Category Archives: Comment

Ah! That’s Champion(ship / League, but only the latter part)!

Apologies for the use of the first person throughout this post, but something has been niggling at me.

I felt a little ashamed in being a Manchester United fan yesterday afternoon. While sat next to an avid Stoke fan, it made me realise that the Premier League is severely lacking in one, important aspect that makes football the game that endears so many – spontaneity.

The Championship’s denouement was one of those special afternoons in football. It left you lost, perplexed, and yet, you didn’t care – clarity wasn’t necessary. You just went along with the journey, wondering where you would end up at the end. For the neutral, there’s no finer feeling (it is maybe why the play-offs tend to be the best games all season); for the Stoke, Leicester and Southampton fans, it was perhaps of a sort of masochistic torture.

Ever since that momentous FA Cup quarter-final between Barnsley and Chelsea, Mick McCarthy’s comments in the post-match analysis have stuck with me. Fans of Barnsley have experienced Premier League football, relegation, more relegation, promotion, and now the FA Cup in the space of ten years.

Excitement and despair, those two feelings so closely aligned with one another, consistently experienced by Barnsley fans. As he put it, it’s exciting to be a Barnsley fan, because the spontaneity is always there.

This is not the case with the Premier League, with one of the top four guaranteed to win the division and claim those Champions League spots. Supporting a team like United means that the result is almost predictable week-in, week-out.

When the unpredictable does happen, it’s almost treated with distain by some United fans; the prospect of losing means that everything they’ve bought into has been demolished completely – like losing does not happen for those supporting what is once again the richest club in the world. Well it does, and at times (and dare I say it), it’s a refreshing change.

This is why as a United fan, I live for the Champions League more than the Premier League;  for a start, the Premier League doesn’t force me into a nervous, drunken stupor like last Tuesday. My appetite for the European Cup isn’t just in terms of the history United have with ol’ Big Ears, but because it’s where that sense of unpredictability is most likely to be (in the latter rounds, anyway; the group stage feels like an irrelevance at times). The quest for another European Cup is what feeds me more than another  almost-certain Premier League title.

However, today’s game between Newcastle and Chelsea is intriguing: Newcastle, the masters of spontaneity within the Premier League over the last two decades, could unexpectedly hand the title to United if they beat Chelsea this afternoon; yet a Chelsea win will make next Sunday a day of relevance, even if it may be only slight. I’m not sure which one I want.

Even so, it’s very easy for me to write the above – I know that all too well. But I guess there is something that United for once lack, which most other clubs at least have. Perhaps this is why I’ve gone to a lot of Stockport County games this season.

God, I’m confused.

David.

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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Chelsea, Comment, England, English Premier League, Football, Football League - League 2, Football League Championship, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Opinion, Soccer, Southampton, Sport, Stockport County, Stoke City, The Football League, UEFA Champions League

UEFA Launch Investigation After Liverpool v Arsenal Champions League Tie Described As ‘Decent’

UEFA chiefs today announced they would be conducting an inquiry to investigate claims that the Champions League Quarter-Final second leg between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield on tuesday was “a decent game”.

The investigation was launched after an unusual amount of reaction to the game was found to be positive. One spectator was heard to summise that the game was “actually not all that bad“, whilst another observed that he found it to be “quite a decent game, really“.

Suspicions first arose that the game might actually be alright when someone reported that he had heard a raised voice on the TV commentary. The viewer, who is seen by UEFA as key to their inquiry, said “It took me completely by surprise and I can’t remember what it was all about, but I know I heard it. Clive Tyldesley definitely described an incident in a louder voice than he had the previous one. What’s more, I thought I heard an ‘oh!’ from Jim Beglin too, but I can’t be sure about that at the moment. I may have been getting carried away“.

A UEFA spokesman confirmed that they are taking the claims seriously: “Usually there are one or two who go over-the-top in their assessment of a match, but we can’t afford to ignore this. Many people seem convinced that this was a decent game, and it’s our duty to look into it. Fans can rest assured that our investigation will be most thorough“.

