Saturday, June 30, 2012

Naked camera - comic genius

Some new material for the Jake Stevens man.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Ireland we want back

It's been nice knowing you

Gossip suggests the following sequence:

Harry favourite for the England job, Spurs offer him a three year contract (to protect their interests) and Harry refuses – because it might make it too costly for England to take him.

Hodgson gets England job, Harry walks in to Spurs and says I’ll have that three year contract now, Spurs say no.

Harry walks.

So how do I feel about the departure?

For two years running he allowed the team to blow up in the final run-in and miss their “deserved” CL spot. This year the fault was not in letting Chelsea edge them in Munich but earlier, by allowing the Arse back into third spot, when at one stage we were 11 points clear of them. . Last year a succession of home draws against the W’s (Wolves, West Ham, Wigan) and others dross, meant City pipped us in the final few weeks. So football success or failure? Very debatable.

Harry’s transfer dealings, from a football perspective purely, were also questionable – particularly mid-season when strong reinforcements were needed to consolidate the early season strong performances. This year in January in came the like of Ryan Nelson and Louis Saha and out went Super Pavylchenko. Amid all the “temporary” signings, he failed to adequately address areas of weakness (central defence notably).

Moving away from scrutiny of Redknapp’s tactical acumen, Levy insists on maintaining financial discipline at Tottenham and won’t be bullied in this regard. Maximum wage rates at Tottenham refer. Now ultimately we’re back to the repetitive issue of finances driving football (and Tottenham’s policies are simply the opposite of Man City and Chelsea ) and thus arguably the wrong reason for personnel change, but nevertheless you have to respect Levy’s approach and you also have to admire him standing up to the globally likeable ‘Arry, peoples favourite and all that. At the back of all this, you have to believe that Levy has a plan and knows what he’s doing.

For this reason there’s no despair or depression as Harry leaves, just a wave and a thanks for the memory, and Rosie, dear Rosie, we will all miss you.

Since Harry’s departure then Bale has extended his contract which is extremely positive or alternatively more shrewd financial work by Levy again. The Redknapp team are being cleared out and also some of the squad hangers-on (a la Corluka). Hopefully we’ll get a new boss in soon and we’ll address the signings early this summer rather than in the week before the season starts. And then a season free of bungs, tax cases and dogs pissing in the kit bag.

Roll on the new season.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dancing at the crossroads

What now for Ireland?

The poor performances of the Irish soccer team at Euro 2012 are well documented and ultimately blame must be shared by both team and manager. Abject performances on the pitch, accentuated by poor tactical and selection decisions from the bench.

We all knew we had a weak squad and I think we recognise that the achievement was in actually getting there.

But we are now at a crossroads.

The expected retirement of several of the senior players hasn’t happened, which is a bit worrying as the feeling is that Trapattoni is too stubborn a prick to make the changes that are needed. He’s actually nearly as stubborn in old age as Gerry was in his thirties and forties. Without the retirements, and with a maximum tenure on his appointment of two years (amazingly to age 75) what incentive has he to bring in and blood inexperienced youngsters like Duffy, Coleman, McCarthy, McLean etc? None, precisely as the benefit would be gained by someone else, his successor.

Should Ireland sack him? If he’s unwilling to change his ways, then yes he should go but can you see the FAI rid themselves of their deferential reverence to him because he managed Italy; Bayern Munich, Inter and the likes. Their “safe option” choice keeps their overweight arses out of the frying pan. One must surmise therefore that Trapattoni will remain in charge for the next two years as we try to master the combined might of Germany, Sweden, Austria and qualify for the next World Cup. No problem with this challenge of course.

But in all of the above I overlook a fundamental fact - it’s not about football, it’s about money, and not insignificantly O’Brien’s money. One wonders to what extent the contribution from the telephone man is actually influencing things. I’d guess quite a bit – hard for an organisation which has significant financial challenges and a history of mis-management to walk away from a contribution of close to €750k a year. So forget the football issues, let’s weather the Euro 2012 storm and let’s keep taking the nice healthy pay packets we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Sure most of our fans are thick ignorant gobshites from West Dublin who wouldn’t understand these goings-on at all - throw them a few plastic hammers at the next friendly against Hungary and we’re off the hook.

And to conclude therefore on the footballing hopes of a nation – come on Robbie, throw away the bow and arrow; Duffer, leave it at the nice 100; and Honeymonster rest your laurels at the Iron Curtain; and move on boys – it’s the only way we’re going to get better.

Queenie-aye-oh, you had the balls

Interrupting coverage of Euro 2012 to mark the momentous moment when the Queen and Martin shook hands. As they say down the sticks, fair fucks to the two of them.

She is turning out to be the woman the English always maintained she was and old Marty, well he’s just still a cunning old devious politician paving the way to Leinster House for himself and all his balaclavaed mates.

Poetry - Alive-alive-oh by Irish fans Poland 2012

Stephen Ireland’s granny is,

Stephen Hunt up to his same old antics

Or Stephen Hunt up to the same with an old antique.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Rain in Torun, Poland

John Delaney - my cameo role in his downfall

And so to Euro 2012 - plenty of heroes and villains again and we first of all look at one of the villains, John Delaney and we examine my peripheral part in his downfall.

For many years I've defended the FAI on a number of occasions but on in matters relating to Poland they got it wrong on a few counts.  Close to my heart was the debacle on ticket allocation, add to that the spectacular mistake on choice of hotel, but worst of all by a long way was the behaviour of the Chief Executive of the FAI while in Poland.  The weekend's papers highlight what many of us saw at first hand.

Of course he's entitled to have a drink with friends, but climbing up on bar counters and being virtually unable to stand or communicate in front of hundreds or media-obsessed supporters is hardly the behaviour of a man entrusted with governing a body which provides leisure pursuits to tens of thousands of youths in our country.  Not to mind whether it's acceptable among adults, said the chameleon, watching his colour move from green to red.

I'm sorry Mr Delaney, despite your pleas of entitlement, you behaved like a prat and it's an awful pity you didn't read one of those leaflets you assisted distribute prior to the event to traveling fans advising them of the need to enjoy drink responsibility.

And so to my nebulous involvement - the clip below shows Mr Delaney having his wig felt by none other than my daughter's boyfriend.  I sincerely hope he cleaned the Brylcream off before he went near my lovely Princess.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Teofilo Stevenson

Ok, church door returns post Euro 2012 and before moving onto that calamitous event we spend a second simply noting the passing of the great Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson, who passed away on the 11 June.

In the mid-seventies, with Cold War Soviet - US politics at their height, the names of a few Cubans caught our imagination through their participation and successes at the Olympic Games. While they may have been products of a Marxist regime, and funded and trained using Communist resources, the profiles of Teofilo Stevenson and Alberto Juantorena evoked powerful images of sporting prowess and ability.

Stevenson won three Olympic boxing gold medals in 1972, 1976 and 1980 while Juantorena holds the distinction of being the only person to have won Olympic gold medals in both the 400 and 800 metre races – won at the 1976 Montreal Games.

Whatever about the impact of the underlying politics on the national economy, the regime does not seem to have moved either of these men away from a deep sense of belonging with their people and their country, even when faced with significant financial gain. Both have been repeatedly described as humble, simple men, dedicated to the cause of their people and the development of their nation.

The recent obituaries recount Stevenson’s response to the offer of a professional contract, and the chance to box Muhammad Ali with a personal purse of $1 million, when he asked "What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?"

I don’t think you’d find too many sportsmen adapting the same position nowadays.