Archive for September, 2008

September 30 – Taylor Toils

WHEN Peter Tayor spent the end of last season watching his Stevenage side’s Conference title challenge dropping off, was he wondering where it had all gone wrong? After all, this is the man that managed England – albeit for one game – and was the first to give David Beckham the captain’s armband.

Today in 2001 Taylor’s managerial career took it’s first real dive when he was sacked by Leicester City following a poor start to the season.

As a player Taylor won four England caps, despite playing for Third Division Crystal Palace and made the move into management as player-manager at non-league Dartford. He then spent a couple of seasons at Southend United, before returning to the non-leagues with Dover Athletic. After keeping the Whites up in 1996 he was Glenn Hoddle’s surprising pick as England under-21 manager.

After picking up 11 wins during his 15 games in charge, Taylor’s reputation quickly grew, before he was controversially ousted in favour of Howard Wilkinson. His next club job was at Gillingham, where he guided the Gills to victory in the Division Two play-off final, leading them to uncharted territory.

The Premier League came-a-calling next, as Taylor took charge of Leicester City following Martin O’Neill’s departure. A successful start saw Leicester at the top of the pile for two weeks in October 2000, before they tumbled down the table to finish 13th, losing nine of their last ten games and also falling prey to Wycombe’s giantkilling act in the FA Cup quarter-finals.

This all came despite Taylor being given a decent go with the chequebook, spending £23m on transfers, including the disastrous £5.5m punt on Ade Akinbiyi, who was described at the time by The Sun as “The League’s Worst Striker.”

It was during this time that England, following the departure of Kevin Keegan (whatever happened to him?), gave Taylor the reigns for their friendly away to Italy. Picking a young squad, Taylor gave Beckham the armband for the first time, as the Three Lions lost 1-0.

Meanwhile, back in the midlands frustrations started to come to a head and after a slow start to the 2001/02 season and Taylor was given the boot, with Garry Parker and Dave Bassett manning the ship for the rest of the season as the Foxes were relegated.

Administration followed, but despite this Micky Adams took the side up as Leicester got their loophole on, clearing their debts and also finding themselves in a nice shiny (but soulless) new stadium. It was this that made the Football League pull their finger out and introduce the points deduction penalty for going into administration.

Taylor meanwhile has since put in stints at Brighton, Hull, Palace and spent last season back in non-league football with Stevenage. His most notable achievement during this period has been his obsession with midfielder Junior Lewis, who he has signed for six of his clubs (Dover, Gillingham, Leicester, Brighton, Hull and Stevenage, as you asked). He the Boro quit at the end of the season to concentrate on getting a job in the league, taking the hot seat at Wycombe Wanderers. His first move? Signing Junior Lewis as first team coach.

We’ll leave you with an excellent tribute to Taylor’s most expensive signing and biggest failure below. See what else was going on today here and if you can’t wait until tomorrow’s daily does of footy history, then check out the OTFD book, available here.

September 29 – Spurs Throw it Away

AS we see to be picking on Newcastle United quite a lot recently (but, hey, can you blame us?), we thought it was time to look at the Premiership’s other ‘crisis club’ – Tottenham.

Today in 2001 Spurs managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory when they threw a 3-0 half-time lead when they hosted Manchester United at White Hart Lane.

With Glenn Hoddle in charge Spurs fans began the season with the usual ‘this is our year’ rhetoric, and when goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Zeige put Spurs 3-0 up at the interval a famous win over the Champions was in their sights as the United player trudged of the pitch, fearing the worst.

We can only speculate as to what was said in the United dressing room, but it probably isn’t something we should be repeating on here as Fegie no doubt used the hairdryer treatment.

Andy Cole pulled one back for United in the first minute of the second half and just before the hour mark Laurent Blanc headed home to make it 3-2. Ruud van Nistelrooy bagged the equaliser with 20 minutes left and it was obvious that a rampant United side weren’t going to settle for the draw.

