Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New year's resolutions

Right, it's fair to say I've let the blog slide over the last few months, due to a combination of being busy and being lazy. It's a shame, as I do enjoy spouting off on here, and I know there are one or two folk out there who enjoy reading my rants, at least so they can respond in kind. So my first new year's resolution is this - an attempt to manage a post a week.

Predictions for 2009 in football...

Celtic will win the SPL.
Walter Smith will leave Rangers at the end of the season and hand over to Coisty.
Inverness CT's board will finally grow a pair of testicles and chuck lame duck Craig Brewster, but too late to avert relegation (it's okay, you get a better class of fan in div 1)
St. Johnstone will win div 1 and get promoted.
Celtic's Scott Brown wins player of the year, just ahead of Rangers' Pedro Mendes.
Man Utd will nick the EPL...again.
Aston Villa won't have enough in the tank to break the top four.
The whole Man City thing goes down the tubes - Hughes will be sacked, Robinho will leave at the end of the season and they find it impossible to lure top players.
West Brom, Stoke and Hull (who are going into freefall) will be relegated.
Stephen Ireland to be schock player of the year (he's the leader right now, honestly).

So, as I said, this blog will once more get the care and attention it deserves. If not, then let me be killed horribly from above some how.

Happy New Year and all that.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Critics not so Keane anymore

The surprise, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's only been in the last six weeks that the pressure had been growing on Roy Keane, prior to his departure from Sunderland today. For pretty much the whole of 2008 (I'd be tempted to say since they were promoted a year and a bit ago) they have been, to say the least poor. Few Premier League sides are as dull, as drab, and now they can't grind out wins at home any more, the chickens at last came home to roost. Sunderland have won only 12 out of 37 games in this calendar year, and only one of their five victories this season wass by a goal or more - 2-0 vs Boro in September (the second goal with the last kick of the game). They now lie eighteenth in the Premier League.

Fans of the Irishman keep harping on and on about the fact he got them promoted at the first try, after coming in with the team bottom of the Championship. But that's a long way in the past, and what concerned me, and presumably Niall Quinn, was the way Keane has managed Sunderland in the Premier League. Look at the player turnover, for crying out loud. Only four senior squad members have been at the club longer than the Royster. He has signed 33 players, for an estimated 82.6 million squids. Apart from anything else, that's a heck of an outlay for a squad which contains no current England internationals, and whose only current international players are either from the other home nations (hardly a mark of quality these days!) or Trinidad & Tobago.

Not only that, but Keane's side are ridiculously unbalanced, with a purchasing policy so ridiculous that you would have thought Damien Comolli had been involved. Check out his strikers. Stokes, Chopra and O'Donovan (combined 7.5mil) are all shipped out on loan. You have Cisse (on loan) and Jones as the recognised front two, it's fair to say. Healy and Prica (3.5mil total) have made a grand total of 1 start between them, and that was in the Carling Cup. Connolly has barely played since promotion. And, surprise surprise, Diouf fell out with the coach. Who saw that coming, eh, the likes of Chimbonda and Diouf turning out to have personality clashes with Mr. Keane?

Meanwhile, apart from Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque, the midfield is filled with Championship clog-hoppers - Whitehead, Edwards, Leadbitter, Miller, Reid. And Dwight Yorke, for Christ's sake, who is so past it that he probably has embalming fluid in his veins.

So will they go down? Probably not, providing Quinn gets a manager who can tighten up the defence and get them a point here, a point there, a la Megson and Hodgson last season for Bolton and Fulham respectively. Sam Allardyce seems the obvious candidate, with his ability to manage inflated egos (at least from his Bolton days) a bonus. But while, simply by being in the EPL, Roy Keane has left Sunderland in a better state than that in which they arrived, it is not terribly harsh to suggest that you and I could have done just about as good a job.