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Friday, 29 October 2010

Rafa's Cracking Luck

Almost exactly a year ago, before this blog was even so much as a twinkle in its fathers’ eyes, I wrote this article for When Saturday Comes about Rafael Benitez. Assuming you don’t read it – I don’t know, maybe you’re a disillusioned Liverpool fan, maybe you just don’t like Spanish people – the gist of it is this: Benitez is great when he inherits a side. When he starts buying players, things invariably go tits up.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Di Matteo says No no to yo-yo

Saturday October 23, 4.45pm. The Premier League table already paints a familiar picture, even in its relatively youthful stage. Chelsea top... United second … West Brom fourth… HANG ON A MINUTE. Fourth? Nine games in? THE West Brom? Now, Roberto Di Matteo would be the first to remind you of the folly of getting carried away but then again, he is as likeable and modest a character you are likely to encounter in the Premier League. And West Brom’s early season achievements are there for all to see – victory at the Emirates and a draw at Old Trafford the obvious highlights; unbeaten in five at The Hawthorns, and since the end of August in the league.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The League of Extraordinary Inconsistency

Just over a week ago, Macclesfield were 2-0 down at home to Oxford United and the referee had just blown for half time. About an hour later, they were celebrating a 3-2 win. Just over a week later, by contrast, the Silkmen were on the receiving end of a defeat – an abject one at that – in arguably the most winnable of their recent fixtures, away at Barnet.

Barnet had lost their last two matches, while Macc were playing well on the road. A lot of people point to Saturday’s result being indicative of the competitiveness of League Two – an argument often extended to lower league football, where there are no bankrolled behemoths and for some reason, spending big is just as likely to guarantee you a 10-point deduction as it is a promotion.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Sacking Of York

At first glance, my club, York City, are the same as many others at the more unglamorous reaches of the football pyramid. Money, as ever, is tight – to be expected when your average attendance is 2,386 and you’re in the conference. But the finances at Bootham Crescent (‘Crescent’ no longer preceded by Kit Kat, thankfully) are not as clear cut as one might imagine.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Big-Time Charlie

Before the start of Blackpool’s incredible dalliance with fame and fortune in the Premier League, Ian Holloway intimated that his side were going to have to play like world champions Spain to keep their heads above water. In Charlie Adam, the Blackpool manager seems to have found his very own orchestrator, his puppeteer, his Xavi.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Can Hodgson Ride The Merseyslide?

Roy Hodgson leans towards his deputy Sammy Lee, his face creased with tension, brow sticky, stomach uneasy: “Sammy, what the fuck do we do? How do we change it? Who can we bring on?” Lee, a man who has spent his life in the game, is nonplussed. “I don’t know boss. We have nothing. We can’t change it.” Hodgson, growing increasingly worried, darts a look left and then right. He eyes up those sat on the benches next to him. He is trying to get the measure of the situation, while trying frantically to calm his nerves. It wasn’t like this at the Cottage, he thinks. “David, get stripped lad,” he says. Hodgson exchanges glances with Lee. His side are 2-0 down to their local rivals and his only chance at changing the game is by throwing on David Ngog. Hodgson, resigned to his fate, shrinks back into his chair, eyes wide, face creased with tension, brow sticky, stomach uneasy.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Show Me The Money

Football can be a cruel mistress. Everyone knows this. But there is one man for whom football is never testy. Never hard work. Ever eager to whisper sweet nothings into his ear. That man is Sven Goran Eriksson, the recently appointed Leicester City manager. These days I almost expect Pudsey the Bear to chaperone Sven around, so often does the man get his hands on one of those gigantic cheques. How does he do it? It seems quite incredible to many that he manages to get work, time and time again. Is this too harsh a judgement? Let’s assess…

Thursday, 14 October 2010

'Arry's Mad

No, this isn’t an article about a ‘90s children’s programme about a gobshite parrot. If you wanted a reason, one massive reason, a reason so glaringly obvious it is about as subtle as a kick to the bollocks, that Harry Redknapp should NEVER EVER get the England job, please read his 'dissection' of England's latest game. And because the Sun didn’t attach a ‘Jingoistic Bullshit Warning’, we probably should.

WARNING: THIS is jingoistic bullshit.

Actually, it does explain a lot. Not about England v Montenegro, admittedly, but mindless drivel of such a stellar ilk goes a long way towards illustrating why Spurs have no Plan B besides juggling centre-backs and chucking on Roman Pavlyuchenko when the going gets ropey.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Nation In Stagnation

'What time you getting back tonight mate?'

In the aftermath of England’s World Cup exit, the Guardian opined that: “The tactics creaked as painfully as the veterans and Fabio Capello's ponderous 4-4-2 would have made players lumber even if they still had a spring in their step”. How easily Kevin McCarra could have been writing about last night. Seven points from nine is not an unmitigated disaster for the English, but such was the despondency this morning that you’d think the team had been insipidly knocked out of a major tournament all over again.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Czech Mate For Levein

Partisan Alert: Fresh from banging his head against a wall for 48 hours, Rob has finally found the words to mouth off about Scotland's lack of ambition in Prague.

Another qualifier Scotland aimed to get something from; another chastening experience. When the final whistle blew in Prague on Friday night, the only man being sent homeward tae think again was Craig Levein.

Hopefully, his first act was to sack whoever provided him with the video of the Czechs against the Netherlands in 2004, given that he had obviously watched that team rather than its current incarnation. You can imagine him turning to Peter Houston: ‘That Nedved is some player isn’t he? And Poborsky’s quick. AND WHO IS THAT GIANT? Jan Koller? Jesus Christ. With him and Milan Baros they could score at ANY MOMENT’. There’s only one thing for it, he must have concluded. We MUST play without a striker. Otherwise we’re going to get thumped by a team who WEREN’T EVEN AT THE LAST WORLD CUP.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Obituary: The English Striker

Its a been a long while coming. Michael Ricketts. Andy Johnson. Dave Nugent. Emile Heskey. But now, after years of terminal illness, the English striker is officially dead.

The only solace we at Magicspongers can take from Don Fabio's selection of Kev 'what a massive cunt' Davies is that our Great Leader is following our somewhat tongue in cheek blueprint for English football posted a few weeks back on these fair pages. If you can't play football, don't let them play football. The oldest trick in the book. Utterly depressing. Adam Bushby