Ash Robbins

Front end developer from down south

Angular scope in your console


Sometimes it can be really useful to inspect the data you're working with on an Angular build. There are some plugins and extensions to help with this, like the Batarang extension for Chrome.

I prefer to have my scope in my dev tools console while I'm looking at a page. That way I can see how the data changes as I interact with the page, or view the data returned from an API. There's a simple command which lets you do that.


Select an element in Chrome's dev tools, paste that into the dev tools console and hit return. You'll get an interactive model of the scope for the selected element.

Dev tools

AngularJS - ngHide for old IEs


Yeah yeah I know, old IEs are dumb and should be run over by a bus or thrown off a bridge and blah blah blah. But sometimes 20% of your client's users are using IE7, and another 20% on top of that use IE8, so you've got to deal with it.

The trouble is, some pretty basic AngularJS built-in directives don't work in these browsers. In this short post I'll show you how we wrote our own directive to enable us to use ngHide across browsers.

Read this post

Simple Check for Old IEs


On a recent project I needed to be able to detect if a user was browsing using IE8 or 7, and serve different functionality to them if that was true.

After looking around a really easy way to do this is to simply check whether the browsers supports the leadingWhiteSpace feature, using jQuery's $.supports method.

if ($.support.leadingWhitespace == false) {
     var oldIE = true;

Old versions of Internet Explorer don't support this feature, and therefore oldIE will be false on these browsers. You could then apply a conditional class to your body tag to style something differently, or write a quick if statement to check the value of oldIE before executing some script for example.

A Couple of Problems I've Found Using Flexbox


I recently tried using flexbox for laying out products in a grid, and came across a few problems. I think the main issue is down to browser support, but there's also some quirks in the implementation that mean I can't quite use it how I would like.

This post summarises the issues I found.

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Responsive breakpoints - It's in the name


I just read this quote in .Net magazine:

“…rather than [device-specific] breakpoints, I’d decrease browser width until things looked broken or cramped, add a breakpoint and repeat…”

Dan Tello

This is what I’ve always done and is exactly the way we should approach making sure responsive layouts behave properly.

I never thought the idea of having pre-defined breakpoints for iPhone, iPad and desktop etc was particularly useful, and in fact it seems much more aligned with an adaptive layout. Even when responsive design was just a baby there were already hundreds of devices with different widths so setting a few different breakpoints has never made sense.

At the end of the day it’s in the name: breakpoint. Find out where your design breaks, then fix it.

Offset the post list in WordPress


Sometimes in your WordPress theme you might want to display a featured post or your latest post in a different way than the rest of the list, to draw more attention to it for example.

All you need to do to make that happen is add offset=1 to a query_posts function, and then go ahead and write your loop to display your post list.

query_posts( 'offset=1' );
while (have_posts()) : the_post();
        <h1><?php the_title(); ?></h1>
        <div class="post-date><?php echo get_the_date('j M Y'); ?></div>

Quickie on CSS weight


In this completely made up and unrealistic example, which version is heavier? This…

.main-nav li,
.main-nav a {
    padding:0.5em 1em;
.main-nav a {


.main-nav li {
    padding:0.5em 1em;
.main-nav a {
    padding:0.5em 1em;
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WordPress – Including Extra Stylesheets


I always thought, just like with any other normal site, that it was fine to stick a call for an additional stylesheet inside my header.php file. But to allow greater flexibility for child themes and also if other developers decide they want to do some tinkering with your theme, it’s actually a lot safer to use wpenqueuestyle (codex page).

Below is how I include a stylesheet for a Google Web Font on this site. The following code goes in functions.php.

function load_stylesheets() {
    wp_register_style('googleFonts', ' 'googleFonts');
add_action('wp_print_styles', 'load_stylesheets');

If you need to add more you simply add a new case of both wpregisterstyle and wpenqueuestyle inside your function.

function load_stylesheets() {
    wp_register_style('googleFonts', ',700');
    wp_enqueue_style( 'googleFonts');

    wp_register_style('fortawesome', get_bloginfo('template_url').'/css/font-awesome.css');
    wp_enqueue_style( 'fortawesome');
add_action('wp_print_styles', 'load_stylesheets');

Easy peasy.

jQuery tooltips


Sometimes you might need to give users a bit of extra information about something on your site, but you might not necessarily have the room to do it within your design. One way you could get around that is to show that extra info when an element is hovered.

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Simple Horizontal Nav with CSS


A common feature on almost every website you’ll see is a horizontal navigation menu near the top of the page, listing out the main features or areas of interest of the site. Setting up a nav like this is pretty simple. Start off with your bog standard ul with a list of links.

        <a href="#">Home</a>
        <a href="#">About</a>
        <a href="#">Contact</a>
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Remove an element’s text without removing its descendants using jQuery


One of our older CMSs at work spits out some unwanted pipe (|) characters within the lis of its header menu. For example…

        <a href="#">Page One</a>|
        <a href="#">Page Two</a>|
        <a href="#">Home</a>|

The pipes get added after every anchor. I don’t want them there.

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Kane in the neck


Harry Kane

There are a lot of things wrong with the English sporting media, but one thing in particular has wound me up this week and its something that happens every time there’s a young English player in a rich vein of form.

The current hot topic is of course Harry Kane. He’s having a stellar season so far – 29 goals in all competitions for Spurs, and a goal within 80 seconds of his England debut – and this is in no way aimed at him. My issue is that because he’s having a brilliant season, if you listen to the media you’d think he’s Spurs and England’s only player. It’s a culture and way of thinking in England that I believe holds us back and blinds us as to what our true level is.

In the build up to Tottenham’s recent game against Man United all the talk referring to Spurs was about whether Kane could get his first goal versus United. Not about Spurs recent run of good form, how they might approach the game, or any other key battles between players across the pitch. Similarly last week the only talk was about why Kane should start, why he shouldn’t start, whether he’s ready, whether he’s not. It was as if, before he’s even had as much as one international minute, all England needed to do was put Kane in the team and the result would take care of itself.

Only 9 months ago we were in Brazil with a squad containing the new generation of English players. But as soon as there’s a new addition to that group of youngsters, all the others are seemingly forgotten. Kane should be spoken about as part of our future, alongside players like Sterling, Barkely, Clyne and Stones. He’s not our only player, we need to support the whole team and not just focus on the flavour of the month.

