How many Ds in “Match Of The Day”?

It’s here: the most hotly-anticipated football season since … ooh, last year.

Somehow, sport in general, and football in particular, seem to be subjects that The ‘Spill has shied away from posting about so far. (The 2010 World Cup Spillstake competition from Williamsbach being an honourable exception.)

But after a couple of comments on the mothership last night following Tony Pulis’ departure from Crystal Palace, I know we have plenty of footy/soccer fans, and figured we may as well start an open debate about the new football season. So:

Who’s your team?

What are your hopes / fears / carefully-considered analyses / rabidly-partisan opinions for the next ten months?

Who do you love?

Who appears on your screen and has you screaming I hate you so much right now! ?

Who’s a waste of money? Who will prove to be bargain of the season? And who do you have an odd soft spot for? Go on, own up, I won’t tell anyone!

And, the big question: how the hell do we bring back down to earth the indefensible, immoral, obscenely-high levels of finance at the “top” end of the game that would have my hero, Bill Shankly, turning in his grave?

Over to you . . . I’ll chip in later this eve.

Oh, and the answer to the thread title question? 138.

♪ Du Du Du Duuh-D-D-D-Du Du, Du Duh D-D Du Duh, …. ♪

48 thoughts on “How many Ds in “Match Of The Day”?

  1. Who’s your team?

    Arsenal.

    What are your hopes / fears / carefully-considered analyses / rabidly-partisan opinions for the next ten months?

    I hope that we can improve on last season and win the Premiership. Realistically, I don’t think that we will but I do think that we will finish higher than last time. Realistically, we won’t win the Champion’s League, but I think that we might get to the semi-finals.

    Who do you love?

    Per Mertesacker – he’s the BFG

    Who appears on your screen and has you screaming I hate you so much right now! ?

    Jose Mourinho, Robbie Savage, ‘Arry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Steven Gerrard (sorry, DsD), Alan Shearer, Glenn Hoddle

    Who’s a waste of money? Who will prove to be bargain of the season? And who do you have an odd soft spot for? Go on, own up, I won’t tell anyone!

    Waste of money – Anyone Spurs buys
    Bargain of the season – does football have bargains these days?
    Soft spot – Theo Walcott, a better player that a lot of people think he is

    And, the big question: how the hell do we bring back down to earth the indefensible, immoral, obscenely-high levels of finance at the “top” end of the game that would have my hero, Bill Shankly, turning in his grave?

    We can’t. It is too late.

    • A lot to agree with there, Carole. Your BFG’s retirement from international football can only help. If, as I fear, you add Daniel Agger to your centre-back options before the end of the month, and if Ramsey, Walcott & Sanchez stay fit (note the one missing from that list: I’m no Wilshere fan), you will definitely extend your run of always-qualifying-for-the-Champions-League.

      I’m learning to ignore Jose’s brainfart media manipulations; think Robbie Savage is a Grade-A muppet; loathe Fat Sam with a passion; and agree that the pressure Stevie G lives under makes him a hard-to-love automaton.

      Can’t agree with you about Spurs’ purchases, as for the last couple of years, they’ve normally been OUR targets, and we’ve been gazumped. If we’d had Eriksen last season, for instance, you have to think we’d have been at least three points better off, and thus champions. On the other hand, Spurs have, laughably, turned expensive finished-article players into rabbits-in-the-headlights.

      I fear you are right about the future: I’ll be back with more thoughts on that later.

  2. Everton is my team, despite never having been to Goodison Park. I adopted my best friend’s team at the age of six but I’ve always been quite happy with the choice. They had great success when I were a lad and they’ve always had an ‘honest’ reputation based on hard work. And they’ve produced some great players. Despite the lack of funds, I’m glad Bill Kenwright has kept the big money boys away.
    I’m confident Martinez will get more than can be reasonably expected from his players (again) but I don’t expect great success (finish in the top 6 again, probably). A reasonable run in the Europa League would be nice.
    I love the occasional flashes of brilliance from the likes of Barkley, Naismith and Mirallas. Here’s hoping Lukaku and Koné stay on form and fit.
    My lifelong hatred of Man U was knocked off-kilter last year, when David Moyes became The Chosen One. I can now resume hostilities….and hope that Everton’s earlier gift, Rooney, continues to unimpress and take up a valuable team place.

