Monday, 27 February 2012

All shook up

From the always entertaining Football365:

Shakin' Sparky
One of the great blights of our game resurfaced over the weekend. One of those things nobody likes to see. An awful sight that sickens the soul and seems to happen all too often these days.

Yes, once again, Lord have mercy on our souls, somebody inadequately shook Mark Hughes's hand.

Martin Jol was the culprit this time, with Sparky visibly pi**ed off after the post-match pleasantries.

"I offered my hand and he shook it readily," said Hughes.

"I took exception because I thought he was going to tap me on the head, which I deemed to be slightly patronising so I brushed his arm away."

Of course, this isn't the first time Hughes has objected to the way someone has pressed his flesh.

After Arsene Wenger disappeared down the tunnel rather than shake Sparky's hand in December 2009, he said: "It's his choice, but I have been on the end of a 6-2 defeat at the Emirates and I shook hands. There is a certain protocol to observe, so it's a shame because I have huge respect for Arsene."

After Tony Pulis refused Hughes's hand in December 2010, he said: "He is probably getting his own back, because I did a similar thing last time in the League Cup because I was a little bit aggrieved one of his players had taken out Moussa Dembele when it was unnecessary."

After Fulham played Manchester City last February, Hughes said of Roberto Mancini: "I had to offer my hand and do it with sincerity when my team was beaten 4-1 by Roberto's. I was disappointed but I acknowledged that his team was better and he deserved a handshake with sincerity.

"Maybe I misread it, but I just didn't think Roberto acknowledged the efforts of my team and how well we'd done, by the way he offered his hand."

So, in summary, after a QPR game, a manager must definitely shake Sparky's hand, but crucially must look deep into his eye and not - repeat, not - pat him on the head.

Hopefully that's clear now, and we can put this whole sorry business behind us.
Mark Hughes is a very proud man. It's just a shame that his pride makes him act like a prat. Oh Sparky, what has happened to you?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Neville on Tevez

Reading through Gary Neville's fascinating Red autobiography and just got to the chapter where he discusses Carlos Tevez. With Tevez's return to the UK and apology to the person he upset (take note Mr Suarez) I wondered if there was an insight as to how the City players would take to the returning prima donna.

First off Neville says that he rates him as a player and 'likes him as a person', despite the very public spat whihc Neville describes as 'handbags'. So that bodes well for re-integration into the team.

However Neville also reveals that the squad didn't think that Tevez was trying as hard in his second season at United: "He'd become very fond of a massage," rather than training. If Tevez feels he has a point to prove then he will no doubt pushing everything to make that point, then he will soon win over the players and the fans. However if he is just going to sulk for four months and 'toss off training' like he did at United then there will be few benefits for City.

Neville also said that Tevez is someone who 'needs to feel the love'. He's unlikely to get that from Mancini.

Given that he is generally liked, he is unlikely to upset the apple cart in the Man City dressing room (although there are some big egos in there, Mancini can generally get them to toe the line). Whether City will actually get some return this season from the £250,000 a week they are paying him will be down to Tevez's reasons for returning.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Song for Europa

So the Europa League starts again tonight with no Fulham, but the two Manchester clubs and all three sides are perceived to have failed in Europe this season. It is really disappointing that the late goals conceded by Fulham against Twente and Odense tipped them out of the cup, especially considering the FA Cup exit as well. Still Fulham didn't underestimate their opponents quite as much as Manchester United did. In a perceived 'easy' group, United only beat the whipping boys Otelul Galati meaning that both Benfica and Basle progressed at their expense. But now you have the ridiculous situation of bloating the Europa League with Champions League also-rans. Is the Europa League really more prestigious with underperforming 'big' clubs in it? UEFA seems to think so. Lest we forget, in Fulham's glorious 'almost' season, Fulham were the only team in the last four who actually started the season in the competition. At least Porto's win over Braga last year stopped it feeling like the Champions League wooden spoon competition.
But I can't have it all ways. I'm genuinely excited for this evening's game as it is against Ajax - another Champions League drop out. I've always liked Ajax. No idea why. While at school I actually had an Ajax shirt because I love the fact that the sponsor was vertical rather than horizontal. Although having looked back, it seems that I was a bit older than I expected as it appears to be the shirt worn by the all conquering 1995 side.
I suppose I was a bit of an odd one at school. I also had a Southampton shirt - you don't see many of them in East Manchester. I just liked it. God knows why. maybe it reminded me of the Denmark shirt in the 1986 World Cup, after all it's practically the same design and that Denmark team boasted my first favourite player - Jesper Olsen. Which brings us nicely back around to Manchester United and the club's opportunity to join Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus as the only teams to win all three European trophies (RIP Cup Winners' Cup). It all depends on how seriously Ferguson takes the competition - he has yet to win a UEFA Cup match as United manager; I think he has drawn all four and gone out on penalties or away goals. Of course the primary motivation for Manchester United fans and Manchester City fans in this competition is to stop the other lot from winning it, which is a bit arrogant considering there are another 30 teams still in the competition.
The pretentious theme music of the Champions League has been played so often now over nearly two decades that it now has a Pavlovian effect - even the players remark about getting goosepimples before a match when they here the music. However the Europa League theme, albeit only three seasons in, is not nearly as awe inspiring. I've even been to a Europa League final and have no memory of this piece of music at all.
It comes across as a diet version of the Champions League version, which is fine if you consider that is what UEFA seem to want the Europa League to be as well. But if they want something more memorable, why not try something a bit more, well, individual. The song I remember being played in Hamburg is the Black Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling, which was everywhere at the time. But if the Europa League could get its own World in Motion, or even God forbid a Three Lions, then it would be one step closer to getting its own personality and actually achieving some respect and standing on its own two feet. But when it is undermined by 'Big Cup' to such an extent that next week's Man City home tie against Porto has a 5pm kick off to avoid clashing with Champions League matches, respect for the competition from within UEFA seems sorely lacking - so why should anyone else respect it?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Rangers' administrators press releases

