Monday, 9 July 2012

United: Time Is Running Out. And is Caroll REALLY leaving Liverpool?

Arsenal: Arsenal also face an uphill battle to land Real Madrid B star Joselu. The club apparantly rejected an offer around 5 million from Hoffenheim. It would appear the club are determined to reign in around double of the initial bid, valuing the 22 year old striker at around 10 million, who is regarded as a player that would be a very good fit with Premier League football. Additionally, it is reported that Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic is wanted by Chelsea and Arsenal, with Wenger of the option that the striker would be a fitting replacement for Robin van Persie should he leave.

Furthermore, Spanish champions Real Madrid have blocked the approaches of an unnamed Premier League club who were hoping for the services of midfielder Esteban Granero. Earlier in the year Arsenal and Liverpool were two clubs known to be keeping a keen eye on the player. The Spaniard’s contract is soon up, expiring next January, however Mourinho is supposedly unwilling to lose his asset, so perhaps the Spanish giants will renew the player's contract.

Chelsea: The Champions League winners Chelsea have had a large bid rejected by Bayer Leverkusen for Andre Schurrle. The 21 year-old is in demand for his versatility and after an especially great season in the Bundesliga. The Blues may yet offer a higher bid in order to lure the player away. The club has also signed 15 year old George Brady from AS Cannes reports, with the French club receiving around £250,000. The defender was wanted by Arsenal, Spur and the two Manchester clubs, but instead signed a three year deal with the European Champions.

Liverpool: Rogers has made a surprise offer for Fulham star Dempsey in the region of £6 million. The manager made his move after new contract deals with Fulham were hardly progressing, and after missing out on Gylfi Sigurdsson last week. Shockingly Andy Caroll MAY be on his way out of Liverpool, after Ac Milan were reportedly serious about securing the tall striker on loan.

Spurs: Villas-Boas will go head to head with former club Chelsea as they fight it out for the signature of Borussia Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker is currently valued at £20 million, and is also turning the attention of Wenger and Ferguson, as the clubs are desperate to capture the man who bagged 30 goals last season. Spurs may have some more luck with their pursuit of Brazilian striker Leandro Damiao, and with two bids already rejected, the London outfit look a likely destination for the Brazillian. Lastly, Villas-Boas has bagged long-time target Jan Vertonghen from Ajax. The player will undergo a medical some time in the near future to complete the formalities.

United: Time is running out for manager Ferguson to capture one of his main targets in the transfer window: Everton defender Leighton Baines. Ferguson believes that the current valuation for the defender, somewhere in the region of £20 million, is unrealistic, with a figure around £15 million more appropriate to the Scott.

The transfer could happen, however Ferguson is adamant that should Baines join his squad, the deal would have to be done and dusted at the latest by July 15th, as the very next day the Reds embark on their pre-season tour, and he would want Baines to accompany him should he join the squad. Yet, Everton are determined to hold out for a higher bid if they can, as they would regard Baines as one of the best assets. Perhaps Moyes will drag the deal out in the mist of frustration losing his best player, and in the hopes Ferguson will step off the gas and forget about poaching him. Some fans think it is imperative that we tighten up in the defensive department, with Evra's performance last season not as convincing as that of rival City's Kompany, for instance. Either way, new boys Powell and Kagawa will be part of the squad touring South Africa and China with the reds this summer.

Also in the Red camp is the likely resignation of the fact that playmaker Modric will not join the Reds this summer. It is thought that the asking price of £35 million is just too much for United to stretch to. The likely destination of the frustrated Spurs player is said to be La Liga winners Real Madrid.

Elsewhere... Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is making preparations should star player Victor Moses depart for one of the big clubs this summer. The manager is reportedly interested in MLS club Chicago Fire’s star Marco Pappa as a potential replacement for Moses. However, there may be a small complication with the matter of the player's work permit should he come to England. New Norwich boss Chris Hughton looks to his former club Birmingham in order to structure his new team, with the blues' central defender Curtis Davies a prime target. In an attempt to secure Davies, the manager is reportedly prepared to loan out striker James Vaughan to Birmingham. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup wishes to capture Bristol City's talented Adomah, for around £3 million. The manager has been very busy since he took up his post, and is nearing the completion of signings centre-back Chico and attacking midfielder Jonathan de Guzman shortly.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Transfer News: What's Happening At The Top

TRANSFER LATEST - official and unofficial

City: So far there have been no new signings for big spending club, title winners City. However there has been interest circulating around controversial striker and Euro runner up Italy's Ballotelli, as Andrea Pirlo urges Juventus to push the boat out for the striker. Also, Mancini's interest in Napoli's Cavani may prove unfruitful, as the manager tells the both City and Champion League winners Chelsea to forget their hopes of luring the striker away.