    Nothing permanently beneficial to football’s finances can possibly take place until Blatter has gone. He has always set the agenda that the whole thing is about money, and the tone that the ends justify the means. Maybe they’ll get rid this year; I hope so.

    MotD is in A, not D……

    • I’m still finding it a little odd that my allegiance to the red half of the city of Liverpool is based on the then-political leanings of my parents, because if that hadn’t been the case, I may well have ended up a bluenose. They were the more silver-laden club of the two when I started taking an interest at the end of the 60s. But hey-ho …

      If anyone doesn’t know, I’m in the redANDblue camp of Merseysiders, not the redVERSUSblue camp. So it also pleases me to see Roberto Martinez bringing his style to bear on the “dogs of war” and making obvious progress. I’m also with you wholeheartedly on your ManUre paragraph.

      Blatter? Eeesh. I have him in the same bracket as Ken Bates, and will be utterly, UTTERLY delighted when the bastards die. It’d be nice to think it’ll happen on the inside of a lonely jail cell, but unfortunately I can’t see it happening.

      Cheers, Chris. Here’s to us both: dreams of European glory, and maybe an all-Merseyside trip [or two, even] to Wembley.

  3. We used to sing the theme at school –
    “Well he’s football crazy, he’s football mad
    The football it has taken away the little bit of sense he had.
    It would take a dozen maidens to wash his clothes and scrub
    Since Paul became a member of that terrible football club.”

    Used to support Liverpool back in the ’70s but only so I could stay up late and watch MotD with my dad. Have tried to re-kindle some interest for Sam but he’s even less interested than me. Sorry.

    • No apology necessary. I’m morally conflicted about giving my kids the impression it’s OK to support a team/game in which someone earns millions of pounds a year for playing football once a week, when they see people just as frequently who can’t afford a pair of shoes without holes in.
      And his local team have their own issues at the moment. Sacking the manager one game into the new season? It really makes you wonder how these club owners were smart enough to make their money in the first place, when they do such blatantly stupid things with it.

  4. In principle I support AFC Wimbledon but I’m not really the football fan in our family.

    I’ve only been to Kingsmeadow about half a dozen times whereas my sister has a season ticket and has been following Wimbledon since before the franchise debacle. I do remember that one of the options reported in the local paper at the time was that they should become Belfast United. That would have been interesting.

    If I get the time I’ll ask her for the answers to the other questions.I’m guessing the hate figure will be the bloke who used to play for the (real) Dons but is now/still in the Milton Keynes team.

      • I think Vinnie Jones was long gone by that stage and I doubt he would have decamped anyway. Otherwise I’m sure he could have united all communities in a spirit of love.

      • Now there’s a man to start a debate!

        I hated everything he seemed to stand for when he was at Wimbledon. But when he came to Leeds (and also Sheff Utd), it soon became known that there was an awful lot to like about him. That thug he portrayed both on the pitch and on the big screen is definitely there within him, but you’d have to seriously and serially cross him before it came out.
        The reputation he left the communities of Yorkshire with regarding his generosity of spirit are quite remarkable.

