Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Persib the latest to get new stadium?

There has been a lot of talk recently about Persib moving to a new stadium. The 20,000 capacity Siliwangi Stadium is creaking at the seams as it tries to accomodate the ever increasing numbers keen to see Maung Bandung.

These images come from the Bandung local government website, via a Persib fans site, and show plans for a new stadium though perhaps tellingly, little of the inside layout

New stadium


Sriwijaya lose

Once again no team in the Western Group wants to finish top as Sriwijaya, current leaders, fell 1-0 at Persitara in a game they hardly had a look in.


Arsenal v Manchester United Live Jakarta

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Persija line up friendlies

Not having played for a couple of months Persija are keen to get some game time before the crucial run in to the play offs and Copa Indonesia kick off again. There is talk of bringing over a team from Malaysia as well as a game with the Under 23's who seem to play more often than anyone else in this country.

Lined up so far:

31 Oct v PS Setia/UNJ
3 Nov v Africa Select

With Lebuk Bulus being used for the AFC Under 16s Qualifying both games are pencilled in for Ragunan


Asian World Cup Qualifying

Selected results:

Palestine v Singapore 0-4 (Singapore 4-0 on aggregate after Palestine failed to arrive for the second leg. Politicans are just so mature, I just love them to bits.)
Nepal v Oman 0-2 (Oman 4-0 on aggregate and will now play Indonesia)
Macau v Thailand 1-7 (Thailand won 13-2 on aggregate and the coach has sacked the goalkeeper(!))
UAE v Vietnam 1-0 UAE win 6-0 on aggregate)
Turkmenistan v Cambodia 4-1 (Turkmenistan win 5-1 on aggregate)
Malaysia v Bahrain 0-0 (Bahrain win 4-1 on aggregate)
Hong Kong v Timor Leste 8-1 (HK win 11-3 on aggregate)

Indonesia. Singapore and Thailand are the only South East Asian nations to go through to the next round but don't get too excited. Indonesia haven't played yet, Singapore played once and Thailand played a bunch of people who work in the casinos of Las Macau. With Vietnam, the best performers in the recent Asian Cup, getting trounced by UAE and Indonesia without a game since July nothing much has changed.

Monday, October 29, 2007


It's grim up north

Banks of empty seats thrilled the TV viewer during yesterday's clash between Bolton and Aston Villa at the Reebok. It's the same whenever we get the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers's fancy dress as thousands of fans come dressed as placcy seats and the watching world wonders where all the fans have gone.

It's easy to forget but there's a proud footballing heritage in these parts extending down the divisions to Burnley and Preston. Old northern towns with whippets and flat caps, football as we now know it saw its first boom in these streets of terraced houses and cobbled roads. Today their big city neighbours Manchester and Liverpool hog the headlines and get the glamour while these old towns cling to their memories and traditions.

Blackburn Rovers of course have a recent as well as ancient record of success. Founded in 1875 they were First Division Champions twice before the First World War and FA Cup Winners 5 times in the 19th Century in a memorable 8 year period as well as their most recent triumph a mere 79 years ago.

Like those early triumphs, the days of Shearer and Sutton are distant memories as today Mark Hughes tries to cobble together a successful side built around northern grit and determination and Robbie Savage kicking lumps out of opponents. For the armchair viewer it may seem the Blackburn public are an ungrateful lot, judged by those empty seats but in fact Rovers current average attendance of in a stadium that holds less than 32,000 is bloody impressive when you consider the town's population is only 105,000. Not many clubs average more than 20% of the population coming through the gate.

Bolton of course have been attracting headlines for the managers they have gone through recently. Big Sam was replaced by Little Sam who has also buggered off to be replaced by Ginger Gaz, Gary Megson who has, like his predecessors, won very little in the game. Obviously well qualified for the Wanderers who have only won the First Division once, and that was 10 years ago. Their glory days were the 1920's when they won the FA Cup three times. Their last victorious day out at Wembley was 1958 unless you include the Sherpa Vans Trophy but I'm not.

Bolton has some 139,000 people living there so with a stadium that holds 28,000 their average crowd of 21,000 so far this season is pretty good going. It's all a far cry from one day in 1933 when 69,000 turned up for an FA Cup tie with nearby Manchester City.

Burnley has to be the most parochial town I've ever been to. Everyone wears Burnley football shirts and the sports shops, at least last time I was there, only sold home town kits. One of my best footballing experiences was a derby match between Burnley and Bolton at Turf just had to be there. For today's fans times are lean. They were last in the top flight in 1976 and last won anything of note in 1960 when a wonderful Burnley team won the First Division for the second time in their history. A year later they were in the European Cup while in 1962 they were runners up in both the First Division and FA Cup. So near and yet so far to the elusive double.

The beauty of those days, when there was little transfer market activity, was players were found on club's doorsteps. Where have they gone eh? What has happened to the generation who kicked balls in dimly lit streets? That bloody Play Station, that's what!? With a small population, about 73,000, you can appreciate average crowds of 12,000 aren't bad for a midtable side.

Proud Preston, first ever winners of the First Division gave the world Tom Finney. They were unbeaten in the first ever season of league football, retained their title in 1889 and runners-up for the next three seasons. They also won the FA Cup twice, first in 1889 and last time 1938. Today they flit around the lower leagues, shunning the headlines and wondering what might have been had Sky money been around in their heyday.

Some 185,000 folk live in the Preston area so with average attendances of less than 12,000 their stadium which holds 21,000 is more than enough for this now struggling Championship team. Maybe the odd footballing tourist, someone aware of life before Sky and Euro '96 might pass through once in a while and take in the atmosphere of the club that were once the mightiest in the world.

For most people the North West means United and Liverpool but right on their doorstep lies football heritage, where a ball was first kicked in anger and where, despite small populations and other more glamourous attractions down the road, healthy attendances are still recorded.


Raining cards and goals

Just a couple of games over the weekend.

Persik, inspired by Gonzalez, thumped PSS 6-2 and crept in 4th place at the expense of PSMS. I won't say I told you so ...

Still at the Brawijaya Stadium Persik fans raised 600,000 rupiah, about 56 USD for families affected by the rumblings of the nearby Gunung Kelud volcano. When you consider the vast majority of football fans in this country come from low income families and the lebaran festival, which can take up the years savings, has just finished it was a bloody good effort by them.

Still talking Persik, President SBY was due to take in last weeks game with Persib until it was rained off.

Talking raining...Persib lost 2-1 at Persema Malang in a game marred by 10 yellow cards.


SAF V Tampines

A 1-1 draw in front of just over 3,000. Guess that's a big crowd for the SLeague


Liverpool flop at Anfield (again)

Rafa's expensively assembled side again failed to collect three points at home for the 4th time this season. Eight points dropped at Fortress Anfield and we're not yet in November is not the start Rafa expected after he demanded, and got, money to spend during the summer.

Put simply Liverpool had to win this game. Not because anything less would condemns them to another season as also rans. In the build up before the game much was made of this being Arsenal's first serious test of the season but this was also an examination for Liverpool's credentials. Credentials that have taken a battering this season with a poor start in the Champions' League and the Premiership where draws with the likes of Birmingham and Tottenham have done little to dispel the belief among many fans that Rafa's red revolution is all hype.

Liverpool fans won't be happy. There were spells yesterday, most notably at the start of each half, when Liverpool threatened to overwhelm their 'youthful' visitors in the manner of last season's 4-1 drubbing but it didn't last. This Arsenal have a mental as well as physical toughness added to their reportoire of movement and swift passing and at the end it was probably the Kop that breathed the heaviest sigh of relief.

