The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

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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Written by neilmonnery

April 12th, 2017 at 8:17 am

Posted in Football

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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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Written by neilmonnery

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…?’

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 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

Posted in Football,Media

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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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April 19th, 2015 at 7:14 pm

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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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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.

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Written by neilmonnery

February 21st, 2015 at 7:03 pm

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On falling out of love with football…

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Someone said to me the other day when I wasn’t watching a football match that usually I’d have on my TV that I’d have been watching it if they were trying to cook something. A fair point. For you see over the past few months I may have just become over saturated on football and I’m just footballed out. I sit here racking my brain trying to think of a game so far this season where I’ve been genuinely engrossed and I’m struggling. Not even the big matches have really grabbed me (although some games I have certainly watched and been more than entertained by).

I wonder if this is just a general malaise or whether it is more to do with me changing as a person. Maybe I’m growing up, maybe I’m diversifying but whilst years ago I was a football nut I think most who know me well will have noticed over the past few years (namely since I left my previous role of a Sports Editor) that whilst I still thoroughly enjoy watches some sporting events, they don’t rule the landscape as much as they did previously.

Take as an example last week. On the Tuesday I was in town doing some food shopping and saw a poster for a Dave Gorman gig the next day and instead of thinking ‘well Liverpool v Real Madrid is on otherwise I’d go’ I went home and looked up whether they had tickets left and when I saw they did I went ahead. I didn’t even think about missing a big time football match on the tellybox that I usually would factor into my thought process.

This isn’t an isolated incident. I have missed many football matches on telly recently to do social things instead. Obviously this year for the first time in three years I’m not working on radio broadcasts of games and maybe lacking that exposure to live action has been further part of the malaise but it has been a much longer process than that. I thoroughly enjoyed the early part of the World Cup as there was some terrific action and enjoyable matches before the coaches reined in the beautiful attacking play that dominated the early stages of that tournament.

Way back when the result of my team would affect my mood, now I am so disenfranchised it is ridiculous. If teenage me saw me now and how little I care about Pompey he wouldn’t recognise me and wonder what the hell had happened in my life for such a lax attitude to football to have come to the fore. I just think that as you grow up your interests and priorities change and whilst it is a slow change, you don’t notice it for a while until it is stark in your face.

I did contemplate whether it was just football or all sport that is I’m currently suffering a malaise from and looking back over the past few weeks there have been two matches where I’ve been totally into it. Penn State @ Rutgers and Denver @ Seattle. Both games I was completely into and enjoyed (and endured) them immensely. Had I not been unwell over the weekend and gone to bed early then I have no doubt that I’d have been completely engrossed by Penn State’s comeback but ultimate failure against Ohio State as well. Still though for me that is what, three games in the past couple of months that I was into.

This weekend sees Tom Brady v Peyton Manning (again) or more accurately Denver @ New England and I’m trying to get excited about it but I just can’t. I have no doubt if I’m at home I’ll watch but I can’t say I’m circling it in my calendar knowing that I can’t be doing anything else in the Sunday night window although lets be honest here, I don’t see me doing anything else in that window so no doubts I’ll be watching.

I was watching highlights of the 2010-2011 Ashes series on YouTube the other day and I immensely enjoyed that series. I watched so much of it live and was totally riveted by it. Looking back and there are several instances where England cricket away from home has done this to me so maybe cricket is relatively safe from this sport watching doldrums I seem to find myself in.

The thing is I must be into some other things to replace sport from my time and well maybe I am. I seem to be forming more of a strong political leaning and whilst I won’t say anger, I will say disquiet at what seems to be going on. The race to the bottom on immigration is repulsive from all sides of the political spectrum. I know politicians seem to think that you have to appeal to the lowest common denominator to win but that makes me feel sick and I am reading more about what interests me, not fiction, I’m not a fiction guy but non-fiction and enhancing what I understand and having a thirst for knowledge.

So maybe I’m just not the guy that I was and maybe I am just changing. Maybe it is just a phase, who knows but I certainly feel like I’m much less of a slave to the TV schedulers and that chain to the TV is a lot, lot looser than it was. We all change as we get older and we get new interests and maybe, just maybe, this has been going on for a while but I have just failed to notice it. The thing is when all is said and done is I am not upset about the changes that are seemingly going on. I am feeling like I might just be going through a bit of an identity crisis but it isn’t a bad one and it is just the evolution of me. Not even betting and the likes of Saturday Football Tips can keep me seemingly interested. In a way looking back I can see so much of teenage and early 20s me the now 30s me and maybe I should’ve evolved just a bit more than I have over the past decade…

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Written by neilmonnery

October 30th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

World Cup – The TV Battle – BBC v ITV

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So far I have seen every minute of the World Cup bar a snooze during the first half of the Iran v Nigeria game yesterday. I also have read a lot of feedback on the presenters, pundits, commentators and co-commentators (otherwise known as summerisers to certain people who like a disparage me) so I thought I’d put my views forward for the seven people that might read this:

Presenters:

The BBC use a former Golden Boot winner, darling of English football, Walkers Crisps seller and all around Mr. Nice Guy. ITV use an overexcited 47 year-old Brummie. It really should be a slam dunk for the Beeb shouldn’t it? Well it isn’t. Gary has improved a lot since his shuttering start eons ago when he replaced Des Lynam as the host of BBC’s Football output.

