More than football

I'm Not Paying That!

Last night Liverpool fans made a very visual and vocal protest about the cost of away tickets at Arsenal. This follows a similar protest by Man City fans a few weeks back. Both sets of fans were surely correct in their argument that £62 is an exorbitant amount to pay for 90 minutes of entertainment - albeit that Arsenal and Liverpool players took it on themselves to perform an impromptu homage to the Keystone Cops. 

I don't know what the Arsenal fans response to the protest was. If they had any sense they would have applauded the Scousers and made plans to hold their own protest at the next home game. But given the response to the Man City protest I doubt if this will be the case. Instead, a few days later we had any number of Gooners taking to Twitter to tell the world that Chelsea had charged them £60 a ticket "AND THEY WEREN'T COMPLAINING"!!! Sorry but not to complain when you've been ripped off just makes you a mug.

Just what exactly are we getting for these prices? A game that is of a lower standard than it was a few years back, played by players who largely don't care because before they even kick a ball they've "earned" more money than you or I will see in a lifetime. Premier League football attempts to position its games in the prestige event category - but this is wrong. They are not asking us to pay £60 for a one off showpiece event. They are asking us to pay £60 to see one episode in a forty part series - so nearer £2400 in total - and heaven help you if you want to take the kids!

In the modern economy fortunes can turn very quickly - especially if you take your "customers" for granted (just ask HMV). Similarly the Premier League is taking the fans for granted and when challenged about prices point to full stadiums. But the fans who are the games lifeblood are telling you they are being stretched to the limit and you had better listen. Once they find something else to do on a Saturday you'll have lost them forever. What price then for your "Premier League product"?!


Paul Dovey






Homesick? Or bad form sir?

By Gregg Halsey


What do Carlos Tevez, Ian Rush, Jimmy Greaves, Nick Barmby, Jose Reyes, Didier Drogba and many others have in common?


For one reason or another each of the mentioned have suffered or have claimed to have suffered from ‘homesickness’.


This subject came to my attention during the last pre-season to early season when one of my favourite current squad members at QPR had allegedly gone to France on leave of absence due to suffering from feeling home sick.


So then I decided to take a deeper look, as he is not  the first player I have heard of to have ‘suffered’ with this and would you believe there are some big names involved!


As you can see by the names above one of the first was English football legend Jimmy Greaves, who in the 1961 season asked to come home from playing for AC Milan, why? Couldn’t score? With 9 goals in 14 games? No, he genuinely couldn’t adjust to the living conditions and his surroundings so later that year return to London to play for Tottenham.



Ian Rush had the same problem when he joined Juventus in 1987, top goal scorer that season with 13 in league and cup. He just missed his chums back on Merseyside!


What about the other side of the coin then…?


Didier Drogba didn’t want to stay at Chelsea as he didn’t quite hit the ground running and his early struggles in front of goal lead to him pondering a move back to Marseille where he missed his friends and France in general. This was all quickly forgotten about once he started hitting the back of the net and of course he went on to make 226 appearances getting 100 goals in the process and is their 4th all time top goal scorer (top foreign goal scorer) over 8 years as well as picking up a ‘few’ medals!


Another quite high profile player was Jose Reyes, who joined Arsenal back in 2004.This young striker claimed felt home sick yet his family actually lived in London with him! He was caught out when he was pranked by a radio show where he admitted “I wish I was playing for Real Madrid. Hopefully it could happen. I love the way Madrid play. I'm not happy with the way things are.” Ooops!


And then of course we have probably the more profiled case of feeling home sick…. You guessed it; the one and only Carlos Tevez a man who is so desperate to return to Argentina yet moved from Old Trafford to the Etihad! I’m not sure on the whereabouts of the two stadiums personally, so is the Etihad that bit closer to home for you Carlos?


It appeared not, as only last term  he spend half of his season back home after a bust up  involving himself and manager Roberto Mancini and he is not the only one to have claimed such illness under said manager… Oh yes you have guessed Mario Balotelli has also once or twice informed poor old Roberto that he ‘doesn’t like Manchester!’ I’ve never been there myself so can not comment but I have seen that Royal Family programme on  TV once or twice and it doesn’t look all that…


A young man I wrote a recent article about at; Adel Taarabt also wanted to go back to France to be with his girlfriend and family when he couldn’t seem to make the grade in the Premier League…



So it seems in the football world some players were genuine; sadly the others just don’t like it when they don’t get their own way and ‘want to take their ball and go home to mummy’ so to speak.


Hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings as much as I enjoy rambling with them.
















