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.


Euro2008 Marches On-Desailly shouting the whole way by groundsman
June 20, 2008, 4:19 pm
Filed under: BBC, football, France, punditry, pundits

Shed’s Note: Apologies for taking a few days off from my duties of diligently recording my idle observations on sport, but alas- the tainted tomatoes here in the U.S. got me, and I was confined to bed with food poisoning for a few days with nothing but an uncaring cat and even less sympathetic friends and neighbors to comfort me.

But that’s enough whingeing.  On with the tournament:

Last week, I asked for your round up of your favorite TV pundits, commentators, and hosts to form the Pundit’s Champion’s League.  Today, I would like to add another person to my illustrious list- the BBC’s Marcel Desailly, the former French national team captain. 

If you haven’t been watching the English coverage, Marcel just stands awkwardly inside the football stadium with some other bloke who’s only job is simply to ask him questions.  Because the unlikely pair are on the sidelines in a very full stadium, they are forced to scream at eachother- an interesting choice for a punditry setup, as Marcel’s English-as-a-second-language commentary is made better when he’s shouting it excitedly over the Austrian technopop pumped through the stadium speakers.   You may be able to barely hear or understand him, but with his genuine enthusiasm, uptown fade haircut, and quality international credentials, he’s a refreshing way to break up the clearly bored, clearly stuffy, and far too color coordinated Match of the Day team (excepting Martin O’Neill, of course.  He’s been fantastic this tournament).

Just wanted to note that.  I’ll be back in stride soon- still weak…must drink Gatorade.  …no, on second thought…champagne….

Grounds’ Clippings: Abramovich Takes Over Colorado Territory by groundsman

-After an unfortunate 0-1 loss to Spain earlier this month, and the excruiatingly dull 2-0 loss to England I witnessed at Wembley, the United States men’s national team got an exercise in ego boosting with an 8-0 trouncing of Barbados in a World Cup qualifying match on Sunday.  The scoreline looks pretty awesome, but the opponents were truly hopeless.  There are still some severe problems with fundamentals like ball handling and control, and even when given plenty of room by Barbados for improvisation and creativity, we played an extremely direct forward attacking style. 

Roman Abramovich is coming to America!  It’s old news, but it still brings a shiver to the spine, thinking he could buy up the Colorado Rapids club in the MLS and turn it into Chel$ki-Lite.  The Russian oil billionaire bought at 36 million dollar ranch near Aspen.  He already bought another property near Snowmass, CO back in February.  …so just what is he planning to do in Colorado that requires so much land and two houses?  (Answer: Pick up hottie snow bunnies on the slopes, no shame in that)


Waar de Engelsen zijn? Wo Englisch ist? где английские языки? Where are the English?  For the first few days of Euro2008, fans were singing it and saying it in different languages- and we have the answer… the English national team players are on beaches ’round the world, working diligently on their tans, apparently not even bothering with a bit of keepy uppy on the sand.  I mean, at least Steve McClaren is watching a bit of footy on the time off.

-The life of a football blogger is a bit well, different, during a major tournament.  With major news outlets analyzing every last morsel of each match, a blogger’s reach for material (when not on site) is somewhat limited.  So they go with whatever Getty images has available for a cheap ‘n’ easy post: WAGS and hot girls in the stands.  Por ejemplo: The top posts on both Newsnow and Soccerblogs have had to do “sexy girls” and/or “body paint” for the past 5 days or so. 


Buffon’s Black Cravat and Turkish Delight by groundsman
June 15, 2008, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Buffon, ESPN, Euro2008, football, Italy, Turkey v. Czech Republic, Video

After today’s absolute cracker of a match between Turkey and The Czech Republic, I’m left breathless.  ESPN was so enamored that they replayed the match from the beginning straight away- an excellent programming choice, as it was the absolute perfect match for a neutral.   Drama, heart, an incredible comeback, an insane last minute ending… I won’t go into it all, and won’t even mention the score- you just have to see it for yourself.

  Didn’t get a chance to watch?  Here is a very short highlight reel from Soccernet.  I’ll post something better a bit later, but ITV and BBC have liscensing issues to deal with.

In other news:

What’s up with Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and the black neckerchief?  It’s like David James and that unfortunate little hat he perched atop his equally ill advised afro.  The black cravat made him look like a Cowboy Keeper, but as with many of the gestures and tattoos of the lads in the Italian side, I wonder if it had any use other than a sweat wicking device.  Any ideas?  I doubt it’s anything particularly controversial or thrilling, but I’d like to hear some creative ideas.


