6 questions for a Barnsley fan

By now you should know the drill: I ask the fan of our opposition 6 intensely searching questions so you know what to expect for the game ahead. Barnsley fan Liam Dyson was generous enough to answer my questions. Follow him on twitter @weststandbogs

1)After joining us in the survival party on the final day of last season, what are your hopes for the year ahead?

If you’d have asked me this at 2.50pm on August 3rd I’d have said mid table, a continuation of the amazing work Flitcroft did in the second half of last season and more of the same graft, hard work and good football we saw from a small squad.

However, after conceding 10 goals in our last 2 games I’m just hoping we manage to keep a clean sheet and manage to get a free kick in the opponents half before Christmas.

2)Do you have the right manager?
I think so. You don’t get the results and performances Flitcroft did without having something about you. However, it’s his first job, he’s going to make mistakes and is at the minute. I’ve still no doubt we’ll come good. I hope.

3)Who is your best player/one to watch?
Jacob Mellis. One of the only players in our squad that has any sort of quality. When he plays well, we do. There’s also Tomasz Cwyka or ‘Polish Tom’ that scores a few goals off the bench and always looks tricky despitr never starting games. After that we’ve got plenty of grafters but David Perkins stands out above the majority. And not because he’s an albino.

4)Which player is stealing a living?
I wouldn’t like to say…but I don’t particularly rate Tom Kennedy, our left back/centre half/quarterback as he’s known to our gaffer.

5)Any Huddersfield players who cause you concern?
Adam Hammill. Quality player on his day and I’ve no doubt we’ll give him the freedom of Oakwell to produce some of the stuff he did quite regularly for us.

Do you have a prediction?
6. 1-0 Barnsley. Or 6-1 Huddersfield

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6 questions for a Bournemouth fan

Thanks to @AFCBTony for these answers
1)After promotion last season, what are your expectations for the season ahead?

Massively looking forward to the season, we haven’t been in the second tier since 1990, so it’s a big deal for us. Given the size and quality of our squad, I think most fans would expect us to stay up. Think we’ll be fine at home, but will find it much harder on our travels (already lost 6-1 at a very good Watford side). Maybe 14th or 15th would be a decent effort. That said if we are doing OK at Christmas and our owner dips his hand in his pocket, maybe 10th…

2)Do you have the right manager?

Without a doubt. I doubt there is another club in the 92 with a more popular manager than Sir Eddie Howe…kept us in the Football League and has got us promoted twice. A legend as a player and a legend as gaffer.

3)Who’s your best player/one to watch?

Our left-back Charlie Daniels is pound for pound our best player for me. Solid defensively and loves to bomb forward. I really rate him and if he has another good season at Championship level, he could get picked up by a bigger club

4) Which player is stealing a living?

Wes Thomas…didn’t want to know last season, went out on loan to all and sundry…yet no one’s come in for him and it looks as if Eddie’s giving him a chance. He can’t hit a cow’s backside with the proverbial banjo…

5)Which Huddersfield player causes you concern?

Looks like Town have bought well, James Vaughan is an obvious threat and I know a lot of Watford fans rated Hogg

6) What’s your prediction?

We’ve had some decent games with Town over the years, there’s usually goals, I’m saying 2-2

Top 10 Premier League potential product placements

With news that Maria Sharapova is launching a range of sweets called Sugarpova, minds start to wander and wonder if our poor, underpaid superstars of the Premier League are really maximising their brand (a phrase which, if it isn’t in the Viz Profanisaurus, really ought to be soon). What could our heroes put their names to? Here’s our top ten:

10. Gareth Hay-Balers

9. David Sterling-Silva cutlery

8. Skrteling boards

7. Leroy Fur coats

6. Jonjo Shelving units

5. Charles N’Zog-beer

4. Guy Dremel multi-tool

3. Berba-toffee

2. Gary Medel-of-Honour

1. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttner

10 things I’m most not looking forward to about the new Premier League season

It’s Premier League time again. The nine-month cavalcade of what is bound to be the best season ever cranks into gear and it’s arrival is greeted by a proliferation of articles about the ten things various journalists are looking forward to about the new season.
At the risk of sounding like a contrarian, here are the top ten things I already hate about the new season.

10. Debates about technology in the game to make crucial decisions that won’t be used above twice all season and the debate about the debate and the inevitable backlash when Hawkeye proves inconclusive.

9. The lack of coverage of anything/everything else in the sporting pantheon.

8. The BT-Sky ‘war’.

7. What Luis Suarez does next and associated discussion from people who know no more than the girl on a certain Manchester megastore checkout desk. [Note to subs – does Manchester still have certain megastores?]

