfer window has ended and despite the fact that Clyne, Schneiderlin and Rodriguez were all leaving (or being carried in Jay’s case), none of them did and we added to the squad with attacking midfielder Filip Djuricic joining on loan.  What we also had was Ryan Bertrand joining permanently for a fee of anywhere between £8.5 and £10 million depending on what you read.  Overall I’d say that’s pretty good business….sell Fatty Shaw for £27m and sign Bertrand for £10m. Ronald seemed happy enough anyway though he did stress the need to qualify for Europe this season to have a chance of keeping our best players and that’s the key – you’d have to admit you were leaving for the money if the club you were with had qualified for the Champions League.

The team today looked quite exciting on paper.  With Djuricic still waiting for a work permit and Bertrand being suspended, we named Matt Targett at left back and Dusan Tadic was dropped with Elia and Mané starting a game together for the first time.  The big news was that Big Vic was back in place of Harrison Reed and Morgan Schneiderlin made it back as far as the bench which suddenly didn’t have an average age of 14.  Ramsey had unsurprisingly changed things about from Mr Ballsack’s last selection but he still had a 36 year old centre half at left back.  He recalled Adel Taraabt who every time I’ve seen him, has done one brilliant thing a game and then spent the remaining minutes until he gets substituted being shite.  Up front they have Charlie Austin who not only scores all of their goals but he also always scores against us, be it for Swindon, Burnley or QPR.

After a cagey opening five minutes the game comes to life as we build up from defence down the right.  Clyney, Big Vic and JWP are all involved and the ball is slotted through to Elia who is about 40 yards out but he’s spotted that Rob Green has come out into no mans land and he’s tried to do at Big Vic at Hull and smash it straight in, only to beat the keeper and see it sail five yards wide.  What the fuck was Green doing?  A few weeks ago he got away with handling outside his box and he’s been lucky here.  If Elia’s shot had been closer to him he’d have handled it and he was outside his box again.  Get in your fucking goal you idiot.

Taraabt gets himself on the ball and megs JWP who turns and chases the ball but Taraabt has made the slightest contact with him and flops to the ground and the referee buys it.  Fuck off.  The Rangers fans love it though as they’ve been fed a diet of shite this season and the free kick gets nodded out as far as Barton who lashes it over the bar.

Elia and Mané are both finding space behind the QPR midfield and Barton takes one for the team by trashing Mané to give us a free kick.  JWP delivers into the right area and Big Vic shanks an effort wide for a goal kick.  If you had an effort on goal like that in a Sunday League match then half of your team mates would be laughing at you or calling you a wanker.  I’m guessing that no one said anything to Big Vic.

Following that, QPR welly the ball out to their right wing and Matt Targett goes up for it with Matt Phillips who catches him with a leading arm and Targett is motionless on the pitch where he lands.  This is not good, 7 minutes later, stretcher on, neck brace on, off he goes to be replaced with Florin Gardos with Maya getting shoved over to left back.  It’s interesting that football gets a lot of bad press but player safety was paramount here which is interesting when compared to the way George North was unconscious twice in yesterdays Wales v England rugby match and still carried on.

The substitution has not stopped our domination of the game and Mané again finds space before drilling a 30 yarder along the ground which Green saves at full stretch.  More of the same a few minutes later as JWP finds Mané who knocks it into space behind Hill and it gone but Caulker does enough to put him off and his shot from the edge of the box on the stretch doesn’t have enough on it to seriously test Green who pushes it behind for a corner.  Over goes JWP to swing it out and José Fonte meets it on the volley with his shin and it smacks off the middle of the bar and out again before being cleared.

Graziano appears to be playing a bit deeper today to allow the pacy boys to do their stuff and it works to great effect soon after as he turns a lovely first time ball around the corner and Elia is away behind Onouha but he can’t get the eventual shot across the keeper and Green saves at the near post.  The final action of the first half is again as a result of a good passing move with Elia getting brought down by Dunne and the ball lodging between his thighs which gives Dunne the chance to smash the ball and Eljero’s bollocks which he gleefully takes.  I’m amazed more wasn’t made of this, either by the referee of by the other Saints players.  I’ll excuse Elia for not getting involved as he was busy writing in agony and checking to make sure his balls were still where they should be and not in his throat.  Anyway, after all that we have a free kick right on the edge of the box and JWP tries to go round the wall but starts it off too wide and it doesn’t curl back in enough.

