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Because by the Beatles (Cover – In Stages)

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From the Abbey Road album the tune ‘Because’ was one of my favourites.  The harmonies were just so lush.

So when I came across this, I was certainly impressed. It’s a very good cover and the video work is top notch.  Oh but there was more.

This insight into the song acapella was most intriguing. To appreciate the voices carrying the song in this cover gave a great insight into just how superb those voices were.

To then see it stripped back to individual parts and how they blended together was even better and brought greater appreciation for the work that must have gone into making this piece so brilliant.

It’s one to appreciate the brilliant cover and then contrast with the original. It’s songs like this that rightly put the Beatles as one of the greatest suppliers of musical excellence of all time. Enjoy.

(HT: http://www.andrewlubman.com)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Problem With Timothy

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Jamie Redknapp. Great player, not so great pundit. (Source: http://www.classiquepromotions.co.uk/)
Jamie Redknapp. Great player, not so great pundit. (Source: http://www.classiquepromotions.co.uk/)

Not a lot of things really bug me. I’m an easy going kinda guy.

Some things are stupid, I say they are stupid and move on. Some people do stupid things, I say they are stupid things, endeavour not to hold it against him, and move on.

That way I can accept my dislike of Gary Neville as a Manchester United player because he was a Manchester United player, but appreciate him as a top pundit because he is a top pundit.  I can also appreciate Jamie Redknapp as a good midfielder partially because he was a Liverpool but mostly because he was a good player, but also dislike him as a pundit because he’s prone to silly statements. I dislike his football pundit persona, but I don’t let it annoy me too much. Cos I’m an easy going kinda guy.

Then came Timothy.

If you ask my football following friends what button to press to get me ranting just mention the name Timothy. His surname is not necessary to be told, you just say Timothy and that’s the trigger.

Timothy was the captain when Blackburn won the Premier League. He wasn't that bad ... or that good. (Source: i2.mirror.co.u)
Timothy was the captain when Blackburn won the Premier League. He wasn’t that bad … or that good. (Source: i2.mirror.co.u)

Before this season I had no problems with Timothy. I knew him as a fairly average Premier League player plying his trade with Spurs, Portsmouth, Blackburn Rovers and in the old days Norwich City.  I believe Timothy won England caps, but I’m sure that was down to the sparse nature of quality central midfielders because at his best, the geezer was not international class. Give him dues though, the guy as a player played at the top of the game and if Dalglish sees a man as being worthy of the captaincy of a team that would go onto win the Premier League, the player cannot be a chump.

If that was all I heard about Timothy, the brother would not have got me to raise an eyebrow in interest.  Of course, though, this season when things were not going according to plan at Spurs and a change was called for Spurs in their wisdom chose to appoint Timothy as the new boss.

Cards on the table. My view of the handling of AvB was that it was unfortunate. There have obviously been issues that AvB endured in his reigns in London. It’s sad, because he evidently is a talented coach and given the opportunity and the appropriate project, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be a success. Nevertheless it didn’t work out. The hammering by Liverpool at White Hart Lane was the death knell and called for a time for change. So Spurs needed change.  They needed something to take them forward and rescue the season.

Timothy never lacked self confidence and a big opinion of himself. (Source: http://media2.ftbpro.com/)
Timothy never lacked self confidence and a big opinion of himself. (Source: http://media2.ftbpro.com/)

They chose Timothy.

As I write, I am still working out a legitimate reason for appointing him. He had no managerial experience and this was a club looking to be a contender for the Champions League. Where was the thinking in appointing him? What was it about him that made them choose him?

From the outset Timothy appeared to make it his point of duty to be as annoying a football personality as possible. Some have talked about his refreshing honesty, they have hailed how he says it like it is. They have pointed – with helpful assistance from his good self – to the great win record he’s had in his time at Spurs.

