Monday, October 20, 2014

Premier League Match 8 - Southampton 8 Sunderland 0

Gus waits for his Players in the Tunnel at St.Mary's

Since our last game, the international break has seen Nathaniel Clyne and Fraser Forster putting out training cones for England and swapping wit and wisdom with Roy Hodgson but there was other Saints involvement with other countries who are fortunate enough to have a manager who knows what he’s doing.  Having said that, Jose Fonte got his long awaited call up for Portugal and then sat on the bench for two matches, including a friendly when he surely could have been tried ahead of that walking red card that is Pepe.  The main positive was that Graziano Pellè made his first start for Italy and in true Rickie Lambert fashion, scored to secure the Azzurri a 1-0 win against Malta.  The main story in this for the media here was that he was in the squad in place of Balotelli whereas the amusement in my house was provided by the fact that he was picked ahead of Dani Osvaldo who as it turned out, managed to get injured in training.  Dusan Tadic had some fun as a politically charged encounter between Serbia and Albania ended up being abandoned when a flying drone appeared with an pro-Albanian flag on it, a Serbian player took it down and the Albanian’s kicked off.  The good news is that Dusan only played 45 minutes.

The rest was pretty positive with Steve Davis winning two matches with Northern Ireland as they continued their 100% start to their European Championship Qualifying Group, Morgan Schneiderlin starting a game for France and then, almost unbelievably, Emmanuel Mayuka scored a goal for Zambia which really should be bigger news than the Ebola outbreak.  It’ll give him more confidence for his role of sitting on the bench on Saturday.  Mayuka, Big Vic and Sadio Mané were playing African Cup of Nations Qualifiers on Wednesday so the chances of them being available for Saturday is somewhat slim.

The international break made its way into Ronald Koeman’s pre-match press conference as Holland have made a ropey start to life under Guus Hiddink and a few ex-players have been speculating that Koeman should have the job.  In typical Koeman fashion he addressed it, saying that they could have approached him in the summer and they didn’t and now he was at Southampton and his contract was for 3 years.  It’s obviously dangerous to speculate on the intentions of managers post-Pochettino but you get the impression he means it which is as good as we’re going to get.

Sunderland are in town today and they are unbeatable, to us anyway.  3 draws and 3 defeats in the last 2 years in games that have typically seen Sunderland be very very average and us be worse.  Our old mate Gus Poyet is still in charge up there so the game and press conference is sure to contain many bell end moments.  Of course, last seasons results mean nothing, especially if we are serious about being up near the top of the league.  Let’s fucking do this.

The team news revealed that the African 3 were all available but on the bench as the pack was shuffled to bring Corky and Shane Long into the starting line up.  Sunderland having won a game last time out, have Fletcher and Wickham up front in what looks like an attacking line up.  The central defence is O’Shea and Brown who you usually need a good referee against with O’Shea in particular being fond of grabbing the centre forward and wrestling.  The midfield contains two of the most unlikeable players in the Premier League for my money in Cattermole and Larsson.  They’re both horrible little snarly players who are always on at the referee and added to that – they’re both pretty shite.
Away we go and Sunderland start the better and we get penned back a bit.  We’re giving the ball away and not having any calm possession.  Poyet has posted Wickham out wide left with Fletcher up top and Jordi Gomez is obviously supposed to provide the guile that Cattermole and Larsson won’t.

We still really weren’t playing very well by the time we reached 10 minutes and then something very odd happened.  Football broke put and we moved up the pitch and Morgan tried to knock it past a defender which he did but too far for him to collect the ball again.  He needn’t have bothered as Vergini came across from right back and instead of using his left foot to clag it up the pitch, he used his right and smashed it on the volley straight past Mannone and into the bottom corner, from 20 yards.  More Vagina than Vergini.  What a finish, what a goal, what the fuck was that?

Once they’d stopped holding their heads in their hands, Sunderland once again looked decent with Fletcher causing problems in the middle but Wickham was having a mare out wide and picked up a booking for trashing Clyne.  On 20 minutes, having reloaded the gun, Sunderland turned it on themselves and pulled trigger.  Buckley, last seen being average in the Championship for Brighton, tried to pass out of defence and drilled it straight up Larsson’s arse.  The rebound fell to Steve Davis who advanced down the left and slid a ball across the six yard box and Pellè steamed in to tap in number 2. Larsson had, true to my impression of him as a whiny moany bastard, not tried to track back once the ball was lost but just stood there making faces and throwing his arms about n pathetic 8 year old fashion.

