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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The Premiership season has so far been a classic for the neutral. Every team has claimed a scalp, every team has lost – apart from Man United who’ve only won once away from home – and there is no predictability. Perhaps the most telling aspect of this new-found competition has been the lack of managerial sackings. Until the end of Hughton, surprisingly sacked by Newcastle on Monday 6th December, every manager that had started the season was still in place.

The small points gap between the top six and the bottom six allows each manager to lay credible claim to “only needing a couple of victories” and they would fly up the table. They’d be right. Roy Hodgson, Avram Grant, Roberto Mancini, and more recently Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti (who won the double last year), are managers who have been on the brink at one time or another. Chris Hughton was the man appointed at Newcastle after they had been relegated from the Premiership in a season of three managers. Keegan, Kinnear and Shearer were all at the helm, they all failed to keep the club in the top division and they all struggled against the man in charge and chairman Mike Ashley (Shearer left the club and had been assured the job would still be his in the championship until it was announced Hughton would be the new manager, Kinnear left for health reasons and Keegan left citing a lack of control over transfers). In the stakes of bad treatment, in a competition that involved a topless fat chairman downing pints of warm lager, eating a rank kebab and doing his worst stinking turd all over the managers head, then Chris Hughton would be the bookies favourite. Hughton’s sacking demonstrates a total lack of logic. On any level. Even on the level stated by the club after the sacking,

“Regrettably, the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward. The task of appointing a new manager now begins. An announcement will be made shortly regarding transitional arrangements pending the appointment of a successor.”

So let’s break that down.


I’ll refrain from swearing, but I’m thinking of something that rhymes with duck and cloth. If you’re going to make a change, don’t patronise the guy you’re sacking by saying it’s regrettable. The fans know you don’t regret what you’re doing. The press know the same and the outgoing manager – who you’ve not adequately rewarded for regaining promotion at the first attempt – certainly knows you don’t regret it. The Newcastle board (or probably Mike Ashley in a dictatorial ‘this is my version of championship manager and I’ll do what I want to’ type way) refused to give Hughton a contract. He doesn’t even get a pay-off. His managerial record reads: played one full season = one promotion.

Hughton was eventually handed the position as manager permanently and took Newcastle to the top of the Championship. They rarely looked back, securing promotion before the final day with 102 points – 11 more than West Brom in the second automatic spot.

Played nearly half a season in the Premiership and he’s beat Arsenal at the Emirates, thumped Aston Villa 6-0 and fierce rivals Sunderland 5-1, drew with Chelsea (after beating them at Stamford Bridge in a 4-3 thriller in the Coca-Carling-Worthington Cup Challenge) and got 3 points at Goodison Park. On the less memorable side, they’ve lost to West Brom away, Blackpool at home and got thumped 5-1 themselves away at Bolton = Better than their wildest dreams might be a bit over the top, but some memorable moments nevertheless (13 points off the top and 4 points of the relegation zone in 12th position with 19 points after 16 games).

So it’s not regrettable. What about the next line,

“…the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward. The task of appointing a new manager now begins.”

They weren’t joking. The man they’ve selected to replace him certainly has more managerial experience. Quite a bit of the time it’s been ‘bad’ managerial experience though.

He got off to a good start at Reading, before being poached by West Ham. He then got promoted, like Hughton, and managed to reach the F.A. Cup Final, another fine achievement – before it all started to go a bit pear-shaped.

In the 2006–07 season Pardew was criticised after seeing West Ham through their worst run of defeats in over 70 years which included a League Cup defeat to Chesterfield.

Then he went to Charlton Athletic.

He took over with Charlton in 19th place in the Premier League, with just 12 points and a –20 goal difference, the lowest in the league. Although Charlton’s form improved under Pardew,[14] he was unable to keep Charlton up, resulting in the first relegation of his career, both as a player and manager.[15]After an inept display in a 5-2 home defeat to Sheffield United hundreds of supporters remained for more than an hour to condemn their manager, chanting, “We want Pardew out” and “We want our club back” after Charlton had slipped into the Championship’s bottom three.[16][17] On 22 November 2008, Pardew parted company with Charlton by mutual consent.[18]

Not looking too good at the moment. Next up was Southampton.

Pardew led Southampton to the 2010 Football League Trophy Final at Wembley, where they won 4–1 against Carlisle United. The win gave the club their first trophy since 1976. Five months later Pardew was dismissed by the club[20][21] amidst reports of low staff morale and conflicts between Pardew and club chairman, Nicola Cortese.[22][23]

The phrase “low staff morale” and “conflicts between Pardew and club chairman” must’ve been the clincher for Mike Ashley when he was glancing over the list of potential candidates. Or maybe it was this chart explaining his win/loss record at a number of clubs.

Hardly gets the juices flowing. The apathy, or maybe deep-seated anger will fall upon Ashley first and then Pardew if the results don’t come. The 5 year contract is just the icing on the piss-taking cake. The Geordie fans will be clear, and maybe this could be the last act in the Mike Ashley/Newcastle United’s ownership soap opera. Here’s Steve Wraith, editor of the Toon Talk fanzine, who says it best…

“He will be facing the wrath of 52,000 fans at the weekend. It’s not his fault but let’s hope he can do what people don’t expect him to do, as his CV doesn’t make for good reading.”

Or have Sky Sports summed it up even better?

Sky Sports reported that of 40,000 fans taking part in a poll on who should become the next manager, Pardew only received the backing of 5.5% of voters.

That kind of non-support is going to be a challenge of the highest order. I just suspect that if Pardew doesn’t make a success of it, and quickly, Mike Ashley will be following the new manager out of St James’ Park at the same time. If not by mini-Geordie revolution, then having – at long last – sold the club, probably at a loss and after discovering it’s very expensive to play fantasy football games at the country’s real life top football clubs.

