Tears, Tantrums & the ‘Tricky Trees’ Takeover…

13 07 2012

Tears….

‘Getting closer… I’m going to try this and it’s not going to be easy… I was getting asked the other day after I’d won my semi-final whether this was my best chance. Roger’s 30 now – and he’s not a bad 30-year-old. He’s played a great tournament.’

(A tearful Andy Murray, following his Wimbledon Final defeat) 

It all ended in tears for Andy Murray. He may have lost the biggest match of his life, but his emotional post Wimbledon Final interview, out on the centre court, won the hearts of many tennis supporters who had previously considered his demeanour dour and detached. 

Others will have been equally impressed by his ability to hold his own on the big stage, against one of the greatest tennis artists of all time. 

I had a genuine fear that Murray, in his fourth grand-slam final, would be blown away in three sets by a resurgent Federer, gunning for that record equalling, seventh, All England Championship title.

Thankfully it was not the case. For the best part of two sets, the Scot,at his most positive, took the game to the Swiss, pushing him on to the back foot and pressuring him into more ‘un-forced’ errors than he had made, in the entire tournament, on his way to the final.

With Muray having taken the first set 6-4 (his first ever in a grand-slam final) and Federer still struggling to find his touch in the second, fleetingly, it seemed a major upset might be on the cards. Whether through a lack of ruthlessness, precision, or both, Murray crucially failed to take advantage of two break points, at 4 games all, which would have left him him seen serving out for the second set. And then who knows what…

But in the blink of an eye, tennis magician, Federer somehow conjured up a break of his own and snatched the second set 7-5.

Early in the third, the British weather had its say. The roof was closed to the elements and, following a forty minute delay, Federer returned to perfect ‘indoor’ conditions, which suited his all-out attacking play.

Murray was unable to respond to his opponent’s increased accuracy and aggression. His previously reliable first serve faltered alarmingly and, in striving to stem the tide, by driving the Swiss offensive away from the net, his ground strokes were too often over long.

The rest, as they say, is tennis history. Federer, at thirty, now finds himself ranked number one in the World, once more, an achievement that seemed beyond him this time last year.

Murray, for all his disappointment, showed he is a genuine contender, a talented player who deserves to win at least one grand-slam, but who may be eternally frustrated by having been born into a golden era of men’s tennis that has spawned three all-time greats: Nadal, Djokovic, and above all, reigning supreme, the undisputed king of the centre-court, Roger Federer.

It may not have been Murray’s year (again) but for another British player (just a letter away) it turned out to be a tournament beyond his wildest, ‘wild card’, dreams. Little known, journeyman, Jonathan Marray, and his Danish partner Freddie Nielsen, played the tennis of their lives on the way to winning the men’s doubles title. Who says sporting romance is dead?

Tantrums…

‘I can’t be dealing with people like that, it justifies their own bone idleness. Rather than getting off their a***es and doing something with their lives it’s easier for them to sit underneath a pseudonym on Twitter and write that sort of s**t…’

‘If I felt I had to take drugs I’d rather stop tomorrow…ride to the café on Sundays and work in Tesco stacking shelves.’

(A tetchy Bradley Wiggins in a rage over ‘Le Tour’ doping slurs)

It was Stage 12 of the 2012 Tour de France today, another tortuous affair through the French Alps. Amazingly, two Brits, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome, are currently sitting one and two in the overall standings (the general classification).

It is Wiggins’ 5th consecutive day in the most iconic jersey in international cycling, le maillot jaune, something never before achieved by a British cyclist. He is over three minutes ahead of his main rival, last year’s Aussie winner, Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), and with ten days to go it is beginning to look increasingly like he has a genuine chance of maintaining his advantage all the way to Paris.

Le Tour will be forever tainted by its doping scandals, but, following his first day in the yellow jersey, Wiggins was quick to defend himself against insinuations, treating journalist to a volley of expletives, before storming out in something of a tantrum.

The dust having settled a little, Wiggins has now given journalists very clear reasons why he would never contemplate taking drugs.