Sunderland still flickered though and won a free kick for a nothing tackle which caused me to utter my second Family Stand Expletive of the season with a heartfelt ‘Bollocks referee!’ Whoops.  Anyway, Larsson’s free kick was easily dealt with by Fraser.  Fraser was in the middle of the next incident of note as Cattermole slid Fletcher in.  He got to the ball first and poked it past Fraser before attempting to jump over Forster, clipping him and flying up in the air as the ball rolled wide.  I expected a penalty to be given and a red card to come out of Andre Marriner’s pocket.  If you look at it from our point of view though, Fletcher has already knocked the ball wide so it’s not a goalscoring chance any more when contact is made.  I guess also that the ref has seen it as Fletcher started jumping before Forster got to him.  However, if I was a Sunderland fan I’d be livid…. But I’m not so definitely not a penalty…

Just when the Mackems were thinking that everything was against them, Corky swept a ball out to Tadic on the left and he toyed with Vagini before clipping over a cross right into the path of the onrushing Cork who rather bobbled the shot but even though Mannone got a good hand to it, it still ended up in the net and with Corky now being a regular goalscorer, all the Row Z stuff I wrote about him last year seems more and more funny.  Half time and though we hadn’t been brilliant, it was still 3-0 and surely we wouldn’t manage to screw up against Sunderland again and somehow not win.

At half time I was explaining to my son and daughter that 3-0 at half time usually means 3-0 at full time as the players knock off as the job is done.  Daughter said it would be nice to see at least one goal down this end.  We will see… Gus hasn’t had an enjoyable half time and he’s sent the players out early and Wes Brown has been replaced with Liam Bridcutt.  Call me a pessimist but I was pleased that Adam Johnson didn’t come on as I’ve always thought he was decent.

The only danger to us in this game is from a fast start and an early goal from Sunderland but what we get is Cattermole giving up in midfield and jogging back as Saints attack.  A cross from Clyne, Pellè heads down and Davis lashes it over the bar on the volley.  Davo is the new Corky in front of goal.  Ten minutes go by with nothing much happening aside from Bridcutt looking like a fish up a tree at right back. Actually, if he was a fish he wouldn’t be out of his depth but he looks like he’s won a game in the first team in a competition.  He’s slow and looks like a ball boy.  Anyway, so Gus decides that it’s time to change stuff and takes of Larsson and Gomez, throwing on Johnson and Rodwell who are on paper, much better players.  What I don’t get is that he left Wickham out wide left where he was doing nothing and played Johnson, a left footed winger, in the middle.  Also, Larsson has been piss poor but he’s better than Cattermole and at least he hasn’t given up.

Shane Long gets put in on the keeper and it looks like his first goal for Saints but he unselfishly knocks it to Tadic whose effort is cleared off the line.  Sunderland had another go at clearing one off the line a minute later as Bertrand got down the left and pulled the cross back to Pellè who took a touch and blasted a shot through Mannone who got something on it.  As the ball rolled towards the goal, Bridcutt did something akin to Riverdance on the ball and succeeded only in knocking it over the line.  What a complete bellend, 4-0.  I’m pretty sure it’s an own goal but worth a shout to the dubious goals commission.

What you need when your midfield has given up and you’re 4-0 down, is to see Big Vic coming on for the opposition.  Having played two games for Northern Ireland on the international break, Steve Davis is the one to make way and it’s been another excellent game from the man who signed a 4 years contract last week.  Sadio Mané is also on for Shane Long and if I was Bridcutt I’d be phoning the Samaritans at this point.

Big Vic is immediately finding the freedom of the midfield and shanks a shot across the goal and it goes straight to Graziano but he lifts a first time shot over the bar before sinking to his knees in over-demonstrative typical Italian fashion.  He’s not to be denied a minute later as Tadic picks it up in the middle, waits until Pellè has half a yard on the hopeless Vagini, slides the pass in and Pellè whips is across Mannone and into the opposite corner. 5-0.

It’s getting silly now and the Cattermole attitude has rubbed off on even the usually reliable players.  O’Shea wafts a lazy backpass to Mannone who instead of belting it, tried to sidefoot it out to van Aanholt but succeeded only in passing straight to Tadic who simply curled it round him with his left foot as Mannone dived on the ground late, in the hope that an earthquake would swallow him up.

On the one hand, Koeman must be feeling sorry for Sunderland as he’s sending on Mayuka for work experience in place of Graziano.  However, Ronald is waving everyone forwards as he has no intention of taking the foot off the throat.  6-0 becomes 7-0 almost straight from the kick off. Sunderland pass it around and into Cattermole who gets brushed aside by Big Vic.  He can’t be bothered to chase back so two passes later, Dusan Tadic turns van Aanholt inside out before playing a ball into the path of Big Vic who thunders it into the net.  The man who didn’t celebrate against Swansea when he got the winner is celebrating the 7th goal in a 7-0 lead though his dive towards the corner flag didn’t have much artistic merit.

It honestly felt like we could score 10 if we wanted to but we had to settle for just the one more goal with Tadic again getting down the left past the non-existent Bridcutt and pulling back for Sadio Mané to score his first Saints goal with Mannone helpless. EIGHT-NIL... Eight fucking Nil. 