Why did they do that? We don't know, but it's not his fault. Or his gilet's. (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/)
Why did they do that? We don’t know, but it’s not his fault. Or his gilet’s. (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/)

When you actually assess what he’s done at Spurs all he’s managed to do is to keep a side that appeared to be going nowhere before him to continue on the path of going nowhere. He gave young players a chance. So? Did that improve the side? Nope. He alienated a number of other players. Did that improve the side? Nope. Were there any big wins he pulled out of the hat? Nope. Are Spurs in a better place now than they were when AvB left? Nope?

He hails his win record, but has that got Spurs their best points in a season? Nope. Have they progressed beyond where they were from last season? Nope. Has he shown anything to genuinely prove he is the man to be responsible for helping Spurs actualise the potential on offer both from the young players and from the £100 million worth of talent available in the squad? Seriously? Really?

Timothy about to set forth his considered opinion on a subject which will in no way make him sound like an arrogant buffoon. Or not. (Source: http://cdn3-i.hitc-s.com/)
Timothy about to set forth his considered opinion on a subject which will in no way make him sound like an arrogant buffoon. Or not. (Source: http://cdn3-i.hitc-s.com/)

Some say he deserved a chance. Some say he needed more time. But if you really think top players will be attracted to be coached by Timothy after the things he’s cracked off with, you must be in serious need of attention. In his playing days he came across as a bit cocky and someone who thought he was a lot more than he was.  That’s fine when you’ve got good players around you to make you look good.  As a manager when you’re the focal point for the whole club, you’ve got to back your big words, and too often he’s been found wanting and finding it all too easy to blame factors beyond his control.

It’s not the fact that he’s got a big mouth that bugs me. Clough had a big mouth – I liked the guy. Mourinho has a mouth on him – I like the guy. They weren’t always right, they weren’t always popular, but they backed their big words with results. They did that because they were savvy in their time to negotiate the football political shenanigans to stay on top.

One day, Timothy might turn out to be a cracking manager. He might have the trophies to show it. Until then it does him no favours opening his mouth for his actions not to back his words. (Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/)
One day, Timothy might turn out to be a cracking manager. He might have the trophies to show it. Until then it does him no favours opening his mouth for his actions not to back his words. (Source: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/)

When it comes to Timothy, the brother from the start was just spouting hot air and backing it with abysmal performances from teams he selected and trained when it mattered most. The mourning for his departure and the sympathy its elicited from some of the usual suspects has been pathetic. The one thing Spurs did well was to ensure that they had that clause in the contract ensuring that if needed Sherwood would just be the supply teacher they needed for the time being – not the full-time, proper, tactically and technically savvy teacher they’re looking for.

No football individual has wound me up so much for a long time than Timothy. Yet as he looks for the next step in his football career, I really hope he gets a club at his level. A club that he can mould and build so that they develop together. A proper place that can humble him and then allow him to do his big mouth business with the credentials to back it, rather than talking a big game and being blown apart.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Management Game

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This season more than any before has been marked by the importance of the manager.

Whether at the top or the bottom of the Premier League, clubs have staked triumph and failure on the fate of the man they put in charge.  Whether a head coach or the traditional manager, the main deal has remained how well they do int he core measure of an effective manager – results.

The fluctuations in a manager’s fortunes is probably well seen in the performance of Sam Allardyce at West Ham United. With a summer transfer window that placed a large number of eggs in the Andy Carroll basket, it was evidently disappointing when the target man spent a large part of the season injured. In that time Allardyce’s team beat Spurs at White Hart Lane and in his humble manner hailed his accomplishment bemoaning the fact that if he were an Italian he’d be lauded.

There then followed a tricky spell where his team struggled to win a match and as the winter transfer window approached there was serious talk of replacing him as manager.  He has never been flavour of the month with a number of Hammers and they were eager to see the owners pull the plug. To their credit, Gold and Sullivan stuck to their guns and at the turn of the year, the fortune of the Hammers improved. The club eased itself away from genuine relegation trouble, without ever looking like they could seriously do more than that.

Hooray for the manager? Or boo for messing up the opportunity to really progress as a side in a division with a number of mediocre teams?

