Friday, 31 December 2010

Half time Report

The Baggies have reached the halfway stage of the season. Despite a recent dip in form we are still on target for survival having got 22 points from 19 games our best return at this stage of a premiership season.

Highlights of the season thus far have been fine away wins at Everton and Arsenal. The lows have been the poor performances against Blackburn and Wigan.

As a team we are inconsistent and I expect that is the biggest criticism that could be levelled at each of our players. At their best they look a top half team at their worst cannon fodder. There is a reason why they are plying their trade at the Hawthorns not at the Nou Camp or Old Trafford and it is there is a little something missing from their game which separates the merely good from the best.

Di Matteo and the rest of the coaching staff deserve a huge amount of credit for what they have achieved to date and hopefully he has enough nous to get us over the line in the 2nd half of the season. Have no doubt it is going to be tough.

Traditionally the the Baggies have not been active in the January transfer window but reinforcements would be welcome. Di Matteo has already admitted that a striker is high on his shopping list. The team is too exposed to the vagires in the fitness and form of Peter Odenwingie. He might also add a right back to his shopping list as Jara does not appear to have made the step up the premiership.

Going into the New Year I am cautiously optimistic this our best opportunity to rid ourselves of the yo-yo tag although we really cannot afford too many performances like the one we turned in against Blackburn.

Monday, 6 December 2010

A Ghost from Seasons past Exorcised

One of my most miserable moments watching Albion in recent times was February 2008 when we lost 2:3 to Newcastle and it was curtains for any remote chance we had of staying up. We were awful Newcastle were hardly better but they got a crucial win.

Trooping out of the East Stand I knew we were doomed I really didn't need a couple of thousand Geordies pointing out the fact with glee. Much good it did them at the end of the season they were relegated and I was not entirely heartbroken. Since then we have had the better of a couple draws and beaten them the Cup. However today was payback and I was quite happy to see the delusional Geordies sent packing from the Hawthorns on the wrong end of a 3:1 scoreline.

It was a comfortable we barely needed to get out of 2nd gear, Newcastle were poor but the Baggies were quite brilliant in possesion at times with Brunt hugely influencial in midfield. Scharner and Tamas shut out Carroll at the back and Odenwingie was clinical in front of goal end result mission accomplished.

We now sit comfortably in 8th with 22 points and looking forward to 2 local derbies between now and Christmas. Things are looking good for the Baggies but just to spoil my day the idiot Savage has just declared us as safe on MOTD2.  Not until the points are in the bag is anybody safe, least of all West Bromwich Albion.

Post Script

Hughton has been sacked by Newcastle. Do they have a death wish? Seriously they are a promoted team 11th in the table with a string of decent results under their belt what did Ashley expect? Shocking decision could undermine the progress that they have made since the relegation of 2 seasons ago. Well heres hoping.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Blog when your winning you only blog when your winning...

Maybe I am a fair weather blogger, the last couple of weeks have been a bit grim and for once I am not talking about the form of the Baggies although I did witness the 3:0 demise at the hands of Stoke which did very little for morale. I have just not felt like recording my darker depressed self and to be honest there have been points in the last couple of weeks that even an Albion win would not have lifted the gloom. However today I have felt a little happier with life in general and for once my team did not let me down.

RDM made a few changes to the team with Brunt and Dorrans returning to the line up,  Pableo being rested and Scharner dropping back into the back 4. Carson had to make a few decent saves before Scharner put the Baggies 1 up and this was followed by an absolute gem of a free kick from Brunt. Cahill pulled one back for Everton just before half time to set up a tight 2nd half.

The pivotal incident happened  on the hour mark Arteta being sent off after stamping on Jara who might have been considered fortunate to escape punishment after a couple of particularly rugged challenges had left a trail of Everton players on the ground. Whilst Everton still posed a threat, Albion closed out the game with 2 well crafted goals from Tchoyi and Mulumbu. The only sour note was Mulumbu's soft dismissal for 2 bookable offences the 1st of which was for dashing into the crowd to celebrate the 4th goal.

