The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

On putting Soccer AM out of its misery…

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I remember the days when I was much younger than I am now. Back in those teenage and early 20s years I would have a pretty steady Saturday morning ritual before either heading to Fratton or St. George’s Park to take in my live football. That ritual would involve enjoying Sky Sports’ Soccer AM. The show fronted by Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain wasn’t must-see TV but a nice relaxing route into the footballing day.

As I got older though I fell out of the habit, not just because of age (and maybe some maturity) but because when Tim Lovejoy left the show (taking a lot of the actual talent with him) it became a shell of what it once was. I know Fenners has returned and is now fronting the show but he was at his best when playing characters. Sheephead was first rate. Robbie Knox et al. They were what made the show funny.

Fans of the show will remember Hells Bells snogging Rocket for his birthday, Fixtures Man, Topless Weather is association with Gravy, ooo northern boys love gravy, Barry, Fenners punching Lovejoy, Lovejoy getting a ball to the knackers, Serge’s goal in the Wembley game, naked hikers, the Dance Off, the Save chip! campaign and the like. Those were the days…

The show is back is the news today as word comes out that having fronted the show since its inception, Helen Chamberlain won’t be on the famous red sofas this season. I have to admit I don’t think I’ve watched a whole episode in a decade or so. I have seen bits here and there but when Andy Goldstein came in, it lost a lot and Max Rushden wasn’t able to stem the tide (although I actually thought/think he’s a solid TV presenter).

Chamberlain though has been a permanent fixture on the show. Her departure would logically have been the catalyst for Sky to finally axe the show and move forward with something new on a Saturday morning. With the new Sky Sports channel line-up, this was the perfect opportunity to put Soccer AM to bed (albeit a decade after it should have been).

Sometimes TV shows evolve and move forward with the times. Soccer AM failed to do this and when it had to change things up once Lovejoy and the gang left, it instead just tried to replicate their success but with inferior presenters/crew.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is the culture of the sport itself changing. Maybe it is just because I have myself drifted away from it as a weekly staple (I’ve become one of those armchair fans mostly) but it does seem as though football has become more of a family outing than the blokey one it still was when I was younger. With that culture (from my PoV anyway) changing, the larks of the show don’t sit with what audiences want any more.

When the time is right for a complete overhaul or an ending, TV producers shouldn’t be afraid to get it done. Leave them wanting more. Fawlty Towers only ran for two season’s as did The Young Ones. Soccer AM had a great run but bringing in Jimmy Bullard to replace Helen Chamberlain along with comedian Lloyd Griffith won’t turn around the sinking ship that has lost around 80% of its audience in the past ten years.

So farewell Soccer AM. I had pretty much forgotten you existed (apart from the final two or three minutes when I see it as I’ve turned over to watch Jeff and the boys at midday and they are not getting stale). Without Tim Lovejoy and the gang you had lost your mojo but without Helen Chamberlain you’ll have lost your soul. The show will be a husk of what it once was and as I end and look outside of the window here in the south, I see that it is light drizzle…

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August 8th, 2017 at 9:56 am

Posted in Football

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On a (very) small example of why the British written media is a cesspool of lazy propaganda…

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Who would have thought that a footballers religious views would be noteworthy of a story? Well today four of our newspapers decided that it was. The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail all wrote articles about how new Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku couldn’t accept a Man of the Match award because of his religion. You see the Belgian is a ‘devout Muslim’ and therefore ‘unable to pose with alcoholic gifts’.

Two things. Firstly, why would this ever be a news story of any interest to anyone let alone worth all four newspapers written specific articles on it. Maybe they know any story on Manchester United and football will get a few clicks, which is always good for advertising and those all important ad rates. Maybe they felt it was important to educate their readers on why this happened as many had been confused. Maybe they just thought it was time for someone to tell it how it is and make a noble point about religion and how it ruins everything. Or maybe, just maybe, they are lazy fuckwits who want to inflame religious tension. Who knows eh?