Torres, whose goals against mighty Reading and Derby had pencilled him down as a 21st Century Ian Rush might as well have stayed in the dressing room first half. Indeed many thought he had. Liverpool are about Steven Gerrard and without him driving them forward they become just an average team. Peter Crouch came on and got off some useful efforts, indeed Liverpool created more chances than their visitors, yet still Arsenal will feel aggrieved at coming away with a single point.

Jamie Carragher again had a tug in the penalty area, last week Lescott in the Merseyside Derby, this week Fabregas, but again the referee chose to ignore it. When you are a 'model pro', like Carragher then, the perceived assumption is, you don't do such underhand things. 'Model pros' have acquired their spotless reputation over years of dedicated and thoughtless service to their club, it takes time to be seen as a snide dirtbag. Look at Shearer.

On the other hand, after extolling Eboue recently he reverted to type after he was hit in the face by the draught caused by a Liverpool defender's elbow brushing past his face. He fell like he'd been hit by a speeding train and rolled round the penalty area like a thing that likes rolling round. It was cringeworthy stuff and he well deserved the abuse that greeted his every touch once his pride had been bandaged.

I suppose neutrals will say it was a great game but I'm no fence sitter. I hated the first 80 minutes and was yelling at the ref to blow his bloody whistle for the last 10. For Arsenal the result was fine. If you win your home games, blah blah blah. For Liverpool that seems nothing but a dream at the moment.

After the match the model pro himself, surprisingly the man of the match, was interviewed and perhaps his comments offer an insight to the malaise hanging over Anfield at the moment. He said that 'being Liverpool we should be beating Arsenal.' What the? I would suggest Jamie you take your head out the clouds and get real. Liverpool may be the most successful side in England but they haven't won the title since 1990. Since then Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Leeds and Bl;ackburn have rained on your parade while, one Champions' League aside, you have just a nice collection of cups.

You're fooling no one Jamie, except perhaps yourself. Before you can even start saying you should be beating Arsenal perhaps you should start beating the likes of Birmingham, Tottenham. Portsmouth. Even Marseille.

Next week Liverpool are away. They enjoy playing away where they have collected 13 points so far this season. They may not enjoy playing Blackburn Rovers. Arsenal on the other hand host Manchester United who have been scoring goals for fun. I won't enjoy that game either.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Copa Indonesia Latest

PKT Bontang v Sidoarjo Deltras 1-3
PSAP Sligi v Persekabpas 2-2
Persita v Persis Solo 2-1 (Persita through to next round)

Please don't ask me when Persija play PSM. No one has a scooby.


Couple of new articles

One in the Camden and Islington Journal about alienating working class fans which can be found here while over on ESPN I have a look at Arsenal's midfield.

UPDATE - new column added to the Online Gooner. Similar in content to the CIJ piece but shorter and snappier


Oi, Magnusson

I'm sure West Ham fans are thankful for your cash as is Curbishley. But, hey, does us a favour. No thinking about football. Promise?

I'm not even going to bother answering your points, they are, erm, pointless. Suffice to say, sir, keep coming out with nonsense like that and we'll all be praying Alf Garnett returns.

As Len Shackleton opined in his autobiography about the value of opinions from club chairmen..."



SAF V Tampines Rovers

Nothing will be decided tomorrow night at the Warriors Stadium but certainly all fans of Singapore football will be turned to this fixture as 1st play 2nd.

Freescoring SAF go into the game in pole position with 71 points from 29 games but with a superior goal difference of +54. Tampines have played a game less but have 69 points with +43.

This has all the makings of a cracking football match, one worthy of a wider audience but alas and alack the interest just isn't there.

Sad git that I am I would have gone over for the game if it wasn't for a prior wedding but it would cost. Oh boy would I have to pay!


Home United blink

Last night at Bishan title challenging surprisingly fell 2-1 at home to Young Lions.

The latest table is

They are now three points behind SAF having played the same number of games


Indonesia U 23 in Argentina

Not sure what the Under23's were supposed to get from touring chilly Argentina but these are the results.

Cefar A 1-5
Quilmes U20 0-1
Boca Juniors U20 1-1
Cefer U23 2-2
Lujan 3-4
Estudiantes U20 2-2
Argentina U20 1-1

Seven games and four draws.

Next up the SEA Games in Thailand.

Oh what a circus...


Persib Bandung v Kuala Lumpur

Persib have lined up a prestigious friendly with Malaysian side Kuala Lumpur FC.
The fixture will be played at Soerang's new stadium, whose name I forget at the moment, and not the usual Siliwangi in the centre of Bandung.

Ticket prices will be marginally higher than normal Liga Indonesia fixtures, which are already among the highest in the country.
KL play in the second tier M League and will also be playing Perskab, Bandung District as well as no doubt shopping in Bandung's abundant factory outlets.
Fair play to Persib for attracting foreign opposition. Before this season started they also hosted Selangor in a pre season friendly. These games are vital in increasing awareness of teams from neighbouring countries.


Not so Jolly Hotspurs

I feel sorry for Martin Jol, I really do. Having led Spurs to their best ever finishes in the Premiership he is rewarded, not with a job for many life Arsenal fans feel he deserves but with the heave ho. Unmercilessly shown the door by a chairman and board who have inflated ideas about where the club is.

They have cast envious glances at Arsenal and Manchester United, seen the free flowing football they produce and the success it has garnered and decided they want some of that. Conveniently overlooking the lesson that lies behind their success; stability off the field.

Then when fellow London rivals Chelsea started winning things they felt worse. Why, went the logic at White Hart Lane, aren’t we winning trophies? We are Tottenham, purveyors of the glory, glory game. Those trophies and plaudits are ours. Forgetting of course Chelsea had an open cheque book.

Jol has paid for his crimes and Spurs are looking for their 10th manager since Arsene Wenger took over at bitter rivals Arsenal and with a new manager the cycle continues. Time to bed in, make new signings, promise lots, underachieve, there’s the door, so long and thanks for nothing.

Football is a harsh taskmaster and getting harsher every year. Jol has been successful to an extent, by Spurs standards he has done well but chairman Daniel Levy thinks Spurs are up there with the Arsenal’s and United’s and he acts in a \manner he thinks they would act. Jol had reached the end of the line. He was limited in tactics and selection and couldn’t impose a killer instinct on he team. A few quality players, Berbatov, Defoe or surrounded by too much dross whose names are unknown beyond the Spurs match day programme and people who play fantasy football.

Say what you like about Spurs, and I do, but their fans are a loyal bunch. Every week they turn up in large numbers, selling out White Hart Lane and prompting the club to consider moving to another stadium. Martin Jol was never going to lead them to the promised land but the cackhanded way Daniel Levy has handled the affair probably ensures a few more seasons of dross before they see the glory game again.

One could almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


In Arsene we trust

At the start of this season there were a few doubting voices rounds Emirates Stadium as non believers questioned the wisdom of Le Boss. Selling Henry so soon after seeing Vieria leave and have no one replace them was seen as a bad move and that as a club we were saddled by massive debt. The sales of Henry and Vieria with no big signings coming were percieved as weakness while around clubs were spending water like a drunk at the end of happy hour. In a magazine interview Arsene said trust me. Most of us did of course but there's always a few, every club has them.

