Saturday, 30 October 2010

Friends Reunited

It is a rare event when a team is confronted by 3 former players in the same team, however on Saturday Fulham fielded ex Baggies Kamara, Gera and Greening. These players shared much of Albion's recent history and in many ways represented everything that was good and bad about the Robson and Mowbray years.

Kamara was given a mixed reception whereas Gera and Greening were greeted by warm applause which reflects the affection they are remembered with by the Hawthorns faithful.

The new and improved version of the Baggies run out comfortable winners handing out a footballing lesson to the old boys that was not adequately reflected in a 2:1 score line.

The return of the ex-Baggies reminded me of May 2007, which was a watershed for a generation of Albion players. Following a dismal relegation and poor start the squad assembled by Robson was taken over by Tony Mowbray who guided the inconsistent and increasingly disparate bunch to a play-off final where they blew it losing to a workman like Derby County.

The following summer there was a mass exodus and subsequent promotions and relegation has resulted in a dramatic turnover players. In the three and a half years since that sad day at Wembley only Dean Kiely remains at the club.  

Many of the players who thought they were too good for the Championship are now back there and few have covered themselves in glory since their departure 

Paul Robinson  Should have formed part of the exodus in summer 2007 made it abundantly clear that he wanted away telling anyone in earshot  in the tunnel at Wembley that he wanted out. A number of rumoured moves fell through and he played a vital role in the following promotion. Eventually got a move to the mighty Bolton. I was not one of the supporters who gave him generous applause when he returned with his new club.

Curtis Davies Was the stand out defender at the club, despite the shambolic relegation of the previous year had a growing reputation as one of the best young centre backs in the country. Refused to play in the opening fixture prior to getting his £8m move to the Villa. He has not enjoyed the best of luck with injuries and now finds himself in the last year of his Villa contract on loan at Leicester.

Jonathan Greening Blossomed the following season but wouldn't stick with the club following relegation moved onto Fulham for a bit over £4m not first choice at Craven Cottage.
Jason Koumas Sold to Wigan for £5.5m barely played now on loan in the Championship with Cardiff

Paul McShane Lured to Sunderland before he was ready for Premiership football now with Hull in the Championship

Diomansy Kamara Only ever had one good season in English football and Fulham bought him for £6m, seeing him on Saturday reminded me why I thought we got the better end of that deal.
Kevin Phillips His goals propelled us into the premier league the following season but quit to join Blues when we would only offer him a 1 year extension to his contract. Many Baggies fans cite this as reason why we failed to stay up the under Mowbray. They are wrong Phillips was deadly in the Championship but has been restricted to brief cameos for Blues since their promotion.
Zoltan Gera Let his contract run down and jumped ship to Fulham at the end of the following season maybe the best player to leave the Hawthorns from this generation and it is galling that he left for nothing.
Martin Albrechtsen Took a Bosman to Derby, once our record signing never looked comfortable in any of the positions he occupied always likely to drop a clanger now plying his trade in his native Denmark

Chris Perry Released by the club at the end of the season last played at Southampton
Darren Carter Will be remembered for a stunning goal against Arsenal and little else sold to PNE the following season and now on loan at Milwall
Richard Chaplow  For some unknown reason got dogs abuse from a section of the Hawthorns crowd. I thought he was a decent enough player and always gave 100% followed in Darren Carter's footsteps to PNE now on loan at Southampton.
Nathan Ellington Undoubted talent but only ever demonstrated it in glimpses sold for a staggering £3.25m to Watford subsequently loaned to Derby and now farmed out to Skoda Xanthi
Dean Kiely Moved into the goal keeping coach still registered as the emergency goal keeper the sole survivor
Neil Clement Retired from the game last season after a long battle with injury. The last link to a time when we were a mediocre Championship his arrival under Megson was the start of the Yo-Yo era
Nigel Quashie Sold to West Ham in the January transfer window. Achieved a rare feat of being relegated in two successive seasons with different clubs and came very close to making it a hat trick at West Ham
Pascal Zuberbuhler Almost hounded out of the Hawthorns and was replaced by Keily, currently with Fulham but not in their 25 man squad and although on their books since 2008 has yet to play a competitive game.
Robert Koren Tony Mowbray's 1st signing and a Hawthorns favorite but fell down the pecking order and released last summer and now plying his trade with Hull in the Championship.
John Hartson Never fit, a poor signing and typical of the haphazard approach of the Robson years. Although it would be churlish to blame the player for his lack of fitness given he was latter diagnosed with cancer, which is now thankfully in remission.
Russell Hoult Left the club after featuring in a home made porn video wearing nothing but a club polo shirt and a smile. Now Hereford's goalkeeping coach.
Steve Watson A player way past his prime by the time he was signed by the Baggies but still managed to return to score for Sheffield Wednesday the following season
Ronnie Wallwork Only played a handful of games before being loaned out to Barnsley following Tony Mowbray's arrival at the club no surprise Ronnie being a defensive midfielder a breed of player that does not fit with Tony Mowbray's footballing philosophy (see below)

