The magic of Barney Ronay

The Article, as it is, is of little importance, Barney Ronay of the Guardian is a magician of the written word,

Sample this:

More recently José Mourinho seems to have decided the best approach at Manchester United is to spend his first few weeks standing on the touchline looking crumpled and sad and heroically betrayed, like a man on the hard shoulder of the M6 staring balefully across the nearside lines above his raised bonnet, rain gluing his shirt to his back, phone dead, credit card maxed out, kids living in Bicester, golf clubs repossessed, 800 units of polyester carpet samples scattered across the back seat.

And this

For an essentially unflashy footballer he remains an oddly compelling sight throughout all this, not obviously quick but mobile and relentless, not tricky but precise on the ball, and with a pummelling shot from a low backlift. He is also very dear and likeable, a man slightly out of his time, resembling as he stands to attention in the pre-match lineup the ghost of a kindly Victorian chimney sweep. Albeit with something steely and slightly frightening.

The Article is here.


Me on The Guardian: About Premier League Fans from India

i made this comment about Indian Premier League Fans – and how you can tell from when they are following football by the team they support. It was published on the Guardian’s Matchday MBM – for the North London Derby [WHICH ARSENAL WON! AWESOME!]

Check 5:01 PM BST – Click Here.

Shom Biswas offers this explanation: “You can understand when the Indian person started watching football, from which club he follows. The cable channels started showing the Premier League in the late 90’s – Arsenal and Man United were the big dogs then. So an Arsenal fan is one who got into Premier League Football in the late 90s. A Chelsea fan is one who started during the early Abramovich days, a Liverpool fan either the old fogey who used to read about the exploits of the Dalglish/Rush days in the newspapers, or the ones who have ‘that night in Istanbul’ as their first football experience, and a Man City fan … well…


“Anyone can be a Man United fan, they have been top dogs for long.”

Guardian Comment: Football: Why Spain, why Germany, why not England

Here was the article, but that’s not important. This comment was by Guardian Online regular MirandaC:

I’ve said this elsewhere, but the issue for England isn’t the failure of the top clubs to make available the young players they nurture for every England game from the under-19s to the senior squad; nor is it primarily the appointment of old-school managers like Eastick and Pearce whose sole qualification is that they can’t find employment at club level, having been revealed to be useless when they were given the chance.

The real problem – or one of them – is the way football is played here in the majority of clubs below the Premiership. This summer Arsenal released 15 kids from its academy, most of whom are reasonably accomplished having been nurtured since they were nine in Spanish-style technical skills. Many of those kids have had loan spells in the Championship and below where, because they aren’t quite of the quality of Wilshere, they were barely given a game. The reason? Winning is what matters to clubs, and the Arsenal kids’ silky skills weren’t of much use. If those kids want careers as footballers in England they’ll have to reeducate themselves sharpish in combative hoof-ball.

No academy, not even Barca’s, will produce ten Iniestas a year. But several in England are producing players of the technical quality of Lansbury or McEachran. What happens to them? Not quite good enough to make the first team at Chelsea or Arsenal, they sink without a trace into the hoof-ball leagues where they’ve forced to abandon the skills they learnt as young kids.

This is where England differs from Spain. Swansea can buy a player in his mid-twenties from the Spanish lower leagues, or Arsenal from the French ones, because that player’s skill and creativity hasn’t been lost. Can you imagine a top Spanish or French club picking a Michu or Koscielny equivalent out of the English League 1?

Many academies here are doing excellent work. Three of the semi-finalists in this year’s NextGen were English Premiership clubs. The problem is that most of the young English players representing those clubs – and the majority were English – aren’t going to progress in their skills: quite the opposite once they become professionals. This isn’t the fault of the clubs’ academies or even of the under-21 manager; the problem lies in the standard of football that’s played by all but a dozen or so of the top Premiership clubs.

Bloody well said!

About Dave Whelan – Now that Wigan’s relegated

Dave Whelan. Photo from

This is a comment from RuggerTyke at a post in the Guardian:

It’s been a fairy-tale for the man who built a sports empire after breaking his leg in the FA Cup final, taking his local club from the bottom tier to the Premier League, culminating a stay of 8 years which many expected would merely last a year, with an FA Cup win against one of the richest side in the world only to then a few days later, do what had been expected of them ever since they were promoted and get relegated.

This has come in the same year that the business Whelan, a proud Thatcherite, founded, JJB Sports, a company he ran with very dubious ethics, finally went in to liquidation and ceased to exist, having been bought out by Sports Direct, owned by the chairman of Newcastle United and the team they could have pipped in their race for survival.

It’s been the end of a seriously elongated fairytale for Dave Whelan, the man who polarised a strong Rugby town when he built the stadium that propelled the Football side and had the Warriors grudgingly share, which has ended in a very bittersweet manner; a script so outlandish it is, along with the carving on the trophy made where Whelan was born, already engraved in folklore.

Martinez will most likely leave but despite being younger than the longest and most successful football manager in British history, it remains to be seen whether Whelan has the heart and desire to continue, so this may well be the end of the Latics – of the least recognisable with that moniker merely a decade ago – and their David; the Goliath slaying minnow may never reach the dizzy heights of the Top Flight again.

Then again, I wouldn’t put it past DW to employ the man who took them up originally, Jewell and bounce straight back up. With the usual blend of carefully sourced South American flair and homegrown heroes plucked from obsecurity, naturally.


Of course, you would find a lot of DW hatred across English websites and sports pages. In Guardian because of DW being a Thatcherite; and in the others because of him being an old blusterer.

But really, it’s been a fairytale for him and for Wigan. Loved their stay at the Premier League.

May they jump right back up.

I fear, though that it might not happen.


Bale Dives. And is a Great Talent. Get Over it.

Horrible, sanctimonious, defensive post at F365 today.


And here’s my response.

You Brit media folks are funny.
You had a witch-hunt against Wasim and Waqar and Imran about reverse swing, and then when your own boys used that very skill to win you an Ashes, it was suddenly the best innovation in the world. Similarly the four fast bowlers of West Indies.

While the dirty foreigners were diving, it was all wrong. When Gerrard and Rooney were doing it, you feigned blindness… and when the evidence was glaring in front of your eyes, it suddenly cannot be SO bad. Bale is just jumping away from injury after all! Question, how many of Bale’s dives this season were when he was jumping away from potential leg-breakers? And if the dive was just to get away from contact, and if there’s been no contact, Bale and Suarez and Gerrard and Rooney should just get up and not writhe about in the ground like they have been shot. Isn’t it?

Be hypocrites, we all are sometimes. But agree that you are one, in this case. And don’t do it in the passive ‘it’s just to save his career’ manner that you did over here.

Bale’s a wonderful talent. And he dives. Just like Suarez. But of course you will not have a witch-hunt against him. He is the pet of the British media!