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Fixture and frettings

Robbo Robson | 08:10 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

One of the days I was dreading over the summer arrived this week.

No, not Sir Cliff with a microphone while some dotty middle-aged bints with tennis ball ear-rings totter back and forth singing 'Congratulations' (if the roof at Wimbledon's spared us anything it's that).

Not Peter Alliss name-checking every possible golf club he's ever wet his whistle in, bless 'im. Not the British sprint relay team performing the traditional baton-drop in the World Athletics Champs. Not even one more piece of post-op positivity from a hamstrung Freddie Flintoff.


No, it was the announcement of the fixture list for season 2009/10. That's the Championship fixture list, dammit.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Alex McLeish
There's Alex McLeish taking Birmingham City to Old Trafford where he'll meet up with his old gaffer for some incomprehensible banter. There's Burnley off for a glamour fixture at Stoke City - they'll hardly know they've left the Championship - and Wolves getting the Hammers at home.

Meanwhile there's Newcastle. The fixture list has thrown up a match against West Brom, which might convince the loyalist Toonster that they're still playing Premier League football. Boro have got play-off losers Sheffield United - a Yorkshire derby against another team with top-flight credentials.

Then, just in case you might think there are fixtures packed with prestige coming up, we've got Swansea away, Scunny away and Donny at home. Reality bites. No disrespect to them clubs - I mean I'm sure there's plenty of fans who don't fancy a night out in Teesside inhaling the fumes and the parmos and dodging the talent - but this is a new challenge for our lads.

The solace of the Geordie subsidence won't help either. The club's for sale for approximately £Ronaldo + £Tevez, and Michael Owen's agent is putting a glossy little brochure out to flog the bloke like he's a holiday development on the Costa del Sol.

I expect as with any real estate vendor, there'll be the usual blather in the sales pitch: Michael is 'deceptively spacious' 'chock-full of history' and 'ripe for redevelopment': in short it's a must-see for the 'discerning purchaser'. Some of us think the property lacks many of its original features, has definitely lost a yard, could go down rather too easily and needs a radical re-think over its price.

I don't expect Sr. Capello will be casting an eye over it in the foreseeable.
Nah, it's not a happy time. There's a right ugly column on this very website about football's slippery slope. That's what you worry about.

Boro and the Baggies have been well-run and reasonably prudent over the cash, but you might say the same for Charlton Athletic.

We should be OK with the parachute payments 'n' that. £11.5m you get. Alves cost £12m! We'll send Afonso on a sky-diving course and keep the parachute I reckon.
I'll still be casting begrudging eyes up towards the Premier League heights...

Phil Brown, who come August might be toasted to a colour that can't be found in a bottle, will be crooning 'I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea' to the travelling Tigers. Ancelotteri couldn't have wished for a comfier start.

In fact Chelsea have got the sort of opening fixture list that resembles their frequently cushy FA Cup ties: Hull, Sunderland, Burnley, Stoke and even Fulham away ought to be straightforward.

For the likes of the rested Drogba, Lampard and Essien it'll be so simple they'll be scouring the streets for candy-carrying toddlers in the hope that removing said treats will present more of a challenge. Expect Chelsea to be top with maximum points by the end of September.

Liverpool could be similarly placed but then they do make charitable donations to the smaller clubs early doors. Stoke home, Hull home: there's four points gone already.
I don't expect United to fly out of the blocks.

Ronaldo was ropey and ratty early last season but he's still a huge loss and whoever takes his place - and there'll be a hell of a lot more space in the home dressing-room at OT without all that gel and ego - will take a while to bed down.

There'll always be the team that shakes things up before the sediments settle and the rich, sickly, full-fat cream rises to the top, but it ain't going to be Burnley.

Stoke away is no fun, and when they've cleared their heads after having them Delapidated by Rory's mighty bungs, they've got United, Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool! Not so much a baptism of fire as a three-week holiday in a vat of boiling chip-fat.

I think Wolves will be the cat amongst the preening pigeons. Their trickiest game early on is at Eastlands and Lord alone knows who they'll be up against: Given, Ireland, Barry, but after that it could be anyone. It could be no-one.

Robinho

The biggest name they've signed seemed to think he was somewhere else for much of last season, and sent out a useless twin in his stead for the away games, so it might just take a bit more than wads of cash to lure the biggest names in world footie out there.

I don't see the top four monopoly going next season regardless of FandAbuDhabi cash or the increasingly plucky efforts of Villa and Everton. Not that I'll be too fixated on all that.

Our run-in doesn't look nice: away WBA, home Cov, away Leicester... that would've been Premiership fare barely 10 years ago, wouldn't it? (The slippery slide six-pointer against the Geordie bottlers is on 13 March, by the way).

Oh man, enough of this! It's amazing how one poxy little computer print-out can fill you with so much dread.

I need distractions! Roll on the Lions and a Springbok barbecue. I'm not a rugby union man but when it's the Lions I make an exception.

Comments

  • 1. At 09:20am on 18 Jun 2009, Albert Morgan - Goodbye 606 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 09:23am on 18 Jun 2009, HoldenIBM wrote:

    '...There'll always be the team that shakes things up before the sediments settle and the rich, sickly, full-fat cream rises to the top...' Great metaphor!

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  • 3. At 09:24am on 18 Jun 2009, hallda wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 09:31am on 18 Jun 2009, swfcontourinkorea wrote:

    I,m worried for Boro, they had absolutely no fight last season, in fact the season before they only had cattermole getting stuck in and then sold him! The championship is a physical league and i just cant see boro having any presence, even if people with quality like downing stay, i think he,l just get kicked off the pitch...cant give him the time to cross it in, so might as well get stuck into him.
    This, combined with the fact the the riverside has no atmosphere, they wont exactly be making it difficult for opposing teams.
    Could be a long season Robbo'

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  • 5. At 09:31am on 18 Jun 2009, Avalani wrote:

    I just hope Chelsea will make the right decisions this season. Rumours are already flying. gattuso, we don't need. Pirlo, we do if Ballack sees more of the bench. We need a quality striker to come in too, or else the easy fixtures at the beginning won't mean much at the end. we started well last season, see where it got us. consistency is the answer. and hopefully we don't sack any more coaches!

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  • 6. At 09:36am on 18 Jun 2009, Forest Pines-Hotel and Golf resort westandtiger wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 09:37am on 18 Jun 2009, needaname11 wrote:

    Ancelotteri ... lol

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  • 8. At 09:38am on 18 Jun 2009, ANDREWS1987 wrote:

    Not a bad blog Robbo, the question is, will you be focusing on the championship this season?

    I know your bosses will probably be pushing you towards the apparent "creme de la creme" of football in the Premiership, but it would be nice to have a blogger who covers the Championship and all the teams.

    Rarely does this league get much of a mention in comparison and considering it's the 4 biggest league in Europe, I think it's mightly impressive and shouldn't be so overlooked.

    So keep up the work Robbo, but hopefully we can get abit more coverage on the championship, especially now BBC have the rights! You know it makes sense!

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  • 9. At 09:39am on 18 Jun 2009, UKARP wrote:

    I can see boro doing better than newcastle. Financially stable, decentish squad, great academy. Most clubs need to gamble wen they go down and spend a lot of money to get promotion straight away, if they don't the first time then it's the start of the slippery slope. Boro don't need to spend that much money and they will be in the play offs I think, if they don't then they have a good enough chance in the following seasons. Newcastle are a different story though, the releases of bi players will have to start soon, how many players will they actually keep? Maybe Harper, Duff, Carroll, Butt? I am a Lincoln fan and can honestly see us playing them in league 1 in the coming seasons.

    Great blog as always robbo, these people that complain, if it's so bad then why read it? But one dampened this week, doesn't bint mean arabian whore?

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  • 10. At 09:42am on 18 Jun 2009, pidgeGULL wrote:

    First of all, Hallda - that was funnier than the whole blog.

    Robbo don't worry, Alfonso - top scorer in the Championship this year... i'm sure...

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  • 11. At 09:43am on 18 Jun 2009, Lucas wrote:

    how pathetic you lot are for crooning you got first comment, second comment. No-one cares.

    Equally the most interesting thing is when you play certain teams. For Stoke, certainly, I bet they are much happier facing the top 4 early on than late into the season (though their last three fixtures are a tough one).

    So Robbo, which is it? are you converting to focusing on the neighbours in the PL or are your blogs going to be about the Fizzy Pop championship and dour Southgate on the way relegating your side back to where they were when Gibson took over?

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  • 12. At 09:45am on 18 Jun 2009, David wrote:

    Hull stayed up, all credit to them, but they're the worst team to have ever avoided relegation. Derby need to start worrying: I think their points record is under threat.

    Chelsea always get easy starts.

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  • 13. At 09:48am on 18 Jun 2009, kosherdod wrote:

    Robbo is pure class.

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  • 14. At 09:50am on 18 Jun 2009, lightother1 wrote:

    woo 14th comment !!! NURSE

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  • 15. At 09:51am on 18 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    Thank God you're back onto the footie. That cricket blog was positively surreal.

    But be careful of taking on rugby blogs: you're already becoming confused, as can be ascertained by your inclusion of a photograph of Robinho doing the Haka, set above your reference to the Springboks. What's that about, at this time in the morning?

    Keep it simple. Your public expects nothing less.

    Oh, and Chelsea will win the league.

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  • 16. At 09:53am on 18 Jun 2009, gunner-zp - Jack Wilshere is God wrote:

    jeremie alihardlythere will be topscorer in the prem

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  • 17. At 09:55am on 18 Jun 2009, beardedshrimper wrote:

    I think Arsenal could be in serious danger if someone like Man City get their act together.

    Honestly, some people don't know they're born. Southend start against Huddersfield, who've just signed our star player from last season. And for the third time in three years we're playing Cheltenham in the League Cup. I'd bite your hand off for West Brom, Scunny and Doncaster

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  • 18. At 09:57am on 18 Jun 2009, jammyswine wrote:

    You think your fixture list is bad, our reality hit when Hartlepool away was announced. 600 mile round trip on a Tuesday evening in November! League 1 is where the glamour is!!

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  • 19. At 09:58am on 18 Jun 2009, beardedshrimper wrote:

    I thought it was Jeremy HardlyEverThere, certainly refering to his goalscoring. Still, Southend would take him off your hands.

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  • 20. At 10:06am on 18 Jun 2009, reddevilsadvocate wrote:

    Third Comment class!

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  • 21. At 10:09am on 18 Jun 2009, gay fish wrote:

    FandAbuDhabi cash ??? That's a good one. :) Perhaps if a Dubai company invests in Liverpool we can get some FanDubaiDozy cash!!!

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  • 22. At 10:11am on 18 Jun 2009, Alex wrote:

    I like the guy that put "second comment" when it appears he was third... over keen or numerically challenged? maybe both!
    number 6 crawled out of the worng side of bed too. Phil brown looks like he rolls around on clay every morning b efore he wakes up. get over it.

    i reckon spurs might break into the top four this season. they hve been close before and depending on what signings arsen makes it could be closer still. they played well towards the back of 09 and look like they may be getting a few decent dutchmen in. would like to see Robben back. that lad has looked quality in spain when i've had the chance to watch.
    Utd to finish 3rd. Chelski (sadly) to win and pool to come second.

