Something completely different.

Published: Monday, 03 October 2022

I’d be flattered if it wasn’t so predictably shallow and basic. I’ve been off the U.K. broadcast scene for 10 years yet still some people at home use my name to try to sell articles - and now books.

How sad that somebody I haven’t seen for 30 years - and for whom I went out of my way to help start their career - feels the need to take the cheap and inaccurate option by smearing me – together with virtually everyone in the industry (including, it seems, the entire Sky business) – in her upcoming autobiography.

Producers, directors, cameramen, sound technicians, statisticians - everyone it seems - has either belittled her or tried to block Gabby Logan’s career. Except they didn’t. In fact, I can’t think of anyone who’s had more of a leg up, at the expense of others. A career in spite of herself - not because of herself.

Let me say this. I’ve dealt before with the incidents surrounding my resignation from Sky. I repeat - resignation. I was not dismissed. I’ve taken responsibility for my part in what happened. It’s more than time to move on. And I thank Sue Barker for her quotes in the Daily Telegraph today. 

The first piece in the serialisation of Logan’s book reads like a piece of first-grade fiction. According to Logan, seemingly everyone from a Sky Sports intern to Starbucks barista has somehow insulted her.

I’m sorry. I just don’t believe that. I know she has an axe to grind because Sky terminated her first deal, but I knew most of the people she goes after at SSN and my experience of them was totally the opposition to Logan’s. They were first class operators who found her very difficult to work with  

They gave her the nickname ‘Gabbler’. She always had an awful lot to say - not a lot of it very complimentary. In the end our guv’nor, Vic Wakeling, pulled the plug and refused to renew her first deal. I notice he didn’t escape her ire either. 

I first came across Logan when she was a local radio reporter in the North East. She sent messages saying she was interested in working in tv. I wanted to help her because she was the daughter of a Coventry legend - Terry Yorath - and I thought she was worth taking a gamble on. Around about the same time we got Kenny Dalglish’s daughter - Kelly - a role at SSN. Kelly has gone on to have a terrific career. We also got Bernard Gallacher’s daughter - Kirsty - a job after a request from Trevor Francis’s wife, who was a friend of the Gallagher family. 

Because I helped Logan get started, I felt a responsibility to her so I tried to get Wakeling to renew her deal - a bit like I did when he decided to let Jamie Redknapp go. I had success with the latter, but Wakeling was having none of my appeals to keep Logan.

The same thing happened to her at ITV. They let her go. I actually fixed Logan up with her first agent - Gary Lineker’s mentor - Jon Holmes. That relationship didn’t last long either. I’ve no idea why. I’d have to speculate. I’m not going to. I’ll leave it to you to join the dots. 

30+ years later, on the eve of a book launch, we’re all suddenly treated to “her truth”.

The majority of it doesn’t relate to me – but what does is largely nonsense. Her ‘business card’ story – I’ve never used business cards in my life. Her phantom flight, which I have absolutely no recollection of. How I was fired from Sky – incorrect.  Lawyers have been instructed.

On what she infers about others, rather than being specific, let’s just throw a load of mud - mixed with fanciful stories - and see what sticks.  Why she doesn’t name “Mr Well Known” and “Mr Rugby” – if there are serious allegations, they should be investigated.

Anyway, let me add some colour to a few of the stories she’s half told. The day before her interview at Sky, she called me and asked what she should wear. I couldn’t believe it. Why ask me? I said I had no idea. Perhaps it should be something she felt comfortable in? Her reply was exactly this ‘oh, leave it with me Richard - I know - sex sells’. I was amazed. She had no problem playing that card.

When she started, I warned her about getting too close to work colleagues. She had no problem in that area either – interested to see if that makes the book –but none of my business, I was never one of her ‘special’ friends. Nor did I deliver the taunt that left her ‘dying inside’. I was surprised to read that description, bearing in mind how Gabby’s family have been affected by real tragedy of that nature.

We all have our own grief. My family have quietly worked through ours – against a maelstrom of abuse, bile, death threats and humiliation – for 10 years and often daily, and the allegations are barely based on a grain of truth. 

So, if you don’t mind, I find reading Logan’s serialisation of smears very sad. 

As for Terry. Nothing will change my opinion of him. He was a warrior on the pitch. A Coventry legend. He’s been a warrior off the pitch as well. No-one should ever forget the part he played putting a community and a football club back together after the Bradford fire of 1985. Some of the things he saw must’ve been horrendous.  And I’ve no idea how you ever come to terms with the loss of a child. With a quiet dignity in his case. 

Tetchy players? It’s always been like that.

Published: Monday, 26 September 2022

It made me laugh listening to Graeme Souness rip into Jack Grealish last week. Well - laugh and disappoint almost in equal measure. 

We’ve spoken of Souness in a previous blog recently. I mentioned that I know what pushes his buttons. For example - ‘modern players’, as he describes them, drive him mad. What was it he said about them? That’s it. They’re ‘molly-coddled’. That’s what made me laugh. The bit that disappointed me was that Grealish later said he didn’t understand Souness’s problem with him. When I saw that I tweeted ‘that’s the problem Jack’. The problem is that he doesn’t know. He should know. I’ll get back to that.

I text Graeme a couple of times after he’d made his views known. ‘Agreed’ I said. He came back blazing about ‘modern players’ saying how they were all a protected breed. ‘Agreed’ I replied again. Adding ‘it’s always been like that’. I didn’t get an answer this time! 

But it has. Players have alway reacted badly to criticism. Always. I reminded him of the time Kenny Dalglish pulled me when I was a radio reporter on Merseyside.

