Brilliant. It’s back. And here are my PL predictions for 23-24.

Published: Monday, 07 August 2023

Making predictions before the transfer window shuts is a dangerous business but it’s also a bit of fun and we haven't done badly in recent years - so here goes. 

The obvious choice for the title is *City. Five wins in the last six seasons - 7 in the last 12 - says they’ve got to be favourites. It’s now 12 trophies in total for Guardiola at a cost of £1,006,260,000 on 47 players. The haul of trophies includes the CL at last. It’s quite an achievement, but I can’t help believing that a few other coaches might have done equally as well given the same backing.

I hope *City don’t win the title. Five wins in the last six seasons is a fine achievement, but it should be a worry for the rest of English football. Thank goodness for Liverpool and their challenges and Arsenal, who had a really good go last season, but I didn’t ever really fancy them, despite the stunning home win over Fulham in August that was celebrated like they’d won the title. 😂

As I said at the time - too soon guys - and too often as it turned out. Mature teams that are used to winning don’t behave like Arsenal did. 

That was more than half of their problem. Time and again they’d lose focus. Celebrations were too long, loud, frequent and premature. Immature would be another good word.

I hope Arteta behaves a little better as well, although his emotional tale last week about nearly quitting after failing to win the title was worrying. Why? What’s the point of telling us that? It sounded weak.  

His behaviour in the technical area is annoying - and dangerous. The area is marked as it is for a reason. Jump up and down as much as you like within it. Let the world know you don’t trust your players to do the right things by waving your arms about like a broken windmill all game - but stay within your own technical area - not on the touchline, not on the half-way line and definitely not in front of the opposition area. ‘Stay calm - and carry on’. 

Arsenal came a long way after a fifth-place finish the season before. With Rice - who is a top player - they should be stronger, but I still don’t fancy them to win the title. 

I don’t think Liverpool have got a challenge in them either. The re-build was necessary, but I don’t see leaders in the team anymore. Van Dijk isn’t a leader. He’s too quiet - and selfish. If he plays well that’s all that seems to matter to him. And he didn’t play well often enough last season. I thought he was way off.

They’ll miss Henderson and Milner. I know the Milner decision was driven by the stats men, but sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut. Klopp knows Milner is a loss. A big loss. But he couldn’t get his way and keep him.

United aren’t strong enough to mount a challenge either. Ten Hag has spent more than half a billion now, but not much of it very wisely. Antony was an embarrassment last season. If ever there was a ‘one-trick’ pony it’s him. Step-over, step inside, curl it. 🤷‍♂️.

Rashford won’t have a better season than last time out so others have got to step up. Who? They simply haven’t got enough.  Hojlund looks good business but he’s largely one for the future. They’re still short. They couldn’t afford Kane, who would’ve made all the difference.

A couple of other things about United. Fernandes has got to take the responsibility of captaining a great club far more seriously. His behaviour can be tiresome. Constantly falling over when he’s been sneezed on, hoping to win decisions is cheating. Proper United captains - Bruce, Keane, Neville and similar - should perhaps have a word?

I don’t fancy the keeper either. Even before the howler v Lens at the weekend I’d said that he’ll cost United as many points as de Gea saved. 

I don’t expect the take-over to get done any time soon despite Rio Ferdinand’s claims that it was ‘imminent’ in May. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Glazers are still at the club at the turn of the year. They’re tyre-kickers. There’s a massive gulf between what they want and what the club is actually worth. And I don’t believe for a minute that there are ‘buyers’. There’s a buyer. End of.

Newcastle had a fantastic season. It’s great to see them back in amongst the big boys - but they won’t finish in the top 4 this time. They’re way short of a squad capable of challenging in Europe and mounting the same domestic challenge - but enjoy it guys - you’ve earned the right.

Spurs can only hope for top 6 - even with Kane. 

Chelsea remain a mess. Pochettino reckons he’s a far better coach than the one that we saw at Spurs. He’s going to have to be, but I’m not sure what he bases that judgement on.

If you’re looking for an outsider to do what Newcastle did last season - it’s got to be Villa.

I like Emery. I always have. Yes - we all echoed ‘good ebening’ when he used to say it every week at Arsenal, but the hilarity masked what a good job he did. It couldn’t have been easy following Wenger, but he gave it a really good go. He’s clearly a class act.

So it’s *City for me. Arsenal, Liverpool and Utd for the other places in the top 4. But it could be *City at a canter.

One last thing on *City. The season hasn’t started but Guardiola is already moaning. He doesn’t like the idea of having to play for 100 minutes/game. The idea, of course, is to extend games so that we get nearer 60 minutes of ball-in-play time. The answer is simple - don’t waste time. I’d take time-keeping away from the ref, but this is a step in the right direction. Fans are being short changed when games are only low 50 odd minutes long. 

Guardiola also reckons his players are running on empty because pre-seasons are shorter and demands greater. Nonsense. Only three of his players started more than 30 league games last season - the keeper, Rodri and Haaland. The next highest was de Bruyne on 28. The rest were in the mid-20’s. ‘Running on empty’? Come on. 

It’s going to be quite a race at the bottom and it’s an easy one to call.

Everton will struggle again. There’s no goals in the team. A possible points deduction for financial irregularities could relegate them. 

It’ll be a long season for Wolves as well. Forest should do better. Their problems will largely be off the pitch after last seasons transfer excesses.

Bournemouth will be at the bottom end all season but should have enough. I think Fulham will struggle this time as well. Palace will be hard to beat and finish mid-table.

