Paul Clement given Derby County managerial berth


Paul Clement

Following the sacking of Steve McClaren last month, Derby County have announced their new head coach is to be former Chelsea, Paris-Saint Germain and Real Madrid assistant manager, Paul Clement.

Clement, 43, joins on a three-year deal for his first managerial role and the appointment follows the Londoner leaving Real last week after the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.

Clement, speaking to Rams Player in Madrid, said: “I’ve been thinking about it [becoming a head coach] for quite some time now, felt it was my own time to go it alone now. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the English Championship and looking forward to pushing on to the Premier League.

“The club has a fantastic stadium that week in, week out the fans go to in droves to support them. The fanbase in Derby is fantastic, they really get behind the club and I really can’t wait to get started now.”

The news had been circulating around Twitter ever since the rumours surrounding McClaren had intensified following a meeting between the ex-England manager and chief executive Sam Rush. Incoming chairman Mel Morris was adamant that persistent speculation linking McClaren to the vacant Newcastle United job since January had had a detrimental effect on a team that sat top of the league in February, yet ended up languishing in eighth place come May, following just two wins in their last thirteen games.

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Renewed speculation had again linked McClaren to the United job at the end-of-the-season, but with Clement a wanted man, with Sunderland and West Ham United also reported to be interested, the Rams moved fast to get their man, and potentially lost out on compensation for their outgoing boss.

The level of talent Clement has worked with in the past is impressive to say the least, with the very best of world football on it. From, Didier Drogba and John Terry, to David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and most recently, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, not bad then!

It remains to be seen whether McClaren’s coaching team of Eric Steele and Paul Simpson will follow him out the door, but one thing for sure is that Rams fans have an exciting, dynamic coach in charge of them for the 2015/16 season, could he be the man to lead them, finally, to the promised land of the Premier League, after two years of banging on it? Who knows, but the ride should be a whole lot of fun…

Walcott gamble provides second straight FA Cup for Gunners in Final triumph


Arsene Wenger was left with the plaudits of Arsenal fans as a pre-match gamble on starting his red-hot striker Theo Walcott paid off in spades, as the Gunners cruised to a second straight FA Cup with a 4-0 win over a flat Aston Villa.

All the talk before the game centred on whether or not Wenger would select the England man, following his fine thirty-minute hat-trick at the Emirates against West Brom in the Premier League closer. And with an hour before kick-off it was the number 14 of Walcott that was on the teamsheet ahead of Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who’d been the main man for the Reds this season.

Arsenal, started strongly, and this momentum set them up as the dominant force from the first minute to last, the pre-match hype of a potential shock from Tim Sherwood’s plucky Villa failed, as they couldn’t match the performance that knocked out Liverpool in the semi-final at Wembley a month ago.

It didn’t take long for veteran Irish keeper Shay Given to be thrust into action. Following a succession of early corners and Christian Benteke working as a makeshift centre-back more than a centre-forward, the energetic maverick Alexis Sanchez lobbed a ball into the box that Laurent Koscielny thumped down onto the goaline, only for Given to lumber across and scramble away in the 14th minute. It was only an inkling of what was to be a disappointing afternoon for the thousands of fans who’d travelled down from the Second City.

As the game progressed Aaron Ramsey and Sanchez were starting to pick their way through the Villa barricades, as Sherwood’s team could hardly break out of their own half. Kieran Richardson’s last-ditch clearance thwarted Walcott’s attempts to net a pull-back, and slowly but surely it was becoming evident there would be only one winner.

The breakthrough finally come just before half-time in the 40th minute, with Walcott releasing Nacho Monreal down the left-hand side, before the Spaniard’s cross was knocked down by Sanchez for the on-rushing Walcott to smash home from the penalty spot. It was just what the Gunners deserved and a sign of their authority over a side which hadn’t quite turned up.

