BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher

Archives for February 2011

Sheffield United on the slide

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 21:02 UK time, Saturday, 19 February 2011

Selhurst Park

Crystal Palace forward Darren Ambrose probably ought to give Sheffield a wide berth given the damage he has inflicted upon its football teams.

Last season, his crucial strike at Hillsborough on the final day of the campaign sent Sheffield Wednesday tumbling into League One and ensured Crystal Palace's Championship survival.

On Saturday, his stunning 25-yard volley illuminated the gloom at Selhurst Park and gave the Eagles a 1-0 precious victory over relegation rivals Sheffield United. It was Ambrose's first goal in 10 games and it was worthy of winning any encounter, let alone a tense and error-strewn contest between two struggling teams.

"You cannot legislate for a wonder goal like that," said Blades boss Micky Adams as he picked the bones out of yet another defeat.

The significance of the victory cannot be under-estimated. The Eagles remain fourth from bottom in the Championship table but they now have a five-point advantage over the Blades, who remain 22nd.

Read the rest of this entry

The toughest job in football?

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 17:12 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Something unique happened to Stockport County manager Peter Ward last Saturday afternoon - he watched his team win.

Later in the evening, towards the end of the BBC's Football League Show, Ward watched the brief highlights of his team defeating local rivals Bury 2-1 at Edgeley Park with great satisfaction.

I spoke to Ward, who took over as temporary boss on 5 January, in the days before Saturday's match. It is difficult to exactly gauge the mood of someone you have never met before but I sensed the 46-year-old was in something of a dark place. He told me he was driven on by fear and was desperate to taste victory; to end the losing habit, to restore confidence, to give some self-belief, both to himself and his struggling team.

It is easy to understand his anxiety. The Hatters are in a desperate battle against relegation from the Football League. The Cheshire club have been dogged by financial problems over recent years and were relegated from League One last season after managing only five wins.

Read the rest of this entry

Football League fears over plans for new youth system

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 11:19 UK time, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Premier League announced ambitious plans on Monday to overhaul their academy system, immediately sparking fears within the Football League that their 72 clubs could be badly damaged.

The aim of the Elite Player Performance Plan is to produce more top-quality homegrown players. The Premier League claims, quite rightly, that this would benefit not only the clubs that produce them but also the England team. Coming in the wake of England's disastrous performance at last year's World Cup that would be a welcome boost.

However, the Football League has expressed concern that 30 to 40 of its clubs could abandon their youth development schemes if the new proposals are not altered to protect the interest of lower-tier clubs.

"We want to be seen as part of the solution and not the problem," said Football League chairman Greg Clarke on Monday. "We want to support the [new plans] but not in a way that puts tens of facilities out of business."

Read the rest of this entry

Kevin Kilbane on the 'new David Moyes'

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 13:03 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Kevin Kilbane has been capped 108 times by the Republic of Ireland, boasts more than 500 senior appearances at club level and spent virtually all of the last decade playing Premier League football.

But the only silverware he has to show for his endeavours across a 15-year career is an old Division Three championship medal won at his hometown club Preston North End in 1996.

Back then Kilbane was an out-and-out left winger, sent out every week by manager Gary Peters with instructions to send in as many crosses as possible.

These days Kilbane is normally found on the left-hand side of Huddersfield's trio of central midfield players, one of the wise old heads in a Terriers team packed with young talent.

Read the rest of this entry

Owls left with no choice but to sack Irvine

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 13:23 UK time, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Alan Irvine is a decent, dignified and well-respected man. He is also a realist.

Speaking after Sheffield Wednesday's FA Cup victory at Hereford on Saturday, the Owls boss admitted that his position was precarious.

A sequence of five League One fixtures without victory had left him on a slippery slope. Tuesday's 5-3 defeat at Peterborough pushed him over the edge.

Chairman Milan Mandaric called emergency talks on Wednesday and it emerged on Thursday that 53-year-old Irvine had been sacked after 13 months in charge at Hillsborough, in the process becoming the ninth Football League manager to lose his job this year.

"It is unfortunate, but this had to take place," said Mandaric, who went through six managers in less than four years as chairman on former club Leicester City.

Read the rest of this entry

Chris Powell - too nice to succeed?

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 08:27 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Matt Holland wasted no time in sending a good luck text to Chris Powell when his former Charlton team-mate was appointed manager of the League One club in mid-January.

He had to wait a few days for a reply but an apologetic Powell eventually got in touch and explained that he had been deluged by hundreds of voice mails and texts wishing him well.

It is a small anecdote that says a lot about Powell's standing in the game. A former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, he appears to be as popular with supporters as he does among his peers.

Southend fans voted him their all-time cult hero in a BBC poll and he was also named supporters player of the year at Derby County. Powell had three spells as a Charlton player and it was obvious from the reception that he received ahead of Tuesday evening's match against Colchester at The Valley that he is held in incredibly high regard by the London club's supporters.

Read the rest of this entry

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.