Will he stay or will he go?

United: So, the latest on July 7th is that veteran midfielder Ji Sung Park is on his way out of Old Trafford, headed south to join QPR on a three year contract. He will be undergoing a medical on Monday 9th July, and the fee is said to be less than the initial five million expected, around £2 million, with an extra £2.5 mill headed Ferguson's way should QPR avoid relegation. This is the second signing Loftus Road have poached from the Red Devils, after full-back Fabio was loaned out on a season long loan to the club. Ferguson seems desperate to spark new life into his dethroned team, as he makes a bid for Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho and continues to show interest in Brazil midfielder Lucas Mour. Benfica's Axel Witsel also interests the Scottish manager, and with the club reportedly interested in United's Anderson, who knows what may happen - although United will have to fend off Chelsea and Real Madrid if the Red Giants are to secure the midfielder's signature. With hopeful youngster Nick Powell and promising signing Shinji Kagawa, the future looks promising for the reds. However, the amount of youngsters, an age-group known to be fortuitous under Ferguson's reign, leaving the club in search of higher wages is disconcerting, considering the manager's philosophy of bringing in the youth and training them up. Yet, it is no secret that the club has been near paralysed by the Glazer's debt, reportedly around £420 million, with plans to sell shares in Singapore to help lessen the debt, has crippled Ferguson's options in the transfer market, limiting his expenditure to a fraction of what is available at rival clubs Chelsea and City. In years past the United name, reputation and successes has been enough to pull in talent worldwide and locally, attracting promising youths. However, with big bucks being offered to impressionable youngsters, the times may be a-changing. Hopefully, with a few more signings and perhaps more offloading the team will be revitalised, and come back to reclaim their title in the forthcoming season.

Kagawa predicted as a hit for United
Arsenal: Who cares about Batman, all the talk is about Robin - just where will want-a-way striker RVP end up? In conversations with his family, his father reported that the striker wouldn't want to go to La Liga winners Real Madrid because they have Ronaldo, Barcelona are apparently not a team but a collection of individual super stars and he can't see a place for him there, and he couldn't possibly contemplate Premier League winners City, as he feels after the service he has done at Arsenal, he couldn't leave to join one of his club's rivals - Arsenal will always remain in his heart, the lad just wants to win trophies, and who wouldn't if you were a man of his ability? But this is all speculation i read in a report a few months ago. However, the current rumours are that the superstar will end up at Juventus, and should the star leave, his departure may spark many others, as Arsenal players realise their discontent at remaining trophy-less. Chelsea are reportedly interested in Arsenal's Walcott, and with the winger's contract expiring next summer, Wenger will have to work hard next season to content his restless players, and effectively work Giroud and Podoloski into the fold. 

RVP will be pulled this way and that as clubs hope to obtain his Golden foot

Spurs: Tottenham have yet to add any new signings to the team, with new coach Andres Villas Boas heading the proceedings. Villas Boas hopes to poach 'unsettled' Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, and has made an £11 million bid for Brazilian midfileder Oscar, as the new coach hopes to spark a revolution at White Hart Lane. The new boss is also mulling over a move for Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who could become 41 year-old current Spurs goalie Friedel's replacement. The club are also contemplating the return of Lassana Diarra to the Premier League after it was reported he can now leave Real Madrid.

Harry out, Andres in - let's hope he's a good fit for Spurs

Demba Ba should be smiling with all the interest for him
Newcastle: The fifth placed Toons have also been shopping, bagging Reims midfielder Romain Amalfitano and are reportedly close to signing Coventry's teenage midfielder Gael Bigiriman. They may also snatch Lille right-back Mathieu Debuchy unless Inter Milan, who are also vying for the defender's signature, hijack the proceedings. However, after the departure of Guthrie to Reading, ex team-mate Danny Simpson may follow in his footsteps. Pardew's main worry at the moment though, should be holding on to talented striker Ba.

