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25

Apr

Can Boris hold onto his job on May 3rd? It all depends on his doughnut, apparently.

In the video I talk to Syed Kamall MEP and a local Kingston resident about Boris’ chances.

13

Apr

Boy from Brazil seals FA Youth Cup final spot for Chelsea

Chelsea drew 1-1 with Manchester United tonight to book their place in the FA Youth Cup final for the second time in three seasons, winning 3-2 on aggregate at Stamford Bridge. 

The impressive Brazilian Lucas Piazon, who scored the goal that sent Chelsea through, said it was a “very good feeling” to reach the final. He added “we had been playing well since the first half so I think we deserved to win”.

Much in the style of United’s senior side, the youngsters fashioned a chance where there didn’t appear to be one. On 36 minutes, a patient build-up ended with right-sided winger Jack Barmby finding space on the left-hand side of the penalty box, and he fired high into the net from a tight angle past a helpless Jamal Blackman.

With John Terry watching from the stands, the home side could have been ahead on 22 minutes after a marauding run from left-back Adam Nditi. Charging into the United penalty area he flicked the ball through his own legs to beat Liam Grimshaw before powering a shot straight at goalkeeper Jonathan Sunderland.

Sunderland appeared to make the save before somehow allowing the ball to squirm under his body and agonisingly goalwards. An ecstatic Nditi was already celebrating when the Reds keeper pounced on the ball, and was still off the pitch as United launched a counter attack.

Nditi was booked on 43 minutes for a late challenge on United forward Sam Byrne, before Ben Pearson took revenge one minute later. Pearson also saw yellow. This youth match had the verve of a feisty cup tie. 

The two sides continued to trade blows in a high tempo contest. Blues keeper Blackman made a fine save down low on 53 minutes, parrying the ball away from the on-rushing Barmby. The son of former Liverpool and England midfielder Nick Barmby was a constant threat.

The breakthrough came with just 19 minutes remaining. The effervescent Islam Feruz dribbled the ball unchallenged towards the United goal before cleverly slipping the ball left to Piazon.

Piazon did not hesitate and his excellent left-foot finish, akin to Barmby’s first-half effort, put Chelsea level.

The highly rated Scotland youth international Feruz might have made it two moments later. He volleyed 60th minute substitute Kiwomya’s cross onto the bar after a terrific Chelsea move down the right.

The Blues survived a late scare when Barmby’s  90th minute close-range effort trickled past Blackman’s left post.

Chelsea were knocked out by Manchester United at this stage last season, and will play Blackburn Rovers over two legs in the final with the ties likely to be played next month.

12

Apr

Why Comolli has gone

I don’t know why Damien Comolli was sacked but what I lack in facts I make up for in conjecture.

The departure of Comolli ostensibly means little, his roman nose will no longer protrude out of the main stand and there will presumably be one fewer connoisseur of YouTube compilations at Melwood.

The timing of his departure is bizarre, three days before a FA cup semi-final of huge importance. It won’t be nice for Carroll and Henderson et al to read that on the cusp of the big dance, the man who signed you has been fired for that very reason.

The reporting of Comolli wasting money on donkeys is entirely subjective. Suarez, Enrique(ish) and Bellamy are fine players, whilst Henderson and Carroll clearly have potential. Downing played an instrumental role in the Carling cup win and FA cup progress.

Comolli also recouped about £80m on Torres (£50m), Babel (£6m), Meireles (£12m), Ngog (£4m) and a host of overpaid fringe players.

I can’t agree with the notion that this was a cut-throat business decision based on profligacy in the transfer market. The experienced Fenway sports franchise had nothing to gain from sacking Comolli today. Logically, this suggests that they hadn’t planned it.

Possibly the only certainty in this latest Anfield debacle is that FSG no longer believe in a long-term Dalglish-Comolli project, their two major hires since buying the club. What that means for Dalglish is another matter.

My assertion is that Comolli wanted something from the owners, be it more money for transfers, himself, a guarantee of stability or even backing over an internal battle with Dalglish. Given the Scot’s warm words that seems unlikely.

There must have been a fairly major disagreement, and I reckon that Comolli played his trump card. Back me or sack me, Yanks. FSG called his bluff.

Comolli ended his associations with Arsenal and Tottenham on bad terms, and it would figure that his eighteen months at Liverpool has fizzled out with a trademark skirmish.

Update - Friday 2pm - Interesting Q&A with chairman Tom Werner on their site: http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/latest-news/tom-werner-on-comolli-decision.

He espouses the politically expedient line that FSG made the decision based on Comolli’s judgement. I stand by the idea that Comolli forced their hand in some way but it’s now clear what Werner wants people to think.

Someone also sent me this, a good but dull analysis of Comolli at Spurs - http://transferpriceindex.com/2010/10/damien-comolli-at-spurs-a-tpi-case-studyt/

27

Mar

Slade feels the heat with nine games to keep Orient up

Leyton Orient travel to Oldham today on the back of six defeats in the last ten, sitting just four points ahead of the relegation zone.

The match, re-arranged after a frozen February, kicks off at 7.45pm at Boundary Park.

It has been a turbulent season for the East London club whose contrasting form has been, at times, fit for both promotion and the drop.

After ten games Orient were bottom, without a victory, and the worst goal difference in League One.

This preceded a happy winter period as Leyton Orient took 28 points from 14 games. Only Charlton Athletic and Sheffield Wednesday, currently in first and second place respectively, fared better between October and January.

Had this spell not been sandwiched between two abject periods of form it may well have been the play-offs, rather than League Two football, that manager Russell Slade was contemplating as the league season entered its final stages.

Instead, the man parachuted in to save Orient from relegation in 2010, notching up three wins from six to stay up, could face a similar survival battle this season.

Slade, who patrols the technical area in his distinctive tracksuit and baseball cap combination, was rewarded with a long-term contact in the summer of 2010.

He repaid the faith shown in him by Chairman Barry Hearn with a seventh placed finish last season, only one point behind Bournemouth in sixth and the final play-off place.

That campaign also produced Leyton Orient’s best ever FA Cup run, with a memorable 1-1 draw at home against Arsenal in the 5th round, swiftly followed by a 5-0 hammering in the replay.

A large framed landscape picture of the tie hangs in the main entrance at Brisbane Road, a testament to Slade’s achievements.

Boundary Park is a long way from the glistening Emirates Stadium, and serves as a timely reminder of how fast things can change in football.

Slade understands how important tonight’s match is for his inconsistent side, “we’ve got nine big games, to be honest, from now until the end of the season. 

Tuesday is one of our games in hand. If we can gain something there that will take a little bit of the heat off.”

That heat threatened to boil over at 4.24pm on Saturday at Brisbane Road.

With Orient trailing Sheffield Wednesday by one goal to nil, Slade withdrew lively midfielder Adam Reed.

A crescendo of boos drowned out the stadium announcer introducing 19-year-old forward George Porter, who would almost snatch a point for the O’s in injury time, his volley from distance flying just inches wide of the right-hand post.

The boorish chorus of “you don’t know what you’re doing” rang around Brisbane Road as Reed left the field, much to the ire of the manager it was directed at.

Immediately after the match Slade said:

“I don’t know why I’m justifying myself to be honest, but we’re playing against a big side so obviously you’re going to need your markers on the pitch to ensure that when you’re defending set plays you’ve got enough height in your side as well.”

Slade looks set to name a more attacking line-up to face Paul Dickov’s Oldham, buoyed by the impact of young Porter.

“I thought it was a revelation when we went 4-4-2 in the closing stages I thought we got on top, we opened the game up, George Porter almost got in and he nearly gets us a point in the last minute”.

Slade should have a full squad to choose from, potentially bringing back two key players and taking late judgements on centre-back Scott Cuthbert and temporary defensive midfielder Dean Leacock.

