Latest Airness

As you may know, I’m a bit of an Airness fan, so I thought I’d pass along their latest shirts: Le Havre.

It doeslook a bit weird at first, but it’s growing on me, it really is.

The away could work with our black and white.

Courtesy of Football Shirt Culture (see links).

Roy holds firm on Steve Davis

Roy (or perhaps MAF) wants full value for Steve Davis.

“I know Rangers are interested in buying him and they have made bids which, so far, we have not found acceptable.  He will only leave if a club matches our valuation.   Every player has his price but, as far as we are concerned, Steven is still part of our squad and he will be welcomed back here.”

Which is sound negotiating, if nothing else.

The club’s signed Chris Smalling.  He’s an England U18 centre-half, and had originally decided to join Middlesbrough.   Supposedly going to be a bit good.

Soul of a black man, Maceo Parker

The greatest music ever put down on record. I first heard this late at night in the carpark at Blockbuster Video, Camberley. It was John Peel’s show, Hade was dropping off the video, so I sat there in the dark, transfixed. At the end of the record Peel said something about James Brown (who’s on the record too), and I spend about ten years looking under “James Brown” in record shops for this song. No luck. Eventually the internet came along and, eventually I was able to work out what I was really looking for. Well worth the wait. The rest of the album it’s on I can take or leave but this… wow.

Today Barra suggested that we’re in for Marlon Harewood, then we got word that Harewood’s committing himself to Villa. So that’s probably not happening, assuming it ever was. Sounds like a Roy smokescreen while he hoovers up some Norwegian wunderkinds on the sly. Barra also mentioned Simic of Croatia, but I suspect he meant Simunic, who is big, tough, and left footed. Ideal partner for Hangeland.

Not much else happening. Roy still on holiday watching football, everyone else sitting at home waiting for his next signing. And come to think of it, nobody’s been sold yet, either.

I wonder what Roy’s reading on his hols.   I’ve just ordered a used copy of Schultz by JP Donleavy, which Roy mentioned during The Great Escape.   The Ginger Man (by the same author) is excellent fun, and still in print (unlike Schultz).   Crockatt & Powell have copies in stock.

Thoughts at 90 minutes

After 70 minutes Spain had had 15 shots, 2 on target.   I know people don’t always like the statistics in football, but does that not show just how masterful the Italian defence has been today?  And how dedicated too: there have always been at least seven of them back.

New idea for referees:  every ‘foul’ ask yourself – “would I have awarded a penalty if that had occurred in the area?”  If no, don’t give the bloody free-kick.  I’m tired of silly free kick breaking up play, I’m tired of double standards inside and outside the box.

Germany beat Portugal.  Germany played full strength throughout the groups, Portugal didn’t.
Turkey beat Croatia.  Turkey played full strength throughout the groups, Croatia didn’t.
Russia beat Holland.   Russia played full strength throughout the groups, Holland didn’t.

Is there something to be said for not resting players?

To Russia with love

The Russians used the ball as it’s meant to be used.   Games like that make me feel lucky to be a football fan, lucky to have a television.  Beautiful football.   The only shame is that they didn’t score a fourth goal to better represent their brilliance.   This Holland team had swept all aside to get to this game; it has just been absolutely trounced. Football, eh?

Ronaldo: not a great person

Very interesting from Daniel Taylor at the Guardian:

First of all a little story to tell you what kind of man we are talking about. It is January 9, 2008, and in an upstairs room at Manchester United’s training ground five elderly men in smart blazers are struggling with their emotions in front of a hushed audience. It is the club’s media day building up to the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and Sir Bobby Charlton’s polite smile does not hide the fact he is trembling as he takes his seat. Bill Foulkes is straight-backed and dignified but only a couple of questions have been asked before the tears appear in his eyes and he reaches for a glass of water.

In an adjacent room Wayne Rooney has agreed to offer a modern-day perspective of that seminal day when 23 people, including eight members of Sir Matt Busby’s team, were killed in the wreckage of the burnt-out BEA Elizabethan. It is not his specialist subject but he handles the occasion with dignity and more eloquence than some people might imagine. But then Cristiano Ronaldo comes through the double doors and the mood is broken.

He is wearing a white suit jacket and ripped jeans, looking every bit the boy-band hunk, but it is very obvious he is in a bad mood. He begins by berating Karen Shotbolt, the club’s press officer, because he is waiting for Rooney and the event has over-run. He is banging his watch with his hand, flapping his arms and gesturing in the way that Portuguese footballers usually reserve for fussy referees and, at first, he is so animated it appears as if it might be a wind-up.

When he flounces back through the doors, cursing loudly, it is very obvious he is being deadly serious. Rooney is professional enough to carry on with his tribute but the attention is no longer exclusively on him. Thirty seconds later Ronaldo appears again, first rapping his forefinger against the glass in the door, then opening it by a fraction and starting to whistle at Rooney in the way that a farmer beckons his sheepdog.

