A busy weekend and 2-0 to United and Me.

28 September 07

Hello there.

Got a busy weekend ahead of me. Off to watch Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Dougal from Father Ted, in case you didn’t know) at the LBT in Huddersfield tonight which should be good. Not seen any of his stand up for a few years so am wondering quite what he’ s going to be like nowadays. I’ll have a laugh no matter what though I expect.

Got the Japanese Grand Prix to watch at 4ish in the morning on Sunday which’ll be a challenge. The Chinese race is on at a similar time the following week so I’ve got two weeks of odd sleeping times coming up. Lots of coffee and Lucozade required.

Manchester United beat Chelsea last week in a very poorly refereed game. I think on the balance of things a 2-0 win was a fair result but the manner in which the goals came was a bit dodgy. Not sure about John Terry and John Obi Mikel’s attempts to stop the referee from showing the red card though, I thought they might’ve got in trouble for that. I know the club themselves have been charged but the players need to take some responsibility in that kind of situation.

Shame about the Coventry game. Looking at the team that we put out we really should’ve done better than that. Players like Nani and Anderson are taking their time to bed in but hopefully they’ll be special when they do.

United v Roma next Tuesday though. Another 7-1? Doubt it but it’d be nice!

Darts Update:
I won again! 2-0 it was. The team were ΒΌ of an inch from winning 5-0 for the first time but it wasn’t to be. Good performances all round though. We’ve got a strong team for this division and I’m confident we can challenge for the title this time around. As long as the players keep the belief they’ve built up from the end of last season and the beginning of this, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. More trophies, please!

Position: 4
My Result: 2-0 win
Team Result: 4-1 win


European Football – A Revamp, Colin McRae & A New Darts Season

18 September 07
The UEFA Vodafone Heineken Sony PlayStation 3 Champions League starts tonight. Of course ‘champions’ doesn’t mean ‘champions’, it means teams that finished quite near the top of their league, if not top itself. Why does a competition need so many sponsors? There are probably more than the three I’ve mentioned up there. At least it shows where a lot of the money’s coming from – it also shows where a lot of the tickets are going but that’s been going on for years.

The Champions League is the most watched club football competition on the planet, I believe, and it invariably throws up a good game every week it’s on. I’m a fan of the competition despite it being completely detrimental to the other European club competitions. The Cup Winners’ Cup has already met it’s demise and the UEFA cup will surely follow as the money juggernaut that is the Champions League rolls on.

The Champions League Trophy
The problem with how it’s affected things is shown in the winners of the competition over the past 8 years. Here’s what I mean:

2007: AC Milan – Finished 4th in Serie A
2006: Barcelona – Finished 1st in La Liga
2005: Liverpool – Finished 5th in Premiership
2004: FC Porto – Finished 1st in Portuguese Liga
2003: AC Milan – Finished 3rd in Serie A
2002: Real Madrid – Finished 3rd in La Liga
2001: Bayern Munich – Finished 1st in 1.Bundesliga (losing 9 games from 34)
2000: Real Madrid – Finished 5th in La Liga

Over 8 seasons, only 3 teams have won both the Champions League and their own domestic league in the same season. Not good for what is supposedly the best team in Europe at that point.

Only 4 times in this period has a club won their domestic league one season, then the Champions League the next. Really then, in 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2007, the club that won it shouldn’t have been there (as was the case with Manchester United in 1999).

This shows me that there’s life in the UEFA cup yet, if it’s managed properly.

This is why the Champions League needs cutting down to just the Champions of each country, maybe two from stronger nations. The 4-team group things works well and brings money and fans in so that can stay but get rid of the 3rd place team jumping ship to the UEFA cup.

The UEFA Cup
The UEFA cup needs the next one or two clubs and the domestic cup winners in a straight 2 leg knockout format. None of these soppy 5 team leagues where if you play a team at home you don’t play them away and vice versa.

The winner of the Champions League get re-entered for the next season no matter their domestic league position. the UEFA cup winners get a Champions League spot too. Sound fair to you?

This way you cut down on meaningless games, get rid of the Inter Toto (is that still going actually?) and get to games where you have the very very best from one country playing against the very very best from another which is what it should all be about.

The UEFA cup will have extra spice. An increase in team quality and a more exciting knockout format. Not our 7th placed team playing against the 3rd placed team from Finland, for example, with Channel 5 only deciding to show it half an hour before kick off because they’ve got nothing better to show.