Mulumbu's non stop work in our midfield and his unbounded enthusiasm has made him a fans favourite but sometimes he gets a little carried away and this is his second soft dismissal this season. We will miss his presence against Newcastle that is for sure. However his  dismissal could hardly take the shine off a very good result for us.

Poker back to my Roots...

Having pretty much given up on the game and cashed in the bankroll about a month ago I got lured back, i.e. I had time to kill and stuff to brood on which is not a happy combination. At a bit of a loose end this weekend I made my back into the fold of Brighton's finest recreational poker players, calling stations, degenerate gamblers and whining old gits and played a local live tournament maybe for the first time in 2 years. I passed a few hours chasing a few hundred quid falling just short 2 off the money and enjoyed it.  

The standard of play was awful and I was blessed with three calling stations on my first table who rendered any tournament strategy based on the concept of fold equity completely null and void. I might put all three of them into a big tournament just to irritate the hell out of the 4 bet re squeeze merchants whose whole approach to the game is based on the fact that their opponents cannot call.

Oh yes I can call your 4 bet pre-flop and your three barrel bluff with 2nd pair and I will give you a rubdown into the bargain don't you worry young man I have been playing this game for years I have never seen 2 cards I don't like and if I want to see all five cards on the flop then I am going to see them, short of lobbing in a live snake you cannot scare me off a pot.

Needless to say I tried a couple of continuation bets, realised this was a monumental folly, adjusted and just laughed when the uber station managed to snag a runner runner gutshot straight draw which he didn't bet on the river because he misread his hand. I never understand why professionals complain about playing bad players to me they the life blood of the game and should never be discouraged from supporting the poker economy.

Talking of Mugs

The terms of the Irish bail out have been announced it would appear that the emergency funding imposed on Ireland will cost an eye watering 6% which further rubs salt into the Irish wounds. The scale of the meltdown cannot be under estimated and the announcement that the Irish minimum wage was being cut by 1 euro an hour as part of the package to avoid the bondholders having to take a "haircut" is a sad indicement of the world in which we live in. The poorest people in society who probably benefited the least in the boom years have to make a sacrifice to prop up feckless bankers and maintain a coporate tax rate of 12%.

In the UK we are scrambling around to find a few billion to prop up the Irish econmy because it is not in our national interest for the Ireland to crumble into economic and possibly political chaos (the 2 tend to go hand in glove) not least because of the exposure of the UK banking sector.

I read that the two banks with the biggest exposure to the Irish Banking sector are RBS and Lloyds TSB. So not content to pile up their on loan books with countless millions of dubious loans to the property sector they found other banks to lend to who were engaged in the same practice. Words fail me and we are worried that the banking sector in the UK would be stripped of its talent if we made banks report openly about their bonuses, heaven forbid if the banks were run by poorly paid incompetents as opposed to the masters of the universe who have delivered such a profitable and vibrant banking sector.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Betjeman You Are So Nicked

This has been a hell of a week for law and disorder. Firstly there was the absolute farce of the twitter trial where the full force of the law has been brought to bear on some poor devil who made a tongue in cheek remark about blowing up Robin Hood Airport.(see for details)

If Paul Chambers is in the crown court for threatening to blow up an airport that until he tweeted about blowing it up most people did not know existed, how much trouble would John Betjeman be in for the immortal lines

"Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough" ?

Slough that is a whole town, thousands of innocent people live there. They make Mars bars there, people would miss it (well the Mars Bars  anyway) but here is Betjeman is calling for it's wanton destruction by means of high explosive. How irresponsible is that ?  

You have to wonder about the intelligence of the people involved in the prosecution. At any point did somebody not think "if this goes to trial we are going to look very stupid." Although to have got to trial and then been prosecuted the case would have passed through the hands of many qualified people all of whom have degrees but not much sense, not unlike the student protesters up in arms over increases in tuition fees.