There is nothing wrong with Gary but there is also a lot to say positively for Adrian (and indeed Matt Smith). Adrian’s style is certainly less relaxed than Gary’s but he certainly injects more of his personality. When they presented the pre-game show from the beach on Sunday afternoon, you saw Adrian in his absolute element and it was a thoroughly enjoyable pre-game.

Both the Beeb and ITV have more than competent front men. I have a feeling Adrian gets a lot of stick because a lot of people think that they can do better than him. Hosting live TV is not easy and I think he does an admirable job.

Pundits:

We’ll start with the cream of the crop – Thierry Henry and Lee Dixon. Henry has been the breath of fresh air that everyone expected him to be and shows why everyone is fighting over securing his services going forward. A Sky team of Neville, Carragher, Souness, Hoddle and Henry is pretty dreamy. Dixon is the class of the ITV field and we knew that going in once Roy Keane decided not to travel to Brazil.

Dixon anchors the ITV team and is the man who can put together some actual analysis and not just opinion. Something his fellow pundits seem to struggle with.

Away from the top pundits we have Rio Ferdinand who I’m just not warming to as a pundit, his defence of Wayne Rooney’s performance seemed to show that he is still too near to the team to be subjective. In what was a bizarro moment it was this exchange that shown Alan Shearer is not as awful as the popular opinion says. Shearer was adamant that Rooney has to get that effort on target in the second half and he wouldn’t let it go. Good for Alan.

Over on ITV we have Glenn Hoddle who has always been a more than solid pundit. I still don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten another crack at management – certainly at Spurs. Fabio Cannavaro seems to struggle speaking in English and Patrick Vieira is missing Roy Keane as they could have been a fiery pairing.

Of course there is also Ian Wright but he’s in the Robbie Savage mould of just being awful but keeps getting TV work. Robbie Savage had a stint at co-commentary last night and oy vey.

Commentators:

Guy Mowbray has been handed the gig as the top man at the Beeb again for this tournament but he is being dragged down by the choice of co-commentators he’s been stuck with. This is an issue across the BBC. Jonathan Pearce had an absolute stinker in the France game the other night getting all in a fluster regarding goal line technology. He needs to learn that silence is golden and a TV commentator doesn’t have to speak for every single second.

Over at ITV then Clive Tyldesley has been the top man since Brian Moore retired. There is nothing wrong with his commentary and he calls big moments well but I just yearn for Martin Tyler and/or Ian Darke who are both better but both commentating for non UK audiences once more this World Cup. ITV’s number two is the only one of these people that I have met during some work experience with 107.4 The Quay many moons ago – Sam Matterface. I still have very little idea how he rose from calling Portsmouth games on local radio to going to the World Cup as ITV’s #2 commentator but he has. He isn’t Jon Champion and he probably isn’t even Peter Drury but he isn’t horrific and is certainly better than Jonathan Pearce – although that isn’t saying much.

Co-commentators:

Phil Neville was given the chance to call England games after the auntie decided Mark Lawrenson was too dour for the top team. Then Phil Neville spoke and whilst what he said wasn’t actually that bad – the way he spoke was a real turn-off. The fact 445 people have complained to the BBC about him is a joke but it certainly wasn’t a great debut. Elsewhere the Beeb has Mark Lawrenson who is ok, Martin Known who certainly is not and the more than adequate Kevin Kilbane. They gave Robbie Savage a chance and er…yeah. I think the less said about that the better. Never again BBC. Never again.

ITV leads with Andy Townsend and whilst I think he gets a lot of very deserved stick, they might not have anyone better. They had Jim Beglin on staff for ages but got rid of him when he was in fact superior to Townsend and since then the likes of Clarke Carlisle have been given a chance to impress as they seem to really like the Matterface/Carlisle combination but I just don’t get it.

All in all I’d say the BBC probably has the better team and when it comes down to it I’ll watch the final on the Beeb I suspect. I think both channels can be comfortable with their studio outfit but when it comes to behind the microphone, the BBC has Jonathan Pearce who is a real turn-off but otherwise (bar Savage’s attempts) they are ok (I think Phil Neville will get better) but ITV just don’t have anyone bar Clive Tyldesley who I’d say was anything better than average.

