The Game's Gone Crazier

For all the latest on the exploits of Uncle Festa, Godfather Cellino, Friar Brian, Old Big Gob, GianFredo Zola, Butterfingers Green, 'Arry the Albatross, The Grand Puppet Master, Il Duce Di Canio, Timmy Sherwood and a cast of thousands!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

QPR Now Need Top Six Form To Avoid Drop!

Never mind Houdini, Rednapp now needs to do a Jesus Christ to rescue QPR. With 28 points now needed from 18 games - and that's a minimum requirement - QPR have to amass 1.555 points per game, which over a 38 game season would see them finish on 60 points. And 60 points would have secured sixth place last season!

The failure of 'Arry to transform results shows what a shite bunch Warnock, Hughes and Fernandes recruited. In fact, should they maintain the present points return per game, they will finish the season on 19 points, one of the worst performances in Premiership history.

I doubt that will happen. My money would be on QPR making it to 30 points - just. But even to do that, they need more than a point a game, with winnable home games fast running out.

The gRs were so damn smug last season when I warned that there was trouble ahead. Fernandes has been exposed as a mug and deserves everything he gets in my book after deliberately trying to grab the West Ham headlines when Allardyce was appointed. Too many West Ham fans were fooled by Tony's Fools Gold and expressed dismay when he bought in to QPR instead. It was a narrow escape in my book!

Warnock Faces Leeds Sack In New Year

With sackings in the Championship spreading like a contagion, Warnock should start looking over his shoulder. Nottingham Forest defeated Leeds and are above them in the table but that wasn't enough to save the manager. Blackburn took decisive action when Berg was obviously failing. Barnsley have borrowed the chopper after dropping to the bottom of the table. And the biggest underachiever of the lot is probably Old Big Gob.

Leeds fans insist all the blame lies with Master Bates, but he backed his manager's judgement in the summer. Warnock built this squad and promised a promotion campaign. But the brutal truth is that his predecessor had a better record whilst at Elland Road. Despite the recent revival, based on a clutch of home games, Leeds are lower in the table now than they were when Warnock took charge thanks to two highly predictable away defeats.

And Neil has made no secret of his intention to retire at the end of the season so what is the point of sticking with him now? If GFH Capital are going to invest money in the squad, why entrust it to a guy who will not be managing the players purchased next season? That sounds pretty stupid to me.

And with Leeds still in touch with the clubs chasing the play offs, why not strengthen now and try to capitalise on a rank poor division, building a squad capable of finishing in the top six and storming the playoffs?

The uncomfortable truth is that the team finishing third in the Championship is much more likely to win through to the Prem than any of the also-rans. So scraping into the playoffs in sixth place would almost certainly be a futile gesture, simply prolonging the agony of failure for the season. Leeds need to build a momentum instead in flip flapping from seventh to twelfth in the table depending on whether a home or away fixture is being played.

Warnock has hidden behind the fans' contempt for Bates and, as a result, he has not been judged on his own inadequate performance. If he was in charge of West Ham, we would be calling for his head. Leeds are hopelessly off the Championship pace and that is not acceptable for a club with such a great history. GFH Capital need to take decisive action. And fast!

Zola's Watford Cut Leeds Adrift Of Playoffs

And then there are six. Suddenly, there is a break away pack at the top. Nottingham Forest and Millwall are trying to keep the peleton in touch, but as the race goes in to the mountains, the stronger teams are beginning to stretch out the field.

Leeds now need to win two games whilst a team from the top six loses two just to climb into a playoff place. And with the worst goal difference outside of the bottom nine, Old Big Gob's team are in an even weaker position than the table suggests. It's true that a team invariably makes a charge from the chasing pack in the Championship, but Blackburn and Bolton look better equipped to do that than Warnock's team. Unless GFH Capital put some money where their mouth is!

Zola, meanwhile, is making me eat my words - and despite Duxbury's and Nani's presence at Vicarage Road, long may it continue. The win at Brighton was excellent and a fitting reward for Zola's positive attitude - something Warnock could learn from!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Spirit of Graham Poll Lives On In Huddersfield!

Bloody hell, whilst Yorkshire folk seem to struggle with spelling based on the comments left on here by Leeds fans, you would have thought that counting to two would be a relatively simple matter.

To be fair, of course, referee Russell - who like Poll issued two yellow cards to the same player and forgot to produce the red - was only officiating a game in Yorkshire; he hails from Hertfordshire - just like Poll! Education Secretary Michael Gove should launch an immediate enquiry into the teaching of Maths in Herts.

It was an "honest mistake" according to Russell who, for all those who remember the Irish jokes of the seventies, glorifies very appropriately in the Christian name of Mick.

So Mick and Pollie go into a bar just down the road from Lords and pull out two yellow cards each and the barman says...

Finish the joke yourselves!

Aston Villa Fans Yearning For McLeish!

You have to laugh. Things are looking dodgy at Upton Park, but desperate is a more appropriate adjective for Villa Park. 15 goals conceded in the last three games, seven in two home games, with three shipped against relegation rivals Wigan. This is now officially a crisis.
It's beginning to look as if there's some truth in that old adage, you win nothing with kids. This is a very, very poor Villa team indeed which appears to be in free fall. McLeish was vilified whilst at the club and Lambert seen as the big claret and blue hope. Well look at where Norwich are in the table without the Scot. Perhaps former Birmingham boss Chris Hughton was the man Villa needed.
The fans turned on Lambert today. They should be careful: Avram is still out of work!

Leeds United Wave Goodbye To Automatic Promotion At Hull

So the charge has turned into a bit of a damp squib - rather like the big take over. With Warnock admitting that Leeds can't compete financially with Leicester City even after the take over by GFH Capital, it looks as if there will be no major investments in the team this January. And the last two games have shown that without investment in the squad, Leeds are going nowhere this season - unless they steal up via the playoffs.
The stats from today's game make shocking reading: Hull had 20 shots on goal to Leeds' 4; Hull were on target 11 times and Leeds just once; and Hull had a whopping 65% of the possession. This wasn't just a defeat, it was a tonking.
Mind you, Old Big Gob seems to have accepted defeat before the game kicked off. How else can you explain the decision to leave Bechio on the bench? Sure a booking would have secured a suspension, but given it would be a one match ban, what was to be gained from not selecting him for a crucial game exactly? That sent a terrible message to the team.
So Leeds are back in ninth and could be in tenth by the time the Brighton v Watford game ends. They are now 13 points behind an automatic promotion place, and 12 behind the team in third. Reading pulled it off last season but lightning rarely strikes twice and this Leeds team lacks the passion of the Reading boys.

Time and again Warnock tells us he can't ask for more in terms of effort, but this Leeds team only plays in front of its own half full stadium; it seems the heat of an away kitchen makes them wilt like a eunuch after six pints of Stella. We always knew they were short on class; it seems they don't have much in the way of guts either.

Gareth To Bale Out Of Spurs This Summer

AVB has insisted that Bale is going nowhere - this January. That's not really what Spurs fans want to hear because it does not rule out a move at the end of the season.

With talk of a £40m price tag, however, it seems inevitable that, sooner rather than later, the wonder player will be off to pastures new, be that Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester City.

The progress of Bale has been sensational since his switch to midfield. It's not so long ago that Spurs couldn't win a game with Bale in the team. However, there's now no denying that the guy is one of the best players in the world - a new Ronaldo given his electric pace and physique.

AVB has coped brilliantly with the defections so far, but Bale looks impossible to replace.

Oil Money Has Dried Up At Leeds Already

Dear me, Old Big Gob has let the cat out of the bag big time. I wondered aloud why Leicester had been allowed to snap up Chris Wood and Warnock has supplied the answer, explaining,

"We've also got the transfer window opening and we'll be trying to make some signings straight-away. It looks like I've missed out on Chris Wood – I just can't compete financially with Leicester City – but I'm hoping to tie up some of the players I've had on loan."

You what? Mighty Leeds United under new ownership can't compete with little old Leicester City? What's happened to the £8m transfer war chest? What's happened to GFH Capital's commitment to back a charge for promotion?

According to some reports, Wood is being bought for just £1.25m. That's chicken feed surely? But chicken feed that the mighty GFH Capital appear unwilling to cough up. Is Master Bates a major shareholder in the Islamic bank by any chance?

Friday, 28 December 2012

Leicester Step In Where Leeds Fear To Tread

Whilst Leeds have agreed to buy Ryan Hall for the princely sum of £150,000, Leicester City may be about to pull off a major coup by landing young West Brom and Millwall striker Chris Wood.
Wood, who has been pulling up trees this season in the Championship for Millwall, proved his worth to Old Big Gob Warnock when he netted the Lions' winner against Leeds. He would appear to fit the bill perfectly for Leeds, being strong, mobile, young and an ideal alternative to Bechio. And at £2m, he shouldn't break even the GFH Capital bank.
Wood has netted 11 times in 19 appearances this season, credentials which should encourage all ambitious teams in the Championship to run the rule over him. Frankly, I'm surprised West Brom are entertaining a sale because the lad looks to have genuine potential.
It's a doubly clever move by Leicester as Pearson's squad is strengthened at the expense of play off rivals Millwall. The weakening of the Lions is good news for Warnock but Leeds fans might be wondering why this prime opportunity has been missed. Perhaps the new owners are trying to do it on the cheap after all.

GFH Open Transfer Warchest At Leeds

It's early days I know, but as an opening statement, the signing of Ryan Hall for £150,000 doesn't exactly set the pulses racing, does it? Old Big Gob has dampened down transfer talk but claimed he needed a new striker. Leeds fans will be praying that Hall isn't that forward.
The young winger come striker may be one for the future but the need is for players who can cut the mustard in the here and now. Bechio is on fire but what happens if he gets injured - or suspended? True the return from injury of Somma is like signing a new player, but if Leeds are to push on, some serious money probably needs to be invested.
A month ago there was an argument for prevarication: why waste money chasing an impossible dream? But Leeds are now positioned for a promotion charge. If GFH Capital have any sense of ambition, they should invest now and spend big. The next month will tell us if the dark cloak of Master Bates has been shed for ever, or if he has been replaced by equally tight fisted new owners. Better the Shaitan you know perhaps? Time will tell.

QPR Keeper Green Repays Redknapp's Faith

Well that was highly predictable wasn't it? Green's clanger against West Bromwich Albion was a true classic, comparable with his monumental gaff against the USA.

Redknapp's attempts to absolve his panic stricken keeper by blaming the officials are understandable but pitiful. Just watch Green. He chooses to step back into his own goal and is trying to save the ball from behind the line as the misdirected header loops over a crowd of players and beneath the bar. Even then he could have punched the ball - but instead he flapped at it like a girl with a sprained wrist. It was truly, truly pathetic.

For years some of us have argued that Green is, at best, an average keeper. Yes he is a great shot stopper but as an all round keeper, he is woeful. Under crosses he is hopeless. His kicking is poor. His positioning at free kicks is, at best, questionable. And his command of his six yard box is non existent.

Redknapp has backed the wrong horse by handing the gloves to Green ahead of Cesar. If he reverses that decision now, he will destroy the confidence of England's 666 totally. It's a terrible conundrum but 'Arry must surely put the club ahead of Green, who even allowing for his shot stopping, is a liability. Relegated with Norwich and West Ham, Butterfingered Rob is on course for a most unfortunate hat-trick!

Newcastle game shows Manchester United and Ferguson are above the rules!

If proof were ever needed that the FA and Premier League run scared of Ferguson and Man Utd, the failure to take action against the ranting Scot, following the Newcastle game, must be it. Had any other manager of any other club entered the field of the play to harangue the referee, and  conducted a protracted tirade at the fourth official and assistant referee for more than half the game, then a lengthy touchline ban would surely have followed.
That’s not to say that I don’t have sympathy with Ferguson’s sense of injustice. He was wrong to claim that Evans was being pulled by Cisse, but the Newcastle man was indisputably in an offside position and was clearly both active and interfering in play. Any attempt to argue otherwise is absurd. Evans only directed the ball into his own net because he was desperately trying to prevent it from reaching Cisse. Had the Newcastle man not been there, Evans would have had time to trap the ball, bring it under control and direct it up field. The assistant was absolutely right to flag, and Dean was absolutely wrong to overrule him in my book.

But what followed was disgraceful and arguably affected the result. We saw in two West Ham games recently how referees actively seek to right wrongs over the course of a game. Cole was foolishly sent off against Everton, so Gibson followed in an equally stupid decision. Go back to the Chelsea game and the goal we wrongly had cancelled out for a foul by Collins was “put right” when Cole’s goal was allowed to stand despite an obvious foul.
So, the question is, was the assistant consciously erring on the side of Man Utd when the fourth goal was scored? It is true that Hernandez was not offside, but it was a marginal decision, the sort of decision that officials get wrong as often as they get right. Did Jake Collin’s arm twitch? Was there a Scottish voice venting in his brain as he weighed up whether or not the Mexican was fractionally on or offside? It would have been bravery beyond the call of duty to raise the flag in the circumstances!

Just imagine what would have happened had a cricket coach behaved in this way. Or if this had happened in a top rugby game or at the Olympics! Football wants to clean up its act, but how can that happen when Ferguson is so obviously above the rules?
The offside law needs to be clarified because it is a muddle as it stands - either say a player has to make contact with the ball to become active and do away with the interfering with play rule altogether, or accept that if a player is in or around the six yard box when a goal is scored then he must be active. But it is equally important that the misconduct rule is applied consistently, without fear or favour. Only then will we have a level playing field.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Welcome to the new Game'sGoneCrazy

Due to popular demand, The Games Gone Crazy is expanding. Please be patient as teething problems are resolved.