Haye teaches us nothing we didn’t already know

Haye needs to back up big talk with big action

There was something inevitable about the result of Saturday’s fight between David Haye and Audley Harrison.  So inevitable in fact that I told everyone who’d listen that Haye would knock old Fraudley out in the 3rd round – which he duly did.

How this ever became a championship fight is beyond me, never mind a fight worth 10million pounds.

I like David Haye, I think he is an entertaining and talented boxer who tries to fight on the front foot.  But fights like this do nothing for his legacy.  Fights like this are best forgotten.  Much like Harrison is best forgotten.  Which is why I won’t comment on him other than to say that he is useless, boring, negative, old, slow and hopefully never to be seen in the ring again.

Haye did what he set out to do, but how poignant that last week he posed for photos in homage to Muhammad Ali, and claimed to have predicted the round he would win in as the Greatest Of All Time used to do.

Ali didn’t waste time on the likes of Harrison though.  He achieved the title of Greatest by fighting the best.  He fought and beat Liston, Foreman, Frazier, Patterson and Cooper to name just a few.  He fought 61 times, he won 56 of those fights and 37 of them by knockout.  He won Olympic gold and the Heavyweight Championship three times (the first man to do so) in what is widely regarded as the golden era of boxing, having become the youngest challenger to beat a reigning champion, at the age of 22.  And he did it all despite losing four years of his prime through a ban for refusing to serve in Vietnam on account of his religion.

The comparisons between Ali and Haye are easy to make.  Both have a similar style, they are aggressive, light on their feet, with quick hands and a cockiness that sees them mock their opponents and fight with their guard down.

But Haye, as much as he might revel in the comparisons, is no Ali.  For all their similarities there is a world of difference and several leagues of class between the pair of them.  Granted Haye has done exceptionally well to move up a weight limit and he is a world champion, although given the lack of unification between belts he is only really a 25% champion.  Ultimately however, he needs a unification fight, and a unification win to become a champion worth remembering rather than one that will simply act as a pundit for SkySports in retirement.

It is unfair to compare eras too much because a man can only beat what is put out in front of him.  But however impressive it was to beat the monster that is Valuev to win the title it was an uninspiring fight.  Since then he was convincing against John Ruiz and had the walkover fight against the enduringly dull Harrison.

But whilst he will never be considered up there with the Foreman’s, Frazier’s, Tyson’s and Lewis’s, he has the chance to be held up as one of the icons of his era if he takes the big fights awaiting him in the form of Vladimir Klitschco and his brother Vitali, both undoubtedly the dominant forces in heavyweight boxing since the retirement of Lennox Lewis.

Because for all his talk of wanting the fight, and there is enough money to be had to tempt all parties into it, for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be any closer to happening.  Aside from the difference in ability it is acting on his promises in the way Ali used to that Haye needs to do now, and not just against journeymen, if the comparisons are not to be a complete mockery and his talent not to be wasted on a mediocre title reign.

David Haye is better than Harrison, that much we already knew.  It is up to him to prove to us just how good he actually is.

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Some random musings

Well, through fault that is entirely my own I have not posted for a long time.  However a couple of incidents related to London made me decide to get involved again.

Commuting for about three hours a day means I read the newspapers more than ever at the moment and there has been one story that has really annoyed me.  People seem to be getting angry over a cut in housing benefit.  I’ll keep this short because I don’t really see that there is a lot to be said in favour for keeping it as it is.

There seems to be an argument however that if housing benefit is cut then people will have to stop living in areas of Central London if they can’t afford it.  Now am I missing something here?  If you can’t afford to live somewhere then don’t.  I can’t afford to live in London, so I spent about 300 pounds getting to work each month.  I don’t complain about it, and I don’t think I have any right to claim money to live closer to where I work.  As far as I can see, if you can’t afford to live somewhere then move to somewhere you can.  Go get a place you can afford and don’t expect the state to pick up your bill.  Isn’t that a large part of what capitalism is based on?  So stop bitching about it.

* * * *

Whilst on the subject of London.  Tube strikes.  I am lucky in the fact that these strikes don’t affect me directly, my trains are slightly more crowded but as  I am always on the overground and it is overcrowded anyway.

But yes, it is a pain to people who use the tube, it delays journeys, the roads are heaving, and every form of transport is packed.  However everyone has shown they can cope without the trains for 24 hours.

I don’t really understand what causes tube workers to strike every few minutes other than the fact that they are thick as the proverbial and as lazy as the Spanish on a siesta.  But I do believe that given the economic climate the cuts to staff seem reasonable and the claims by unions that these cuts – mainly to ticket staff I might add – undermine safety are preposterous.  Before that they held a strike to achieve a 5% pay rise whilst working fewer hours.  This in a job a monkey could do and getting 30k for it.

