Premiership Season 2009-2010: Top 5 Moments

Disclaimer: Written from the perspective of a devoted ManU fan with scant regard for impartiality.

5 – Bullard’s Celebration

Saying you don’t like Jimmy Bullard would rank right up there alongside hating Santa, he’s probably the most liked player in British football due to his care-free play with a smile attitude. When he scored a late equalizer from the penalty spot against City he reenacted one of the most bizarre and ridiculous displays of management I’ve witnessed in my years following football. Phil Brown’s infamous on-pitch outburst deserved and almost needed to be laughed at and Jimmy’s cheeky mimicry did the trick brilliantly.

4 – Step Forward Danny Rose

The North London derby is always one of my favourite fixtures. Spur’s impressive form made this seasons clash with Arsenal that bit tastier. When the teams flashed up on the screen I, like most others I’d imagine was had one thought – who the fuck is Danny Rose? Ten minutes later we got our answer.

3 – Well He Does Score Goals

So I’m hung over in the backass of nowhere after my friend’s birthday. My equally fanatical but less hung over accomplice drags me to the pub to watch the Manchester derby. God, I fucking hate City. United dominate, much to my surprise, ever the pessimist I’d feared a rout in favour of the home side. Possession and territory count for very little though when you’re chasing an in form Chelsea. Then up pops that little ginger wizard. Paul Scholes is by some distance my favourite ever United player and this header typifies what he was best at in his prime. Last minute, last effort and it’s a double over City, hangover erased.

2 – Welcome to United

Owen had failed to really impress since his arrival at Old Trafford but he could hardly have won the fans over in more dramatic style. In what must be one of the games of the season his brilliant last-minute finish sparked bedlam in the stands on and on the side-line before Hughsy got all upset over the time. A brilliant game, a brilliant goal and Owen is a United player, even if he never scores again.

1 – Face in the Crowd

Football often throws up something unexpected, that’s why so many love the game. Sport in general is fantastic entertainment because while there may be favourites and predictions, the fact remains nobody knows what will be the outcome and when the unforseen unfolds live before thousands of viewers it really is something special. But sometimes we get more than just an unbelieveable result or performance, we get to witness genuine human interaction at its best. Who says there’s no place for reality TV?  When referee Mike Dean sent Arsene Wenger to the stands in one of the opening games of the season it was a truly remarkable spectacle. The Frenchman had just seen Van Persie’s last-minute strike ruled out for offside after United had scrambled back from a goal down to muster a 2-1 lead, suddenly he finds himself amongst the Old Trafford faithful, camera phones going like the clappers and the referee apparently out of ideas, all in all it was a bad day at the office, but for United fans it merely added to the occasion.

Posted in Football, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Premiership Season 2009/10

So how will we remember the 2009/2010 season? The season of a genuine title challenge? The end of the Big Four’s reign? The horror show at Fratton Park? The year we all shouted for Fulham in Hamburg? Well, first and foremost what must be conceded is that this season represented a drop in the standard of England’s Premier League. Supporting evidence is commonplace, no English side made it as far as the Champions League semi-final for the first time since 2003. The all-English clash of 2008 is but a distant memory and based on this season, won’t be a reality relived any time soon.

The fact that the ‘big four’ didn’t enjoy the armchair ride of recent years is down to their new-found mediocrity as opposed to a significant jump in standards elsewhere. That said, credit must go to Arry and his Spurs for a tremendous season, in which they featured among the most appealing and compelling to watch.

As a ManU fan, you’d expect Liverpool’s demise to inspire unbridled joy but as a football fan it’s a shame to see such a proud side, once such a force in England and Europe, crumble into mid-table nothingness. Xavi Alonso’s departure, Gerrards inexplicably poor form and Torres’s patchy fitness the primary contributors. Throw in a manager whose anything but the people’s champion and ownership conflicts and you’ve got a team freewheeling on a downward slope.

