Sunday 31 May 2015

FA CUP FINAL - Well done Gooners

I was nervous about the FA Cup final all week. In fact I have been nervous since Aston Villa made mince meat of Liverpool at Wembley during the 2nd semi final.

Many neutrals while hoping for Arsenal to fail were resigned to the fact that they were the better team and were favourites to win. Many Arsenal fans were nervously confident but I doubt if any were  over confident. Any true Arsenal fan know that we usually need to battle 2 teams in any game.

There is the game versus the opponents which is hard enough and there is another game the Arsenal players play against themselves. We always need to win these two to win any match.

I was worried. The results versus Villa in the pre - Sherwood days meant nothing to me. A month before the 2014 FA Cup final, we beat Hull 3 nil at the KC Stadium. One month later, I was at Wembley and watched Hull almost go 3 nil up in the first 20 minutes. That is the Arsenal I support.

Almost 5 and a half years ago, I was in the midst of a terrible personal tragedy driving up the A12 motorway when I learnt Arsenal had lost to Birmingham City FC in comical circumstances. I had told myself prior to the final that Arsene Wenger was going to win the League Cup the very first year he took it serious. Oh. Was I wrong. Very wrong.

I have seen matches we were winning comfortably end in a draw (Anderlecht this season at the Emirates), I have seen matches where we didn't deserve to win only to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (against the same Anderlecht in Belgium this season), I have seen many teams defeat us or get a point from their only shot on target versus our 1 million shots on target. I have only been supporting Arsenal since 1990 so I can not claim to have seen it all.

This week, I remembered Villa defeating Arsenal at the first match of the 2013/2014 season. I am sure millions of Arsenal fans verbally abused the muppet referee that day including yours truly.

I also remember Villa putting up a good fight against Manchester City and bar some headsgone moment from Brad Guzan, were good for at least a point. So I didn't think yesterday was a done deal.

I was also worried about the Referee. I have watched many matches where the referees especially in the English game believe its their God given right to even out the teams by either given contentious decisions in favour of the underdogs or ignoring legitimate calls in favour of the so called favourites. And when I learnt that the referee for the Cup Final wanted to be a manager, it worried me.

Match day yesterday.  I was surprised at the Wenger calls. Scz in goal was a surprise because he didn't play him in the West Brom game (was that a Fabianski moment? Say good bye to your fans? was that an emotional decision, opportunity for Scz to experience a cup final win? Loyalty to my Cup keeper? I am sure we will find out one day)

Walcott up front. Very bold. Giroud was the conservative choice. You know what he brings to the team. Do we stick to the tried and previously tested or should we be bold and go for the in -  form player. He chose the latter.

Fair play to the Prof. His choices panned out. Scz bar one moment where he and Per both clattered each other, performed well and I can't remember him putting a foot wrong. Of course Walcott got the first goal and justified the Prof's confidence. Unfortunately he also appeared to have earned that tosser Piers Morgan some money with the bookies.

Walcott could have scored twice before his first goal. Once Richardson cleared his goal bound pass and before that Ramsey had a chance to hook the ball to him while Theo was clear and Ramsey went for glory and missed.  On another day, small margins.

I don't think the match was a procession like many would like to say now. Yes the result showed it was a comprehensive win. Villa gave it a go and didn't allow Arsenal play out of the back, they attempted to choke (solidify) the space where Per & Kosc play the ball out, but this attempt left loads of space for the Arsenal forwards once the right long ball connected.

You might have to blame Tim Sherwood as it appeared he only had one game plan which was to frustrate the Arsenal defenders from bringing the ball out but didn't cater for the pace of the forwards if that plan failed to work. Offensively, it appeared it was all about crosses and they tried this many times. It appears Scz was primed for the crosses and contested every one of them. Thinking of the Villa crosses, this might be why the Prof preferred Scz to Ospina. Clearly Scz's reach is longer than Ospina and looking at the Swansea & West Brom matches in the last 2 weeks, it is clear Ospina might be slightly deficient with crosses.

Offensively we were good. All our players turned up without exception. Arsenal fans mutter about Alexis losing the ball. But I only remember one incident where he did that yesterday. It was that good.

So what next? Charity Shield 2015, some have already said Chelsea & Mourinho will win. Lets prove them wrong guys.

Some people want Wenger out and are so blase about it. We need fresh blood the say because they have run out of excuses including their usual excuses about not winning any thing. I say they need fresh brains. You have a team where the owner and directors have 100% confidence in the manager, you have a team that is wholly made and built by the same manager, you have a team that went through a long lean patch and has suddenly started winning back to back trophies. You have a team that top class players like Ozil & Alexis want to come to because of this same Manager and you want him out. I am glad the directors and owners are not persuaded by this type of thinking.

