Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Talking Points - October

All the points of discussion from the month of October.

Crewe have trouble finding Mr Right
Crewe's problem of finding a long-term manager after Gudjon Thordarson's sacking, as examined by Nobes.

Staunton takes up Darlo challenge
Nobes on the difficult task facing Steve Staunton as he takes up the manager's position at the Football League's bottom club, Darlington.

The Ideal Championship: Part I
The lads' quest to find the clubs who can consider themselves amongst the biggest-44, if not the biggest-20 in the country, begins.

The Ideal Championship: Part II
With the top-20 decided, the lads move on to deciding who will make the cut when it comes to being included in their perfect second tier.

The Worst Managerial Appointments Ever
In tribute to the catastrophic reign of John Barnes at Tranmere, the lads look at some of the other worst ever managerial appointments.

The Media Spotlight
Nobes on why the BBC's Football League coverage is putting more pressure on managers.

Notts a Clue
After Notts County sack manager Ian McParland, Turls criticises the club's owners for their running of the club.

Waddock's Wycombe wager
Gary Waddock's move from Aldershot to Wycombe is a risk to his managerial career argues Nobes.

Mariners ship out Newell
Nobes on troubled Grimsby and the trouble with working with Mike Newell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prediction League - Week 13

After ruling himself out of the running, Lakes powered to the top of the prediction league after a glorious Week 12 saw him record seven points from the four games. It included spot-on predictions for both Preston and Forest's results.

Turls is knocked down to second therefore, and Nobes's poor run continues, the former leader is now eight points off the pace and has gone seven weeks without correctly predicting a scoreline.

So, with Nobes in need of a drastic change of fortunes we move onto this weekend with Preston and Forest are on league duty, the latter on Sunday, and Boston in cup action, with the possibility of a midweek replay.

Preston North End vs. Crystal Palace

Lakes: PNE 2-1 Crystal Palace
Nobes: PNE 2-0 Crystal Palace
Turls: PNE 2-1 Crystal Palace

Boston United vs. Quorn

Lakes: BUFC 2-1 Quorn
Nobes: BUFC 3-1 Quorn
Turls: BUFC 3-1 Quorn

Cardiff City vs. Nottingham Forest

Cardiff City 2-0 Forest
Cardiff City 1-1 Forest
Cardiff City 1-0 Forest

Quorn vs. Boston United

Lakes: Quorn 0-2 BUFC
Nobes: Quorn 1-3 BUFC
Turls: Quorn 0-3 BUFC

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Big Match Preview

League Two
Morecambe vs. Lincoln City
Saturday October 31, 15:00, Christie Park

Two basement division sides who could do with a win meet on the Lancashire coast this weekend as Chris Sutton takes his Lincoln City team to face fellow strugglers Morecambe.

For the hosts, in their last season at their Christie Park home before a move to a new stadium, it's been a disappointing start to the campaign. Just one win, ironically against big-spending Notts County, has been garnered this term.

Much was expected of the Shrimps after the summer signings of Ian Craney and Phil Jevons, both on loan from Huddersfield, and the subsequent capture of Accrington target man Paul Mullin.

However, things haven't quite gone to plan for Sammy McIlroy's men, with too many draws - nine in total - being their biggest frustration this term. That includes five stalemates on home turf where their unbeaten home record was ended by Northampton last weekend.

They'll be looking to get back to winning ways for the visit of Lincoln therefore, with the club, promoted to the Football League in 2007, lying just two points and two places above the drop zone back to the Conference.

Much will depend on loan man Jevons, a profitable striker at this level, the former Yeovil man has six goals to his name already this term. Midfielders Stewart Drummond and Michael Twiss have also been key figures again for the Lancashire outfit.

It's been a similarly disappointing start to the campaign for their opponents this weekend. Lincoln parted company with boss Peter Jackson last month after three defeats in their first five league games.

His eventual replacement turned out to be former England striker Chris Sutton, taking over at Sincil Bank for his first managerial role. Assisted by ex-Blackburn teammate Ian Pearce, the Imps have taken seven points from their four games under the new manager.