The spokesman was asked about further claims that TV pundit Andy Townsend had actually described the game as ‘exciting’ and ‘a thrilling spectacle’ but was quick to play the story down, saying: “This is clearly hysteria. It is one thing to say that this could have been a decent game, but to imagine that vulgar hyperbole such as this might apply to a Champions League match, especially one between two sides such as Liverpool and Arsenal, is just crazy talk. Andy Townsend has seen a great deal of Champions League football in his broadcasting career and he would know better than to make such claims. I’m confident that Andy has been misquoted, and we will be contacting him for confirmation of this“.

As the news broke after the match, many began to raise concerns about the possible knock-on effect that this allegedly decent game might have for the rest of the tournament. The spokesman addressed this also: “If it turns out that this was a decent game then we’ll have to take it on the chin and move on with the tournament, but I’m confident that this is an isolated incident. I would consider further decent games to be highly unlikely, and fans should not be concerned if planning to view future matches in this season’s Champions League. On a reassuring note, we can announce here and now that there will definitely be no repeat of this in the semi-final when Liverpool play Chelsea“.

Jamie.

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Filed under Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger, Chelsea FC, Comment, Europe, Football, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Champions League

Hundreds Protest In London As Talentless And Unheroic Get Their Hands On Olympic Torch

Controversy hit the streets of London yesterday as hundreds arrived to protest against the decision to let faceless celebrity numbskulls carry the Olympic torch on the British leg of its journey to Beijing for the 2008 games.

Crowds massed in order to question the wisdom of allowing barely-famous non-personalities who have failed to ever display the talent or heroism associated with the legendary torch, to represent the nation as bearers on the occasion of its arrival in the UK.

Vocal enquries reportedly made by the crowds included “Who Are Ya?” and “Who The F**kin ‘Ell Are You?”.

One confused protestor actually made an attempt to rescue the torch thinking that its bearer was a thief, so unrecognisable was she as an appropriate personification of what the torch represents. The protestor explained: “I travelled 400 miles to see the torch carried by my hero, 5 times Olympic gold medallist Sir Steven Redgrave. Then I looked up and saw some random bird out of the crowd making off with it. I thought she was half-inching the Olympic torch! I had to do something!”

The protestor’s actions were not the only instance of confusion on the day. The crowd’s emotions went through extreme highs and lows and they watched the Olympic torch relayed between an 80-strong line-up of the heroic, courageous, talented, inspiring, vacuous, fly-by-night, morally empty, and limelight-seeking type.

Another protestor observed “I’ve never felt such mood swings in my life! One minute I’m watching Dame Kelly Holmes, and dreaming of one day emulating her double gold medal winning performance in Athens, then I’m daring to think that one day I too may become England’s greatest cricketer after seeing Kevin Pietersen. Just as I’m about to burst with all the inspiration on show, the torch gets passed to Denise Van Outen! Talk about being brought down to earth with a bump, I’m still feeling it this morning!”

This was to be a recurring theme throughout the torch’s journey, one moment in the hands of a champion, the next in those of a newsreader. The crowd’s failure to contain themselves quite understandable given the emotional rollercoaster ride they were given by the bizarre line-up.

When questioned about what the appearance of such wastes-of-space on this occasion meant for the London games in 2012, an official said: “The Olympic movement is about inclusion. We have to consider that not all young people out there may wish to achieve greatness in their lives. Some may wish to acquire wealth and fame by being a morally poisonous talent-vacuum, and doing a few magazine shoots.

“We in London think it’s very important to show the youngsters that there’s an achievable alternative to traditional ideas such as hard work. There may be those out there who are in agreement with Tina Turner that ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’. We must be seen to represent all views in society”.

Jamie.

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Filed under Athletics, Beijing 2008, Comment, IOC, Kelly Holmes, Olympics, Paralympics, Steven Redgrave

The plight of Trescothick casts light on the smokescreen of sport

Marcus Trescothick is still unwell. He has just pulled out of the UAE tour with Somerset “to be with his family” according to Somerset’s chief executive Richard Gould. 

