Boothroyd parts company with Watford

On November 5, 2008 by

Watford Football Club have parted ways with their manager, Adrian Boothroyd, following an extremely poor start to the Championship campaign.

The chairman of the club, Graham Simpson, revealed his disappointment at the decision but stated that, ultimately, he was left with no choice. Simpson released a statement saying “it is with some sadness that we have taken the decision” but “both parties feel that his tenure at the club is simply at an end”.

The chairman felt under pressure to act after a dismal run of form which has seen the club pick up just 15 points from 15 matches. Watford are now sitting in 21st position in the Championship and are only above the relegation zone on goal difference. Last Saturday saw the team lose to Blackpool despite holding the lead on three separate occasions.

Boothroyd made it clear after the match that all was not well at the club. He explicitly expressed his frustration, stating that “I’ve never been so irritated”. He blasted the overall performance of his players, revealing that “there’s some absolute howlers taking place” on the pitch.

Boothroyd appeared frustrated that his hard work on the training ground with his team came to nothing, as individual errors rendered previous match plans irrelevant. He ended his statement by revealing that he did not wish to “be in a relegation battle”.

The events of the past couple of days have brought a sad end to the reign of a manager who quickly became a firm favourite at the club. Boothroyd joined Watford in 2005 and had an immediate impact. When he joined the club, they were flirting with relegation and were dealing with the prospect of spending at least one season in League One.

However, after the young manager worked his magic, the club found itself in the Premier League playing against tough opposition. Boothroyd was truly a breath of fresh air in the Premier League, and his honesty and consistent good sense of humour made him a favourite amongst the British media.

Despite the excitement of reaching the Premier League and the manager’s unique personality, Watford were relegated immediately and have not enjoyed good form ever since. However, Boothroyd, who is still only 37 years of age, is not entirely to blame for the current situation.

Some of the club’s best players have been sold since his arrival, including Marlon King and Hameur Bouazza. Financial restraints have also had a negative impact and restricted the manager’s decisions in the transfer market.

It is not yet clear who will replace Boothroyd at Watford, who face a tough test against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium at the weekend. Gustavo Poyet, who has learnt his trade at Spurs and now feels ready to take a step up to management, is one of the names being mentioned consistently with regards to the vacant position.

Other names include Alan Pardew (who is currently under pressure at Charlton Athletic, who sit in 22nd position in the Championship), Steve Cotterill and John Ward, who was forced to part ways with Carlisle United yesterday.

Is Steven Gerrard a diver?

On November 4, 2008 by

Yes

Well that was a short article. Apparently I need to expand on my answer to the aforementioned question.

As I sit here watching and listening to ITV’s studio I remember just how biased they with regards to British teams and racers – read Lewis Hamilton on Sunday. It was lucky they had an experienced duo in the commentary box who gave a balanced view of the incident – that it was a very soft penalty at best.

Part of my wrath with Liverpool is how often they get these last minute decisions and lucky breaks. You could argue that maybe they deserve it because they play well and they did play well tonight. However Atletico always looked dangerous on the break. It wasn’t like it was a backs to the wall job – not by a long shot.

I’ll get on to the main incident in the final minute of injury time. Steven Gerrard was running at full pelt going for the ball with Mariano Pernia. The Scouser ran past the Madrid player and brushed his shoulder and went down like he was belly-flopping on a wet tarp.

The assistant gave the penalty and the Spanish side were less than impressed by the decision. We always go crazy when people like Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba dive and we get on the backs of what the foreigners are bringing into our game.

Steven Gerrard dived for the penalty. Yes there was minimal contact but it was never enough to produce such a flop and he will get lauded for his efforts by the press. I bet in the morning it’ll all be about Gerrard to the rescue and showing his never say die attitude. Whereas the truth is he flopped his way to earning his side a valuable point.

Materazzi awarded damages over World Cup controversy

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The Daily Mail has been forced to pay Marco Materazzi, the Italian football star, damages after the paper claimed that the player racially abused French midfielder Zinedine Zidane during the final of the 2006 World Cup.

The paper had printed false claims which stated that Materazzi, who now plays for Inter Milan, had referred to the French player as “the son of a terrorist whore” during the match.

Zidane was sent off during the final after head-butting Materazzi, and during the following few weeks the papers in the UK were rife with speculation about what had been said to provoke such a ridiculous attack.

The Daily Mail stated in their newspaper and on their website that Materazzi had been using disgusting racist language throughout the match.

