jamie goode's wine blog: Australia day tasting and footy talk

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Australia day tasting and footy talk

Went to the Australia day tasting today, which was held at Arsenal's impressive Emirates Stadium (though as a City fan I hate to admit this). Unfortunately, it was so crowded tasting proved very difficult. The problem was that the gallery area simply wasn't big enough to cope with four rows of tasting tables; people didn't have the room to taste comfortably (pictured above).
So rather than talk about the wines, let's talk footy. [Coincidentally, my chum Rob and I are heading up to the City of Manchester Stadium this weekend to see City play Arsenal: should be some good football played, as both sides like to do the right thing and play an attractive passing game.] Pictured above is the pitch at the Emirates, where the grass is being encouraged to grow throughout the winter by the use of some bright lights. Remember the 1970s? I have vague recollections of watching the Big Match, and from November through to February most of the games were played on pitches that were browner than they were green, resembling bogs. The keeper would punt a ball upfield and it would plug in the mud.
It may have been a more manly game then, but if you want to play attractive football you need a good pitch, and this sort of attention is needed to keep the grass growing. The alternative is to have a pitch like Chelsea's, which has traditionally cut up badly and then needed relaying half way through the season (remember the famous 'Stamford beach' a couple of seasons ago where Chelsea took on Charlton on a surface that was effectively sand?)

So Man City are struggling a bit at the moment. After showing lightning early season form they've slumped to sixth, although they are still within one win of fourth place. There are five teams fighting for this final Champions league spot City, Liverpool, Villa, Everton and (potentially, if they continue improving) Spurs, although you could argue that Portsmouth are in the hunt, too.
That City are in this group is remarkable, considering that for the last few years they've been closer to the relegation battle. Sven has a lot to do with this: he's clearly a very, very good club manager. I don't think City's current lack of form is anything to do with him: teams seem to go through these cycles, even when they are managed really well.

Interesting to see that despite the money that Sven has been given, the core of the side is made up of Pearce-era players and youngsters who have come through the academy. The back four of choice in recent months were all here last year: Dunne, Richards, Ball and Onouha. Hamman, Ireland, Johnson, Etuhu, Vassell, Mpenza, Sturridge, Hart, Schmiechel also pre-dated Sven. Of Sven's signings, Petrov and Elano are sensational, and Corluka is also impressive. Gelson Fernandes has also done well, and while Garrido isn't starting, he's got promise. Bianchi didn't work out and Bojinov is crocked. But providing the players can find some fresh inspiration, I don't think City are too far off a top four side.

It's been fun watching the goings on at Newcastle. Newcastle have always had a self-destructive streak, but this is real crash and burn waiting to happen. Allardyce is a very good club manager and they didn't have the patience to let him sort things out, so they sacked him. Then they go and hire Keegan, off the managerial scrap heap.
I've got a soft-spot for King Kev, after he gave us that one season of incredible football when we gained promotion from the Championship with something like 104 goals. Watching Berkovic and Bernabia playing together with Huckerby and Goater banging in goals for fun, and Wright-Phillips beginning to show his best, was brilliant entertainment. But in the premiership Keegan's fragility in the face of pressure began to tell. Not given the media/fan love he seems to need, he appeared to withdraw into a shell. How will he fare in the goldfish bowl of St James' Park? Newcastle fans have passion; they also have unrealistically high expectations for their side. These expectations aren't going to be met, and Newcastle will do well to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle.

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At 4:20 PM, Blogger Barry said...

Well..we lost 3-1.
we didn't play badly...just didn't look like scoring. A 15 goal-a- year forwards would be nice...
From the start of the season I was raving about Nijinsky Jr..Michael Johnson..we have missed his power runs.
Garrido..well..as a defender he scares me..prefer him in FRONT of Michael Ball..and after the terrible display from Petrov(what a stinker of a game)..maybe he could get his chance left-midfield.
As you said..all teams go through a bad spell..just hope ours doesn't last until April


At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has the reality regarding Man City sunk in yet?

Champions League, my arse!

At 3:54 PM, Blogger Barry said...

As you are anonymous..I can't compare your a***.
My comments were tongue in cheek..I know my place



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