Secondly, one teeny tiny issue with the story. It is a load of bollocks. Lukaku is actually a devout Catholic. The Sun themselves actually wrote a story about it in 2014 when the striker went on a trip to Lourdes and posted about it on Instagram. The article entitled Luk-ing to God is still available for all to read on the world wide interweb. Anyone who has ever watched the front man score will have seen he does the Christian symbol of the cross when celebrating. So why on Earth did these newspapers all write inaccurate articles about his religious faith?

It is either a genuine case of someone informed a journalist inaccurately of what happened and a case of Chinese whispers spread like wild fire throughout the media covering the event and no-one thought about fact-checking. Either that or someone heard the story, thought it would play into the readership of said publications and they all ran with it thinking it would be a nice little story about religion and football that wouldn’t ever make them look like idiots.

At the time of writing the articles are still live on three of the four websites. The Sun have already removed it and 301ed the article with the new URL including the words ‘legal removal’ but the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Mail are all still happily living with their respective pieces even despite the quite scathing story in the Independent showing up the four newspapers for writing outright lies. This isn’t fake news because that term has been watered down and is now a punchline. This is just an outright lie that isn’t even a story if it were true but the lie interest some of the readers and further inflame religious tensions to a small degree.

I know this is only a tiny story and not really of any importance but it is a great example of how spreading a small lie can go unchecked unless more vigilant journalists and media publications call them out of it. The fact The Sun have already removed the offending piece says a lot. Unless people call bullshit when bullshit is spread then it leaves us in a state where the media can control the news and that is not somewhere we’d ever want to be.

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July 27th, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Football,Media

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On Sol Campbell’s hopes of becoming a manager in English football…

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Stepping away from politics, I read an interesting piece in The Guardian today entitled Sol Campbell: ‘I’m prepared to go to a non-league club and just get a win bonus’. The former Spurs, Arsenal and Portsmouth defender is looking to get on to the managerial ladder but has been disappointed that teams aren’t banging on his door to get his attention.

Campbell of course is black and this is part of the story. However a bigger part of the story is he is Sol Campbell. ‘When Sol, walked up, to lift the FA Cup, I was there, I was there…‘ chant Pompey supporters. I count myself among them. That day in 2008 is still as surreal now as it was then. A Portsmouth captain walking up the famous Wembley steps to lift the FA Cup. So I have quite a bit of time for the former England defender. Yet his history does provide clues as to why he isn’t in demand with respect to a managerial position.

First of all he has walked out of clubs before when things were not to his liking. He left Spurs for Arsenal on a Bosman deal. This was of course entirely within his rights and I can still recall when it happened. Everyone expected the press conference to be about Richard Wright’s signing but over walked Campbell with Arsene Wenger. The way it was handled though seemed pretty poor.

He then got his release from Arsenal on a free because he wanted to play abroad, only to turn up at Fratton Park. Look I know Portsea Island is technically an island off the English mainland but I don’t think that it what Arsenal envisioned when they let him out of his contract. It is hard to forget that he signed a five-year deal with Notts County in 2009, only to walk out after one game.

So this has to factor into the minds of perspective employers to some degree. Campbell also has a history of getting involved in issues outside of football for which he should be lauded in my opinion but is something Chairmen will be wary about. Not only do they think it might put off some of their supporters but they will question whether he is totally committed to football.

Remember, Campbell did put his name forward to be the Conservative candidate for the London Mayoral elections in 2016. In 2015, he refused to rule out running in what was then the safe London seat of Kensington in the General Election. The 42 year-old also came out for Brexit primarily because it would limit the amount of foreign players in the English football league. The fact the EU Referendum was about far more than that seemed to pass him by. This means that any potential employer would surely question whether Campbell wants to dedicate himself long-term to the game or if he has other ambitions in life.