Next season, I hope we mount a proper challenge for both the EPL & UCL. I am also aware that winning titles is not the divine right of any team. Football is a game of small margins. Arsenal mounting a challenge, remaining on the hunt for the title till the very last day of the season is good for me. Arsenal in the final of next year's UCL is good for me also.  Winning it will be be absolutely brilliant but let us mount a proper challenge and hope the small margins fall in place for us.

Come on you Gooners

 PS: Watching the parade today on Arsenal player and I tell you Olivier Giroud is so vain (in a nice way I dare say), I could see him pretty himself up before going on stage, rustling his hair for that HFB look.

Monday 25 May 2015

Comparing Arsenal Vs Chelsea - 2014/15 vintage

The Premier League season is over. Arsenal's season is not yet over though. One more match to go. I am hoping the Arsenal players turn up next Saturday and also hoping the small margins favour Arsenal.

From a fan perspective, I have tried to compare the Arsenal and Chelsea squads and see if there is a massive gap in class as the pundits suggest or if there is a small difference between both squads as I suspect.

The Arsenal squad is made up of:

David Ospina / Wojciech Szczesny & Emiliano Martinez. All of these goalkeepers have played for the club at one stage or the other this season.

Defenders are Matthieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Nacho Monreal, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin, Gabriel & Isaac Hayden.

Santi Carzola, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Matthieu Flamini, Mesut Ozil, Francis Coquelin, Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik and Alex Oxlade - Chamberlain are all listed as midfielders on the club website.

Forwards are Olivier Giroud, Danny Wellbeck, Theo Walcott, Serge Gnabry, Alexis and Chuba Akpom.

 Carl Jenkison (defender), Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo & Ryo Miyaichi (all forwards) are listed as loanees on the first team page of

For ease of comparison, I will ignore the players on loan even though some of them only left in January. They did not add much to the playing squad before their departure. I will also discount Isaac Hayden,  Abou Diaby, Gedion Zelalem, Krystian Bielik, Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom. They haven't really been first team players this season. Although Chuba has had 3 appearances in the Premier League, he is really on the fringes of the first team.

Chelsea squad are as follows: Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois & Jamal Blackman are goal keepers.  

Defenders are John Terry, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Felipe Luis, Kurt Zouma, Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen

Midfielders are Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic, Oscar, John Mikel Obi, Ramires, Juan Cuadrado & Ruben Loftus - Cheek

While the forwards are Diego Costa, Didier Drogba, Loic Remy and Isaiah Brown.

As with the Arsenal squad, It is easy to discount Jamal Blackman, Nathan Ake, Andreas Christensen, Ruben Loftus - Cheek and Isaiah Brown. They have contributed little or nothing to winning the championship in the just concluded season. 

Comparing Goal keepers

It is fair to say that the 'PUNDITaraty'  believe that Chelsea's Cech & Courtois are amongst the top 3 in the Premier League this season. The 3rd one is David De Gea. 

As recently as the 2013/14 season, Arsenal's now number 2, Szczesny was joint winner of the EPL top GK award with Petr Cech. Some believe the Polish stopper has taken a step back this season and this is why he has lost his place to David Ospina

If you go by the comments from pundits, the Colombian number one is not a top goalkeeper but I dare say the stats show differently. As at 8 days ago  Sky Sports published a stat showing that Ospina had the best save percentage. You can see the stat here . The fact that Courtois and De Gea are at the bottom of this stat might make you query the reliability of this measure. However it is a measure and supposedly used by independent assessors. Whether you agree with the stats or whether the stats tally with what your eyes tell you is a different matter. 

As at the 3rd of May, there were a few articles in the newspapers claiming that David Ospina was statistically the best goal keeper in the Premier League. One of these articles can also be seen here. Again it is up to you to judge. For me, however you have to look at goals conceded, and you have to review matches to see if the goal keeper made saves to deny goals or if this was an average goalkeeper behind a rock solid defender. 

Based on watching full Arsenal matches and highlight of the ones I didn't watch live, I have seen one clanger leading to a goal by Ospina (v West Brom for the solitary goal conceded by Arsenal) but I can easily remember two clangers by Courtois  without going back to check the records (v. Stoke / Charlie Adam long range strike and v. Hull where he passed to the opponent and Chelsea conceded - wonderful assist if you ask me). 

I do not see any issues for Arsenal in the goalie department. If I were to concede to the pundits, I will say Courtois or Cech are marginally better than Ospina. Considering the fact that Courtois is rated at close to £30m, as an Arsenal fan I will have to say 'No thanks'. If goalkeepers like Tera Stegen (the Barcelona cup keeper are available for reasonable sums and they are tired of 'captaining' the bench), I will gladly change the Arsenal goalkeeper but in the absence of this type of obvious quality, I will stick with Oooooospina


I will not trade Laurent Koscielny for any of the Chelsea defenders. Although I will suggest that Laurent might need to be a bit more of a bruiser. He is perhaps symptomatic of the nice boy image of all Arsenal players (except Alexi Sanchez) . I don't think Laurent has a reputation as a brute on the field of play amongst opponents. 

