End of an era for Shauny

Transfer deadline day (31/08/2011) saw Shaun Wright-Phillips leave Manchester City for Queens Park Rangers. A move that was almost as inevitable as it was difficult to see.

Shaun is, at this moment in time, the most successful graduate of City's Academy having featured in 30 games for England to date. He has played 181 times for City scoring 31times, and some of those have been memorable ones. Sweep was also named Young Player of the Year 4 times in a row between 2000-2003; Not bad for a player who was deemed too small to make it by Nottingham Forest who released him in 1996.

His move to Chelsea in 2005 upset and angered fans as they felt his head had been turned by the promise of a big money move. They felt let down on a big scale, but due to the financial state the club was in at the time £21m was simply too good to turn down.

Despite winning all 3 domestic competitions, Shaun was never a nailed on starter for Chelsea and eventually moved back to City for £9m in 2008, but since Sheikh Mansour took over the club Shaun once again found himself struggling to get a regular spot in the first team.

Shauny (in my opinion) is too good to be sat on the bench, but unfortunately just wasn't in Mancini's thinking for the squad. His transfer to QPR will give him a chance of regular 1st team football once again and also the opportunity to break back into the England squad. Hopefully he can do both.

Sky Sports News interviewed Wright-Phillips after his transfer to QPR and when asked about his feelings for City fans a sombre Shaun stated; "There will always be a blue spot in my heart."

I'm sure I speak for the majority of City fans when I wish him good luck at QPR and you will always be welcome in Manchester.

Globe Postpaid: I Can’t Have It My Way.

Dear friends, it’s been three days since I’ve changed my Globe Postpaid Plan.Globe deactivated my Caller ID and SMS. I can’t send or receive SMS! I can only receive and make calls. IT’S BEEN THREE DAYS.I’ve been following up everyday and all they say is “I will escalate your concern.” It’s been three days and nothing has changed. Sorry if you texted me and I didn’t reply. It’s Globe Telecom Postpaid Service’s fault.
Feel free to reblog. I hope this gets to Globe Telecom.

Burghley Underway

Things are finally underway at one of the greatest four star events in the world, Burghley. All of the US horses trotted up without any nervous moments this afternoon. I am very happy to say that all of the Americans are gathering together in a group getting behind each other and it's a real team feeling within the group.

We walked the cross-country course together and after fence 4, we all started getting very quiet. The jokes and small talk stopped as we started checking out the fences that we are taking on on Saturday.

Mike, Will, me, Jules & Sinead at the biggest cross-country jump in the world, Cottesmore Leap.

Will, Mike and I are lucky enough to be here with the assistance of the Land Rover Grants. Land Rover has really got behind the American team, and are an awesome backer to assist us in covering an enormous shipping and traveling bill. After the trot up we did some photos with a couple of very nice Land Rovers which we have been given to cruise around in this weekend.

Nev went well in a lesson with Bettina Hoy this afternoon. Our dressage is at 3:15 tomorrow, so let's see if all the hard work has paid off.


More Exciting News for Boyd

Boyd and Otis Barbotiere are one of four US horse/rider combinations to have been awarded a USEF Developing Grant to compete at the Boekelo CCI3* in The Netherlands. This event runs October 6-9, 2011. Boyd will also take Ron and Densey Juvonen's Remington XXV with the Land Rover Competition and Training Grant they were awarded earlier this month.

Also Boyd and Manny and Dana Diemer's Cold Harbor have been selected as alternates for this year's Pan-American Games team in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Let's hope the good news continues to roll in as Boyd and Neville tackle the Burghley CCI4* in England this week!


Arrived Safe and Sound at Burghley

I had a great dressage lesson first thing this morning with Bettina Hoy at Headley Stud and Nev looks to be in fine form as we put the finishing touches on his dressage test.

Mike, Will and myself then loaded up the boys (Nev, Icurus, Twizzel & Milo) on Mark Todd's super amazing lorry for the drive to Burghley. It was a great trip, joking around with the boys, firing ourselves up for the toughest four star in the world.

I gave Nev a hack and a light flat this arvo (that's afternoon in Australian), trying to settle the redhead in at a magnificent venue.

I am stabled right in the middle of the Cannucks and Americans. There is a great atmosphere in the barn as everyone gets ready for the trot up tomorrow.