In a report on a Liverpool pre-season friendly at Wrexham, I’d said ‘Dalglish scored Liverpool’s third with a rare headed goal’. That was it. Nothing too much to get angry about there surely?

Not for most people anyway.

But Kenny didn’t like it. I can still see him coming up the tunnel that led to the dressing rooms and boot room at Anfield. ‘Rare headed goal’ he said as he made a bee-line for me. ‘Rare headed goal? What about the header at….’ And he went on to reel off half a dozen he’d got in the last 100 years. 😂. King Kenny didn’t miss anything. He never did. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve taken late-night calls from him, when he managed at Liverpool and Blackburn, and he’d vent into the small hours about a throw had gone against him - or that a ball that been out before it was crossed and the opposition had scored. I’m exaggerating a tad, but it was always about something simple that had gone unseen and the worst part was that he was always right!

Souness once said to me that he’d had a thousand arguments with Kenny during the time they roomed together at Liverpool. ‘I didn’t win one’ he would say, making the point that Kenny was stubborn and impossible to shift once he’d made his mind up. I once told Kenny this and quick as a flash he came back at me saying ‘well he wasn’t very good at arguing then was he?’ 😂. Souness was right - you couldn’t shift him. You still can’t.

Except I was right about his heading prowess! It just didn’t feel like it at the time. I was a 20-year-old baby making my way and I knew I’d upset him. It was an awful feeling.

But it was a different time. It was kept in-house. No-one needed to know about it. For the most part reporters and players got on in those days. We’d all drink together. I was always with Ray Clemence, who presented a show for us on Radio City, which led to us spending a lot of time together. Clem was smart. ‘Never get caught with a pint glass in your hand’ he would say. ‘You can drink as many halves as you like’. Brilliant! This, of course, was in an era before beer came in bottles.

He got me into trouble with Phil Thompson. Well - him and Dalglish. Clem was conducting an interview with Kenny for his programme, when Thommo bowled in on us, and stuck his finger up Kenny’s nose - trying to disrupt the conversation. It was standard practice around Anfield when the players saw an interview being done.

Clem hated talking to Kenny because he was so sharp and would often make a fool of him. Clem - with the mic in his hand - described the scene on tape ‘and as we speak Phil Thompson has come in and stuck his finger up Kenny’s nose’. ‘Aye’ said Kenny, quick as a flash. ‘And he could pick his own with a boxing glove on’. We pissed ourselves. ‘If you put that in the show you’re barred’ barked Thompson. Of course I did. It was funny. Thommo was as good as his word. He banned me - and he was captain at the time. It hurt.

There was also the occasion when the Merseyside mafia got it. The mafia were the regional reporters for the national newspapers. They were Chris James (Mirror) Colin Wood (Mail) John Keith (Express) Mike Ellis (Sun) and Matt D’Arcy (Star).

The boys were joined at the hip. No-one wrote a story that the others didn’t have. That way nobody got into trouble. I’ve know them file each other’s copy - for different reasons - at different times!

On this occasion Liverpool were having a shocking pre-season. They were always bad pre-season because they didn’t care much about those games, but this time it was really bad. They were getting beaten everywhere. Chances were being missed and they were conceding far too many.  The boys ran stories suggesting that the era of dominance was over. I think it was the Mirror that headlined a piece ‘The Empire crumbles’ in big bold type. That put James in the sights of the squad.

When the season started Liverpool blitzed everything put in front of them. This sparked an angry response from the dressing room for James and the other guys. The players sent them a card - signed by them all - with the inscription ‘The Empire strikes back. Fuck off’. 😂😂 Graeme was one of them.

Different times. You couldn’t put that on Twitter today could you? And you couldn’t talk about it. Can you imagine the storm it would cause? But it makes my point that players have always been tetchy.

There’s certainly more opinions passed these days. Reporters used to write about what they saw on match days, not pieces expressing what they believe they should’ve seen and how a hapless coach had got it all wrong. Imagine what sort of response would follow from Graeme’s dressing room in those circumstances.

Reporters today are all self appointed experts - myself included! Employers want opinions that make for good sound bites. They love to count re-tweets, clicks and visits. They’re more important now than programmes!

But to get back to Grealish. What doesn’t he understand about Graeme’s criticism? It’s simple. He’s done nothing since joining City. No. That’s unfair - he scored an important goal at West Ham at the back end of last season in a 2-2 draw. City had been 2-down. If they’d lost the title would’ve gone to Liverpool for sure.

Not much for £100m is it? Villa secured the sale of the century when they sold Grealish. I’ve always said - wrong team. Grealish slows things down - holds onto the ball too long. That was Graeme’s point. That’s why he spends half a game on his arse. He doesn’t see things quickly enough.

What no-one has asked yet is why Guardiola didn’t know that. £100m? For a player that he says ‘doesn’t need to make assists or score goals’. Who is he kidding? What is Grealish on the pitch for then? Guardiola might as well play me. I’d give them fuck all as well.

Guardiola is often spoken of as a ‘genius’. He’s not. He’s good, but he’s also been lucky to have coached three big teams - where he’s always inherited good players. He’s wasted millions at City. Yes - he’s delivered trophies - significantly, not the big one - but so he should’ve done with the money he’s had.

Meanwhile Souness has said he’ll go on a night out with Grealish so they can kiss and make up. ‘But he’s paying’ said Souness. I told you he doesn’t like putting his hand in his pocket. 😂.

Great start Arsenal - but there’s nothing to celebrate yet. 😂.