As far as I am concerned Gary Cahill is Phil Jones with slightly better limbs coordination. He is a walking red card if the Referees applied the rules a bit more firmly. 

Will John Terry work into any defensive system in the world? I don't think so. He doesn't have pace and is vulnerable to any team / forward with abundance of pace. He has benefited immensely from the way Chelsea are set up. As a defensive unit and a central defensive partnership, you will say that the combination of Terry, Cahill and Zouma (any two) are better than any central defensive pairing Arsenal can put up. Next season with Gabriel fully acclimatised, I will imagine that Koscielny and Gabriel will (injury permitting) be the best centre back pairing in the EPL. 

The Chelsea full backs in Cesar and Branislav are made of concrete. In the case of the latter we are talking actual concrete. His parents used to feed him cement mixture as a kid. Arsenal full backs have nothing on these two. The Chelsea pair defend, play dirty and support the attack. 

Yes Hector Bellerin is easily Arsenal's revelation of the year. He is so good that the rumour mill is agog with Barcelona's interest. Hector is an absolute gem. In fact Barcelona can come and take him for £50m. He has to be worth at least that if Liverpool are hawking Raheem Sterling for £60m. 

However, Hector is a nice boy, lacking steel, his best asset is his offensive play. Yes he is proving his mettle as a defender but he has nothing on the Chelsea full backs. Same with Monreal or Gibbs. The former has improved significantly this season. His stint at centre back appears to have toughened and sharpened him. He is a competent defender but still short of the heights attained by the Chelsea full backs. Kieran is also an okay full back but I doubt if anybody thinks the Arsenal full backs are better than the Chelsea full backs. 

A fit Matthieu Debuchy is another matter entirely. I believe if Matthieu was fully fit, he can offer the same steel as the Chelsea full backs. But his first season at Arsenal has been blighted by 2 freakish injuries. 


You perhaps have seen the comparison of Coquelin versus Matic showing the former to be a better defensive midfielder  I buy into that comparison wholeheartedly and like Arsene Wenger I find it unfortunate that we didn't sell Coquelin to Charlton on a free and buy him back for £21m like Chelsea did for Matic. It is also sad that his usefulness to the team as a DMF was not identified much earlier in the season. 

I subscribe to the philosophy that there is a time and place for everything in life and realise that the needs of the Arsenal team, Coquelin's realisation of the role he wants to perform as a footballer and Arsene Wenger's willingness to give it another go had to coincide for us to discover that he was a solution to our DMF troubles. For me, Matic or Coquelin. No difference except the extra £21m Professor Wenger can use in fixing other areas where we are clearly deficient. 

Ozil ahead of anybody in the attacking midfield position of Chelsea except Hazard. You can make a case for Fabregas too based on the defensive shift Fabregas puts in. Offensively the Arsenal midfield is streets ahead of Chelsea minus Hazard. Defensively the Chelsea midfield is way ahead of Arsenal. The Chelsea players are well versed in their defensive duties and in football gamesmanship. Every single one of them is quick to try sneaky fouls or leg breaking ones if it suits their purpose. 

From what I can see, Arsenal need to add a dribbler in the mold of Hazard to its attacking midfield for it to surpass Chelsea's midfield. Oscar, John Mikel Obi, Ramires and Juan Cuadrado are clearly behind in the pecking order if you compare them to Santi Carzola, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade - Chamberlain.

Forwards / Strikers

In March when Olivier Giroud was in fine form, the goals per match stats suggested he was the better striker when compared with Diego Costa. I will suggest that using the Thierry Henry Theorem of Strikers which was recently concocted in the Sky Sports Studio and now awaiting FIFA's sanction and acceptance into the Football bible, Diego Costa is the better striker as you can win a Premier League title with Diego Costa. 

Personally and from a moralistic angle, I will not have Diego Costa near any team I support. He will end up in prison one day for his on field antics. Like Luis Suarez, I do not think he is worth the trouble and is likely to be a liability if his team are struggling.  

As a forward and in terms of first year impact, I will rate Alexis Sanchez alongside Diego Costa although the Arsenal man hasn't played as an out and out target man this season. Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck have comparable numbers of goal scored with Loic Remy although the latter has had fewer appearances than Danny Welbeck. I am sorry I have not included Didier Drogba because I consider him a spent force. 


Like Luis Suarez and Diego Costa, I also do not want Jose Mourinho near any team I support. The day Jose rocks up at Arsenal as the Manager is the day I stop supporting Arsenal. 

