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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Warren meets... Matt Le Tissier

As many will know, Matt Le Tissier is a bit of a legend down where I now live in Southampton.

Anyway, tonight I conducted a quick interview with Matt or as he is affectionately known by Saints fans "Le God".

WL: How did a lad from the Channel Islands enter the footballing world?

MLT: I was spotted by Southampton when I was playing for the Guernsey under 15s tour of Hampshire. I played two or three games and even played out of position in one of the games - Of course I'm a central midfielder and I got played out on the right wing and one of the scouts saw me, assumed I was a right winger and decided to invite me over for a trial.

WL: In the end you spent sixteen years at Saints, a long time and a lot of loyalty there. Would you consider yourself as the big fish in the small pond plying your trade at one of the so called smaller clubs?

MLT:  Yeah, definitely and that was probably one of the reasons I stayed - I loved the status, loved the place, the fans were great to me so I saw no reason to move on whilst we were playing in the top division.

WL: And, on the topic of loyalty what's your view of it nowadays in football?

MLT: There's not a lot of it nowadays to be honest with you but that is to be expected. The kind of money thats floating around in the game now.  I mean, I have to say that if given my time again and I was earning three or four thousand pounds a week at Southampton and was offered one hundred grand a week to go and play at Man City then I'm not sure how loyal I could have been with that kind of offer.  I can't blame the players for wanting to make the most of what they can while their doing it.

WL: Of course Matt you were renowned for your penalty taking ability. With forty seven successful attempts out of forty eight efforts tell me just what was the secret?

MLT: I think a lot of it came down to a positive mental attitude and a technique where I could side foot the ball pretty powerfully so I could keep the accuracy there into the corners and know that most of the time it was probably going to go in.

WL: Matt, whilst we are talking about penalty conversions why can't England win a penalty shoot out?!

MLT: Well we did win one against Spain in about 1996 - A long time ago! I don't know. I think we have kind of got bogged down with them an the players seemed to get affected by the fact that the media go on about it quite a bit that we are crap and everyone thinks that we're crap and we're going to be crap. Until we change the media's perception of it then it's going to be very difficult to get out of that rut.

WL: Continuing with national football, Spanish World Cup winner Xavi mentioned that you were one of his inspirations growing up which must be pleasing to hear?!

MLT: Yeah, yeah he did. It was nice yeah I mean for somebody who has gone on to win the World Cup and The European Championships to say that about you is quite an accolade really. Yeah, chuffed to bits!

WL: Still on the national scene, it must be disappointing that, for a player of your quality to have only made eight appearances for England. Surely you should have earned more?

MLT: Yes and no. Obviously my ambition was to play for England as a boy and I realised that it was a massive thing for me. I think you will have to ask the England managers why I didn't make more caps.  I think a lot of it was because I was playing for an unfashionable club - It wasn't one of the bigger clubs and you kind of don't get looked upon favourably as when your maybe playing for one of the big boys.

WL: And after that, what are your feelings now towards Glenn Hoddle?!

MLT: Erm........ It was a long time ago.  We actually did have a chat - We were on the same golf trip in Dubai a few years ago and we sat down over breakfast, had a little chat and kind of resolved our differences so I'd like to say that my relationship with Glenn is fine now!

WL: Off the pitch, you have got a son - Mitchell - What are the chances of seeing another member of the Le Tissier clan grace the Premier League stage?!

MLT: Erm... (Laughs) No chance whatsoever!  He's actually far more into his cricket than he is football to be honest and he plays a little bit of five-a-side but there is no chance yu will see him in the Premier League I can assure you!

WL: When retiring, were you interested in maybe going into the coaching or managing side of things or was getting into media the real plan?

MLT: I kind of just fell into the media really - Never had that many great plans. It just turned out that way. I didn't have any ambitions to get into coaching but you never rule it out because you never know what hand life's going to deal you. Who knows what the future brings? I will never say never.

WL: As I've mentioned, you are in the media now and although it has its pros you must be dissapointed not to watch live games on a Saturday afternoon?

MLT: It does curtail my chances of getting to St. Marys but I do get down to the midweek ones when I'm not working. I think last season was about six or seven games and this season it will probably turn out the same but its my job and I've still got a mortgage to pay so it has to be done!

WL: Matt, its those old classics now - Best player played with and best player played against...GO!

MLT: Best player played with is definitely Gazza (Paul Gascoigne)... unbelievable player. I feel sad for him because I think that possibly playing thirty odd games one season and then getting a bad injury and not playing really at all the next hit him hard health wise - he just wanted to play all the time.  It was different to me because I just went on a downward spiral gradually during the latter part of my career!  Best player played against...... We played Juventus once and they had a fella called Roberto Baggio - he was alright!  The one player I really dreaded playing against was Stuart Pearce - If there was a chance of taking the ball and the man then Stuart would never turn the opportunity down!

WL: When you were a youngster who was the one player you wanted to emulate?

MLT: Liam Brady - I was a Tottenham fan back then but with me being from Guernsey and not London there was never really any real hatred towards Arsenal so admiring Liam was okay!  

WL: Finally Matt, Saints have certainly had a topsy-turvey last couple of years but now it looks like they are really on the rise.

MLT: Yeah its been a pretty decent start. I think its exceeded everyone's expectations at the start of the season so if we can keep it going then we will keep our fingers crossed that next season we'll be back in the big time.

Me and Le Tiss

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Newcastle show why having a settled side works

Newcastle United's unbeaten Premier League run came to an end on Saturday at The Etihad Stadium as table toppers Manchester City defeated the magpies 3-1.

