Monday, 31 January 2011

Please be Murray, not Monty

It was heartening to see Andy Murray reach the Australian Open final this past weekend; his six matches providing a glimpse of his career - talent, class, grit, detemination. His run coupled with eventual winner Djokovic provided a showcase for the elite of the tennis world of which the aforementioned pair are a part of along with Nadal and Federer. 

As heartening as it was to see his run to the final yesterday in Melbourne, it was equally as disheartening to see the run come to an abrupt end with a straight sets defeat, but please do not focus on Murray's shortcomings but instead look at the impressive performance of Djokovic who cantered to his second Grand slam title (twice at the same event) with a display of panache and command.  Murray, like Federer in the semi-final, joins the other six as just another hurdle easily vaulted by a player on top of his game. I suggested to myself as such after seeing him dismiss of Tomas Berdych in his quarter-final, again in straight sets.  Djokovic was unplayable at times the past two weeks - releasing forehands that were pinpoint in their accuracy and yet both graceful and brutal at the same time.

However, lets focus on our poor defeated Brit on this occasion.  I am of the belief that Andy Murray has the game to win a Grand slam, and the next year is possibly the best time to do so; Federer is looking beatable, Nadal is having niggling injuries and will worry about consistency, and whilst Djokovic is the best player of the moment, like Nadal he will find it hard to maintain that level of form all season.

And yet I am conflicted and most probably worried by the career path that Andy Murray is following, because Djokovic has won two Murray is easily the best player on tour never to have won a major title. He has won Masters Titles and beaten all of the top three on numerous occasions now, and yet when he is in the main event he seems to freeze or find a player better than him.  It is fair to say he was not the favourite in any of his three finals - 2009 US was his first, and he had to play a final less than 24 hours after a gruelling semi against Nadal; last year in Melbourne he found Federer in imperious form and yesterday, a player at the peak of his powers in his resurgent career.

I worry because I hope Murray does not become much like his fellow British and Scottish sportsman, Colin Montgomerie; who remains the best player of his era to never win a major. Monty had five genuine opportunities to win a major, and either due to play-offs or a better final round by a certain player cost him; only once can we say he threw it away, and that was Winged Foot in 2008, when the wrong club on approach forced him to bogey the hole instead of the par which would have won or got a play off with evenual winner Geoff Ogilvy (who, yes exactly).

The reason I say he has one year, is because the average age of first time major winners in tennis is 25, Murray hits that age this year. He will not win the French due to his naivety on the clay, though he is improving. It would be great to win at Wimbledon, though he always admits his game is better suited to the hard courts of Flushing Meadow or Melbourne, so will we have to wait again until a late Sunday night in September for Murray's eventual triumph.

I hope Murray does get his one major, one will do, only one otherwise he is just another Tim Henman; and unlike Monty who despite no major victories, did win the Order of Merit eight times and always had the fall back or plan B of performing when it mattered for Europe at the Ryder Cup, undefeated in singles play and a victorious captain in 2010 means Monty did not have a wasted career.  Unlike Murray, who does not have the Davis Cup to inspire him (many pundits link Djokovic's role in Serbia's first Davis Cup triumph last month as reason for his new love for the game), as he remains the shining light of British men tennis and until he gets a proper supporting cast, he will not be able to make a crack at that other title.

So hopefully Murray can conquer his final ills and one day wrap up a Sports Personality of the Year, although knowing his luck, he will win Wimbledon the same year Wayne Rooney scores the winner for England in a major tournament or Ian Poulter wins the British Open.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Problem with Prior

Like many, I was surprised by the inclusion of Matt Prior into England's final 15 for the World Cup in the sub-continent next month. Coupled with the belief that England were happy with Steve Davies' work at the top of the order and tidy keeping behind the wicket. Again, this smacks of England becoming a cliq of a group again; mates one and all who watch out for each other, and once you get into the group you really have to do something bad to get dropped. Injury would be the best solution for everyone a la Flintoff, or 'retiring' before you get pushed as Harmison, Collingwood and Sidebottom have done in recent years.  For Colly, it was the ultimate end of the road, unable to accumulate enough runs to muster any consistency; for Sidebottom it was time to move aside, even though his variation of left-arm attack remains a rarity now and Harmison had too many 'injuries' in body and mind to attend to.

