Well Done Omar Daley

Reading something on the official City website warmed my heart. The weeks top news has to be Wayne Rooney and his disgraceful attitude towards his current employers, and so my thoughts turned to players who really did put their employers before their own personal greed.

Take a bow Omar Daley.

Not everyone’s favourite player at City granted, but there are very few players at VP who can play with the pace of Omar. Peter Taylor has made no bones about it; a fully fit Omar contributing the way we know he can is a cert on the team sheet and rightly so. But whilst many City fans have given him stick in the past, no-one can doubt his loyalty to the clubs cause this time.

In the article Omar states how he has pulled out of international duty to play for the Bantams. This comes from his gratitude at the club sticking by him through last seasons injury nightmare, for not consoling him to the scrap heap, for committing to him like we hope he commits to us. And this refreshing attitude coming from a player we would probably least expect it from based on some of the body language he sometimes portrays.

This says a couple of things about City’s current situation; when your winning everyone wants to play, everyone wants the ball and everyone enjoys training. Is it the winning feeling that has ironed out the early season dross from our memories? Or is Mr Taylor finally getting through to his players as to what he expects and them all getting used to each other.

I haven’t been at any of the last 3 games due to family commitments, but from what I hear we look more attacking. Is this because Taylor has had attack minded players fit enough to play, or is it because he has decided that offence is the best form of defence?

Whichever of the 2 this is, Omar deserves a good reception at the next home game for his commitment to the cause. I for one applaud you sir.

Andorra could beat England – The secret they do not want you to know

England will beat Andorra on Wednesday night, but there is the possibility that the tiny team could sneak a 1-0.

There was a chance – one supposes – that Bon Accord faced up against Arbroath on September 12, 1885 they thought they had a chance of a win. They were beaten, and some, so from that point on it was decided that seeding competitions was probably a good idea. Relying on the assumption that the seedings are calculated reasonably accurately, any match of any two teams in any competition, there exists the real possibility that team A can beat team B and vice versa.

Regular top ten ranked England and Andorra – 182nd – as one of the more one sided games in any competition, but in the weekend that the FA Cup’s qualification started when the first or third rounds are played, we will hear that two teams separated by not more than a couple of dozen places in the pyramid are to play out a foregone conclusion.

It will be – we are told – unthinkable that a team from League One could beat a Premiership team because football is not that competitive.

Likewise when Liverpool faced up to Standard Liege it was “embarrassing” that they only won 1-0 AET.

This was not Bon Accord or Andorra but rather two teams that had qualified as the cream of Europe. Nevertheless there is something afoot that is there to tell us that is a superior group of teams that are to be considered unbeatable.

On Saturday Newcastle United would have gone top of the Premier League should they – and I quote BBC – “Upset Arsenal.” Upset was previously a word used for non-league clubs knocking out sides from the top two divisions.

Two teams in the same league should not – and cannot – “upset” each other. Teams play matches – much as City did and lost on Saturday and Tuesday – and from that a winner can emerge. Unless the competition is woefully unbalanced then either can win without employing the terminology that one would use to describe Bon Accord doing over Arbroath or Andorra beating England.

Nevertheless as one of the (in)famed top four, Arsenal are judged as only to lose games as a shock result and while perhaps a case could be made for this in the Premier League – more of which later – it cannot be the case in leagues in which the top clubs are promoted at the end of each season.

Yet this coverage of football, where results of games amongst the same or similar divisions are seen as preordained by the press and then the public, has taken a grip to such an extent that losing to a team below/a team that has spent less money than you/a team that is less famous than you/a team that has recently been promoted (delete where applicable), is considered to be an upset for them and a disgrace for you.

Take City’s 2-0 defeat to Southend in the first home game of 2005/2006. Southend went on to win the title that season and City only flirted with play-off places, yet on that night it was considered a massive upset and one which Colin Todd was to be held accountable for. In actual fact it was a game – pure and simple – which was contested and won. The resultant blow to City’s morale – on and off the field – shaped the season in a rather ugly way. We believed we had been humiliated and reacted thus, yet in eight months time Southend were promoted and the result put in the context of playing the best, statistically, in the division.

Without the negativity of that August night the Bantams might have mounted a promotion campaign (Go with me on this one, dear reader, for the factors around it matter less than the understanding that it was possible in theory) and should we have played Southend on the last game of the season it could have been a top of the table clash.

