Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sammy Wilson - Making Ruane Look Competent

Chekov has drawn my attention to the latest antics of Northern Ireland's Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson. Wilson, who memorably made an utter clart of himself on the Ali G Show, is and always has been a clown. Quite how he has risen through the political ranks to such an important role no-one knows. He still refuses to acknowledge that climate change is partly man made, and in relation to depleting fossil fuel reserves, observes "We have heard this story since the 1960s, and today fossil-fuel reserves are higher than they have ever been". Dear lord!

The fact that someone of such responsibility who is so out of touch with reality and who genuinely holds such beliefs is worrying for the people of Northern Ireland. Not so much in terms of the damage Wilson will inflict on Ulster's environment (he will hopefully be removed at the next reshuffle), but the fact that they elected him and his party in the first place.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Mourinho's Ghost Haunting Stamford Bridge

Guus Hiddink yesterday became Chelsea's 4th manager under Roman Abramovich, supposedly on a temporary basis. I do not believe for one second that he will leave at the end of the current campaign. Like Scolari, 62 year old Hiddink is regarded as 'one of the best managers in the world' (copyright Talksport presenters). But as Chelsea have found out with Scolari, that does not necesarily translate into guaranteed success in the Premier League. The increasingly impatient Russian owner is seemingly not content with merely winning trophies, as proved by his sacking of Jose Mourinho and even Avram Grant who came within one penalty kick of winning the Champions League. He obviously craves an attractive brand of football as well as trophies (the Champions League in particular). I would suggest he is measuring the level of 'attractiveness' he is striving for against Manchester United. The problem for him is that Alex Ferguson has built up a dynasty at Old Trafford, to the extent where winning and exciting football comes as second nature, over two decades. And yet Abramovich expects his managers to achieve this in 6 months. It appears that he is willing to work his way through virtually every supposedly top class manager in world football until he finds a perfect combination. It doesn't take a footballing expert to work out that this strategy is doomed to failure.

Hiddink may bring some measure of success to Chelsea, just as Mourinho did. He brought significant success at his last club, PSV Eindhoven, winning 3 titles and leading them to the semi finals of the Champions League in 2005. I suspect, however, that as long as Alex Ferguson remains at Manchester United, the Dutchman - like his predecesors - will also fail to satisfy Abramovich's desires and he too will be shown the exit door at the Stamford Bridge circus within a couple of years. Probably the only man who could is Ferguson himself. Any pretensions Chelsea had of becoming a force in world football died the day Mourinho was sacked.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Tasting Notes # 2

Sandeman Vau Vintage 1999

After the sumptious Taylors Vintage, as reviewed in Tasting Notes #1, I have since been eagerly awaiting my next port experience. That moment came last weekend when I was bequeathed this much sought after 10 year old. This vintage port is based on a fine blend of wines from the Quinta do Vau, Sandemans top rated vineyard in the Douro Valley. It is designed to be enjoyed young, but ages well in the bottle. Appearance wise it is thick and dark red. To the nose it is seriously rich, with a healthy mix of blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla and faint whiffs of smoke. On the palate there is more richness, bittersweet, almost like a good quality dark chocolate, with yet more dark fruit and even hints of stewed rhubarb. The finish is long and lingers in the mouth with leathery notes building up to an encore of dry and oaky notes. This is one of the very best.