Monday, 20 March 2017

The Red Rose Football Blog Number 22

                                   Number 22                        March 20 2017                                                                           

Chelsea v Manchester United; so much to discuss

I was left with all sorts of muddled thoughts after last Monday’s FA Cup Quarter Final. Who were the heroes and who were the villains? Were the sinners also those sinned against? The game was ruined by the sending off. We sometimes see worse fouls go unpunished and the FA needs to have a long look at inconsistent refereeing decisions, but Ander Herrera’s brain must have gone walkabouts. Michael Oliver had just read the riot act to Phil Jones and within moments, the Spanish midfield player, already on a yellow card, committed a completely unnecessary foul. I certainly do not want to see a return to the likes of Ron “Chopper” Harris who roamed the pitches of this country like a hungry T Rex but equally, the referees have a responsibility to the paying public and TV viewers and making fussy decisions is not conducive to retaining their interest in football. If he had walked Herrera away from the melee, shut him up and told him in no uncertain terms that he was now on his very last warning, would it have saved the game as a spectacle and still be strong refereeing? I believe it would, but there was no excuse for the United’s players surrounding and virtually jostling the referee. Along with more technology and sin bins, the game is crying out for 5 yard exclusion zones around referees. So full marks to the FA for charging the club with failing to control its players. From the off, the Reds’ mind set appeared to be to rile Costa and rough up Hazard but this duo do hit the deck rather easily. Interestingly Sky Sports News played a tape the following morning from two seasons back when Mourinho was at Chelsea and he was complaining about the number of times that opposing teams set out their stall to intimidate the Belgian wizard. His words have come back to haunt him and once more, Jose has made a rod for his own back. I do however think that Chelsea fans had no right to call him “Judas”. After all, the Board actually sacked him, he did not leave for greener pastures, but then can you expect considered opinions from moronic supporters? Like him or not, Mourinho is an outstanding manager; the most successful in the history of Chelsea Football Club, a fact their supporters to a man ought to recognise. Of course, lest we forget, there was a football match going on and the West Londoners are a most impressive outfit. They appear to be devoid of weaknesses and United would have struggled with eleven men. Sadly “us Northerners” will have to accept that the Premier League title is London bound. As for the FA Cup, the Sky Blues alone carry our hopes. Fingers crossed it could it be a repeat of the 1981 final; City v Spurs, with no Ricky Villa and a different result.

An England XI, selected from Red Rose County clubs

Following last week’s article on a “Red Rose County Representative XI”, it has been suggested that I look at a current England XI from the same area, so here goes.

Tom Heaton

Nathan Clyne, Michael Keane, John Stones, Leighton Baines

Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barclay, Raheem Sterling,

Marcus Rashford, Andre Gray,


Jason Steele, Chris Smalling, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, James Milner, Gareth Barry,

Captain Jordan Henderson                     Manager Sean Dyche
The Premier League lacks English players, particularly at goal keeper and up front. I also did not want to select anyone who makes infrequent club appearances. As a result I chose Blackburn’s Jason Steele (capped at U/21 level) as second keeper and ignored Luke Shaw, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, preferring regular club starters Gray and Baines.
Player Representation per club
Starting XI
Manchester City
Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers


                                        Jordan Henderson; the obvious selection as captain

Performances of the last week

Gillingham 0 Bolton Wanderers 4 EFL Division 1

A second consecutive haul of 4 goals is certainly noteworthy, particularly when both are away from home and the Wanderers are well and truly back to their best. Equally of note was the performance of Filipe Morais. The winger produced the assists for all 4 goals, each one a cross which David Wheater, Adam le Fondre, Mark Beevers and Josh Vela converted.
Manchester United 1 Rostov 0 (Europa League, Round of the last 16)
It is the result that counts, even though it was United’s fourth unimpressive performance on the bounce since winning the EFL Cup at the end of February. Juan Mata scored his 10th goal of the season (the £89 million Pogba has 4) to give the Old Trafford faithful something to enthuse about as they qualified to play Anderlecht from Brussels in the quarter finals.

Manchester City 1 Liverpool 1 (Premier League)

Full marks to both sides for producing a cracker-jack of a game, but it was a bad result for the North West. I honestly did not mind which one of these giants won, as long as there was a victor; thus applying a final touch of Red Rose pressure to Chelsea. Unfortunately it is now game over and if we are not careful, it could be a London 1-2. Perish the thought!