So here is my solution to having ungrateful tube strikes.  Let’s hold a public strike.  48 hours where commuters refuse to use the tube.  Everyone has shown they can get by without it, so now let’s show that actually, the workers run an optional service and they can’t get by without the customer.  Because if you don’t have any income then you can’t pay your staff and cuts are inevitable anyway.  That should wake the public princesses up to the real world.

Also, can someone please punch Bob Crowe in the face.  Thanks.

* * * *

Finally I thought I’d have a glance at my football predictions, Spurs may have lost to Bolton today but inspired by Gareth Bale we beat Inter Milan on Tuesday, which I believe technically makes us the best team in Europe.

Sadly Bolton are in the mix at the moment.  No surprise to see Chelsea running away with it, and likewise West Ham are bottom.  I stand by the fact they will just stay up but it’s no shock to see them struggle.

Blackpool are doing as well as I hoped and West Brom are turning into a real surprise package.  I predicted the most exciting season ever and I stand by it.  5th to 16th separated by just 3 points.  Game on!

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The craic in Ireland doesn’t disappoint

I was recently in Ireland for a week’s holiday with A LOT of family.  Due to the persistent insistence of one of my cousins I have been persuaded to write about it.  Read it if you fancy, it might not be in keeping with my other writing, or maybe you’ll enjoy the change of pace.  Your choice….

Irish Catholic families can be relied on for one thing – they’re bloody big.   My mum is one of six children.  I am the eldest of 15 grandchildren and in total 28 of us gathered for my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary, including themselves and their bridesmaid.  The other thing that you can count on is great craic.

I can genuinely say that I was really looking forward to going back to Ireland.  All our relatives on my mum’s side are well spread out now and I hadn’t seen many of them for years.  We used to go there every summer, until my sister’s decided they wanted a hot holiday.  Personally I was always happy there.

I’ll gloss over the airport as I hate the places.  I hate the queuing, hate the waiting and I REALLY hate not being able to smoke for about four hours.  The only thing I like about them is that I get plenty of free drinks from taster booths, led by my mum in holiday spirit.  O yes, and I saw a guy walking around in fluorescent green speedos.  Stag do me thinks.  Needless to say I managed to get the single mum with crying baby to sit next to me on the plane.  Yay.  Although she was kind enough to buy me a beer as way of compensation.

The occasion of course was the anniversary.  So five families rented lodges from a decent hotel in Portumna, a small town about 20 minutes from Galway City, in County Galway.  They were lovely and we found them easily enough, driving through the ridiculously green countryside from Shannon airport about an hour away.  Having arrived at 3pm, at roughly the same time as just about everyone else, it was time to do the standard “you look great,” “o my how you’ve grown,” and “doesn’t he look like so and so now he’s got older” for the next half hour.  By four o’clock the tables on the decking were drawn together, the beer was out, the wine was flowing, the sun was shining and I was refueling on nicotine.  Perfect.  By five o’clock the vodka was out and by six my aunt had started the cheese and crackers.  Looking like a great week to me.

Dinner in the hotel bar followed and subsequently the majority of us enjoyed a night down there.  They didn’t mind kids in the bar but the younger ones stayed at the lodges, my cousin Cian aged 11 being the exception.  My uncle Paul is musically talented and ended up taking over the entertainment when the singer when out for fags.  My godfather Adrian also gave us a rendition of ‘Two Little Boys’ before Ciara, aged 13 or 14 (I forget all their ages) stole the show – she has a quite stunning voice.  The music finished, we found a piano.  And I’ll go back to a conversation I had with my godmother Elaine’s partner Dave a few hours earlier:

“Do you like Tequila Aaron?”

“Rarely, it’s a bit harsh though, I prefer to avoid it.”

“Me too, I hate the stuff.”

Come 1am it was slightly different:

“Guinness Aaron?”

“Please, and a shot if you’re man enough?”

“Tequila?”

“Yeah.”

There were whisperings of a nightcap at the lodges but we discovered we were all pretty wobbly on our feet by the end of the night.  And I was excited about going to bed, it was the first time I’ve been able to smoke in bed since Uni – result!

Saturday was the first game of the premiership season which meant I dragged a few of us to the pub to watch Tottenham batter Manchester City, we somehow drew 0-0 and Joe Hart was incredible.  My cousins also started to come out of their shells.  The youngest being eight and with me not seeing them for a few years everyone was a bit shy on the Friday but a big game of football on the green saw to that and I had them all teaching me how to play hurling as well.

