Match of The Doy – The 100th post

Well here we are, the 100th post in the blog that is known as Match of The Doy. It started three years ago though as Strictly 442, playing on the popular tv show and the old school formation. The name change in fact came via a couple of work colleagues. I’d have liked to have reached 100 posts sooner, but external issues such as my depression often got in the way of my writing.

The game of football is something that I have always enjoyed and knowing that I’d never get to be a footballer or a journalist, blogging would be the best alternative. I could write about what I wanted regarding the game however long or however short and at my own pace. I haven’t though written every post in the blog. I have been fortunate to have guest bloggers in the form of Dan Raywood on a number of occasions and Victoria Sharkey on a lesser note. Dan has more often shared his thoughts on Spurs related stuff together with the post reflecting on matters elsewhere.

Not only guest posts, but I have had the pleasure to have some Q&A posts with the Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin, thanks to Liam Earley and Gay Gooners and Pride In Football’s Joe White. This came through another good friend and the previously mentioned Victoria Sharkey. The idea of the Q&A session posts were to find out more about the off the pitch stuff that happens in the game. I look forward to adding more as and when I can.

This season has seen me take on the predictions game for the Premier League. It has to say the least been an interesting path. Not so many accurate scores as I would have liked but the end results have often been chalked up more. Given that Watford and Burnley have been giving as good as they have got, they are hot on the heels on a top ten spot.

This year I had the idea of the Flashback 40 which was to share posts relating to my growing up over the years. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but you should look out for the France 98 retro review. This was one of my favourite World Cups and I have made slow progress but almost completed the group stage review. I thought it would be a good idea to look at each group….I do like giving myself a challenge. Thankfully though it will be completed for this year especially as I will be finishing work on the 14th December for the year, so no excuses.

So what does Match of The Doy look like for the next 100 posts? Well more of what you have seen already and other stuff, more from Dan Raywood and hopefully other guest bloggers joining the fray. Whatever happens though, it will be fun and interesting, so thanks for reading and keep on following.

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In the Firing Line? – Dan Raywood blog

Today in football, West Bromwich Albion fired their manager. So what some of you may say, football managers get fired all of the time? Well there are two factors to this that make it interesting.

Firstly, the former manager Tony Pulis has never got a team relegated. The team is skating close to the edge this season, but the likelihood of relegation looks slim bearing in mind the manager’s past capabilities.

The second factor is the appointment this summer of Gary Megson, who served as manager of WBA many years ago and this summer returned to the club as assistant to Pulis.

So why is this interesting? Well Pulis will likely get another job and do a satisfactory job at another club, although a move to Wales looks likely. What about WBA? They could go with someone completely different and the fans will be left figuring out what will happen – will the new manager play a different game, more open and attacking and get the club relegated? If so, what does that make the fans think of the consistency of Pulis?

Also, did the appointment of Megson undermine Pulis? Was the intention all along to remove the head coach and replace him with a fan favorite?

It’s all so hard to tell when you’re on the outside, but in the case of football management as with other professions, the supporters are the customers in this case and the returning legend is seen as the saviour. With a short transfer window opening in just over a month, West Brom’s fortunes could stay the same, improve or get worse, and if things do get worse, the fans will long bear in mind that Pulis was never relegated as a manager.

 

NLD – Now (the) League (table looks) Different – Dan Raywood blog

So it turned out to be one of the most one sided, well from a goals perspective anyway, north London derbies for years. The result leaves the red side of North London happy and the Wembley tenants of Spurs less than happy.

In a way, you could see it coming. Great results and performances against Liverpool and Real Madrid were followed by a scraped win against Crystal Palace, and Arsenal unbeaten team aside, a team needs to have an off day at some point.

Apparently today was one of those days. Spurs looked disorganized and only Hugo Lloris played well in my view. The majority of the game was played in midfield or in Spurs’ half, and then the Arsenal offense had figured out how spurs were going to play and used that in their own tactics: playing through the middle and on flanks against two left backs who did not have the strength of Rose and Aurier.

Spurs will go back to the drawing board ahead of the away game against Dortmund on Tuesday night. Arsenal now find themselves in the top four a point behind Spurs, and without the distraction of a champions league tie ahead of them. Spurs will just be glad that they have already qualified from the champions league group, and can focus on giving Son, Llorente, Foyth and a returning Eric Lamela (played today for the under 23s) a chance to get some game time.

As for me, I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the weekend and glad I got so many chores done during a dismal game.

Never Appoint Your Heroes – Dan Raywood

They All Count

After a fantastic performance against Real Madrid in mid week, the next game was always going to be a challenge to meet the same excitement.
As it turned out, the early Sunday kick off against Crystal Palace was my first Spurs game of the season and one that found me initially surprised to find that it was an early kick off, but ultimately delighted that I got my afternoon back.

At the time of writing, I’m heading back home from the game and it’s about an hour and 10 minutes since full time. That’s why I don’t go to many games in truth; it’s great that Spurs stayed in London but the journey home is a chore.

As for the game, well Spurs made several changes from the team that conquered the European Champions and saw a debut for goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga as well as continued presence of Aurier, Winks, Son and Rose – who you may seem to be from the second string of the first team squad.

All in all, the game was relatively uninspiring and not full of incident. Palace have had their challenges on and off the pitch so far this season, and with a vocal traveling support and the strength of Zaha, Cabaye and ex Spur Andros Townsend, they have the potential to succeed and stay up this season.

For Spurs, it was a laboured performance that didn’t see Harry Kane at his best, saw Son miss an absolute sitter and generally saw good performances from Sissokho and Vertonghen. Man of the match for me was the impressive Davison Sanchez, but that is an example of how well distributed the ball was and how cool he was under pressure.

This won’t be my last visit to Wembley, but I’ll be delighted when the team return to Tottenham as while Wembley does suffice, every fan knows that this is a temporary situation and while Spurs can produce some classy performances, there are games they will have to scrap for and as the headline says, sometimes you have to do that as all of the points count.

Two out of three ain’t bad – Dan Raywood

Spurs have qualified for the champions league knock out stages for the second time, having suffered a Wembley headache last year that concluded with Dele’s sending off against Ghent in the Europa League.

That all seemed like a long time ago last night though, as Spurs swept away the holders Real Madrid 3-1. Was it one of the greatest nights in the club’s history? Probably, but combined with an absent performance by Madrid there will be many who will not consider this to be among the great performances.

After all, against Inter Milan in 2010 Spurs were facing a good side and with an in form Gareth Bale, they swept the Italians aside. Compared to the team that Spurs played a few weeks ago in the Bernabau, last night’s team looked disappointing – Kroos was a shadow of the player he was in Madrid, Sergio Ramos almost spoilt the night with some petulant efforts against Dembele and Harry Kane struggled to get past the last man and seemed to lack pace.

Yet no one will consider those facts in history, and remember that Spurs played Real Madrid off the pitch and with some excellent performances across the 11, this should go down in history for the right reasons.

On a positive note, Spurs have now qualified for the knock out stages with two games to play, and can focus on the league campaign and getting performances back on track. A week ago we were bemused after being beaten by West Ham, a week later we conquered the European Champions. It feels good say that!

Changing Lanes – Dan Raywood Spurs blog

It’s been a few weeks since the end of the football season, and add a week since the last Spurs game of the season at its home – White Hart Lane. I was not able to attend the victory over Manchester United, but the scenes were incredible both during and after the match.

Since then, work has commenced in full on the new stadium, and today 19 June, I took a first walk past the building site that is the switch from old to new stadium. What was surprising to me as a visitor to the area and a local resident was the increase in development of the new site. The old Shelf side/east and west stands are all but gone, while all that remains of the north stand/Paxton Road is the scaffold feature that runs across it’s roof.

On the south stand, or Park Lane end which housed the most vocal supporters and away fans, most of the stand remains, although from what I could see most of the seats had been removed. Also gone was the Spurs Shop, so up the road in Enfield would likely be the nearest point of call for merchandise.

There are many ways to keep up with the development, but what surprised me was the speed at which the new development had stepped up. There were many words written about the last game at the Lane and how many were over-reacting to the last game. Yes there was a ‘Trigger’ factor as each stand has been rebuilt in the last few decades, including the Paxton Road stand since I first visited in the mid 1990s, but this doesn’t take away fans’ memories of attending the stadium and what they had seen, and who they attended with.

Around two years ago, I did a stadium tour of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. In there, many sections of seats date back decades to its original construction. The reason? Well nostalgia for one, but also because there was a desire from supporters to keep these old seats. After all, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to sit in the same seats that your parents or even grandparents sat in?

Sadly the rush to get a world class quality stadium is apparent in top level football and Spurs feel the need to follow what Manchester City, Arsenal, Reading, Leicester City, Bolton, Middlesbrough and others have done. It’s a shame, but a need that must be met to keep up financially, and a fantastic stadium will be waiting in a year’s time.

As for Spurs, last week I attended the showing of a film about the history of Tottenham Hotspur and the area of N17, and how the ground grew and changed around the club’s development. It had raised over £6,000 by last weekend for charities supporting young people in North London, and was a fantastic presentation narrated by Flav from Spurs podcast The Fighting Cock, with plenty of history that even this Spurs history junkie could devour! It’s well worth a view if you are a Spurs fan, or just interested in how a club grew up in a community, and became one of its focal points.