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Ready for the big kick-off

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Dan Walker | 13:25 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bonjour comrades. It's been a while but the season is upon us so I thought it was high time I got back on the blog.

Where on earth did the summer disappear to? I came back from the World Cup in South Africa, went straight to the Open Championship at St Andrews and then all of a sudden it's time to dust off the boots again!

We kicked things off last Saturday at Elland Road with the first of what will hopefully be about 12 on-the-road programmes this season. The last time I was there, six or seven years ago, I was a last-minute stand-in for the guy on the public address system. I asked for a big wave from those sitting in what was then the Lurpak Stand and a few thousand people told me they didn't really want to! I feel we bonded.

This time around it was a much more friendly affair and we kicked off the season without too much fuss. I know people have very strong opinions about Robbie Savage but - whatever you think of the man - giving him a camera for a few days turned out to be a tidy decision and I thought that was probably the stand-out piece from show number one.

The Kaiser Chiefs - drummer Nick Hodgson and bassist Simon Rix - were spectacularly laid back but good fun. Those boys really know their football but it is very much from a 'Leeds is the centre of the universe' perspective. After the programme, we thought we would try to get their views on a couple of topics that did not involve their beloved club.

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Hopefully there will be plenty more behind-the-scenes stuff for you this season. There are a number of pieces in the pipeline but if you have any other ideas then let me know and we shall try to sort something out.

Actually, one of the other things we are trying this season is a direct result of comments and requests on this blog. Loads of people asked for Football Focus to be available on the iPlayer. We have not been able to do it because of rights issues concerning Premier League matches but this season we are making a few edits here and there and producing an online version each week.

It will not be on the iPlayer because that device is only allowed to show programmes exactly as they what went out on air but it will be available each week on the BBC Sport website from early evening Saturday onwards. So I am now able to say: "If you missed last week's programme, you can watch it here."

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While we are talking changes, the other new thing is the Focus Forum. Friday Focus will continue as ever - normally with Captain Lawrenson - but every Tuesday we will film a little something extra for the website after we have had our planning meeting. We thought we would kick it off this week with Admiral Motson.

So all the new stuff seems to be going well and we had everything ready for the first Premier League show of the season until Martin O'Neill decided he had had enough at Villa Park on Monday. That was understandably the main talking point in our Tuesday meeting, with several opinions being heartily voiced.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Villa this season but a lot of that depends on who they get to replace O'Neill and how many players will still be there by the time he takes over. As for who the rest of the league, I did a little piece for Newsround this week and made a few outlandish predictions.

Chelsea to win the title by 10 points;
Adam Johnson to win player of the season;
Darren Bent to finish with the Golden Boot;
Blackpool to finish in the top half;
And the Fruit Salad to make a comeback as the nation's favourite sweet!

When I showed them to Lawro he genuinely laughed out loud. That may be because he is a Refreshers man but I do not see the point of making predictions if you are not going to extend the neck a little. Feel free to send yours through to see if you can do any better. By the way, is anyone else missing the sound of the vuvuzela?

As ever you can follow the show throughout the season by following me on twitter at


  • Comment number 1.

    I predict your predictions will go down better than McNulty's. As for fruit salads and refreshers, what sailor does not have time for both in his diet?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Dan, great to get the real footy started again. World cup, what!.

    FF online, God answers prayer. (as I work 3/5 Saturdays!)

    Robbie Savage bit worked well. What about getting a pile of footballers to sign up to this and let the viewers decide you they want to see, from a poll or something a few weeks prior. May got some interesting results making good TV!

    Sven - wise up. Is he really a good manager. What success has he had in recent years to allow him to walk into a top team like Villa. I may have a short memory.

    NIGEL WORTHINGTON OUT - MARTIN O'NEILL IN - watch this space .........

    You can't live in Rome and fight the pope.

    Para violets float my boat.


  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Dan
    Glad you are back, i have missed reading your blogs.

    You never know about the fruit salad, it could well come back. The Soda Stream is making a come back so why not!!

    I look forward to the rest of the season reading your blogs, and cant wait until Saturday.

  • Comment number 4.

    Arsenal to win the league by 20 points
    Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United and City to get relegated. (Don't ask me why there will be four teams, there just will)
    Blackpool Wigan and Birmingham to get the Champions League spots.
    Sol Campbell will get the golden boot.
    Joey Barton will be voted player of the season.