Top Riders Use Ecogold Saddle Pads at Burghley CCI4*

For Immediate Release: Top Riders Use Ecogold Saddle Pads at Burghley CCI4*

Media Contact: Amber Heintzberger, 828-289-0658, amberwriter@aol.com

England – 29 August, 2011 – Top riders competing at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI4* in England will have something in common: their ECOGOLD saddle pads. ECOGOLD North American sponsored riders at this year’s Burghley Horse Trials CCI**** include Sinead Halpin, Boyd Martin, Kyle Carter, Jessica Phoenix and Hawley Bennett. ECOGOLD is also supplying saddle pads to the Land Rover US Eventing Teams competing at Burghley and Blenheim (England), Boekelo (the Netherlands) and the Pan-Am Games (Mexico).

"Christmas came early to Gladstone; the boxes kept coming!” said Sara Ike, Managing Director of Eventing for the USEF. “Our Land Rover Eventing Team will be using crisp new saddle pads. ECOGOLD went above and beyond."

Ecogold Saddle Pads are also used by Burghley competitors William Fox-Pitt, Lucinda Fredericks, Hamish Cargill and Dag Albert. “The ECOGOLD Saddle Pads are fast becoming a competition favourite for me,” said William Fox-Pitt, World and British leading Three-Day Event Rider. “It is imperative that my horses remain comfortable during their work and the fantastic non-slip, breathable fabric ensures just that, whilst also looking extremely smart.”

The choice of leading three-day event riders, the ECOGOLD Secure Saddle pad is specially designed to improve the safety, comfort and performance of horse and rider. This means no slipping and no sliding, even in the worst conditions!

"In addition to our sponsorship of individual riders, it is a great honour to supply the US and Canadian Eventing Team's official saddle pads for international competitions. It proves a great confidence in ECOGOLD products," said Marketing Director Patricia Da Silva of ECOGOLD.

“We absolutely love riding in the ECOGOLD pads,” said Lucinda Fredericks. “Whilst being cool and breathable for the horse, the non-slip properties mean they sit brilliantly on the horse and distribute any pressure evenly. I can’t recommend them highly enough!”

The 100% breathable high-density foam in the seat area protects the horse's back from impact without adding extra bulk while the ergonomic shape and ultra-thin flaps provide the rider with a more stable position. The high-tech, 100% breathable materials quickly evaporate moisture away, keeping the horse cool and dry, even on the hottest days.

About Ecogold

ECOGOLD is a Canadian textile engineering company making innovative saddle pads and horse boots to improve your horses’ safety, comfort and performance. For more information or to order ECOGOLD saddle pads, please visit www.ecogold.ca or call 1-866-432-6465.

Seven months

Every week she walks to the front, taking the bread of heaven and the cup of salvation in her hand. She holds on to the chairs for support. She smiles as one who knows that all is well. She is frail. She is beautiful. And every week I see her and my heart lurches and the tears fall. She reminds me so much of my mother.

My children laugh at me when I tell them this. Because, you see, she wears socks with her Birkenstocks. There are no well-ironed creases in her shirts. She is short.  My mother would have stayed home from church if Birkenstocks were her only footwear option.

But the way she walks, holding on to those chairs, the way her smile exudes wisdom and trust, these are reminders of the mother I miss. And watching her daughter's hand resting on her shoulder makes my hand burn with longing.

I miss you, Mama.

The making of a specimen

I spend most of my time in the laboratory to destroy slabs - but before doing so, we first have to make our specimens.
The slabs I'm testing are reinforced concrete slabs, which are cast in timber formwork in the laboratory hall. The reinforcement is delivered as ready-made cages according to our drawings, and the concrete is delivered by a truck mixer from a nearby plant.

We start with the timber formwork:

And we also have the reinforcement in our laboratory hall:

One of these cages is used per slab:

Then, the reinforcement is placed into the formwork:

Now we're ready to pour on some concrete... Notice the mixer truck at the entrance of the laboratory.

The concrete is taken to the formwork and then poured into it:

Meanwhile, we also cast small cubes to check the material properties of the concrete:

After pouring the concrete, the surface of the slab needs to be finished:

The result: some freshly-made concrete slabs:

These can be used in our setup after typically 28 days - ready to suffer!

Player Review: Micah Richards

Micah Richards

D.O.B: 24/06/1988

Height: 5ft11

Position: Right-Back / Centre-Back

Joined Club: 2001

Fee: ___

Debut: 22nd October 2005 v Arsenal

Micah has been at Manchester City since the age of 14, making him the current longest serving player at the club, and he's only 23. Although making his debut as a sub against Arsenal in October 2005, it wasn't until 12th February 2006 that he made his full debut against Charlton.

