Monday, 29 November 2010

Blog when your winning you only blog when your winning...

Maybe I am a fair weather blogger, the last couple of weeks have been a bit grim and for once I am not talking about the form of the Baggies although I did witness the 3:0 demise at the hands of Stoke which did very little for morale. I have just not felt like recording my darker depressed self and to be honest there have been points in the last couple of weeks that even an Albion win would not have lifted the gloom. However today I have felt a little happier with life in general and for once my team did not let me down.

RDM made a few changes to the team with Brunt and Dorrans returning to the line up,  Pableo being rested and Scharner dropping back into the back 4. Carson had to make a few decent saves before Scharner put the Baggies 1 up and this was followed by an absolute gem of a free kick from Brunt. Cahill pulled one back for Everton just before half time to set up a tight 2nd half.

The pivotal incident happened  on the hour mark Arteta being sent off after stamping on Jara who might have been considered fortunate to escape punishment after a couple of particularly rugged challenges had left a trail of Everton players on the ground. Whilst Everton still posed a threat, Albion closed out the game with 2 well crafted goals from Tchoyi and Mulumbu. The only sour note was Mulumbu's soft dismissal for 2 bookable offences the 1st of which was for dashing into the crowd to celebrate the 4th goal.

Mulumbu's non stop work in our midfield and his unbounded enthusiasm has made him a fans favourite but sometimes he gets a little carried away and this is his second soft dismissal this season. We will miss his presence against Newcastle that is for sure. However his  dismissal could hardly take the shine off a very good result for us.

Poker back to my Roots...

Having pretty much given up on the game and cashed in the bankroll about a month ago I got lured back, i.e. I had time to kill and stuff to brood on which is not a happy combination. At a bit of a loose end this weekend I made my back into the fold of Brighton's finest recreational poker players, calling stations, degenerate gamblers and whining old gits and played a local live tournament maybe for the first time in 2 years. I passed a few hours chasing a few hundred quid falling just short 2 off the money and enjoyed it.  

The standard of play was awful and I was blessed with three calling stations on my first table who rendered any tournament strategy based on the concept of fold equity completely null and void. I might put all three of them into a big tournament just to irritate the hell out of the 4 bet re squeeze merchants whose whole approach to the game is based on the fact that their opponents cannot call.

Oh yes I can call your 4 bet pre-flop and your three barrel bluff with 2nd pair and I will give you a rubdown into the bargain don't you worry young man I have been playing this game for years I have never seen 2 cards I don't like and if I want to see all five cards on the flop then I am going to see them, short of lobbing in a live snake you cannot scare me off a pot.

Needless to say I tried a couple of continuation bets, realised this was a monumental folly, adjusted and just laughed when the uber station managed to snag a runner runner gutshot straight draw which he didn't bet on the river because he misread his hand. I never understand why professionals complain about playing bad players to me they the life blood of the game and should never be discouraged from supporting the poker economy.

Talking of Mugs

The terms of the Irish bail out have been announced it would appear that the emergency funding imposed on Ireland will cost an eye watering 6% which further rubs salt into the Irish wounds. The scale of the meltdown cannot be under estimated and the announcement that the Irish minimum wage was being cut by 1 euro an hour as part of the package to avoid the bondholders having to take a "haircut" is a sad indicement of the world in which we live in. The poorest people in society who probably benefited the least in the boom years have to make a sacrifice to prop up feckless bankers and maintain a coporate tax rate of 12%.

In the UK we are scrambling around to find a few billion to prop up the Irish econmy because it is not in our national interest for the Ireland to crumble into economic and possibly political chaos (the 2 tend to go hand in glove) not least because of the exposure of the UK banking sector.

I read that the two banks with the biggest exposure to the Irish Banking sector are RBS and Lloyds TSB. So not content to pile up their on loan books with countless millions of dubious loans to the property sector they found other banks to lend to who were engaged in the same practice. Words fail me and we are worried that the banking sector in the UK would be stripped of its talent if we made banks report openly about their bonuses, heaven forbid if the banks were run by poorly paid incompetents as opposed to the masters of the universe who have delivered such a profitable and vibrant banking sector.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Betjeman You Are So Nicked

This has been a hell of a week for law and disorder. Firstly there was the absolute farce of the twitter trial where the full force of the law has been brought to bear on some poor devil who made a tongue in cheek remark about blowing up Robin Hood Airport.(see for details)

If Paul Chambers is in the crown court for threatening to blow up an airport that until he tweeted about blowing it up most people did not know existed, how much trouble would John Betjeman be in for the immortal lines

"Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough" ?

Slough that is a whole town, thousands of innocent people live there. They make Mars bars there, people would miss it (well the Mars Bars  anyway) but here is Betjeman is calling for it's wanton destruction by means of high explosive. How irresponsible is that ?  

You have to wonder about the intelligence of the people involved in the prosecution. At any point did somebody not think "if this goes to trial we are going to look very stupid." Although to have got to trial and then been prosecuted the case would have passed through the hands of many qualified people all of whom have degrees but not much sense, not unlike the student protesters up in arms over increases in tuition fees.

The spoilt children of the English middle classes had a temper tantrum and broke a few windows, I hope it made them feel better because that is all that the protest will achieve. If they want to change tuition fees, simply do not sign up for the courses the prices will soon fall. That said if a whole generation failed to go University where would the Crown Prosecution Service get the next generation of highly educated lawyers ? 

