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Category: Football

Eddie Howe seems to be edging towards a reunion with Portsmouth

Dave Jones was seen at Fratton Park 13 days ago. Sean O’Driscoll has interviewed for the job. Lee Clark was linked by The News but he had no interest. Brian Laws, Mark McGhee have both thrown their names into the ring. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his name come up last weekend and the current duo of Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham have said they have no interest in the top job at Portsmouth Football Club but we are inching our way to a new manager and that man is going to be (if the rumour mill is to be believed) Eddie Howe.

The former Bournemouth and current Burnley manager has seen his odds tumble dramatically over the past 24 hours as the rumour mill got going. With a 50% winning record at Bournemouth and a very impressive 44% winning record at Burnley – Eddie Howe is a hot young manager whose teams play good football and succeed.

Howe, who is only six years my senior (it kind of makes me wonder what I’m doing with my life) was a former player at Fratton Park albeit briefly thanks to two season ending knee injuries in consecutive seasons. His appointment I suspect would be roundly welcomed by the majority of the Fratton Faithful as it would be progress with someone who has had two managerial stops in his career and been successful at them both.

Obviously there is one rather large issue that could still stop this seeming fait accompli from taking shape – the fact that he is currently employed and Portsmouth is not a job that Burnley would see as a bigger one. A lot of chairman won’t stand in the way of a manager moving to a bigger job but Pompey and Burnley are both in the same division and Burnley may well want a large sum of money for Howe to be freed to take the Portsmouth job should he want it.

There is obviously a way to go yet but all signs are pointing to the fact that David Lampitt has identified his man and now comes the hard work. I don’t think convincing Eddie Howe will be the hard part but getting permission to speak to him just might be. This one has legs folks…

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Bookies have Martin O’Neill odds on for a dramatic return to Leicester City

I have seen a few comments on twitter and via e-mail that Pompey fans do not want Martin O’Neill to be their next manager. These people make my head hurt. Martin O’Neill is so far outside our wildest dreams (and my dreams have been wild lately – this morning I was visiting someone in prison but she was smoking hot) but who cares about my dreams.

My dream of Martin O’Neill being next Pompey manager is not going to be realised but with the news that Sven has got the sack at Leicester City the bookies are all around evens with two now having the former Leicester, Celtic and Aston Villa manager at odds on for the vacant post.

A return to Leicester would be dramatic (Neil you have already used that adjective) ok…A return to Leicester would be thrilling, sensational, electrifying (ok you are overdoing it now). It would though mean that arguably the best manager out of work at the moment was ready to drop down into the Championship.

The man who could still get the England job in 2012 (certainly if Harry Redknapp is found guilty in his court case that we are not allowed to discuss) and he isn’t out of the running for the Manchester United job when it next comes up either. Surely if ‘arry went to England next summer then Martin O’Neill is the obvious name to replace him at White Hart Lane.

Unless I have missed a big media quote where he has said he’s happy to drop down to the championship then this potential move makes no sense to me. Martin O’Neill is a world class manager. People have said he’s only achieved with money but he took a rag tag Leicester team to Cup glory and into Europe. He was extremely successful at Celtic and the moment he left Aston Villa the team collapsed. He was also very shrewd in the transfer market buying players who would be sold at vast profits.

Martin O’Neill is better than Leicester at this point in his career (no offense Leicester fans – I did also say he was far too good for my club) and I can’t see how on Earth he takes the Leicester job. I wouldn’t be backing this one at 10/1 yet he’s odds on in some places. It’s crazy. Crazy I tells ye!

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Chris Foy derided on social media

So Chris Foy sent off two Chelsea players, booked a large handful and gave a penalty against them this afternoon in the live Super Sunday 4PM game at their old rivals QPR. Looking at the raw stats you might question it but watching the game as a neutral I saw nothing major that denoted Foy having anything but a pretty good game.

However my neutral view seems to be out of phase with that of Chelsea fans who believe that he not only had a bad day at the office but was also doing it on purpose due to a vendetta against the club. I saw a tweet saying that the ref had sent off Alex in a game at Fulham and therefore that was proof he had an issue with the club. Yeah…

There have been plenty of tweets saying from the boring ‘Chris Foy 1-0 Chelsea’ to the more abhorrent ‘Chris Foy is a **** )you know the word) to the much retweeted ‘Chris Foy should never referee a Premier League match again’ and everything in-between.

