Tag Archives: weekend-musing

Weekend musing – Champion’s League final and Arsenal appoint new manager

The weekend musing is back after a bit of a break.

This week Chris looks at the Champion’s League final and Arsenal’s appointment to replace Arsene Wenger.

I did not watch the Champions League final last week, but I did see the highlights and low lights! For the record, Real Madrid won its 13th European Championship establishing the Club as one of the greatest of all time. Winning however, didn’t stop Real’s manager, Zinedine Zidane from leaving for greener pastures.

The Gareth Bale scissor kick was an absolute cracker, but the two howlers from the Liverpool keeper, Loris Karius, were a modern tragedy. No one means to make those sorts of mistakes, but I have not seen anything like that first goal when his throw was intercepted – not even when my boys were playing under age matches, let alone at the pinnacle of world club soccer. I agree with Jurgen Klopp that the second goal he conceded was as a result of the first one. I must say I feel sorry for the keeper as it doesn’t matter how many games he wins and how many trophies he collects, from now on he will always be known for those howlers in the final.

Good to see the new Arsenal manager named last week in Unai Emery. I was not across all the names mentioned as likely candidates for the job but I am sure the former Paris Saint Germain manager was only mentioned very late in the search. His record is good and fingers crossed he invests a bit more time in the transfer market and stiffening up the defence for next year.

Have a great weekend!!

Weekend musing – Cricket, South African tour, Football, Robbie Gray, Racing, Winx….

The much anticipated test series in South Africa started overnight and all the Australian batsman bar Cameron Bancroft got a start and did not go on to get a century. I have always said that 350 runs in the first innings of a test match is par and at the time of writing the Aussies need another 125 runs with 5 wickets in hand. Our bowlers can bat a bit so hopefully one of Mitch Marsh or Tim Paine go on to make a ton and this would place Australia in a good position to win the test match. Cameron Bancroft must be one of the luckiest players in world cricket at the moment, he has had nine innings at the top of the order and if you take out his 82 not out in the second innings of the first Ashes test he is averaging less than 13 runs. Peter Hanscombe had three failures at the start of the Ashes with one of those innings being a 32 in difficult conditions in Adelaide and he lost his place in the team with an average of 47. He must wonder why someone who hasn’t proved themselves gets more chances than he got. I certainly do!

Earlier this week Robbie Gray from Port Adelaide chose to challenge a suspension for a head high hit on Jeremy McGovern. The AFL has changed the process this year and Michael Christian is the sole arbiter on penalties so in my opinion the tribunal was never going to overturn the first challenge to one of his decisions. To my mind this was a complete waste of $10,000 by Port Adelaide.

Winx, the biggest name in Australian horse racing, makes her return to the track this weekend and again it is hard to see her getting beaten. The only real chance could be the VRC Derby winner Prized Icon who may have an edge in fitness.

Have a great weekend!!

Weekend musing – cricket, the Ashes, a ‘lifeless’ pitch…..

The MCG curator must have felt sorry for the English cricket team with the pitch he turned out that was more in keeping with slower English conditions. As I expected, the match ended in a draw with the Aussies retaining a 3-0 lead in this Ashes series.

Since stumps were called yesterday, I have read and listened with interest to the pundits advocating long and loud for a ‘better’ pitch at the MCG. Those making the call include Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, Cricket Victoria CEO Tony Dodemaide and MCC CEO Stuart Fox. A comment was even provided by the Australian captain Steve Smith. Apparently, the pitch was ‘lifeless’ and needed to provide ‘more variation’. Smith’s observations appear a bit disingenuous given he and his team were batting to save the match and prevent an unlikely England win. I am sure he and the other Australian batsmen were pleased that the ball was bouncing straight and true on day five of the match.

Correct me if I am wrong, but test match cricket has three possible results….a win, loss or draw and, unlike in most other sporting contests, the ‘dead rubber’ matches are still played. While limited over matches have their place in the lexicon of cricket, they should not be used as a yard stick to judge test cricket. They are different games with different expectations. In my opinion, the commentators have been blinded by the hit and giggle of the short form of the game and seem to want all cricket played the same way, finishing with a win or loss.