    • when I lived in London I would go to any of Grimsby’s away games ( except Milwall ) too see any old mates who’d travelled down. So I trekked out to Wimbledon, which had the crappest stands .. one shot made the entire far end shake, another was skied over that stand and you could hear cars screaching to a halt on the road behind. When the Wimbledon bench had to send someone to fetch it, the lack of spare balls was duly noted and our centre half headed four consecutive clearances up onto a stand roof .. where the advertising hoarding didn’t have enough of a gap to let the balls roll back. He got booked for that
      Coming up to half time, one of the Grimsby fans went to a caravan in an uncovered end that served drinks … he yellled to one of one strikers ( mr Kilmore ) ‘ere Kev they’ve got no beef tea
      Kev duly dribbled back past his own defence and smashed a shot straight into the take-away .. he got booked
      Think it was 7 – 4 to Grimsby and Vinnie was definitely not happy ..a grand day out . but not sure if it counted as actual football

      • That’s awesome. I miss days like that. Being a Bfd Uni student who couldn’t afford / be arsed to get to Anfield much, I watched a lot of BCFC games. (The Bradford fire game against Lincoln was one of very few I missed that season, but that’s another story.)

        Anyhoo, more cheerfully: I remember an FA Cup game that finished Bradford City 7-2 Tow Law Town. We started the game behind the TLTFC goal, and after about 3 goals or so, we’re taking the mickey pretty harshly out of their keeper. (Was his name Fisher? Seem to have that in my memory bank.)
        But as the game went on, despite 4 more (Don Goodman bagged a few, I recall), it became apparent that without said keeper, it could easily have been 17-2. He was having the game of his life! By the end we were massively applauding his every touch, and at the end of the game, he came back the length of the pitch to applaud us. I’ll remember the warm glow that game gave me for the rest of my life.

  5. Am sure underfunded QPR will be slapped back down again, but will actually be able to see a few games for a while.

    Our manager seems like a good bloke & we have the best kit in football (possibly because it looks like a rugby shirt).

    • QPR, and Harry Redknapp in particular, bother me. The turnover of both players and coaches cannot possibly engender any long-term strategy. The attitude of their over-paid under-achievers got them relegated last time, and I haven’t yet seen anything to convince me things will be different this time. But they seem only too happy to continue in their financial profligacy. At QPR, possibly more than at ANY other club, those obscene Sky £millions flow in and out with hardly an eyelid batted, just plenty of nods&winks. I’m sorry, Shoey, but if I could wish one major club to finally go completely out-of-existence by going properly bust (instead of just doing a Superman quick-change act in the phonebooth of administration, re-emerging as NewCo FC, trailing CVAs in their wake) as an example to all that football HAS to change its ways and knock at least two zeroes off salaries, it’d be QPR, with ‘Arry’s Accountant turning Queen’s Evidence in the tax-avoidance trial of the decade.

      • When my Uncle was a kid he used to sell penny on the ball tickets before the game (think you won the ball if your number came up).

        Shows that times have changed; and/or QPR have always been capitalist bastards. Either way their kit is most fetching.

  6. Excuse a stupid question or two but realise that I am in exile and all that….
    How come this seth bloke gets to make up the rules and who gives him the right to make up punishments for players, ie. Luis, and how long are you supposed fans going to tolerate it?

    • Sepp Blatter is at the top of a corruption pyramid that makes Bernard Madoff look like an amateur. Everyone is too dirty to risk exposing anyone else. Jack Warner (look him up) tried to take Blatter on by out-doing him at his own game, and got badly burnt. He deserved it, but Blatter is worse. The man is nuts as well as greedy; a sexist bigot who shouldn’t be let near a school team, let alone head up the world governing body.

      A couple of years ago, the English FA headhunted Roger Burden to head up England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup Finals. Burden went through one round of bidding and promptly quit. He said at the time:

      “I made the decision simply because I cannot trust many members of the FIFA executive committee and I recognise that if I were to become full-time chairman of the Football Association I would have to liaise with them – but I’m not prepared to deal with people who I can’t trust. It was a difficult decision – but I made it relatively quickly having seen what went on in Zurich.”