If you read the piece though you’ll start to get a sense of why clubs outside of the top tier haven’t offered him even an interview yet. Seemingly he hasn’t applied for any job. The former England international, who has had no managerial experience is waiting for clubs to approach him. It takes quite some arrogance to expect potential employers to come to you when you have no experience for the potential job. This is a key paragraph:

I’ve spoken to a couple of agents to help get the word out that I’m available but so far there’s only been tentative inquiries

Some clubs may be thinking: ‘We don’t want to talk to Sol because of his history,’ but that’s what an interview is for – meet the person and get to know what he’s actually like. If I don’t impress you in an interview then fine, but at least give me that chance. That’s all I want; to talk to a chairman or owner about my philosophy and what I can do for their team. I’m a winner. I love to build. I’ve got great ideas. I’ve got the passion. I’m very diligent, and if given a chance I’ll work my rear end off to be a success.

Surely you have to apply for a job before getting an invitation for an interview?

Then we have to look at another quote later in the piece:

I’ve got to the stage where I don’t want to keep banging the same drum. I’m a doer and I just want to do it. Whatever attitudes, prejudices, stereotypical ideas that are in front of me, I will break them. But the only way I can break them is by getting a job, and if I need to start in the gutter, I will start in the gutter and work my way up. Money isn’t an issue.

How many L1, L2 or non-league owners would like to be referred to as ‘the gutter’ do you think? I’m hypothesising not too many. Sol Campbell’s problem in getting a job isn’t because of institutional racism. I think it is clear that the sport does have issues to address on that front, significant ones at that. With regards to Campbell though, it is much more of a Sol Campbell issue. Is he serious about football? Is he ready to not walk out if things don’t go his way? Does he really think the lower leagues are a gutter? These are all far more important questions to lower league owners than the colour of his skin.

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July 17th, 2017 at 5:43 pm

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On Michael Eisner’s proposed takeover of Portsmouth Football Club…

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Being a Pompey fan has never been easy. The fun and enjoyment has often been drowned out by pain and misery but that doesn’t stop a fan caring deeply about his or her team. I recall my first game in a wheelchair days after being in QA hospital to have surgery on my ankle. I remember the soup in a flask. I remember mum pushing the wheelchair along the uneven cobbles outside of the main entrance at Fratton Park.

I also remember plenty of other memories. Coming back to score twice in injury time against Blackburn Rovers and feeling scared as the fans around me rushed forward. I wouldn’t walk into Fratton Park again until my teenage years. I never felt scared again but I can certainly see why all-seater stadia were brought in for safety. I can still recall that fear what, 25 years on?

I remember surviving on the final day against Barnsley as somehow Crystal Palace survived thanks to David Hopkins handball. I remember just four days before that having the chance to send Crystal Palace down and crapping the bed. I remember Robert Prosinecki’s performances against Grimsby and Barnsley. I remember being pro Yoshi Kawaguuchi and being one of the only ones. I remember the Championship year when we slayed all before us. I remember the Leicester game at Fratton Park that year and how it never should have gone ahead.

I remember beating the Scummers thanks to a Yakubu goal as we tried to stay up. I also remember giving them a 4-1 whooping and then in a surreal moment being in B&Q less than half an hour later.

Why am I recalling random moments from my Fratton Park past? Well because that is a major part of Michael Eisner’s vision for the future and I’m not sure I can be totally on board. He sees the history of the place as important. Speaking exclusively to The News the 75 year-old said, ‘I love the feel, ambience, the history, even the smell and texture of Fratton Park.’ All of which I can understand but just because it is quaint and holds so many memories for us all, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look to improve our home and for many that means starting from scratch.

He wants to renovate instead of either replace and rebuild or build a new ground elsewhere and sell off Fratton Park for housing stock, something that would be rather valuable down on Portsea Island. The problem with renovating Fratton Park is it needs more than just a lick of paint, it needs root and branch fixing. Whilst I believe many Pompey fans put up with a substandard experience due to our love of the club, in this modern era the whole matchday experience is vastly important to many newer fans. Add to that the whole travel infrastructure. Giving in and out of Fratton is not easy.

In an ideal world I still loved the whole Portsmouth Harbour plans from a decade ago or so. Yes I will concede that the travel issue was just as big as Fratton Park would have been but it was a chance to build an iconic stadium in a breathtaking position within the city. This plan obviously went to the wall due to the size of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers but it was forward thinking. Herzog de Meuron went to the drawing board with a blank bit of paper. Any retrofit of Fratton Park would not have this luxury.

