Managing My Viewing

You might have noticed: There’s a LOT of football on the television, even in the US. As I’ve begun to branch out, watching more than the EPL, I’ve needed to find the best way to organize how I know what’s on, and how I decide what to watch. With so many options and a desire to maximize my viewing, I’ve taken a few tries to get to what I think is the optimal method.

At first, I was writing all sporting events in a simple planner. Plenty of room on each day, I thought. Except some days (particularly weekends) were so full, I couldn’t get any other information into the planner. I knew I needed to try something different.

I was already getting one of those “mom” planners, with the idea of splitting up all my needs for a different “child” and have appointments in the main morning/afternoon split. It wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped, and I changed my method to a day-specific method of flow, so I thought, “Perfect, I’ll use this mom planner with each “Child” as a different network.” This seemed super-sensible, as I was running NBC, Fox, ESPN, and BeIn at the time. Then, I learned Lifetime was picking up the NWSL and I thought, “Crap.”

The planner method had other flaws, as well. The mom planners have very small lines, so making changes is difficult and messy. It doesn’t display them in time-order unless you write them that way, so making changes when you know the information can be tricky. I realized I needed to go digital if I had a prayer of getting it neat, clean, all in one place, and big enough to cover ALL the football I had at my disposal (plus the cricket, and the F1).

I went to my Outlook calendar and proceeded to make a special calendar for EVERY league, cup, form of cricket, etc. Oh, and the Olympics. If I want to hide Bundesliga, it’s one simple click. If I’m feeling burned out and all I want is to watch Premier League for a week, I can shut down everything else very easily. It can also display all my options in one neat place, so I can decide what’s going on my television, what’s going on my computer, and what I’m watching on my phone. It makes my decisions simple, gives me 15 minute reminders (perfect timing for making a cup of tea and using the toilet) and can be accessed on any device with internet, so if I’m on the go, I can still check my choices. I also get a calendar email digest every morning, so the first thing I do on waking his check what time sports start for the day. Let’s me know if I can afford a few more minutes in bed, or whether I’ve got to crawl my lazy bum upstairs to the sofa.

How do you keep track of your sports viewing? What’s your secret method of juggling?




Waiting is Agony

Let’s take a moment and consider the beautiful Germany v England friendly in March of last year. Not quite a year yet, it was a moment where the impossible seemed possible and England came out victorious, 3-2, with goals from Kane, Vardy, and Dier. We thought maybe we were seeing the beautiful future of the English National Team, and all was beautiful, right?


Less than 30 minutes into the match, it looked like business as usual for the Germans, with goals and a little bit of luck: Jack Butland looked to roll his ankle and had to be stretchered off.

My heart wasn’t in pain, my heart WAS pain. Just looking at the agony on his face was agony for me as I watched him being taken off, and I prayed that he wasn’t going to be out long. After all, Stoke still had a season to run, and Jack was in strong contention for the England Number 1.

So…what happened to Jack Butland?

A couple of ankle surgeries later, he’s still in recovery, only a couple of months from a year’s anniversary from his injury. Stoke have been okay, but their defense isn’t nearly as strong without him. And now with Joe Hart’s…rather public move to Italy this season, it would seem that the top keepers in the league are not British keepers. I mean, Foster’s not bad, but…

When will Jack be back?

I’m learning not to get my hopes up. I’ve actually told myself he’s never coming back to football, so that when he does I’ll be so happy I’ll cry, instead of just sobbing quietly every time his Twitter tells me the wait is even longer.

Do you want to know how it feels for an injured player to have to wait to play? Follow one closely during an extended injury. You’ll feel the agony, I promise.

Prayers for Jack, please.



FA CUP – Round 3

This morning, like many other Saturday mornings, is football-filled, but not with NBCSN Premier League action. Today, I’m living mostly on FS1, helping myself to the breadcrumbs of FA Cup action they’re tossing my way.

I prefer watching NBCSN, mostly, as their coverage is so superior in its completeness. Not airing the Stoke match? That’s cool, it’s on their app. I can watch any and every game in the Premier League.