  7. I’m a Southampton fan, so I’m pretty bitter right now. The last five years have been an amazing ride. And last season we really seemed to be on the brink of something. A young, hungry team, including a lot of home-bred players, with an exciting coach and playing modern, attractive football. We spent money, yes, but not silly amounts. I genuinely believe that we were only three or four players short of a squad that could have challenged for the Champions League places. And that would have been a truly remarkable achievement.

    Then our chairman – a megalomaniacal bastard, yes, but our megalomaniacal bastard – left in mid-season. Our manager fucked off at the first offer from a bigger club. The three players we sent to the World Cup with England never came back. Arsenal poached yet another of our talented kids. Our star centre back, after one good season, decided he was too good for us.

    It’s just really sad, and it makes me despair about modern football. We really did everything right, and we got soundly put in our place in the financial pecking order. Perhaps twas ever thus – the league tables from the pre-Premier League era are hardly a catalogue of victories for the underdog. But it still sucks.

    In actual fact, I think we’ll be OK. We have Ronald Koeman as our manager – one of the first players I remember being in awe and terrified of. We still have some good players, some potentially exciting signings, and more kids coming through. But it’s a hell of a lot of upheaval in one summer, after five years of consistent progress. I think we’ll finish 10th-12th.

    And sorry DarceysDad, but having enjoyed cheering on Liverpool for the first time in my life last season, they’re my enemy number one this season, ahead of Tottenham and QPR (sorry shoey), and Chelsea and Man United, and Man City. Although my attitude to the many, many ex-Saints we’ll be encountering is an ambivalent one: I’ll be amused if they fail, but also proud if they do well. And despite it all, of course I’ll be cheering on Rickie Lambert.

    • You have my sympathies. Saints had the chance with Potchettino to become something better than a nursery club – I get the impression that the owner is happy he’s gone as it gives her the opportunity to explain the firesale as being down to the manager leaving – shame.

    • Again, no apology required barbryn. Having said that, I’m not used to being Public Enemy #1. In my lifetime, the only time I’ve legitimately experienced it is after Heysel.

      Another excellent comment with much that has me nodding along. I think both you and the llama are bang-on about Saints ownership. But despite her (& in truth I don’t know enough to make any judgement), I wish you well for the OTHER 36 games this season.

  8. Who’s your team?

    Manchester City – not an arriviste, I have supported them through thin and thinner since the days of Franny Lee & Colin Bell.

    I just hope we get the balance right this year. We have the players, they are playing for the manager. Best move would be to push Toure forward – no midfield or defence seems to be able to cope with him when he sets off on his barrelling runs.

    Who do you love?

    I like a player with an eye for an opening. Exhibit A: exquisite left foot of David Silva. Exhibit B: Christian Eriksen, who I think will start to make a major impact for the Spuds.

    Who appears on your screen and has you screaming I hate you so much right now!?

    Michael Owen is the most biased pundit I have ever seen. Lacking in insight and impartiality, he makes Robbie Savage look like David Attenborough. Mourinho is just a smartarse. I would have to say I am not particularly keen on Wazza Rooney – a triumph of appetite and agent representation over the application of talent.

    Who’s a waste of money? Who will prove to be bargain of the season? And who do you have an odd soft spot for? Go on, own up, I won’t tell anyone!

    Soldado, Lamela etc, although Potchettino will probably turn them round – he has a touch of the Cloughs about him. Bargain of the season will probably be Bojan, Luakaku or Frank Lampard Jr, although Alexis Sanchez might look like good value for the Gooners. I have some time for Roberto Martinez who will surely be snapped up by one of the Spanish big guns in a couple of years.

    I think the only way to return the game to some semblance of financial sanity is to adopt the German model of 51% club ownership by the supporters – seems to work well with cheap season ticket prices and a World Cup in the bag. Remove blood sucking agents from player transactions – this work could be undertaken by the player’s personal solicitor. Make non EC players sponsor a Championship/Football League team before they can move to a Premier League club. End leveraged buyouts of clubs cf the Glazers. I would also like to see an alternative to FIFA who are ruining the game all the way from the top – morally bankrupt, racist, sexist money grabbing control freaks. Introduce a TMO tv umpire similar to rugby to stamp out foul play and simulation. I could go on!