Sam Sodje Accident prone loanee last seen on trial at Sheffield Wednesday after brief flirtation with Greek football at Skoda Xanthi
Stuart Nicholson Promising youngster (capped at under 19 for England) played a handful of games and is now playing in Australia
Jared Hodgkiss Youngster who had limited chances and now plays for Forest Green
Sherjill MacDonald Signed on loan Mowbray always assured the fans he looked sharp in training and was given a permanent contract at the end of the season. The alleged sharpness in training never transferred onto the pitch and now playing in Belgium.
Junichi Inamoto Played in a few games at the start of the season before moving on to Galatasaray.

Tony Mowbray took us up the following season playing brilliant football. Then he buggered off to Celtic following our relegation which many attribute in no small part to his dogged determination to stick to his philosophy even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was not working. Amazingly the fans stuck with him to the end and were rewarded with a huge slap in the face.

Sacked by Celtic following a woeful run of results and he has now pitched up at 'Boro and is spouting Utopian football and talking about the Spanish national side. I note that he has just lost his first game in charge and I fear lessons have not been learnt.

Comparing where the club is today under RDM and May 2007 it is amazing how fundamentally the landscape has changed. Our 2nd string beat Leicester 1:4 during the week many of the of the class of 2007 would not have made into that side and only Gera might really improve the current squad.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


The news that Gydamack is holding Portsmouth to ransom is surprising in that I would have thought that his investment in the club would have been written off when it went into administration.

The fine detail of the transaction involved is not in the public domain but I wait with interest for more news on the subject. Without wishing to rush to judgement I smell a large greedy rat and I am sure one of the most feckless owners in football history will not redeem his tattered reputation.

The whole Pompey saga should strengthen the resolve of clubs to curb the financial excesses of recent years but alas not. The details of Wayne Rooney's contract have yet to emerge but there is media speculation that the deal is worth £250,000 a week, when payroll taxes are taken into account the whole life liability of the contract is a staggering £73m. If that is the case then Man United have finally lost the plot they have just signed a contract not even they cannot afford, for a player who has hardly played one decent game in 6 months and whose off field life is a mess.

To put the Rooney contract into context the increase is worth £9m a year. This contract alone adds roughly 10% to the losses that the club made last year or if you ignore the debt (always a smart move see above) 9% of their operating profit. This is one player and by establishing a new benchmark they will inevitably face increased wage demands from the rest of the squad.

Sir Alex said yesterday that Man United were the biggest club in the world, if that was the case they would have told Rooney to go and bankrupt someone else. Instead they capitulated in what amounts to one of the most shameful climb downs in the history of contract negotiations.

Will United go the way of Pompey ?  I think it is unlikely although at some point in the future there will be a financial crunch at Old Trafford.

Yesterday was a bad day for football but today is Saturday and I'm off to see the Baggies hopefully beat Fulham.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Waynes World

Last year I was pretty good at my job in fact I was one of my employers top performers. However since the spring I have been below par and recently my colleagues have been covering for me. During this time I have been rude to a few customers and there have been one or two unsavoury episodes in  my private life that have become public knowledge and caused my employers a degree of embarrassment. I am coming up for my annual review how do you I think I should play it ?
  1. Tell the company I don't much like the way they are running things and demand that my pay should be doubled.
  2. Keep my head down try my best to rebuild my tarnished reputation and hope that the company doesn't sack me.
Personally I think 2 might be the wiser course of action but if I were a professional footballer then it would appear option 1 is the way to go.

Whilst Manchester United might not be about to cave into Waynes Rooney's demands it would appear that at least two clubs (Chelsea and Man City) are willing to pay in the region of £250,000 a week for his services. How either club can square that with the UEFA financial fair play rules is beyond me given that their wage bills already are already in excess of their gross revenues.  

To cite the Wayne Rooney episode as evidence that the world has gone mad would be wrong, the last vestiges of financial sanity departed English football when the Sheikhs turned up at Man City with a desire to burn money but the whole circus has been morally if not financially bankrupt for years.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

If You Don't Buy A Ticket ......

Things just seem to get better and better at West Brom. Yesterday's fight back at Old Trafford must be one of our best results in the Premiership. I was listening to the car radio and when the equaliser went in I nearly crashed (I was in the outside lane of the M1) so I had to turn the radio off  just in case we nicked it!!

