The nights are drawing in and we are being bombarded with Christmas adverts. Mince pies are now available in your local supermarkets, parents are debating which colourful piece of plastic is most likely to entertain their child for fifteen minutes on the Big Day. But don’t let any of this distract you from Fantasy League, there maybe just 59 days until Christmas and only 16 days until the next international break but get a grip on those transfers!
The embryonic league table is taking shape as we enter gameweek ten. Top of the Pops is Mr Wright (604 points) with Nikita (594) and Michael (584) making up a fresh-faced front three. Top score in the week with an impressive 103 points was the same Mr Wright, fighting off Nikita (95) and James S (91). No sign of the Striking Viking in any of these team, Salah earning 32 captain armband points were their top picks.
This week’s photo is of the Rolling Stones celebrating their iconic ‘lips’ logo designed by John Pasche when he was an art student in 1970, on the Barcelona shirts – it debuts at the Real Madrid game 28 October and is available for the bargain price of €400. It’s part of Barca’s sponsorship deal with Spotify.
In many of these meandering and meaningless blogs I’ve been gifted the opportunity to poke fun at Everton and Manchester United, two grown up clubs who’ve made a litany of errors and gaffs in recent years that lend themselves to the proverbial mickey take. However, this week both have suffered losses of significant people in their history, so I thought I’d balance the previous humour with a little respect.
Bobby Charlton is for me the most important person in Man Utd’s history, eclipsing Best, Edwards, Evil Lord Ferg, Law, Becks, Cantona, Busby or anyone else that people want to throw into the hat. Charlton’s humble beginnings, his world-class talent, the success that he forged from tragedy and his impact since making his final appearance for the club in 1973 make him a very special man.
His death has seen a few lesser-seen clips bubble back to the surface. His second goal in the footage of him banging in two goals against Portugal in the 1966 World Cup semi-final is good, but watch his goal in the legendary advert for a famous Tin company. Charlton is joined by brother Jack and a few other England greats to form probably the best pub team in the world. Make me grin and chuckle. It says a lot that he was willing to strap on his boots at the age of 69 and have a kickabout with friends. Every single person looks like they are having a hoot.
If you fancy a cry, try the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, in which Bobby is given a lifetime achievement award by his brother, Jack, after years of estrangement. The latter makes a short but powerful speech. Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And he’s my brother. Both weep.
There is already a statue and a stand at Old Trafford, but Utd have done a fine job of paying tribute to Charlton since his death on Saturday. Few footballers have transcended their club and sport in the manner of Sir Bobby. Paul Wilson reflects on the ultimate footballer here, Paul Hayward discusses Sir Bobby’s relationship with his brother Jack here, Jonathan Wilson – Bobby’s biographer – shares some thoughts here, and Richard Williams writes on the miner’s son who became a global icon here. I must admit I choked up on Saturday afternoon when his death was announced.
Bill Kenwright was devoted to Everton, that he wanted the best for his beloved club is without question. He died this week at 78, as chairman, even if it had brought him untold trouble and disappointment. No trophy was lifted during his twenty-year tenure. There were the David Moyes years, eleven years when Everton, cash-strapped, punched above their weight and became a model for solidity and endeavour. The people’s club they call Everton, a knowing nod to that more globalised, corporate lot across Stanley Park.
Everton fell out of the ‘Big Four’ when Chelsea’s Russian cash injection saw them challenge the traditional powers. The perennial problem was that Kenwright, a successful theatre impresario, was not a billionaire, as had become increasingly necessary. He never had the cash. Evertonians had to get used to their best players being cashed out, from Arteta to Stones and sorriest of all, Rooney.
As a deal was being struck with Utd in 2004, Kenwright asked for one last phone call. They’re stealing our boy, they’re stealing our boy sobbed Bill. He then passed the phone. Don’t you dare think you’re getting our boy for nothing, that boy’s worth £50m growled a female voice, which turned out to be Bill’s mum. They were on the phone to Evil Lord Ferg. There was very often a thespian touch to Kenwright’s public action, as one might expect from someone who played Gordon Clegg, Betty Turpin’s long-lost son and heir to her Coronation Street hotpot empire.
The billions eventually came, but not all billionaires are made equal. During Farhad Moshiri’s tenure Everton became a byword for spending lots of money quickly and badly. Kenwright was tainted by association. A distressing coda to the end of a life of devotion, of being constantly active within Liverpudlian civic life, his actions for the Hillsborough campaign recalled fondly among the tributes.