The spoilt children of the English middle classes had a temper tantrum and broke a few windows, I hope it made them feel better because that is all that the protest will achieve. If they want to change tuition fees, simply do not sign up for the courses the prices will soon fall. That said if a whole generation failed to go University where would the Crown Prosecution Service get the next generation of highly educated lawyers ? 

A world with fewer lawyers wouldn't that be a terrible thing ? If any of the thought police at the CPS stumble across this blog and are now searching for John Betjeman's tweets I will save you the trouble, he died in 1984 and I am  fairly sure that was not an act of irony on his part.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Money Cannot Buy you Love

There is a limit to what money can buy in football. Man City are finding out the hard way that just throwing money at a team (£325m and counting) is no gaurentee of sucess. However given the sheer weight of money the Sheiks have put into the team and the wages that the players are earning they have the right to expect a little more for their money than City have produced in their last few outings.

Under Mancini there are 2 Man Citys, a team that is nasty, mean spirited, fractous and effective, the other is nasty, mean spirited, fractous and ineffective. The former turned up at the Hawthorns today.

The difference is the presence of Tevez whilst not diminishing City's competitive nature they are  a whole tougher proposition with him than without him. Tevez proved our undoing in making the first goal for Balotelli and poor defending gave the Italian his second. Balotelli then launched a diabolical tackle on Shorey for which he was not even carded, eventually an assault by the striker on Mulumbu resulted in a straight red.

Despite having a man advantage for a large part of the 2nd half we only threatened sporadically. City deployed every spoiling tatic in the book and Mulumbu who was booked in the fracas following Balotelli's challenge managed to pick up a 2nd yellow for a foul on Tevez, who of course rolled around in agony just to help the referee make up his mind. No need another star struck referee was looking to even things up in any event after being pretty much forced to send off Balotelli (who is a seriously nasty piece of work)

Overall not a good day at the office for the Baggies. Playing Shorey at Right Back didn't work the defence looked shaky and we didn't really create that much, certainly until Odenwingie came on. We will have better days and RDM needs to have a bit of a rethink before the trip to Upton Park on Wednesday which might be the 1st game this season where we are under a bit of pressure to get a result with a depleted squad.

I am not bitter about the defeat frankly we were not good enough on the day to beat City, but as Brian Clough once said of an equally unlovable Leeds side of the 1970's "You can all throw your medals in the bin because they were not won fairly" This lot have not won a damn thing yet and it is my hope they never do, it will be a dark day for English football if this ugly cynical side win anything. Mancini can take his brand of football back to Italy where it belongs.

Post Script

How City had the brass neck to lodge an appeal over the red card is beyond me. As for Mancini's observation that you "win nothing with Angels" it is to be hoped that you win nothing with low level thuggery. If that is the best you can do with money at your disposal frankly the Arabs would have been better off burning the money at least we would have some pretty colours to look at for a few minutes rather than this ugly bunch of over paid footballing mercenaries.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Tangerine Nightmare

Rocks for Brains 
After the mauling at Chelsea on the opening day of the season the Baggies have been on a fine run which has seen us only suffer one defeat in 12 league and cup games, an unlucky 1:0 defeat at Anfield. On the back of this run we found ourselves going to Bloomfield Road on Monday 6th in the league and in the quarter finals of league cup.
Most Baggies whilst enjoying the moment know this will not last and we know that we go through a rocky patch.

It is to be hoped that the farce at Blackpool is not the start of a sustained downswing. I say farce because the sending off of Ibanez in the 12th minute effectively robbed us of any real chance of winning a game that on the evidence of the remainder of the game and our form going into it was an opportunity to gain 3 points.

The fact the FA have since rescinded the  red card reinforces what most commentators felt was a harsh decision. Even at 10 v 11 the game was not completely beyond hope, however what happened next just killed us. For reasons only he knows our Chiliean RB Gonzalo Jara decided to launch himself at Luke Varney in what can only described as a horror tackle. This was particularly stupid because
  • Varney was no threat he hiss back to goal by the corner flag
  • We were already down to 10 men.
  • The referee had  shown his willingness to dish out red cards
As Andy Gray said on Sky "Rocks For Brains". Jara was one of the stars of last year's promotion campaign and although he is an experienced International he is prone to lunge into tackles and is struggleing to cope at the higher level. That said he is still our best option at right back.