6. Pre-match press conferences.

5. Post-match press conferences.

4. Match of the Day.

3. Gareth Bale’s goal celebration.

2. Bleating about squad numbers as if the Arabic symbol on a player’s back has ever meant anything of great significance.

1. The sheer banality of it all.

Oh and Ian Holloway

6 questions for a Millwall fan

As I’m steering clear of twitter, due to a transfer speculation overdose, I had to quietly find a Millwall fan to answer my 6 fan questions. Fortunately Charlie Mahoney @THRIIIIKER did me a huge favour & answered them brilliantly

After a poor start, what are your expectations for the season ahead?

1. I’ve not had any massively fixed expectations for the season because between the new managerial appointment and number of additions we’ve made to the squad, I see us as a real unknown quantity. Failure to improve on the previous one would of course be hugely disappointing, though.

Do you have the right manager?
2. Very difficult to say. He lacks experience and the West Ham affiliation will, though not hugely relevant to me personally, only fuel the discontent if things don’t improve. It’s vital that he turns this around quickly, or he’ll face immense pressure from the supporters.

Who is your best player/one to watch
3. We don’t have a wealth of young, up and coming talent, but I see Scott McDonald as a very strong calibre of player for us to have signed. Steve Morison can also be very strong at this level, and I think Nicky Bailey will become a fans’ favourite if he can avoid injury.

Which player is stealing a living?

4. I struggle to see what Josh Wright is bringing to the team these days.

Which Huddersfield player causes you concern?

5. James Vaughn is a very solid acquisition and could potentially be prolific at this level barring a reoccurrence of his injury problems.

What’s your prediction?

6. I’m going to go with a frustrating 1-1 draw

The 90 second Premier League preview. Sponsored by corporate greed & hosted by Jamie Redknapp

The last of our 90-second previews is the best 90-second preview in the world. Fitting.

Arsenal
Obscenely rich, make noises about spending money, but don’t. Could struggle.

Aston Villa
Obscenely rich, but trying to make savings on the wage bill. Could struggle.

Cardiff
Obscenely rich, which makes one able to ride roughshod over a club’s traditions no matter what everyone thinks. Could struggle.

Chelsea
Obscenely rich and don’t care who knows it. They surely can’t sack this manager. Could struggle.

Crystal Palace
Obscenely rich following promotion. Bewilderingly tolerated idiot in charge. Squad needs an overhaul for them to compete which doesn’t look like happening. Could struggle.

Everton
Obscenely rich, though like to plead poverty. Somehow managed to get Spain’s brightest young star to blend with silky Belgian up front. Hired relegated players and relegated manager – that always works out. Could struggle.

Fulham
Obscenely rich. Inoffensive club with squad boosted by Berbarotica. Managed to get another Dutch international keeper on the cheap. How do they do that? Could struggle.

Hull
Obscenely rich. Under the impression that hiring retired goalkeepers and goal-shy strikers is a recipe for success. Could struggle.

Liverpool
Obscenely rich. Short of defenders and missing star striker for several more weeks after unfortunate bitey incident. Could struggle.

Manchester City
Obscenely rich and spending it. Added more width and a manager who knows what he’s doing. Expectation sky-high. Could struggle.

Manchester United
Obscenely rich. New era begins. Bébé is still on their books, y’know. Reigning champions and favourites for a repeat. Could struggle.

Newcastle
Obscenely rich. Good recent history of buying cheap and selling on. Not a bad plan, but stodgy manager incapable of improving players undermines it. Boardroom comedy outshines all else. Could struggle.

Norwich
Obscenely rich. Recruited well after a difficult second season back in the top flight. Survival still the name of the game. Could struggle.

Southampton
Obscenely rich and not afraid to splash a bit about to improve, especially defensively which was an issue. Now need to find some goals. Could struggle.

Stoke
Obscenely rich and undoing the long-established but out-moded methods of doing what they did. It might take more than a tiki-taka defender and a Dutch left-back to complete the transformation. Could struggle.

Sunderland
Obscenely rich managerial ego trip. Some decent signings – Jozy Altidore is a better player than last time he was in England – but still too reliant on too few players. Could struggle.

Swansea
Obscenely rich and spaffed a lot of that on a striker, which they needed. Raided Spain to great success last year and have gone back for more. If anything, look better now than 12 months ago. Could struggle.

Tottenham
Obscenely rich, but still seemingly unable to sign a striker (oh they got one). Chucked another Belgian at it, as is the modern way. Could struggle.

West Brom
Obscenely rich overachievers. Now established in the Premier League, but will do well to match last season. Anelka comes in, Odemwingie still not escaped. Could struggle.

West Ham
Obscenely rich and survived their first season back with little alarm. Added leadership and experience in the form of Razvan Rat, but largely remain the same, moulded in their manager’s idiom. Could struggle.