Come half-time, Sherwood would have riled up his team and had some form of tactical genius to resort to…right? Wrong. If anything the second-half was the 45 which saw the resistance of the claret and blues finally break in such a manner that it’ll put more than a few doubts into fans’ minds about their relatively raw leader.

Aston Villa look on after conceding

Just five minutes into the second half, and Sanchez became the second Chilean to score in the FA Cup final, with a sumptuous strike, his twenty-five yard strike brimming with ferocious pace, the pace and power that convinced Wenger to shell out multi-millions for the former Barcelona forward last summer.

At this point the Gunners were strutting around the lush Wembley turf, taking in their 25,000 fans’ adulation, with 40 minutes remaining, but they weren’t done with two goals, oh no.

Captain Per Mertesacker didn’t improve the mood of Villa owner Randy Lerner and Prince William, himself a prominent fan, when he netted from a simple and straightforward corner, crashing home a powerful shoulder. By this point Villa hadn’t quite shut-down though.

The introduction of Gabby Agbonlahor had given them a boost, but the homegrown player couldn’t bring the goals his side desperately needed, and with star striker Christian Benteke deprived of any real quality service, the Belgian looked lost and alone up-top.Another desperate disappointment was the performance of young winger Jack Grealish. Highlighted as one for the future, both with club and country (once he decides whether to plump with Ireland or England), the pacy, skillful runs we saw against Liverpool were nowhere to be seen in the Final. Arguably only England’s Fabian Delph or the 39-year-old Given could be afforded any sort of praise for their performances, as Villa floundered on their big day.

Tim Sherwood

There were a couple of late shouts for the Midlanders’, Agbonlahor tumbling under a robust challenge from Francois Coquelin, which after a replay looked a convincing enough foul, a sentiment referee Jon Moss did not agree with, giving neither free-kick nor penalty to Villa. The aforementioned Grealish also looked to be tugged back by youngster Hector Bellerin in the box, but by then the game was gone, with Olivier Giroud adding a late fourth, as the game gradually petered out.

But the game which offered so plenty, was interesting in other senses than a straight head-to-head: where does this leave Tim Sherwood’s Villa revolution, and will he be eventually found out as a Premier League manager, or rise to the challenge to prove the doubters wrong? Can Arsene Wenger finally push on an deliver a first Premier League title in over a decade next season? His players certainly seemed to think so following an absolute crushing in a domestic final, the next step should seemingly be a title challenge, the question is, will they offer Chelsea and Jose Mourinho a reputable threat?

Olivier Giroud

Leeds Festival Weekend Review 2014


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Leeds Fest 2014 began with an extra-early bang, with the introduction of bands and comedians on the Thursday night.

I myself plumped for the madcap comedic stylings of Adam Buxton, the bearded half of 90’s comedy duo Adam & Joe, as a result of the tirade of rain which unleashed itself on the site on Thursday evening. Whilst the comedy tent itself offered shelter from the elements, Buxton’s wacky style of humour failed to warm many of the on-lookers, although his unique blend of using his laptop to show us all strange goings-on from the internet, to his own home videos was a great idea for a comedy show- I can imagine if it wasn’t the precursor to a weekend of music and camping, it would be pretty enjoyable.

As it was, once the rain had cleared, it was over to the Relentless Stage, situated in a tree-lined strip inbetween the thriving campsites of Red and Orange, following the closure of the stage during 2013’s torrential weather. DJ’s like Zane Lowe, DJ Fresh and Klaxons were due for the three days, but we had fun nonetheless as the riotous atmosphere was a great set-up for the upcoming weekend.

With a few bleary eyes and banging heads (althoughI like to blame that on camping just a tad too close to the campsite DJ!), Friday was kicked off for me with a slice of the ultra-cool Jungle. A mysterious act made up of an array of vocalists, guitarists, keyboardists and drummers, many of whom do some serious multi-tasking, the West London band were pretty excellent. Sure extensive falsetto vocals can wane on even the most hardened of fans after a while, but when the beats were as fresh and bouncy as they were in the NME/Radio tent, you don’t mind. After an excellent LP and summer festival shows, they have proven there worth, even getting a pre-Clean Bandit crowd to loosen up and lose themselves in the sultry grooves.

Band of the moment, Clean Bandit were next up, and showed surprisingly that there is more to them than mega-hit ‘Rather Be’. No, their live show was assured, confident and FUN! Their unique twist on the genre is intriguing, throwing in classical music influences alongside the bass beats we’re more accustomed too, aswell as the familiarity of guest vocalists peppering the majority of tracks. They weren’t mind-bending, but packed out the tent and offered heaps of fun and innocent pop music for those who wanted it.

The Kooks are another band that bring back memories of adolescence for those of a certain age, and their new wave of sound, with increased R&B influences did certainly not disappoint. Infact, whilst they didn’t match solid favourites ‘Naïve’ and ‘Seaside’ for the sing-a-long aspect, it’s arguable that new singles ‘Down’ and ‘About Town’ were the best performances of their set. The new album releases this week, and it’ll be very interesting to see whether it can revive what many thought to be another band lost to the ages. Based on this performance, the Kooks could stay with us for while.

To many Macklemore & Ryan Lewis seem wildly out of place on a Reading & Leeds bill, their chart-friendly beats and raps surely not acceptable at such a venue? Such things are simply not true though, as Macklemore proved with a friendly, yet humoured stage presence and half a set of gold. That is the one issue I had with this set, it was far too long for the one album rapper, who actually, rather embarrassingly, played the same song twice. But that aside, his song introductions may have been to mask the extended set length, but he made it work- just.

Man-children, blink-182 made it three times they had headlined both Reading and Leeds sites, the first for four years and ahead of a new album rumoured to be released to the world by the turn of 2014.

Kicking off with ‘Feeling This’, the US rockers breezed through their set, peppering song breaks with some genuinely crude, hilarious humour and entertaining the masses excellently with their extensive back catalogue.The crowd of course reacted magnificently to all-time hit ‘All The Small Things’, but then this was Friday night of Leeds 2014, it was heaving and pits were breaking out all over the inside barrier.

The trio of songs that made up the encore summed up the evening for the Americans; ‘Violence’ a breath-taking tune that allows every band member to step up to the plate, ‘Dammit’ a veritable classic that the first strokes of the guitar riff sent everyone into a fit of excitement, and ‘Family Reunion’, a 40 second tune that manages to pack in all of the band’s trademark crude humour in an expletive-ridden blast.

Leeds Festival 2014 - Bramham Park - 22/08/2014

One way to blast out any morning cobwebs are Derbyshire duo, Drenge. The much-hyped two are loud and fast, known for thrashing away at their instruments and barely stopping to acknowledge their audience. This mid-afternoon slot was not dissimilar to the expectations, they were impressive if straightforward, more new tunes alongside those from their self-titled LP would’ve been nice, but after a year of touring, I’d expect them to hit the studio and get more content to take their live show truly to the next level.

Firm R&L festival favourites, Enter Shikari appeared for their sixth straight festival (in more than one guise!), with circle hits in abundance as frontman Rou Reynolds took time to sprint across the Main Stage, kick out at amps and generally cause a bit of a racket- but a good racket nonetheless! Shikari have grown at this festival, as has their sound, but they know how to work their crowd and how to entertain the masses, even if they’ve never truly broken out into the mainstream, but you know what…I think they prefer things that way!

Vampire Weekend were a band I had been waiting to see ever since their inception as an act, a trio of album in and the NYC collective were incredible. They hit every right note, from Exra Koening having the nerve to play the set in a full grey tracksuit, to the imperious moods they created, from the heart-melding ‘Walcott’ the riotous ‘A-Punk’, to an exclusive track never played live before, ‘California English’, they were exceptional. The start of the set saw one of the day’s torrential downpours, but by its crescendo, the sun was beating down on a magnificent performance.

Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age were up first, having closed the previous night at Reading. The band put on a simply brilliant rock show, with thrills in the shape of some impressive laser-shows and some mind-melting guitar-driven beasts of songs. The energy from the band was subtle, growing and growing with each tune. ‘No One Knows’ as song number two was a daring choice, but paid off handsomely as newbies ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ more than benefitted from the buzz generated. Classics like ‘Feel Good Hit of The Summer’ and ‘Make It Wit Chu’ ensured that ardent fans were catered for too, although personally I felt that the fresher songs from 2013’s ‘…Like Clockwork’ were those more warmly received and those better performed generally.

The last coupling of ‘Go With The Flow’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’ were awesome. The latter allowed drummer Jon Theodore to take centre stage, with a sizzling drum solo, it was a song that the band performed with such intensity and vigour, it was hard to take your eyes away from it. And that was that from Queens, a band who managed to surpass my sky-high expectations.

Hoping to shake off the electrical problems which had plagued them the previous night at Reading, Hayley Williams and Paramore, started off by complimenting QOTSA and brought out an extensive light show as they closed the night. The first half of the show was full of the old fan favourites, with a big sing-a-long for ‘The Only Exception’. As a result, the second lacked the punch of the first, with many of the recent self-titled record, which featured a distinct change of sound, making it up. I felt Williams was as good a leader as a band could hope for, fully of charisma and energy, but the performance didn’t connect with myself as much as it did with the ravenous crowd, who screamed and applauded for Williams and co in their droves.

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Closing off the night the co-headliners rocked with a stint in the Silent Disco was a good choice. The tent, which had to be closed in 2013 due to high winds, was packed to the brim and offered great variety of current and past pop hits on one channel, with the other devoted to the rock the Reading & Leeds fanbase are more accustomed too. However, it was nice mixing it up every now and then, the atmosphere crackling into life every time a sing-song came on, with each DJ encouraging their sides to make some noise, always a great experience.

The last day of Leeds Fest 2014 saw the much-anticipated Royal Blood finally play, ahead of their just released debut LP. It was a fast, frenetic set which saw the bass and drum duo tear apart the Radio 1/NME tent, packing it out and then some at two in the afternoon, a pretty decent achievement at the end of a weekend chocced full of live music. I can certainly see them making their way up the R&L bill in the future.

Another band I’ve kept my eye on for a while are Brummie starlets, Peace. Possibly the most popular of the current crop of B-town talent, the indie rock outfit made their maiden Main Stage appearance and had a sizeable crowd, their fans amongst the most passionate of the modern day indie era. It was nice for new single ‘Money’ to get an outing, and their new material may swing towards a more poppy sound, but if the UK is to re-start its Britpop scene, look no further than these guys.

Next up was a guaranteed party with the madcap antics of The Hives. Sure they’d released no new material since last appearing at the festival in 2012, but they really didn’t need to, as they performed a masterful set dripping full of favourites like ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, beginning with the customary ‘Come On!’, descending into a crowd sit-in and ending with the front section losing it to ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’. Sure, I heard some complaints about frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s extended crowd interaction…but I loved it!

I caught only the backend of Foster the People’s Main Stage set, but from what I saw I regretted not seeing the previous half-an-hour. A more mellow version of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was pretty memorable, but more than anything they were a band full of confidence and had some good crowd interaction, you got the feeling they were genuinely excited and ecstatic to be with thousands of us in a field in Yorkshire.

One band who’ve had an incredible 12 months are Imagine Dragons, going from a smallish spot on the NME tent last year, just before they made it big, to collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, selling bucketloads of their debut record and making it up to third on the bill on the Main Stage. Again, frontman Dan Reynolds was immensely likeable and thankful for being up there, complimenting R&L for believing in them when no one else would and taking a chance on them. Crowd favourites, ‘Demons’ and ‘Amsterdam’ peppered the set, before a cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ paved the way for the rendition of ‘Radioactive’ Leeds had been waiting for. Album number two should bring more exciting times ahead for the Las Vegas act.

