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Archive for December, 2010

After England retained The Ashes yesterday with a very comfortable innings victory, it was left to the man who started the craze in the first place to lead the jubilant team in a perfect rendition of…The Sprinkler.

Lets go to Sydney, destroy the Aussies and leave with a comprehensive 3-1 series victory, then the dancing can really start!

Marcus J MItchell.

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Please let this be the end of Woy!

Now as I’m sure you are all aware both myself and George are Liverpool FC fans, we have been very careful not to make this an LFC blog or to impose our opinions on the fortunes of Liverpool Football Club too much. However tonight was the last straw for me, and without any consultation with my partner in crime I will (for one night only) impose my opinion.

When I first heard that Rafa was leaving in the summer I was relieved, I know a lot of people still liked him and wanted him to continue but for me he had taken the squad as far as he could and a change was needed. I know the struggles in the boardroom made his tenure difficult but even so, I was still happy he left.

So that opened the door to any number of managerial candidates, we were hearing the possibility of Klinsmann, Deschamp, Rijkaard, Hiddink and even a feint rumour of Mourinho, but Hodgson was the “outstanding candidate” according to then LFC chairman, Martin Broughton.

This is the first press conference that Hodgson gave, I was impressed, as were a number of people with the way he presented himself and calmly answered questions as our new manager. When his name was first mooted as a potential candidate for the job I will admit that I liked the idea, I thought ‘English, experienced and recent premier league success (relative success being as it was Fulham) so why not?’

After literally 3 games I realised why not… he is a man who is perfect for Fulham, in fact right this minute Blackburn should think about re-hiring him (alright, maybe not!) because he knows exactly how to play against teams who take the game to you, he knows what to do when being attacked and he knows counter attacking very well. So at Fulham it is acceptable to soak up pressure and counter attack, last season they did it much better than was expected and Hodgson was named LMA manager of the year for it.

This is the reason we have done reasonably well against the “better teams” (except Man City where we got battered!), an unlucky 1-1 with Arsenal at home, an unlucky 3-2 defeat to Man Utd away and of course a fantastic 2-0 win over Chelsea at Anfield, these teams control the game, so we soak up the pressure and counter, when we played Wigan 3 days after the Chelsea win, we took the lead after 7 minutes and then were fundamentally outplayed for the next 83 minutes, we escaped with a very fortunate 1-1 draw. We should be dictating the game to Wigan but instead found ourselves struggling to work out what it is we should be controlling.

Time and time again I gear myself up to watch Liverpool on TV and I am constantly disappointed by what I see, tonight was the worst I have seen us all season though (and that is really saying something), credit to Wolves who had a plan and stuck to it, they deserved their win.

Before I finish I would like to point something out, I quite like Roy Hodgson the man, he is obviously a student of the game and he speaks very well about football (speech impediment aside), had he not ever come to Liverpool I’m sure we would all still be waxing lyrical about how amazing a job he has done at Fulham and that he would still be everybody’s second choice for England manager (after Redknapp of course). Nobody can criticise ambition, so when Liverpool came calling, how could he possibly say no.

But a Premiership record of played 18, won 6, drawn 4 and lost 8 (including home losses to Blackpool and Wolves) means I am struggling to think of a reason why he should be given the chance to turn it around. It could take literally years to put Liverpool back where they belong…

This is because we cannot play football anymore, this is because we don’t consider ourselves a top 4 club anymore, this is because we have no encouragement or enthusiasm coming from the bench anymore, this is because the tradition of Liverpool doesn’t exist anymore, this is because Anfield isn’t a fortress anymore…..And all of this, is because of Hodgson.

Marcus J Mitchell.

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The two captains shake hands. The umpire flips the coin. The coin lands… The game is decided. According to cricket, according to some analysts, according to many fans, the game is over. Whoever wins the toss, wins the match. This may, in hindsight, be wishful thinking while Australia are 50-odd for 4 in the all-important 4th Test, but England have won the coin toss, bowled first, with only four bowlers, and done very well.

So is it crucial? It does give the winning captain a choice. Bowl; or, usually, bat first. ‘Get some runs on the board.’ Set the other team a target. Compared to football, compared to tossing for which ‘end’ to play toward; compared to who serves first in tennis, the flipping of a coin has a direct impact on how a cricket match develops. The captain is in control. Or is he?

It’s a tough choice. If the wicket is flat, then the batsmen are jumping for joy. If it’s green, then the bowler is chomping at the bit trying to pick up early wickets. If it’s in between, a bit green, a bit flat, who knows? The skill of the captain.

I’m not overly convinced the toss has such a great impact. Many commentators claim it’s crucial. I believe if your team is good enough, if your batsmen are better, if your bowlers are better, if your fielders are better, you’ll win. If it’s close, again, it’s the skill and ability that’ll decide the game, not who wins the toss of the coin (unless you’re playing in Sri Lanka or Leeds ;o))

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As stated before these are in no particular order:

If you think we have missed your favourite or have a suggestion for us e-mail: sportscastfour@gmail.com.

Next up is Jose Carlos Fernandez for Allianza Lima in Peru, not so much a miss, as a miss (you’ll see what I mean!)

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The crucial word in the title is “upcoming”, it may never happen; England winning The Ashes on Australian soil, as many a cricket fan of my age (29 years and 16 months) knows, just doesn’t happen. I’ve never seen it. The current Australian players may well turn on the ability switch we know they’ve all be pre-programmed with (or so it seemed to me forever) and drag this 3rd Test back from the jaws of obvious frailty and turn it into a dramatic victory. Ending my current state of constant goodmoodedness. Right, now all the superstitious insecurities are out-of-the-way, we can get on with defending the current – and we’ve won two of the last three Ashes series – level of success.

We beat Australia in England in 2005.  That series has been described as the best series of test cricket ever. I agree. It was the first time I’d ever seen an Ashes victory, so I’m somewhat biased. Nevertheless, we did beat an Australian side full of proven world-class performers. Warne, Ponting, McGrath, Hayden, Lee, Gilchrist, Langer, Hussey, Katich and, erm, many would include Clarke and Gillespie/Tait, which kind of makes the listing of individuals pointless. They were all world-class. And we beat them.

They then got revenge. The Ultimate Humiliation. McGrath predicted correct and we lost 5-0 in Australia. Similar sides, reality reinstated.

We fought back. Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar held on for a draw in Cardiff and we went on to beat a slightly different set of Aussie players. No McGrath, no Warne, less attitude, less ability, less confidence. Australia weren’t the same team. But they were playing a better England side. A side growing with confidence. Young players fulfilling their potential, long-term positive consequences of central contracts (something the Australians did first), an impressive coach and an even more impressive captain (after the chaos of Flintoff and KP).

So here we are…

What made me think about the upcoming banter, defending the victory from various accusations, was this retweet by the wonderful cricket/sport tweeter Pam Nash or Pam_nAshes

It’s not really England that are winning. We’ve got four players who were born in South Africa. We’re effectively South Africa 2nd team. Strauss moved to England at the age of six whereas KP, Trott and Prior all headed to England looking for new opportunities in their own cricketing careers after failing or not being picked for their sides in South Africa. Not only do they have to qualify over a period of years before they’re eligible for England, but they have to be good enough. Contrast that with the days of Hick, Lamb and many, many other players who were born in other parts of the world. I never heard the claims “ENGLAND ARE CRAP: WHY? THE FOREIGN PLAYERS” I might’ve missed it in the Star, but from memory it was England who were crap. Everything about the game. The county game. The contracts the players were on. The intensity of first-class cricket. The attitude. The pitches. Graeme Hick. The coaching. The coaching and the coaching. Never the non-English-born-but-now-qualified-different-accent-types who filled the middle order, bowled the new ball spells or found drift and turn with the off-spin. It never came up. We blamed Robin Smith, Allan Lamb and Graeme Hick. Not South Africa or Zimbabwe.

Another reminder was this brilliant blog post by Lev Parikian. The title ‘Come back Australia, all is forgiven’ hints at the content. He may, at times, be provocative, or maybe he’s in a state of shock – as I am – with the current on-field success. But this claim takes a shine off any potential England victory.

The worst-case scenario is that the dip in quality in Australia’s domestic scene persists, young athletes look to other sports (notably Australian Rules Football) and Australia become, medium-to-long term, a mediocre team, thus further denuding the pool of competitive Test-playing nations.

I don’t mind if this happens. As long as we’re a little bit better “mediocre team”. Of course we all want to see barnstorming, edge of the seat, nail-biting test matches like we saw in 2005. Overcoming the very best in the world. It was amazing. But then,

They then got revenge. The Ultimate Humiliation. McGrath predicted correct and we lost 5-0 in Australia. Similar sides, reality reinstated.

I don’t want that. I’d much rather they were in disarray. Changing the system. Doubting the attitude, blaming the coaches, introducing different contracts, laying different pitches…anything but long-term stability. I want them to select the wrong players. I want them to select players who are out of form. I want them to drop players who could do a job. I want them to be nostalgically hoping Warne might turn his arm over again. I bloody love it. And if any Australian fan has to endure 20 years of defeats, humiliating defeats, constant defeats, only defeats; I’ll be smiling. And I’m prepared.

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As stated before these are in no particular order:

If you think we have missed your favourite or have a suggestion for us e-mail: sportscastfour@gmail.com.

A favourite of ours as we are both Liverpool fans, Ronny Rosenthal Vs Aston Villa.

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He’s the top paid player at the richest club in the world. Rumoured to be earning over £250,000 a week, after tax. Considering super-high earners are required to pay half the money they earn to the chancellor, the amounts of money Carlos Tevez is willing to give up – just to be with his family in South America – suggests there are other factors involved in this controversial decision.

If Tevez ends up playing for another Premiership rival, or indeed another European club, then he’ll rightly be castigated. His refusal to play for Man City would be indefensible. However, if the primary reason is to move back to Argentina, to be with his wife and children, then he’s gone up in my estimations. Some things are more important…

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