This is the third time Trescothick’s euphemistic “stress-related illness” has come to light concerning tours abroad, with Trescothick coming home during England’s tour of India in 2006. He later returned for England’s tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but then ruled himself out of  the ICC Champions Trophy in India. 

He later dealt a major blow to England’s efforts in retaining the Ashes by breaking down and returning home after two warm-up games. 

Last season he broke the thousand run barrier for Somerset, which included an innings of 284 against Northants last May. 

For England, he averages 43.79 in his 76 Tests with a career best 219 against South Africa at the Oval in 2003. 

It’s unlikely Trescothick will ever return to the international set up unless he somehow gets better. This is worrying for England judging from some of the sub-standard batting performances in New Zealand so far, as well as the numerous poor performances we’ve seen in previous series since the Ashes tour of Australia. 

Of course, Trescothick’s mental wellbeing is all that matters, as duly noted by Paul Collingwood:

“It’s just really sad,” he said. “We just need to get him right, for his own sake really. We can be very selfish and ask whether he will ever play for England again, but it doesn’t really matter because we need to get him right.”

Trescothick is an example of the mental torment that can inflict sportsmen. The man who can hold it together in the most mentally taxing of sports, struggles to do so off it. It holds a strange, tragic poignancy. 

He shows that sportsmen, who look dominant and act as examples of human endeavour and hard-work, are actually vulnerable people (as shown through countless examples — too many to name here).

It’s something that needs to be remembered a lot more, especially with the amount of money that sport as an industry is now built upon. It’s so easy to forget now-a-days. 

His illness also shows how sport can mask reality. There is a separation of the two worlds but when they blur, it’s almost post-modern. You get trapped into this world of sport where reality seems to be put aside, yet it can be thrown right back at you at any time; by tragedy, incident, or your side’s victory/defeat.

When sport transcends that barrier between the two, that’s where it holds its power. But it’s dangerous, for crossing it can also make sport feel irrelevant, and mere escapism. Tresco is an example of the other, as shown by Collingwood’s comments.     

I hope he gets better soon. He should be known as the sportsman that can transcend the barrier through success, not because he suffers from that “stress-related illness”. 

David.  

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Filed under Comment, Cricket, England, Marcus Trescothick, News, Paul Collingwood, Somerset, Sport

Eduardo Leg Break: Pictures (WARNING)

Right, I’m going to warn you now. There’s a very good reason why the broadcasters won’t show the full detail of Eduardo’s leg-break.

I’ve managed to find a clip of the break (mainly to see how bad the tackle was and to satisfy my own sick sense of curiosity), and it’s clear to see why.

But, the effects need to be seen. Personally, I’m not sure whether Martin Taylor’s tackle warranted the gruesome, unfortunate outcome. To me, it looked like Eduardo over-ran the ball, tried to regain it, and Taylor caught him unintentionally.

Still, it was a poor tackle and while extreme, Eduardo will now act as a permanent example of what bad, careless tackling can do. Let this act as the one moment where the art of tackling came back. In fact, it shouldn’t even be an art – good tackling is a necessity.

If Eduardo comes back and plays football again, then anything is possible in the game. However, after Wenger’s bleak assessment, it looks likely that his career is in real, severe danger.

The video the images are taken from has since been taken down due to a copyright dispute. However, I hope the BBC show the tackle and provide prior warning this evening on Match of the Day.

Let something good come out of this ugly mess. Show it to kids, schoolboys and aspiring players. Let them know that this could be them if tackling isn’t improved, and let them know that their possible career, for all its conceivable riches and celebrity, could meet a sudden and awful end. This should act as the ultimate reality check.

Having witnessed David Busst’s leg break when he played for Coventry against Manchester United in 1996, I thought nothing could surpass the nauseating effect that possessed. Eduardo’s break is the worse kind of compound fracture imaginable.

If you’ve got a soft stomach then I would advise against looking at the images below, particularly the second image.

