England refuse Madrid friendly

On October 13, 2008 by

Well Done England for turning down the friendly against Spain in Madrid. What occurred last time was just not on and I’m glad the FA are refusing to put their players in a similar scenario.

I’m not sure that other Spanish locations will be much better but Madrid has had its chance to watch England and it blew it!

Football clubs with debts set to face banishment

On by

The current banking catastrophe seems to have had some sort of impact on everyone, and now, not even football is immune to the knock-on effects of the crisis. This week, Uefa announced that football clubs with heavy debts could face exclusion from European competitions.

Whilst attending the ‘Leaders in Football’ conference at Chelsea’s home ground, Stamford Bridge, the general secretary of the organisation, David Taylor, spoke of the need for clubs to face up to their debts and take responsibility for their finances, particularly in the current climate of poor “financial stability”.

If clubs fail to do this, they could face what he ominously calls the “ultimate sanction”. Taylor tempered this worrying comment by stating that clubs would definitely be informed and given a chance to change their ways prior to the instigation of such a sanction (“there would be forms of communication, even warnings or reprimands”) but these comments will do little to ease the fears of fans of some of England’s biggest football clubs.

In order for a club to compete in European competitions, they must be provided with a licence, which is issued by the governing body of European football. Officials could now deny clubs this licence if they feel that their finances are spiralling out of control.

Taylor evidently believes that this latest move from Uefa is in the best interests of the respective club, since a poor financial state could place their future in jeopardy. Uefa has tried hard in recent months to introduce a zero-tolerance approach to financial uncertainty in football and Taylor spoke of a “working group” set up by the organisation to address the issues at hand.

There is no doubt that something needs to be done about debt in the world of football, especially when one considers the official statistics. The chairman of the Football Association, Lord Triesman, has taken an active role in addressing the problems of debt in the sport.

He has spoken in public about the option of enforcing a salary cap on Premier League clubs, in order to enable them to bring their spiralling debts under control: “a sensible form of restraint would make sense and it is not inconceivable”.

The frustrating thing is that this policy could never work across Europe, due to differing tax rates. Furthermore, Triesman recently estimated the total amount of debt among English clubs. Shockingly, his estimate came to approximately three billion pounds.

Worryingly for fans of the Premier League’s top four clubs, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool are thought to account for approximately one third of that hefty sum.

Chelsea have already attempted to defend themselves against accusations of excessive debt, stating that their one-of-a-kind “ownership structure” keeps owed money “internal […] in the form of interest free loans from the owner”.

Bruce Buck, chairman of the club, also spoke of his belief that debt is a “business tool”. However, Chelsea’s overwhelming dependence upon the wealth of owner, Roman Abramovich, has been viewed by many as an extremely risky position to be in.

Written by Charlotte Cook

Manchester City Reserves 1-0 Liverpool Reserves

On October 12, 2008 by

A Daniel Sturridge finish condemned Reserve Champions Liverpool to their second consecutive league defeat at Eastlands on Tuesday. The Reds second-string were unable to repeat the feat of the first team days earlier, which in truth never looked like materialising.

Manager Gary Ablett made four changes from the side that lost at Sunderland, including giving trialist Medi Abalimba a start on the right wing.

City took a deserved lead on 12 minutes, with Daniel Sturridge stabbing home from close range after the Reds failed to deal with a deep free-kick. Liverpool’s best and only real chance of the match came on the half hour. Jay Spearing put David Ngog through down the right, with the Frenchman’s early shot hitting the side netting.

Liverpool were much improved after the break, dominating possession for long periods, but were unable to test City’s goalkeeper Tobias Johansen. In fact it was the hosts who should have added to their tally but for a fine save by Gulacsi and an earlier goal line clearance from Stephen Darby.