The Prior inclusion, was a little bit out of the blue, but really we should have seen it coming. After the 3rd test, he signed a contract with Victoria for the Big Bash T20 competition taking place during the seven match series, was that a collusion between the England management and Prior saying, 'Stick around in case Davies fluffs his lines'.

Unfortunately, on the basis of two ODI innings amounting to six balls and no runs, it is Prior who is fluffing his lines.  However, I do not feel this is all his fault. I feel it is a problem of the team line up and selection of sorts. But it is everyone following the Gilchrist position. Few players have altered the game much like Adam Gilchrist did with his brazen batting and high scoring rate, much like Sanath Jayasuriya, he could take a game away from you before you have even batted, putting 100 on the board in 10-15 overs, scoreboard pressure as Andy Flower described during the Ashes series.  Now every international side, feels they have to follow suit and have a wicketkeeper/batsmen at the top of the order who can score quickly and take the game away from the opposition. New Zealand have Brendon McCullum. Pakistan have Kamran Akmal. England have anyone who can wear a pair of gloves.  They have toyed with the identity of this individual; Mustard, Davies, Kieswetter and Prior. Prior has tried twice before (and failed), yet I feel should England fail to make at least the semi finals of this World Cup; and if past form should count for anything, the 50 over format does not suit us, I feel England have a scapegoat in place ready for their collective failure.

The reason I call it it a line up issue is that the line up is disrupted by Prior's presence at the top.  Strauss and Prior open, followed by (on a perfect day) Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Collingwood, Morgan (at 7). Followed by Bresnan, Swann, Broad and Anderson. Not a bad line up but I feel if that team bats like it has in the past week, problems will arise from scoreboard pressure. The team are immediately on the back foot, and play falsely to what they would normally do.

England need to bat like they do in a Test match, bat solidly, do not lose wickets making sure you have them in reserve for the last 10 overs and you have big hitters down the order.  Trott and Bell are not big hitters but accumulaters. I would like to see Trott open with Strauss, and give the captain the free rein to attack the bowling much like he did last summer when he scored a lot of runs against Bangladesh and Australia.  That means Trott can play his own game, go at his pace whilst others around him supply runs aplenty.  And if Trott in unison with Bell or Pietersen have scored 220 by 35 overs, that allows Morgan and Prior coming in at 7 alternatively to attack the weary fielders and bowlers especially in the utilised powerplay of 45-50 overs.

When Prior was last dropped from the England set-up, following the World T20 victory, there was initial interest in Prior's reaction when playing for Sussex in the national competition. He responded by being his side's best performer scoring at better than a run a ball, and scoring his first century in the format. And his usual position for his county side - 6 or 7.  If Sussex know what is best for Matt Prior, maybe someone should get a long distance line set up between Hobart and Hove asap.

Monday, 17 January 2011


Palme D'Or winning director Abbas Kiarostami, returns to film with 'Certified Copy' a film that is set over one day in Tuscany and follows the chance meeting of a respected English author, James Miller (played by opera singer, William Shimell) and a gallery owner (Juliette Binoche), who remains unnamed.  After being mistaken for a married couple, the woman insists they keep up the pretence.  However, soon enough it appears there is more to the relationship than we first thought.

Kiarostami has always had this theme of truth and fiction running through his work, look at his script for 'Close Up' and 'Ten', where the question regarding reality and its display are questioned by him as well as the audience.  And here he plays on that scheme and winks at his own work, Miller's book he is promoting is about art and the lecture he gives to accompany the promotion, is judging the value of original works versus copies.  In his speech Miller mentions the title of his book, which some critics have deemed controversial, he apologies blaming the editors who require controversial titles to sell more books. Is Kiarostami having a dig at people who do not get his slowburn works in comparison to other auteurs who have found favour? The auteur should be commended for never deviating from his career's work, his work can be thought of more as art than cinema, is there a difference between the two, or is that another discussion he wants us to engage in.