I can’t see Brighton having such a good season, but I hope they do. Brentford are established now but they’ll miss Toney. If Kane leaves Spurs my guess is Toney will be at Tottenham in January.

West Ham need players. If David Moyes is allowed to bring in what he wants they’ll be fine. If not - it’ll be a season like the last one - without the trophy.

Last season all three promoted clubs stayed up for only the fourth time in history. My bet is all three go back down this time. Burnley will be great to play against - wide open. Sheffield United are way short and although Luton might start well they won’t have the players to last a gruelling season. I do hope they enjoy it though. They voted for a PL in ‘91 but didn’t get to play in it. They’ve been to hell and back since so they deserve their time in the sun.

*denotes a team waiting to answer 115 PL charges of financial wrongdoing. 

Re: Wedding coverage

Published: Wednesday, 28 June 2023

My goodness - for someone that the Press have wanted cancelled for a long time now there’s an awful lot of interest in me and my wife today.

Let me address some of the inaccuracies that I’ve been reading. And some of the irony in the reporting. The Mail consistently try to do me harm - and want me cancelled, yet they spend more time talking about me - and quoting me - than any other publication.

I’ll never forget what a senior x-Mail journalist told me shortly after I’d left Sky. He called me because he was chasing a story. I was furious with him and let him have it. When I’d finished abusing him he said ‘we were told - bury them - and make sure nothing sticks to Redknapp’. Jamie wrote a column for them at the time. There’s a whole lot more to the story but that’s for another time.

‘Shamed’ they constantly scream. Really? Mistakes were made at the time and I’ve addressed them previously. ‘Shamed’ - all these years on? Why the anger guys? It’s not healthy. What actually are you trying to achieve?

Nick Pisa - why not ask? Why make it up? You were wrong time and again when you worked at the Sun. You’re now just re-quoting your own nonsense. Check - check - and check again. That was the first thing I was taught when I trained. Get it right. Journo’s hate it when you pull them up. They see being called to account as an affront.

When my first marriage collapsed my wife was not suffering with cancer. She’d been seven years in remission after a dreadful scare - one she managed with dignity and bravery. And I was with her every step of the way. She is still very much alive and well, although it is true that cancer sufferers always need to be careful about their health.

Sadly my daughters’ problems have become too well known. In her case she has been ill for many many years. Her problems cost her everything, including an embryonic acting career. I’ve tried to protect her from intrusion, but failed. Tell me this guys - why publish a half naked picture of her in your articles today? How does that add value to your story? Leave her alone.

I was not ‘sacked in disgrace’. I resigned of my own volition after Sky sacked Andy. As he himself has said ‘they were after me. Keysie was collateral damage’. He’s my mate. I will always stand by him - just as he has me. The reason he lost his job is because he was suing News Corp - who’d hacked his phone and put him under video surveillance. What a disgusting intrusion at any time - but he worked for them ffs. He later won his case in court.

Lucie was never my daughters’ friend - let alone her best friend. They met twice. The circumstances don’t matter - at this stage. That’s something else I’ll address going forward.

Lucie has her own high-powered career and doesn’t need the nonsense that she’s reading today. She and her employers - two big multi-National companies - have been incredible during our time together. They have shown amazing support to her. Who is Lucie Rose? What does it matter?

The break-up of my first marriage did not ‘wreck’ my children’s lives. One was 28 - the other 32.

Covid didn’t previously postpone the wedding. I’m sorry you missed the official ceremony last Thursday guys.

My son Josh wasn’t at the ceremony at the weekend.

My response to Jamie Redknapp was as a result of him telling me that night at Chelsea ‘I’ll be at your house when you get home - hanging out of the back of Julia and Jemma’. I wonder if this little nugget will get much traction? Somehow I doubt it.

What he said was edited from a carefully edited tape. ‘Hanging out of the back of….’ Redknapp’s phraseology. Not mine. I simply mimicked it. As I did with ‘smash it’. Does anyone seriously believe I’m childish enough to use phrases like that?

It was Lucie that decided not to pursue Jemma’s disgusting and threatening text messages. She dropped the charges because the case was hurting me and would only have caused Jemma more harm. It was not the CPS that decided to drop it.

It’s time to let this go guys. What has been achieved by both Andy and myself since leaving Sky is incredible. Thanks to some brave and very loyal people we’re still going. Again - I ask - what exactly are you trying to achieve?

As for the disgusting morons on Twitter - there are no words.

Andy & I haven’t signed new contracts. And well done Martin Tyler - simply the best.

Published: Saturday, 17 June 2023

I awoke this morning to a flurry of messages - all congratulating me. It made a very pleasant change - but I wondered what I’d done.

I’ll get back to this, but I first want to pay tribute to Martin Tyler - the greatest football commentator of all time. Yep. I’ll say it again - the greatest football commentator of all time.

I read today (Saturday) that Martin is stepping back from his role at Sky. I say ‘I read’ because I haven’t checked with him and I know I can’t believe much, if anything, that is published these days - especially when it comes to me.

David Coleman - my favourite. I grew up listening to him. Brilliant broadcaster. Brian Moore - a shouter in his early career, but he evolved to become a very good anchor and smooth commentator. Barry Davies - there’s always a place for someone ‘different’. For Davies read Jon Champion now. Excellent. Motty - Cup Final Motty - if he told you something you knew it to be true. These guys were a staple diet for my generation - they were giants.