Notwithstanding, Jose is very pragmatic. Take the Andre Schurle transfer as an example . Wenger knew the German players were very tired because of the World Cup but we persevered with Per, Ozil and Podolski. Mourinho knew the same about Schurle and got rid of him. Wenger is a 'keeper' and there is no father figure like him in the modern game. Mr Mourinho on the other hand is a 'use em and dump em' type. 

I suspect Mourinho rules by fear whereas Wenger's style is love. To each his own. Mourinho has proved that he is willing to use skulduggery Wenger likes to play fair. It is no coincidence that each and every one of the Chelsea player is one tackle away from a red card whereas Arsenal players are usually 'nicey nicey'.  

This season, Wenger and Arsenal appear to have adapted and tempered their 'attack attack' philosophy for pragmatism when it matters. On plenty of occasions this season, Wenger has adapted style of play and personnel. So maybe this is a different Wenger and the result might be more evident next season.


The full backs (both) and Eden Hazard are the main difference between Arsenal and Chelsea in my opinion. 

Someone whose analysis I enjoy reading has suggested that a 'lock picker' / dribbler like Eden Hazard is the missing puzzle piece that Arsenal need. I buy into this narrative but will add that Arsenal need absolutely monsters at full back. I like Matthieu Debuchy as one of the full backs and will appreciate another tough no nonsense full back on the opposite flank. 

I am happy with our ball playing midfielders + hopefully we sign the lock picker. Let them loose and watch them deliver it on a platter for Olivier Giroud to tap in and win Arsenal the 2015/16 league title. 


My post last week was about the incompetence of energy companies. I was preparing to write about the famous government body in charge of mediating between warring partners when the bumbling incompetence of Thomas Cook took over the front pages of newspapers.

For the sake of the family involved I suppose it is now a good thing that the issue has died down. No parent wants to read about their deeply distressing situation in the media on a daily basis. With the recent face to face apology by the Thomas Cook Chief Executive, I assume the parents going by the comments they made on TV will now appreciate the space to mourn and heal in private. I cannot imagine a worse fate for a parent than losing their young children in a totally avoidable situation.

I suppose if this was some kind of terrible natural disaster, it might lessen the pain. However knowing some people failed to do the right thing on a number of level must make you very angry and understandably bitter towards these people especially with the demeaning way Thomas Cook has handled this issue for the last 9 years.

The engineer in Corfu who failed to do the job of fixing the boiler properly. The parsimonious hotel management who did not appoint a well qualified engineer to do the boiler fixing work and failed to purchase a cheap carbon monoxide detector knowing the potential dangers involved are all as culpable as the incompetent and cruel Thomas Cook - a global holiday company no less. They signed up a hotel in Corfu without a clue on the standard of care in place. Massive incompetence. Banks are tasked with knowing their customers and ensuring the financial system is not tarnished. An holiday company that we entrust our lives to did not even make the effort to ensure its supplier has proper health and safety standards in place. What a shower of disgrace. This was a jumbo jet sized failure on many level.

Due to Thomas Cook's failure, 2 beautiful kids died. Their dad and his partner were initially unconscious but revived and were extremely lucky not to die. Thomas Cook then took the family on a 9 year merry go round. A wicked wild goose chase. They did not apologised. As far as they were concerned, they had done nothing wrong. There was no acceptance of guilt. Weasel words after weasel words were uttered. Words put together by some faceless and conscienceless moron masquerading as an intelligent person.  As recently as 3 weeks ago at the Coroner's Inquest into the kids' death, Thomas Cook staff refused to give evidence and the company refused to say sorry. Reading the news report in the papers was heart wrenching. It was callousness in its purest form. Which makes me wonder why are they saying sorry now.

Different people have offered explanations of this change of approach. One of these is that the company is losing so much money and goodwill that it was in their commercial interest to say sorry and hope the whole issue blows away. If this is true, Thomas Cook is even more despicable, wicked and evil than you can imagine.

If that is not the case and they are genuinely sorry, I am worried about the 180 degree change in approach. Was Thomas Cook wrong as recently as 3 weeks ago when they refused to apologise to the kids'  parent or are they right now? If they were wrong 3 weeks ago, what has happened to the people (staff, executives, lawyers, PR advisers) who advised that the previous approach was the right one? Have they been fired? Or were they acting in the interest of the business then? The company's interest defined as "say whatever it takes to take the heat away" "say anything to persuade a gullible public to look at us positively" "spin a yarn and deflect attention from our callous incompetent".

Personally, I hope everybody / every single person who was involved in the decision making process on this issue should be fired and lose any discretionary entitlement. In addition, I see no reason why the Crown Prosecution Service is not bringing charges of corporate manslaughter against Thomas Cook and its senior executives. You can click here and here and here for examples of cases where people have been jailed for fitting of boilers that led to fatalities. Why should Thomas Cook be treated differently? Is it the case of another rule for the common man and a different one for the big companies?