We all went back to the bar for more music in the night but the singers were a bit shit and not much fun to be honest.  It was a quieter one until I suggested to my sister Sinead at about 11pm that we check out the town on a Saturday night.  My younger sister Orla and eldest cousin Eoin (both 17) came along and the pub we went to was rammed, the music was better and the guinness was cheaper.  Lubbly jubbly.  With the others ready to leave I went out for a fag on my own, about 20 seconds later I was chatting away to two Irish girls and their English cousin from Leeds.  We quickly became matey as I told him how much I love Leeds because of a weekend I told you about elsewhere… https://lanelord.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/random-nights-are-the-best/

“So you’re from England?” went the conversation.

“Yeah near Reading,” it’s as close as most people can get to Hook.

“You out on your own?”

“No I’ve got family inside but they’re about to head back to the hotel.”

“You want to come to a house party with us?”

“Why not.”

So two minutes after meeting them I was off to a house party with them.  Although we ended up not going there in the end.  We went to a lock in next door where I had pints and shots.  The locals were friendly, humouring my questions about things I’d read in the Irish tabloids, one of them even said that if anyone gave me trouble because of my accent I was to come find him and he had my back.  I got no trouble and my ego got a nice boost when a couple of girls came up to me to ask if I was “the fine looking fella from England” they’d been told about.  Happily it turned out I was.  We ended up getting Bulmers to take out when the pub finally shut, we chilled out drinking that and I got back at 4.30am.  Not bad work I thought.

Sunday meant pitch and putt in the morning.  I came 4th of 8, which I was happy about until I realised that two of the players behind me had never played before and the other two were 11 years old.  Beat them though, get in!  And with me being a Spurs fan it turns out that everyone else in my family supports either Arsenal or Liverpool so down to the pub we went to watch those two teams lock horns at Anfield.  Back to the lodges after, dinner in and nobody going out that night.  But we had a few drinks inthe various lodges and at one point my uncle decided to get me in a headlock.  A few years ago in Spain we got wrestling and he ripped my boxer shorts off in a very painful wedgie.  A few years older and bigger I decided to return the favour to Jason.  We wrestled and this time I kept my pride and he lost his own, along with his boxers.  Although my cousins thought it was a real fight until sisters reassured them we do it all the time.

We all got to bed about 3am having chatted shit for a good few hours, helped along by the wine and I think a few people back in England must have been woken by myself and Aunt Karina outdoing Adrians version of ‘Two Little Boys’ ourselves. Over and over again.  For ages.

Monday was the first bad weather day of the holiday.  And it was also the day that we were to go karting on a 1500m (they claim biggest in Europe) outdoor track.  Anyone who has karted in the rain will tell you it is like an ice rink, bloody hard to control but great fun.  Eight of the kids went on the small track, 14 of us went for it in real competitive style on the main one.  And yours truly won.  It was great fun, everyone was buzzing afterwards but two moments stand out for me.  The first being Dave deciding that as he was following me onto the track and had never karted before that there was nothing to it and would overtake me on the first corner.  I was more cautious, he duly overtook, I let him have position and he flew straight off the track.  Nice start.  The other is my cousin Laoise. I went to overtake her on a straight, decided to just pull alongside and as I looked over she span off.  Despite the fact she was meant to be going in a straight line at this point.

The evening was taken up by a few of us watching the football but with the anniversary dinner the next day we made it a quiet one and I took the chance to finish my James Patterson book, ‘Swimsuit’ (mainly chosen for the front cover picture).  Good book, but rubbish ending so I’m boycotting him for a while now.

Tuesday was the day of the dinner.  17/8/10, exactly 50 years after my grandparents got married.  We started with a midday celebration mass at the (massive) church over the road.  I did a reading and was told that I read well.  I said I should bloody hope so, I did English at college and Journalism at university.  Unlike 13 years ago when I read at my Aunt’s wedding I didn’t get given lots of money by people for doing well and being cute.  Shame.  Nice affair that it was and all about my grandparents, Ciara couldn’t resist stealing the show again with a flawless rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ during communion.

With time to kill in the day I decided to swim in the pool for the first time.  Which meant I spent a lot of time supervising Austin, aged eight, Cian, who was well able at 11, Dara, nine, Ben, 10 or 11, and whichever little brats they made friends with.  But we had fun and I thoroughly enjoyed helping teach Shane, the cutest eight year old you’ve ever met, how to swim.  He told his mum that I was better than his Dad as a teacher.