Everything else Mr. Eisner has said has filled me with hope. Building the clubs foundations slowly, building up the academy, scouting network, no leverage debt and I don’t have an issue with no fan representation on the board. I know that is a significant worry for many but this isn’t some chancer coming in, this is a man with a lifetime of experience of being a significant person in the running of huge companies.

If he believes that he needs the board make-up to consist of people with years of experience of business then I can live with that. It might not be ideal but it isn’t a deal breaker. I also certainly think he should pay those who invested their own hard cash in buying shares more than exactly the money they put in. Yet it is the plans for the stadium that leave me most uneasy. This is a chance to build somewhere for the 21st Century and beyond. Instead it seems like a cheap job to try and drag Fratton Park into the 21st Century but without looking forward to how the club can grow and expand both matchday and non-matchday revenue streams, something which any club with genuine ambitions surely has to do in the modern era.

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April 12th, 2017 at 8:17 am

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On BT Sport locking out Champions League and Europa League coverage for another three years…

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Well that sucks.

BT Sport have stunned most casual observers not by re-upping their deal to show Champions League and Europa League football but by locking out all live games and highlights. This means they’ll be no terrestrial coverage even in highlight form. This shows us that UEFA are still money-grabbing so and so’s but also that BT are here to stay. They don’t care if they lose money on this deal because they believe it’ll be a loss leader for years to come.

Guy Laurent Epstein, who is the UEFA marketing director said, ‘UEFA is delighted to have extended the relationship with BT Sport for a further three seasons, taking our partnership to 2021.

BT Sport has proved to be an innovative broadcast partner, pushing the boundaries and covering the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in new ways.

BT have delivered strong audiences in the UK and we are excited about their future plans for the use of social media which will engage a growing fanbase that consumes sport in different ways.’

I’ll translate that for you. What he means is ‘BT offered us the most money. Simples’ before he did an impression of a meerkat.

It makes little difference to me as I have BT Sport anyway but when they bid for the highlights package as well to deprive people without BT Sport any legal way of even watching the highlights, you have to look at the company and shake your head. This is a move designed to put BT Sport on the map and force football fans who want to watch any coverage of Europe’s premier club competitions to shell out the money. Talk about being ruthless.

In an article entitled, BT denies squeezing customers after paying £1.2bn for Champions League in The Guardian today John Petter, who is the chief executive of BT’s consumer division came out swinging denying that the rampant price rises for BT customers has anything to do with sports rights purchases. Even though most believed the previous contract was a massive overpay, BT have given UEFA 32% more money this time around. With Sky not expected to try and win back the rights with any massive bid, BT didn’t have to give UEFA just a big rise but chose to anyway.

Look I am a massive sports fan. Ask anyone who knows me in real life and I literally work my life around what games I want to watch on the tellybox. Yet even I can see when the TV rights bubble is ready to burst. This is a gross overpay by BT (as was the last Premier League deal by Sky) and with the fear that Discovery or Google TV will try to throw their hats into the ring, these two big companies will continue to pay over the odds for live sports coverage until one of them completely cracks. This surely can’t be too far away from happening.

I am appalled that they locked out FTA coverage of highlights. I just think that shows that they don’t care about people at all and are money grabbing eejits. I suspect this deal will lead to the brand of BT being tarnished even more. I am on the record as not being a fan of a multitude of their sports coverage (I can find it a bit too dumbed-down) but I’ll give them their due, when Gary Lineker anchors their CL coverage it works much better as when watching it I feel it is less pally and more robust discussion.

With the Ashes this winter being their first foray into English cricket (and with the best names all contracted to Sky) they say they’ll produce their own commentating team full of the second-tier commentators. This fills me with dread. I can only hope that Test Match Special can be synced up with BT’s pictures (or they at least offer the Channel Nine commentary from Australia) otherwise I think I’ll go stir-crazy this winter.

