As soon as I turned onto the Cork road it began to rain. Not just little droplets But big, fat ones that spread out across the windshield, Blurring my vision and causing me to slow down.
God forbid I go below 120 and stay safe on the road! Especially when His Heavens have opened so magnificently above me. I have places to go and people to see so I will Break through Poseidon’s torrents and tear down the road.
Portlaoise, Mountrath and Cashel pass in the blink of an eye, My old car flying by Audi’s, Corolla’s and other Renault’s indiscriminately. On one stretch of road I weave in and out, meeting every car from Kilkenny, Tipp and Limerick, overtaking and letting mergers in, pulling in for faster cars, All the while buffeted by watery bullets.
Towering trucks trundle along the highway, Dangerous beasts flinging water from under their wheels to blind other drivers. They use their large husks to rattle smaller vehicles as they dare overtake the mighty monsters, Sometimes passing each other out at a rate of frayed knots.
Through a last toll and one last push to be at the top of the queue. I roar along with my radio and my engine before coming to an abrupt stop. Barely moving. The open road closed behind me and the rain still pounding.
The only thing you absolutely need to know from last night’s game is that Manchester United manages zero shots on target from a possible 12. A dire stat to take away from a mediocre game of football. Despite patches of link-up and individual brilliance from Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Tahith Chong towards the end of the first half, United were on the back foot for most of the game. Indeed, if Doherty hadn’t fluffed his clear header and Raul Jimenez had struck the ball an inch to the left then United would be put out of their misery. Wolves will have to travel to Old Trafford for the replay, something they won’t relish despite being the better team. Which team of Ole’s will show up? The confident, almost cocky attacking wave?; the unsure youthful squad that look like conceding at any minute?; or the team that showed up last night, full of indecision and a lack of quality in the final third?
I am a staunch supporter of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He should be afforded the time allotted to the previous two managers. He comes in for unfair criticisms from pundits and tweeters alike (Robiv Van Persie). He is giving youth a chance and selecting a team each week that are United through and through. There are mistakes being made by players and an indecision in attack that can be frustrating for us fans but there are chinks of light in the darkness. Here are some talking points from the goalless draw.
Romero up for the game
A pinpoint save to stop an almost certain goal has solidified Romero’s position as the best back-up goalkeeper in the world. This begs the question: Would De Gea have saved that shot? And should Romero get a chance at the first spot?
Williams should start
Watching Williams tear down the wing in search of a ball that should have but never came was frustrating to watch. However, it was indicative of the lack of service United have received from left back in the years since Shaw’s injuries. Shaw offers more of a defensive quality and Williams needs to stop sliding in the box. However, if Romero and Williams start against Man City in the league cup on Tuesday it will show progress on Ole’s part.
Who’s in the box?
Ashley Young, of all people, was putting searching and stellar crosses into the box last night. Daniel James arrived late for one and nobody was to be seen. Greenwood seemed to be coming out to the right to collect the ball and leaving the box empty. While he and Chong linked up well on the byline he should leave the winger do his job and make life difficult for defenders in the box.
Another clear penalty!
Another game and another clear penalty not awarded. Williams does well to recover and get in front of a clumsy Dedoncker only to be tripped up right in front of the ref. Again, if that was anywhere else on the pitch it is given as a foul. I thought the ref had a good game to be fair but that was a glaring mistake. The less said about the VAR decision as well, the better.
United got away scot free last night. A brilliant save, Doherty bottling a free header amid woeful defending and Jimenez rattling the frame of the goal at an almost impossible angle meant that the Red Devils live to see another day. How was the Irish international afforeded a free header so close to goal at such a crucial stage in the match? The defence is vulnerable in these situations.
Rashford should have scored
There’s no way around it; Rashford should have put that chance away. Ole he former super-sub has shown his knack for picking substitutes that may pay off. Pereira nearly scored against Arsenal the other day and Rashford hit the post with the help of a deflection. He really should have hit it straight away.
I could be extremely picky and mention Greenwood and Dalot being wasteful with the ball and the fact that once again Harry Maguire was muscled off the ball in the middle of the park but a clean sheet and a draw at the Molineux, a stadium where we have not been so lucky in recent times, can’t draw too much criticism. Obviously, Twitter was on fire with calls for Ole’s head and a new manager but once again, the problem is the Glazers and Woodward. The players mightn’t be the best but they are what we have at the moment. All eyes on Tuesday night at the Theatre of Dreams. GGMU.
