Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Time for an English Manager, but a European Style.

Written by Brad Smith

Two years down the line, after that 4-1 drubbing to the hands of the Germans, how far have we advanced as a squad, and more importantly, can we banish those World Cup memories with success in Poland and Ukraine this June?

Success doesn't necessarily mean winning the tournament, as at the moment, we dont have a manager, our strikers have contracted the plague, and we haven't got a leader.

But one thing that is for certain, is that we need to throw the old-school 4-4-2 out of the window, and although we are almost certain to have an English manager, we need to adapt a more fluent, attacking, and predominately European style of football.

Rewind back to 2006, and you or me had as much chance of playing on the left wing for England as anyone else. Now we have them in abundance, all with different mentalities, skills, and pros to the team.

Capellos midfield against Germany on that fateful day, consisted of Gerrard, Lampard, Barry, and Milner. The flair and ability of the Madrid pairing Ozil and Khedira bossed the game, and more than showed us up, more than any refereeing decision could.

So, despite being totally unqualified for the position apart from a very successful Football Manager career, I am hoping the FA take a tiny bit of notice, and select a team similar to the one suggested by me below.

So there we go. A few raised eyebrows I am sure. First of all, the 4-2-3-1 formation.

I think we should have alot more faith in our back four. Cole and Richards are my choices for full backs, not for their overall game, but their defending, surprisingly. Many people would prefer Walker or Johnson for the right-back position, but in this formation, we wouldn't need the attacking threat that they both provide, as it would leave us vulnerable at the back, and I also believe that Richards is a superior defender to those two, hence him getting the nod in my team.

In Parker and Barry, we have two great passers of the ball, and both able to take the ball from the defence, and bridge that gap between the front 4 and the back 4. Despite Gerrards age, he would be one the first names on the team sheet for me, and also my captain for the tournament, due to his exploits as Liverpool captain.

For me, this is Gerrards best role, and can allow him to drift around the midfield, as well as helping out the lone striker, as well as the two more defensive minded midfielders.

There are so many choices for the two wingers, who would make it more of a 4-3-3, with them being able to cut inside, much like Chelsea have played in recent seasons. Young and Downing would be my first choices, although Walcott, Adam Johnson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Milner could easily stake a claim for the first team. They would be given the freedom to attack wing-backs, cut inside, create chances for themselves, aswell as the lone striker, rather than just sticking along the touchline, like they have done in tournaments gone by.

The rest of the team is pretty self-explanatory, Rooney being our main attacker, although Sturridge and Welbeck will be fighting for the spot for the first 2 group games, with Welbeck being my first choice at this present time.

So, more importantly, Can we win? How far can we go? Well. Should we match Spains result in the groups, we wouldn't meet them until the final, providing they get there of course, but many people will be backing them to defend their crown come June-time.

Providing there are no major shocks, and that we top our group, we would meet the winners of the "Group of Death" in the semi-finals, of course providing we can overcome either the Irish or Italians. So, Germany and Netherlands will be favourites from the Group of Death, meaning a match-up against either our dearest rivals Germany, or tonights opponents, and World Cup finalists Holland.

Though, I am not putting to bed the possibility of a heartbreaking defeat in Donetsk to the hands of Ukraine, or penalty heartache later on in the competition.

Either way, should players stay fit, a professional manager comes in, and we play my coveted 4-2-3-1 formation, I believe we have many reasons to be optimistic.


Feel free to discuss this piece and follow me on:

Twitter: @BrummieBrad

Facebook: /beaverbrad

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

PART 2: My WBCOOP so far.. Bluffs, Bounties, and Blogging

So, after my rubbish performance in Event 4: NLHE/PLO, I decided to try my luck at good old 8-game, also known as Event 6.

Now, im hardly Mr.Versatile. I probably know more about the Ugandan economy that I do about 2-7 triple draw, and Omaha too.

However, my self-confessed love for Razz and Stud Hi/Lo would leave me in good shape against people that didnt maybe know those two as well. So, stay away from Omaha I thought.

Right, so lets fast forward a bit, only 237 entrants, so nearly half of entrants will cash. I was sticking to my plan, destroy at Razz, Holdem and Stud, and stay away from 2-7 and Omaha. Cue around 120 left, 108 place, and we switch to Omaha. I limp in, and I flop the nuts. QJ10, rainbow flop, and I have AK. Just the one guy with me, and he gets all in. Now, more experienced Omaha players may know, that nuts on the flop arent exactly a guarentee. Indeed.