Here we are now, nearly in November and the doubters have crawled back under their toadstools while plaudits rain down from the printed and on line media after a sumptuous Fabregas/Walcott inspired Arsenal put Champions League newboys Slavia Prague to the sword. Observers are running out of superlatives while Arsene, in his soft, understated manner says this team still is still perhaps running 80% short of its full potential. Should the rest of English football be afraid? Very afraid?

You can't knock a run that has seen us drop two points, thanks to Jens Lehmann, up at Blackburn. A run that has seen us score 11 goals without reply in Europe. Seen our next generation brush a full strength Newcastle aside in the Carling Cup and has seen us score 21 goals in the Premiership. And seen us win the Emirates and the Ajax Amsterdam pre season tournaments. Kind of difficult to knock many holes in that really isn't it.

People try though. We haven't played any of the big teams. Yeap, sorry about that. Perhaps in football you can only play the teams you've been scheduled to play.

You've only played three away games in the league. Yeap. West Ham and Blackburn who have been bogey teams and Tottenham, let's not go there.

You made hard work of beating Sunderland and Bolton. Yeap. You know the type of numbnuts who plucks this chestnut out of the sky? The same numbnuts who last season said we didn't know how to win dirty. How to scrap.

You're beating easy teams. Yeap. And you know what, it's putting points on the board. What would you rather have, points on the board now or play catch up later? Ask Rafa what he would prefer.

This Arsenal team are not yet the finished article. Forget experience and strength because they are coming with every game. There are though areas on the pitch that cause concern. Adebayor has been causing problems for defenders all season and of course he works hard but he worries when going one on one with the keeper. It will come, I'm sure, if it doesn't then he'll be out but Arsene will be aware of this part of his game if I am and they'll be doing something about it. He can do it, witness the peach he scored against Tottenham last year?

Carry on Emmanuel. Eboue. Hot tempered, rash yet blessed with pace, Eboue needs to breathe a bit deeper at times. He seems to have kicked out the rolling around that sickened many last season, next he wants to think a bit more about the game. His drive, high and wide, against Bolton was worthy of the Liga Indonesia but in England it should be more controlled. Breaking the net would be nice but you wonder whether Gary Lewin carries a needle and thread with him just in case.

Central defence. Senderos needs games; the more games the more confidence then we could indeed see a Swiss Tony Adams. Instead we get a bit part player frayed at the edges. Problem is with Arsenal pushing for big trophies this season they don't have the time to blood a new defender. Personally I think it would have been better for Senderos to go on loan and get games while Djourou, who looks unflappable, stay and be a gap fill. But then in Arsene we trust.

And then we have the goalkeeper. Mad Jens and Peroxide Manuel. What a choice. Wenger doesn't like spending big on goalies. He signed Richard Wright and probably felt so guilty he paid the club back. (Expensive year for AW that 'cos he also brought in Francis Jeffers!)

Things are going well with the team that Arsene built part III and you can be sure Sir Alex is fully aware if the threat Arsenal pose to him keeping the Premiership. But with this team you can see Arsene looking forward, beyond even May 2008 when the medals are handed out. Arsene, with his new bust now ensconsed at Emirates is aware of the history of The Arsenal and you can be sure he has his eye on a couple of landmark achievements. First, he would love to be the first Arsenal manager to win back to back titles since the 1930's. Second? Moscow, 2008. He wants that so much...


Elano and Sky Blue Heaven

They haven't had too many heroes in the Sky Blue half of Manchester. Not since the days of Bell, Marsh and Summerbee so you can give City's impossibily faithful fans for clinging on tight to those that do pass their way. Kinkladze of course, Uwe Rosler are a couple. Now we struggle. Oasis and inflatable bananas perhaps. But now they have their very own gilt edged Brazilian hero who has been instrumental in City's impressive start to the season.

He conducts their best moves from midfield while the audience in the stands bow in return. Elano, a new legend.

Once Sven Goran Eriksson was installed as Manchester City's new manager, new chairman Thaksin Shinawatra rang him up and said, no doubt in Thai, oi Sven, spend some money khrap. Wow, this guy talks my language thinks Sven as he settles down in front of You Tube.

Days later and Thaksin is pooer buy several million, something he has grown used to the authorities in his own country freezing his assets there, while City fans scratch their heads. Who, who and who?

A few weeks into the season and with Elano we're thinking why? The skill and vision possessed by the midfielder have delighted all who have seen him but why, if he is so damned good, was he playing in Ukraine for their second biggest team Shaktar? Why is he going round the houses of European football and not straight into one of the 'big' teams?

He's hardly an unknown commodity, that Copa America is pretty important and he is also a Brazilian international...he couldn't be that bad. So how come everyone passed on him? Do they know something even Sven doesn't?

I hope not. I hope it's just a case that he slipped the net and only the really astute knew of his whereabouts. Probably Arsene Wenger did but then he knows, he just knows.

It doesn't matter. English football is all the richer for his presence, and at City to boot. His performances, and goals, have stirred neutrals and had people looking at City almost in awe and no longer in jest. With prococious young talent round him like Richards, Ireland and Johnson Elano brings experience and knowledge to Sven's fledging revolution and also, just as good, shifts attention from the Big 3 + 1.

Ironically this weekend Manchester City visit the + 1 at Stamford Bridge and for the first time in a generation the Blues aren't looking at a banker home win. City may lack strength in depth, a potent forward and a killer touch but with Elano's prompting this team have the ability to cause a shock or two at the Bridge.


Monday, October 22, 2007


Young Arema fan dies

Arema's first away win of the season will be remembered for different reasons. Ilpin, 20, was one of many fans, known as Aremania, who set off on Saturday night to support his team in this big match.

Tragically he never made it.

Not all fans here have the money to travel to games but that doesn't stop them making the effort. Fans fill trains and buses, hanging out the sides, standing on the roof. Ilpin died when his head hit a railway bridge.

Like lads everywhere, Ilpin loved his football and his team. Ultimately it cost him his life.

One thing is sure. There won't be much in the way of soul searching. How he died and what can be done to prevent it happening again won't become an issue in the corridors of power.

A tragic waste



Persija look for new keeper?

Persija's attempts to gain top spot in Group 1 have sometimes floundered on the rocks of the erratic keeping of their Moldovan keeper.

Now the word is that Persija are lining up a bid for PSMS Medan's international keeper Markus Horison.

A deal could go through at the end of this season.


Weekend Liga Indonesia

Group 1

Persikabo v Persela 2-1 10,000
Persiraja v PSMS 1-0 7,000
PSDS v PSSB 6-0 3,000
Persikota v PSIS 1-1 3,000
Persita v Persema 1-1 7,000
PSS v Persib 1-1 10,000 (bullshit)
PSDS v PSMS 1-1 7,000
Persikabo v PSIS 4-1 10,000
Persikota v Persela 1-2 3,000
Persiraja v PSSb 3,000

In what must be a first in the annals of world football Persikota, and Persikabo had exactly the same people attend two consecutive home games. And if there were only 10,000 at Sleman then I am a Paraguayan postman named Patricio. Nobody wants to come first so Sriwijaya, who haven't played since September remain top.