Having been raised watching five day test matches, I find the battle of wits and skill over the extended period to be a true ‘test’ of ability. It is clearly still a popular form of the game as more than 88,000 flocked to the first day of the MCG test, even though the series had already been decided in Perth the week before. I did read with interest pitch critics saying the pitch was to blame for the fall off in attendance after day one. I think those writers conveniently overlooked the fact that Boxing day was a holiday but many people needed to return to work the next day.

Have a great New Year!

Weekend musing – The Ashes, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine…..

I didn’t see a 3-0 start to this Ashes series on the cards but after watching the first three test matches, it appears Australia’s bowling
is a cut above the English and the Aussie batsmen seem to have been able to make runs at important times in each match. With the Ashes firmly in our grasp, all the carping at the selector’s decisions prior to the first test seem like so much hot air now. Just stuff to fill tabloids and the internet. I think we over analyse things at times.

Before the Perth test I didn’t think Peter Handscomb deserved to get dropped and when Mitch Marsh bowled only nine overs without taking a wicket I thought the selectors had pulled the wrong rein. How wrong was I? Marsh came out and made 181 and his partnership with Steve Smith probably won the test match for Australia. Perplexingly, at the start of the English second innings he only bowled three overs and that was it for him for the match. I thought he was brought in by the selectors to support the bowlers but he only bowled a total of twelve overs across two innings. I am perplexed, but on his batting alone, it is hard to say the selectors got it wrong.

I was a supporter of Tim Paine from the start of the series and now people are starting to sing his praises. As I mentioned at the time he
was always considered to be the heir apparent to Brad Haddin, but finger injuries cruelled his chances and now he is getting his opportunity and taking it with both hands, literally!

The Melbourne test is now a dead rubber, but day one is sold out and last time the English were here it was also a dead rubber with over 90,000 people attending that game. Seemes everyone loves a winner.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year and we will muse again in the New Year!

Weekend musing – World Cup qualification, Socceroos, Elyse Perry, the Ashes, Shaun Marsh….

It was great to watch the Socceroos qualify on Wednesday for the World Cup in Russia. I didn’t think they played that well, but deserved the win and deserved the free kick and penalties which resulted in the goals. It is hard to fathom how the Honduras captain could come out and suggest the referee was on the take! While I didn’t think the Australians played to their potential, the Hondurans were very ordinary. Australia’s big problem is the best finisher in the side is Tim Cahill and he is now 38 years old. Cahill himself wants more game time for Melbourne City to hone his skills for the World Cup, but at 38 he doesn’t get to as many contests as he may have in his prime. His finishing against Syria won the game for Australia, but his contribution between goals was negligible. This is a delicate balance because they need him in and around the team. I do not envy the task of Melbourne City manager, Warren Joyce.

Also great to see Elyse Perry get a 200 for the Australian women’s cricket team. She is a genuine all-rounder in all forms of the game and a match winner. I doubt Australia has produced a better all-rounder in men’s or women’s cricket. Not only that, she has also represented Australia in women’s soccer. What a player!!

Speaking of cricket the men’s squad for the first test was announced today with a few surprises. Shaun Marsh being re-called for an 8th time was a big shock, but Cameron Bancroft almost picked himself with his recent record. Also out of left field was the selection of Tim Paine as the keeper. Before he started breaking fingers he was the heir apparent to Brad Hadin, but Paine isn’t even the first choice wicket keeper for Tasmania so what do the Australian selectors know that the Tasmanians don’t? While it was out of left field I support the move because he is a very good keeper and a very accomplished batsman. Marsh effectively taking Glenn Maxwell’s spot is the real bolt from the blue. Maxwells’ shield form has not been that bad with a couple of 50’s and a 45 not out in the most recent game so his form had been okay compared to Matt Renshaw. I have questioned the selectors before and most of the time they seem to get it right, but Marsh has more often than not been a disappointment when selected for Australia so I can’t agree with them there.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Cox Plate, Damian Oliver, Nathan Broad, Dad’s Army…..

I watched the Cox Plate last weekend and saw the overhead footage of Damien Oliver’s ride on Happy Clapper and was not surprised he was handed a twenty meeting suspension from the stewards. He effectively cost Royal Symphony any chance in the race and in turn put that horse out of yesterday’s Victoria Derby where he would have been close to favourite. The trainer of Royal Symphony, Tony McEvoy was rightly upset after the race and you wonder if he and/or his owners could take civil action against Oliver in the circumstances. One wonders what Oliver was thinking. It is one thing to have a win at all costs attitude but not when the safety of other horses and riders is concerned.