Bombay Bicycle Club were as charming as ever as they headlined the NME/Radio 1 Tent, packing it to the rafters, as slices were taken from 2014 album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, most notably ‘Feel’, ‘It’s Alright Now’ and ‘Luna’. I’d seen the polished show around the time of the album’s release, but it was nice to see it having been developed and smoothed out for a festival crowd. Collaborators Rae Morris and Liz Lawrence added that little bit extra to one of the most satisfying hour the weekend had to offer.

From the NME tent, it was a mad dash to see the band most had been waiting for the entire weekend; Arctic Monkeys. The Main Stage field was packed as far as the eye could see, as the Yorkshire quartet cemented their status as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, even if their set wasn’t entirely perfect.

One look at the setlist would tell you the Arctics dusted off all the favourites, alongside extended coverage of latest record ‘AM’, but the performance was rather erratic, as frontman Alex Turner was occasionally slurry in his delivery and a bit out of it, plus the performances of songs like ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ lacked their usual rapid rhythm, for whatever reason. But come the end of the set, it was hard to come away having not enjoyed at least a portion of the set, whether you were an old or a new fan, there was something for everyone in this intriguing 90 minutes.

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And that was that for Leeds 2014, another grand Bank Holiday weekend with stacks of memorable moments and top performances by some of the most exciting acts on the planet, Leeds ’15 can’t come quickly enough!

Film Round-Up! The Kings of Summer, About Time, Prisoners


Hey! My blog has been neglected recently due to university starting up again and work commitments, however, I thought I’d come back with a little round-up of the films I’ve seen within the last month or so, they’re all pretty varied but here goes…

The Kings of Summer

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 ‘The Kings of Summer’, is a coming-of-age tale with a difference, managing to meld together comedy and drama in equal doses, with offbeat humour taking centre stage alongside some truly heartbreaking moments

We focus on three teens; Joe, a lad determined to be as far away as possible from his miserable dad, played monstrously well by ‘Parks & Rec’s’ star Nick Offerman. Then it’s over to Patrick, Gabriel Basso, a semi-miserable wrestler who wants out from his awful, awful Irish-American parents.

And Biaggio.

Biaggio, played by Moses Arias, is a strange, nutcase of a character. He looks about 30, but is incredibly is only 19, has a mysterious South American background and is a general unknown. He is the star of this film, and he sort of knows it, Arias, a man whose previous best known work was in ‘Hannah Montana’, is a revelation. He’s the character that has you falling about with laughter throughout the film.

Well, these three band together and decide to build themselves a house in a forest, wanting to disappear from their families and society itself. The premise is the ultimate coming-of-age tale, as the lads realise what a massive undertaking this is, and just how much they have to learn. It’s funny seeing it myself, now from the other side of these awkward teen years, as I can almost relate to the feelings they have at times, but, like many, would never have the balls to go through with it.

That being said, it’s certainly a fantasy, if you stopped and thought about certain aspects the realism would be lost. However, with the appearance of bands like MGMT and The Orb, on the soundtrack a psychedelic, chilled sense is pretty much always present.

Back to the main trio, and whilst Biaggio may steal the film, Joe, played by the up-and-coming Nick Robinson, gives him a run for his money . He reminds me hugely of James Franco, both in looks and his charisma, of which he has bucketloads. With news of him grabbing a lead role in next summer’s ‘Jurassic World’, just coming out, it’s likely the world will get to see a lot of him, and he really deserves it based on this performance.

The film itself is a huge success, dicing between the humour, which the three adolescents handle magnificently and some heartbreak, leading to an unexpectedly tense finale, in which you discover that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has really made you care about these characters, the lot of them from the three lads, to Offerman’s hilarious dad, a very understate role, right over to ‘Community’ star Alison Brie and her troubled relationships, as Joe’s sister and Offerman’s daughter.