Published: Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Arsenal are the team that can be most satisfied about their start to the season. But that’s all it’s been. A great start. No more. No less. There’s nothing to celebrate just yet.

The Gunners are in a much happier place than they were a year ago mind you. And I repeat what I’ve already said about the business they’ve done. It took some courage to get rid of the dead wood. Edu and Arteta can take a great deal of credit for that. What they’ve got now appears to be a vibrant young side that should finish in the top four - and might even mount a title challenge, although I still believe that’s a way off yet. But there’s no question that they’ve made huge progress.

It was great to see Son back to his best with that 13-minute hat-trick v Leicester. I can’t think of a more popular footballer than him right now. He’s a charmer - all smiles and so humble with it. It would be great for him and Kane if Spurs could finally land silverware this season, but don’t count on it. I still get the feeling that when it really matters they’ll do what Spurs always do, but the start has been encouraging.

It’s going to be interesting watching Brighton and Chelsea now. Brighton will level out. Potter got out at the perfect time, although he can look back on a very good job done at the Amex. I’ve no idea what’s going to happen at Chelsea. As I said last week - I fear that Potter will get swallowed up, but I really hope I’m wrong.

Haaland has taken no time at all making one of my pre-season predictions look daft. He’s different class. He’s a beast. Nothing fazes him. His timing is incredible. He’s always making the right run at the right time - the right movement at the right time. And I love his confidence. City will win the title if he stays in the sort of form he’s shown so far.  I think that’s the safest prediction I’ve ever made. 😂😂.

I can’t pretend that I’m a little surprised about Liverpool’s stuttering start. I’m sure it’ll come right, but they look tired. Salah is still way off and that’s got to be a concern for Klopp. I know they had to sell either Mane or Salah because both contracts were winding down, but at the moment it looks as if they sold the wrong one, despite Mane’s apparent difficulties in Munich.

Forest are in trouble. I said pre-season the key for them would be winning home games. But they’re not doing that. I expect a whole lot more drama at the club yet.

Leicester are the real surprise so far. What on earth is going on there? I don’t understand it.

Ok. Schmeichel has gone. He was a huge character in that dressing room. Vardy looks like a shadow of himself. I can’t help but wonder if his wife’s tumultuous summer has taken more out of him than we thought it might? Certainly some of the stories we heard wouldn’t have made him too popular with some of his colleagues. But not much else has changed. Rodgers is still a fine coach and they’ve still got good players. It’s a mystery.

At the time of writing there isn’t a vacancy, but that hasn’t stopped good old Rafa getting busy. My friends at Leicester tell me he’s already made himself available should Rodgers get the sack. It wouldn’t be the first time an out of work manager has smelt blood and got busy - but come on. After the shambles Benitez left at Everton - he should crawl away and
keep quiet. But oh no - not Rafa.

Not for the first time he’s blaming everyone else for what happened at Goodison. He’s opened up on his ‘struggles’. How brave of him. ‘I couldn’t do it because I was a red’ he’s said. Is this guy for real? Does he want us to feel sorry for him. His ‘struggles’? Really? Was he the victim then?

No. Here’s the truth. He wanted the job at Everton for years. It was a nice one for him because he lives on Merseyside. Remember what he told us when he finally got it - that he felt he was doing something for the ‘people of Merseyside’. Pass the sick bag. He also got it at the wrong time. If he’d been available he’d have got the Newcastle job back. Oh how that must haunt him. Shame.

His transfer business at Everton was embarrassing. He landed them with Rondon. Why? Why does he follow Benitez everywhere? (I’ve no idea) He signed a player that couldn’t get into Palace’s best X1. Ok - so Demarai Gray occasionally turns up - but I’m not a fan.

I know money was right, but Lampard is operating under the same financial restrictions and making a much better go of it.

No Rafa. Don’t ask us to feel sorry for you. You sold Liverpool fans out. You sullied your reputation as a red. I told you at the time it was an impossible job for you to do. Evertonians didn’t want you. It was never going to work.

If you now feel full of so many regrets - hand your settlement money back. Apologise for believing it was possible. Apologise for taking the job.

Why has Benitez started talking again now? Has it anything to do with putting himself back in the market?

Benitez is a busted flush. If I’m a Leicester fan I don’t want him anywhere near my club. Vardy might be getting on a bit - but he’s still better than Rondon.

Sport should’ve cancelled.

Published: Monday, 12 September 2022

Of course football made the correct decision to postpone games following the Queen’s death. In my view - the entire sporting world should’ve stopped to pay respects.

Why did cricket play on? And golf? Why was there horse racing? Was it because those sports had no insurance to cover cancellations? If that’s true what a sorry state of affairs. They played on because financially they couldn’t afford not to? Never mind that we’d all just witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime event of enormous magnitude? The attitude of those sports seemed to be ‘bollocks to that - we play on because there’s money at stake’ I stand by what I said in my tweet at the weekend - that stance was shameful.   

Football made the correct call despite the millions at stake. For once football laid aside all financial considerations and made a mature decision. Millions of people would’ve been criss-crossing the country with not a care in the world - except where the next pint was coming from and three points for their team. No. I’m sorry. That would’ve been wrong and because a few recently retired modern day footballers - who’re used to getting everything their own pampered way - disagreed, those of us that think differently should not hide nor be ashamed of that view.

I noticed that Mr Morgan was also upset. Fine. I have no problem with him expressing his thoughts, but what he tends to all to often forget, is that if he genuinely believes in free speech, then others also have a right to say what they believe - including Meghan Markle. What it doesn’t mean is that he can bully the likes of her and Harry simply because they have a different view to his.