But Martin stands head and shoulders above them all. Why? Because he did it in a far more demanding era and was ‘live’ as he used to love to shout before the pre kick-off break. He stumbled across its use one day when he was being hurried along - and stuck with it. It was good. He liked it. So did his bosses - not that that mattered. He’d have carried on saying it if he wanted to. 😂

Martin grew up with the guys I’ve mentioned above - always using his elbows to try and make space for himself. I’ve seen him do that on a football pitch a few times as well. I used to partner him up front - with Jim Rosenthal the other side. Tyler was Nout Workhorse to my more cultured Teddy Sheringham. 😂. To be fair - he got a few more goals than Workhorse, but many of them thanks to my silky contributions.

Eventually he got his chance to be No1 with us at Sky. He was brilliant. A true pro. He would always find the right words at the right time - ‘Bould - through to Adams (goal) that sums it all up’. What an Arsenal season that was. Arsenal - his favourites.

He never stopped - game after game after game. There was a time that we tried to stop him - for his own good - because he was doing too much. But we couldn’t. And no-one will now he’s stepping away from Sky.

It’s because he did it all ‘live’ that makes him the best for me. All the other guys got a chance to wildtrack - do the voice again when they’d made errors - Moore in the ‘80 Cup Final when he failed to notice that it was Trevor Brooking that had scored. That’s just one example - but they were always at it - every week.

Martin didn’t get that luxury - although for years he sat next to Andy Gray - the greatest co-commentator of all time - and Andy would pick up the odd mis-call. Tyler/Gray has never been matched, let alone bettered.

Martin will never stop commentating. I’d expect to see him to be behind a mic at his own funeral!

You were the best Voice. By a mile. Oh - we called him Voice because he definitely didn’t have a face for tv.

Now - quickly back to a story in The Mail today they Andy and I have signed new deals to stay at beINSPORTS. No we haven’t. Nothing has changed. When we get back on air with another PL season in August it’ll be on exactly the same terms - on the same deal - that we’ve been working on for the past decade or so.

Where do these stories come from? Why doesn’t anybody bother to check? Check just once - let alone check again when you’ve done that - as I’m always telling the guys.

I’m immensely proud to still be working - working for and with people I care for deeply. The ‘with’ - a group of highly talented people at beINSPORTS - the The ‘for’ - my Qatari bosses.

I’ve loved every minute of working and living in Qatar. It’s a gorgeous little country to whom I owe a great debt. My Qatari bosses have always been there for me - one in particular, who I now count as a close friend. Qatar is home - and I was proud to have been a defender of its right to take a place at football’s top table last December.

I’m proud to still be working at my age - although if Martin is the benchmark there’s plenty of time yet! But it’s not on a ‘new’ deal. It’s on the same deal.

Oh - and I’ll keep filing - but only on an occasional basis during the summer. Only when I see or hear something they really annoys me. Hold on…..that would mean writing something every day! Back to plan A

It was City’s best performance of the season. - so far.

Published: Monday, 05 June 2023

Sensational. City’s first goal - not the performance apparently. We’ll get round to that. Let’s deal with the goal.

It wasn’t from City’s tippy-tappy playbook. It was as a result of a monster punt downfield by Ortega, a flick from Haaland, seconds from de Bruyne and the most glorious of strikes by Gundogan. I’m certain it would’ve got a ‘what a hit son, what a hit’ from my mate. Perhaps ‘tek a boo’

It was pure. Absolutely pure. So good that Gundogan didn’t break stride after he’d hit it. He wheeled away celebrating before it had hit the net. He knew where it was going the moment he hit it. Glorious. It reminded me of Rooney’s v Newcastle at the Stretford End. I’m salivating just writing about it. It was a fitting way to set a new record for the fastest goal in the Cup Final.

But what a betrayal of ‘the right way to play football’ though! The purists must have been furious. Gundogan even had the temerity to hit the ball from outside the box. 😂.

City’s performance was nowhere near their ‘best’. That’s what I kept reading post match. How do we define that I wonder? Is a good performance measured by hitting a frightened opposition for six? Or it is measured on getting the job done at the business end of the season in the middle of a tumultuous spell? For me it is. I thought it was a really impressive performance. They’re best of the season - so far. And now comes the big one.

City just have to win the CL - or this whole season will have been for nothing again. It’s the one Guardiola was employed to win. It’s the one they’ve spent a couple of billion buying players to win. It’s the one that will take them to the next level. A domestic double is something to be proud of, but if they get beaten next weekend the season will feel empty. Oh - I should add, prizes accompanied by an asterisk. I’m sorry, but until the financial irregularity charges are answered, that will always be the case.

Inter are more than capable of winning. They’re horrible if they want to be. They can squeeze the life out of teams but they’ve got a threat. They should not be taken lightly. I hope City don’t underestimate them. I have to say, reading Nathan Ake in The Mirror today saying ‘now City’s players are talking about winning the treble’ worried me. No. Don’t. Forget about what’s been achieved. Concentrate of the job ahead now.

I’ve also read a lot about how poor United were. It’s as though people are surprised. Why? I’ve been saying this all season. They’re miles away. I said a couple of weeks ago that ten Hag hasn’t taken them anywhere. Why would Harry Kane consider joining them? He might as well stay at Spurs, where he’s loved and where he and his family enjoy a fabulous life-style off the pitch. Why swap all that for the occasional League Cup win? Real Madrid? Now that’s a very different proposition.

A quick word on the United pen. Of course it was a ridiculous award. Absolute nonsense, but I’m afraid that’s where we are with the handball law. Nobody knows how to fairly and accurately enforce the interpretations of what was once a very simple law. David Elleray and his mates at IFAB are to blame. It’s got to be looked at again. How about ‘was it intentional or not?’ Wait a minute - isn’t that how we used to make decisions?

