All new articles are now appearing in the new blog entitled 2012-13 and there will be no further updates here although all the older content from previous posts is still right here and has not been deleted.
Apart from Manchester United fans, there were not that many people in England that particularly liked Eric Cantona. The Frenchman portrayed arrogance and an eliteness that he embodied any time that he put on a shirt for United with his collar up swooning around the pitch with a prescience suggesting he owned it and looking down on all other players.
But this article is to do with one particular episode of Cantona's career - the infamous sending off at Crystal Palace in 1995 when after being red carded he then proceded to kung fu kick a Palace fan in the crowd. I can still recall being on the phone at the time and as the 9 o clock news started the first thing shown was the video footage of this incident that had just happened moments earlier. I told my friend on the other end of the line to quickly turn on his TV because I was in a state of disbelief as to what I had just seen. For the next half an hour or so we were still on the phone talking about all the possible ramifications that Cantona now faced.
In the end the punishment given to him on the assault charges from the police was a two week prison sentence (which was overturned on appeal) so instead he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service. United suspended Cantona for the remaining four months of the season and the FA increased the ban to eight months and he was fined a total of £30,000. A transfer would not help him either in an attempt to avoid the ban as FIFA confirmed that the suspension as worldwide. He was also stripped of the club captaincy and United would miss out on the title that season to Blackburn Rovers.
But this story did not finish here; at a news conference Cantona appeared and made a statement consisting of just one sentence. "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea". Shortly after this he left the stage to a mixture of confused, bemused and laughing media men. For the next few weeks the press attempted to analyse his words. Did they have some deep and hidden meaning?
Below are two videos from the BBC in which Cantona is being interview regarding this "deep" statement - one of which actually shows the original kung fu kick and original press conference. Cantona even jokes about it as being the best moment in his career!
After eight years with Chelsea, Didier Drogba's last touch of a football for the club was to win the Champions League. What a way to bow out. I guess there will be many Chelsea fans that will have wanted him to stay but if you are going to out as a true legend of a club this is the way to do it.
At 34 years old though perhaps Drogba knew that this was the time to go because of his age (although he still seems remarkably fit and agile). The question is where does he go? I am sure that Jose Mourinho might have a little think about his old striker now that Jose has just signed a new four year contract with Real Madrid. Barcelona are another team that have been apparently sniffing around - now that would be ironic if he ended up there!
It is more likely though that he will end his career in China with his old strike partner Nicolas Anelka for one last large contract and it is there where he continue to be successful because of the current state of the Chinese game. There are a few joke floating around regarding Drogba's departure. One I heard was that following his departure, the stretcher has now been retired! Another one looked at his career statistics and stated that whilst at Chelsea he had scored 227 goals with 71 assists and 8,891 dives!
Yes, we all know that Didier tends to go down quite easily a lot of the time but I personally remember him as a great striker putting that to one side. He scored plenty of great goals some of which were quite spectacular. His goal scoring feat in so many different cup finals was also extraordinary and it will probably be a long, long time before we see anybody getting even close to beating it.
Fernando Torres has now got even bigger boots to fill with Drogba's departure. Torres was upset and aired his grievances on Spanish TV regarding being left out of the starting team for the Champions League Final. If Chelsea were going to continue to play just one player up front it really was a no brainer as apart from tiny glimpses of what Torres is capable of his performances have been woeful for a good three years now. His form dipped towards the end of his Liverpool employment, the form saw him lose his spot in the Spain World Cup team and since being at Chelsea it has even gone from bad to worse for the best part - even to stage where he has been ridiculed. This is a man that failed to score in over a days worth of football!
When Chelsea paid Marseille £24 million for Drogba in 2004 it was deemed expensive. This was under half of the Torres fee from Liverpool. Torres has a long way to go to catching Drogba's 227 goals that is for sure. Whatever we remember Drogba for in this country, Chelsea got great value for him and the word "legend" will be applied to his name forever more by their fans.
Born in Birmingham in 1951, Bob Latchford joined his local team in 1968 and between then and 1974 made over 160 appearances for the club and as a centre forward chipped in with 68 league goals.
In those first few years at Birmingham City they laid dormant in Division 2 but in the 1971-72 season finished second and were promoted to the 1st Division as runners-up with champions Norwich City. A solid tenth place finish followed a year later but a 19th placed finish in 1973-74 saw them just survive relegation above Southampton, Manchester United and Norwich.