It later emerged that the Italian player had made a comment about Zidane’s sister, prompting the angry reaction from the French midfielder. Materazzi revealed that “I was tugging his shirt, he said to me ‘if you want my shirt so much I’ll give it to you afterwards’, and I answered that I’d prefer his sister”.

The Inter Milan player was given a two-match ban by Fifa following the unfortunate incident, which tainted an otherwise intriguing match of football. Zidane was banned for three matches and handed a hefty fine.

Materazzi’s counsel, Jane Phillips, revealed that the paper had accepted that the content they printed was completely untrue and Jonathan Price, the paper’s lawyer, apologised on their behalf for any distress caused by the episode.

Levy places blame on Berbatov

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In recent months, sports pundits across the country have been trying to figure out the precise reasons behind Tottenham’s poor start to the Premier League campaign.

However, they can now bring an end to this search, as Daniel Levy, the chairman of the club, believes he knows the answer. Levy has laid the blame on Dimitar Berbatov, despite the fact that the striker, who now plays for Manchester United, has not been at the club for most of this season.

Levy believes that Berbatov’s attempts to push through his own transfer to the Manchester club on deadline-day of the transfer window introduced instability in the dressing room and unsettled the manager at the time, Juande Ramos.

The striker eventually left Spurs for a fee of over £30 million, but prior to his departure he was left out of key matches against teams including Sunderland and Chelsea.

At the time, Ramos declared that Berbatov was psychologically unfit to play. Levy believes that this is an example of a player using their power in an inappropriate manner, stating: “The reality is, in modern football, the players have all the power”.

Although the striker is no longer with the club, the chairman still feels anger over the situation. He has blasted the striker for treating the club in a disrespectful manner after they gave him a chance to prove himself in the Premier League.

The player had previously signed a long-term contract at Spurs and Levy held many conversations with him in an attempt to make him respect the commitment made to the club.

Taxi for Attwell – Stuart Attwell that is

On November 3, 2008 by

Yesterday we saw an episode of quite awful refereeing. Stuart Attwell – the man who had been in the middle of the Reading ‘ghost goal’ was again the man in charge and this time he has no-one to blame but himself.

It was only his third game since that incident after a long spell on the sidelines. It was clearly his biggest as he took charge of the East Midlands’ Derby between Derby County and Nottingham Forest in front of the live SKY TV cameras. He had already harshly sent off Forest’s Lewis McGugan in the 74th minute before the real drama unveiled…

We are in injury time and a Derby player crosses a ball into the Forest box – it bounces and hits a Forest player on the arm. The arm is down by his side and made no movement to the ball – it just hit it. No-one appeals and I mean no-one. The ball bobbles up to a Derby player and he heads the ball in for the winner.

However as the ball is looping into the net, the referee blows for a penalty. Terrible decision but it’ll get worse for the referee.

The Forest keeper saved the penalty and pushed it out for a corner. The corner comes in and a terrific header is tipped round the post for another corner.

This corner comes in and a Derby player nuts it home and Derby win. However the referee somehow disallows the goal. There was no foul so I have no idea what he saw. No-one has any idea what he saw, no pundits, no commentators, no players and neither manager.

Forest take the free kick quickly and are 2 on 2 before the ref blows play dead as they are going through to score what would of been a winner.

Both managers agreed in the post-match interviews that the penalty wasn’t a pen and the goal should’ve stood in the first instance and that there was no foul at the second disallowed goal.

Attwell is the youngest referee in the Select Group and had only handled five games at Championship level before being given a chance at the top level. As Derby County manager Paul Jewell said ‘he’s (Attwell) meant to be the best thing since sliced bread’ but we all know he isn’t. He got the chance because of family ties and it is now plainly clear that he just isn’t ready for top level officiating.

If he gets another game in the Premiership this season then quite frankly it will be a disgrace. In all fairness the Championship probably doesn’t deserve him either. You might think that I’m being overly harsh but he has had two real clunkers this season, making decisions that he really can’t make.

A long time on the sidelines is what should be in his future but I suspect because of who he is and how much they have hyped him, he will be back in the middle within the fortnight.

Spurs announce stadium plans

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Last week brought exciting news for Tottenham fans when the chairman of the club, Daniel Levy, announced plans to build a new stadium capable of seating up to 60,000 people.

This new ground will be located close to the club’s current home ground in North London, White Hart Lane. Leisure facilities, public space and a housing area will be constructed next to the stadium.

The stadium will be built slightly to the north of the current one and the adjoining land will be used for the other aspects of the ambitious development.

