Syria is Going to Get Hit.

There is great support for it in the ME here. This conflict is already destabilising the  ME which is pushing oil uncertainty. Strangely this is having an influence!

We have big states and big stakes involved on both sides. Iran, Russia, China and Iraq on one side. The Gulf states, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel and the Western World on the other. Its not that Syria is part of the Big Game but it is now looking that way.

This should have been sorted out long ago. China naturally doesnt favour any breach of sovereignty. Russia is deeply involved, Iraq is split and what is interesting is Iran. They are seeking better relations in public with the West but they are too deeply involved historically in Syria/Lebanese politics to shift sides.

Its going to get ugly.

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In other news

I’m sat at Dubai airport again after just coming back from my Eid trip to Malaysia, Cambodia and Singapore. I saw no new plces but it was still one of the best I’ve done. Some great company and funny times. ‘I don’t know what I am saying Dan….really!’ she said with a huge smile. 😀

I’ll write more very soon. I have news too!

Premier League Preview

Outside of the top 5/6 teams, this is really an average league. There are about 10 teams who don’t and can’t stand out.

Arsenal

What to say…Wenger has yet again failed to grasp any nettle. The lack of depth in defence and talent upfront haven;t been addressed and this is going to be the season they suffer. This is a team that only plays for 4th now. Its unbelieveable that Wenger accepts this. But then despite criticising players for their demands, he is one of the highest paid managers in the world. He knows what he is doing it for. 5th

Aston Villa

I’ve always rated Lambert and while they won’t set anything alight, keeping Benteke and developing the young squad will be enough to keep them comfortably midtable. 12th

Cardiff City

A season of struggle for Cardiff. They must be favourite to go down despite making important signings in defence and upfront. Relegated

Chelsea

They are very difficult to judge. Jose is back so they will be competitive and they have serious talent through the squad. Yet without Torres or Ba hitting rich form, they just don’t have enough threat. 3rd.

Crystal Palace

Relegated

Everton

Forget it. Martinez is going to struggle here. I like the guy and his tactics but he clearly can’t get the best out of his team. They seem to do that all by themselves. They have quality at the back so a top ten finish is likely. 7th

Fulham

Same, same, same. I like Jol and his squad. Midtable. 13th

Hull

Relegated

Liverpool

Rodgers is dreaming if he thinks these new signings will make any real difference. Suarez was the only real offence they had last season. Sturridge will help but is too inconsistent while the defence is ageing. They will improve slightly but missing out on that Armenian and failure to get some creativity in the middle (they might get Willam who will help) keeps them about the same area which also means Suarez is leaving. 6th

Manchester City

Its a simple first or second here but again without certain leading actors, Man City struggle. I’m not that convinced by the new signings. They only really need Aguero to stay fit and Silva to actually do some work to be successful. Hart needs to stop throwing the ball in the net and Kompany and Toure must stay fit. 1st.

Manchester United

Moyes is going to do an excellent job. Let’s not worry about that. His biggest issues are getting rid of Rooney and the fans understanding that sometimes Fergie also didn’t win the league. There are too many professionals at the club brought up to keep issues indoors for the side to implode so this will remain a solid season. One point rarely mentioned is Moyes is now going to be in the Champions League too. Playing hugely important midweek and weekend games is a new challenge. 2nd.

Newcastle United

Similar to Chelsea, its very difficult to know how they will do. A full strength team is easily a top 10 side. However Pardew fails to convince, the signings likewise and the boardroom shenagians and French clique have the potential to upset the milkvan. 9th

Norwich City

I like Chris Hughton and especially the job he’s done. He’s also invested wisely and in some real talent. Safety is assured. 14th

Southampton

Firing Atkins was an odd but ultimately astute move by the chairman. Portabello (sp?) might not speak English but tactically he tightened them up and has shown faith in the squad bringing in only Wanyama to strengthen the midfield. They will surprise this season, mostly because you won’t really notice them. 11th

Stoke City

Its difficult to give two shits to be honest. Hughes will bring more style to the team but like Wimbledon and Bolton before them, is that what they need? The season will look the same. 16th

Sunderland

Paolo will talk more off the pitch than his team will on it. They bought unproven players, players with almost no track record. I see them struggling to get any momentum and finishing low in the table. 17th

Swansea City

If Wenger fails to get Arsenal into the Champions League, Laudrap is their new manager. The Europa League will put pressure on them damaging their league form but Laudrap knows the league is too important and he’s invested very well in Bony. 10th

Tottenham Hotspur

AVB has invested well. If he keeps Bale (which I think he will now) that is one very dangerous side. They lack quality in some areas. I’m not sure about the centre backs at that level and I’m very sure about Ekoto (lazy) but they’ve focused on and improved key areas upfront and in the middle. They will be competitive enough to take 4th. The only issue is the worthless Europa League getting in the way. 4th.

West Brom

This season will be a disappointment in comparison to recent years. Anelka is a shrewd signing but not reallly enough to replace Lukaku. I see them inhabiting 10th -12th almost all season. 15th

West Ham United

Big Sam continues to recognise and buy what he needs and do a very simple, professional job. Downing might be shit at Liverpool but Sam knows how to get the best out of hard-working donkeys and this canny move alongside Carroll will keep them difficult to beat and comfortably in midtable. 8th
 

Istanbul For a Day

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My flights from Georgia and Doha gave me 12 hours in the city. I hadn’t been for six years and its improved since. Last time was part of a rock n’roll period where incidently I met Linden in the Bauhaus hostel. It seems a long time ago now since she borrowed my hat, a classic girl trick or I piggybacked her to the nightclub. I’ve always been a charmer!

The Turkish economy continues to improve and this is reflected in its main city. It’s been gentrified. It’s still a claustraphobic experience but the streets are cleaner, the hawkers are less pursued no doubt by the policeman on segways and the army of ‘Ask Me’ helpers. Public transport finally made sense despite twice seeing black men ejected from the trams for no apparent reason. The term I thought I won’t use here but the city and the people felt more European (all this is fairly ironic given the accusations of Erdogan’s challenge to the secular state), less intent on chasing the buck by organising themselves so the buck came to them. There were still plenty of hawkers and beggars but less than before.

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The Bosphorous twinkled in the sun. I sat down and watched it for a long time before going to Gezi Park to read and people watch at the scene of ‘the scene’ in Istanbul which quickly descended into a stand-off between Erdogan, the democratically-elected Prime Minister and the middle class who sense their rights being slowly eroded by his government. Erodgan won this battle though the protestors may have saved the park. Istanbul needs parks like this. But even Gezi Park is no real getaway. Central Istanbul just doesn’t have the room. This is a massively, crowded city.

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So while there, I visited the Sultanahmet area, the Grand Bazaar and tried for the Modern Art Museum but it is closed on Mondays. Despite enjoying it more this time (the weather helps of course), I still don’t know if I want to give it a try. Time won’t tell. I’ll leave that to circumstance and the heart.     

Beirut – The Rip Tide

This tune is not new. Coming from the album of the same name, this song has stuck in my head from the day I heard it along with most of the album. The band are not at all related to the city I visited 2 months ago but instead hail from New Mexico. This can be heard in the complex music using of trumpets and accordians and the use of harmony chorus. In fact its really a one-man band with Zach Condon performing most of the duties.

But the tune…if you don’t know it, have a listen. I promise it won’t be your last.