1974 also was the year that saw Latchford leave Birmingham and head north to play for Everton in a deal valued at £350,000. The deal saw both Archie Styles and Howard Kendall moving in the opposite direction with Birmingham receiving £80,000 with these two players to make up the deal. This was still classified as a British transfer record at the time. In the seven years he spent on Merseyside he was the clubs top scorer in six successive seasons and in 1977-78 hit 30 goals to finish as top league goal scorer of the season for the entire league. It also meant that Everton finished in their highest position since winning the league at the beginning of the decade by finishing in third place.
In 1977, Everton reached the final of the League Cup against Aston Villa. After a goalless game at Wembley, the replay at Hillsborough saw Latchford score for Everton but Villa earned another draw after an own goal from Roger Kenyon. The second replay was staged at Old Trafford nearly a month after the first two ties. Latchford put Everton one up before a crazy five minutes saw Villa level with a long range shot from Chris Nicholl and then a Brian Little goal put them 2-1 ahead. Mike Lyons then made it 2-2 and Little scored again in extra time to finally win the cup for Villa in the longest League Cup final in the history of the competition of 330 minutes. This would be the closest that Latchford would come to winning a medal and by the time he left the club in 1981 he had scored 138 league goals for the club with 289 appearances.
His success in front of goal also earned him a call-up to the England national team and he made his debut against Italy in 1977 in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley. England won 2-0 with Latchford failing to score and he was replaced with 15 minutes to go by Stuart Pearson. England would also fail to qualify as three weeks later Italy beat Luxembourg 3-0 to win the group on goal difference which would see the Italians heading for Argentina and Don Revie's reign as England manager come to an end after mounting criticism for allegedly playing an old fashioned and abrupt style. He would make twelve appearances in all for his country and scored five goals.
In 1981 at the age of 30 he transferred to newly promoted Swansea City under the regime of John Toshack. On his debut on the opening day of the 1981-82 season the Swans entertained Leeds United and won 5-1 with Latchford scoring a hat-trick. Swansea would finish in 6th placed that season but the following year were relegated and the following year were relegated again to the 3rd Division. He then had short spells in Holland with NAC Breda, Coventry City, Lincoln City and Newport County before a final fling with non-league Merthyr Tydfil before retirement in 1987.
Legendary Irish defender Paul McGrath was a guest on the couch for Sky's "Goals on Sunday" during the spring of 2012 and during the interview he talked about his international career and playing in the World Cup 1994 and beating Italy in New York.
McGrath came to England in 1982 when he signed for Manchester United from St. Patricks Athletic. A combination of knee problems and alcoholism led to McGrath being side-lined quite often during his seven years at Old Trafford although he still did make over 200 appearances for the club.
Despite the option of retirement and a nice little pay-off in the process, McGrath decided that he wanted to continue to play on and in August 1989 he was bought by Aston Villa for £400,000. Even though the knees still were causing him problems, McGrath managed to make over 300 appearances in the next seven years and won the PFA Player of the Year award in 1993.
McGrath finished his career with short spells at Derby County and Sheffield United finally retired at the age of 39 in 1998. He was selected in the shortlist of players for the best Premier League defenders based on the first twenty years of the Premier League.
Signed by Arsenal in 1997 from Monaco for £2.5 million, Manu Petit joined his old manager Arsene Wenger in North London forming a formidable central midfield partnership with fellow Frenchman Patrick Vierra. During his three year spell with The Gunners it was his first year that was the most memorable as Arsenal completed the Premier League and FA Cup double and was then it capped off with winning the World Cup.
Petit was sold along with Marc Overmars to Barcelona in 2000 for £7 million but failed to settle and returned to England with Chelsea just a year later. A knee injury caused his retirement in 2005 just when he was on the verge of a move back to Arsenal but was unable to regain full fitness and an operation on the knee would mean that he would never be able to achieve this.
In this interview he reveals the troubles that he personally endured at Barcelona, why he should of joined Manchester United on returning to England and why he never felt fully accepted by Chelsea fans.
Just a few weeks earlier this trio had surprisingly left Huddersfield Town so here they are sitting on "Kammy's Couch" on a Sunday morning. This video concentrates mostly on Terry McDermott and both his playing and coaching career. We see him reminiscing about his time playing at Anfield alongside the likes of both Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish before he goes on to talk about the famous Keegan live rant whilst at Newcastle. We also get an insight into his coaching techniques from Lee Clark when the news is not going to be so good and you are about to be left out of the starting line-up.
