Tottenham : Appointing Sherwood is a mistake

Appointment of novice suggests Levy has written this season off

Despite the negativity surrounding White Hart Lane over the last couple of weeks it is important to gain some perspective and take a look at the table. Spurs have one more point now than at at this point last season and are still in the fight for Champions League qualification. They are only four points off fourth.

With so much to play for in the league the appointment of Tim Sherwood as Head Coach until the end of the next season should disappoint all Spurs fans. By appointing a novice coach into the managerial hotseat Levy is taking a gamble that history suggests will explode in his face.

Most of the managers that do well in at the top level have significant experience of not just coaching but management at some level even if it is not Premier League. Out of the managers that have been given a chance at Premier League level with little managerial experience history has not been kind.

Paul Ince quickly got the sack at Blackburn. Paolo Di Canio failed spectacularly at Sunderland and with respect these were at clubs that are not as big as Tottenham. Experience in a manager is crucial. Considering that Daniel Levy just sacked a manager who was fast tracked from Porto to Chelsea where he failed and then quickly onto Spurs where he also failed. You would think Levy would have learnt the importance of experience.

Instead by appointing a novice footballing logic suggests that Tottenham can now only expect a period of transition at best as both the new Head Coach and the new signings bed in. This however, doesn’t seem fit with the aim of finishing in the top four that was AVB’s brief. At worse, and much more likely, Spurs will now struggle in the league and fail to challenge for European qualification of any sort.

Sherwood’s lack of experience has also been evident in his tactical selections so far. Against both West Ham and Southampton Sherwood effectively ceded control of the midfield to the opposition. The result of this was exciting games but a Spurs team that never looked in control of the match at any point.

Against better teams these tactical decisions will be exposed quickly. If Southampton managed to earn 57% possession against Tottenham and score twice imagine what Mourinho’s Chelsea or Pelligrini’s Manchester City will do.

By appointing a novice Tottenham have taken a gamble that will likely not pay off.

Five players England shouldn’t take the the World Cup

Ashley Young

A decent call for the worst Premier League player of the season and without a doubt the worse player in the Man Utd Squad. Watch Young play and there is a better than evens chance that he will give the ball away every time he touches it.

England struggle to keep possession at the best of times. Playing Ashley Young at the World Cup would

be like voluntarily handicapping ourselves. Plus there is that whole diving thing.

Michael Dawson

It’s hard to believe Dawson spent so long playing with Ledley King. A centre back who conquered his own lack of pace by being able to read the game becoming something of a master at the last ditch tackle.

I can only presume Dawson wasn’t paying attention because he has managed to combine two major flaws.

Dawson combines being slow with sudden and dramatic loses of concentration. If he was lightening quick then his pace would rescue his lack of awareness. Alternatively, if he was able to concentrate on his positioning for 90 minutes his lack of pace wouldn’t be disastrous.

As it is Dawson combines both. Opposition strikers would queue up to play against him at the World Cup.

Gareth Barry

Barry is enjoying something of a renaissance at Goodison Park this season. So much so that it seems unfair to include him here. In the end he has been. Although this is more because, of the weaknesses that Barry’s presence would compound than because, he is undeserving.

Never the quickest Barry seems to have lost perhaps another half a yard of pace over the last couple of seasons.

In an England central midfield that is already lacking pace Barry’s presence simply makes the engine room of the team to slow. At Everton this isn’t too bad as Martinez has surrounded Barry with younger legs leaving him to play the anchor man role. For England though he would likely be lining up with the post-30 somethings Gerrard and Lampard.

Imagine a midfield three including Barry, Gerrard and Lampard playing together in the humidity and heat of Manaus against Italy. It doesn’t bare considering.

Andy Carroll

In theory the presence of Andy Carroll in the England squad has a logic to it. The argument in late April/ early May will go something like this.

“Carroll’s been in good form in the second half of the season. His 13 goals were pivotal in keeping West Ham up. On his day he is unplayable, look at what he did against (insert a team who Carroll played fantastically against). You wouldn’t necessarily start with him but he offers a different dimension. He gives the team a ‘plan B’ for the last twenty minutes or so when you need to mix things up.”