So BT Sport are here to stay. They’ll continue to ebb away at my enjoyment of watching sport. When a company thinks that Dareen Fletcher (or I should say ‘Fletch’) is better than Ian Darke as a lead commentator you know they aren’t looking to provide the most professional coverage about. They have it their own way. ‘This is how we do it on BT Sport’ yells Jake Humphrey all the time. Yes, so it is. It is worse than how everyone else does it and you ensure that FTA highlights aren’t available on TV and that you’ll show some clips through your social media Bravo BT Sport. Another bad day for fans, your customers and no doubt your shareholders.

What a day…

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March 6th, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Posted in Football

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On why politics is a lot like Mark Clattenberg’s decision to quit the EPL

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Mark Clattenberg has decided it is time to up sticks and walk away from being the best referee in not only the UK but in all of Europe and take on a new role in Saudi Arabia. I have no doubt it is mostly due to bundles of money that he has been offered and I have no issue at all with him making that decision. I mean who wouldn’t take a massive salary hike to to a similar job elsewhere? We all would.

The reason why I am likening it to politics is just watching the comments on this coming in is the fact that football fans are celebrating his decision. It is clear that he’s the best referee in the business but people because of their opinions based not on facts but on biased personal opinions they welcome the fact he won’t be refereeing games involving their clubs any more.

Football fans generally think that all referees are biased against their teams. It is only natural I suppose. They’ll remember the bad decisions they got but won’t recall the correct ones. Most refs get the vast majority of decisions right and those that they don’t, they often get wrong not because of bias but because they saw it at a bad angle or whatever. People makes mistakes but apparently football referees are not allowed to do so.

Now on to the politics aspect. People like to hear politicians who agree with their point of view. They don’t like to be challenged. This is why we’ve seen a rise in extreme views being either accepted or at least more widely reported than we did in the past.

People liked the fact we’d bring back £350m a week to the NHS because it synced up with what they wanted so they felt happy to believe it. It was of course total bollocks and a lie but that doesn’t matter. If someone says something that just enhances what you thought already then you are more likely to just go with it and believe it. Look at Donald Trump in the States, lie after lie after lie but people were willing to believe him because he just reinforced what they already thought.

People want to think Mark Clattenberg is rubbish because then suddenly they can point to games where he’s made decisions against their team and say that they only lost because of his bad decision making. It then stops the blame going towards the players and then they can feel good about their team once more. Simple eh?

Remember Clattenberg was widely disliked by the powers that be within the FA. Former referees David Elleray and Mike Riley are widely reported to have not been a fan and actively pushed the FA to not award him the FA Cup Final and to send Martin Atkinson to the Euro’s instead of Clattenberg. When Pierluigi Collina found out he changed the rules to get Clattenberg to Euro 2016 by granting him a wildcard. He got the Champions League Final and the Euro 2016 Final. He also got the FA Cup Final basically because the powers that be at the FA realised how dumb they would look by giving the final to someone else.

It is another link to how politics works. Sometimes peoples personal views taint what they are actually voting for. In the EU Referendum we saw many people vote out just to piss off the Westminster Elite. They thought it was worth giving them a bloody nose for that reason. People went away from the Lib Dems in their droves in 2015 in large part as a punishment for going into coalition with the Tories and now look at what has happened in the past 21 months and think ‘what did we do?’

Personal opinions will often trump reasoned points of views. People will often only appreciate what they had after it is gone. Whether it be the Lib Dems or Mark Clattenberg. The first is starting to see that people really are missing them. The local by-election results have shown us that the Lib Dem vote share is flying.

I am sure in the near future as we now have even fewer referees with the temperament and ability to handle big games they’ll start to miss Clattenberg as well as the microscope will focus in hard on the likes of Atkinson, Oliver and Taylor and if they make big mistakes in games people will just ponder, ‘where is Mark Clattenberg when you need him…?’

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Written by neilmonnery

February 16th, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Football,Politics

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On John Oliver v Jack Warner & FIFA… (Videos)

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In the past few months John Oliver has become quite the household name. It seems a long time since he was on the early series of Mock the Week and he has disappeared off my radar. I didn’t realise that he had gone to The Daily Show but one day a few months back I was stunned when Tony Kornheiser spoke about John Oliver during an episode of PTI and I did some research – he had become a pretty big star in the US.