A dangerous, clinical, young striker’s career could well be over, and the outcome needs to be seen:

 

 

Thanks for all your comments. Needless to say, I’m absolutely staggered at the interest these pictures taken off a YouTube clip hastily taken down have caused. It seems that the power of blogging was fully realised and experienced with this, and we managed to be right on the ball. Unlike Martin Taylor…

Anyway, most of the comments on here have been considered and well expressed, which is excellent. But I’m going to close the ability to leave comments on this for now since it’s taking quite a bit of time to moderate and edit some of them. However, if you have any particular views, then why not send an email? Who knows, I may even put it up here…

Email us at: thesightisinend@googlemail.com

David.

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Filed under Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger, Barclays Premier League, Birmingham City, Comment, Croatia, Eduardo, England, English Premier League, Euro 2008, Martin Taylor, News, Soccer, Sport

Fifa say ‘nay’ to Premier League global plan, but we enter a worrying period

Sepp Blatter has said that the Premier League’s international round will not be going ahead. He has also issued what is practically a threat, saying that were the Premier League to go-ahead with the plan, England’s 2018 World Cup bid would be affected.

With UEFA, the AFC and now FIFA opposing the plan, it seems unlikely that it will happen. Yet this sets up a battle that could well turn very nasty, and could marginalise English football from the rest of the world. Richard Scudamore has come out and said that if they receive backing from the FA, it will go ahead.

If that happens, the consequences could be damaging, and will finally confirm something that has long been pondered: that the national game is secondary to the process of profiteering and promoting a valuable product. Indeed, were the Premier League to implement the plan, it would now probably affect the value of its prized commodity.

Yet this could raise the club vs. country row again, except this time it could take a more unsavoury and potentially harmful air. If the Premier League went against FIFA, where would players loyalties lies? With their employers, or with the law-maker? It would likely be the former.

It could, in some ways, be the equivalent of the Kerry Packer/World Series Cricket saga of the 70s, where players are torn between two sides: the PL, seeking more money in a supposed quest to advance their national game; and FIFA, the body there to protect world football (of course, where it does is the matter for a separate debate altogether). Players being forced to choose sides, and players being ostracised.

In 2000, the FA got the biggest shock possible when it realised how out of touch it was with world football, after England’s World Cup 2006 bid failed to get to the final round. Since then, it has worked hard to build bridges throughout the footballing world, to a point where it is now favourite to get the 2018 World Cup.

Even the CONCACAF chief Jack Warner, after originally being heavily against the bid and saying that he would do everything to make sure it failed, has now suddenly come out in favour. The Premier League’s plan threatens this newly-created relationship between the FA, the other NFAs and confederations.

It is time the Premier League ditched the idea. It was once rather funny and foolish in all honesty, but now it’s extremely threatening and deeply concerning. This has transcended taking clubs abroad for a game, raising more revenue and upsetting fans who will, in all probability, show apathy for a few weeks and nothing else; this can now irrevocably damage the game in this country, and leave a deep and ugly scar.

David.

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Filed under AFC, Barclays Premier League, Comment, CONCACAF, Cricket, England, English Premier League, FA, FIFA, Football, Football League, Jack Warner, Kerry Packer, Richard Scudamore, Sepp Blatter, Soccer, Sport, UEFA

Always let your conscience be your guide.

And the key word in Jiminy Cricket’s famous piece of advice, is ‘always’. Unlike Steven Spielberg, whose conscience, it would seem, is allowed to guide him at fairly random intervals.

For those who haven’t heard yet, Spielberg has resigned from his job as artistic adviser for the Beijing Olympics, on the grounds that China is not doing enough to prevent human rights atrocities in Sudan, of whom China is an “ally” (which means they buy lots of oil off them).

Spielberg’s astonishing declaration included the following:

“I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual

“At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur”

So, Spielberg has resigned on an issue of human rights, that much is abundantly clear. I am surely not the only one then, who is at this moment rather curious about the answer to the following question:

WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING  TAKING MONEY FROM THE CHINESE IN THE FIRST PLACE YOU SELF-RIGHTEOUS PILLOCK?

Care to clear that one up for us Stevie boy?

Jamie.

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Filed under Beijing 2008, Comment, IOC, News, Olympics, Opinion, Paralympics, Sport