The Groundsman’s Shed

Grounds’ Clippings: The Guvnor at Blackburn by groundsman
June 22, 2008, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Blackburn, Cristiano Ronaldo, football, Footballers, MK Dons, Paul Ince, Real Madrid

It’s Sunday.  I’m at work.  Italy and Spain are strolling around a pitch in Vienna looking as if this were a friendly rather than a quarter final match in the European Championships.  If they’re not going to be bothered today, I may not as well.  To be honest, I’m still a bit gutted about the Dutch loss to Russia last night- but at least it was a quality match. 

In the meantime, it’s a bit of a slow news weekend all around, but some folks have managed to pick out some quality goodness:

The Guvnor’s Coming To Ewood Park (The Guardian): Paul Ince has become the first black manager in the Premier League after being appointed manager of the Blackburn Rovers.  That’s right, he beat out Big Sam Allardyce for the jobby job, and here’s hoping the former England captain and MK Dons manager will make it through his three year contract.

Just let him bloody go!  If Cristiano Ronaldo wants to go to Real Madrid, then let him- if only so that writers can stop wasting column inches online and in the sports pages on this guy.  Yeah, he’s a really good player, yeah, he’s probably not a very nice chap- we know, we know.  I found this fantastic letter to Cristiano from a ManU fan, and well- it says it all. (Manchester Red)

How many sports blogs are written by women?  Let me rephrase this: How many sports blogs are obviously  written by women? Do you care? As a woman footie blogger, and a fan of bloggery in general, I was stoked when Anna of This Is Extra Time sent over this link to an interview with Andrea from Ladiesdotdotdot about blogging whilst female.


Premier League: Wrapping Up the Wrap Ups by groundsman

As mentioned in an earlier post, it’s that time of year when sports writers hand out their awards for the season’s best and worst, look back at some of the preseason predictions, and of course lampoon those they feel deserve it. At least for this year. Here at the Shed, we’re bringing you the ultimate of end of season nostalgia: The Wrap Up of the Wrap-Ups.

-Do you long to see and hear 17 minutes of Alan Hansen’s opinions? Good news then, as BBC has put together a video tying together the big stories of the season. Unfortunately they don’t own the rights to any match footage anymore, so they’re just making liberal use of still photos, not unlike 16 year old YouTube fanatics experimenting with Windows Moviemaker. …but you’ve got to work with what you have.

-Shed favorite Sniffing the Touchline will likely do a series of “wrap ups”, but we particularly enjoyed this list of the players most likely to be cast off/happily leave from their clubs during the summer.

-Good ol’ Pies takes a look at some of the best quotes of the 2007-2008 season (the Cesc doughnuts one is superb), and also unveils their report card for the season.

In Case You Missed it: Ronaldo’s Fall from Grace… by groundsman
April 29, 2008, 4:07 pm
Filed under: AC Milan, Cristiano Ronaldo, football, Injury, Legal Limbo, Ronaldo

Remember when there was only one Ronaldo in the football world?  Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo came onto the scene and everyone began referring to the petulant Portugese as “no, not THAT one- the legendary one”.

Ah, how the times have changed.  One player hopes to score in the Champions League Final in Moscow as PFA Player of the Year,  while the other is sidelined with a serious injury, said to be too fat to to be match-fit, and now… accused with apparently paying off transvestite prostitutes.

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 28 (Reuters) – Police said on Monday they were investigating allegations by three transvestites that Brazilian soccer star and AC Milan forward Ronaldo threatened to harm them after he took them to a Rio de Janeiro motel.
Police told a news conference they were also looking into an accusation by the 31-year-old player that one of the three men tried to extort 50,000 reais ($29,600) in return for not telling the media about the incident.
Ronaldo, who is back in his hometown recovering from an injury, left a nightclub in the posh Barra da Tijuca neighborhood early on Monday with three call girls, only to find out at the motel they were men, according to authorities.
He then offered each of them 1,000 reais ($592) to wrap up the matter, but only two of them accepted his offer, police said.
“I have to check both sides of the story, the transvestites’ version and Ronaldo’s,” Carlos Augusto Nogueira, chief of the police precinct investigating the incident, told a news conference.
Ronaldo said he is not good in the head and that he is going through psychological problems because of his recent surgery,” he said.
In a statement, Ronaldo said he was a victim of extortion and would take all possible steps to clear his name, according to the Web site of the Globo television network.
Representatives for Ronaldo were not immediately available for comment.