Terry McDermott started his career at Bury making his debut in 1969. He joined Newcastle in 1973 and played in the the 1974 FA Cup Final losing team against Liverpool before signing for his home town club just six months after that final. In eight glorious years with Liverpool he filled his trophy cabinet and also picked up several individual awards including the PFA Players Players of the Year award in 1980. On his return to Newcastle in 1982 he played alongside Keegan, Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley as the team won promotion back to top flight football.
He reunited with Keegan once again in 1992 as first team coach at Newcastle which was the start of a tremendous decade for the club which should have seen them win at least one trophy if not more but somehow always left them just missing out at the final hurdle. After Keegan resigned, McDermott stayed and worked with Dalglish but eventually left when Ruud Gullit took over. He returned again to work under Graeme Souness in 2005 and continued to work there as a coach under Glen Roeder, Sam Allardyce and with Keegan once again. On Keegan leaving for a second time as manager, McDermott left as well to take up the opportunity of worked as assistant manager at Huddersfield to one of his former players in Lee Clark.
Lee Clark joined Newcastle United as an 18 year old in 1990 and was part of the team that gained promotion as champions and then finishing runners-up in the Premier League two years running under Keegan. He was sold to rivals Sunderland in 1997 and once again was part a First Division Championship winning team with them two years later. At the 1999 FA Cup Final he was seen wearing a t-shirt whilst amongst Newcastle fans that had the slogan "Sad Mackam Bastards" and was immediately dropped from the team and never played for the club again. A move to Fulham followed where for a third time he won a medal for his part in a First Division Championship winning team in 2001. He returned for a swan song at his beloved Newcastle in 2005 and retired a year later. Glenn Roeder installed Clark as a first team coach and reserve team manager during his latter playing days. In 2007 Clark followed Roeder to Norwich City where he became assistant manager until the end of 2008 when he took over at Huddersfield Town. In February 2012 and despite the team being fourth in the table he was sacked by the club and left along with McDermott and Watson. The Terriers had lost in the 2011 play-off final to Peterborough United and had only suffered three defeats in their last 55 league matches which included an unbeaten run of 43 league games - the second longest domestic league unbeaten run in English football history behind Arsenal's 49 between 2003-04.
Steve Watson's career started at Newcastle in 1991 where he made over 200 appearances before moving to Aston Villa in 1998. In 2000 he moved on again where he had another successful part of his career at Everton and finished off with moves to West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday.
So Liverpool have defeated Everton in today's all Merseyside FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. The wait for a trophy for the blue side of Liverpool goes on and it has now been 17 years since their last success. In the video with this article the manager of the time of that FA Cup victory and seen here was Joe Royle and sitting alongside him is David Unsworth.
A Paul Rideout header after Graham Stuart's shot had rebounded off of the crossbar in the 30th minute gave Everton a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the final of 1995 and this was an Everton side that had struggled through the season against relegation. Royle had replaced Mike Walker in November with the team rock-bottom of the table and in the season that followed the FA Cup success they finished in sixth place in the Premier Division but by 1997 a fall-out over transfer targets between Royle and then chairman Peter Johnson resulted in Royle's resignation. Royle would go on to manage another of his clubs from his playing days in Manchester City. During his time at Maine Road, the club were either promoted or relegated in every season! Royle then had four years at Ipswich before returning to his first managerial post with Oldham for a short spell. His first spell had lasted 12 years and had seen the Boundary Park club have their most successful period in the clubs history including a spell in the Premier League and regularly going on successful cup runs.
David Unsworth had been with Everton since 1991 making over 100 appearances for the club when in 1997 he left to join West Ham United. After just one year and failing to settle in London he signed for Aston Villa but before the following season had even started realised that the commute from Merseyside was too far. Everton then paid Villa that they had paid West Ham for his services so he left to return "home" without making one appearance for them. He would leave Everton for a second time in 2004 and this time would not return after a contract dispute and the latter years of his footballing career saw him play for several clubs including Portsmouth, Ipswich, Burnley and Huddersfield. During the 2006-07 season, he transferred from Sheffield United to Wigan. Whilst playing for the Blades he had missed a crucial penalty in a match against Blackburn Rovers. On the last day of the season he scored a penalty for Wigan against the Blades that would send them down and keep his new employers in the Premier Division.