Half time and though we’ve been the better side by a mile and had all the chances it was still 0-0 and Austin hadn’t scored yet.  Mind you, he’d hardly touched the ball with the service from Taraabt, Phillips and Traore being as bollocks as a Harry Redknapp excuse.

The opening of the second half was dull with Traore heading into the side netting after Clyney had made a bit of a bollocks of a Phillips cross which surprised everyone by staying on the pitch.  Hill picked up an inevitable booking for catching Mané and on the hour mark, Big Vic’s day was done and on came Morgan Schneiderlin.

We weren’t playing as much football as in the first half and a lot was failing on our final ball.  Pellè was looking knackered and continually losing out and JWP and Davis were trying to get the quick lads away and though they made good runs, the ball to them was always lacking.  Route 1 was attempted with a Gardos clearance, a Pellè flick on and Sadio lashed it first time into the top row of the Loftus Subbuteo Stadium.

Mauro Zarate was on for QPR in place of Taraabt who had contributed precisely nothing.  Zarate is the player they’ve just got on loan from West Ham who ‘Arry then decided to try and send back so he could loan Matt Jarvis.  Anyhow, he’s on and he gets on the end of Phillips’ 2nd on-pitch cross and forces Fraser into a comfortable save which he would have taken in his sleep.  Up the other end and Mané plays a 1-2 with Pellè and it looks like he’s in but Caulker again gets back to block and Green flops on the loose ball.

We are then extremely grateful to our own keeper as QPR get a corner which is cleared as far as Barton who smashes it back in towards goal.  Austin sticks a foot out to no doubt score his obligatory goal against Saints but Fraser instinctively throws up a right arm and somehow manages to shovel it over the bar.  What a fucking save that is.  OK, he’s got a bit lucky as it’s hit his upper arm and gone over but the reactions are first class.  If a Man United keeper does that then it’s on TV for the next 10 years.

As time runs down, Tadic comes on so Elia can go and count his balls again and the new man immediately gives the ball away and Zarate cuts in from the left and fires over the bar.  The will be an additional 4 minutes.

The first three minutes are end to end and nothing much happening and then Caulker rumbles forward and passes straight to Tadic on the right wing.  He plays a 1-2 with Clyney and spreads the play to Yoshida who has come up from left back.  A first time ball in to Sadio’s feet and he rolls away from Onouha and with his left foot, smashes it past Green and into the top tight corner.  You little fucking beauty.

Even with 94 minutes of the 94 gone – we still find a way to give everyone the shits and the best Rangers move of the match sees a cross come in from the right and then a challenge send the ball miles up in the air.  Down it comes on Fraser who tries to catch it when he really should have used his 6 foot 7 to punch the ball miles but Onouha bundles into him and the ball drops and ends up in the net.  It has to be a foul but then all the Saints players are round the referee and for a second I shat myself that he’d given it but he’s given offside.  He later said that if it wasn’t offside he’d have given the foul so fair enough.  Fuck me we’ve won again and are back up to 3rd.  It’s all completely mad.

The only thing that could have made this any more beautiful would have been that ‘Arry was still in charge and this result got him sacked.  Can you imagine the twitch-per-minute count in the post match interview?  We made hard work of it but we totally deserved to win the game and that’s what successful teams do – they find a way to win, be it in the first minute or the last.

Ignoring the fact that we took 94 minutes to find a goal for a moment, it’s another triumph for Koeman and his tactical nous.  Back when we had a run of defeats and injuries, he changed to 3 at the back for the Everton game and we won comfortably.  Recenky we’ve been struggling to create chances so he changes it again and plays both Elia and Mané to put the slow QPR back line under pressure.  Today we created chances and could have scored a lot more than we did.  Other positives were of course another clean sheet and the returns of Big Vic and Morgan.  On the other side we’ve got a bit of a left back crisis with Ryan Bertrand having 2 more games on his suspension and Matt Targett out for the next game at least.  Maya slotted in well there today but of course you lose the attacking threat from full back.  Having said that, it was Maya who got the assist for the goal.  The other negative was that Graziano looked completely fucked during this game.  His touch was heavy and he didn’t seem to have the strength to hold off the defenders.  The bloke is knackered and needs a rest but there’s no chance of him getting one with J-Rod expected to be out all season and Sam Gallagher only just returning to the Under-21’s. 