The new plans have been drawn up following a perceived high demand for tickets. The club’s season ticket waiting list contains approximately 22,000 fans. However, despite the need for expansion, Tottenham have always been adamant in their wish to remain in the local area.

Alternative sites for the new home ground were considered but it was quickly decided that their current situation was the perfect choice and land next to the site will also be appropriate for the scheme.

The leader of Haringey Council echoed Daniel Levy’s satisfaction at the club’s choice to remain in the local area. George Meehan has spoken publicly about his belief that the club brings “major economic benefits to [the] borough”.

He was also quick to praise the club for the work they have carried out in the local community through the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation. Despite the praise, Meehan provided some reassurance for local residents, stating that he would “consider” the plans very carefully before approving anything.

David Lammy, an MP from Tottenham, believes that the club is part of the community’s “life blood” and it remains important for young people living in the local area to be able to identify with a club with such strong ambition and drive.

Daniel Levy believes that the stadium will be similar to Arsenal’s new home ground, the Emirates Stadium. Like Arsenal, Tottenham will name their stadium after a sponsor, and will disregard the White Hart Lane name for good.

The chairman is not at all concerned that this will lessen the impact of the new ground in the world of football. Rather, he believes that it will become “iconic” after its construction.

This week has seen a reversal of fortune for the London club, with new manager Harry Redknapp inspiring the team to a dramatic change in form. They followed an exciting draw against Arsenal in mid-week with an inspired, albeit lucky, win over Liverpool.

Their position in the Premier League is now looking far healthier. This is just as well, since Daniel Levy was keen to stress that Redknapp will not have much cash to spend during the transfer window in January.

Levy believes that Tottenham already have players capable of scoring and that “talent” runs throughout “the rest of the squad”. The chairman believes that the club has already spent enough money recently and that there is "not very much available” for the manager to spend in the near future.

Fans of the club can only hope that the team’s good run continues and they start to work their way up the Premier League to a more familiar position.

How long before there are fences separating football fans from the pitch?

On October 31, 2008 by

The events of the 18th and 19th of October 2008 could still have an impact upon the future of football in this country. On Saturday the 18th, Aston Villa entertained Portsmouth.

The game was relatively uneventful until it entered its final period. With both sides tied at 0-0, someone in the crowd chucked a coin which struck the linesman on the head.

The fact that a fan is potentially able to blind an official, manager, or player at a football match where children are in attendance is a disgrace. It is events such as these that could force the top dogs of the beautiful game to consider whether it would be worthwhile introducing Italian-style barriers which would separate the crowd from the pitch.

It would surely be terrible for English football if this happened. If people want to see a screen in front of the players, they will stay at home and watch the match on TV. Many people still choose to stand at Premiership games despite the all-seater stadiums but the introduction of barriers obstructing a clear view of the action may simply put people off attending matches.

However, with disgusting behaviour by some parts of the crowd being displayed during matches, the FA and UEFA may need no excuse to introduce a crowd separation barrier between the stand and the pitch.

The events of Sunday the 19th of October did not help the situation. The Sheffield derby saw United and Wednesday compete in an eventful game. Although the fans appeared to keep their coins in their pockets during this game, a player on the pitch did not behave so well.

Sheffield Wednesday winger, Jermaine Johnson, was substituted in the second half. He decided subsequently to vent his frustration on a water bottle, which was sent flying into a section of fans. This could have done serious damage to one of many unsuspecting fans.

Pitch invasions also provide another argument for introducing barriers. Sunderland famously beat Newcastle recently and after the game, large sections of fans invaded the pitch. This kind of behaviour does not help the club or the reputation of the nation and could be avoided.

In Italy, clubs have put up ice-hockey style glass barriers which separate the crowd from the pitch. It is obviously much harder to throw a coin at an official or kick a water bottle at the fans if there is a barrier.

Fans, players, and officials could all argue that there is a real need for crowd separation barriers. If the world of football is not careful, a major injury will soon be seen and the repercussions of this could be extreme.

Mourinho outrages Chelsea fans by labelling Drogba a ‘diver’

On October 30, 2008 by

Jose Mourinho, who became a legend among Chelsea fans during his time in charge of the club, has angered the Stamford Bridge faithful by labelling Didier Drogba “a diver”. In an outrageous interview with a football website, the manager of Inter Milan also criticised the behaviour of Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool’s Fernando Torres, and Arsenal’s Robin van Persie.

He revealed that he no longer feels under any pressure to “defend” the Chelsea players and can now speak the truth about their behaviour.

Mourinho’s comments completely contradict his previous statements made whilst in charge of Chelsea. He consistently defended Drogba after the striker was accused various times of diving and cheating.

