Great Shot

White Feather Dusted! Ravanelli sacked from first managerial role

Ravanelli

Fabrizio Ravanelli Sacked as Ajaccio Head Coach After Home Defeat

Middlesbrough fans will be sad to hear that former striker Fabrizio Ravanelli has been fired as head coach of Ajaccio after a fifth straight loss left them 19th in France’s Ligue 1.

Ravanelli, who once confessed he would love to return to the Riverside as manager, revealed in his post-match press conference that he had been relieved of his duties.

Speaking after a 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Valenciennes on Saturday, Ravanelli revealed his brief stint in charge of the Ligue 1 outfit had come to an end.

“It was my last game,” he said. “The club sacked me. Unfortunately, the president has made the decision. I still want to thank him and the club and the supporters.”

The former Italy striker was appointed by the Corsicans in the summer but has overseen just one win in 12 matches, leaving Ajaccio second from bottom in the table, with Saturday’s defeat their fourth in succession.

President Alain Orsoni explained afterwards that the decision had not been taken lightly and that further developments would be announced after the weekend.

“This was not an easy decision for many reasons,” he said. “First, because I enjoyed Fabrizio as a man.”

“When things don’t work, the only solution is a change of coach. Relegation would be a catastrophe. We’re looking for a solution.”

“It hurts but that’s life,” Ravanelli, 44, told Canal Plus television.

Ravanelli, known as The White Feather due to a hereditary trait that turned his hair grey at 14, won the Champions League as a player with Juventus in 1996, and played for Middlesbrough in the Premier League between 1996 and 1997 scoring 33 times in all competitions.

Our photo shows him celebrating after opening the scoring for Boro against Aston Villa on May 3rd 1997. Boro won the match 3-2 with Fabrizio scoring twice. It was Boro’s only win in their last eight league games and sadly was not enough to save them from relegation.

 

Happy Birthday Wrighty! PLUS: ‘Arry makes a Wright balls up!

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November 3rd is the birthday of Palace and Arsenal legend (and all round top bloke) Ian Wright.

Ian will be 49 this year, so we decided to dig up a classic photo of him in his glory days to mark the occasion. Here he is in a photo taken by celebrated photographer Mark Leech about to decapitate Blackburn goalie Tim Flowers.

Wright also played for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley before hanging up his boots for a successful career in media. But it is for his achievements with Arsenal, and before that Crystal Palace, that he is best remembered.

Wright was named as Palace’s ‘Player of the Century’ in 2005. During his six full seasons at Selhurst Park Wright scored 117 times for The Eagles and helped guide them to promotion to the top flight and reach an FA Cup Final.

That led Arsenal to pay £2.5m for his services in September 1991, a club record fee at the time. Wright wasted no time in winning over the Highbury faithful, scoring a hat-trick in his league debut against Southampton.

Seven seasons of success followed during which Wright scored 185 times for The Gunners and won the Premier League, the Cup Winners Cup, the League Cup and two FA Cups.

He cemented his place in Arsenal history on 13th September 1997 when he broke Cliff Bastin’s club goalscoring record of 178 with a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers – a feat that was surpassed in 2005 by Thierry Henry.

Carl Who..?

But it all could have been so different…

Wright was a late starter into professional football, eventually signing for Palace just shy of 22 after impressing in a trial in 1985. Months before that Wright happened to spot Harry Redknapp, then manager of Bournemouth, on a spying mission at a non-league game.

Harry takes up the story;

‘I remember one Bank Holiday Monday me and my wife, Sandra, fancied a day out together. So I told her I was going to Nuneaton to watch a centre forward called Carl Richards, a big, handsome boy who looked like Carl Lewis – and ran like him. I called him over after the game. He had never heard of me, but I told him I would sign him, offered him £220-a-week and then went to see his manager to do the deal with Enfield.

‘While I was waiting, Carl’s mate came up to me and said, “Don’t sign him, sign me. I’m a much better player”. I signed Carl, ignored the other bloke.

His mate was Ian Wright… ‘

Opps…

by Karl Hofer

 

Blues are World Wide thanks to Webb How Chelsea Owe it All To Dave Webb

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Here’s a tremendous shot of Chelsea defender Dave Webb, back when proper footballers were seriously hairy creatures, seen here in preseason training in Mitcham, South London, before the 1970-71 season.

