Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Football Diary of a Quiet Week.

Doesn't it feel strange? It surely does, for me, anyway.

I'm feeling quite left out - the Swans' next fixture is Away at Stoke City on the Sunday, 26th of Feb., and I'm at a loose end, as, I guess, will be a lot of Swansea fans.

My ticket arrived in the post, today, so I'll be nailing down the journey arrangements with some friends in the next few days. I think, for this one, I get to be a passenger rather than a driver, so that's very pleasant in itself.

In the meantime, there is, of course, a great deal of football to be played between now and then, but it's not like being involved with your own team, however much the current shenanigans within the game are almost guaranteed to keep one entertained.

So the next couple of pieces will reflect and concern themselves with the panoply of football entertainment offered for our delectation - and there's a whole lot of that.

But firstly, since we're all Swans of differing hues, we deserve an update on our Team's progress on their placement at the warm weather Training Camp in Tenerife, and there's an enlightening update on the OS, which you can find here. Brendan Rodgers gives a flavour of the serious stuff that's gone on, and it's good to read.

So here's a differing taste of the lesser known minutiae not included in that Official Communication, that might bring a smile to your face.

As some will know, I'm a participant in several different Social Media outlets, enjoying blogging, FaceBook, Twitter etc., and some of the points I'll come to later come from there.

Nowadays, many of or own players have their own accounts on these channels, and I find it fun to both read, and occasionally respond, to their comments, Tweets, whatever.

I think it's a good avenue for the modern player to at least get some sort of engagement and contact with us, the fan base, since we're highly unlikely to sit next to them on the bus, or join them for a pint, as lots of fans used to do - admittedly, some years ago.

I like the fact that it gives some sort of contact with them, and helps build a decent camaraderie and bond with these necessarily at-arms-length admired heroes of ours. Plus, maybe it's really I just like the gossip, and I'm a nosy so and so. Who knows? All I can say is, it's fun, and it's also pleasant to see so many Jacks involved, and to know we're all members of that extended family.

For instance, this week, you may have seen that several of the lads have been involved in an attempt to prove "the fastest man at the Club".

It started with Nathan Dyer claiming in a Tweet that "So @curtisobeng said he's the fastest player in the premier league!!!!!!!!".

Interestingly, or unsurprisingly, according to CO, these were "Lies lies lies liesssss ".

Anyway, with Danny Graham's involvement, a race has been arranged, 100m, with Curtis Obeng, Nathan Dyer, Scott Sinclair and Neil Taylor, set to take part.

Confirmed by Ash Williams, who says, "Ok so we have got a 100m race tomo on the track between! @NathDyer87 @curtisobeng @Scotty_Sinclair and Neil taylor! My cash is on @NathDyer87".

The race is apparently set for today,(Wednesday), but hasn't yet taken place, as CO says "LOL we havnt raced yet. And I DIDN'T say I was the fastest in world or whatever them fools said @NathDyer87 + @AshWills84."

Curtis does confess , however, that he celebrated his Birthday this week (with a fruit Juice), and that he's performed his inauguration "sing a song in front of the team","Sang my song infront of everyone over dinner,was bricking it. wasn't too bad in the end. #freshprince".

Josh McE did exactly the same thing when he came to the Club too, some weeks back. Danny G, who's a great Tweeter along with Ash, confirms too that there has been a quiz....."So @JMcEachran20 had zero input in the quiz ...our team finished last #iaintsuprisedatall" and that he didn't think much of ND's efforts in Training today...... "@NathDyer87: Good weather today hope it stays like this! Decent finishing by @JMcEachran20 in training!" Nath did u train lad??".

Anyway, enough of that. I think you can see that there's a deal of enjoyment there, and that the party is genuinely close. And that, of course, is exactly what we want.

On a more serious note, with regard to the Camp more formally, Adrian Tucker, the Goal Keeping coach, has confirmed that the facilities are top of the range, including a separate area for the 3 keepers to work at and on, with several full sized, immaculate pitches for ALL the squad. Several full contact games have taken place and were decent workouts.
Update from Ash= "The race didn't happen today peeps. We will have to see what tomo brings!"

You'll see from above that most of the examples I've used are lighthearted, some would say insignificant, morsels and titbits of gossip, but we know also that Twitter particularly, and Social Media generally, has a darker side.

Leaving the Training Camp there for the moment,let's for now have a look at the more nefarious aspects I'm hinting at.

You may, or may not, be an aficionado of these Net based methods of communication and contact, but more and more Sportsmen and Women, with a high percentage of Footballers, use them regularly. That in itself raises some interesting ethical, moral and legal points.

Despite the fact that the World Wide Web is virtually unregulated and consequently not policed in most people's eyes, there are always consequences to all utterances made, especially so when they're without even a modicum of self-control.