Somehow I am on a list to receive press releases from Duff and Phelps - the firm dealing with Rangers' administration. As I am not au fait enough with Scottish football (I'll leave my belief that it should move to summer to another time) and my father's a Celtic fan, I just thought I'd post these for posterity/interest.

 14th February 2012
Statement from Duff and Phelps on Rangers Football Club

Duff and Phelps has been engaged by the directors of The Rangers Football Club plc (RFC) to assist its negotiations with HMRC, and possible restructuring options.

As a result the inability of RFC to conclude negotiations with HMRC the board of directors have filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators. 

The purpose of this notice is to provide a moratorium against potential creditor actions. 

Meetings are due to take place with HMRC in relation to the tax position of the company.

Management remain hopeful that with the assistance of HMRC a consensual and solvent solution can be found.  In the meantime RFC is continuing to trade as usual.

All further enquires should be addressed to RFC press office.

 14th February 2012

Duff & Phelps appointed Administrators of Rangers Football Club

Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, both of Duff & Phelps, the corporate financial advisory firm, have been appointed Joint Administrators of Rangers Football Club, as of today, 14th February 2012.

The appointment follows a petition for administration presented to the Court of Session in Edinburgh today by HMRC following the non-payment of circa £9m PAYE and VAT following the takeover of the Club in May 2011.

Paul Clark, partner, Duff & Phelps stated: “HMRC have been working closely with the Club in recent months to achieve a solution to the Club’s difficulties.  However this has not been possible due to ongoing losses and increased tax liabilities that cannot be sustained,”

“We are working together with management and its major creditors including HMRC to achieve a solution to the financial problems which will ensure the ongoing survival of the business, which is of paramount importance to all concerned,” he added.

Paul concluded: “We would like to take the opportunity of thanking the fans for all their past and present support and hope we can rely on them in the future. Rangers has a long and proud sporting tradition – one we all wish to see continue. All stakeholders involved with Rangers are working hard to ensure the long-term future of this national institution. We will be making a further more detailed statement later in the week,” he added.

 15th February 2012

Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, of Duff and Phelps, said: “We can report we have made very good progress within the first 24 hours of being appointed administrators over Rangers Football Club.

“Our first priority has been to ensure that the football club continues to function and this is being achieved with the help of staff, players and management at the Club.

“In particular, we would like to thank the Club’s business partners who are going the extra mile to ensure that Saturday’s home match against Kilmarnock goes ahead as scheduled. We had extremely constructive discussions with Strathclyde Police and we can confirm the match will take place.

“We fully recognise this is a difficult time for players and staff at the Club and are extremely appreciative of their reaction to the situation. We will be holding meetings with the staff on a weekly basis at least to inform them of developments.

“We are also in the process of speaking to representatives of supporters’ groups and that will be an ongoing process.

“In broad terms, supporters can be reassured that Rangers will continue as a football club and we hope to reach a stage as soon as possible where the Club can emerge from administration.

“We have had expressions of support across the political spectrum in Scotland within the last 24 hours and there is clearly a desire to see Rangers come through this situation successfully.

“The Club has, however, taken the decision to postpone the Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards Ceremony scheduled for this Sunday (19 February, 2012) at the Glasgow Hilton as holding the event at this time was not considered appropriate. 

“The event will be rescheduled for a later date and all table sales and sponsorship commitments will be honoured at that time. Rangers would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to supporters, sponsors and clients and we will ensure details of the rescheduled event will be communicated as soon as possible. The Club would also like to thank the Glasgow Hilton for their understanding.

“If anyone has booked places or a table at the event and have any questions, the Events Department can be contacted on 0141 580 8613. 

There had been widespread publicity and speculation regarding the financial affairs of the football club.

“For clarity, the cost structure of the Club and ongoing losses were such that the Club had outstanding liabilities to HMRC. These were the subject of discussion and clearly HMRC wished to see them resolved as a matter of urgency.  We are involved in dialogue with HMRC and will work with them constructively, as is the case with all other key stakeholders.”

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ode to Bobby Z

It's farewell then and good luck, Bobby Z
You made us eat our words, including me.

With a hand to the ear, you made sure we heard ya
Especially that one fan with a hamburger.

In Europe we marvelled at what you did.
Had you been fit we may have beat Madrid.

Although you still acted a bit of an arse,
We somehow made money selling you to the Rs.

At ambitious QPR I'm sure you'll work hard
But take a look at the case of Jimmy Bullard.

England caps and acclaim from those who know
Until a transfer for money brought him down low

If it doesn't work and you end up feeling sad
Reflect that little Fulham may be the best you've ever had.

In the meantime the whites need to replace your assists
Or next year we could both be playing in the Championship

Rich Text