Chelsea: Champion's League winners Chelsea have also been offloading, as Saloman Kalou has been released from the club, reportedly heading to French outfit Lille on a four year contract. The player seemed to have been frozen out under young and vibrant coach Andres Villas Boas, but appeared to fight back into first team action under then interim-coach Di Matteo. However, the striker-cum-winger was always going to be released at the end of his contract, with Di Matteo vying to breathe a new lease of life into the club. Perhaps this philosophy, combined with the sighting of long-serving Lampard at LA Galaxy with friend Beckham, has sported rumours that the Chelsea midfielder will shortly be on his way out of Stamford Bridge...But with two signings at Chelsea already, especially much sought after Hazard and potentially a bid on promising young talent Victor Moses, if Lampard was to go he may not be missed. 

AVB will raid his old club in the hopes Sturridge joins hims at Spurs

Liverpool: Struggling Liverpool could become revitalised under new manager Brendan Rogers, who worked a treat for newly promoted Swansea in their last campaign, as they finished a respectable 11th. The reds have yet to make a signing, but have said goodbye to Kuyt and Aurellio. They may consider a late swoop for Newcastle hit Demba Ba for £7 million due to a clause in the striker's contract, but the new manager may find it hard to fend off interest for unsettled striker Caroll, and controversial but excellent player Luis Suarez. 

Brendan Rogers Takes Over Liverpool Legend Dalglish

With both current Premier League players and other international super stars yet to finalise contract deals, the summer transfers could hold even more surprises in store - so check back for future updates.

Monday, 14 May 2012

A Sensational End To A Sensational Season

Yesterday truly was Super Sunday - with all twenty clubs playing their final fixture on the last day, it is always going to be an exciting watch. But throw in the fact that two champions league places were still undecided, the final relegated club was yet to be confirmed and of course the race for the title was going to go down to the wire, it was definitely a day of football to sit back and revel in - or rather to sit shifting uncomfortably, biting your lip, feeling sick and texting your friends what you thought about each inidividual development.

It was truly a "crazy finish to a crazy season" in the words of Italian manager Roberto Mancini, and indeed it was a sensational finish that could not have been predicted by any, could not have been made up and that is now hailed the most sensational final day of a season in football history. Of course it seemed certain that City would lift the trophy; City had capitalised on United's tremendous slip against Wigan and even more drastically when United failed to retain their 2 goal lead against Everton, and having beaten, admittedly shakily, United one nil at the Etihad, their triumph seemed an absolute cert. But of course nothing is ever certain in football, and the most crucial of 90 minutes presented fans and spectators alike all over the world with tremendous and heart-renching surprises throughout the match.

As a die hard Manchester United fan (who has, incidentally, supported them my entire life, through the good and the bad) i slumped into the kitchen to watch the match, resigned to the fact that City were probably about to break my heart and lift the trophy, but, as a true fan and yet still a realist, i did carry the torch of hope, praying that QPR may snatch something from the blues. When Rooney scored and it had officially been confirmed that City had yet to, i celebrated mildly, happy my team were winning, and that little bit extra excited because Rooney was in my fantasy football team. But although City were yet to score, i did not get overly excited. Lets be honest, the best defensive record in the league were playing the worst away record team in the league, and that kind of heartbreaking irony speaks for itself.

When City scored in the 39th minute, i felt that the worst, but also predicted, was happening. It didn't make me feel any more dejected than when i begun watching the game, but it still made me flinch when the commentator announced it. Despite the word 'revenge' being thrown about regarding Hughes' involvement in his sides match against City, it turned out that at half time, one nil down, they had their own concerns when the news that Bolton had suddenly edged ahead of Stoke meant that QPR were, in theory, about to be relegated. Half time came and went, but not as quickly as the announcement Djibril Cisse  had scored to equalise - suddenly my hand started to tap nervously, my cup of tea began to shake and i could feel the excitement rising up - or that might have been a warning i was about to vomit with hope. Either way, when the announcement flashed at the bottom of my screen that QPR had scored AGAIN i was an absolute reck. My nerves were no longer held, and i confess to texting a few loved ones that i feared i was no longer for this world as i foresaw a heart attack. Anyone who survived that day without nearly throwing up, collapsing or crying with either devastation or jubilation is not human.

I had decided to only concentrate on United's game, after having had the option of watching both matches side by side; United are my team, and really you should be supporting one team, not two (i.e QPR). But, although I wanted to watch all my team's match and enjoy their last game of their season with them, come success or failure, i still desired the news of the other teams' fates. I was in awe of the other score updates that constantly kept popping up at the bottom of the screen, seeing Tottenham and Arsenal exchanging places at the top, and delivering the shocking news that Newcastle, a team who i have enjoyed watching all season, were losing their final match. But every time that little box popped up i prayed it wasn't to deliver the news that City had done the thinkable and yet unthinkable, by staging a heroic comeback.  It was the most exciting and tumultuous 90 minutes i have faced in a long time, if not ever - football, it seems, is just that important.