Title: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Director: J.J. Abrams. Genre: Sci/Fi, Fantasy. Main Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher (RIP), Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Billy D. Williams. Runtime: 142 mins. IMDb rating: 6.9/10. My rating: 8/10. Quick summary: Not a perfect movie but the right blend of cheese, action and ridiculous humour that makes this an enjoyable film. Keep an eye out for Babu Frick, the alien equivalent of an aul lad at the back of the pub randomly cheering things for no reason.
Like every Star Wars movie, there are multiple threads running at the same time. The scrolling text at the start reveals that the laugh we’ve heard in the movie’s trailer was also heard by pretty much everyone in the galaxy. Emperor Palpatine is back and ready to take over the galaxy again. Kylo Ren has taken Snoke’s position and is now Supreme Leader. Rey is completing her training at the resistance base while Poe Dameron, Finn and Chewie are out gaining intel from a spy embedded in the First Order. First, we join Kylo Ren on his murderous quest to find Darth Sidious and make the throne his own. He comes face to face with the wizened body of the Dark Lord and is faced with a proposition; kill Rey and receive the might of Palpatine’s starkiller fleet. Next, we join Poe Dameron, Finn and Chewie as they race through space to bring priceless intel back to Genral Organa at the Resistance base. They find out that Palpatine is definitely back and will launch a deadly attack in sixteen hours. Rey is training to become a better jedi but her link with Kylo Ren and her obsession with her murky past slows her down. We follow these three threads as they interweave and separate over the course of the movie. We find out more about Poe Dameron’s shady past on the planet Kimiji and meet my new favourite Star Wars character, Babu Frick. The little droid mechanic operates on C3PO’s memory bank to retrieve vital information about the location of Emperor Palpatine. Rey must decide whether she wants to make her vision of her sitting on the Sith throne a reality or if she wants to make her own destiny. Frick is voiced by Shirley Henderson, who most of us will know from her iconic performance as Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies! Worlds collide!
We see Kylo Ren shed his Sith skin and retake his old life as Ben Solo. The rise of Skywalker. He and Rey fight side by side once more against the greatest foe of them all in a battle scene that shows how far they have come as characters and showcases their individual fighting styles in ways that left me stunned and giddy for more. One thing that can be said about the new trilogy is that the fight choreography has gotten more and more elaborate and ridiculous and I feckin’ love it!
I really enjoyed this move and I didn’t expect to in all honesty. I remember leaving The Last Jedi feeling disappointed for some reason. Perhaps it is because the characters have almost fully developed in this installment that I am more on board with them. In the second movie of the franchise the focus was more on Finn and Rey’s trajectories and how that affected the outcome of the battle between the darkness and the light. Now, Kylo Ren’s story was very much at the forefront too but it felt like his fate was decided as a byproduct of Rey’s actions. This time around his actions and journey towards his parents and the fight for good allow Rey to find out her identity and complete her own journey. Finn has his own revelation within the adventure and finds more defectors to the Resistance. Everything is wrapped up in a neat little package. The difference this time around is that there are some serious points along the way where you may not be sure if they are going to win or not. My only problem with the movie and the reason that it loses a few points is that it doesn’t follow the ethos of the film. Leia says to Rey at the beginning of the movie to “Never be afraid of who you are…”. At the end when Rey is back on Jakku and the old woman asks her who she is, Rey looks around all pensively, sees the ghosts of Luke and Leia and replies, “Rey…Rey Skywalker.” All well and good. I wouldn’t deny Rey the chance to be a Skywalker. She had a close relationship with both siblings and was clearly never going to turn to the dark side. However, if she was being true to herself she would have said “Rey….Rey Palpatine.” A much more contentious name and one that would have showed she was now comfortable with herself. A final bit of character growth for our heroine.
Go see Star Wars in all good cinemas. What is the best cinema you ask? Why, that’s the Reel Picture located in Blackpool business park. Great location, fantastic staff and award-winning popcorn!*
A belated Happy New Year to my followers, friends and family. I spent the night eating tapas with my gorgeous girlfriend and had my best New Years Day ever with her the next day. We slept in before getting an unbelievable sandwich in Avoca that afternoon. We carried on from Dublin to Wicklow and climbed the Sugarloaf! There was literal climbing involved too, up and down jagged rocks and muddy ground. It was unreal and despite it being a relatively small summit I was chuffed. I am going to make it a priority to do more walks and mountain climbs this year.