Take, for instance, one of the highest profile Football Tweeters, the estimable Joey Barton. With some 1.25 million "Followers", this serial Tweeter has been involved in some high profile and unfortunate spats with many and various personalities and authorities even.

Not having made a contribution to the Twittersphere since the 8th Feb, I have a suspicion that Mark Hughes, the new Gaffer at JB's club QPR, may have exercised a somewhat restraining influence - incidentally, QPR too are away at a a similar Continental (Portugese) TC as us.

Immediately prior to this enforced break, Joseph, as he prefers, had been involved with some contentious dialogue across the ether, between his good self and some eminent print journalists.

It came about from comments he was making in Tweets that directly concerned his participation in, and the actions he witnessed , at the infamous QPR v Chelsea fixture that saw the scenes that led to Chelsea's John Terry being charged with an alleged offence of Racial Abuse and Aggravation towards the R's Anton Ferdinand.

Don't worry, I intend to make no comment on either that particular case and incident. That's now for the Courts to decide. And that's the point, surely.

As several journalists pointed out - the comments from JB could possibly be construed to have been in Contempt of Court (since the case was and is now Sub-Judice), and indeed, the comments and situation were looked at by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, who eventually decreed that in this instance, no legal offence had occurred.

Today I've heard Brian Moore, the ex England Rugby International and a qualified Solicitor with a huge knowledge of legal niceties, explain very helpfully, I thought, why the DPP had not proceeded to charge JB.

It was only because, Moore opined, that the case will eventually be heard by a Stipendiary Magistrate and not a Jury, and thus, he felt, the Magistrate was probably unlikely to be influenced by JB's utterings. Treading on very thin ice, methinks.

It does, however, beg the question that with 1.25 million followers, there's a high likelihood that at least some of them will have had their viewpoint perhaps filtered through Joey's eyes - and, I'd ask, where's the morality in that?

### Major Tweet alert ###
Joey's back, with these Tweets after 11pm Wednesday..........although he seems to have settled into less controversial topics....

1)"Arrrrrggggghhhhhh in Portugal, Mackie my roomy has this TOWIE shit on. I am fucking furious. Might have to KO him.......".
2)"Not only has the cheeky git nicked the double bed, he bossing the remote. I am gonna have to put my foot down here."
3)"Don't know who thicker @bradleyorr2 or that joey essex character.......both fucking dense."
4)"Is it just me or have them birds got worse. Some right rough ones on that since I last saw it. #faketanninghell"
5)"Happy Gilmore on the box now. Mackie has been put in a sleeper hold and tucked under table. In charge of remote now. Later people"
6)"Anyone read this wks @BigIssue ? Haven't been in UK to pick 1 up. Paul McCartney interview should be decent. My column is about tech in foot"
7)"Shaun Derry trains like Gilmore. Weirdest character in the modern game that fella......"
8)"Watched a film called Collapse before off itunes. Well worth a watch by the way. Thought engaging......."
9)"Top movie this Happy Gilmore never heard of it till today. Very humorous, if one says so oneself. Has it only just come out?"
10)"Some people are far to easy........."Just tap it in, just give it a tappy tappy tapperoo...." #steadyontwitterhelmets"

All of the above Tweets were between 11pm and Midnight.

Bloody hell, Joey, even I can't take any more. Some might say that you're behaving like a bit of an arse, but I couldn't, possibly.

Goodnight, please. Bless. We can only wish him a good night's sleep.

Co-incidentally, I'm currently listening to the Sports News, to hear that that other purported bad-boy, Ravel Morrison, recently and controversially transferred from Man Utd to West Ham Utd (maybe it's because of that bad-boy record?- Google it), has INDEED been charged by the FA for comments containing homophobic language he made on the same medium.

Both of these instances come hot on the heels of some other high profile cases of "Abuse via Social Media".

Stan Collymore, the ex-player Pundit, was subjected to vile, racist abuse as was Shola Ameobi at Newcastle Utd, and it's very recently been reported that Man City's Micah Richards has abandoned his Twitter account because of much the same. What on earth is wrong with the minds of the people who carry out these vicious, ugly attacks? Who knows? I'm afraid that's a question that's far beyond me.

I will make one comment though, and it's relevance will be familiar to most reading this, because we've all seen, in a far less serious but no less annoying way, the interference and abuse (often) of so-called Internet Trolls.

Often found on our favourite Guest Books and Message Boards, you'll recognize the fact the first thing either they or their supporters throw up when taken to task for their often bilious spleen is what I like to call their "Appeal to Free Speech" defence.

You can almost guarantee that somewhere, sometime, if you're involved in a contretemps with such a Troll or his/her supporter/s, they will make a claim that "In our Country, we have the Right to Free Speech". This means that they want to say (and, I suspect, do) whatever they like.

Whoah, buddy, whoah!

No, No. We live in a Society that has agreed, and has enshrined in Law, rights and responsibilities.They include the Laws of Defamation, both Libel and Slander, and a whole tranche of restraint in relation to Creed, Colour, Sexuality and a whole lot else. And, it applies to all walks of life, Internet included.

