Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 29 January 2008

And in other news...

By way of a break from the African Nations Cup, here's a selection of some of the recent news stories from the world of football that made us laugh, cry or stamp on our computer keyboard in a fit of rage.

Dennis Wise goes to Newcastle
Yes, it's all very sad really. I know there are people out there - many people - who hate and despise Leeds United. I ought to be one myself as a West Ham fan, but then again I've never been a 'typical' West Ham fan in that I generally have an agreeable way with most people. Anyway, I digress.

Even if you do have a thing about Leeds, you can't have failed to admire the job that Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet did in getting the club off to such an amazing start this season. Having entered administration in May 2007, Leeds were relegated from the Championship and forced to begin their 2007/2008 League 1 campaign on -15 points, but Wise ensured the deficit wouldn't be big for long.

His team won their first seven league games on-the-trot and went on to complete a thirteen game unbeaten run until they succumbed at the hands of Carlisle United in November. As things currently stand, Leeds United have lost only four of their 28 League 1 games so far and currently sit fourth in the table. Were it not for the 15 point deduction, they'd be leading the table by three points by now.

And that's why it was such sad news when first Gus Poyet decided to jump ship to become second in command to Juande Ramos at Tottenham and now Dennis Wise himself has been tempted to become Director of Football at Newcastle. So much hard work done, so much progress achieved, and yet a matter of weeks into the new year Leeds find themselves without the managerial wizards that have put them within touching distance of a return to the Championship.

I know many of you will be sniggering and laughing up your sleeves about all this, but from the purists point of view, you have to feel a pang of sympathy for the Elland Road club. Whether they can finish in a play-off place or higher this season is now the sole responsibility of former player Gary McAllister, and I for one wish him well as it'll be a shame to see such fortitude in the squad go to ruin.

ITV and the almost complete coverage of Euro 2008
Here in the UK last week, the two main terrestrial broadcasters, the BBC and ITV announced their plans for which games they'll be showing during this summer's European Championships.

As usual, there was a fair degree of horse-trading between the two. The BBC have elected to show the opening game between Switzerland and the Czech Republic while ITV take the Turkey v Portugal match later on the same day. The fixture carve-up continues from there onwards with one company taking the stronger game on any particular day and the other taking the weaker game and vice-versa.

So far, so predictable, except when it comes to the Final, the BBC will be showing the tournament's climax live on June 29th while ITV... decide not to bother. They'll be showing highlights of the Final later in the evening.

Now before you say it, I know most people watch the big finals on BBC out of preference over ITV, but when you've gone to the bother of showing live games every day throughout the competition from Day 1, wouldn't you then show the Final live at the end too? I mean have they gone stark raving mad?!? It's like building a house and not bothering to put the roof on when you've finished.

I think now ITV have officially lost the plot. Their broadcasting output has been in freefall for many years now where entertainment's concerned, but this takes the biscuit. If they had any credibility in the eyes of football fans in this country before now, it's surely gone down the plughole once and for all with this news...

Open foot, insert mouth
Finally, we return to the African Nations Cup (well you knew we would eventually, didn't you?) Yes, our old friend Count Sepp von Blatter has been at it again. He's decided that the two-yearly tournament currently taking place over in Ghana could be the last to be held in its traditional January slot. Apparently it's clashing badly with the club football going on across Europe and many players are having to go absent from the Premier League, Serie A and elsewhere while it's going on.

His answer to this apparent crisis: to move the competition to June and July by 2016.

Well now, let's see. First of all, clubs don't have to buy African players. Manchester United have no African players and yet they're flying high in the Premier League. It therefore pays to say that any club that does buy an African player has to accept the fact that he (or they) will be absent every two Januarys for what would appear to be a damn good reason.

Secondly, what happens when an African Nations Cup held in the middle of the year coincides with the World Cup or European Championships? Ah, fear not. He's thought of that. It'd have to be moved to an odd-numbered year. So that's alright then.

Add to the equation that the climate for many African countries in June and July, according to CAF, is not suitable for playing football in and you have yet another hair-brained scheme from Dr. Blatter that's doomed to failure. We wonder why he bothers to open his mouth sometimes, but we think it's just to keep us all entertained, and that, we think you'll agree, is something we should all be grateful for.

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