It says much for the team spirit and Blackpool's lack of composure in front of goal that 9 man Albion nearly clawed their way back into the game to snatch a point. At 2:0 down I thought we were dead and buried but Mulumbu scored the goal of the season to haul us back into the game and give Blackpool an uncomfortable last 10 minutes.

The 9 men can take a huge amount of credit from the game. The never say die spirit is encouraging and is a contrast to earlier Baggies teams in the Premier League that folded quicker than a cheap suit when faced with adversity.

Next up is Man City who are in a bit of a crisis after 2 woeful performances against the Wolves and Lech Poznan. I fear the backlash but without Tevez they look fairly ordinary which is shocking considering the countless millions that have been spent on the team.

For the Albion Odenwingie should be able to play some part in the game but Jonas Olsson is missing and is likely to out for the next 6 weeks. Gonzala "Rocks for Brains" Jara is of course suspended which leaves Di Matteo a choice of Steven Reid or Gianni Zuiverloon. As excellent footballer as Steven Reid is he is only an emergency Right Back and it speaks volumes as to Di Matteo's opinion of  Zuiverloon that he played Reid ahead of him when Jara was injured last year. Zuiverloon had a brilliant spell at the beginning of his career with the Baggies but now seems completely lost, he has the concentration levels of a goldfish and I fear the worst if he were to play on Sunday.

It is the problem that we now have for the next 3 games that could turn Monday's game from a disappointment into a bit of a nightmare.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Friends Reunited

It is a rare event when a team is confronted by 3 former players in the same team, however on Saturday Fulham fielded ex Baggies Kamara, Gera and Greening. These players shared much of Albion's recent history and in many ways represented everything that was good and bad about the Robson and Mowbray years.

Kamara was given a mixed reception whereas Gera and Greening were greeted by warm applause which reflects the affection they are remembered with by the Hawthorns faithful.

The new and improved version of the Baggies run out comfortable winners handing out a footballing lesson to the old boys that was not adequately reflected in a 2:1 score line.

The return of the ex-Baggies reminded me of May 2007, which was a watershed for a generation of Albion players. Following a dismal relegation and poor start the squad assembled by Robson was taken over by Tony Mowbray who guided the inconsistent and increasingly disparate bunch to a play-off final where they blew it losing to a workman like Derby County.

The following summer there was a mass exodus and subsequent promotions and relegation has resulted in a dramatic turnover players. In the three and a half years since that sad day at Wembley only Dean Kiely remains at the club.  

Many of the players who thought they were too good for the Championship are now back there and few have covered themselves in glory since their departure 

Paul Robinson  Should have formed part of the exodus in summer 2007 made it abundantly clear that he wanted away telling anyone in earshot  in the tunnel at Wembley that he wanted out. A number of rumoured moves fell through and he played a vital role in the following promotion. Eventually got a move to the mighty Bolton. I was not one of the supporters who gave him generous applause when he returned with his new club.

Curtis Davies Was the stand out defender at the club, despite the shambolic relegation of the previous year had a growing reputation as one of the best young centre backs in the country. Refused to play in the opening fixture prior to getting his £8m move to the Villa. He has not enjoyed the best of luck with injuries and now finds himself in the last year of his Villa contract on loan at Leicester.

Jonathan Greening Blossomed the following season but wouldn't stick with the club following relegation moved onto Fulham for a bit over £4m not first choice at Craven Cottage.
Jason Koumas Sold to Wigan for £5.5m barely played now on loan in the Championship with Cardiff

Paul McShane Lured to Sunderland before he was ready for Premiership football now with Hull in the Championship