1. Sriwijaya 25 48 points
2. Persib 26 47
3. Persija 27 47
4. PSMS 26 44
5. Persita 28 44
6. Persik 25 43

Group 2

Persijap v Arema 3-5 (no fans)
Perster v PKT 2-0 8,000
Persibom v PSM 1-0 6,000
Persma v Perseman 2-1 5,000
Persis v Persekabpas 3-0 20,000
Persijap v Persekabpas 1-0 10,000
Persiter v Persiba 1-0 7,000
Persibom v Perseman 1-0 5,000
Persma v PSM 1-0 7,000
Persis v Arema 0-1 24,000

1. Arema 26 45
2. Persijap 28 45
3. Persiter 26 44
4. Persipura 25 43
5. Persiwa 25 43
6. Sidoarjo 27 43


Persik v Persib

Beauty v the Beast on Wednesday in the shadow of Gunung Kelud which has been spewing the last few weeks. Authorities have forcibly removed residents who live on the slopes of this volcano which is a mere lava flow from Kediri.

Should things worsen there are, I understand, contingency plans to move the game to either Solo, which is under feet of water or it was last night, or Sidoarjo.

Victory for Persik would see them in the Top 4 but Persib have the best away record in the country


Copa Indonesia this week

24/10 PKT Bontang v Sidoarjo
25/10 Persita v Persis
29/10 PJ Purwakarta v Persijap
29/10 Sidoarjo v PKT
30/10 Persekabpas v PSAP Sigil

I accept no responsibility for these changing! (Again).


Gombak slip up

In the SLeague Gombak United lost the chance to make ground on Home United in 3rd after losing 2-1 to Albirex Niigata last night. This was despite Agu Casmir giving them the lead on 2 minutes.

The Bulls from West Singapore remain 27 points behind Home with 4 games left in their season.

This Saturday sees SAF take on Tampines in an absolute crunch match at Warriors Stadium. Let's hope there is a monster crowd for it. I suppose it depends on who Manchester United are playing.

Hmmm {checks flights}...damn that wedding!


All change (again!)

Persija's Copa Indonesia first leg tie with PSM has been rescheduled. It will now be played on 13th November. The reason is because I have to go to a wedding this Sunday so can't make it.

Actually, that's not strictly true. More likely is that the Asian Cup Under 16 qualifiers kick off this week and Lebuk Bulus, along with Bung Karno is slated for use in this series of games.

Persija's last competitive game was their 1-1 draw with Persik Kediri back on 12th September! I wonder if any of the players found new jobs and can't return?!


Persis Solo v Arema Malang

All the ingredients were in place for a match showcasing the best of Indonesian football. Arema, inspired by new signing Emile Mbamba have been on fire recently, pushing for a top 4 spot while Persis, with their own star Greg Nwoloko, have looked good at home. A large crowd with 5,000 Arema fans filling one end, this was set up to be a cracker.

But no one told the rain to stay away. The game started in drizzle and by half time a torrential downpour had turned the pitch into a swamp. Arema were 1-0 up, Morales netting after the Solo keeper had blocked a free kick and the rebound but it was irrelevant. Frank Seator missed an open goal, heading down and wide on the half hour but visibility was worsening and the fans on the open terraces as drenched as the players.

Today schools and offices open again after the Leberan so it's fair to say a smaller crowd will watch the match when it is rescheduled.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Persikabo v PSIS

In rain sodden Cibinong visitors PSIS drew first blood as Julio Lopez, who else, fed Khusnul who appeared to control the nall with his left arm. No one seeemd to upset and the goal was allowed to stand.

On 27 minutes Persikabo equalised, Nico witha neat drive from 20 yeards beating IKP.

More goals are likely. Persikabo's keeper doesn't catch balls. He either punches them away or in one memorable moment saved a Lopez piledriver with his chest.

Second half PSIS may as well have stayed in the changing rooms as Persikabo ran riot, eventually winning 4-1.


Singapore Cup Final

No real surprise...

Tampines Rovers v Singapore Armed Forces 25th November

The big clubs dominating...


Brian Marwood

I had a friend when I worked in Bangkok. He had somehow survived 15 years in the Thai capital by teaching. I liked the guy, enjoyed many a beer with him but under no circumstances would I ever recommend someone learn English with him. Just because he had spend a generation in the business didn't mean he understand. I'm sure the same can be applied to footballers who hang up their boots and become pundits. Just because they played the game doesn't mean they have anything to say about it.

(Someone) take Brian Marwood. (Preferably as far as possible). If everyone has their 15 minutes then Marwood's came in the early months of season 1988 when he was on fire at Arsenal. He was scoring goals for fun, gave our attack flair and verve. He reached levels he'd never seen in his average career and was never to reach again. He got nine minutes for England. Then, as quickly as he arrived, he slipped from the radar.

He published one of the whiniest, dullest, boringest autobiographies before it became the cool thing for every baby bentley to do but he filled it with whine after whine about how poorly he was treated when he was the the zenith of his career. No gratitude that a nobody had come from nowhere, enjoyed a few moments in the spotlight before slipping gracefully stage left, oh no, Marwood felt he deserved more and in this he is alone with his ego.

But he won't go away. Now he is on our TV screens as the whiniest, dullest, boringest pundit going and boy that takes some doing. Take his performance yesterday during the Arsenal v Bolton game. There were a few moments in the first half when Bolton started getting stuck in amd Arsenal, led by Fabregas and Flamini hit back. For me, as an Arsenal fan, it was great to see, our boys standing up to these northern numbnuts. But Marwood? It would be better, he intoined piously, if they ignored the rough stuff and let their football do the talking!!!

What the ... What you on Marwood? For the last couple of years, ever since we lost our unbeaten record at Old Trafford after United kicked us to pieces people, yourself included, have bemoaned the soft touch at the heart of the Arsenal, how we couldn't mix it. Well, yesterday we stood up to them and once they learnt it wouldn't work, once they learnt they would get bruised in return they stopped it. Jeez, and you played the game at the highest level?

To dig the knife in deeper to the journeyman player and mediocre pundit there was a clash between the two amigos, Cesc and Campo in the middle of the field. Straight away Brian jumped in saying Cesc had better be careful 'cos Campo is a wily old pro and made the most of that challenge. Bollocks. Campo was up straight away, he wasn't rolling around like a wuss. He took the medicine, medicine he has served up many times and accepted it for what it was. Cesc is maturing, treat him as a kid at your peril.

Football, rather like politics, attracts so called experts in the manner of hookers to a convention. There is an insatiable demand for football news and comment but there appears to be little attention to quality. Instead, average pros are wheeled out and their opinions treated as gospel. Noone out there says anything new or different or cutting edge and increasingly fans are turning down the volume.


Home grown talent

As the financial squueze kicks in on Indonesian effect there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Clubs, starved of funds, will be less likely to spend large sums on mediocre imports and seek to develop local talent. At the moment the FA allows 5 foreigners per club and by golly every club, all 36 of them, do their darnedest to reach that target, irrespective of quality.

Not all the foreigners here plying theior trade are useless. Not all are bit part journeymen. Some do add real quality to the game. Christian Gonzalez is the obvious example here. He is on target to be the Liga Indoensia's top scorer for the 3rd time; presently he has 22 goals. Another import who has provided quality is Julio Lopez of PSIS. J Lo as he is know leads from the front and by example. Witness their disappointing draw at Persikota the other day, the ball played long down the right wing, there was no way J Lo was going to reach it but run his little legs off he did trying and fans appreciate a trier.

But these gems are rare in the dross that pervades. Too many are earning good whack but giving little in return, little except indiscipline and work for the stretcher bearers.

A few years back Scotland was flooded with Ocy Aye wannabees draing the game of money and stifling local talent. TV money stagnated and they all buggered off, clubs could no longer afford the ridiculous sums they were paying these nonentities. Clubs turned to their own doorstep and now for the first time in ages Scotland holds its head high on the European stage. They will never win again but youth is being given its head and results are being achieved. Maybe the same thing, or similar, will happen here?