Everton away is always one of my favourite fixtures. Goodison is a throwback – set amidst terrace houses, local kids ask for £2 to look after your car – which if you don’t give them, you find your windscreen wipers missing when you return – the view from the away end is appalling, the toilets and food bars are just ancient – but then they play the Z Cars theme, and you know why you’re here. Proper football people https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gKWYI75TDg
With Everton reportedly staring down a potential 12-point deduction, he departs as regretful proof that those who want the best for a club cannot always deliver. The Premier League want a 12-point deduction for Everton for one charge. Man City are going to end up in the National League North if the PL get their way with 115 on their charge sheet.
James Maddison dominated the game when Spurs beat Burnley 5-2 recently, watching him close up he is a very talented player but also an utter f*****. If he spent the 20% of his time which he spent baiting the crowd, he’d start every game for England. He is all-too-happy to play the part of villain alongside his distinguished roles as creative midfielder for Spurs and “main man” at his family’s roast dinners.
With Christmas approaching (ahem), he’d be a good pantomime villain-type, taking that vibe he created at the Turf. Who can forget this slapstick classic of Maddison not drinking properly out of a water bottle, in an apparent reference to Maddison not drinking out of water bottle a couple of days earlier!? Oh! James! Excuse the language, but this clip shows he does have a good sense of humour – the Madders corner skit last seen at Luton. He’s going to take it from outside of the designated quadrant! Oh no he isn’t!
Worth a watch:
Some straightforward post-match observations from Dorking Wanderers manager Marc White after FA Cup defeat at Horsham
A very fast start for South Shields at Warrington Town.
A little stick out of the foot in the technical area didn’t go unpunished for Gillingham’s interim manager Keith Millen. I
Borth United gave it their best shot against the elements last Saturday.
And over in Saudi Arabia, $tevie Mbe’s Al-Ettifaq lost 1-0 to Al-Riyadh in front of 696 fans – with more supporters turning out to watch Clitheroe face Newcastle Town in the Northern Premier League West. And who can blame them with goals like this?
Howay Riyadh! Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali played his final 25 minutes of this season v Dortmund on Wednesday before, as expected, the Italian FA announced on Thursday a 10-month ban for betting on football matches, including those of former club Milan. That the offences took place while still a Milan player offers no protection for Newcastle. The ban will cost the player £11m in lost wages.
It raises the same old questions of football’s cosy relationship with gambling. Eddie Howe might have promised to give Tonali ‘all the love and support he needs to find solutions to the problems he’s had’, but when Newcastle’s intrepid commercial department somehow struck a £25m-a-year sponsorship deal with Saudi leisure firm Sela, they did so by curtailing a previous relationship with Chinese bookmaker Fun88. But the Fun88 didn’t stop there; they instead became Newcastle’s official Asian betting partner.
This weekend As Ange Postecoglou becomes England’s most popular Australian since Kylie Minogue, fill your team with three Spurs players, several to choose from across the starting XI doing well. Are we falling out of love with the Striking Viking? Erling does not look completely right and yet he still keeps scoring. The Norwegian missed a hatful of chances against Young Boys that you would normally expect him to bury, but he left the match with two more goals in a pretty routine 3-1 win for City. Jack Grealish was Man of the Match and looked like he had a point to prove and may have played his way into the starting line-up for the weekend’s derby fixture.
Don’t miss the Friday deadline at 630pm before Palace v Spurs. I’ve not got Saka or Watkins in my squad, but I do own Maddison and Alvarez. I’d back Alvarez to keep pace with Watkins over the long-term and although Saka isn’t quite as explosive as Son in producing those double-digit hauls, he’s still a hugely consistent performer so is getting me thinking. Arsenal are about to embark on a run of fixtures that you’d expect them to do well in and he also takes penalties – when he chooses to do so.
I can’t really afford to get to Son without ripping my squad up and taking points hits on transfers which I don’t think is worth it. As a non-Watkins owner, it’s down to Salah or Haaland for me and it really is the flip of a coin. Salah has the home fixture with Forest, but I feel he’s been slightly fortunate with his two-goal hauls against Brighton and Everton in the last couple of games. Erling as I said above has not been plundering the goals at quite the same ridiculous rate, he was last season, but you sense he could do some damage at Old Trafford on Sunday against that United defence. Heads it’s Salah, tails it’s Haaland. That’s helpful, isn’t it?
Cole Palmer is a bargain at £5m even though Chelsea’s fixtures aren’t the kindest over the coming weeks, but I’d also mention Gabriel Martinelli, Tomas Soucek and Pascal Gross in the midfield. As for the strikers Gabriel Jesus is only owned by 3% of managers and Burnley’s Lyle Foster would be my differential pick if you’re looking for a cheaper option.
Enjoy the weekend.