Friday, August 11, 2017

Pre-Season Part 5 - Weapons Grade Shithouse and Karma

Sir Les Does It Again

At the end of the training camp in France, we had a friendly against St Etienne, a team that people of a certain age (like me) contains images of European Cup Winners with Michel Platini before he turned into a corrupt lump of lard.  What a brilliant footballer he was.  Anyway, it was interesting in that Mauricio went with a 4-2-3-1 but Charlie Austin was in the 10 position with Manolo Gabbiadini up front.  Most would have had it the other way round but I’m up for it if it gets our two biggest goal threats on the pitch.  It was 0-0 at half time and then the missing ingredient came to the floor and it was Stuart Taylor going in goal.  Once that happened we were deadly with Matt Targett putting over a great cross for Gabbi to expertly flick home with his head.  Another Targett cross was put away by JWP, making his first appearance since coming back from England U21 duty and the same player slung over a corner for Maya Yoshida to head home for a thoroughly decent 3-0 result.

Back home and word came out that there would be meetings and The Shithouse was hopefully going to be re-integrated into the squad.  Don’t hold your breath as this is a Weapons Grade Shithouse (WGS) we are talking about here and so it proved with more reports that the re-integration wasn’t happening just yet and both sides were described as ‘entrenched’.  Not good but not surprising.  I’ve had enough of referring to the Shithouse by name as he doesn’t deserve it so from here on it, WGS it is.  I know that stood for ‘Wee Gordon Strachan’ and we loved him but that was years ago.

This (the tantrum) is of course what Liverpool want as they steadfastly sit there and do nothing and the media keep it ticking along.  Have you noticed that you never get an ex-Liverpool media pundit saying ‘Don’t sign him – he’s a shithouse’.  Funny that.  It’s almost as if they’re working for Liverpool.  With Coutinho linked the Braca and now ManĂ© with Milan, the hypocrisy is quite staggering.  New levels of straw clutching and patheticness were reached when Alfie Jones came on as a sub against St Etienne wearing 17, which of course was WGS squad number last season.  It’s a sign!!!

All this WGS stuff is exhausting and distracting.  I’ve almost forgotten about us bringing players in which we need to do.  We must be planning for WGS exit and Kevin Wimmer from Spurs has risen to the surface again, as has another Dutchman, Wesley Hoedt from Lazio.  Reassuringly, both are the physical type of centre back we need if WGS leaves.

Augsburg at home and I made the trip as a consolation prize for missing the first two home games and within 10 minutes I wished I hadn’t bothered as it was fucking dreadful.  Augsburg treated it like a proper game and played with the intensity that you should play with if you’re just about to start your season.  We on the other hand, played it like a training game and looked like we couldn’t be arsed.  To be fair, Pellegrino was obviously playing fringe players tonight and we’d see the first team on Sunday against Sevilla.  Of the starting team tonight, I can see only Forster, Romeu, Yoshida and maybe JWP and Redmond starting against Swansea.  You would have thought though, that the others would have been keen to put in a performance to tell the new manager to pick them but not a bit of it.  Pied and Target at full backs were dreadful, especially defensively and their crosses at the other end of the pitch failed to pick out anyone.  Yoshida and Bednarek were awful with Maya not concentrating in the slightest and Bednarek looking like a park player who was thrown in to a game that he clearly wasn’t good enough for.  I’m not writing him off but there’s no way he’ll be near the first team any time soon.  In midfield we were wide open.  Hojbjerg did the odd good thing but both he and Romeu were guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply.  Up front Redmond looked sharp enough and Shane Long started well but tailed off hugely.  And then there was Charlie Austin, lurching about like someone who had necked about ten pints, coming out of a kebab shop at 2am.  Of the substitutes, Sofiane Boufal looked lively and Stephens looked better than Yoshida but overall it was piss poor and the manager acknowledged that at the end.