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Before play started we were given the news that Stuart Broad has torn a muscle in his side and will play no further part in this tour, it’s a great shame for him and for England as he would have been perfect for Perth with its bouncy pitch, but in Chris Tremlett we have an able replacement, I feel that both Bresnan and Shahzad are better bowlers but for Perth, Chris Tremlett was made to bowl there.

Still feeling rough with my headaches, went back to the doctors who assured me I have nothing more wrong than was first diagnosed, I cannot question it as I do not have a medical degree but I will see how I feel come the end of the week, due to not feeling well I have no snacks whatsoever!

23.32pm: I missed the first two overs of the day as I was unaware that play was starting early again, missed nothing important so no harm done.

23.39pm: Beardy Prior misses a catching chance of Hussey, this could prove disastrous as Hussey can bat all day if needed to and also plays spin very well so negates the danger that Swann possesses.

23.54pm: Fortunately that miss from Hussey didn’t prove too costly as he plays a terrible shot from a high delivery from Finn and hooks it skywards and into Jimmy Anderson’s hands.

00.00am: Anderson is really causing Haddin some problems, his bowling is accurate and you feel Haddin really wants to play at one but just can’t, 272/5.

00.12am: Swann is back bowling, he needs to stay in now until the Aussies are all out.

00.20am: Finally the consistency of Anderson’s bowling pays dividends when Haddin caught one with his bat and it went straight into Beardy Priors gloves. 286/6.

00.24am: Harris comes in on a king pair (when you get out with the first ball you face in both innings) and duly obliges by getting trapped first ball LBW by Anderson, he reviews it with an expectant shrug and the review confirms the decision, Australia struggling now on 286/7.

00.27am: A massive appeal goes up for LBW against North, the umpire says no, England review and it was given out, a massive blow as Australia’s last recognised ‘batsman’ is out and the tail is exposed.

00.36am: I remember one of the commentators of TMSofa saying yesterday that he had something in common with X-Doh, they were both going to play the same amount of test matches from the end of this test until the day they die, none!

00.41am: Australia’s tail enders momentarily are putting up a little fight by both scoring 4’s.

00.42am: The resistance is short lived and X-Doh is bowled between bat and pad by Swann.

00.49am: Doug the rug plays a couple of decent shots and the Australian total moves past 300, they are still a long way from avoiding an innings defeat.

00.55am: Swann clean bowls Siddle with a peach of a ball and it is over, Australia are out for 304, England win by an innings and 71 runs.

It has been a truly fantastic performance from England and they have dominated from the beginning, we now head to Perth 1-0 in the series and because we are the holders only need 1 win from the last 3 tests to retain the Ashes.

A nice stat to end, Peter Siddle’s wicket fell at 10.55am local time, at 1.42 the rain started falling and did not stop all day, the Aussies only needed to bat on for 90 minutes or so to have secured the draw, wonder if Mike Hussey will be thinking about that when he sees a replay of the shite shot he played to get out.

Oh and also, yesterday was Adelaide’s wettest December day since records began in 1839. Good timing boys…….

See you in Perth (not actually of course)


Sleep total for 1st test – 28.5 hours (still quite respectable but remember bad head + painkillers)

Sleep count for 2nd test – 25.5 hours

Food count for 1st test – 2 Cheese, Ham and Tomato toasties, 2 Ham and tomato ketchup sandwiches,1 Chicken and Mushroom pot Noodle, 2 slices of bread and butter, 2 mallow chocs, 1 WS&V, 1 WC&O, 1 Steak kettle chips (150g), 1 Roysters, 1 crunch corner, Faye’s leftover Cantonese chicken, 4 pints of diet Pepsi, 1 pint of Beck Vier, 1 bottle of diet coke (200ml) and 1 pint of water.

Food count for 2nd test – 5 pints of diet Pepsi, 2 WC&O, 1 pickled onion monster munch, 2 cheese and ham toasties, a pack of custard creams.

FIFA record P11 W10 D1 L1 – F25 A13.

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Jimmy Anderson is the next in a long line of professional sportsmen that have been given time off and had mountains moved in order to be by their partner’s side to witness the birth of their child, only Monday was I cursing the same problem when Fernando Torres missed Liverpool’s home match against Aston Villa, fortunately Villa were absolutely diabolical and Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 victory without hardly breaking sweat.

This situation of attending childbirth in Cricket is not without precedent at all, during this year’s victorious 20/20 world cup, Kevin Pietersen was allowed to fly back to the UK for the birth of his first child with former Liberty X singer Jessica Taylor, he missed one match (after we had already qualified for the knock-out round) which England won.

Andrew Strauss flew home during the 2005 winter tour of Pakistan to attend his first child’s birth and missed a critical test in which Michael Vaughan had to move up the order and open the batting, a devastating blow to all associated with English cricket I’m sure you’ll agree.

I just feel that some people’s commitment to the career they have chosen is lacking somewhat, they seem to think that I will be fine if they just “nip home”, from Australia Jimmy? It is a 20,000 mile round trip taking nearly two complete days of travelling!

I think a lesson can be learnt from former Liverpool legend John Barnes, he was a special guest on Sky Sports during their transmission of Liverpool Vs Chelsea on 7th November, at half-time, with Liverpool leading 2-0, Richard Keys announced that during the first half, John’s wife Andrea had given birth to his seventh child, a boy named Alexander, when asked if he wanted to leave to join his wife and new son, he replied..

“….I’ll stay!”


Digger, we salute you!

Marcus J Mitchell

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