Diomansy Kamara Only ever had one good season in English football and Fulham bought him for £6m, seeing him on Saturday reminded me why I thought we got the better end of that deal.
Kevin Phillips His goals propelled us into the premier league the following season but quit to join Blues when we would only offer him a 1 year extension to his contract. Many Baggies fans cite this as reason why we failed to stay up the under Mowbray. They are wrong Phillips was deadly in the Championship but has been restricted to brief cameos for Blues since their promotion.
Zoltan Gera Let his contract run down and jumped ship to Fulham at the end of the following season maybe the best player to leave the Hawthorns from this generation and it is galling that he left for nothing.
Martin Albrechtsen Took a Bosman to Derby, once our record signing never looked comfortable in any of the positions he occupied always likely to drop a clanger now plying his trade in his native Denmark

Chris Perry Released by the club at the end of the season last played at Southampton
Darren Carter Will be remembered for a stunning goal against Arsenal and little else sold to PNE the following season and now on loan at Milwall
Richard Chaplow  For some unknown reason got dogs abuse from a section of the Hawthorns crowd. I thought he was a decent enough player and always gave 100% followed in Darren Carter's footsteps to PNE now on loan at Southampton.
Nathan Ellington Undoubted talent but only ever demonstrated it in glimpses sold for a staggering £3.25m to Watford subsequently loaned to Derby and now farmed out to Skoda Xanthi
Dean Kiely Moved into the goal keeping coach still registered as the emergency goal keeper the sole survivor
Neil Clement Retired from the game last season after a long battle with injury. The last link to a time when we were a mediocre Championship his arrival under Megson was the start of the Yo-Yo era
Nigel Quashie Sold to West Ham in the January transfer window. Achieved a rare feat of being relegated in two successive seasons with different clubs and came very close to making it a hat trick at West Ham
Pascal Zuberbuhler Almost hounded out of the Hawthorns and was replaced by Keily, currently with Fulham but not in their 25 man squad and although on their books since 2008 has yet to play a competitive game.
Robert Koren Tony Mowbray's 1st signing and a Hawthorns favorite but fell down the pecking order and released last summer and now plying his trade with Hull in the Championship.
John Hartson Never fit, a poor signing and typical of the haphazard approach of the Robson years. Although it would be churlish to blame the player for his lack of fitness given he was latter diagnosed with cancer, which is now thankfully in remission.
Russell Hoult Left the club after featuring in a home made porn video wearing nothing but a club polo shirt and a smile. Now Hereford's goalkeeping coach.
Steve Watson A player way past his prime by the time he was signed by the Baggies but still managed to return to score for Sheffield Wednesday the following season
Ronnie Wallwork Only played a handful of games before being loaned out to Barnsley following Tony Mowbray's arrival at the club no surprise Ronnie being a defensive midfielder a breed of player that does not fit with Tony Mowbray's footballing philosophy (see below)

Sam Sodje Accident prone loanee last seen on trial at Sheffield Wednesday after brief flirtation with Greek football at Skoda Xanthi
Stuart Nicholson Promising youngster (capped at under 19 for England) played a handful of games and is now playing in Australia
Jared Hodgkiss Youngster who had limited chances and now plays for Forest Green
Sherjill MacDonald Signed on loan Mowbray always assured the fans he looked sharp in training and was given a permanent contract at the end of the season. The alleged sharpness in training never transferred onto the pitch and now playing in Belgium.
Junichi Inamoto Played in a few games at the start of the season before moving on to Galatasaray.

Tony Mowbray took us up the following season playing brilliant football. Then he buggered off to Celtic following our relegation which many attribute in no small part to his dogged determination to stick to his philosophy even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it was not working. Amazingly the fans stuck with him to the end and were rewarded with a huge slap in the face.

Sacked by Celtic following a woeful run of results and he has now pitched up at 'Boro and is spouting Utopian football and talking about the Spanish national side. I note that he has just lost his first game in charge and I fear lessons have not been learnt.

Comparing where the club is today under RDM and May 2007 it is amazing how fundamentally the landscape has changed. Our 2nd string beat Leicester 1:4 during the week many of the of the class of 2007 would not have made into that side and only Gera might really improve the current squad.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


The news that Gydamack is holding Portsmouth to ransom is surprising in that I would have thought that his investment in the club would have been written off when it went into administration.