Player Review:

With two defeats out of their first three league games, which of the Liverpool Reserve side are standing out despite a poor run of form? (Now with ratings out of ten):

Peter Gulacsi (GK): The Hungarian had a decent game between the sticks, making three good saves and could do nothing about the only goal of the game. 8/10

Stephen Darby (RB): Solid performance as ever from the reserve team captain. Darby may find himself in Rafa Benitez’s thoughts in the coming weeks with Degen and Skrtel injured and Arbeloa already on four yellow cards in the league. 7/10

Mikel San Jose (CB): Almost gifted Sturridge and City a second with a naïve back-header yet improved on his disappointing performance at Sunderland. 6/10

Martin Kelly (CB): Playing in his preferred position, Kelly was largely comfortable and gave a good case of his credentials with the likes of Daniel Ayala and Robert Huth previously preferred at centre back. 6/10

Emiliano Insua (LB): For whatever reason, Insua appears to be a shadow of the player he looked like becoming after some impressive outings for the first team in pre-season and the back end of the last campaign. He gave away a silly free-kick which led to the goal and struggled against City’s right winger Vladimir Weiss. 4/10

Medi Abalimba (RM): (off 62) With it not being the easiest of fixtures for a trialist to come and impress in, Abalimba certainly fitted in with the rest of Liverpool’s lightweight attacking options and was always on the periphery of the game. 5/10

Jay Spearing (CM): Despite his tireless running, probing passing and driving runs, Spearing’s commitment led to very little on another difficult night. 7/10

Damien Plessis (CM): Plessis seems to be suffering from the same problem as Insua, where they seem to believe there is nothing they can do to fully break into the first team and look like they have given up. 5/10

Vincent Weijl (LM): Weijl showed moments of brilliance with his skill on the left in the first half, but looked leggy and faded the more the game wore on. 5/10

Dani Pacheco (ST): The little Spaniard struggled against a physically-dominant City back line like the rest of Liverpool’s lightweight attack. 5/10

David Ngog (ST): (off 46) Ngog had Liverpool’s only decent chance of the match and was replaced at half time. Ngog struggled in most aspects of his game against a sturdy defence, struggling to hold the ball up and even make the simplest of passes. 4/10

Gerardo Bruna (ST): (on 46) His influence – albeit largely ineffective – brought about some of the best football in the match and helped link Liverpool’s midfield and attack well. 6/10

Francisco Duran (RM): (on 62) After two cruciate knee ligament injuries, Duran was making a competitive comeback after more than a year on the sidelines. He found it difficult to pick up the pace of the game but showed glimpses of quality to justify the Reds sticking by him despite his injury problems. 6/10

Their next match is against Everton on October 14.

League Tables:

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Manchester City 4 9
2 Everton 3 7
3 Wigan Athletic 3 6
4 Sunderland 3 6
5 Middlesbrough 4 5
6 Blackburn Rovers 3 4
7 Bolton Wanderers 2 3
8 Liverpool 3 3
9 Newcastle United 4 3
10 Manchester United 2 1
11 Hull City 3 1
Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Aston Villa 3 9
1 Chelsea 3 9
3 Portsmouth 4 6
4 Arsenal 4 6
5 Fulham 4 4
6 West Brom 3 3
7 Tottenham Hotspur 3 3
8 West Ham United 3 3
9 Stoke City 3 1

Written by Michael McGuinness

Michael Owen – A decade of memories

On October 9, 2008 by

Ten years ago English football enjoyed something special. Special moments come around reasonably regularly in football, the great moments come around less frequently. However, if you’re prepared to stick with the game and go through the consistently disappointing you will be rewarded with a memory – be it an unexpected win, an eye-opening goal or a visionary pass. In 1998 however, it was the emergence of Michael Owen.

Owen came to notoriety on the international stage at the World Cup hosted in France. He travelled with England as a supposed squad player but it wasn’t until after his introduction that Glenn Hoddle’s side started to look anything other than ordinary. Sadly, a decade later, we look upon the latest England squad with more than a tinge of nostalgic sadness.

It may be too early to start talking about ‘what might have been’ and to write the playing obituary of Owen would be madness after the Indian summer of David Beckham’s career. But, Fabio Capello has laid down a marker now. His team are starting to show a semblance of shape, a plan. A plan that looks like it doesn’t contain the man who is 10 goals short of becoming England’s all time leading goalscorer before he’s 30 years old.

Owen has been unfortunate. His career has been blighted by injury, particularly where the national team are concerned. His departure from the 2006 World Cup, a sad forlorn figure crawling desperately from the side of the pitch said it all. England had no chance without him. Sven put all his eggs in the Owen & Beckham basket and once they were broken we were finished.