Newport County 1 Blackpool 3

In less than perfect conditions at Rodney Parade, Blackpool skipped away to a 2 goal lead with scores from Bright Osayi-Samuel and a Mark Cullen penalty. A late rally put the Tangerines under late pressure but a bizarre second from Osayi-Samuel put the game beyond doubt; the keeper, having gone up for a corner, was unable to get back in time.
On the Non-league scene, National League Barrow came from behind to beat Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1, keeping their faint hopes of a Play-Off place alive. In the National League North, AFC Fylde’s 2 -2 draw with closest rivals Kidderminster Harriers and Salford’s 1-1 draw with Stockport County strengthened their positions. Northern Premier League Ashton United stayed in mid-table following a 1-0 victory over Matlock Town and Warrington Town won their 4th straight game to move into 4th place thanks to a Daniel Hattersley goal, although they have played more games than their rivals. In the Northern Premier League 1 North, Lancaster City narrowly beat Tadcaster Albion 1-0 to stay level at the top, but 3rd placed Trafford dropped 2 points in a 2-2 draw with Ramsbottom United, Rammy’s Lee Gaskell converting 2 penalties. In the North West Counties Premier League, Atherton Collieries remain top after a 1-0 win at Maine Road but the shock of the weekend was Barnoldswick Town’s 4-3 win at the high-flying Runcorn Town. In Division 1, Litherland REMYCA and City of Liverpool defeated Silsden and FC Oswestry Town respectively to stay in 1st and 2nd places in the League. Finally Mossley Hill Athletic from Liverpool moved to the top of the West Cheshire League by defeating the previous incumbent Rainhill Town 3-0.

Games to look forward to this week

Bury v Fleetwood (EFL Division 1) Saturday March 25, 15.00
Bury, fresh from a fighting goal-less draw at Millwall where keeper Joe Murphy’s display was described as stunning, are now up to 17th place. They could yet be relegation contenders but the new manager has turned around their season and suddenly they are extremely difficult to beat. Fleetwood have had a mini-stumble and dropped to 3rd place, one point away from an automatic promotion place. The play-offs are a lottery and bear little correlation to previous form so 3 points will mean so much for the Cod Army at Gigg Lane.
Oldham Athletic v Sheffield United (EFL Division 1) Saturday March 25, 15.00
The high-rollers are paying a visit to Boundary Park and it ought to be the Latics’ highest gate of the season. The Blades have all but sewn up promotion but Oldham. although much improved under John Sheridan, are still having to look over their shoulder as they move into the final stages of what has been a dog fight since day one. They will not lie down, it will be a battle for 90 minutes and a point will probably be gratefully received.
Blackpool v Hartlepool United (EFL Division 2) Saturday March 25, 15.00
The Tangerines have suddenly found some consistency, something that the fans have been demanding all season. Following an 8 game unbeaten run, the play-offs are now within touching distance but Gary Bowyer has injuries to cope with. Hartlepool are poor away from home and Blackpool ought to win this game; in fact they have to win. It is as simple as that. 

Brad Potts; his return to form has coincided with Blackpool’s promotion charge
Chorley v Curzon Ashton (National League North) Saturday March 25, 15.00
Back in 1990, Chorley were relegated from the Conference (Tier 5), but Matt Jansen has prepared a side ready to return to those lofty heights. AFC Fylde appear to have the top spot at their mercy but Chorley are still in the race for the runners up slot. They did however lose at Harrogate Town on Saturday and Curzon Ashton are much improved. They will provide stubborn opposition but to gain promotion, Chorley must win this home game.

Quiz of the Week (Answers at the foot of the Blog)

                  Each question has a Red Rose County connection

1                    In 1997, John Barnes left Anfield to join which Premier League club?
2                    There are 2 ex-Blackburn Rovers players in the current England squad. One is Michael Keane who was on loan but who is the one time permanent Rover?
3                    There are 2 German managers currently plying their trade in the Red Rose County. Jürgen Klopp and which other?

Jürgen Klopp; one of the few German’s to manage in England

4                    Who played 569 league games for Blackpool and went on to manage the Leeds United side which reached the 1974 final of the European Cup?
5                    Signed from Everton in 2000, which ex-Manchester City player holds 2 unwanted Premier League records. Most own goals and joint most sendings off?
6                    Ricardo Gardner was capped 75 times for Jamaica whilst playing for which Red Rose County club?

                                Ricardo Gardner; captained Jamaica for 4 years  

7                    From 2009-15, which French defender made 159 appearances for Everton?
8                    Who managed Burnley FC when promoted to the Premier League in 2009?
9                    Which club drew at Blackburn 1-1 on May 14 2011 to clinch the Premier League title?
10                The Northern Premier League North clubs, Mossley, Droylsden and Hyde United all have grounds situated in which Greater Manchester Metropolitan Borough?

Post Weekend Musings

Manchester City’s defeat amongst the Monegasque, the millionaires of Monaco, seemed somehow self-inflicted. There is no doubting the class and skill at the Etihad club but they never seem to chase back as fast as they run forward. Hence they were quickly 2-0 down. They came out after the interval with more determination and Sane gave them a life line. They then had to hold firm for 20 minutes and the newly revitalised Leicester for example would have won it from there. City however defend so feebly and it was no surprise when that impressive physical specimen Bakayoko powered home a header from a free kick. Talent is an important asset at a football club but often “guts” is even more important.

John Stones; so much talent but is he consistently tough enough?
There are three interesting Non-League games on Saturday. Marine, struggling to stay in the Northern Premier League for a record 39th consecutive season, travel to Corby Town, one point below them and just above the relegation zone. In the Northern Premier League North, Colne, arguably the Red Rose surprise packet of the season, look to improve on their 5th place as they host a resurgent Colwyn Bay. Finally Bootle accommodate Runcorn Linnets in the North West Counties Premier League match of the day, looking to hang on to the shirt tails of Atherton Collieries at the top of the Division.
Players from our local clubs were amongst the honours when the EFL Teams of the Year were selected. There was nothing for our Championship sides but in League 1, the Oldham goal keeper Connor Ripley, the Fleetwood right back Conor McLaughlin, Bolton centre backs David Wheater and Mark Beevers and Bury striker James Vaughan all made the eleven. In League 2, Blackpool’s Kelvin Mellor and Brad Potts at right back and in midfield respectively gained selection. Congratulations to all seven for flying the Red Rose flag.
Neil Warnock, not everyone’s favourite, claimed to have predicted Warren Joyce’s failure at Wigan Athletic. He argued that there is no comparison between running Manchester United’s reserves in a pressure free zone and the cut and thrust of the Championship where every point counts. Warnock may be right, but I felt sorry for Joyce because Wigan knew what they were buying into but gave him just 4 months to turn the club around. Hopefully his reputation is untarnished and he can return to this level; being far better prepared.

Red Rose County Player of the Week

Romelu Lukaku may be greedy when it comes to contracts but he is a handful on the pitch. They say his first touch is poor, but his physicality, pace, power and deadly finishing was too much for Hull City. With 21 league goals already, he has his eyes set on Gary Lineker’s Premier League record of 30 Everton goals in a season; a worthy Player of the Week.

 Tier 10 Club of the Week

Daisy Hill FC; becalmed at Tier 10 for nigh on 40 years

Daisy Hill sounds like a beauty spot, the place you would take the family for a picnic on an idyllic summer’s day. In actual fact it is a part of Westhoughton which in turn is a small town, part of the sprawling Metropolitan Borough of Bolton. The football club has a long history dating back to 1894 with much success at the lower levels prior to joining the Lancashire Combination in 1978. This league morphed into the North West Counties League in 1982 and amazingly, Daisy Hill has played at Tier 10 for 39 seasons. Their ground, intriguingly named New Sirs, has seen a number of upgrades as the club has developed but seen little success. They finished 4th in 1986, their best season at this level and have finished in one of the two relegation spots on 6 occasions but always avoiding relegation. They have never won an FA Cup game and in 1989 the club changed its name to Westhoughton Town, reverting back to Daisy Hill 5 years later. The club’s colours are all blue from head to toe and the average crowd is 70 per game, not bad for this level. As per the norm; they are currently residing in 16th place in the league, but providing football for the locals to watch.

                   The New Sirs Ground at Daisy Hill

Quiz Answers
1 Newcastle United, 2 Phil Jones, 3 Uwe Rosler, 4 Jimmy Armfield,   5 Richard Dunne,       
6 Bolton Wanderers, 7 Sylvain Distin, 8 Owen Coyle, 9 Manchester United, 10 Tameside,

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