The fine art of mediocre defending

By Gregg Halsey


Now before anyone jumps to conclusions about what I’m about to waffle on with, I’ll jump straight to the point and let you all know this isn’t going to be me taking a dig at any mediocre defenders; in fact quite the opposite…


I love watching a mediocre defender play as I think they are a magnificent and rare breed especially to pull it off and get all the way to the top of the game.


So what defines a mediocre defender? The ability to defend, tackle, score, head, man mark… and do all of these things with very little natural talent…


Many players you’ll find in the lower leagues of the football tier are just as good as the ones at the top end but lack a certain spark the big clubs are looking for and work their way up to the top flights within the game, some however from a young age get poached or train with the big clubs from day one!


I mean what makes a world class defender? What does Rio do that Anton doesn’t? Not a lot. Rio managed to get in to a Leeds United team that had a lot of young talent and a good manager that made him stand out as a great defender, but why?


You find the best teams in the world have two defenders, both no nonsense mediocre defenders but one becomes world class because of his pace… and this has been going on for years!


Manchester United – Ferdinand and Vidic or Pallister and Bruce

Arsenal – Mertersacker and Vermaelen or Bould/Keown and Adams

England – Charlton and Moore!

Barcelona – Puyol and Pique or Nadal and Koeman

AC Milan – Maldini and Nesta or Maldini and Costacurta


Like whom I hear you ask, well let’s go ahead and point out some of the all time greats –




  • Gary Breen – once linked with a move to Italian giants Inter Milan and Spanish giants Barcelona after die hard performances for Republic of Ireland at the 2002 World Cup, but turned it down in favour of staying in England and moving from Coventry to West Ham Utd on a free transfer. Strong tackler and great headerer of the ball.


  • Clint Hill – can play at centre back or left back, a no nonsense tackler who will do what it takes to get the ball, including take card or two for the team, voted player of the year by QPR fans when they survived in the Premier League for another season in 2011/2012 . Has a Championship winners medal with QPR and a League Cup runners up medal with Tranmere Rovers!



  • Michael Duberry – this is a true legend of mediocre defending, if you watch this man play football it’s like watching a small child with a ball. He looks clumsy and a sure thing to mess it all up, yet to his name has a League Cup winners medal, Cup Winners Cup, and a Super Cup medal with Chelsea and also a Champions League runners up medal with Leeds Utd!


  • Jonny Evans – a young man in the new generation of mediocre defenders, seems to make a lot of mistakes but when he is good he is GOOD! And at 25 already has to his name  2 premier league winners medals, 2 league cups winners medals, 2 community shield winners medals and a Fifa world club cup winners medal all with Manchester United!





  • Joleon Lescott – This is a guy who is slow, in pace (and I imagine in wit) yet is always a wanted man in football. Always gets a goal when needed, always in the right place to get that ball away from his goal mouth when required, has only played for 3 different clubs so far with Wolves – Everton (£5mil) – Manchester City (£24 mil) yet such a staggering amount of money has been forked out for a player of very minimal talent for a top flight footballer! He also has a FA Cup winner’s medal, Premiership winner’s medal with Manchester City and a play off winner’s medal with Wolves and 23 England Caps!


Look around the teams you enjoy watching and pin point your ‘Class’ and your ‘Mediocre’ and then decide which one is your favourite? I always prefer the good old fashioned mediocre myself, what about you?


















                                             Retirement is best for Rio

    It looks like it’s the end of the international career of Rio Ferdinand. The thirty three year old has again been overlooked by England boss Roy Hodgson. So is it time he called an end to his own international career rather than hope he may get recalled?

    There is no denying he is one of the best defenders of his generation but like all of us I think time is finally catching up with Rio.

    Tottenham’s Gareth Bale made the Manchester United centre back look very slow at the game at Old Trafford recently.

     He played over eighty games at senior level scoring three goals. He has served his country well so I now think it’s time he took a back seat and let the younger ones have a go.

Thank you Rio.


                                    Life of a football Manager

The average reign of a football Manager is just over two years; not exactly a job for life! Of course football fans are very fickle and if they aren’t happy with the way their team is playing they soon let it be known. Of course we all think we can do a better job, but could we really?

Sir Alex Ferguson was only two or three games from getting the sack in his first season in charge back in 1986; an F.A. Cup win secured his job and the rest is history. The legend that is Ferguson is rare in football; the trophy cabinet is full, so would you fix it if it’s not broken?

While Sir Alex is flame proof, it appears so is Arsene Wenger; but Wenger has nothing to show as far as a trophy is concerned for the last seven years!

The board of Directors and the Chairman must back the Manager or it just wouldn’t work; it appears Mr Wenger must still be pleasing the board then.