    • As a United-hating Manc, City have always been my second favourite side. But until the big bucks came along it was an object lesson in disappointment, and it was spooky the way that even the new, talented, expensive players could still be brought low by the Ghost of Oh-shit-we-might-actually-win-today and fall apart. Pellegrini has managed to put that ghost to rest and, as long as birthday cake ego silliness doesn’t explode everything, they should remain at the top for some time to come. I’m happy with that, although the occasional, inexplicable collapse is acceptable, for old times’ sake.

    • Owen is biased but his naivety is actually a welcome change from the droning, analytical ex-pros who sit on the fence with the aim of not wanting to upset anyone. No-one was more critical of Martin Skrtel for his persistent wrestling and shirt tugging than Owen – a trend which has blighted the game. If Owen is biased it’s in favour of any forward who is on the receiving end of cynical defending.

      • Much as I love Skrtel – the TV pictures of him getting his head stapled last season are burned into my memory – his shirt-pulling is both embarrassing and indefensible.

        If the FA were serious about cleaning up the game, that offence, along with diving could easily attract retrospective yellow cards from Monday morning video reviews. And if you did it five times in a game, have five yellows. It would stop the whole practice in four weeks flat.

      • I should have qualified my comment because I think his bias is more evident in his analysis of Man U matches than it is when Liverpool are playing!

  9. I could go on!

    Please do! That’s the most sensible, heartening paragraph I’ve seen written on the subject in an awfully long time.

  10. My vote for potential bargain of the season goes to a player in my old position: goalkeeper.
    I’m finding it hard to believe that Manchester City have allowed Costel Pantilimon to go to Sunderland on a free. That in itself should add a minimum of five points to the Mackems’ points total compared to last season. Given that they also won’t be handicapped by having Mad Paulo in charge for the first few games, I reckon they should have a stress-free mid-table season.

    Who do I love? I have a fondness and appreciation for a few:
    Tom Huddlestone is the first one that springs to mind, though it will take me a long time to forgive him for setting up LFC’s defeat at Hull last season. Again, had we won that game instead of lost it, the 3 extra points would’ve put us above the eventual champions. In a rare opportunity to voice my disappointment face to face, I met Tom twice last season: first time in the week after that very game, and the second time in the week after the end of the season. But he’s such an impressive figure, it’s hard to stay mad at him for long.

    A couple of weeks ago, Danny Murphy was championing Tom as the natural replacement for Stevie G in the England team. I agree wholeheartedly, and
    * whisper it *
    not just for England.

    • Criticism of Saint Stevie??!! I’m afraid he’s long had one of those moany faces I’d find it hard to tire of punching….;-)

    • I do like Huddlestone. He doesn’t look much like a modern footballer with that insouciant gait, but he always appears to have that extra bit of time on the ball to do the right thing with it.

  11. Anyone for predictions?

    I want us to go one better than last season, and have said so on this Graun footy blog thread. However, my bottle has gone, and if you offered me fourth right now, I’d take it.

    I can’t see past Chelsea for the title, which is depressing. Jose IS the master, but is only interested in titles for himself and the history books; he’s one of the very worst offenders for strangling youth development to ensure the strength of the “now”.

    Louis van Gaal will probably bully last season’s over-the-hill underachievers back into the top 4.

    City will be wildly inconsistent in the PL because of the desire to conquer Europe. And if Yaya has another strop, Kompany finally has an average season, &/or Aguero‘s injury worries return, they could implode spectacularly.

    Spurs are the unknown, and it will be fascinating to watch how Pochettino goes on.

    My relegation candidates? Three from Burnley, Villa, Swansea, Palace (now that Pulis has gone), West Ham and QPR, in that order of likelihood.