Veron put United ahead for the first time and Beckham would make it five with a long-range effort to complete a famous victory. When a shell-shocked Hoddle was asked what went wrong, he merely answered “half-time.” Glenda had obviously been paying for some sins that year, as in six months earlier, when he was at Southampton, he had seen his charges throw away a 3-0 half-time lead to Tranmere in the FA Cup, losing 4-3.

A relieved Sir Alex said: “Remarkable, absolutely remarkable. It might not have been too good for the blood pressure but I’ll be able to look back on that day and remember it vividly for the rest of my life. Not many managers could say that.”

When asked if the famous hairdryer came out at the interval, Fergie kept his cards close to his chest: “I’m not saying exactly what I said to the players at half-time, but the essence of it was to stop feeling sorry for themselves. These are the best players in the country and they should play like that.”

See the action of United’s magnificent comeback below and see what else was happening in the world of football today here.

September 28 – Rooney’s Reds Debut

BEFORE the unexpected result away to Croatia earlier this month, the last time England really produced any exciting matches was way back in Euro 2004. The main reason for the Three Lions swagger in Portugal in that tournament was largely down to Wayne Rooney.

Young Wayne was just 18 at the time and played without fear, scoring four times as England reached the quarter-finals, before he limped out of the game, England’s chances of winning the tournament going with him. England, of course, went on to loose the match on penalties to the hosts Portugal.

Suddenly he was the hottest property in European football and Sir Alex Ferguson decided to whip out his cheque book and make Rooney his latest big-money signing, with Everton receiving £27m for their starlet.

The injury he picked up in England’s match against the Portuguese meant Wayne missed the start of the season and it was on this day in 2004 that he made his much-anticipated United debut.

After his match-winning exploits in an early Everton appearance, and his headline grabbing performances in an England shirt, much was expected of the young scouser.

He did not disappoint. United were taking on Fenerbahce in a Champions League match at Old Trafford. It was an old United face that opened the scoring when Ryan Giggs headed in their first from a cross from forgotten Brazilian Kleberson.

Then Rooney got started. He first scored from the edge of the area after receiving a pass from Ruud van Nistelrooy, and he followed this up by hammering an unstoppable shot into the right hand corner.

Marcio Nobre pulled one back for the visitors from a corner before Rooney completed his hat-trick with a curling free kick that beat Rustu Recber.

It was his first hat-trick in senior football and the Old Trafford crowd were already drooling over their new hero. Sanli Tuncay scored another for the Turkish side but van Nistelrooy and David Bellion completed the scoring to end the match 6-2.

His dream debut had Ferguson purring: “It is a great start for him. That’s why we signed him as he’s got great potential. I think he can only get stronger.”

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand said: “Wayne’s debut was fantastic. To get a hat-trick is unbelievable, fairytale stuff. I do not think he knows what pressure is.”

Even George Best was convinced. He said: “You look at that performance and you have to say that’s as good as anything you’ve ever seen. He’s got everything going for him, he’s looking the complete player at 18 years of age. You go through all the greats at Manchester United and you’ve certainly got to put him in there.”

Since then Wayne has won the League twice, the League Cup and the European Cup, but he has been overshadowed as United’s brightest young player by a certain Portuguese winger.

That’s a wrap for today folks but come back tomorrow if you want to banish your Monday blues for five minutes. See Wayne’s debut goals below, and have a look at what else happened on this day right here.

September 27 – To Everton the Spoils

EVERTON take on Liverpool today in the Merseyside derby in the ever-unpopular lunchtime kick off, and if history is anything to go by, which it isn’t, the portents are good for the Blues.

Until David Moyes came along and dragged Everton kicking and screaming to the upper reaches of the Premiership, life was a bit of a struggle for Toffees fans as the team battled relegation on a regular basis.

It was all a far cry from the club’s title and cup winning heydays in the mid 1980s, but in 1998 they had a new dawn, unfortunately it was a false one. Walter Smith, the fantastically successful former Glasgow Rangers manager took the reigns and rallied the team for a time.

Perhaps the highlight of his tenure occurred on this day in 1999 when his team took on Liverpool at Anfield.

Everton had started the season well and unusually went into the match above their neighbours in the Premier League. The Blues started the match as well as they had the season when Kevin Campbell put them ahead after just four minutes. Franny Jeffers passed the ball to Campbell who took one touch before burying it past Sander Westerveld.