How long should a football Manager have then? Well that answer has to depend on the squad he has inherited. Only very rarely will they take over a team at the top of its league so of course rebuilding will need to be done. Surely how long it takes depends on how bad the team is? Maybe all the first eleven need to be sold and start again. Personally I think they need a good three years.

So what makes a good football Manager? A Manager is only as good as the coaching team around him. He will obviously have a plan on a way to play; he just needs his players to understand it. I think a major part is luck; a deflection can make or break a season. A bad call from a referee, a foul missed, or an offside that wasn’t called are all part of a Manager’s luck. Players form and injuries are also part of the luck factor. Even the great Bobby Robson said he had his fair share of good luck.

A football Manager must have the respect of all his players or there is a big problem; no player is bigger than the Manager but no Manager is bigger than the club.

It’s not necessary that a good player will make a good Manager. Roy Hodgson never played a game as a professional footballer in his life and yet he’s Manager of England and he’s worked all over the world. It stands to reason that an ex player will make a better Manager than someone who hasn’t played the game.

A player I didn’t think would go into Management is Paolo di Canio. To say he was a hot headed player is an understatement, so having him as a Manager just didn’t seem as if it would happen. But the Italian has taken well to the job and he’s doing well at Swindon. I suppose his passion for the game can never be denied; he must instil this into his players but I bet there’s a few cups of tea been thrown around at both half and full time!

A lot of today’s players won’t need to work again after their playing careers are over; they’ve earned enough to live comfortably on so why take a stressful job on? Because they still want to win and hear their name being called.

With all the live games on the TV and on Sky some take the easy option and become a football pundit; to be honest with half the rubbish they say I’m glad they haven’t become Managers! My point in case is Steve Claridge; a failed football Manager and even worse football pundit! My dog would give a better opinion than him!

In my humble opinion I don’t think a player/Manager really works. Both jobs combined just can’t be done. How can you manage a team and concentrate on your own game? How can you know who to take off if you’re playing up front and the game is very even? The only way it can be done is by trusting the assistant to make the right decisions in which case he’s doing the Managers job! Again it’s just my opinion but they are two separate jobs.

There are some strange decisions made in football as far as Managers are concerned; Leroy Rosenior was Manager of Torquay United for all of ten minutes! The one I fail to understand though is Lee Clark at Huddersfield, surely there must be more to that than just football; fourth in the league and on the back of a forty four game unbeaten run and he was sacked! Unbelievable! At least Birmingham have seen what a good job he's done.

There is little doubt that no matter what level you manage at you have to be able deal with pressure and stress. If the centre back or the centre forward is having a shocking game it’s the Manager’s fault! We all know that’s not true but we blame him anyway! The Manager picks the team on seeing his players train; he chooses the formation and tactics. That is all he can do except bark out orders and make changes as and when they are needed. A Manager can’t tackle or shoot or pass but we as fans tend to blame him anyway!

Getting back to a couple of points I made at the beginning of this article; Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. Between them they’ve managed some of the best teams ever! Sir Alex lead a treble winning side that a lot of people say was the best team of all time; Arsene hasn’t had bad sides either. He bought Nicolas Anelka for half a million pounds and sold for twenty three million, not bad business by any means! Both Managers never let star players get away with anything. I remember David Beckham thinking he was a big time player and I believe he thought he could get the better of Sir Alex; Beckham was sold which was best for all concerned.

We all think we’d make a good football Manager and we all think we’d do a better job; but if it was offered to you would you really take it? The expectation of twenty to thirty thousand fans, sometimes more and sometimes less, baying for your blood if it goes wrong! On the other hand if you get it right they sing your name and shake your hand.

I’ll stick to writing my opinions and being a fan; even though I think I can do a better job most of the time!





Football, as in life can get you down sometimes. Friends and family will rally around you for support but sometimes it feels as if the whole world is against you; it’s the same on a football pitch when things go wrong. The important thing is to stay positive or at least try.

Staying positive is a vital part of a game; you’re hardly going to go out to play a game thinking, ‘We’re going to lose this!’ now are you?

The state of your mind is just as important as your form; they go together like strawberries and cream.

We all know that injuries are part and parcel of the game and keeping positive while watching your teammates play can’t be easy but you have to do it. Always remember you won’t be injured forever!

A perfect example of positive thinking and never losing faith in your own ability is Kieron Dyer; so often called ‘sick note’ and yet he’s playing in the best league in the world. Most players would have given up but his mental strength is there for all to see.

He was touted as one of the best players of his generation; even Alan Shearer said he was one of the best players he ever played with. But sadly he’ll be remembered as ‘that Ipswich player that’s always injured’.