Despite the rampant use of footballing cliches there is something to this. On paper. Unfortunately the history of watching England in the modern era shows that the gap between theory and reality is like that between a vicious hungry lion and a squashed tangerine.

The moment Andy Carroll, or any tall centre forward, comes onto the pitch all other English players will cease to attempt to pass the ball or get the ball wide. Instead the centre backs will launch a series of long diagonal balls up field aimed at Carroll. The opposing centre backs will quickly cotton on to this tactic and ensure they win every second ball.

Consequently, all the introduction of Carroll will do is offer England a quick and ugly way to lose possession. Even worse as England come under pressure for giving the ball away the long balls up to Carroll will increase in both frequency and inaccuracy. This will naturally increase the pressure even more. Until the inevitable happens and England concede. Bonus points are available for a frustrated Wayne Rooney getting himself sent off.

Joleon Lescott

When filthy rich foreign owners come into a football club there is a window of time where money is spent ridiculously on players who aren’t even conceivably worth the fee. Abramovich had Shaun Wright-Phillips for example. Man City’s owners have Joleon Lescott. The millions they have spent on Lescott in transfer fees and wages is hilarious but not actually funny.

There is a reason why both Mancini and Pellegrini have both seemed less than eager to feature the ex-Evertonian. It is because, at top level, International tournaments and Champions League games, Lescott’s lack of pace and game awareness are painfully exposed. If Lescott gets onto the pitch for England we will really be in trouble.

Review – ‘A most dangerous book by Christopher B Krebs’

I recently finished Christopher Krebs ‘A Most Dangerous Book’ the blurb of which states that it is about the roman writer Tacitus on how his book the Germania has been abuse throughout the ages.

I found this book to be a real slog to read. So much so that I almost gave up on reading it. Originally, I was attracted to the book by its novel premise unfortunately I don’t feel it delivered on it.

Instead of focusing on placing the book in the context of events e.g. such and such was twisting the Germania for this end because, he wanted to do this and showing what the consequences are the writer spends much more time reminding the reader how erudite he is. Spending page after page quoting the works of various humanists and why they latinised their names.

For example, there is a brief throwaway paragraph on how someone (I forget who) tried to use the Germania to stir up Germanic enthusiasm for the Crusades. This would then be a perfect moment to expand on the role of the myth of Tuetonic warrior and how the Germania fed on and fed this. Instead what we get is what seems like pages and pages of irrelevant information quoting at length what he wrote. This is of course pseudo-racial rubbish that is painfully stupid and dull to listen to.

A real disappointment. There should be an enjoyable book about Tacitus’ Germania out there but this isn’t it.

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I was going to share my thoughts on the Doctor Who special ‘Day of the Doctor’. I mean it was probably over a month since the special aired and its was well received.

This time lapse is partly why I titled this ‘Thoughts’ rather than ‘Review’.

To start off with I enjoyed the Day of the Doctor. It had a lot of that which is best about Doctor Who. Fun zany time travel. I’m all on board with Queen Elizabeth being in love with the Doctor. This sort of ‘secret history’ is always welcome in my eyes. I also enjoyed the idea of being able to step through paintings. On top of all this David Tennant featured strongly in the special and he is just fantastic as an actor.

I even enjoyed the plot of the episode for the most part but now we get to the reason why I thought long and hard about writing this. You see I am not a big fan of Doctor Who.

In the period when I was growing up Doctor Who had been consigned to limbo by BBC big wig Michael Grade so when it came back on TV a few years ago I had no childhood nostalgia with which to fall back on I judged it as I found it. For the most part with its reliance on sonic screwdrivers to solve plots deus ex machina I wasn’t in love.

One thing that I really did like about the Doctor was the darkness thatwas kept within him. Faced with an impossible decision. The Doctor made the right moral choice even though this put the blood on millions on his hands. This type of choice is the same reason why Harry Dresden is so awesome for some of the choices he has to make (I am deliberately avoiding spoilers).

