A venerable Chinese sage once said (well, by the law of averages one of them must have said at some point) “beware not of the wine in the pub but of the cognac when you get home”. How right he was (or was the proverb meant to be allegorical?). As a result of not heeding this ancient advice any thought of trying to outscoop the other bloggers who attended last night’s meeting with Richard Murray went right out of the window. Suffice to say, as I’m sure others have already done, Murray impressed everyone with his candour and enthusiasm and a great time was had by all (especially given the added pleasure of putting more faces to names when it comes to other bloggers). Even though going to the ground out of season felt a little like sneaking into school during half-term.
The intention, as I understood it, was an embargo on what was said until midday today. That implies we would wish to impart to all and sundry what was said, to ‘scoop the rest’. Information is king? Personally, I prefer to say nothing and to filter through/plagerise what we learnt in future posts, to give the impression of blinding analysis and deep insight rather than being the first to report what somebody else said. If you’ve seen the gap between a journalist’s pay cheque and that of an analyst you’ll appreciate the difference. It’s all in the packaging.
So I’m going to say diddly about what was said last night. A clear head/steady hand and it might have been a different story. Aside that is from stressing if anyone feels that that the need to keep the club financially stable and cutting our cloth accordingly smacks of a lack of ambition on the part of the board let him/her put his/her hand in his/her pocket and provide the necessary readies. It’s an extra incentive for Pardew to ensure the team hits the ground running and for the fans to play their part in making The Valley a fortress next season.
There was one question/issue that was posed before the end but not really answered (by us), namely whether there could be any mutual benefit from ongoing/deeper contact between the club and the bloggers. It’s not that easy to answer, as ‘the bloggers’ are not ‘the fans’ (especially as a number of them can’t get to SE7 for a chat). I think the club is right to pursue a forum setting for feedback from the fans when the fans’ director role disappears and that this forum should not be bloggers (we already have the opportunity to vent our spleen when the mood takes). If there is an answer, from my perspective it has to be that making the gatherings a regular event should happen if they are enjoyable and informative for both parties, ie not just us. Clearly we appreciated and very much enjoyed last night.
For personal reasons (ie self-interest) as well as being a francophile, I am cheering for Les Bleus to win Euro2008. But they obviously didn’t learn anything from us last season about the drawbacks of having two essentially holding/ball-winning players in central midfield. The thinking might well have been that with Ribery, Malouda, Anelka and Benzema you only need to get the ball forward to them and let them get on with it. However, as Romania demonstrated it is much easier to contain a team when no-one is breaking from midfield. So, Holland and Semedo individually fine, just please not together in the centre next season. For France hopefully it will be different tonight with Henry and Vieira returning.
As this is a day for gripes, what is it with football pundits on TV? It’s bad enough having the odd game ruined by the BBC, for some reason totally unknown to me, using Lawrenson. But we had through the Switzerland v Turkey game the commentator and the panel consistently stressing the idea that ‘a point is no good to either team’. Well, as Switzerland lost their first game and had Germany in the final round of games a point was, for them, of limited value. But Turkey? A point would have left them only having to beat the Czech Republic in their last group game to qualify (assuming Switzerland did not beat Germany). If they had lost they would have been out of the tournament. So why do well-paid analysts of the game try to suggest that a point was no use to them? Of course, Turkey won and now to qualify ... have to beat the Czech Republic in the next match. The truth is it was their winner that was of little value. The results left Turkey and the Czech Republic on the same points and with the same number of goals scored and conceded. It would have been good to hear inform us how they are going to work this one out if they draw their final game.
It’s not exactly rocket science is it? But as the final group matches draw near no doubt we will have the pundits saying ‘you need a maths degree to work out the possible combinations for these teams ... ho, ho’. Sorry guys, you don’t. Just a brain cell would be sufficient.