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  • 23. At 10:15am on 18 Jun 2009, mcyodogg wrote:

    Let's take a look at last seasons results.

    Scoreless draw against Hull, home draw when Burnley visited in the League Cup. Lampard had to save Chelsea from an embarrassment against Stoke. Fulham held Chelsea aswell at Craven Cottage.

    Yep, easy enough for Chelsea.

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  • 24. At 10:24am on 18 Jun 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    Uniteds run in looks quite friendly, so i'm quite happy with that. Can't see the boro staying down this time for more than one season, but the barcodes lacked anything last season and all their "stars" will be off - if they get out in two seasons, they'll have done well.

    If west brom keep hold of Greening, they'll come right back up as they'll play most of the Championship off the park.

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  • 25. At 10:26am on 18 Jun 2009, The Good Dr_M wrote:

    Spurs have a bit of a nightmare in April, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal in the space of three weeks... let's hope we've already secured fourth by the stage ;)

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  • 26. At 10:39am on 18 Jun 2009, ColognePaul wrote:

    Just give us a season of average luck and the title will be ours. Last year Chelsea were devastated by a massive series of injuries and dreadful referreeing decisions (Arsenal's equaliser at the bridge, Barcelona...)
    On the Barcelona issue, its the ref who should get the ban and Chelsea should get compensation for the robbery of the century. Still feeling sick about it.

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  • 27. At 10:51am on 18 Jun 2009, hallda wrote:

    27th comment..GET IN!!

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  • 28. At 10:59am on 18 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    27th comment!

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  • 29. At 10:59am on 18 Jun 2009, Joe_Allons_shinpad wrote:

    saintjammyswine

    Your going to love it coming all the way up here! The cold wind blowing of the North sea, you need a hat scarf combo in August!!!
    I thought a previous blog on here said a priority in fixing the fixtures was making it easier for fans to get to games. Southampton to Hartlepool on a Tuesday isn't too easy is it.
    Think of it the other way around your though your actually someones glamour game for a change hahahah!
    I like all the talk about who will be the next Leeds and end up in league 1 from the prem ie Newcastle.
    Who'll be the next Bradford and end up in League 2 ??

    Everyone can pick faults with the fixtures we have Norwich, southampton and Leeds in a row.

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  • 30. At 11:00am on 18 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    Sh*t.

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  • 31. At 11:00am on 18 Jun 2009, Blue_Baby40 wrote:

    Ooooh, Robbo, you are bitter but I like you! :)

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  • 32. At 11:00am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #26 I know the Van Persie incident you refer to. Still, the Lampard sending off at Anfield takes some beating as well.....

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  • 33. At 11:10am on 18 Jun 2009, Toadflax wrote:

    Since when did Boro play Yorkshire derbies withe Sheffield United? The town might be on the south bank of the Tees and in the mists of time was in the olde North Riding but quite honestly this no more than a geographical accident. We have as much in common with the southerners in Leeds and Sheffield as we do with the Cockneys and the Welsh. We have our own accent which is nothing like that heard anywhere in Yorkshire, our own outstanding culinary tastes and share none of the more endearing perosnal traits of the Yorkies, like their traditional generosity or voting for the BNP. Our historic and cultural links are all with the North-East and that's where our football rivalries lie, not with a bunch of Sunderland lookalikes from the North Midlands.

    I agree however that the Blades are a top club and deserve higher staus and their fans know their stuff. Their chairman and Steve Gibson have a lot in common in the way they are developing things, relegation blips apart. Plus they do make decent steel in Sheffield, just like we do in the Boro: what price a steel city derby?

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  • 34. At 11:17am on 18 Jun 2009, mightymuk wrote:

    liverpooooooooooool..!!... its all liverpool's this season, they were runner ups last season just because of ronaldo, now, no ronaldo no title, thats means its liverpools!
    we don't really need to buy much, just make sure we keep alonso and masch, and all the other good players ..

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  • 35. At 11:17am on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    Oi Chelsea fans - I think you'll win the Prem next season too but enough already with the hard luck stories. Being unable to score once teams worked out Scolari's Plan A was the only plan was the main reason you ended up 3rd. A Stroppy Drog doesn't help. And I don't know why Ballacksadaisical is still there either, but... I think you might win it reasonably comfortably.

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  • 36. At 11:21am on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    #34
    Dunno about Liverpool winning it. Can Rafa keep his digits off his dodgy dossiers? Will Nando's hamstrings ping? Hopefully they'll push whoever wins it right to the wire.

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  • 37. At 11:22am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #35 Robbo

    Stroppy Drog was also injured or suspended for alot of Scolari's reign. I agree though, his attitude didn't help at all.

    Shame your mob didn't work out Scolari's plan A though. 5-0 wasn't it that sunny Saturday lunchtime oop north! Was still 2-0 at home in January when Scolari was still there but seemingly losing control.

    Guess we'll have to find another team to beat 7-0 on aggregate this season.

    Good luck against Dumbarton....

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  • 38. At 11:23am on 18 Jun 2009, Faustino wrote:

    Re the "slippery slope:" Newcastle are in total disarray, up for sale, effectively no manager - Shearer may be continuing in his role, but with no formal basis or support, players keen to leave, morale must be rock bottom and uncertainty prevails. No players will be bought pending a sale. It will take a dramatic turnaround to avoid a string of bad results at the strat of season, the too-loyal fans might finally have had enough and turn on the club. Happy days? I fear not.

    Robbie, of course you'll touch on the Ch'ship, but please keep up your EPL and broader coverage too.

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  • 39. At 11:24am on 18 Jun 2009, thelargegunnersaurus wrote:

    arsenal have aston villa, chelski, liverpool and man u in a row.
    that is a fix.

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  • 40. At 11:26am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #39 How many points did you get against them last year?

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  • 41. At 11:27am on 18 Jun 2009, roadrunnertog wrote:

    It just gets the adrenaline running for you dunno who'll be quickest out of the blocks.That's the only thing that saved Hull.They got out of 'em blocks like their asses were on fire and there was a dog after them that rather fancied prime roast.Ha!Any of the clubs flattering to deceive better start like bats outta hell,there's a certain club of devils that finishes unbelievably strong,so the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal better stack up the points early,and pray that Sir Alex forgets how to string them up by the family jewels when they act like they don't quite git the broad brogue.An interesting transfer season is in the offing.Mahanaddou Diarra as a holding midfielder Arsenal or indeed United?Real Madrid done gone and got the crazies.They're flogging the whole team to get two players who between them can't defend to save their lives,so they'll still get walloped 6-5 by Barcelona and 4-3 by Liverpool.Unless all they wanna do is open the largest mall in the world in Shanghai to sell white shirts.All fake!Ha

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  • 42. At 11:28am on 18 Jun 2009, GiggsyGiggsyGiggsy wrote:

    #34

    Every season for the last 6 years has been 'Liverpool's season' in the summer. Do you lot suffer from sunstroke?

    Let's be honest you won't get as many points against the big three as last season and you certainly won't get 6 pts off the Govan Beetroot. You had your chance last season and blew it. You peaked and will be lucky to get 75 pts. next season.

    Chelsea will be favourites with Man U 2nd. favourites and Arsenal 3rd. If Arsenal can come through their nightmare fixture list in Feb. within touching distance of the title then you'd have to fancy them as a long shot.

    As for Liverpool they will have to work out how to score at home against the likes of Stoke, West Ham, Fulham et al.

    In Rafa We Trust

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  • 43. At 11:30am on 18 Jun 2009, thelargegunnersaurus wrote:

    we got a lot of points but it is in the space of 14 days aston villa might not pose too much of a problem and liverpool wont if gerrard is injured but chelsea and man u it may be too much, oor it could tilt the title in our favour. our young guns have got to grow up sometime, this year could be the year. come on arsenal!

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  • 44. At 11:32am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #42

    It's odd the number of people that seem to be talking Chelsea up for next season and yet are so critical of our players skills most of the time.

    Is it an admission that Man U have been winning the league recently because Chelsea have been unable to hold onto a manager for any length of time? I mean, we haven't signed anyone yet!

    As for Liverpool, they may not score quite as many points against the other top teams but they pretty much battered some of the teams that did hold them at home. Doesn't take much to turn that into three points. See Man U at home to Villa to see how quickly things change.

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  • 45. At 11:35am on 18 Jun 2009, Fulwellend wrote:

    ER, EXCUSE ME !! (I'M SAYING THIS LOUDLY).
    CHELSEA'S start to the season resembling "their frequently cushy FA Cup ties"?? I think not.
    In fact, after we (the soon-to-be mighty-SAFC) have given them a good Mackem pasting at the SoL I think you might want to reconsider your assumptive views.
    Words like "humble pie", "clanger" and "foot in mouth" spring to mind.
    You underestimate the Balck Cats at your peril, Robbo.

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  • 46. At 11:39am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #45

    Will this be similar to the 'good Makem pasting' you gave us on the last day of last season. A game you were desperate to win, a game that was a little warm up for us for the cup final, and ultimately a game you still lost?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/8048317.stm

    Or is it another 'good makem pasting' that you are refering to?

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  • 47. At 11:39am on 18 Jun 2009, ma_hero wrote:

    Just like the beginning of last season people (including pundits) were crooning over Scolari's appointment and how they were going to win the league. And where did they finish? So I suppose Ancelotti is a sure bet to drive Chelsea to success? Just like Scolari was...

    Chelsea may have an easy first set of fixtures on paper but both Hull and Fulham took 2 points off them each last season.

    I can just envisage another Chelsea anti-climax with Ancelotti gone and Hiddink back in come mid-January. Albeit with Hiddink multi-tasking with Russia.

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  • 48. At 11:43am on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    Good Blog Robbo. I think Arsenal has a chance if they remain consistent, buy well and are able to navigate jan/feb 09 without too much damage. Apart from that they can stroll.

    All the Chelsea guys should forget about last season and concentrate on the new. Last season is the past, this season is the future so let them look to the future. Young players will aid them in the league but if they keep looking at 30+ players(Gattuso,Pirlo)they will not win the league.

    Manchester United without Ronaldo is a good team(they will not win the league) but i don't see a replacement unless they buy Messi(Impossible even for 200m).

    Liverpool should get another Torres. I thought they will pay the big cash for a striker instead of a defender and Johnson for that matter. Until they find backups for Torres and Gerrard no to premiership.

    Everton, Spurs, Villa, WestHam, Burnley will still fight for Europa and Hull, Sunderland, Birmingham and Wolves will be relegated.

    Portsmouth might go unless they get a new owner with cash fast else they will replace Sunderland.

    The others are Survival compliant.

    Middlesborough will make it back if they get another coach. Newcastle? At the rate they are going will be in conference in 5 years.

    Thanks for the blog.

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  • 49. At 11:43am on 18 Jun 2009, rockreddevilsforlife wrote:

    at 44

    i dont think its fair to say to say united have been winning the league because chelsea couldnt hold on to one manager. united won it 2007, when morinho had a full season with you. united won it 2008, granted morinho left half way, but i dont think he would have won the league if he had stayed that year. united won it again in 2009 and i will admit its debatable that chelsea would have won it if they had hiddick from the start. definately not with scolari though.

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  • 50. At 11:44am on 18 Jun 2009, Mr Vic A. Rageroad Esq wrote:

    "Phil Brown, who come August might be toasted to a colour that can't be found in a bottle"

    I haven't had a bottle of Fanta in years...

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  • 51. At 11:46am on 18 Jun 2009, SuperHoops10 wrote:

    Please Chelsea fans get off your sofas and realise you have much more luck than any other team bar Man Utd!

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  • 52. At 11:48am on 18 Jun 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    I've had a look at the Owen brochure myself as my local pub team could do with another striker and I saw Owen beign described as "a unique fixer-upper opportunity"

    great bloag again Robbo!

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  • 53. At 11:49am on 18 Jun 2009, GiggsyGiggsyGiggsy wrote:

    #44

    For the past 2 seasons I have believed that Arsenal would be Man U's biggest challengers. I remember their kids scoring 6 at Anfield in the League Cup and also putting Liverpool out of the FA Cup a few days later. I thought they would have done better than they have in the last 2 seasons. Perhaps having a poor captian in Gallas has contributed to their under achievement. They certainly have talented players.

    I did feel that Chelsea would lose their way after the Special One left and was surprised that they took the title to the last day of the season under Grant. I also felt Scholari was the wrong choice of manager but now they have Ancelotti. A lot of Chelsea's players are getting on a bit so it will be interesting to see what changes the manager makes. I also think that they will tighten up defensively if they bring in Maldinhi as defensive coach. Should be an interesting season.

    I cannot take Liverpool seriously as challengers even if they did push us closer than expected last season. I think this could be because they built up a good lead against Man U early doors and kept the momentum going. I do not feel they have a good enough squad and they definitely do not have a good enough manager. They will have to rely on getting pens and players sent off again next season. I believe they finished against 10 men on no fewer than 10 occasions last season. They picked up 14 points out of 18 against Chelsea, Man U & Arsenal, 6 of which took off Utd. They finished 4 points behind Utd. Says it all really.

    Also can't see anyone new breaking into the top 4

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  • 54. At 11:50am on 18 Jun 2009, DavidBeckhamsBeard wrote:

    Actually i think you'll find Phil Brown gets that colour from Iron Bru!

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    50. At 11:44am on 18 Jun 2009, Mr Vic A. Rageroad Esq wrote:
    "Phil Brown, who come August might be toasted to a colour that can't be found in a bottle"

    I haven't had a bottle of Fanta in years...

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  • 55. At 11:51am on 18 Jun 2009, OutsidersPOV wrote:

    Just over a year after securing league status, Exeter are now looking at playing Leeds, Norwich and the big Yeovil derby as well as QPR in the Carling Cup, and that's all in the first 10 days of the season! Happy days!

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  • 56. At 11:56am on 18 Jun 2009, Fulwellend wrote:

    Mr BlueBurns (and Robbo, of course),
    Pride nearly ALWAYS comes before a fall.
    You beat us by the odd goal. We were a demoralised side not expecting to win, or even draw.
    We will be very, very different when you see us on our first home game of the season.
    I can see us doing Sir AF and his Red Devils a favour !!

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  • 57. At 11:57am on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #49

    I was being cheeky when I suggested that Man U won it by default cause clearly that is not the case. I was just responding to a post by a Man U fan who seemed to back Chelsea this season when really, not a lot has changed thus far, apart from the imminent departure of Ronaldo.

    Chelsea have contributed to their own failures in recent seasons and who knows, they may well do it again this season.

    As I say, so far, little has changed but there is still plenty of time between now and the end of August for transfers.

    Chelsea shouldn't, in my opinion, sign Gattuso and Pirlo because they offer nothing that we don't already have and do not address 'problem' areas like the wings and support up front.

    Right now, we will once again be relying on the tried and tested Cech, Terry, Essien and Lampard backbone. Mind you, that's not such a bad thing!

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  • 58. At 12:01pm on 18 Jun 2009, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    #56

    Hey, I'm not being cocky or anything and I wish you well for the season it's just that I have seen very little to suggest that Sunderland will be troubling Chelsea anytime soon. I may well be proven wrong but your statement was a little out of kilter with recent history, that's all.

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  • 59. At 12:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, rockreddevilsforlife wrote:

    to 57

    your comment is spot on. i will admit, i think chelsea will win the league this season, you have a strong squad and sometimes i even wonder how united have managed to win it 3 times in a row.

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  • 60. At 12:08pm on 18 Jun 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    It makes me smile to think that so many people are so convinced (by the media) that United will be so weak without Ronaldo.

    He's a quality player, but he unbalanced the side quite a bit, was fairly useless down the wing in all honesty (how many tearing crosses did he put in?), and although he scored a lot of goals he wasted a lot of free kick opportunities (compare him to Beckham in 99), and marginalised the likes of Rooney (pushed to left wing) and Berbatov. All too often the team just lazily turned to Ronaldo for inspiration, again just like Beckham, and when he didn't perform or got the inspiriation kicked out of him, the team looked flat. You can't rely on one player, and United don't need to.

    Rooney and Berbatov will form a formidable partnership with guile strength and finishing prowess, and if we get a proper winger to replace Ronaldo we can focus on improving our midfield with a fit tackler (Diarra maybe?) to replace Hargreaves.

    Chelsea will be strong and again they're the main threat; Liverpool will be ok, but still need some quality squad signings; but write United off at your peril.

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  • 61. At 12:13pm on 18 Jun 2009, BillBobJoeKenny wrote:

    Ancelotti as first manager in premier league to be sacked

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  • 62. At 12:17pm on 18 Jun 2009, WolvesSELondonKev wrote:

    Great article...

    I hope you're right about the Wolves being the cat amongst the proverbials?!!!!!!!

    Must admit that it looks a great start, but no game is easy, I remember us thinking that when we went away to Norwich last year and get spanked 5-1, OUCH!!!!!! It also looked okay in 2003, we then went and conceded 19 and scored 3 in our first 9 games, collecting 5 points on the way so nothing being taken for granted here...

    Anyway, if we can figure around mid table for most of the season and avoid a constant battle with relegation then I'll be happy. Afterall, I'll be surprised if the Prem is as close in the bottom half as it was last year..

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  • 63. At 12:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, Y-I-1892man wrote:

    enjoyable blog as always Robbo,it takes a bit of getting used to looking for your team (Boro and NUFC)amongst the premiership fixtures only to remember... your destiny.In a bit of a quandry,as an ex-pat in Sweden I now have the choice of watching the likes of NUFC-Donny or Man U-Pool on a Saturday afternoon-tough choice!the top 4 will as usual fight for the title with either Chelsea or Man U bringing it on home.The transfer market has gone berserk with the CR deal,but the Etoo rumour is even worse-I liked your Man C line up!!silly season is as the name suggests,just sit back relax and what will be-will be.cya next season Robbo,in the championship.

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  • 64. At 12:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    United as champs.

    Hull, Burnley and Stoke go down.

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  • 65. At 12:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:

    Robbo, long time reader, multi-time poster:
    As ever mate, if i was wearing a hat it would be tipped firmly in your direction... Quality stuff! (except the rugger bit... i just dont get that game??? Even when we were good at it i could never get on board that band-wagon...and i love band-wagons, i one day hope to own one!)

    Chelsea, man u, liverpool and Arsenal fans... in this and other blogs, i have read comments from you all feeling hard done by by the fixture list, and the phrase "fix" has come from fans of each... My god, you people do not know you are born, do you?!

    It does amaze me though the emotions the fixture list draws from the soul... The only other experience i can think of which evokes the same levels of expectancy, anxiety and anticipation of your future is the feeling you get deep in your gut whilst pacing up and down outside the toilet while your girlfriend waits for the results of a pregnancy test! (Chelsea fans seeing thier openers = negative!, Burnley Fans... you just slipped one past the goaly... fingers crossed for a boy!)

    One thing which highlights the fears the hopes and in some cases the blind faith/denial (see liverpool fans denying they were lucky last year) footy fans have at this time more than anything is the fact i have read the word "PERIL" twice so far in these comments...

    It might be 8 weeks to go, but you can smell footy in the air again.... god its been a long 3 weeks!

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  • 66. At 12:34pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    To 60,

    Manchester will be a weaker team without CR7. Berbetov and Rooney can never replace CR7. Who else can turn a game around with a goal from nothing. He has the dribbles, the speed, the freekicks, the shots with both legs(70% on target),He can head, assist with a pass and he also gets penalties out of nothing. Teams were afraid of United because of CR7. They prepare specially for him. That way others have opprtunites to do havoc. Like i said in 48, the only person that can replace CR7 is Messi unfortunately he is not for sale. United have lost a Gem. When Beckam left it took you three years before winning the title (You & Chelsea had all the money then).I know it will be harder now (More teams have real cash now and are buying quality players).
    I repeat unless Liverpool get quality replacements for Gerrard and Torres they will not win the league.
    Chelsea needs to inject new blood in the team. Their team is now like AC Milan and every season in Italy they say Milan will win the league but you cannot win the league without fresh and fast legs.
    Arsenal must buy well to have a chance.

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  • 67. At 12:37pm on 18 Jun 2009, RedFoz wrote:

    @ comment #33

    Maybe you should check your history.
    Obviously the Middlesboro accent bears a closer resemblance to its north east neighbours but historically Middlesbrough from before 1066 was always part of Yorkshire, as was a huge chuck of Lancashire, Yorkshire was then divided into the 4 divisional ridings areas of north, east, south, west of which Middlesboro was still within the north riding (also at the time of your most famous son, (Cpt Cook) and after the brief existance of Cleveland has again become part of North Yorkshire.

    Now I don't mind the name Yorkies one bit but by the very facts of the situation, in coming from Middlesboro you would also then be a Yorky yourself, and so by definition any game against another team from within the Yorkshire boundaries is also therfore a Yorkshire derby.

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  • 68. At 12:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, CFCwhack wrote:

    You really are an idiot Robbo!!!!!!!

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  • 69. At 12:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, mikeyblighe wrote:

    Great blog Robbo, hope you keep on covering the Prem and the Championship when the new season starts. We get to start a week earlier down in the Fizzy Pop League too, before the pomp and glamour of the big league starts again.

    As a Newcastle fan, I must say my biggest disappointment about the fixtures list is that the away game at Blackpool is on a Tuesday night. Tuesday? Well, that's the weekend at the seaside down the swanny isn't it? How about Donny? Tuesday as well? We never get a break do we?

    As for the Prem this season, Manchester United are really going to struggle without that certain Portuguese gentleman. Not my words, the words of one of my mates who would usually say his team can win with 11 babies on the field. Which is usually the case, come to think of it. 12 if you count SAF and his frequent anti-referee rants. I'd like to see him get on the field and do a better job.

    Overall, I think it'll be a tight run race between Chelsea and Liverpool with Manchester heading for a fall. Would be nice to see the Scousers take the title, if only so we can have a different bunch of reds lift the trophy at the end of the season.

    As for the north-east teams. I reckon we're going to stay in the Championship, falling just short of the playoff positions. The first season down from the Prem is going to be a bit of a shock to the system that will take more than one year to get over. I think Boro have more will to go back up, despite the shockingly bad football they played last season. As for those Black Cats, they might be eyeing a more comfortable finish this season, not so close to the relegation zone this time.