Next up we have West Ham at home.  They drew at home to Man United on Sunday when they conceded a last minute equalizer after United had thrown on Fellaini and gone ‘get it in the mixer’ like they did against us.  That’s what you get when you spend £150m on your team I guess.  Tossers. The irony of Fat Sam bemoaning that his team couldn’t deal with ‘long ball’ United was lost on no one.  West Ham are decent this season though so this will be a tough game.  When we beat them 3-1 at Upton Park at the start of the season they had no Valencia, no Sakho and no Carroll either so this will be different.  Andy Carroll has his critics but it can’t be denied that he’s brilliant in the air so Florin Gardos is going to have to man up in this game and deal with it.  Pussy footing around and getting shoved about is not an option.  At the other end of the pitch I look forward to Joey O’Brien trying to deal with Elia and Mané.  Sadio is now 4 goals in 4 starts and to think of the amount of stick he was getting a while ago.  As unbelievable as it sounds, some fans might not know what they are talking about.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Premier League Match 23 - Southampton 0 Swansea 1

Jonjo Shelvey Celebrates his Goal

The Jack Army are in town to see if their Swansea side can get back on track against our good selves at St Mary’s.  They’ve not been having the best of times recently with their main striker Wilfried Bony being picked off by Manchester City and their most creative player Gylfi Sigurdsson very obligingly getting himself sent off last week so he can’t play today.  Despite our ongoing issues regarding player availability, we really should be winning this one to maintain our unlikely top 3 position.  The trouble with trying to stay near the top of the league is that the bastards around you in the table invariably keep winning which is brought into even sharper focus when most of them have won already this weekend.

It’s been a relatively eventful week since our FA Cup exit against Palace.  Shane Long has been confirmed to be out for 6 weeks and because the transfer window is open, speculation has been rife that we will sign another striker with Shane joining J-Rod and Sam Gallagher on the strikers injury list.  To offset this loss, Senegal very obligingly got knocked out of the African Nations Cup so Sadio Mané is once again available.  He returns to the squad along with Maya Yoshida whose Japan side crashed and burned in a penalty shootout against the United Arab Emirates.  I would have expected that Japan were favourites to win that one.

With just a few days left of the transfer window, the rumour mill has been turning as usual with the incoming rumours being the curious case of Filip Djuricic.  It’s curious because the Serbian FA announced that the loan signing for Saints was done and dusted but as I write, there’s been no confirmation from Saints though Ronald Koeman has said that he is interested.  He’s also confirmed an interest in Tonny Vilhena, a 20 year old defensive midfield player who is currently at Feyenoord and not getting much of a game.  We may need a player in that position soon as Jack Cork is off to Swansea.

Jack is leaving basically because he wants to play football and I totally respect that.  Remember that he spent the first part of his career getting dicked around by Chelsea and never getting a game for them.  He’s not first choice here any more and was used for Cup games and whenever Big Vic had just got back from playing in Africa in midweek.  I would say that as he was behind Morgan, Big Vic, Steve Davis and JWP for a midfield slot and Harrison Reed is coming through, that this is the right move for both parties.  By all accounts the club offered him a decent contract but we were slower getting round to Jack’s deal than others.  Steve Davis for example is 6 years older and his deal had longer to run but he was offered a deal first. The only caveat I have is that if as expected, Morgan leaves in the summer.  Jack is a very good midfielder and he’s chosen to move to a decent club who play decent football so he’ll fit right in…. as long as he plays better than he did on Saturday when he had one of his worst games ever for Saints.  Good news was also forthcoming in that James Ward-Prowse has signed a new deal until 2020.  Here’s a player who can only get better and will be in the England squad before long.

There must be outgoings and wild rumours and the latest are that Morgan will move to Arsenal for £15m and Clyney to Man United for the same amount.  Morgan at £15m when Arsenal paid more than that for Chambers… and Lallana was sold for £25m.  Clyney at £15m when United paid £27m for our other full back who is not nearly as good.  Good luck with those figures chaps.

To today and we’ve made 2 changes from the Palace game.  Harry Reed is in for Corky and Maya is in for Florin Gardos who drops to the bench.  We only have 6 subs for some reason (later it turns out that Isgrove got injured just before the game) which is tinpot to say the least and the second time we’ve done that this season.  Surely we could have called up an U21 player at short notice.