PSS v Persib 1-1

A goal 10 minutes from time by Nova earned Persib a point in this bitter battle played out in front of a large, passionate crowd in Sleman's impressive new stadium.

I want to like Persib, I really do. They are a big club, have fanatical support, more than a thousand followed them yesterday, and they have great potential. Their football though is niggly and in your face. A bit like Leeds in the early 70's these guys are snapping at ankles, rolling theatrically and leaving the boot where it can make the best possible impression. The low point came yesterday when Patricio Giminez, tall and long flowing hair, was substitued. Jiminiz is always going to stand out in a crowd and he was getting in involved in nonsense so with 10 minutes to go Persib decided to substitute him. Losing 1-0 he took an age to leave the pitch, stopping at one time to deliberately do up his shoelaces. When the game continued Persib got a corner Nova got a free header at the near post to equalise.

The worst play acting concerned a PSS player called Neime or something like that. Tussling with Persib striker Zaenal Arief he appeared to receive a mighty whack and fell to the ground theatrically holding his face and rolloing round for an age. TV replayes showed Zaenal's arm to be nowhere hear his face but the tone was set and again the notion of fair play was ditched for another game.

FIFA have instructed refs to do something about simulation, the polite term for being a cheating twat rolling round like a hippo in mud, but like so much that comes from their by that time it reaches Indonesia it's ignored or watered down. The excuse, as so often here, is this is Indonesia.


The English Football Masonic Association

The whole notion is daft, laughable, barely credible. I mean as if there is some unseen body lurking in the corridors of footballing power that descides everything. Who gets the brickbats in the media, who gets the roses, who gets the dodgy decision. Straight from a tuppenny hapenny paperback. Everyone knows this is England, fair play chap and all that. As if there can be shady deals brokered in smoky rooms.

Then you watch yesterday's Merseyside Derby and you wonder. Liverpool's first pen, ok some ref would give it, others wouldn't. Whatever happened took place outside the box but hey, we're talking Liverpool and they and iffy penalties go together like fish and chips. But as referee Mark Clattenburg was brandising a yellow card for the offender Tony Hibbert, Liverpool's captain and current media golden boy Steven Gerrard had a word. They yellow was put back and the red brandished. What was all that about? Stevie G threatening to ban the ref from the next lodge meeting?

Later were to come two sure fire penalties that Clattenburg didn't see. Ok, one you can put down to a bad day at the office but two? And that last one was deadset. Carragher tackled Lescott to the ground and then pleades his innocence and Clattenburg falls for it? He fell as easily as Lescott. Carragher of course was lucky to be on the pitch. His earlier histrionics which had him armwaving latino style should have earned him red. But Clattenburg yesterday was in no mood to give Everton anything. Believe me if it wasn't an own goal by Hyypia, if an Everton player had got the last touch he would have been offside.

I don't like blaming refs and for Everton to have won yesterday would have been an injustice. They miss Cahill and Johnson while Yakubu is yet to get going but their manager, David Moyes, will be feeling a bit cheesed of with Clutterback, I guess the offical won't be getting a Boots voucher this Christmas from Goodison Park.

Yesterday's game highlights a serious issue, jesting aside about dodgy influences. There is much talk of goaline technology to assisit the officials get the decisions spot on, and I have always opposed this. But even if such technology were in place yesterday it would not have helped Everton. We don't need goaline cameras. Perhaps what we need is a second official up with the cameras who can ajudicate or call a decision when the ref gets it wrong. Let's face it, one reason ex players love being pundits, and not managers with all the responsibility that comes with that, is it gives them a chance to heap scorn on the ref with no comeback and with the benefit of a higher viewpoint and action replays. Give the ref a hand and allow him the same luxury. Decision making can be almost instataneous and it would also allow officals greater scope o see what goes on off the ball.

Great idea? Simple and, given modern technology, easy to implement. And of course it would give TV broadcatsers more influence on the game!!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The Bear's final journey

2000 people brought the streets of North London to a standstill to farewell Denton on his final journey. Lee Dixon, Ian Wright and Frank Bruno were among the mourners who gathered to share some final memories.

Farewell, legend.

Picture comes from Islington and Camden Journal.
From the Times

Friday, October 19, 2007


Copa Indonesia

After I painstakingly copied out all the fixtures a while back they have only gone and changed them all again! Sod 'em, I'm not doing it again...

The main change was Persija will now be playing PSM on the Sunday which ordinarily be good news for me but in my never ending quest for brownie points from the Ibu I agreed we would go to a wedding that day in deepest Central Java.

Perseman from Papua have been drawn against Sriwijaya in Sumatra, a long old trek for sure. And expensive. With a travelling party of 20 players and officials, flight tickets 500 USD a pop plus hotel and transport expenses of some 3,000 USD you can excuse them for not getting giddy with excitement. Maybe they won't bother, save themselves a heap of money and get punished by the FA.


Liga Indonesia update

Persikota v PSIS 1-1
Persikabo v Persela 2-1
Persiraja v PSMS 1-0

Persijap v Arema 3-5
Persis v Persekabpas 2-1
Persiter v PKT 2-1
Persibom v PSM 1-0
Persema v Perseman 2-1

Arema came from 2-1 to thump Persijap yesterday with the ever impressive looking Mbamba, who once scored in the UEFA Champions League, getting a hat trick. Hard to believe it was the Malang club's first win on the road this season and saw them climb to 4th spot, just a point behind the leaders Persipura. Sunday sees a mouth watering clash when they travel to Solo to play Persis, can't wait for that one.

PSMS fell on the road again and are in danger of sliding out of the crucial top positions. Sunday sees them travel to Deli Serdang to play PSDS who have an impressive home record and defeat there could see the Medan team fall out of the top 4.

Elsewhere this weekend Persib travel to Sleman to play PSS and will be followed by 1000 fans.

Christian Gonzalez scored twice for Persik as they fell 4-3 at Persita giving him 22 goals for the season so far.

Check out my Liga Indonesia update over at ESPN.


Denton, Edelman and Wagon Wheels

Today a part of North London will come to a standstill as thousands pay their respects to an Arsenal legend. Denton makes his final journey to the great Clock End in the sky and tonight he will be supping with George Armstrong and David Rocastle. It’s fair to say that never before will there have been such a send off for a football hooligan and never again will we see it again. But then roads don’t get closed for a mere thug, people don’t travel from the home counties, from abroad just because someone who liked beating the shit out of people has died. Yes, Denton was a football hooligan. But Denton was more than that, much more. There’s not been a day gone by when I haven’t thought about him since he died and I’m no thug. For me, and many like me, Denton represents a time gone by and a club that despite all the changes we still love more than anything else.

Keith Edelman is the Managing Director of Arsenal. He sits on the board, a board that insists it is a custodian of the club and it has the club’s values at heart. Today those values are geared towards extracting the last penny they can from the fans. Edelman is the guy who proudly boasted Arsenal have the most expensive ticket prices in the country. Keith Edelman may not like this but while he was counting beans at Bank of America there were a few hundred fans who followed The Arsenal up and down the country at a time when football was not that popular. Edelman got involved in 2000, a post Hornby prawn sandwich muncher, this new kid on the block claims to speak about values from a club I was following while he was still being a swot, chewing pencils at some numbnuts university. While he was doing Management Sciences, whatever that might be, I was learning about Norris, Chapman and Hill Wood.