Nathan Broad was revealed as the post Grand Final photographer during the week and he received a three game suspension from the Richmond Football Club. There has been some debate about the penalty and whether it was appropriate. I must say that given the profile of the case, Broad’s behaviour and the potential for police charges it seemed light. I heard a female caller to a radio station after the penalty was announced suggesting he should have also been asked to do some volunteer work in something like a women’s refuge or undergo some sort of training course as well. I thought it was a great idea on top of the three game suspension.

At a time when list managers are intent on injecting youth into AFL sides, Port Adelaide is heading in the opposite direction in their recruiting of Demon pair Jack Watts and Jack Trengove, Steven Motlop, Tom Rockliff and Trent McKenzie. Watts (26), Trengove (26), Rockliff (27), Motlop (26) and McKenzie (25) are in the veteran class and if rumors are correct and they are to be joined by recently de-listed Kangaroo, Lindsay Thomas (29), the Power have clearly thrown any youth policy out the window and adopted a ‘win now’ attitude. That’s all good and well providing it comes off. If not, it places a great percentage of the list in the Dad’s Army category!

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Cox Plate, Winx, Kingston Town…….

We are now right in the middle of the Spring Carnival and Winx is lining up this weekend to equal Kingston Town’s Cox Plate record of three in a row. It is remarkable that the best sprinter (Black Caviar), middle distance runner (Winx) and stayer (Makybe Diva) of the current generation are all mares.

Perhaps this indicates that the weight for age scale is out of date and with current feeding and training techniques, there is little difference between male and female racehorses. One thing that is clear is the fields that Kingston Town competed against were superior to this year’s Cox Plate which would appear to be a Winx benefit.

The last horse to try and emulate Kingston Town was Sunline and she came up against a pretty good horse in Northerly. So You Think also won two in a row, but was taken off Bart Cummings and given to Aidan O’Brien, so he never got a chance to equal or break the record.

There is nothing close to Northerly, Sunline, So You Think or Kingston Town in today’s race.

For the record, Winx in a canter.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – the Brownlow medal, Grand Finals in AFL & NRL……

I was pleasantly surprised to listen to Dustin Martin at his Brownlow presentation on Monday night. He came over a lot better than I had envisioned and he seemed like a reasonable bloke who loves his footy. Bruce McAvaney was a little sickening, but he did a good job getting Martin to talk so it worked.

With 36 votes Martin scored exactly the same amount as the entire All Australian back line of Rory Laird (9) votes, Alex Rance (8), Michael Hibberd (7), Sam Docherty (5), Michael Hurley (4) and Jeremy McGovern (3). While I am not suggesting that Martin did not deserve his votes, it is a little hard to accept that these six champion players could only amass 36 votes between them as most of them are big ball winners as well. The forward line did significantly better with a total of 75 votes, but the forward line included Dane Zorko (14) and Robbie Gray (12) who are essentially mid-fielders and Lance Franklin (22) who seems to capture the umpires eye. With five votes it did endorse my view that Eddie Betts was lucky to make the team.

It was also interesting to see that nine of the 18 clubs had two players that secured half or more of their teams votes and at Richmond, Martin almost did that himself with 36 votes out of a team total of 80. As much as it is great to have a Brownlow medalist from your team, from a team perspective it is better to have a spread of vote getters. The two top teams were Adelaide and Sydney who both had 88 votes, but the contrast was that Adelaide’s top four Sloane, M.Crouch, Jacobs & Atkins contributed 51 votes and Sydney’s top four of Kennedy, Franklin, Parker & Hannebery contributed 67 votes with Hannebery only contributing 6 votes. I think the upshot from this was Adelaide had more to handle in trying to control Martin it will than Richmond had trying to control Rory Sloane…and that is how it turned out yesterday. One thing that the Brownlow coverage brought home was how disappointing it is that Jobe Watson is no longer a Brownlow medalist. To see Cotchin & Mitchell lauded as medalists was disappointing whereas I had not thought about it much beforehand.

