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Roker Ramble: A weekly roundup of your non-Sunderland AFC football news!

The in-tray this week includes UEFA making things up, Souness being Souness and the glowing backside of ASM...

Photo by Ben Radford/Corbis via Getty Images

UEFA had a pre-prepared statement blaming Liverpool fans

Liverpool as a city has an uneasy relationship with the establishment - as the last couple of weeks has shown. It stretches back decades, tensions already reaching boiling point before Derek Hatton cut about the city handing out redundancy notices in taxis in the early 80s (according to Neil Kinnock, anyway).

I have personal experience of Mr Hatton - it wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. However as this is a football column, this is a story about Liverpool and Hatton is an Evertonian, I’ll save that for the Derek Hatton Ramble (spoiler alert: he’s a turd and I’m looking forward to the day his face appears on the back of a milk carton).

What I will say is for a man of 74, he’s looking remarkably well. The sun in Cyprus must have done him some good, the great big champagne socialist.

Anyway back to matters of football, you can’t help but feel sorry for Liverpool fans. This week, further evidence of UEFA’s oven-ready plan to blame their fans for anything that went wrong in relation to the Champions League final in May was revealed. It turns out to absolutely nobody’s surprise our European overlords had produced a pre-prepared statement blaming any late kick off on the late arrival of Liverpool fans.

To be fair, it’s true. They were late - it’s just they didn’t say why. Let everyone assume it was because they were getting tanked up on Carlsberg on the Rue de Rivoli; in actual fact many of them were having their heads stotted in, children were being relieved of their goods and valuables by those ever-so-welcoming Parisian locals, and the police were doling out the pepper spray like they’d just taken a podium place at the Monaco GP.

The consequences of this behaviour by everyone but Liverpool fans could have been dire - and they above all don’t need to be reminded of what that means, having paid such a terrible cost in the past.

This blame culture of all football fans needs to stop - it’s counterproductive, short-sighted, arrogant, and propagates myths that will prevent new generations of support coming through.

Souness criticises Zerbi

There are a number of individuals and clubs who are good for a Ramble story: Messrs Barton, Keys, Le Tissier, Newcastle United, and Richard Keys again all enjoy making an appearance here - and now, Graeme Souness should be added to the list of Ramble hall of famers.

There’s a simple formula in football punditry that seems to do the rounds time and time again. It goes something like this: New managerial appointment + foreign + no experience of the Premier League = Ridiculous comments by “proper football man”.

Arguably there is no bigger PFM that Graeme “I’ll just plant this flag here” Souness. Well, Big G has been planting his flag of ridiculousness on just about any story which involves what he would consider a foreign invader. Somewhat ironic considering his actions in Istanbul all those years ago.

Souey isn’t happy with the latest managerial appointment in the Premier League, Brighton’s Roberto de Zerbi - however, his lack of experience and probably the fact he wasn’t British has angered the Scot.

I absolutely love that. Souness is like the Grandad who has to be told the TV remote won't work on the iPad his family got him for Christmas.

It might not be the work of a genius, but it’s the first steps a genius would take. Followed by watching Brighton matches, talking to people at the club, as well as contacts in the wider game about them, the way they are perceived and what they are about as a club. How does Souness know he hasn’t done that? Fact is, he doesn’t.

William Hill World Championship - Day Ten - Alexandra Palace
Not another foreigner
Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images

Souness was also critical of the fact De Zerbi has had seven jobs in nine years. Given that his last job was at Shakhtar Donetsk, unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s that not-so-insignificant thing called the war in Ukraine which put paid to that. He also did pretty well there too.

Before this was three overachieving years at Sassuolo, a season in Serie A with Benevento (who are about the size of Sunderland RCA), two years at Foggia where he won more than half his matches, and in 2016 three months at Palermo. However, this should be considered an achievement considering the Sicilians have had 13 managers - yes, 13! - since. When writing this story, I discovered that the list of Palermo managers has a separate Wikipedia page.

Do you know what that’s called Graeme? Research.

Truss to look again at Independent Regulator in Football

You know how you sometimes look at your life and think you remember a time where you didn’t know about this thing, and it was all a much more simple, carefree state of affairs? Before you knew something or someone existed? Well, this is how I feel about Liz Truss.

Back in April Boris Johnson’s Government approved a plan to introduce an independent regulator into the game, with plans including a more stringent owners and directors test.

Prime Minister Liz Truss Attends The United Nations General Assembly
This woman will destroy your sport. Or life. Or both.
Photo by Stefan Rousseau-WPA Pool/Getty Images

Well, now it seems that Truss has begun to take a hammer and chisel to all we hold dear in life, with her sights set on our game. According to The Times, insiders in the Government say that the new Prime Minister would prefer to avoid imposing tighter legislation. Because that’s what we need isn’t it? More Burys and Derby Countys in our game. Come on.

The plans themselves may have been divisive - many top flight clubs were opposed to the plans - but it also calls into question the fan-led review which had gained a lot wider support.

Saint Maximin is in the wrong sport

A brief story, but it’s an absolute pearler from the Chronicle this week.

In their roundup of the day’s events, NUFC cheerleaders-in-chief provided an update on the knack suffered by their prized talisman Allan Saint-Maximin.

Sadly he’s probably some way off fitness - but that hasn’t stopped him hitting the treadmill. In a video I am unable to find, the Comical say he ran 10.85km in 27’44.

I think we perhaps need to unpack this a little: 27’44 is an average pace of two minutes 33 seconds per kilometre. By contrast, the world record for 10km is 26’11 - or put another way, four seconds slower per kilometre. Meaning therefore that ASM has in fact just broken it.

There’s one of three things going on here: he is playing funny buggers, he’d set the treadmill to downhill, or he’s in totally the wrong sport.

News In Brief

  • Chelsea’s commercial director Damian Willoughby has been sacked after it came to light he had been sending inappropriate messages to football finance agent Catalina Kim.
  • Inter and AC Milan agree to demolish the San Siro in order to build a new stadium by 2027. Some people might call that cultural genocide.
  • It’s not just a cost of living crisis, but a cost of playing football crisis, with the Daily Mail reporting that clubs could switch winter kick offs to lunchtime in order to save on electricity.

Reader’s Corner: Letting go of being cynical about Sunderland


What would be a good return from Sunderland’s games this week?


Talking Tactics - Sheffield Wednesday (A)

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