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  • 70. At 12:40pm on 18 Jun 2009, Atif_10 wrote:

    Hmmm Robbo not backing Utd are ya? Fair enough think i'll back the Toon to win the championship. And comment 4 you do realise that getting relegated doesn't suddenly change the sport to Rugby? There are still refs on the pitch...

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  • 71. At 12:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    to 66:

    of course he was important, but you're massively underestimating the likes of Rooney, Anderson and Berbatov.

    The team was built to favour Ronaldo, but Rooney has already shown what he can do when he stands in front of goal rather than being completely wasted on the wings. Would have liked to see both of them up front for United, but Ronaldo had stopped being a winger, and the only way to fit all the attackers on was to marginalise two of them - Tevez and Rooney.

    If we get a winger who can cross as good as Johnson did for England, rather than dazzle with fast footwork that all-too-often results in the ball being played back to midfield rather than a driving cross, then we'll be a better TEAM. And that's the point.

    as for replacing Ronaldo with Messi, they're completely different style players, and neither of them are proper wingers.

    United future forward line:

    Berba

    Valencia -- Rooney -- Benzema

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  • 72. At 12:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, collie21 wrote:

    You mentioned Stoke and Chelsea and some fixtures for each one of them. I am betting stoke will get more points from those fixtures you highlighted for them than Chelsea get from theres. With the Dutch man gone I expect them to falter badly. If all reports are true and Ancelotti is a yes man, it means R.A. will be running the team. They won't do half as well as Liverpool who wont do as well as they did this season.

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  • 73. At 12:50pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    To 68,

    If Robbo is an idiot then idiot must be a good word cause the guys blogs are beautiful and articulately written.

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  • 74. At 1:02pm on 18 Jun 2009, SugarDunkerton wrote:

    #8 Not the 4th biggest in Europe. The 4th richest.. major difference... no surprise there with these ridiculous parachute payments paid out to clubs who leave all business sense behind in order to chase the money by staying an extra season or 2 in the EPL..

    Reality kicking in will be a sore one for all these 'big' teams..

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  • 75. At 1:03pm on 18 Jun 2009, Nick wrote:

    Before writing United off due to Ronaldos absence it would be worth waiting to see who SAF brings in first.
    Last season the press were continually telling us that Uniteds squad was the best ever. We've only lost one player! If SAF buys right losing Ronny could be a blessing in disguise. His heart wasnt truly in it last year and other players ( Rooney,Berbs,Tevez) were sacrificed to fit him in.

    I personally think it will be Chelseas year. Ancelotti wont be star struck unlike Scolari and also has club experience at the highest level, unlike Scolari.

    Liverpool will have to better last seasons effort, Glen Johnson is useful(if very expensive) buy but a new right back wont transform them. Do you think they'll beat Chelsea and United home and away again? I dont think so.

    The next month will be crucial

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  • 76. At 1:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, Renaldinho20 wrote:

    Same old "Robbo" same old rambling on.
    As biased as ever and yes as bitter as ever.
    Once again towards Manchester City, just because your club isn't as wealthy as ours or even in the Premier League anymore that's no need to have a go.
    Complaining about only getting a £11.5million parachute payment because you lot spent over that on Alfonso Alves...ALFONSO ALVES, with decisions like that it's no wonder Middlesbrough are where there are and will be there for some considerable time.

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  • 77. At 1:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    Interesting article, full of facts some true and others made up.

    Robbo since when has Boro V Sheffield United been a Local Yorkshire Derby????

    Middlebrough hasn't been in Yorkshire since 1975 when the boundaries commission changed the county and electoral boundaries. Also the travel is a distance of 97.4 miles between the Boro and Sheffield, it is actually a shorter distance between Liverpool and Sheffield (84.8 miles) and you don't call that a derby.

    Now i know you are struggling to find excitement in the Championship but come on mate you are stretching the limits there.

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  • 78. At 1:23pm on 18 Jun 2009, Malt Loaf wrote:

    United will be stronger without Ronaldo. Everything about United over the last two seasons was geared towards indulging Ronaldo at the expensive of others being allowed to show their natural flair (I'm thinking principally of Rooney here). By the end of this past season United had become far too predictable - shackle Ronaldo and you shackled United. Barcelona did this magnificently. Anyone who thinks Ronaldo will be severley missed needs their head testing. http://www.loserscomesecond.com/

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  • 79. At 1:27pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    You know what? It'd be nice if discounting United was based on hard footy nous but frankly it's based on a deep-seated desire from way down in me guts for it not to be another flaming United year! I don't care who they bring in to replace the designated diver (not my phrase, some other poster's marvellous invention) so long as the kid can't score with head, left peg, right peg, both heels, backside or even chest it in from 40 yards. Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, hellfire Sunderland, just someone else to win the title would be fine by me.

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  • 80. At 1:33pm on 18 Jun 2009, cransonssweatband wrote:

    #33 ........ I think you will find there is already a 'steel city derby'

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  • 81. At 1:34pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    #76
    I think I acknowledge my team's failings pretty frankly inthe blog. Pointless referring to again like I hadn't realised what a poor purchase Alves was. ANd actually I'm not jealous of City at all, I just hope that being a rich man's plaything might not make you happy straight away.

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  • 82. At 1:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, Teofilo Cubillas wrote:

    Easy start for Chelsea ? If they match last season's results they will drop 6 points from the frst 5 games; Drew at home to Hull and Burnley and drew away to Fulham.

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  • 83. At 1:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    Btw... the bloke who says Middlesbrough not Yorkshire. It flaming well is. Cross the Tees into Stockton and you're into the wild wastelands of County Durham. Yorkshire CC still play some cricket round here too or are they just being quirky?

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  • 84. At 1:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, bredtobered-forum troll wrote:

    68. At 12:38pm on 18 Jun 2009, CFCwhack wrote:
    You really are an idiot Robbo!!!!!!!
    ..............................................

    Care to explain why? pointless post.


    anyone claiming its a fix they are half right......its a fix-ture.
    at the end of the day everyone plays everyone twice so whats the problem??? if the likes of manure, chelski, arse n' all need their fixtures in a particular order then in my eyes they're not so mighty after all. it doesn't make a blind bit of difference.

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  • 85. At 1:46pm on 18 Jun 2009, DubaiJack wrote:

    This could be a REAL tester for the Boro and I'm looking forward to the Tawe v Tees match at the Liberty on 15th August. If Boro don't impress early on they may be looking at a long hard struggle. This is going to be one of the more interesting Championship Seasons!

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  • 86. At 1:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    Robbo,

    good to see you have grown up, and having an adult debate.

    Middlesbrough in 1996 became a Unitary Authority at the abolition of Cleveland. It was never returned to Yorkshire. It is also interesting to note that you never commented on the near 100 miles between Boro and Sheffield.

    As for Yorkshire CC still playing cricket there, we yes they are being quirky in the same way Yorkshire play at Stockton Cricket Ground, Lancashire still play cricket in Liverpool, Merseyside. Somerset also play in Bath and Bristol which isn't in Somerset. The County Cricket clubs do this to increase the audiences and to allow the wickets to recover between matches.

    Now Robbo don't try and claim you understand Cricket because you struggle to understand Football. hence you supporting Boro.

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  • 87. At 1:54pm on 18 Jun 2009, Edwards No 6 wrote:

    I love how you are writing united off already. 4 in a row i will put my house on it

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  • 88. At 1:54pm on 18 Jun 2009, Richyburger wrote:

    Thanks for the sentiment Robbo Sunderland for the League title! ;)

    Still yet again we have been given Portsmouth on a Tuesday evening. I do find it strange that it's been us travelling 680 miles there and back twice in a row. I read the article about how the fixtures are produced but in it he even admits that it gets altered to fit in with certain criteria.

    Still ho hum at least all of the stadiums we will be playing in will be fully covered.

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  • 89. At 1:55pm on 18 Jun 2009, John Smith V wrote:

    23. At 10:15am on 18 Jun 2009, mcyodogg wrote:

    Let's take a look at last seasons results.

    Scoreless draw against Hull, home draw when Burnley visited in the League Cup. Lampard had to save Chelsea from an embarrassment against Stoke. Fulham held Chelsea aswell at Craven Cottage.

    Yep, easy enough for Chelsea.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Haha, exactly. Also Robbo, just cos those fixtures aren't exactly big four teams, it means nothing, that just means we'll have harder fictures later on in the season which we do. Although I do think we have a good chance of winning the league next year, but I don't think it'll be easy by any means, United and the scousers have just as much chance of winning it as we do.

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  • 90. At 1:58pm on 18 Jun 2009, bredtobered-forum troll wrote:

    86. At 1:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Dragoneyes106 wrote:
    Robbo,

    good to see you have grown up, and having an adult debate.

    Middlesbrough in 1996 became a Unitary Authority at the abolition of Cleveland. It was never returned to Yorkshire. It is also interesting to note that you never commented on the near 100 miles between Boro and Sheffield.

    As for Yorkshire CC still playing cricket there, we yes they are being quirky in the same way Yorkshire play at Stockton Cricket Ground, Lancashire still play cricket in Liverpool, Merseyside. Somerset also play in Bath and Bristol which isn't in Somerset. The County Cricket clubs do this to increase the audiences and to allow the wickets to recover between matches.

    Now Robbo don't try and claim you understand Cricket because you struggle to understand Football. hence you supporting Boro.
    .......................................................................


    nice one! people who trust wikipedia should do some extra homework before commenting.

    boro is north yorkshire. look at a map instead of a useless site that gets nothing right. politically you are right but not geographically.

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  • 91. At 2:00pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    Cleveland is a myth created by Bureaucrats by the way.

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  • 92. At 2:00pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    78,
    We will know who needs their head tested after the end of the season 2009/10. I will definitely remind of you of these at the end of the season. Every good team is built around a player. Barcelona Xavi, Liverpool Gerrard, United Ronaldo, Chelsea Lampard, Arsenal Fabregas, Bayern Ribery, Ac Milan Kaka, Inter Ibra. I believe United are in the twilight. How can you say that the best player in the world restricts United. He has been the Top scorer in United for three seasons. He gives you options that no other player in your team gives you. He is a complete player. You will now find a new path different from the part you have used for the past 3 years. It takes time. That's why it took you long to win after Beckam left and the players will also have to understand your the new way of playing. Who will take over Ronaldo's mantle? Who will the team be built around? A ship without a captain will crash. Your "captain" is gone. Will the shoe that the old "captain" left size the new one? If not you have to go and find a new size and that means going to the market and even after buying the new size, the "captain" will have to wear the shoe for at least 2-3 months before he is comfortable in it. That's the main reason why people say United will not win the league.

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  • 93. At 2:02pm on 18 Jun 2009, Devosking wrote:

    The championship is a very hard league to get out of and St james is going to be like wembley to a lot of the championship clubs a cup final nearly every week they better get some strong players in they are going to need them

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  • 94. At 2:05pm on 18 Jun 2009, digispoonerta wrote:

    In 1996 Cleveland was abolished, and Middlesbrough became a unitary authority, within the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire.

    Not sure what a ceremonial county is but it definately says NOrth Yorkshire....

