The great…

He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run fast, stretch out our arms further… And one fine morning –

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

(End of The Great Gatsby, F.Scott Fiztgerald, just finished in the bath, seemed appropriate to something)

Good luck, Roy.

The sun will come out tomorrow: Roy on the move

The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There’ll be sun!
Just thinkin’ about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
‘Til there’s none!
When I’m stuck with a day
That’s gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And grin,
And say,
Oh
The sun’ll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
Tïll tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow!
Tomorrow!
I love ya
Tomorrow!
You’re always
A day
A way!

Tomorrow (or the day after) we’ll be a man down.  Not just any man, for Roy Hodgson’s taking over at Liverpool.

The Mirror breaks it down:

Hodgson has agreed an initial two year deal worth around £2million a year, and Liverpool will pay his club Fulham a compensation figure in the region of £2m.

He will bring his Fulham coach Mike Kelly with him, but is also keen to utilise the experience of the staff that remain at the club following Benitez’s departure, with the likes of assistant boss Sammy Lee, reserve team coach John McMahon and Academy director Frank McParland all set to stay on.

And Hodgson’s first job will be to persuade some of the club’s biggest name players to remain at Anfield amid continuing speculation that stars such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have been targeted by Real Madrid and Barcelona.

There were rumours of a Madrid bid of £20m for Gerrard, but they are completely unfounded, and Liverpool simply wouldn’t even countenance such an offer.

The club insist that none of their players are for sale, and – despite continuing speculation over finances – they are under no pressure to sell players.

Hodgson will be given around £12m in cash to spend, but will also be allowed to spend much of the revenue he generates in selling off some of the Anfield deadwood, just as Benitez did the previous summer.

The Spaniard had a war chest of more than £40m which he used to bring in record signings Glen Johnson and and Alberto Aquilani, and Hodgson could have even more by offloading the likes of Ryan Babel, Albert Riera, Yossi Benayoun, David Ngog and possibly even Aquilani.

He will also be faced with pressure from Javier Mascherano to sanction his sale, with the Argentina midfielder desperate to engineer a move out of Anfield for the past year.

And Hodgson may decide that, with Inter Milan and Barcelona both bidding for his services, he could be wise to cash in at a price of around £35m for a defensive midfielder, and spend some of the money on a talented replacement such as Lyon’s Jeremy Toulalan, or either Lassana or Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid.

But the experienced coach knows that his first priority must be to keep Gerrard and Torres, and it seems that he may have made some progress in persuading the skipper to stay, with help for former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy.

Now captain at Fulham, Murphy has spoken with his close friend Gerrard to outline Hodgson’s qualities as a manager, and endorse him for the Anfield role.

So.

It was always going to happen.  Roy’s never let the grass grow under his feet, and has always had strong belief in his own abilities.  Fulham’s been great for Roy, Roy’s been great for Fulham, but he’s one of the best managers in the country and we’re not one of the best teams in the country.    Something was going to happen at some point.

It means he’ll leave on a high, his last game the Europa League final.   That’s incredible to consider isn’t it?

Why Liverpool, amid the mess?     Roy spent the 70s and 80s in Scandinavia at a time when Liverpool were dominating English football.    To Roy I’m sure Liverpool is The Big One, and while Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and the other pretenders are all spoken for, this is his chance.    He’ll go, he’ll give it a crack, and if the players buy into what he’s doing, he’ll be successful.

This last point is vital, and it’s great for him that Gerrard (and Carragher, apparently) are onside.  That’ll pull everyone else into line, too.    It’s all there for him, and if the owners can stay out of the way there’s no reason Roy can’t make this work.   He’ll fix the defence that until last season was so strong, restore order to a shuffled and bewildered squad, and get points on the board.    I wouldn’t expect many Fulham players to follow Hodgson north, although you never can tell, can you?

Anyhow, good luck, Roy.  I don’t buy any of this disloyalty talk, just as I don’t really believe that we’ve done Roy any huge favours.  True, he wouldn’t be in this position without Fulham, but that’s more a reflection on football than on Hodgson:  he really shouldn’t have had to wait this long for another Premier League job, and the fact that we gave it to him may have been as much to do with Antti Niemi’s badgering of David McNally than of any great prescience on the club’s part.    No, Roy was always a better coach than we could reasonably have expected, and we’ve been lucky to have had him here for two and a half years.    The stark facts are that he inherited a Championship side and made it into a European finalist.   I don’t know that he could have done any more.

Work experience

Oooh.    Someone apply for this and let us know what’s what!   (Note to Fulham:  Colin and I would probably have a bash at this part-time)

Match Analysis Work Experience / Intern

The Fulham Match Analysis department provide innovative and pioneering analysis to all professional teams within the club. In order to ensure the best service possible, we are looking to recruit two Match Analysis Interns for the forthcoming 2010-11 season to assist our Match Analysis Team. As an intern you will get unprecedented access into the working practices of a Premiership football club. Your role will be to assist the full time analysts with their day to day jobs and make sure that the provision of analysis is consistently delivered to the highest possible standards.

