Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Brendan Rodgers Set For Liverpool Job

In January 2011, I wrote a blog about the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool manager on a caretaker basis. I wrote about the possibility of Dalglish as well as the new owners, bringing back the glory days at Anfield.

On the May 14th 2012, the man dubbed by the supporters as 'King Kenny', was relived of his duties only one year into his three year contract, this was despite winning the League cup and getting to the final of the FA cup. The club's cup runs however, was in stark contrast to their League form where they finished in eighth place and below local rivals Everton. What didn't help of course was that many of Liverpool's big money signings (Carroll, Downing, Henderson), did not perform to the standard that their price tag's suggested.

Once Dalglish had been dismissed, many manager's names were banded about to replace the Scot with Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and former Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas appearing to be the front runners for the post. Martinez was given permission by Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, to speak to Liverpool and did so on at least two occasions, in the end though the reds decide to raid Martinez's former club Swansea, for their manager Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers who initially turned down the Anfield club's approach, changed his mind once he discovered that their interest was genuine and is set to sign a three year contract after a rumoured four or five million pound compensation package is agreed.  

It has been an extraordinary couple of years for the Ulsterman. He joined the Swans in the summer of 2010 after a very unsuccessful few months at old club Reading the season before. In first full season at the Liberty stadium he guided the club to promotion via the playoffs, ironically beating his former side Reading in the final. This was some achievement as Swansea had become the first Welsh club to compete in the Premier League, beating much fancied rivals Cardiff to the accolade. Before this past season had even started, the Welsh outfit were heavy favorites for relegation with some bookmakers even suggesting that there was more chance of Elvis Presley returning from the dead than the Swans staying up. How wrong they were!, Swansea not only stayed up, but did it in such a style that they were dubbed the 'Barcelona of England,' winning plaudits up and down the country.

It seems however that Rodgers will have a new challenge on his hands, to wake the sleeping giant that is Liverpool Football Club. He will have a lot of pressure on him from both owners and fans, if he has a poor start he may be feeling the heat, just ask Roy Hodgson. Rogers will have to try and rebuild the club after some of the poor signings made over the last few years and to do this he needs to be given time, if the owners rate him as much as they seem to, then they have to back their man. This is a massive gamble for the new owners and for their sake's it had better pay off.

In my personal opinion I believe Rodgers is overrated and unproven as a manager after inheriting a good squad at Swansea following the work of Roberto Martinez and Paulo Sousa. Despite this I believe he deserves to be given a chance and who knows, maybe the answer to a problem isn't always staring you in the face.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Aviva Premiership Final Preview

Tomorrow will be the day of the Aviva Premiership final between table topping Harlequins and nine times
winners Leicester Tigers.

The final also marks the eighth consecutive Premiership final in which the Tigers have appeared in, however out of the seven already played, they have won just three of them. Harlequins will also be the Tiger's fifth different opponent in these finals which really shows their accomplishment.

Lets not forget though that Quins are not just here to make up the numbers, this is the team that finished top of the table in the regular season and have been there since pretty much the start of the season. They have quality players all around the park, with the pack containing one time England skipper Nick Easter, along with current captain Chris Robshaw who will bring both power and leadership to the side. Behind the scrum there will be no shortage of pace with back in form scrum half Danny Care as well centre Jordan Turner-Hall and the dangerous Ugo Monye. You of course have the vocal point of the team who is the sensational New Zealand fly half Nick Evans, how this man has only 16 caps for the All Blacks i'll never know as he is without doubt one of the most talent players the Premiership has ever seen.

Unlike Quins, Leicester didn't start the season nearly as well. The Tigers got off to a disastrous start as they lost five of their opening six games, this of course was not helped by the players on World Cup duty as well as a number of injuries. This was still not good enough from a team such as Leicester and once the missing players had returned, the pressure was on to salvage their season. They did just that as they went on to lose just the one game in the calender year of 2012, this included winning the LV cup by beating local rivals Northampton Saints in the final. Along with already known stars of Tigers (Flood, the Tuilagi's, Murphy ect), new talent emerged including one of the players of the season Steve Mafi and 19 year old George Ford who will start this years final.

The result of the match hangs in the balance, the final may be decide by one player's brilliance on the day as the two teams seem evenly matched. A lot will also rest on the shoulders of George Ford and his temperament on the big occasion, also getting the ball to Manu Tuilagi will key in order to get some forward momentum. The last time the two met was at the Stoop, the Tigers came out on top that day by winning a thriller of game which ended 33-43. If the final is as half as entertaining as that game, we are in for a treat.