With the best manager, the best team and by far the best squad in terms of depth, Chelsea have few excuses for not wrapping things up much earlier. Inconsistency was a feature throughout their season, you have to wonder how a team can lose, and deserve to lose to the same team they put eight past on the final day. United merely flattered to deceive and were always the pretenders in the run-in, their inferiority confirmed by defeats home and away to Ancelotti’s blues. Ronaldo’s absence may have been the catalyst for Rooney’s greatest season to date but the England prodigy couldn’t shoulder the burden of Ronnie’s absence on his own, despite the unspoken expectancy for him to do so. With Rio and Vidic unable to reestablish their partnership of recent seasons and not to mention the always entertaining if cringeworthy Gary Neville Show at right back United’s defence was less daunting for visitors to Old Trafford.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Michael Carrick! I feel so weak, so powerless, all I have are words, surely not enough to properly convey the worthlessness of the South Africa bound Carrick. He does nothing! Now now, that’s a bit harsh he is well able to miss crucial penalties against teams like Burnley. When you look at the arguments made by those in the pro-Carrick camp the same tripe is constantly recycled, they play better when he’s there, he does a job in midfield, he’s a good passer….bollox! When it’s backs to the wall time and you really need that commanding presence, someone to step up to the mantle in the way any of the ’99 midfield quartet would have, where is Carrick? As Fletcher tackles all around him, Nani and Valencia torment fullbacks, where is Carrick? I’d even call into question his passing, he’s rarely the one to put Rooney or Berbatov (don’t even get me started) into space, he has officially been credited with 2 assists this seasons. He’s notched just 17 goals in 188 appearances. Fabregas, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner, Modric, Arteta, can we honestly say theat Carrick merits inclusion on this list of top-class Premiership midfielders. If one signing is made by Sir Alex, it would want to address the Carrick situation problem.

It says something about the season that the most gripping battle was for fourth place. Villa, City and Spurs all looked favourites at different points. Once again O’Neill was hampered by a wafer thin squad, a predicament certainly not applicable to Man City who have so many players they don’t know what to do with them – Santa Cruz, Ireland, Petrov, Wright Phillips. But it was Harry’s predominantly British army, with a good old-fashioned centre-back partnership and an unlikely hero in the shape of Gareth Bale, who prevailed. Late season form was enough to suggest that Everton could have been in the running were it not for injuries.

At the less glamorous end of the table Pompy’s exit from the top-tier was a formality from  Christmas onwards. Pityful form, the shame of being the first Premier League club to enter administration and just to prove that fairy tales don’t exist defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Burley collapsed after a wonderful start particularly at home, the departure of Owen Coyle a turning point in their ultimately disappointing season. Meanwhile no amount on half-time public tongue-lashings could have saved Hull from the drop.

 The 2009/2010 season: exciting, unpredictable and utterly, utterly disappointing.

Posted in Football, Rants, Sports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Matt Stevens – Ghost

If you search the name Matt Stevens in hypemachine a single track is all that is offered, ‘Spencer Park’, from Steven’s debut LP Echo. The track, worthy of far more than the meagre 15 hearts it currently boasts, is a multi-layered, atmospheric celebration of guitar set against an off-time beat in a fashion not dissimilar to Mice Parade. The song’s engaging minimalism is at times lost to extravagant outbursts of Spanish guitar, a sound commonly associated with Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Ghost is the second album from the london based instrumentalist. It serves as a welcome reminder as to just how powerful and beautiful the acoustic guitar can be. Unlike ‘Spencer Park’ however, the focus of Ghost is on the minimal. It’s abundantly apparent that Stevens has a special command over the guitar but he favours enticing, carefully crafted tracks over self-indulgent embellishment. ‘Big Sky’ is defined by the simple riff which remains a constant from start to finish.

The most impressive feat achieved by Stevens on Ghost is what is notably lacking among the likes of Rod y Gab, variety. Admiration for technical ability is something quite removed from attachment to a song. Whether it’s the starry glockenspiel on ‘Eleven’ and ‘Glide’ or the haunting presence of orchestral strings on title track ‘Ghost’, Steven’s always conjures up something a little extra to nail down the desired atmosphere. The result is an album baring that all-encompassing, cinematic sound which draws you in without the need to utter a word.

If all this wasn’t enough to win you over then throw the fact that Stevens, perhaps taking a realistic approach to the world of illegal streaming, provides his albums on a pay what you want basis. Both Ghost and Echo are available for download from his bandcamp site.

