Sunday, 28 March 2010

How does it feel to lose 7-1? Or 13-2?

City of SheffieldImage via Wikipedia
Owners of photos: Lewis Skinner, Wikityke, Ian Parkes, Warofdreams, Wedesoft
Chelsea defeated Aston Villa yesterday by seven goals to one. I wondered how the losers felt.  I can come pretty close with my memories of losing 13-2. 

It was in 1955, one Saturday afternoon in Sheffield. It had been raining most of the week when we turned out at 3pm. I saved the first shot. It skidded a bit but squelched out of the mud and up towards my chest.  I got a slippery hold on it, then booted it out to beyond the halfway line. That was the last time in the match that I managed to kick it so far. You probably guessed by now that I was the goalkeeper - otherwise there would have been a penalty for getting hold of the ball?

My team was St  John's College, York Second XI. Our opponents were Sheffield University Third XI, or it could have been Fourth XI - just not sure now.  It was not only the goals going in, it was the mud that I had to dive into for little purpose. It was the growing lack of confidence in the rest of my team and their sheer incompetence. Until we were about halfway through the eventual 13 they would stretch out a hand to help me up from the mire where I had semi-stuck after the ball went past me. But I gradually got less and less assistance in unsticking myself as my teammates got more and more depressed by what was happening to us all.

Thoughts like 'How can I avoid going into dinner tonight back at St John's in York? Answer: 'Only by going without dinner' only made me feel worse. I wanted to hide somewhere for a month or two. Then came more anger with my teammates because the jokes would be focussed on me, the guy who was the last line of defence. The one who picked up the ball from the mud and threw it towards the middle of the field 13 times. Why did I choose to be a bloody goalie anyway? ( A subject for a future blog perhaps)

They don't have the same quality mud any more but nevertheless read this and empathise if you can with Friedel, the Aston Villa goalkeeper: Chelsea 7 Aston Villa 1 

Personally, as a Chelsea fan I was just delighted.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Chelsea will not be one of Champions League last 8, March 16th, 2010

Chart showing the progress of Chelsea F.C. thr...Image via Wikipedia

Email to my son, Nick. We are both Chelsea supporters
This report is pretty much as I saw the game. Inter were evil, knew it, and fed on it. Chelsea couldn't match their ferocity. With no help from the ref, when at corners we should have had penalties, we had nowhere to go. Anelka was poor, tried his game of holding and passing but never to much effect.
He had one flash of a chance and got in a shot while off balance but it was blocked immediately by Lucio. Joe Cole came on and knew he had to do something good. He started by shoving someone over and giving away a free-kick, then ran round and round. Too desperate! It was hardly fair on Cole to be in the role of rescuer. So much more playing time had been given, for example, to the big Ballack.
Drogba's free kicks were poor.  I could sympathise with him on his sending off  but Graham Souness was right. Souness had played at the top level and could mix it with the best. So I have to respect his verdict that the ref had to send Drogba off when the matter was brought to his notice. Drogba had fallen to the provocation almost at the end of the match. (Graham Souness,  former player and manager, was speaking from the tv studio)

Monday, 8 March 2010

The England Team

Here's a start. Gordon Brown in goal. I know he only has one eye but, hey, you often get into less trouble that way. His bullying manner would get the lads lined up for free-kicks and corners pretty smartly and also intimidate opposing strikers. And his record in punching the ball well away speaks for itself.

I know he is notionally a leftie but Tony Blair has to be in the centre. He will roam to the right a lot but never go near the left-wing. And he does like pushing forward in the limelight. He was quick to make the strike against Iraq, although I admit he was substituted well before extra time in the on-going match in Afghanistan. He sends a lot of shots over the bar but puts away a fair number of chances. His goalscoring celebrations, posturing around all over the field, are also over the top - but that's the way the game is going, I'm afraid.  He gets in the team as a lone striker.