Himself lifting a premise not too dissimilar from Richard Linklater's 'Before Sunset' but on this occasion you do not know if this is a married couple playing a game to stimulate a failing marriage, or a couple who have just met - the audience have to stick with the film and make a judgment for themselves, and at the end still not sure if it is true or false.

Binoche illuminates the screen as always and Shimell has a real presence on the screen in his first major feature film role, his work in another form of the media giving credence to his role.  Kiarostami loves to mix in different medias to his work; an English opera singer plays an English author, a French actress plays a gallery owner in Italy.  In one sentence I have mentioned opera, literature, film and art.  Kiarostami makes no excuses for his love of all culture, and this attempt to tick all the boxes may smack of reaching too far by others, on this occasion he gets the balance just right.

The film is well acted and tightly scripted, expertly directed. The opening monologue by Shimell is a great opening, you have him giving a lecture but more often than not the camera is on his audience and a young boy trying to get Binoche's attention. So in fact you get a speech of no relevance, with some tidbits but there is a lot going on; you get the results if you pay attention.  Patience is a profitable virtue with Kiarostami's films.

Recommended viewing for all people who eat up European auteur cinema (yes I know the director is from Iran) but this work owes a huge debt to the legacy of Antonioni and Bergman.  Kiarostami carries the torch those two have left behind.

Available from Artificial Eye on Blu-Ray (£19.99) and DVD (£15.99) from January 17th 2011

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Strange Case of Scott Carson

West Bromich Albion are once again stuck in a relegation scrap, Roberto Di Matteo made sure he did not say fight, as it only becomes a fight once it is mathematically impossible to survive.  WBA have history here; the team the term 'yo-yo' club was invented for finally seemed to have reached a level of respectability and sustainability - at the moment there are four worse teams than them in the Premier League, and on the evidence seen in games either as a team or by individuals, the team have shown enough ingenuity and nuance to survive this season.  You want to call winning 3-2 at Goodison Park a scrap, go to Upton Park every week. There is a team scrapping for survival. Go and watch Wolves give every team a goal in the first 5 minutes; that is suicidal.  WBA have conducted themselves with merit; unfortunately the results over Christmas and the new 2011 have not been kind, five straight defeats extending the run to 6, they have not won since December 6th (3-1 at home to Newcastle, the game that got Chris Hughton the sack) and they are now out of the FA Cup suffering defeat at the hands of Reading of the Championship, maybe not a shock on the scale of Stevenage over Newcastle, but still not anticipated.

And so prompting a change or a shake up, Di Matteo has decided to drop his goalkeeper, and former England No.1, Scott Carson with the excuse, 'he has made a few mistakes over the last few games' one highlighted was a soft header by Simon Davies in the 3-0 defeat at Craven Cottage, that gave Fulham the lead.  It seems unfortunate, and somewhat knee-jerk to drop Carson from the home game against Blackpool; Carson has made a few mistakes in his career; most notably when he conceded the first goal against Croatia in 2007 that meant England failed to qualify for Euro2008. Like that night, I feel the finger of blame is being hastily pointed at Carson - yes he has had a notable mare, but things have not gelled for WBA for sometime and they have not been taking the opportunities when presented to them.

When they eventually got a penalty against Man.Utd; Peter Odemwingie decided to not even hit the target after sending Kusczak the wrong way - a symbol of how bad things have become, they cannot score when giving the chance.  The point is though has Di Matteo thought about dropping his Nigerian striker to the bench as a lesson, or told him to take penalties until he can score with his eyes closed.