The game starts and Swansea retreat.  Here we go then.  Their game plan is obvious after some recent heavy defeats and we need to score early which we should do.  Tadic and Clyne combine down the right before Clyne’s low cross is stepped over by Pellè to give JWP a free shot from 8 yards which he connects with but Fabianski saves with his feet.  It’s a decent reaction save but it’s right next to him.  He should have been waving that one by with no prayer of stopping it.

Out of nowhere and in their first incursion into our half, Swansea nearly score on 13 minutes as Shelvey plays it to Gomis who takes one touch and then smashes a shot just wide on the volley.  Elsewhere though, Fabianski is already slowing things right down to the point of timewasting and Swansea make a substitution on 15 minutes which I thought it was a bit early to make a timewasting substitution. Emnes is the man going off and he looks a bit injured but it’s hard to tell as he hasn’t run at all in the game so far.  His replacement is the entertainingly named Momdo Barrow.

Gomis is a handful up front but he’s on his own, quite often literally the only player in our half as the other 9 camp between the penalty area and the half way line.  It’s hard for us to create anything given the lack of space and when Tadic has a cross cleared, Reed should do better than shank it off the pitch from the edge of the box.  We create a couple of openings in the rest of the half without testing the keeper and the ref is doing us no favours giving goal kicks instead of corners on a couple of occasions as players closed in on crosses by Bertrand and Elia respectively.  Half time comes and we’ve been ok without the cutting edge.  Swansea have been boring and when they’ve tried to pass it out of midfield they’ve invariably played an awful pass with Fulton being the main culprit.

The second half starts and mainly due to the fact that they haven’t had more than one player in our half, Swansea are yet to win a corner and Fraser seems keen to preserve that record as Shelvey tries to break but the ball ricochets off of Clyne and is heading out for a corner.  Fraser decided to pull off a full length sliding clearance to prevent this and succeeds only in passing it straight to Taylor who has an open goal to aim at.  Luckily, Fraser’s kamikaze moment has taken the Swansea left back by surprise and Reed and Clyne combine to smother the situation.

It’s slightly worrying that though our possession percentage is still high, we’re just passing it round in front of them and then losing the ball, usually with a piss poor cross.  Swansea on the other hand look dangerous on their sporadic attacks and Shelvey fires a warning by finding space 20 yards out and drilling a right footed effort all the way along the ground and off the far post with Fraser beaten.  He really didn’t have to work hard to make that chance for himself as everyone stood off.

As Swansea have actually got into our half and had a chance, they retreat back to their own penalty area and we have a couple of efforts on goal but they unfortunately fall to JWP.  Firstly, his header from a Tadic cross drops straight to Fabianski and then following a neat 1-2 between Pellè and Tadic, JWP sees an effort blocked by the keeper as he rushes out.

Koeman decides that it’s time for Mané to come on and it’s quite a surprise to see Harrison Reed come off as he’s been decent.  With Sadio on we got to 4-4-2 with JWP and Davis in midfield, Elia and Tadic on the wings.  It’s a brave move to try and win the game so fair enough.  Immediately Mané spins in behind the defence and makes his way along the line only for his pull back to go straight to the keeper and not Graziano who is on his knees when the ball doesn’t reach him, probably giving it the big ‘Mamma Mia’.

Frustratingly, we are now trying to walk it in and no one wants to shoot.  Both Davis and Tadic pass up shooting chances before Elia scoots down the left again, gets to the line and puts over a ball along the ground, three yards out but no one has gambled and it runs right across the goal and it hacked away.

And so it happened on 83 minutes, Swansea broke on our left past a non-tackle by Elia and Gomis fed Shelvey who advanced to 25 yards out without a midfielder closing him down.  I know what he was going to do and so did every fucker in the ground but still no one closed him down and he smashed it right footed, curling away from Fraser and into the net.  Great strike but shockingly bad defending by us as a team.  Should Fraser have stopped it?  I think it’s harsh to blame him but I reckon he himself will think he should have done better.

With 10-ish minutes to go I’m quite calm.  Of course you want your team to get back into it but somehow today I knew we wouldn’t.  There had not been enough dynamism in our forward play all game to think that anything was going to change in the last 10 minutes.  Mane had a go at proving me wrong as he played a 1-2 with Pellè before chipping Fabianski only for Williams to head clear.  It went straight back to Mané but Williams was there again to block the second shot on the line.