And to the dinner.  We all met at the hotel two hours before, looking good and scrubbed up, suited and booted.  There was a photographer coming and he got some great shots of us, groups, families, etc.  Pictures that we’ll probably never have the opportunity to create again with the whole lot of us.  The more astute and football interested of you will have realised that it was the date of Tottenham playing in the Champions League qualifier against Young Boys or Boy Scouts or something.  Kick-off at 7.45pm, dinner at 8pm.  Ouch.  Now picture this, at my table I had Dave and my Dad directly to my left – two gooners (or Arsenal scumbags if you prefer).  Directly to my right I had my brother Emmet and Jason – another two gooners.  Now imagine their delight and the ribbing I got the whole meal when after the starter Dave comes back from the toilet to tell me, honestly as well, that after 30minutes Spurs were 3-0 down to little boys.  Gggggrrrrr

Dinner was lovely, the speeches were spot on, the kids behaved (for the most part) me and Jason found a spare bottle of wine left over.  We all headed off to the bar where Paul was doing the music for the night.  And we swapped stories about all sorts, we sang along, we danced and we were merry.  This time happily Ciara didn’t steal the show as Lauren, 12 maybe???, sang with her, Paul did a great job with his mate helping out and Adrian, rather predictably, sang ‘Two Little Boys’.  And this time we had strangers get up to sing with us instead of the other way around.  Although one was so confident after nailing her first song that she butchered a second.  Always leave them wanting more is the lesson there love.  With the bar schedualed to shut at half 12 we got our last drinks in at 2am, headed back to the lodges thereafter and happily all agreed it had been a great night and worth the visit for that alone.

Wednesday was quiet.  Hangover day mainly.  Sinead went home because her results were out the next day and she needed to sort university places out, it broke some of the cousins hearts though, they absolutely loved her.  More swimming, a bit of Hurling and I started to read another book.  I can’t remember the title but it was a cracker by David Hosp.  Come midnight I was out of fags and headed up to the hotel to get some.  A big party had just finished in the function room and a load of pissed up 18-23 year olds were outside.  As I sparked up one approached;

“You alright mate?”

“Fine thanks, you?”

“Not bad, from England are ya?”

Standard England conversation for two minutes, then…

“Fancy coming to a houseparty with us?”

“Yeah, fuck it why not.”

I was stone cold sober but thought it stupid to turn down.  So I went along, got chatting to everyone and got told that Irish girls love the English accent, which makes up for English girls loving the Irish one I guess.  Someone threw up on my shoe, I told everyone that I knew Nigel (the guy who invited me) from University of Limerick (blagged it) and I fell madly in love with an Irish girl with the most beautiful eyes (and legs) you can imagine.  She said I was welcome to stay the night but sadly I knew it was a friendly offer and not the start of an epic love story.  An hour and ahlf or so later I headed back and walked past another guy;

“How’s it going?”

“Not bad mate, you?”

“Good thanks, you from England?”

“Yeah I am.”

“You want to come to a house party just over the road?”

“Thanks very much mate, but I’ve just left it, have a good one.”

I love Irish people.

So to Thursday and the last day.  I played golf, badly.  Over 18 holes I came 5th of five.  I was part of a three-ball with my granddad and Adrian.  Dad and Emmet were in a two-ball up ahead with Cian as caddie.  But it was good to get out and actually play golf with the pair of them, even if I was useless.  Back to the lodge for lunch, and out again in the afternoon… to horseride!  I’d never done it before but Dave, Ben, Orla, Laoise, Ciara and Dad were going to go and I got told a while back that it’s a great date to take a girl on.  I figured I’d better be able to do it before I try showing off to my future wife (or mistress).  Unfortunately my horse walked very slowly, fortunately this meant a lot of trotting to catch up, and I beat Dave in a race at the end.  I just wish someone had warned me before not to wear jeans, major chaffing!

The evening, as you can imagine was taken up with alot of trying to spend quality time with every different person and it worked nicely.  There was a frosty atmosphere in the air for reasons I cannot be arsed to go into, but the story made me laugh a bit when the girls told me.  With many heartfelt, and for some people tearful, goodbyes said and me in the mood to be nice to people the evening had a nice feel to it.  The only downer is that I ripped 130 films off Paul’s computer.  Great you’d think, except since then my laptop only works in 5-15minute bursts, with or without the power cable in.  Fat lot of good 130 films are if it takes you a week to watch one!

Of course we will gloss over the airport again.  The reason this time being that I was pissed when I got there (we were up at 7am) and hungover by the time we got on the flight, during which, incidentally, I was in the middle of the Munster women’s rugby team.  What a shame that was when I opened my eyes to see who possessed the beautiful accents I was hearing…  And the reason I was struggling at the airport so badly was Dave.  After everyone left the lodge the night before he invited me and Emmet for a nightcap.  We raced each other at Guinness downing, and then Vodka + Coke downing.  And finally he peer pressured me into downing a volcano:

“Hear you go mate.”