The fine detail of the transaction involved is not in the public domain but I wait with interest for more news on the subject. Without wishing to rush to judgement I smell a large greedy rat and I am sure one of the most feckless owners in football history will not redeem his tattered reputation.

The whole Pompey saga should strengthen the resolve of clubs to curb the financial excesses of recent years but alas not. The details of Wayne Rooney's contract have yet to emerge but there is media speculation that the deal is worth £250,000 a week, when payroll taxes are taken into account the whole life liability of the contract is a staggering £73m. If that is the case then Man United have finally lost the plot they have just signed a contract not even they cannot afford, for a player who has hardly played one decent game in 6 months and whose off field life is a mess.

To put the Rooney contract into context the increase is worth £9m a year. This contract alone adds roughly 10% to the losses that the club made last year or if you ignore the debt (always a smart move see above) 9% of their operating profit. This is one player and by establishing a new benchmark they will inevitably face increased wage demands from the rest of the squad.

Sir Alex said yesterday that Man United were the biggest club in the world, if that was the case they would have told Rooney to go and bankrupt someone else. Instead they capitulated in what amounts to one of the most shameful climb downs in the history of contract negotiations.

Will United go the way of Pompey ?  I think it is unlikely although at some point in the future there will be a financial crunch at Old Trafford.

Yesterday was a bad day for football but today is Saturday and I'm off to see the Baggies hopefully beat Fulham.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Waynes World

Last year I was pretty good at my job in fact I was one of my employers top performers. However since the spring I have been below par and recently my colleagues have been covering for me. During this time I have been rude to a few customers and there have been one or two unsavoury episodes in  my private life that have become public knowledge and caused my employers a degree of embarrassment. I am coming up for my annual review how do you I think I should play it ?
  1. Tell the company I don't much like the way they are running things and demand that my pay should be doubled.
  2. Keep my head down try my best to rebuild my tarnished reputation and hope that the company doesn't sack me.
Personally I think 2 might be the wiser course of action but if I were a professional footballer then it would appear option 1 is the way to go.

Whilst Manchester United might not be about to cave into Waynes Rooney's demands it would appear that at least two clubs (Chelsea and Man City) are willing to pay in the region of £250,000 a week for his services. How either club can square that with the UEFA financial fair play rules is beyond me given that their wage bills already are already in excess of their gross revenues.  

To cite the Wayne Rooney episode as evidence that the world has gone mad would be wrong, the last vestiges of financial sanity departed English football when the Sheikhs turned up at Man City with a desire to burn money but the whole circus has been morally if not financially bankrupt for years.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

If You Don't Buy A Ticket ......

Things just seem to get better and better at West Brom. Yesterday's fight back at Old Trafford must be one of our best results in the Premiership. I was listening to the car radio and when the equaliser went in I nearly crashed (I was in the outside lane of the M1) so I had to turn the radio off  just in case we nicked it!!

Having watched the game you could argue there was more than a little bit of good fortune about our goals particularly the equaliser but we created our own luck by being positive even though we were two goals down. Unless Tchoyi makes a positive run into the box to try and get onto the end of a cross Van Der Sar's fumble is embarrassing but there is no goal.

Inevitably all the media attention has been on Man U playing badly and the demise of Wayne Rooney, Chris Lepkowski has suggested that this irritates the Albion players a little which is good, players with a point to prove are generally well motivated. However the rumour mill is starting to link various players with moves to bigger clubs the latest is Chris Brunt apparently being targeted by Liverpool. One would have to wonder why Brunt would want to move from a club challenging for European football to one in a relegation scrap (now I am getting ahead of myself). Much of the progress we have made as a club could be undermined if we lose key players if not in January, then over the summer.

In that context it was interesting to note that the club matched Fulham's offer to Greening in a bid to keep him prior to his move in 2009. This showed a willingness on the part of the club to take a risk given that the wages in question were no doubt substantial and at the time we were in the Championship. Albion fans have criticised Chairman Jeremy Peace for his lack of ambition but to be fair to our Chairman he has built on sound foundations and hopefully we will able to see off the predators so we can continue to grow and we can look forward to more days like yesterday.

