Friday, 16 April 2010




Summary: Like the sheriff of a western's lawless town.

Spoke strongly on policy, sounded dour but re-assuring but over played the 'Tories are threatening the economy' card. Managed a smile and a laugh and a couple of good punches to Cameron, but nothing like a knock out blow. Cozeyed up to Clegg too often.



Summary: Like the barman in a Western saloon, smiley but you don't really notice him.

Appeared really nervous at the start, his stance was very uncomfortable. Failed to recover from this slow start and missed several good chances to deliver a blow to Brown (notably on referendum talk and on the economy). Overall,
too much PR, not enough politics.



Summary: Like the gunslinger in a Western, knowing he couldn't get shot

An extremely confident performance, edging towards over confident. Knew he had nothing to lose and acted like it. Nice touches with the way he spoke to people but often ran out of things to say and repeated himself. Good wins on the Expenses scandal. Next week will be much tougher.


Monday, 14 December 2009

Liverpool Demise

Liverpool's defeat to Arsenal on Sunday showed a number of failings that have been building up for sometime at Anfield and now is surely the time for Rafa to go.

While they played well in the first half against Arsenal, they actually didn't create a great deal of chances and their 'good' play revolved around stopping Arsenal perform. Once Wenger had worked out what to do - give his players a bollocking at half time basically - Liverpool were made to look ordinary. And that's the word for Liverpool, ordinary. They have been for a few seasons.

Fans may tell you about that 4-1 win at Old Trafford last season, but it counted for nothing in the end, and the bore draws at Anfield in the months before were far more significant.

Alan Hansen tipped Liverpool for the title at the start of the year - a fact he seems to have forgotten now - and describes the situation now as "not nearly as good" as it should be. That's an understatement. For Liverpool to be scrambling around with Spurs and Aston Villa is not good enough, unless they're happy to be mediocre. That appears to be what many fans have accepted - because a top four finish is now an achievement.

So what's Rafa doing wrong? He started the season with everyone knowing that an injury to either Torres or Gerrard seriously depletes his side. No other top half contender is affected in such a way. United have lost Ronaldo - and are still competing. They've also had no Ferdinand, Vidic and other key players at times this season. Chelsea could lose Drogba and Lampard, but they wouldn't be as badly affected. Arsenal had Fabregas missing and have lost Van Persie, still to some extent competitive.

Of all the players benitez signed in the 2004-05 season, none are at Anfield anymore. In the 5 buying seasons since these are his arguably good purchases.

REINA - 6 Mill
CROUCH - 7 mill (then sold for 9 after 2 seasons)
AGGER - 5.8
BELLAMY - 6 Mill (then sold for 7.5 a season later)
KUYT - 9 mill
MASCHERANO - 19 mill
TORRES - 27 mill

I struggle to find many others. It's about a 15% success rate.

Compare that same period for Chelsea and Manchester Utd you will see a better quality of players - producing a strong squad.

I think Liverpool are the biggest victims of the Champions League bubble. Benitez has turned success in that tournament into a bigger priority than the league. Now he's out of the race in both what can he do. Better to bring in someone now and give them six months to work out what's wrong.

Liverpool fans have been patient - and that's to their credit - but it's time for change.

Okay you ask - who to replace him?

Mourinho's the obvious candidate and he'll be looking for a move to the Premier League in the summer. Steve Coppell anyone? Would he do any worse than Benitez? Walter Smith? Roy Hodgson? You might laugh, but I can't see any of those doing any worse. None of those I mention would have effectively one striker in their squad and buy a right back for 17 million that can't defend!

So when Reading knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Jan 2nd, it's goodbye Rafa!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


So it's the end of the Noughties and the music from the past decade has been pretty good. We've had Arctic Monkeys prove that rock can still be exciting, and in Alex Turner, we have uncovered a lyrical genius. Coldplay dominated the decade from the rock point of view, with three excellent albums, but the quality of their last release questions whether they can last into the next decade.

Male singer songwriters flew high during the mid decade, with James Blunt the most successful, and we've had quality stars from the States like Jason Mraz finally make it in the UK. But latterly it's been females dominating as record bosses search for a replacement Amy Winehouse. So far they've failed, as no one has matched the excellent Back to Black album.

From a pop point of view, it took Take That to reform to give mainstream pop a good kick up the arse, with Robbie Williams ending up the decade needing the band more than they need him - and that was never going to be predicted in 2000!

Anyway here is my pick of some of the songs of the decade. Please add your own with a line about why.

