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Friday, December 19, 2008

A post from Frank Stubbs

Waiting for your return flight is always a good opportunity to gather your thoughts and Porto's airport was the latest. To be honest, although it has been yet another successful chapter in our continued European tour off the pitch, it was definitely our most disappointing for quite some time on it.

I like Porto as a city. The layout flanking both sides of the River Douro is hugely picturesque and graced with a huge amount of character. In a city known for its Winter rain, having two days of glorious sunshine to enjoy made it all the more pleasant.

Our plans in fact were totally easy due to this good fortune, enjoying a short river trip and hours of good food and drink on the sundrenched river bank over both Tuesday and Wednesday as the match approached.

As far as football is concerned however, the city couldn't have been much worse. Two trips and no goals!

Until our hosts scored I thought we did ok. Nothing better than 'ok' mind you with Aaron Ramsey's strike our only attempt worth mentioning for all our possession.

Porto's first goal probably summed up our whole performance overall. A totally free header from a corner, very simple and very disappointing.

It is difficult to get too downbeat about it because we knew we were through before a ball was kicked but the manner of our defeat was certainly deflating for all those that had spent huge amounts of money to be there in support.

Thursday it poured down all day and it felt very apt. A port lodge tour and another stupendous lunch certainly lifted the spirits!

We are through to the last 16 and at the end of the day that and only that is what we set out to do. We can now put the competition to bed for a couple of months and concentrate totally on domestic matters.

That started with the long trip to Boro.

The desperately early start and a journey graced with much darkness and quite dreadful weather meant it was fairly subdued for most of it, however a good hearty brekkie and a couple of pre-match liveners certainly lifted the spirits as the usual wave of pre-match optimism spread across us!

Once again many match reports and much opinion has been written about our performance but analysing it as a whole, for me it really was a game that we should have won.

Nobody can criticise the players' effort on this occasion, everyone for me gave 100% from start to finish. Conceding an equaliser was cruel and totally against the run of play, with the opening twenty minutes or so seeing us create a number of chances.

Apart from a short period after their goal, when our hosts played just as any team does after receiving such a boost, we dominated for long periods without getting that little break to give us the three points our performance deserved.

Disappointed not to get maximum points but for me, not with our performance on the day.

To increase the Christmas feelings for our party it was off to the annual event that is the Quo gig at Wembley Arena, us attending on this occasion totally being as a result of the early kick-off!

Surely it can be the only positive however, for a lunchtime kick-off in Boro!!

Other results show how competitive this league of ours has become I feel and our away point looks all the more like one gained rather than two lost.

Our next two league encounters however, are both six pointers!

Lovely jubbly!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dont expect much from Wenger Because:

He said in The Sun: “I come from a little village of farmers where I was educated that when you earn £100 you do not spend £100.

“For me when you earn £100 and you spend £110 it is like cheating. A club must live within its own resources, not artificially supported.”

However, recent economic developments may see several of the Premier League's big boys tighten their belts over the holidays. Chelsea, for one, have hinted that they might not do any buying at all.

And Wenger reckons the rest of England would do well to follow in the Blues' footsteps, and that it will only be a matter of time before the bubble bursts.

He added: “The economic crisis will force many clubs to rethink the way they are run. It seems too many believe football exists in a bubble, away from the financial crisis!

“Football depends heavily on the financial markets, sponsorship and television rights, all of which are suffering right now.

“Clubs will be affected, wages will come down, transfer fees must come down and there will be a bit of calm with the exception of clubs like Manchester City.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gallas & Bendtner to be given the boot!

William Gallas and Nicklas Bendtner have both been linked with a move out of Arsenal when the transfer window opens next month with Arsene Wenger reportedly planning to 'freshen up his squad after a disappointing start to the season'.

Despite the Arsenal manager insisting only last week that he wants Gallas to remain at the club, The Times claims that the Frenchman, stripped of the captaincy last month in the wake of his public criticism of his team-mates, could depart for Italy.

'Claudio Ranieri, the Juventus coach, knows Gallas well and signed him for £6.2 million from Marseilles while in charge of Chelsea in 2001. AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain have also expressed an interest in the 31-year-old, but Arsenal would prefer to do business with the Turin club,' it claims.

Bendtner has been in woeful form of late, repeatedly conceding possession during Wednesday night's defeat against Porto a week after his profligacy enabled Burnley to knock a young Arsenal side out of the Carling Cup.

According to the newspaper, 'West Bromwich Albion want to sign Bendtner on loan until the end of the season but the 20-year-old Denmark forward is reluctant to move to a team who are bottom of the table. Tony Mowbray, the West Brom manager, stepped up his interest in Bendtner this week after finding out that Ishmael Miller has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.

'Bendtner made a name for himself with 11 league goals while on loan at Birmingham City during the 2006-07 season, but his recent performances and attitude have put his future at the club in doubt.'

Source: http://www.football365.com