It’s great stuff, and was seen by far too little a number of people this summer, with a small cinematic release, leading to a quick release on DVD & Blu-Ray, if you missed it the first time round, do yourself a favour and pick it up this time!

9/10

About Time

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I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t exactly bursting with excitement at the prospect of going to see ‘About Time’. A Richard Curtis rom-com wasn’t what I fancied, but hey why not give it a chance?

If you actually look into ‘About Time’, you’ll find it a quite interesting concept. It gives the standard rom-com a kick up the arse, with a time travel power that every male in the family of Tim (Domnhall Gleeson, son of Brendan) has. Bill Nighy is the father figure, who reveals news of this surprising development to his son after a disappointing New Year’s Eve party.

Nighy and Gleeson have instant chemistry, despite looking nothing like one another, and you believe in their relationship from the offset, an important feature, that helps the second half of the film come alive.

Tim uses the powers to help find him a girlfriend, and the film has its premise, with Rachel McAdams dropping into his life. The pair, again, work well together, despite McAdams’ US accent not really fitting in this typical British rom-com.

Whilst the first hour or so focuses on the relationship between the two, and its gradual development over time, I’m talking proposal-marriage-children, the lot, the second hour focuses on family relationships, most notably the father-son one, something that I enjoyed immensely.

I’d heard that after the film tonnes of people rang up their dad’s just to check up on them, I myself settled for a text, but it is a really great feeling that it manages to produce, one that sucked me into the film and didn’t leave me on the outside, a snide critic.

It does suffer from a few rom-com clichés, but Curtis is known for that. He’s also gone for some cushioned jokes, and the rules behind the time travelling are stated at times, but not really stuck to at all. If you really think about it, it doesn’t make much coherent sense, but then it isn’t a film that you’re meant to pick apart that thoroughly.

For all its slushiness, for all its flaws, ‘About Time’ isn’t all that bad, a rom-com I could put up with, and the message being that you should enjoy your life to the max, time travelling or not time travelling!

6.5/10

Prisoners

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A dark, twisted thriller that isn’t recommended to any parents of small children (or big for that matter), ‘Prisoners’, is a slow-burner, twisting about a bit, before the final few reveals that you really won’t see coming. It’s no wonder that the film has had such success here in the UK, for Jake Gyllenhall and Hugh Jackman lead a range of great acting performances, as Detective Loki (no not that Loki) and the father one of one of the missing girls.

It’s brutal and Jackman really verges into his dark, Wolverine-esque territory with some savage torturing of suspect Paul Dano, his character a bumbling, helpless man-child. But as the film descends into darkness, we see what truly makes a good man, and what can make a good man turn bad in some wonderful character transformations.

Gyllenhall is as good as he has ever been in his role as Loki, a detective proud of his 100% success rate in turning over crime case verdicts, and his assignment to this one isn’t about to break it. It’s the little nuances, like his eye-twitch and savage attention-to-detail, that make the character as good as it is.

A top, top thriller that you must see!

8/10

Cheers!

Steve McClaren appointed Derby County Head Coach


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Steve McClaren (middle) with his new coaching staff, Eric Steele (left), goalkeeping coach, Paul Simpson (right), first-team coach, and their chief executive Sam Rush (second from right).

After a day or two of speculation, Derby County Football Club have announced the swift arrival of ex-England and Nottingham Forest boss Steve McClaren as their new head coach.

McClaren, fresh from a recent coaching spell at fellow Championship side QPR, signs a two-and-a-half year deal with the Rams, returning to the club where he had stints on the playing and coaching staff in the 80’s and 90’s respectively.

He is most likely remembered for his short-lived year and a half in the England job back in 2006-7, before he found success in Holland, with FC Twente, winning the Eredivisie in season 2009-10, also leading to the infamous clips of McClaren speaking in broken ‘Dutchlish’ with local media.