    Or is that sticking my neck out a bit too much?

  • Comment number 5.

    ps. Brilliant blog as always.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good to have you back Dan. Enjoyed following your Twitterings over the summer.

    Bit of Devil's Advocate here, but any thoughts on whether the whole James Milner affair ultimately made O'Neill's mind up for him (especially as it seemed to be such a similar situation to what happened with Barry)? Have Man City and their aggressive pursuit of players cost a rival their manager?

    Ted McMinn

  • Comment number 7.

    Dan welcome back mate it's been a while!! looking forward to the show Saturday.

    How about a comeback for Dib-Dabs?

  • Comment number 8.

    7. At 3:17pm on 12 Aug 2010, LABSAB9 wrote:
    Dan welcome back mate it's been a while!! looking forward to the show Saturday.

    How about a comeback for Dib-Dabs?
    Dib-Dabs are still around, i had one not long ago!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    Welcome back, Dan. Here we go again. I'm not sure I can feel any real excitement surrounding the big kick-off this season. Maybe there's still a bit of a World Cup hangover.

    My ill thought-out predictions are:
    Champions: Manchester City
    Relegated: Bolton (please), Blackpool, Blackburn
    Golden Boot: Wayne Rooney
    Player of The Year: Steven Gerrard
    Sweet: Swizzels-Matlow Drumstick

    None of the above actually bothers me, I'm a Swindon Town supporter

  • Comment number 10.


    Drat i will have to think of another!!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Wild predictions Dan, Chelsea havea now ageing side. They have lost their best centre back, the man who made Terry Look good. Plus Drogba and Lampard are now the wrong side of 30.

    Drogba however was sensational last year.

    My tip is arsenal for the title providing they keep RVP, Fabregas and Vermaelen fit. They need a new keeper and I think Chamakh will come good.

    Golden boot? I wouldn't argue with Bent, however I like the look of Drogba again as Chelseas only real striker.

    Maybe you could do a one season wonder feature on some clubs and see how they have got on, as a predictor for Blackpools season. Barnsley, Swindon etc

  • Comment number 12.

    Nations favorite sweet?

    Aniseed Twist

    Revolver Ocelot

  • Comment number 13.

    Great, "THE" blog is back!!

  • Comment number 14.

    I've been waiting for this. I told the dear wife that you'll have your blog up and running the first Thursday before the EPL kicks off. She said, "Why don't Cardiff City and the championship count?"
    I said, "You got to give the man a week or so to get some half decent footage on camera before the blog starts."
    And now we have the Football Friday Focus (or what ever it is ) on line. Nice interview with Motty. You might remember that last season I let the cat out of the bag regarding your real BBC identity, this just confirms what I said back then.

    My prediction:
    Man U & Chelsea to still be contesting the title in April. Man U to win by less than 4 points.
    Thomas Vermaelen to win player of the season; then to win the Jean Claude VD look alike competition;
    Drogba and Robin VP to tie for the Golden Boot;
    Blackpool to swap places with a re financed CCFC;
    And the JELLY BEANS to become the nation's favourite sweet!

    Good to be back blogging.
    By the way I'll tell the cyber universe, my wife gave birth to our third kid on July 31st. Miriam - eats voraciously and sleeps beautifully!! PTL

  • Comment number 15.

    I actually thought I could hear a vuvuzela or three at the England game last night. It is nice to be able to hear the commentary again!

    Predictions for the season are thus..

    Steve Morison to become a regular for Wales
    Millwall to continue to surge up the Championship table before coming down with the Christmas decs, and finishing comfortably in mid table
    Forest and QPR to challenge for promotion
    Leeds to struggle and ultimately be relegated by Easter

    As far as sweets what we need to see again, how's about the Fuse Bar?

    Enjoyed the show on Saturday, hope to see you out and about at other League clubs as the season progresses.

    All the best,

    Robbie Earle

  • Comment number 16.

    Welcome return by 'NostraDanus Walker' but have you been hitting the Space Dust with all those 'way-out' predictions ? ;) Here's mine - O'Neill to replace Mancini after a fortnight, Bob Bradley to take over at Villa and Landon Donovan to be his first signing. Four Premier League clubs face going to the wall so the Premier League decide to play some games abroad like the NBA to guarantee more revenue leading to fears of the creation of franchises. Final Score to quadruple it's audience now Sky Sports is off freeview and Dan the man is bought in to keep Garth Crooks in check before deserting us all to Sky just like Stubbsy did with ESPN ;(

    Excellent Leeds FF - my two-pence worth..give future guests - especially half asleep muso's - a few pointers on what they'll be asked if you want any decent responses. Also, the Robbie Savage 'Cribs' special was indeed classic stuff - hand-helds should immediatley be issued by the Beeb to a player at every league club..imagine the reels of hilarious stuff you'd get back - it would all pay for itself in a 'You've Been Framed' kind of way!?