We drove into Dundrum in the evening and had a shop around. I got a Leinster Rugby tracksuit pants from Lifestyle and a hoodie from Hollister, just to complete my transition from Cork bai to Dublin ledge-bag! Absolutely sending it! Herself and myself got food in Mad Egg… Lads. If ye haven’t had it already please go. There’s two in Dublin City as far as I know and one for sure in Dundrum. Their burgers are literally the best chicken burgers I have ever had and anybody who knows me knows I am a breaded chicken connoisseur. This is my official endorsement for that glorious restaurant. Try their Mad Yoke Craft Beer too. Back to Naas we went and Herself indulged me and accompanied me to Kavanagh’s pub to watch United lose in miserable fashion. You can read my review of that horrible affair here. Despite the result, it was the best New Year’s Day I have ever had. I got to spend it in good health with someone I deeply care about and love and am comfortable with. We got some exercise in and ate some unreal food. What more could you ask for?
I got a bit sidetracked there filling you in on my day! Jaysus, I’m just so interesting! Amn’t I a man about town, ha?! The real reason I am writing this post is to inform you that the blog has a new layout, feel and design to it this year. I rolled out the changes quietly over the last few weeks ahead of increased output, writing and production. Those of you who are following and enjoy my work, get ready for more rambles, reviews and regular content. Those of you who follow out of a sense of obligation on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress, get ready for the exact same. There is no real set schedule to my work. If United are playing a match I will release a report and review the next day. If I watch a movie or t.v. show and deem it review-worthy I will write one. I have stuff planned for Barry’s Rants, poems and general pieces and will try to make them all more consistent. This is for myself more than anyone else and consistency is key, isn’t it?
If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on the blog, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below or via DM. I appreciate constructive feedback and love compliments 😀
It pains me to begin my new coverage of Manchester United with a demoralizing loss to Arsenal. A team on a woeful run and an uncertain start under a new manager proved far superior to Ole’s charges. This is something that I think should precede any points I talk about here. As bad as United were yesterday evening, Arsenal were unreal. They were fluid, solid and not one player turned in a bad performance. They looked like the team that came so close to winning the title in 2016. Though there are multiple issues with the current United squad, it would be unfair to discredit Arsenal’s performance.
Let’s have a look at some of the talking points of the game 👇
The Curious Case of Luke Shaw
This might deserve its own blog post. Luke Shaw was run ragged by Pepe in the first half, almost giving away a penalty by diving wildly in the box. If he made any slight contact with the winger’s legs it would’ve been a clear call. He didn’t keep track of Pepe for the opening goal. He gave away the ball needlessly in the second half which almost led to another goal. Brandon Williams was sat on the bench for the entire game. It’s hard to imagine any reasoning for Solskjaer to prefer the lateral passing and lazy running compared to Williams’ forward thinking and aggressive nature.
Fred and Martial – dangerous duo
With Rashford subdued for most of the match it was left to Tony Martial to lead the line. That he did. He drove deep into the heart of Arsenal’s defense, somehow keeping the ball at his feet and almost scoring and creating chances nearly every time he got a sniff. He has stepped up big time in recent games amid criticism from pundits and tweeters alike. He can be proud of his performance last night.
The other United player that can be proud of his performance is the diminutive Brazilian, Fred. He is having an impressive season so far and has been United’s most consistent player over the last few months. He was battered and bruised last night and got on with, not looking for frees but looking for the next pass. A fully fit McTominay alongside Fred would be the start of something consistent and solid in my opinion.
Sub almost paid off!
Andreas Pereira, often cut down for his unfulfilled potential, almost turned the match upside down just a few minutes after coming on. His blistering shot hit the side netting and for a brief, agonizing second the ripple of the net fooled us all. If that went in I’m not sure the Gunners could have held on to the lead. Ifs and buts. Pereira was anonymous for the rest of the match, mind.
Just to reiterate, Arsenal were quality. I don’t like saying it and I don’t like seeing it, but here we are. They harassed and harried, pushed and pushed and splayed the ball from side to side with ease. When even David Luiz is threading passes through the lines you know you’re in trouble. Arteta may look like an exotic dancer ready to attack the dance floor with his furrowed brow but the man knows football. It’s just a shame it all clicked when they played United.
This does not take away from the fact that many United players looked like they didn’t want to be there. Perhaps the amount of games in such a short space of time has caught up with them, but there is an uncertainty rooted in the team that seems hard to displace. Ole places his trust in age and experience rather than trying out the youngsters in tough games such as these. However, when your experienced players like Shaw and Lindelof cost you goals, that’s when it’s time to pick Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe, especially before the latter decides he needs regular first team football somewhere else.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was denied a penalty at a crucial point during the match. Granted, he looked like he went down a bit easily in the slo-mo replay but Aubameyang’s leg cuts across his path and makes clear contact. I thought that referee Christopher Kavanagh was allowing some tackles that were borderline fouls in the spirit of letting the game flow. The penalty incident would have been a foul anywhere else on the pitch so I struggle to understand his reasoning in not awarding the free. Also, if he deemed it a dive then Wan-Bissaka should have been booked. The mind boggles.
