Well it has certainly been a while since the last time I rambled on. The cricket season as always takes up my time in the summer. As well as my frequent visits back to my second home in Zante. Unfortunately, the knee injury I’ve been ignoring for a year has finally taken its toll and I am pretty much done. Waiting for a specialist appointment which I’m told will take 6-8 weeks. We all know the actual spread is 16-18.
My coverage of racing has taken a back seat as per usual over the main summer months. Which is probably not the best idea considering my flat racing far outweighs my jump racing analysis. Looking forward to tackling the racing again with some gusto into the back end of the season and into the all-weather (the boos from the back of the room can be heard all round).
The first thing I’ll touch on will be the beloved West Ham. Overall I have to consider the summer a slight success. Whilst a lot of know it alls will say we were mad to part company with Allerdyce, they are also the people that don’t watch us week in week out. His gusto had gone. We started last season playing much better football, attacking with gusto and going after the better teams. Whilst I knew we wouldn’t sustain our top 4 place, to drop away like we did with such timid and poor performances it was clear the time had come. There were times in his reign that Sam got things bang on. The 3-0 win at White Hart Line was a touch of managerial beauty. There were other times when we had no plan B, selected weak teams because he felt we couldn’t win the game. He also relentlessly picked Kevin Nolan, which meant we had to play 4-5-1 to accommodate his old legs, which other teams worked out and took full advantage of. Nolan is his prime was a master at reading the game and knowing where to be. Last season, he was unfortunately way off the pace. The fact no side (even championship) has shown any interest in him says all you need. He will be Big Sam’s assistant in his next job (NAP).
So we move onto the Bilic era. I think he was the right choice for now. I like his ethos and attitude towards the game and what he wants to achieve at the club. I couldn’t give two hoots about playing kids in the Europa League and an early exit. Means nothing. English teams that get in to the group stages have terrible records in the Premier League. Our sole concentration, should be on going to the Olympic Stadium next year on the back of a top ten finish and progress. A massive positive is the signing of Payet from Marseille. He looks a classy player with the ball at his feet. He can beat a man with trickery, pace and strength. His assist stats are phenomenal. Everyone saw at the Emirates last week what an asset he is going to be. Very pleased with the additions of Obiang and Ogbonna. My one criticism would be that on the back of Enner Valencia’s injury news we should have gone and got a striker straight away. Sakho is streets ahead of the others but cannot play alone all the time. Who knows if Carroll will be back, when he’ll be back and how long he’ll last.
I still think we have the basis of a good squad and I really hope that a top ten finish should be doable comfortably. There are some really very average sides in the league this year. If Sunderland don’t finish bottom I’ll be shocked. They were a disgrace on Saturday. Players walking all over the pitch. Watch Cattermole for the 2nd goal. He don’t care.
Cricket hasn’t been too enjoyable over the summer. Whilst I’m very much at the back end of my career we are playing the highest level we ever have down at Rottingdean. It shows. We are 4/5 players short of where we need to be in all honesty. Playing for a year on dodgy knee ligaments has all but done me in. For Sussex again it’s been disappointing. Thought the squad looked capable of challenging in the Championship this season but they have been poor. Managed to get to the quarter finals of the T20 Blast largely down to Luke Wright, but again a poor home performance (said that on repeat the last two years) meant defeat. Let’s just hope having Chris Jordan back for the final few games means that they can have enough fire power to leapfrog Worcester in the table and stay up.
The positive about the cricket season coming to an end means that the NFL season is just a few weeks away! 25 days to be precise. Literally cannot wait this year. I will run a blog on a season preview at some point in the coming months. Could be all change this year. The Seahawks look like they are going to try and throw the ball. The Patriots have plenty of new faces and don’t look like they’ll have Brady for the first 6 weeks (still be 5-1). The Packers look very good, as do the Colts. There are a couple of cracking bets I’ve lined up at bigger prices but I’ll touch on them another day.
With regards to the racing. I’m hearing from Proform Racing towers that a brand new feature is being prepared for the upcoming jump season called the Cheltenham Trail. It will preview up to 80 of the major races that lead to your Cheltenham Festival bets, with facts, figures, stats and trends. Looks a cracking development and I will give you more details as and when they come through to me.
Looking forward to York this week. The Juddmonte looks an absolute belter with Gleneagles taking on Golden Horn. Time Test is no back number either. Should be the race of the year so far. Very much looking forward to seeing Acapulco in the Nunthorpe. She looked an absolute beast at Ascot and gets more allowances than the cast of benefit street. She might break the track record. Gutted that for the 3rd year in a row I can’t go. Bad planning on my part. I’m hosting Sussex vs Essex on Wednesday then on Coral TV duties the rest of the week.
I must end this edition with a note to my beloved pal Bryn Jones who we tragically lost in a car crash in Zante at the weekend. So many fond memories I wouldn’t know where to start on talking about them. He was an infectious character that just made life great. He was my neighbour for a few years with his Mrs Cat, who for the record is just nothing short of a diamond. My heart goes out to her and all of their family. Bryn was 29 and a massive hammers fan. We went away together and always bumped into each other at Upton Park. We were together just a few days ago celebrating beating the Arsenal and being general boys amongst a crowd of gooners. The Zante family has shown themselves to be nothing short of remarkable in their efforts to support Bryn’s family. Saturday was a particularly tough day. Being so far away has not helped. Rest in piece pal. You know that every time I ever sing bubbles I’ll be thinking of you. Now have a word with the big man upstairs and get us in the Champions League.