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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Enter Psycho

Is there any England fan who doesn't like a bit of Psycho in the psetup? Pearce is set to be Capello's enforcer, and there's probably no one better for the job. Here's a man whom the players should actually fear, and he'd probably kill his grandmother if it would bring the World Cup trophy back to London.

So, loyal readers, as we come close to the Switzerland match which will desultorily stand in for Euro 2008, TDH sees fit to bring up the old debate: who should play?

Well, here are some TDH comments on the pool:

Paul Robinson - probably deserves another chance
Chris Kirkland - definitely a possibility
David James - only if no one else can be trusted
Scott Carson - afraid he's been stained forever
Steve Harper - TDH would give him a shot (to stop!)

John Terry - indisputable
Ledley King - versatile, always plays well for England
Micah Richards - exciting range as a winger
Wayne Bridge - hard worker, gets the job done
Rio Ferdinand - may be too self-involved
Jol Lescott - intriguing, will Capello play a libero?
Wes Brown - pretty solid this year, but emotionless
Ashley Cole - should be reduced to a bench role
Michael Dawson - too error-prone, though very game
Glen Johnson - who?

Owen Hargreaves - indisputable, TDH is a convert
Aaron Lennon - has to be in the team, tireless
Shaun Wright-Phillips - on a hot streak, a must
David Bentley - caught TDH's attention, worth a try
James Milner - must get a run-out on the left
Joe Cole - finding his form, cares about England
Scott Parker - a backup for Hargreaves?
Gareth Barry - excellent work rate, less raw talent
Michael Carrick - doing well this season
Steven Gerrard - puzzlingly bad form for England
Nigel Reo-Coker - prone to cards, if talented
Stewart Downing - promises more than he delivers
Frank Lampard - on the downslope, for TDH at least
Joey Barton - er, likely to be behind bars...

Wayne Rooney - indisputable
Michael Owen - TDH wishes he looked better
Gabriel Agbonlahor - deserves a serious look
Theo Walcott - really a winger, isn't he?
Andrew Johnson - still some potential there
Peter Crouch - he does give you another "look"
Dave Kitson - well, he is scoring in a bad team
Jermaine Defoe - rarely finishes for England
Darren Bent - ditto
Darius Vassell - you're having a laugh!

TDH XI: Harper, Lescott, Terry, King, Richards, Milner, Hargreaves, Gerrard, Wright-Phillips, Rooney, Agbonlahor.
Substitutes: Kirkland, Brown, Ferdinand, Bridge, Parker, Carrick, Bentley, Lennon, Cole, Owen, Walcott, Crouch

Okay, TDH is sure to have missed someone here, so let's hear it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The rumor mill churns...

No one's talking seriously about deposing King Keegle yet... er, right? TDH has been hearing some rumors (and even some rumours) that the bosses are already lining up a replacement for next season - perhaps Jose Antonio Camacho, the really-not-ever-very-successful Spaniard who somehow keeps getting jobs.

Oh please. As though a new coach is all we need. If we're lucky, we're on a long road to recovery from a deep depression. New owners, check. New managers, check. New players, sort of check. New physios, we can only hope. And wait.

TDH didn't see all of the Arsenal match, and it didn't look bad for a while there. But the wheels inevitably came off. Alan Shith returned to the pitch. Lousy draw aside, the Toon has no excuses for this exit from the last competition in which we had any sort of interest. Progress will be slow.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sexy football is back at SJP!

History has truly come full circle for TDH. Yes, loyal readers, as you have no doubt read on the margin of this page, it was back in the Keggie Keegle era that TDH first became devoted to the joys and frustrations of Toonness. And here we are again, albeit without Uncle Alan in tow. But maybe Ashley and Mr Smithers (thanks for that, Palms!) will convince him yet....