So let’s have a quick look at the three big issues.

Firstly the penalty was not a stonewaller but David Luiz was just stupid. Did he have to shove the QPR attacker in the back when he had no chance to get the ball? No he didn’t. It’s a foul all day long outside the box and a penalty is just a foul that happens to be inside the box. Therefore a penalty was a fair call.

The Jose Bosingwa red card was likewise not a stonewaller. The problem though is once the referee decides it is a foul then it is a red card. John Terry was not in a covering position as he is not getting between Shaun Wright-Phillips and the ball before SWP has a shot on goal. Was it a foul? I’m not sure and the replays were inconclusive. At full speed it looked dodgy so I can see why he gave the straight red.

As for Didier Drogba. That is a straight red every day of the week. No need for debate. If you leave the ground with both feet and studs showing you are going for an early bath.

Yes lots of Chelsea players saw yellow as well but most of them seemed pretty fair. Had he not blown for full-time when he did then Ashley Cole would have been sent off as well as he fouled Tommy Smith I think it was as Smith was going clear down the wing. Cole was already on a yellow so that would have been a second yellow and a red. David Luiz could easily have gone as well for several fouls when already on a yellow.

Terry and Lampard both got booked for going forehead to forehead with QPR players (the QPR players got booked too). Mikel’s yellow was clear-cut as was Cole’s. I can’t recall the other ones off hand but I don’t remember sitting there and thinking ‘Foy has lost this game’ and I certainly never thought ‘Foy is deliberately screwing Chelsea over’.

The hounding he is getting on social media is sad to see and we wonder why so few people want to become officials?

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Steve Cotterill set for Nottingham Forest job and Pompey fans don’t seem to care

The people of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas hold their breath. Another club wants their manager. Time for the messageboards to get into overdrive and wild gnashing of teeth but wait what do we have here? We seem to have a peaceful and serene state of affairs with more offers to drive him up to Nottingham than to kidknap him until he agrees to stay on as the man in charge of the club.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I’m not a Steve Cotterill guy. I never have been and I never will be. Rightly or wrongly unless I can either like a guy on a personal level or I see progress on the field then I just can’t like them. Many PFC disliked Yoshi and Rudonja but they both were very nice people off the field and did everything the club asked of them so even though they didn’t work out as players on the field I’ll always like them.

Manager wise in my time I’ve seen a few but I have liked most. Those that I haven’t is because I didn’t see progress. I felt for Terry Fenwick as he was lumped with some awful players from Australia and Alain Perrin had little to no control over signings so what can you do? Jim Smith I loved because you can’t help but love him and he put together the most exciting team of my youth. Had luck shined ever so slightly differently he would have both promoted Portsmouth to the Premier League and won the FA Cup with a team from outside the top flight. Alan Ball is one of the greatest people ever let alone managers. The job he did when he took over a side seven points adrift is nothing short of miraculous and whatever you think of Harry Redknapp you could see the on field product getting better.

Heck even though Avram Grant oversaw our demise out of the top flight he was kinda badly hamstrung but still gave us memories. Cotterill lovers (the few that exist) will say that Grant’s squad was good enough to stay up so why did we as fans like him but then when you point out Pompey’s team in the Championship under Cotterill was the best 1-11 in the division they stonewall you.

I have seen no progress in Pompey under Cotterill. He is not likeable and blames everyone under the sun bar himself for anything bad that happens. If I had seen something then I’d be more willing to overlook the fact that he isn’t likeable but close defeats are still defeats and close defeats whilst playing garbage is even worse. I can deal with losing if we lost whilst trying to entertain and score goals but we don’t do that. I know so many that don’t go to games any more not because we lose a lot but because the prices are sky high and there’s no passion out there.

I have watched some god awful Pompey teams in my time but thoroughly enjoyed the experience because even though the players were rubbish they gave their all. Nowadays I see a lot of people on high wages who couldn’t give a toss. Is that the fault of the manager? No but do you get a sense of team spirit from the club? No you don’t and some of that can be put at the feet of the man in charge.

