Richard Keys Blog

Here we go

on Saturday, 06 August 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

 A week from today (Saturday) I'll have been back at work for 48 hours - embarking on my 4th season at BeIN Sports. I really can't believe it. Time has flown. 

 It's been enormously enjoyable. At my time of life I'm done with ploughing. up and down motorways and all the hassle that goes with getting around Britain. I was reminded of that on my first day back in the country this summer. I drove to Leeds, to host a dinner with Andy. It took me five hours to make a journey that should take two and a half. I came back the same evening, joining the M1 at junction 40. It was shut at 39. One hour later I was back on at junction 38. It was a nightmare and brought back memories of so many of those evenings crashing back to London in driving rain/sleet/snow - arriving back in the small hours absolutely exhausted. Of course the upside was that initially it was fun and I'm not going to pretend that doing what I finished doing in this country didn't have its rewards. It did, but everything changes. 

 Anyway. There we are. That's the gripe out of the way! Oh, apologies that I've been so quiet during the summer. I needed a complete break which always does the trick - I'm now more than ready to go again. 

What now?

on Tuesday, 28 June 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

 

I had decided to give you - and myself - a break from these posts during The Euro's. My thinking was that so much can change so quickly during tournaments that snap judgements probably weren't a good idea. Sorry, I couldn't resist after last night's shambles.

 I'll give you an example - Wayne Rooney. I was one of one arguing before the tournament that he had to go - not just go, but start. And start every game. So I understood Roy Hodgson, who was Rooney's biggest fan, raising an eye brow when my colleagues in the English press were outraged that he was left out of the game against Slovakia!

 Having said that, I was never convinced that Hodgson wanted to start Rooney. I believe he felt it was a risk too far not to. But he took him off in the first game v Russia, as if to make a statement. Why? Rooney was our leader. Up to the point that he went off he was our best player. He was certainly our most experienced player. For me, once he'd left the field, the early signs of our inexperience were laid bare. Russia capitalised.

 You see, that's the problem with youth. There's a lot of energy. A lot of excitable belief, but absolutely NO experience. That's a commodity you can't buy. England were well short in that department. Well short - and I said it from the moment Hodgson was bullied down that path by the English press.

 I'm a big fan of Hodgson's - as most people know. I believe he's an honourable, decent man. I believed he had a backbone. That he was his own man. That he could make big decisions. I was wrong in nearly all of that. Decent and honourable he is, but I couldn't have been more disappointed that he started to play the 'populist' card to avoid criticism.

 Here's a couple of further examples. Hodgson believed the way for England to play at these Championships was with a diamond, so that he could get two strikers up top. He went in like that in our last warm up friendly v Portugal. It didn't necessarily work, the press criticised, so he changed his mind. But he'd already decided on his personnel for France, including Jack Wilshere, who likes that system, so he was stuck.

 Remember the ludicrous sight of our centre forward taking corners against Russia? Hodgson was roundly condemned for that piece of nonsense, but went public and strongly defended the decision. So, we were expecting Kane to take corners against Wales weren't we? (Actually I wasn't, and I said so before the game on beINSports). Wrong, six minutes in, Rooney was taking them. Hodgson had buckled under pressure again. He wanted to both make and keep friends.

It'll end in tears.....

on Tuesday, 24 May 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

It'll end in tears, but what a ride Manchester United fans are in for! In fact, what a time to be a football fan in Manchester now that, arguably, the best two coaches in the world are going head to head again. 

 Arguably? I've got to reserve room at the top for Carlo Ancelotti. He's a class operator. 

 Anyway, not before time, United have got it right. This is what they should've done when Fergie announced he was leaving. Mourinho's job application the night that Real tipped them out of the C Lge was wrongly ignored and they've paid a heavy price. Mind you, how many of us haven't f****d up somewhere along the line?!? 

 David Moyes was the right man - at the wrong time. I advocated change when it was blindingly obvious part way through that first post-Fergie season that it was going wrong. I stand by what I said, but....

 I strongly believe that he was a far better option to back than LVG. His two years have been little short of a disaster - and I don't like using that word. Disasters are what happened in Munich and at Hillsbrough. In that context, the sport of football is irrelevant. 