This game seems too close to call, hopefully it will be another cracking game and sorry to use a cliche but at the end of the day, may the best team win.   


Harlequins: Brown; Williams, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Monye; Evans, Care; Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson; Fa'asavalu, Robshaw (capt), Easter.
Replacements: Buchanan, Lambert, Collier, Vallejos, Guest, Dickson, Clegg, Hopper.
Leicester: Murphy; Agulla, M Tuilagi, Allen, A Tuilagi; Ford, Youngs; Ayerza, Chuter, Cole; Skivington, Parling; Mafi, Salvi, Waldrom.
Replacements: T Youngs, Mulipola, Castrogiovanni, Kitchener, Newby, Harrison, Flood, Hamilton.

Aviva Premiership final

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Yorkshire Carnegie vs Derbyshire Falcons Report

Yorkshire secured a 7 wicket victory over Derbyshire after an impressive 77 not out from former Falcon's man Gary Ballance.

Derbyshire were put in to bat after Yorkshire won the toss and started off brightly with a 135 run partnership between openers Martin Guptill (89) and Cheney Hughes (50). New Zealand international Guptill, scored four 4's and five 6's in his 83 ball 89 and looked in great touch. The problems began for Derbyshire once they lost Hughes just after he gained his half century, the batsmen that followed struggled to play themselves in with no other batsman reaching 20. One of the main reasons for this was the bowling of 22 year old Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc, who was making his debut for the county. Starc took 3 wickets from 8 overs whilst conceding a steady 28 runs, the Aussie seamer
caused problems most of the Falcon's line up and got his reward with the wickets of Redfern, Whiteley and Poynton. This caused Derbyshire to stutter in the last ten overs ultimately finishing the innings on 219 for 8.

Like the Falcon's, Yorkshire's openers got off to a solid start with skipper Andrew Gale (33) and Adam Lyth (31) putting on a 50 run partnership. However both players couldn't cash in on their good starts and got out without getting the big scores they wanted. This brought experienced Aussie Phil Jaques to the crease who hit a steady 47 from 54 ball, this freed up Zimbabwean Ballance to smash a 60 ball 77 and comeback to haunt the county he left back in 2007. Once Jaques went, Ballance was supported well by exciting youngster Joe Root. The 21 year old hit an unbeaten 28 from 24 balls with some nice scoop shots which resulted in a couple of boundaries, he also bowled a couple of overs in the Derbyshire innings and looks a very good prospect for the next few years. Despite two wickets from all-rounder Wes Durston, Yorkshire secured the winning runs with 3 overs to spare as they accelerated their run rate during the last ten overs or so.   

Derbyshire will be disappointed with the result after being in such a strong position early on, Yorkshire however will be glad to get their first Pro 40 win of the season.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

American Pie Reunion Review

Beforehand I was worried, worried that like a lot of sequels (including the American Pie presents series), the film was going to be a complete disaster with a load of washed up actors desperately trying to relive their glory years. How wrong I was.

Getting all the cast back together (minus Jim's mom), brought the feel good factor back from the first three films. Once again they all played their parts well with each bringing an indivdiual comedy element to the film. For me though Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) stole the show with teenage antics amongst the others trying act their age. Whilst the characters seemed the same as they did all those years ago, there was also a kind of maturity with their age and a sense of moving on with exception to Stifler who was still, 'Trying to keep the party going with his boys.'

I read in one review that it was the same old jokes all over again and that it was nothing new, yes and no. The jokes were similar in places, the part where Jim and Stifler are trying the sneak out of Kara's room, did seem a bit deja vue with a scene in the second film, but it worked and as people say, if it ain't broke don't fix it. The way the film wasn't the same was that with growing up they had now moved out of the area and had their own lives, I found this an interesting element to the film, seeing how their lives had turned out with relationships, jobs ect.

The film wasn't just about jokes and nudity, there was also a sensitive side with the revelation of Jim's mom passing away, this resulted in Jim trying to help his dad move on who was still affected by the loss. There is also Jim and Michelle's marital problems as well as old feelings being stirred between OZ and Heather. These elements added to the film which if you didn't already, made you care about the characters and their lives. There was as expected, a few nods to the viewers of the original films with the 'MILF' guys reuniting and Stifler's revenge on Finch with Finch's mom making an appearance in the film.

All in all I felt this was a great film which I'd happily see again, I'm not so sure they should make another unless the script was right, as this may ruin the brand of American Pie (If the spinoffs haven't already done so). This seems to be a fitting way to end the series and hopefully leave a legacy of being one of the greatest film series of all time.
Poster for the film: 2012