Last week people close to Denton arranged a meeting with Mr Edelman. The idea was to arrange a wake for the big man at the club he loved. A deal had been arranged, numbers agreed, people gave up a day from their own lives to thrash out the final details. They arrived at the club to be told Edelman could not, would not, see them. Values? Is this how you treat customers with money to spend? Respect?

Let’s talk about these values. To me and many others The Arsenal is about loyalty, trust. It’s about doing things with a bit of style. It’s about believing in your past, your traditions and staying true to what you believe in. Back in the 70’s and 80’s there weren’t many of us who made those long grim journeys north. You can bet your bicycle clips Edelman didn’t. Denton did. There were no prawn sarnies then, a Wagon Wheel and Panda Pop if you were lucky and a chance meeting with Stanley. Sponsorship, the corporate dollar Edelman is so keen on was limited to having the game sponsored by a company that produced matches.

Why did Edelman, the man who barks on about our traditions, bottle a meeting with people who wanted to send their mate off in style? He’s scared. Arsenal now want to control everything, the songs we sing, the food we eat. The reaction to Denton dying has knocked them for six. The reaction on the street is beyond their marketing models and they don’t know how to react so they try to ignore it, hope it will go away. But it won’t. I won’t. I was born Arsenal. Today as the mourners file past our new stadium they are the product of generations of Arsenal fans. They are the working class who have seen their game, their club taken from them and sold to the highest bidder but they are still Arsenal. The values of Arsenal Football Club, the traditions, the soul of our club will be on the streets to say farewell to one of their own and in return the club, through Edelman, turns its back.

Perhaps they are also scared of what people might say. The interest and reaction aroused by Denton and his death has also been ignored by the media. With Uzbek and American money swirling round the club perhaps Edelman et al fear the ‘negative’ consequences of a media glare focused on a hooligan. It would upset the pink hats, the new breed with their deep pockets. Instead of embracing Denton they ignore him and his role in the story of The Arsenal. In the 70’s racism swept the terraces of England but it had no chance of getting a foothold on the North Bank or Clock End. We had Batson, Davis, Whyte and Meade but we also had Denton. The right never stood a chance and you can thank Denton’s influence for that.

Nobody expects the club to do much. Indeed nobody wants them to do much. But a token recognition would be nice. A recognition that fans are the most important part of the club and a recognition that our worth goes beyond the pounds and pence that are now seen to define us. The Arsenal are about class, at least that is what I have been brought up to believe and that is what I say to people at work. Class is not in the big gesture but in the small things that people notice. It would be class if, today, the club could offer some gesture to Denton. It would be class if the club could acknowledge the passing of someone many regard as a true legend. Mr Edelman, Keith, you talk about the values of our club. Show them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Persita v Persik 4-3

Liga Indonesia returned from its latest hiatus with a bang as shot shy Persita got the better of Champions Persik in an exciting affair at Benteng Stadium.

I was due to go to the game but my friend, who was driving, backed down at the last minute so I had to make do with drinking beer...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Liga Indonesia is back

Yet again. After yet another break.

Much of the talk during the break for the fasting season has been about the disgraced FA head now doing bird, and about why the national team have no training camp and whether any club will have any money for next season. A veritable soap opera!

The start of this season was delayed because the government withdrew local govenment funding, in the form of grants, for clubs. Many clubs got round this pesky loophole by 'borrowing' from the same people. Now however people are being seen to get serious. Some clubs have been talking about putting themselves up for sale, for example Persib Bandung.

Persik Kediri, the most successful club of recent years but a provincial town far from anywhere, have talked about reducing costs by doing away with foreign players.

One option in Malang where there are two clubs, the privately run Arema as well as Persema, is merging.

Clubs seem reluctant to get serious at the gate. The Chairman of Persikota Tangerang ruled out passing costs on to the fans saying fans here didn't want to pay to watch football. That is crap of course, much like his team has been this season. I wouldn't pay to watch his shower either.

PSMS and Persigi Bali are two other clubs who face serious funding difficulties. Indeed, pity poor Medan if they do make it to the Liga Super next season and face expensive and exhausting trips to Jayapura and Ternate. Good for the airmiles but not a lot of fun when you're skint.


Singapore Cup

First leg

Tampines v Bangkok University 2-0
Woodlands v SAF 1-2

Second leg later this week

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


A woman trying to get her head round football!

This post made me smile. I don't normally go off about ather blogs unless they have a relevance to the main topic here but things are a bit quiet. This blog is from an Indonesian woman living in Aberdeen (which is in Scotland, that funny bit above England.) She has a good style, you can find more of her here, but this particular thread she bemoans being a footballing widow!

But I have nothing against football, as long as I don't have to watch it. In fact, I think I've found a recipe for guys to make peace between football and a lovely girlfriend/wife: (my comments come after)
Have more than one TV and put them in different rooms. So you guys can watch football match in the living room and the girl can watch E! News in the bedroom, or vice versa. Better still, she can buy her own TV instead of buying nonsense handbags that all look the same and asking what we think! Of course it's blody nice, just show me it at half time!

Everytime you watch football, your girl entitles to indulge herself on shopping trip. Your treat, of course. So you could sit and watch the match in peace, drinking beer, putting your feet up on the coffee table, picking nose, and farting, without having someone else reminds you to behave. No problem from me on that one. Working wives should have some independence.

Or better, without having someone asking where Jose Mourinho is or why David Beckham is not playing tonight with MU or why there is a guy with flag in every corner.... See above

You must do something nice prior to the match i.e. cook dinner, accompany the girl for grocery shopping, etc. Yes, it's like a bribery. Or even visit the in laws. That's credit in the bank for at least 6 months.

Never, ever, force your girl to watch the game with you, no matter how important the game is. Believe me, most sane guys would rather visit the dentist. The thought of sitting next to someone screaming like a fan at a Bay City Rollers is not most guy's idea of fun.

Unless you're sure that she's a football junkie as well. Unless you're up for a risk of going to search a perfect party dress for next month's event together with the girl in 7 different malls and hundreds different clothing shops. Feel free to go to all the malls you want. Just pick me up at Eastern Promise when you've finished. Already? That was quick dear, can I just have one more...

Never try to explain the difference between Champions League and Premier Leagues, unless you're ready to know the difference between platform and wedges, or between maroon and burgundy, or between pouch and wallet. I won't even try explaining the offside law. There is a beauty and complexity about sport that is lacking in the average chat about shoes. We're talking space shuttles here, asteroids...way over your head!

Record the game and watch it while she's sleeping. Remember what I said about beauty and complexity?

Do not dare to watch the game while eating but not paying attention to what she's cooked. Unless you're ready to buy her a Louis Vuitton Lockit bag or worse, take her out for dinner every single night for the rest of the year because she refuses to do it again (come to think about it again, LV bag turns out to be much cheaper than 10 times dinner at 4 Seasons...). A bag's a wouldn't know the real thing from a 20 dollar rip off bought in KL. Remember all those business trips?

You might try to repeat the story of your favorite team's victory. But be prepared to hear the victory of your girl of finding a vintage Fendi for 20 pounds. I don't bother. The ejaculatory experience of Micky Thomas, one minute and it's up for grabs is wasted on blank faces caught between the latest LV or Burberry bag.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Singapore Cup Semi Finals

This week the SLeague takes the back seat while 4 clubs battle it out to appear in the Singapore Cup which is sponsored by a bank but as they pay me nothing they don't get a plug!