Either way, attention isn’t so much focussed on the players.  Whenever they’re mentioned, it’s usually with regard to who purchased them – the Director of Football, the chief executive, the transfer committee, the club owner or in some cases even the manager himself! After that the issue is with the personnel and the manager’s ability to motivate, shape and release his players to play well enough to get the results.

Common excuses are brought up to cover for failings. Injuries, poor transfer windows, interference from above, stroppy players that just don’t want to play – a range of things that fans swallow with varying degrees of ease.  Yet what makes the difference between good managers and the rest is the ability to negotiate these pitfalls and still emerge with that key commodity – results.

It makes Arsene Wenger’s continued presence as manager of Arsenal one of the amazing stories of management history in the Premier League.  His defenders have pointed to the issues surrounding the move to the Emirates and his financial limitations.  Yet seriously, how can a club of Arsenal’s stature really be satisfied with year after year of flattering to deceive? Champions League qualification – the mark of a great manager? Seriously?

That certainly works in a business model, but in the larger scale of success, memories what truly makes a great manager, Wenger’s record in the last nine years has not only tarnished his achievements in the first half of his time in the country, it’s also made a mockery of the concept of success in the first place.  It really is sad seeing apologists acclaiming the style of football and how pretty it is with a consistent record of what Mourinho rightly described as a specialist in failure.

The prevailing source of comfort for the longsuffering Arsenal fan is that at least they are not a Spurs fan. The problem at White Hart Lane brings the opposite problem of their North London rivals. Where the Gunners have arguably stuck with the same man for too long, Spurs never seem capable of giving a man enough of a chance. This season was typical of that inability to see a project through. Villas-Boas was promised reinforcements to help with the departure of Bale. A number of players were brought into the club, but there was a question of who brought them and the answer appeared to be not him.

Despite never being too far from the top four, because the expectation was for them to challenge for the title, huge losses to Liverpool and City were unacceptable.  No patience with model one – scrap it and virtually revert to a previous model in Tim Sherwood. There was nothing in what Timothy did to suggest he was the answer to the problem, so what’s the answer according to some – give the young manager more time.  He’s obviously helped that with a pat on his own back that he’s capable and sounding off that he is already making plans and players are playing for their future. Seriously, though, who is going to be desperate to play for Timothy? Who sees Spurs progressing when there are other teams in a similar position who appear to be doing a lot better?

That team among other teams is Everton.

Comparing and contrasting the fortunes of Moyes at United and Martinez at Everton is fascinating.  Plenty of people have suggested poor Moyes had it tough going to United taking over the great Ferguson with a squad that was patently not as good as their Premier League win suggested. Hold on though – they still did win the league. They won it, and they won it by a considerable distance.  These players were not dreadful.

Indeed, why would Moyes leave Everton to go to Manchester United? Surely there’s got to be something about preferring to work with De Gea than Howard.  Surely it was about seeing in Vidic as better than Jagielka.  There must have been something about a strike force of Van Persie and Rooney that would have been preferably to whatever Everton has for a strike force.

It’s surely not rocket science is it – who has the better squad? Manchester United. Easily.  So how on earth can you go to that team and fail so miserably, whilst your successor in the previous club not just maintained but improved the standard you left behind.  To the point that the old club finishes higher than the new club who happen to be the biggest in the country and the Premier League champions.

Everton play better football than they did last season.  Everton play more effective football than Manchester United.  Without the same financial clout and without anything like the same quality in players and strength in depth as Manchester United.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Acting Masterclass: Robert DeNiro

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Right, let me confess from the get-go. If you’re a Robert De Niro fan or a fan of acting looking for a genuine masterclass from one of the greatest actors of the last fifty years … you’re in for a disappointment.

If, however, you’re up for a chuckle, then this will do you down to the ground. Peter Serafinowicz may not always be strictly family viewing, but he does funny real well. His take on De Niro is just hilarious.