Not trying to be funny, but United kept up their recent form of underperforming against a team in the bottom half of the table. The inconsistency is rage-inducing. The lack of desire in some players is infuriating. The ineptitude at the back, including kick outs, created doubt in the rest of the team. It’s United v Wolves away in the F.A. Cup this Saturday and I’d be lying to you if I said I was in anyway confident. Wolves have this United team sussed and unfortunately, United don’t have anyone sussed. Another opportunity to come closer to the top four missed and more questions about the talent raised. Is this a sign of things to get worse this year? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or online 👍
Like and subscribe below 👇 for match reviews and opinion pieces on Manchester United, Ireland and other average teams! Hopefully we can see better times together 😂
There’s nothing more inherently Irish than telling everyone you hate heading out for New Year’s Eve and then being the drunkest man in town that night. Barry weighs in, whatever good that does!
Me: Well, Barry? You all set for New Years? Are you heading out on the town?
Barry: Are you gone soft in the head? You have to be a special type of deluded to actually want to go out for New Year’s Eve. It’s one of the messiest nights going! Nothing but hardy lads and young wans absolutely slaughtered, making a show of themselves and making the night a chore for everyone else! You have to tell everybody that you’re sick of heading out on the busiest night of the year and that you’re looking for a house party or an intimate dinner with a loved one. Then you bump into the same eejits when you’re out and buy each other shots!
Me: You have it sussed. New Years can’t be that bad? You could be talking about any Saturday night in Cork to be fair.
Barry: You’re not wrong, but New Years is a different beast. There’s a strange tension in the air after the antics that have taken place between Stephen’s Day and the 30th. Everyone has been in a perpetual state of drunkness and nobody really knows what day it is. They’re told it’s New Year’s Eve and so they go out to celebrate. There might be fights in town and there might be peace in town. There’ll be shapes thrown but they’ll be half-shapes. More like shadow boxing, preparing for the big fight that may never come. We are all but specks of dust in this cosmic wind, carried along from new year to new year with no knowledge of our future. Powerless.
Me: Jaysus, Barry. Are you ok?
Barry: Ah, I get pensive at the turn of the year is all. Wondering if I’m after wasting another year away doing feck all but then I see Pauric Joyce down the pub and I feel better again. That prick says every year that he’s not going out for New Years because ‘it sets a bad precedent for the following few months’. Down then conducting verses of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on top of the bar. Sure he was barred twice in the last three years for making indentations in the corner of the bar. He’s not a light fella as you know. Anyways, it’s just the falsities and niceties and the resolutions that nobody keeps. Why can’t people just admit that they’re going to smoke some cigarettes and drink in January and consume the exact same amount of meat as they did last year?
Me: It’s just a way of people feeling good about themselves and about their plans for the new year.
Barry: Ah, away with that now. People shouldn’t be forced to give up anything. Take up reading more and exercising more and the rest will follow. Don’t punish yourself before the year has already started!
Me: Any resolutions yourself, Bar?
Barry: Allow myself to be guilt-free when I avoid amadáns in the street that do be asking me personal questions.
Going to the cinema is one of my favourite things to do. I love the popcorn, the Coke, the bags of sweets but most importantly, I love seeing a new film. I love experiencing the emotions that go with a film and figuring out whether it’s good or bad. I love realizing what’s about to happen and I love being kept in the dark for as long as possible. In this listicle of movies of the decade I’m not interested in box office hits or popular blockbusters. I humbly offer you my favourite movies of the 2010s, in no particular order.
A Star is Born (2018)
This movie rocked me. I went to see it on my own in a movie theatre in Chelsea, Manhattan and had to leave swiftly after it finished so the other customers wouldn’t see me as a blubbery mess. I watched it again on St. Stephens Day 2018 with my buddy Ultan and we both made half serious jokes about crying all the way through. One of my favourite movies of all time but don’t watch it hungover with the lads. You might just cry together!
This movie, along with the next one on this list, was one of the first I’ve seen that left me completely baffled. I left the screen thinking I had it sussed and after my friend’s mam dropped us home I couldn’t make sense of the layers and levels anymore. Seriously, though, what a film and just awesome storytelling. Was the top beginning to stop spinning though?🤔
Shutter Island (2010)
Leonardo Di Caprio reared his beautiful head twice at the start of the decade to invade my dreams and make me doubt everything I ever knew. I’m referencing the plot of Shutter Island, folks, not my battle with my feelings for Leo….. ANYWAYS, his turn as befuddled federal Marshall Teddy Daniels alongside Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Michelle Williams is in my top 5 movies of all time, never mind my films of the decade. Check out the book too.
Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Well, well, well. Lovely Leo strikes again. The raunchiest, funniest and downright outrageous collaboration between Di Caprio and Scorsese should have won Leo an Oscar. Who can forgot Margot Robbie’s ‘eye’-opening performance?
About Time (2013)
As you can see I’m not really describing these movies in any great detail. You’ve more than likely seen them. They’re all very mainstream and we’re all very popular in their respective years. Maybe you haven’t seen this rom-com. Maybe you haven’t even heard of it. But I guarantee that you will love it and be enchanted by this great film. For that reason I won’t give anything away. All I will say is that it will make you fall in love with Domhnall Gleeson and Rachael McAdams. Also, you will cry.
James McAvoy cemented his place as Charles Xavier in the X-men movies of this decade but his most memorable performance(s) came as Dennis, Patricia and Hedwig in M. Night Shyamalan’s unexpected sequel to Unbreakable. McAvoy astounds as the broken man with 23 different personalities.
Eighth Grade (2018)
Bo Burnham’s directorial debut won plaudits and praise all around the world. Elsie Fisher is mesmerizing as the awkward, shy and cringey teenager who navigates boys, her Dad,mean girls at school and her own crippling self-doubt in this fine, fine movie. Gucci 👌
Django Unchained (2012)
Quentin Tarantino’s seventh offering was a chaotic mix of over the top Western, laugh out loud comedy and absolute gore fest. Leonardo Di Caprio was awfully brilliant as the vile plantation owner Calvin Candie while Jamie Foxx was absolutely superb as the gun-slinging, slave-freeing hero of the piece, Django Freeman. Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz were unreal in supporting roles.
Hateful Eight (2016)
Straight into another Tarantino flick, this one set in a harsh winter as our heroes and anti heroes are holed up in a haberdashery, is dialogue heavy and has problems with pacing. It is by no means Tarantino’s best film but I loved the dynamics between the characters and the relationship between Walton Goggins and Sam Jackson.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Frances McDormand is impeccable in this twisted story about loss, tragedy and finding hope in resilience. Her supporting cast isn’t bad either. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell serve in her local law enforcement and their relationship with McDormand is rocky at best. If you haven’t seen this one, do so immediately. It is a classic Martin McDonagh screenplay, full of twists and turns and has you shouting for all the different characters, no matter their intentions.
Seven Psycopaths (2012)
This is possibly my favourite on the list. Sam Rockwell absolutely steals the show as Billy, the bipolar/Hoyman/serial killer who gets Colin Farrell and Christopher Walken into a whole pile of deadly trouble. This made Rockwell one of my favourite actors. He is so wonderfully weird and this second McDonagh offering on my list shows the pair work well together. There’s always a shootout!
La La Land (2016)
Jaysus, lads, 2016 was a great year for movies! This musical absolutely ripped my world apart and made me fall in love with Emma Stone about fifteen times. Stone and Ryan Gosling are the perfect onscreen couple. Their trajectory and falling apart was hard to watch because I, along with most other audience members, was willing them to stay together. Alas, it was a masterpiece. The singing, the acting, the story and the fantastical set-pieces made this an enchanting, if emotionally draining movie.
Green Book (2018)
It’s hard to say that this was a hidden gem as it won three oscars but finding it on our dodgy box in the Bronx with new movies and having not heard much about it, I was delighted that I got to see it. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali had such a great back and forth throughout this film. It was so easy to immerse myself in the world they were trying to portray. I lived Dr. Shirley’s oppression with him and suffered Tony’s ignorance in dealing with him. It was a fantastic movie and one everyone should watch.
A harrowing tale about the Catholic Church scandal in Boston in the 90s. This true story was brought to life by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachael McAdams and Liev Schreiber. True stories need to be told and this tragic tale is a film that should be watched.
The Secret in Their Eyes (2010)
I watched this at midnight one summer night years ago. Nothing else was on television and as I flicked through the channels it was the title that caught my eye. An Argentinian film that tells the tale of revenge and when does revenge become too much. It was remade in 2015 with Chiewetel Ejiofor and Julia Roberts but it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. One of the highest rated films on IMDB.
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Turning up to the cinema in full Manchester United gear, singing ‘Glory, Glory’ as I ran up the aisle looked pretty foolish about two seconds into the movie. Seriously, though, a slow burner that tackles raw human emotion. My type of film.
Leap Year (2010)
My brothers and I watch this movie every time it’s on television. Amy Adams is the heroine of this crazy rom-com that features the worst Irish accent ever produced by Matthew Goode. Pure enjoyment and Irish divilment for an hour and a half!