Tonight sees Tampines Rovers take on Bangkok University while tomorrow has misery guts Woodlands Wellington, who won the League Cup earlier in the season, play Singapore Armed Forces. The games are played over 2 legs.

I guess the favourites are Tampines and SAF while many fans will hope Woodlands win absolutely nothing given their tendancy to walk off when things don't their way. Aah diddums...Duric to score 12 goals in the first half then be sent off for calling the Woodlands coach a wubbly dubbly sulky sulky in the 4 official languages of Singapore.


Asian Football Pictures

I've added some pictures from the old National Soccer League that was in full flow when I was living down there.

Find them

I guess things have changed football wise there...

Friday, October 12, 2007


Matthew Le Tissier

International weeks bore the arse off me. You wanna play for England? Easy, move to a big club. Other than that pray someone gets injured 'cos it doesn't matter how talented you are unless you are at the right club you ain't getting a look in. You don't have to look beyond Gareth Barry for proof. Let's face it he's in 'cos Lumparse is injured. No other reason. Barry plays well and the press jump on the bandwagon but just wait. One duff performance and he's out.

Matthew Le Tissier. What a superb talent. So good in fact that in a career lasting 16 years he played a daft 8 times for his country. Believe it, if he was foreign nations would have built their whole ethos round him but England? Forget it! He was considered lazy! A sublime player comfortable good with both feet but because he didn't tackle back he wasn't considered worthy. Wonder why there are no decent English managers eh? 'Cos they want 11 Roy Keanes in their team and are suspicious of the prodigal son who has fans of every team on the edges of their seats.

Another problem with Le Tissier was he played for a struggling team all his career. Southampton. In an age when money is the be all and end all and loyalty is sneered as being quaint but naive, Le Tiss never left the Saints. He tore up a contract with Tottenham, hey the nearly men nearly signed him. He turned down AC Milan and Chelsea. He was a player content with his surroundings and his efforts. And of course the Saints fans loved him. Le God they called him.

Le Tissier played over 500 games for Southampton. He scored over 200 goals. He has an apartment block named after him as well as a hospitality suite at the Saints stadium. That he was overlooked by the men charged with pushing our national team to the next level says everything you need to know about England managers. Le Tissier was in good company. Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh, Frank Worthington, Tony Currie. The list of talent under utilised by England is long.

I saw one of Matty's first games for the Saints. It also happened to be the last game of Ron Atkinson's teure at Old Trafford. Soon after he was sacked and replaced by Sir Alex Ferguson. But this thread is about Le Tissier. He was 18, just breaking into the first team. I went down to The Del for a League Cup tie with the Red Devils and paid on the gate. Southampton won 4-1. Le Tissier scored twice and dead impresive he looked to.

To get a glimpse of just how good Matthew Le Tisser was, and just what England missed out on, check out this clip.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


Frank Seator

For some reason this guy gets alot of Googles!

I've only been doing this site a couple of years but in that time old Frank, everyone's favourite Liberian, has been round Indonesia. Persija Jakarta to Sriwijaya Palembang to PSMS Medan to Persis Solo. Hell, he has even scored some goals with Solo where his partnership with Greg Nwokolo has seen him score 4 goals in 7 games.

It now seems that Selangor are after getting the striker back.

Selangor are also sniffing round Indonesian internationals Elie Aiboy and Charis Yulianto as they seek success in the next season.

I think I'm going to start adding more content from Malaysia, especially as their season will be in full flow while Singapore and Indonesia take a breather.


SAF back on top

SAF won 3-1 at Geylang last night in front of a feeble 1,800 fans.

Duric didn't score. He better get his shooting boots though 'cos SAF have 4 games to score 11 goals and reach a ton for the season.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Bali to host World Cup Qualifier

Dipta Stadium in Gianyar, the home stadium of Persigi Bali FC will host the World Cup Qualifier between East Timor and Hong Kong on 21st October. No stadiums in Timor's capital Dili reach the minmum standard for an international fixture.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Tampines back on top

In the SLeague understrength Tampines Rovers won 2-0 at home by bottom dweller Super Reds in front of 2500 fans.

This post has been edited after some wally, ahem, got the score wrong!


Indonesia announce squad for World Cup Qualifier

Goalie: Jendri Pitoy (Persipura Jayapura), Markus Horison (PSMS Medan), Ferry Rotinsulu (Sriwijaya FC Palembang)
Defenders: Charis Yulianto (Sriwijaya FC), Maman Abdurahman (PSIS Semarang), Ricardo Salampessy (Persipura)*, M. Ridwan (PSIS), Ortizan Solossa (Arema Malang), Harry Sahputra (Persis Solo), Supardi Nasir (PSMS), Achmad Jufrianto (Persita Tangerang)*
Midfield: Ponaryo Astaman (Arema), Firman Utina (Persita), Syamsul Chaeruddin (PSM Makassar), Legimin Raharjo (PSMS), Mahyadi Panggabean (PSMS), Eka Ramdani (Persib Bandung)*, Atep (Persija Jakarta)*
Striker: Budi Sudarsono (Persik Kediri), Bambang Pamungkas (Persija), Elie Aiboy (Arema), Rudi Widodo (Persis), Aliyudin (Persija), Ian Luis Kabes (Persipura)*

* denotes presently with Under 23 squad

Four players not included in the Asian Cup squad have been added, namely Aliyudin (Persija Jakarta), Rudi Widodo (Persis Solo), Ortizan Solossa (Arema Malang) and Ian Kabes (Persipura Jayapura).

Indonesia play the winners of Oman v Nepal next month.


Send for the clowns, Roman

If you want entertainment, said a former Welsh international and top flight manager go to the circus. He was commenting after a pretty turgid affair at Highbury which had seen his side, Stoke City, put 10 men behind the ball and said come and get us. Arsenal struggled but finally triumphed 2-0. It probably says a lot about that particular game that it was the full backs who scored that day, Kenny Sansom and John Hollins. Alan Durban, the man advising we look to the big top for our kicks, was making the point that he was not responsible for entertaining people. His job was to keep Stoke in the big time with what he had available. If he failed he was answerable to the board and fans of Stoke City, not the armchair viewer with pizza and remote close at hand.

As the news about Jose Mourinho sank in I recalled that game way back in 1980 and Durban’s post match comments. A manager is judged by results. If he is then surely Jose had a job for life. Certainly had he been managing in a different era I wouldn’t be writing this now. Leeds made no friends outside West Yorkshire as they rowed and scrapped their way to trophies in the late 90’s and early 70’s while at the same time Arsenal were no purists dream. Instead the neutral would purr over the football at Upton Park and Maine Road but those teams won nothing. Even Liverpool’s early success was achieved with mass defending and yawn inducing away performances.

Mourinho is a victim of the times and he can blame TV, Arsene Wenger and Manchester United. As his teams snarled their way to trophy after trophy Arsenal and United were playing expansive football that had the worldwide audience oohing and aahing. It was theatre at its most magical worthy of the Bolshoi while Chelsea, to carry with the stage analogy, was Punch and Judy on a wet summer’s day in Eastbourne. Chelsea’s money men looked at how Arsenal and United hogged the headlines despite his team’s success and felt something was missing. Roman wanted to be loved, he wanted the trophies and glory but he also wanted to feel all gooey inside and it wasn’t happening. Sexy football was the answer but it isn’t that simple marrying style and success and you wonder if even the arrival of Ronaldhino as was touted in the close season would have unleashed a team top heavy with destroyers like Makele and Essien. Ironic, Chelsea’s early success was built around Duff and Robben, both wide players, both blessed with skill, both sold.

