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Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I'm a Terrible, Terrible Person

I know I've been awful for this recently but I (once again) apologise for the lack of updates. This is actually a record for a quiet spell, 11 days is shocking. I've been extraordinarily busy over the last couple of weeks and I can only offer my thanks to regualrs who still keep checking!

There will be an update later on in the week so don't despair. It's not like there's been nothing happening in the world of football. United on the verge of going out of the Champions League, Arsenal edging their way to the double… I've even got a ticket for the Cup Final so there'll be a full report on the whole day out in Cardiff early next week.

Thank you for your patience. If you haven't voted in the atf awards yet then please do and finally a little message to the person who found this site by searching for;

“is Veron better than Zidane”


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Friday, April 19, 2002

Time of The Year

It's that time already, voting has begun for the all things footie awards. There are three categories (player of the year, outstanding young player and senior player of the year), more details and the voting booths can be found on the awards page. Please take a couple of seconds to cast your vote, there's no registering or redirection so there's no excuse! Thanks in advance.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2002

You May Have Noticed

That the navigation has changed a little, both in style and content. I felt a need for a little change, plus I've had a few comments about the old navigation not being immediately obvious and I thought I'd make it stand out a bit more. Please let me know what you think by clicking on ‘have your say’ below to leave a message. It won't take you to another site, it is simply a comments system — no registering needed!

The other aspect of the change is the addition of a new page to all things footie, to house the annual awards. Last years winners are there and the polling for this years awards will begin very soon, with the booths being on that page.

The more observant amonst you will also have noticed the disappearance of the counter. This is due to the addition of a more sophisticated tracking system, which all of you can examine at your pleasure by clicking on the little box with the graph in it at the bottom of the page (next to the Blogger logo). There are some really bizzare search terms, I'd particularly like to hear from the people who found their way to this site by searching for ‘gareth gates (fit butt)’ and ‘hairiest women’.

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Monday, April 15, 2002

Not His Luca Day

An unfortunate (or misjudged, depending on how much blame you wish to attribute to him) own goal from Gianluca Festa ended Middlesbrough's hopes of beating both Manchester United and Arsenal in the Worlds finest club cup competition.

Arsenal were disappointing, with exceptions in the rock like Patrick Vieira and a terrific goalkeeping display from the North London club's Cup 'keeper Richard Wright. Boro turned in an impressive performance with strong defensive displays from Gareth Southgate, Franck Querdrue and Robbie Mustoe in midfield.

Like the other Semi between Chelsea and Fulham it was a tale of two halves, Middlesbrough dominated the first half at Old Trafford but failed to score (in Arsenal's net anyway) but Arsenal (or Sylvain Wiltord depending on how much blame you wish to attribute to him) should have put the game well beyond doubt.

Graham Poll seemed to have lost his whistle in the second half — which arguably led to the melee in the 80th minute involving practically everyone on the pitch (including the assistant referee's). That said I thought both Semi-Final referees had good games, though Graham Poll should have given Gronkjaer his second yellow for a deliberate handball.

A Blockbuster Cockney Cup Final

Thanks to John Motson for the headline. It may be a final to look forward to but it's at the expense of three of England's possible defensive squad. Ugo Ehigou and Sol Campbell carried off at Old Trafford — both with nasty looking injuries — and the loss of Graeme Le Saux at Villa Park. I think I may be alone with a few Chelsea fans but I thought Le Saux may have still had a part to play in England's left sided line up. He's certainly playing better football than he was at the peak of his England career.

Talking of England, Sven Goran Eriksson's squad for the Paraguay game was a bit boring (compared to his last few anyway). The introduction of Matt Jansen was an odd one with just this friendly to go, can he do enough? will he be given a proper chance? Sven has failed to give Phillips (not enough minutes on pitch) and Ricketts (a combination of that and a bizarre formation) a proper chance so why should Jansen think anything different will happen to him?

I personally would have looked at one of Jansen's team-mates for inspiration (particularly with the mounting injury problems facing the squad). David Dunn has been inspirational for Blackburn this season and has both been a feature in all of their impressive performances and a conspicuous absentee in their poorer displays — surely the hallmark of a key individual. If Kieran Dyer fails to make the squad (through injury of course) then Dunn would be a superb, versatile replacement. He is established as captain of the England U21's and has a wealth of experience at that level and now a full, impressive Premiership season.

On top of that most of his finest moments have come against the bigger teams, a wonderful display against Arsenal scoring two stunning goals springs instantly to mind, excellent performances in the League Cup and playing an instrumental part in the 7-0 thrashing of West Ham last October.

The major surprise in the squad is the absence of captain David Beckham, though I have heard something about an injury he sustained in Europe last week.

Injury? Crisis?

I think I may be alone in thinking that as a nation we shouldn't be quite as bothered about this injury as the Sun keeps telling us we are. First and foremost it's a bit of an insult to the rest of the team; without David Beckham we'll probably get just as far as we would with him. If we haven't got players to fall back on in this kind of situation then we don't deserve any better. France have lost a key player in Robert Pires but do you think that Le Monde dedicated its entire front page to a picture of his knee?

More worrying are the injuries to key defenders, all it needs now is something to happen to Gareth Southgate and maybe the FA will have to rethink the Woodgate/Terry stance. If Ashley Cole fails to regain fitness and Graeme Le Saux's injury is as bad as it looked then Wayne Bridge looks set to play a major part in the team — the only alternatives at present seem to be Calamity Neville and Chris Powell (although to my knowledge he is also injured).