That concludes my list of my favourite films of the decade. Let me know yours in the comments below 👇 Let me know if you agree or disagree with my picks 🤔🎥🎥
It has been an interesting decade in the Premier League. United’s power was waning from the beginning only to crumble so emphatically and powerfully over the last five years. City seemed to be the ones to take their place at the helm of English football, but they never looked consistently convincing. Chelsea and city traded titles for a few years before Chelsea almost followed suit directly behind United in plummeting down the table. Arsenal and Tottenham both came so close in 2016 only to solidify their reputation as perennial underachievers as Leicester surprised the world and were crowned champions. Liverpool have been looming dangerously close to securing their first league title in almost three decades. As United’s star dimmed, Liverpool’s shone brighter. Coming close with Brendan Rogers in 2014, they finished second once again last year in a title race dominated by themselves and City. This year they seem to have already wrapped things up. It is hard to see anyone catching up with them. City are suffering from their third year slump. Leicester are the closest of the two but their unimpressive loss to City the other night and their hammering by the leaders shows that it is Liverpool’s to lose.
Everybody has their own opinions on who should be in the team of the decade. Lists are compiled and torn apart in pubs and sitting rooms all around the globe. Here’s mine for you to rip to pieces. I’ll try not to let my love of Manchester United shape my opinions too much.
Goalkeeper – David de Gea
Recent calamitous blunder and his slow decline over the last year after carrying a failing Manchester United side on his magnificent Spanish shoulders for almost the whole decade aside, de Gea has to be the top keeper of the decade. Not only is he an aesthetically pleasing keeper in that he is acrobatic and kept so many games alive using his feet, but he definitely kept United in the top half of the table in the years prior to his complacency. For the whole of the decade he has had to contend with constantly changing defensive partnerships in front of him due to injury and lack of consistency. He is, for me, the Premier League keeper of the decade.
Right Back – Cesar Azpilicueta
This is a bit of an odd one. I suppose it just my team of the decade but it is odd considering he has never really grabbed headlines or been in any of the PFA teams of the year. However, he is as solid as they come and has been in the Chelsea side every year since he joined in 2012. He is captain now since the departure of Cahill which shows his development over the years. He won the title twice with Chelsea and has survived three different managers. He is one of my favourite players from rival teams but I hate seeing him play against United. Proper footballer.
Centre Back – Vincent Kompany (c)
What a fucking animal. If I was one on one with Vincent Kompany I’d probably just pass him the ball and step to the side. “Work away, Vinny kid!” An absolute beast of a defender but his absolute banger last year can never be forgotten.
Centre-Back – Jan Vertonghen
I actually struggled to think of a partner for Kompany. Ferdinand and Vidic had a great start to the decade but the decline of United was fasttracked by the demise of their partnership under Moyes. John Terry had a good run of it but Vertonghen pips him to the post for me. He’s solid, strong and can tackle. He is let down by dodgy goalkeeping behind him but he is a big part of the reason that Tottenham were so strong for so long.
Left Back – Leighton Baines
The third member of Oasis has to be a cult hero of a left back. I’ll never forget his free kick for against Newcastle. He may be winding down towards the end of his career but that free kick, and his many important displays for Everton over the years have ensured he will be remembered as one of the greats.
Right Mid – David Silva
Every generation of football fans has that one player that just seems to have it all. They obviously have the talent but the almost photographic memory of knowing where exactly to put the ball at your teammate’s feet while still knowing exactly what is going on around you is unmatchable. David Silva possesses this talent, and along with his penchant for scoring goals and making fools of defenders, he could be the best player that the league has ever seen. He spent all of his prime years here and is fininshing up at the end of this season. It seems fitting that he be on the team.
Centre-Mid – Kevin De Bruyne
What an absolute talent. It sickens me to put this many City players in my team of the decade but by God is De Bruyne the best of the bunch. He is still only 28, but his talent was obvious from his time at Chelsea. Perhaps he needed time to grow, or a manager to show faith in him at the time. He is tenacious and technically gifted beyond belief. He also has an anger in him when his team isn’t playing well that allows him to access another level above any opponent, leaving them trailing in his wake. He is the assist king and scores peaches for fun. Magnificent bastard.
Left-Mid – Eden Hazard
Probably the most unpredictable player in this team. Hazard could go several games without doing anything of note and then burst onto the scene of a game and run the opposition ragged for ninety minutes. He terrorised Liverpool for the duration of the decade and it seemed as though the ball was glued to his feet. I remember reading something that a teammate of his said that he would be pure crap in training all week and then go and dominate the game on Saturday. He deserves a chance in Madrid and his place on this team.