Owen was the figurehead, the man who got the goals, particularly the important ones – the ones that really mattered against Argentina, Brazil and Portugal. He was once, for a period, England’s one and only and judging by his club form at times the national team was his one and only too. A risk too far for Fabio it seems, unwilling to even hold a basket of them – eggs are far too fragile for the Italian. His recipe doesn’t contain them.

I personally remember that goal vividly. The second round match against the old enemy, Argentina had started like a whirlwind and England were giving as good as they got. Owen epitomised the eager optimism of the nation at that time as he danced through an unusually forgiving series of Argentinian non-tackles, seizing upon an accurately driven Beckham through ball and then singularly reverse-shooting the ball into the opposing corner of the net.

That goal started an England career that looked destined to never-end. The reality was different though. Despite further unforgettable goals in big games – the opener against Brazil in Japan 2002 and a toe-past Ricardo in the European Championship two years later, Owen finds himself needing to start again. Reputation counts for nothing nowadays.

A series of ill-judged moves at club level wont have helped Owen. Maybe he had no choice, maybe he sought such financial security he felt it necessary, but the moves – firstly to Real Madrid following Beckham, then the return to England at Newcastle have seen his stock plummet. It’s no secret that Owen is available – his delay over signing a new contract at the disaster ridden club make this apparent. However the big four aren’t making a move for him.

The modern day managers, in the era of inter-changeable teams and high work rate have no need for a goal poacher it would appear. How sad that the day has come, mainly for the likes of Owen but partly for the game. A game that the past would not recognise.

By and large, a footballer can now play in various positions around the pitch and often need to be flexible enough to change mid-game. Even Alan Shearer played on the wing before he retired from International football – Owen (despite a foray into midfield briefly under Kevin Keegan) doesn’t offer such flexibility. Being an expert, a genius in his own right is, it would seem, to his detriment.

Playing in a struggling team can harm a players national aspirations. He isn’t the first player from a bottom three club not to gain a place when it is warranted (debatable). He wont be the last either. Goals have come for him this year, but they have also come for Rooney (the new golden boy), Defoe (still with so much to prove) and Crouch (the improbable with such a good record statistically he warrants his place without question). Heskey is a different kettle of fish altogether – the link man, who Owen himself could barely do without – why should it be any different for Rooney?

England were stunning in Zagreb and no-one deserves to be dropped, but there will be a viewer on Saturday who, with every passing England game will muse ever more so over what will be, what might be and what might’ve been. Michael Owen was once a certainty to overtake Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for England, now that is merely a possibility. Soon he will be an outside bet as England may well go from strength to strength without him.

Managers of the national team have long understood the fans thirst for nostalgia, favourites have rarely been dropped from notoriety without some recourse. Taylor and McClaren learnt this the hard way, Eriksson and Venables backed their high profile men unwaveringly. Capello has no time for sentiment. Winning football matches is his regime and ten years on the unthinkable is emerging – England will take to the field and leave out a talisman. Michael Owen, a decade of memories, a lot of convincing left to do.

Written by Rod Brazier

Rod just e-mailed in a piece because he was interested in having his work published. If you are an aspiring writer then by all means get in touch with me via the ‘Contact Us’ link at the bottom of the page and I’ll be happy to give you any feedback on your work and possibly put in live on the TalkFootball Blog.

European Europa League will be a breath of fresh air for UEFA competition…

On October 7, 2008 by

Well well, the group phase of the UEFA Cup has been drawn today in Switzerland and there have been some tasty ties thrown up for our English sides.

Villa could be paying a visit to picturesque Prague, Tottenham could be taking a Winter trip to Moscow, Man City could be mingling with the Parisian’s and Pompey could, could be heading to Milan. I say that they could because the draw for the group stage doesn’t provide an immediate answer to the destinations of any tie brought out the hat.

Tuesday morning’s draw was completed a lightning pace but it will take a little longer to determine whether our boys will be playing at home or away and against whom these games will be played.

Currently, each side plays each other in their group once but another draw has to be made to determine whether they will be at home or away.

The new UEFA Europa League which will come into effect next year will clear things up no end.

From 2009-2010 the final 48 teams will be place into 12 groups of four teams and each team will play home and away, much like the current Champions League system.