Once Kane had been included in the squad, pundits were debating whether he should be in the starting 11. The argument focussed on the fact that he’s the most in form English striker, with more Premier League goals than Rooney, Sturridge and Welbeck combined. I agree that on form he should be in the team, but up until now England have won every game since the World Cup, and Roy has a trusted team with a working system. Why change it if it’s been working well up to now? I can see both sides of this argument but when the form of the team has been good, I can’t understand the amount of people wanting to change it.

And once the team has been picked and the game is under way, we don’t have to hear his name every 30 seconds! They had cameras on him during the anthems, they cut straight to Kane clapping when Rooney scored, showed him warming up and stretching. I understand the clamour for him – or any young Engish talent – to be a superstar, but let’s give the kid a chance. Let’s give him some time to fully establish himself as a first team club player before we decide he’s the answer to our prayers. A lot of people would do well to remember that this is still his first proper season as a Premier League regular. I’m not saying the same thing will happen but there are a lot of players, Kevin Phillips for example, who were prolific at club level but couldn’t quite cut it at international level. Like everyone else, I hope Kane becomes a star for England, I just think we need to be a bit more level headed.

I think we need to stop pinning our hopes on individual players every time a new one comes along. Too often we rely on a Rooney or a Beckham to drag us through tournaments, when we should really be considering how good we are as a team and basing our expectations on that.

Popping their cherries



On the last day of the 2008-09 season, having been handed a 17 point deduction for going into administration, Steve Fletcher’s late goal against Grimsby kept AFC Bournemouth in League 2, and put in motion an incredible rise through the English football league that has now seen the club arrive at the top table after just 6 years. A year earlier they almost went extinct. Had it not been for a late financial intervention from Chariman Jeff Mostyn, another team would be celebrating promotion to the Premier League right now.

It’s going to be brilliant for the town, for the players and for the fans, which seem to have multiplied like rabbits in the last 6 months. And this is something that’s really winding me up lately.

You’ve got new fans

I’ve lived and worked in and around Bournemouth for the past 6 or 7 years, and in the local area for my whole life. Despite that I’ve always supported Manchester United. Say what you want about why I chose my club, but they will always be my club. For a lot of Bournemouth’s ever-growing fan base however that loyalty doesn’t seem to be necessary.

I understand that the general public of Bournemouth are going to start taking a greater interest in the team now, and that when the big boys come to town next season there’ll be a massive buzz about the place, but what I’m not having is “fans” of other clubs suddenly jumping ship because Bournemouth have found some success.

I personally know of at least 3 people who have suddenly started using the words “we” and “us” when talking about the Cherries. 18 months ago these people had never been to a Bournemouth game in their life. It’s sickening.

One lad I know has been a United fan all his life (although he’ll tell you he hasn’t) but now he couldn’t care less about them. By a massive coincidence, he switched teams during David Moyes’ disastrous reign at Old Trafford, which happened to be at the same time Bournemouth were establishing themselves as a force in the Championship. Why bother sticking by your club in the hard times when it’s much easier to jump ship to a club enjoying relative success right?! Have a day off mate.

Obviously you can tell this winds me up for a lot of reasons. But the influx of new spectators will no doubt have an adverse effect on fans that have been going for years and years, with the demand for tickets higher than ever. Why should a fan who has been going every Saturday for 40 years lose their seat to someone who wants to jump on the bandwagon and bathe in the glow of success? It isn’t right, and it’s the crux of the other thing that’s winding me up about Bournemouth’s promotion.

You’ve got no ground

Bournemouth’s current Goldsands stadium home holds a capacity crowd of just 12,000. That’s 6,000 short of the current smallest ground in the Premier League at Loftus Road.

Some people in the media have claimed that this is too small for the Premier League. There have been rumours of ground-shares with Southampton, and people stating that the ground is not in keeping with the image that the Premier League is trying to sell around the world. Well to that I say bollocks.

Bournemouth are in the Premier League on merit. Over the course of a 46 game season in arguably the most competitive league in Europe, they are guaranteed to finish in the top 2. That is a remarkable achievement for any club in any season. But when you look at the size of Bournemouth and think about their recent history, this really is as close to a miracle as you’ll ever see in the sporting world.

Football should be fair and open for all, and if your team has the quality to win promotion, then who gives a shit how good your facilities are? It is and should always be about rewarding the best teams, and the cream rising to the top. This is Bournemouth’s time at the top and noboy should try to take that away from them.

I personally think it would be foolish of them to increase the capacity of the ground too much until they know whether they will be able to establish themselves at Premier League or Championship level. Of course they will need more seats but if they can’t get bums on those seats then it’s a waste of money. Sustained success over a length of time will mean that the stadium takes care of itself.

Besides, tv audiences love watching the david vs goliath encounters. There’s always a sense of romance stirred up when the Premier League giants are drawn against lower league minnows, and with the greatest respect Bournemouth’s inclusion should mean that this is something that’s felt more often next season.


Home and away


Old stadium

Let’s get this straight right from the start: The idea of playing a Premier League game in a foreign country is stupid, unrealistic, probably unfair and just unnecessary. It’s just the latest idea that the money hungry suits who run the league have cooked up in order to further line their already bulging pockets.

At the risk of sounding like a little Englander, this is our league. It is the English Premier League. It should remain in England. If this is allowed to happen, how long will it be before we have 2, 3 or 4 games per season played abroad?

The arguments in favour seem to point to the success the NFL have had for a few years now, taking one game to Wembley every season. The stadium sells out and the game gets a huge amount of t.v. coverage. However you never hear about what the American fans think about it over here. The NFL season is much shorter than our football season – around 16 games – so you’d have to imagine that they are pretty pissed. To only have 8 games at home per season in the first place, and then to have one of those games taken away from you for the sake of some billionaire owners’ bank account? If I was a season ticket holder I’d go mad.

I don’t get the chance to go to Old Trafford very often at all, but I still hate the idea of a home game being taken away. Part of the magic of going to watch your team is the trip to the stadium. Actually going to your team’s home ground. When I get the rare opportunity to go I’m just as excited about that moment when you walk up the steps into the stand, as I am about seeing the players, anticipating a result.