Nevertheless, the belief was that City had been beaten by someone poor and thus were poorer. That City had been shocked and thus were shocking. That City were upset.

Back to the Premier League which this week is in uproar over the signing of Kevin Reeves Robinho. The indication being that Manchester City will now create a “top five” by spending flipping great wodges of cash on players who cannot get into the Chelsea and Real Madrid starting line-ups, has been common in the media and on the streets.

“The week that turned the Premier League on its head” one tabloid – adding the Kevin Keegan curio and the fact Alan Curbishley has left West Ham after the best start to a season in a decade to the pot – blazed and one could be mistaken for paying no interest to the Premier League on the understanding that it is, in fact, all decided by who has spent well in August. Read enough red tops, listen to Mark Lawrenson enough, and you would think that the table in May is sorted out now.

However Newcastle, before the fall out, drew at Old Trafford. Chelsea drew at Spurs. Liverpool drew at Aston Villa. All three viewed as shock results. It takes a special kind of mentality to see a shock or two every weekend and still consider it a “shock”. Whatever the agenda is behind the idea that there is an unimpeachable set of clubs who should win every week, the effect lower down the leagues is that a club like Bradford City who have set sights on promotion are expected to do it flawlessly. One is expected not to perform like a Manchester United, but rather like the projection of what Manchester United achieve which – oddly – not even Manchester United can do.

We have a situation of impossibly high targets and unachievable goals. No club can ever be as good as they are expected to be and no manager can ever do as well as is expected of him. Kevin Keegan – probably exiting stage left at St James’ – is the only man the fan’s there will tolerate because they will forgive him perceived failures in competition and the non-domination of football leagues and matches. We know this because our fans feel the same about Stuart McCall.

Fabio Capello’s England side will no doubt beat Andorra but a win in Croatia – a high task – is what is expected and anything less will be considered failure because Capello’s job is to win in every game and that is understandable, if not realistic, but open your mind to the thought that Andorra could win.

Not that they will, but they could.

Open your mind to that thought – look around at the times when the less fancied of two teams wins such as Chester’s 5-0 mauling of Barnet last weekend or Doncaster winning promotion last season – and you will see that football is not the haruspical and predictable procession that some would have you believe it is.

How six plus five will change football

England are – as I type – strolling to a win over Trinidad & Tobago currently having put three past Clayton Ince but missing David Beckham’s passing in the second half of a friendly we are playing to allow us to make better mates with FIFA’s number two Jack Warner.

That yellow card for Steven Gerrard in the first half was probably about that too.

Warner is second to Sep Blatter the Brazilian who wants to implement a six plus five policy that would mean that teams of all nations must have at last half dozen nationals on the field with up to five from overseas. It will never work – we are told – because of European Law let alone the will of the big clubs that tend to have a say in these things.

Blatter is looking into the proposal and it is very doubtful he will get it past the EU although at present England and other leagues have a eight plus three policy where the eight are European Union passport holders and the others can be made up of those without. Donovan Ricketts, Omar Daley and Willy Topp are three. Blatter may end up pushing on that policy that will mean that in Germany and France you must have six Italians and Englishmen (or Germans and Frenchmen) and can fill the team with those world wide.

However Blatter trump card in these circumstances – and his move that would change the game – would be to accept the restrictions of the EU in those countries and not in others meaning that those in Africa, in Argentina, in Australia, in America will be bring their own talent through.

So as the English and Spanish fill leagues with the cream of Europe the league in Argentina is building up their squad. The Japanese J League has many, many Brazilians but is credited as improving the quality of the national team and the K League in South Korea does the same. Should you be of the believe that Blatter’s plan would improve national teams then how many national associations in the EU will worry as improvements in countries like Mexico, in South America, in the USA start to make wins in intercontinental games harder to come by.

The best players from the top European nations are always going to get games and the likes of Italy are secure in the idea what they will get their first eleven playing first team football at a top side but will top 25 ranking sides Sweden, will Poland, will Russia feel the same when a raise in quality means that they are slipping down? What about top 15 sides like Scotland and England?

Of course this all depends on the belief that six+five will improve a national side but if Blatter is right and it does then how long until the Europeans who stand against it begin to become advocates

Recent Posts