For TV executives and writers who see the Doctor as a cash cow that is now exported worldwide I imagine this is not a fact which they particularly like. This is why they crafted an end to the ‘Day of the Doctor’ that completely removes this character depth/awesomeness from the timeline. Doctor Who’s final step to becoming a show for pre-teens. How very disappointing.

My top five Christmas Stories

Its that time of year again; saturnalia. With this in mind I this in mind I thought I’d give you a list of my top five Christmas books, films and or characters. So without any further ado….

Five – Evil Robot Santa from Futurama.

Blasting through the steel reinforced windows of the awclarehugh blog command centre is the evil santa from Futurama. Every time I catch one of these episodes it is laugh out loud funny. Here’s hoping he doesn’t pay me a visit after only placing him at five.

Four – Home Alone 1 & 2

Duck Joe Peschi! Duck!

Ouch! He didn’t duck.

At times there is nothing like some cartoonish violence to make one’s heart feel warm and snuggly. I could watch Home Alone 1 & 2 time and time again. I’m watching these films to see actors get hurt by blowtorches, nails and BB guns. Wow, when you put it like that I sound like a bit of a physco.

Oh well, can’t do anything about that now. For your amusment and interest I’d like to direct you to these two links. You’ll never look at Kevin McCallaster in the same way again :-



Three : Die Hard

Possibly the best action movie ever made. So good it keeps me liking Bruce Willis after Die Hard: A Good day to die hard, Red, Red 2 and the other countless awful films that Bruce Willis seems to be making at the moment. Seriously Bruce read the scripts before you accept!

Best of all it takes place during Christmas so its a Christmas film. So blasting its way in a three with Hans Gruber’s missing detonators is Die Hard.

Two : Its a Wonderful Life

A really heart warming story. That is watchable no matter how many times you have seen it before. Plus its interesting to see how the economic message of a 1947 film can still be so relevant today.

Merry Christmas You old building & loan!!

One : The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett has written some really good books but for my money this is  his best. Its funny, it has a great plot and it has great ideas.

I mean Death has to become Santa because, a manically insane assassin has killed Father Christmas. This is the best/ most absurd high concept premise ever and it has great characters like Susan D’eath, Death of rats, Death himself, the wizards, Mister Teatime, the eater of socks and the god of hangovers. It is simply brilliant.

Best. Christmas. Story. Ever!

The loan system is distorting competition

If there is such a thing a karma Chelsea got a big fat dose of it on Saturday.

Drawing 2-2 against Stoke at the Britannia and pressing for the win Chelsea instead found themselves defending against a Stoke counter attack.

Stephen Ireland passed the ball out to Oussama Assaidi who wrong footed Branislav Ivanovic cutting inside and curling the ball into the top corner of the net. Que ecstatic celebrations in the crowd and manadtory booking for Assaidi taking his shirt off.

What makes this karma rather than just another upset in a Premier League season of upsets. Oussama Assaidi is on loan from Liverpool. Without playing Chelsea Brendan Roger’s boys just denied Chelsea at least a point.

This is karma for Chelsea because, they have made something of a speciality in recent years of loaning out unwanted squad players to get them game time.

At the moment Chelsea have got Victor Moses on loan at Liverpool, Romelue Lukaku on loan at Everton, Oriol Romeu on loan at Valencia, Marko Marin on loan at Sevilla, Thibaut Courtois

on loan at Athletico Madrid and a whole host of players on loan at Vitesse Arnhem who are now two points clear at the top of the Dutch Eredivisie. This of course isn’t counting the whole host of youngsters Chelsea have on loan in the Championship.

Chelsea of course are not the only team to loan out players witness Liverpool’s Assaidi scoring against them. They are however, perhaps the most egregious example.

Why does this matter you might ask?

Well these loan signings are having a huge effect on the top European leagues and competitions.

Take for example Everton flying high in the Premier League. This success is fuelled in large part by the loan signings of Gareth Barry from Manchester City, Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea and Gerard Delefeu from Barcelona. These aren’t Everton players they are players from other top division teams being loaned out.