Fans of Portsmouth et al must be wishing that this campaign was ‘Europa’s’ inaugural season, it would certainly reduce the amount of sweating Pompey fans will be doing over whether they or their Milanese counterparts will be splashing out on a European trip. I for one believe that a good punt for this season’s competition would be Villa, you might have your own dark horses though so check out the latest betting

The UEFA Cup has long lived in the shadows of the Champions League but looking at the teams in this years’ competition things could be about to change.

The likes of Milan, Valencia, Sevilla, Stuttgart, Ajax and Feyenoord gracing the competition means that a lot of football fans are beginning to sit up and acknowledge the tournaments credentials.

UEFA have been chipping and changing the competition frequently down the years, folding in the Cup Winners’ Cup and Intertoto Cup into the tournament. From next season though I feel that the Europa League, with its neat, efficient platform will finally give the competition – whatever it’s name – a position alongside the Champions League which the competing sides can be proud of.

Written by John Ford

Live UEFA Cup Draw

On by

For the next hour or so I’ll be blogging live on the UEFA Cup draw. Tottenham Hotspur are seeded and are in Pot 1 and will miss all the other big clubs. Manchester City are in Pot 3 whereas both Aston Villa and Portsmouth are in Pot 4. English teams cannot face each other in the group stages.

11:07: We are slowly moving towards the start of the draw. There are so many dull and boring either/ors out there so the poor guy has to talk about how the draw works for ages. As a completely unbiased Portsmouth fan – I want to play AC Milan in my group.

11:09: Schalke 04 are out first – they have a beautiful stadium. I wouldn’t mind going there at some point this season either.

11:10: Tottenham Hotspur are in Group D. AC Milan are in Group E.

11:11: Hamburg, CSKA Moscow and Benfica look like the weakest top seeds.

11:13: Spurs will face Spartak Moscow at some point. For some unknown reason Spurs weren’t allowed to face a Dutch side – can anyone tell me why?

11:16: Manchester City out first in Pot 3. They’ll face Schalke and PSG.

11:17: AC Milan, Heerenveen, Braga all in Group E – I’d fancy that for Pompey. Udinese join in with Spurs’ group.

11:19: Actually trips to Prague and Amsterdam could also be mouth-watering. Group E or F is what I want.

11:20: Real Santander join Group A and Manchester City and Portsmouth go into AC Milan’s group!

11:22: Aston Villa get those Group F games. The fans will be desperate for Slavia Prague and Ajax Amsterdam away – I’m sure of it.

11:24: Manchester City’s group is all set – and Steve McClaren is involved with his FC Twente. Portsmouth get Wolfsburg to round off their group.

11:25: Zilina join in Aston Villa’s group. Just waiting on Spurs last opponents now and NEC Nijmegen are that team.

So the Groupings with English teams are as follows:

Group A

Schalke 04
Manchester City
Racing Santander
FC Twente

Group D

Tottenham Hotspur
Spartak Moscow
Dinamo Zagreb
NEC Nijmegen

Group E

AC Milan
VfB Wolfsburg

Group F

Slavia Prague
Aston Villa
MSK Zilina

12:11: Still waiting for the fixture news…

Owen left out of England squad again

On by

As regular readers of this blog will know – I have a man crush on Michael Owen and think that his omission from the England squad is a disgrace. Luckily I’m not the only one as one of our writers agrees – here’s what Charlotte Cook has to say on the matter.

This weekend saw the announcement of Fabio Capello’s 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Belarus. The squad contains few surprises, with Steven Gerrard returning at Jimmy Bullard’s expense, and the impressive Shaun Wright-Phillips taking the place of Tottenham’s frustrating new signing, David Bentley.

Furthermore, Emile Heskey and Theo Walcott, who shone in the World Cup qualifier against Croatia, both managed to retain their places in the squad. However, one particular omission may have caused some eyebrows to be raised. Michael Owen, who has played in all of Newcastle’s matches since returning from illness after the World Cup qualifiers in September, has been overlooked by Capello.

The striker has scored a total of five goals for his club since the start of the season and has been one of the few Newcastle players to impress on any level recently. Whilst he may not be the player who once lit up the 1998 World Cup with a majestic goal against Argentina, this particular omission seems particularly unfair.