Steve Cotterill is another one of those managers with a great pedigree but have actually done very little to have earned it. He has won less than 30% of his games in charge at Portsmouth and it’s not like the club doesn’t have some half decent players. Steve Cotterill as a manager has less than a 30% winning percentage in any league above League 1 in three different stops as manager. That to me doesn’t scream out that he’s my guy.

If Nottingham Forest want him then I couldn’t care less and would probably be happy to see him go. Who comes in I have no idea and no doubt whoever comes in might be worse than Steve Cotterill but as a Pompey fan – like many – I suspect I’m willing to risk it.

Steve Cotterill is odds on to become the next Nottingham Forest manager at the time of writing.

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Scott Minto is Sky Sports new La Liga front man

This might not be breaking news but it is the first time I have gotten around to blogging about it. I was going to let it slide but when I saw Charles Sale calling the former left back a ‘celebrity’ then I knew it was blogging time. The columnist at the Daily Mail has a thing against former sportsman going into TV as we’ve seen before as he continuously witters on about the BBC celebrity commentary pairing of Martin Brundle & David Coulthard. Not too sure they are huge celebs but saying that Scott Minto is a celebrity is really walking on the fine line between accuracy and lunacy.

I have put it out there before that I didn’t see why Sky Sports sacked Mark Bolton. He had been doing a fine job on Spanish football and it felt like a different atmosphere to the straight laced coverage we have on domestic football but having decided to not continue using the services of Mr Bolton they had to decide what way forward they would go. They could either get an exciting new hire to keep the style the same or get some non-entity in house guy to come in and bore the pants off viewers.

They chose the latter.

I have no issues with Scott Minto and it is still early days but it looks very likely he’ll just be a bland non-personality fronting the coverage. There is no spark from him and I’m guessing that might just be what Sky Sports were after. The last year has been by far the most turbulent for Sky Sports football department since they got the Premier League coverage back in the early 1990s and having lost it’s presenter and main analyst of the best part of two decades coverage has led to a clear change of on air talent policy.

Sky have always been keen to go in house instead of going out and hiring the best talent from other networks when it has come to football. They brought in Ian Payne from BBC Radio 5Live a few years back but he just never settled into TV and has since returned to radio and Ben Shepherd came in last year after leaving GMtV but has found himself on the outside looking in after Richard Keys left as in house options Ed Chamberlain and David Jones got the nod for the top games.

So Sky don’t want any personality. This is a shame. I won’t stop watching obviously but it is annoying when dull safe options are preferred to exciting personality driven ones. Whatever the case the mere writing of the words ‘celebrity Scott Minto’ are about as funny and accurate as writing that I am caught in a situation with Sophie Ellis Bextor. I’m really not (Yes a Sophie Ellis Bextor analogy – it has been a week or so…).

My view on this hire…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Arsenal (and Spurs fans) start to get anxious about the season.

The world of twitter has opened my brain up to 100s of new people and their thoughts. Some of them are extremely interesting, some are partizan, some I follow just to keep tabs on the latest rubbish but this afternoon it has been a rather interesting insight into the football fan. Both Spurs and Arsenal fans have called for their managers head after terrible results and fans of other teams have been gloating about how bad those two teams are and how Harry and Arsene need to go.

Now the Spurs fans are being complete morons because whatever I think about Harry Redknapp you have to admit he has done a fine job with the club. They have played two league games this season against the two best teams in the league and it’s not even close. The two Manchester teams are by far and away the best sides in the league and that is no disrespect to Chelsea or Liverpool or anyone else but it is not even close. To call for Harry’s head at this point just reeks of people not understanding football. You can’t win every single game and losing two games to two fine teams is nothing to call for a managers head for. So that is just pathetic.

Now on to Arsene Wenger. They still haven’t recovered from the Carling Cup defeat and we can all see that. It is plain for everyone to see and Arsene Wenger is under serious pressure but something I have always said is you have to trust someone who has done it before and give them ample opportunity to turn it around. I know some would throw it back at me that I’m not a Steve Cotterill fan and that I should give him a chance but Steve Cotterill’s track record is not that of Arsene Wenger – not by a long shot.