Enjoy.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Quality Coaching Leads To Success

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The job done at Burnley has rightly seen credit given to the man behind it all Sean Dyche. (Source: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/)
The job done at Burnley has rightly seen credit given to the man behind it all Sean Dyche. (Source: http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/)

Tony Pulis, Sean Dyche, Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez and to a degree Mauricio Pochettino have proved a point.

That point being, if you have a plan, if you can motivate players to buy into the plan and if it can make the most of their abilities in a team unit you can make significant progress.  Quality management is not about splashing the cash on big players. Neither is it primarily about necessarily having the best players.

In Pulis’ case it hasn’t even been about playing the most attractive football. It is about knowing what you have and being able to utilise that in an effective way to get results far above expectations.

It’s because of this approach that a club like Crystal Palace who were legitimate favourites for relegation are now looking at a comfortable lower mid-table finish. Everton have likewise made themselves strong contenders for fourth place in a manner that not even Moyes was able to conjur in his time at the club.

AvB contributed to a season of underachievement at Spurs compounded by his successor. (Source:  http://media.zenfs.com/)
AvB contributed to a season of underachievement at Spurs compounded by his successor. (Source: http://media.zenfs.com/)

It should be a lesson to underachieving clubs to invest and stick with the kind of managers and head coaches who can get the best out of the players at their disposal.

Underachieving clubs for example like Spurs who compounded the inability to build on whatever progress was made in AvB’s season by first sacking him half-way through the season and replacing him with a hot-head. Manchester United’s problems have been well noted as well, but other underachieving sides must include the likes of Aston Villa and Newcastle United.

Anyone looking at the resources available to Paul Lambert and Alan Pardew respectively would not necessarily expect a charge to the top four, but their abject performances and result this season should surely raise cause for concern.

As the season draws to a close and clubs look forward to some of their players flying to Rio for the World Cup and the plans for the 2014-15 season,  it’s the ideal time to consider change. A number of clubs in the Premier League can be a lot better than their current league positions suggest. as with United, that is not an issue of getting rid of the majority of a 25 man squad. That is the issue of identifying the quality coaches whether from home or abroad who can bring about that change.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Movie Review

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(Source: http://wednesdaysheroes.com/)
(Source: http://wednesdaysheroes.com/)

The juggernaut that is Marvel Comic’s movie universe gathers pace with the release of the second Captain America film. With the weight of expectation from its predecessor and the hugely successful Avengers Assemble, how would this film sit in the pantheon of super hero films?

A lot of work is put into identifying audiences for films.  There has to be something about the film that makes it stand up on its own as well as within the bigger picture of a multi-movie storyline arc.  It should appeal to the person who will only watch this film and to the one who has seen everyone that’s ever been done and wants to see how this one fits.

Winter Soldier works on a significant level in bringing in the casual viewer who has no background knowledge, and the fanatic who watched all the other films sixteen times over. The key to this is the story.

Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) on mission. (Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/)
Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) on mission. (Source: http://blogs-images.forbes.com/)

Engaging in a new world, Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) is committed to the cause through S.H.I.E.L.D, but events are leading him to see how blurred the lines are.  The good guys aren’t always that good, and the bad guys are not that straightforward either. Looking for answers from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) only leads to further muddied waters.

Wrestling with these issues his world is turned upside down when a fatal hit takes place as done by a mysterious new super villain simply known as The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Rogers becomes a fugitive and the only person he can confide in initially is the still secretive Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Their quest for the truth leads to all sorts of ugly stuff coming to the surface, some from Roger’s own past, that threatens the very way of life for people around the world.

How does Falcon (Anthony Mackie) fare? (Source: http://www.hdwallpapers.in/)
How does Falcon (Anthony Mackie) fare? (Source: http://www.hdwallpapers.in/)

To combat this significant threat, Steve and the Widow enlist the help of Sam Wilson who was assigned a specific military project that gave him the name Falcon (Anthony Mackie).  The size of the threat, however, looks require drastic measures that certainly has huge implications for Rogers and the way the world is protected from perceived terrorist threats.