Augsburg were decent though, not shy of a tackle and they looked ready for their season.  The first goal was a hell of a shot, moving about 4 times in the air.  It’ll look bad on Fraser but honestly, I was right behind it and he had no chance.  The second goal was hilariously bad.  It started off with Pied giving the ball away under no pressure and ended with a corner.  Over it came and Austin totally failed to jump with his man and a free header for 2-0.  To be fair to Charlie, he had a full pint in one hand and a kebab and a lit cigarette in the other and he didn’t spill a drop or get ash on his kebab or anything.  The third goal was a free kick slung in from the right and Stephens and Bednarek were nowhere as a free header was nodded into the net.  Under 12s defending right there – no defensive leader and no one taking responsibility.  No 4 highlighted our lack of midfield as the lad just walked forward to the edge of the box with no challenge and buried it.

We are in desperate need of a proper central defender – still.  Regardless of the WGS situation we need one anyway.  I saw three centre backs tonight who need a dominant partner who will struggle on their own.  It reminds me of how much we got away it last season.  Also, the formation that Mauricio seems to favour with three attacking midfielders and a striker really demands that we have two proper defensive midfielders and we currently have just the one.  I do wonder where JWP, Hojbjerg, Clasie and Davis fit in.

Meanwhile back in WGS land – I am relieved to tell you that Phil Thompson is still alive –and in a shock twist, he’s got the same opinion as all the other thirteen ex-Liverpool pundits.  Michael Owen has also shocked no one by having the same tedious boring opinion as everyone else.  Out of all these ex-Liverpool pundits – not one has questioned the fact that WGS is obviously a bit of a dodgy character.  Not one.  In addition, his international manager Dick Advocaat has said that his actions are perfectly acceptable and understandable and hopes he moves to Liverpool.  If that’s not bringing the game into disrepute I don’t know what is.  Think about it – an international manager encouraging players to go on strike.

Saturday and the Sevilla friendly and Saints made an effort to make us forget that Augsburg happened, making a big show of presenting the new manager and coaching staff to the crowd like it was his first game.  It of course helped that it wasn’t pissing down and a lot more people turned up to watch. Still staggered with how inept the fringe players were on Wednesday, I wasn’t expecting much but we looked decent on the whole.  Having the proper full backs made a huge difference and Jack Stephens had a superb game bringing the ball out of defence and generally looking like a quality footballer.  Maya on the other hand was sloppy as you like and he’s going to find himself on the bench pretty quickly as soon as we buy another centre back… not before though because after picking up a knock he was replaced by Bednarek who once again, showed that he’s not ready.  Out of position and not winning headers which should be meat and drink to a big centre back.  Put it this way – I think Florin Gardos would be better than him.

So – we have a bit of a weakness at centre back and we have another in defensive midfield where Davis is Davis – tidy on the ball and with great energy but lacking when not on the ball.  He has a habit of leaving the player he’s supposed to be marking and against good sides, that’s going to bite us.  He also of course gets bossed out of games against physical midfielders.  Though he has his limitations, I think possibly Clasie would be a better bet to play next to Romeu and I was a bit disappointed he wasn’t given the 2nd half to stake a claim.  Romeu was back to something approaching his best after being dodgy in midweek.  He got a couple of challenges in that would have got him booked in the league.  He would have pulled out of a couple of tackles in a proper game but today I think he just thought ‘fuck it’ and enjoyed steaming in to people.

On the wings, Tadic was preferred to Boufal and overall he did very little to justify that aside from being involved in the 2nd goal and Redmond hardly seemed to get involved at all.  Gabbiadini was superb  though and it was great to see him finish off the 2nd goal.  His movement and willingness to run into spaces and keep defenders on their toes makes our attacking play and he seemed to link well with JWP who in the first half in particular was pushed right forward into the No 10 role.  There’s still not really enough goal threat from Tadic, Redmond and JWP but we looked decent.

The game was won with a Stephens shanked volley following a Gabbi flick on from a JWP corner and a lovely move on the break where Tadic and Davis combined well to set to Gabbi to finish well under the keeper.  It was the kind of opportunity that Shane Long would have controlled to the keeper or smashed it at the moon.  Jake Flannigan got a few minutes at right back and looked better than Jeremy Pied and I think it was telling that Austin was left on the bench with his 8 cans of lager and kebab.

The post-Sevilla optimism bubble was burst with what was the next logical step at Shithouse Central as WGS officially handed in a transfer request, therefore effectively handing Sainst between £6 million and £7 million quid.  I’d like to place on record my thanks to WGS and his agent for this generous gesture.  There was a statement of course, which seeked to shift the blame and point the Shithouse finger at the club.  It was a pure work of comedy and therefore I feel it’s best to highlight the best bit which was his disappointment at discussions with Saints ending up in the media.  Yep, he had a go at Saints almost from a moral standpoint about lleaking stuff to the media.  He wants to join Liverpool ladies and gentleman.  Anyway, I covered his statement here….

Anyway, nothing’s really changed, the transfer request hasn’t been accepted and no one including his precious Liverpool have made a bid. 

Les Reed’s status as a legend got cemented a bit more with WGS handing in a transfer request and then it got even better for our Director of Football when he got upgraded to God of Football with the signing of Mario Lemina from Juventus.  He played as a sub in the Champions League final a few months ago, same as Toby Alderweireld did for Atletico Madrid before he signed for us.  That loan deal went sour of course but this is a proper transfer and addresses the defensive midfield issue identified earlier.  I’m only going on reports and You Tube videos but a midfield of Romeu and Lemina sounds pretty tasty.  It challenges players like Steven Davis, JWP and Pierre Hojbjerg to up their game and makes both the starting XI and the squad stronger.

So here we are and here we go.  WGS has a virus and Coutinho has just handed in a transfer request at Liverpool.  Oh the irony as social media becomes fun again.  A new season, the same old depressing stuff about the state of the game but the Saints are Coming.  7th this season please lads.

Saints new signing playing against Coutinho's New Team mates

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

VVD Statement Post Bullshit Translator

VVD Statement After It's Gone Through the Bullshit Translator
"Over the past six months I have held numerous discussions with representatives of the board, the former manager Claude Puel as well as the new manager Mauricio Pellegrino to inform them all of my desire to leave the club in search of a new challenge and more moneyI have also had numerous discussions with my new agent and Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool.  I know that this is against the rules and so did Liverpool FC and Jurgen Klopp but we all ignored that.
"I am incredibly ambitious and want to achieve as much as I possibly can to fulfil my potential in what is a very short career as a professional footballer and make as much money as I can for me and my agent. I want to play European football again and challenge for major honours and as such I would like Southampton to consider the interest in me from top clubs should it still exist. I realise that no one has put a bid in for my services and that I cannot mention Liverpool by name.
"I have been left frustrated by the club's position not to let me move I am not for sale one year after I signed a six year contract which made me captain and made me the highest paid player in Southampton history and am disappointed that enquiries from multiple top clubs and those that haven’t won the league since before I was born have been consistently rebuffed.
"The period of time that I have just spent injured and unable to play has put a number of things into perspective and made me realise just how important it is to take major opportunities should they arise.  So I put the wheels in motion to get away from Southampton, during the six months that Southampton were getting me fit to play again.
"I have consistently relayed my feelings to senior management at Southampton in what I believed to be private and personal conversations. Disappointingly, these conversations have regularly found their way into the media.  I know this didn’t happen until late July which is well after the club I wanted to join were leaking everything to the media in spectacular fashion.
"I would also like to make clear that I have never once refused to train because that is about me, though playing in pre-season matches, fulfilling media responsibilities and supporting my fellow Southampton FC players at the End of Season Players Awards Night is another matter. I can confirm that I was asked about my frame of mind and for all of the reasons mentioned above I was open and honest because that’s the kind of guy I am, in saying that I did not feel I was in a settled mindset given the circumstances.
"Following this conversation the manager explained that he only wanted players who he felt were 100% committed to Southampton and told me I would therefore have to train away from the first team.

"As a proud professional (I will look up this word later) I am insulted by the suggestion that it was me who refused to train and so feel it is important to point out the true version of events.  The truth, or selected parts of it anyway, is very important to me"

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Off You Go - Good Riddance

So – as a follow on from an idea I floated in the last blog.  Here’s the League 1 Minus 10 manifesto for English football.   I thought about this for a whole 15 minutes.

For the Many (I stole that bit)

1        The European Super League

The Creation of European Super League – the top 6 can take their toys and go and play in that amongst themselves with all the other ridiculous clubs in Europe.  Someone else can sort out the logistics of that because I don’t care.  All I care about is that less dubious character money orientated players will be left in the English League and less plastics fans to ruin my matchday experience.  All the big money will be in the European League so all the parasites will swarm towards that.  Sky Sports will of course throw all their money at that and with Sky Sports going, all the Liverpool pundits can go with them.  Jeff Stelling and Matt le Tissier are of course given a free transfer to either BBC or ITV.  See English League TV Deal Section.

