Thursday, November 29, 2007

29 November 2007: Arrested

Yesterday's blog implied at one point that the deal that saw Harry Redknapp leave Southampton to become manager of Portsmouth, a move arranged by then-Portsmouth Chairman Milan Mandaric, might have been a little on the dodgy side.

Perhaps the police read this blog? Redknapp, Mandaric and three others were arrested yesterday on football corruption charges. Sheesh, that's some quick action.

It actually relates to a very specific deal, that of Amdy Faye moving to Pompey a few years ago, but let's be honest, Harry's never been far from suspicion and I'll never forget the blog I wrote while Harry's bookmaker odds became ridiculously short at the same time that the media were touting Neil Warnock to take over at Pompey. Yes, the arrest relates to just one event, but remember Saddam Hussein's trial? It was over one event. Harold Shipman? A tiny sub-section of his murders. The police go on their strongest case: the rest can follow later.

Harry says he's innocent, of course. "They have to arrest you to talk to you, for you to be in the police station," he says. Uh-huh.

Still, it probably rules him out of the England job.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

28 November 2007: Homecomings


Eugh. The 5.20am Beep Of Death.

That in part explains the now customary lack of blogging at this time of year. Since last report I have, for the moment at least, put this AKTing lark behind me and been focusing more on the Stellent (sorry, Oracle UCM 10gR3) side of things. After spending a little time twiddling with Kofax Ascent and then a sunny and at times hilariously bizarre two weeks in Italy, I'm now into my third week of the current contract, known locally as "The London Commute".

It's not as bad as it could be, to be honest. Up at 5.20, dress and walk down to Southampton Central train station (as it's a little too early for UniLink buses), catch the 6.30 train to Waterloo (which, incidentally, I'm on as I write this, currently 6.43 and we're still in Southampton Central due the the driver having to fill out a bunch of paperwork to report a signal fault he saw further back down the line - we'll be late again, no doubt). This train officially gets in at 7.44 but actually can't get in until at least 7.49 due to line speed restrictions at Basingstoke. Run off down the tunnel to the underground, six stops up the dirty northern line to Warren Street and out, walking to the building of a well-known research charity where I spend the day doing web-related things. Leave just after 4.00, back to Waterloo for the 4.35 departure, arrive in Southampton at about 5.50, get the 6.00 U1A and home by 6.20, at which point I sometimes just fall asleep.

Could be worse. The trains could be slower (well, except for this morning: 6.46 and still not moving), the place I'm working could be further from Waterloo, the people I'm working for could have said, "no, you're working 9.00-5.30 like everyone else" instead of "yes, 8.00-4.00 is fine". And it's only for another week-and-a-half.

(6.48 and the train pulls out of the station).

So, little blogging has taken place. Not to mention the power supply plug on the shiny Dell laptop dying last week, meaning either emergency microelectronics soldering or a new laptop (mmm, gotta love those Christmas prices, such great deals). So instead my life has been full of four-hours-plus travelling every day, mainly aided by the wonders of Podcasts of such broadcasting luminaries as Mark Kermode and Harry Shearer. However, events of such magnitude have taken place in the last few days that I feel I would be neglecting my duty if I didn't report and comment on them.

No, I'm not talking about Gordon Brown losing his Child Benefit details (and everyone else's, come to that), nor England getting knocked out of Euro 2008 (like they deserved to go through?). Forget the elections in Australia, and the potential elections in Pakistan (Musharrif says the State of Emergency will "help the elections". OK.) No, I'm talking about long-awaited homecomings of long-lost heroes. (No, seriously, it's not about the Pakistan elections.)
Firstly, somewhat obscured by the England's McLaren hilarity last week, the good ol' Atlanta Braves announced the return of 42-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Tom Glavine. So what? So, he joined the Braves first time round in 1984, made his debut in 1987 and from 1991 to 2002 was a member - a leader - of the now-legendary team that won their division every year during that period. When the Braves did their worst-to-first turnaround in 1991, Glavine won the Cy Young "pitcher of the year" award for the National League. He did so again in 1998. In 1995, the only year the Braves won the World Series, they did so on the back of Glavine's extremely frugal pitching, for which he won the World Series "Most Valuable Player" award. When budget cuts and contract issues meant he left to join the New York Mets for the 2003 season, he and his family remained living in the Atlanta area, and every winter the question has arisen: "will he be back this year?" Now, five years later and having completed the requisite 300 game wins to essentially secure his place in baseball's Hall of Fame, he's back. And ok, he's not the player he was ten or fifteen years ago, but he's still better than me (and, more importantly, better than Jo-Jo Reyes and Chuck James and the rest of the somewhat disappointing Braves pitching staff last year), so who knows - maybe this can be the catalyst the Braves need to turn it around and start winning the National League East again?

Anyway, that was last week. Also last week Plymouth Argyle manager Ian Holloway walked out on the club to join Leicester City. Holloway, who incidentally had led the team to fifth place in the Championship (and therefore in the playoff positions for a place in the Premiership), decided that it was better to jump ship and manage under the chairmanship of Milan Mandaric (he who tapped up, sorry convinced Harry Redknapp to go from Saints back to Pompey), apparently because they "have better training facilities". Well whoopie-do. Without him, Argyle again won on Saturday and went fourth.

Thing is, that meant a vacancy in the managerial position at Home Park. And that meant one thing: the usual speculation that Paul Sturrock, statistically the greatest manager in the history of Plymouth Argyle (which, admittedly, isn't saying much) would want to return. The difference this time was that it was actually not implausible. Sturrock, no longer managing in the Premiership or even the Championship, was having an ok time at Swindle Town, but was certainly open to suggestion. And yes, less than a week later, he's back, along with Kevin Summerfield and John 'Sloop' Blackley, sweeping in to Home Park at a Press Conference yesterday where he announced that there was nothing wrong with the way Holloway was running the team so he'd find out about the normal weekly routine and keep it that way. And there were big, beaming smiles all round, the days of Judas comments firmly in the past.

Of course, there's a good chance it won't work. It often doesn't when you go back. Glavine might get hit all over the place (and without Andruw Jones in center field, there's a good chance that will happen). Sturrock might find the players don't like him and don't want to play his way (and let's remember, Trigger Evans was a key - an absolute lynchpin - in Sturrock's system, and he's now retired from the game in order to spend more time with his bricks). And then a sad thing happens: the legend dies, or at the very least begins to look a bit sickly. It's no exaggeration to use the word 'legend' with both Glavine and Sturrock (and it's not often you can say that), both have been arguably the finest in their roles in the entire history of their respective teams, and if it doesn't work out, that record becomes tarnished.

But still, it's an exciting time for both clubs. Meantime the train is now speeding towards Basingstoke some 21 minutes late (how is it, by the way, that delayed trains often become more delayed as the journey progresses?) and I'm thinking it's time to flick on the mp3 player and listen to a little Harry Shearer before heading into another day of Stellent Site Studio.

Or maybe I'm still asleep and the alarm is about to wake me up...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

22 November 2007: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!