This is indicative of the modern day football club - workmanlike professionals seeking perfection mixed in with tinkering managerial styles.  Carson is just another of the young England goalkeeping professionals who are in the spotlight and whose mistakes are highlighted to the nth degree by analysis and rolling coverage. Name a recent England keeper and you will remember a mistake; Ben Foster had an almighty mare at Upton Park on Wednesday somehow letting Carlton Cole's most powerful shot in with a mixture of complacency and being wrong footed.  Chris Kirkland, for so long the future is now at Leicester after so many injuries, Robert Green, well we all saw it and even Joe Hart fumbled a cross that led to Leicester's equaliser on Sunday night.  Even two stalwarts, David(s) James and Seaman are remembered more for their howlers than their long service and determination to seek that perfection.  David Seaman's international career ended in Asia, because he fluffed a cross from Ronaldinho that he should have kept out, unfortunately because that was the winning goal he got the blame, people forget about the poor attempted tackle by David Beckham which led to Brazil's equaliser.

I would not mind if Carson was being replaced by a suitable replacement, but does Boaz Myhill fill Baggies fans with confidence; the manager has been clever by doing it for a home game, knowing that the loyal support will be right behind the newly instated no.1 but it could fly up in his face if Blackpool maintain their impressive away form this Saturday.  As there are only ever one goalkeeper on a starting XI and teams are defined by their results; if they concede, the goalie gets the brunt of complaints. Being a Tottenham fan, you have to admit Gomes has more mistakes than blinders, even blinding mistakes sometimes.

Most goalkeepers have extreme confidence and self-belief in their ability, however, more and more this intent of placing the blame at their doorstep can only be detrimental to the performance of our young goalkeepers, it is starting earlier. When our U21s lost 4-0 to Germany in 2009, a terrible forewarning to the following summer when the team of Ozil and Muller ran rampant, the blame was placed at Scott Loach, who was undone by a cruel deflection for the first goal.  4-0..must be the goalie's fault I hear you cry.  However, maybe Di Matteo should look round the changing room at other under-achieving players, maybe a new purchase in the transfer window will bring results - but to drop a goalkeeper, who has had some fine performances this season, is not so much knee-jerk as naive.
Boaz Myhill

Peter Odemwingie

Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Interpreter

Can someone please explain 'The Interpreter' to me?

I caught this film on ITV2 the other evening, and remember when this film was first released how intrigued I was by the premise with its Hitchock and 'The Conversation' influences along with the combined force of Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman being directed by the very reliable Sydney Pollack.

Unfortunately, my hopes for the film were dashed, by the sad mish-mash of what I did see.  A would be thriller that was not thrilling, devoid of sexual chemistry between its two leads (when it dearly needed it) and what descends into a love letter for more peaceful times of diplomacy and pre-Apartheid South Africa.

You could call it a mess, but that would be doing a disservice to the word or films that truly were - 'Showgirls' and 'Dude, Where's My Car?' - Nicole Kidman saunters around pouting forever, doing her best Meryl Streep impression (remember Pollack directed Streep in 'Out of Africa') with another voice to her ever burdgeoning collection, it is unfortunate for an actress who can be so good only really appears in one good film for every bad four.  That is not a terrific ratio for a Hollywood star, all stars appear in some crap but not like her; 'The Stepford Wives', 'Australia', that piece of crap with Daniel Craig - she is an Oscar winning actress that makes some bad choices.  This film came hot on the heels from her winning performance in 'The Hours', likewise Penn in 'Mystic River', so you are allowed some rope to hang yourself with. But a film that ceremonially rips off a Coppola classic and does not deem itself worthy to acknowledge such a thing is bemusing.

Penn, is another actor who gets on my nerves. All method, but no posturing, here he plays a widower who comes back to work just two weeks after his wife's untimely death in a car crash - what really, your bosses at the Secret Service, thought you had grieved enough to work at the United Nations after such a long process.  He broods, he is angry, he raises his voice; he is the man to Kidman's woman, we are very clear about that - but the love interest that would appear in any other film involving an agent and the person he is protecting, never materialises - even the suggestion of a kiss in the epilogue never comes.