In the meantime I am going to the Hawthorns to watch us against Fulham next Saturday and hopefully collect at least a point towards out first target, which in case anyone is in any danger of getting carried away is 40 points for survival.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Christian Purslow's lack of imagination

On 22nd September Oliver Kay of the Times tweeted the following quote from Liverpool MD

"Liverpool FC isn't going bust. I can't conceive of a situation where Liverpool FC could go into administration"

My reply was

"Just demonstrates a lack of imagination on the part of Christian Purslow"

This might have been a trifle unfair on Christian because at the time he was engaged in negotiations with various parties over the sale of the club and stating that the club was on the verge of financial meltdown would not do anything for the sale price. However the combination of the October 15th deadline for paying back £280m of loans to an ever increasingly impatient RBS and owners who were both volatile and unpredictable could easily lead to administration.

It seems that the court case will determine the outcome, either Hicks and Gillett will be forced to sell to NESV or RBS will pull the plug and that means administration.

To suggest that the holding company is insolvent but the football club is not, when the holding company owns one assest the football club is a nonsense and there is no way the Football Authorities would not act as if Liverpool FC were in administration.

For what is worth I do not think the doomsday scenario will come to pass, Hicks and Gillett for all their bluster must know the game is up and will be just glad to exit with a fistfull of dollars but they will have their day in court to wring the last few drops of juice out of Liverpool.

A Blog about Not Playing Poker

When I started this blog I said it was a blog mainly about poker and football. I have mentioned football a bit looking for jobs and some random other stuff but nothing about Poker.

The reason for this I was that I have not been playing. The whole job search thing has been very time consuming and more importantly I know of late my head has certainly not been right for Poker, so I have not played. This is a welcome sign of maturity on my part I know there are times in the past when in similar circumstances I have ploughed on regardless with the inevitable consequences.

Early in my period of unemployment I set myself a task of grinding out a living in cash games for a week, partly to prove to myself that if push came to shove I could do it. I won but not at an hourly rate that would have kept me in the style I have become used to but not too shabby either. Although by the end of the week it felt like a grind and I was making mistakes probably just out of boredom in point of fact I was borderline tilting. This surprised me a little I thought with time on my hands and being able to concentrate on poker my game would blossom. On the contrary.

The following week I had various job related appointments so couldn't commit to a full weeks grind but  when I logged on there was no real desire to bring my A game to the table and after a short flirtation with games B & C I found some game from the arse end of the alphabet and went with that. Fortunately I decided to stick the breaks on and after that I have pretty much left the online game alone.

All of which brings me to last nights little misadventure. I was labouring under the mistaken belief is that my on line game was jaded and a little jaunt to the seaside to play the Brighton leg of the GUKPT would do the trick. I could not have been more wrong, I hated the experience almost from start to finish and crowned a miserable night by playing Aces  badly to bust out before the 1st break. I should have been livid with myself I wasn't, I was relieved.

When I started playing it was fun and a bit of an adventure 10 years on it is'nt I have stopped progressing as a player and when that happens you are going backwards at an alarming rate last night crystallised these thoughts.

I have reached a decision that I will quit I no longer enjoy the game it has been good to me, I will cash in the bankroll buy a car with it and stick the rest into my pension fund or whatever. I simply cannot abide the thought of playing badly just through a lack of desire and that is what is starting to happen.

This blog is now mainly about football.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Pub team beats the Gunners

Ian Poulter golfer (I am with Mark Twain on that sport) sometime dandy of the links, Arsenal fan and general all purpose plonker was less than impressed by his team's performance on Saturday and tweeted that they were losing to a "Pub Team"

As a life long supporter of said pub team (West Bromwich Albion est. 1879 aka The Baggies) I have to say that I was chuffed to bits by the performance. Particularly on the back of impressive displays against Birmingham and Man City in the same week.