 LVG ripped the heart out of United. He changed everything that was great about them. Little things, like splitting the dining room arrangements. The senior players were kept apart from everybody else at the club, instantly causing rifts and splits. Fergie, who I have been critical of in the past, never allowed that. He knew the value of the 'family'. 

Safe standing? Really?

on Saturday, 14 May 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

So we come to the end of the most extra-ordinary of seasons. I thought about waiting until Monday before writing - but with so little left to sort out, why wait?

So little? Not if you're a Manchester football fan. There's the engaging battle for 4th to be sorted out this weekend. Think about that - both Manchester clubs getting excited about the race for 4th place. Oh how the mighty have fallen. 

LVG was talking this week about how it's 'unrealistic' of United fans to think that his team might be title challengers! Really? Why? That's surely the sole reason why this fading Dutch genius was brought into the club - to deliver the title? And why not after getting on for a spend of £300m?

 United also announced record profits this last week. Do you know what - I'm beginning to think that we're entering a new era at Old Trafford, where simply qualifying for the C Lge is enough. United are 'new' Arsenal. 

 It's for that reason that I'm pretty convinced now that LVG will survive if United can pip City for 4th. An FA Cup win would be a bonus, but I don't think it would be enough to save him. Delivering C Lge football just might. 

 Can they nick 4th? Sure they can. As any die-hard City fan will tell you, if there's a team capable of cocking this up then it's City.  

 In truth I'm not sure either side deserves C Lge football. I think West Ham and Southampton could justifiably argue their efforts this season should be rewarded with that prize. Both have been entertaining. Both have been adventurous. Both have been a breath of fresh air. 

Get rid United

on Monday, 02 May 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

It was a pretty good weekend. Not because I particularly enjoyed the football - more because I couldn't stop laughing when I was watching The Saturday Club on beIN Sports. They ripped into me for my pre-season prediction of impending doom at Leicester following the appointment of Claudio Ranieri! 

 It's something I've addressed a number of times, so there's not much point in re-visiting it. The only consolation is that I wasn't alone. The great and the good from our business were a unified voice about Ranieri. We were ALL wrong. When you are, the best policy is to hold your hands up and admit it. I admit it - again! 

 What makes being wrong all the more pleasurable is that Leicester haven't just survived - they've flourished under Ranieri. I repeat - for me their title success (at least I was one of the first to be convinced by them!!!) is the greatest football story of all time. 

 Now, I appreciate there will be many good arguments to the contrary. I don't mind that. I said 'for me'. It's just wonderful. I actually thought they'd get over the line at Old Trafford. Wouldn't that have been perfect? To do it in United's back yard!  

 The point might yet be enough. It all depends now on whether Spurs beat Chelsea tonight (Monday) and beat them they MUST, or it is all over. 

Sir Kenny Dalglish' ?

on Wednesday, 27 April 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

 

This isn't an easy one to write, for many reasons. If I'm honest, I've absolutely no idea where the next few hundred words are going to take me. I haven't thought about this piece or researched it very well, it's just going to be a whole lot of incoherent thoughts. So here goes. And stay with me, please. 

 I don't want to give the wrong impressions here. Hillsborough was never my fight, but I've always felt close to those battling for the long overdue result that they got yesterday (Monday). 

 Let me try and explain. I left Liverpool a couple of years before the disaster. The regular readers amongst you know I had four wonderful years in the City and made many good friends. My wife was born in Liverpool and grew up on The Wirral. We were with her parents the weekend after Hillsborough - I can't remember why - work, I think. Maybe it was just a family visit. 

 Obviously the mood, all over Merseyside, was sombre. You couldn't help be touched by it - nor the scenes of people snaking round Anfield, holding flowers which they were going to lay on the pitch, just wanting to be near their club and other like minded, stunned supporters. 

 Look. It's not my club so I had no right, but I was overcome by it all. I put on a suit, bought flowers myself and drove to Anfield. I wanted to do what everybody else was doing, but I felt somewhat of an interloper. I obviously knew people at the club, so when I slipped in a side gate and quietly worked my way onto The Kop no-one gave me a second glance. I put flowers down, drew breath, said a few words and cried. You couldn't help but cry. Everybody did. 

 The scene in front of me was incredible. At this time more than half the pitch was covered in flowers. Thousands were pouring in to pay their respects. 