    Great to see the blog being useful for show ideas but as for the i-Player repeats, call me old fashioned but do you remember a time when people could actually 'tape record' programs on their actual VCR machine's to watch stuff if missed first time around?

    Any chance of a decent report on 25 man squad lists on this weeks show and what big name players won't make them eg. Bellamy - so we know who's going out on loan?

  • Comment number 17.

    Wassup Dan.

    Good luck with FF this season, shame that most of the highlights on the site are "not available in your area", well my area then.
    I suppose that I'll have to try to get up earlier on Satrday, but with my Friday nights usually running into very late the next day, I predict (with confidence) that this won't happen. (OK, I'll record it then)

    As for the footy season bring it on, good luck to everybody's teams unless your team is not Arsenal. ;p

    Fruit Salads ruled!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    aaaaaaaah the holy grail of blogs is back and Dan walkers is here too ;)

    Great feature on Leeds last week and looking forward to hearing more about Lawro and his antics this season! the man is 'Mr Exciting' after all, with his 37 hair styles in 1

    Great opening first weekend in the football leagues, lets hope the Premiership opens the same and none of this 'we dont want to lose our first game nonsense ala world cup draw bore' stuff.

    great blog and look forward to many more!

    Im a bigger fan of black jacks if im honest

    Giuseppe Signori

  • Comment number 19.

    This season will be very very tight again, last day of the season could settle the title winners and relegation too. Man U I believe will just win the title, but I'm talking by 1 or 2 points. Chelsea are formidable but with the Man U senior players nearing the end of their careers and still playing fantastic football, they'll want another title win and I think they'll get it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting fayre Dan and, as foonyroo mentions, probably to be taken more seriously than Phil McNulty's predictions.

    However, I believe that you have not stuck your neck out far enough.

    Liverpool will win the title in the final game, buoyed by another man of the match display from Lucas Levia (casually munching on a rice cake in a drive to improve the nations health that has gone down a storm)and sees him crowned player of the season.

    Arsene Wenger suffers a bizzare post-match interview in which he collides with an advertising hoarding and leaves Arsenal rudderless for the last 6 matches of the season. Myopia is discounted immediately. This rules them out of the title race, but does allow David N'Gog to overtake Nicklas Bendtner in the race for the Golden Boot.

    In an uncharchteristic fit of pique, Sam Alladyce throws 9 men forward in Blackburn's final game of the season - a heavy defeat follow and ensures relegation alongside Man City and Spurs.

    A dramatic season, but I'm thinking of having a quid on it.

    Ian Butterworth

  • Comment number 21.

    Evening all. Not been in the office much today. Got some lovely bits and bobs lined up for Focus this Saturday.

    I need to get back to Walker Towers right now but I shall pop back on this bad boy soon and answer some of the more direct queries.

    See you shortly

    Tonya Harding

  • Comment number 22.

    Out of interest, what does "reactively moderated" mean?
    Also, I'm thinking of putting a fiver on all of Lawro's results and score predictions.
    Will I be rich at the end of the season?

  • Comment number 23.

    Hey Dan! I like the idea of having footy focus on the website as I live in Norway, and only get to see snippets on here or old clips posted on youtube. Look forward to seeing it here.

    My neck out predos:

    Liverpool to not only win the Prem League, but also the FA, League, and Europa Cups (then next season beating Rafa`s Inter in the Super Cup).

    Jamie Carragher to win the Golden Boot
    Roy Hodgson Manager of the Year
    Player of the year will be Fabio Aurelio in his comeback season
    Other Top four finishers will be Everton, Fulham, and Blackpool
    Relegated will be Man U, Spurs, and Chelsea

    As for the has to be Chewits! Great taste,and some great adverts (king kong eating chewits whilst fighting off those dastardly bi-planes still lives in my memory).

    Have a great season Dan!

    Sinisia Mihailjovic

  • Comment number 24.