It was getting so ridiculous that there was an air of disappointment that there were no more goal in the last 5 minutes and the final whistle signalled the end of the complete and utter slaughter of the team that we haven’t beaten in the last 6 attempts.  Though we always lose to Spurs and that continued this season, today was a day when you realise that this is a new Southampton and the usual rules do not apply.  Ronald Koeman got his team selection spot on, benching the players who had travelled the farthest and then bringing them on for impact.  Both Corky and Shane Long did a great job and let’s not forget that this was another clean sheet with José Fonte and Toby Alderweireld being rock solid at the back, ably backed up by Clyney and Ryan Bertrand who also flew forward with good effect.  All the goalscorers and Tadic in particular will take the plaudits but in the middle of it were Morgan and Steve Davis who totally ran the game.

Gus to be fair, did say some nice stuff about us before the game but this couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.  He fronted up in his post match interview saying that it was the most embarrassing performance he’d ever been involved in.  A majority of his players just gave up and more on that later but in memory of Lambert and Barnard and Dagenham and ‘Can you Keep Up’, we’ll start with you Gus.  The substitution he made at half time was mind blowing.  Not only did he bring on Bridcutt who is a Championship player at best, he put him out of position and teamed him up with the equally hopeless Buckley on the Sunderland right against a rampaging Bertrand and Tadic.  The double whammy was that Vagini was moved into an area where he could do even more damage… and he did.  Playing Wickham out on the left was a total waste of a player – he’s a centre forward and you have Adam Johnson on the bench.  Did I mention that the players that he signed from his previous club Brighton, Buckley and Bridcutt are shit?  I think I did but it bears repeating. 

Then we get to the midfield engine room of Larsson and fucking Cattermole.  Larssson got taken off but he was the better of the two. Cattermole had given up at half time.  He couldn’t be arsed to track his man and just jogged back.  He did the same with Big Vic’s goal having lost the ball.  Even Matt le Tissier put in more effort to get back if he’d lost the ball himself.  There has to be an element of pride in yourself, especially if you’ve screwed up, to win the ball back.  Cattermole is the captain for Christ’s sake and can whoever touted him for an international call up, simply because he hasn’t been sent off for a few weeks, please have a word with themselves. Not only is he bang average, he also has a shocking attitude when the going gets tough.  In the first half, I thought Fletcher was decent – holding the ball up well and being a right nuisance and he didn’t make a big deal of the penalty shout but other than that, Sunderland were woeful.  Oh and I forgot to mention the keeper.  He was great – should have saved goals 3 and 4 and he fucked up for number 6 but other than that – great.

When I got home, my missus (who is not a football fan) asked if I felt sorry for the Sunderland players to which I answered “not in the slightest” as you’d expect.  The fans however are another matter.  I’ve been on the end of a trip to Sunderland where we were abysmally bad and it’s not good.  Mind you, we only lost 1-0.  8-0 is a shocker and whilst I hate people leaving games early, I don’t think you can blame anyone when their side is 4-0 or 5-0 down and you have a 300 mile plus journey in front of you.

Next up is another home game against Stoke – another one of the side who we don’t beat.  They will be considerably more tough than Sunderland as they have thugs like Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross in their side.  A few days afterwards we also have them in the League Cup so expect our resources to be stretched and if we come out of these game with no injuries then we’ll have done well.  Oh yeah, a couple of wins would be nice.  That’s for another day though so let’s enjoy the 8-0.  I was present the last time we scored 8 which was an 8-2 against Coventry with Steve Moran and Danny Wallace both scoring hat-tricks in April 1984, just over 30 years ago.  Make the most of it my friends.

"Look Up at the Scoreboard Gus. Can You Keep Up? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mr IQ Speaks and Suddenly All Is Clear

"My England Career is Purely to Benefit my Club Career"

The international break happened and someone said something that confirmed something that I knew all along and at the same time, answered one of the great questions that has been vexing football fans for years – Why are England so shit?  You would expect that the person who answered this question would be a genius of some description with a high IQ but the truth could not be further removed from that.  The person in question was a thick idiot with no self awareness called Adam Lallana and what he said in his press conference crystallized everything.  He was talking about Nathaniel Clyne and he basically said that if Clyne got in the England side that it would give him options, meaning options like a move to a Champions League club. On one hand, I was screaming ‘cunnnnnnttttt’ at him but on the other hand, he was being honest and illustrating the way the modern footballer thinks about the England side which tells you all you need to know about why England are shite. 

It’s not about the pride of representing your country any more or maybe actually doing well and winning stuff for the millions of people watching.  For Adam Lallana and countless others, it’s about getting in the England team and giving yourself the chance of a better club career… and by better, I mean more money.  It was so important to Adam that he spent the World Cup preparation time talking about it.  The England team is just a stepping stone and that my friends, is a fucking tragedy.  Adam Lalllana is undoubtedly a thick bastard who has no awareness of how he comes across but on the other hand, his lack of brain means that he’s honest because he’s too stupid to be anything else and in a world where footballer soundbites are usually completely bland and boring, I guess it’s not a bad thing.  He is assuming that every player is motivated by the same things he is but I still cling to the hope that some are motivated by something other than cash. 

