Monthly Archives: August 2009

That Little Piece of Magic

spurs celebrate

The new season, finally, is upon us. And after months of talking non-stop about F1, I can finally start to waffle a bit more on the beautiful sport everyone likes to call football. And despite the Football League season starting on Friday night, with a rather drab 0-0 draw between Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, the main showpiece event begins on Saturday, the new Premier League season.

As usual, I have to get up and look forward to watching Tottenham Hotspur play, which in the last two seasons hasn’t really been that enjoyable to watch the first few months. I’m sure, everyone who isn’t a Spurs fan is probably aware of that as well. To be fair, our opening games of the season usually tend to be in the favour of the opposition, with Spurs’ last opening day win coming against Portsmouth in the glorious 2005/2006 season. A 2-0 win with goals scored by Andy Griffin (own goal) and Jermain Defoe. The record though still is quite inconsistent since the start of the Premier League, I’ll let the stats explain themselves:

Played: 17 Won: 6 Drew: 5 Lost: 6 Goals For: 19 Goals Against: 19 Points: 23/51

Very inconsistent. Though if there are any hopes to go by, the last time Spurs played Liverpool on the opening day (2004) it ended in a 1-1 draw. So there is some hope as always.

But the season is more than just one fixture that just so happens to kick of the proceedings. The season is 38 games long, and despite one killer month in April with consecutive games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, my worry is Spurs will once again be complacent against the likes of Blackburn and Burnley this season, and lose games in which they should win.

These games should be won especially with some of the captures of Peter Crouch and the promising Kyle Naughton. Who I reckon will be an absolute star of the future. But apart from them two and Sebastien Bassong, bought from the crisis club that can only be Newcastle United, there has been very little activity by Harry Redknapp. Despite the fact Spurs have been linked with half the Real Madrid squad, including Klaas Jan Huntelaar who eventually went to AC Milan, there also hasn’t been that much rumours by the press either. Which I believe has been passed onto Manchester City, and them probably buying the whole league. Thankfully, at least the people we have sold we have good cover for them. The most famous sale of course being Darren Bent, including the twitter saga and the lot. In reality, despite him being our top scorer in the last two seasons, he was still probably our fifth best striker there and would easily fill in some simple boots up at Sunderland. Didier Zokora was being pushed out of the team, despite him being quite popular at the club, yet the Ivory Coast player will be gutted with a grand total of 0 goals at Spurs. There must be good odds on him scoring a goal on his debut at Sevilla. The only departure I am gutted about is the loss of Chris Gunter, who I really like as a player and began to show some good stuff at the end of last season and in the Carling Cup. However, with Assou-Ekotto impressing and the return of Gareth Bale in the autumn, he would have probably ended up out on loan anyway.

But Gareth Bale does show the one key problem with Spurs at the moment, the amount of injuries in the defence. The big important centre backs of Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate and Michael Dawson are all out of the opening game. Thankfully, Sebastien Bassong will not be suspended for the start of the season, otherwise Liverpool would have an easy task to get past the Spurs back line. There will be shuffling of course, Bassong most likely to be partnered by Vedran Corluka with Pascal Chimbonda moving into the right back slot. Or the possibility of Kyle Naughton at right back, but I am unsure whether Redknapp will be willing to play the 20 year old straight away.

The player I am most excited about for the new season is Wilson Palacios, the Honduran international who has the chance of even playing at the World Cup at the end of the year, as Honduras are currently lying third in their group of 6 with the top three going into the World Cup automatically and the fourth place team playing the fifth place team from South America. Palacios will surely be buoyed by the chance and want to impress to get into the World Cup, which for a team like Honduras might not happen every single four years.

Also, the partnership between new signing Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe will defiantly be exciting. The two have shown at Portsmouth, under Harry Redknapp, what they are capable of when they work together. The two scored bucket loads at Portsmouth, and it will most likely again to continue at Tottenham. My only concern is that there are two other strikers, Roman Pavlychenko and the captain, Robbie Keane. With that, the time for Crouch and Defoe to be on together will probably be fewer than ideal.