Needless to say he burst onto the scene, full of confidence and with bags of potential, tipped for future greatness. In November 2006 he was called up to and made his debut in the England squad  in a friendly against the Netherlands just 12 months and 23 days after his full club debut making him England's youngest ever defender. He is also the youngest City player ever to be given the captains armband.

Richards is widely known for his powerful and athletic physique, he is an absolute powerhouse and very few in the league can match him for brute strength or his ability to leap above others to head the ball.

Early, or should I say earlier in his career there were many questions asked about his concentration and positional sense and it isn't until recently that those questions have started to be silenced, partly due to the style of play Mancini employs sees Richards way out of position. Thankfully, Richards has always posessed enough pace to make up for for this more often than not.  

As was largely expected after such a good start, his form tailed off for a while and he didn't appear to be living up to his initial hype and began to write him off. What many failed to acknowledge though was that Richards had made his debut at just 17 years old and he was, and is, still very young for a defender and had plenty of time to regain his form.

The arrival of German international Jerome Boateng in the summer of 2010 seemed to spark Richards back into life. And although he only featured in 18 league games with a couple of injuries also hampering his game time (30 games in all competitions), he pushed out Boateng and held off Zabaleta, reaffirming himself as the 1st choice right back for the 2011-12 season ahead. It is yet to be seen how many games he gets though as Mancini will no doubt rotate the squad often enough to keep everyone fresh and on their toes.

He has started the current season in great form and seems to be relishing the style of play Mancini uses at City as both full-backs have the license to get forward often providing extra width down the flanks. His return to form last season even prompted Brazilian legend Carlos Alberto to declare that Richards "holds the keys to the hopes of England for this coming generation." High praise indeed.

Richards had been recalled to the England squad for a friendly against the Netherlands (deja vu?) but the recent riots forced the FA to cancel the game on grounds of safety, and rightly so. He has however been included in the squad for the Euro 2012 qulifiers against Bulgaria and Wales. If Richards continues as he has started this season there is no way Capello can ignore him again any longer than he has done.

Who gets the nod when everyone's match fit?

It's the million pound question at the moment after Mancini added Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero to his already formidable attacking options. Just who will be in the 1st choice front 4 when everyone is match fit?

Now of course we have to allow for squad rotation and because of this the front 4 (in a 4-2-3-1 formation) will inevitably change many times throughout the season. But lets just list who Mancini has to call from (or who is most likely to be left) to fill the 3+1;
Adam Johnson
Carlos Tevez
David Silva
Edin Dzeko
Mario Balotelli
Sergio Aguero
Yaya Toure

That's 7 players who Mancini has used as part of the quartet in his favoured and highly flexible 4-2-3-1 formation. Each player brings something different to the table, and therein lies the beauty of Mancini's problem. I don't think there is a manager in the world who has quite as many options at his disposal.

Last season, with Balotelli and Dzeko new to the Prem, and without Aguero and Nasri in the side, pundits and journalists alike would have said Tevez was an automatic starter. And even at the beginning of this season before he returned from his holidays they were still banging on about how City will miss Tevez's goals.

It was as though the media was gearing itself up for City's almighty crash and burn as Tevez was to be sold and if he wasn't they stuck the knife in by using inaccurate quotes of Tevez never wanting to step foot in Manchester again. One media outlet (not naming names, they don't deserve the publicity) even went to far as to say that he would only be available for away games if he wasn't sold. Yes that really is what they published. Stupidity of the highest order which is laughable and contemptible in equal measure.

In all honesty though, and this is in no way me taking away from what he has done for City on the pitch, Tevez's form dipped at the back end of last season but City still managed to win the FA Cup and finish joint 2nd on points in the Prem with Chelsea. So did City really miss his goals at that time? It'll be a what if at best I suppose.

Fast forward a couple of months to this season, no Carlos Tevez in the side in pre-season and no chance of him starting for the first few week in the Premiership due to match fitness and have we really missed Tevez? Errrm, no.

Without Carlos being the focal point of City's attack it has given other players the chance to grow into the team in ways that simply weren't possible last season. We'll look at the main 2, David Silva and Edin Dzeko.

David was fantastic last term and was a deserved candidate for Player of the Season. But for as good as he was (and he was good) he always seemed as though he was being held back by something, always seemed as though he had to find someone to pass to rather than take the shot on. When Tevez played, Silva was always looking to get the ball to him, and to be fair they had a good understanding but no real connection was made with the rest of the squad. Was this simply down to the language barrier and him feeling more comfortable with Tevez? Maybe.