The FA have sent letters to all Premiership clubs to let them know that as of the Paraguay game there will be no more international friendlies during the Premiership season. I guess this move is to appease managers and chairmen who complain (quite rightly) about their already overworked players being forced to play 90 minutes of meaningless football. It will also be in response to the evidence that these games have become somewhat farcical, 11 substitutions (or more) and young/inexperienced players being rushed into the international set up — often before they are ready.

Enough pontificating, here are the weekly awards…

Performace of the week : Newcastle vs Derby
Player of the week : Kieran Dyer (Newcastle vs Derby)
Goal of the week : Michael Owen (Liverpool vs Sunderland)
Team of the week :
Richard Wright
  Gareth Southgate
Marcel Desailly
John Terry
Patrick Vieira
Steven Gerrard
David Batty
Robbie Mustoe
Kieran Dyer
  Teddy Sheringham
Steve Marlet

Expect voting to open in the next couple of days for the all things footie end of season awards.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Round Up

Apologies to everyone for the lack of updates, but regular as a clock someone forgot to wind here's the weekly awards…

Performace of the week : Bolton vs Ipswich
Player of the week : Fredi Bobic (Bolton vs Ipswich)
Goal of the week : J F Hasselbaink (Chelsea vs Everton)
Team of the week :
Shay Given
Danny Mills
Sol Campbell
Ugo Ehigou
Ricardo Gardner
Kevin Nolan
Paul Scholes
Man Utd
Steed Malbranque
  Fredi Bobic
J F Hasselbaink

Just a few rumours that are worth commenting on, Valencia have apparently ‘targeted’ Mark Viduka with talk of a £30m bid (Though Valencia deny this). If I were Peter Ridsdale I'd be rubbing my hands with glee, that business would almost beat the feat in selling the rat faced one by Arsenal for £23m.

Aparently our old pal Gazza has told team-mates he'll never play for Burnley again after being left on the bench by manager Stan Ternent. Good to see he's maturing in his old age.

Rumours are abound that Robbie Keane may be on his way back to Wolves if the ambitious Nationwide side get promoted. A bid of £10m would tempt David O'Leary to part with his fourth choice striker (though why he's fourth choice god only knows). Keane has countered the stories by insisting he's willing to fight for his place at Leeds.

Arsenal are looking at two targets from PSV, the constant red top fodder of Kevin Hofland and Marc Van Bommell. The former has been linked strongly with Manchester United since the departure of Jaap Stam but Arsene Wenger looks set for an audacious bid of £25m for the pair (do you get a discount for buying in bulk?). More Arsenal targets if you believe ten a penny hacks are David Trezeguet from Juventus, Barry Ferguson (Rangers) and crippled Stephen Carr from Spurs. Buying a player from the other side two years in a row? surely not?

Oh and one more target for Arsenal (had enough yet?) Frank De Boer is being fought over by Wenger and Bobby Robson and is out of contract in June.

I hope everyone's got their voting fingers ready because the nominees for the all things footie awards are in and voting will begin later this week, and is open to all.

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Monday, April 01, 2002

Northern Uproar

And it so very nearly was, a few inches more and Ian Harte would have brought about the comeback of the weekend and effectively ended United's title challenge. I put a pound on the draw at 100:1 after 60 minutes; needless to say a windfall would have been more luck than judgement. It does however point out the glaringly obvious once more (remember the West Ham game) — despite scoring four goals, Manchester United's defence is so poor that they nearly threw the game away. Liverpool also kept their title hopes alive with a fairly uneventful home win against a Charlton side with a superb away form surprisingly lacking in confidence.

Another team thankful of a win, Newcastle's 6-2 demolition of Everton; just as you thought they were about to forfeit their Champions League place to Chelsea as well. Superb performaces from Kieran Dyer and Nolberto Solano sealed a victory that will all but ensure qualification for the Champions League. It's still possible for Chelsea to leapfrog the magpies but I don't think there's enough games left (especially with them drawing away to Ipswich at the moment).

Bolton seem to have found their feet again with an excellent victory against Aston Villa at the Reebok Stadium. A wonderful, mature performance from Kevin Nolan in the heart of Bolton's midfield was topped by a precision free kick to win the match in the last fifteen minutes. Such composure for a 19 year old, the big boys will come calling.

Southern Comfort

To cheer the hearts of those south of Birmingham, West Ham earned a hard fought 3-1 victory over a troubled Ipswich side at Upton Park. Tottenham also got a rare away point against Midldesbrough and Chelsea took all three points against soon to be relegated Derby.

Arsenal could have scored 5 against Sunderland at Highbury, but then again Sunderland could probably have scored 3 had it not been for a combination of sloppy finishing and superb defending from Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell in particular. Kevin Phillips was impressive as ever and the only Sunderland player that really seemed to be trying, the defending by the Makems was absolutely diabolical and would no doubt have provoked Peter Reid into an expletive driven cup throwing team talk at half time.

The title is very much in Arsenal's hands now, only a slip up by them can hand the title to United or Liverpool. Though maybe someone should tell Phil Thompson that — he seems convinced that if Liverpool win all their games they'll win the league, not by my calculations…

Performace of the week : Newcastle vs Everton
Player of the week : Patrick Vieira (Arsenal vs Sunderland)
Goal of the week : Rory Delap (Southampton vs Fulham)
Team of the week :
Ian Walker
  William Gallas
John Terry
Jason Dodd
  Roy Keane
Man Utd
Danny Murphy
Kevin Nolan
Patrick Vieira
Joe Cole
West Ham
  Thierry Henry
Ole Gunnar Solkjaer
Man Utd

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