 I don't know how long I was there but as I was leaving I heard a familiar brusk Scottish voice 'hey, where are you going?' Initially I thought I'd been rumbled but as I turned round I saw Kenny Dalglish. 'What are you doing here?' was the next question. Kenny loved a wind up, but surely not at a time like this! Of course, I didn't have to reply!  

 We stood together for a while marvelling at what was unfolding before us. I think he told me he'd been on The Kop every day since the disaster. He knew where people had left things, teddy bears and the like. He knew the people who'd left them. It had got to him deeply. Remember, he was now player/manager. 

Mediocre - my a**e.

on Monday, 25 April 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

'If I had been given 10 years to work with Everton by being mediocre I wouldn't accept that'. 

 They told me on my journalism course many years ago - never start a piece with a quote. And never start a sentence with 'and'. Too late! 

 I had to start with the quote  because it leapt out at me in Monday morning's papers. I had to read it a couple of times to see if it had been taken out of context in anyway. Nope. It wasn't. 

 The headline in The Mirror read 'I can deliver glory. Moyes only brought TEN YEARS OF MEDIOCRITY'. Did he really? 

 The quote, of course, came from Roberto Martinez after Everton's FA Cup semi-final defeat. Mediocre? I suppose there's an argument that Martinez should know something about the subject, his whole career has been mediocre, both as a player and now a coach.

 Since taking over at from Moyes at Everton, Martinez has run up a transfer deficit of £48m. He's finished 5th - with Moyes' team - and 11th. This season Everton will finish in the bottom half. 

Video evidence? No thanks.

on Monday, 18 April 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Did Vardy dive? Was Jon Moss correct to penalise Wes Morgan for holding/pushing/impeding and give West Ham a pen? What was the difference between what Winston Reid did and what Vardy had done earlier? Should Leicester have had a pen when Ogbonna was brainlessly all over Huth shortly after? And was Andy Carroll right - was the award against him just to 'even things up'? 

 I've read everything as usual this morning (Monday). Henry Winter calls Moss a 'poor referee'. He argues that Moss had to be '100% certain' Vardy had dived in order to book him and subsequently send him off. He was Henry, or he wouldn't have got his yellow card out again. For me, it was a dive. Let's agree to disagree. Vardy has played on the edge like that all season. Good forwards can make penalties out of situations like that - get across the defender, tangle your legs up with his and go over. Vardy did parts one and two really well, but the swallow dive was embarrassing. It was a correct yellow.  Few have considered his first booking perhaps wasn't. 

 Again, just my opinion, but Reid's was never a pen. Huth's was. Carroll's wasn't. 

 Moss was brave to make the call on Vardy's dive. Very brave, because he could've let it go and saved himself a lot of hassle. I'm certain Michael Oliver would've done. So would Mark Halsey, who I was speaking to during the game. It was after at the award of the first pen that I thought Moss started getting himself into trouble - but he made calls he believed to be correct. Give him credit for that. Big calls as well. 

 He's had almost total backing from Graham Poll. All correct for Poll, but he thought Huth should've had a pen. 

It's over - isn't it?

on Monday, 11 April 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Other than the most ardent Leicester City fan - does anyone yet believe they're going to win the title? I haven't found anyone that does! Why? 

 Actually, I'm not sure I'd even find a Leicester fan that thinks they can win it if I went looking! 

 What a wonderfully exciting, yet equally frightening time this is for everyone connected with the club. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. 

 Ever since Leicester went top on their own, all they've done is extend their lead. They've kept on winning, passing every test, yet we still don't think they can win it. We're all still waiting for a slip. Why?  

 I kind of get it. It's almost certainly because they haven't been the course before. I'm constantly being told 'they don't know how to win it'. Ok, that's true. But do Spurs? No, of course not. They haven't done it since 1961 for goodness sake! 

 It's a two-horse race now and I believe Leicester are going to win it. Yes, I expect a few twists and turns yet, but I can't see any good reason now why they won't get over the line. 

 I thought the game at Sunderland was terrific. The first half was really enjoyable - how English football used to be played. I hear my mate, Graeme Souness, disparagingly described it as 'like watching a Championship game'. I don't agree Graeme. I loved it. I thought Sunderland had a really good go at Leicester - they threw everything at them, and still our leaders were unmoved. 

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