So, there you have it – there’s motivation for a player to get in the England squad so he can get his ‘dream’ move to a big club but once he’s done that, the big club in question becomes way more important than the national team and that my friends, is one big reason why England are shite.  Of course, if we had a decent manager then we could kick back against some of this but that’s a whole other issue.  So thanks Adam for making me see the light.  Perhaps I’ll see if my son wants to put your picture back up on his wall now.  Rickie’s still up there but he took yours down (on his own with no input from me by the way) for some reason which is probably totally lost on you.

Talking of Nathaniel Clyne… which I was a while ago... well he got picked for the squad and then ignored for the team as the senile old goat Hodgson picked Calum Chambers for both matches.  This is a player that Arsene Wenger is going to play at centre back whenever possible so it fits that he joins Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and John Stones as centre backs that Hodgson has picked at right back whilst ignoring the best English specialist right back.  In two games against the football powerhouses of San Marino and Estonia, Chambers was distinctly average and offered next to nothing going forward against two sides where we had 80% of possession.   Who could possibly have predicted that?  Clyne is the better attacking full-back.  Everyone knows that and even if they didn’t before, 2 superb goals already this season illustrated it to the uneducated, except one man it seems.

There is a total myth that gets pedalled about that Chambers is a better defender and Clyne is a better attacker.  The fact that Clyne is a better attacker is beyond debate but he’s also a better defender, quicker, sharper in the tackle and hardly ever beaten 1 on 1.  Chambers is better in the air, mainly because he’s taller, which is why he’s now a centre back and that’s it.  It’s absolutely mind blowing that for two games against shite opposition, Hodgson picks Chambers.  I was prepared (a bit) to give him the benefit of the doubt after the San Marino game as we had 2 games in 4 days and I thought he might play them in one game each.  After all, with Kieran Gibbs and Chambers being picked at full back v San Marino, I assumed that the better pairing for Baines and Clyne were to be used in the tougher game against Estonia.... but no.   All this is just a debate over one position in the team and it’s before we even get to the rest of the side.  Anyway, Clyne won’t even get in the next squad as no doubt Glen ‘can’t attack, can’t defend’ Johnson will be back.

The inbuilt negativity that Hodgson has means that matches at home to San Marino and away to Estonia were treated with caution so he picked what in his mind was a solid defensive team.  He should be using these fixtures in the easiest qualification group ever to think longer term and develop a team and a style of play that might actually achieve something in a tournament.  Trying to finish in the top 3 of a 6 team group containing Switzerland, Estonia, San Marino, Lithuania and Slovenia is as close to a bye as you can possibly get.  Pick an attacking team you moron – Milner and Henderson in midfield against San Marino with Wilshere as the holding player? Delph and Henderson against Estonia with Wilshere again as the holding player? Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench for both games?  Ridiculous and we haven’t even discussed Rooney yet. 

All we need to say about out captain and leader is that he was slow, sluggish and shite in both matches, missed a load of chances but scored a penalty and a free-kick which the keeper should have saved.  He is going to be England’s leading goalscorer ever and Bobby Charlton is turning in his grave and he’s not even dead.  Rooney - England legend, my arse.  When Sturridge is fit again, we know that Wayne Untouchable will be fine and Welbeck will get dropped or moved to the left – that is, as long as Brendan Rodgers allows Sturridge to play.  The main issue from these games is that of Raheem Sterling asking to be rested for the Estonia game.... yeah, that wasn’t under instructions from Mr Smug Rodgers was it?  Club over country and here we are back where we started with Mr IQ, Adam Lallana.  He did well as a second half sub against the postmen and PE teachers of San Marino and he had a decent first half against Estonia before doing his usual and fading out as the game went on.  He was probably saving himself for his next Liverpool game.

So England were turgid and shite and won both games, 5-0 against the PE Teachers and postmen of San Marino and 1-0 against 10 man Estonia whose star player is a sub for Blackpool. Beyond pathetic but that’s what we’re dealing with now with Hodgson in charge.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Premier League Game 7 - Tottenham 1 Southampton 0

Nearest Covering Defender is the Out-of-Focus one in the Background

From the depths of our meltdown, it’s now been recognized that we are a decent side and we do have some decent players.  This good news has obviously travelled to Europe as three of our players got their first ever call ups to the senior squads.  Graziano Pellè is in the Italy squad for the first time at the age of 29 and at one year older, José Fonte has got the call from the new Portugal manager.  To be fair, he had a better chance under the new manager as this guy has actually heard of him.   The biggest miracle of all though is that Roy Hodgson called up Nathaniel Clyne having finally realised that after 2 years of evidence, he’s our best right back.  Clyney now has a chance to prove that he’s better than the injured Glen Johnson which he should be able to do, just by putting a pass to a team mate or knowing what defending actually is.  The call-ups for the other two are equally pleasing though, especially for José, having been with us from League 1 days.  Graziano is in despite having been written off by some of our more knowledgeable supporters a whole 6 games ago.