Chris Sutton is in his first managerial job at struggling Lincoln

That included 1-0 wins over Aldershot and Macclesfield, but City have gone two games without scoring in defeat at Northampton and then last weekend's draw against another struggling side in Torquay.

Indeed, goals have been hard to come by for Lincoln with just nine registered in their 14 league games. Four of those have come from striker Rene Howe, on loan at the club until the New Year from Peterborough.

Striker Chris Fagan, a product of Glenn Hoddle's academy in Spain after being released by Manchester United, has bagged three goals this term too, and is one of just four players to find the back of the net for Sutton's side.

Only bottom of the league Darlington have lost more games on the road this season as well, so the Imps, fresh from their first draw of the season, will be happy to take a similar result back with them to the East Midlands.

However, the Shrimps will be looking to bounce back from their first home loss of the campaign in their previous game, and a Lincoln side who struggle to score may well face the backlash. A tight game with few goals, just in favour of the home team.

Nobes' Prediction: Morecambe 1 Lincoln City 0

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Match Review - Plymouth 1 Ipswich 1

Plymouth Argyle 1-1 Ipswich Town
Saturday October 24, Home Park, Att: 10,875

Roy Keane's Ipswich were left still searching for their first win of the campaign after coming from behind to draw against a Plymouth side reduced to 10 men late on.

Both sides began brightly creating a few half chances, but it was Argyle who took the lead mid-way through the first half. Jamie Mackie laying the ball back for Carl Fletcher to power a shot past Richard Wright from outside the area.

It was the boost the Pilgrims needed and they had a couple of penalty shouts turned down before they were indebted to 'keeper Romain Larrieu for a fine save from a Grant Leadbitter shot.

However, it was a careless piece of defending by Plymouth's Gary Sawyer with just twenty minutes remaining that gave Ipswich a route back into the match. His woefully underhit backpass was intercepted by Town's Jon Stead and the former Blackburn striker slipped the ball past Larrieu to level matters.

Ipswich could have then taken the lead when some neat build-up found Alan Quinn but despite beating the keeper his shot was cleared off the line by Rory Fallon.

And the home side were then reduced to 10 men when Darcy Blake's clumsy challenge from behind earnt him a straight red card with ten minutes remaining.

However, the Suffolk club were unable to break through the Argyle backline to find a winner and remain rooted to the foot of the Championship, a point and place behind Paul Sturrock's Plymouth.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Prediction League - Week Twelve

Four points in midweek for Lakes saw him close the gap at the top to just three points and saw Nobes slide to the bottom of the table for the first time.

All three teams are in action this weekend with Boston and Forest on the road and Preston returning to home league action. Boston are also in action in midweek.

Crystal Palace vs. Nottingham Forest

Lakes: Crystal Palce 1-1 Forest
Crystal Palce 0-1 Forest
Crystal Palce 1-1 Forest

Preston North End vs. Middlesbrough

Lakes: PNE 2-2 Middlesbrough
PNE 2-1 Middlesbrough
PNE 2-1 Middlesbrough

Nantwich Town vs. Boston United

Nantwich Town 1-2 BUFC
Nantwich Town 1-1 BUFC
Nantwich Town 2-1 BUFC

Stocksbridge Park Steels vs. Boston United

Stocksbridge Park Steels 1-2 BUFC
Nobes: Stocksbridge Park Steels 1-2 BUFC
Turls: Stocksbridge Park Steels 2-3 BUFC

Nobes' Trivia Question Six

Another trivia question to get you thinking courtesy of Soccer AM/MW's Nobes:

What was significant about the sides who finished bottom of the top four divisions in England in the 2003/4 season?

The answer will be given on November 6.

Nobes' Trivia Question Five - solution

Two weeks ago, we asked you again if you could solve the answer to:


He told you that:

The ground I'm at this week was the first in the country to have an artificial pitch in the 1980s. However, the current tenants of this stadium weren't the first to play here.

It's staged Premier League football in both the last two decades and has even seen the likes of Jamaica and Australia play international football matches here.

Not that it's purely limited to the beautiful game, as it's hosted boxing matches in the past too.

Did you get the answer? Well, Nobes was at Loftus Road - home of Queens Park Rangers.

