More false dawns on the horizon?

New beginnings at Anfield under Hodgson?

For man who prides himself on doing his job with the minimum of fuss, the first two months of Roy Hodgson’s reign as Liverpool manager have been a flurry of activity. Whilst the blame for the boardroom wrangling cannot be laid at the door of the affable Hodgson, he seems to be unusually flustered in his dealings. Between juggling reserve goalkeepers, pawning £17 million midfielders out on loan and indulging the new saviour of Anfield, the 62-year old is sowing the seeds that he hopes will harvest a successful tenure in the biggest job of his life. It’s clear he’s going to do it his way.

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Hull struggle with the big boys

Keenan and Brent deep in thought.

It seems to be just idiotic exchange between Gareth Keenan and his former boss David Brent. They are scouring a dating website as Brent searches frantically for date to bring to the Wernam Hogg Christmas party. Brent lists one of his interests as travel. When Keenan questions the validity of this claim, Brent mentions Hull as one of the places he has travelled to. His ire is raised by Garth’s constant probing until Brent comes out with the immortal line:

Well it’s not like Hull came to me. Oh look, here comes Hull down the motorway.

It’s a line that still makes this column chuckle. Hull City’s Premier League adventure has not quite provided as many laughs, but if there’s one thing you could not accuse them of is being boring.

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A season to forget

Tanner: Patience required

Liverpool fans are a patient bunch. Patient in that any new player who wears the Liverbird on his chest will be given a chance to prove himself until a verdict is reached. Even the likes of Nicky Tanner, Paul Stewart and Istvan Kozma were offered a period of grace until they turned out to be quite below the standard required. Players who never really distinguished themselves at Anfield, still receive a warm reception when they return to the hallowed turf. Unless your name happens to be Michael Owen. One player who is still benefiting from the patience of the Kop is Alberto Aquilani. Another insipid display was ended in substitution against Fulham, but Anfield rose to their feet in acclaim. To say that things have not gone to plan for the former Roma star in England would surely be a candidate for understatement of the season. Continue reading

What now for Joe Cole?

Cole as a young Hammer

Prodigy. Genius. Magical. There was an endless list of superlatives used to describe Joe Cole as he rose like a phoenix through the ranks at West Ham’s academy during the 1990s. The future of English football. His emergence would signal a new breed of player in the birthplace of the game. Technique, skill and imagination would come to the fore, with the strength, discipline and desire so implanted in the psyche of the English game taking a back-seat. Such was Cole’s natural ability; future teams would be constructed to suit his strengths. However now aged 28, supposedly when a player is at his peak, Chelsea are stalling on offering Cole a new deal. His World Cup place is under severe threat. How has it come to this? Continue reading

“He’s not that type of player”

“There was no malicious intent from Ryan; he’s not that kind of player.”

Danny Pugh, Stoke City midfielder, 27th February 2010.

“He’s a committed player, but he’s never going to go into a challenge looking to hurt someone.”

Rory Delap, Stoke City midfielder, 27th February 2010.

“Martin’s not a dirty player. He’s distraught over Eduardo’s injury.”

Alex McLeish, Birmingham City manager, 23rd February 2008.

“In my opinion, I felt Dan Smith did go for the ball and the lad knocked it away and he accidentally caught him.”

Kevin Ball, Sunderland caretaker manager, 1st May 2006

Horror tackle

Almost two years to the day that Eduardo suffered a horrific broken leg after a challenge by Birmingham’s Martin Taylor, Aaron Ramsey was to suffer a similar fate at the hands of Ryan Shawcross at the Britannia Stadium last night. In May 2006, 19-year-old Abou Diaby had his ankle broken when a Dan Smith lunge cost him eight months of his career and a possible Champions League final appearance. Does anyone see a bit of a pattern forming here?

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Moyes gets just desserts

Kuyt celebrates another winner in a Merseyside Derby

It was one of the more explosive Merseyside derbies in living memory. And that is saying quite something in about a fixture that has produced nineteen red cards in the 36 times Liverpool and Everton have faced off in the Premier League since 1992. Everton will be disappointed with the sloppy nature of Dirk Kuyt’s 56th minute winner. Tim Howard and Phil Neville should be particularly annoyed with their respective efforts. That said, there is no great shame in losing at Anfield. But the manner of this defeat should have Toffees’ manager David Moyes taking a long, hard look at himself and his side.

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Tough at the top

Firing Blanks

To say that this season has been a hard slog for many of the new faces to the Premier League would be like saying that Ireland found itself slightly unprepared for the freezing weather in 2010. Whilst many of the big money signings have struggled for form and fitness, those sneaking up from the old second division are still adapting to their new surroundings. Gone are the days of Kevin Phillips hitting 30 goals in a debut season, and Marcus Stewart threatening to gate-crash the top-scorers chart. These days’ strikers are having a tougher time of it. How they must lust for the generosity of Championship defences. Continue reading

Premier League Team Of The Decade

Doherty: Will he make it?

A new decade has crept up from seemingly nowhere, just as most of us are still getting used to the idea of a new millennium. At moments like this, we turn to reminisce of the ten years that have passed and reflect on times gone by. Picking an XI of Premier League players for these ten years seems like an unenviable task. However, after much consideration, plenty of soul-searching and the putting aside of many personal grievances, I have constructed a team. A team that does not only include players that have excelled from 2000-2009, but one that as a unit would be a formidable side of balance, power and attacking threat. So here we go: Continue reading

Ashton Career Cruelly Cut Short

Unfortunate

The news on Friday afternoon of Dean Ashton’s retirement from football at the tender age of 26 was not a shock to anyone. It was met sadness within the game and beyond, with observers ranging from Piers Morgan to Arsene Wenger quick to offer their sympathy and support to the West Ham striker. While we all shake our heads in disgust at the obscene wages that are paid to Premier League footballers, it seems that there is no price one can put on having their career cut short on something that was beyond their control. However there are murmurs from Ashton that legal action may be taken, giving this tale of one man’s woe an unfortunate and sinister edge. Continue reading

‘Arry Yet To Earn His Spurs

 

'Arry Thinks of Challanges Ahead.

Following Tottenham Hotspurs’ meagre exit from the Carling Cup at the hands of Manchester United’s reserve side, Harry Redknapp bravely refused to attend the post match press conference. Instead sending one of his countless coaches and long-time compadre Kevin Bond to face the music. Harry had bigger fish to fry, with press conferences later on in the week where he can play conductor rather than field questions regarding the inepitude of his Tottenham side on a night where a cup semi-final was in their grasp. The East-End boy can enlighten us with his opinions on Portsmouth’s dwindling fortunes, and talk up Spurs chances of earning Champions League football next fall. Whist glossing over his own squad’s glaring deficiencies. Continue reading