Okay, so TDH was hoping for a dream appointment like Hiddink, Hitzfeld or someone else whose name began with Hi. And this signing definitely puts paid to the idea that Ashley wanted "his man" - Keegle belongs to no one. But he's also a heck of a lot better than some of the other options out there, and the soft-spoken striker may still have the SJP magic. TDH has hope, at least until the end of this season. After that, all bets are still definitively off.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Big Ham, we hardly knew ye

Well, TDH isn't celebrating quite as much as when Souey got the axe, but the sudden departure of Big Ham does offer some cause for optimism. Why?

1. TDH never shared Big Ham's vision (see comment below re: Boltonizing of our squad). Insofar as Alan Smith was part of that vision, TDH shared it even less. Whoever's next, take away that captain's armband.

2. We always seem to get a new manager boost. Why? Are we fundamentally undisciplined, and we need to get used to a gaffer in order to disobey? Do the players only strive to impress the man during the first couple of months, until starters and scrubs are set?

3. We now have some chance of landing a better manager for the long term, though TDH can't see anyone respectable touching the job with the proverbial stick of roughly three meters. TDH dreams of scenarios like this one: we install a caretaker and scoop up Hiddink, who's always up for a high-paid challenge, after the Euros. What do you think?

4. It seems Ashley and company are serious about results. Never a bad sign, and a good incentive for the next manager.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Not good enough. Period.

That's it, fellow members of the Toon Army. Our squad simply isn't good enough. You only needed to watch a few minutes of the match at Stoke City to see it. Every time we needed a short pass, a flicked header, a solid clearance, a through ball... it simply wasn't there. It was a match full of nothing more than misfires. Pathetic.

The only bright spot for TDH was St. Seamus, the Irish Cat himself, who saved us once again from almost certain ignominy. Without this master of the nets, in what division would we currently be playing? The Championship, if that?

The thing is, we have a bunch of name players, but almost all of them seem to be woefully over the hill. Is it the arc of their careers, is it their fitness, is it the coaching? No matter. If a side with Duff, Owen and Viduka in front can't score, we've got serious problems.

It's not just the damnable reappearance of the useless Alan Smith in midfield. It's something deeper. That TDH could not see a single decent thing among the outfield players, with the possible exception of that one Lualua run (ah, that name...), sends buzzers screaming and red lights flashing throughout the TDH establishment.

Are we even a cup team, at this point? We are so fundamentally disorganized, so irredeemably lacking in fundamental skills, that TDH wonders whether we won't end up down in the depths before too long. All the hopes raised by new management, a new coach and those new players have been dashed as far as TDH is concerned. Apologies, loyal readers, but TDH has hit rock-bottom.


Meanwhile, TDH covets the signing of one Humberto Suazo, lauded previously here during his days at Colo Colo, by Independiente to give the clausura season a boost. But El Rojo will need someone to sit behind El Rolfi, bossing the midfield, in order to succeed. Hopes have not been raised just yet, but TDH might even brave a trip to El Cilindro in order to see Suazo live and in person.


In other news, TDH must ask whether Dimitar Berbatov is really worth the crazy sums Spurs are apparently demanding. The man is capable of magic - of that there is no doubt - but only when he decides to get his rear end in gear. Would that happen with any greater frequency at a bigger club? At first, perhaps, but TDH bets that he'd join Sulkers FC before long, no matter where he played.


The semi-annual exodus of Argentine players has already begun, with the signing of Ever Banega by Valencia, for yet another ridiculous amount of money, as Exhibit A. These days, Argentines have to be content with the odd returning star - viz. Veron, Riquelme, Piojo Lopez, Sava - because all the up-and-comers are either in Europe, if they're lucky, or in Mexico.


And speaking of those guys, have a look at the bind in which Mascherano now finds himself. He's owned by a team for which he doesn't play; thus, they can sell him freely without worrying about how it will affect their performance. Really, it's more of a bind for Liverpool than it is for Masche. He'll end up at a good team no matter what (though he could be cup-tied in UEFA, which would make any move bittersweet). Rafa, on the other hand, would have to do without the services of his quiet rock at the number 5 position. Well, perhaps it doesn't matter. Rafa's just waiting to replace Spain's answer to Ron Atkinson anyway, right?