Today we travel to White Hart Lane to play against a Pochettino led Tottenham who are so far proving to be the same as always with aspirations of a top 4 finish which they won’t get this season as long as Mauricio has a hole in his arse.  Home defeats already by West Brom and Liverpool in a distinctly average start and the natives, not to mention Daniel Levy, won’t be best pleased if they lose again today.  A piece came out in a newspaper this week about the circumstances of his move to Spurs and it didn’t paint Pochettino or Levy in a particularly good light.  To be honest,, whether the article was true or not, I don’t give a shite any more.  Bollocks to them.  We’ve moved on and they’re welcome to eachother.

Team news and we are as we were with just the one chance to the squad from the QPR game with Florin Gardos replacing Jason McCarthy on the bench where he was joined by Corky and Shane Long and in his last appearance before we find someone else who can do something apart from run in a straight line, Emmanuel Mayuka.

As was the trademark for Pochettino’s last team, Spurs started well and soon won a corner as Rose tried to manhandle his way past Tadic.  The corner was met by Vertonghen who looped a header towards goal but Bertrand easily cleared off the line.

Our first chance came on 8 minutes as we worked down the right hand side and Pellè crossed low.  Naughton played an airshot and the ball fell to Mané but the full back got back to block his sidefooted effort.  The next Saints chance came on 20 minutes as Mané isolated the Naughton and ran at him, crossing low and Morgan and Graziano managed to get in eachothers way so neither got a shot in and the ball bobbled through to Lloris in apologetic fashion.

I quite like Danny Rose as a player but he’s a horrible little shit and he proves it by cynically scything though Tadic and picking up a yellow card.  Ryan Bertand, who almost seems too nice at times, is a fraction late on Naughton on the other side and gets the same but Naughton is unlucky and can’t continue to be replaced by Dier.

When Spurs got the ball down they were looking dangerous and Lamela and Eriksen played a 1-2 to send Lamela running through our midfield.  A pot shot from 30 yards was tipped wide by Fraser down low to his left.  With Spurs getting up a bit of a head of steam, we needed our midfield to shut things down a bit but every time Big Vic went near a player and muscled him off the ball, Mike Jones’ whistle went and Spurs got a free kick.  We were getting penned in a bit and personally I was hoping we’d get to half time at 0-0 but sods law says that as soon as you start thinking that way, it all goes tits up.  Rose lobbed a ball forward, Adebayor controlled and turned and galloped down the left, into Chadli, out to Eriksen and bang, through Alderweireld’s legs, bottom corner, no chance for Fraser, 1-0, fuck off.  It’s a good goal to be fair though if you’re being hyper-critical you may think that Alderweireld should have thrown himself at Eriksen to try and block it.

There was no time to worry about that as we lost the ball upfield and they broke on us again and Chadli picked up an Adebayor pass, bundled past Fonte and was clean through on Fraser.  As he fired past him we all waited for the net to bulge but we got lucky as the ball smacked the inside of the post and came back out again.  Having survived that we won a free kick through Manè up the other end and Tadic had a go from 30 yards but though his effort was on target, Lloris got down to save.  Later replays showed that some pace was taken off the free kick by a handball on the edge of the wall.  Never mind ref!  Half time and 1-0 down and not really playing well.  The free kick at the end aside, our set pieces had been bloody awful and with Pellè getting no service whatsoever, it was hard to see where we’d get a goal from.

Saints started the second half well and on 51 minutes, Steve Davis played a ball to Tadic who put Mané through with just Kaboul in between him and Lloris.  Across came Kaboul and won the ball with a strong challenge which wasn’t a foul in my eyes but the ref gave it which was consistent in his approach to the Big Vic challenges earlier.  He’s the last man so he has to go surely but the ref only flashed a yellow card.  Unless the rules have changed and I’m not aware of it, a foul with no covering defender, stopping a goalscoring chance is a straight red card for fucks sake.  It’s a law of the game and there’s no interpretation necessary.  Another defender who may be able to intervene is the only interpretation that a ref can put on it, otherwise it’s black and white.  Kaboul is the last man, he’s fouled him, there’s no one else near, he has to go. Like I said, I don’t think it was even a foul but he has to go once the ref has deemed it as a foul.  Harsh or otherwise, he has to go.  Saints have a tendency (which I don’t particularly like) of surrounding the referee and making sure he’s aware of the issues surrounding a foul on one of our players but we weren’t here, possibly because it was soft.  Kaboul though, should be off the pitch and the ref should be held to account because he isn’t.  Needless to say, we fucked up the free kick.