Some viewers have talked about the possibility of super-hero fatigue.  The number of movies coming out means that it gets a lot harder to produce something that doesn’t come across as run-of-the-mill. The key is not necessarily to be original, but it is to appear as though you’re taking a creative combination together and producing something memorable and entertaining.

This movie does that by keeping everything story-centred.  It is not an action-flick, though it has great action set-pieces in it.  It is not a Captain America-centred movie, although you still know they guy is important to it.  It is a stunning story exploring issues of freedom, security, truth, trust and changing values in a changing world.

There are the obvious and not so obvious threats in this movie. (Source: http://dorkaholics.files.wordpress.com/)
There are the obvious and not so obvious threats in this movie. (Source: http://dorkaholics.files.wordpress.com/)

There may have been political undertones in the film and it’s clear that there is a subtle message about the importance of not getting too caught up with security that it threatens freedom.  It is not, however, a preachy story. At face value, it’s a story of how one guy discovers how dangerous certain secrets are and what that does to his sense of what the right thing is.

What makes the film work as well is that there is no happy ending.  It has a resolution that lives up to the billing of having significant implications for the rest of the Marvel Movie Universe. There’s enough to make the first time viewer consider following the story to what happens next as well as looking back on what lead to it.

Much credit then goes to the performances for keeping the movie worth following. More often than not the movie looks to be as ‘realistic’ as possible.  There’s little in the way of distracting graphics that make the movie take on a computer game quality.

Evans takes on Steve Rogers again, he didn’t have to carry Avengers Assemble, and there was origin character development stuff in the first CA movie, so this film comes with new challenges. Now he has to be someone to relate to in a way, be the straight clean guy, but not anyone too white-bread that he would be plain as vanilla.  He plays his part very well.  The character of Captain America is more of a collection of ideals from yesteryear than a real guy, but the story helps greatly to give him a sense of purpose.  Evans doe well in the role which is critical to the enjoyment of the film.

Johansson is one of many quality performances in the film (Source: http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/)
Johansson is one of many quality performances in the film (Source: http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/)

It is not just his film, however, and Johansson gets great credit for her performance as Scarlet Widow.  She gives away little in terms of her character, but keeps everything intriguing about her showing her strength and brief moments of vulnerability.

Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford do well also in their respective roles as SHIELD personnel. Redford revels in his role without turning it into a pantomime performance. Jackson was given permission to be Jackson from the time he took on the role and there’s every reason to believe Fury was based on him anyway.

Sebastian Stan doesn’t say much, but he gives off enough in the physical menace to give us another intriguing character whose story people will need to follow carefully in the movie.  Mackie as Falcon plays an instrumental part in the film but obviously understands he is a supporting player.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film well worth watching. (Source: http://uk.eonline.com/)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a film well worth watching. (Source: http://uk.eonline.com/)

When you have a good story with great performances it is the hallmark for a riveting movie experience that makes you eager to recommend it to others.  Due respect and props go to directors Anthony and Joe Russo for bringing this together and showing they can handle this job bodes well should they be entrusted with the third Captain America film.

This film is certainly close to the holy grail of super hero movies such as Reeves’  first Superman, Keaton’s first Batman and The Dark Knight. That as well as the still phenomenal Avengers Assemble. Winter Soldier hits all the marks for an enjoyable filming encounter.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Moyes, Manchester United and Management

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Moyes considers what he'll do now. (Source: http://i3.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/)
Moyes considers what he’ll do now. (Source: http://i3.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/)

There is something about enjoying football that makes me aware of some tribal behaviours when it comes to those ‘in the business’.

It’s clear that if you haven’t played, coached or managed at the professional level especially at the higher levels of the games, it somehow disqualifies you from having a telling and meaningful contribution to make. Yet, thankfully, whatever the tribe think, I’ll still have my view and be delighted to share it.

