Deep Backward Point.

Well, if it worked for Chelsea…
June 12, 2012, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , , ,

Good to see an organised, defensive England team that didn’t embarrass itself last night. Granted there were no real creative fireworks from anyone in a white shirt, but frankly anybody who expected there to be is deluded.

That most of the England team were in the penalty box when Samir Nasri fizzed his shot past Joe Hart is annoying. But overall it was a disciplined performance and we’ve got a point on the board, which many fans would have done terrible things for before kick off.

While nobody should get carried away, the pall of gloom hanging over the team from South Africa has lifted a little. Danny Welbeck impressed, albeit it feeding off scraps chucked at him from the midfield; the back four were tight for the main part; and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was mature for the most part, although his decision-making when in possession needs to sharply improve.

I’m not sure what game Jamie Carragher was watching when he claimed France were there for the taking, but there’s nothing to suggest that taking the same discipline to Donetsk on Friday against Sweden couldn’t produce three points. Particularly given their woeful defending against Ukraine.

That said, it was meant to be an even surer thing that we’d beat Algeria. So let’s not get carried away just yet.

A decent payoff
May 31, 2012, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , , , , , ,

Rodgers will be hoping to lift trophies at Anfield shortly. Strabane/Flickr

It might seem an odd and insensitive thing to say, but Swansea City fans should consider themselves lucky. Possibly not the word a Swans fan would use after having lost a superb manager who got them to an astonishing 11th place in their debut Premier League season.

Ok that’s unfortunate, I accept. What I’m talking about, though, is the fact that Brendan Rodgers made the effort to leave Swansea with a healthy bank account before he moved, which is more than he’s managed in the past. And speaking as a Watford fan, I’m well versed in the Rodgers way of negotiating a new job.

It started much the same way. Amid early speculation that Liverpool were interested, Rodgers said he wasn’t, supposedly conscious that it would be disrespectful to Swansea if he were courting Fenway Sports Group. Pretty similar to May 2009, when as Watford manager he said he was “concentrating fully” on the job.

Three weeks later he was the manager of Reading, and we got somewhere in the region of a measly £500,000 compensation. He thanked the club for being “a part of my story”. Excellent, as a Watford fan I’m delighted that we’re a collective footnote in his managerial memoir.

In a similar time frame he went from uninterested manager  head honcho at Liverpool. I’d be a fool to blame Rodgers for going. It’s an excellent opportunity, and I’m sure you’ve realised by now that this is something of a bitter rant because I’d like to have seen Rodgers develop his exciting brand of seamless passing football at Vicarage Road.

The manoeuvre with Swansea echoes his departure from Watford, but it was quite as brutal. Signing a new deal in January was an astute move, to the tune of £5 million compensation for the Swans.Watford were clearly never going to get anywhere near that, but at least Rodgers didn’t make the same promises to the Swans knowing he was bound to break them.

Happily, though, Watford aren’t the only club to receive the treatment. Just as Rodgers looks to be cleaning up his act, step forward Paul Lambert, formerly of Norwich City.

May 23: “I am delighted I am at Norwich if that is what you are asking me. I have never said I wanted away, and people jump to conclusions.”

May 31: Lambert resigns and is in talks to join Aston Villa.

History really does repeat itself.

Only the Best will do
May 23, 2012, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Cricket | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nice to see the West Indies press the big red button. I for one am delighted that Tino la Bertram Best is returning to these shores, and really hope a three-year hiatus from Test cricket hasn’t dampened his temper and theatrics.

He’s performed well in Caribbean domestic cricket, which led to his call-up so fair play to him. But with 28 Test wickets at an average of more than 48, I don’t think Strauss and co will be too worried. Fair enough he’s taken 13 English wickets, but the greater prospect, for the fans and the bowlers, will be Best’s batting. Having seen his attitude towards Ashley Giles in 2004, I reckon Graeme Swann will be licking his lips at the prospect of Best trying to hit him out of the park.

If you’re not going to win then at least put on a show. Oh, and as always, mind the windows Tino.

Worthy of another year
May 21, 2012, 4:52 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , , , ,

credit Janblahnik/Wikimedia Commons

For all the speculation, Roman Abramovich’s decision must be an easy one. The Chelsea players dared to interrupt the oligarch with spontaneous chants during his post-match dressing room debrief to make it known they want Roberto Di Matteo to stay. Considering he just led them to the one trophy a London club has never won in all its previous incarnations, the argument – well, raucous singing – is compelling.

Let’s not forget that exactly two weeks before Drogba slotted home what might be his last kick of a ball for Chelsea past Neuer to seal the Champions League, Di Matteo also saw Chelsea bring home the FA Cup for the fourth time in six seasons. The only others to win a double in the Abramovich era are Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, who were both given a good run afterwards to see if they could do it again.

Surely the same courtesy must be extended to Di Matteo? Chelsea’ languid performance in the Premier League seems an aberration of Andre Villas-Boas’ making. Di Matteo has won 13 of the 21 games he has managed Chelsea, revealing a staggering 62% win record. Manchester City just won the league win a 47% win record under another Roberto, suggesting Di Matteo more than has the credentials to mount a serious challenge next season.

And what of the summer transfer window? Di Matteo has guaranteed that Chelsea will be fighting among the top clubs in Europe for the attentions of the hottest prospects. Indeed, I just read today on Guardian Sport that Eden Hazard is now tempted towards London instead of Manchester.

Put a well-liked, talented and proven manager out of his misery Roman.

Pompey flush from Saudi takeover, but is it too late to post bail?
October 6, 2009, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , , ,

If Paul Hart’s fortunes were equated to a Monopoly board, he’s just picked himself a Get Out of Jail Free card from an Arab Community Chest.

Ali Al-Faraj’s money has brought a much-needed ray of sunshine bursting through the apocalyptic clouds surrounding Fratton Park. Every football fan who has seen a sports page or breathed in the last few weeks knows Pompey have been in crisis. But they picked up their first win of the season last weekend and finally paid their players. Perhaps this is the turning point.

Could there be a return to former glory? Photo: eNil/Flickr

Could there be a return to former glory? Photo: eNil/Flickr

Unfortunately, signing the likes of Tommy Smith and Mike Williams – though talented footballers – isn’t going to keep you in the Premier League. Luckily, Al-Faraj is ready to pull his cheque book out:

‘There will be money to spend in January to make sure we do not lose our coveted place in the top flight.’

Peter Storrie, Portsmouth chief executive, is saying the right things to encourage hopeful fans. But will there actually be a Premier League place to save come January? The facts suggest not. No team has lost their opening seven matches for 79 years, so the battle is already harder than it ever has been in recent football history.

In addition, which player that is capable of keeping Pompey in the top-flight will come to such a struggling club? Money talks in football, undoubtedly, but it’s a tall order for even the hardiest of mercenaries. Still, I’m sure Lucas Neill will keep an eye on it.

Normal service resumes
October 6, 2009, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Cricket, Football, Rugby, Tennis | Tags:

Sorry for the prolonged absence, unfortunately the blog was on hiatus as my journalism thesis took over for some months.I am now some way further to understanding why British Asian footballers are so shockingly underrepresented in professional football. My findings will make their way to these pages shortly, but not before they have exited the academic process.

Having completed that, DBP is back. Let’s get on with it then.

Photo: SpreePiX - Berlin/Flickr

Photo: SpreePiX - Berlin/Flickr

The Ashes, 2nd Test Report: Strauss and Flintoff show leadership qualities for historic Lords victory

Andrew Flintoff takes out Peter Siddles middle stump. Photo: 6tee-zeven/Flickr

Andrew Flintoff takes out Peter Siddle's middle stump. Photo: 6tee-zeven/Flickr

Another fantastic Test match, but strangely for England fans, it took place at Lords. Andrew Strauss’ men finally lifted the 75-year hoodoo, beating Australia at the home of cricket by 115 runs. The best part of it all: England were undoubtedly the better side and fully deserved their victory.

Galvanised by Andrew Flintoff’s retirement from Test cricket, the tone was set by Strauss and Alistair Cook’s superb opening wicket stand of 196. Strauss deserves special credit for demonstrating that the task of captaincy has not affected his batting, posting an almost flawless 161 runs. Questions will be asked again of the middle order, who once again failed in the first innings – contributing just 78 runs from Ravi Bopara to Flintoff. The latter, however, would use the rest of the match to rectify his mistake.

Australia’s bowling was uneven. Mitchell Johnson once again kept his ‘secret weapon’ abilities very much under wraps, conceding more than six runs an over in the first innings but mystifyingly claiming three wickets. With none to his name in the second innings, Ricky Ponting must be wondering whether to persist with the out-of-form bowler; an eager Stuart Clarke is waiting in the wings.

Flintoff charging in at his unplayable best. Photo: RNLJ&C/Flickr

Flintoff charging in at his unplayable best. Photo: RNLJ&C/Flickr

England’s bowlers, on the other hand, attacked with venom and vigour, which was palpably missing in Cardiff. Jimmy Anderson moved the ball, Stuart Broad found a better rhythm, Graham Onions was unfazed by the occasion. They all contributed and Flintoff iced the cake with a second innings performance we have not seen since 2005.

Returning personal best figures at Lords – 5 for 92, only the third five-wicket haul of his Test career – Flintoff was imperious, rampaging down the wicket with ferocious pace and movement.  Strauss maintained a fine balance with his star bowler, who completed 39 overs at Lords compared to 35 overs in the second innings alone in Cardiff. This allowed him to function as the dangerous strike bowler England needed to achieve victory.

Looking ahead to Edgbaston, England find themselves in the rare position of leading into the third Test of an Ashes series. The scene of arguably the greatest Test match in history in 2005, England will be looking to emulate the result, and hopefully the drama for the spectators.

If Flintoff stays fit, and the middle order – as well as Bopara wallowing at three – get their act together, fans all over the country could well be celebrating another victory come August 3.