Centre Forward – Sergio Aguero
I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the Argentinean’s last minute strike to win City their first Premier league title in 2012. Following on a live score app because we didn’t have Sky Sports at the time, I had to wait until Match of the Day that night to hear Martin Tyler’s infamous ‘Aguerrroooooooo’. I hated him so much for years for his constant scoring against United but despite my obvious bias, he has to be the best striker in the Premier League over the last decade. I’m all about consistency and longevity. If I was making a ‘Best of all-time Premier League’ he might have more competition for his place, but he sits at the top of this list.
Striker – Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy has been having a party in the Premier League for the last five years and it ain’t stopping any time soon. He has been in the top scorers list for the last four years in a row and with 17 already this season he is bound to beat his best haul of 24 by a country mile. It’s not just that he scores goals, though. He absolutely loves scoring them and celebrating them in front of opposition fans. This year he danced like an eagle in front of Crystal Palace fans. Crystal Palace are nicknamed the Eagles. He is the king of shithousery. All other pretenders to the throne, like Ander Herrera and Andy Robertson can only hold flickering candles to his name. Chat shit. Get banged. It’s……….Jamie Vardy.
Centre Forward – Harry Kane
This was my last position to pick and it actually was tough. Kane was the obvious choice but there have been so many exceptional strikers over the last couple of years that I had to think about it. Mane and Salah both could have taken this spot but because I hate Liverpool they can fuck right off. I’d love to put Rooney in here but his peak dipped around 2013 while Kane’s star was just rising. The future top scorer for England is just too good to leave out. Yes, he steals goals from teammates and yes he sometimes looks like he has killed before but Goddamit if he isn’t an exeptional footballer.
Cian Dalton’s PL Team of the Decade
Alternatives and Unfortunates
Of course a team of the decade is going to be surrounded by some debate. If you’re like me you’ve probably just swiped through and looked at all of the pictures. There are a few positions that could be changed around. Also, that midfield is technically superb and full of talented players on the ball but could be ovverun by a side with a bruiser in the middle. Perhaps N’Golo Kante should go in instead of Hazard or Silva, or possibly Yaya Toure could slot in to a 4-4-2 to shore up the midfield and Harry Kane would miss out.
Hugo Lloris would probably be my second keeper of choice but he just makes too many small mistakes over the course of a season for him to beat De Gea to the top spot.
Riyad Mahrez would probably feel hard done by if he saw this blog post and knew who I was. He is Algeria’s and Africa’s greatest export but his slump when he first joined City was unfortunate. Thankfully he is back on top form again. Well, thankfully in the sense that he’s a great player and deserves the good fortune. Not thankfully, though, because I despise City and all they stand for.
Please let me know what you think of my team of the decade. It was tough to pick but a joy to write about football for the first time in a long time. Keep an eye out for more Rambles in the New Year and different teams of the week from different leagues around the world as I up my output of sports content. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
You meet a whole array of characters over Christmas, and none more annoying and amusing as your resident crank, Barry. He filled me in on his typical Christmas at home by the Lee.
Me: Well, Barry, what’s the craic? How was your Christmas?
Barry: Alrite kid! How are you bai? Haven’t seen you in a while? Were you laying low before Christmas? Trying to stay away from town in case you had to buy anyone a pint, I’d say! Some mooch, lad, that’s all you are! Plenty of nights out I could’ve done with someone to buy me a drink. They weren’t serving me anymore. Said I was, “More drink than man” or some dramatic aul shite. Other than that it was the normal stuff. Drink too much Christmas eve. Get up at about 4 o’clock and plonk myself down at the Christmas table, reeking of fags and booze. Listen to the mother give out that I ruined Christmas. Sure it was only the feckin’ front door that I kicked in. Not my fault that I forgot my keys. Although she is 90 so I should be more respectful and kick in the back door next time. ‘Tis the demon drink that did it to me.
Me: Would you ever give up the drink?
Barry: What the fuck did you just say to me?
Barry: Thought so. Anyways, Stephen’s Day then I’d go down to the long puc and lose about three or four sliotars into the ditch. Some bollox of a feckin’ route they’re after taking the last few years. Down from O’Neills and along the windy road to the Squire. And all the feckin’ cars driving up and down the road as if it wasn’t a sacred day in Rathpeacon G.A.A. I tried to lobby for a tannoy system to be put in place between Rathpeacon and Whitechurch. Local news, announcements and that sort of thing. At least then I could warn the feckin’ rally drivers to stay at home for an extra hour and that their relatives would be safe as long as they stayed indoors away from the stray sliotars. Anyways, the community group shot me down. Miserable pricks.