I have given a lot of thought to David Cameron's position. I know he has done a lot of attacking lately but that was because of his team's position in the league. If promoted he is going to have to defend like mad and so his best position could be defensive mid-field, but he still has a lot to prove. He could do well with some sterling defenders behind him. Will Ken Clarke come in there, do you think? As a central defender on the left side?

Ed Balls is also in the mid-field somewhere, certainly left side, but ready to fill in anywhere he thinks he will do well. I am not sure that he himself has any definite preference, as long as he is in there with the lads.

William Haigh is definitely right back. No, I don't mean 'right back behind the  goal'! He would definitely be an attacking right flanker, running up and down the wing and talking to anybody he can find to listen: the linesman or supporters in the crowd. He could talk the hind leg off a referee and would be useful complaining and arguing about whether there should have been a red card for the opposition or a corner or throw-in for his team. Always in a dignified manner. And after the match he can always drink his fifteen pints with the lads, of course.

For left-back there are several candidates, but for me Nick Clegg is left back by a long way.

Which other players would you have in the England team? Milliband?  I know I have chosen the obvious ones but what do you think? And I would really welcome your suggestions to complete a team. Write something below where it say Comments or send them directly to me at:


In the Premier League on Saturday the prize for insouciance went to Bendtner, the Arsenal striker. He missed maybe five chances near the goal with his team and manager desperate for a decider as the match went on with only a 2-1 lead over Burnley. By far the better team and playing highly watchable touch and take-it-with-you football, Arsenal did not put things to a satisfactory end until the last  minute of added-on time when Arshavin (on late as a sub and also missed a couple of good chances) made it 3-1.

The camera went to Bendtner's face after two of his misses and found him chewing gum. Subsitituted late, he came off slouching and chewing with a kind-of-defiant attitude which said "What did I do wrong?"
Nothing, it seemed as his colleagues on the bench and his manager gave him a pat on the hand or arm. He was still chewing. One of the 21st century's aristocracy (taking over from bankers and estate agents), this young man certainly looked the part. I'll bet that inside, though, he was burning up. And where does he get fresh gum?

Monday, 1 March 2010

The last Saturday in February: A sad day

The relationship of Terry and Bridge whose teams, Chelsea and Manchester City, met on Saturday with a rare home defeat 2-4 for Chelsea was given a high profile by the media and by curiosity from the rest of us. Would they shake hands during the pre-match ceremonies? Proferred by Terry, the  hand was ignored by Bridge as the visiting team walked the line formed by the home players.

This kind of 'sad' which involves the relationship two players had with the same woman can be considered to be beside the point in football. The fact that the relationship was unknown to Bridge until reported by a newspaper added public shame to the issue. And of course it does affect the way people in a team, in football and in other kinds of work, think about the way they co-operate.  It can affect respect but can it affect performance? Well, Chelsea lost at home for the first time in 25 matches. And Chelsea had two players sent off.  Was this a coincidence? I think so - there was a fault in squad selection.

The pair sent off were both experienced 33-year old players who have played for their countries. Belletti scored the winning goal for Barcelona in the 2006 Champions League final. Ballack is captain of Germany and has played in the last two World Cup competitions. His first yellow card was for complaining needlessly to the referee about a corner-kick. His second, when Chelsea were losing, was for wrapping his legs around an opponent from behind. Off he had to go! Belletti got a red direct when he chased Barry into the box directly behind! The inevitable happened: he seemed to touch feet with Barry, who fell. 

After two such incompetent acts committed when their team was losing and desperately needed goals you have to ask what these two players are even doing in the team playing for Chelsea.Where are their priorities?  Match Report.

What made the day truly sad was that Aaron Ramsey, the 19 year-old Arsenal mid-fielder had his leg broken in the match against Stoke. The faces of those on the field showed their shock and sympathy for the injured player. Shawcross, Stoke, was sent off  for the tackle he made on Ramsey and walked off in tears at what he had done. Match report.

Later in the day Shawcross would hear that  he had been chosen for the England squad for a midweek 'friendly' game against Egypt. His first cap.