I’ll guarantee you Anthony Taylor’s decision not to give Roma a pen v Sevilla is what sent Mourinho over the edge the other night. I’m not excusing his post-match behaviour, but he was enraged because that’s a pen in Italy. It’s a pen if European officials are in charge - but it isn’t a pen if PL officials are.

‘Ah,’ I can hear you say ‘but what about the one at Wembley?’ That’s fair. They’re all subjective. It’s a nonsense. During his time in charge at IFAB, Elleray gave us 179 different law changes. 179 ffs - including the ‘innovative’ new kick-off - straight from the hockey rule-book. Elleray was a hockey teacher. He should’ve stuck to his profession.

It’s time football people started making football decisions again - starting with the handball shambles. VAR is irrelevant whilst those watching have no idea what they’re looking for.

Good luck to West Ham this week. I’d love to see David Moyes win a trophy at last. He’s a good man, who was deeply affected by the treachery that saw him shafted at United and he did well to recover from it. I often wonder what might have happened had he been given the time he was promised when he took charge. United would certainly be a lot further forward than they are now.

And good luck to City. All these big games are live with us on beINSPORTS. I’ll see you next weekend.

Sent from my iPhone

For 23 mins Everton were a C’ship team

Published: Tuesday, 30 May 2023

Apologies if you were waiting around yesterday (Monday) for the blog, but a combination of travel and the bank holiday delayed me 24 hours.

Anyway. Here we are. It’s a shame the last day of the PL season was such a damp squib, but it wasn’t anything I didn’t expect. Well - no, that’s not true. I didn’t expect to see Leeds rolled over so easily by Spurs, but I always felt they’d go down because Everton would get the result they needed.

I was also a little surprised at how bad Leeds actually are. If Sam Allardyce could be honest I’m sure he’d say the same. They’re awful. There’s nothing there. If they had a chance of beating Spurs it had to be because of that outstanding crowd, but when they turned it was all over. And I don’t blame the Elland Road faithful either. Going one down, so quickly and easily, was disgraceful. I’ve read today that Sam says there isn’t enough goals in the side. There’s no bollocks either. Its sad. How the hell can Leeds get relegated again?

Everton were a C’ship side for 23 minutes when Leicester scored v West Ham. That was the only drama - a little anxiety until Doucoure smashed the Toffees winner in v Bournemouth. But that was it.

Leicester shouldn’t be going down either. How on earth has that happened? Does Dean Smith get the chance to take them back up? Does Sam at Leeds? Why not? I’d let them both have a go.

Why is it that nobody is talking about Brendan Rodgers as a candidate for the vacancy at Spurs? Is it because he’s getting the blame for what’s happened at Leicester? That’s nonsense if it is. He was warning about what was going to happen long before it did.

Rodgers is perfect for Spurs. He’s managed big clubs - he was unlucky not to win the title at Liverpool. Had he chosen not to join Leicester when he did he would’ve completed a treble-treble at Celtic. He won the FA Cup at Leicester. He knows how to win and he’s always had teams that ‘play the right way’. Isn’t that what Spurs want? Good football and trophies? Then Rodgers has to be the man. If you need his number Daniel - give me a call.

What on earth is happening at OT. Why is the takeover not done yet? I tweeted on the subject last week. I can assure you that I’m nowhere near the details. All I know is what I read, but what a saga. What on earth can the delay be? If there are genuinely two bids on the table - chose one and get it done. The only things stopping that happening has to be a disingenuous American bank handling the deal and/or Glazer greed. There can’t be any other reasons.

I read that Qatari Sheikh Jassim’s most recent bid was a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. I understand totally the desire to own one of the biggest brands in the world - and United doesn’t come up for sale that often - but there comes a time when you’ve got to walk away.

If the Sheikh wants only United - ok. But if he wants a PL club there are others. Leeds might have been an option - but not now of course - and I’ve always thought Villa was a good club to own, but if you want a bargain there’s really good value at West Ham.

£500m wound get it. It’s in London, which is a really big plus for modern players and the infrastructure isn’t at all bad. Ok - the stadium would need work - perhaps even knocking down because it will never be a football stadium, but that wouldn’t be a problem. Even if it cost £1b to re-build you’d still be on the plus side considering that the Glazers want £6b.

Of course I was gutted for the Super Sky Blues and the thousands that made the trip to Wembley from Coventry and beyond, but I’ve no complaints. To be fair Luton were better than us and had it not been for VAR they could easily have won it by 3 or 4. Luton remind me of Wimbledon. They’ll surprise a few in the PL next season.

It’ll take Coventry a while to recover.

Just because they made the play-offs this season doesn’t mean they’ll be challenging again next time. I hope they are. I hope this season was part of a process that sees them rewarded with promotion next time, but there are no guarantees and Mark Robins will know that. There are some big clubs and good teams (there’s a difference) in the Championship next season.

Good luck to both in the Cup Final this weekend - and then it’s the big one for City. Guardiola has got to win the CL. He knows he’s got to win it. He knows it’s the reason that City employed him and after a £2b spend across seven years - it’s time.

He also knows that whatever City continue to win there will be an asterisk alongside any success. What was he talking about last week when he said that he wants the PL to hurry to a conclusion on the charges of financial wrong-doing? It’s not their gift. As I said in my last blog - it’s up to City to expedite the process. If they’ve nothing to hide they can clear things up quite easily. It won’t work trying to blame the PL for laying the charges.

Clear the mess up City

Published: Monday, 22 May 2023

This time next week….my team might be millionaires Rodney! Equally, they could be licking their wounds having come up short in the C’ship play-off final v Luton.