Forget the cack handed attempt at spin and PR by Thomas Cook claiming they donated money to charities as if they don't claim tax relief for charitable donations. Forget the fact they were probably negotiating for a huge compensation from the hotel in Corfu while fobbing off the parents of the little kids. Thomas Cook have been extremely vile in their behaviour. The minimum the Crown Prosecution Service can do in this case is to let Thomas Cook have its day in court. Let us understand their shambolic and incompetent decision making process. Expose their venality and wickedness to the paying public and hope they get their just desserts

Sunday 17 May 2015


I have had two bruising encounters in the last 2 weeks with two very big organisations and I fear this is symptomatic of what I have come to expect of big organisations. People slag off Ed Miliband for supposedly demonising big organisations but forgive me they are bad and nasty and unforgivably INCOMPETENT and I should know. TRUST ME. Below is the breakdown of my encounter with one of them.

About 18 months ago, I moved accommodation. Bigger place for relatively less money if you compare what I was getting to what I was giving up. As I try my best to be meticulous, I notified all my utility providers of my last day at the premises by calling their expensive 08 numbers. My electricity provider was having none of it as they wanted me to call at a later date. I was determined not to. I have called you and notified you. I have my call records to evidence this. I will not call at a later date.

13 months after I moved out, I got a letter at my new (13 MONTHS OLD) place claiming they had been looking for me and will now charge me £12 for the privilege of finding me, asking for over £100 unpaid electricity bill, threatening me with bailiffs, court case and a poor credit history.

What a cheek? I was incensed & livid. These 'people' have my mobile phone number and email address and had to spend £12 looking for me. GREAT. As my account with them was always in credit as I paid by direct debit, I wasn't too worried of the final outcome. In fact I expected a refund of approximately £30 from them after leaving the premises in question. However as I was determined not to call them, I let the £30 go. Also, I knew my electricity consumption profile guaranteed that there was no way I was owing anything.

I replied to their first letter asking them to log my letter as a complaint. By the way, I don't know about you but I am tired of calling utility companies (water, mobile, telephone, TV, Gas, Electricity, Banks, Council etc) by telephone. Their numbers are expensive to call and the people who pick up the phone are NUMPTIES. No power of comprehension. They don't have a brain cell between them and are very versed like a parrot at repeating their well rehearsed lines. You dare not ask to speak with their manager. I know for a fact you get bollocked for passing on a call to your manager.

I sent my letter via the registered mail facility. Another bug bear of mine is that big companies are very adept at 'not receiving' your letter if sent by normal post. They are also adept at 'not finding' any records of your calls when they have cocked up. This is why I will always send my letters by registered post and seek to reclaim my cost from them. I'm sure they will find a way around this very soon.

In my letter, I asked for the meter readings for the outstanding bill. NO RESPONSE. 2 weeks later, I received another threatening letter. Same spiel. I responded in a similar manner. All these while I was living in fear that a bailiff might turn up or court summons might be posted through the door.

There was no response to my 2nd letter although the next demand from them was a for a reduced amount. The outstanding had now gone down to £60. I knew I had them. They didn't have any readings. They only wanted to try it on.

I then wrote a 3rd letter to the Executive Complaint Team and had a mealy mouthed guy call me on my mobile. WHOOPEE EFFING DOO. They were looking for me but had my mobile number all along. They had also sent me a marketing email in the interim.

The guy on the phone tried to be smart and said they were going to write off the outstanding debt. I suspect he was expecting me to kiss his backside. I told him where to jump off and made clear I wasn't expecting debt forgiveness. He threatened not to write the bill off which meant that the process (Court Case, Bailiffs etc) will continue. I told him off and made him understand that the UK wasn't quite at the level of Iran and Afghanistan yet. There are laws (barely I dare say) in this country my friend and your threats are baseless. I was now more confident of the whole outcome. To me, this was an admission they had got it wrong.

I told him never to call me EVER AGAIN and to put any offer at resolving my complaint in a letter. I have since received the letter.  The deception and incompetence contained in the letter is staggering. They claimed to have responded to my initial letters by writing to my old address. BIG FAT LIE. The same address I quit almost 18 months ago. LIAR LIAR PANT ON FIRE. They know how to send the 'bills' to the right address but the complaint response to the wrong address. YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP.

They offered me £25 as a goodwill gesture. Seems remarkably close to the £30 refund I was expecting initially. This offer has even incensed me further. You have threatened me and wasted my time.  I have spent hours outside of my daily routine writing unnecessary letters to you, expend not insignificant sums posting those same letters to you, spent time worrying that bailiffs will turn up at my door and you offer me £25. NAUSEATING

I have reviewed the meter readings they sent and it is a JOKE. A very unfunny one. It is way out by over 2 weeks and just reinforces my thoughts that they were making it up all along. Write Joe Public a threatening letter, he panics and pays up and our shareholders are richer. CAPITALISM WORKS.