I know pre-season form shouldn’t really be credited in anything. Last year we had a fantastic pre-season and we all know what happened next. This year, has been a bit more dodgy. A few defeats included against Celtic and South China. Yet the young boys still showed some spirit against Barcelona, with Jake Livermore (now on loan to Derby County) scoring the equaliser. One of the few players that seemed to make an impact. But, the last game was a comfortable win over Greek giants Olympiakos, a 3-0 win, goals coming from Pavlychenko, Corluka and Defoe. If that game is anything to go by, and the one that should be examined the most as it the game before the season begins where all the players should be up for it and it shows they were. Lots of chances were being created, however one concern, especially in the first half was the inability to convert those chances. Which could end up costing the team against the big sides since the opportunities will be rare.

My hopes for the 2009/2010 season is to get back into Europe. I believe that it is ridiculous to suggest we will get into the Champions League, we don’t have that extra yard to put in to get there. However, the chance to get into the Europa League (as much as I despise it) is always good. With the added presence of Manchester City into the fight for the Champions League (I believe I am the one of many really wishing they fail brilliantly), there will be two spaces left (assuming that two big 4 sides win the Carling Cup and the FA Cup). These spaces will be heavily contested for, Aston Villa, Everton the obvious candidates, but you can’t discount Fulham again either. I don’t believe there are many other sides that can challenge, it is between 9 sides this year for Europe, and I do believe one of them is Tottenham.

Since I like to make predictions. I’ll do some Spurs related ones here. Top Scorer will be Jermain Defoe. Gomes will be gone back to the continent before the start of next season, as much as I don’t think that will be good. Though could be time for Ben Alnwick to step up. We’ll have a little slump during the Christmas period, there are some games in there that could catch Spurs out. Finally, we will finally beat Arsenal in the league this season. This is that year, no more last minute comebacks, it will be last minute winners.

If we do end up having one awful start to the season again, I really hope they don’t sack Harry Redknapp. Just saying that early on, it doesn’t feel right not having a mid-season crisis. 

My Top 5 F1 Liveries

If you know me well, you know I like my liveries. And you will probably also know, I hate white cars. I’m not even using BMW as an exception here, I find the car bland, dull and unimaginative. I love original cars, and you will probably find that out later on. Before I start, this post was inspired by Lukeh at the brilliant Thoughts of a Trying Atheist blog. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend that you do. Well, here goes.

5: Shadow DN9

shadow

After a lot of browsing on the internet, I came across this. I can only describe it as brilliantly fantastic. How original is it? I have no idea what it is meant to resemble or how many races it was used for (I have noticed various liveries used for the DN9 car). But this strikes out to me. It isn’t sponsor endorsed (unless Satan Prints happened to be going at the time).

4: Renault R24

renault

Many agreed that Renault had messed up after 2007, using a horrible paint scheme that shouldn’t work, and doesn’t. However since the team returned in 2002 till 2006, the team used a lovely red and yellow scheme, which worked fantastically. Probably best used in 2004 and the R24, it managed not to look busy sponsor wise, which is very hard to achieve. And it simply works. It is great.

3: Honda RA107

28.09.2007 Gotemba, Japan, 
Jenson Button (GBR), Honda Racing F1 Team, RA107 - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Friday Practice - www.xpb.cc, EMail: info@xpb.cc - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Davenport / xpb.cc

Okay, now you are thinking I have lost it. You are thinking this car was unbelievably ugly, and I, really cannot see how you can feel that way about this car. Sure, it was only used because Honda couldn’t get a big sponsor to fit on their car. But this is amazing and significantly better than the 2008 attempt or the ‘Stickers’ car. This captures my imagination, it is original. And after all, that is what I love in a F1 livery.

2: Spyker F8-VII

26.05.2007 Monte Carlo, Monaco, 
Adrian Sutil (GER), Spyker F1 Team, F8-VII - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Saturday Practice - www.xpb.cc, EMail: info@xpb.cc - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Charniaux / xpb.cc

Well, for starters, it is orange. How many F1 cars do you see that is orange? And it sticks out like a sore thumb, except the car ain’t needing any treatment. There is nothing wrong with this car, it represents the colours of the Netherlands. What a shame Force India bought them out and produced such a drab and dull livery the next season.

1: Jaguar R3

jag

If there is ever a livery better then this, then I must be in heaven. Jaguar can hold their heads high, they may not have done much in F1, but they did give us this. The R3 I say is the best, but it could have been any from five, they were all pretty much awesome. British Racing Green works on a car, especially a F1 car, it is gorgeous. Shame Aston Martin don’t get to be in F1, because we could be seeing that, without the white bits. Heaven.

And that concludes my top 5, honourable mentions go to the Jordan EJ11 (2001) especially down to the detail on the side of the nosecone with the teeth. And the yellow, surprisingly works. Also, the Williams FW28 (2006), just wishing they used a bit more blue.

Cars sadly these days lack any originality, with the exception of Toro Rosso, a car I love. Too much white and it must stop. Thankfully, BMW are pulling out so one less white car and Renault are losing ING, so here’s hoping a return to the fantastic blue and yellow. The rest should take a long hard look at themselves, before I send the lot of them an e-mail with my ideas.

A Lost Cause

25.07.2009 Budapest, Hungary, 
Nelson Piquet Jr (BRA), Renault F1 Team - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Saturday Practice - www.xpb.cc, EMail: info@xpb.cc - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Batchelor / xpb.cc

And so he leaves, causing a bit of a dust storm in his wake, but after 28 races, Nelson Piquet Jr finds himself back out of Formula 1. But after the war of words issued by the ex-driver, has Piquet been treated unfairly in his short spell in F1?

Nelson Piquet didn’t do that bad before his step up into F1, he did have more of a reason to be in F1 than Sebestien Buemi for instance. Buemi only finished 6th as his highest championship position in GP2, compared to Piquet’s 2nd, in a year that also featured the likes of Lewis Hamilton, who did blitz the competition. He trounced his team mate, Alexandre Negrao and finished ahead of former/future F1 stars Timo Glock, Giorgio Pantano and Gianmaria Bruni. A fairly successful spell in the lower formulae if you ask, certainly worthy of an F1 drive. Especially if Buemi got one for what he had a unspectacular GP2 campaign.

But from here, did he get in bed with the wrong people before being pushed onto the floor? He tested with Renault in 2007 before being promoted to race driver alongside ex-two time champion of the world, Fernando Alonso. It was never going to be fair play from day one. Flavio Briatore was always going to give Alonso main priority in the team, hence why 2007 driver Heikki Kovalainen was not signed on.

But showing, on your first qualifying session at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix, you weren’t quick enough to beat Takuma Sato, in a Super Aguri, a team which had barely tested, a team which didn’t even know if it was going to start the season, then bad signs were ahead of you my friend. And then, first corner, you crash into Giancarlo Fisichella. Signs really aren’t pointing to stardom.

Two problems which plagued Piquet all throughout his F1 career, poor qualifying and the habit of spinning off at the worst possible moments. It wasn’t until the German Grand Prix in 2009 that he managed to out qualify Fernando Alonso for the first time. He failed to get out of Q1 an impressive eleven times, in a car equal to that of say, Williams. Comparing him to Kazuki Nakajima, who has done one more race than him (doing the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix replacing Alex Wurz), Nakajima has failed to get out of Q1 ten times. Why hasn’t he been sacked then? I’ll let Nelson Piquet say.

“I am certain it is because of the unfair situation I have been in the past two years. I always believed that having a manager was being a part of a team and having a partner. A manager is supposed to encourage you, support you, and provide you with opportunities. In my case it was the opposite. Flavio Briatore was my executioner.” 

A big ouch Mr Briatore. And if I were Romain Grosjean right now, I would not be looking forward to working under him at Renault. There is nothing there for him, it is a one driver team. And it will stay that way until Alonso leaves, or Renault leave. It’s a quick sand trap place, get stuck in and it is very difficult to get out. I feel sorry for Grosjean right now.

It is amazing to begin to feel sorry for Nelson Piquet after the Formula 1 fans absolutely massacred him over the past one and a half years.

The poor guy did have a horrible habit of making mistakes. A fine example is the Australian Grand Prix of this year, where he crashed on the lap after the safety car returned to the pits, because he had cold tyres. Nelson Piquet is a mistake prone driver, interestingly, the exact same can be said for his likely replacement, Romain Grosjean.

In this seasons GP2 series, the Frenchman driving for Barwa Addax was involved in a massive accident in the Monaco race and then in qualifying for the Hungarian race, took himself and Franck Perera out of qualifying.

But this isn’t about the suitability of Romain Grosjean, that’s for another time, if I get to that. Nelson Piquet should still be in Formula 1, had he been given a fair chance by Flavio Briatore, he could have really impressed in the championship had he been given the right tools for the job. He showed that when given the same upgrades as Alonso, he was just as quick, if not quicker. Heck, when that Renault was mighty fine quick at the end of 2008, he wasn’t struggling at all. He scored a 4th place finish, a result we are crediting Nico Rosberg for getting recently. Piquet hardly got a congratulations for that result in Japan 2008. Overshadowed by Alonso’s win, probably, but still worth recognition after the season he had. Certainly more credible than the podium he got in Germany.

I never much shared much symphony with Nelson Piquet, often had the feeling of him that he was rather arrogant. But in light of what he had to deal with at Renault, I do feel sorry for him. He is without doubt a talented driver, if not error prone. But, isn’t that what Takuma Sato is? And he didn’t do half bad in F1. It is a shame to think the only way back in F1 for him is for his dad, Nelson Piquet sr, to buy a team and hire him.

But Renault will carry on, just regard Nelson Piquet as a worthless piece in their long history in motorsport. Someone who was easily replaced, just there to be a teammate of Fernando Alonso. That was his job, number two. But even as number two, Renault treated him more like a test driver. He might as well have been Romain Grosjean this season, more chance of racing fairly down in GP2.

I Promise Nothing

It is a Saturday. It is also very wet outside, I’m still recovering from an illness, so the best option for me is to stay inside, on the computer, listening to The Who, with Sky Sports News telling me friendly results I couldn’t give a damn about even if Spurs happened to be playing today.

With nothing to do at all, I suppose the next obvious option is to scour the internet of fun things to do with my day. However, no online games could capture any sort of youthful imagination and hence, grew bored, and left the internet.

So, I chuck the old PS2 on. I happen to have F106 playing, so I boot up the good-ish Hungaroring for a Race Weekend with Jarno Trulli. After promising practice sessions, I manage the quickest time in Q1, followed by the second quickest in Q2. Down to the final, big, twenty minute showdown they called Q3 back in 2006. Decent start, then BAM. Too much kerb at the chicane, spin and smash the wall. Disaster, I’m left trudging around the track for half a lap with no wing and a punctured wheel. I get back out and with three minutes to go, set pole ahead of Raikkonen. Alonso third. Race time, I get a good start, well, really, it was a useless start, the two behind zoomed ahead. But Trulli had a cunning plan, dive up the inside, I did that. It worked, Raikkonen fell to fifth. Then, at the chicane, BAM, spin, that poor Raikkonen had no where to go. I get annoyed and quit the game.

You may be wondering why I’ve talked about my day so far (which your probably thinking was a mighty boring one, I had McDonalds somewhere in there). Well, this entire post is going to be centrally based around nothing. The theme is nothing, I’m writing about nothing at all.

Which could easily be a problem.

But I’m not stooping to that sort of a level to get out of writing a blog post, I’m sure some people would. But, where is the fun in that? There has got to be some fun in everything, except probably this post, which will aim aimlessly into the clouds of the sky. With any luck, it might find me some dinner.

Dinner today was indeed McDonalds, one of those Summer offers they are doing, so they have changed the good old Chicken Legend. I think they have a new bun. Tastes nicer somehow, but ultimately, it couldn’t have been that hard. I also had one of the new milkshakes, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk I believe. And my, it was lovely. Though, reminds me of a Simpsons scene where the three cops are in Krusty Burger and Lou talks to the other two about the new McDonalds out of town.

Speaking of The Simpsons, when I was ill, I spent many hours watching through Season 6 and Season 7 DVD boxsets. What a buy. Two fantastic seasons, especially season 6. Personal favourite episodes of mine are the Who Shot Mr Burns (parts 1 and 2). These in my eyes are awesome shows, a fine mix of comedy, mystery and suspense. Unlikely culprit, pieced together fantastically. I’d be watching it right now if I didn’t have my greasy mits all over Season 8. Can’t wait to get to watch Season 9, the best season. The one with The Cartridge Family, widely regarded as one of the best Simpsons episodes ever.

Though, season 8 might have to be finished another time aside from today, it is the Speedway Grand Prix again tonight. They all head to the wonderful country of Latvia, which, as described as Sky Sports Pit Reporter Charlie Webster on Twitter is:

Latvia is becoming a bit of an adventure the roads are bad so we’ve been told it’s quicker to jump on train from Riga to Daugavpils…

Only for her to later describe the trains as ‘way back in time’. Which says a not so promising lot about the country of Latvia, the country that never left the 19th Century it seems. The place the meeting is taking place is Daugavpils, and yes, I did have to copy that. According to sources, Charlie Webster again, the place has no where to eat. Which again, says a lot about Latvia. My tip for tonight is rain. Since it is going to rain, I ain’t predicting who is even going to come close to getting the semi finals.

Ooh, Sheffield Wednesday have just scored, I didn’t care about that. Sheffield Wednesday fans, do you even care its now 2-1 Blackburn? I’m sure to some of you, that would have been up to the minute goal flash. I mean, what really is the point of pre-season friendlies to the fans? You get to see the players at cut down prices. What a load of rubbish, they are not playing to the ability that they can so where is the benefit of watching them then. Wake me up when its 12:45 on Saturday 15th August.

Though I am sure everything following the 15th August will be brilliant. A new season of football, can not wait. Hopefully Spurs have finally got that bad start disease out of the system this year, if not, I’m sure Mr. Levy will happily take the Sack the Manager Pill, that he obviously has a lot of. Suppose I better be careful what I say, the papers could confuse me with Luka Modric and I end up having to follow the new Spurs policy.

Hopefully next season can be Modric real shining moment. The season where he steps out and shows the world he is a class player. He is one for sure.

Speaking of class players, Pedro Mendes is on tv. I always liked him, mainly for that goal against Everton, was a corker of a volley. That of course was followed by the goal that never was against the team that never is robbed by the linesmen who wasn’t there and taken away from the points we didn’t actually need. Though if Manchester United had of won the league by one point that season, I’d have sworn evil revenge upon them. Gladly however, they finished third. We finished 9th, those two points would have meant we finished eigth. One point off Europe. So we could find some other useless referee mistake to blame for us not being in Europe once again. Of course, following season and all…

Europe is overrated anyway, who would want to compete in the Europa League? What sort of ridiculously titled, uselessly planned competition is it? Organised by an over-egotistical, moronic, evil, sinister, well, he is the one person I would like to get rid from football personally. Mr Platini.

Another rant, for another time. I’ve overran my stay of talking. This post, is true to the blogs name actually, one big waffle. Hope you enjoyed. Made me less bored, if thats possible. Speaking of which…