He had flopped two pair and also had chance to runner flush or hit a A for a split. He turned a full house, and I held my hands up. Down to 3BBs.

Few hands later, and I had manouvered myself into a position where I could limp into the cash if I so pleased, with around 13BBs behind me, however, after a quick chat with my mate, I thought, rather than limp in for a guarenteed $5.50 ticket, which I could pretty comfortably afford anyway, I might aswell go for it, and try and win something more worthwhile for my time.

Well, little more than 5 minutes later, and a pep talk Tweet to myself, I found myself shoving an Ace high flush draw in Holdem, and that was it, 114th place, 5 from the bubble, which might as well be the bubble for me.

So, a bit frustrating, but I stuck to my gameplan, and dont think you should change that whatever you are playing. Thats what i've learnt from that tournement anyway

My WBCOOP so far.. Bluffs, Bounties, and Blogging

So, my 10 tickets had arrived, and I was already thinking of how to spend my winnings from the SCOOP that of course I was going to not just qualify for, but win aswell. So, where better to start but Event 1. Straight up Holdem.

Event 1: Great start, won pots, bluffed some people, hit some outs, won some stacks, and I was sitting comfortably with 45 Big Blinds, 50 places from a cash, I decided to c-bet my AK on a J-8-3 board, only to be insta-raised. Time bank was made for this situation, and along came my Oscar nomination, I open up the chat box, and pour out to him that the "trip 8s" I was holding, we're going to be beaten by his trip Js.

Now, my bluff had obviously gone wrong, and with 30-something BBs behind me, this is an easy fold, and a fair play mate, you got me. Obviously I was hoping he had AJ, KJ, maybe 9-10, and thinking, yeah, I can make him believe I have trips, and i'll be around tournement chip leader with 150 people left.

What happened next was inexcusable. I shove my whole stack on Ace high, and he instantly calls, and I see he had JJ, top trips.

Thats how I felt at that moment. First tournement, great chance to cash a SCOOP ticket, but I bluff my whole stack off, a bit like Viktor Blom at WSOPE a few years back, as shown below.

So, 159th out of 570. Not bad at all, but considering I was about 34th when I bluffed my stack off, I might get nominated for WBCOOPs Fail of the Championship.

Monday, 20 February 2012

What would a 21 year old lad do with $5,000?

Written by Brad Smith (Beaverbrad)

Silly question most would assume. Im 21, single, immature, and have no real grasp on what money actually is.

First of all, i'd have to convert it into real money, English sterling. So im thinking maybe £4000, £4500? Ah. £3152.50 according to a quick search. Right, so im £1000 odd down on what I thought already, and for those wondering, I definately did not do Economics at A Levels.

Well, first thing is first, debts. Student Finance decided they were going to be complete so-and-so's with me this year, which means I currently owe £1500 to my lovely doting father for keeping a roof above my head for my last 6 months of Uni. Ouch, that hurt. Half of the stack is already gone. Many of you may be thinking what I thought for approximately 0.24 seconds. £1500 on red? Could get that rent for free....

Ok, I could sit here and be Billy Big Balls and say that i would do that, but realistically, by then it would be my money, and id end up crumbling into a heap next to the roulette table, crying for my mommy, shaking, and politely asking for the funds to be returned to my account, before I hand them over to my father, head down, wondering whether that mental trauma was worth it for this $5000 which I have currently seen nothing of apart from hospital fees after they have treated me for being such a douche. (Had to get an American word in at some point)

So i get back home, and I have approx £1600 of my money left. Superb. Now, I am not entirely sure whether the money goes onto my PokerStars account, or my bank account, but either way, £200 will be going straight onto PokerStars, which I plan to spin up to £1k, in order to play in the UKIPT Swansea (£770 buy in) which has been my motivational background for a few months. Either that, or satellite to it through PokerStars.

So, £1400 left, and the next purchase is arguably sensible, which may leave my parents wondering if I am ill, or possibly growing up. Anyway, I had an accident about a year ago, which basically ended up with me dropping an iron onto my laptop whilst drunk, leaving my screenless since. How do I see the screen you ask? Well, my "laptop" has turned into a "tabletop", where I have it hooked up to a computer screen 24/7. 10/10 for creativity though, and for my clumsiness. £400 on that. Much like this example below infact.

So, a round £1000 left. Serious time. One of my best mates is a big tennis player, and has been in the States for the last 3 years at University. The odd Skype session and seeing him for a couple of days when he is back for a week a year is good, but as he is graduating in May, he has asked a few of his boys to go and see him. I instantly wrote this off due to my hilarious lack of funds, but should I win the prize, tickets would be booked, and I would jet off to North Carolina for a week, and enjoy the American delights for a short while!

Estimating that I may have £100-£200 left after this. I think the only sensible thing to do would be to invest in some lovely new clothes, anyone that knows me will know that this means shirts, and only shirts, just so I can look my best when I roll up to the UKIPT later on in the year. Should I make it, of course a PokerStars hat will have to be in the suitcase, simply for giving me an opportunity!

Well, anyway, that is the many ways I would spend $5000, or £3152.50. Even 397,285.38 Japanese Yen if you are feeling really fruitful, or Japanese. Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope to see you at the tables, my screen name is Beaverbrad for those who missed it at the start!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

How far can we push our loyalty in front of our morals?

Written By Brad Smith

With the recent Suarez/Evra and Terry/Ferdinand race scandals, how far are we willing to go to keep supporting our club and ignoring crimes and acts that are committed, just because said player is wearing our clubs colours.

A common phrase used by fans is 'It doesnt matter what they do off the pitch, as long as they do their thing on it'. This can be understandable, to a point, but how much can we put up with as fans, before our moral compasses get tossed to the wayside.

You only have to go back to when Wayne Rooney swore at English fans at the camera, and the frenzy that surrounded that, back page splashes, and fans vowing to never support him again. Also, you have the Cristiano Ronaldo 'winker' story, where he inexplicably winked after getting his club team-mate sent off in the World Cup. But we look at these, and they are simply stupid acts, not crimes, yet both players had been persecuted by fans, on and off the pitch.

What level do these acts weigh up again real crimes, countless high profile names have been involved in drink-driving incidents, Jermaine Pennant had to wear an electronic tag whilst playing for former club Birmingham, and although a much too common incident at present, you only have to look back to 2004 to find Lee Hughes, who had been suspected of drinking, crashed his care into another and killed a father of two children.

After serving his sentence, he is back playing for Notts County, but week in, week out, will suffer a barrage of abuse from opposition fans, and undoubtedly, County fans will cheer a goal.

There are also high profile players such as Vinnie Jones, Eric Cantona, Joey Barton, Marlon King, and Duncan Ferguson, who have all been prosecuted for assault, with many fans simply relishing the chance of having a 'hard-man' in their team.

So it is right to abuse players with criminal convictions, chant at them, but then celebrate and sing their praises if they join your club? Had said player struck a family member around the head with a bottle the previous week, any sane man would have trouble sitting through a game where people were celebrating and mocking the conviction of the player.

With the recent racism scandals, just as the FA are pushing home their Kick It Out campaign, we have supporters booing Rio Ferdinand, just because his brother has accused John Terry of racism, which is currently being investigated. Should he be found guilty, aren't these fans theoretically supporting racism?

From a personal point of view, I do think that once people have served the sentence applicable to the crime, they should be allowed back into the game if clubs feel fit to offer it to them, although hypocrisy from fans with their songs directed at such players is wrong, although this will not change, as supporters loyalty towards their team, often leads them to do and say things that although out of their usual personality, they believe will benefit their side in some way or another.


Feel free to discuss this piece and follow me on:

Twitter: @BrummieBrad

Facebook: /beaverbrad

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Transfer Windows.. Should they be scrapped?

Written By Brad Smith

For those of you who are not familiar, clubs can sign players from the end of the regular season up until August 31st, and from January 1st until the 31st. Despite this, it seems most teams go into hibernation up until 2 days before, and cue a furore of activity, and chairmen on 4 different phones at once trying to sell a squad player for 4 times his realistic value.

Prior to the 2002-2003 football season, a great rule was in place, whereby, if a club needed a certain player, due to injury, or someone was simply playing terrible, they could send their scouts to scour the world for a replacement, and then promptly sign him up.

Im sure this makes sense to each and every one of us, however, the big-wigs at FIFA decided that transfer windows would be made compulsory as of that season. Since then, we have had chairmen holding onto their prize assets for any amount of money, strangely re-enacting childhood monopoly scenes of family members offering me better birthday presents and all of their money for that orange property i've been holding onto for half the game.

Panic buying is also common practice in this window. Knowing you only have 30 days to improve your squad, looking at possibilities and trying to predict whether the team might get struck by the Black Death and wondering if you have enough cover at Left Back should that happen.

Sven-Goran Eriksson commented that "It was easier when it was open all the time and perhaps fairer for the players. I am sure much of the business being done on the last day is a little bit desperate and that is not right"

Recently, you have Daniel Levy at Tottenham holding onto a seemingly unhappy Luka Modric, rejected bids rumoured to be touching £50m, at a risk of losing him for free in a years time. We also had the Carlos Tevez story where he had been sitting at home with his feet up, having his paltry £200,000 a week chalked off while he waited for the January window to open, and clubs to bid for him, only to turn around and come back, probably realising he had it a tiny bit better than he thought. It does make you wonder how long it is before a Hollywood blockbuster is made regarding the ridiculous activity that goes on.

Only £65m was spent during this window, £35m of that which was spent on the last day. Every Premier League club did some sort of business, whether it be buying, selling, or releasing players. Compare that to the staggering £225m which was spent last January, £85m of that on two of the most unprolific strikers to have graced the league.

Transfer fees like those of Torres, Carroll, etc, do make you think whether teams would've splashed that out had they been able to take a bit more time over negotiations, or perhaps whether they had been signed at all.

On top of this, you have players rotting in the reserves that could be doing jobs at other clubs, enjoying their football, but simply have to wait 2 or 3 months until they are allowed to be transferred, but due to their lack of action, they may not even have a chance to leave at all.

The main benefiters of this window are undoubtedly the media, who get to send men to every corner of the country, peering into cars looking for a sign of any player who may be arriving at said ground, and of course the numerous hilarious rumours that fly around, with Carlos Tevez supposedly being seen at Sunderland at 4pm, and Norwich by 5 past 4. Add that to a big ticking clock in the corner of your screen, a few die hard fans dancing around a presenter, and a couple of "swoosh" noises every hour, and I guess you have an entertaining day of TV.

It is hard to find many other positives with the current transfer system, other than teams do have a chance to keep their star players away from prying teams for a longer period of time, but even then, do they have full focus on their team, or elsewhere?

The phrase, if it isnt broken, don't fix it should have been used by FIFA at the time, but from a personal view, I think reverting to the old system would only benefit clubs, players and fans, unless you just enjoy the fun of the deadline day antics.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Wolves - Fighting Spirit May Not Be Enough For McCarthy

Written By Brad Smith

Staying up in spectacular fashion last season, few can question the passion that both the crowd and players put into the games, and have tried to make Molineux a place that instils fear into sides.

Not much business happened in the Black Country this summer, mainly loans and free transfers out, with two big names coming in, the centre back Roger Johnson from relegated neighbours Birmingham, and the creative Jamie O’Hara from Tottenham.

On to the season, and 7 points from the first 3 games left them with the big guns near the top of the table, after wins against Fulham and Blackburn, whilst their derby against Aston Villa was a bore 0-0 draw.

They then shipped 5 goals without reply in home against against QPR and Tottenham, before they also lost their next 3 games, including a loss against their bitter rivals West Brom. After 5 straight losses, they somewhat fortunately picked up a draw at home to Swansea, with 2 late goals, after fans had be vigorously booing their team and manager, Mick McCarthy.

A loss to Man City was far from surprising, but Wolves briefly got their campaign back on track with a 3-1 victory over relegation rivals Wigan. They were then left flattened after a late penalty sunk them at Everton, whilst Chelsea comfortably beat them at The Bridge.

Again, the Molineux faithful were baying for blood, especially when the Sunderland came and were seemingly coasting to victory, before a Steven Fletcher double sent the orange-bathed stadium into raptures. They didn’t help themselves though, and after 2 losses, they drew 3 on the trot, before being cruelly beaten by Chelsea last time out, despite looking great value for the draw.

Mick McCarthy is his usual calm self, and in previous seasons, their passion has rolled them across the line, but in a very competitive league again this season, you have to wonder whether that alone with be enough, and whether anyone else can help Steven Fletcher with his goals tally.

Best Player So Far - Steven Fletcher. A decent goals return, and all of his goals seem to have rescued points for the Wolves this season. His spirit optimises what is needed at this level.

Biggest Flop So Far - Roger Johnson. Highly rated at Birmingham, and thrown in as captain, cannot fault his work-rate, but with the 4th worst defensive record in the league, you would have expected him to be controlling the back 4 more impressively than he has been.

Predicted Finish. 19th.