    Excellent, he's back! Good blog Dan, great that FF is now online. As for sweets, I don't think you can go wrong with those red lacey things, with the white candy inside (forget their name)

    Patrick Suffo

  • Comment number 25.

    Whey! FF blog is back! Nice one Dan, you really know the season is coming back when you see ridiculously obscure footballer's names on the bottom of posts, time to start looking in the vault for some good'uns again!

    Predictions are
    Champions - Chelsea (Pains me to say)
    Relegated - Blackpool, Bolton, West Brom
    Golden Boot - Rooney/Drogba (Or Drogney, the Rooney/Drogba hybrid that Man City have been secretly cultivating for the last 18 months)
    P.O.T.S - Joe Cole
    Sweet - Opal Fruits (Not Starburst, Opal Fruits)

    Fabrizio Ravanelli

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 "You know the season is coming back when you see ridiculously obscure footballers names on the bottom of posts"
    What you mean like Tonya Harding- see #21

  • Comment number 27.

    Champions : Arsenal
    Relegated : Blackpool, West Brom, Bolton
    Golden Boot : Didier Drogba
    Player of the Season : Cesc Fabregas

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Dan, 1st time Blogger but always enjoy your posts.(Far wittier and better concieved than most on this site!)

    Regarding Predictions;

    Champions: Chelsea (by 4 Points above a very good Arsenal)
    Relegated: Blackpool, West Brom, Wolves
    Golden Boot: The Beach Ball
    Player of the Season: Robin Van Persie

    As for the Sweets it has to be Apple Jacks over fruit salads any day,

    What are your Predictions on this Seasons' Injuries??

    Daniel Jakes

  • Comment number 29.

    Predictions for the season ahead.

    Lawro to get most of his predictions wrong.

    Even more added Fergie time, just so they can get number 19 - grrrrrr!

    Mancini to get the sack before xmas.

    Player of the season Joe Cole.

    Anglo Bubbly Bubble Gum - fantastic for blowing huge bubbles. Then you spend the next half hour scraping it off your face.

  • Comment number 30.

    PS - I'm not a new member - I have been on this site for well over a year, so why the moderation? A bit confused. Come on BBC - get a grip.

    Oh - I would rather have my eyes sucked out by a goat than listen to another vuvuzela - thanks!

  • Comment number 31.


    Arsenal to win the league by a point
    Manchester City to finish outside of top four
    Hernandez to score more than 20 goals
    Van Persie injured by Christmas
    Double Lolly to become Britain's favourite lolly

    One idea for a feature nearer to winter could be to look at the 'lot' of the poor groundsman at lower league club who has to get the pitch ready during all weathers when its been raining and snowing. Can't get more grassroots than that...

    John Spartan - You are fined one credit for a violation of the Verbal Morality Statute.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is this the Arsenal fans website? So many comments about the mighty Gooners! A regular joy to read.

    DAN time to come clean: we know you have been a gunner since birth; come on admit it.

    Long live the mighty jellybean

  • Comment number 33.

    Scrap my original thought...this is it. After 24 years, the title arrives back at Goodison.

    Howard in Goal. USA Number 1 and all round great keeper.

    RB: Neville - vastly experienced, competetive and a great captain
    CB: Jagielka - England quality centre back
    CB: Heitinga - World Cup finalist who whilst on the pitch prevented spain from scoring
    LB: Baines - England quality left back

    LM: Pienaar - Sublime skills, links very well with Baines
    CM: Fellaini - Sitting deep, produced oitstanding form before injury last year
    CM: Rodwell - Potentially world class. Will begin to dominate and dictate heard it here 1st, the boy is an extreme goal threat
    CM: Cahill - Supporting the striker. Aggression mixed with energy, goals and unrivalled timing for heading the ball
    RM: Arteta - Class, one of the best premiership players

    ST: Saha/Beckford. If Saha can stay fit, we have a 20 goal striker. If beckford can continue his pre-season form we have a 20 goal striker.

    In reserve:

    Bilyaletdinov to challenge Cahill for a place in midfield. A rocket of a shot but still needs time to adapt.

    Young Coleman to come in as cover and cause mayhem down the right hand side.

    Distin, an adequate centre back replacement

    Magaye Gueye - Keep an eye out!

    Then we have our steady eddies such as Yobo, Hibbert, Osman, Yakubu etc

    Plus...we have DAVID MOYES

  • Comment number 34.