Spurs aren’t attacking much but when they do they look dangerous, either through the pace of Chadli or though the fact that Fraser is having a bit of a mare and everything is bouncing off him including an Eriksen cross which thumps off his chest and bounces to safety.  Just after the hour mark and we’re gifted a chance to equalize as Pellè’s flick from a throw in goes to Kaboul who produces a shockingly shit volleyed slice along the ground to edge of the box and Big Vic steams in, connects well but it’s too close to Lloris who palms it aside so another major stroke of luck for Kaboul.

For twenty minutes we huff and puff without producing clear chances.  Ronald has thrown the dice and brought on Long for Big Vic and gone 4-4-2 but most of the action concerns Sadio Mané.  Firstly he takes on Eric Dier and goes down holding his face when he’s been caught in the chest.  I fucking hate that shit and I hope someone has a word.  You’ve won the free kick so don’t be a wanker and try to get someone sent off.  Shane Long puts Bertand away on the left and he fires in a wonderful low cross to the onrushing Mané who only has to make contact but his right footed effort barely makes contact from 6 yards out and instead of a certain goal conceded, Spurs have a goal kick.  Fucking hell it’s bad.  It isn’t happening today and all that did happen in the last 10 minutes was Tadic getting booked for fouling Danny Rose who has been kicking lumps out of Tadic all game.  Oh the irony.

And so it came to pass that our 6 game winning run came to an end.  Bugger.  It was an odd sort of game in truth with plenty of midfield scuffling and short on goalmouth incident.  On balance of play you might say a draw would have been a fair result but if pushed to pick one team or other that deserved to win, you’d have to say Spurs.  Against that you could point out that we didn’t get the rub regarding the refereeing with the Kaboul non-red card being the most obvious of a few decisions we didn’t get.  It’s about taking your chances though and Spurs scored when they were on top and we had a solid gold chance to equalize during our best spell and blew it horribly.

The most disappointing thing for me was that we knew exactly how Spurs were going to play as per Pochettino’s blueprint but we didn’t take a leaf out of the book of the teams who were decent against us last year.  We didn’t break quickly when we won the ball and we didn’t turn defence into attack quickly through accurate long balls to the wingers or Pellè.  Koeman tried something different by going 4-4-2 but in my opinion it should have been Davis who came off instead of Big Vic as the big man and Morgan can maintain dominance in midfield on their own and Davo is hardly a goal threat.

Ronald was left to defend Sadio Mané in his post match interview which he shouldn’t need to do and he had a little comment about the Anti-Pochettino chanting which will of course get sensationalised in every article you see written about the game.  Pochettino for his part said all the right things but that’s easy to do when you’ve won.  Also, he probably meant something else but the interpreter wasn’t around to make sure.  For what it’s worth I thought Spurs were bang average but to be fair to them, the stopped us from playing and found a way to win.  So, it’s 5 one goal defeats from 5 meetings with Spurs in the Premier League – bastards.  Rest assured that I still hate Spurs and Levy and I still desperately want to finish above them but today has shown me how difficult that might be. Sing yer own fucking song though you dicks.

You won’t get any doom and gloom from me.  We’ve had an off game and we still could have easily got a point from it and we’ve dropped down to 3rd in the Premier League table with Chelsea, Manchester City and North Devon United making up the top 4.  It’s not a bad place to be.  Next up is the international break and following that it’s another one of our bogey sides Sunderland at home.  We’ve failed to end the Spurs jinx but it’s certainly time too end the Sunderland one and it’ll have the added bonus of annoying that arsehole Poyet.

Keep the faith.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Premier League Game 6 - Southampton 2 QPR 1

Another bad day for 'Arry Ballsack

Ah Mr Redknapp – we’ve been expecting you...

Mr Redknapp is a bit predictable.  The last time he was in the Premier  League with QPR he decided in time honoured fashion to try and buy his way out of the relegation zone in the January transfer window, spunking millions up the wall on past-it mercenaries and giving them ridiculous length contracts on ridiculous money.  They got emphatically relegated.    Naturally, when a tactic has completely failed and you’ve nearly bankrupted the club, it makes perfect sense to make your first signing of the new season, a 35 year old Rio Ferdinand who was gone as a top level player about 3 years ago but propped up by the last knockings of Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford.  He was found out big time last year but ‘Arry still bought him…. Because he could.

Another sortie into the transfer marked have seen Steven Caulker arrive who got relegated with Cardiff last season.  He’s a decent centre half when paired with a quicker one so the partnership of him and Rio is always going to work out great.  Loic Remy has departed to Chelsea and he was the man who scored the winner in the last meeting at SMS when QPR came into the game as underdogs and left with the win.  This had better not happen today.

‘Arry can’t understand it of course but we all hate him.  In a year when two of our players were dreaming of Liverpool when they were still our players, it’s worth remembering that ‘Arry’s ‘heart was never in it’ when he was manager of Southampton and whilst he was still our manager, he got himself a job at Portsmouth.  Oh.... he made sure we got relegated first.  No doubt the way he’d see it was that he set in motion the chain of events that saw us rise to where we are now. 

Since the Arsenal game we’ve been basking in the glow of positive publicity and now we’ve got some more good news in that Toby Alderweireld is back in training.  The questions today are Mané or Long, Toby or Florin and which two out of Big Vic, Steve Davis or Corky.  Come 2pm we had the answers that Gardos had a knock and so Tony Autoharold started, Big Vic and Davo were in midfield with Morgan and Long was benched again in favour of Mané.  The bench saw Jason McCarthy for the first time and Harrison Reed was there in place of the injured JWP.  The 7th sub, as in the sub that will be put on the pitch after Kelvin Davis has been given a run in midfield, was Emmanuel Mayuka.  QPR include Ferdinand and Caulker but there was no place for Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe even though their triffic top top players and surprisingly, Jamie Redknapp was left out as well.  He was probably at home playing the Wii with Rosie the Dog.

Aside from injury speculation, since the Arsenal game, the only story that had emerged about Saints was that the players asked Ronald Koeman to cancel their day off as the senior players (led by José Fonte) decided they would be better for it.  A seriously good touch by the players.  Could you imagine some of the old school players like Mick Channon or Jim Steele coming in voluntarily instead of having a day off?

Good old Twattenberg is refereeing us for the first time since he was cleared of any blame for the ‘Lallana has changed’ incident at Everton last year.  Vindicated he may be but he’s still a very dodgy ref.  We make a decent start and within 30 seconds, Tadic is playing Mané away on the left and his cross is held by Green.  A few minutes later and Pellè and Clyne combine to sent Tadic away on the right but his attempted lob is well smothered by the onrushing Green, who has started confidently.  We really need an England v USA 2010 performance from him.

The fast start that we’ve made is stopped dead as Sandro and Mané compete in a competition to see who has the hardest head and Sadio wins. Sandro is out cold and as it’s a head injury they can’t move him off the pitch and so five minutes later, we’re still waiting as he is helped back to his feet and goes off to be replaced by Karl Henry.

The game become bitty and fragmented and that was down the Twattenberg and his bright shiny whistle which he wanted to make sure everyone noticed.  QPR were having some possession in our half but nothing really dangerous.  Saints should really have taken the lead and wasted three good chances.  Firstly Tadic got a shot away from the edge of the box and was unlucky to see it bounced off of Caulker, beat Green and hit the post and bounce away.  Then Pellè got played into the inside right channel and went near post instead of far and smashed it wide in what has to be said, was a pretty poor effort.   QPR were carved open again in the same channel just before half time as a 1-2 between Morgan and Mané gave the Frenchman a chance which he sidefooted just wide and so we arrived at half time at 0-0.  We’ve been the better side by a mile and you can see why QPR are near the bottom but as it stands, they’re hanging in there.

The second half starts I much the same way as the first half ended with Saints on top.  Mané tricks his way through and scuffs a shot at Green.  Ten minutes are gone and QPR are looking comfortable until Rio Ferdinand chips a horrible, casual, aimless ball into the midfield and it’s picked off by Morgan who feeds Tadic.  His cross is overhit and behind Mané but the new guy retrieves it, waits for Bertrand’s run and backheels it to him through the defenders legs.  Bertrand runs on and smashes it low and hard, under Green and into the net and the deadlock is broken and our other full back has scored, something that last years left back never managed to do.

Hoilett is on for QPR but Saints are looking for a second with Mané playing through Pellè on the left and his pull back is flashed at by Davis but the ball breaks to Tadic who is too close to Green who deflects it over the bar as Tadic tries to scoop it over him.  We nearly scored from the resulting corner through Graziano but out of nowhere, our profligacy in front of goal comes back to bite us in the arse as Hoilett cuts in from the left and feeds Vargas whose cross is brilliantly controlled by Austin who swivels and buries the volley.  Bollocks and is ‘Arry going to do us again?

Almost immediately, Shane Long is on for Mané and his first involvement is to cut inside and hit over a cross. Tadic heads it down and Graziano flicks it up before it bounces and overhead scissor kicks it over Green and into the far corner.  It’s fair to say that we went fucking mental.  What a goal.  Theirs was good, ours was better and you’re not singing any more is repeated back at the QPR fans tenfold.

Corky is on for Big Vic who has been magnificent today and Saints are hell bent on putting the game to bed.  Long is a pest down the right and robs Traore.  His cross is half cleared to Davis to curls a beautiful left footed shot past Green and smashing into the post.  Back come QPR and Austin should have done better with a free header but put it wide and it’s end to end as Davis slides Long clean through cutting in from the left but his finish is piss poor when 1v1 with Green and is more like a back pass.