    Anyway Not sure about the Chelsea for the title thread .... i think that it will take a season of Anchelotti (sp?) bedding in before they can be described as favorates!!! .... they will start off well as per usual (and teams always do with a new manager) but i think that they will tail off to 3rd.... Bewteen United and Arsenal for me.

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  • 95. At 2:07pm on 18 Jun 2009, DMT1985 wrote:

    Good blog Robbo.

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  • 96. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    to 92:

    I'm afraid you're a bit wide of the mark with Barca... they're not based around Xavi specifically. And none of their players are marginalised for the others. Messi, Eto, Iniesta and Henry are all played in their best positions.

    Rooney is undoubtedly world class, but because he's more adaptable and likes to track back has been used to compensate for Ronaldo. As Capello is demonstrating, put him in the right position and he'll make a massive difference.

    Don't get me wrong, Ronaldo is a fabulous player, but he should never have been considered our MAIN goal threat. He could destroy a team single handedly, but a team functioning to the best of its components is better. No-one's fault, just the way personalities gel. Just look at the way Rio tells Terry what to do when they play for England, but for Chelsea Terry is the boss. Rooney just got pushed into the shadows.

    Maybe i'm biased, but i'd rather have a fully focused Rooney or Kaka than Ronaldo OR Messi.

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  • 97. At 2:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, goatLUFC_OSC wrote:

    thats nothing. we're at home to EXETER.

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  • 98. At 2:14pm on 18 Jun 2009, bredtobered-forum troll wrote:

    96.

    dont thnk i've ever agreed with a man u fan but i think your spot on there.

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  • 99. At 2:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, yarmred wrote:

    Dragoneyes, Yorkshire have never played a "home" game at Stockton Cricket Ground.
    Stockton-on-Tees is north of the river and has been stated is Durham CCC territory.
    Yorkshire played at Acklam Park in Middlesbrough although apart from the odd game at Scarborough they no longer rotate their home games to Sheffield, Middlesbrough etc.
    In the good old days when you had to be born in Yorkshire to play for Yorkshire CCC, being born in Middlesbrough still counted even when Cleveland came into existance.
    Middlesbrough itself is a Yorkshire town.
    However having siad all that I'd never class Middlesbrough v Sheff Utd/Wed/Barnsley/Rotherham/Doncaster/Hull as a football derby.
    Leeds is still classed in some Boro quarters as a derby but that is always cause for debate too.

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  • 100. At 2:23pm on 18 Jun 2009, Hirocles wrote:

    Re comment 67.

    Yorkshire, I believe, was divided into THREE - Riding means THIRD. There has never been a South Riding! Born and bred in the Boro we are only yorkshiremen for cricket and ceremonial purposes. Long live the People's Republic of Teesside.

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  • 101. At 2:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, WhitleyBayWonTheVase wrote:

    Robbo, you should count yourself lucky.

    Our fixture list, beginning 8th August, reads as follows:

    Consett (H) - famous for Phileas Fogg and, umm, let me think.
    Dunston Federation (H) - wooo, two home games to start!
    Ryton (A)
    Esh Winning (A)
    Shildon (H)
    Bishop Auckland (H)

    Are you feeling a little better now? Well, get this, our last home game of the season is against the mighty Newcastle!

    Umm, Newcastle Benfield. Mind you, they're a lot better than Newcastle United so I look forward to that one. Finally, with the championship within our grasp we'll be off to Penrith. Yes, Penrith. Well it is kind of in the Lake District, so there is something to look forward to.

    We then start defending our FA Vase trophy with a bye to the second round! Hows that for recognition of the champs eh?!

    So, when you're feeling badly done to you should think of the only team in the Northeast to have won a trophy last season - the mighty Whitley Bay FC, 2008/9 FA Vase winners and a hell of a lot better than the Geordie bottlers or Smoggies could even dream of being!

    I like to finish on a high note. Its quite easy this year up here.

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  • 102. At 2:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    To 96,

    I can tell you from fact that Barca's team is built on Xavi just like it was built on Guardiola before him. He is the commander and dictates the way Barcelona play. Their are other good players I agree but every Barca move starts from Xavi. He is the key in Barca and the Spanish national team too. Hiddink understood that and shut him down. United allowed him and you know the result.
    If CR7 was half focused last season and played the way he did then i don't mind a half focused CR7. Rooney is good but he is only half the player CR7 is. Now is Rooney's chance, we will see how he responds to the challenge.

    Check Out Robbo's comment on 79. Can Rooney match that? NO! CR7 is four players made into one. The last guy that had the same traits was pele.

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  • 103. At 2:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, Vim.Fuego wrote:

    Phil Brown gets that colour from his addiction to Sunny D
    Irn Bru or Tango never turned anyone orange, just flatulent and possibly
    hyper.

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  • 104. At 2:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, mickymoc wrote:

    #67,Geography isnt your strong point like History then. I always thought that there is only three Ridings in Yorkshire.Unless the South Riding has turned up overnight.

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  • 105. At 2:32pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    bredtobered:

    I have lived in Boro for the last 40 years and remember when it was originally part of North Yorkshire, and even when it was part of North Riding. However the point I was really making before Robbo got side tracked is that he referred to Sheffield as a derby match.

    At nearly 100miles between the places it is hardly a derby match. there isn't even a history between the clubs. not like Leeds and Man utd or Millwall and any other club in the country.

    Now Middlesbrough and Sunderland/Newcastle is a derby in the battle for North-East pride, but not Sheffield that is stretching the meaning of a derby match too far.

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  • 106. At 2:35pm on 18 Jun 2009, rchrdav wrote:

    #74
    The championship is the 4th largest SUPPORTED league in europe, making it the 4th largest

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  • 107. At 2:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, Malt Loaf wrote:

    To 92

    I don't agree with pretty much anything you said. Have United been built around one player at all in any of their teams since they started dominating English football in 1993? No, not until Ronaldo came along. Ferguson seemed to have decided that the only way to accomodate him was to get others doing the things he doesn't do. And yes, it has worked, but to the detriment of the team. Ronaldo made 16 tackles all last season. 16! That means other players have had to do that work on his behalf, meaning they were not able to do as much productive with the ball themselves. United were not a balanced team by the end of the season, and it got showed up in spectacular fashion by Barcelona. A bit of rejigging and United will be all the stronger for it.

    I will say now so that everyone can hear: Ronaldo will not be a runaway success at Real Madrid. Do you think the likes of Kaka are going to run around all day working hard so that Ronaldo can be a show pony? No chance of it happening, none at all. http://www.loserscomesecond.com/

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  • 108. At 2:45pm on 18 Jun 2009, goonerthefirst wrote:

    All these people complaining about how their team's fixtures are rigged, it's already been said on here, get over it! Each team plays every other one twice, if they come in an order that's less satisfying then it happens! It makes the race for the title that much more interesting. Personally, I'm loving the look of our Jan/Feb fixtures as it's gonna be one big game after another!
    On this whole "Utd won't win the title without Ronaldo" note, take a moment to look at the current European Champions Barca, they've built their side around a quality unit of players. You've got your Messi, your Henry, your Eto'o up front and the likes of Xavi & Toure in midfield, and Pique, Marquez & Dani Alves in defence and Victor Valdes in net. A team that's not exactly lacking on quality, is it?
    That's a similar idea with Man U, they play well as a team and, barring the moments of brilliance from CR7 (which I reluctantly admit were just that!), they got the results because they didn't give up 'til the end (no doubt cue a barrage now of complaints about dubious penalty decisions they got/weren't given against them!)
    As an Arsenal fan, I'm not denying we'll struggle to get anywhere near the title this season because Sr. Wenger NEEDS to bring in some quality, particularly in defence, but I don't think Man U can be written off as favourites, mainly because of their consistency over the last decade of being at/near the top!
    If we can improve on top four finishes of late too then great! But I reluctantly would back Man U for the title (2nd choice to the Arsenal of course!) this year.
    Imo, if Liverpool somehow can go for someone like Villa or maybe NOT throw their lead away then I think they can run Utd close! Chelsea need to keep hold of Drogba and keep the likes of Lampard, Terry, Essien performing like they did last season and get some youth injected into their side too as older players are more likely to get injured and not last the distance then we could be in for another good season.
    Sorry, can't resist this also, why do Spurs think they're going to finish in the top four this season, as they have done for a few years now? Isn't that what you thought last season? :-P

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  • 109. At 2:46pm on 18 Jun 2009, goonerthefirst wrote:

    Great! I hit "preview" and it shows me the paragraph breaks are included, and now look at the state of the above! Sorry! :(

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  • 110. At 2:47pm on 18 Jun 2009, abscondicon wrote:

    I would agree with ANDREWS1987 that coverage of the Championship on your blog would be welcomed. However, seeing as Norwich have fallen into the League 1 abyss, perhaps you can cover that league instead.

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  • 111. At 2:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Yeboah1984 wrote:

    no disrespect to them clubs, don't you mean those clubs. Seems like a grasp of the English language is no longer a requisite for a job at the beeb these days.

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  • 112. At 2:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Spitfire wrote:

    I wont be betting on the 'hellfire' (See #79 by Robbo)

    The have been in action in the tribal areas for over a year now, only have hit the target 8 times. Notched up a lot of own goals during the process, apparently.

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  • 113. At 2:54pm on 18 Jun 2009, redforever wrote:

    Robbo, its not Yorkshire anymore, but it was once. I am more curious as to why you seem to WANT it to be Yorkshire? Thats a county I suspect the vast majority of the country would prefer not to be associated with.
    "Sophistication? Sophistication? I've been to Leeds."

    Man Utd will compete, of course, they always do. I dont think Chelsea will be so great. Ancelotti will need to settle in. He wont be able to re-invent the aging team in one summer, and I think he isnt even as good a manager as Hiddink, who the players will miss. Liverpool are a lottery. They were very, very good by the end of the season. A completely different proposition to the team that performed poorly at Anfield for the first half of the season. Much more aggressive and more players scoring goals, Kuyt, Riera, Benayoun, so if that team can start the season, they will be the team to beat.
    Arsenal? Who knows? They are missing leadership and experience, i dont see them doing better than last season.
    Who will be competing for the Champioship title, Robbo?

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  • 114. At 2:55pm on 18 Jun 2009, goonerthefirst wrote:

    Yeboah1984 - you think he's a schoolie in disguise?

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  • 115. At 2:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    Yarmred: Yorkshire played Somerset in May 2004 at Stockton Cricket Ground. It was a wash out due to rain but the match was scheduled to be played there. I have also seen them play Notts there.

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  • 116. At 2:58pm on 18 Jun 2009, novacod wrote:

    Greetings from Canada O wise one.
    Life just isn't fair is it. Newcastle visit Blackpool during the Illuminations and Middlesbrough get the middle of February with the cold damp nasties blowing in off the sea and everything shut. Still on the bright side Boro can now be cup giant killers instead of the killed. Excellent blog as always Robbo and nice to see a beeb blogger responding to comments as you do.
    PS. Also good to see your ugly mug gracing the Championship page.

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  • 117. At 3:00pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    #113

    Not Yorkshire per se... North Yorkshire to be specific. The moors, the cliffs, Whitby, Scarborough... all visible from Smogland when the wind's blowing the mists away... can't beat it.

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  • 118. At 3:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, bredtobered-forum troll wrote:

    111. At 2:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Yeboah1984 wrote:
    no disrespect to them clubs, don't you mean those clubs. Seems like a grasp of the English language is no longer a requisite for a job at the beeb these days.

    ..............................................
    ah sey owd lad, tis abit tounge in cheek, numpty.

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  • 119. At 3:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, poshPompeyblue wrote:

    THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL BE MORE INTRESTING THAN THE PREMIERSHIP IN THE COMING SEASON.

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  • 120. At 3:09pm on 18 Jun 2009, GiggsyGiggsyGiggsy wrote:

    It will for you #119

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  • 121. At 3:10pm on 18 Jun 2009, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:

    I never knew up north was so divided and regionalised... i always thought once you got past Watford it was all kinda the same really? Whippets, flathats, faster rugby, cheap beer, people saying "be'eck" and "appen"... Who knew?

    On a serious note Robbo Cleveland was invented by beurocrats, what is Redcar?

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  • 122. At 3:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    To 107,

    Yes, Before Ronaldo, United's system was built around Beckam. His crosses were vital to the trophies you won. Before Beckam their was Cantona, and Robbo before Cantona and they won their trophies when they built their teams around the strength of an individual. They had great players in each of these teams then but these players named above were the movers and shakers of the team.
    Ask Bobby Charlton whether the team was built around him in the Bubsy days? In the 1966 world cup Charlton was the engine and England won the world cup.

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  • 123. At 3:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    Cleveland created by Beaucrats

    Yorkshire created by God

    Redcar created by the devil going to the lavetory after a particularly vicous vindaloo.

    nuff said

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  • 124. At 3:17pm on 18 Jun 2009, The_Toonster wrote:

    Boro have some stability in the Championship. Newcastle do not. We need to get sold, and fast! Until then I see us falling further... unless we rid ourselves of the dross which currently doesn't care how well they play!

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  • 125. At 3:20pm on 18 Jun 2009, gay fish wrote:

    I don't want to turn this into yet another man utd disucssion blog but the impact of Ronaldo will be felt more than with the departure of previous star players as a lot of utd players are coming to the end of their careers and/or won't be able to play 60 games in the season. Now that Ronaldo has gone the only 2 pacy players I can think of that Utd have are Rooney and Evra. Tevez has pace and he probably isn't staying. The other point is that the only other free kick specialist utd have is Giggs and unlike hockey you can't bring a player on to take free kicks. So not only do they need a new superstar he needs to have pace and be a specialist at free kicks. From what I have seen of Ribery that's definitely not him. Valencia has pace but is not a free kick specialist. Looks like utd will have to buy 2 players to replace Ronaldo.

    I lived in Yorkshire for a while but it was West Yorkshire. The whole county is so big that each region has its separate identity-hospitals, tv regions, council estates, airports etc. Counties really are a thing of the past as they don't signify anything like they used to (apart from in cricket). I couldn't name any of the counties in the south although I know a few of them have the word 'Royal' in front of them. Which would you rather be a 'Yorkshire-man' or a 'Royal County of .......man'???? :)

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  • 126. At 3:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, Malt Loaf wrote:

    Sorry barca4ever, United were built around Beckham? Are you being serious?

    How old are you by the way?

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  • 127. At 3:39pm on 18 Jun 2009, ExPat Smoggie wrote:

    Regarding #67. "Yorkshire was then divided into the 4 divisional ridings areas of north, east, south, west" - Wow, time to be a pedant. Yorkshire was divided into 3 Ridings. The word Riding means a third off in "ye olde English".

    Having gone to primary School in N. Yorks, senior school in Teeside and VIth Form College in Cleveland without ever moving house is there any wonder I was so confused as to become a Boro supporter.

    Having now come to terms with the Mighty Boro's temporary decline my only regret is that living in Germany, I won't get to see them "getting their regular pasting/springing the odd surprise" (delete as appropriate)against the Big 4. At least they will be competing in a "Man's league" where falling over after a slight touch is thought of as a sign of frailty and where going shoulder to shoulder does not result in a stoppage for a free kick and an on-pitch visit by the medical staff.

    So Robbo, please make the focus of the blog the "Fizzy Pop League" for next season.

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  • 128. At 3:43pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    To 126,

    Alex Ferguson built his team based on Beckams crosses. Yorke and Cole lived off Beckam's crosses. Check the number of goals they scored and the assist that was supplied by Beckam for their goals and you will understand what i mean. United's game was built on Beckams crosses then. I was 23 when Beckam started playing for United in 94/95 season. Do the maths Bro. How old are you and please say the truth.

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  • 129. At 3:44pm on 18 Jun 2009, ExPat Smoggie wrote:

    What would be a Yorkshire Derby for the Boro? Anywhere south of York is hardly a derby and anywhere north of the Tees wouldn't count as a Yorkshire one so that rules Darlo, Monkey Hangers et al. Am I missing somewhere?

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  • 130. At 3:47pm on 18 Jun 2009, Neil Anderson wrote:

    ExpatSmoggie: There is always Norton and Stockton Ancients.....oh wait that isn't North of the river too.

    Ripon United, Thirsk AFC pehaps?

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  • 131. At 3:48pm on 18 Jun 2009, goatLUFC_OSC wrote:

    i agree with 127 (sorry you have been reduced to a mere number) - there is life outside of the top 4 of the Prem, and although frustrated with where their teams are at, a number of supporters of former prem teams have enjoyed the out of body experience of the lower leagues (forest, leeds, leicester etc). I will share an experience.

    A couple of years ago, I was on leave in the UK, and went to two mid week games - barnet vs darlo on the tuesday night and arsenal vs liverpool chamions league first leg on the wednesday. There was no contest as to where the higher quality of football was to be seen, but standing on the terraces with a pie waiting for the floodlight failure to be rectified, and then see some good old school industrial football (and be close enough to the lino to see him wince when some Barnet fans were commenting on his rotund frame) was the more enjoyable of the two.

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  • 132. At 3:55pm on 18 Jun 2009, yarmred wrote:

    Dragoneyes, If you've seen Yorkshire CCC play a home game at Stockton then you'd better let them know.
    They're official website lists the grounds they ever played at:
    GROUNDS:
    HEADINGLEY, Leeds
    BRAMALL LANE, Sheffield
    PARK AVENUE, Bradford
    HARROGATE
    SCARBOROUGH
    Yorkshire also have played matches at Abbeydale, Darnall and Hyde Park all Sheffield), Holbeck and Hunslet (Leeds), Wakefield, Dewsbury, York, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull, Barnsley and Middlesbrough.

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  • 133. At 3:56pm on 18 Jun 2009, Malt Loaf wrote:

    Ferguson did not build a team around Beckham. Beckham was a prong in a steller attack which included Scholes, Giggs, Cole and Yorke, to name but a few, depending on which season you pick. If you pick any player from that 'era' (I use that word in the loosest sense of the word, given that Giggs for example is still playing) to nominally say they had the team built around them, it would be Keane, but the truth is nobody had a team built round them.

    Ferguson did not build a team around Cantona. Cantona was the final piece in the jigsaw of his particualr 'era'. The team was already in place. Cantona lifted the existing team to the heights required to win the league.

    I am not old enough to know the Busby teams and whether or not he built a team around Charlton. However, I would suggest that Best and Law to name but two might take issue with you on that point, if of course Best was still with us to argue the point.

    Cheers Bro.

    As for my age, I shall be as cryptic as you. I had the key to the door when United were runners-up to the Arsenal double team the year before that famous treble. Do the math.

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  • 134. At 3:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, GenesisRed wrote:

    to 102: "CR7 is four players made into one. The last guy that had the same traits was pele."

    I'll bet my first born that you weren't saying that when he was a United player! So now he's as good as Pele is he? My feelings towards Ronaldo haven't changed, but the team will be stronger against the top teams than last year.

    As for Ronaldo's free kicks, inconsistent would be a nice way of describing them. He could score freak moments of brilliance, but the vast majority were ballooned or went straight into the wall.

    If we'd kept him, it would have had to be as a main striker, but his finishing and in-the-box awareness isn't good enough for that. When he isn't the main star he'll sulk. I fear for his Real career. With all those personalities demanding to be the centre of attention, he'll be off to Inter in 2 seasons.

    He's ineffective on the wing - all dribbles and step overs, and little end product except a pass back to the midfield - but devastating in the middle of the park where he can run at defenders and scare keepers from range (see early part of Barca game before United allowed Barca to have the ball all the time). He could pair great with Villa but then where will Kaka play?

    We have already replaced Giggs with Tosic, and Scholes with Anderson and Possebon. Neville is already tasting the pasture grass thanks to the Da Silvas. Wellbeck is exciting not to mention Macheda. If we add Valencia, we can relax and put a cheeky £40mill bid in for Fabregas.

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  • 135. At 4:04pm on 18 Jun 2009, goonerthefirst wrote:

    Genesis Red - Oi! Hands of our Fab! He's OURS!!! :-D

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  • 136. At 4:12pm on 18 Jun 2009, SugarDunkerton wrote:

    #106 I never argued that the Championship wasn't the 4th largest supported league in Europe. The words used were 'Biggest'... so being a man of free will I took that to mean bigger, better, 4th best etc... you being a man/woman of free will took it to mean something different.. you can't really correct someone when a vague word is used to describe something which can then be viewed differently.

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  • 137. At 4:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, Toadflax wrote:

    Some interesting comments on Middlesbro as a part of Yorkshire there. Having been born in Durham but resident in Teesside since a baby (Yorkshire side of Middlesbrough)and now living in exile in Leeds (a real football wasteland if ever there was one) I have my own perspective on the Yorks v NE thing.
    Growing up there, Middlesbrough never seemed to be a Yorkshire sort of place at all with completely different appearance, culture and outlook to the West Riding and the surrounding rural areas. There seemed to be no shared identity with stereotypical Yorkshire at all, rather a stubborn independence and strong sense of local individulaity as part of the NE.
    Geographically and administratively, it was in the North Riding until the creation of the Teesside County Borough in 1968 but that just served to reinforce the fact that there was actually quite a big city on both banks of the Tees when you lumped the various places together which should be administered as a single entity, which I think still holds true. Boro FC is the club which represents this urban area, both the former Yorkshire and Durham bits and is equally well supported on both sides of the river. You could write a PhD thesis on the whole issue-in fact someone probably already has.
    I accept Robbo's comments that you can see various scenic bits of North Yorkshire from the town, but you can also see similar bits of County Durham, including the cathedral tower from the top of the Transporter Bridge.
    Apologies also for overlooking in my earlier post the existence of the Owls and their family affair with the Blades. Should have said a derby between two different steel cities.
    The nature of derbies is another fit subject for a PhD, Robbo. Whatever actualy determines this, it's a fact of life that there has to be some extra rivalry that the fans of both clubs perceive. I've never met a Boro supporter who saw Sheff Utd in this way or even Leeds in their 70s pomp (we all hated them, as the song said, but they sang that everywhere). Nor is it about Darlo or the MHs, the nearest clubs geographically. It's all about the Macs and the Pies for regional bragging rights. Enough already!