The system is broken. The system that allows a big corporation make the life of the common man a misery for no reason bar that big company' incompetence. For me, this is not an isolated case. This is very symptomatic of big companies and I have epexerinced it at first hand.

I am still debating on my next steps. Ideally if I have the power, I will ensure there are heavy fines for companies that engage in this debacle especially in cases like mine where their incompetence is glaring.

I will make sure that the Contact Centre staff of big companies are empowered to make decisions and where the decision to be made is above their pay grade that the situation be referred to their managers. Do these companies really believe in customer service or do they believe in inconveniencing the customer so much that they just pay off to get them off their backs?

If I had the power, I will make sure that the Credit Reference Agencies can take out any item on your Credit Report in real time once there is a dispute with a provider. Of course they can then add the item later once the dispute is resolved in the provider's favour.  

If I had the resources, I will institute a class action suit against all energy providers to determine if there is a possibility of winning massive payouts for people they have treated in the same way. My gut feelings tells me this is a lucrative business avenue for these companies. Also I will tear up the whole of their complaint resolution process and procedures and take their staff on a massive retraining programme.

Finally, I am still thinking of my next steps. I will certainly be contacting OFGEM on this matter and If I don't receive a reasonable and favourable outcome, I shall be contacting the responsible minister for Energy Companies and my MP and will genuinely love to turn this into a Media issue.

To think some people in less developed countries, hold the UK and Europe out as ideals to be emulated when you talk about competence and customer service. I have been cured of that delusion.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Thierry Henry - did you engage brain before opening mouth

I am an Arsenal fan first and foremost and I am a firm believer in the 'player go player come' philosophy. My allegiances are to the club and not to any individual.

I know Thierry Henry is held in very high esteem by the Arsenal fan base. He is a legend, he was a legend as a player. The statute outside the Emirates is evidence of this.

I share in the adulation of him and bask in his achievements for the club BUT it is looking like Thierry Henry the pundit will never measure up to Thierry Henry the player.

I was very upset when he came out with his recent comments about Olivier Giroud. What was he smoking or drinking? Did he fall into the proverbial trap of opening mouth before engaging brain? I know many including Wenger have responded to his bizarre comments about Giroud with stats and they have recognised the pressure Pundit Henry was under to deliver controversial comments and clickbait articles. Good for him if that is the path he wants to toe.

What amazes me is the risk he was taking with those comments.

1) Having a pop at your country's number 1 striker

2) Having a go at your supposedly favourite club's striker

3) Risking your relationship with Wenger (Arsene's capacity to bear grudges I hear is legendary)

4) Risking a backlash from the Arsenal fan base

5) Risking your relationship with the players (attack against one is an attack against all)

What kind of madness makes a man risk everything he has achieved for a fledging punditry career? I understand his Sky contract was a massive one financially but the man is not short of a few bob is he?

Constructive criticism is good. Bizarre ones NOT AT ALL. I accept Arsenal is yet to win the league and Henry might eventually be proved right if Arsenal don't win the league with Oivier but we won't know this until either Olivier retires or leaves Arsenal. Except Thierry has a crystal ball he won't know too. Yes he can give his opinion but his opinion should be based on something like stats which for now is at variance with the opinion he has expressed on Giroud. They might be based on intuition which effectively is hot air.  Or is this another form of Gooner baiting seeing as it appears he has made those comments to generate a response. Maybe Thierry Henry is the new Adrian Durham. If that is what he aspires to, he should come out clearly and not pretend he is this great Arsenal luvvie while pissing into the tent.

Just a couple of reminders about some of Mr Henry's views

1) He wanted Arsenal to re - sign Alex Song. The tweet of that has mysteriously disappeared from his twitter timeline. We can all see how Alex is about to win the FOTY award. Non?

2) The illogical criticism of Chicharito for not celebrating with Ronaldo. Where on earth did that come from? I don't remember Monsieur Henry celebrating much with Jose Antonio Reyes in their playing days at Arsenal. What happened then Thierry? Did you just develop these new set of values or did the Sky Bundle / Package deal happen?

A final word to and on Thierry. Maybe if you had played out of your skin and single handedly won Arsenal the Champions League in Paris that night in 2006 or you had played to the best of your ability and won Arsenal back to back Premier League titles or even emulated some crocked club in the North West by winning Arsenal a treble, the club and his manager won't be the subject of some of ridicule from no nothing pundits.


Saturday 9 May 2015

The UK General Elections

Elections concluded. Results out. Fallout very apparent.

Although I don't vote, the result of the election has left me feeling bruised as I have some sympathies for the Labour party.