Bobby Zamora, another relic on a fortune per week is on and QPR resort to hoofing it up to him and to be fair, it’s working.  He’s giving Alderweireld and Fonte a hard time and the ball is dropping down and in the absence of Big Vic, no one is picking it up.  It’s allowing Kranjcar to get on the ball in the dangerous areas and he’s their best player by a mile.  Graziano goes back to help out and does the opposite by bringing down the Croat who goes down like a sack of shit and Twattenberg buys it.  Up steps Kranjcar and it’s over the wall and crashing down off the bar and we’re all mighty relieved as Caulker gets to the rebound but can only loop it over the empty goal.

Up the other end we go and Hoilett decides to shoulder barge Tadic in the chest and give us a free kick in the same position as the one QPR just had.  Dusan is obviously told to leave it by Davis after an earlier piss poor effort and the Northern Irishman curls it over the wall and inches wide of the near post at crossbar height.  QPR are done now and leaving gaps all over the place and Tadic breaks away on the left onto Corky’s return pass and smashes his shot against the near post and away again before being replaced by Matt Targett who is making his league debut.  He slots in on the left, we waste a bit of time and Twattenberg brings the game to a close.

Tough game but another win to maintain our ridiculous 2nd place in the league table.  We made heavy weather of beating a very average QPR side but it’s all about the end result.  On another day, with more clinical finishing, it could easily have been 4 or 5-1 but 2-1 is more than adequate.  Goal of the month should be interesting this month as our last three games have seen screamers from Big Vic and Clyney and now Graziano tops the lot with today’s effort.  It’s a fantastic effort and the guy just seems to be getting better and better with a place in the next Italian squad beckoning.  As if being 6 foot 4, Italian and beautiful with a model girlfriend isn’t enough... he can also score overhead kicks to win a game in the Premier League.  Hasn’t got much going for him has he?

The goal is going to take all the headlines but for me, the stars of the show were Steven Davis, Big Vic and Sadio Mané.  Vic and Davo were everywhere in midfield, constantly winning the ball back and along with Morgan, forming an excellent midfield unit.  Steve Davis of course didn’t score again but at least today it was down to a bit of misfortune rather than crap finishing.  We notably looked more dodgy defensively when Vic went off as Corky wasn’t quite at the races when QPR started going Route 1 up to Zamora.  Sadio is going to frustrate at times but the unpredictability he brings is going to create a lot of openings for us.  He seems to have a brain as well as being quick which is good because as we well know, just being quick like Mayuka or Papa Waigo, really isn’t enough.

Ronald Koeman is finding this ‘managing in the Premier League’ lark really easy and his post match interviews  are all running to the same template.  He talks about his surprise at our great start and then talks about the latest worldy which has flown into the opposition net.  Hopefully the post-match interviews will run to the same template for a quite a while yet.

I think part of the problem with QPR is them trying to score in the specified minute of a game to make ‘Arry’s bets come up trumps.   His post match interview was along the lines of... “Charlie Facking Austin, don’t give me Charlie Facking Austin... I facking had him to score in the 72nd minute, not the facking 71st.... ‘ave a facking word saaaan. ... I mean Rio (twitch), great professional, great lad... gave the ball instructed for their first goal but Pele, not bad for 72 with Viagra.... (twitch) nice goal saan, triffic, gave ‘im ‘is break at West ‘Am in the 80s, top top player,  like Trevor Brooking – he’s 60 but ‘ees a triffic pro, fit as a fiddle and I’ve offered him ‘undred grand a week... ee can still do a job.  I’m off to Sandbanks with Rosie the dog that I aven’t got and a text message from Steve G on the phone I don’t know how to use... (twitch) just me, Sandra, Jamie and the Wii and Louise made the tea saaan, triffic”.

Redknapp’s actual reaction was fair enough in that he talked up the world class goal and then it was all ifs, buts and maybe’s about QPR’s prospects.  He seemed a bit down did ‘Arry.  I’d feel a bit sorry for him if I didn’t think he was a complete helmet.

Next up we have a rather tasty trip to White Hart Lane.  Forgetting the dishonourable shitbag they have as manager for a moment, we really owe Spurs one.  4 games in the Premier League since we got back and we haven’t even got a point yet.  Two one-man-team-Bale defeats, a Gazzaniga / Hooiveld production and a capitulation from 2-0 up.  This is the one where that changes.  With Pochettino in charge, we know exactly how Spurs are going to play and we will know how to counteract it buy turning defence into attack quickly, either through the pace of Sadio Mané or by going more direct up to Graziano Pellè.  After an indifferent start to the season, a defeat at the hands of Southampton at White Hart Lane could see the notoriously fickle Spurs fans start to show some dissent at Levy’s latest manager.  We’ve put one former manager in his place this week and next week I quite fancy us to do the same again.

Mr Redknapp, you can leave now...