Webb initially failed to make the grade with West Ham but went on to play professionally for over two decades, turning out for Leyton Orient, Southampton, Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, Leicester City, Derby County, A.F.C. Bournemouth and Torquay United.

But it is for his six years at Chelsea that Webb is best known, particularly for his role in landing Chelsea their first ever FA Cup success in 1970. Having been given a torrid time at Wembley by Leeds winger Eddie Gray, manager Dave Sexton moved Webb to centre-half for the replay, meaning Gray would instead enjoy the company of Ron Harris at Old Trafford.

The move worked wonders and Chelsea played much better in the replay, with Webb emerging as the unlikely hero, heading in Ian Hutchinson’s long throw in extra time to win the cup and cement his place in Chelsea folklore.

A change of positions was nothing new for Webb who during his time with The Blues played every number from 1-12 (back when numbers indicated positions) apart from 11. That included a few games at up front – from where he hit a hat-trick against Ipswich Town in December 1968 – and even a full game in goal three years later (also against Ipswich) in which he remarkably kept a clean sheet.

What a lot of people forget is that Webb also managed Chelsea. It was twenty years ago in fact when Webb received the call from Ken Bates to take over from Ian Porterfield, who had been relieved of his managerial duties with Chelsea in free-fall and under threat of relegation without a win in two months.

Under Webb Chelsea found some consistency and strung some good results together to finish in a comfortable 11th place at the end of the season. Chelsea fans were keen for one of their greatest heroes to get the job full time, but ‘Cuddly Ken’ had other ideas…

Risking the wrath of the Chelsea support (not for the first time) Ken appointed Glenn Hoddle, the Spurs legend, as Chelsea’s player-manager for the following season.

It was that brave appointment that transformed Chelsea, certainly in the eyes of the movers and shakers in European football, with Ruud Gullit signing for Hoddle’s Chelsea revolution in 1995. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Would Chelsea have become such an attractive investment opportunity for Roman Abramovich 10 years later if Bates had bowed to supporter opinion and given Webb the job full-time back in 1993..? It seems unlikely…

Of course you can also argue that Chelsea would not have been able to attract Hoddle to the managers job had Webb not saved them from relegation in the first place. So perhaps Chelsea are now World Wide thanks to Webb.

 

by Karl Hofer

Sir Alf – England’s General

 

Sport. Football. pic: September 1948. Southampton right back Alf Ramsey.

It’s international week and once again England have some make-or-break games to negotiate. So this time we’ve gone with a photo of a man who all England fans owe a debt of gratitude to.

When we think of Sir Alf Ramsey we immediately think of him as the man behind England’s lone international success on the football pitch.

But his legacy stretches back a lot further than that, indeed all the clues were evident in his playing career that this was a man who was very capable of masterminding success from the dugout.

Unlike most images you see of him, our photo of Sir Alf is from his playing days, this one is from 65 years ago when he was at Southampton. Ramsey signed professional forms with The Saints in 1944 and stayed until 1949 before he moved on to Tottenham for £21,000 – a record for a full-back in those days.

At White Hart Lane he established himself as a quality defender who compensated for a lack of genuine pace with excellent positional sense. Ramsey helped the north London club to a Second Division and a First Division title in successive seasons.

Unlike many other players, Ramsey was a keen student of the game and of tactics. His natural leadership (captain of both England and Tottenham) and his influence on the field earned him the nickname of “The General” and he orchestrated Tottenham’s free-kicks in an age where set plays were neither commonplace or considered offensive opportunities.

As with everything, there were lows along with the highs. His regular use of the back-pass to disrupt attacks got him into trouble when, in the FA Cup semi-final of 1951, his stray pass set up Blackpool for a goal that denied Tottenham the opportunity of an early crack at the “Double”.

He also won 32 England caps and was a member of the side that played three games in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, most famously the 0-1 defeat by the USA, then the most surprising defeat in the whole of football. His England playing career ended on something of a sour note, with his last game being the 3-6 defeat at the hands of a Hungary side featuring Ferenc Puskas at Wembley in 1953.  It was England’s first defeat at the national stadium by a foreign side and there were lasting shockwaves, Ramsey found he was a casualty of those despite scoring one of his country’s goals in that match.  That match had a lasting effect on Ramsey and he was not to forget the movement and passing the “Magnificent Magyars” demonstrated that day.