A world with fewer lawyers wouldn't that be a terrible thing ? If any of the thought police at the CPS stumble across this blog and are now searching for John Betjeman's tweets I will save you the trouble, he died in 1984 and I am  fairly sure that was not an act of irony on his part.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Money Cannot Buy you Love

There is a limit to what money can buy in football. Man City are finding out the hard way that just throwing money at a team (£325m and counting) is no gaurentee of sucess. However given the sheer weight of money the Sheiks have put into the team and the wages that the players are earning they have the right to expect a little more for their money than City have produced in their last few outings.

Under Mancini there are 2 Man Citys, a team that is nasty, mean spirited, fractous and effective, the other is nasty, mean spirited, fractous and ineffective. The former turned up at the Hawthorns today.

The difference is the presence of Tevez whilst not diminishing City's competitive nature they are  a whole tougher proposition with him than without him. Tevez proved our undoing in making the first goal for Balotelli and poor defending gave the Italian his second. Balotelli then launched a diabolical tackle on Shorey for which he was not even carded, eventually an assault by the striker on Mulumbu resulted in a straight red.

Despite having a man advantage for a large part of the 2nd half we only threatened sporadically. City deployed every spoiling tatic in the book and Mulumbu who was booked in the fracas following Balotelli's challenge managed to pick up a 2nd yellow for a foul on Tevez, who of course rolled around in agony just to help the referee make up his mind. No need another star struck referee was looking to even things up in any event after being pretty much forced to send off Balotelli (who is a seriously nasty piece of work)

Overall not a good day at the office for the Baggies. Playing Shorey at Right Back didn't work the defence looked shaky and we didn't really create that much, certainly until Odenwingie came on. We will have better days and RDM needs to have a bit of a rethink before the trip to Upton Park on Wednesday which might be the 1st game this season where we are under a bit of pressure to get a result with a depleted squad.

I am not bitter about the defeat frankly we were not good enough on the day to beat City, but as Brian Clough once said of an equally unlovable Leeds side of the 1970's "You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly" This lot have not won a damn thing yet and it is my hope they never do, it will be a dark day for English football if this ugly cynical side win anything. Mancini can take his brand of football back to Italy where it belongs.

Post Script

How City had the brass neck to lodge an appeal over the red card is beyond me. As for Mancini's observation that you "win nothing with Angels" it is to be hoped that you win nothing with low level thuggery. If that is the best you can do with money at your disposal frankly the Arabs would have been better off burning the money at least we would have some pretty colours to look at for a few minutes rather than this ugly bunch of over paid footballing mercenaries.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Tangerine Nightmare

Rocks for Brains 
After the mauling at Chelsea on the opening day of the season the Baggies have been on a fine run which has seen us only suffer one defeat in 12 league and cup games, an unlucky 1:0 defeat at Anfield. On the back of this run we found ourselves going to Bloomfield Road on Monday 6th in the league and in the quarter finals of league cup.
Most Baggies whilst enjoying the moment know this will not last and we know that we go through a rocky patch.

It is to be hoped that the farce at Blackpool is not the start of a sustained downswing. I say farce because the sending off of Ibanez in the 12th minute effectively robbed us of any real chance of winning a game that on the evidence of the remainder of the game and our form going into it was an opportunity to gain 3 points.

The fact the FA have since rescinded the  red card reinforces what most commentators felt was a harsh decision. Even at 10 v 11 the game was not completely beyond hope, however what happened next just killed us. For reasons only he knows our Chiliean RB Gonzalo Jara decided to launch himself at Luke Varney in what can only described as a horror tackle. This was particularly stupid because
  • Varney was no threat he hiss back to goal by the corner flag
  • We were already down to 10 men.
  • The referee had  shown his willingness to dish out red cards
As Andy Gray said on Sky "Rocks For Brains". Jara was one of the stars of last year's promotion campaign and although he is an experienced International he is prone to lunge into tackles and is struggleing to cope at the higher level. That said he is still our best option at right back.

It says much for the team spirit and Blackpool's lack of composure in front of goal that 9 man Albion nearly clawed their way back into the game to snatch a point. At 2:0 down I thought we were dead and buried but Mulumbu scored the goal of the season to haul us back into the game and give Blackpool an uncomfortable last 10 minutes.

The 9 men can take a huge amount of credit from the game. The never say die spirit is encouraging and is a contrast to earlier Baggies teams in the Premier League that folded quicker than a cheap suit when faced with adversity.

Next up is Man City who are in a bit of a crisis after 2 woeful performances against the Wolves and Lech Poznan. I fear the backlash but without Tevez they look fairly ordinary which is shocking considering the countless millions that have been spent on the team.

For the Albion Odenwingie should be able to play some part in the game but Jonas Olsson is missing and is likely to out for the next 6 weeks. Gonzala "Rocks for Brains" Jara is of course suspended which leaves Di Matteo a choice of Steven Reid or Gianni Zuiverloon. As excellent footballer as Steven Reid is he is only an emergency Right Back and it speaks volumes as to Di Matteo's opinion of  Zuiverloon that he played Reid ahead of him when Jara was injured last year. Zuiverloon had a brilliant spell at the beginning of his career with the Baggies but now seems completely lost, he has the concentration levels of a goldfish and I fear the worst if he were to play on Sunday.

It is the problem that we now have for the next 3 games that could turn Monday's game from a disappointment into a bit of a nightmare.