Since then I have been an avid watcher of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO (broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic) and his work is truly first rate. To be named in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world says something.

Still despite the fact that he lives and work in the USA, a country that traditionally doesn’t give two hoots about ‘soccer’ – his pieces on FIFA have been right up there amongst his very best and the past couple of weeks have been rather epic. Below I’ll embed all his FIFA related pieces if you haven’t seen any of them but they are truly first rate. John Oliver can be a huge star and his show is really making inroads and if you haven’t seen any of his work then YouTube his show – there is plenty of excellent comedy on a variety of subjects that is both funny but also shocking and thought provoking.

We start with his piece last year on the World Cup…

Then a quick news hit before the Presidential election…

Then a couple of weeks back after the arrests of seven FIFA executives and Sepp Blatter’s re-election…

Then after Blatter resigned…

and later in the episode this…

Then of course The Mittens of Disapproval Are On – via T&T TV.


John Oliver – The Mittens Of Disapproval Are On by kzf1

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June 14th, 2015 at 1:00 pm

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On my application to be next Portsmouth Football Club manager…

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Dear Mr McInnes,

You may not know me. In fact it is highly likely that you don’t. I haven’t been to Fratton Park in ten years. I used to be a Season Ticket holder but I left the area and fell out of love with the club. Too many crooks spoil the enjoyment and rip out the heart and all that, is that a well-known saying or have I mixed that up?

Anyway when the PST I felt a twinge in my chest. No it wasn’t the abundance of takeaway food in my system forcing my veins to throb, it was actually a sign of life in the portion of my Portsmouth Football Club heart that had been bricked up and left desolate and overgrown with weeds and strewn with litter. It was trying to burst back into life. I backed Guy Whittingham totally and having been one of the very few Pompey fans to have seen Guy as a manager before (I was a Newport IoW ST as well as Fratton Park) I had seen Guy’s work at first hand (had the chairman not pulled the plug on David Laws loan then Newport IoW would’ve survived that year).

So I was confident. Pompey legend. Lots of good will. He would do the job. Yet I found something surprising, Pompey fans demanded immediate success. They didn’t look at the fact the club needed rebuilding from bottom to top. They were just interested in the first team. Whittingham had the side in a solid position but solid wasn’t enough and you got rid of him to bring in your mate Richie Barker. He was shit wasn’t he? In a strange twist of fate I actually witnessed one of his best performances (a 2-1 defeat at Southend) but he was going to take the club down, something Guy Whittingham wasn’t doing. You made a right cock-up there didn’t you?

After that in came Andy Awford. Another club legend who did an ok job but you wanted more than ok. Instant success was demanded and when Andy didn’t get into the play-offs you pulled the plug because that is what you demanded. Now you want an experienced manager because that really worked with Richie Barker…

The thing is you’ve appointed three managers in two years and seemingly according to you, got each one wrong. That is a shit record and you need to look long and hard at yourself. Anyone is a position such of yours would get looks through narrowed eyes making three bad appointments on the spin. Do you actually know what you want? Do you want a manager who’ll be able to coach players up? Do you want a manager who’ll demand money to buy the talent to get the club up? Do you want a manager who’ll oversee a root and branch rebuild of a club that has been on its knees for far too long and that it really really needs? Seemingly not.

I’m not one of those fans who demands immediate success. I know the club needs to be fixed and that doesn’t start at the first team. It starts with the infrastructure of the club, which is seemingly lacking and has been for decades. The last real crop of young players to come through was the Kit Symons, Andy Awford, Darryl Powell and Darren Anderton era. Yes the odd one has come through since but any club who wants to be stable long-term needs to fix this issue. There is plenty of talent around Portsmouth and most of it is being hoovered up by our neighbours up the road. Fixing this issue and getting kids to stay local because the facilities and coaching is first-rate is far more important than upping the wage bill of the first team squad.