“What is it?”

“That volcano drink I told you about.”

“O for fucks sake Dave, I’m already pissed.”

“If you’re not man enough…”

Like I said, peer pressure.  And if you were wondering what a volcano is – half a glass of vodka topped up with half a glass of white wine.  Cheers mate.

So to sum up, I had a great week.  We’re already planning when we can do it again, as everyone else loved it too.  I got to spend time with my grandparents, who were up for the craic all the time, my grandmother having had a mini stroke just a week previously was up drinking and smoking till at least 2am every night all the same.  I got to chat with and get to know better the uncles and aunts I rarely see.  And by the end of the week I felt I knew all my cousins far better than I did before the week started.  Would I do it again?  I can’t wait until we do, I loved every minute of it.

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100% accurate football predictions. Trust me, I’m definately right

Lets gloss over the fact that I didn’t post the whole of August.  We shall call it my holiday.   As with when I started the blog, lets get back into the swing of things with football.  And my season predictions now that we are three games into the season and the transfer window is now shut.

Arsenal – The scum.  No longer able to hide behind being a young team, if after five years that excuse still stands then Wenger needs to go.  This may be their last chance to win something for a while, with Fabregas surely off next summer.  But they won’t.  Theo has started suberbly (against Blackpool and Blackburn…) but will fade.  Chamakh has a pitiful goalscoring record, Van Persie will get a horrible injury and they still have a useless Goalkeeper.  5th

Aston Villa – McDonald wants the job now.  Do the fans want him?  6-0 to Newcastle? Out of Europe?  I see Villa maintaining their usual position myself.  Milner for £20million + Stephen Ireland is brilliant business but they’re just too predictable. 8th

Birmingham – Mcleish has done well, but how far can he take the club.  A bit of an average team for me, position to reflect this.  11th

Blackburn – One of the dullest teams in the permiership with the dullest manager in charge.  They’ll get a couple of surprise results but will be their usual selves.  14th

Blackpool – I really want them to stay up.  It’s a great fairy tale story and I’d love it to continue.  And Ian Holloway is a legend.  I used to watch QPR a lot and I loved him.  So heart over head here.  17th

Bolton – Please fuck off out of the Premier league.  You are boring, you don’t fill your stadium and you have a bit of a twat in charge after he sacked Burnley off.  18th

Chelsea – Champions.  Comfortably.  I hate to say it but they’ve looked irresistable so far.  Drogba is a machine, as is Lampard.  Terry, for all his character faults is still inspirational at the back.  They have a good manager and they look solid again.  I can’t see past them.  1st

Everton – As usual they’ve started nice and slowly.  But somehow they still possess Arteta, Cahill and Pienaar. Fellaini is oddly good and Moyes has turned into quite a manager.  They’ll overtake Villa and could go very high up the table if they find their end of season form sooner this year.  7th

Fulham –  They’ve lost Hodgson and I’m not really a Hughes fan.  He has a tough job to live up to the dizzy heights of last season and a lot relies on Zamora to have another excellent season, I’m not convinced he can though.  They’ll be safe but never really in on the Europe trail.  It’s just too much of an ask.  10th

Liverpool – Sorry scousers, it’s not going to happen.  Hodgson is good but they have too much work to do to get back into the top four.  Can Torres stay fit?  Can the real Gerrard turn up?  Carragher is ageing and Joe Cole is not as good as Benayoun, who is massively underrated and was very underplayed with Benitez.  But then Benitez is a clown.  And he’s left Liverpool in a right mess.  6th

Manchester City – Alot of it all depends on how well the new players gel.  Yaya Toure is a great player in my opinion and could boss the midfield for them this year.  The problem with City though is their negative tactics – three defensive midfielders at home to Liverpool anyone?  They lost to Sunderland and were outplayed at White Hart Lane so it really is a case of how quickly the gel, and if they have the patience with Mancini.  The smart money is on a top four finish though, and with Champions League football to offer they will be unstoppable in the transfer market next year.  3rd

Manchester Utd – One day Giggs and Scholes will retire, and then Utd are screwed.  This year however they’ll compete but fade away.  Scholes has started fantastically and I fancy Berbatov to have a big season (he’d better, I have money riding on it…) but Rooney is way off the pace and to do anything they need him firing on all cylinders all year long.  There’s just something about Utd that isn’t quite there anymore and I think alot of teams are alot closer to them than before.  This season they’ll finish ahead of City, but you have to fear for them in the future when the old guard are finished and they don’t have the money to replace them.  2nd