My life as a politically conscious adult coincided with the Margaret Thatcher years. As I was raised by a single mother, the fact that a lady won the election for the position of Prime Minister resonated with me. Her election heralded a golden age of what women could accomplish. Although to be fair this cynical grown up me now thinks that Thatcher's accomplishment as a female Prime Minister was been oversold. For God's sake Indira Gandhi was a Prime Minister of India in 1966 a full 13 years before Thatcher.

Jeffery Archer's book "First Amongst Equal" developed my interest in UK parliamentary politics while The Blair years further endeared me and many others the world over to life in the UK. There were lots of positives about the UK during the Blair years - economy was 'booming' and it was to all intents and purposes, a very open and tolerant society. There was nothing not to like about the UK and the party in power.

It all started to unravel for Labour as it usually does for any party that stays long enough in power. The turning point appears to be the Iraq War. The  unprecedented immigration and the muzzling of debate over this issue and the effects of the global financial crisis appear to be final nails in Labour's political coffin. I think they are still suffering the after effect even till today.

At the 2010 General Election, Gordon Brown suffered the backlash of these 'crimes'. Some might say the pummelling Labour received for supposedly 'emptying' the country's coffers was well deserved as he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer throughout the Blair years and was largely responsible for that government's economic policies including its regulation of financial services industry. In addition to this deficiency, Gordon Brown suffered from the fact that he wasn't easy on the eye and his opponent had more charisma. This is something Ed Miliband has also suffered from. An unfortunate  sad reflection of today's society - 'packaging is more important than substance'.

I remember reading some informed commentary following the start of David Cameron's Prime Ministership. The writer forecasted that the party in government after 2010 will lose the next election as that government will have to supervise the belt tightening to follow. The writer was drawing from history which suggests that the parties that win election after very tough economic upheavals rarely win the next elections due to voters anger and backlash.

David Cameron's election win in the 2015 elections has come to me as something of a surprise. People have ignored the belt tightening, the suicides by people disadvantaged by the bedroom tax, the questionable moral and economic choices that appears to have been made.  It would appear that the  Liberal Democrats rather than the Conservatives have carried the can for the last 5 years. I struggle to understand why. Apart from the increase in university tuition fees, I don't see what the Lib Dems have done wrong.

Could it be that Liberal Democrat voters now feel that their are no ideological differences between their party and the Conservatives?  Could it be that voters only wanted to vote for a party that could form a government and genuinely wanted nothing to do with a coalition government? I don't have the answers but from a personal angle, I think this is proper karma for Nick Clegg. From all I have read, he 'dicked' Gordon Brown and Labour about in 2010 and was seduced by the allure of power and is deservedly paying the price. Decisions & responsibilities - c'est la vie

I don't have answers for Labour's poor performance either.  But if you review this page on the BBC website you will see that the Labour party had a net loss of 26 seats. Minus the 40 seats loss to the SNP, Labour had a net gain of 14 seats. If you strip out Scotland, Ed Miliband performed better than Gordon Brown. If you add the 40 seats lost in Scotland, Labour would still have 59 seats less than the Conservatives and would have been the 2nd largest party in Westminster. For me the failure of Labour as some have identified is the inability to persuade non core Labour voters, floating voters, wavering Conservative voters and disillusioned Liberal Democrats voters to choose the Labour Party at the polls.

Also, I do not think the 331 seats won by the Conservative is a ringing endorsement from the electorate either. Their election strategy has left the SNP spoiling for a fight that might eventually lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. They have created a generation of Liberal Democrats that are forever unlikely to do the Conservatives any favour and they will be facing a Labour party that potentially couldn't fall any further if it tried.

In addition to these political party issues, I am of the opinion that the Conservatives face many challenging policy issues of their own making. One of these is Europe and the promised referendum. The decision to promise a referendum appears deeply cynical and was done only to win votes.  As the election approached, I understand that businesses and the City did not panic because they believed there will be a hung parliament and the government will be formed by a coalition of parties and this will make a referendum on Europe unlikely. With a Conservative Majority, David Cameron cannot duck out of a referendum. Any attempt to water down the referendum or avoid it a second time will make his position untenable and if he goes ahead, the uncertainty is likely to severely impact his government as Corporate UK considers the threat of this country's exit from Europe as the biggest risk they face.

Another one the challenging policy issue is the promised £12b cut in the welfare budget. If the evidence of the past 5 years is to be believed, the effect of the cut will be felt more by the vulnerable. A few lies have been peddled regarding the welfare budget. Some of these will become evident in the next 5 years. If you want to learn more about welfare spending yourself, please find the time to read this report . Some of these lies soon become apparent and as a result,  I struggle with the Conservative Party approach that they will rather balance the country's finances on the back of poor and vulnerable people because these ones don't vote for them. The issue of reforming welfare IS NOT about economics or competent financial management. This is about a deeply revolting philosophy. Over 50% of the welfare budget is spent on pensions, the next biggest chunk is spent on people in work, the percentage of the welfare budget that is supposedly abused by the work - shy and benefit fraudsters is minuscule.