On the subject of fairness, it isn’t just the fans that would lose out. Who decides which games are played overseas for example? There’s no way that a fixture abroad can be arranged so that it would be fair to every club.

If a team only needed 1 point to avoid relegation, who decides whether their game abroad is against Chelsea or Burnley, potentially the difference between survival and the trap-door to the Championship? You can bet that derby games would definitely not be moved, but why are these games any more important in the scheme of things? They are all worth three points to the winners, so they should all have equal importance. None should be turned into a glorified friendly in some far flung corner of the globe.

The simple beauty of the league structure is the way that everybody plays each other twice, once at our place and once at yours. Whilst the overseas game would clearly be played at a neutral ground, the identity of a club’s opponents would definitely be something that managers would contest. They’ll find qualms with whichever team they face, it’s in their nature.

Playing at home is a huge advantage for some clubs, and often home form is the defining factor in how a club fares over a season. Reducing that advantage even slightly seems unfair.

The club should belong to the community. Yes, they all want to gain more fans which in turn produces more revenue, but most teams already go on tours, so there is no real case for expanding global reach. The league is already a worldwide sensation, you only have to watch comic relief to see the reach of the league’s popularity, when an African kid runs past in an Arsenal shirt.

Ticket prices are already way too high and prohibitive to a lot of families being able to see live football. Taking games abroad only increases the problem. The clubs and the league don’t need the money but this is the only reason I can think of that they have for wanting to do it.

Maybe at most you could play one of the existing glorified friendlies abroad, the community shield would be a perfect example. This has been done with some success in other countries already.

But going back to the original point. This is the English Premier League. It has to stay in England.


Send for reinforcements


Swansea defeat

The season is barely a week old and it’s already glaringly obvious that United need to spend money, or face up to another season of mediocrity.

For the second summer running, Ed Woodward flew home early from the pre-season tour to conduct transfer business. Yet all we’ve heard since then is that there have been no official bids for any players. How can that be? If last season wasn’t enough of a wake up call, this summer further reinforces the need for help, especially in defence.

Losing Rio, Vida, Pat and Giggsy from the playing squad all in one summer is a phenomenal blow both in terms of quality but also sheer experience. All of these players are European and multiple Premier League champions. You can’t replace that overnight but you can certainly attempt to plug gaps in what is an obviously fragile spine in need of urgent attention.

Saturday’s game against Swansea served as a big wet slap in the face after the false promise of a very successful pre-season tour where we won every game, including victories against such European giants as Real Madrid, Liverpool and Inter Milan. Yes, it was an impressive showing in the USA, but you have to consider that the majority of these sides were missing big name players due to extended breaks after the World Cup.

Louis’ favoured 3-5-2 looked to have promise in America but in practice I can’t see it working in the Premier League. Manchester United simply don’t have the players to fit the system, and one of the basic theories of the game is to play to the strengths of the players at your disposal. Nearly every player in that squad will have been brought up, and will have spent most of their career, using formations based on a solid back 4. They all know it, know their roles within it, and know where they should be in all situations. 3-5-2 won’t work with United’s current squad because we only have 3 senior centre-backs, and none of them are currently top class footballers.

That point was highlighted on Saturday by Tyler Blackett’s performance. He has got a lot of promise but not on the left side of a back 3. He was caught out of position for Swansea’s first goal, and showed a lack of experience for their second goal by passing the ball back to them after a foul, allowing them to take a quick free kick, which ended up leading to the winning goal for Sigurdsson. A more experienced player would have left the ball where it was, allowing his team mates to get back into position and be better prepared to defend the next attack.

All that being said our starting 11 on paper should still be sweeping Swansea aside without much fuss. It just goes to show that the old addage of the game not being played on paper is very true, especially at Old Trafford these days.

This team is crying out for help in two main positions as far as I see it.

We need at least one experienced, top-class centre-back to organise that defence and provide some much needed protection for David De Gea. Last season he was voted United’s player of the year, which was well deserved because he was the only player to come out of the season with any credit, making a string of incredible saves. But the sheer fact that a goalkeeper should be considered Manchester United’s player of the year is a very clear reflection on the way the rest of the team played. Terribly.

The second area is no surprise, defensive midfield. Michael Carrick’s absence is hurting us at the moment, but even he isn’t the kind of player we need. United have lost their fear factor and not since Roy Keane have we had a real hard man in the middle of the park. Someone who scares opposition defences into submission, but also scares his team mates into better performances.

Marcos Rojo is a decent addition but in the wrong position. We just spent £30 million on Luke Shaw, so I don’t see the sense in buying another left sided defender.

Pull your finger out Ed, while you still have the chance.

Photo –

New years' reservations



This post is a bit ranty, so apologies in advance. I’ve had a lot of these thoughts brewing for a while and thought I may as well vent it all in an attempt to come to terms with our current troubling form.

For the defence

I’ll include David De Gea here as he is technically part of the defence. In short I think he’s ace. The improvement seen in him since he first arrived in 2011 is enormous and he was rightly included in the team of the season for 2012/13. He made a massive clanger against Sunderland which effectively led to us going out of the cup, and it was an unforgivable error for a keeper of his calibre, but you could argue we shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. De Gea has been one of the only positive and consistent things in the season so far, and I dare say we’d be a few points further off the pace without him.

This next one is particularly difficult for me to type, but as much as I love him I fear Patrice Evra’s days are numbered. All to often this season he’s caught out of position, not close enough to his man and too lazy tracking back. He’s really effective in attacking positions, as his improved goal return in the last two seasons shows, but I don’t feel as confident in him defensively as I used to. This could be his last season as first choice left-back.

Rio and, to a lesser extent Vida, both now have their best days long behind them. With Ferdinand the main problem is a sever lack of pace tied to being pretty injury prone. I think that it would be worth having him in the squad because he’s such a character and presence in the dressing room, but he shouldn’t start games any more. Nemanja Vidic is still a very good defender, and should be kept in the squad and probably play a large number of games, but as with Ferdinand he has lost at least a yard of in recent seasons; such a key attribute in the modern game. His experience and ability should be used to help develop the defence for the future, which should be built around Phil Jones.