To be a director of thrillers, you have to keep things away from the audience. Here Pollack decides to let us know everything that is going on, this is okay if there is a final twist. Not on this occasion, what we see is what we get - there are two scares; the mask at the window and the gunman, both done sufficiently. But the bus explosion is done badly, once Penn tells his boys to get off the bus - you know the bad thing will happen.  You also have to be a bit of a bastard to your audience, and not respect them so much - he likes to give them answers before necessary.  A thriller can be fun, and well surprising.

If someone could interpret this film as anything other than a PR coup for the UN (this was the first film to allow scenes to be shot inside of it), you would have thought a better script would have been delivered.

What remains is a film that flatters to deceive,and leaves you feeling aggreived for wasting your time in watching it.  Too long to make its point, after there is no point to be delivered.  And a waste of Catherine Keener's talents also, who is nothing more than a lumbering sidekick to Penn the brooder.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Another review from the keys of Mark Brennan, this time taking the maverick auteur Michael Winterbottoms's adaptation of the famous pulp crime 1950s novel, and a controversial film it proved to be:

A very slick, jarring and unforgiving film from Michael Winterbottom. The Killer Inside me is the story of a small town sheriff who one day begins to unleash the darkest side of his human nature - something you suspect has been brewing for a long time.

We've barely met our lead, Casey Affleck, before we see him thrown into the middle of a heated altercation with out-of-town hooker, Jessica Alba. As the tagline for the film says, 'nobody sees it coming'. Up to this point Affleck seems like a well-mannered, clean-cut officer of the law. Winterbottom wastes no time ensuring us this is not the case.

Kate Hudson plays the role of the legitimate girlfriend, unaware of Alba, and Elias Koteas also stars as a union boss out to protect his own interest when the bodies start piling up. There is also a welcome turn from Ned Beatty as the big shot who has a hand in most of the towns dirty dealings.

Whilst reminiscent of American Psycho, The Killer Inside Me is a much harder film to watch. Bale's version of the killer hiding in plain sight has a much more comedic tone to it -even the violence somehow draws a chuckle in it's over-the-top delivery - but whilst there are moments of humour here, the violence is far from comedic. It is sudden, vicious and shocking, leaving your eyes glued to the screen in breathless anticipation of what Affleck will do next.

It is this focus on the character, however compelling, that in a way will make some viewers lose track of the pacing and the plot of the story. At some point all of Affleck�(TM)s motives and plans becoming blurred into the background, as all you really want to see is what Affleck does next. You stop caring about to whom or why - you just want to see more.

There is something very voyeuristic about this film that forces the viewer to not only observe the killer inside our main character, but also the possibility that such raw brutality may also exist within themselves.


Has written by a good friend of mine..a self-confessed film freak like yours truly but insightful musings nonetheless by a man who knows his stuff:

With a film containing as contentious a story as this, I was unsure what to expect from Four Lions. Chris Morris has a sense of humour that often courts controversy as it is, adding that to a story surrounding suicide bombers in the UK and the resulting press attached to the film was inevitable.

Whether that helped or hindered the film as a success, I am still unsure. What I am certain of, however, is that Four Lions is very, very funny.

Yes, some of the stupidity of the characters often seems a little implausible, but each is performed with such commitment and often excellent comic timing that they are a joy to watch - and at the end of the day, I think it would some of the harsher critics of this film to remember that is first and foremost a comedy.

I have read many articles about claiming that Morris seems to have been to fearful in really tackling the arguments surrounding suicide bombers and their Jihad against the West in greater depth. However, just because it is against this backdrop that Morris is telling his story, I don't think that automatically makes it his responsibility to provide a piece of cinema that explores the rights and wrongs of religious motivation and action, terrorism and the destruction of Western infidels.

This film is about 5 men that come together and through their own incompetence, stupidity, stubborn pride and complete ignorance that the results of their embarking on the usually spiritual journey to Allah becomes hilarious.

That comedy, however, does not serve to trivialise the sacrifice made by such men when they are true believers nor the devastating impact that their actions have on many innocent people. Four Lions simply stays true to the characters within the story and leaves the political debate about it's content for others to argue. It is simply a well-written, brilliantly executed and very funny film.

Thank you Mark Brennan, for this review and for wanting to share it with my followers

A Colly Tribute

It was no surprise to hear the news about Paul Collingwood's retirement from Test cricket following the Sydney test - the timing was a bit odd but as always with Colly, a selfless act to do the announcement now before the celebrations begin when the Ashes victory is cemented and he slides into the background.

Collingwood will be remembered as a player who enhanced the little ability he had but thanks to a great work ethic and utter determination, he retires with over 4000 test runs an average above 40 (always the benchmark), 17 test wickets (fittingly, his last may be Mike Hussey's on Tuesday which stopped Australia posting a bigger total) and 96 catches - most of which can be seen online.

Colly made his debut in December 2003, his first century came in March 2006 in Nagpur on the Ring of Fire tour under Freddie Flintoff's captaincy - this is indicative of his career.  Over two years for a test batsmen to get his maiden century, so often Colly had his back against the wall and came up with the goods.  From becoming a bits and pieces player to a player who was mocked for being awarded an MBE for one test appearance to a man respected for his heart and resilience - his 206 at Adelaide was the highlight of the 5-0 whitewash in 2006, as Shane Warne sledged him, Colly let his bat do the talking.

However, his most valuable innings where when he didnt reach three figures - his 74 & 64 in Cardiff in July 2009, that helped draw the first test match and maintain a momentum for England before the Lords test where they became rampant and took a 1-0 lead in that victorious series.  Following the Ashes victory, England went to S.Africa where his battling rearguard in two tests helped draw two tests that without him England would have lost the series 3-1, instead of drawing 1-1, most notably a five hour vigil for just 40; selfless batting for the cause not the individual.

A man you would always want in your corner, for a number of years one of the first names on the teamsheet because of the vibrancy he would bring to the fielding, his leadership (which ultimately led to him gaining the T20 captaincy and World Cup triumph) and a man who looked like he knew how to laugh and lend bonhomie next to Kevin Pietersen's egotism.  In past years, he would be a soldier, a Lieutenant who would fight to the death; in another life, a film might have been made with Pete Postelthwaite playing him (okay, they don't look alike - but Mr.Postelthwaite was also a man who made the most of his chances).

Lessons to be learnt from Colly's career are that it takes time to make a test career, knee-jerkism can lead to regrets and Australia should persist with Steve Smith whose vigour and belief in himself is somewhat reminscient of the ginger nugget - Smith is a bits and pieces player, but give him time and he can only dream of hitting 4000 test runs.

Paul Collingwood was a man who did more than he should, but we are sure glad he was around - and this is not the end, his slow off cutters and pace off the ball will be invaluable on the sub-continent for the World Cup finals, where an in form England may well be the dark horse that no one will now underestimate.  A failure on some people's part in relation to the career of Paul Collingwood - never judge the book by its cover.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Something About Beckham

Merry New Year to you all out there on t'internet..i hope you enjoyed the festivites a time for family and joy to all.  I worked hard and rested when i could and hope 2011 is as productive as possible.

My first blog of the new year is one i think is necessary, being a big Tottenham fan all my life I watch with interest whenever on the tube, and have been twice this season to see them in person and have been pleased at the progress shown. I was fearing a hangover this season following the heights of last season when we reached the perpetual summit of 4th place, but luckily we have added one quality signing (VDV), one seasoned pro (Gallas) and witnessed the blossoming of a real talent in Bale who is a lock for Young Player of the Year, and maybe even PFA Player of the year. 