Champions

After hanging his boots up he began his managerial career with Ipswich Town in 1955. The Tractor Boys were in the third tier and Ramsey used it as a development ground for his style of playing to dramatic effect. In 1961 Ipswich were promoted to the top flight as Champions of division two and Ramsey’s side wasted no time taking the division by storm and winning the Championship at the first attempt, repeating what he had done as a player at Spurs.

Before that season had begun Ipswich had been tipped by all and sundry to be relegated, making their triumph one of the greatest achievements in top flight history.

The way Ramsey lined his side up with a player “in the hole” behind the strikers and with no real wingers was a blueprint for what the Press would christen his “wingless wonders” of 1966.

The FA appointed Ramsey as England manager in 1962. His claim that “England will win the World Cup” under his stewardship seemed like nothing more than misguided bullishness after they were swept aside 5-2 by France in his first competitive game. However, over the following years, Ramsey confidently went about building a team that would fulfill his prophecy.

Ramsey was a firm but fair manager and a master tactician. He also liked to keep his players on their toes, with one player bidding farewell with a “See you next time, Alf” – only to get the response “Will you..?” from the England boss. Ramsey made sure that no player was confident of a place in the final 22 for the World Cup, which resulted in players performing at their highest level. His decision to appoint a young Bobby Moore as captain also showed Ramsey’s ability to see great potential in young players.

Sir Bobby Robson called Sir Alf “the greatest British football manager ever” and, despite the fact that the two men were never close friends, showed his respect for Ramsey by paying for his medical care towards the end of his life.

 

by Karl Hofer

Broadbent: The Player George Best Wanted To Be…

Everyone at the BOBBY offices was sad to hear of the passing of Wolves legend Peter Broadbent on Tuesday.

Broadbent joined Wolves for £10,000 in February of 1951. He became an integral part of a great Wolves team, winning the league three times between 1954 and 1959 as well as the FA Cup of 1960.

He is also the scorer of the club’s first ever goal in European competition, netting against Schalke in the European Cup in 1958.

In our photo from August 1960 he is jumping for the ball along with Bonetti and Bradbury of Chelsea.

Broadbent made his England debut at the 1958 World Cup against the USSR, going on to represent his country seven times and scoring twice against Wales.

At a time when internationals were played on Saturdays at the same time as League fixtures, clubs had a big say in England selection policy and there was an unofficial limit on the number of players selected from one club. Wolves were already well represented; with Billy Wright, Ron Flowers, Bill Slater and Denis Wilshaw from the club regularly in the mix for places.

It’s generally felt that this is one of the reasons why the more orthodox Johnny Haynes from the less successful Fulham was often selected instead of Broadbent.

Seven caps is criminal amount for such a gifted player; A player who George Best admired above all others when he was growing up.

Peter’s wife Shirley recalls “I remember we once bumped into George Best in Majorca. And he was just thrilled to see Peter! Like a schoolboy meeting his hero. George had supported Wolves as a boy and Peter was one of his favourite players.”

“Peter was very laid back and relaxed, but George was so excited…”

Another true legend of the game, the late great John Charles, was once asked who the finest English footballer was. “That’s easy,” the big man replied, “it’s Peter Broadbent.”

The midfielder remained with Wolves until 1965, making 497 appearances in total and scoring 145 goals.

He finally left Molineux in January 1965 to join Shrewsbury for a short period, before moving to Aston Villa where he played for three years. After a season with Stockport County, he ended his playing career with non-league Bromsgrove Rovers in 1971 before running a babywear business in Halesowen.

Peter died peacefully at Beech House nursing home at Himley early on Tuesday morning, he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for many years.

 

Trapattoni – The Football of Prose, Not Poetry

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by Karl Hofer.

Earlier this month Giovanni Trapattoni parted company with the FAI after a disappointing pair of results meant qualification to next summers World Cup was no more than a pipe dream.

At the age of 74 perhaps now football has said goodbye to a true giant of the game.

But let’s not allow the last tenure of Trapattoni to cloud our memories of the man and his many, many achievements.

As a player he won everything with the great Milan team of the 60’s and was one of the finest man-markers to have played the game. In his time he took care of the biggest names around, man-marking no-less than the likes of Pele, Johan Cruyff and Eusebio out of games.