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  • 138. At 4:53pm on 18 Jun 2009, aandyman44 wrote:

    Your a loser. how can you say that Chelsea vs. Hull is a cushy match. you support Newcastle, haha, so i think there may be a hint of jealousy in there somewhere, with you wishing that your team were capable of staying up, but no, your to poor and deserve to be in the championship. Hull went to Chelsea last season and ended up taking a poit away. i can;t remember you doing that at anyones ground, so when you've stopped being biased, maybe i'll read one of your articles.

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  • 139. At 4:58pm on 18 Jun 2009, glazierNOWeagle wrote:

    Yeboah1984 wrote:
    no disrespect to them clubs, don't you mean those clubs. Seems like a grasp of the English language is no longer a requisite for a job at the beeb these days.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Perhaps, before you make a statement about "a grasp of the English language", you should check your own ability to use said language. I suggest a course in grammar and syntax. It might help if you start with the correct use of capital letters, inverted commas, full stops and question marks!

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  • 140. At 4:59pm on 18 Jun 2009, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:

    138... might have been a good idea to read one of his articles before your little hissy fit... Just maybe is all i am saying???

    And i am sure upon Carlo's arival he will be drastically looking for the Hull matches! "Finally a real test of my domestic managerial prowess, mama mia... that phil browns a spicy orange-a-meatball!"

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  • 141. At 5:00pm on 18 Jun 2009, barca4ever wrote:

    Its good discussing with reasonable ladies and guys on this blog unlike the guys on 606 who look for one reason or the other to swear or curse. I am thinking of sticking to blogs though.
    Genesis Red you are spot on. I never said that when he was a United player so your first born is safe else i would have come to collect but he was great for United and the premiership all the same.
    Genesis Red why do you want to take Goonerthefirst's Fabregas?
    Mr Twilight thanks bro for the discussion. I am out for now.

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  • 142. At 5:31pm on 18 Jun 2009, Brian Renshaw wrote:

    I like you Robbo but your posts are a bit 2 faced. You criticise and attempt to ridicule Man City then say nothing of Real Madrid making City look like paupers with their Ronaldo, Kaka purchases let alone their pursuit of David Villa, Ribery etc.I expect that sort of nonesense from Phil Thompson as he doesn't know any better but you mate, I've got to say it's a big disappointment.

    Mark Hughes has behaved impeccably in keeping a straight face and straight dealings when compared to dodgy Arry and Co.

    Watch City, you are wrong, they will give the big 4 some major headaches this year.

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  • 143. At 5:42pm on 18 Jun 2009, WhitleyBayWonTheVase wrote:

    I have a dream. Middlesbrough v Newcastle United in the Championship play-off final in 2010.

    It's 0-0 after extra time and down to penalties.

    At 0-0 after 5 penalties each, with both the nerves and the players total crapness taking its toll, Boro send forward an unknown full back who has been brought through the academy. He buries the ball past a hapless keeper (Harper would fit, but it could be anyone really) and up steps the sixth Toon player to decide his club fate.

    Taylor. He stayed because he wanted to help his ailing (nee destitute) local institution. Instead, he is made a scapegoat and the following season the Toon plummet into League One. There, they are beaten in the play off final by Darlington - with a still on loan Dean Windass scoring the winning penalty.

    Boro are back down in the Championship by that point in time.

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  • 144. At 5:49pm on 18 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    In case you haven't noticed, the background to your "Robbo" motif on the main Football page is orange, instead of your usual red.

    Are you having a Phil Brown moment?

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  • 145. At 6:18pm on 18 Jun 2009, Chris Wilby wrote:

    Great blog Robbo! You always manage to brighten up my afternoons in rainy holland (it was hardly dry when I lived in England.... anyway). As for the PL this season, I'm going for Liverpool to win it. If they can get just one or more good signings (one central defender and one striker) I reckon they'll go on to win the PL this season. Chelsea I'm not too sure about. Imo Ancelottery has underachieved with Milan considering the players he had at his disposal and nothing points to him doing a better job at Chelsea. As for ManU, I realise you can't write them off just for losing CR, but I just have this feeling in my heineken-filled gut that they're due a rather mediocre season. That leaves my beloved Arsenal... (I'm so desperate to head back to North London again:'(, doubt anybody can imagine that, but then I am kinda weird). If we could get Diarra, that would be great! I remember him playing for Vitesse Arnhem, and he was brilliant then! We need another striker, 2 new defenders, cancel the Vermaelen deal - he's c**p, seriously - and assign the captaincy to a real dogged, passionate, mouthy player and maybe then we'll push for second.

    8 weeks till kick-off. I wish I could spend them on the Bahama's

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  • 146. At 6:26pm on 18 Jun 2009, garythenotrashcougar wrote:

    United can't and won't be able to replace a guaranteed 30 goals and 15-20 assists a season now Ronaldo has gone. They also have a large rebuilding job to do on their centre midfield. Carrick is the best of an either injury prone, too old or average bunch (Hargreaves, Scholes and Anderson respectively). Yet despite all this they will still be top two because of the fear factor of 3 consecutive titles.

    Can't understand those backing Chelsea - they have put another lame duck in charge in terms of winning the league. 1 title in 8 years at Milan, even without Juventus in Serie A for two of those years, says it all. Ancelotti's remit is to win the CL and that he will probably do. What he won't do is reduce the average age of an aging squad and Chelsea will finish 3rd again.

    Arsenal will continue to be much of a muchness, they'll go on an 18 match unbeaten run against cannon fodder as usual then choke the big games.

    Liverpool are going the right way by signing Glen Johnson. One more signing in the forward positions and they are pretty much there. Even if it is by default for United being a little bit weaker.

    My money's on it going back to Anfield............

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  • 147. At 6:52pm on 18 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    #142
    Oi, oi! I had a go at Flaming Real Mad-Flaming-Rid a few blogs back!! 2-faced I am not. I consistently slate the glamourpuss moneybags and no one is safe. But I try and vary it a tad you know, just so's I don't get too repetitive. Wind your neck in, son.

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  • 148. At 6:54pm on 18 Jun 2009, TrotterUSA wrote:

    I suppose I'll be happy with another top 17 finish. 40 points by mid-April would do nicely. Good luck to one and all (except the three that need to finish below us).

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  • 149. At 7:06pm on 18 Jun 2009, Spl football wrote:

    Grow a set robbo

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  • 150. At 7:08pm on 18 Jun 2009, Spl football wrote:

    Oh by the way is anyone watching the confederations cup?
    Been pretty good so far.
    Im tipping brazil to win it

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  • 151. At 7:08pm on 18 Jun 2009, redforever wrote:

    Genesisred, is like so many United fans, and who can blame them, super critical, suddenly, of Ronaldo, and totally enamoured with a bunch of unproven back-ups.
    That anyone having seen Anderson could possibly compare him to Scholes is beyond explanation, and who on earth is Possebon?

    I watched Tosic play for Croatia u-21 yesterday, and wasnt terribly impresses, but one thing is for sure, he isnt a replacement for Giggs, who is an out and out left winger (certainly when he was effective).
    Also Valencia, is suddenly the saviour of United? I am sure his 6 goals will be a big help.

    As a Liverpool fan, watching them through the best and the worst years, I recall the sense of entitlement we had around 1990 when any player we signed automatically was assumed to be a world beater. This came from years of seeing exactly that happen, Dalglish replacing Keegan, Hansen replacing Hughes etc. Well when we signed David Speedie, to replace Kenny, thats when the situation started to change. Soon we had Julian Dicks replacing Steve Nicol, and John Scales wearing Hansens shirt....

    Luckily for Genesisred, and unluckily for me, Alex Ferguson is not Graeme Souness. erguson has of course known for 12 months that he was losing the gelled one, and receiving a nice windfall in return. His transfer plans are already underway. Berbatov will be the first choice striker, and Tevez will not be signed.
    Valencia may come, but he will not be expected to replace Ronaldo, just play right midfield. Ferguson will look to bring in a TOP creative midfielder, and a left winger. Ribery, we know has been offered that job. I have no suggestions who the midfielder will be because I think the best players are all tied up now. However Cesc Fabregas is the best guy, that might be pried from his current club.
    So, my guess....17mill Valencia, 35million Fabregas and 40million Ribery.
    Giggs and Scholes and Neville will all be playing for Steve Bruce at Sunderland.

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  • 152. At 7:35pm on 18 Jun 2009, redandblackT-Save 606 wrote:

    Thanks for the great blog Robbo!Chelsea'll win the league.Dont want Roman to sack him and send him back to Milan.Thanks guys for the geography lesson.After that I'll never visit Middlesbrough.
    By the way why do i always think of the janitor from Scrubs anytime I see Jeremy Clarkson?Strange!

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  • 153. At 8:28pm on 18 Jun 2009, reginaldtuckus wrote:

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  • 154. At 8:30pm on 18 Jun 2009, reginaldtuckus wrote:

    Fulham away, easy game? where have u been 4 the last season mate? This article has been written so that u can have a good winge even though you quite clearly have nothing to complain about as u contradict yourself

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  • 155. At 8:50pm on 18 Jun 2009, Wot Kuyt 'e did wrote:

    "We'll send Afonso on a sky-diving course and keep the parachute I reckon."

    Enjoyed that.

    And "Ancelotteri".

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  • 156. At 8:57pm on 18 Jun 2009, Thanks A lot BBC7 wrote:

    Reading Robbo trying to come to terms with Boro playing CCC was worth the wait.

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  • 157. At 9:23pm on 18 Jun 2009, serpentdanslherbe wrote:

    Re Comment 67

    There were never four ridings. Riding means a third.

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  • 158. At 10:01pm on 18 Jun 2009, Spitfire wrote:

    Meanwhile, SA just did a perfect Liverpool impression by refusing to win another game when it mattered.

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  • 159. At 11:01pm on 18 Jun 2009, TC wrote:

    130. At 3:47pm on 18 Jun 2009, Dragoneyes106 wrote:

    ExpatSmoggie: There is always Norton and Stockton Ancients.....oh wait that isn't North of the river too.

    Ripon United, Thirsk AFC pehaps?

    -----------------------

    its ripon magnets and we are proud, send them down, we will do them over =]

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  • 160. At 11:11pm on 18 Jun 2009, aries22 wrote:

    Robbo! Midlesbrough good with the cash and did someone also say financially stable? Aren't they £90 million in debt?

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  • 161. At 11:15pm on 18 Jun 2009, WhitleyBayWonTheVase wrote:

    #159

    It's Ripon City. They merged with Ripon United decades ago.

    I tell ya, whilst all you top dog league supporters fight your teams cases, I'm ya man for the unknowns of the footballing world.

    Incidentally, they play in the West Yorkshire Alliance league and finished 4th from bottom with a mere 4 wins. On that basis, I guess they're not that far from Middlesbrough after all...

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  • 162. At 11:18pm on 18 Jun 2009, SportsFan wrote:

    GenesisRed

    You, like many Man United fans, are doing a stellar job of convincing yourselves getting rid of Ronaldo is somehow going to be beneficial to your team. The about turn on the merits of Ronaldo are rivalling the Daily Mail and their support of Hitler up until he invaded Poland.

    Also, Rooney being wasted on the left is actually a myth as proved by The Times sport. He played 70% of games last season in the front pairing of a 4-4-2. Review all the games if you don't believe it.