It’s a kind of win - half win for me. Of course I’d love to see Coventry back in the big time, but I’ve already said that if we weren’t to make it I’d like it if Luton did.

Both clubs have had a torrid time in recent years. Five years ago both were promoted from League 2. If Coventry get up they’ll be the first team relegated from the PL to have dropped to the bottom of the pyramid and claw their way back. Luton would be the first team to make it from non-league. Both have got an incredible story of survival to tell and be proud of. 

Sadly I won’t be at Wembley. I’ve got to stay in Qatar for the final day of the PL season. The travel just won’t work. But good luck to both teams and a big ‘thank you’ to Mark Robins and our magnificent fans for never giving up on the Super Sky Blues.

Just a couple of times I’ve allowed myself to think about how we’d get on in the top league. We’d struggle. We’d be ‘struggling’ Coventry. We’d be lucky to survive. I don’t think Luton would. It’s such a massive step up now.

For only the fourth time in history all three promoted clubs have survived their first season back in the PL. That’s quite an achievement in itself. All three had different a different formula - Fulham had Mitrovic.

Bournemouth dogged determination and Gary O’Neil. Forest had Steve Cooper, who had to work it out as he went. There was certainly no template to refer to for the madness he was dealt. 

Cooper deserves a medal. How on earth did he do it? Somehow he had to integrate 30 new signings on top of the regular problems that come with promotion from the C’ship. No wonder he looked to the heavens when the final whistle went v Arsenal.

I said they’d struggle. They did. I said they’d struggle to win 10 games. They’ve won nine. I said their home form might just be what kept them up  It was. And I said Lingard would’ve been better off at West Ham. I was right about that too. I’ll bet Cooper would drive him there if he got the chance to off-load him. My guess is Lingard won’t be at the City Ground next season.

I’ve said this before as well - if Forest fans would like to apologise for their season-long abuse I’ll accept it in good grace. You were out of order guys. The personal stuff was a disgrace. You let your club down with that.

City fans were all over me as well this past weekend. Look - enjoy your latest title win. Once again you’ve been the best team in the league. The table doesn’t lie. And your season might get a whole lot better yet. But don’t tell me you’re not fed up with hearing ‘Ah yes, but how have they done it….?’  I would be. If the same smell was hanging about Anfield, Old Trafford or the Emirates, I’m sure Liverpool, United and Arsenal fans would feel the same. 

Whilst there are 115 unanswered PL charges surrounding financial irregularities at City we’ll all be saying it. And it isn’t my fault so don’t have a go at me. It’s your own clubs’ fault. Demand answers from them.

It’s City’s gift to clear the mess up. What have they got to hide? If they’re innocent - open up now and prove it. Don’t drag the whole saga on for the next few years employing highly paid lawyers, whose job it will be to find weasel ways out of the trouble they’re in.

Until there’s a resolution of the issue every trophy City win will be tainted. That’s not fair on those doing the winning nor those doing the watching.

We’re in for a dramatic last day. If Leicester get done at Newcastle tonight (Monday) realistically they’re down. That leaves Leeds and Everton.

Despite crumbling at West Ham I fancy Leeds to beat a pathetic Tottenham, but even if they do it won’t be enough. I can’t see how Everton don’t beat Bournemouth, so it’s Leeds. Or are we in for one final twist?

Everton’s win at Brighton was the result that saved them. That was the one that turned the survival battle on its head. There’s always one game like it in any run-in. It’s rare that there’s two - but who knows?

 And finally - a message to La Liga President Javier Tebas, who insists that ‘Neither Spain nor La Liga are racist’. This after the disgraceful treatment Vinicius Jnr received in Valencia last night. I’m sorry - but both are Mr Tabas. Too many supporters from teams that play in your league are racists - so are huge chunks of Spain. You’re not alone though - that applies right across Europe and neither UEFA nor FIFA do anything about it. And nothing will change whilst fools like you keep your heads firmly stuck in sand. 

Now go and win the big one City

Published: Monday, 15 May 2023

It’s done. Arsenal’s race is run. City are champions again. They deserve to be. So big congrats - it’s quite something to have won four of the last five. We should remember that in two of those seasons they resisted an almighty challenge from Liverpool. City truly are one of the great PL teams.

This one was a lot more simple than sole recent campaigns. It wasn’t a classic, but it still needs to be won, so I don’t want to suggest it was easy. But (there’s always a but 😂) Liverpool fell away early. So did Chelsea, whilst Spurs did what they always do - promised a lot and delivered nothing. As crowds remind them a lot these days, Spurs were the team that managed to come third in a two-horse race when Leicester won it. And the manager that master-minded that collapse is on his way to Chelsea. 🤷‍♂️.

City are worthy champions again, but I do wish there could be an outcome to the more than 100 charges of financial irregularities that they’ve been hit with by the PL. The whole time this case remains unresolved there will always be an air of suspicion around everything they achieve.

Anyway, let’s hope they beat Madrid this week and take another step towards landing the big one - the one that Guardiola was hired to win and the one that Haaland was bought to win. They’ve got to. It’s long overdue and City know that they can’t be considered one of Europe’s top teams until they’ve won it.

I was disappointed in the manner that Arteta reacted to Arsenal’s defeat by Brighton. Here’s a man that’s spent most of his season celebrating but he couldn’t find the dignity to accept that Brighton were simply better than his team and embrace their excitement.

Arsenal have made enormous progress this season. My belief is that they get Declan Rice this summer and push on again, so why couldn’t Arteta have congratulated Brighton and then thanked his team for a terrific season-long effort?

He sounded like ten Hag whining and moaning about ‘unprofessionalism’ and an ‘unacceptable performance’. Get off. Smile for goodness sake. Aesenal’s was never a realistic challenge but they gave it a go. Give the guys a break. They’ve far exceed expectations.

I have to say I was also very disappointed to see those Arsenal fans streaming out of the stadium before the end. Poor guys. Really poor. Stay and see it to a conclusion.

After losing at Villa, Spurs can’t make the top four, but did we ever really believe that they would? Here’s one to think about - if there’s anything in the rumours that Mourinho is going to Paris - which would be a terrific appointment - what chance Harry Kane joins him?

If Kane has got any ambition or pride he’s got to get out of Spurs this summer. I know there’s a temptation to stay and hoover up a small fortune if he waits another year, but would Tottenham fans ever forgive him if he did that?

I remember Steve McManaman leaving Liverpool that way - letting his contract run down so that he could trouser millions when he moved to Madrid. Liverpool fans were furious and have never forgotten.

If Kane wants to be remembered affectionately as ‘one of their own’, he should make sure Spurs get a few quid out of any deal when he leaves. He’s got more money now than he could ever spend. Do the right thing Harry. Paris? I wonder.

Ahead of Howard Webb’s tv debut let me say he’s got an awful lot of explaining to do. This weekend was another shocker for his referees and VAR. My bet is the new shows are scripted and carefully produced - with audio inserts from previous uncontentious matches. I hope I’m wrong.

Souey-gate got an interesting response - not least from the man himself, who hasn’t denied my theory.

I’m told that my revelation didn’t go down well with the decision-makers at Gillette Corner. Good.

I’m sure that we’ve all read that another round of job-cuts is underway at Sky. The same thing is happening at BT. I understand how these things work. We all do - businesses have to be run for profit, but the more I’ve heard about the processes that are underway, the angrier I get about the way staff are being treated.

I know it’s legal - but it’s not moral to be asking people to apply for jobs that they’ve done brilliantly for - I don’t know - 10-15-20 years or so.

From a distance the jobs these people do look glamorous, but believe me they’re not. If you’re a reporter, it’s damned hard work ploughing up and down Britain’s motorways, in all sorts of stinking weather conditions, for little or no reward.

You’re likely to be greeted at your destination by obstreperous club PR staff and moody footballers/managers, who try everything to block or straight bat your enquiries - forgetting that you’re there representing the fans that don’t get to ask them questions, but would love to. When you get back to base you get little more than a bollocking because there’s always a smart arse who thinks they could’ve done better. It can be soul destroying.

When it comes to cuts - why is it that it’s always these guys/girls - staff from the shop floor - that get shafted? Why is it that senior management never have to apply for their jobs? I’m telling you - not many of the male, pale and stale faces behind the scenes would survive if that was an honest process.

There isn’t much diversity behind the screen at these companies.

And how is it that someone like Anna Kessell (that’s her Graeme) can be appointed to a senior job - that was never advertised - and have such an influence on output and people while her husband Leon Mann (who runs the agency Refresh) represents so many staff at Sky Sports News? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?

Kessell has a fine reputation and Mann has done a lot for diversity in sports media, but there’s something not quite right about how they operate at Sky.

Back to my general point - It’s wrong that people’s lives should be put on hold while the sword of Damocles hovers. I’m told children are being taken out of schools, houses put up for sale and holidays cancelled.

When people have done a damned good job, treat them with respect. It’s demeaning to ask them to apply for their own job - in any profession. If you want rid of them - do it properly - pay them what they’ve earned - what they deserve. Don’t get them turning on each other and scrambling about desperately hoping to steal a march on a colleague.

And decision-makers should remember this - it’s a small village that we operate in. You’ll meet the same people that you’ve shafted again some day - and the next time they’ll be waiting for you.

Ten Hag has taken Utd precisely…..nowhere.

Published: Monday, 08 May 2023

All I hear when people talk about Manchester United is ‘they’re in a much better place now’. Really? Much better place than when?

I never thought I’d say this - but better than when Solskjaer finished 2nd? Better than when van Gaal won the FA Cup? Not for me. And I admit that I had some pretty harsh things to say about both men during their time in charge.

Are they better than the team Mourinho won two trophies with and took to a 2nd place finish? No. No - they’re not.

Ten Hag spent a record £220m last summer - more than United have ever spent in one window - to take them precisely…..nowhere.

And he’s run out of excuses. There’s only so many times you can blame players for being ‘unprofessional’, or for not ‘sticking to the game plan’. That talk all wears a bit thin in a dressing room after a while.

I got sent this text - on the whistle after the West Ham game - from a mate, who’s an ardent United fan.

Knew it straight from kick off. Anthony = Fraud. Casimeiro = MIA for weeks. Erikson =not same since injury. Rashford = not getting the service. Rest of them, the shirt is to heavy for em. Won't get top 4. Them scousers will. Mark my words. 😡😡😡😡

It had been forwarded quite a few times, so I can only imagine a fair few United fans had sent it to mates as well. Is this how they really feel?

Ten Hag MUST deliver CL football. Nothing else will do. If he does - ok - he buys himself another season. If he doesn’t - a League Cup win won’t be enough from this campaign. There was a time when United fans were embarrassed to win that trophy. How times have changed.

Yep - there’s still an FA Cup final to play - but does anybody fancy them to beat City? Here’s the follow up text I got yesterday.

Dreading Wembley

Sweet Jesus Take Pity on Us....

Ten Hag has got it all on after Liverpool’s recent run. Oh - and Nout Workhorse isn’t the answer. Why does he persist in underlining that error of judgement? It really isn’t funny anymore.