The Everton team that played Manchester United in the 1995 FA Cup Final was:- Neville Southall, Matt Jackson, Dave Watson, David Unsworth, Gary Ablett (RIP), Anders Limpar, Joe Parkinson, Barry Horne, Andy Hinchcliffe, Graham Stuart, Paul Rideout. Subs - Jason Kearton, Duncan Ferguson, Daniel Amokachi.
Incidentally the two Manchester United substitutes used in the final were Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.
Gordon Smith was a guest on Sky's “Goals on Sunday” this week along with Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers. Both of these guys I have a great respect for and are both worth listening to.
Just in case you do not know who Smith is (or was), he was a Scottish forward who started his career with Kilmarnock in 1972 before moving to Rangers in 1977. In the early 80's he headed to the south of England and joined Brighton. In the 1983 FA Cup Final he scored for the Seagulls against Manchester United in the 2-2 draw but is more famous for his last minute miss that would have won his club the cup as United won the replay 4-0. He had a spell at Manchester City in the mid-80's scoring 13 goals in 42 games before winding down his playing career.
After retirement he was assistant manager at St. Mirren and then saw his career path take a turn towards the media and football agency work. He then took up a position as chief executive of the Scottish FA and then as director of football at Rangers but left earlier this year soon after the club went into administration.
It is his time at the Scottish FA that interests me the most in this article because he revealed some revealing information regarding technology in the game and also what is really going on behind the scenes regarding the forthcoming Olympics and the British football team.
Smith makes a great point if both UEFA and FIFA are using the excuse of not introducing technology if it cannot be used by all right down to grass roots level football. Ask a Sunday league footballer if he has played a game under floodlights in his league, ask him if the referee wears an ear piece, even ask him if his team have an official referee turn up every week!
The topic of goal line technology has reared its ugly head yet again after what we saw at Bolton a week ago. It's no good arguing that things were levelled out because QPR then scored a goal that was offside – that really is irrelevant and we see decisions regarding offsides made in every game in every week and many are right and others are wrong. Think back to the 2010 World Cup and the infamous Frank Lampard incident against Germany. If that goal had been given it would have meant England would have gone in at half-time at 2-2 and with momentum. Perhaps the second half would have been different, I doubt it but we will never know now. Instead, if England had scored again late on to make it 2-4 with an offside goal would it then of made any difference?
I know that this a subject that we have talked about in our podcast recordings and my two colleagues have very strong opinions. George seems to just believe that anything to do with computers should never be used in football in any shape or form regardless as to what it is. Both of them seem to like the idea of keeping things as they are even if it means wrong decisions continue to be made because it creates debates afterwards whether a decision was right or wrong as it remained unproven. It is one thing for a group of football fans to debate this over a pint in a pub but another completely when a whole country is hoping that its team will win and then feels denied and cheated if they are not because of tunnel vision against technology and would rather argue the point down the pub. Not only that, in the professional game just how many livelihoods this could affect is astronomical as it could affect promotion and relegation as is the case right now for both Bolton and QPR.
I do agree entirely though that the game should never ever get to the stage where it becomes stop/start because of technology. If the game had to be stopped for a decision to be made by reviewing video I think is wrong and is just a few steps away from commercial breaks taking place during the match. But if as stated in this interview technology can be used with the referee being told within a second or two whether or not a ball has crossed the goal line or not then the flow of the game will not be affected at all and hopefully the correct decision will be made.
Goal line technology of this level can surely only be a good thing but at this moment in time I do not see a way to implement it anywhere else. If people want to debate issues in the game they still can as I am sure that there will be many instances of offsides, hand-balls, penalty decisions in general etc that will still raise many a debate for many years to come. If we start to install technology in those areas as well the only way that it will work is if it is full-proof and is also able to give the referee the right decision within a second or two. Right now as far as I know that technology does not exist.
I am also opposed to managers being given the right to an appeals practice like we see in tennis when players are allowed to challenge a decision up to three times per set. Tennis is a very different game to football and this type of sport can easily use this because the play has natural stoppages in it between each point enabling it to have time to review without changing the game. Imagine a long rally though and three or four shots in a player is not sure if the ball was in or out but hits it back to continue the rally. Nor he or the umpire can stop the game until after the point is completed to settle this scenario as they are not going to do this mid-point. The same applies to other sports such as cricket and rugby. How could you do it in football? It is even possible that by the time that the ball does go out of play that a team may have scored at the other end and three or so fouls may have been committed resulting in a player being yellow or red carded. If they then have to pull the game back because technology proves that the game should have stopped prior to any of this happening – does all that then followed still count?