The Summer saw a lot of comings and goings on Tyneside.  Many pundits predicted a season of struggle for the Toon after the departures of key midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton to West Ham and QPR respectively.

Barton joined QPR on a free

Newcastle still hadn't replaced Andy Carroll according to some, before Demba Ba started banging in the goals (8 in 12 Premier League games), unknown French midfielder Yohan Cabaye arrived from Lille... He won't replace Nolan's quality said some and Sylvain Marveaux was another import from the French league, after arriving from Rennes that the Geordies had ever heard of.

Due to the form of Tim Krul from the previous season meant that Mike Ashley didn't need to splash the cash in getting another goalkeeper meaning that the one position that had been untouched by boss Alan Pardew was defence.

The back four at the start of the season, from right to left consisted of Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor.  The back four twelve games into the season - Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor.

The settled back line has helped in Newcastle's brilliant start.  Krul knows whether his defence will leave a cross for him to catch and the backline knows when Krul will come for it - An element of trust is their now and The Toon finally seem to have some stability - On the pitch at least.  Ryan Taylor, playing in a more un-accustomed left back position has gone from strength to strength and even netted the winner against arch rivals Sunderland at The Stadium of Light.

Its not just defence that have earned praise however, Cabaye has been a revelation in the centre of the park and seems to be the heartbeat of everything good the Toon do and already has a good understanding with Cheik Tiote.

Cabaye keeps Toon ticking over in midfield
Up front, it took a bit of time but Ba is coming alive - since kickstarting his career on the Tyne with a hat-trick at home to Blackburn, the Senegal hitman has scored against Wolves and Tottenham before grabbing another treble away at Stoke.  The partnership between him and Leon Best is beginning to bear fruit with the latter being more of an assister to Ba's goals rather than a goalscorer himself judging by the three goals he has to his name so far.

Deadly Duo: Ba and Best have shown a good understanding
Right, I've given plenty of praise to the players on the pitch but a big pat on the back needs to go to Pardew.  The manager raised a few eyebrows when he was appointed by the owner however, he has slowly but surely got the Toon Army on his side.  Pardew obviously knew his best side early on, probably in pre-season and is sticking to his guns.  The team, although maybe not the best has shown that by knowing what each is going to do on the field they can be a success and can do well.

Happy Days: Pardew has answered his critics
Of course, the real test now is seeing how they do now that unbeaten run has come to an end.

Nevertheless, things are looking up at St James Park..... or is it The Sports Direct Arena nowadays?!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How long has Steve Kean got at Blackburn?

The Blackburn Rovers' fans were never pleased when Steve Kean took over the reigns at Ewood Park from well respected manager "Big" Sam Allardyce,  and it has really never took off for the Scot.

Born in Glasgow, Kean's playing career never really got started where, according to Wikipedia, Kean played for  6 clubs; Celtic, Swansea City, Alloa Athletic, Academica Coimbra, Bath City and Newbury Town culminating in a grand total of 5 appearances.

It was more of the same when he turned his hand to management, where, apart from a brief spell as Assistant Manager at Fulham, Spanish side Real Sociedad and Championship strugglers Coventry City, all with Chris Coleman as the main man at the helm.

Allardyce, on the other hand is renowned for making sure that every club he manages at the very least stays in the same league before looking at the next aim - Famously keeping Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League before delivering UEFA Cup (Now Europa League) football at The Reebok Stadium.

Allardyce is now at West Ham United
Venky's, a meat processing and pharmaceutics company took over the club in November 2010 and straight away announced big things for the club, including mentioning Ronaldinho and former England captain David Beckham when referring to the January transfer window. Rovers fans were drooling at the mouth - New owners, lots of money, big signings etc.....
However, a month later, Allardyce was sacked and Venkys installed 44-year old Kean to First Team Manager when, after 2 years as a coach, where Allardyce brought him in, he replaced Big Sam, sacked on 13th December 2010, as Rovers gaffer.

Kean's first game began with a 1-1 home draw with relegation-threatened West Ham and, after scraping points throughout the second half of the season and after I'm sure narrowly failing with bids for Beckham and Ronaldinho in January, Rovers eventually stayed in the league on the final day of the season with a 3-2 win away at Wolves to finish 15th - Their fourth league win that season since Kean became boss.
Is the clock ticking for Steve Kean at Ewood?
Venky's gave Kean a contract until 2013 and the manager pursuaded big names Scott Dann, Yakubu, Ruben Rochina and David Goodwillie as well as other stars to sign for the club. Ronaldinho now at Flamengo and Beckham still in Los Angeles with LA Galaxy - LA or Blackburn... tough choice!

The 2011-2012 season didn't begin well for Blackburn; losing the first three games; two at home, to Wolves and Everton sandwiching an away defeat at Aston Villa.

Since then, chants and banners of "Kean Out!" have been heard and seen around Ewood Park but, after 11 league games, consisting of 1 win, 6 points, fans wanting the manager to resign and sitting at the bottom of the table, the club's owners are still sticking by their man.  Surely Steve Kean's time is up?

Rovers fans make their feelings known
Despite fans wanting the Scot out, Kean still tells the media that it is only "A small pocket of supporters" or "Most of the fans are sticking with us"... you get the jist of his interviews that are practically the same every single week.

Oh, and before I forget, Kean's managerial record for Blackburn Rovers since he took over in December last year:

G      W      D      L      Win %
32      6       10    16     18.75

My message to Rovers' fans... Erm... the only way is up!