So I’m comfortable with the decision that football took and I fully understand how angry some poor folks were because it cost them time and money. I know many fans travel from abroad to experience football in the U.K.  Surely the clubs they support can ensure that they are looked after going forward? I’d like to think so anyway.

If we’re in for a few more cancellations next weekend I can’t think of a better reason why that might be the case. Pause. Think. Respect.

I was delighted to see Graham Potter land the Chelsea job. We said last week that he’d get a big one soon. I didn’t think quite this soon, but what a blow he’s struck for British coaching. Well done Graham. I think everybody knows my thoughts on how important it is that young Brits can see a path to the top.

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed the influx of some of the best coaches in the world into our league - Klopp, Guardiola, Mourinho and co - but we’ve got to make the same opportunities available to our own - and that includes black and women coaches. Did anyone at Chelsea consider a conversation with Emma Hayes? If not - why not? It won’t be long now before the first woman takes charge of a mens team - so why not be the first? At first very least women should be part of the conversation when a vacancy occurs. Only then will we start to see changes.

My fear for Potter is that he gets swallowed up by that dressing room at Chelsea. I don’t think they were entirely to blame for Tuchel’s departure, but a few of them played a part. I thought Tuchel was unlucky to be sacked so early in the season, but would’ve he have survived any longer had Abramovic still been in charge? Probably not.

They’ve given Potter a five-year deal I see. Don’t I remember David Moyes getting seven years at United? Chelsea have apparently told Potter it’s evolution now rather than revolution - but it’s not. There is no way Chelsea’s fan base will accept five years without a trophy. They’ll be up in arms if Chelsea finish with nothing this season. Potter is under intense pressure now and he’s got to deliver. And quickly.

That was one of the lessons that Moyes learned at United. He told me that when he was appointed he was re-assured that finishing
outside of the CL places for two seasons - as he re-built - wouldn’t be a problem. Except it was, especially when Mr Ed started getting it in the neck. Exactly the same will happen to Potter if Chelsea are not competing for trophies and a CL place at the back end of the season.

Chelsea fans are used to winning habitually now. Did they ever care that Ambramovich went through so many coaches while we all applauded the stability at Arsenal? What was it - seven coaches and 11 different trophies during the last ten years of Wenger’s time?

I wish Potter all the luck in the world. He’s going to need it.

What an almighty VAR-ce.

Published: Monday, 05 September 2022

Here’s what I believe Mike Riley has done to raise refereeing standards in the PL - and my verdict on his introduction of VAR.






With thanks to the late, great Len Shackleton for the original idea. Riley has been a disaster. I’m so angry about what happened this weekend that it’s best not to write about it, but I can’t pretend I’m not happy that he’s at last been collared.

As I’ve written previously, there’s a reason that the England is the only European country that doesn’t have a VAR representative at the upcoming WC.

I’ve also written this - Riley was appointed to run the PGMOL by Richard Scudamore, X chief-exec of the PL, to do his bidding. Scudamore sacked Keith Hackett because he was too strong for him. Hackett wouldn’t be pushed around. Here’s Hackett’s 7-point plan to turn things round - published in the Daily Telegraph today.


Brilliant. Spot on. VAR isn’t going away. It isn’t really the problem. Riley is. He’s bullied some really good guys to a place where they’re all scared to confidently do their jobs.

Top marks to Michael Oliver for having the courage to stand by his decision to give Forest a pen. It was a pen. There was no need for VAR to get involved. I’m told Oliver was overheard saying ‘no idea’ when asked why they did. He’s probably the only ref strong enough to withstand pressure from Stockley Park and not end up getting dropped for a series of games.

That’s it. That’s all I’m saying about the weekend. 😡😡😡.

Anyone surprised to see struggling Forest in the drop zone? I must admit I am. It’s happened sooner than I thought it would. Here’s what happens next at Forest - Steve Copper gets them blame for the ridiculous signing frenzy - the owner gets fed up - the club slips into administration - buried by the costs of paying the mercenaries - and they re-build in League One. The time line is the only hard bit to predict Sound familiar?

Another subject that we’ve previously mentioned - when is somebody going to tell Arteta he’s endangering the well being of players by marching up and down the touch line? The technical area is placed away from the pitch for a reason. Someone is going to get badly injured if they crash into him Why is he allowed to break the rules and no-one else is? Look at this picture from OT. He spent most of the afternoon here - in front of the 4th official for goodness sake. 🤷‍♂️

WhatsApp Image 2022 09 05 at 2.42.22 PM

How many times have we referenced what a mad world football can be? And how quickly things can change?

After an hour at the Bridge Thomas Tuchel’s coat was on a shaky peg. Had it not been for a calamitous VAR decision (which dampened reaction to the result) Moyes’s would’ve been on the whistle.

Steven Gerrard survived City’s visit. I’m pleased. I thought Villa gave it a go - and Mings was terrific.

Frank Lampard is growing into his job at Everton and every time I see Eddie Howe I’m more impressed.

Graham Potter will get a big job soon. Whether he’ll succeed in it we don’t know. He might just be in the perfect job right now.

Bruno Lage’s coat looks a bit more secure after Wolves’ win over Soton. I still think Hassenhuttl is in danger - but right now Brendan Rodgers is least secure surely?

Make no mistake - Rodgers is a good coach and he’ll get another top job, but the manner of Leicester’s collapse at Brighton tells me there are big problems there again. Rodgers looks like he’s waiting to get sacked. He’ll walk with a nice few quid and he can’t have too many complaints.