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.

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June 17th, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Football,Media

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Andy Gray & Richard Keys singing ‘Get your tits out…’ to a female presenter (video).

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Andy Gray and Richard Keys are ‘lads’ as some people would say. They are also clearly immature pathetic individuals. They got their comeuppance when there were leaks of videos of them talking about Sian Massay and then how Gray dealt with a female colleague. They disappeared from UK TV and are now presenting and commentating on Bein Sport in Dubai. They have disappeared from the public (or shall we say the football) consciousness for a good while now until last Saturday.

Last Saturday Andy Gray stepped into the commentary box alongside Ian Darke to call the Stevenage v Everton FA Cup game for BT Sport. Michael Owen was on holiday so Gray came in for a guest appearance. Now I know we’ve all come to realise how bad Michael Owen is in this role but having Andy Gray back alongside Ian Darke reminded us about what good co-commentary is. He was exceptional. Pairing him up with one of his two his long-time commentary partners in Ian Darke was a wise decision. It was like slipping on a very comfortable pair of jogging bottoms and slippers. The commentary was first rate. The sins of the past, whilst not forgotten, maybe forgiven. The general feedback was positive and doors were opened about Gray’s future and possible return to UK TV on a more permanent basis.

Step in another leak. This one comes from well over a decade ago and shows Andy Gray and Richard Keys singing ‘Get your tits out for the lads’ to Clare Tomlinson, who was at the time the main reporter for Sky Sports Football in the tunnel for the big games. You can watch the video below.

Now the timing of this leak is of course interesting. Just a few days after Andy Gray made a return to UK TV to overwhelming praise. This leak is clearly meant to derail any possibility of Andy Gray doing more work with BT. So the question is whether the leak is from the Sky hierarchy or whether it is a former colleague who was subjected to working with Gray during his time at Sky Sports. I’m relatively sure it is the latter.

The one thing though this video shows apart from how crass and vile these two men clearly are/were is that they were crass and vile for a long, long time. Sky obviously knew about it but they decided to ignore the problem. Either they chose to do so because they didn’t want to upset their talent or because they didn’t care. I suspect it is probably a bit from column A and a bit from column B.

Since Clare Tomlinson left her role as the touchline reporter for big games on Sky Sports, no women have played a key role in any of their major live sporting coverage as a presenter, commentator or reporter bar Georgie Thompson’s one year on Sky F1. Women have been involved in minor sports and in other roles but they’ve failed to break through in those big three roles. In all honesty Georgie might have been the right pick to front F1 instead of Simon Lazenby but they went for Lazenby. This is in vast contrast to the BBC where Gabby Logan, Hazel Irvine, Sue Barker and Clare Balding have all presented or still do present major live sporting events on the channel.

Sky clearly have a problem. I’m not saying they need to get rid of talent just to bring in women but they have to find better ways to bring through female talent in key roles. They clearly have talented women on staff with Sky Sports News. I am sure Hayley McQueen, Kirsty Gallacher, Sarah-Jane Mee and Natalie Sawyer to name a few could be excellent presenters on big live sporting events. I know they have had a little exposure in these roles but why don’t they get more?

I don’t want Jeff Stelling replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Ed Chamberlain replaced in any capacity. I don’t want David Gower replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Dave Clark replaced in any capacity. They are probably the four most well known front men sky have (Champions League, Soccer Saturday, Super Sunday, Monday Night Football, England Cricket, Darts, Boxing) but there are surely sports for these people to branch out from autocue readers on Sky Sports News. Dave Clark did, Simon Thomas did, Dave Jones did, so why haven’t any of the women?

I question the culture at Sky Sports and suspect it has been poor for many a year. This video shows someone knew (and I suspect everyone knew) how sexist and ugly the workplace was for women for many years. Nothing happened until videos started to get leaked. Had no-one leaked the Keys/Gray videos then I have no doubt they would both be at Sky. So I wonder what Sky Sports will do for women.

On the issue of Andy Gray then I’m completely torn. He is the best co-commentator on football we have. As much as I like Alan Smith, Jim Beglin and Gary Neville, Gray is the most natural in the business. BT have won Champions League rights from the 2015-2016 season and having Darke and Gray anchor their coverage would be a real good move. However the question of whether he is a changed man or not must play a factor. If he has then everyone deserves a second chance but if he hasn’t then the sexual objectivity he creates in the workplace is vastly more important than having a better pundit in the commentary box, even if it means putting up with the monotone and hapless Michael Owen for a few more years.

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Written by neilmonnery

January 31st, 2014 at 2:20 am

Posted in Football

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