Newcastle – The opened a few eyes with their thumping of Villa but I don’t expect anything else out of the ordinary from them.  They won’t go down but how far up the table they finish depends on big Andy Carroll, but he’s no Shearer.  12th

Stoke – Some fantastic last minute business has set Stoke up nicely and they could well be a surprise package.  Eidur Gudjonsson in particular is a great signing and I wouldn’t have minded him back at Spurs.  Tony Pulis is quietly assembling a very handy team and don’t be surprised if they finish in the top ten. 9th

Sunderland – Bragging rights in the North-East to Newcastle I’m afraid.  Is their new striker worth £13million?  No.  Can Darren Bent replicate last season?  No.  So do they have the quality and goals to get amongst the upper half?  Definately not.  And yet they beat City.  Freak result in my opinion.  13th

Tottenham Hotspur – Yes I’m going to be biased, obviously.  I bleed lillywhite.  Some people have tipped Spurs for a title tilt.  It won’t happen.  The Champions League will prove a distraction and serious consideration needs to go into which sides to field in the Carling Cup.  I don’t like the signing of Gallas.  Van Der Vaart for £8million on the other hand gives all sorts of tasty options and Gareth Bale continues to excel.  Incidentally, Milner £20million.  Huddlestone + Bale + Lennon + Van Der Vaart + Krancjar = £19million.  Back to the point, Spurs will be closer to the Champions than ever in my lifetime but they have to stay in the top four to keep bridging that gap, and they will, just.  4th

West Brom – Nobody will be surprised if the yo-yo team once again join us for just the season.  Then back to the Championship, consolidate, and back up again.  It’s not a very interesting story anymore and expect it to be repeated.  19th

West Ham – Relegation battle.  They just don’t seem to get any better.  Keeping hold of Parker was essential to their survival and I feel Carlton Cole will come good eventually.  They’ll both have to produce the goods this year.  Despite their annoying owners West Ham will still be here next year, by the skin of their teeth.  16th

Wigan – Similar to Bolton, just go, nobody wants you in this league.  0-4 v Blackpool, 0-6 v Chelsea…  and then they go and beat Spurs??? They’ll still go down though, and nobody will shed any tears.  20th

Wolves – Will they ever sign Mancienne?  Or just always loan him?  Wolves should be safe though I hope they don’t do the double over us again.  It would be lovely to see Mick McCarthy get the boot though.  15th

FA Cup – Tottenham.  The year ends in 1, so Tottenham, provided they give it enough attention.  The squad is good enough and big enough to give it a real go on most fronts and they can beat anyone.

Carling Cup – Everton – Realistically the best route to Europe with most of the big boys taking it very lightly, wouldn’t be surprised to see them beat Villa in the final

Champions League – Chelsea – Semi final, Man Utd – Quarter final, Arsenal – Quarter final, Tottenham – Last 16

Europa League – Manchester City – Winners, Liverpool – Quarter final

I look forward to seeing how very wrong I am come the end of May.

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My thoughts on the past week

Firstly an apology for the failure to post anything the past few days.  There have been a few things that I have considered writing on during the last week, but none that I felt like devoting a whole post to.  And with that in mind, I’m going to try something new and give some short opinions on a variety of topics in this post.  It might work, it might not, see what you think.

Several newspapers and media outlets were enraged when David Cameron met Barack Obama last week.  The source of the controversy was in Cameron describing the UK as the junior partner in the relationship between the two countries.  Why I can’t understand, it is true.  By the end of the summer America will have roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and around 50,000 in Iraq (down from 100,000 in May).  Britain by contrast has about 10,000 in Afghanistan and 150 in Iraq at the turn of the year.  Whilst I have nothing but support and admiration for our armed forces, the fact is America doesn’t need us in any more than a supporting role.

In World War 2 America did come to our rescue.  BUT only after we fought Germany on our own for the early years of the war.  Without the heroic efforts of our own soldiers and pilots we would all be speaking German right now.  And such a pretty language it is too.  However the fact remains that without America finally getting over their cowardly neutrality we would only have prolonged the inevitable.

The problem I have with Cameron’s speech is his calling us a junior partner back then.  We showed more moral fibre and leadership than America, and stood alone against a fierce enemy.  Now however, it is true, and we are not the force we once were.  But I’d rather be a junior partner to America than a senior one to France.  Lets not kid ourselves into thinking we are bigger than we are, but get a balance (you too Mr Prime Minister) – it is nothing to be ashamed of to reflect proudly on our history and accept the makings of the world at present.