2        The English League

The English League will consist of 4 divisions as it does now. 

These will be named Division 1, Division 2, Division 3 and Division 4.  Terms like ‘Premier’, ‘Super’ will not be used, nor anything that even closely comes into territory of branding.

The current Championship Trophy will take its rightful place back as the Division 1 trophy.  Traditional.

These four divisions will contain 92 clubs so we have the same number of clubs as we do now and it makes it more difficult for the European Super Clubs to come back.  They won’t want to anyway, until they realise it’s all very boring travelling all over Europe, by which time it will be too late.

2.1       Promotion and Relegation

The Winners of Division 1 will be promoted to the European Super League should they wish to go. 

If they go, the bottom placed English side comes into Division 1 and have to adapt to the rules.  This will probably mean selling a lot of their players to the remaining European Super League clubs.  When they don’t want to sell their players, they will have to deal with players strikes and concerted media campaigns.

Four up, four down between the English divisions.  The playoffs are not all evil as it does keep more teams involved until the end of the season but the basic sporting unfairness of a team finishing 6th getting promoted over a team who has finished 20 points ahead of them totally outweighs this.

2.2       Players & Transfers

There will be a quota of 9 England qualified players in every match day 18.  This should be easier to implement post-Brexit if it ever happens.  The current ‘homegrown’ criteria is plainly ridiculous when we have Spanish internationals with 50 caps counting as homegrown and similar for a French international who has been signed from an Italian club for £90 million.  Once a player plays a competitive match for another country, then they’re not England qualified any more.  Other British countries are a bit of a grey area here.

There will be a salary cap per division.  You get relegated, your money drops if you are over the cap for the division below.  No exceptions.

Agents fees will be capped at a fixed fee, as will the players signing on fee.  This will be paid by the player out of their signing on fee, not by the buying club.  This should get rid of the more ridiculous agents who are left if they haven’t all defected to the European Super League.

2.3       Loan System

Loan system to change. 

No loans to clubs in the same division as you.  It’s plainly ridiculous when you think about fairness of competition.

Loans only allowed for Under 21 players to a lower division. 

Maximum of two loans per squad.  Loan players cannot play in Cup competitions.
No loans of players from abroad.

2.4       Administration

The English Football League, FA Cup and League Cup will be administered by The Football League.

The Premier League can look after the interests of the 6 clubs in the European Super League, like they do now. 

The Football Association can run the England national side but the best solution would be if the FA and the Football league merge to form one governing body.

2.5       Domestic Cup Competitions

2.5.1       The League Cup

The League Cup will be played between the 92.  The European Super League Clubs don’t want to play in this anyway.

All rounds from 1st to Semi-Final to be played midweek.

The League Cup Semi-Finals will be played over 2 legas as they are now.  This makes it different to the FA Cup.

The League Cup Final will be played at Wembley on a Sunday, 3pm kick off in March

2.5.2       The FA Cup

The FA Cup will extend invitations to enter to the English European Super League English clubs.  They have to abide by the 9 English qualified players in the match day 18 rule.  If they don’t want to enter, they won’t get invited again for another 3 years.

All rounds to be played on weekends.  No replays.

The FA Cup Semi-Finals will be not be played at Wembley but at the biggest English League grounds available for clubs not involved based on geography of the semi-finalists.

The FA Cup Final will be played at 3pm on the last Saturday of the season.  No other games will be played that day.  There is absolutely no need to play this game after 5pm because fans can’t get home afterwards.

2.5.3       The Football League Trophy

The FL Trophy will be played between clubs in Division 3 and 4.  The European Super League and Division 1 and 2 clubs will not be allowed to enter their Under 9’s or whatever stupid rule is in place now.

2.6       TV Deal

The TV deal for the league will be from Free-to-Air channels – BBC, ITV, Dave etc.  This keeps the money down which is a good thing.  No pay TV channels will be allowed to bid.  Any live games will only be screened on terrestrial free-to-air TV.

Jeff Stelling and Matt le Tissier to transfer from Sky as presenters.