The Rams have also added ex-fan favourite Paul Simpson as a first-team coach, with Fergie’s old Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele also joining.

It puts the futures of departed manager Nigel Clough in major doubt, with Johnny Metgod, Andy Garner, Gary Crosby and Martin Taylor, all having been placed on gardening leave, late on Sunday evening.

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McClaren during his second stint at Derby, as assistant coach to Jim Smith during 1995-99.

Chief Executive Sam Rush has also stated that a new technical director will be appointed ‘in the near future’, to concentrate on scouting for future recruits.

It’s all part of a new system the hierarchy at Pride Park are establishing to help improve the chances of a return to the top echelons of English football.

McClaren won’t be in charge for the visit of Ipswich Town tomorrow, academy manager Darren Wassall instead taking the senior reigns.

Instead his first game in charge will be the fiery home clash against Leeds United this coming Saturday.

It will be a tough task for the Rams, especially given the furore from fans, local and national media over Clough’s sacking, but in my view McClaren is probably the best available man for the job, his favoured style of play similar to the one Clough had already established.

With over 30 games left to play in the Championship this season, it should certainly be an interesting one for all at Pride Park.

Music: The return of Arcade Fire!


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Canadian experimentalists Arcade Fire are back with a brand new single from their upcoming album, ‘Reflektor’.

The single is entitled, ‘Reflektor’, also, is produced by ex-LCD Soundsystem man James Murphy and even features guest backing vocals from the legend himself, David Bowie!

The song takes a lot of Murphy’s disco based influences and fuses it together with the sound of the band’s last album, 2010’s ‘The Suburbs’, with pianos, a fantastic riff and some 70’s catchy drum beats.

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The 7 minute long epic is challenging, yet familiar, hitting just the right spot. Husband and wife duo, Win Butler and Regine Chassange, the band’s leaders, along with their five other members, have really got it spot on here, Win’s voice protruding as one of the most recognisable of his generation, and Regine’s delicate French vocals offering some beautiful respite from her partners.

What starts off as a steady tune, develops around the halfway mark, turning more and more complex with added layers thrown into the mix, the melodrama turned to 11, with pianos, vocals and guitars being trashed simultaneously, to create a wall of thundering sound, that is VERY pleasing to the ears.

It was released last night amidst high anticipation levels online, with the band’s mysterious viral campaign, of 9/9/13 @ 9pm, working a charm. The band turned up at Montreal in a surprise fancy dress gig, emulating their caricatured-selves in the video for the song (at the bottom of the page).

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This song is a great taster of what should be a savage double-LP, with the age of disco seemingly returning to the mainstream once again, Daft Punk finding huge success in the old genre, but this time in the unlikely form of Arcade Fire It may not be their best piece of work to date although it runs the likes of ‘Rebellion (Lies)‘ and ‘Wake Up‘, very closely in my humble opinion.

October the 28th cannot come any quicker!

Film Review: Rush (2013)


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Ron Howard’s F1 epic semi-biopic,’Rush’, is finally here. Hyped up by the likes of ‘Top Gear’ and well publicized by Howard himself at various F1 races over the current season, fans of the sport and the two drivers the film focuses on, James Hunt and Niki Lauda, were expectant of a faithful, yet exciting representation of F1’s glory days back in the 1970’s. Well, I can report that this film is brilliant, one of the best I have seen this year, with a great mixture of action, drama and humour, all in manageable doses. And considering this is a ‘Hollywood’-isation of events, it is a grounded, only very rarely over-dramatic piece of work.