ELBOW - ONE DAY LIKE THIS: Reward for years of hard work finally came the way of this lot and this song shows why. It's a dream of a song - timeless with its sentiment, mood and music.

JAMES BLUNT - YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL: I sat my wife down and player her this song three months before it was released and said it'd be huge. You might not want to hear it again, but for a time in 2005/06 you had no choice.

MUSE - HYSTERIA: Here was the evidence that this band were going to be big. Just like Elbow, they worked hard and it paid off. Now selling out Wembley Stadium, to be the best live band in the country.

KEANE - BEDSHAPED: Emotive final track on their debut album. They could have been together with Coldplay, but in the end it's great for us they stayed apart.

COLDPLAY - YELLOW: The breakthrough track and a truly classic pop/rock song.

KILLERS - SOMEBODY TOLD ME: Did this start the Eighties revolution? Well you can;t hold it against it if it did. At exactly 1 minute 19 is the best example of keyboard use this decade!

ARCTIC MONKEYS - I BET YOU LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR: It's where it all started and although there are a dozen tracks you could pick, you have to go with the song that enthralled, excited and energised young fans in a way that hadn't happened since Cigarettes and Alcohol.

KANYE WEST - HEARTLESS: The master of pop hip-hop and his finest moment. Just stop using that auto-tune now.

THE EAGLES - LONG ROAD OUT OF EDEN: 10 minutes long and as epic as Hotel California, this was one of the better comebacks from the comeback decade.

MANIC STREET PREACHERS: AUTUMNSONG: The Manics bit the bullet and went commercial for the Tigers album and here embrace Queen. Who'd have thought it?

AMY WINEHOUSE - BACK TO BLACK: Who knows if she'll ever be this good again?

DIXIE CHICKS - NOT READY TO MAKE NICE: A big f off to Bush and his devotees, this is lyrically and musically superb. A great album too with the help of the under-rated Dan Wilson (Semisonic)

BEN FOLDS - LANDED: He went solo and he kept on producing quality, until a slight swerve ball in 2008! This is pounding classic piano pop.

JUSTIN CURRIE: NO, SURRENDER: This one's for all those who know me. he had to be in the list and this underlines he genius status. Glasgow's finest. Just make more records you lazy sod!

DAMIEN RICE- THE BLOWER'S DAUGHTER: What a discovery this man was, with a truly stunning debut of which this was just one of the highlights.

Okay that's 15 - and I have now disappeared up my own arse and said the word classic too many times.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Scotland's not so finest

This week has seen plenty of discussion about the prospect of the Old Firm joining the English Premier League. This is a ridiculous proposition for a number of reasons - including the possible threat it would have to the Scottish and Welsh football teams. If Celtic and Rangers played in the EPL, the possibility of FIFA saying there should be a UK team would increase. Then no Scottish players would get a chance to fail at World Cup or European qualifying again.

Also - we must remember how the Rangers fans behaved in Manchester at the UEFA Cup final. A disgrace. We already have a rising problem again amongst English fans for trouble - and inviting the Scots to join in would see a huge increase in costs for police.

Ultimately England doesn't need Rangers and Celtic as much as they need the EPL cash. Maybe they will look at joining a Scandanavian league or north european conference.

While the arguments against this proposal are so strong - and it was rightly rejected by Premier Legaue chiefs on Thursday, there is one key element that will decide whether it ever happens. Sky TV. If the broadcaster feels more money can be made by having the Old Firm in the league, they will join. One thing is certain in modern football - and that's that TV money talks the loudest.

Give it five years more of Chelsea or Man United winning the league and the pressure for change will increase.

If SKY want it - it will happen.

Monday, 2 November 2009


It baffles me that if someone spends 20 to 50 pounds (or more) to attend a concert that they then spend most of the night talking.....why? I have raised this issue with many people and no one has ever said "Oh I do that...what's wrong with talking?" who are these daft daft people?

At a recent U2 gig - the four people in front of me spent the entire concert chatting....occasionally looking up to see what track Bono had moved onto....At work on the Monday they probably told everyone what a great gig it was - how the hell would they know? Why not book a nice table in a quiet restaurant?

Are these people ignorant or thick or both?

For sure you might want to point something out to your mates during the show but not discuss the third world debt or whether Jedward should still be on the X Factor....

So I repeat - who are these people?

If you've spent a night watching a great band - jab jabbering away to your pals - tell me why....I'd love to understand your rudeness.....because while you may not be that interested in the music, you can be sure that most of the people around you are and they don't want to listen to your shouting voice.....