Fox, on the other hand, limits me extremely. If it’s on FS1 – or the rare match on big FOX – then I have access, but I don’t even have the option of turning to FS2, as it’s not offered in my geographic region. And forget about matches not aired on traditional channels. Stoke? Birmingham City? Nope. They’ve got to draw a Manchester, London, or Liverpool team – or be at an odd time – for me to get a look in.

This morning, I watched an obviously superior Man Utd annihilate Reading – with Rooney scoring his Charlton-record-equalizing goal, happily, and Sutton and Wimbledon are about to kick off. Who knows what sort of football that will be.

Meanwhile, I’m re-devoting myself to my go90 app, available with streaming of all kinds of football, courtesy my Verizon plan. It’s a lovely fringe benefit. I got to watch my Granada side be pulverized by Real Madrid, and Napoli will be on around lunchtime.

I consider it a shame, as I adore the FA Cup, that it has to be put through FOX, who have done a poor job prepping viewers for it. Ah, well, may the matches will male up for it.

Here goes the match!



Zola: My Two Cents

This post is not really about Zola. It’s about my emotional rollercoaster this week, dealing with how the new owners of BCFC have treated the club, the fans, the manager.

Gary Rowett was a fabulous manager. He was making a great, solid club out of pennies in a difficult time for the Blues. He was fostering the youth well, giving chances to a lot of great young players, managing them very well. He stabilized a time of turmoil, and I can’t help thinking he’s going to make another club really stellar now.

Why was he sacked?

Lots of possible reasons. Perhaps philosophical differences with the new owners. Perhaps they didn’t believe he was capable of meeting their vision for the club – going up in the next couple of years so they can sell the club on a big profit. He doesn’t add glitz and glamour to the club. He’s not foreign or exotic, he’s a local servant with a great deal of know-how.

This isn’t about what Zola can do in the transfer window. This isn’t about the fact that they decided to squeeze in a new man just before that window in hopes he could make some changes straight off instead of waiting for a real excuse to make the change to save their own image. Maybe this was the brave thing for them to do, the honest thing. I don’t know.

This is about the fact that one morning I wake up and my manager, whom I really quite liked and respected, whom I looked forward to hearing from about young players, insights into how development is going, the growth of the future of the club – you know, the important things to long-term fans invested in a club for life – was suddenly sacked. And before I could even make sense of why such a thing might happen, he was replaced.

I’m not saying I’m angry with the owners exactly. I can understand their behavior, and I never expected them to be sentimentalists. They’re obviously not in this for the long haul, though, or they might have thought for a moment about how this might upset the fans – lifeblood of the club – to make such a sudden and mercenary move.

Wherever Rowett goes next, I wish him all the best. I truly think he’ll make a club greater than they are. I wish that could have been Birmingham City, but since it won’t be, I only ask that it’s not Villa.

And as for Zola, well, may he endeavor to fill the shoes he’s stepped into, and may he throw himself completely at doing his very best to win games with this club.



Jose’s War

Jose Mourinho has been sent off again against West Ham. That’s the second time this season – not even waiting for half-time this time – and a strange mirror of last season’s sending off against West Ham.

It was even the same ref.

Jose says his club is unlucky. I know that high-level athletes and coaches and managers can be very luck-oriented, but it feels like a cop-out in this case. Jose is clever, and he knows that people make their own luck. The fact is, he doesn’t know what to do with his squad – doesn’t know his best eleven – and doesn’t know how to compose himself long enough to make it work.

I mean, seriously, kicking a water bottle? Childish.

Full disclosure, I don’t like Man Utd and I don’t like Jose, but right now I feel sorry for this storied club. They took on this overgrown child in the hope that his reputation as a great manager would outdo his reputation for antics just like this. Sir Bobby didn’t want him, and it’s looking more and more like Sir Bobby was absolutely right.

The thing that absolutely grates is that neither times Jose was sent to the stands has he opted to do the post-match talk to the television press. Maybe he’s thinking that with his record of saying things that get him fined, he’ll only make things worse, but he’s had HALF A GAME to get his act together and say something constructive, apologetic, and maybe even contrite. Or at least not offensive.