2.7       Kick Off Times

Kick off times will be Saturday 3pm.  One game a week on Sunday 5pm for TV. 
Any Tuesday/Wednesday 7.45 pm games can be screened also.

No games will be moved because they clash with European Super League games.

2.8       Fixtures

Midweek / Sunday evening League games will not involve long distance travelling.  75 miles maximum.  Same applies for games on Bank Holidays.  It really shouldn’t be that hard to schedule it.

2.9       Fans Costs

There will be a maximum Season Ticket price per division.  Maybe £500, £400, £300, £200.  Kids under 16 should be £5 a game maximum.

Maximum charge for an away game is £20, £15, £10, £5

Kits will be worn for two seasons – two kits per team.  No colours can appear on both kits.

2.10    Ground Rules

Selfie Sticks are banned

Any device bigger than a mobile phone is banned

Anyone taking part in a Mexican Wave will be evicted

Anyone buying or selling or wearing a half and half scarf within a mile of any football ground will be issued with a life ban.

3        Conclusion

None of this will ever happen.  

Sadly, we’re too far down the road and no one will be interested in going back to anything remotely resembling pre-1992 football.  There’s too much self interest and too much money involved.  Would any owners of Premier League clubs vote for anything like this – of course they wouldn’t because of the loss of income from not being in a league with the big boys.  So, it’s not going to happen but I bet there are many out there who can remember pre-1992 who would gladly back a version of the proposals laid out above – even if some of them are far fetched and not fully thought out. (at all).  

If anyone wants to make any suggestions / improvements then I’m all ears.

They say nostalgia makes you think things in the past were better than they were and sure, there are some things now that are better now – pitches, stadiums, training grounds etc but something has been lost – soul.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pre-Season Part 4 - The Shithouse Gene: Van Dijk vs Lallana vs Lovren

"You Taught Me Well Oh Master, but now, I am the Bigger Shithouse. Just Watch"

As a fan it’s tempting to only see things from your own club’s point of view but every so often you need to think about things as a whole.  Being a Southampton fan, we’ve seen all of the top 3 divisions in the last few seasons and I can categorically say that the season we spent in the Championship was the season I enjoyed most since Markus Liebherr bought the club.  If you do well in it, then the Championship is excellent.   You do however, have to be doing well because unless you’re a masochist, doing badly is not fun.  The Championship when we got relegated in 2005 was not a good time because we were dreadful – but the league as a whole was great.  Less prima-Donna players, less diving, shit referees who were genuinely just shit instead of big club dodgy, kids getting thrown into the first XI because teams couldn’t afford to carry a massive squad of experienced pros.  Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday – not Monday, Thursday, Sunday 12 noon, Wednesday, nothing for two weeks, Sunday at 4pm because your opponent was in Europe on Thursday.

This brings me on to the Premier League and the problem with it.  There are many problems and here’s just one of them – Shithouses.  In our promotion season in the Championship, Saints had players like Billy Sharp, Dean Hammond, Richard Chaplow, Jos Hooiveld, Danny Fox, Fraser Richardson, Kelvin Davis – players who were not infested with the ‘Shithouse’ gene.  They would still be at Saints today if we hadn’t gone up and ruined it all for them.  Great characters, solid characters, decent blokes and above all, not Shithouses.   Even in some of the other players like Adam Lallana and Jose Fonte, the Shithouse gene had not risen to the surface and taken over but it was laying dormant beneath the surface.  It was only activated by Premier League, international honours and 'super' agents or as most fans prefer to call them, cunts.  These agents however, play on the power of the dormant Shithouse gene and convinced their clients that they would be best served by shitting on everyone who had helped them so far and the big clubs would throw loads of money around in their direction.  Is it good for your career?  Who bastard well cares, think about the money, money, money...

The Premier League is horrible – it needn’t be but it is.  It’s just about the Big Clubs and money, that’s it.  Not a big revelation there but it’s gone to shit.  If for some reason, one of the big clubs had a horrific season and were in danger of relegation, I’m sure that Brand Premier League would kick in and decide not to relegate anyone that year or at least instruct the referees to ‘sort out’ some of the games.  No danger of any of that coming to pass though because of the money that the big boys can afford to hawk around compared to the others.  I used to kick off whenever the possibility of a European Super League was mentioned because of the effect it would have on the English game but right now I’d love it and in time we’d have English football that somewhat resembled the pre-1992, pre-Sky competition that I grew up with.  Yes, we still had the elite and the also-rans but it was much more even.