Indeed, Mourinho compared the Ivorian striker to a soldier and stated that he had so much faith in the player that he would “go to every war” with him. The manner in which he has now changed his mind so radically is frankly embarrassing and will not do anything to improve his profile in either the UK or Italy, where he is having a tough time fitting in.

Amusingly, he completed the interview by claiming to be fundamentally opposed to diving but then hinted that he habitually encourages his players to fall to the ground if they are fouled in the box.

The Internazionale boss spoke of his “hate” of the practice of diving but then commented that he does not like players who stay on their feet if they are fouled whilst in the penalty area. According to Mourinho, it is much better to “go down”, in order to encourage the referee to make a decision. In his world, though, this is not cheating. Indeed, Mourinho believes this attitude to be “fair”.

Jose Mourinho’s arrogance angered some during his stay in England but it appealed to others, including many members of the British press. However, so far, the Italians have not been impressed by the attitude of the Portuguese coach.

Last month, Mourinho’s Inter Milan side, who are currently sitting at the top of the Italian league, controversially beat Catania at the San Siro in a key match in the Serie A campaign. His arrogance was evident both before and after the match when he stated that his team were “better” than the opposition and deserved to win by a margin of three or four goals.

Such comments may have gone unnoticed in England but the director of Catania, Pietro Lo Monaco, launched a scathing verbal attack on Mourinho. He expressed his belief that the manager has no respect for “his adversaries” or “the host nation”.

The director continued to state that Mourinho should leave the country at the end of the season and summed up his feelings by commenting that the boss should be “smacked in the mouth”.

One thing remains clear: Mourinho has certainly not been getting his own way since his arrival in Italy. Perhaps his recent astonishing attack on Didier Drogba and other Premier League stars is the Portuguese coach’s sad way of venting his frustration.

Ronaldo reiterates commitment to United after Real interest fades

On October 29, 2008 by

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo has reiterated his commitment to the club, stating that it is in his “body and soul”.

He believes that he made the right decision to stay at the club during the summer rather than choosing to join Real Madrid. He has expressed a desire to show “respect” towards the club’s officials, his team mates and the United fans, who do not want to hear about Ronaldo considering other clubs.

The possibility of the Manchester United winger moving to Spain dominated the back pages of the newspapers over the summer. However, the player, who is still just 23 years of age, is under contract at United for another four years.

Ronaldo’s comments have come following a statement released by Real Madrid last week. The Spanish club stated that their interest in the winger, which was once so strong, has now subsided. They do not want to fall out with the Manchester club, since they are “one of the biggest clubs in the world” and they wish to maintain “a good relationship”.

Real Madrid believe that United have made it clear that they wish to keep hold of Ronaldo and officials at the Spanish club have no desire to “disturb” the English club, especially at this point in the season.

Ronaldo’s form for United this season has not quite reached the spectacular heights seen throughout the club’s last Premier League campaign. He seems to have lost some of the confidence which frustrated so many in the English league last season.

His body language has changed dramatically since the speculation concerning a possible move away from United and fans of the club are hoping that he can rediscover the special quality which helped the team win the League last year.

Adams in as Pompey stay in house

On October 28, 2008 by

So just 63 hours or so after Harry Redknapp told Sam Matterface on Sky Sports News that he was leaving Portsmouth for Spurs, Tony Adams sat in front of a packed Press Conference at Fratton Park after signing a two and a half year deal to step up and take the top job at the South Coast club.

Big Tone appointment came as no big surprise despite other candidates being interested in the job. The club decided to stay in-house and give it to the man that was being groomed to takeover eventually when Harry walked away. Little did we know that the time that happened would come around just so quickly.

He answered the question well and seemed well up for the job. He spoke to mentor and close friend Arsene Wenger last night before accepting the job and told the Arsenal manager that he was ‘coming to get him’. Wenger told Adams, ‘welcome to hell’.

The appointment was swift and not seen as a big surprise. Big Sam was the other name heavily touted but that wouldn’t have been a progressive step forward. The club decided to not rock the boat and keep the group of players largely happy as the support in the camp was for Adams to get the job.

Adams’ reign starts with a trip to league leaders Liverpool tomorrow night at a place that hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Portsmouth in recent years. Only a last minute Lomana Lua-Lua goal back in the 04/05 season grabbed them a point in the Premiership era. Although they did draw at Anfield in the FA Cup before beating the club at Fratton in the previous season.

I think it would be safe to say that these are interesting times down on Portsea Island.