It was one thing when youngsters were being loaned out to clubs in the lower leagues. This had a distorting effect on competition but, these were players looking to get some first team experience. Now however, clubs are loaning out first team players they don’t need or want to teams in the same division so that these players can help take points off rivals. This needs to stop before it gets out of hand.

Top 5 : Free transfers

Championship outfit Queens Park Rangers’ signing of Yossi Benayoun shows that there is good value to found on the free transfer market. For the club on a budget, here’s five players who are still available for free…

Mohamed Sissoko

Aged only 28, Sissoko should be at the peak of his powers. Instead, he is a free agent after leaving Paris Saint-Germain.

This state of affairs is hard to fathom when the Mali international’s club career is looked at. Sissoko has graced the turf for Valencia, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Fiorentina, playing 200 league games and winning La Liga, Ligue 1, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup.

A combative presence in midfield, there aren’t many clubs whose squad Sissoko would not improve.

Valeri Bojinov

Bojinov’s career has never really bounced back from the knee ligament injury he sustained whilst playing for Manchester City in the Manchester derby. Up until that point, he was a decent bet for stardom.

Still, even if he isn’t in the class of one of the game’s greats there should be enough talent to interest someone. Bojinov been capped 42 times for the Bulgarian national side and his career has taken him to Fiorentina, Juventus, City, Parma and Sporting CP. Plus, he’s also only 28.

On a free transfer, you’ve got to think that somebody could make use of a talent like Bojinov.

Gabriel Tamas

Released on a free by West Bromwich Albion, Tamas has the pedigree to improve many defences.

Capped 63 times by Romania and with 68 appearances for the Baggies under his belt, Tamas is no fool and, at 30, he is hardly over the hill. Tamas could do a job for many sides.

Alexander Madlung

Capped twice for the German national side and with almost 250 Bundesliga appearances,
centre-half Madlung stands at an imposing 6’4″.

Released by Wolfsburg at the end of last season, Madlung’s experience could be vital to any number of teams. Considering his strong aerial ability and physical presence, Madlung seems like the perfect fit for any number of teams scrapping for Premier League survival.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Free agent Ebanks-Blake is working on his fitness with his old club Wolves as he seeks to come back from a broken fibula.

Although he didn’t quite cut it in the Premier League, his scoring record in the lower leagues is impressive.

Twice top scorer in the Championship, Ebanks-Blake’s goals were instrumental in Wolves’
title push. Even in last season’s relegation year, he netted 14 times. At Championship level, his 72 goals came in a very respectable 167 games. He certainly knows where the back of the net is.

A proven goalscorer available on a free, you’ve got to think Ebanks-Blake would be worth the gamble for any number of Championship sides.

New Dawn for Wolverhampton Wanderers

Last season Wolves achieved an ignominious first. After getting relegated from the Premier League they followed this up with relegation from the Championship. Becoming the first team to ever drop from the promised land of the Premier League to the third tier of English football in successive seasons.

The malaise at Molineux was summed up by the performance on the final day of the season last year. Still not mathematically relegated Wolves played Brighton’s Gus Poyat away. Needing to win with other results going their way. Survival was a long shot but at least a possibility.

The eleven men that Wolves sent out played one of the laziest 90 minutes of football ever seen. Playing more like a team safe in mid-table and nothing to play for rather than one fighting for survival. Big name signings like Jamie O’Hara won the ever lasting dislike of the Wolves faithful.

Fast Forward six months and the picture looks far rosier. Second to Leyton Orient only on goal difference Wolves are six points clear of third place and on track to bounce immediately back to the Championship.

Unlike many so called bigger teams who have found life tough in the lower divisions Wolves have adapted well finding ways to win the scrappy games and only losing two all season.

Almost more encouraging then the league position is the new look of the squad. Expensive deadwood like Roger Johnson and Razak Boukari have been cleared out on loan allowing exciting young talents like Danny Batth, Zeli Ismail and Matt Doherty to take their chance in the first team and prosper. Adding to this former fringe players like Leigh Griffiths have come back to lead the promotion charge with Griffiths finding the net 11 times in the league.