Director Howard has managed to produce a film for  not just fans of the sport though. Sure it has plenty of race action, which is an amazing recreation of the real deal, but the film gets under the skin of both drivers, showing reasonable doses of their own private lives, which held remarkable parallels over time. The splicing together of the new and old footage is great too, with the old footage of the two drivers at the end serving as a nice bookend to the film, and frequently appearing on TV screens. Whilst the newly created footage, using some stunning techniques by Howard and his team, is exhilarating, using the real cars from the era, and taking in some of the classic tracks like Brands Hatch, Circuit Paul Ricard and the infamous Nurburgring. Infact the first time the grid starting up their engines, I’m not ashamed to say I got major goosebumps!

Anyway, back to the story. ‘Rush’, is all about two men: James Hunt, a raging, sex-obsessed, boozy Brit, perhaps the epitome of the 70’s as a decade, and his rival for the 1976 season, Niki Lauda, a quiet, calculated Austrian, who ‘bought’ his way into the sport. We go back to the pair’s Formula 3 days, where the first clash between the two occurs. Fastforward a few years, and it’s F1, the big time, Hunt at McLaren, Lauda at Ferrari…game on!

Being a huge F1 fan, but not being too well informed on the past glories of the sport was a perfect position for me. I had a vague idea of what was going to happen, but nothing concrete like the death of Ayrton Senna, as documented in the awesome, ‘Senna’. I won’t spoil any of, ‘Rush’, but it is obvious why it has been made into a film, the story is incredible!

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The two leads, Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds), are exceptional. Hemsworth is perfect as the cocksure, seemingly care-free Hunt, with a striking similarity to the Brit. He also channels his inner Brit in his accent, with it sounding a little bit Thor-ish at times, but mainly spot on. Hunt is the source of humour, as anyone who has ever heard of him will know, and Hemsworth laps it up, showing great versatility, considering his only major roles beforehand have been as the ‘action hero’.

Bruhl is a revelation as Lauda, we all know Hemsworth can act a bit, but Bruhl, a Spanish-born German actor. He works well as the meticulous Austrian, and can act well in English and German, showing that aside from a nominal part in Tarantino’s ‘Inglorious’, that he’s ready to join the English-speaking film world. You can tell he’s fully immersed himself as Lauda, and everything that comes with that, at times he is annoying, at others you feel immense empathy with him, it’s a great role, and if the film is seen by as many people as it is deserved to be seen by, he could be an outside shot at some awards nominations come the New Year.

Other cast members, include Olivia Wilde as Hunt’s supermodel wife, Suzy Miller and Alexandra Maria Lara, as Lauda’s Marlena. The two are mainly restricted to being emotional weights on the two drivers, and it’s a shame they don’t have a lot else to do other than watch their men racing or suffering due to their racing. Brits and ‘Green Wing’, alumni Julian Rhind-Tutt and Stephen Mangan are great as Hunt’s two managers, throughout the years, and as a ‘Green Wing’, fan it was both funny and surprising to see them pop up.

The soundtrack to this film is magical. Strictly speaking the raw, primal roars of the F1 cars aren’t a part of the soundtrack, but every time you hear them, you know something big is coming! The race starts, as I mentioned earlier, are great moments, seeming as authentic as possible, matching the great action on-screen. Songs by David Bowie and Mud enlighten the airwaves in the background, whilst the main player, Hans Zimmer, brings a cello-based score, a perfect accompaniment to the action and drama, adding a deeper layer of drama when needs be.

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With amazing racing scenes never seen before, a great, real script from Peter Morgan, that captures the glamour, the danger and the politics of 1970’s Formula 1 and enough humour and drama to match, ‘Rush’, is a great film. It may suffer from F1’s lack of popularity in the US, but I’d expect the racing mad fans around the world to lap up this excellent piece of work. It helps that we see prominent action in Japan, Germany, the UK, Spain and with a nice worldwide cast, it should do some good business aswell as garner critical praise. In all honesty, similar to ‘Senna’, you can neither know anything about F1 or like it, but there will still be a part of ‘Rush’, you’ll enjoy. Be it the cars, sound, action, lead performances, or simply the captivating stories of James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

8.5/10