“Scotty Cuthbert had a little bit of a problem with his leg in the first period. Dean Leacock came off he was a little bit cramped up. Other than that I think we’re OK.

We hope that the Dickons [full-back Ryan Dickson] and the Springs [Captain Matt Spring] of this club will be a bit closer for Tuesday.”

Oldham head into the game on the back of two consecutive 1-0 victories, marooned comfortably in mid-table.

Earlier this season the Latics beat Orient 3-1, with broad-shouldered striker Shefki Kuqi scoring one and setting up the others.

George Porter had opened the scoring, on his first start for Orient.

Kuqi, 35, has scored eleven league goals this season, whilst fellow Premiership old boy Kevin Lisbie, 33, has nine for Leyton Orient.

Slade, meanwhile, has nine big games left to resurrect the form that saw Orient go ten games unbeaten from September 24th to November 26th 2011.

Victory tonight could lift Orient away from danger.

Defeat, along with a Walsall win at home to bottom-placed Colchester, could see Orient join the relegation battle.

Slade will be braced for the fight.

24

Mar

Leyton Orient 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Easy win moves Wednesday second.

Sheffield Wednesday moved to second in the Npower League One with a routine 1-0 victory over struggling Leyton Orient.

Owls boss Dave Jones made four changes to the side that drew 2-2 at home to Walsall on Tuesday.

Orient, looking to record a second straight home win after overcoming Brentford last Saturday, brought Dean Leacock in for the injured Matt Spring after a 4-1 defeat at MK Dons in midweek.

The home side could have fallen behind in the first half had Ben Chorley, captaining the home side in Spring’s absence, not made a series of fine last-minute interventions, notably denying Wednesday centre-back Miguel Llera an easy tap-in from a Gary Madine cut-back on 39 minutes.

The Owls’ breakthrough came four minutes after half-time, with Beninese left-back Reda Johnson climbing highest to meet a deep, in swinging cross from Chris Lines on the left hand side.

Johnson’s header was saved down low by Rachubka but the ball squirmed out his grasp allowing Johnson to shoot into the empty net on his first start under Dave Jones.

Wednesday wasted a host of chances to extend their lead, the best of which fell to top scorer Gary Madine, who blazed over from the edge of the area with only the keeper to beat.

On-loan Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger made his first appearance for Wednesday as a substitute for Chris O’Grady in the 61st minute.

Ranger slid winger Michail Antonio through on the right-hand side with twenty minutes remaining, but his finish was dragged wide.

Orient rarely threatened, with hard-working forward Kevin Lisbie isolated in attack and Wednesday keeper Stephen Bywater reduced to the role of spectator.

The introduction of George Porter for Adam Reed on 67 minutes drew howls of derision from the home supporters, heaping misery on O’s boss Russell Slade.

Porter almost proved a point when his fine volley whistled past the post in injury time after a half-cleared corner.

Instead, it was a ninth home defeat of the season for Orient, who travel to Oldham Athletic on Tuesday just four points off the relegation zone.

The win moves Wednesday above rivals Sheffield United and into the automatic promotion places, much to the delight of the 2,434 travelling Wednesday fans who packed out almost the entire East Stand at Brisbane Road.

04

Jan

Winter round-up

14

Oct

Boris is talking about climate change. The blonde lady looking at my notepad is his press officer.

Boris is talking about climate change. The blonde lady looking at my notepad is his press officer.

Tell me more

I wrote something about local councils yesterday.

In case you missed them (and why would you) I also wrote articles about (the) European Union, Ed Balls and Sinn Fein for Dale & Co.

I also helped to write a story about energy for the Guardian.

That’s about it.

Up next: A picture and some words about Boris.

14

Sep

Normal service resumed

More blogs for Dale & Co. Won’t regurgitate them here but if you are interested in tenuous references to the Chancellor’s coke and hookers orgies, or how we’ve been looting/immigrating/sexing for centuries, click on the links below.

Boundary Review: Labour’s Little Problem. 

Not in my day, sir.