So should Wenger go? Well I don’t think in this era of Transfer Windows we have seen a more important 100 odd hours. Arsenal fans have to remember that when Arsene came into Arsenal they were a big club but they had to change. He helped oversee the move to a new stadium and has made the club financially stable and secure going forward. He has done that his way and it has been successful. Now though he has to spend money or he won’t be able to be successful any more.

I don’t care that he hasn’t won a trophy for five years and for a club the size of Arsenal that isn’t acceptable. That’s BS in my book. There are only a handful of trophies out there each season and you can’t win them all. As a fan of a club who don’t exactly win that many trophies – although we did in 2008 – I know that trophies are not the be all and end all. It is about the roller-coaster of emotions and entertainment of following a football team.

Fan of clubs who are always in the hunt get greedy. They always want more. Wenger has done it before and can do it again but Arsenal fans might be at the tipping point. All I’ll say is be careful what you wish for. Be very careful.

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Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal look like kids amongst men – and they are!

I am an Arsene Wenger fan. I have up most respect for what he has done at Arsenal. My lot are stuck in the Championship and don’t look like getting out of it any time soon. Therefore I have no horse in the Premier League race but my sympathies are with the Arsenal and I hope they do well. Why you ask? Because they try to play the beautiful game.

However if I was an Arsenal fan this evening sitting at home waiting for The X Factor to start I’d not be a very happy bunny. (Seriously why is The X Factor starting already? The X Factor should be on when it’s dark and summer has moved on and the autumn chill in the air is prevalent).

This afternoon I watched the Arsenal v Liverpool game and the moment Frimpong got booked everyone knew he was seeing red at some point. He was lucky it was only a second yellow as in all honesty it was a straight red challenge.

Arsenal never looked like winning the game. They looked like a team devoid of confidence. Watching them this afternoon was like watching me on a dance floor around pretty women I don’t know. Awkward and distinctly uncomfortable. You knew nothing good was going to come of it but you dare not look away incase something dramatic happened.

Watching Arsenal you have to start to really fear for them. Yes everything could come good but I worry that they’ll not and Wednesday’s game at Udinese for a Champions League spot looks more than a tricky game and more like a bazillion bananas skins and all the Arsenal players are in bare feet and the pitch is made of lino that has only just been washed.

The transfer window shuts at the end of the month and if Arsenal are to do anything this season then they simply have to make moves. Defensively they looked solid enough today but there was no guile in midfield and that was the most worrying aspect of the whole match. If Arsenal can’t open a team up then you have to seriously worry.

Also it seems as though Arsene made a deal with the devil at some point and suddenly on Carling Cup Final day the devil called in the deal. Then this off-season Arsene didn’t pay up and he has decided the best way to get back at the Frenchman is to keep injuring defenders. The injury devil is working overtime with the Arsenal back line. Surely Arsene is scared to pay ¬£15million for Jagielka or Cahill then they’ll be injured and out for the season within half an hour of their debut.

Being a Pompey fan isn’t easy but I’m used to us sucking the club being run by morons but Arsenal fans aren’t used to it and they must not be enjoying themselves tonight…

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Grant Coleman – an inspiration to someone he’s never met or probably even heard of

Me.

I suspect only a handful of people who ever stumbles across my blog will even know who Grant Coleman is. Well for those that don’t he was Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent for what seemed like my whole childhood. He often got accused of being a Southampton fan but Pompey fans and vice versa by Southampton fans. Bournemouth fans just thought he hated them. Oh the joys of being in charge of sport for a station with three league clubs.

When I first used to listen to BBC Radio Solent’s sports show they didn’t have any live commentary of either Saints, Pompey or the Cherries but in time they slowly started doing games. First it was the odd second half here and there and then they would broadcast the biggest game of the day from the three clubs. Then slowly they split the frequencies so they could broadcast more than one live match at a time and as we stand today all three clubs will have every game live on some part of the BBC Radio Solent frequency.

I haven’t lived in the BBC Radio Solent region since 2002 and in all honesty once I became a Season Ticket holder at Fratton Park the amount of games I listened to on either Solent (or 107.4 The Quay) went down dramatically. I’d go watch Newport IoW if they were at home or often even follow them away as well. When Jeff and the boys started to really get Soccer Saturday going I’d watch that although I’d still listen to the Pompey games online. These days I don’t bother and if I’m in I’m usually just watching Jeff and the boys.