So, the Big 6 can all fuck off as far as I’m concerned and Sky can pour all their money into that and the top division of English football can get back to a more sustainable, shithouse free environment.  The European Super League would soon get very very boring for those involved but domestic football in time, would be a much better experience for the fans.  The hardcore don’t care who their own team is playing and I for one, would not care in the slightest if we didn’t play the big clubs every year.  Replace Chelsea, Spurs, City, Liverpool, Arsenal and United with Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham, Leeds, Norwich and Derby from the top end of last season’s Championship.

The game as it stands has gone fucking mad.  Look at some of the transfer fees this summer – Bournemouth have paid £20 for a Chelsea reserve who has played about 20 Premier League games.  He looks decent but on 20 games, is he worth it?  No he’s not.  I see £50 million for Kyle Walker, a Forrest Gump full back who cannot defend or cross the ball, I see £50 million (possibly) for Gylfi Sigurdsson, a 28 year old ‘good’ player who has already failed once at a big club.  ‘Good’ not ‘outstanding ‘.  Some could argue that Southampton have played their part in that with the players we’ve sold in the past something has happened recently.  Last summer we sold Sadio ManĂ© for £32 million, this summer it would be £60 million plus. 

From a perspective of Southampton buying players – it’s simple.  We will not be spending more than £20 million on anyone so that rules out virtually everyone in the Premier League, certainly anyone in the top half.  Mamadou Sakho, a player Liverpool do not want is valued by them at £30 million and his wages are over £100k a week.   That’s the other thing – once a player has been at a big club, especially if he’s been transferred to it, the wages are obscene so that rules us out as well. 

The ‘something’ that has happened recently is the TV deal with Sky.  I can’t be bothered to look up the amount but it’s obscene.  It means that income through the turnstiles now makes up a miniscule percentage of a Premier League club’s turnover which begs the question – Why are ticket prices still so fucking expensive?  Anything over £500 a season is expensive to most people so why not cut it right down – halve it.  It makes little difference so cut it down, fill the grounds, expand the grounds, grow the fanbase etc.

So, Fuck the Premier League.  It’s just about the money, money, money and fuck all about fair play and an even competition.  If there was any virtue in it, Liverpool would the sitting there, gnashing their teeth over a transfer ban.

Meanwhile, back in Southampton…

The first pre-season friendly was a virtual training game in Switzerland against St.Gallen which ended 0-0 with not a lot of incident aside from Gabbiadini looking sharp.  Virgil didn’t play but I think most accepted the excuse that he hadn’t resumed full contact work yet.  The man himself then muddied the waters in the way that players do these days with a cryptic social media bout about ‘great to be fully fit’ which directly contradicted what the club had just said.  Hmmm, accidental or shithousery going on?

On we went to Brentford and a game which was having all proceeds donated to the Grenfell Tower fund.  Again there was a statement regarding Virgil but this time the gloves were off – he was refusing to play as not psychologically ready and he wants to move.  Here we go up a notch.  Virgil is taking it to new levels of pathetic spoilt-brat behaviour and he won’t care.  He’s under some sort of spell, cast by a combination of his agents, Liverpool FC, Jurgen Klopp and the media.  He’s incapable of resisting, his head has been turned and even though Liverpool have officially bailed out and left him to it, he can’t resist and will do all their dirty work for them.  Whilst many a person in all walks of life has been influenced to do bad things by unscrupulous third parties – at the end of the day, the path you take is down to yourself.  Liverpool seem bomb-proof from any criticism from anyone that matters so Virgil is willing the take the fall and shit all over the club that pays him incredibly well, made him captain and got him fit again and of course, take a massive dump over the fans.  Fans – players like Virgil just think we’re shit on their shoe.  They don’t care, they just get new shoes and throw the shitty ones away.