Although the Everton fans were celebrating, they must have been thinking they may have scored too early, and would have recalled the previous season’s derby when Olivier Dacourt’s early opener was cancelled out quickly as Liverpool came back to eventually win 3-2.

This year would be different however and Everton pressed forward looking for a second goal. With just under half an hour gone the game took on a true derby-day feel when Don Hutchison escaped a booking for a bad tackle on Dietmar Hamman, before Michael Owen was yellow carded for a two-footed challenge on David Weir.

Owen was at the centre of the action again just minutes later as his tumble in area under a Michael Ball challenge did not earn a penalty kick from referee Mike Riley.

The second half nearly started as well as the first had for Everton but Jeffers was showing some of the form he would later produce for Arsenal when twice in the first two minutes of the second half he was sent through in the Liverpool half but on the first occasion he failed to look up to spot Barmby’s run and then he missed an absolute sitter in a one-on-one with Westerveld.

With 75 minutes on the clock, to use the accepted parlance, the game boiled over. Jeffers clattered into Westerveld and the Dutchman responded by grabbing the young striker around the throat. They traded blows until teammates pulled them apart and Riley then sent them both off.

Liverpool had used their three subs so Steve Staunton had to go in goal, but Everton couldn’t force him into an error, and it was Everton ‘keeper Paul Gerrard who had a few saves to make, including a shot from Jamie Redknapp.

There was just time for a young Steven Gerrard to get himself sent off for a high tackle on Campbell as the Reds finished with just nine men, and Everton held on to record a famous victory that had their fans dancing in the stands.

In the absence of any footage of Jeffers and Westerveld trading blows, we’ll leave you with a compilation of Everton’s goalscoring hero Kevin Campbell’s best moments with the club.

Last year on this day we were talking about this, and and usual we will be back tomorrow with more football history.

September 26 – Leeds Get Credit Crunched

WITH the credit crunch being talked about almost as much as the comedy going-ons at St James’ Park (and not the one in Exeter) we thought it was time to bring you the story of English football’s biggest financial meltdown of recent years.

Today in 2001 Leeds United took out a loan of £60m as the board, led by chairman Peter Ridsdale, ‘lived the dream’ in search of regular Champions League football.

When David O’Leary took over the Elland Road club in 1998 he set about building one of the most exciting young teams in the country, as his ‘babies’ reached the Uefa Cup semi-final in 2000 and qualified for the next seasons’ Champions League.

After a blockbusting run to the semi-finals of Europe’s premier competition everyone got a tad over-excited and Ridsdale decided that the way to cement their place was to mortgage the club’s future.

The £60m loan was secured against future gate receipts, so in theory when Ridsdale’s big-name players came in and won the Champions League for Leeds, the revenue would cover the payments that generated £4.62m in interest alone each year.

The early 2000s spending spree at Elland Road has gone down in legend. Given what seemed like a blank chequebook from his chairman, manager David O’Leary was like a kid in a sweet shop in those pre-Abramovich days. The English transfer record was broken to bring in Rio Ferdinand from West Ham (£18m), Robbie Keane (£12m) was bought from Internazionale to add to the growing number of strikers at the club as was a past-his-prime Robbie Fowler (£11m) and Seth Johnson (£7m) managed to con his way into receiving £38,000 a week.

Whilst fans were expecting the biggest title challenge since Danny Shittu tried to write his autobiography, things didn’t go to plan in West Yorkshire.

With a wage bill rising faster than sales of Prozac in the north east, the problems began to mount for O’Leary’s men. Two of the leading lights of his team, Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate, were involved in a lengthy court case that saw Woodgate convicted of affray, as results on the pitch suffered. O’Leary then saw fit to release a (terrible) book entitled ‘Leeds United on Trial’ which saw him lose the dressing room.

When a fourth-place finish saw the club miss out on the Champions League at the end of the 2000/01 season O’Leary was sacked and Ridsdale’s cunning plan became found out.

Rio Ferdinand was soon sold to meet the latest loan payment and Terry Venables was brought in for a torrid eight-month spell at the club before he was given the boot. It obviously did him some good though, because he’s just been sensible enough to turn down the Newcastle job.

Leeds were eventually relegated from the Premiership in 2004 and their financial problems rolled on, culminating in administration and a then-record 15-point penalty in 2007. But that, as they say, is another story for another day.

Again proving that football operates in a world as far removed from common sense as it’s possible to be, Ridsdale took over as chairman at Barnsley, almost leading them to liquidation before Gordon Shepherd and Patrick Cryne took over. He’s now chairman of Cardiff City, who, as coincidence would have it, almost went out of existence last year after a court case with Langston, one of their major creditors. Why do people let this man run football clubs? As Tears for Fears said, it’s a mad world.

In case all you Leeds fans out there are on too much of a downer, check out this highlights reel from a simpler time when Leeds played the best football around. Click here if you want to know who wasn’t respecting the ref today in 1998 and come back tomorrow for a timely look at the Merseyside derby.

September 25 – How do you solve a problem like Schmeichel?

THE only downside of having the world’s best ‘keeper in your line up is that when he goes, you’re generally screwed. When Peter Schmeichel left Manchester United in 1999 Alex Ferguson liked the cut of Italian goalie Massimo Taibi’s jib, signing him for £4.4m.

Today in 1999 he was probably beginning to realise that this was a bum move, when he made one of the biggest howlers in Premier League history in United’s 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Taibi had enjoyed spells at several top-flight Italian clubs and the 29-year-old was given the chance to stake his claim as the new United No.1 at the start of the season ahead of Mark Bosnich and Raimond van der Gouw.

United’s first game of the season saw them win 3-2 at Anfield and although Taibi make a clanger for the first goal he received the Man of the Match award, just as he would in their next game against Wimbledon.

So far so good.

Next came Southampton at Old Trafford. Six minutes into the second half Saints legend Matt Le Tissier hit a gentle, speculative effort from 25 yards out that would have been easier to save than let in. When the ball squirmed underneath the Italian and trickled through his legs into the net Fergie got the first real inkling that his new boy was not the answer to the Schmeichel problem.

With the tabloid press dubbing him ‘the Blind Venetian’, Taibi needed to get his bounce-back-abilty on for United’s next game, an away clash against Chelsea.

He didn’t.

United went down 5-0, and Taibi was never to be seen on a football pitch on these shores again after four Premiership games that saw him concede ten goals.

Showing the kind of financial nous that would make Northern Rock wince United shipped the Italian back home to Reggina on a free transfer and fumbled around for the next five seasons looking for a dependable replacement for the great Dane.

Fabien Barthez, Ricardo, Roy Carroll and Tim Howard were just some of the players that were unable to offer a prolonged solution to United’s goalkeeping woes before Edwin van der Saar was snapped up from Fulham in 2005.

With the Dutchman leaving the Premiership at the end of the season and his anointed replacement Ben Foster seemingly permanently injured, we may just get another round of musical chairs in the United goal next season.

We doubt, however, that Taibi’s gaff will ever be bettered, so have a laugh at that below. Note Taibi blaming his boot for the gaff – not your fault, eh Mass? See what else was going on today here and if you get bored waiting for tomorrow’s action then order the forthcoming OTFD book here. Until tomorrow folks…

September 24 – Arsenal Mint

THIS time last year the pesky credit crunch was beginning to take root and you couldn’t turn on the news or open a newspaper without reading about the latest aspect of our lives to be ruined by American mortgage holders and those reckless suits in the City gambling on the world’s economy like excited kids on an internet poker site.

In amongst all this misery and doom and gloom the very top end of football was immune and one club in particular were cock of the walk. Today in 2007 Arsenal announced their first set of financial results since they moved to their new stadium – and they weren’t ‘arf bad.

They revealed the club’s turnover had broken the £200m barrier, making them the richest club in Britain, ahead of arch rivals Manchester United, and hot on the heals of Real Madrid.

The Gunners had always lagged behind Manchester United in the money stakes, and had relied on Arsene Wenger’s wheeling and dealing in the past to keep pace with their richer rivals.

The key to the massive boost in their revenue was their move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium, and the £3m per match in revenue the new stadium delivered thanks to a much larger capacity and posh seats for the prawn sandwich brigade.

Their new money-bags status made the Arsenal suits confident they did not need a Russian billionaire of their own to make sure they stayed at the top of the game. Former vice-chairman and self-promotion specialist David Dein had sold his shares to Alisher Usmanov earlier in the year, convinced the club needed a rich backer.

Meanwhile, deep-pocketed Amercian Stan Kroenke threatened to make the Emirates a new cold war battle ground by hoovering up shares of his own. The directors were keen to resist all these overtures, and managing director Keith Edelman said at the time: “We are looking at a position where we don’t believe we need additional monies.

“We had £73.9m cash at the year’s end and we are telling people today we’ve got increased cash balances at this juncture.”

A statement from the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust said the group was delighted with the club’s current financial position. “These results are a testament to the success of the Emirates project. These results are the fruits of opening the new stadium on time and on budget,” the statement read.

Since then however it has emerged that the club has the biggest debt in its history (more than £300m) as they redevelop Highbury into fancy apartments, and Wenger has hinted he may still have to work his transfer market magic to bring money into club, while Kroenke has now been invited on to the board, despite initially being dismissed by club chairman Peter Hill-Wood.

Either way, in a Premier League that increasingly looks like a billionaire’s playground, the longer Arsenal can compete with the best without simply throwing vast amounts of cash at the problem the better as far as we’re concerned.

Have a look at this clip of the two old rivals of the Premiership being strangely pally with each other – a sure sign Fergie is finally cracking up – and check this out for more action from this day in football history.

September 23 – Blue Moon

WHETHER we are to believe some of the battle cries and hasty announcements coming from Manchester City’s new owners about paying a gazillion pounds for everyone from Cesc Fabregas to a job lot of Ronaldos, it seems things finally may be looking up for the Citizens who for years have had to play the part of perennial underdog to their nearest neighbours.

For years City fans have only the had the crumbs of derby wins over Man United to feed on, while the Red Devils feast at the table of trophies and titles.

Today in 1989 was one of the sweetest for the Maine Road faithful, when they well and truly stuffed their rivals in a derby match still talked about to this day.

At the time, neither club had all that much to crow about: City were newly promoted and had managed just one League win all season and had been knocked out of the League Cup by Brentford in midweek.

United meanwhile were having a bit of a crisis of their own. Fergie had been in the top job for three years but had yet to win anything, despite splashing out millions on a host of new players.

Ferguson was under big pressure to deliver that season, and a derby win over his struggling cross-town rivals would have been just the tonic to a faltering season.

The game had barely got underway when the referee had to stop play while a group of United fans were herded out of a supposedly City only enclosure, but it didn’t take long for the action on the pitch to take centre stage.

David Oldfield opened the scoring for City, before Trevor Morley and Ian Bishop added two more to make it 3-0 to City at the break.

Oldfield added another, with Andy Hinchcliffe rounding off the scoring for City, with Mark Hughes getting a spectacular consolation for United. It was rout and Reds boss Ferguson left the field to chants of “Fergie Out”.

Ferguson recalled afterwards: “By late September our form had been inconsistent and we chose the worst possible day to reach rock-bottom.

“We were slaughtered 5-1 at Maine Road in the most embarrassing defeat of my management career.

“After the game I went straight home, got into bed and put the pillow over my head.”

It did get better for Fergie though, as he picked up his first trophy as United boss later that season when they won the FA Cup.

Click here for a little round-up of the game, and check this one time to see what else happened on this day in football history.

September 22 – Comeback Kids

WE’VE already brought you the tale of QPR’s comeback in the 1967 League Cup final where the deliciously named Mark Lazarus bagged the winner and today in 1984 they were at it again, bringing back an even bigger deficient against Newcastle United in what was one of the best games ever to be played on the R’s infamous plastic pitch.

When the Toon travelled down to Loftus Road they were, for once, suffering from a bit of a crisis. They had lost their last three games and conceded ten goals in the process so manager Jack Charlton decided to play it safe by packing the midfield and leaving mullet-man Chris Waddle on his won upfront.

Somehow, Charlton’s tactic of keeping it tight paid off big-time, as Newcastle took all their chances and surged to a 4-0 half time lead thanks to Neil Macdonald opener and a 24-minute Waddle hat-trick.

Rangers manager Alan Mullery admitted to having a ‘quiet word’ at the interval and his side came put all guns blazing for the second half. Garry Bannister bagged his side’s first goal four minutes after the break, with his fellow strike partner Simon Stainrod soon netting another before John Gregory, who would later go on to manage the club, brought it back to 3-4 with quarter of an hour remaining.

Newcastle, possibly motivated more by the fuming Jackie Charlton on the touchline than anything else, scored a fifth goal with six minutes left as it looked like they had avoided an embarrassing capitulation. As if. This is Newcastle we’re talking about, after all.

Soon after Kenny Wharton’s goal, Steve Wicks scored QPR’s fourth and deep into stoppage time Gary Micklewhite surged into the area to make the final score an incredible 5-5.

Big Jack was not impressed: “Saturdays game was a total embarrassment, absolutely diabolical. I have never seen anything like it in my 32 years in the game. I went mad at the players because there were times when they were going to give me a heart attack. They just stopped playing.”

He went on to describe the clubs problems in further detail, all of which sounds terribly familiar: “There are so many things wrong at Newcastle it is incredible. People are asking me where I intend to start with the problems, but I just don’t know. It will take years to put right.” Amen brother.

Hoops’ manager Alan Mullery also sounded like a man that had been put well and truly through the mixture, saying “These kind of games are great for the fans but they give managers heart attacks. We needed a miracle in the second half and we got it.”

Someone – we’re guessing it’s not a member of the Toon Army – has put the whole game onto YouTube, so check out the final few minutes from the plastic Loftus Road pitch below. Have a look at what was happening in France today here and join us tomorrow for more footy fun and games.

September 21 – Keown Gets Ruud

“I rang my wife after the game. She’s usually very supportive, but she said: ‘I think you’ve gone and done it now…’”

Today in 2003 Mrs Martin Keown was not impressed by her husband’s behaviour during a typical blood-and-thunder game between Arsenal and Manchester United at Old Trafford.

As we’ve told you before, it’s rare for an Arsenal-United clash to go by without fighting, red cards or even food fights and this early 2003/04 season would prove to be no exception.
The match was a tense affair, with the Gunners ditching their usual classy pass-the-ball-into-the-net style of play, in favour of a more organised, solid gameplan as they put on a dogged display that frustrated their hosts.

With solid, gritty play however, usually come cards. Referee Steve Bennett showed no less than eight yellows that, with Patrick Vieira receiving his second on 80 minutes after some histrionics from Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ruud was in the thick of it that day: after an afternoon of winding up the Arsenal defence with his play-acting, he was booked in the aftermath of Vieira’s red card for squaring up with Jens Lehmann, who was proving he could stand the pressure better than his banking namesakes by keeping United at bay.

With tensions boiling over the fuse was lit on injury time, when Bennett gave United a penalty after Keown’s innocuous challenge on Diego Forlan. Despite having missed his last two spot kicks, Ruud stepped up but thwacked it against the bar. Half the Arsenal team, lead by an extremely intense Keown gathered around the Dutchman, shoving him and getting all up in his grill over the miss.

Keown would later say: “You react as you see fit every day of your life, and it’s the same on the football field… we felt cheated because we didn’t think it was a penalty.

“I’d paid a few fines to the FA on behalf of Mr Van Nistelrooy,” he added. “I don’t feel particularly comfortable among United fans even now… I don’t think I’d go to Old Trafford to watch a game.”

The game finished goalless and Arsenal would go on to complete the season undefeated as they romped to the Premier League title.

See Keown getting up close and personal to Van Nistelrooy in the frankly, very funny footage below and also see what else was going on today here. Just like the credit crunch, we won’t go away, so join us tomorrow for one of the greatest comebacks ever.