Credit to Arsenal for that performance at Newcastle. I thought they were terrific. From the time the penalty was overturned they bossed that game. I went so far as to say on beINSPORTS that it might just be their best performance of the season.

A lot of things were against them. Recent form has been poor. Not many teams go to St James’ and win. It’s a difficult place to visit again now, but their game management was really good. I hope the defeat doesn’t cost Newcastle a CL place because they deserve that after a fantastic campaign - but I’m glad Arsenal won. We need a few more anxious games yet in the title race.

So we can all look forward to a new show where referees explain decisions taken by VAR? Expect ground-breaking tv we’re told. Anything that takes us nearer real time audio at the monitor being shared by fans is a step in the right direction, but I’m not getting too excited. Unless we get to that stage where we can listen to the ref and Stockley Park ‘live’ then not a lot will change - especially when VAR operators can’t spot a handball offence. Lindelof at West Ham? Nailed on. He might as well have caught the ball. The matchday centres excuses to us were embarrassing.

Graeme Souness’s ‘retirement’ from Sky didn’t feel right to me - especially when I read his Daily Mail column suggesting he was still ‘open for business’.

A conversation relayed to me from a Sky ‘insider’ this week tells me I was right - he was sacked. Well - it was decided his race was run. Same thing really.

I have to say immediately that I wouldn’t trust the individual who reported the info as far as I could throw him - but he’s made a career of man-marking senior management figures in order to protect himself so this time I believe him. His sources will be good.

It turns out it was decided to dispense with Graeme’s services the moment he referred to football being a ‘man’s game’. Remember? He used that phrase after Chelsea’s 2-2 draw v Spurs in August.

His comments caused a bit of a stir. He was clumsy in his phraseology. He didn’t mean harm, but you can’t say that anymore. Football is simply a game - enjoyed by everyone. And we should celebrate that.

I think most people felt that Graeme had been clumsy and he’s a much loved character, so they were happy to give him the benefit of the doubt - but senior management at Sky certainly weren’t. They decided that was it. He’d be out at the first opportunity.

Two things will happen now. Sky will deny this and the mole will be making frantic calls trying to cover his tracks - but I will be proved right because Graeme is by no means finished. He will turn up somewhere - ITV perhaps - because he’s a classy operator and remains box office.

Having revealed the truth now if I was Martin Tyler I’d be looking over my shoulder after what were described as his ‘racist comments’ about Son Heung-min recently. Again - I’d say Martin was simply clumsy, but you can be sure the incident is on file somewhere at Gillette Corner. And I think I know who the Guardian of that file will be - the same person that did for Graeme.

Hammer Klopp - for what he did - not what he said

Published: Monday, 01 May 2023

So Jurgen Klopp lied? Is that what we’re saying? He must’ve done if we’re to believe the PGMOL’s statement today. (Monday May 1) 

Tue statement is in response to what Klopp said an about the ref after the game v Spurs ‘what he (Tierney) said to me when he gave me the yellow card. That’s not possible. But it’s not ok as well’.   

The meat of the PGMOL’s statement reads ‘ 'PGMOL is aware of the comments made by Jurgen Klopp after his side's fixture with Tottenham Hotspur. Match officials in the Premier League are recorded in all games via a communications system and having fully reviewed the audio of referee Paul Tierney from today's fixture, we can confirm he acted in a professional manner throughout, including when issuing the caution to the Liverpool manager so, therefore, we strongly refute any suggestion that Tierney's actions were improper.'

So Klopp lied? If we believe the PGMOL he must’ve done. The simple way to sort this out is for the PGMOL to release the audio. Let us hear the conversation between Klopp and Tierney. Why not? 

I read today (Monday) that the FA are likely to charge Klopp for what he said about Tierney to the host broadcaster after the game. Unless it’s proven he lied I’m not so bothered about that - but I am about the way he behaved after Liverpool’s winner. The manner in which he approached the 4th official John Brooks was a disgrace. He’s got form form that kind of thing as well - never mind that he pulled a hamstring in doing so and he argues that retribution was swift - it wasn’t. The FA should throw the book at him for his appalling, aggressive antics.

Please - don’t talk to me about ‘passion’ and ‘wanting to win’.  Every coach wants to win. Every coach has ‘passion’ - they just don’t behave like a drunken parent, on the touchline, watching their son/daughter in a Sunday League match. How many times have I mentioned Arteta’s behaviour this season? Guardiola can be as bad. Where are we heading with these touchline tantrums? Do you ever see Carlo Ancelotti behave like these guys do? Of course not. Do we think that he doesn’t ‘want to win‘ games? That he doesn’t have ‘passion’? There’s no excuse for it.  

Has Klopp learned nothing from his brushes with the law down the years? Doesn’t he realise millions are watching when he kicks off like that and it’s the worst of all examples he could set? 

He was wrong to behave as he did. Wrong to say what he did - if the PGMOL are to be believed - and wrong to criticise Tierney in general. I’m happy to do that. Tierney should’ve sent him to the stands. And he should’ve sent Diogo Jota off when he all but decapitated Oliver Skipp. The matchday centre told us the challenge was ‘reckless’. Agreed. And it was dangerous - and it clearly endangered the well being of an opponent. If Jota had gone then obviously he wouldn’t have been able to score the winner - so Tierney didn’t ‘punish’ Liverpool - he actually let them off lightly. Klopp should’ve thanked him.  