The Euro 2008 Pundit’s League by groundsman
June 14, 2008, 6:15 pm
Filed under: BBC, Euro2008, football, Gary Lineker, ITV, pundits, Setanta Sports, TV

As a football-loving American, I’ve often gone to great lengths to see broadcasts of live matches., Sopcast, various dodgy looking sites from China- I’ve scoured them all for English-speaking footy commentary at one time or another.   Though the Euro2008 matches are shown on ESPN, I would rather listen to vigorous elephant-on-pig action than hear Tommy Smyth’s often offensively ill-informed opinions, so I come to work to watch European television, or simply bask in the warm glow of my laptop. 

ITV and BBC are splitting the Euros coverage between them, and as one Guardian MBM commenter noted- there should be a tournament to decide who will continue to cover the matches, and who will agree to never appear on television again.  As we all know, a good television pundit is hard to find- and of course the term “good” is incredibly subjective (my apologies to anyone who worships at the Altar of Smyth), so I’m interested to find out who would be on your TV Football Pundit Dream Team.

My team?

Commentators: David Pleat (ITV) , Barry Davies (BBC-retired) substitutes: John Motson (BBC- I love old people), Mark Bright (BBC- gets emotional)

Pundits/Presenters:  James Richardson (Setanta Sports), Gary Lineker (BBC), Martin O’Neill (BBC), Rob Stone (ESPN), Andy Townsend (ITV),

Color/Feature Reporters: Adrian Chiles (BBC), Kelly Dalglish (Setanta Sports)

Yes, most of the BBC Match of the Day team are painfully boring and smug, ITV’s pundits are tolerable- but the inclusion of Sam Allardyce and his gold chains and ill fitting pants is distracting.  The only thing ESPN ever had going for its football coverage is Rob Stone, and even Andy Gray can’t do more than look upset at being stuck in Bristol, CT as an effort to cut costs instead of actually experiencing tournament action overseas. 

All said, who’s on your top team?

Luiz Felipe Scolari- A Man in the Pub’s Profile by groundsman
June 12, 2008, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Chelsea, EPL, football, football manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari

Thanks to those of you who commented on the previous entry concerning your thoughts on Big Phil Scolari’s appointment as Chel$ki manager on Wednesday.   Those of you who don’t know much about the international manager may be able to flesh out some sort of a picture of the kind of club manager he’ll be with these quotes from readers, forumers, pundits, proper journos, and players alike. 

Or you’ll just have to wait until August to see how well this latest schooner is going to sail.  ‘Til then, let’s see what folks have to say:

“Terrible appointment. It look like Abramovich is trying to prove conclusivly the adage too many cooks spoil the broth. Too many advisers, hangers on and politicians . The Chief Exec should have been left to get on with the job. I don’t think he will last the whole of one season.”- Paul (Commenter)

“he has never managed european club teams, he hasnt managed a club for 7 years, and he doesnt speak english. but something tells me he is the guy for us. I think he will be brilliant”- Jonathan (Forumer)

“”He’s got a fantastic CV and he’s doing a brilliant job at the moment for Portugal… I think he will be popular. I think the only thing is – and I’m not sure how good his grasp of English is – that he will have to learn the language pretty quickly. But Fabio Capello has done that and I think once Scolari does that he can communicate his thoughts to the Chelsea fans and they will listen to him and love him. He’ll be as controversial as Mourinho.” –Scott Minto (Fmr Chelsea Player)

“If he gets around to punching someone a la Euro qualifiers, I’m down.”-thedameofextratime  (Commenter)

“The fascinating aspect is the methods Scolari will adopt at Chelsea. Roman Abramovich…has taken the remarkable step…of conceding tacitly that he might have been in error. The pragmatism that was apparently odious in Mourinho must be in fashion once more.” –Kevin McCarra (The Guardian)

“I am happy to see that the majority of fans seem to agree with this appointment but of course some will always complain.   Lets get behind the new manager … whether he was your personal choice or not, he is the man now, lets not waste time complaining and give him a chance to prove himself at the club.  I say thank you to Abramovich and Kenyon for getting Scolari.” -Steve (Forumer)
“He’s a pragmatist, with an exceptional ability to simply get things done. Beyond that, he can be abrasive (though he has tried to mellow of late), his personnel choices are sometimes dubious and, sometimes, he gets the big decisions wrong (Portugal did contrive to lose to Greece twice at Euro’ 04). But hey, nobody is perfect.”- Gabriele Marcotti (Sports Illustrated)
Need more?  Of course you do.  Here’s The Telegraph’s A to Z of Phil Scolari

Your Take: Scolari Moves to Chelsea by groundsman
June 11, 2008, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Chelsea, Filipe Scolari, football, football manager, Phil Scolari, Portugal

The current and soon to be former Portugese national team coach, Luiz Filipe Scolari, is going to Stamford Bridge starting July 1st.


Your thoughts?

I’ll post the most coherent responses later tonight.

[Photo: AP/Yahoo!]