Me: That’s be a bit much, surely. Would you expect people to enjoy being woken up or scared shitless by random announcements? Were the tannoys just for the long puc or for everyday use?
Barry: Everyday use, lad! Morning announcements and all that. “Pauric Joyce shat himself in the pub last night. Avoid the second stool by the window.” I could set up an aul watch tower over by the pitch then and keep on eye on the surrounding area at night, too. I’d have it hooked up to the pub then. “Lads, the shades are en route. Close the blinds and turn off that feckin’ jukebox.” It’d be fierce handy for G.A.A. matches. “The Whitechurch team bus has just left and will be here in 15. Lock your doors and make sure valuables are out of sight!”
Me: Fuck it, that’d actually be handy. And they shot you down? Can’t believe it.
Barry: I know, yeah. Sure look, can’t win em all.
Me: Any other plans before the New Year?
Barry: Same old, kid, same old. Drink, drink, drink. See some relatives. Talk some shite. Yourself?
Look, we’ve all been there. You’re in the local pub over Christmas, trying to enjoy your few too many pints before heading back into the real world. All of a sudden, one of the following walking caricatures makes a beeline for you, stands between you and the bar and sobers you right up. Let’s have a look at some of these bastards.
The (Not-so) Private Investigator
“Well, how are you going? What are you at now? Are you still in the same place? What are you doing there now? And where is that then? Are you still at home? How’s everyone there? Did you do the long poc? Are you playing this year? What’s the brother up to anyways? Are ye Sean and Eileen’s kids? Where are they tonight? And where were you the night Old Man Reilly was murdered down by the creek? And do you have much time off over Christmas? Who’s that fella over there? Haven’t sees him here in ages. I’ll be back in a while there.” Yeah, fuck off and stay over there man, I haven’t answered this many consecutive questions I didn’t want to answer since my fucking French oral!
That Prick/Bitch from school
Possibly the worst of the bunch. They swan over, all handshakes and hugs, smiles and kisses on the cheek and expect you to forget that they’re a piece of shit who you never liked. “I assume you’re still living at home, yeah? I moved out last year, yeah, you should definitely do it. So much more freedom. Oh, you lived abroad for two years. Yeah, so you kind of get it so, yeah. We should definitely meet up though, haven’t seen you since school! Snapchat me!” Yeah, I will in me fuckin’ hole snapchat you you dickhead.
There’s possibly nothing worse than being in the local pub and the failings of the previous season of Junior B are being dissected for the whole night. Most people get it. We’re here for pints and craic, not here to be told how shit we were and most definitely will be next year. The only thing that auld prick who talks about the glory days of Juior A in the ’70s is succeeding in doing is making you more defiant in your own talent and proud of your club. Before you know it, you’re definitely playing again next year and that bastard is smiling in the corner. Maybe that was his plan all along.
It’s half six on Stephen’s Day. Everyone’s quietly drunk and loudly resenting the winners of the long poc. Kids are running around and elderly couples sit by the fire, smiling at the generations mingling before them. As the evening grows darker and the families filter out, one man is on a different level. Moving seamlessly between groups he manages to amuse and annoy in equal measure. Singing songs at an abominable level out of key and making bad and dirty jokes, he weaves through the crowds, leading people to unanimously ask the question…”What fucking time did that eejit get here?” If anybody’s reading this and they thought they had a great time flitting between groups and getting laughs from each of them, the reality is probably that that was you. And we were laughing at you, not with you.
The Coked up Guy That Nobody Knows
Scratch that. There is one person who’s laughing along with the drunkest guy in the room, and that’s the coked up guy that nobody knows. His stories are louder, his jokes are worse and he WON’T. FUCKING. LEAVE YOU ALONE. This motherfucker just will not take a hint and leave. He will pull stories out of his fecking arse to tell you. You know everything about him now. He has cursed you with the knowledge of his existence. He is the real scrooge.
The Life Coach
There’s a special place in hell for people that come into the pub and tell you what you should be doing with your life. I’m sorry, but have you seen where we are? We’re in the local on a Tuesday feckin night. I should be telling you what to do with your life. Let me start. Put down the fuckin gin and tonics and get a pint into your hand, good lad.
Sure look, I could go on and include the people returning from abroad in this list but I think five is a nice number to end on. I also am one of those people and I refuse to make fun of myself on Christmas. I know this has been done before but I feel mine is a bit more authentic than the same shite peddled year after year by different comedian pages on social media. You will for certain meet at least three of these people out over the next week or so. Be prepared, or be one of these people. Who knows which is worse?