Champions League Lessons by groundsman
April 2, 2008, 6:08 pm
Filed under: Champions League, Chelsea, Cristiano Ronaldo

Apologies for the lack of posts for the past couple of days but sometimes it’s good to get away from the computer and enjoy the warm sun burning your face, the incessant chirping of angry and demanding newborn birds, and the scent of spring pollen clogging your sinuses.

Yeah, I learned my lesson.

In the meantime, I think we all learned a thing or two from the recent European matches:

a) Even with four English Premier League teams involved in the last bits of The Champions League, the matches turned out to be fierce but loose affairs

b) Teams need to begin looking for a Cristiano Ronaldo antidote as soon as possible.  Need a reason? Take a look at this awesome headed goal.  It’s ridiculous.  Absolutely ridiculous.  However, not everyone is sending admiring glances toward the spritely Portugese player-Roma’s David Pizarro says Ronaldo was “showboating” during last night’s play.  I say,  ‘you should have seen him a few years ago, mate.  Would have made your stomach turn.  At least he’s actually helping the rest of his team these days.’  Remember when he was truly a showpony who would just do tricks down the sidelines?  Yeah, that’s not what he’s doing now.  

c) Kudos to Fenerbahce for their passionate 2-1 win and their vocal and exciting fans, and equally excitable players.  Meanwhile, Chelsea are still stuck on two settings: lukewarm and cold, and when they’re cold- they freeze themselves out of contention for much needed silverware. 

Wonder what the rich Russian thinks of it?

[Photo: Reuters/Fatih Saribas]

Keegan: We could have scored 7 or 8 against Tottenham by groundsman
March 30, 2008, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Kevin Keegan, Newcastle, Premier League

[Photo: BBC archives]

Normally I believe a negative comment about Newcastle is equivalent to kicking away a blind man’s stick, but in the English tradition of over egging that proverbial pudding, today King Kev says he believes his side could have scored “seven or eight” goals on Tottenham.  In reality, the team scored four, a goal for each for their beleaguered strike team, but at no point was the game a total romp in the mold of Manchester United on a good day.  

Continuing my small rant concerning the over-excited headlines following last week’s win, I believe Newcastle still have much to prove.  The team still resembles a rusty, dusty old cabinet in my gran’s attic: they need more than just a good wipe down- they may require a full resurfacing, plus a paint and stain job before they can truly shine and make anyone take notice in the Premier League (other than for their ability not to get relegated- which should be cause for the smallest and most grudging of celebrations).  In the presser Keegan mentioned talking with the current squad about getting “a few big summer signings”, which still may not be enough for the current squad to challenge for any hardware in the league. 

“Leave Beckham ALONE!”

I won’t be reclining on white bedsheets, wiping away my mascara, whilst lauding his career achievements and calling his detractors “bastards” any time soon, but the massive over-reaction to an international friendly and excited screams of “I’m bored!!!111” concerning David Beckham’s 100th cap from from the other side of the Atlantic have been pretty incredible. 

If you read any English newspaper over the past few days, you’d think Beckham was single handedly responsible for the loss to France, the mortgage rate crisis, and the failure of the British Empire.  He didn’t have a fantastic individual performance, but he wasn’t the worst player on the pitch by far- so I don’t understand the sneering toward his triple digit caps- something most of the current “heroes” of the national team will never achieve.  Clearly, I’m not the only one spitting up the media provided kool-aid, because the BBC’s Fan Player-Rater application shows fans voted him the best player in the England side for that match.  Numbers don’t often lie- so journos, and Guardian blog commenters- get over Becks.  You have a good coach, so trust his judgement.