He was known and respected for diligently carrying out tactical plans. Here he is pictured listening intently to one of his chief influences, Gipo Viani, in 1961. Viani  is regarded as one of the founders of the catenaccio style – where the result is everything – as was the great Nereo Rocco who later managed Trapattoni to further glory.

That philosophy was close to Trapattoni’s heart and was a key element in his astounding success as a manager. He has won league titles in four different countries (Italy, Germany, Portugal and Austria), a feat only matched by Ernst Happel and Jose Mourinho.

Back in 1976 the Juventus president Giampiero Boniperti spotted Trapattoni’s potential as a young manager and appointed at the helm of the Turin giants. Boniperti certainly knew what he was doing as Trapattoni oversaw a golden era in the bianconeri’s history.

Juventus claimed six Scudetti in the decade between 1976 and 1986, and won all four UEFA club competitions. No one else has ever achieved that at the same club.

He won his seventh Scudetto as manager of Inter in 1989 (no one, incidentally, has led teams to more) and in doing so Inter set a record points total. I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention that this was when Serie A was only an 18-team league and it was two points for a win.

It’s fair to say Trapattoni had a conservative approach to football matters. “The players are free to do what I say” would be one of his many sayings. Trapattoni’s style and rigid tactics didn’t endear him to the Irish fans, but was his time in charge of The Republic really a failure..?

Don’t forget he was a Thierry Henry handball away from taking Ireland to the World Cup in South Africa and he did guide them to Euro 2012, Ireland’s first major tournament in 10 years.

The manner of their three defeats at that tournament irked the Irish support but the simple truth was they were punching well above their weight. The glory days when Liam Brady, Paul McGrath, Ronnie Whelan and Roy Keane graced the Irish team were long gone. Instead Trap did his best with the likes of Paul McShane, Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews.

“Our football is prose, not poetry” once said Trapattoni; and Ireland’s fans will no doubt much prefer the lyrical waxings of the likely heir apparent Martin O’Neill, should he take over the reigns, than those of his predecessor.

But this could be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Trapattoni was no mug when it comes to football management – a quick glance through history proves it – and we should all remember him for what he was; one of the greatest managers the game has seen.

 

World Record Transfer Fees: Johan Cruyff (1973)

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All was not as it appeared in the summer of 1973 when Ajax of Amsterdam, winners of the last three European Cups, were in pre-season training. The new coach, George Knobel, asked the players to select the team captain for the new season. The great Johan Cruyff, last year’s captain, got seven votes – but Piet Keizer received twelve.

“Cruyff was furious” said teammate Jan Mulder. “To have his authority undermined like that was a deep insult. I saw it in his eyes. As soon as the question was put, he wanted to leave Ajax…”

Cruyff pretended he was OK with what had happened, but he wasted no time in calling his agent, saying; “You have to call Barcelona immediately. I’m leaving here”.

Cruyff’s move to Barcelona brought an end to Ajax’s golden age (they’d have to wait 22 years to win the European Cup again) but the arrival of Cruyff was the moment Barca entered the arena of modern football.

For two decades Real Madrid had dominated Spanish football, with the genius of Di Stefano as a catalyst. In that time Real Madrid had won 13 league titles to Barca’s 2, the last of which came in 1960. 13 years was too long to go without a league title and they desperately needed to build a team capable of challenging Real Madrid.

Barcelona paid Ajax $1million (£922,000), setting a new world record transfer fee at that time. Bureaucratic problems meant Cruyff didn’t take to the field of play for two months. When he finally lined-up, Barcelona were bottom of the league, but his influence was immediate. He scored twice on his debut in a 4-0 rout of Granada.

Barcelona wouldn’t lose another league match that season, the undisputed highlight of which was a historical 0-5 victory against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

That victory was (and still is) hugely celebrated. It meant much more than just a victory against a title challenger. Catalonians had suffered under Franco’s dictatorship, their language and culture was forbidden and they’d always felt that Real Madrid was favoured by the regime. And now they had thrashed their biggest rivals in their house of worship.

Cruyff scored an incredible goal against Atlético Madrid when he jumped high to hit with his right foot a ball that was going out. The so called “phantom goal” earned them a 2-1 victory that would gave Barcelona the lead in La Liga, a lead they would hold onto until the end of the season, winning the league title eight points ahead of Atlético Madrid.

