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Watford 1 Burnley 2 (27/11/2007) 27/11/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from Burnley:

1- F***ing hell.

2- And it should have been worse.  I struggle to remember a clearer cut penalty call not given than Jay Demerit’s “Royal Mail” tackle on ?McCann? in the first half.

3- I guess that’s what nine-point cushions are for.  But we need to instill some variety in our attacking play before Saturday;  it should take more to stop us playing than doubling up on our wide midfielders.

4- Thank heavens for Lloydy, one glinting coin nestled in a pile of manure.  A shame that his one sidestep towards a reckless foray forward allowed our visitors to break for the second goal.

5- Burnley boast an astonishing array of old second tier lags; thirteen of their sixteen were familiar faces at this level, and in Graham Alexander, David Unsworth, Ade Akinbiyi, Robbie Blake, Steve Jones, Alan Mahon and Gabor Kiraly Owen Coyle has a troupe that a predecessor Stan Ternent would have been proud of.


Oh Mickey, what a pity 15/11/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.

It’s difficult not to be cynical about ex-footballers in administrative positions. 

Team management and coaching is one thing;  top ex-players have obviously been there and done that, been exposed to a range of top coaches and therefore have something of a head start (even if a glittering professional career isn’t a prerequisite to a successful coaching career – witness Wenger, Taylor, Boothroyd, or even a guarantee of one – too many examples to mention).

But administration is something different, several steps away from the goings on on the pitch of which a player has direct experience.  So it was difficult not to be a little cynical when Michel Platini was elected as head of UEFA in January.  Yes, he had managed the national side, yes he had masterminded the successful 1998 World Cup in France.  But this is the top job in European Football, for which being able to pick a pass as well as anyone of his generation was no preparation at all.

Since when Platini has been something of a breath of fresh air.  Things started well, with the riling of a good number of folk who deserve to be riled as he proposed changes to the hugely lucrative Champions’ (sic) League structure – his suggestions including the limiting of number of entries to three at most per nation, the enforced withholding of one place for the Cup holders and the reserving of a larger number of places for a broader range of national representatives.

Cutting to the crux…  the Champions’ League has been a hugely successful moneyspinner for those in on the act whose success is measured in pounds or euros.  For everyone else, it’s a bit of a disaster.  Across Europe the financial rewards of qualification for the group stages have been hugely divisive – not just in England, where the top four’s dominance has only been perturbed by Everton’s fourth place in 2005 within the last four years, but across Europe.  Success, and its financial rewards, tend to breed success of course.  It was ever thus – but the gap between the haves and have nots has never been as large, as insurmountable.  Add to this an inherently conservative (some might say criminally anticompetitive) statistical system for assessing the number of qualification places each nation receives, and you have a situation where the status quo can only be disrupted by a monstrous external investment (on behalf of a competitor) or chronic incompetence (on the part of one of the incumbents).

Entertaining as this is when it happens (Guten Tag, Bayern München) it’s hardly enough to sustain interest in an increasingly closed shop.  I’ve got no problem with Manchester United, say, or Chelsea or whoever winning the League based on being the best team in the competition.  I do have issues with the state of play being so much in favour of preserving the status quo.

This was always the motivation behind the Champions League, of course;  the vastly inflated incomes of those involved act as a huge barrier to entry to any domestic challengers unable to compete in terms of wages and transfer fees, much as the Premier League structure does the same domestically.  And however repellent the G14 concept is, and whatever the conceit of many of those involved, the bottom line is that the guys involved are doing what they’re paid to do – protect the financial interests of their employers.

Given that the Champions’ League is UEFA’s flagship club competition, its hugely encouraging to hear their new President make such inclusive, provocative statements.  The limit to his influence was betrayed this week, however, when his proposals were largely dismissed by UEFA’s European Professional Football Strategy Council.  A body that includes Peter Kenyon, the chairman of the FA Geoff Thompson and the chairman of the Premier League Dave Richards.  Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas after all.

It’s occurred to me in the past that one way that joe public might effectively influence the passage of events might be to organise a public boycott of the shirt sponsors of G14 clubs.  After all, however many football fans follow the continent’s largest clubs, very many more of them do not, and even those that do aren’t all driven by self interest.  In reality, however, these revenue streams are dwarfed by those from television… and a sponsors boycott might be difficult to popularise if the G14 carries through its plan to double in size.

Officially this move was to make their “voice of the clubs” moniker more defensible by greater representativeness.  In practice, self-interest on a wider scale is another step towards a European league.  Interest in such a thing would surely be far less from country to country than domestic championships currently enjoy, but those involved would glean a much greater share, albeit of a reduced whole.

All in all, it’s difficult to see football as anything other than on a path to eating itself.  Whatever Monsieur Platini’s admirable intentions.

Watford 2 Colchester United 2 (10/11/2007) 10/11/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five Thunks from Colchester

1-  Fair play to Colchester… their open, positive approach was as vital in earning them a point as our wasteful finishing and inept defending, speaking of which…

2- When Kevin Frisbee scores against you, you know you’ve got issues.

3- Marlon had failed to find the target with two chances that I had already pencilled in as goals; I didn’t expect him to score the penalty.

4- Adam Johnson.  Wow.  We should all be praying for an improbable Middlebrough revival.

5- Gavin Mahon.  Covered, battled, blocked, fed, spread, chased.  Terrific.

Norwich City 1 Watford 3 (06/11/2007) 06/11/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Dave Messenger’s five thunks from Norwich…

1- Oooo, look at the pretty floodlights…

2- I wonder if we’ll meet Delia Smith.  Julian, do you think we’ll meet Delia Smith?

3- Julian, I’m cold.  Is it nearly finished yet?

4- I used to run a fanzine, you know.

5-  Oooo, look at the pretty floodlights….

 Only joking…

 1- John Hartson.  Destined to be Norwich’s Mickey Quinn.

2- Whoever taught Lloyd Doyley overlapping runs over the summer is a genius.

3- Since when have Watford had 2 physios?  Stewart and Mahon were treated simultaneously by Watford tracksuits…

4- Doyley and Mariappa have a £1000 bet on who scores first.  Mariappa must have been counting his winnings…

5- Norwich are shite and bottom.  So 24,000 midweek is fair play…

Watford 0 West Bromwich Albion 3 (04/11/2007) 04/11/2007

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.

Five thunks from yesterday’s game:

1- We never beat Albion anyway.  Perhaps fortunate that we spent an off day on a match that we’d tend to lose in any event.

2- We got no breaks in that first half hour… headers that could have crossed the line, goalline clearances, a key player stretchered off and a foul in the build up to the opening goal…

3- …but we need to get that glass jaw seen to.

4-  Robbo.  Sob.  Still.

5-  If I had my way, I’d lock the muppets who cheered Mahon’s substitution up in a sealed room with the individuals in my neighbourhood who saw fit to release fireworks at midnight last night and throw away the key.  Protecting the gene pool from terminal stupidity, y’see.  The horror of the evolutionary potential of this sealed room is perhaps a concern, but in reality if its inhabitants ever worked out how to procreate the offspring would at least preserve the future of radio phone-ins.  Which in turn keeps Victoria Derbyshire off the programmes that anyone ever actually listens to.