The nature of the role means that you must be available during the week and also at weekends. Specific hours and duties will be determined by the needs of the Academy and Match Analysis staff.

In order to get the most of this internship you will need to be self motivated, punctual, have a keen eye for detail and possess excellent interpersonal skills. The successful candidates will be able to work under pressure and deliver Service Excellence in line with our Club Values.

This is an expenses only, season long position and therefore we would like the successful candidates to start prior to the start of the Premiership season. If you think you can add value to our team please email your CV and a covering letter to: recruitment@fulhamfc.com|.

Deadline for applications: 19 July 2010.

Read more: http://www.fulhamfc.com/Club/Jobs/WorkAtFFC.aspx#ixzz0sBDNn4yy

Sleepless in er… Germany

The Hamburg experience was great and everything, but there was a downside.   I had a really busy week, and after the match had to get back to England to run focus groups in Leeds the next night.

So a 245am start on Wednesday, a couple of hours of sleep here and there during the day (but not real sleep), a sober afternoon on the reeperbahn while everyone else got plastered, a Europa League final, then a crazy few hours in which I drove a left hand drive car for the first time.

This was pretty weird.  As the final whistle sounded I hurtled from the stadium (Toby and Matt didn’t have to rush back so had a hotel booking in Hamburg), found a shuttle bus, waited for the right train at the station, headed back into town, found the car (yes!), then… how do I drive this?

I have been cursed with an inhibiting nonchalence concerning directions for as long as I can remember.  If I have to be somewhere I drive there and assume that I’ll work things out when I get there, forgetting that cities aren’t villages and finding things is not always easy.

Equally, that night I figured that escaping from Hamburg would be straightforward enough.  And it should have been, but an hour later I was still being guided by some vague magnetic intuition.  I hadn’t a clue, I was petrified of doing something calamitous to the car.  I’m driving on the left, remember, which isn’t a big deal for most people, but after 20 odd hours without sleeping, in a strange city, at midnight… well I was worried and getting frustrated.

Then I recognised something and was on my way, the long, straight autobahn from Hamburg to Berlin.

This was mad.  By now I was reaching 24 hours without much sleep, and feeling strangely delirious.   The road went on and on and on.  I drove fast, I slowed down when my eyes were wobbling, then fast again when I felt better.   I tried open windows for alertness, I tried the radio, but the windows weren’t enough to jolt this tired mind into life, and the radio was full of German pop with lyrics a thirteen year old would be ashamed of (“our love is like a mountain/ the river flows like our hearbeat/ I am going to soar like an eagle/ and then we’ll get something nice to eat”) and frankly it felt like some kind of bad dream.

I stopped for a nap.  A service station.  I hear voices around me among the trees, the lorries.  Paranoia.  I can’t sleep here.  What if these voices belong to service station bandits?  What indeed?  Best get going.

Then my eyes go again and I feel like I’m really tired now.  I pull over.  My mobile phone alarm will wake me, but I set it wrongly, and instead of a 20 minute shut-eye I got over an hour.  Yikes.

I hit the road again.  Berlin outskirts.  Go round.  Service station.  Light now outside, weird strip lighting twilight zone inside.  They’re preparing breakfast for the people who are going to get up in a while.  I feel like I’m from a different planet at this point, like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 1, except with an easier mission.   Which way to your airport?

Back in the car.  Filled up with petrol (yes, Hertz, your petrol tank was 3/4 full, b@stards!), then completed the journey.

I checked in on autopilot, looked for somewhere good to sleep.  There wasn’t anywhere so I selfishly took three precious seats and slept on them all.   Then the plane, then the drive to Leeds, then two focus groups, then, after what is now about 43 hours, the deepest sleep I’ve ever known.

PS at some point in all of that a red light flashed in the trees.  Last week I got a letter from Hertz, telling me they’d had an enquiry from the German police (that’ll be £21.50, say Hertz).   Then yesterday Hade chirps that I’ve a letter from Germany.  It’s the police.  Caught doing 123km/h.   76.43 mph, on an autobahn, and that’s speeding?  What nonsense.   I thought there was no speed-limit.  Anyway, it’s a remarkably small fine (as befits the crime), so not a huge issue, but still.

PPS my plans to frame Matt (who was a named driver and drove the first leg to Hamburg) for the speeding fine are scuppered by those pesky Germans and their far-reaching technology.  Caught red handed.

World cup worries for the whites

Clint Dempsey and co will have wondered whether to be happy or sad after a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw with Slovenia.

And while Dickson Etuhu’s Nigeria somehow threw away a more than winnable game against Greece, Mark Schwarzer and John Paintsil shared the points in a curious Saturday afternoon encounter.    Hilariously, Harry Kewell was sent off early on for handling on the line, at which point Asamoah Gyan stepped up and scored for the second game running.