Manchester United have bigger problems than their midfield.

Once again we’ve been fortunate enough to get the great Alex Timperley to write for 90second football. Read his thoughts here then follow on twitter @weneedyoualex

Manchester United have been on the receiving end of an uncharacteristic level of criticism over the pre-season, all of it deserved. David Moyes acting like a star struck, incontinent teenager; Rooney acting like the massive bald baby that he is; the ludicrous “#UnitedContinues” hashtag. Over and above all that, popular wisdom says that the one area where they have truly failed this summer: Midfield.
This is incorrect.

Their midfield undoubtedly has a large hole in it. This is where a joke about Anderson being able to plug a large hole would normally suffice, but it feels cheap. When Michael Carrick is the most dynamic midfielder, it is a problem. When the young hope is the soon to be 24 years old Tom Cleverly, it is a problem. When Ryan Giggs is still a vital cog of your midfield at his age, it is a problem.

But it is not the biggest problem.
Take a long look at the defence. Braptain Rio and Nemanja Vidic are still top quality, despite their age and both apparently being made of glass. Who is there beyond this? If Both Ferdinand and Vidic were to suddenly retire, for instance because of injury or old age, then who is there to step in and be the bedrock of a Premier League or Champion’s League winning side. Jonny Evans would be the Senior Pro.
I’ll give you a second to read that again and let it sink in.

Jonny Evans would be the senior central defender for Manchester United. Behind him currently are Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Both are talented players in an obvious way, but as first choice over a 60 game campaign?
Smalling has an eye for a pass and a top drawer first touch but is one of the more injury prone footballers that have played in the Premier League era. We still don’t know what Jones’ best position is. He has all the hallmarks of being excellent, and is a tough little bastard to boot, but he keeps getting shifted around, not getting a run in any one position.

Man United have no convincing defender who bridges the age gap between the successful Rio/Vidic axis and the youngsters. Evans is not a convincing footballer and has little experience leading the line and shouldering the hopes of the Old Trafford faithful alone. It is no fault of his own, but through his time at United he has always been supported by World Class defenders. That is a good situation to learn technique and defensive skill, but being surrounded by players like that your whole life does not teach leadership.

This is a problem that will be rearing its head in the next few seasons. The joy that my United supporting friends felt that Vidic completed a whole 90 minutes speaks volumes.

Theo Walcott is my dog

Alastair Moncrieff from @allornothingmag writes on how his dog reminds him of a football star, enjoy then absolutely follow on twitter.

My childhood pet was a spaniel named ‘Cal’. Now Cal was an amiable beast who was in fact well-liked by all who met him (except a woman named Janet who quite understandably never quite warmed to him after that time he pissed on her).

Being a Spaniel, if he wasn’t sleeping or eating, Cal was running. Just running, no purpose, no destination, just running for the sake of running. He took particular delight in running very quickly in whatever direction his nose happened to be facing, ears pinned back, tongue hanging out and with no awareness of his surrounding environment. Cal was a small, havoc reeking ball of idiotic joy. Even on the occasions his boundless energy ruined a family picnic (not ours, we’re not really a picnic kind of family) or destroyed garden furniture (again not ours, we’re not really a garden furniture type of family) no-one could stay mad at him for too long, he was just too adorable, and anyway he didn’t know that what he was doing was ‘bad’.

One day my younger brother Euan and I were playing football in the garden at the same time as Cal returned from a walk with our dad. Cal loved football. At the moment of his entrance to our previously orderly game the ball was hanging in the air, it was as football parlance dictates ‘anyone’s ball’, Cal made it his, with a prodigious leap he somehow managed to bring the tatty Mitre under his control and then in a flash of unintentional brilliance proceeded to nutmeg me (both with the ball and himself) and arrogantly dribble the ball into the corner of the net. The crowd went wild (well, my Dad laughed).

Now unfortunately Cal slid of this mortal coil a few years back, I do not mourn him however, for you see, his spirit lives on in Arsenal and England winner Theo Walcott.

I see in Theo all the qualities I saw in Cal, the energy, the speed, the occasional moments of genius and the less occasional moments of head shaking idiocy. A slaloming run that culminates in an exquisitely clipped finish is swiftly followed by a slaloming run that culminate in a ruined barbeque and a burning lawn.

So consider this a plea to all football fans, do not be too harsh on Theo, for like Cal, he knows not what he does, he just likes to run.