Phil Jones has been played predominantly out of position since he arrived at Old Trafford. When you sign a teenager for £16 million, you imagine that he is pretty god for his age in his position. Jones had been starting for Blackburn in the Premier League which shows the quality he had. So it seems weird to me that he’s played a massive percentage of his games for United in midfield. On occasion he can do a good job, when he is given a man to mark and follow for a game, like he did to great effect against Cristiano Ronaldo last season. But he lacks the subtlety and finesse with the ball at his feet to be a midfielder in the long term. If you look at the best ‘destroyer’ type midfielders – Claude Makelele is a prime example – they all have some amount of ability to find a simple pass and retain possession. This is not in Jones’ core set of skills. He is at his best when he’s making last ditch challenges, smothering shots, winning headers and bossing strikers. He is a centre back, who was bought as a centre back, who plays best at centre back, but gets played in midfield. This isn’t all David Moyes fault, the precedent was set by Alex Ferguson, but Moyes can fix it by building his new defence around Jones.


Our wingers are average at best. Tony Valencia is one of the most indecisive players I’ve seen. He is an absolute monster with pace to burn, but 95% of the time he’ll get to the edge of the box and then take half an hour to decide what to do, before turning and passing to his right back. Plus he’s massively inconsistent.

Ashley young is poor and needs to be sold.

I might be one of only a few people who thinks that Nani is ok when he’s not injured. He’s one of the only players in the squad who can actually square up a man and send him the wrong way, but his end product and goal return is severely lacking. Plus, he’s injured all the time lately.

Where do you start with Marouane Fellaini? Our only major signing of the summer, he has looked so out of place in the big games. Against Yaya in the derby he was out muscled, out powered, out-run, outplayed and generally outclassed. Out of his depth. He was a good player at an average club at Everton. He doesn’t improve United’s squad in any way and was a panic buy. The less said about him the better.

Cleverley looked promising in his early United career but has only developed into an OK player at best. His ball retention is generally good but quite often silly mistakes creep into his game. He plays sideways too often and his goal return is also pretty woeful for a player who must have aspirations of being the answer to the CAM problem for the next decade. It’s an obvious thing to say but United need a player who can keep the ball but also play incisive, defence-splitting passes forward. They need a Scholes. Cleverley will never be a Scholes.

Fletch is ok as an understudy but like Cleverley he only plays sideways and never finds incisive through balls.

Carrick is only CM worth keeping for a starting place. He has a fantastic range of passing, instigates attacks with forward balls plus he makes a huge amount of interceptions. If only he could shoot.


Adnan Januzaj is the big positive from this season. He has almost single-handedly kept the season alive, and perhaps to a greater extent kept the fans interested in a season which could soon be all over bar the shouting if results don’t improve. His five year contract is a massive boost and hopefully he goes on to become our next iconic number seven.

Attack, Attack, Attack

Personally I think we’re ok up top if everyone is fit. This season does need a certain amount of perspective on account of the fact that van Persie and Rooney have been injured for huge chunks of it. Any team would miss those two and the stats from games where they play together back that up. I think we’d be a good six to eight points better off if they had been available for every game.

I know it has been highlighted in the press but one huge problem is that we don’t have those huge final ten to fifteen minute spells any more when you feel like a goal was just a case of WHEN and not IF. I think that can all be linked to confidence, which I personally believe is caused by the defence being shaky all season. The midfield and attackers (Rooney) aren’t getting forward enough late in games because they’re more worried about conceding. In years gone by we’d have ten players in the opposition half for the final ten minutes of a game we were chasing, it’s not happening at the moment.

Cheers Fergie

Despite the fact that he is a trophy-winning monster, Fergie left us in the shit big time with no attacking midfielder of note and an ageing defence. When he pulled Paul Scholes out of retirement two years ago it should have acted as a massive slap in the face to the fact that we were dying for that kind of player. Instead, Scholes stayed on another season and the problem was forgotten about and left for the next manager to deal with.

This is why I think this season isn’t all David Moyes’ fault, and why he fans have stayed behind him so far, but he has a lot of work to do. The signing of Juan Mata is an excellent start and hopefully he can integrate into the team quickly, starting tonight at home to Cardiff.


Is Hawkeye a good thing for football?


Lampard ghost goal

Goal-line technology (GLT) has inevitably made its way into the game, and from this weekend will be available to Premier League referees. It was always going to happen, but is it a good thing?

Many within the game have been crying out for it for years now, and ever since Sepp Blatter changed his mind about the idea after England got away with one in Euro 2012 it’s seemed like just a matter of time until it was introduced. Referees are delighted about it, as it means that one less responsibility rests on their shoulders, and the general consensus is that GLT is a good thing. Refs will be alerted to whether a ball has definitively crossed the line or not within a second of it happening. They won’t have to rely on the lino’s eyesight any more, something which has helped and hindered several teams through the history of the game.

The Premier League will be using the Hawk-Eye system that tennis fans will be familiar with, and in truth it’s been really successful for them. But for me this is because of the regularity of dodgy line calls in tennis. There are borderline calls made in pretty much every other service game and bad calls happening as regularly as that can have a massive impact on a players’ match, or even their whole tournament.

But just how useful and worthwhile is it actually going to be for football? Stats from the Premier League last season show that there were just 3 occasions where GLT could have been used to allow or disallow a wrongly made call. Just 3 out of 380 matches and 1063 goals scored. It makes you wonder whether all the money and research being pumped into it is worth it when it’ll be needed so infrequently. Obviously, if it’s the difference between winning or losing a match, which means you win the league or get relegated, or end up knocked out of the cup then you’ll say it was worthwhile.

On a personal, greedy level, my teams have probably benefited more often from not having hawk-eye in the past. Spurs would have beaten us if Pedro Mendes’ goal had been given. England wouldn’t have beaten Ukraine in Euro 2012 if the linesman had spotted that Terry had cleared the ball from behind the line. And even though I wasn’t born, who knows what would have happened in the ’66 World Cup Final if England’s third goal hadn’t been given? The only notable exception is Frank Lampard’s goal not being given against Germany when you could have seen it was in from a mile away. But would England have knocked Germany out if Lampard’s goal had been allowed? We’ll never know, and that’s kind of where the magic of football is for me.