It was 1981 when Loftus Road installed the first artificial pitch to be used in British football, but a full 13 years before QPR ever played there, it was first used by Shepherd's Bush FC in 1904.

The ground has staged Premier League football in the last two decades - QPR were in the top flight during the '90s, and Fulham, in the Premier League since 2001, ground-shared with the Rs in this decade when their Craven Cottage ground was being re-developed.

Australia have played international matches at the ground, including draws with Ghana and South Africa in 2005 and 2008 respectively. Jamaica have also played international football there.

And in 1985 it hosted a famous boxing match where Barry McGuigan defeated Eusebio Pedroza to become the WBA featherweight boxing champion.

Congratulations if you got the right answer, and we'll be asking where Nobes is again soon. Another trivia question coming up for you shortly as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Big Match Preview

Plymouth Argyle vs. Ipswich Town
Saturday October 24, 15:00, Home Park

The Championship's bottom two clash down in Devon this weekend as Plymouth host an Ipswich side expected to challenge at the top of the division but still seeking their first win of the season.

It's been a disastrous start to the campaign for Roy Keane's visitors. After coming in at the tail end of last season and conjuring up two wins, Ipswich have failed to register a single victory in their first 13 league games this term.

They haven't come much closer to winning than Tuesday night though. Leading Watford 1-0 for the majority of the game, a 94th minute equaliser for the Hornets left Town stunned and cursing their inability hold onto a lead.

Indeed, injury time goals have been a feature of Ipswich's poor start to the campaign. In three successive away games against Doncaster, Sheffield United, and Barnsley, late goals cost the Tractor Boys five points.

Seven draws have been
accumulated so far this season, but with the division's leakiest defence - 26 goals have been shipped in - former Arsenal keeper Richard Wright and his defence have undermined Town's season.

However, Keane does have an abundance of attacking riches to pick from, with Jon Walters having bagged four goals this term. If the likes of Tamas Priskin, Jon Stead, and
Pablo Counago can start finding the back of the net too, then Ipswich have the firepower to get themselves out of trouble.

Their opponents this weekend have so far struggled to find the back of the net and find themselves just a point above the Suffolk outfit. However, at least Plymouth can point to actually having notched up a couple of victories.

Managers under pressure: Sturrock and Keane could both do with a win

A 2-1 win at Peterborough, followed by a victory over Scunthorpe by the same scoreline helped ease the pressure slightly on under-fire Argyle boss Paul Sturrock.

The Pilgrims finished 21st last season, only narrowly avoiding the drop, and after a summer takeover by a Japanese consortium, the manager is under pressure to show he is the man for the long-term future of the club.

Their fortunes have not been helped by a poor record at Home Park - the Green Army have seen their side secure just four points and score five goals on home turf this season.

Ipswich will travel in hope they can follow the likes of Nottingham Forest, Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday and Watford in coming away with all three points from the South West.

Top scorer for Argyle this season is Jamie Mackie with three strikes to his name, and other leading lights include New Zealand international Rory Fallon and the creative spark of Alan Gow.

It promises to be an afternoon full of nerve and tensions and two sides low on confidence. However, whilst Plymouth enter the game in poor form with defeats at Blackpool and Bristol City in their last two outings, Ipswich appear to be inching ever closer to that first win.

It may well come at Home Park this weekend. In a battle of two of the worst defences, Ipswich have the greater strikepower to take advantage and all three points.

Nobes' Prediction: Plymouth Argyle 1 Ipswich Town 2

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Prediction League - Week Eleven continued

The lads are in need of a few more points as Week Eleven continues after a weekend of low scoring.

Nobody foresaw Forest's win over Newcastle, and only Nobes predicted a QPR win over Preston. Along with Boston's victory, it saw him the weekend's top points scorer with two.

Both North End and Forest are back in Championship action against South Yorkshire opponents on Tuesday night.

Nottingham Forest vs. Barnsley

Forest 3-0 Barnsley
Forest 2-1 Barnsley
Forest 3-1 Barnsley

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Preston North End

Lakes: Sheffield Wednesday 1-2 PNE
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 PNE
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 PNE

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mariners ship out Newell

It's becoming a familiar story.