The Grand Final was a reasonable game and even though I thought Adelaide were the better side going into the game, the Grand Final was played on Richmond’s home ground which, in my view evened out the contest. Richmond were worthy premiers and it says something for a Club that decided to hold fast in the face of great criticism of their 2016 performance. If the Tigers had buckled at the end of last season and sacked Damian Hardwick, I doubt they would have climbed to the heights of premiership glory.

The Melbourne Storm are my fancies in the NRL decider today. They
have had a great season led by Dally M medallist Cameron Smith. North Queensland Cowboys have had a remarkable run to the Grand Final but I believe they will fall short especially as they are without their champion play maker Jonathan Thurston.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing – Drew Morphett, Nathan Buckley, All Australian team, Chris Scott, Ange Postecoglou

One of things I want to discuss is the tragic passing of Drew Morphett. Drew was one of those classic ABC commentators who was comfortable commentating on anything from football to athletics to tiddlywinks. He was always interested in presenting the picture to the audience and not pumping up his own tyres. In a pretty cut-throat industry I think he was universally liked by his peers. He will be missed.

I was also pleased that Nathan Buckley was reappointed as Collingwood coach for another two years as this will consign Collingwood to another two years out of the finals. It has to be good for the competition.

It was interesting to see that three of the banned Essendon players made the All Australian team with Hurley the only player to have made the team previously. Unfortunately for Essendon, Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide) and Michael Hibberd (Melbourne) no longer play for the club. What it does show is that a year out of the game is not fatal for a player in his 20’s, but perhaps once you get to thirty it is not a positive experience.

Chris Scott took Geelong into another finals series last night and his fellow coaches recently voted him as the hardest coach to coach against. He certainly has had a lot of success since taking over from Bomber Thompson, however, his finals record needs some scrutiny. Since the 2011 finals series where Geelong won three games, including the premiership, but with the loss to Richmond, he has now contested a further nine finals for only two wins and one of those wins was over Hawthorn last year when Isaac Smith had a shot after the siren that could have taken the game away from Geelong. I think a few questions need to be posed as to Scott’s finals coaching record.

Speaking of coaches I cannot believe that Ange Postecoglou has come under so much pressure recently. He got the Socceroos an Asian Cup and in the current qualifiers the Socceroos have only lost one game. They do have an issue with scoring, but I put that down to personnel, not system. His system creates scoring chances, but we don’t seem to have the quality of strikers to put the goals away and this was no more evident that the recent game against Thailand. I think Tommy Juric is a good developing striker in the Mark Viduka mould, but we need a Harry Kewell or Tim Cahill at his best to compliment Juric. This is not Postecoglou’s fault, he has tried to develop players, but Australia just does not have genuine strikers playing at the highest level. Let the World Cup campaign pan out and reassess at the end.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend musing covers the AFL’s final round and the Dustin Martin saga

This weeks final round of football is an absolute cracker with every game having some influence on the final standings. In the Herald Sun they have equated this round to the final round of 1987 where several games impacted the make up of the finals. As an Essendon supporter I am happy that my team has control of its own destiny. The Bombers should account for Fremantle at home, but having seen my side cough up a 27 point lead against Brisbane at home you never can be sure. It also may be Jobe Watson’s last game in the red and black. He certianly got the most out of himself and it still riles me that he returned his Brownlow medal.

The Dustin Martin saga seems to be dragging on and it seems more likely that he will leave the Tigers. I know he is an important player and this year’s likely Brownlow medalist, however, if the reported offer from North Melbourne is $1.5m a year for 7 years the Tigers should not attempt to match it as it would jeopardise future contracts and their payment structure. I do not think he is worth anything like that sort of money as he doesn’t provide any sort of marketing clout save for his position as a star player. I also do not think that most Richmond supporters would want their club to go too far to keep him. Martin needs the money and I have no doubt he will go to the highest bidder. He is not a media performer and he is not coaching material, so he has to make hay while he is playing. If North Melbourne do get him there is no guarantee that he will be the panacea for their woes in any case. Paying a player that amount of money will no doubt cause a ripple affect amongst the other players as Tom Boyd’s contract apparently did at the Bulldogs. This guy is no Paddy Dangerfield.

Have a great weekend!