Nearly every weekend throws up some kind of debate and talking point for fans to argue about, and if we got to the stage of having every decision made perfectly we’d lose that. “We would have beaten you if this”. “I can’t believe he got a second yellow for that”. Tiny details of matches get spoken about for years after they finish mattering any more. And that’s one of the reasons why we call it the beautiful game.

I just feel we need to be careful what we wish for. I hope that goal-lines is as far as technology gets into our sport. Football should be the same game whether it’s Brazil vs Argentina in the World Cup Final or Stourpaine vs Blandford at the Draper Memorial Field.

Why I quite like Luis Suarez


Luis Suarez

If you know that I’m a Man United fan this might come as a surprise, but I’m actually in the minority who actually doesn’t have a problem with Luis Suarez, as a player. In fact, I actually quite like most of the things he does on the pitch.

Sure, he’s so horse-faced that he’d be a decent each-way shout in the National, and he has a bit of the racist about him, but you can’t argue with his footballing ability. I’d have him in my side any day of the week.

He has this attitude where he thinks he’s never beaten until the very last whistle, and until that point he gives all he’s got for his side because he hates losing. Obviously nobody likes to lose, but some people are driven by a fear of failure so huge that they’ll do anything and go to the greatest lengths to try and win. And I think this is the part of Suarez that gets people riled.

The incident the other week where he basically juggled the ball before poking it into an empty Mansfield goal is a prime example. It was an instinctive reaction to jab out his hand, and the most natural thing to do after that was to put the ball into the net. Yet Suarez was condemned from all corners for not stopping the game and owning up to the handball. Some even said he taunted Mansfield by celebrating his goal in the same way as he celebrates every other goal; kissing a tattoo of his daughter’s name on his wrist. It’s blatant ignorant journalism like that which really pisses me off. I’m not a Liverpool fan by any means, quite the opposite, but when the media create total rubbish like that it winds me up.

What the pundits, fans and media need to realise is that Suarez is not the one with the whistle in his hand. He followed the rules of the game by playing to the whistle, and if the referee and linesman have such poor eyesight to miss a handball as clear-cut as that then they shouldn’t have been appointed to the game.

No player in the world would ever stop play and say “sorry chaps, cocked up back there, your free-kick”. It doesn’t happen. You want Suarez to own up and cancel out the goal, so by the same token do you also expect a defender to alert the referee if the ball touches his hand in the box, and give the other side a penalty? Exactly.

I’m going to be a bit controversial now, but you could even say that, technically, the most famous handballed goal ever was not Diego Maradona’s fault, but the officials’. Watching that goal, the handball is obvious, but again it was the officials who gave it. If doing that gives you the lead in a World Cup quarter-final then what would you do? Everyone’s an angel until they’re in the situation themselves. I’d have done the same as Suarez and Maradona if it’d been me.

Another complaint made against Suarez is that he goes to ground a lot. Again it may be controversial, but I don’t really have an issue with players diving. For me diving is a result of the softening of the game over the last 20 years. Players know that referees will give them free-kicks for the slightest contact nowadays, especially when they’re running at speed, so they try to use that fact to their advantage. This is just another example of players trying to win, trying to gain an advantage for their side. Again, it’s the referee who ultimately gives the decision.

I can sort of understand why people want to stamp it out, but there’s no way you can give retrospective red cards for diving, or ban players to try and deter them from diving. Imagine if someone had dived to win a penalty, the ref had given it, and that goal had been the difference between a side getting relegated or staying up. As well as retrospectively banning the player do you also cancel the goal that the penalty resulted in? And then reinstate the relegated team to the higher division? It would be way too complicated to police.

I think people get the hump with diving until it benefits them directly. Ask yourself this: If (and it’s a BIG if) Wayne Rooney won a penalty in a World Cup final which presented England with the winning goal, would you fold your arms and say “nope, I’m not having that, give the trophy back”? Not a chance (unless you aren’t English). People only get so aggy about diving and so called “cheating” until it suits them.

I dislike Suarez as a man, and because he plays for Liverpool, but to go back to my earlier comment I’d have him in my side any day. The reasons why a lot of people hate him as a player are the reasons why I quite like him as a player. He has a burning desire to be the best, to win, and he’ll do what he needs to do to achieve that. Plus, he scored what is one of my favourite goals of recent seasons when he equalised against Newcastle in November last year.

Photo –

Destination: England?



If you believe what you read in the papers, both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola could soon find themselves in Premier League dugouts. Sunday’s papers stated that a deal to take Guardiola to Man City in the summer was 100% done, while Jose Mourinho has never hidden the fact that he would love to return to the England one day. With Chelsea in need of a new permanent manager and Mourinho’s Real stuttering this season, he may well find himself back at his former club some time soon.

It’s pretty exciting to think that two of best managers in world football could soon both be a weekly fixture here in the English game, but I don’t know if City and Chelsea the best places they could go.

I’ve also been wondering, tell me if I’m being ignorant, but is Guardiola as good a manager as people think? Yes he won a lot of trophies during his time at Barca, but in that two to three year period you could have sat a chimp in the dugout and they would have been just as successful. He was blessed with a squad, littered with superstars, that most managers will never ever get the chance to work with, in what was just his first managerial job.

It remains to be seen whether or not he could take a team and make them play in a style that suits the players at his disposal. A lot has been said about Guardiola’s philosphy or tiki-taka football and how he got his Barca team playing in that short-sharp possession style.


So if you look at all the teams in our league, Arsenal would be the obvious choice for Guardiola as they try to play in the style he’s so closely associated with. It could well be time for a change at the Emirates too. Arsene Wenger seems to be getting more and more reluctant to change his approach and to admit he’s wrong. Signings like Chamakh and Gervinho wouldn’t have been brought to Accrington let alone Arsenal.

He continues to persevere with the passing style of play when in actual fact, I don’t think Arsenal have enough of the right kind of player to do it any more. During their best season of recent times in 07 or 08, they had Fabregas, Nasri, Rosicky, Hleb and a few others who could all play the short game. Now I can’t really see anyone other than Jack Wilshere (who will be wasted as a player if he stays at Arsenal all his career).