If you’d like to talk about dogs or footballers you can find me on twitter right here https://twitter.com/AllorNothingMag

GET YOUR KITS OUT FOR THE BOYS

With the new Premier League season looming over the horizon like one of those massive alien spaceships in Independence Day, fans of the greatest 20 teams in the universe will have that wonderful glowing ‘anything can happen’ hopeful feeling. In two weeks’ time most of those supporters will be full of despair and self-loathing. But for now everything’s rosy.

Many of those younger fans – and some more misguided older ones – will be spending an incredible amount of money on their team’s latest replica kits, however hideous a creation they may be( I’m looking at you Liverpool). A quick glance at the excellent http://www.historicalkits.co.uk/ website reveals that 19 of the top division have a brand spanking new home kit to sell this season. Most of them changing from a kit they only wore for one campaign. This astounding fact has largely passed the general public by. But it wasn’t that long ago that fans – and politicians, don’t forget the politicians – were apoplectic about this replica shirt rip off.

It was the year 2000. People were up in arms. Revolution was in the air. No longer would the fans be duped into parting with their hard earned cash for an overpriced t-shirt manufactured in a Vietnamese sweat shop. Manchester United, in particular, were castigated for their callous assault on the sports shops of Britain releasing new kits every couple of months, or so it seemed. The people of Britain looked to the Football Task Force, led by well-known football shirt wearer and former MP David Mellor, to rein in these out of control football clubs. It really was a brave club that defied the Task Force’s (not legally binding) suggestions.

And so it came to pass that just before the start of the 2000/2001 season, the Premier League themselves announced a Fan’s Charter signed by all 20 clubs. Alongside promises over ticket pricing and fan involvement in decision making (how times have changed) was an attempt to encourage the clubs to ensure a two year gap between new kits. This was immediately circumvented by releasing new home and away shirts in alternate years but at least the thought was there.

Now everyone’s bringing out a new kit but no-one seems to care. Have we just become desensitised to the Premier League’s ever growing merchandise machine? Maybe we expect nothing more of the clubs anymore. So as club after club release another ‘collector’s edition’ shirt we reach into our pockets again and pay up. But just remember, it could have been so different if we had stayed angry – and if David Mellor had had his way. If you know what I mean.

Dan Roberts (@LasVegasWI)

Denis Suarez – The Departing King of the EDS Castle

90 second football is meant to be a collaborative site, where everyone and anybody can contribute any idea about football. Once again I have a superb writer offering work for the site, on subjects I know little about, which is great. This is by Alex Timperley who you should follow on twitter @weneedyoualex

Since Manchester City were taken over by the richest humans that have ever existed, a lot of underserved/deserved (delete according to bias) stick has been sent their way for paying over the odds for players and putting them on inflated wages. The name “Wayne Bridge” will induce a brain hernia until the day I die.

Less attention, however, is paid to City’s burgeoning youth academy. From the recruitment of prodigies such as Manu Garcia and older heads in charge, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, to the building of the £100 million Etihad Campus, it is clear that City plan to be sustainable in the future. It is intended that a fully home grown squad is available to whichever futuristic robot manager is in charge in 2027.

However, right now, the Elite Development Squad has one particular jewel in its crown – Denis Suarez. An attacking midfielder who won the 2012 European Under-19 Championship, he is the natural heir to David Silva both domestically and internationally. He is already both taller and faster than the City number 21 and has the brightest of futures ahead of him. In the EDS, he currently has only one peer, the highly rated but injury blighted John Guidetti. Both are destined to be huge international stars, but it looks like only one will be a City player when that time comes.

The thing is, Suarez is currently attracting the attention of Barcelona who have, allegedly, been busy telling him that he will never get the chance in the City first team that he deserves. This is absolute tripe, but it is not difficult to see why signing a contract that guarantees him a place in the Barcelona first team within three seasons is appealing:

He has recently seen the purchase of Stevan Jovetic and Álvaro Negredo who will further congest the City forward line. Both David Silva and Sergio Aguero seem to be grown-ups and are going nowhere. This in addition to the inevitable promotion of Guidetti makes it difficult to see where opportunities will come in the following years.

If the sale of Suarez goes through by the end of the week as the chatter is saying, it will be a step back for both the club and the player.

City pulled off a coup in getting Suarez’s signature in front of Chelsea, Manchester United and, yes, Barcelona when they signed him from Celta Vigo. Losing him again as he nears a breakthrough will look weak and, combined with the loss of Juan Roman last year, will give Barcelona the impression they can cherry pick from the EDS at will.

For Suarez, it is not difficult to imagine him stagnating in the Barcelona B team for two years, being deemed to have not progressed far enough, and then being sold again. This makes me sad. The Barcelona forward line is even more congested than City’s and, crucially, a lot of them also play for Spain. He will not get his full international chance if he is sat on the bench behind them instead of playing games somewhere else.

Stay with us, sweet prince!