With a one – possibly two second at most technology that is going to give us a correct and decisive ruling all of this is ruled out and no possible harm is done. As it is we have seen on many occasions the referee take longer than this to blow his whistle as it is. If this is true it has to be a good thing for the game and under these guidelines would definitely work and for anybody to question it so they can debate it and feel lucky or unlucky over a pint is just ridiculous – as barmy as FIFA using the excuse of it not being available to all football and therefore not permitting it.
Smith also spoke about the British team in this summers Olympics and revealed more of the politics going on behind the scenes here. Living on these shores is a little confusing when it comes to really knowing where we stand with our nationalities. I know of nowhere else in the world where you can be born and live in one country but that country can be identified under three different titles.
Is England a country? Look it up on the internet or in an encyclopedia and it will tell you yes it is so you would think that it is clear cut for English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish then – but no. For one thing I do not have an English passport – I have a British passport so what is Great Britain? Again, look it up and the information that you will find will also tell you that Britain is the largest island of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Look up the United Kingdom (or UK) and it is described as “a sovereign state located off of the north-western coast of continental Europe which included the island of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and many smaller islands.
With all the history and rivalry between the countries within the island within the sovereign state (are you following this?) is it any wonder we don't really know where we are at when it comes to any type of sport? In sports such as football we compete individually, in rugby we compete individually and as Great Britain. In the Olympics we compete as Great Britain and in Euro-Vision we compete as the UK! Then of top of that of course we have the Commonwealth! What chance have we ever got of sorting this mess out? Smith hints that there are other countries around the world that would want us to compete as Britain only in future at all events. Whether you are English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish I cannot see anybody wanting this to ever happen because each individual country needs to stick to and continue its own identity. Its one thing having the word “British” on the front of your passport but another matter entirely if any other identity is just simply terminated – we are not having it! In fact I would go the other way and make us compete in all sports etc as individual countries – lets have England and Scotland competing seperately at the Olympics and so on – why not? Its the easiest and best solution!
It says a lot when a BBC reporter begins by calling Roberto Mancini “Mario” and has to be corrected by the Manchester City manager.
But Mario Balotelli in his short time playing in England has already produced so many headlines on and off the time he is leaving all of his City team mates and even his manager in the shadows. Unfortunately some of these are for the wrong reasons – looking like a fool in failing to be able to do the simplest of things such as put on a training bib, be the ultimate in arrogant with the attempted back-heel in the pre-season friendly in the United States that resulted in Balotelli being substituted immediately are just two examples.
We have also seen the cheeky side of his arrogance too like the recent shoulder goal and of course the T-shirts we have seen him wearing under his team shirt.
I am sure that there are many people that loathe this guy and I know that there are plenty of others that love him. For me – in his first season at City I did not see it; I just saw an arrogant shall we say Cantona-esq type player with none of the great qualities of the Frenchmen. But Mario has forced me to change my opinion of him this season as the stories off the field about him (whether they are true or not) have been fun, his performances have been good so much so that his arrogance on the field is now coming across with a much nicer undertone.
Apparently Balotelli does not give interviews claiming that he is shy. The BBC finally got their man after several failed attempts when Mario agreed only if he was interviewed by ex-Oasis and now High Flying Birds frontman Noel Gallagher. In all of his time on the pitch in this country I have never seen Mario smile so much and this helps to shake off his moody persona. I am not sure if I completely believe everything that he says in this interview when he denies just about every media story that has printed about him – could the press get it wrong so often and just make it up all of the time? Yes, we know they make it up some of the time but I just detected in some of Mario's responses that there was quite a bit more to some of these stories than what he was letting on.
Here is a link to what the BBC website claims is the full interview – but I also found a part elsewhere where he talks about Carlos Tevez and when this clip aired on TV on Saturday afternoon there was some of other parts that had been cut out for whatever reason. Here is a clip that I put together of part of the interview in which Gallagher directly asks Balotelli to confirm that the many stories printed about him are true – Gallagher almost seems disappointed when Mario denies them and in some ways I don't blame him because they all add to his character. For now I am still with the "Super Mario" but we shall what happens as I am sure that there is still plenty more to come from this very interesting footballer.