He knew what he was taking on when he accepted the job. That dressing room has swallowed a fair few good men. And he’s had money - £223m in the three and a half years that he’s been there. Although it’s been a frustrating summer - the current squad are too good to be struggling. Something is wrong. I’d get myself out now Brendan and wait for another one.

I see City are complaining about a schedule that sees them play 17 games in the next 10 weeks. Really? Is this the same City that filled their last free week with a charity friendly in Barcelona? You couldn’t make it up.

We beat Fulham and won - nothing.

Published: Monday, 29 August 2022

What happens in the next four days is going to be fascinating. Chances are it will make or break the rest of the season for some clubs.

Already PL clubs have spent $1.8b dollars this summer - according to professional services network Deloitte. That surpasses the current 2017 record of $1.7b as the most money spent in a window.

The figure is also higher than PL clubs spent in the whole of last season.

And there was me thinking that Covid might have burst the bubble. No - hoping that it had.

It’s madness. I’m tempted to say ‘unsustainable’, but how long have we been saying that for?

I’m writing Monday.  Deals yet to be done include Antony’s to United. Forest are said to be making their 19th signing in Willy Boli. We’re told Chelsea aren’t finished. Palace are set to spend £27m on Conor Gallagher (smart move btw) and Liverpool might yet swoop somewhere. These won’t be the only clubs doing business, but
most are done. City won’t spend again in this window. Neither will Villa. And it’s Villa I want to concentrate on.

Buying and selling is a gamble. Not if you’re buying Haaland obviously, but for the most part you just don’t know.   You can do all the homework you like - it isn’t an exact science.

Would City spend £100m on Grealish again? I doubt they’d spend £10m on him. What a sad waste of money he’s been. What about Pepe? £72m? No thanks. Lukaku? Pogba? Ndombele? The game is littered with expensive failures. I’m quite certain due diligence was done ahead of all of them- but none worked out. And there’s plenty of others on the list.

So back to Villa. They’ve spent €700m dollars since 2012. The spend is what you really judge - not the net spend - but if you want that stat - Villa were the highest net spenders of any club in Europe over the past three seasons - before you add what Gerrard has spent. That’s incredible isn’t it? More than United, Real Madrid or even Bayern.

And what have they got for their money? So far - nothing. Are they better now than they were when Dean Smith left? No. Did they replace what they had with better in the summer? No. Are they still an unsolvable conundrum? It looks like it. And does Steven Gerrard have any answers? Well - the jury is out. And I’ve got a feeling he will be if things don’t get better quickly.

Smile a bit Steven. Lighten up. Get the guys on your side. I’m told working at Villa right now isn’t enjoyable. If players don’t enjoy going to work that’s a huge problem. And what did I say about Mings-gate? All that was so unnecessary. It was badly handled and it’s still an issue. I’m afraid it might just be Gerrard’s undoing.

Let’s hope not. We both need and want young British coaches in the game, but Gerrard is failing at Villa.

Now. Let’s spell this out very clearly. Arsenal over-celebrated their win over Fulham. It was disrespectful to the opposition. And for me - it is a measure of how far they’ve fallen.

I’m not blaming the fans. I get it. Enjoy your wins. Enjoy your day out - you’ve spent enough on it - but Arteta and his coaching staff went over the top. They were running round like they’d just won the CL. They’d beaten newly-promoted Fulham 2-1. That’s all. Nothing more. Save the drama for a win over Spurs, Liverpool, or a valiant performance against City the likes of which Newcastle gave the previous week.

I say again - the win over Fulham was over-celebrated - and it was embarrassing. Proper Arsenal managers like George Graham or Arsene Wenger would’ve made a dignified exit and been off down the tunnel knowing full well that they’d got away with one. Arsenal fans aren’t happy about what I said - but think about it. It was Fulham. Come on.

While I’m on the subject - have I missed something? When did Arteta get special dispensation to stand on the touch line for 90 minutes - waving his arms about like a broken windmill? Literally - right on the touch line. Every other coach has to stay in his area - but not Arteta it seems. Why is this? Could somebody tell me? If he doesn’t have dispensation - could the PGMOL do something about it please? The coaching area is clearly marked and Arteta shouldn’t be marching up and down touch lines - nor entering the field of play - as he often does.

Last word. I’ve got a new hero - Brennan Johnson. Well done Brennan. Inevitably the irritating Richarlison was going to ground when you hit him. It’s just a shame it wasn’t with something to make it worthwhile! 😂😂

Top class Leeds and Newcastle

Published: Monday, 22 August 2022

I can’t remember enjoying a day of PL football quite as much. What a day (Sunday) - and fair play to both Leeds and Newcastle for taking lead roles in making it so.

Let’s start with the Toon. They were terrific. I said on beINSPORTS at half time that they’d played as well as any team I could think of over 40 minutes against the champions.

I say 40 minutes because City were a goal up in five of course. Newcastle could easily have folded. The game plan could very easily have gone out of the window. But no - they shook themselves down and caused City all sorts of problems for the rest of the half. And they went in deservedly leading.

West Ham had a really good go at City at the back end of last season. They led 2-0 at ht - but I made Newcastle’s near-half more impressive because they’d already conceded. And they should’ve had a penalty. Anywhere else on the pitch John Stones clumsy challenge on Schar is a free-kick. So why isn’t it when that sort of thing happens on the box? Refs will tell you ‘because there’s got to be a higher threshold in the box’ Why? It doesn’t say that in the laws of the game. It was a foul. It should’ve been a pen.

If I’m being picky there’s no way Ederson should let Trippier’s free-kick in. It’s his side. The ball didn’t go round - or over the wall. It went adjacent to it. Ederson’s positioning was awful.

Having said that I’m glad Trippier scored. The atmosphere was terrific inside the ground - just as it used to be - and it gave City a big problem.

But the one thing you know is that the Champions will come back at you. I’m sure they’ll face similar - perhaps worse situations in the CL this season - so it was a good challenge for them. And I think they’d have won it if Trippier had rightly been sent-off. There was no need for VAR to get involved. Jarred Gillet got it right. Did he make a ‘clear and obvious’ error? No. Ok, so Trippier’s lunge turned into a trip - but it was wild and it was excessive. He was definitely threatening the well being of an opponent. So stay out of it VAR. And, of course, we all know the outcome when a ref goes to the monitor, because Mike Riley has instructed everybody that VAR makes the final decision. I just wish Gillet had had the bollocks to stay with his original call - but he knows full well that he wouldn’t be involved next weekend had he done so. It’s all so wrong.

Btw - the ‘tactical’ foul is the curse of the modern game - and something has got to be done about it. That’s another reason why Trippier should’ve gone.

In the end - honours were even and probably rightly so. The next step Newcastle have got to make is to be able to do that when the likes Bournemouth come to town and the atmosphere isn’t anywhere near as electric, but Eddie Howe appears to be making genuine progress at the club.

For some the fact that Leeds ran 11k further than Chelsea explained why they won. Nonsense. I get it - so much emphasis is placed on stats and sports science these days that it’s inevitable these measures will keep coming up. Ten Months had United running all last Sunday to get near to the figures Brentford produced. But not covering kms wasn’t why United lost to them.

I’m with Tuchel.  ‘it was nothing to do with pressing,’ he said. ‘Nothing to do with running less kms and nothing to do with the style of Leeds. I don’t see that an own goal and a set-piece are anything to do with style’. Spot on. And let’s not forget Chelsea should’ve been two up before Leeds had barely had a sniff of the ball. Leeds wouldn’t have covered anything like the distance that they did then.

But it was a great win. And Elland Road is a brilliant arena when it’s full and jumping like it was. Marsch might just have started to win Leeds’ fans over. I certainly hope so. I said before the season started that I like the guy - but I know I’m in the minority with that view.

I think it’s his slavish belief in stats that puts ‘football’ people off. He loves talking about a players’ HMLD. High metabolic load distance. Nope. Nor me!

But good luck to him. The PL needs teams like Leeds and Newcastle - and the excitement they can generate on days like Sunday.

And so we wait with baited breath. What will Monday evening bring us? Are a United fans expecting anything other than a good hiding from Liverpool again? What if that happens? Will we even get a game? I’ll tell you this - if we don’t - Klopp is right - Liverpool should be awarded the points. Fine - United fans can demonstrate if they like - but if they force the game off there should be a price to pay for that. I hope those that were responsible for last seasons disgraceful scenes are aware of the consequences their words can have.

Did Graeme Souness mean what he said? Of course he did.

Published: Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Let me first declare a conflict of interest. Graeme Souness is a friend a mine. A very close friend. I’ve know him since he was 25 and in his prime as a player at Liverpool.

We’ve fallen out a few times - mainly because he didn’t like what I had to say about his management style. When he was at Liverpool we didn’t speak at all. His call - not mine.

I was instrumental in getting him the Newcastle job - and if you asked him who started his tv career he’d say ‘Richard Keys’ - without hesitation.

He was the first man I sat and drank with after my open heart surgery. The shock of him paying for the champagne nearly put me back in hospital! Graeme doesn’t like paying for anything.

We speak often - about football and a whole lot of other things. He doesn’t buy much but he’s hugely generous with his time and quietly does so much good work for others. He really is one of the good guys.

So there we are. That’s the background.

I’m sorry to see him engulfed by the current storm after his comments following the Chelsea v Spurs game - which he described as a ‘man’s game’.  

The question is - did he mean what he said at Stamford Bridge? The answer is ‘yes’.  Of course he did. Did he mean what he said to be insulting to women in any way? Absolutely not.
Is he a sexist? No. His daughter used to work in our business. He works every weekend with one of his closest friends’ daughters - Kelly Cates. He’s always promoting women’s rights. He knows how important the subject is. 

It’s great to see so many people leaping to his defence. Who would want Graeme cancelled? Who would want him to go through what I have these past few years? Trust me - if anyone wants to talk about how social media - and more particularly our national press - can affect the mental health of an individual - give me a call.

I got caught up in a row because I was from a generation that didn’t immediately understand how life was changing. That’s not an excuse for what happens - its a reason. My first blog of this season addressed that issue. Times have changed. Attitudes have rightly changed and women’s rights are a whole lot stronger and better for it. What the Lionesses did last summer was brilliant. It’s empowered women and girls alike. Why shouldn’t everyone play football? Why shouldn’t everyone have the choice to play football at school as part of the curriculum? 

If we’re to continue to make progress
on this issue we’ve got to be both honest and brave. When we hear what Graeme said at the weekend we’ve got to call it out - but we don’t need a witch-hunt. It was clumsy. It’s was a generational thing. And it was wrong. 

What we can’t have a hand-ringing group of celebrities backing people because ‘we don’t want to call out one of the good guys’. (That’s a headline I read in The Mail On-line) and looking to destroy others because we’ve taken a dislike to them  
Why would The Mail leap to Graeme’s defence so quickly? Easy. He’s just signed a three-year contract to write a column for them. Martin Samuel wrote a glowing piece yesterday (Tuesday) defending Graeme. I had to look twice to be sure it was Martin. Yep - the same Martin Samuel who answered the phones when we worked together in Fleet Street. Someone I thought was a mate - but who went after me when I got into trouble with an editorial instruction ‘bury them (Me and Andy) and make sure nothing sticks to Redknapp. He too used to write a column for them.

Graeme isn’t alone in dicing with cancellation. ‘Best bra none’ tweeted Gary Lineker when celebrating the Lionesses. How would the world have reacted if I’d done that? He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a very unfunny line that belittled the achievement. But he survived with resolute back tracking from the BBC.

My point is this. Either we want to take the subject of womens rights seriously - or we don’t. It shouldn’t matter if someone is a ‘good guy’. Who decides? Is there a list of good and bad guys somewhere in the sports editors’ desk at the Daily Mail?

It took me a long time to understand my mistake, but I’ve done a lot of hard work both on myself - and on the subject ever since. Isn’t that how things get better? We accept - learn - and move on?

Not for a minute do I want to see Graeme in trouble. But he meant what he said. I say again - he said it without malice. It was a mistake. Can’t we accept that? He’s from that generation that believed football was a ‘man’s game’. That’s how he thinks. That’s how a lot of men in football still think. That’s how I used to think. But it isn’t now. It’s simply a ‘game’ to be enjoyed by everyone. And womens rights are an issue that can’t be forwarded if we’re not honest about the subject. That’s the more important issue here.

What would Fergie have done? Changed the kit.

Published: Monday, 15 August 2022

How many times have you heard the question being asked this weekend? I’d like to claim credit for the answer, but I can’t. It was a mate of mine - a United fan - who gave it to me. Of course Fergie would’ve changed the kit at half-time.

Why? Because it would’ve made a difference? No. Simply because we’d all have been talking about what he’d done rather than what we’d seen.

What we saw was as bad as it gets. I’ve nothing more to say on the matter. My last blog last covered everything And explained the reasons.

Oh. One thing I do want to add is this. Is David de Gea a bad keeper because the first one rolled in? Not at all. He‘s still world class - and United’s only hope of delivering a platform from which ten Months might be able to deliver. Right. That’s it.

Well done Forest. We also predicted that the City Ground would perhaps be the reason that they stay up. It was great to see them back in the PL on the 30th anniversary of the first ever televised match in the competition. Having said that - they’ll never get another afternoon when literally everything goes their way.

I believe the West Ham goal should’ve stood - but I can also see why it didn’t. What was Antonio supposed to do? It was nothing more than traffic. Poor decision by VAR in my opinion.

Scott McKenna should’ve been sent off. That was a denial and he knew exactly what he was doing. It doesn’t matter that the keeper was behind him. The law is very straightforward on this. If a player ‘denies a goal scoring opportunity - or a goal’ it’s red. I’ve checked this with two former FIFA refs.

Then West Ham hand the ball to Rice. As they did I found myself shouting ‘noooooo….’ Why give the ball to a player who has publicly stated that he’s not good at pens and does’t like taking them?  I’m really surprised Moyes made that call. I’ll bet Rice doesn’t take another one for them.

Forest rode their luck as the bar was struck twice and another was kicked off the line - and it was a good match to watch. Very enjoyable.

Now. Mike Dean. When he hung up his whistle he told us he’d always tried to be an entertainer. I made the point that no ref should take charge of a game with that attitude. It’s not for the ref to entertain. He’s there to apply the laws fairly. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Well it seems that hapless Mike has taken this attitude into the VAR bunker. His decision-making at The Bridge would’ve had us all laughing if it wasn’t so serious. Not that Antony Taylor was much better on the field.

The challenge on Havertz? Foul. A clear a foul as you’ll ever see. It was from behind, reckless and born of frustration after Bentencur had lost out in a challenge seconds earlier. Would we be discussing this had Taylor given the free-kick? No.

Richarlison is clearly off-side as Hojbjerg scores. Of course he’s affecting the keepers line of vision. He’s active for goodness sake. No goal.

Before Kane scores the second there’s an act of violent conduct as Romero pulls Cucerella to the ground by grabbing his hair. Since when was this acceptable on a football field? It’s clear. It’s obvious. It’s violent conduct so VAR can intervene. It’s a red card. The outcome should’ve been free kick to Chelsea because the ball was in play - and Romero has got to go off. For an incident of that kind - had the corner not been taken - Taylor should stopped it from being taken - sent Romero off - and then started again with the corner.  Either way - Romero has to go off.

It’s only in the PL that these things happen. No wonder we’re the only European country without a VAR representative at the WC.

Sept 18, 2018 Ronaldo is sent off after 29 mins of his CL debut for Juventus. His offence? Pulling the hair of Jeison Murillo. I rest my case.

I can see why Tuchel and his Chelsea players don’t want to see much of Taylor going forward. It’ll be interesting to see how Dean explains all this away. ‘Entertainment’ I guess? Except it’s not funny Mike. These aren’t things that require VAR coaching. They’re matters of law.

We know Everton have got huge problems, but it was interesting to see Gerrard restore Tyrone Mings to his defence. He had to. Villa had to win that game. Mings 1 Gerrard 0. What happens next will be interesting.

What a good game Nick Pope had for Newcastle. Eddie Howe obviously agrees with me that Martin Dubravka isn’t good enough. Pope is. Either he will be in goal for England’s WC opener or Ramsdale will. Pickford won’t.

