Friday, 10 June 2011

What a Strange Trip it’s been...Part 3

Well, I did say I may have to write this and low and behold, here I am. So, what’s happened since I last blogged about the weirdest season I’ve ever seen? Well, since Newcastle’s astonishing 4-4 draw with Arsenal at St. James Park there has been catastrophe, calamity and everything in between and it’s not just been limited to the premier league, the Champions League has caught the fever as well. Tottenham Hotspur coming back from 3-0 down to get a 3-3 draw with Inter Milan at the San Siro was absolutely insane to say the least, but even more insane is that the Champions league Quarter finals rolled around in April and made that result look like just a harbinger of things to come rather than an astonishing aberration, but more on that later. The premier league started to heat up with strange results almost on a weekly basis. I’ll condense this part slightly because there is so much that could be said, Wolves beating Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield was a shock to me, in the same way that getting your todger caught in your zip after using the lavatory is and it was that result which ended Roy Hodgson’s brief and without being disrespectful, poor tenure at my beloved LFC. Chris Hughton was shown the door after Newcastle were turned over by Bolton 5-1 and then Roberto Di Matteo’s West brom added to the humiliation by beating the Geordies as well, not without the help of some hilariously poor defending by Newcastle. So, 2 managerial casualties, and it didn’t stop there, Sam Allardyce was shown the door at Blackburn for somewhat inexplicable reasons, although the official reason was that Big Sam didn’t ‘match the ambitions’ that Venkys had for Blackburn Rovers, so Mr Allardyce became dead meat. Blackburn’s ambition was later rebuffed in January with a failed bid for Brazillian super star Ronaldinho but more on January later. So, Alan Pardew had taken over at Newcastle, Steve Kean got a promotion to the Blackburn hot seat, King Kenny Dalglish had been installed at Liverpool until the end of the season, if you are keeping up, get your head around another twist. Roy Hodgson, mastermind behind Fulham going to the Europa league final and their upper mid table existence was out of work and West Bromwich Albion were in a nosedive towards the bottom of the Premier League so they made a bold move (one that West Ham should have taken notice of) and they sacked Roberto Di Matteo. Now, this was a surprise because Di Matteo had WBA playing good football, but their defensive frailties at this point were inescapable so enough was enough and a change had to be made, so Roy was hired, and Di Matteo got fired. Let’s move and groove onto more of the rollercoaster ride that has been the 2010/2011 season. West Ham beating Manchester United in the Carling Cup 4-0 was a surprise to say the least with Carlton Cole and United old boy Jonathon Spector getting on the scoresheet at a snowy Upton Park. As West Ham’s season played out it turned out that and a win against Liverpool were to be two of very few faint glimmers of light in what was a gloomy season filled with more waste than a dustbin. Now, West Brom had made a change and it paid off for them as they started to climb the table with Peter Odemwingie putting teams to the sword but near the top it was heating up. Arsenal had been electrifying for the most part, but injuries were about to take their toll on their title challenge. The Carling cup Final was in hindsight a curse for both teams involved, forget Arsenal’s mistake/proverbial ‘dropping’ of the ball, but Arsenal after the comical defeat they suffered at Wembley to Birmingham City in the last few minutes of that game began to capitulate. A home win against Barcelona in the Champions league was put in the shade by a somewhat controversial 2nd leg at the Nou Camp where questionable decisions and goalkeeping injuries robbed Arsenal of any potential upset, but then days later Old Trafford in the FA cup another cup elimination occurred and Arsenal were truly on the ropes. Couple that with defensive deficiencies and you can see why Arsenal ended up 4th with no trophies, the Stoke match at the Britannia was hilarious for the fact that goals were coming from set pieces and a lack of steel centrally at the back and their match against my beloved Liverpool was hilarious partially because of the last minute penalty Arsenal gave us, but also because me & Da Gman were doing live commentary on that match and we went mad when our teams scored (highlights of that can be found at West Brom v Arsenal was another hilarious one as before that match we saw the return of Mad Jens (Lehmann) due to Arsenal’s goalkeeper shortage. It gets more mad, Spurs beating AC Milan was a great achievement for them but what wasn’t so great was Joe Jordan being head butted by Gennaro Gattusso, but as if that wasn’t crazy enough in the quarter finals Spurs had a man sent off in the 1st leg within the 1st 15 minutes (Peter Crouch) and went on to lose 5-0 at the Bernabeau. Keeping up? Tremendous because the January Transfer window had madness to rival what was happening on the pitch. Darren Bent jumped from Sunderland to Aston Villa for £18m and if that wasn’t enough, for about £27m Edin Dzeko moved to Manchester City, but that was only part of the madness. Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, David Luiz and Luis Suarez, 4 of the names that were on everyone’s lips during January and into very Early February, 3 more names, Charlotte Jackson, Andy Gray and Richard Keys are 3 other names who were on everyone’s lips but that was off the pitch and remember, the pitch is where we eat, sleep and talk so I’ll get back to matters relating to it. Torres, Carroll & Suarez, for detailed opinions on this jump over to and see myself and Da Gman talking through it but the reason i mention it here is because it was madness. Final day of the January 2011 transfer window saw Luis Suarez move to Liverpool for £22.5m, Fernando Torres move to Chelsea from Liverpool for £50m, Andy Carroll move to Liverpool for £35m and David Luis leave Benfica to join Torres at Chelsea for £25m. I was personally in denial about the Torres deal in the afternoon of the deal and we had to do the show LIVE at 8pm on Deadline Day which was madness in itself because it wasn’t until I got home that I saw the news of the Carroll and Torres deals being confirmed, a crazy day for me personally! So, we move and groove on again, My boyz Liverpool were dumped out of the FA Cup by Manchester United but I won’t dwell on that, as the FA Cup delivered its customary upsets with Everton dumping Chelsea out of the FA Cup on penalties, Stoke beating Bolton 5-1 in the semi final to reach their 1st ever FA Cup final and Manchester City beat their Manchester neighbours by a goal from Yaya Toure to reach their 1st final in 34 years, which they went on to win. The season was coming towards a dramatic end and Arsenal were nailing the coffin in their own title charge but Chelsea were doing something similar as well and their loss at Old Trafford basically signed, sealed and delivered a 19th Premier League title for Manchester United overtaking the standards of excellence set by the team I proudly call my own...LIVERPOOL FC. In all honesty I’d like to congratulate Manchester United, they’ve been the better team over the last 9 months and deserve the title, but I was angry enough not to want to watch the trophy presentation. Still, the last day of the season provided some serious drama, and that is a gross understatement. On the final day I had both my computers on and on one computer 2 of those screens were taken up by online feeds of Liverpool v Aston Villa & Wolverhampton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers, and my XBOX 360 provided assistance with Manchester United v Blackpool taking that screen and my other screen hooked to my pc had match casts of Spurs v Birmingham & Stoke City v Wigan Athletic. The madness of the swinging pendulum on the last day epitomized the season, 2 teams were to be relegated out of 5 potentials and the tension was truly tangible. Wolves going 3-0 down was crazy but Blackpool leading at Old Trafford 2-1. Blackpool ended up losing 4-2 but at one point Blackpool were safe with a point to spare, Wolves were in the bottom 3 and Birmingham were safe. Then it went upside down again with Wigan scoring at the Britannia & Wolves scoring twice meaning they stayed up on goals scored. Birmingham conceded, then equalized so they were teetering on the brink, then they fell off the cliff by conceding a second goal and joined Blackpool by dropping into the Championship for the 3rd time in 6 years and worse still, after winning the Carling Cup. Spurs beat Birmingham and got 5th place meaning a Europa league berth, but Arsenal’s 2-2 draw on the final day capped off a run of capitulation which even saw Manchester City pip them to third place, but, Sunderland, with no strikers put a dismal season for West Ham United to bed with a 3-0 defeat inflicted on the future inhabitants of the Olympic stadium in Stratford, London. West Ham United, rock bottom and humiliated, 2-0 up at Wigan with a chance of being safe at half time, to losing 3-2 and taking Avram Grant out back like an old horse and putting a bullet right between his eyes, come to think of it that analogy would suffice for Carlo Ancelotti as well, who was given his marching orders at the end of a trophy less season for deposed champions Chelsea, by the way the bullet in Avram’s head was only metaphorical as i wouldn’t say that he’s a horse, partially due to the fact that most have likened him to a frog. It’s a shame Blackpool have gone down, they have been a fantastic addition to the premier league and they’ve contributed every bit as much as the other 19 teams in the league, who will ever forget their 5-3 defeat at Everton which almost epitomized their season.
The Champions league final was a lot of fun, speaking as a Liverpool supporter, seeing Manchester United get their backsides played off the park by Barcelona was personally satisfying, but also it was fantastic to be down on Wembley Way again with Da Gman filming another piece of Pitch Talk history. 3 cup finals, 3 Pitch Talk videos and Pitch Talk has been a blast over the last year.

But, as the managerial merry go round continued, results have been mad, off the pitch has been crazy, upsets have happened and it has been fantastic. Even a game like Newcastle v West Brom that meant nothing on the final day still produced a 3-3 draw where the baggies came back from 3-0 down Even though Liverrpool only finished 6th, it’s been a fantastic season of ups and downs, 2010/2011 season, Straight Shootin’ LJA bids you a fond farewell, I’ve loved every second, next season...BRING IT! Football... BRING IT!

On behalf of myself (Straight Shootin’ LJA) I’d like to say a big thank you to all of our fans and supporters/listeners, thank you for being a huge part of what has been a fantastic journey during the 2010/2011 season.

I’m Straight Shootin’ LJA & that’s my opinion