That’s mentioned because in the light of the recent dismissal of David Moyes there has been an almost universal approach from those in the game to close ranks and protect the departed. The party line appears to be that he wasn’t given enough time and its symptomatic of the times we live in that such a decision is taken.

One of those vocal in their disapproval has been Gary Neville who harks back to a United that stuck with Atkinson and Sexton as well as Ferguson in their tricky moments. Far be it from me to challenge the United legend, but it’s this slightly revisionist history that avoids that which presents itself when we think about the Moyes malaise.

Apparently Moyes missed out on the chance given to Ferguson and Atkinson among others to succeed. (Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/)
Apparently Moyes missed out on the chance given to Ferguson and Atkinson among others to succeed. (Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/)

First of all neither Sexton, Atkinson or Ferguson took over sides that were champions. Though United’s ambitions have tended to be lofty there’s nothing to suggest United ever thought they were the dominant force that demanded to be in the reckoning when the trophies were handed out.  Sexton, Atkinson and Ferguson were given time, because they did enough to get by in that era.

David Moyes has lived a rather sheltered life since he was appointed the boss taking over from Ferguson. It was almost as though people were getting their excuses in early, painting the squad as one that was severely lacking anyway and suggesting Ferguson left a weakened aged squad put the pressure of responsibility on the retiring knight. The mess in the transfer activity was laid at the door of new VP Ed Woodward.

Some might even bring up the nationality issue where a number of pundits and journalists were eager to see the British guy do well for all the British coaches. There’s little doubt, to reverse some of the prevalent thinking, if Moyses was Moysinio with the results and performances he would have been out on his ear by Christmas. It can be imagined how certain sections of the press would have hounded him out for lacking that British grit and determination.

The scene of dejected and defeated United players was just becoming too frequent. (Source: http://www.abc.net.au/)
The scene of dejected and defeated United players was just becoming too frequent. (Source: http://www.abc.net.au/)

Strip away these excuses and deal with the things on which managers of big clubs are assessed on and Moyes fails all the criteria.

Has he motivated his players to play to their abilities? Has he shown tactical flexibility to deal with setbacks? Is he able to make the most of the playing staff he has at his disposal? Is he able to inspire confidence in himself and his methods? Are there signs that he has convinced or is beginning to convince players and fans that he has the plan to progress?

Saying no to these questions would be bad enough, but then to add the results he’s experienced in his time to that, and it should be clear to anyone that he has proven himself inadequate for United’s needs.

There are those who wish to refer to more complex issues such as

It must be hard to convince champions to do things your way when all you have for a track record trophy wise is ... errrr ... ermmmm ... nothing (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/)
It must be hard to convince champions to do things your way when all you have for a track record trophy wise is … errrr … ermmmm … nothing (Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/)

the nature of the ownership, the responsibilities the players must take, the transfer fiascos etc. These however do not negate the fact that the man responsible for the way the team plays is the manager.  It’s almost as though he has no idea who he’s managing – and therein lies the issue.

I’d dispute the claims that he did a ‘good job’ at Everton, but space will not permit. What is clear is that his entire approach at United playing wise was very much still that of an average manager coming from an average club and thus with an average mind-set. It made me shudder to think how he could convince Champions League winners and Premier League Champions to play like his team at Everton who won … errrr … nothing.

It is possible to suggest he was inadequate as the Manchester United manager without making things personal. He evidently knows enough around an average Premier League club to keep their heads above water. It’s not an issue of whether he’s a pleasant gentleman. It is an issue of whether he’s an effective manager at the highest level. This experience strongly suggests he is not.

For football observers it's fun and games now seeing where next for the great club.
For football observers it’s fun and games now seeing where next for the great club.

Moyes need not worry, he only needs to look at the current England manager to know that you can fail at a top club and still pick yourself and carry on with your career. Clubs like Aston Villa would do just fine getting a manager like him, if they’re prepared to play an austere type of football that was very much about safety first and attack if necessary.

In the meantime Manchester United are on the exciting quest of finding the real right man to take them forward. That story should prove to be fascinating for any football lover.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden