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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Archive for April 2010

One to watch

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Although this weekend could be decisive in the Premier League, the Championship has his own excitement and tension this Sunday, when Crystal Palace go away to Sheffield Wednesday.

Defeat for Crystal Palace would see them relegated from the Championship, and facing future uncertainty. The club has already been placed in administration, and found themselves at the bottom of the Championship following a points deduction. Further relegation to League One would have further financial implications for the club, who have a highly uncertain future.

The match is as equally important for Wednesday, with defeat sending them into League one similarly. Wednesday have had their own financial problems. The match is further fuelled by comments by Wednesdays chairman, Lee Strafford, who claimed that Crystal Palace deserve to go down because of their financial mismanagement, and for taking the escape route of administration.

Palace have a fantastic away record going into Sunday’s match, with just 5 losses from 22 matches. A draw would favour the club heavily, but with a hostile Wednesday crowd, it will be far from easy. If the players feel even a drop of the Wednesday’s passion, then it might push them towards defeating the Eagles and survival in the Championship for another season.


Written by Nicole Carroll

April 30, 2010 at 7:06 pm

World Cup Stickers – The Challenge

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I was reading through the SHA message boards and stumbled upon a thread about these World Cup 2010 South Africa stickers.

I had a bit of a laugh to myself, remembering days in the playground of boys saying got, got, got, need to eachother whilst pouring over eachothers sticker collections. Collecting stickers was a total boy thing to do in school, and I just couldn’t understand the attraction in it.

So, in a bid to see how doable this finishing a sticker album thing is, I thought I’d join them.

So far I’ve had the 6 free stickers that came with the album, 3 free from Morrisons, and I’ve opened ten packets of the stickers. 59 stickers with no swaps out of a potential 638 stickers.

Ooh, shiny

The challenge will be to collect all the stickers by the World Cup final. Any swapsies I get I’ll put onto a page called Sticker Swaps, and if anyone wants them, just drop me an email.

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 30, 2010 at 11:14 am

Mirror Football blog: Why Blues need to sign off by giving fans home comfort

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“It would be quite easy to write a blog this week focusing on the furore around THAT penalty in last weekend’s derby. I’m not a bitter Bluenose though, and I know that we’ll have chance to get our revenge, because we are Premier League again next season.

That is all that truly matters. We were seen as cannon fodder at the start of the season. We were the team that were going to be spanked every match, back in the Championship by Christmas if everyone else had their own way….”

Rest of the article at MirrorFootball

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

And Blues goalkeeper next season will be…

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The news of Shay Given’s injury has left some Blues fans scratching their heads about who is going to be featuring between the sticks next season. Joe Harts fantastic form at Birmingham has earned him plaudits from the media all season, and has left him with a shout for a role with England in South Africa.

All the fans were hoping we would be able to secure him for another seasons loan at St. Andrews, especially if Manchester City were looking at flashing the chequebook towards a big name goalkeeper for next season. With Givens injury, and Manchester City’s attempts to recall Joe Hart, it seems that the player is definitely in their plans, and that we’d have very little hope of seeing him in our goal again.

The defence have had a big part in our success this season, and we need someone who is going to command the area and develop a relationship with our back two pairing in Johnson and Dann (providing we don’t replace one of these in the back two at the start of next season).

Media speculation points towards the following names for next season.

David James

Unfortunately nicknamed “Calamity”, the Portsmouth player will definitely be leaving Fratton Park this season, with Portsmouth in massive financial difficulties, and James keen to keep playing for as long as possible. At 39, it would be hard to argue that James has years left in him, and would potentially fancy another Premier League club for what could potentially be his swansong season.

The player almost left Portsmouth in January to go to Stoke, and therefore the signs are good for him to move into the Midlands area. The stalling point for Blues would be the players wages, who would be significantly higher than any other player at the club. McLeish turned down deals for big name players in January because he didn’t want to rock the boat by breaking the wages structure, and this is something he could shy away from again.

Ben Foster

Manchester United’s Ben Foster should be chomping at the bit for regular Premier League football, something which he hasn’t tasted since his two loan spells at Watford. Joining the club in 2005, Foster was a key part of the squad which led Watford to a Championship playoff which they went on to win. Signing on for a second season on loan, Foster picked up the clubs player of the season award at Watford during there Premier League inaugural season. However, despite the club wanting to keep Foster on a further loan, Ferguson kept him at United from 2007 onwards.
His United career since 2007 has been blighted by injury, and although he has impressed on occasions, such as the league cup final against Tottenham where he saved during the penalty shoot out, he has also received criticism for mistakes made in the wins over Arsenal and Manchester City at the start of the 2009 Premier League campaign.

Foster has struggled to cement his place as number 2 keeper at United, and has sometimes been displaced by Kuszczak on the bench. Despite Alex Ferguson claiming that Foster is in his plans as a replacement for Van Der Sar, Foster seems to fall in and out of favour with the United elite, and definitely needs regular Premier League football to prove his worth again. After Joe Hart’s fantastic progression this season, a move to Blues would appear to be attractive to a player trying to prove his worth.

Kasper Schmeichel

An ex-Manchester City player, and quite obvious family goalkeeping connections, Kasper Schmeichel was hailed as a future star when he broke onto the footballing stage. Despite showing promise at Manchester City, Schmeichel was loaned out to various clubs, and signed for Notts County after media speculation that he was unhappy about falling down the pecking order at Manchester City, after the signing of Shay Given, and the emergence of Joe Hart.

His move to Notts County saw the player being the highest paid at the club, on around £1 million per year. His statistics are impressive however, with a 0.7 goals conceded rate, and 52% of his appearances ending in a clean sheet. Schmeichel has left Notts County, and is now available as a free agent.

With having such a famous father, and quite obvious potential, Schmeichel will be looking for a fresh start in a higher league to prove his worth. Perhaps more of a gamble than James or Foster, but a potentially cheaper long term option who can be nurtured by our goal keeping staff in the same vein as Joe Hart this season. Top Premier league sides have settled keepers who they can base their defence around, signing someone like Schmeichel on a permanent deal would allow for growth in the future, rather than having to re-plan every summer when the loan deal falls through.

Joe Hart?

The only way this could possibly happen is if Manchester City sign a world class keeper in the Summer and allow us to take the player on loan again, or whether Joe Hart hands in a transfer request that City accepts. The chances seem slim, but the player seems happy with the club and the manager, and one can only hope and dream that he’d want to stay with us. England’s number one? I think he will be. If we got the chance, we’d need to sign him, no questions asked. The fee would be paid back tenfold if he continued the form he has shown this season.

Original article posted at Joys and Sorrows

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Wages at Hull: What a load of Bull(ard)

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Those who drop out of the Premier League following relegation always have to move in an effort to lighten the books in terms of wages and personnel to be able to survive on the lower revenue in the Championship. Despite the fact that these clubs do receive parachute payments, life in the lower league is something which can be hard to adjust to, and any clubs who have financial problems before dropping into the Championship, for example Leeds United, can end up freefalling lower in the leagues.

Hull City were almost a fairytale story when they managed to gain promotion in the Premier League, and finish in a respectable position, exceeding everyones predictions of relegations. Second season syndrome has hit the club hard however, and now look at playing in the Championship next season, and will be waving goodbye to the majority of their Premier League players, and will be looking to rebuild on a budget to try and get back to the promised land.

With club debts of £35 million, and a wage bill of £40 million, Hull are understandably under pressure to trim the wage bill to avoid financial disaster, the type we’ve seen at Portsmouth this season, and where we’ve seen other clubs go out of business. Despite Hull’s problems, one player who will be clinging onto that club for dear life will be Jimmy Bullard.

The 31 year old player is on around £45,000 a week at Hull. He’s uninsured due to numerous knee problems, and would not pass a medical at another club, so the prospect of being able to get a contract at any other club, especially on the kinds of wages he is on, are slim at best. Even worse for Hull, Bullard still has another three years left on his contract.

To put it frankly, Bullards contract is ridiculous. Paying that kinds of money for a player with well known injuries, injuries so bad that he couldn’t pass a medical, seems ludicrous. The return for Hull has been minimal, and some fans may argue that it is deals like this that have lead to the downfall of Hull in the Premier League. Bullard, in turn, also looks like a greedy player, who pushed to leave Fulham in pursuit of a contract which was simply greedy and not relative to what he could give to the club. There is no way that Bullard will ever get a deal like this again, so he might not have to try too hard to stay at Hull, as there would appear to be no reason for any club to take a chance on the player if he expects those kinds of wages.

There is no doubting that Bullard is a good player, but he was never going to truly represent good value for money. Money needs to be relative in the league, and spending big on wages will not equal success

The only salvation from this story however, is the fact that Hull are so keen to sort our their debt problems, and after having their fingers burnt in the Bullard deal, know in future not to take a gamble on a player that just won’t work out. Unlike other clubs, Hull aren’t burying their heads in the sand, and seem to be making a concerted effort to dig themselves out of these financial difficulties to put them on an even keel when they challenge to come back into the Premier League.

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm

West Ham PR spin? Or a legitimate effort to strengthen the squad?

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Now that the Premier Leagues relegation sides have all but mathematically been decided, those who narrowly missed relegation, such as West Ham, are announcing their transfer plans for the close season.

One of their new owners, David Sullivan, today announced that all of the West Ham squad, bar Scott Parker, are up for sale in the summer, and they are prepared to listen to offers for the players.

Despite their lowly league position this season, the squad contains some real quality players, and the idea of players such as Carlton Cole or England defender Matthew Upson being available will prick the ears of some Premier League clubs when it comes to drawing up their summer targets list.

The idea of a summer shake up at West Ham isn’t something the fans should be looking forward to. The problem with Sullivan is that he’s full of hot air. Summer after summer at Birmingham we experienced the club talking up the signings they were going to bring in, and making derisory bids for players with ridiculous add on clauses who eventually never came to the club. After a period of around two weeks in negotations, invariably the deal would collapse, and we’d end up with a completely underwhelming player joining the club.

This morning saw a £4 million bid from West Ham being made for promoted West Brom midfielder Graham Dorrans. Although Dorrans is a good player and would be a good addition to the side, fans should be wary of these bids, which are likely to come to nothing and are a PR creation to try and show some intent from the West Ham board.

What will be vital for West Ham is to keep the core of the team, strengthen, and allow the manager to make the important squad selections. West Ham have massive cuts to make in terms of budget, and the prospect of that happening to any football club doesn’t exactly fill the fans with hope. Birmingham managed to spend very little last summer and stay up, and at the time this was under the guardianship of Gold and Sullivan. If they, with Zola, spend their money wisely whilst selling carefully, they should be able to achieve a balance which will ensure theywon’t be hovering precariously over the relegation places next season.

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

Footballers displaying REAL passion

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Lots has been said on the Blues loss yesterday, and I’m naturally disappointed. However, this picture to me, shows that some of our overpaid footballers in the Premier League do possess a bit of passion for the clubs paying their wages.

Is what Stephen Carr did particularly clever? No not really, but just summed up his feelings after a passionate game of football. Fans are forever giving players stick, and some of the songs that are sung on the terraces do make me cringe (The Tracie Andrews song comes to mind in terms of bad taste songs, and songs about foreign players are usually bad). If you give out abuse on the terraces, then you have no right to complain when the player gives a bit back on the pitch. Will Stephen Carr be fined? Yeah, and most likely pretty heavily. That gesture has just cemented him into derby folklore though, and shows that we have someone in the team who truely gives a damn.

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 26, 2010 at 8:05 am