What has been most pleasing has been the ability of the team to get results in spite of continual injuries (King, Dawson, Defoe), individual poor form (Crouch, Gomes) the team have not lost a game since the controversial defeat to Man.Utd in November and unlike past Spurs teams remain undefeated over the festive period (a time when we usually shoot ourselves in the foot), and considered our squads appetite for late night and drinking a surprise we have not got silly in the silly season, the reward a point lead over Chelsea one game into 2011. But this is about Spurs, not Chelsea's problems, and long may they continue on Kings Road.

The talk is that David Beckham is on his way to the EPL, much like Landon Donovan did for Everton last season, a three month period where he plays to maintain fitness before returning to LA for the regular season beginning in MLS.  My friends and family will tell you that I have a negativity surrounding David Beckham, this is usually the footballer i despise; not the ambassador and role model for a generation, who brought new fans of both sexes and sexuality to the sport.  Ask most English-speaking fans for a footballer, and many will say Beckham, hell his name alone launched a popular film, he married a Spice Girl, he single-handedly got us to a World Cup in 2002.  That remains the game he will be remembered for, much like Ronnie Rosenthal's hat-trick against Southampton (opportunistic virtuosity), Andy Cole's 5-goal trick against Ipswich (predator) - David Beckham's whole body of work is in that one game against Greece: determination, hard work, graft, guile and genius in that last minute free-kick, it was his free kick that lead to the first equaliser for Sheringham to score from.  He was the only player seemingly doing anything in a team of makeweights (Nigel Martyn was in goal), it is a shame that the team that eventually represented this country did not win that World Cup in Asia, a great opportunity missed some laying the blame at David Seaman's door but people forget Beckham ducked out of a tackle, that 10 seconds later led to a Brazil equaliser.  Beckham at that point was scared to reinjury or jeopardise his metatarsal that significantly diminished his capacity to play at 100%, when England had a man advantage for the last half hour following Ronaldinho's red card, where was the man who took England to the finals, where was the inspirational figure on that occasion.  England as always went out with a whimper, disappointing rather than consolation.

My problem with Beckham coming to Spurs is like a double edged sword - yes he would be a brilliant influenital figure upon the dressing room, his type of play will be beneficial against AC Milan in February (and any disbeliever, believe that this is the real reason we are signing the Brand), if Spurs are winning, his control of the ball and passing range will make it easier to keep possession and frustrate the Italian team in pursuit of an away goal, remember the second leg is at White Hart Lane due to Spurs winning their group.  However, he will fit into the middle of the team but my problem is that Spurs have Tom Huddlestone to return to the fold by February hopefully, maybe Beckham can be a huge influence on the laidback Hudd who is known to not be a great trainer, but was having a good season before his injury.  And getting Ledley King fit for those two games is paramount, though Dawson remains underrated having come back easily following his horrible achilles injury.  Beckham will supply for Crouch and give him a boost in this worrying run of form, but you will not get speed from Beckham, that remains the perogative of Lennon and Bale, Modric will fit in the hole with Palacios and then VDV with Defoe up front. So where do you fit Beckham in that midfield, Spurs need four defenders at the back; so it is a tactical problem, is Beckham a starter or is he the guy to replace one of Palacios/Lennon as a substitute, this would be a shame on Lennon whose speed has been a problem for opposition defences in the closing stages of games as Spurs utilise the possibility of counter attacking and late goals.

My title comes from the Farrelly Brothers film 'There's Something About Mary', that remains the benchmark of their careers.  Since then it seems they took a step back, i use the analogy for Beckham's career and that one game in 2002.  Since then, he has had injuries, run-ins with managements, new clubs, marital problems, media intrusion, but has never had a game since where his influence was as strong on that October afternoon in Manchester.  You will not mind him coming, so long as we beat AC Milan I dont care who is playing fro Tottenham. They have an opportunity to cement a position in the top four once again, to prove that last season was no fluke, ultimately whether or not we sign Mr.Beckham will be the reason whether we finish in that position or not.