    • Chelsea to win, followed by a permutation of City, Arsenal and Spurs. Liverpool will miss Suarez, Man Utd are still short a whole bunch of what they would loftily define as “Manchester United players”. Everton to continue their progress and the surprise package will be Stoke.

      QPR and Burnley to go down alongside DsD’s pick of Palace for precisely his reasoning regarding Pulis.

  12. How pets,
    Newcastle United, since birth ( Dad was from there), even had a Malcolm MacDonald T-shirt BITD !
    Expect the usual roller coaster ride, perhaps goodish start to the season followed by injuries, sale of decent players in January and free fall thereafter.
    Collocini and the other guys who stuck with us when we went down when they could have probably gone elsewhere.
    Who appears on the screen etc…..Now Alan Hansen has departed then it’s got to be either Robbie Savage, Adrian Chiles or any referee at a Newcastle game.
    Waste of Money – Luke Shaw ….How much ? Ha ha !
    Bargain – Hopefully Siem De Jong
    Soft spot- DeBuchy, so he’s joined a smaller club to give them the boost they need, charitable I call it.
    No chance of stopping the flow of money. It’s not about the players anymore, it’s the franchising.They are worth as much as “they” can make from them.

    • Oh I have to agree on the £27,000,000 for Luke Shaw, particularly when you think that if they hadn’t tried to take the p155 a year ago, they could’ve had Leighton Baines for about two-thirds of that.

      But I was never a SuperMac fan. When I was a kid, although I was already a committed LFC supporter, I was perfectly happy to wear other teams’ shirts when I was playing football with my mates. I had my mam cut out an old pillowcase to make the number 10 for my Newcastle shirt. John Tudor. I loved watching him play.

    • Looking forward to see whether Ayoze Pérez can step forward and prove his worth in the Premier League with your lot. Was the best thing about Spain’s Segunda División last year by some margin, and quite fancied him for my team (Deportivo), but we’re too cash strapped to even make a bid these days.

      • He certainly made an impression on everyone watching when he came off the subs’ bench on Sunday. I was listening to the game, and then watched the highlights that evening. In the end, he couldn’t make a difference against the champions, but it was an explosive cameo, if a little “headless-chicken”. [Sorry, lambre, do you understand that saying? I can’t think of another way to describe it at short notice, and it’s a perfect description of his performance.]

      • It’s actually the same in Spanish, DsD, and it’s used in football too. Running around like a headless chicken = correr como un pollo sin cabeza. It’s something you’d expect from a kid trying to do too much in just a few minutes, anyway.
        Anyway, it’s early days, and the strength of the opposition he’s going to find (both for a place in the starting XI and vs other teams) is nothing like what he’d have in Tenerife last year, so it’s all question marks at the moment.

  13. As is mandatory round here, we love FC St Pauli and hate Bayern Munich. My ‘home’ team is Leyton Orient (had a fling with Stan Bowles-era QPR and our local biggies Ipswich Town when they won the FA Cup back in the Dark Ages), but I don’t even know what division they play in these days, let alone any of the players…

    … I’ll pop back when we’re discussing pro cycling, shall I?

    • Ah, another St. Pauli fan. Shane will be pleased with that, although you then ruined it by mentioning the Tractor Boys! 😉

    • If I had a second team, it would be Orient. they were the nearest club to me when I was growing up and I sometimes used to go to Brisbane Rd with my Dad if Arsenal were away.

  14. A comment from Chris cut & pasted from the wrong thread into this one:

    Balotelli??!! To fill the now vacant ‘wayward genius’ slot on the bench? John Henry won’t fall for that again, surely

    • Well, it’ll certainly be interesting! But here is a proper test of Brendan’s management skills. I give him two years max at LFC, which given that we only have 32yo Lambert on a two year contract, means there will be more striker activity next summer, so let’s see how far we get in the Champions’ League this season.

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