Grimsby's decision to part company with manager Mike Newell
after a little over a year continues the struggling nature of the last few seasons at Blundell Park.

However, chairman John Fenty's claim that the decision was, rather than results based, determined by a complete breakdown in the relationship between manager and board, appears to throw the spotlight onto Newell himself.

The Lincolnshire club finished 22nd last season, only narrowly avoiding relegation from the Football League. Now, struggling in the drop-zone after 13 games of this season, Newell had appeared to have paid the price for the club's poor form.

The man who was credited with keeping the club up last season - it took them until November to even win a game - had failed to progress the club away from another battle against the drop.

However, it now appears to have been more a question of the character of Newell, a controversial figure in the past, than his record on the pitch.

The 44-year-old was dismissed by Luton Town in 2007 for criticising the lack of financial backing from the board. His record of winning the League One title with the Hatters and then achieving a 10th placed finish in the Championship counting for little.

Newell had previously blown the whistle on corruption in the game amid claims he had been offered bungs by football agents, and was also reprimanded for sexist remarks about a female referee during his time at the club.

His departure from the East Coast will further damage an off-field reputation which could begin to hamper further managerial opportunities. Newell is a loose cannon who, despite achieving results on the pitch, has proven himself a difficult man to work with.

As for Town themselves, fans must now be questioning whether their side's consistent underachieving and struggles is really rooted in the failure of managers, or whether problems at the club are deeper-rooted?

Newell's Grimsby reign lasted just over 12 months

Since successive relegations saw them drop down to the basement division in 2004, Grimsby have only once finished in the top half. Then, in 2006, Russell Slade engineered a promotion push that saw the club lose to Cheltenham in the play-off final.

Since his departure, three managers - Graham Rodger, Alan Buckley, and now Newell have all failed to get the club competing at the right end of the table. And this despite attendances consistently averaging between 4,000 and 5,000 - respectable crowds for League Two level.

Grimsby are not a club who are lacking in resources either, including being able to turn down a substantial offer for promising centre half Ryan Bennett from Peterborough during the summer.

Newell must accept some of the blame. The players who helped stave off the drop have been unable to take the club any further, and with five red cards already, indisicipline has been rife amongst the squad.

However, the fact a manager who has
proven his capabilities in the past with promotion at both Hartlepool and Luton has failed to turn around Grimsby's fortunes speaks volumes about the depth of the problems at the club.

And with Town once more staring demotion from the Football League in the face, their next managerial appointment needs to not only be the right one, but a long term one. Only stability can help these Mariners overcome their current stormy waters.


Big Match Review: Yeovil 3 Carlisle 1

League One
Yeovil Town 3-1 Carlisle United
Saturday October 17, Huish Park (Att: 4,333)

Yeovil recorded an important victory over fellow League One strugglers Carlisle as two goals from Ryan Mason helped heap the pressure on under-fire Cumbrians boss Greg Abbott.

The Glovers began the stronger of the two sides and took a deserved lead after just 13 minutes. Craig Alcock's through-ball split the United backline to unleash Mason, who showed the required composure to fire past Lenny Pidgely in the Carlisle goal.

And the home side doubled their advantage just before the break through the same player. This time Andy Welsh's first time reverse pass beating the Cumbrians' offside trap leaving the on-running Mason all the time in the world to notch up a second.

However, the visitors were handed a route back into the match early in the second half when Terrell Forbes's clumsy challenge on Scott Dobie in the box saw Carlisle awarded a penalty.

And, although Town keeper Alex McCarthy guessed the right way, he was powerless to stop former Leeds man Ian Harte reducing the arrears with over half an hour remaining.

Yeovil weren't to be denied though, and more slack defending from Abbott's men allowed the Somerset club a third three minutes from time. Kieran Murtagh with far too much time and space to convert a cross from the left from close range.

A third home win of the season for Terry Skiverton's side who move up to 14th, but Carlisle and their manager remain under pressure, entrenched in the bottom four.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prediction League - Week Eleven

A low scoring Week Ten saw just a single point picked up by leader Turls and his closest challenger Nobes as Boston surprisingly racked up two wins out of two.