Times have changed since Durban made his circus comment. TV has raised expectations, the amount of money has raised expectations and the new breed of money mogul, used to money buying whatever they want, have their own raised expectations. Winning is expected to be achieved with a swagger. I guess for the teams at the bottom where survival is a battle the result is still the alpha and omega. Alan Durban will recognize that at least hasn’t changed.

Will Roman be happy with a team winning the applause of the media and armchair critics yet winning no silverware? Playing beautiful football doesn’t expand the fan base as West Ham and Spurs have found over the years. It also doesn’t guarantee trophies as Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle showed us 10 years ago. Chelsea are not a world wide name now because of stepovers and one touch passing. Their shirts are seen round the world because of the trophies they have collected recently. People want to identify with winners, they claim bragging rights over their mates and they bask in the reflected glory of their adopted team thousands of miles away. Chelsea have stated they want to be the biggest club in the world, a ludicrous statement when you consider the headstart the likes of United, Real and Barca have over them. For them to be considered in that heady company they need sustained success over the next few years.



Better than any soap opera

The SLeague continues its merry way to a conclusion with the top 3 playing and winning to their heart's content. The latest table is here.

This time it was the turn of Home United to collect three points from their trip to Woodlands, coming from 2-0 to win 3-2 in the 86th minute thanks to Ludovick.

Tonight is the turn of Tampines who host the Super Reds. The Stags have a game in hand and are a couple of points behind Home and SAF. So victory tonight would see them a point clear at the top...until SAF play next!


New on ESPN

Check out my latest offering over at where I spit the dummy at Sepp Blatter and his ideas.

His latest is to limit the number of foreign players ata club to 5 and it sucks. Oddly enough the limit allowed in Indonesia is also 5 and the clubs follow the regulation like it is set in stone. An interesting conumdrum. Should the Premier League and the Liga Indonesia both be limited by statute to who they can play and who they can't or should they be allowed to feel their own way.

Clubs in England and throughout Europe have youth set ups and academys of varying success. That happens less so here where the chance for talented young players to be picked up by the big clubs is smaller. With the new Liga Super comes a requirement clubs start to develop young players and that surely is the way to go rather than some gnome in Switzerland ruling by dictat.


World Cup Qualifying

Singapore beat Palestine 4-0 in Qatar with Johnny Wilkinson among the goals! He's been busy recently?!

Thailand thumped Macau 6-1 while the surprise package in the Asian Cup Vietnam lost 1-0 at home to UAE.

Indonesia of course have a bye after Guam bottled it. Oman beat Hepal 2-0 and the winners of this tie will play Indonesia next month.


Denton and respect

It was a story that began on the streets and terraces of North London far from the glare of publicity. How fitting that it should end that way, right under the noses of a media blissfully unaware of the events unfolding under their very eyes. Today’s football is the football of celebrity and the celebrity is the player and manager. While the press pack munched on their complimentary snacks before taking their complimentary seats outside they missed the human story of the week.

Grown men gathered dressed in black to say farewell to one of their own. Their leader. The Bear. For 25 years or so these lads grew up together, laughed together and fought outsiders for the Arsenal. Whatever the arguments about hooliganism, when the media have always been quick to stereotype yet slow to get factual, the fact remains for people of a certain generation, mine included, Denton was a legend. For those gathered on the concourse surrounded by wreaths and teddy bears he was a mate.

While the media gathered and wondered who they could next eulogize or destroy with their keyboard outside hundreds marched round North London visiting sites heavy with nostalgia. There were tears, there were beers, there were cheers. And there was respect. Anybody watching would have been surprised at the march held in the honour of their mate. There was young and old, friend and foe. There was a police escort but this was different. For lads used to being escorted by police round the country for various reasons this escort was respectful, responsive. There were Sunderland fans, Chelsea, Stoke showing respect. Outside the stadium there was even a bear from a Tottenham foe.

The next time a player is tragically taken from us be sure the media will generate interest in the story. They will help manufacture grief for someone very few people really knew beyond a shirt every weekend. This was different. This show of respect round Arsenal was organized by e mail, text message and forums from people intimately associated with a lad who was larger than life. Word spread round the streets and people responded because they wanted to, because they cared. Because they felt Denton represented a part of their life, their club, their character. It will be a long while before we ever see anything like this again.

A few weeks back there was a story coming from the club that they wanted to trademark the terms The Gooners. Without Denton there would be no Gooners.

Monday, October 08, 2007


English weekend

Arsenal were tested by a hard working Sunderland team but in the end a touch of class was enough to ride out the storm. Two cracking goals from van Persie and a scrambled one from Senderos did the damage but fair play to Sunderland who worked hard and threatened themselves to snatch at least a point. Jones and Chopra may not be household names but the Black Cats defence started with them harrying the likes of Toure deep in the Arsenal half. Stokes came on and was keen to show Arsene what he was missing but his sole chance to shine was an effort tipped over by Almunia. It was a victory the Arsenal had to work for and that is a good sign. It won’t all be champagne football.

I said last week Spurs would be up for the trip to Anfield where Rafa’s men have now drawn three games out of four this season. Hardly title winning form but what do I care? Spurs showed as ever that teasing their supporters is the way forward. Coming from 4-1 behind is no mean achievement for anybody let alone a team struggling but one thing it does is keep the wolves at bay. Likewise nearly winning at Liverpool probably has earned Jol another week or so in the job. The fact remains they have a defence with moiré holes than Emmenthal cheese and a keeper dodgier than a second hand car sold by A. Daley esq. They remain the nearly men with no sign of success.

Sorry, I can’t get too excited about Manchester United beating Wigan 4-0 at home. People say that Arsenal have had an easy start to the season but United have hardly had to get stuck in yet have they? They caught a Chelsea at the lowest point and against City they steam rollered them but were unlucky to get nothing. Games against Arsenal will be as much a test for United as the Gunners.

Chelsea got back to winning ways but again I wouldn’t get too excited. This Bolton isn’t a patch on earlier years. Again we won’t really know about Avram Grant till he gets to play the big boys. As for Bolton, odd leaving Speed and Nolan out. They could join Wigan in sliding down a division come May.

Elano again shone as Manchester City turned in another impressive performance at home to weakened, and weak, Middlesbro. It’s as well their midfield is so prolific, Mpenza could be replaced come the January sales. Are City contenders? Too early to tell. They’re winning their home games which is half the battle but will have the stamina and strength come March?

Poor old West Ham. Another defeat and another blank. Much hype about Dean Ashton and he is good but all these blank sheets must worry Curbishley. What West Ham need is the confidence of three points and pretty soon. West Ham went down a couple of years ago despite being ‘too good to do so’, history could well repeat unless they start putting a run together. We won’t see the real West Ham till the likes of Bellamy and Dyer return but till then they must start nicking points.

Everton continue to get going. Johnson has struggled this season up front and a midfield without Cahill and Carsley has looked lightweight. Portsmouth continue to impress against anyone but the big boys. The signing of Diop has added something to midfield and Benjani is scoring for fun at the moment. It would be great to see someone like Portsmouth get a place in Europe but I can’t see it. Much depends on old buggers like Campbell and James and if they get injured do they have the strength to cover them? Finally Bentley inspired Blackburn to useful 3 points against Birmingham. 19,000 turned up! Still, I think Rovers are the likelier to break into the top 6 if they can grind out results like this against the relegation fodder.

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