Being a community club means being at the heart of community and being in League 2 or League 1 or the Championship makes little difference to that. We’ve nearly gone bankrupt more times than I’ve seen us concede last minute equalisers. So clearly just buying players and spending more money than we’ve got isn’t a prudent strategy. Success shouldn’t be determined just by league position. Success should be determined by whether the club is in a better position as a whole. If the youth set up is better, if the fan engagement is better, if the fan experience is better all these things are just as important as where the club finishes in the league.

So if you want someone who wants to oversee a grand project to fix a broken club then give me a call. My managerial experience is vastly limited and I once helped push start a coach but actual coaching probably isn’t my forte. Yet I spent several years in the commentary box (summerising only – I don’t want anyone to ever think I was an actual commentator) and am rather astute. I don’t expect a call because you’ll go for the easy option like you’ve gone for every single time so far and hire someone who’ll tell you all the things you want to hear and then ask for a surprising amount of money in the wage bill come August.

The next guy will no doubt be hailed as the right man to win the club promotion but I wonder if they’;; be the right person to take the club forward. You need to find the guy who’ll be in place for the long-term and stick with them. Giving managers a few months is just ridiculous. Buy into a vision and let a manager see it through, if it doesn’t work then it isn’t the end of the world but until you actually give someone the time needed to fix a broken club then the club will just stay broken. A brave chairman doesn’t just do what is wanted or expected by the fans, a brave chairman shows leadership and stands up for what he believes in. You’ve yet to do this and until you do then the club will go nowhere and go nowhere fast.

Shall I assume I’m not going to get an interview…?

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Written by neilmonnery

April 19th, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Football

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On Jose Mourinho going off on Goals on Sunday…

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Such Fun as Miranda Hart would say. Seriously if put all these ingredients together, you will get the most epic TV. Put on the most charismatic and opinionated manager in the game, less than 24 hours after his team had been screwed by a series of terrible decisions, throw in the fact the company Sky got both barrels over their handing of the Diego Costa ‘stamp’ in the Liverpool Carling Cup semi-final, then sprinkle in a bit of fairy dust in the form of two presenters, neither of whom have a journalistic background and aren’t used to teasing out answers from a hostile guest and you’ve got the makings of a tremendous bit of television and boy we were treated to it. This isn’t a knock on either presenter but handling a Jose in full flow is not something for the faint-hearted.

After sitting in silence for a good minute or so, you could see the brain ticking over inside the Chelsea managers head and then he metaphorically went ‘fuck it’ and just went for it. He was good to pull back from the ‘conspiracy’ instead saying that referees have just consistently been shocking in Chelsea games but the fun part was yet to come.

Jose turned his focus and ire firmly on Sky as a company and it was beautiful. I’m a Sky guy and I have had Sky television for well over a decade now and think their coverage of sport is first rate but to see a manager, on their own channel just fire shots at them left, right and centre over the Diego Costa/Liverpool incident and the language the pundits used that night (his real issue seemed to be the use of the word ‘criminal’) and the fact they’ve not used that term with regards to any other challenge, that seemed to rile him somewhat.

The Portuguese manager then reeled off a series of challenges that were just as bad as that one was, that received far less media coverage. Heck even yesterday’s potential leg breaker by Ashley Barnes on Matic (that Jose described, maybe not unfairly as a potential career ender) hasn’t been discussed half as much as the Costa incident, everyone seems to just agree that it was a horrible challenge but the outrage isn’t there.

I haven’t seen anyone call for him to be banned retrospectively, maybe the pundits and reporters just think that is just a given. Even on Sunday Supplement they all just agreed it was a terrible challenge and instead spent the time discussing how they can help referees whereas when the Costa incident happened, they discussed it in depth and how bad of a boy Costa was.

Jose though is just full value and is a joy to watch. I know some reporters are getting annoyed as his antics but he’s tremendous for us at home. He gives us something to talk about and is just fun. He’s still going and is now talking about how Arsene Wenger has a dream job and how he doesn’t understand how they aren’t challenging for the league. Brilliant!