Posted in CD Review, Music | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

May Playlist

May has seen the unwelcome intrusion of my final year exams. For some inexplicable reason the rise in stress levels provoked me to seek solace in filthy electro. The result is a playlist best experienced in a windowless basement, stood in front of a strobe light after a visit to your nearest (still standing) head shop.

1. Jack Beats – Get Down
2. Little Boots – Stuck on Repeat (Fake Blood Remix)
3. La Roux – In for the Kill (Le Castle Vania Remix)
4. Heartsrevolution – Switchblade (Designer Drugs Remix)
5. Vitalic – Second Lives (The Bloody Beetroots Remix)
6. Usher ft. Will.I.Am – OMG (Vindata Remix)
7. Fake Blood – The Dozens
8. Proxy – Vibrate (The Bloody Beetroots Remix)
9. Vitalic – One Above One
10. La Roux – Bulletproof (Foamo Remix)
11. Rusko – Woo Boost
12. Boys Noize & Erol Alkan – Avalanche
13. Tape Deck Bros – Science Fiction

Posted in Mothly Playlist, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloc Who?

Despite the fact that I’m currently in the middle of exams which will determine my degree and I should therefore be either studying or sleeping right now, I feel obliged to share what I have just witnessed. Kele‘s performance in Cork’s Cyprus Avenue may just be the best gig I have ever attended.

First off due reference must be made to the support act, MAMA. I’ve never been to, nor do I ever intend to go to, a live sex show but if I think I can rest assured that the eroticism of MAMA’s live show isn’t far off. From her semi-transparent leotard to her suggestive dancing and not forgetting her explicit lyrics, this was a performance dripping with sensuality. Once I got over my initial curiosity, particularly regarding the bald girl and skinny girl on either side of MAMA whose sole contribution came in the form of bursts of hypnotic dancing, I realised that there was an addictive brand of low-fi electro-pop reverberating around the venue. Cyprus Avenue is not an easy place for support acts to come and win crowds over but by the end of her set at least half of the congregation was shouting and clapping, the other half were too busy trying to hide the stalk in their pants.

Then came Kele. With a new batch of friendly faces surrounding him the charismatic frontman hopped on stage to a deafening reception from the sold out venue. The music kicked off with some body-grooving electronic beats and hand claps but before we had even gotten a chance to make a premature judgment of this new musical venture an elctro-bomb was dropped and the place erupted.

By the time the second frantic floor-filler (alliteration eh?) crashed to a halt the crowd was hooked. The set progressed with a mixture of pop, elctro and in places afro-beat but no matter how quiet things got there was always a baseline simmering in the background, effectively making each tune a ticking bomb. Bloc Party had this special ability to glide from one distinct sound into another, Kele has taken this into his new project as all progressions from loud to hushed and frenetic to mellow are seemless.

The atmosphere of the performance was captured when half way through the set Kele announces, “well, this is going ok isn’t it.” Having expressed his gratitude for such a turn out at a gig where the songs were basically unknown, Kele treated the fans to an electronic mashup of Bloc Party favourites. If the place was rocking before, this mix of Blue Light, The Prayer and One More Chance tested the endurance of the compact venue. With such an explosive response to these familiar tunes this was the perfect time to drop Tenderoni, the single currently shooting up the indie charts.

I struggle to recall a gig in Cyprus Avenue greeted with such enthusiasm and general mayhem. What made it so special was the instant impact made by songs previously unheard. Jumping and fist-pumping was accompanied by attempts to chant along with songs made for call and response live shows, and if you got the lyrics wrong, who gives a fuck, nothing could spoil a performance like this.

Posted in Entertainment, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April Playlist

Study month should just be renamed music month. With no lectures, constant internet access and new music providing the only cure for pre-exam blues, April was a good month for tunes. All this leading to an extended playlist.

1. Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em
2. Caribou – Kaili
3. Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Off His Shirt (Dan Deacon Remix)
4. Health – We Are Water
5. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
6. The Villagers – Becoming a Jackal
7. Crystal Castles – Celestica
8. Do Make Say Think – End of Music
9. Delorean – Real Love
10. iamamiwhoami – O
11. Bonobo – Kiara
12. The National – Afraid of Everyone
13. The Books – Beautiful People
14. Foals – Blue Blood
15. 65 Days of Static – Crash Tactics
16. The Golden Filter – Dance Around the Fire
17. Fenech Soler – Lies (Wolf Child Remix)
18. Nakatomi Towers – Cut me Out (Mark Lam Remix)
19. Marina and the Diamonds – I am Not a Robot (Clock Opera Remix)

Posted in Mothly Playlist, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In a Nutshell

 

It’s all too easy to fall out of the habit of updating this when things genuinely worth time and attention, such as exams, come along. As my date with destiny looms I’ve decided to take an intermission from the books to provide a summary of what would otherwise have been a series of compelling, in-depth and quite possibly life-altering pieces.

Choonage
Some bits I’ve been enjoying of late:

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach: Was never quite gonna live up to all the hype it’s been getting considering I wasn’t previously a huge fan but it throws up plenty of variety, the dominant sound being the regular brand of low-fi electronics mixed with Albarns customary groan.

Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can: A beautiful album from start to finish. This is one young lady with a maturity and grasp of song writing far beyond her meagre 20 years. Words spill from her mouth with an effortless grace which marries raw acoustics and haunting echoes. Perhaps “a female Justin Vernon” is too convenient tag but you can’t help but wonder how good the results would be if the two were to cross paths some drunken carefree night, selective breeding at its best.

Fang Island – Fang Island: This LP has been looping on iTunes for weeks at this stage and I’m just not getting tired of it. As post-rock, math-rock, electro-pop continue to rare their respective heads all over the place, it’s refreshing to hear such an uncomplicated rock album. A celebration of guitars and drums coupled with eerily uplifting choruses. An album best described by the band themselves, “Everyone high-fiving everyone.” 

Delorean – Subiza: This album should be popular. It basically sounds like everything that’s in vogue at the moment. From the dreamy vocals of Beach House, to the body-grooving precusion of Tanlines and throw in more than a dash of Animal Collective. In truth any of the 9 songs could serve as a hidden track on Merriweather Post Pavillion. While Subiza may lack the variety of the AC masterpiece, it’s still one hell of a summer album.

The Cast of Cheers – Chariot: Easily one of the most exciting (and best named) acts floating around our little island at the moment. This album, available for FREE is a truly impressive blend of funky bass, jolting guitar and abrasive vocals. There is more than a hint of Redneck Manifesto influence on tracks such as Derp and Strangers, but that’s always welcome. This is a group I am dying to see live, its sure to be a head-banging, fist-pumping affair.

Caribou– Swim: This album is proving to be one of the finest impulse downloads of the year. Very much in the school of Four Tet’s progressive glitchy electronics. The album flows wonderfully accommodating swirling sirens, cackling symbols, and all sorts of psychedelic effects.

Pitchside

Footie: Paul Scholes…that is all!

Rugby: Can we ever write off this Munster team of old fogeys? An unpredictable season churns up yet another puzzling performance as the southern province gave the young guns of Northampton a lesson in European Rugby. O’Gara was back to his controlling best but the biggest victory came in the scrum, Munster’s Achilles heel and the Saints’ weapon of choice. Nobody could have predicted the demolition of Hartley and co by the aging Munster front three. Meanwhile Leinster showed a true sign of champions going through despite being the worse side on the night against Clermont. Jamie Heaslip is one of the best players in the world at the moment, fact. Honourable mention to Connacht into the European Challenge Cup semi-final, it would be a fitting send-off for Bradley if the westerners finally got their hands on some silverware.

Tennis: A ruthless route at the Monte-Carlo Rolex masters suggests Nadal may be back in business, finally. We can only hope the master has the good bill of health he deserves.

Golf: A gripping contest at Augusta ended in a fairly predictable victory for Mickleson. Tiger back and playing like he’d never been away. A horror show by the Irish, European hopes were pinned on Poulter and Westwood from thursday evening but the latter came up agonisingly short.

GAA: Cork beat Tipp, job!

Boxing: Another easy, predictable and stale victory for Haye. Bring on one of the Klitschko brothers and give the people the fight they want to see….until Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Posted in CD Review, Entertainment, Football, GAA, Music, Rants, Rugby, Sports, Tennis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment