Remember, remember the 1st of November

Photo by: Maria Reyes-McDavis www.flickr.com

Photo by: Maria Reyes-McDavis
http://www.flickr.com

November 1st, it seems like a long time ago. That was when I embarked upon this blogvember challenge and I’m pleased to say that with this post I’ve completed it: 30 posts in 30 days.

At the end of October there were 10 posts on this blog and now there are 40 (there’s no doubting my mathematical ability). Over the course of the last 30 days I’ve written 18,571 words including the ones in this post. The shortest post I wrote during this exercise was a pithy 382 words (about Platini and the Qatar World Cup) and the longest was 1,006 (debating the question: which is the best league in the world? Answer: the English Premier League, just).

It’s actually been quite exhausting and there were definitely a few evenings when I came very close to going to bed without a post written. I’m glad I stuck with it though as I feel I’ve learned a few things.

Most importantly I’ve learned that it is possible for me to find the time to blog regularly. I have a full time job which involves quite long hours, two young children and in the last few weeks I’ve also been training for two 10k races (the second of which is next Sunday). I’m not asking for a medal – I get one every time I finish a race – but it’s been good to prove to myself that I can write on a regular basis.

I have quite a few writing projects that I want to undertake and this month has shown that I can churn out a reasonable amount of words reasonably quickly. I think the overall quality has been reasonable too although I am conscious of a few places where tiredness is evident and inspiration a bit lacking.

That was actually one of the most difficult aspects of the challenge, finding something new to write about every day even with a subject as fast-moving and talked about as football. The posts in the last month tended to be topical but there were still quite a few that weren’t.

The topics covered have been quite diverse – everything from my love of Italian football to the prospect of the Football Manager computer game being added to the physical education curriculum in some Scottish schools (a terrible idea in my view). I’ve covered Moyes’ move to Spain, Messi becoming the top scorer in La Liga, the absurdity that was the Argentina v Portugal friendly, Rooney and the England captaincy, and much more besides.

I hope you’ve enjoyed at least some of it. By far the most popular post (most popular of all time so far on the blog and not just the last month) was the one I wrote about my audition for the role of a footballer in a movie. I’m still awaiting the casting decision and will keep you posted. Other popular entries include the one that announced the blogvember challenge on the 1st of November, the one about which league is best, and Rooney.

It will probably be a few days until the next post arrives on this blog. I’ll be taking a short break but I aim to settle into a schedule of two posts per week. That should seem quite easy (I hope) after the last month. Thanks for reading and if you like it, please feel free to tell your friends.

Blogvember

fountain-pen

Fountain Pen. Picture by: Ali from Riyadh, http://www.flickr.com

It is 14 weeks since this blog was launched. Apparently, on average, this is around the time that many bloggers give up. It proves to be a bit harder than imagined, a bit more time consuming, and the number of people viewing on a typical day would fit comfortably into a Cinquecento.

The goal at launch was to post at least once a week. This is post 11 so we’re a little behind schedule and that’s partly why I’m going to attempt to post every day in November. The aim is to quickly generate quite a lot of content for the site and also experiment with a few different formats and types of post.

The average length of post on this blog is between 1,200 and 1,500 words. Brevity has never been my strong suit (my PhD thesis eventually crawled to a conclusion at 95,000 words – it now works well as a bedtime story for the kids, they go straight to sleep) but some posts over the next month are likely to be considerably shorter given the self-imposed time pressure. I’ll even tweet about it (@ciwilkie) in a bid to discipline myself with 140 characters or fewer.

So to kick off this month long post-a-day challenge, some brief thoughts on a couple of things that have caught my eye in the last few days:

Steven Gerrard – football’s honest man

Gerrard is an honest footballer. You’ll never catch him giving less than 100%. You’ll never catch him hiding. You’ll never hear him give a less than honest assessment of his own or his team’s performance. Yesterday I read an interesting and typically honest interview he gave to the Daily Mail.

He revealed that Liverpool haven’t offered him a new contract yet. His current one expires next summer and Gerrard insists he has no plans to retire. I’m sure an offer will be forthcoming (and would expect it to include the option of a coaching role) and if not, he’s hardly likely to be short of suitors elsewhere.

Gerrard must be one of the best players never to have won a league championship medal. His slip-up against Chelsea during last season’s title run in was a huge blow to player and club but his response has been typical of the man. Asked if he hears the many chants that now reference the incident, he said: “Of course. There are thousands of them singing it. Does it affect me? No, it drives me to perform better.”

The banana skin nature of his Chelsea slip ensured it would be subject to future ridicule but it’s quite ridiculous to suggest that it cost Liverpool the title. The last few games of the campaign showed that Liverpool were a little too lacking in guile and experience to be champions and that would still have been the case if Gerrard had not slipped.

If Liverpool don’t retain his services then there seems a good chance he would choose to go abroad. It’s something I think he could and should have done a while ago. I could imagine him being a success in the same way that Paul Ince, a very similar player to Gerrard, was at Inter Milan.

As a good captain, Gerrard also defended Balotelli in the interview, saying that the striker is “working hard, doing extra shooting sessions.” Those sessions should at least serve to improve the fitness of the goalkeepers if they have to go chasing after the various wayward efforts that Mario has specialised in of late. Still, as Gerrard says: “I am not gonna judge him after 10 games.”

Which brings me to the second thing that caught my eye recently:

Manchester City – crisis, what crisis?

Robbie Savage, a pundit who lives up to his name, has used his BBC column to stick the boot in to City after a disappointing week for the club. Sticking the boot in came naturally to Robbie throughout his playing career and he’s taken the same studs up approach to his analysis.

He claims that those who say City are ‘on the brink of a crisis are not far wrong.’ Savage’s thesis is that City aren’t going to win the Champions League (almost certainly true), that they might not even qualify from their group (it’s far from certain that they will) and that if they fail to beat Man U in the derby then they’ll fall dangerously far behind Chelsea (who Savage thinks won’t lose three times all season) in the title race.

If City are in crisis, or even on the brink of it, then it’s a condition that most clubs would settle for. Of course the huge sums that have been invested at the Etihad bring correspondingly large expectations. The team has disappointed in Europe but they have yet to experience any luck in the Champions League draw.

Chelsea do look like the team to beat this season but I’d still be amazed if City are not their nearest challengers, and genuine challengers at that. Impressive though Chelsea’s start has been they would quickly become quite vulnerable with a few injuries to some key players and just as with Balotelli, it all feels a little early to be reaching firm conclusions.

Pellegrini is shrewd and calm. He won’t panic and he’s been around the block enough times to know that a few poor results don’t make a crisis. I expect City to win the derby tomorrow and if they follow that up with a result in the Champions League then all of a sudden the supposed crisis will evaporate.

Savage’s studs will then have to seek a new target.

Well, as this post heads towards 1,000 words I’ll stop with day 1 of blogvember successfully ticked off. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this blog (posts you’ve particularly enjoyed, things you’d like to see) then please leave a comment below. Be as honest as Gerrard but slightly less savage than Savage.