We all know it’s down to profiteering so none of this will happen. In fact it will expand and the quality will get worse until it’s tiresome I imagine.

As I said earlier though, I’m a fan of the competition. It’s not gone quite too far yet so enjoy the games from the next 2 days. I hope I’ve given you something to think about when it gets a bit dull though πŸ™‚

R.I.P. Colin McRae, by the way. A fearless rally driver and the ultimate competitor. He will be sadly missed by all of us who enjoy the sport of rallying.

The entrance to The Vineyard
Added on Wednesday…
Darts Update:
First game of the winter season and we were away at a place the likes of which I’ve never seen before. It’s called ‘The Vineyard’. It was literally a hut with two rooms on the side of an overgrown hill. They sold beer in cans, had 3 draught beers on, all of which were bitter, and didn’t let women in until a couple of years ago. They had a ghetto blaster with a Beatles CD on for entertainment and teletext on the little TV to follow the football.

Anyway, enough of my observations. I won 2-0 and the team won 3-2. I played better than I have done in ages so was very pleased. Apart from one 26 I threw, every score was at least 60 – apart from my darts at doubles which were both hit first time.

Position: 4 (3 is now a pairs match)
My Result: 2-0 win (it’s only best of 3 in this division)
Team Result: 3-2 win


A $100,000,000 fine and final darts update of the season

14 September 07
There’s some bloke on Five Live right now who’s saying that “There’s too much technology in Formula One. It’s all about the car. It should be about the driver.”

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but even back in 1950 when the F1 World Championship started the constructors tried to make the car the fastest and most technically advanced they could. Ok, the technology has got a lot better but the point still stands.

He’s saying that the driver makes no difference too. How the hell can he say that?! If that was the case then Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello would have won world championships alongside Michael Schumacher.

Fernando Alonso
Anyway, that’s an old boring story that’s been going on for years. The big story is the ‘spygate’ row. McLaren have been fined $100,000,000 (about Β£50 million) for using Ferrari’s technical data which they obtained between a Ferrari engineer and one of their own engineers.

I have no doubt whatsoever that McLaren did not use this data for their own development, and I’m not a McLaren fan by any stretch of the imagination.

They have also had all of their constructors points up to now and for the rest of the season removed thereby losing all prize money for the season. Now, if my sketchy knowledge of F1 intricacies is correct here, they also forgo a percentage of the next two season’s prize money, they will not be eligible for as much support when it comes to logistics, they will be at the ‘wrong end’ of the pit lane for next season and they are likely to lose sponsorship money as many sponsors pay on a bonus scheme down to performance.

So, the fine will work out to be considerably more than the $100,000,000.

Lewis Hamilton
The legal action was supposed to have been over a few months ago but new evidence had come to light, namely emails between the drivers. These emails (allegedly) contained conversations as to how the ill-gotten information should be put into practice, mainly tyres and brake information. If this is the case, why have just the team been punished? I feel that if the drivers are involved, then they should be punished too (if any punishing has to take place at all). Now, I’m a big Fernando Alonso fan and the last thing I want to happen is for his title challege to be derailed, and Hamilton’s for that matter, but if they are involved then why should they get off scott-free?

Rumour alert: Eddie Jordan was on the radio this morning talking about a supposed deal that was supposed to be mooted to the McLaren team. The deal was that if Ron Dennis resigned as McLaren team boss, the action would all be ‘forgotten’. Ron Dennis, quite rightly, said ‘bugger off’ to this. This was all down to a complete breakdown of the relationship between Ron Dennis and the head honcho at the FIA, Max Mosley. I don’t know what to make of that.

Anyway, the FIA are supposed to be making a statement as to exactly what McLaren have done wrong later on today. I watch and listen with interest.

Darts Update:
Summer season is over now, we finished 2nd in our group in the league and so get a runner’s-up trophy. We reached the semi-finals of the team knockouts and so win another trophy. I get a commemorative set of flights for my 180 as well. Not a bad first season back overall! Pleased πŸ™‚

Position: 1 (drawn out of a hat)
My Result: 2-1 defeat (it’s only best of 3 in K/O)
Team Result: 3-0 defeat (it got to 3-0 so we stopped, no coming back from that)
Season 180 Count: 1 (told you it’d stay that way!)