There is a long way to go in the season yet but there is good reason for Wolves fans to be optimistic that at the very least the worst is over.

Book Review: David Gemell’s ‘Legend’

I often skip forewords to novels wanting to get to the start of the book. I didn’t with this one and I’m glad for it. The background to the novel that Gemmell wrote it in two weeks whilst waiting for the results of a cancer test explained for me the quick almost hurried pace of the novel which is clearly one of a first time author.

Characters appear in the story as fully formed characters the backstory that would typically be books one and two of a fantasy epic is absent. This is a double edged sword. On one hand its refreshing not to have two wade through 800 pages of epic story to get to the great set piece battle. On the other hand the emotional attachment you would have to characters is lacking.

So this isn’t a great novel but it is really readable. At no point was I bored and I was constantly driven to read the next page. I’m definitely going to read another one of David Gemmell’s books.

Five Best Premier League Players of the season

With a third of the season gone, it’s a good time to see which new Premier League signings have delivered the goods so far this campaign. So, without further ado here’s five signings who have been as out of this world as Thunderbird 5

Loic Remy

Newcastle brought in only one signing in the summer transfer window; Loic Remy on loan from QPR. Fortunately, for Alan Pardew and co, the promise he showed last season in QPR’s relegation campaign has begun to be realised for the Toon.

Acting as the spearhead of the distinctly French Newcastle attack, Remy has netted eight times in ten league appearances. Included in these strikes were match winning contributions against Cardiff, Chelsea, Spurs and Norwich. From these goals alone he has earned his team 12 points.

The biggest problem for Newcastle is that Remy is only on loan for the season. If Remy keeps this sort of form up there will be no ending of suitors looking to meet his reported £12 million release clause fee.

Mathieu Flamini

The last time Arsenal looked capable of launching a title challenge in the 2007/8 season Flamini anchored the midfield. I vividly remember a friend who was an Arsenal man bemoaning Arsene Wenger’s unwillingness to stump up the cash to meet Flamini’s contract demands.

Other signings may have been flashier but there is little doubt that in buying Flamini the Gunners patched up a hole in the squad. The only other defensive midfielders being Mikel Arteta, who has at times been injured, and the inexperienced Emmanuel Frimpong. It is doubtful they would be top if Frimpong had been protecting the back four as opposed to Flamini.

Gareth Barry

If there was a doubt about Roberto Martinez it was that his sides were defensively lacklustre. Wigan won many plaudits with their slick attacking football but ultimately, defensive weaknesses cost them their top-flight status.

By signing Barry on a season long loan, Martinez has given the Toffees some much needed
defensive rigidity. Barry has been exemplary. His goal-line clearance against Chelsea was vital in getting Everton a 1-0 win, and his single goal against Hull City helped lead to a 2-1 victory.

Given Barry’s form, and England’s lack of defensive midfielders, it isn’t fanciful that he could find himself with the England squad in Brazil. Who would have thought this was likely after the disaster against Germany four years ago.

Dejan Lovren

Southampton’s success this year has been built on the joint meanest defense in the league. Conceding only ten league goals in 13 games.

This is quite a turnaround from the Southampton side that leaked 60 goals last season. Key to this turn around has been Dejan Lovren. With his defensive partner Jose Fonte he has constructed perhaps the most formidable defensive partnership in the division.

Alvaro Negredo

With seven goals and three assists from eleven starts and a further four goals from the bench, Alvaro Negredo has made himself an undroppable name on the Manchester City team sheet.

Negredo has performed for City in the big games, setting up two against arch rivals Manchester United, netting a hat-trick against CSKA Moscow, and supplying the winning goal in the 6-0 hammering of Spurs.

Costing a reported £16.4 million Negrodo is undoubtedly the Spanish import of the year. It’s hard to believe he cost £10million less than Tottenham’s Roberto Soldado.