FA Cup Final Focus: Manchester City


Can Tevez be for City what Ferguson is for Everton?

Even before I tuned into watch Everton play Man City last week, I knew Everton would win. I’d known since it had been revealed that Duncan Ferguson would be making his return to Goodison Park before the game. The big man is a true Everton legend, an icon who represents the commitment and passion that epitomises the club. In dark times, Duncan was our hero, he helped keep our heads above the water.

And Man City, in their current guise, don’t have that. It’s the reason why Everton have got such a hoodoo over them in recent seasons (we’ve beaten them in seven of our last eight meetings) and why City’s undeniable wealth of talent has not yet been transformed into the sort of genuine success, you know: the glittery silvery kind, that all their lavish spending surely demands. Is today the day that changes?

Click through to find out…


FA Cup Final Focus: Stoke City


Pulis has transformed Stoke this season, can he finish it in style?

I wrote a guest blog, back in early November, where I suggested that Stoke were coming a little bit unstuck because Tony Pulis was attempting to take them away from their tried, trusted and maligned formula of direct football. Looking back now, it’s easy to think I was talking nonsense – Stoke are preparing to compete in the FA Cup Final today, and they sit a very comfortable 8th in the Premier League.

But back when I wrote that, Stoke had made a pretty average start to the season and you could really see them struggling to retain the Premier League status they had fought to retain, almost literally, for two seasons before this campaign. Pulis spent some decent money in the summer, bringing in some talented players who somewhat broke the mould of what we’d come to expect from Stoke City previously.

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FA Cup Predictions (4th Round)


Such is the magic of the FA Cup, it’s probably madness for me to even try to predict any of this weekend’s results – there will be one or two ‘cupsets’ at least. However, I’m going to give it a go anyway, but to give myself a fighting chance I’ll be selecting just five of the fixtures to preview and predict, involving teams whose form I actually know a little bit about – so despite the tagline of this post, this hopefully won’t be too much random guesswork…

Click through for predictions for the weekend’s Cup fixtures…

Well done The FA, Pompey don’t deserve Europe.


The 2008 FA Cup winning Portsmouth team: ill gotten gains?

Now that Everton have finished 8th in the Premier League and will not be playing Europa League football next season I can comment, without accusations of bias, on the decision to prevent Portsmouth from being allowed to compete in Europe despite reaching the Cup Final. The decision means that whoever finishes 7th in the Premier League will take that Europa spot instead of the South Coast club and I have to applaud the FA’s decision on that front.

I’ve got nothing against Portsmouth, despite previous posts to this website where I’ve suggested that it would be good for them to be relegated (so as to relieve themselves of the mercenary remnants of Redknapp’s reign and start over). But as a club, I’m ambivalent towards Portsmouth, I certainly don’t want them to go bust but I shan’t miss watching them play. I’m also full of admiration for the job that Avram Grant has done since taking over, but despite his dignified slowing of their inevitable free fall, they don’t deserve a European adventure next season.

Click through to find out why…

‘Respect the Fans’ Campaign


Not all Evertonians were as lucky as this lot...

Not all Evertonians were as lucky as this lot...

Back in April when the ticket allocations for the 2009 FA Cup Final between Everton and Chelsea were announced, I wrote a post about the idiocy of the FA. This was because they gave Everton and Chelsea each 25,000 tickets to the game while giving the remaining 40,000 to members of the FA’s Football Family. This, frankly, was ridiculous and unfair because it meant that some of the hardcore season ticket holders of both clubs would miss out on seeing their club in the biggest domestic cup final in world sport.

And it’s not a new thing either. For years the FA has been giving far too many tickets to its pals and forcing fans of the clubs who are actually involved in the matches at Wembley to buy tickets at extortionate prices through ticket touts, which is where many of those 40,000 tickets will have ended up. As I mentioned, I wrote about this back in April and you can find the article here, but I’ve just come across the ‘Respect the Fans‘ campaign which is well worth your attention and your support.

Click through to find out more about the campaign…

The Sinking Ship of Setanta Sports


Why the demise of the Irish broadcaster is evocative of the modern evolution of football.

With advertising like this, how could they fail?

With advertising like this, how could they fail?

While the Confederations Cup and the European Under-21 Championships are doing a good job of distracting us from wave upon wave of ridiculous transfer rumours which look destined to continue throughout the summer, it is worth noting that some actual news is still abound in the football world and shouldn’t be forgotten. I speak primarily of the demise of the Setanta Sports TV channel, who look to be on the brink of administration after failing to meet numerous payments to footballing bodies and whose allocation of broadcasting packages have reverted to the governing bodies, to be auctioned off afresh.

While never a Setanta subscriber in my days in England I nevertheless feel that it’s a shame to see them go down the pan. Not only did they provide some competition for Sky but they also ensured that ESPN were kept out of the English market, which has only been a good thing in my opinion as their coverage is awful, Americanised and excessively advert ridden. More than that though, Setanta, started by two Irish blokes in a pub, was a throwback to the ‘good old days’ of football, when it wasn’t quite so corporate. And it’s demise also suggests that to break the dominance of established success is nigh on impossible, which could be bad news for Manchester City…

Click through to find out why…

A Footballing Monopoly

Roman Abramovichs favourite board-game?

Roman Abramovich's favourite board-game?

As I jumped madly around the living room 25 seconds into Saturday’s FA Cup Final, screaming incoherent words down my brothers ear and the phone line that connected me to my Dad who, in Nelson, was doing something equally inexplicable as a direct result of a ball thousands of miles away connecting with a net, I had the wonderful feeling that my joy was shared by almost everyone who feels passionately about English football.

Because unless you are a Chelsea or a Liverpool fan, you probably wanted Everton to win the Cup Final. That’s because Everton and Chelsea are in many ways, precise polar opposites. Yes, both play in a blue home strip, but otherwise, Chelsea are a corporate monster buying up footballing success like stocks on Wall St. while Everton are an old-fashioned, hard working and absolutely flat-out broke sports club.

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