The elections are over. The outcome is unprecedented in the sense that 3 party leaders resigned in the aftermath of the elections. The people have had their say. Democracy has won but please don't moan about your choices in the next 5 years. I do not see it ending well. I do not agree with the lies that have been told that there is only one way to competently manage the economy. I do not agree with the demonising of the poor and the demonising of the compassionate. I do not share the people's support for leaders who have contempt for the poor and vulnerable.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Football Match Tickets in the UK

The issue of expensive football tickets has been in the news for a few weeks. While I believe it is a very important subject worthy of debate I however despair at some of the comments by football pundits. Some of their pronouncement can be easily classified in the 'WTF' category.

Two weeks ago, this issue was resurrected by the decision of some Liverpool fans to boycott their match against Hull because the latter had classified that match as a 'top class' match and was charging £50. This was especially infuriating to Liverpool fans as Hull had charged £16 for their game versus Burnley.  

Just wondering if like most people the Liverpool fans realised their team might lose against Hull and decided to develop a smoke screen to block the loss off the front pages of newspapers the next day.

I wonder why Liverpool FC fans want their club to be regarded as a ‘big’ club when compare themselves to Burnley FC. Surely you can't be that big. 

Why is it so difficult to get the simple and basic principle that watching Liverpool play is likely to be more entertaining that watching paint dry (sorry I meant Burnley play)?  

Why is it challenging to understand that when Liverpool are in town, the demand for tickets will be higher? Like any student of Adam Smith in High School will tell you, when the supply (stadium capacity) is limited or fixed and the demand (fans desire or request for tickets) is higher than the supply, something will have to give. Usually it is the price that gives or chaos reigns i.e some unscrupulous people in an unregulated game sell more tickets than seats. 

If for any reason, you didn’t do economics in High School, try this analogy. If there is only one fine girl in town and more than one guy wants her, there will be a beauty parade of the guys and invariably the more endowed one wins. 

So Liverpool FC fans and all other big club fans that complains about the cost of football tickets. Please stop and think. WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CLUB OR THE LOWER PRICES YOUR STRUGGLING COMPETITORS PAY?

Also on the issue of ticket prices, a review of the EPL clubs finances for the  2013/14 season shows that none of the clubs rely on gate takings as their primary source of income. In fact a lot of them can allow free entry and still make a tidy profit. TV money is the big golden hen. The huge money from TV is the reason why football club owners are increasingly indifferent to the cries of fans about the cost of football tickets. Why should they care if they are guaranteed £100m per season if no fan turns up? As businesses I don’t blame club owners. They are not in the business of giving it away. 

Although what many club owners and indeed many fans fail to realise is that the TV money is also from fans therefore the power to hurt football clubs and get them to do something about ticket prices ultimately rest with fans.

SKY and BT and all the other broadcasting channels need fans in the stadium to sell football matches on TV as the absence of fans takes away one of the key props (i.e the atmosphere) for SKY & BT. These companies fund the billion pound payout to the EPL through the football packages you and I purchase.  

If fans want to effect change they can. Here is how: 
- All season ticket holders to renew their season tickets as usual especially if it is at a club with a long waiting list. You still love your club and you don’t want to lose your season ticket place. However for the first 5 home match of the season, STAY AWAY. Same applies to Away Travel Scheme members. Hopefully fans do these in massive numbers to ensure the clubs and broadcasters notice. I know this will cost you £250 roughly but remember you are trying to effect CHANGE. It wont come cheap.

 - All non season ticket holders should not buy a ticket for the first 5 matches as well. For these ones, there is no financial loss. They will only miss the joy of supporting their club. Yes a very big price to pay but remember CHANGE IS NOT CHEAP

 - All subscribers to SKY and BT Sports should not renew their sports / football bundle for the first 2 months of the football season. You actually lose nothing financially by doing. Yes you miss the adrenaline and joy you feel when you are watching your club play. But if your actions can help ensure that club owners sit up and listen to fans, then you would have achieved a significant moral victory and the desired outcome. 

 - Fans should not buy any item from the Club shops or on line during the same period

If fans can do all of the above, the clubs and their owners will panic and I foresee the Premier League Management suddenly directing the clubs to do something about ticket prices. Only if fans can take this action in sufficient numbers.

It is not easy, nothing good comes easy. It will not be achieved in one day buy if we genuinely believe we can effect change then lets take the power back, it is in our own hands. We fund these billion pound pay out. Lets demand value for our money through reduced ticket prices.