Mauricio Pellegrino passed his first test with flying colours showing calm authority.  The boy (as in ‘stupid little boy’) will be training on his own and we only want players who are 100% committed to the cause.  Whilst this turn of events was entirely predictable, it’s still a kick in the nuts as Virgil plummets down in everyone’s estimation.  To put this into context – the players who handled their moves away from Saints the worst in recent memory are Lovren and Lallana – both to Liverpool which is a massive coincidence I’m sure.  Lallana refused to play (he disputes this of course) and Lovren said his head was already in Liverpool.  Lovren as far as I know, never refused to train and he was never the captain and he’d only been here a year so actually, in context, Lovren wasn’t that bad and we only give him the most stick because he’s crap and because his missus felt the need for her head to be elsewhere as well.  Lallana was as bad as Virgil as he was our captain but even he wasn’t banished to training on his own.  So – Virgil’s behaviour is pretty fucking appalling and in all likelihood, the worst of the lot.

So - the Shithouse of Recent Times award goes to: Virgil van Dijk.

Where this leaves us is interesting.  I still think we’re miles away from him going to his and his agents only preferred destination of Liverpool.  It will be a massive climb down from the board if he goes there having reported them to the Premier League and the fans won’t forgive that unless there’s such a massive deal that it’s a no brainer – I’m talking something like £80 million up front + Sakho + Liverpool pay Sakho’s wages for 2 years + they pay the 10% to Celtic.  Liverpool will also be shit scared to trying to make an approach for a player that they have been forced into saying they are ‘no longer interested in’.  I was going to say ‘resurrecting their bid’ as opposed to ‘make an approach’ but there’s nothing to resurrect as they haven’t actually done anything yet officially.  No bid, no official approach, no anything aside from tapping up behind the scenes and ex-players in the media.  Graeme Souness was the latest to chip in and Steve Nicol had his say again.  He’d probably forgotten he’d already commented. 

The media went into a frenzy of course and I heard Alex Crock on Talkshite.  I don’t see much of what Alex Crock writes as he’s blocked me on Twitter but he said one interesting thing that in his opinion – Virgil wasn’t on strike.  I realise that this is a legal definition but surely a player who is refusing to play matches when fully fit is on strike and we should therefore be perfectly entitled to not pay the twat for being in breach of contract.  It would be interesting to know what the PFA think of this, bearing in mind they are very quick to comment when clubs are hard on players.

Wanker Klopp has been asked a couple of times about it but no one has had the guts to ask him to confirm that he personally met Virgil at some point.  Meanwhile, Barcelona have put a bid in for Coutinho and Klopp has been very ‘not for sale and the matter is closed’ about it all.  I believe we said that as well Jurgen.  So, it appears that no means no but no sometimes means yes.  Dangerous values for a bloke to have unless of course, you are a shit, arrogant, hypocritical bloke or a sex offender.

Of course, what I’d love is for Liverpool to put in a bid (this will no doubt be about £30 million), Les Reed to go full mental and slap in the Tapping Up Dossier to the Premier League and force them to sort it out.   This dossier would contain pictures of Jurgen Klopp in compromising photgraphs with Adam Lallana and a tub of Nivea.  Even if faced with 100% solid gold evidence of rule breaking, the Premier League would do absolutely sweet fuck all.

The Brentford game saw a debut for Jan Bednarek and he looked a bit shaky as we conceded an early goal.  After half time, Charlie Austin showed that summer allegations of cheating (at Monopoly) had not dulled his goalscoring edge and he scored twice, once from a hilarious mistake in the defence where one Brentford defender wellied another one instead of the ball and once when he connected sweetly with a left footed strike from McQueen’s pull back.  There was still time to snatch a draw as Fraser, complete with new 5 year contract in his pocket, dropped a routine cross into his own net in ‘Under 8 player who has been pressganged into going in goal fashion’.  Not good but never mind.  I will repeat again, if Virgil leaves then we absolutely have to get a physically dominant centre half to partner either Jack or Maya and of course, we need a new captain – now.  It will make absolutely no difference to Virgil and his decision to stay or not.  He doesn’t give a shit about us so why not do it now.  I don’t think he can carry off the “they stripped me of the captaincy so I want to leave” angle.  He'd probably fucking try it though.

Next, the squad are off to France for a training camp and to play a friendly against St.Etienne.  Virgil is not with them but he has been spotted in Paris, at Euro Disney.  Perhaps he’s signing for Pompey with their new owner and all that and the Disney connection. 

I'm off for a lie down in a dark room.