After all, David Beckham, who has arguably not been at his best for years now, has once again been included in Capello’s squad. Beckham will probably not play a major part in the World Cup qualifiers but the England boss may well give him a token substitute appearance to keep the fans happy.

If the ageing LA Galaxy midfielder is allowed a place in the squad, why on earth has Capello overlooked Michael Owen, a player who was (until recently) one of the first names on any England team sheet? The Newcastle striker has only played once for the national side since Capello took over the England job and even this appearance was as a substitute. However, the simple facts and statistics are undeniable: along with his impressive goal-scoring form at club level this season, Owen’s international record of 40 goals in just 89 appearances speaks for itself.

The only person who seems to disagree with this is, unfortunately, the England boss, who believes that “it’s not enough to score goals”. Indeed, perhaps the most frustrating factor behind Owen’s omission from the latest England squad is the seemingly confused and vague reasons given by Capello.

When pressured by the press to give reasons for leaving the striker out of the squad, Capello appeared confused, asking “is he in good form now?” He followed this worrying question by claiming “goals are very important but not only goals”.

This begs the question as to what Capello is looking for from his strikers. After all, Michael Owen has always been an out-and-out striker and a great poacher of instinctive goals. This has been good enough for the manager’s predecessors but it would seem that the new boss is looking for something different.

It is true to say that Owen’s credentials as a motivator are questionable, especially when viewed in the light of Newcastle’s form this season, but with players such as John Terry and Steven Gerrard in the team, England are not lacking inspiration on the pitch. Owen’s omission is certainly a bold step by Capello but one which may not ultimately work in his favour.

Joe Kinnear – read by a computer

On October 6, 2008 by

Yet more funny stuff from the legend that is Joe Kinnear. I know we all love Jose and he gave the press a load of material but Kinnear is just funny.

This is his rant as read aloud by a computer voice – it is certainly worth eight minutes of anybodies time!

These ten things I know are true – week eight

On October 5, 2008 by

Oh look at me – super efficient this week as I’m writing this on Sunday night. A weekend with six games on the Sunday is always a bit wrong but we saw some cracking games. So here are ten things that I know are true following the weekends games.

I know that Manchester United didn’t even have to get out of second gear on Saturday night as they cruised past Blackburn at Ewood Park. Wayne Rooney was immense and I think he needs a big season after a couple of slightly disappointing campaigns. United look strong and I think they’ll be in the hunt come the final day of the season.

I know that Arsenal fans better look towards Europe if they are going to lift any silverware this season. I love Arsenal and when they are on there is no-one else I’d rather be watching on a football field. However they just don’t have the consistency to stage a sustained assault on domestic glory. They can win the Champions League though.

I know that Portsmouth may just have the best strike partnership in the Premier League and I know that is quite a statement. Adebayor and Van Persie are great and Torres and Keane could be special too. Both United and Chelsea don’t play 4-4-2 so they don’t have a strike pairing but in Crouch and Defoe, Portsmouth have a little and large combination that screams goals. When Niko Krancjar returns from injury they might get even better and that is a scary proposition for the league.

I know that Spurs can’t beat Hull City at home. I didn’t know that last week and deep down I genuinely thought Spurs would wake up and smash Hull by three or four. However they failed to perform yet again and with each week that passes the more I start to think that Spurs could actually go down.

I know that Joe Kinnear’s 52 swear rant wasn’t good for his image but that it did help his team. He was trying to create a siege mentality and with his team down 2-0 at Everton you wouldn’t expect to get anything out of the game. Yet when all is said and done you would say that the Toon were the more likely to win. They showed a bit of fight and that is what they’ll need.

I know that Stoke City without Rory Delap and the long throw weapon will go down. I wasn’t down at the Park today but I spoke to several of my friends who were and they tell me that they were worse than the Leeds team we hammered 6-1 a few years back.

I know that I wish I’d been able to watch the Manchester City v Liverpool game. From all the reports it was an absolute cracker and I look forward to MOTD2 later on tonight. That was a game that was clearly a mouth-watering clash so how was it not picked by Sky or Setanta for live coverage?

I know that Everton’s psyche is damaged and they are not the team of the 2007/2008 season. 2-0 up against Newcastle should be it but they were lucky to hold on and get a point. Four games at home and only a point – things aren’t rosy down at Goodison Park.

I know that having four players in the England squad makes me a very proud Portsmouth fan. David James, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch are all well worthy of being in the squad and congratulations to them all. They’ll all (well not so much Jamo) but the other three have been absolutely awesome this year and Jamo is class so I’d have him in goal above anyone else.

And finally…

I know that Fabio really really doesn’t rate Michael Owen. That makes me sad.

‘I have had a million pages of **** written about me…

On October 3, 2008 by

When I first started reading this I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Joe Kinnear the new Newcastle manager decided to crush a couple of journalists by calling them bad words in a Press Conference like no other.

Read the full transcript for yourself and make up your own mind as to who is in the wrong:

JK Which one is Simon Bird [Daily Mirror’s north-east football writer]?

SB Me.

JK You’re a ****.

SB Thank you.

JK Which one is Hickman [Niall, football writer for the Express]? You are out of order. Absolutely ******* out of order. If you do it again, I am telling you you can **** off and go to another ground. I will not come and stand for that ******* ****. No ******* way, lies. ****, you’re saying I turned up and they [Newcastle’s players] ****** off.

SB No Joe, have you read it, it doesn’t actually say that. Have you read it?

JK I’ve ******* read it, I’ve read it.

SB It doesn’t say that. Have you read it?

JK You are trying to ******* undermine my position already.

SB Have you read it, it doesn’t say that. I knew you knew they were having a day off.

JK Fuck off. Fuck off. It’s your last ******* chance.

SB You read the copy? It doesn’t say that you didn’t know.

JK What about the headline, you think that’s a good headline?

SB I didn’t write the headline, you read the copy.

JK You are negative ********, the pair of you.

SB So if I get a new job next week would I take the first day off? No I wouldn’t. If I get a new job should I call my boss and tell him I am taking the first day off?

JK It is none of your fucking business. What the **** are you going to do? You ain’t got the balls to be a ******* manager. ******* day off. Do I want your opinion. Do I have to listen to you?

SB No, you can listen to who you want.

JK I had a 24-hour meeting with the entire staff.

SB Joe, you are only here six weeks, you could have done that on Sunday, or Saturday night.

JK No, no, no. I didn’t want to do it. I had some other things to do.

SB What? More important things?

JK What are you? My personal secretary? **** off.

SB You could have done the meeting Saturday night or Sunday. You could have had them watching videos, you could have organised them.

JK I was meeting the ******* chairman the owner, everyone else. Talking about things.

SB It is a valid point that was made in there. A valid point.

JK I can’t trust any of you.

Niall Hickman Joe, no one could believe that on your first day at your new club, the first-team players were not in. No one could believe it in town. Your first day in the office.

JK My first day was with the coaches. I made the decision that I wanted to get as much information out of them.

NH But why Monday, no one could believe it?

JK I’m not going to tell you anything. I don’t understand where you are coming from. You are delighted that Newcastle are getting beat and are in the state they are? Delighted, are you?

NH Certainly not. No one wants to see them get beaten, why would we?

JK I have done it before. It is going to my ******* lawyers. So are about three others. If they can find something in it that is a court case it is going to court. I am not ******* about. I don’t talk to ******* anybody. It is raking up stories. You are ******* so ******* slimy you are raking up players that I got rid of. Players that I had fallen out with. You are not asking Robbie Earle, because he is sensible. You are not asking Warren Barton? No. Because he is ******* sensible. Anyone who had played for me for 10 years at any level … [but] you will find some **** that …

Other journalist How long is your contract for Joe?

JK None of your business.

SB Well it is actually, because we cover the club. The club say you are here to the end of October, then you say six to eight games which would take it to the end of November. We are trying to clarify these issues. We are getting no straight answers from anyone. How long are you here for. It is a dead simple question. And you don’t know …

JK I was told the length of contract. Then I was told that possibly the club could be sold in that time. That is as far as I know. That’s it finished. I don’t know anything else. But I have been ridiculed. He’s trying to ******* hide, he’s trying to do this or that.

There follows an exchange regarding the circumstances under which Kinnear had met the owner Mike Ashley and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

Steve Brenner (football writer for the Sun) We are all grown men and can come in here and sit around and talk about football, but coming in here and calling people *****?

JK Why? Because I am annoyed. I am not accepting that. If it is libellous, it is going to where I want it to go.

Newcastle press officer What has been said in here is off the record and doesn’t go outside.

Journalist Well, is that what Joe thinks?

JK Write what you like. Makes no difference to me. Don’t affect me I assure you. It’ll be the last time I see you anyway. Won’t affect me. See how we go at Everton and Chrissy [Chris Hughton, assistant manager] can do it, someone else can do it. Don’t trust any of yous. I will pick two local papers and speak to them and the rest can **** off. I ain’t coming up here to have the **** taken out of me. I have a million pages of **** that has been written about me. I’m ridiculed for no reason. I’m defenceless. I can’t get a point in, I can’t say nothing, I can’t do nothing, but I ain’t going to be negative. Then, half of you, most of you are trying to get into the players. I’m not going to tell you what the players think of you, so then you try and get into them in some way or another, so I’ve got a split camp or something like that, something like that. It’s ongoing. It just doesn’t stop.

Journalist It’s only been a week.

JK Exactly. It feels more like a year.

Journalist It’s early days for you to be like this.

JK No, I’m clearing the air. And this is the last time I’m going to speak to you. You want to know why, I’m telling you. This is the last time. You can do what you like.

Journalist But this isn’t going to do you or us any good.

JK I’ll speak to the supporters. I’m going to tell them what the story is. I’m going to tell them. I don’t think they’ll interpret it any different, I don’t think they’ll mix it up, I don’t think they’ll miss out things. I mean, one of them last week said to me … I was talking about in that press conference where you were there, I said something like "Well, that’s a load of *******…"

Journalist "******** to that" is what you said.

JK ******** to that. And what goes after that?

Journalist That was it.

JK No it wasn’t, no it wasn’t. What was after it? I don’t know if it was your paper, but what went after it?

Journalist I don’t know.

JK It even had the cheek to say "******** to Newcastle".

Journalist I didn’t write that.

JK That was my first ******* day. What does that tell you? What does that tell you?

Journalist Where was that? Which paper said that?

JK I’ve got it. I can’t remember. It was one of the Sundays, not a Saturday. It was a Sunday.

Journalist But you didn’t say that to the Sundays, you said that to us. That was during the Monday press conference.

JK I’ll bring it in and show it to you. Why would I want to say that?

Journalist Are you saying that someone has reported you saying "******* to Newcastle?"

JK Yes. Lovely.

Journalist I don’t know who’s reported that.

JK I’ll tell you what, I’ll bring it in.

Journalist That’s obviously going to damage you. That’s not a good thing. But I don’t think someone’s done that. We have to have some sort of relationship with you.

JK So have I. But I haven’t come in here for you lot to take the **** out of me. And if I’m not flavour of the month for you, it don’t ******* bother me. I’ve got a job to do. And I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I’m not going to spend any more time listening to any **** or reading any ****. Stick to the truth and the facts. And don’t twist anything.

Journalist You know, you know the game …

JK Of course I know, but I don’t have to like it.

Journalist Today we’ll print the absolute truth, that you think we’re *****, we can all **** off and we’re slimy. Is that fair enough?

JK Do it. Fine. ******* print it. Am I going to worry about it? Put in also that it’ll be the last time I see you. Put that in as well. Good. Do it.

Much, much later after long discussions over whether Kinnear had promised Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan would be returning to the club

Press officer Let’s get on to football. Let’s have an agreement that everything said so far, if anyone has got their tapes on, it’s wiped off and we’re not discussing it.

Journalist But that’s what Joe has said he thinks of us.

Press officer I’m saying don’t push it. Let’s accept what’s been said and try and move on.

Journalist: Move on to not doing any more press conferences?

PO: No, to doing something now.

Journalist: What, one press conference only?


Journalist: Any knocks?

PO: Come on, let’s go football.

Journalist: What are your plans for training in the next three days? How’s the training going?

JK It’s going very well. No problems at all.

Journalist Enjoyed getting back in the swing of things?

JK Absolutely. I’ve loved every moment of it.