With 90 minutes up and another attack breaking down, the ball went out to our left and Bertrand went in for a challenge with the very speedy Swansea sub Barrow.  Bertrand went in hard and Barrow hit the deck.  Up went Garry Monk and the Swansea bench which Ryan wasn’t happy about and when he turned round, the ref was waving a red card in his face.  Very harsh in my opinion.  He’s gone for the ball and he’s got a decent touch on it but he’s a fraction high and caught the player.  When we restart after Barrow has been carried off, Seager is on for Elia and once again, I can’t believe Tadic has stayed on but stay on he does to hit the first man with a corner and then when under no pressure, cross a ball from the right over everyone and out for a goal kick.  Aaaaargh!  We have one last chance as Pellè nods a ball down, Seager competes for it and it falls to Graziano on the volley and he smashes it into orbit.  Bollocks.  The End.

Well where do we start with that one?  Every interview I’ve read or seen since the end of the game seems to say that we played really well in the first half and ok in the 2nd.  I beg to differ - I thought we were pretty average in the first half and shite in the second.  All the possession in the world is useless if it’s in front of the opposition and more or less every dangerous opening is ruined by a piss-poor cross or final ball.    I applaud Ronald Koeman for trying to force a win and Harrison Reed was taken off to try and win the game and it ended up being the reason why we lost it.  I can understand the reasoning as Swansea were no threat whatsoever up until that point but it was the wrong move anyway.  JWP had been pretty anonymous and Tadic, aside from a couple of moments, was complete shit yet again.  Anyway, with Reed gone, Shelvey was given the space he needed to stroll forward without being closed down and smash in the winner. 

How does one analyse Swansea’s performance without it sounding like sour grapes?  To most, their performance will be compared to ours at Manchester United this season.  I slagged off Rooney and van Gaal when they said that we didn’t try and win.  However, in that game – sure, we defended but the difference is that when we broke we broke with 3 or 4 players.  Swansea, in the first half in particular, had one player in our half at most. They weren’t much better in the second and their passing was in the main, woeful.  As we tried to win it in the second half they broke with a bit more purpose and got lucky, though it was a great strike.  Garry Monk spoke absolute bullshit about the Bony sending off when we played up there when it was the clearest red card ever so when he says they thoroughly deserved to win today, I think we can safely cry ‘bullshit’ again.  It matters not though, they won and fair play to them – they have a load of players missing and found a way to win.  It’s fucking annoying though. 

This was another reality check regarding qualifying for Europe through the league.  You can’t afford to lose games like this one and you can’t afford to be so under-resourced that you only have 6 subs on the bench.  We got away with it at Newcastle but against Palace in the Cup and again today, the absence of both Big Vic and Morgan has killed us.  The team just does not look the same defensively and doesn’t have the solid base to give it the freedom to perform going forwards.  When we have the ball, we’re as good as ever at dominating possession in that area but we are certainly missing something.

I feel sorry for Graziano – he’s fed a diet of balls to compete for which he continually wins but there’s no one near him.  JWP was anonymous for most of the game and Elia and Tadic were too wide to help out.  I like Elia and his skill and ability but it was his half arsed tackle at the start of the move for the goal.  Tadic obviously has the ability but his final ball is miles out at the moment.  He won’t use his right foot to cross a ball but will continually turn back onto his left so he can fire over a shite cross with his good foot. Sadio Mané was a bright spot for this game and he came very close to rescuing the game for us when he came on.  It’ll be good when he can start again. 

Ah bugger, stop moaning!  We’re still 4th in the league, still above Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham and on the grapevine I’m hearing that Big Vic and Morgan are back in training and will probably be available for QPR away next week.  No doubt that saggy faced old twat will be hanging out his car door on transfer deadline and bringing in a ‘top top player’.  Regardless of who they have on the pitch, it would be nice to put another nail in their coffin.  Charlie Austin will score as he always does against us but despite their decent home record, I’m optimistic that we’ll be back to winning ways.

PS... one advantage of being late again with this entry is that the transfer window has now closed and we've signed Filip Djuricic on loan for the rest of the season.  A Serbian international team mate of Dusan Tadic who will add to the competition for places behind Graziano Pelle in the side.  In other news, Ryan Bertrand has signed on permanently which is one less to worry about in the summer.  I'm pretty sure that Eljero Elia will be signed but the big one is of course Toby Alderweireld.