Betfred Sport

Blake's 7 - A week in football

As a Southampton fan for more than 30 years, it is fair to say that I have experienced many of the highs and lows that being a football fan has to offer.

In 2003, I paid £300 for an FA Cup final ticket at the Millennium Stadium when my beloved Saints were beaten by a solitary goal from Arsenal’s Robert Pires. I don’t regret a penny!

Supporting ‘The Saints’, I’ve witnessed some great goals from the likes of Keegan, Shearer and Le Tissier but I’ve also seen the demise of my club in recent years, although we are on our way back now.

In this new weekly feature, I will be offering my views and opinions on seven of the key events in football during the last seven days.

Hold on to your hats, it’s about to get controversial!

Ferguson to find funds?

Sir Alex Ferguson must spend big in January. Manchester United will struggle to finish in the Champions League places this year if he doesn’t dip into the transfer market in January.

After failing to land any of his summer targets at Old Trafford, Ferguson will now be without Vidic, Fletcher, Cleverly and Anderson for some time yet.

With Chelsea’s victory over 10-man Manchester City on Monday and Arsenal now hitting a run of form, United may need to finish above Spurs if they are to avoid becoming the star attraction in the Europa League next season.

Channel 5 will be salivating at the prospect!

Preston North End R.I.P.

Peter Risdale has begun his destruction of yet another perfectly good football club with the sacking of the enigmatic Phil Brown.

This is the same chairman that fired Peter Reid at Plymouth after he had sold his football medals to pay for the club’s heating bills and who negligently gambled with millions of pounds at Leeds, leading to their flirtation with bankruptcy and subsequent relegation to League 1.

Risdale who upon his appointment stated that, “I sincerely hope that working with Preston North End’s existing staff and with the continued support of its fan base, I can play a part in ensuring that we return to the Championship as a minimum in the not too distant future.”

I trust that PNE’s existing staff will rest peacefully tonight!

Fight Club!

ACT 1: SCENE 1. venue: The Carrington training facility.

Roberto Mancini to Micah Richards: "Micah what's the first rule of fight club?"

Micah Richards: "Never tweet about fight club boss?"

Quite why Micah Richards decided to go public on Twitter with his now infamous we are "all good" tweet, only he will know.

To me, it was a pathetically transparent boast about his antics, unwittingly calculated to show little or no sign of remorse or regret.

His was a jealous, petty gesture from a far less talented footballer than Mario Ballotelli.

I've no doubt that when he looks at himself in the mirror on Friday morning, it will be a bitter, underachieving, former England international who is staring straight back.

Tottenham underachieve in Europe yet again

With the resources available to him, Harry Redknapp should be delivering greater success for Spurs in Europe.

After their side’s premature exit from the Europa League, despite winning 4-0 at Shamrock Rovers last Thursday night, the Tottenham faithful should begin to question Harry’s ability to rotate his squad effectively against inferior opposition.

Failure in Europe raises questions about Redknapp’s future aspirations for the England job. Tame excuses about this competition being a low priority for Tottenham, quite frankly do not wash with me.

The Premier League is a competition that they simply can’t challenge for at the moment which leaves just the two domestic cups and the Europa League up for grabs. Champions League qualification will be a waste of time for a club whose only target is to be also-rans in the Premier League title race.

Personally, if I was a Spurs fan, I would prefer to be challenging for a trophy than finishing third or fourth in the Premier League.

QPR - Dancing on (thin) ice

The cracks are beginning to show for Neil Warnock’s Queens Park Rangers.

Defeat to Manchester United on Sunday was akin to a puppy rolling over and having its tummy tickled.

From the moment Wayne Rooney glanced in the opener, as early as the first minute, to Michael Carrick’s excellent run and finish mid-way through the second half, there was only going to be one outcome in this match.

QPR now find themselves just three points above the ‘drop zone’ and skating on thin ice.

BBC live football – A complete shambles

The BBC coverage of the South Coast derby match between Southampton and Portsmouth on Sunday can only be described as a complete shambles.

To begin with, there was less than ten minutes of build up before kick-off with very little being said about the history of the fixture or any highlights being shown from previous encounters between the two sides.

Things proceeded to get worse once the game was underway.

The live editing was simply appalling. I found myself wondering, on numerous occasions, what was happening on the pitch whilst the camera lingered for far too long on the managers and fans of both sides.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the absurdly high level and clarity of the effects microphone subjected the viewer to some of the most spiteful and malicious football chanting that I have heard in quite a while.

Portsmouth fans could be clearly heard chanting, amongst other obscenities, “you dirty scummers… we f****** hate you” for extended periods of the match - which is hardly appropriate Sunday lunchtime viewing for children.

I for one shall be quickly renewing my SKY Sports subscription. They know how to broadcast a live football match and they put the BBC to shame.

City back on top - But will it last?

Manchester City should enjoy their time at the top of the Premier League while they still can.

Their 1-0 home victory over a rejuvenated Arsenal side, who were coming into the match on the back of a decent run, was enough to take them back to the top of the table in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

The festive fixture list is much kinder to United than City, who must now dig very deep if they are to keep the red half of Manchester at bay.

By Paul Blake

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