Having watched the game you could argue there was more than a little bit of good fortune about our goals particularly the equaliser but we created our own luck by being positive even though we were two goals down. Unless Tchoyi makes a positive run into the box to try and get onto the end of a cross Van Der Sar's fumble is embarrassing but there is no goal.

Inevitably all the media attention has been on Man U playing badly and the demise of Wayne Rooney, Chris Lepkowski has suggested that this irritates the Albion players a little which is good, players with a point to prove are generally well motivated. However the rumour mill is starting to link various players with moves to bigger clubs the latest is Chris Brunt apparently being targeted by Liverpool. One would have to wonder why Brunt would want to move from a club challenging for European football to one in a relegation scrap (now I am getting ahead of myself). Much of the progress we have made as a club could be undermined if we lose key players if not in January, then over the summer.

In that context it was interesting to note that the club matched Fulham's offer to Greening in a bid to keep him prior to his move in 2009. This showed a willingness on the part of the club to take a risk given that the wages in question were no doubt substantial and at the time we were in the Championship. Albion fans have criticised Chairman Jeremy Peace for his lack of ambition but to be fair to our Chairman he has built on sound foundations and hopefully we will able to see off the predators so we can continue to grow and we can look forward to more days like yesterday.

In the meantime I am going to the Hawthorns to watch us against Fulham next Saturday and hopefully collect at least a point towards out first target, which in case anyone is in any danger of getting carried away is 40 points for survival.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Christian Purslow's lack of imagination

On 22nd September Oliver Kay of the Times tweeted the following quote from Liverpool MD

"Liverpool FC isn't going bust. I can't conceive of a situation where Liverpool FC could go into administration"

My reply was

"Just demonstrates a lack of imagination on the part of Christian Purslow"

This might have been a trifle unfair on Christian because at the time he was engaged in negotiations with various parties over the sale of the club and stating that the club was on the verge of financial meltdown would not do anything for the sale price. However the combination of the October 15th deadline for paying back £280m of loans to an ever increasingly impatient RBS and owners who were both volatile and unpredictable could easily lead to administration.

It seems that the court case will determine the outcome, either Hicks and Gillett will be forced to sell to NESV or RBS will pull the plug and that means administration.

To suggest that the holding company is insolvent but the football club is not, when the holding company owns one assest the football club is a nonsense and there is no way the Football Authorities would not act as if Liverpool FC were in administration.

For what is worth I do not think the doomsday scenario will come to pass, Hicks and Gillett for all their bluster must know the game is up and will be just glad to exit with a fistfull of dollars but they will have their day in court to wring the last few drops of juice out of Liverpool.

A Blog about Not Playing Poker

When I started this blog I said it was a blog mainly about poker and football. I have mentioned football a bit looking for jobs and some random other stuff but nothing about Poker.

The reason for this I was that I have not been playing. The whole job search thing has been very time consuming and more importantly I know of late my head has certainly not been right for Poker, so I have not played. This is a welcome sign of maturity on my part I know there are times in the past when in similar circumstances I have ploughed on regardless with the inevitable consequences.

Early in my period of unemployment I set myself a task of grinding out a living in cash games for a week, partly to prove to myself that if push came to shove I could do it. I won but not at an hourly rate that would have kept me in the style I have become used to but not too shabby either. Although by the end of the week it felt like a grind and I was making mistakes probably just out of boredom in point of fact I was borderline tilting. This surprised me a little I thought with time on my hands and being able to concentrate on poker my game would blossom. On the contrary.

The following week I had various job related appointments so couldn't commit to a full weeks grind but  when I logged on there was no real desire to bring my A game to the table and after a short flirtation with games B & C I found some game from the arse end of the alphabet and went with that. Fortunately I decided to stick the breaks on and after that I have pretty much left the online game alone.

All of which brings me to last nights little misadventure. I was labouring under the mistaken belief is that my on line game was jaded and a little jaunt to the seaside to play the Brighton leg of the GUKPT would do the trick. I could not have been more wrong, I hated the experience almost from start to finish and crowned a miserable night by playing Aces  badly to bust out before the 1st break. I should have been livid with myself I wasn't, I was relieved.

When I started playing it was fun and a bit of an adventure 10 years on it is'nt I have stopped progressing as a player and when that happens you are going backwards at an alarming rate last night crystallised these thoughts.

I have reached a decision that I will quit I no longer enjoy the game it has been good to me, I will cash in the bankroll buy a car with it and stick the rest into my pension fund or whatever. I simply cannot abide the thought of playing badly just through a lack of desire and that is what is starting to happen.

This blog is now mainly about football.