Briefly, while on the subject of World War 2, I went to the Farnborough Airshow yesterday.  I was fortunate enough to arrive during the WWII flyover with a Hurricane and Spitfire on either wing of a Lancaster Bomber.  I know these planes hold bad memories of a dark time for a lot of people.  But for someone like myself I just felt like a little kid again.  The fact that the planes give me a thrill now and never fail to impress is an indictment of what an impressive piece of engineering it was to create these historic planes that won us the Battle of Britain 70 years ago.

Famous Nazi Nick Griffin of the BNP had his invitation to a Palace garden party cancelled.  The photos of him all dressed up and disappointed were fantastic and I hope he felt like the embarrassment he looked.  Officials gave the reason that due to his politicising of the invitation he had increased the security threat to other guests.  I prefer to think it’s because he’s a racist shit.

Manchester City meanwhile continue in their attempts to buy the Premiership title.  They could take their summer spending to over 100 million as I write this, apparently they are that close to signing Mario Balotelli from Inter Milan.  Having already signed David Silva, Jerome Boateng and Yaya Toure this summer and still looking at the likes of James Milner and Fernando Torres they have become the new Chelsea, the club without a soul.  A team who fast track their way to success by throwing money around.  Like Chelsea they will win the title but they trade in everything it is to be a football fan this way.  How good are the highs if you don’t feel the lows?  Admittedly Manchester City have had a lot of lows in previous years but to win the title this way is like winning a Formula One grand prix only because your team mate has been ordered to let you through.  Where’s the fun guys?

Also, team orders, ban them.  You didn’t win that race Alonso, Massa let you.

Incidentally Joe Cole moved to Liverpool for football reasons last week and not for the 90,000 a week that wasn’t being matched by any other club.  Football reasons.  Yes, to a club that might yet lose its three best players this summer.  A club he calls the biggest in England (after coming 7th last year) on the basis of two good decades in the 70s and 80s.  A club who doesn’t have Champions League football next year.  At 28 he should be trying to play at the best level.  Even though he preferred to stay in London.  Even though he had two offers from teams in the Champions League, one from Arsenal who I grudgingly admit suit his style of play and one from my beloved Tottenham, managed by Harry Redknapp who knows and loves Cole and would have made him pivotal in the team.  It definately wasn’t the 90,000 a week though.

Simon Cowell is getting sued for 2.5million by an ex-contestant on Britain’s Got Talent.  Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai thinks her hurt feelings are worth 300,000 (ten times the average national wage), for some reason she should get 1million compensation and despite being so bad that Piers Morgan and Cowell both buzzed her after just three words and Amanda Holden by the chorus of Westlife’s karaoke classic ‘You Raise Me Up’ she feels entitled to 1.25million in, wait for it, loss of future earnings.  How deluded can you get?  People know what they are getting themselves into going on these shows, so either deal with it or don’t bother.

And on a completely different note I saw Toy Story 3 last night.  11 years after the last film I am happy to report that it is as funny, charming and brilliant as the previous two.  I might be 21, but I LOVE Toy Story.

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Wossy brought down by The Mail

Watching the final episode of Jonathan Ross the other day I couldn’t but feel that the Daily Mail had got what it wanted.  As long as I can remember they have had a vendetta against Ross and have never stopped short of criticising him.

It’s hard not to remember the Andrew Sachs controversy, where Ross and Russell Brand left messages on the respected actor’s voicemail that so got under everyone’s skin.  Ever since then Ross has looked to be living on borrowed time at the BBC.  What most people don’t know is that after the show a mere two complaints were registered to Ofcom in the next week, two out of an estimated audience of 400,000 – two million people depending on your source.

So what was the big deal?  The Mail on Sunday of course.  A week after the show and with only two complaints The Mail on Sunday must have been having a slow week, for they published a sensationalist article normally reserved for the likes of The Sun.

“Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross could face prosecution after obscene on air phone calls to Fawlty Towers actor, 78”

This was their genuine title about an incident that garnered no such cry for prosecution.  And thus they brewed a storm that influenced readers unable to think for themselves.  How else can 50,000 extra complaints be explained away in the wake of the article?  Either people who hadn’t heard the show made these complaints based on a Sunday tabloid, or people who had originally heard the broadcast but thought nothing of it at the time felt shamed into complaining.

Of course the Daily Mail had previously criticised Ross at every opportunity.  Being a Tory paper they took particular offence to his questioning of party leader David Cameron and if he’d had any sexual thoughts over Margaret Thatcher.  Hmm.  The kind of banter that might be had at any pub or between any group of blokes.  Crude, undoubtedly, but also shown after the watershed and at roughly 11pm on a show well known for its risqué approach and controversial humour.  Cameron knew what he was getting himself in for appearing on such a programme after all.

Would they have been so keen to criticise if Ross was a Tory?