Ipswich Town is where he started his career in 1996; he played ninety games for his hometown club before signing for Newcastle United. It was in the North East that his injuries started to happen. In eight years he made 190 appearances scoring twenty three goals. He was a regular in the England set up while he played for the Magpies.

In 2007 he moved on to West Ham and that’s when his career really did start to derail as far as injuries were concerned. Just ten days after signing for the East London club he went in for a tackle that would cost him what many thought would be his career. He’d broken his leg and it didn’t heal the right way so it meant yet more time out.

As well as recovering from his broken leg he also had problems with his hamstrings and in four years he played just thirty games for the Hammers. With the money they paid for him it worked out to be just less than half a million pounds a game!

But Dyer was determined to prove his doubters wrong and at the beginning of March 2011 he rejoined his hometown club Ipswich for four games and yet West Ham refused to let him sign for them despite the fact he only had a few months left on his contract.

QPR boss Neil Warnock offered him a year’s contract after the West London club gained promotion to the Premier League. Some fans thought the Yorkshireman had lost his marbles but he was a free transfer so it wasn’t too bad.

Three minutes into his debut against Bolton on the first game of the season he was stretchered off with a broken bone in his foot. During his battle to get fit he was injured again, this time in a reserve match where he sustained ligament damage. He was out for the season.

In all this Kieron Dyer stayed positive; most would have given up and taken a new career path but not the man from Norfolk; he wanted another go at it!

The Manager had changed while Dyer was injured and to everyone’s surprise Mark Hughes offered the veteran another year’s contract.

On Sunday the 23rd September 2012 Dyer came on early in the fourth minute as substitute for Bosingwa who pulled a hamstring.

At the age of thirty three Kieron Dyer still has what it takes to play at the top level of English football. The saying is, ‘You can’t keep a good man down,’ and I’m so pleased he persisted and is still playing football.

He is reaping the rewards as the club keep a special eye on him but so far so good and I say the very best of luck to him.

So the next time you want to moan and be negative just think of Kieron Dyer and think positive!




                    Not all football is big money and glamour


We read in the press all the time of how much money football players earn and some make more in a week that many of us would take five years to make. That’s at the top end of the market; parties and premières are just an added bonus.

But what about the footballers that have to relocate to another city or even another country just to earn a living; to some it’s all they know.

I often hear of players that when in the youth teams of their respective clubs are the next ‘best thing’, but for reasons beyond their control they just don’t make it.

The first port of call is of course other clubs but they may not offer the same money or the player himself won’t play at that level. It’s not only about money but pride and bettering yourself.

I remember Les Ferdinand was asked about his time on loan in Turkey when he was with QPR, he described it as a culture shock and yet it was the making of him!

Football is in the blood of these players and what is nice to see is some players taking a risk and journeying to the other side of the world to play the sacred game.

They are not earning a huge wage compared to the big boys in the Premiership but they are following their dream and surely that’s what it’s all about.

I would say there’s a very good chance that they get homesick and miss their family and friends. Then there’s the added language barrier, they might be the only one in the team that speaks English!

They still hope for a scout to see them have a good game or two and invite them to a ‘big’ club. It’s a sacrifice I don’t think I could make; that’s why I’ll stick to writing and watching the beautiful game but I’ll give credit where it’s deserved.

Now some people may say that those players are getting to see the world and it’s a valid point. The worst thing that could happen would be getting injured! It goes with the job but in a far away land it must be even worse.

The thing that keeps them going is the ‘dream’, and playing football for a living is surely one of them.

A great example is Zesh Rehman, the English born defender and Pakistani national captain. He started his football career with Fulham and played for six clubs in England either as a loanee or permanent. He is quite unique in that he has played in all four divisions of English football.

At the end of 2010 he signed a two year deal with Muangthong United in Thailand. It must have been quite different than playing for Bradford City, the club he was at before. He played thirty times for the Thailand club before moving on.

Hong Kong was his next port of call and a team called Kitchee with whom he won the domestic treble in his first season; a feat no other Hong Kong side has ever done!

He is lucky enough that football has given him a career and he’s followed his dream; but it’s not all about the money. Stuart McCall, the then Bradford Manager said of him, “Zesh is certainly not signing for Bradford for money—he wants to be a success here, and it will be great to have him on board."

Zesh is also giving back to football and has his own foundation of which this website is proud to be associated with.

Now if I asked you about a player called Chris Cleaver would you have heard of him? He’s a midfielder who plies his trade in Finland. He’s been there since 2000 after playing for a number of lower leagues clubs.

Another player you might not have heard of is Daniel Hammond, who in 2007 moved to Singapore with his girlfriend and the defender has since played for a host of clubs there.

I admire these players for following their dream of playing football; and the sacrifices they have made to do it