When we got to pre-season David looked as though he'd clicked with the rest of the squad, his movement had got even better, his understanding with the rest of the squad seemed to have grown dramatically even more than it had done towards the end of last season. To top it off, he no longer looks afraid to shoot. Without Tevez, Silva has grown into the team and visa-versa in a way not possible when the Argentinian was there.

Then to Edin Dzeko, the man the media was calling a £27m flop, the man the media managed to convince the majority of fans was a waste of money. Sluggish, heavy first touch, and clumsy were all ways of describing the 6ft4 Bosnian, and they were a fair assessment. However what wasn't fair was that none took into account any of the circumstances as to why he looked that way.

Moving from the Bundesliga to the vastly more physical and quicker paced Premier League after a winter break, with no prior training with the team, being played out of position several times, with Carlos Tevez the only focal point of the majority of attacks... it was all stacked against him right from the start. However there were a few who saw past this, who saw that he could adapt and could prosper with the right service.

And how right we were (yes I don't mind gloating that I was one of them), Edin must feel like the cat that got the cream when he looks behind him and sees the creative influences of Aguero, Silva and Nasri. At Wolfsburg he thrived off a partnership, a partnership that if we're truly honest with ourselves is unlikely ever going to be created with Tevez. Instead he had 3 truly class players behind him against Spurs and look what the end result was.
At this moment in time I can't see past Nasri and Aguero as being the right players to complete the quartet. Nasri has as much creativity as Silva and both can interchange positions, drifting into the centre, out wide, swapping flanks. Having two players like that is a nightmare for defences as they get pulled inside then back out trying to cover the movement of the attackers. Then Aguero, although he isn't quite as involved in games as Tevez is, his movement behind Edin, fading left or right depending on Silva and Nasri provides not only space for himself but for Edin to position himself in the 18yard box.

The combination of those 4 was absolutely devastating against a side that was playing Champions League football last season. The defence didn't have an answer for it as they couldn't predict what kind of play they were up against. Was there going to be a one-two between players and a perfectly weighted first time cross? Was it going to be whipped in close to the ground or high up for a header? Or was there a searching through ball followed by a piece of individual brilliance? How about a lay off for a belter from outside the box?

Yes this game had each one of those, and it's just a taste of things to come as that was the first game they had all played together as an attacking unit. This is why the 4 that started against Spurs simply have to be the first choice. I understand that they will be rotated and wont all play together all the time, but for sheer versatility and attacking ability they would be my first choice.

How that affects the team behind them is for another time, and what about the others in the list; Toure, Tevez, Johnson, and Balotelli? Each will no doubt get a number of games this season, there is no doubt about that, as City try to put a realistic attempt together to compete for 4 trophies. And of course each one of those players has abilities suited to certain types of games which will allow Mancini to cater his team to the opponent.
After, and even during the Spurs game, commentators, pundits and journalists alike were comparing modern day City to City's past 'Holy Trinity' of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee. Of course, as has always unfortunately been the case, the media and commentators failed to mention one of the most unsung heroes of the era, the late, and truly great Neil Young. But City fans will now be daring to wonder whether this quartet can be as successfull, or even moreso than those 4 City legends .

We just need a catchy name for them now... Unfortunately, it has already been pointed out to me that if you take the first letter of their surname you get the word NADS. But shouting Go NADS will probably get you a few funny looks, although with the sense of humour City fans have I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if that caught on and was incorparated into a new terrace chant.

And just in case you want to see them in action again while there's a break for the Euro 2012 qualifiers here are the highlihgts of Spurs v City again. Enjoy.

Monsanto moutain race

It was a 11.750m mountain race (Salomon calendar) in my everyday training place so I had to be there. The best guys from the north of the country made a long trip to be here. This time I was only 1' behind the best guy which is a considerable improvement compared to my last mountain races. Now I'm able to follow the pace while going uphill and in the flat parts but I loose a HUGE amount of time when going downhill (I think that my engine doesn't have that gear). I think that it's because of a lack of strength in the quadriceps once I don't consider that I'm afraid of the descend. Anyway I have promised myself that I won't run moutain races again in slick shoes.

I've spent the last days studying at home/faculty and it'll be like that until November; some days better, some days worse. I've kept doing intervals and training well just because I like it and can't live without it; I also face them as work done to the next season (even if, in the meanwhile, I'm going to rest for some weeks).

A PhD defense at Georgia Tech

I've recently attended two PhD thesis defenses at Georgia Tech, which were quite different from a PhD thesis defense at TU Delft.

One of the first differences, is that the thesis itself is not fully completed and printed yet at Georgia Tech before the defense. In Delft, the thesis committee will give their input on the draft thesis before the defense, then the thesis is printed and after distribution of the printed dissertations, the defense itself can take place. At Georgia Tech, and I assume at other US universities, the defense takes place before the completion of the thesis.

The defense itself consists of a presentation which is open to the public, as well as the actual defense with the committee, behind closed doors.
The presentation is attended by the committee and lasts one hour. In this presentation, the defending PhD candidate receives enough time to explain his/her thesis work to its full extent. At TU Delft, the presentation only lasts 20 minutes, is not attended by the committee and has to be given "such that friends and family can actually understand what you've been doing all those years."

While a defense at TU Delft is very formal, is only held in the Senaatszaal of the Aula and involves a beadle and paranymphs, a defense at Georgia Tech is less formal. Also, at TU Delft, the defense and the actual graduation are merged into one ceremony, while at Georgia Tech the defense and commencement are separate, and months apart.

What seems to me an advantage of the system used at Georgia Tech, is the shorter time between the first completed draft of the thesis and 'being done' (which would mean the defense in Delft or the submission and acceptance of the thesis at Georgia Tech). At TU Delft, this seems to be a matter of months, while at Georgia Tech it is more a matter of weeks.

City Stats: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City

Joe Hart
  • Distribution: 35 - 21 - 14 - 60%

  • Saves: 5 - 4 - 1 - 80%

  • Minutes: 90

Pablo Zabaleta
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 47 - 38 - 9 - 80%

  • Interceptions: 3

  • Tackles: 6 - 4 - 2 - 66%

  • Minutes: 64

Vincent Kompany
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 47 - 42 - 5 - 89%

  • Interceptions: 2

  • Tackles: 4 - 3- 1 - 75%

  • Minutes: 90

Joleon Lescott
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 47 - 39 - 8 - 82%

  • Interceptions: 0

  • Tackles: 5 - 3- 2 60%

  • Minutes: 90

Gael Clichy
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 58 - 46 - 12 - 79%

  • Interceptions: 0 

  • Tackles: 3 - 1 - 2 - 33%

  • Minutes: 90

Gareth Barry
  • Shots: 1 - 1 - 0%

  • Passes: 72 - 65 (1 assist) - 7 - 90%

  • Interceptions: 3

  • Tackles: 5 - 3 - 2 - 60%

  • Minutes: 90

Samir Nasri
  • Shots: 2 - 1 (1 blocked) - 0%

  • Passes: 76 - 71 (3 assists) - 5 - 93%

  • Interceptions: 1

  • Tackles: 3 - 1 - 2 - 33%

  • Minutes: 90

Yaya Toure
  • Shots: 1 - 1 - 0%

  • Passes: 97 - 90 (1 assist) - 7 - 92%

  • Interceptions: 0

  • Tackles: 4 - 1 - 3 - 25%

  • Minutes: 90

David Silva
  • Shots: 4 - 2 - 2 - 50%

  • Passes: 67 - 62 - 5 - 92%

  • Interceptions: 1

  • Tackles: 5 - 3 - 2 - 60%

  • Minutes: 90

Sergio Aguero
  • Shots: 4 - 1 (1 goal) - 2 - 1 blocked - 25% (25% shots-goals ratio)

  • Passes: 26 - 19 - 7 - 73%

  • Interceptions: 0 

  • Tackles: 6 - 2 - 4 - 33%

  • Minutes: 76

Edin Dzeko
  • Shots: 10 - 6 (4 goals) - 3 - 1 blocked - 60% (40% shots-goals ratio)

  • Passes: 49 - 39 - 10 - 79%

  • Interceptions: 3

  • Tackles: 12 - 1 - 8%

  • Minutes: 90

Micah Richards
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 11 - 7 - 4 - 63%

  • Interceptions: 0 

  • Tackles: 2 - 1 - 1 - 50%

  • Minutes: 26

Stefan Savic
  • Shots: 0

  • Passes: 16 - 15 - 1 - 93%

  • Interceptions: 0

  • Tackles: 1 - 1 - 0%

  • Minutes: 14

Team stats
  • Shots: 22 - 9 (5 goals) - 40% (22% goals-shots ratio)

  • Passes: 648 - 554 -  85%

  • Interceptions: 13

  • Tackles: 56 - 23 - 41%

  • Possession: 59%

  • Corners: 5

  • Fouls: 115