“I like him [Gordon Brown]. If I could say where I’m going to vote, I’d vote for them. But I can’t say where I’m voting because I’m forbidden by my BBC contract.

The Daily Mail was incensed that a figure on the supposedly unbiased BBC could offer support on a political party, but would they have glossed over it if it had been pro-conservative instead of Labour?  I tend to think so.  Despite being a Journalism student I have no qualms about admitting to and criticising the hypocritical and self-serving nature of the British press.

“It was following his interview with kung fu star Jackie Chan that Ross then stunned the audience by trashing the set.”

It may not read as much but it is another indication of the Mail’s hate for Ross.  Let me point out that the audience were not stunned, and indeed laughed.  It was actually during the interview and only a tiny fragment of one single picture of the whole set was broken.  However it is easy to forget the facts when you have a grudge to pursue.

But where does the hate actually come from?  Judging by the frequent references to his ‘obscene’ salary of six million pounds a year it would be this.  Combined with the hatred they seem to have of the BBC of course.

And it is this hatred that seems so hard to fathom.  Not a day goes by without reading an article about another great British institution going under or being taken over, however when it comes to the BBC the Daily Mail is nothing short of damning.  Seeing as the funding for the BBC comes from the licence payer and is thus a public service they are always critical about how money is spent.  400 people go to Glastonbury from the BBC is disgusting they say, not bearing in mind that many are technicians as well as Journalists, presenters and producers.  Money is wasted on World Cup coverage as the studio isn’t even based in the city holding the final?  Who cares?  They give the best damn coverage and it comes at a price.  Yes there is money to be saved but Ross’s much criticised contract was actually for less than rivals were offering.  You can’t produce a quality service without spending and if it isn’t quality then what is the point of it?

Perhaps the Daily Mail is simply too old fashioned.  I hate to admit that it is the paper I read the most, mainly out of habit and convenience, and as someone who recently voted conservative you’d think I’d tend to agree with it.  However it can make my blood boil.  It seems either unwilling or unable to see that what doesn’t appeal to them and perhaps a lot of their readers (mainly aimed at affluent families, with a leaning towards being female friendly) is exactly what other people want.

Comedy values have gone downhill is a familiar cry, Ross is an untalented broadcaster is another.  No, he simply doesn’t appeal to The Mail.  But to 5 million people every Friday night he does.  And will continue to do so whatever channel he is aired on.  So congratulations to the Daily Mail.  You haven’t ended Jonathan Ross’s career, but you have put another nail in the coffin of the one British company you hate by losing an A-list broadcaster from the BBC.

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Not Raoul Moatley bothered

So in the spirit of freedom of speech and all it stands for Siobhan O’Dowd, founder of the controversial “RIP Raoul Moat you Legend”, has caved in to unnecessary pressure and removed the page from Facebook.

Why?

I do not for a second condone Raoul Moat’s actions, and neither do I agree with anyone who shows him any sympathy.  Pure and simple he got what he deserved.  His killing of Chris Brown, shooting of  ex-girlfriend Samantha Stobbart and maiming of police officer David Rathband are reprehensible and unforgivable crimes.  However the fact remains that anyone wishing to support him in a passive and non-conspiratory way should be allowed.

It is not breaking the law to share condolences and neither is it illegal to air one’s opinions, however misguided they may be.  Facebook got this right by refusing to ban the group when asked by 10 Downing Street.

Why exactly were the government involved?  It was my impression that under the new coalition we would be seeing less of the populist politics that so dogged the Labour years.  With a huge budget deficit, a proposed new voting system, widespread outrage over recent torture claims and disillusionment in Afghanistan just a few of the major problems currently facing David Cameron, it is outrageous that any time should be allotted in the 30 minute session of Questions to the Prime Minister to the issue of a minority of people stupidly supporting a murderer – via the internet.

The group attracted roughly 35,000 followers (less than 0.01% of the population), but it is buried within the small print of the sensationalist articles you’ll have read that the vast majority of these so called supporters are actually berating the very few in the group who support Moat.  If anything you could argue the group was a good example of decent morals and ethics shining through as outraged people all over the country criticised the cretins who think murder is an answer to a grudge.  Wouldn’t that have been a much more refreshing and uplifting angle for the media to have taken with the story?

Despite your feelings on the incident, never mind whether you have the popular vote to consider, no matter how disgusting the events of that week, the fact is that freedom of speech is an integral part of the civilised and modern world and the foundation of our society.  The key is in the word ‘freedom.’

Unless such speech is intended to brainwash fanatics and terrorists or reveal state secrets such a right must remain untouched.  Otherwise it becomes a very short step from censoring opinions to creating a police state.

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