    Ronaldo leaving is a massive blow, no matter what you try convince yourselves (putting Rooney in a position he was already in and peddling out names like Tosic and Possebon).

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  • 163. At 11:36pm on 18 Jun 2009, MelbourneSteve wrote:

    My word Robbo you stirred things up. Took me 15 minutes to read the lot when I got the office this morning (on the other side of the world).

    Great to see passions rising for the new season. Good luck to all (extra helping to Newcastle who are surely going to need it unless they get their act together very sharpish).

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  • 164. At 00:07am on 19 Jun 2009, RedIsaac wrote:

    It is wrong to say that Man. U were built around the gelled tumbler (thanks Robbo for that-pure genius!). He was very significant in that he could change a game by himself and Man U will miss him.

    However, the comment that the only other player to have his traits was Pele is way over the top. I mean common... What about Platini and Maradona? He is better than them too is he now? They could give great passes, were devastating in front of goal, controlled play and could really take a free kick AND could take their teams by the scruff of the neck when all chips were down. The same goes for Zidane who I think some are really underestimating.

    He has great ability but has zero leadership qualities.

    So, let us all get some sense of proportion shall we?

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  • 165. At 01:31am on 19 Jun 2009, Arctic wrote:

    There are certain teams that you know will always stand a good chance at re-appearing in the Premiership. This is because they handle their money well and don't implode like Leeds or Southampton.

    Boro are one of them. They've been here before and with a lot less money in parachute payments, a significantly less talented manager and with more useful players disappearing on them (what did happen to Juninho after he left?).

    Boro will actually be fortunate if they do lose most of the ones that want to leave, because if they weren't willing to put the effort in at Premiership grounds, the likelihood they'll be willing to scrap at a League ground seems somewhat improbable.

    I predict a maximum of two seasons in the Championship, and a wave goodbye to Newcastle too.

    Funny I used to really like Newcastle and become overcome with boredom watching Boro.

    Now everyone dislikes not only their management, but their team too. I can't see anything less than 5 years in the Championship for them as they rebuild the entire club, or worse, doing a Leeds and disappearing to Leagues 1 or 2.

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  • 166. At 05:24am on 19 Jun 2009, rjaggar wrote:

    Glossy brochures for foreign property in the Sun?

    Usually find that when you see the merchandise, its price is inflated, running costs miraculously outstrip rental income and running repairs seem to start soon after opening night........

    Better to know you're buying a property 'in need of internal upgrades', pay a suitably lower price and turn the ruin into a dream home, eh?

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  • 167. At 06:16am on 19 Jun 2009, Ian Shuter wrote:

    Robbo

    Keep up the good work, the popularity of your blog is demonstrated by the number of people who comment every week, good or bad, even those who complain probably deep down laugh as well.

    Keep your chin up at least you can look forward to reviving the rivalry that the Boro had with the mighty Leicester City under M O'N - however I have a feeling it will only be for the one season.....

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  • 168. At 07:00am on 19 Jun 2009, fearlessmanabouttown wrote:

    Agree with Giggsy about Liverpool's aspirations.......they disappeared last season and they will be lucky to finish 4th.
    Regarding the fixture list, yes, Chelsea may be off to a flyer, but who cares who plays who at what stage ?

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  • 169. At 10:36am on 19 Jun 2009, Robbo Robson wrote:

    #168
    Bit naive that, son. Momentum? Have you heard of that? Winning mentality that builds confidence? Haven't you got any mates who are sports psychologists? That's all they blather on about... and it worked for the mighty Hull... Chelsea off to a flyer would be very useful I'd have thought.

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  • 170. At 11:59am on 19 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    Ref 168

    Agree absolutely. Chelsea off to a flyer (dream early fixture list for a rock-solid, marginally amended squad with a new, proven manager) - and nobody will catch them.

    Man U will have a revamped team which will take time to settle down. Losing Ronaldo will be a huge consideration. Liverpool will flatter for a while until squad limitations hit home once injuries kick in. Arsenal still well short of being the completed article.

    Chelsea, all the way.

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  • 171. At 12:01pm on 19 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    Should be ref 169. Sorry!

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  • 172. At 12:35pm on 19 Jun 2009, simatespurs wrote:

    172nd comment - playing the long game, thank you very much.

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  • 173. At 12:48pm on 19 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    ref 172

    And you haven't posted since April!

    It's been worth the wait.

    See you in September.

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  • 174. At 12:59pm on 19 Jun 2009, simatespurs wrote:

    The time and heartache it costs waiting, waiting and hoping to be 172nd comment on these blogs is beyond imagination, but I've finally done it.

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  • 175. At 1:19pm on 19 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    ref 174

    You've been looking at the wrong site, mate. Razia's arthouse Blog is never going to hit 171.

    Robbo is a different story. He doesn't get his fiver unless there are at least 200 postings. That's why he gives us a shilling each time we post.

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  • 176. At 1:36pm on 19 Jun 2009, RedBlueArmy92 wrote:

    I want my shillings dammit!

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  • 177. At 2:13pm on 19 Jun 2009, Zootmac wrote:

    Ooops... bit of a giveaway, there...

    I thought everybody was in on this.

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  • 178. At 2:27pm on 19 Jun 2009, FRYBarryFry wrote:

    There's only one *Boro* in the Championship next season, and it ain't Middlesbrough.
    Up the Posh!

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  • 179. At 4:26pm on 19 Jun 2009, Baghdad_Potter wrote:

    Hi Robbo, good blog as always, but I felt that no fewer than THREE digs at Stoke was a bit naughty and gratuitous. I am sure Boro will bounce back - hardest league next season will be Div 1, I cannot see Leeds getting out of it yet. Anyway, as I say, a little more steel (how ironic for Teeside) and less cash spent on fancy-Dans who don't fancy a good old English battle at grim places like Stoke and Hull might have seen Boro survive at the latter's expense......

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  • 180. At 4:55pm on 19 Jun 2009, Baghdad_Potter wrote:

    In fact, FOUR digs at Stoke (just re-read it and noticed the Liverpool one too). At least you have the humility to admit you are envious. I certainly would not swap anything about Stoke for Boro. Come to think of it, I wouldn't swap Baghdad for Boro - it is probably safer here and at least we can [legally] carry weapons!

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  • 181. At 9:28pm on 19 Jun 2009, Rick_Nobins wrote:

    "plenty of fans who don't fancy a night out in Teesside inhaling the fumes and the parmos and dodging the talent - but this is a new challenge for our lads."

    Classic humour Robbo

    Reckon you have nothing to worry about this season - away supporters will ever want to travel and support with Tourist Information like that - you're bound to win every home game.

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  • 182. At 00:54am on 20 Jun 2009, ScottyMuser wrote:

    115 - regarding the use of Stockton, you are Wrong. The Yorks home match in 2004 vs Somerset was played at Scarborough (when it was NOT rained off). That was the ONLY match that was schelfuled to take place outside of Headingley. Stockton has been Durham's second ground for a while noe, in fact, the only 3 ground they have played home matches on is Chester-le-street, stockton and Durham (Uni Racecourse ground IIRC).

    Just thought I would add my penny worth. Oh, and Kudos on the cricket blog Robbo, more please (rather than us having to sit through another 2 months of mind-numbing "will he, won't he" tabloid bleatings!!!

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  • 183. At 10:16am on 20 Jun 2009, stevebullstand4ever wrote:

    please visit my website

    www.we-are-premier-league-2009.piczo.com


    thankyou

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  • 184. At 11:12am on 20 Jun 2009, CypriotJohn wrote:

    GiggsyGiggsyGiggsy: I find your posts about as interesting as watching Stoke City. You have been awarded 1st prize in the "engaging mouth without having brain in gear" competition.
    Robbo mate, with G Southgate in charge `Boro are not returning to the prem for a bit yet. He is a nice enough fella but he hasnt a clue about managing a team.

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  • 185. At 3:07pm on 20 Jun 2009, Russia 1 Georgia 0 wrote:

    The Premiership will be doubly enhanced next season.Firstly,and most importantly,Burnley will be in it,and secondly Middlesbrough won't.About time this non-descript tiresome dirge of a club was put out of its misery.Come On You Clarets!

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  • 186. At 3:35pm on 20 Jun 2009, abrighterview wrote:

    Ancelotteri, good one, because Chelsea spend money on players, I've never known such wit as can be found in this column. Robbo, your versatility as a write amazes me, I'm so glad you don't just stick to making derogatory remarks about Chelsea like so many other journalists do.

    Really though, here's a challenge, go one column without making yourself look ignorant and making a stupid 'let's all hate Chelsea because they spend money' comment.

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  • 187. At 5:42pm on 20 Jun 2009, jsybaz wrote:

    #23 mcydogg, you forgot trailing to a side that at the time were in the bottom 3 of the Championship

    #86 Dragoneyes106, Somerset don't play their home games at Bristol, Gloucestershire do but it's in the county of Avon.

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  • 188. At 6:21pm on 20 Jun 2009, RKW - White Eagle wrote:

    I'm not too sure Newcastle and Middlesbrough will finish in the top two, and I also think that they will struggle to make the top six. This may be the end of their big English team status.

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  • 189. At 11:53pm on 20 Jun 2009, The kid from Fuenlabrada wrote:

    As the teams now look I would say Liverpool are the favourites through red-tinted glasses. Fewer players to settle, settled manager, mature team that is not too old. Clearly need to bring in one or two more match winners, but I see Liverpool dominating teams again this year as they did last if the midfield stays intact. Liverpool were by far the best team in the league at the end of the season (with Chelsea second).

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  • 190. At 12:03pm on 22 Jun 2009, iammoxiaohua wrote:

    The championship is a very hard league to get out of and St james is going to be like wembley to a lot of the championship clubs a cup final nearly every week they better get some strong players in they are going to need them

    http://mnurl.com/tt3sb

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  • 191. At 1:32pm on 22 Jun 2009, Matt Cheam wrote:

    I'm not sure where this overwhelming feeling that Chelsea will with the Prem next year has come from ? Don't get me wrong I sincerely hope we do and if we had kept GH at the helm I would be feeling a lot more confident than I am now. The fact is that we will be starting another season with another manager who has no experience of the Premiership (although at least he has got European club side experience - unlike Big Phil !) and what it takes to win it.

    I believe we have the players to win the league if we can keep them all fit for the season, having Cole, Drogba & Essien out for extended periods last year had a huge effect on the team and I pray that we won't have to endure this kind of setback again but for me the manager is still the biggest threat to our title hopes......now prove me wrong Carlo !

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  • 192. At 10:29am on 24 Jun 2009, onthebreak wrote:

    Visit

    http://onthebreak.wordpress.com/

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  • 193. At 12:55pm on 29 Jun 2009, hackerjack wrote:

    I can see boro doing better than newcastle. Financially stable, decentish squad, great academy.

    --------

    Yes teh fabled great academy. Let's see:

    Stuart Downing - Fair enough, great player, pretty much everyone outside the big five would love him in their team.

    David Wheater - Decent centre half, bottom half of premier quality at the moment, still has plenty of time to improve ala Lescott, Carragher.

    Lee Cattermole - Boro obviously didn't rate him that highly despuite being a decent player.

    Who else? Brad Jones?, Turnbull?, Johnson? They aren't good enough for the prem, that's why you got relegated.

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