    Afternoon all,

    Just waiting for Lawro to come in so we can film Friday Focus good to see many of you extending the neck a little with your predictions. Interesting that tomefccam (#33) has just gone for a list of the good things about the mighty Everton.

    This is what's on the show this week. We have plenty to pack in after all the business at Villa Park. We'll be taking a look at Martin O'Neill's decision to stand down and getting the latest from Motty who'll be in the Midlands for Villa's opening game against West Ham.

    We can all get a bit too carried away with football on occasions and perspective this week came from the tragic young death of the Exeter striker Adam Stansfield, who lost his battle with bowel cancer. Their game against Dagenham & Redbridge has been cancelled as a mark of respect.

    Back in the Premier League, Garth has spent some time with Carlo Ancelotti this week and we've also been to Milan to search for the story behind the man who brought the title to Stamford Bridge last season.

    Tottenham and Manchester City will both hope to be challenging Chelsea in May - we'll hear from Heurelho Gomes in the build-up to the early game between those two at White Hart Lane.

    Steve Coppell's decision to walk away from management and Fabio Capello's David Beckham faux pas will feature somewhere, as will another man hoping he can still impress the Italian… Michael Owen. We'll hear from Alan Shearer on his former international strike partner and Newcastle's chances this season.

    In addition to that, as the Geordies return to the Premier League, England spin legend Graeme Swann will tell us why he loves them.

    And if that's not enough we'll also be at the DW Stadium for Blackpool's first-ever game in the Premier League against Wigan.

    See you on Saturday on BBC One at 1215 BST. Until then, if you want to follow the build-up to the show you can via Twitter at

    Orlando Trustfull

  • Comment number 35.

    Hey DAN,
    You did not respond to any entries in the blog except the one that immediately preceded your 2nd foray.
    I do appreciate the update on all that Beeb football will be covering this weekend, but the good thing about your blog is that you actually bother to interact with us bloggers. Other blogs (for example, Mr. I want to sound like James Bond) just pontificate their opinions and leave ever one else to say what ever they like with no interaction.
    Your's is different it is fun to read your responses to other bloggers. Fun to try and provoke you into responding. Not fun to fail and get no response.

    Hope you enjoy filming FF.

  • Comment number 36.

    I feel suitably chastised big man... blaenorynyclwyd (#35)

    You're right. I gave you the big PR spiel and ignored your comments. I will set fire to my face as punishment!

    You are way wide of the mark about the Arsenal thing though... shambolic suggestion.

    Right... Lawro is here. Off to the studio.

    I love you all.

    Inspector Morse

  • Comment number 37.

    (35) blaenorynyclwyd

    Make a point as good as mine and maybe it will be acknowledged!

    Lloyd Owusu

  • Comment number 38.

    yo Dan you beast why isn't Friday focus up? Lawro need more make up than usual?!!!

  • Comment number 39.

    Predictions -

    Chelsea to win the league on goal difference from Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Man City (in that order).
    Blackpool to stay up on the last day of the season at the expense of West Brom, Wigan and Bolton.
    Aston Villa to have the most boring season imaginable.

    England to play passably well in qualifiers for Euro 2012, but lose in Switzerland.
    French football to implode after a home defeat to Belarus and a draw with Luxembourg.
    Football Focus to do a piece in the next 18 months on Polish fans petitioning for their team's withdrawal from the Euros.

    Player of the Year: Joe Cole
    Young Player of the Year: Jack Rodwell
    Golden Boot: Didier Drogba

    Sweets: Not strictly sweets but Zap ice lollies to make a comeback and become widely available in supermarkets.

    Sergei Aleinikov

  • Comment number 40.

    (#37) tomefccam
    You made me laugh out loud.

  • Comment number 41.

    League winner : Liverpool to win on the last day with a last minute goal by Lucas .

    Golden boot : Mr. Own goal for Manutd.

    Player of the season : Titus bramble .

    Story of the season : Balotelli punched Mancini after he substituted him when balotelli needed a goal to win Golden boot .

    Young player of the year : Wilshere . (now thats the most likely)

    Relegation : wigan , west brom , blackpool .

    New term to be used for stoppage time : Fergie time .

  • Comment number 42.

    arsenal to win the league .

  • Comment number 43.

    I wish the big 4 would hurry up and go bankrupt and leave football for good. They are destroying our game with their ridiculous spending!

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    Come on you Spurs


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