Okay,Okay, I know- it's time to jump off this bloody high horse :) Let's get back to some lighter topics again.

So Carlos Tevez is back, eh. What's that I hear you say? Do I detect a yawn there? Indeed, I do. What to say about this seemingly never ending saga? Only this,surely, from the unmissable Marina Hyde. As she closes, so succinctly,it provides.... "another surreal chapter to football's adventures through the looking glass."

At least on Wednesday night we saw a decent Champions League Match on the TV.

Forgive me for failing to dredge up much enthusiasm for the previous results or games, even, namely Bayer Leverkusen 1 - 3 Barcelona , and Lyon 1 - 0 Apoel Nicosia .Despite the presence and performance of the world's best player (by a street- pace CR7), I couldn't dredge up much enthusiasm for either.

And from the first results of Wednesday, neither. They went Benfica 1 - 0 Otelul Galati, and Zenit St Petersburgh 3 - 2 Benfica.

This top heavy competition contains some wonderful teams, but being an objective observer only takes you so far. At least the tie, with Arsenal away at the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza to take on AC Milan, had the feel of a genuinely top class meeting. Once the flares of the Curva Nord and Curva Sud light up, it guarantees an exciting night at San Siro.

Could Thierry Henry provide one more example of his deservedly iconic reputation?

First impressions were that Wenger had gone "narrow", to match Milan, who, in the middle, had Nocerino, Mark van Bommel (kicker) and Seedorf. For Arsenal, they were matched by Song , Ramsey, and Arteta.

For Milan, 1 + 2 set up in front of that. Boateng was the 1, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robhino the 2 in advance.

The 7 times Winners also went with three/four at the back - Abate (flying right) plus Mexes and Thiago Silva, Antonini left. It was interesting, if limiting, I thought then, although I'd not factored in how Arsenal would respond. As it turned out, not too well.

Seedorf went off injured on 12m, to be replaced by Emanuelson. The first goal came from Kevin Prince Boateng - remember him from Pompey and Tottenham - wow- in a different world now. It was a terrific goal on 15 m, volleyed into the roof of the net.

For Arsenal, Rosicky was narrow in support for RVP, and Walcott was isolated right. Arsenal were struggling to create pressure. It all stopped at the Van Bommel level.

Another goal came on 38m. Zlatan was freed on the left, with a suspicion of O/Side, and cheekily rolled it and squared for Robinho to nod in. Ouch.
Rosicky, a decent player once, seemed destroyed by constant injury - almost like they were a man light, and it's an effort for him to run anymore.

I also wondered where was the Ox? Benched. Bad choice, I thought , from AW. Koscielny, Arsenal's best player in the game, was injured, and replaced by Djourou. It was not looking good. Boateng, with Prince on his back, nearly made it 3. At Half time, Arsene Wenger was almost duty bound to "get the
hairdryer out", and make a tactical change even. Henry came on for Walcott, but was that enough? I doubted it.

Within 3 min however, a sloppy mistake on edge of box allowed Robhino to shoot and score. Disaster at 3-0. Szczesny was rooted, disappointingly, but TR had given it away, as I saw when I had another look, later.

On 65 m, Arsenal produced their only real chance. Henry flicked, RVP volleyed, and Christian Abbiatti in the Milan goal made an excellent save to palm it wide at the left hand post.The Ox came on for Gibbs, Song going to CB, and Vermaelen to LB, but with Ambrosini replacing the Prince, AC Milan were content to suck it up, concentrating on breaks to retain or advance the status quo.

Ibrahimovic, of course, took it further, embarrassing Djourou to win a penalty, and crashed it under Szczesny. It was painful to watch, as was AW's after match interview. He seemed genuinely hurt. Btw, there's a fine full analysis of the game here, from @Zonal_Marking's brilliant Michael Cox.

So, at the end of the day, it was 4-0 to Milan, and perhaps the most damning comment I can make is that it was like watching Fulham last year in the Europa Cup - no disrespect to them certainly- but although I wanted them (Arsenal) to do well, since I've always admired the way they play, yesterday they were well and truly spanked. Painful, to say the least. Even more so when it's a team That AW has had unrewarded faith in for some years. Ah well, as the incomparable Robert Zimmerman once said, "The Times they are a' changing".

Anyway, that's enough for now, so let me wrap up for today.

I've had, and am having, like many of us, an intriguing and satisfactory week. This blog let's you see some of it, and it's reasonably typical, I guess. Whatever, it still leaves me looking onward at this fantastic, mystifying season.

Where do we go next?

In simplistic terms , the Brittania Stadium - but in a slightly more long term outlook, a little further than that. I'll be back this weekend, and we'll see where we go from there.

In the meantime,

Onward, Swansea City.

See you over the weekend.

1 comment:

live sports said...

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