As I said, he’s a clever guy.

In a league now chock full managers who are gracious, intelligent, passionate, charming, and well-spoken…. Jose is looking more and more passe. I mean, Pep’s conversation about whether or not he’d banned his players from having intercourse after midnight? PRICELESS.

It remains to be seen whether Jose can salvage anything at all from this season tactically, but in a war where Jose’s his own worst enemy, if I were Man Utd, I’d be getting rid of him quickly to avoid becoming collateral damage.



The Woes of West Ham

One of the most interesting stories of the past year in football is that of West Ham leaving Boleyn Ground and moving into the Olympic Stadium.

I don’t know if anyone else recalls – or maybe we’ve all forgotten? – the ugliness at the last West Ham home match last season. It wasn’t exactly a glittering goodbye to the grounds, largely due to fan behavior.

And now, apart from the obvious issues that exist in an Olympic Stadium being used for football (which we all know, so there’s no point rehashing) what were among the first issues in the new season but West Ham fans and their poor behavior!

Fans fighting other fans? Despicable, we all said. Low. Yes, there’s some mismanagement going on with ticket pricing and allocations that has caused non-West Ham fans to buy season tickets for West Ham. Yes, the stewarding could be better.

But as I watched the supporters streaming out of the ground today after a very poor showing against Southampton, I couldn’t help thinking the ground was only part of the problem. The ground was supposed to be this wonderful thing that was going to elevate West Ham’s stature, and all it’s done is become a scapegoat for something else.

The first is the mediocre playing of the team. Payet is a star, there’s no question. Some of the other players are quite good. But they’re just not special. They played outside their minds last season, and I don’t know that they’re underperforming this year as much as they were overperforming last year.

The other is the sometimes shocking behavior of fans. We got a taste of some of the ugliness in the Euros, with flares seemingly at every other match. Something about going to a football match, it would seem, causes some of us to forget common human decency, like not attacking other people, not throwing bottles at other people, not picking fights when you’ve gone out to enjoy yourself. And when your team is down, you don’t bail to beat the traffic. You scream your support until the end.

Supporters and teams have a symbiotic relationship, and I think the fan issues are having a much greater impact on the pitch than the actual physical pitch is. Just my two cents.



Man U on the Up?

After watching some recent and at times brutal Man United defeats of late (and thoroughly enjoying watching them get thrashed at the derby), I was excited to get up early this morning for Man U v Leicester.

I’ve made no secret of my fondness for Leicester City, in part because of my originally indignant and eventually triumphant support of Ranieri from the first moments of his appointment. Partly because of my adoration for Birmingham City (KRO) and all its successful former players. And since Jack Butland is still out for his ankle and breaking my heart with his absence, I’ve adopted Damarai and his foxes as my second team.

Needless to say, it was a disappointing morning, and I don’t anticipate it growing much better with Stoke v West Brom.

The real question is, can we call this true progress for Manchester United, and what’s the real cause of the great match for Jose’s side?

I don’t think it’s the fact that Rooney was left out – or rather, that it’s not SOLELY because Rooney was left out. He’s an easy fall-guy, and I was really hoping they’d be thumped when they left him out just to try to stop the negativity toward him.

The fact is, he wasn’t the only thing changed about the line-up, and the changes led to a lot of people stepping up, playing better and smarter. Leicester didn’t play poorly (although their set piece defending had a very ugly five minutes), but Man U just gelled so much better today.

I’m not ready to sing dirges for Leicester yet, or to praise a revival of Man U, either. There’s a lot of high-quality teams in the league this season, which wasn’t really the case last season, and I doubt very much that Man U will win the title, or even come in second.

As far as Leicester, I’d be pleased to see them in the top half, and maybe right by Stoke (although I’d be pleased for a Stoke in the Premier League next season, at this point). I’m not naive enough to expect them to be in the Europe slots again, but I suppose I can dream?