Having watched the extended highlights I think I am safe in saying that it was our finest hour in the Premiership and the team played like heroes to a man. Andy Gray's analysis highlighted the fact that we had courage to take on Arsenal and had a game plan that was a credit to Di Matteo and the rest of the coaching staff.

Currently having played 6 games we lie 6th in the league on 10 points (only another 30 required for safety) and more importantly for the 1st time we look like we have a squad that belongs in the division rather than one that is just visiting from the Championship. It is early days and I am trying not to get carried away but I cannot help but feel optimistic.

I have tickets for the Bolton game next week and will be making one of my too infrequent trips to the Hawthorns in high spirits, whatever next week throws at me.

Desperately Seeking Employment

The job search continues and whilst I have managed to obtain interviews no gainful employment has been forthcoming as yet.

I hit a bit of a nadir on Thursday. Having attended one spectacularly unsuccessful  appointment ( it is a rare event that both parties agree to stop wasting each others time mid interview) I was standing on a platform at London Bridge watching commuters trying to squeeze into already crowded carriages and I felt sorry for the poor sods having to do this everyday. It then dawned on me had I been successful, I would be doing exactly the same, I must be desperate to even consider commuting to London by train it looks utterly soul destroying but it will have to be done.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Road to Internet Serfdom

A cautionary tale of good intentions going a little bit pear shaped. A number of Baggies fans commissioned the above banner (to be displayed at the Blues game) in response to the racist abuse meted out to the clubs new signing Peter Odenwinigie by a section of Lokomtiv Moscow's support. So far so good.

However one of the organisers of the made a throw away comment on a forum concerning the involvement of some of Birmingham's Black Community in gun crime (not without justification  and an infamous night club in Birmingham (poor taste perhaps but racist not really). However this comment was forwarded to the powers that be at the Albion (one might question the motivation of the person who did this)  and now he has been barred from any semi offical involvement with the club 

This is a great pity because the guy is an activist (the sort of person the government's big society leans heavily on) and he must be asking the question "Why did I bother?"  For what it is worth having shared an Internet forum with him his posts are not inhibited by a great deal of political correctness, but there is no hint of racism.

This sad little tale does make me question whether it worth engaging in a dialogue online at all if every tweet, forum post or blog could at some stage be held against me, maybe a better approach is a discreet silence.

Then I thought sod it if the reader is going to be petty, small minded or easily offended there is nothing I can do about it and I will just have to suffer consequences of exercising freedom of speech.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Now what ?

Having been employed continuously for 25 years during which time I survived countless corporate reorganisations, the inevitable has happened and I have been made redundant.

This is bad news in the sense of being without a reliable income.On the other hand I have just had a fairly hefty pay off from my former employer for losing a job I had grown to dislike. I am not skint nor particularly sorry to have left.

This leaves me as a fully paid member of the leisured classes. I have calculated that given a fairly modest lifestyle, a working spouse and a fair wind I could pretty much give up work. The working spouse is not overly impressed with this notion and I think I would have to discount her co-operation over the longer term. So I do need to bring in an income.

The obvious and unimaginative answer is get a job similar to the one I have just lost. However I am finding out that employers are reluctant to hire a 50 year old almost regardless of my experience. They cannot say so directly because of the new age discrimination legislation but there are thinly disguised references to my age in some of the feedback I have received from potential employers. It is plain that getting back into a job is not going to be easy.

So what are the alternatives ? Having had a meeting with an relentlessly upbeat outplacement consultant (more to follow) they would appear to be
  • Sell my years of experience as a consultant (the day rate for a Reward Consultant is impressive but I have no clients nor am I a natural networker)  
  • Develop a portfolio lifestyle which is management speak for short term contract work which is a few months work followed by a job search (yippee !!)
  • Er.....

Hence right now I am an unemployed bloke who is scratching a living playing poker lets see how it goes.

Domestic Football is Back  

After an interesing International break it is back to the bread and butter of the league the Baggies have Spurs at home. Feeling unrealistically optimistic about this Spurs are without a few key players think we are good for a point.