Is Cristiano Ronaldo the Best Player in the World?

[Photo: AP/PA Martin Rickett]

That’s the topic going ’round on the boards and blogs I read through on a daily basis, and while the topic starter will usually say “Yeah, he’s different class, absolutely brilliant”, inevitably someone in the thread will say one of two things:

1) “You’re saying he’s the best based upon the notion that the Premier League IS the best league in the world, rather than the one with the most money.  He’s the best in his league, but without having seen football in other countries week in and week out, it’s unfair to make that judgement.”

2) “How do you define ‘best’?  Does it mean the ability to score lots of goals? Does it mean the player has more entertainment value on the field? Does it mean he creates the best opportunities for his teammates?”

What’s your take on the question? Is it totally irrelevant in the world outside of the context of English football- or does CR7 have a claim on the “Best in the World” distinction?

Roundup:Shirtsleeve Tributes, MLS action, Arsenal’s Krazy Komeback by groundsman


-Jermain Defoe got in on the t-shirt scribbling tribute by putting Sharpie to Spandex and penning a sentiment for his gran on Saturday.  He of course recieved a yellow card for his troubles, but it’s no matter- Pompey took down Wigan 2-0, thanks to JD’s goalscoring efforts and DJ’s work between the sticks.  ‘arry Redknapp was so pleased with his keeper that he said, “James was a fantastic signing. They kept throwing all these silly names at me. There was only one goalkeeper I wanted here. He was different class. He’s the Ronaldo of goalkeepers. He’s got so much talent.”  You can read DJ’s take on the up and down week for him in his column on The Guardian website.

-Speaking of goalie’s who can write, the beloved Shaka Hislop is the new MLS correspondent for GU Sport.  His latest blog could use some punctuation, but it’s still a refreshing and non-condescending look at Major League Soccer.  Also, it’s Shaka.  C’mon now.

I am working overnights in the CNN digital recording center this weekend, so I fell asleep after Premier League action finished, thus already going back on my promise to be an MLS supporter, but I’ll be watching re-feeds of the matches during my shift tonight.  Click here for the scores.

-I came home to watch the Bolton-Arsenal match, and was horrified to see it was 1-0 when I flicked on the channel.  Mere minutes later, the Arse went down 2-nil, and when I went to see how the lads and ladies over at the Arsenal Facebook group were taking in the match, I was alarmed to see that some were clearly near tears.  I’ve no idea what Arsene Wenger said to the boys in the dressing room at the half, but I’m pretty sure it was something along the lines of, “Hm… maybe we should try to win this, eh?”  The players must have agreed, because within minutes of taking the field for the second half, they’d leveled the score at 2-2.  The final score of 2-3 to Arsenal was accomplished by Cesc Fabregas kicking the ball and joyfully watching it ricochet off of two hapless Bolton boys before it finally dropped in the net.  Not exactly pretty stuff, but a win is a win.

-The pundits on Setanta (and some print news outlets) have dubbed Manchester United “the title holders-elect”, and after watching the match against the absolute shower that was Aston Villa today, it’s hard to disagree (though I really, really want to do so).  I can’t stop watching Ronaldo’s accidental/on-purpose flick on goal- it’s frightening how good and useful that guy has gotten over the past year.

-League Two’s MK Dons take on Grimsby at Wembley on Sunday for the unfortunately named Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.  The Observer has a nice little write up about the club’s journey through its relocation, problems with finances, hiring of Paul Ince, and now bid for silverware. 

-Those of you who read and were shocked by the dry-heave inducing News of the World story about Derby County manager Paul Jewell’s hour-long videotaped bondage romp with an unnamed blonde will be thrilled/oddly disappointed that the tabloid has removed the story from their website at the behest of a law firm.  Don’t worry, we’re sure it’s archived somewhere.