Despite it’s association with Pep, the origins of what is now known as tiki-taka was actually implemented at Camp Nou by Johan Cruyff during his spell in charge of the club between 1988 and 1996. Could it just be pure coincidence that as Guardiola took charge, he was able to use midfielders like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Messi; all world class players who have been schooled in that style of play from an early age at the club academy.

So I’d be interested to see whether that style of play is actually Guardiola’s style of play, or whether it is simply the style of play that suited the team he had at his disposal. He seems like a clever guy so I’m sure he’d be smart enough to know that you can’t play the same way at every club and still be successful.

José Mourinho is much more experienced than Pep, and has enjoyed success to differing levels wherever he’s been to date. From my own personal perspective they have completely different styles. I see Guardiola as more of a tactician, a student of the game, and Mourinho as more of a leader of men, whose strength seems to be that he gets players wanting to win for him.

He’s often been linked with the job at Old Trafford, when the day finally comes for Alex Ferguson to retire. As I understand it Ferguson is friendly with both of them, and would recommend both as a possible successor.

Personally I would prefer to see Mourinho in the hot seat at United. I just think that if Guardiola does like to stick to his tiki-taka, it might be a bit single-minded for United. Depending on who we have at the club in any one season our style of play changes to fit, whereas you don’t often see Barca with a plan B. For example we won the league two years ago playing some of the worst football I’ve seen in years. I think that would bother Guardiola more than Mourinho.

At the end of the day though I don’t see either of these men as the kind of people who would be looking for a long term project. Guardiola was at Barca for just four seasons before needing a sabatical, and Mourinho’s longest position so far has been three and a half seasons at Chelsea. Maybe it’s a job for David Moyes. He isn’t as glamorous, but I think it’s time he gets his chance at a bigger club.

Edit: Unfortunately for me, this article was written the day before Pep announced he was joining Bayern Munich this summer. Felt like a good topic to write about at the time, now I look like a berk.


Ballon S'nore


Lionel Messi

Surprise surprise, Leo Messi has won the Ballon D’Or, crowning him the world’s best player, for the fourth year in a row.Messi is probably going to end up going down in history as the greatest player ever to kick a ball, but this year I don’t think he is as deserving of the award as maybe some others are. CR7

I make no effort to hide the fact that I’m a massive fan of Cristiano Ronaldo, and I think he would have been the more deserving winner this year, especially if you look at FIFA’s history of giving the award to the player that has won major honours in a given year.

Kaka won in 2007, Ronaldo in 2008, Messi in 2009. Each year they had guided their teams to Champions League glory. Messi and Ronaldo could hardly be separated last year but Messi won La Liga with Barcelona which probably swung it.

Without getting into stats, last season the two players were neck and neck again. But Ronaldo won La Liga with his club Real Madrid. For me, Madrid winning the league is a greater achievement than Barca winning it.

Impact and Influence

I see the importance of a player to his club is a huge factor in determining how good they are. And I’d argue that Madrid would miss Ronaldo much more than Barca would miss Messi.

Barca have more world class players in their squad, and although Messi is head and shoulders above any of his team-mates in terms of quality, they could replace him with David Villa or Cesc Fabregas if they needed to and still beat most teams comfortably.

Ronaldo gets replaced by Gonzalo Higuain or maybe Jose Callejon if he doesn’t play. Don’t need to add anything to that do I?


The other big thing for me is that Ronaldo scores every type of goal you can think of. Right foot, left foot, headers, free kicks, 30 yard strikes, backheels. A lot of Messi’s goals – whilst very skillful – are really similar.

Ronaldo is an all round athlete. Whereas Messi’s talent is god-given, Ronaldo’s talent has had to be developed, worked on and sculpted from hard work and a relentless desire to be the best.

I’m not stupid enough to say that Messi isn’t an unbelievable player. Like I said he’ll go down as the greatest we’ve ever seen and I really want to get over to Spain so I can tell my grandkids I saw him play. But I wouldn’t have given him the Ballon D’Or this year. Especially in that rascal suit.

Honourable mentions have to go to Robin van Persie and Falcao, who both had stellar years in 2012.

On diving


Ashley Young

I’m a United fan, but I have no problem admitting that Ashley Young dived (dove?) on Sunday to win a penalty and set us on the way to a crucial win against Villa. I also have no problem admitting that I have no problem with diving.

That probably sounds like a United fan trying to justify diving by a player who plays for the team he supports, but let me continue.

All he’s done is try to gain an advantage for his team. There are so many little incidents that happen on a pitch whereby a player uses his brain to try and gain an advantage for his side and this is simply one of them.

For me, diving is no worse that kicking a ball away to waste time, appealing for a goal when you know the ball isn’t anywhere near over the line, or wasting time by walking off the pitch slowly when you’re being subbed late on. What about those dodgy free kicks and corners that are given falsely and lead to goals? Where is the huge media outrage after them?

At the end of the day the referee is the guy who blows the whistle, so if anyone needs to be blamed for Ashley Young getting given penalties then it’s the refs. You could try to impose retrospective bans on players who have been deemed to dive, but there’s often such a fine line between what is and what isn’t a true foul that you’d have a hard job trying to police it.

I will hold my hands up and admit that I’m often found thinking a fully grown man should never buckle under the kind of pressure you see put on players like Sergio Busquets, but in the Spanish football culture he gets away with it. Again you have to say this isn’t his fault – even though he is a massive fanny – because if the referees didn’t go along with his theatrics then he’d soon pack it in. But in cases where a player’s running at full pelt it doesn’t take much of a shove to put him off balance, that’s just plain fact.

You’ve also got to think about how multi-cultural the game is these days. Players come here from all over the world, and they’ve all grown up thinking it’s acceptable to behave in different ways on a football pitch. Is it fair to expect players to change their game all of a sudden? Personally I think it is, but at the same time you can’t have people clattering into each other in the way some ‘old fashioned English’ players do. There’d be no legs left.

Is it cheating? I don’t think so. It’s part of the game. If the authorities were that bothered about diving they’d have done something about it a long time ago. It’s been around for ages, Ashley Young hasn’t invented it in the last few weeks. It’s just the fact that he plays for a big club and has won big decisions at a crucial time of the season which has seen him gain so much attention for it. Ultimately he did get those decisions. So whether or not you agree with what he did – and yes he went down like a complete fairy – I’m sure he won’t care a single bit and neither will his team-mates. He won his team a penalty, a goal, and a huge 6 points at this stage of the season.

Don’t get me wrong, when my team – either United or when I’m actually playing at the weekend – get a dodgy foul given against us I’m livid. But you can’t really blame the players for having a go. You’ve got to blame the refs. If they think there’s been a dive they won’t give a foul, and that’s the end of the story.

For me, if we make football a perfect sport where every single decision is correct by the letter of the law we’d lose something. A good portion of why I love football is the talking points and disagreements it throws up, and the fact that different people can see the same thing in completely different ways. That stays the same from grass roots all the way to the World Cup final, and I hope it stays that way too.

Massey error by Keys and Gray


Sian Massey

Richard Keys and Andy Gray have found themselves in hot water over what they thought were off air comments about a female lino’s ability to officiate.

They thought that their mics were off, and proceeded to tear into Sian Massey with Keys saying “somebody better get down there and explain offside to her”, before Gray replied with “women don’t know the offside rule”. Turns out, Massey knows the offside rule to the letter, as she got a crucial borderline call spot on in the build up to Liverpool’s opening goal against Wolves. It’s good to see that Sky have come down with a punishment on their presenting duo, and maybe they’ll think before they speak next time.

Robbie Savage has today said on twitter that “Sian Massey has been a Lino in some of my derby games , she was exceptionally good”, and “You have to judge the person on ability and decision making” which is exactly right.

Although football is a hugely male dominated sport, and while the male and female games will probably always be kept separate, wherever possible we need to make sure that the best possible people are running the game. If that means that we have a female linesman (whoops, let’s just say lino) or referee then so be it, as long as she is the best person for the job. In my opinion Sian Massey proved herself worthy of her selection the other day.

The women’s game has come on a lot in recent years, and you could argue with some justification that Hope Powell (England Ladies national coach) has been the most successful English manager of the past decade. The upcoming Women’s Super League starting in April will bring the ladies game even further to the fore and probably encourage more girls to take part, which can only be a good thing and I expect we’ll see a lot more women involved in officiating the men’s game in years to come.

We need second yellow appeals


Rafael red card

That’s what I reckon anyway. Clearly it would be foolish to allow the appeal of each and every yellow card that anybody ever gets, but in cases like Rafael’s, where one of the yellow cards is so obviously given wrongly, you should be able to appeal either the first or second yellow card.

Quite often you see cases where a player gets booked for something as small as jumping for a header, and accidentally catching his marker in the head. That isn’t a yellow. Refs need to show some common sense. How are you supposed to jump for a ball without your arms? Kicking the ball away, taking your shirt off to celebrate, accidental handballs, I know that by the letter of the law they are yellow card offences, but it’s a soft contribution to an early shower.

In Rafael’s case, he clearly had his hands up in an “I’m trying not to touch this guy” fashion, as he tried not to touch that guy, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but ever so slightly clipped his heels and in the process sent Benoit tumbling. The ref had a great view but still decided Rafa needed a yellow and he had every right to feel aggrieved at the decision. I’m not saying it’s right to react as he did, but I’ve seen many others react worse than that when being cautioned for far worse things. Think about it, there were 30,000 odd other people in the stadium on Sunday who are allowed to react in whatever way they choose, yet we expect the people in the thick of things to act like angels.

I just hope the FA decide to be lenient, as Rafael awaits his personal hearing after being charged with misconduct for his behaviour after seeing red. They should just give him a slap on the wrist and be done with it, but i expect they’ll make an example of him.

If my masterplan was in place and clubs were able to appeal a yellow when it has contributed to a red, it’s probably pretty likely that you wouldn’t see these kinds of reactions from players. Rafael probably would have just walked off, still pissed off with the decision, but without hoofing a microphone, and Wayne Rooney wouldn’t have needed to be booked for his dissent either. You can appeal against straight reds, so why not double yellow dismissals.

Basically all I’m saying is, put me in charge of the FA and English football would be a much happier place.

Weird moves


Darren Bent

The next couple of days look like they’ll see the completion of a couple of strange looking transfer deals.

First up is the Darren Bent move from Sunderland to Aston Villa. In any other season you wouldn’t see any reason why Bent wouldn’t want to move to Villa, as in recent years they have been a much better side than the Black Cats. But right now if the deal was done Bent would be signing for a club 11 places below his present team, as Villa currently sit a lowly 17th in the Premiership.

The deal makes perfect sense for both of the teams involved however. Sunderland would be stupid to turn down the reported £20 million fee they’re being offered and, despite Bent being far and away their leading scorer over the past few seasons, they would be able to use the money to find a capable replacement.

That does raise the question of why the fee is so high in any case. I suppose though, when you see players like James Milner moving clubs for £26 mill, and Chris Smalling’s ridiculous £10 million valuation, Bent’s transfer fee is about right for a player of his calibre. Since August 2005, only Rooney and Drogba have scored more Premiership goals than Bent (Bent has 81, they both have 82), and apart from a lean spell at Spurs, he’s scored wherever he’s played. Villa would be getting a top Premiership striker for their money.

I just don’t see his personal footballing motivation behind it. Unless of course, he’s a member of the club of footballers driven by money, which is the most likely explanation.

For me the potential transfer of Steven Pienaar to Spurs from Everton is even stranger. True, Spurs are a Champions League team and have every chance of being so for the foreseeable future. But Pienaar is an important and established player for Everton and he’s playing regular football for a good Premiership team under a great manager. Spurs play Bale on the left, Lennon on the right, and Modric and van der Vaart centrally, so every position that Pienaar could play in is already taken by players who are better than him in my opinion. He’d find it very difficult to start games and even harder to hold down a regular place if he did.

The fee that’s being talked about is just £3 million and I find it incredible that Everton are willing to part with the player for so little. Who can they buy with the same level of talent as Pienaar for that sum of money? It isn’t even like there are a load of players available at the moment.

It’s difficult to class either of these potential transfers as panic buys. Spurs don’t need the player, although he would provide very good cover, and Villa would be investing in a proven talent if they land Bent, as they look set to do. Still, both a bit strange for me.


Wazza's got a point


Wayne Rooney

As a Man United fan the events of the past week have been a bit worrying to say the least. The knowledge that your best player, and the finest English player of his generation, wants to leave the club is massive news. It’s gutting, and at first I couldn’t understand it, but the more you think about it the more you realise he does have a point.

Wayne Rooney’s motive for wanting to leave was never going to be about money. First of all he must be earning a packet already, secondly the club offered him a deal which they claimed would make him the highest paid player in the league, and thirdly I just don’t see him as that kind of bloke. True, he’s a bit of a dick when it comes to the way he treats his wife, but you know what I mean. But then you get people on their soap box like Mark Lawrenson saying it’s definitely money oriented, like he has the first idea what’s going on behind the scenes? Nobody does, so it’s not fair to speculate. What I will say though is that if he does want loads of money, bloody give it to him before some other team does! Top players cost top bucks these days, and yes, they are worth it. Man United are one of the biggest clubs on the planet, and to stay that way you need the biggest stars playing for you.

The reason he’s given is a lack of ambition from the club and that he hasn’t been given assurances that the right kind of marquee player will be bought in the near future. And this is where I can agree with Wayne, because in the last three seasons who has been brought in? Luis Antonio Valencia to replace Ronaldo. Ok, he had a decent first season, but just no. Gabriel Obertan? A fading (faded) Michael Owen, Chris Smalling (oh dear god) and who the hell is this tramp Bebe?!

I know the club has massive debts and I don’t want to get into that as I don’t really know enough about it, but when you get £80 million for Ronaldo and the only player that comes into the team is Valencia for £16 million then there’s going to be a few people that start to ask questions. We haven’t had a big signing since Berbatov and he’s now in his third season at the club. He is the only decent player to have come in during a spell where we’ve let Ronaldo and Tevez slip away. The last season they were both at the club they contributed around 40 goals and a huge number of assists between them. It’s no wonder the team is looking toothless at the moment. Man United used to regularly buy big names. Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Seba Veron, van Nistelrooy and Rooney himself to name but a few. It doesn’t seem to be the policy anymore. Then again, you can’t really argue with Fergie given his track record. He must have something up his sleeve. And of course I could be made to eat my words if we smash Stoke at the weekend, such is the nature of the game, but at the moment I’m not feeling too optimistic about the rest of the season.

What now for Rooney then? Has he played his last game in a red shirt? I’ve heard a lot of people in the press saying that the other players in the squad will react badly to Rooney’s statement, which they have every right to. From watching this video of their thoughts on it, they seem to be pretty united (no pun intended) in their stance. As a side note, Patrice Evra is ace. It will be quite difficult for him to get on and play in the same way with the team as he has done before. The statement makes no secret of the fact that he isn’t happy with the current squad and the other players will be wondering if he’s talking about them or not. Personally I think he’ll play again as soon as he’s fit. He’s still an awesome player, and it might just take that one magic touch or even a dodgy goal deflected in off his arse for him to feel the passion of the supporters and realise what a massive player he is for the club. Fergie has left the door open this time, unlike for Beckham and Ruud, so there’s every chance Rooney will still be a United player this time next year. I think he will, I bloody hope so anyway.


New kit, new England?


England team

OK maybe it isn’t quite as simple as that, but we can hope can’t we?

First of all, I want to say that I didn’t think England underperformed in the summer, where our dismal displays saw us ranked as the 13th best team out of 32, the nation’s worst ever result at the tournament. But the reason I don’t see that as underperforming is because I don’t actually think we were ever as good as everybody made us out to be in the first place. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t gutted when we lost to Germany though. I was, I nearly cried.

Weight of expectation

The levels of expectation the media puts on the players is ridiculous, especially the current hot topic, Wayne Rooney. The World Cup this year could not have come at a more perfect time for Rooney. He’d just had his best ever club season, scoring 34 goals for Manchester United and rightly being spoken about in the same breath as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Yet for whatever reason it didn’t happen in South Africa. You can’t help but think that these latest revelations about him getting jiggy with a lady of the night were playing on his mind, as well as being away from his baby son for a whole month.

Not knowing what was to happen, we rested all our hopes on Rooney, forgetting that football is a team game. True, England have arguably 3 world class players, and a lot of very good players. The three for me are Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole (all excellent role models I’m sure you’ll agree). But you don’t win games by simply shoving a load of players on the pitch and crossing your fingers. You’d be forgiven for thinking that judging by the nearly flawless qualifying campaign, but maybe Fabio a bit lucky in the fact that we didn’t really have any great teams in our group, bar Croatia. Look at Spain, their team is littered with world class stars right through the team. Casillas, Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Torres. All of them would walk straight into almost any club and national side in the world BUT, they also know how to play as a team. In Spain, the kids are taught to play possession football right from the moment they learn to kick a ball. The same philosophy is used up through all the ages groups and ultimately to the national team. This is why the players know the system so well and why Spanish football is now the pinnacle of the sport, both internationally and, I hate to say it, but domestically too.

Fresh Start

Ok rant over, and on to what this post started off talking about. England have just launched a new kit, first seen in the home game against Bulgaria last Friday. Now, England kits are normally revealed every March or April, so I can’t help but think that maybe this is meant to symbolise a fresh start for the team. If so, it’s not done bad so far. Sure, it’s only been two games, but we won them both comfortably while at the same time using a sprinkling of new players. In my eyes the team has a fresher and quite a different feel to it. Joe Hart has to wear that number 1 shirt for the next decade. God knows it’s time for some continuity between the sticks, which we haven’t had since the seemingly untouchable David Seaman was playing. Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Michael Dawson, James Milner and Adam Johnson have all come in and played and while some of these were due to injuries to other players, they haven’t done themselves any harm at all for the furute. Fat Frank might find it a bit tricky getting back into the midfield of a winning team, especially as I’ve just watched Adam Johnson get his second goal in as many games.

I’m really happy that Fabio has stuck to his word and introduced some new faces to compliment the more talented members of the failed World Cup squad. The midfield has needed a shake up for a long time and I do think Milner and Adam Johnson are here to stay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we’re suddenly going to turn into world beaters overnight, cos we aren’t, but we’re taking baby steps in the right direction.

Oh, and the kit’s pretty nice too.