I don’t dislike Klopp. And I have nothing but admiration for Liverpool as a club. I’ve said that often enough, but recent events at Anfield need addressing. Andy Robertson was caught up in a similar storm v City. His allegations were proven to be unfounded - thank goodness. They could easily have cost a decent guy (Constantine Hatzidakis) his job. And let’s not forget two FA charges for failing to control players. Arsenal and Man City have paid hefty fines for similar offences - hold on - there’s a theme here.  

It’s got to stop - and the coaches have got to do better. As I’ve said - I hope the FA throw the book at Klopp - not for what he said, but for how he behaved. And touchline bans don’t work - stadium bans do.  

Brilliant again Newcastle. Eddie Howe won’t win MOY - but he should. The job he’s done is nothing short of incredible. I wasn’t sure about his appointment - but he’s proved me wrong - and I’m delighted to admit it.  

And I’m really pleased Bournemouth are safe  I like Gary O’Neil. He’s another one who’s quietly got on with his job and deserves his success. It’s a different success to Howe’s, but it’s every bit as important.  

Have you seen the top of the Championship? It’s scary - but don’t worry - I’m not celebrating anything just yet. But what a day at the CBS Arena. What a crowd. Being a Coventry fan hasn’t been easy for a decade, so fill your boots guys. Like Howe and O’Neil, Mark Robins is another understated, calm presence on the touchline. All three men have ‘passion’. All three ‘want to win’. Are you watching Jurgen Klopp? 

It’s always Levy’s fault - but why?

Published: Monday, 24 April 2023

One thing we can all agree on - even the most ardent Tottenham fan - Spurs were awful at Newcastle. No - woeful. That performance was right up there as one of the most irresponsible and inept I’ve ever witnessed. Shocking.

A lot of noisy, inaccurate comment followed - and, as usual, the target for most of the anger was Daniel Levy.

Levy is always to blame - whether it’s for a performance like we saw at St James’ - defeat in a CL final - the north London weather - even Arsenal’s title bid.

I’m not suggesting that he hasn’t got it wrong at times. Firing Mourinho in the week of a cup final was ridiculous. Appointing Nuno as manager equally so - although he quickly rectified that mistake. But come on - which of us hasn’t occasionally dropped a bollock?

No. Levy was not to blame for that pathetic Spurs performance. Nor was Cristian Stellini. Although he was miles from it - skulking about somewhere in Italy - Antonio Conte was.

Conte was the one who walked out on Tottenham after deciding he’d had enough of everyone and everything at the club. His retreat after those damaging press conferences was pathetic - all the more so because he was the one calling for more ‘fight’ from his team when he flipped and walked away. And make no mistake - it was his team.

Conte spent £235.8m while he was in charge at Spurs. £235.8m. Astounding isn’t it? On what? I’m sure Levy has asked himself that question many times since the pint-pot former dictator walked out. Conte is responsible for the mess that we see at Spurs right now.

‘Ah,’ Spurs fans will say ‘but the rot goes much deeper and look at what we’ve achieved during Levy’s time in charge’. Yea. One trophy. Agreed. Not enough - but how many times has Levy picked the team since that solitary League Cup win in 2008?

Did he shit it in 2016 at Chelsea - allowing Leicester to go on and win the title? No. That expert in failure Pochettino did. Pochettino lost the CL final in 2019 - eventually leaving the club with nothing - having signed 27 players for a total of £350m. Did Levy pick the reserve team that lost in the FA Cup at Sheffield United this season? No. Of course he didn’t. Conte did - letting another wonderful chance of a cup run slip away.

Every manager you can name has been backed by Levy. Who wouldn’t have appointed Mourinho or Conte when they were available? Levy has tried everything to find the right man - whilst delivering a magnificent stadium and a world class training complex. Do Spurs fans believe Levy wilfully tries to stop Tottenham from winning trophies?

One or two ‘experts’ were screaming at him again this past weekend - demanding that he appoints a new manager ‘now’. Why? Why would he do that if the one he really wants is currently employed - De Zerbi for instance? Or Frank? No - it’s better to wait. And please - don’t anybody think that ‘Arry is the short term answer. Having had his fingers burnt once by that wheeler and dealer (I’m being nice - other descriptions were available) there is no way in the world that Levy would be daft enough to volunteer for ‘Arry’s circus again.

I understand why the Tottenham faithful get frustrated - but they target the wrong man. As football fans we all believe that owners have got it wrong - and that we could do better. Except that ‘we’ aren’t prepared to commit anything like the means required to own a club. I’m as guilty (but thank goodness SISU are gone at Coventry!).

Think about it. Utd fans want the Glazers gone. Liverpool fans want FSG out. Spurs fans want Levy and Joe Lewis gone. I’m sure Chelsea fans would welcome Abramovich back in place of Todd Boehly. Arsenal fans will want rid of Kroenke again when they miss out of the title this season - suffocated by their own over-zealous emotion. Where are we going to find the replacements from? It’s an impossible scenario.

Spurs haven’t won a title since 1961. In recent seasons they’ve been nearer than any Tottenham team in any previous era - they were eventually third in 2016 (of course they should’ve won it) and second in 2017.

Daniel Levy keeps his counsel - but believe me - he’s more frustrated than other Spurs fan that they haven’t won more. He’s the one spending the money.

It was good to see that United stuck to the ‘game plan’ at Wembley. What was it I wonder - be second best again and bore the arse off us for 120 minutes before nicking a win on pens? Genius.

They won’t beat City playing like that. If Guardiola doesn’t win the lot now there will be questions. It’s all falling into his lap.

I’m pleased for David Moyes. West Ham aren’t going down. I don’t believe Leicester are either. For me it’s Southampton - and two from Everton, (struggling) Forest, Leeds and Bournemouth. And it’s going to be fascinating. See you next week.