He’s a straight talking guy, and a great cyclist who will battle all the way to the Champs Elysees, in this, the greatest of sporting endurance contests. Barring accidents (such as that which scuppered his chances last year, forcing him to retire from the race) Wiggins and the whole nation could have something big to cheer about on July 21st.                        

Tricky Trees Takeover…        

‘We are delighted to announce that we have just completed the acquisition of Nottingham Forest Football Club from the Estate of the late Nigel Doughty.

It is an honour and a privilege for the Al-Hasawi Family to assume control of this great Club steeped in history and with the outstanding legacy left by its previous owner Nigel Doughty.

We know there are challenging times ahead of us to bring the Club back to its glory days and we look forward with excitement to a new successful future.’ 

(Messrs. Fawaz, Abdulaziz & Omar Al-Hasawi – following the Kuwaiti take-over of the ‘Tricky Trees’)     

The long rumoured take-over, of the ‘Tricky Trees’, by the multi-millionaire Al-Hasawi family is now a done deal.

Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, Forest appear to be in the money. It has taken, approaching two weeks for due diligence procedures to be gone through, so it is fair to assume that now is as good a time as any for outrageous optimism about the club’s future.  

Part of the deal, negotiated on behalf of the Doughty family, was an agreement that Forest’s football academy, will be named after the former businessman owner and life-long fan Nigel Doughty, who died unexpectedly last year.  

The new owners have been quick to call time on  manager Steve Cotterill, dismissing him, just nine months into his 3 year contract, on the grounds that he doesn’t fit into their vision for the future. He may consider it harsh, after picking up the pieces from Steve McClaren’s ill-fated reign, and guiding the Reds to end of season safety. My views are well stated elsewhere. I never thought he was the right man for the job and it is better for all concerned to put him out of his misery, sooner rather than later.

I only hope that the new owners have a suitable replacement in mind, for what has become a very attractive proposition – a club with a proud history, sound infrastructure, thriving academy, faithful fan base, and now with the all-important financial backing to bring in quality players.

Of the media’s long list of possible candidates, the current front-runners appear to be, sometime Northern Ireland and Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, and former England manager Glenn Hoddle.

Both are currently out of management, and therefore readily available. McCarthy with a proven track record at Championship level was dismissed by Wolves, towards the end of last season, as they spiralled towards the Premiership trap-door.  

I’m sure he would be a safe pair of hands, and most likely guide Forest towards promotion. But I worry about the style of football his teams tend to play – hard working, well organised, reliant upon physicality and with a direct approach, but too often lacking in flair. In fairness, perhaps he has been restricted by the limitations of the players at his disposal and a lack of financial backing.

As for Glenn Hoddle, the former, mulleted, mid-field maestro for Spurs and England, he has always fashioned teams in his own likeness, with an emphasis on technique and flair. He had an impressive record as England manager, but talked himself out of the job by expressing a series of eccentric religious beliefs.

Hoddle has been out of club football for around six years, devoting himself to his soccer academy in Spain, and occasional appearances as a guest summariser for televised matches.

He is committed to developing talented youth and has a name that might attract players who would not normally consider stepping down into the Championship – both assets.

On balance I would prefer Hoddle, but concede that his appointment would have more of an certain element of risk attached, than that of ‘Mad Mick’.  

Of the other names banded around, Alan Curbishley who did an excellent job with Charlton Athletic, but has also been out of the game some time, would be my preferred choice, with Paolo Di Canio as a ‘wild card’. Paolo has done an impressive job at, unfashionable, Swindon and manages with the same Italian passion that he used to play. Life in the technical area would never be less than interesting!

A first City Ground press-conference with the Al-Hasawis is scheduled for 12.30 on Saturday. I hope this might include an announcement of the new manager but perhaps I’m being over optimistic. However, with only five weeks to go before the start of the 2012-13 Championship season there is much recruitment and team building to be done if the Tricky Trees are to mount a realistic promotion bid…                

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