In the 5 years that Cruyff stayed in Barcelona the club emerged from the shadows achieving international recognition as one of the world’s biggest clubs.

But the significance of Cruyff was greater than that. Cruyff stole the hearts of the Catalonian people in what were dark times. Cruyff was seen as an icon of the country, a feeling that grew when he named his son Jordi, after the patron saint of Catalonia and a name that was forbidden at that time in Spain. Cruyff changed FC Barcelona as a player – and he’d do it again years later as a manager.

by Karl Hofer

 

Trautmann the Wunderbar!

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Manchester City paid tribute to Bert Trautmann ahead of their opening match against Newcastle on Monday night.

Trautmann died at the age of 89 last month in Valencia, Spain, where he had settled after a globetrotting and colourful career in football to say the least.

The goalkeeping legend was a former German prisoner of war. At the end of WWII he opted to stay in England, married a local girl and became a pro with City.

Famously in the 1956 FA Cup final, Trautmann bravely played on after suffering an injury when diving at an attacker’s feet but played on as City beat Birmingham City 3-1.

Our photo shows Trautmann being helped by team-mates at the final whistle. An X-ray the next day revealed he had suffered a broken bone his neck. Trautmann would play over 500 games for City before retiring in 1964, he then managed various clubs and nations until the early 1980’s.

Knight In Faux Armour

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It was the opening day of the 1989 season and Manchester United were entertaining Champions Arsenal at Old Trafford.  It was a memorable game, United running out 4-1 winners  with new signing Neil Webb running the show in midfield.

But the day is remembered not for the match itself, but rather for the odd sight of a middle-aged man in full kit ball-juggling in front of the Stretford End before receiving their adulation prior to kick-off.

The man was Micheal Knighton and he was to be the new owner of Manchester United having agreed to buy the club for the princely sum of £20m.

However the takeover never materialised after backers pulled out, leaving Knighton with a mere seat on the board and no control.

In later years Knighton, setting his sights a smidge lower,  went on to buy Carlisle United where at one point he installed himself as first team coach and team manager – and promptly saw them relegated.

But Knighton wasn’t a wacky as some paint him. After all in 2005 United was bought by the American Glazer family for £790 million and is now valued in excess of £1 billion.

 

Tartan Rampage!

How could we focus on the upcoming England v Scotland game without remembering the incredible Tartan Army invasion of Wembley and those infamous images of broken goalposts..?  Estimates are that 70,000 of the 98,000 fans were from North of the Border and looking at this photo you can almost smell the whiskey…

 

England 1 – 2 Scotland

EngSco1977For the travelling Scots it was joy unconfined just before halftime as the thunderous, hairy head of Gordon McQueen rose above all others in the box and powered the ball in for 0-1. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Kenny Dalglish sealed the deal with a goal of sheer willpower. After making a run & seeing his shot blocked, Dalglish forced the ball in for a 0-2 lead. England would score a late penalty in a formality before the real bedlam broke out. In truth it was celebration rather than hooliganism but some of the media went on to report it unfavourably.

The jubilation felt by the 70,000 in the Tartan Army was just too hard to contain, especially considering the last trip to Wembley was a 5-1 win for the ‘Auld Enemy’ two years earlier.

4th June 1977 Wembley Stadium

Attendance    98,103

 Goals:

Gordon McQueen      43     

Kenny Dalglish          59

Mick Channon (pen)  87     

 

Starting lineups:

 England

Ray Clemence

Dave Watson

Mick Mills

Phil Neal

Brian Greenhoff

Emlyn Hughes (captain)

Ray Kennedy

Brian Talbot

Trevor Francis

Stuart Pearson

Mick Channon

 Manager: Don Revie

Scotland

Alan Rough

Tom Forsyth

Danny McGrain

Gordon McQueen

Willie Donachie

Don Masson

Willie Johnston

Asa Hartford

Bruce Rioch (captain)

Kenny Dalglish

Joe Jordan

Manager: Ally MacLeod

Substitutions:

England
Trevor Cherry for Brian Greenhoff   
Dennis Tueart for Ray Kennedy      
Scotland
Lou Macari for Joe Jordan    
Archie Gemmill for Don Masson