And so the 30th anniversary of that first televised match at Forest passed. 30 years? Incredible isn’t it? It’s been a privilege to have been part of it - and still be a part of it. Here’s to the next 30. 🍾 👍🏼😂.

Stevie G - why go looking for trouble?

Published: Monday, 08 August 2022

Rule 1 in management. Don’t go looking for trouble - it will find you. I’m afraid Stevie G appears to have blundered into trouble all of his own making at Villa.

Few of the weekends’ results surprised me. The exceptions were Liverpool’s anaemic performance at Fulham and Villa’s defeat at Bournemouth.

Then the Gerrard/Neville meme started doing the rounds. It doesn’t make good reading for either of them.

Coaching has done with Neville so it doesn’t really matter from his perspective - but it’s damaging for Steven.

So what’s wrong at Villa? Last season was a free hit. Gerrard had plenty of time to work out what he wanted and Villa spent big on his plans in the summer. That’s why I expected to see them hit the ground running.

Pre-match at Bournemouth he told us that they’d had a trouble free pre-season and were ready to go. Well they weren’t. And they didn’t have a trouble-free pre-season. Gerrard walked into trouble all of his own making. He stripped Tyrone Mings of the captaincy - and dropped him at Bournemouth. Big mistake. He’s divided his dressing room right down the middle.

Mings will have his supporters. And they’ll make their feelings known. Some won’t care - but in the other corner will be a group that are delighted to see the x-captain brought down a peg or two. The unrest will spread to the canteen. Players will sit in their chosen groups - muttering and whispering. It’ll be the same on the coach. Negativity will spread like a virus. Little things become big problems.

Dean Smith dropped Mings once - during his last few months at Villa. I’m told Mings didn’t react well. He was an instant problem with his attitude. Why didn’t Gerrard know this? Perhaps he did?

The reason I ask is that if he did surely the time to tell Mings the bad news was last May? Why didn’t he call him in at the end of last season and have a grown up conversation?

He could’ve told Mings that he wasn’t in his plans. He could’ve invited Mings to find another club - while at the same time suggesting if he wanted to knuckle down and prove his manager wrong he’d be happy to accommodate that. But no - Gerrard left his bad news until 10 days before the season started. Big error.

Come on Steven - you’ve been a player too recently to make that mistake. I guess you wanted to be seen as a tough-guy? But you know how that re-bounds. It did on Benitez when he wanted Alonso out at a Liverpool. It did when Benitez hooked you in a Merseyside derby saying he ‘couldn’t trust you’ because you got too carried away in those games.

This is a massive season for Mings. There’s a WC around the corner and he’ll want to be part of it. He won’t want to spend the first two months on the bench and he’ll stink the place out if that happens.

It’s Everton next at home. If Villa lose that one their fans will rear up and take sides. They’ll be on Mings side as well. Trouble Steven - and it didn’t have to be like this. Btw - that system looks too rigid to me and doesn’t suit the players you’ve got. Just my view - that’s all.

Liverpool we’re strangely quiet at Fulham, but that might have had a lot to do with Fulham. We sometimes forget that. That’s why I wanted to concentrate on what Brighton had achieved at OT on BeINSPORTS before we spoke about United.

Brighton we’re terrific. They had a plan. They believed in it - and it’s very evident they believe in their coach as well. They played through - and all round United.  And let’s not forget they sold their two best players for £100m in the summer.

So why couldn’t Ralph ten Hag’s United have done better? They were hopeless. Nothing has changed since Rangnick picked his last team. Nothing. No - I’m sorry. They’ve got a 5’8” centre-back that’s likely to have the arse ripped out of him most weeks now that proper No9’s are back in fashion. Who’s idea was that for goodness sake? 

Ten Hag has talked a good game since his appointment. He delivered nothing on Sunday.

I saw Henry Winter argue in The Times that United have got the right coach - but the wrong squad and owners. Really? Have Brighton got a better squad? I don’t think so - but their coach got them playing. Ralph ten Hag looked lost on that touch line.

VAR was also hopeless I’m sorry to say. McTominay should’ve gone off. Brighton should’ve had a pen - and United’s goal should’ve been disallowed. If it wasn’t handball - McGuire was off-side - and of course he was ‘active’. He forced the own goal.

So why was Mike Dean not explaining why VAR got all this so badly wrong in The Mail today? Mike Riley got him to column so that he could.  Might it be that there’s no defence so Dean didn’t write his piece?

Haaland was terrific at West Ham. What a start. There’s one word I associate with him - ‘timing’. His runs were devastating. Perfect. And what about his pen? I’m always worried when a taker leaves the ball on the spot for too long. Haaland waited for the whistle BEFORE he put the ball down - and then quickly took his kick. He had no time to think about missing - and gave the keeper no time to think about saving it. Timing. 👍🏼 

I was sorry to see some coach’s taking the piss out of the new 5-subs rule - but it was inevitable.

Chelsea made 5 changes late on at Goodison in order to interrupt Everton’s momentum (when they got some). The ball was in play only 47 minutes at Everton. Newcastle made 5 to disturb Forest. Liverpool made 4 as they hung on at Fulham. Fans at Tottenham had to watch 10 changes in all.

I’m not a fan. It wasn’t a necessary change. There’s talk of playing a minimum of 60 minutes before games end - but we’ve added this change and it allows coaches to slow games - kill games when they want with endless changes. Far from ‘’saving’ the game as Klopp argues - it’s another change that is more likely to ‘kill’ it.