As an added twist, you have to wonder about the article itself.   Taylor is the regular United ‘beat’ reporter for the Guardian, to the extent that the British press have such things.   We know that Sir Alex is not always forgiving of bad press.  Taylor relies on Ferguson for access.   So he wouldn’t cross him without permission, would he?

Am I reading too much into this?   I just can’t see Daniel Taylor writing this story unless a) Ronaldo is already gone, or b) he’s got clearance from Old Trafford.   I don’t know – Rob from FtF is a journalist, perhaps he can add something – but this is far beyond the usual sort of information we usually get.  Intriguing.   Or maybe not, maybe Taylor’s just made a judgement call.   Or maybe it doesn’t matter; it’s not like we all thought Ronaldo was a Saint is it?

Makes me all the more proud that Roy seems intent on making our club one of dignity, of correct behaviour, etc (see FulTime for more).

Fun with Turkey

Amazing scenes in Vienna last night.  A game as tense as you’ll see, exhausting to watch, let alone play in, was won by the team who had just come back from the dead again.

I watch these things and wonder how Martin O’Neill feels.  He’s a very bright man (he trained as a lawyer I think) and too often in these championships he’s been sitting on the end of the sofa trying to give an intelligent counter-argument to one of Alan Shearer’s half-baked non-ideas.  O’Neill’s not a man who delights in brevity, so doesn’t always get his point across without Gary Lineker trying to change the subject, but he’s a valuable addition to the usual dry panel.  Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock could take things to another level, but presumably aren’t quite famous enough.

Last night it seemed to work though.  Shearer and Hansen started by slating the Turks for ‘being negative’, but O’Neill piped up and praised them.  They were without a number of their players, they are less technically gifted, but here they are hanging in there – again.  O’Neill was full of admiration for the Turkey team, and as the game wore on Shearer seemed to see this perspective.

Great stuff though.  I love these Turkish players.  They’re getting lucky break after lucky break – you don’t win three games in the last minute through courage alone – but why not?  They’re giving it everything, and it’s thrilling to see.  Last night’s game might not have showcased the most open football you’ll see, but almost 120 minutes of deadlocked knockout football, well, I’ll take that.  I find this sort of “who blinks first” football pretty wonderful, and don’t expect to enjoy Spain v Italy nearly as much.

Mole watch

Busy day, so straight copy and paste off TiFF.  From Barra:

Season tickets are flooding in and we are deffo going to announce record sales,talk of possibly 16000 being achieved.

We have enquired about Simic(spelling)but have to wait a further week for progress

We have also talked to Lilian Thurams people but haven’t been told the progress yet.

Roy has given the names of 3 strikers to the board which is being kept as closely guarded secret but MAF has sanctioned a huge fee if needed to capture a star in the making, we could get a nice surprise apparently.

Boca has spoken to Rennes and PSG in France but may go back to the MLS.

Ian Pearce could be joining Brighton after his release

Timlin joining Swindon Town though Brentford enquired but apparently couldn’t afford his wages.

More when I get it

Lawrie: it’s not all about you

Further to the Lafferty to Rangers deal, Lawrie chimes in:

“It would be nice if he could link up with Steven Davis, another young lad I blooded at international level, who I understand did a fantastic job on loan at Ibrox last season.”

You silly man!  Just for once let it go.  I’m beginning to think that Sanchez is very, very insecure.  What he probably sees as important self-publicity is really coming across as something quite tiresome.

He also says that he tried to buy Lafferty:

“I tried to sign him when I was at Fulham but was quoted £6m and the finances got out of hand,”

Six million?  You do wonder if we got a bit of a reputation during the last summer.

“Hello, QPR sales”
“Yes, this is Lawrie Sanchez from Fulham.  I’d like to buy a left winger from you please.  He has to be short, and preferably Northern Irish”
“Please hold, Mr Sanchez, I’ll check stocks”
– puts Lawrie on hold –
“Steve!  How many left wingers have we got in the warehouse?”
“We’ve got a Lee Cook somewhere?”
“What’s the retail on a Lee Cook?”
“I can’t find it, but maybe a million pounds?”
“It’s Fulham though?”
“Oh, right, well, two million?”
“Sounds good”
– takes Lawrie off hold –
“Mr Sanchez?”
“We have one Lee Cook left.  He’s not Northern Irish, but otherwise we think he’ll suit your needs”
“Excellent.  I’ll give you £2.5 million for it”
“Wouldn’t you like to see it first?”
“Are you questioning my judgement?  No, I’ll take it.  When will it arrive?”
“We’ll deliver it next week”
“Thanks. It’s been a pleasure negotiating with you”

and so on.

Sorry, carried away.  Here’s news that Ipswich are in for Carlos Bocanegra.   Nice.  I’d like that, good club, and he can get into London quite quickly too.

Also, we’re linked with Croatia’s Simunic.