After the international break, Preston and Forest are back in Championship action, and Boston's FA Trophy campaign begins on home turf.

Nottingham Forest vs. Newcastle United

Forest 1-2 Newcastle United
Forest 1-1 Newcastle United
Forest 1-2 Newcastle United

QPR vs. Preston North End


Boston United vs. Chorley

BUFC 3-1 Chorley
BUFC 3-0 Chorley
BUFC 4-0 Chorley

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Match Preview

League One
Yeovil Town vs. Carlisle United
Saturday October 17, 15:00, Huish Park

Two of League One's strugglers meet this weekend as under-fire Greg Abbott takes his Carlisle side on the long trip south to face Yeovil Town.

Results in midweek saw the Cumbrians slip into the division's bottom four for the first time this season and, after only just avoiding the drop last season, Abbott is under pressure to turn things around.

Carlisle are without a win since the beginning of September, and have recorded just two league victories all term - against fellow strugglers Stockport and Tranmere.

Most of their problems have stemmed from poor form at the usually formidable Brunton Park, with four defeats already. However, United are unbeaten in five of their six away trips in League One this term, so will be confident when hitting the road.

Abbott has been strengthening his squad this week, with the free transfer of former Portsmouth and Stoke striker Vincent Pericard, who is likely to feature up-front with six-goal man Scott Dobie.

Other leading lights in the Cumbrian side include former Preston winger Joe Anyinsah, midfield man Graham Kavanagh, and the ex-Leeds defender Ian Harte, whose speciality from set-plays has already seen him register three goals this term.

If Abbott is under pressure though, his opposite number at Yeovil, Terry Skiverton, enjoys the support of the Glovers faithful. The league's only official player-manager, the Yeovil veteran has so far been reluctant to get on the pitch himself.

Skiverton and Abbott are under varying degrees of pressure

Currently lying just a point above the drop-zone, the Somerset club are unbeaten in their last four matches, including drawing their last three. Indeed, draws have been the common feature of their season so far, with only two wins - against Tranmere and Brentford.

Striker Gavin Tomlin, with three goals to date, is the Glovers most potent threat going forwards, and other notable names include former Bristol City midfielder Scott Murray and midfielder Jean-Paul Kalala, currently in his second spell with the club.

Yeovil's form at Huish Park has been typically strong, suffering just one defeat - to high-flying Swindon Town, and will once again be crucial in their bid to avoid the drop.

It might be too a little early to describe this clash as a relegation six-pointer, but neither side can really afford to lose to a side likely to be around them come the business end of the season.

And with the two sides having recorded 11 draws between them this season, another stalemate looks on the cards this weekend.

Nobes' Prediction: Yeovil Town 1 Carlisle United 1

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We salute... Football ground food

In the latest of our series saluting the forgotten aspects of the beautiful game, Nobes turns his attention to something dear to his heart - and stomach - football ground grub.

You wouldn't know from looking at me, but I love my food. Part of the joy of long away trips to far flung corners of the country, because let's be honest - it's never the result, is sampling the culinary delicacies on offer at various football grounds.

Over the years I've tried a few, sometimes I've even gone back for more. But amongst the plastic hot dogs at York, or the lack of vegetarian pie options on offer at Accrington, a few delights stand out from the crowd.

The time has come, in a pure act of self-indulgence, to recognise these food sensations on a sparsely read internet blog.

Scotch Pie

Many people think Carlisle is in Scotland. It seems so far away when you've been sitting on a coach for the best part of your weekend that you can understand why.

It's not of course, but that doesn't stop Carlisle United stocking the simply sensational Scotch Pie. A classic mix of minced lamb and veg encased in a thick short-crust pastry case, the Scotch Pie is a firm favourite on trips to Brunton Park.

Stock up and take a few for the trip home.

Aggborough Soup

It's widely accepted among lower league fans that the best food around can be found at Kidderminster Harriers.

With its home made cottage and shepherds pies, no trip to Worcestershire is complete without sampling the food on offer.

And no football food is more famous than the thick broth known as Aggborough Soup. It's guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold January afternoon as your team slump to yet another embarrassing away defeat.

Kiddy's food prices might seem high, but considering the portion size and quality, it's worth every penny.

Butter Pie

Such is the affection the humble Butter Pie has in Preston, fans have started a Facebook group petitioning for its return to Deepdale.

The scandalous decision to stop selling this delicious Prestonian classic has been met with dismay by North End fans.

Originally baked for Catholics on Fridays when eating meat was forbidden, this combination of potato and onion in a butter sauce is the only choice for those seeking a pie bereft of meat.

Restoring it to its rightful place on a Saturday afternoon would surely ease the pressure even on beleagured chairman Derek Shaw.

Pork Roll

The Dambusters, Maggie Thatcher, Butlins, the Red Arrows, Lincolnshire is famous for many things.

However, it's also famous for its pork meat products, including the classic Hot Pork Roll on sale at Lincoln City

With the option of having one including stuffing or apple sauce, the Sincil Bank favourite is a classic for basement division fans.

Fish & Chips

OK, so I'm slightly cheating with this one, but anyway, full marks to some, some being the operative word, stewards at Rochdale's Spotland ground.

That's because they have been known to allow fans to enter through the turnstiles with the fish & chips purchased from the stellar Willbutt's Lane chippy across the road from the ground.

A proper northern chippy tea while watching your team on a typically grim Lancashire afternoon. There's no beating it.

Football ground food... Soccer AM/MW salutes you!

Waddock's Wycombe wager

Gary Waddock described his decision to move from Aldershot to Wycombe as the, "hardest decision I have ever had to make."

After a couple of successful seasons in Hampshire where he led them back into the Football League and established the Shots there, the club are currently sixth after an impressive start to the new campaign.

The decision to move to League One strugglers Wycombe arguably resembles more of a gamble for Waddock than his new club therefore.

After promotion last season, Peter Taylor failed to help the Buckinghamshire side adjust to life in the third tier. Just one win in their first 11 games sealed the fate of the former Leicester manager, including successive home losses to fellow strugglers Tranmere and Leyton Orient.

Another defeat at the weekend, this time to Gillingham, another side promoted from League Two last season, means Waddock's new side find themselves six points adrift from safety already.

For a man whose only previous managerial spell above League Two was an unsuccesful stint at QPR, there will be no time for Waddock to get to grips with the task of managing a step-up.

The reality is that Wycombe's problems run deeper than simply who picks the team. After a blistering start to last season, Wanderers barely stumbled over the finishing line to secure promotion on goal difference.

However, after failing to strengthen the squad over the summer, and rumours of a fall-out between club owner Steve Hayes and Taylor, they appear to be ill-equipped for the challenge of League One.

Barring loan signings, Waddock will be unable to recruit any permanent signings until January, by which point an immediate return to the basement division may already be on the horizon.

A relegation on your CV is something no manager wishes to experience, failure to keep Wycombe up and that's exactly what Waddock will have, even if his responsibility is minimal.

In the words of Roy Keane, Wycombe's failure to prepare means they have risked preparing to fail. Waddock has gambled on his ability to turn around their fortunes.

Waddock led Aldershot Town to the Conference title in 2008

He has also gambled on his ability to translate the methods which proved so successful at the Recreation Ground to the current group of players at Adams Park.

Expansive, attacking, passing football has been the order of the day at Aldershot. It's a stark contrast from the more dour and cautious approach which saw Taylor lead Wycombe to promotion last term.

Can Waddock adapt a team designed to be more industrious than imaginiative into playing good football and achieving results?

Will, in attempting to get the side to express themselves more, they be left more open to the more clinical forwards at League One level? 35 goals have been scored in league games involving Aldershot this season - Wycombe fans are in for a culture shock.

Finally, it represents a long term risk for his career prospects. After a poor spell at Loftus Road, Aldershot represented a chance for him to rebuild his managerial career, he grasped it with both hands.

Failure at Wycombe and he may find himself facing his old employers, or even seeing Town passing Wanderers as the two sides move in opposite directions in the pyramid.

Remaining at Aldershot and continuing his work there could have seen a bigger and arguably easier job coming his way in the future. However, with his stock probably at its highest point, could he be sure such opportunities would ever arise again?

Waddock has taken his chance.