This episode needs to win awards with the sub-title ‘Jose Mourinho Unplugged’ – interestingly enough, this episode went up against the very heavily trailed ‘Fletch & Sav’ with Russell Brand and Gazza. I think we all know what was the best to watch and I’ll give you a clue, it was the episode without the man whose going to take down the government and change politics in his eyes…

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Written by neilmonnery

February 22nd, 2015 at 12:20 pm

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On the conspiracy theory against Chelsea after today’s refereeing performance…

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Jose Mourinho said there was a conspiracy against Chelsea. The world scoffed and pointed out that decisions have gone both for the west London team and against them. This is true but in this modern day and age, we all have access to plenty of football and get to watch a lot of the action.

I have bought into the conspiracy to some degree even before the game today but choosing the Chelsea v Burnley match as my 3PM game of choice and seeing the way referee Martin Atkinson handled the game, you have to wonder what is really going on. Atkinson has referred at international level and is an experienced official but his performance on Saturday afternoon was sub-par to say the least.

We’ll look at the big three incidents, first of all the handball shout in the penalty area after a shot from Ivanovic. I’m one of those who really extenuates the deliberate part of the deliberate handball so I often think no pen when others say pen. This time though the ball has travelled a good five yards and the defender has jumped with his arms outstretched as far as they can go to spread himself. It is pretty deliberate that he’s spread his arms that wide for a reason. It just looked a penalty but the ref, he said no despite being in a great position.

Next up another penalty shout after Costa went down. Watching it live again your instinct is penalty, why would Costa be going down in that position? The ref waves it away and then we see a replay. The defender gives him a two armed push, its a penalty every day of the week and twice on Sunday’s. Atkinson’s assistant had the perfect view and gave nothing but Atkinson himself had a good angle to see the shove so in all likelihood saw it but decided somehow that it wasn’t a penalty. Madness.

Then we get on to the incident that will dominate the back pages tomorrow, Ashley Barnes doing Nemanja Matic and the Chelsea midfielders reaction. Lets start here, Matic had to go for his reaction despite how little it was, Atkinson had little choice there but the challenge that provoked such a reaction was a potential leg breaker from Barnes. It was a horror challenge, it was a red, plain and simple and everyone could see it.

Atkinson was looking straight at it but didn’t even give a foul, he was looking straight at it. If a referee sees that challenge and doesn’t even see it as a foul then lets be blunt, they shouldn’t be refereeing. If they can’t protect the players from potential leg breakers then they have to hang up their whistle. As fans you can understand when a referees view is impeded or they are looking away from the incident but when they are looking at a horror challenge and do nothing, then there’s an issue.

Matic should have got up from being on the receiving end to see a referee running in to get in the way of him and Barnes whilst reaching into his back pocket for the straight red card that Barnes deserved. Instead the ref was just pointing for a throw in. Matic then shoves Barnes in the back and gets his marching orders (not before a few choice words thrown in Barnes’ direction).

Lastly on this incident there is an angle where you can see Barnes walking away and he slyly smiles, he knows he’s done Matic and that he’s gotten away with it. He had a cheap one on Ivanovic in the first half as well that didn’t get sanctioned.

Burnley have been a joy to watch in the past two months or so with their energy and never say never attitude but Barnes was nasty today and could easily have already been in the showers before his nasty tackle on Matic. It will be interesting to see if Atkinson in his report says that he saw the incident but didn’t believe it was worthy of sanction or he says he missed it entirely. We all know he saw it but if he says he did and didn’t see anything wrong with it then his credentials will be questioned.

Chelsea have had more than their fair share of bad decisions this season and I’ve watched them a lot (in general if either Chelsea or Arsenal are a 3PM game I’ll start at one of those two and drift if that game becomes a clear victory for one). If a game isn’t in the 3PM slot then of course I’ve pretty much seen it all because I have no life and watch an awful lot of sport on the telly. Jose even came out after the game and knew that pretty much anything he said would be used against him by the FA.

If the FA actually looked at all the incidents involving Chelsea players this season (both for and against) they’ll see that a disproportionate amount of decisions have gone incorrectly against Chelsea and that number is getting larger and not smaller and that must be a problem when we talk about the integrity of the Premier League.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 21st, 2015 at 7:03 pm

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