However this is now and I’m talking about then. Portsmouth Football Club was a significant part of my world for many years. These days less so but they’ll still always be my club. In the late 90s the club were on the verge of going to the wall and I truly believe that three men were huge parts in why they didn’t go under and that the club survived. Everyone knows about Alan Ball. Just a great man and words cannot describe what Portsmouth fans feel for the man. The next is Tom Burton who was the administrator appointed to oversee the club. It was him who managed the purse strings enough to both keep the club up and secondly get the club sold on. Then there is Grant Coleman.

Grant Coleman as Sports Editor at BBC Radio Solent kept the club very much in the news and his passion for the club shone through. The year of the Great Escape in 1998 is something no PFC fan will ever forget. That game away to Crewe Alexandra where it all started down 3-0 and ABBAWA rang out loud and proud. Three days the later the now infamous Stockport County game where there were nearly four million fans inside Fratton Park (if you believe everyone who said they were there) but in all honesty I think it was just under 9,000 if my memory serves me right. I was listening at home that night and the atmosphere was insane and Grant Coleman couldn’t believe it.

We would fight on and somehow took it to the final day of the season. We had to win at Bradford and if we did we were safe whatever happened in the Stoke City v Manchester City game. Behind this link is the three goals from Grant Coleman that day (with Alan Knight in the background). A truly great day but it was Grant Coleman to whom I aspired to be. A good man running sports at local radio. Kind of a humble aspiration no?

Well those dreams have faded and life as they say has moved on but when I made my live football radio commentary debut last weekend I couldn’t help to think back to the man I aspired to be. Doing some internet research it seems as though he lives in Spain now working for the Olympics Host Broadcaster out of Madrid. Doesn’t seem like a bad gig. However I just want it out there that he was the man who made me want to be on radio covering football. I doubt he’ll ever read this but I just want it out there. There are plenty of people who have inspired me in my life but very few of those are people I’ve never even spoken to but he is certainly one of them.

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Why didn’t Peter Walton give a Penalty for Joey Barton’s foul on Gervinho?

Now I’m not a referee so I need a helping hand with this one. As many of you will have seen either live on ESPN or on Match of the Day this evening there was an incident involving Gervinho and Joey Barton in the Newcastle United v Arsenal game.

Gervinho went down in the box mid-way through the first half. Most people thought it was a dive but referee Peter Walton decided that it wasn’t and allowed play to continue with no advantage signaled. This seems pretty crucial. Next Joey Barton grabs Gervinho by the scruff of the neck and drags up him to his feet. At this point there is a mele√© and Gervinho slaps Joey Barton and he goes down as though Mike Tyson had right hooked him. It was blatant play acting by Joey Barton but what would you expect?

Gervinho though raised his arms and was rightly sent off and Joey Barton was booked for his role in the incident. However Joey Barton couldn’t have been booked for simulation as if the referee thought that then he wouldn’t have shown Gervinho the red card. So Joey Barton was booked for instigating the incident and dragging Gervinho up to his feet by the scruff of the neck.

Now that incident happened before Gervinho slapped Barton and with the referee not signalling advantage after the alleged dive of Gervinho then surely the first incident that he has blown for is Joey Barton’s yellow card offence on Gervinho then shouldn’t it have been a penalty to Arsenal and not a free kick to Newcastle? Surely the first incident is deemed the foul.

I may be totally wrong but that is how I read the laws of the game and with Peter Walton never indicating that he saw the tackle on Gervinho/dive by Gervinho as not worthy of a foul by never showing that he was playing advantage, then surely Barton’s yellow card offence on Gervinho was during open play and happened in his own penalty area and therefore he should have pointed to the spot?

To be fair to the referee he had a shocker all day long by not sending off Alex Song for a pathetic stamp on Joey Barton but two wrongs does not make a right my friends.

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John Terry kicks a player in the neck. Nice one John…

Please watch the above.

Now I know I’m not exactly a John Terry guy but I will say he is a good no nonsense defender but why on Earth is he making a challenge like that in a Pre-Season Friendly? Why?

If someone can give me a good reason then I’d be delighted.

However until then I’ll just sit here and shake my head at the sheer stupidly and thuggishness of the man. The England Captain no less…

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