Watching my side hit the bar i don't know how many times, have the lion share of the possession and have shots denied left right and centre by a sensational Mignolet had my heart in my throat, and every other ten minutes or so Sunderland were charging towards De Gea, a man i admit to only having 50% confidence in, and it was enough to see me curl into a corner of the couch, knees up and watch through my t-shirt.

When that final whistle blew at Sunderland i was perching on the edge of the couch, chewing my nails and clutching my cup of tea staring at the screen like a woman crazed. More than half of me knew that it just seemed too good to be true to win the title, and horrifyingly ironic as it is, when it was announced that in Fergie time the club i despise more than the scousers had achieved the come back i feared, i sank down, dejected, and did shed quite a few tears. I cried for the daunting revelation that my city now has two top dogs, the realisation that United need more top calibre players but may not have the funds to attain them, and because my team had had hope, and had to face the news in the most cruelest of ways - by hearing Sunderland cheer, and even then they were unsure. Sir Alex Ferguson's face when he heard was a picture i will never forget - one that mirrored my own: pure devastation.  

I am happy for those City fans that have been there through the 44 years when City have been nothing but an average team, with an average expenditure - i am also happy for players like Kompany, who seem genuinely interested in the club, and want to fight for their club and their fans. Not players like Tevez, who exile themselves and come back only on the cusp of glory. I wonder if he would have stayed had City not won? I also wonder at Aguero's commitment - will he be lured away by step-father Maradona to join Real Madrid? It seems that with big bucks come players only interested in that, money - and that when the next highest bidder comes calling, they will be disappearing. But who knows, only time will tell.

I have to congratulate City - they have played some spectacular football, but its nothing more than i would expect considering their team is jam packed with world class players. I do admit that United is nowhere near the calibre of old, and even though young players like Smalling, Jones, Welbeck and Cleverly are an exciting prospect, they are not, and probably will never be, deemed world class players. We seem to have lost the generations of the Beckhams, Scholes, and Giggs', and it is a sad thought.

There is a part of me that sees an opportunity in the face of defeat - there were times this season that i was infuriated with United; they were not playing well, communicating with each other or playing with conviction and determination. They seemed to give up when the game wasn't going their way, which is something United certainly aren't associated with, and even when they won 5-0 they did not play particularly well. I found myself watching their games with a sense of dread and nervousness - which i just wasn't used to: i have been used to watching my team knowing deep down that they will come out on top no matter what, but this confidence has gone this season.

When i watched City at times i saw pure talent, fantastic play and sensational goals - what looked like world class play, and even though United are the most famous team in the world, they did not look like a world class team for the majority of this season. Therefore, i am hoping it will give them a stark but harsh realisation that more is needed from them - a better standard of play and conduct is expected. I am hoping the younger players come back with more confidence from the experience they have acquired, and play on a level of standard that is expected from United players. I hope De Gea hits the gym and bulks up so that he can have some sort of presence in the box, and learn a little bit more English so he can command his defence.

However, if United can title challenge when they have not played that well or consistently throughout the season, with the most injuries than i can remember to key players, without the status of 'world class players' or the funds to secure them and with a new goal keeper who is making his debut in English football, then i am confident my team can come back and reclaim their trophy next season.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Muamba Tragedy - Putting Everything into Perspective

There is nothing more devastating that seeing a player fall to the ground, and not get back up. This season has seen some pretty awful injuries, and sustained medical treatment on the pitch, but yesterday, 17th March 2012, was pretty much the most horrific sight the English Premier League has seen in a while.

Fabrice Muamba of Bolton collapsed to the floor seemingly uninjured with no other player around him, and failed to get back up, causing paramedics to rush onto the scene and attempt to resuscitate him at White Hart Lane. This procedure occurred for around ten minutes before he was stretchered off with an oxygen mask, seemingly not breathing. He was taken to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green where he is currently in the Intensive Care Unit undergoing treatment.

I fear for the worst, considering he was not to be seen breathing as he left the pitch, and various statements from 'Muamba is stable', to 'critically ill' within an hour disturb me. I can't help but recall other incidents where i've seen footballers collapse, not get back up again, and they have sadly passed away - i hope this is not the case.

The incident was deeply disturbing and hugely upsetting - both sets of players were visibly distressed, some Bolton team mates crying as they looked down on their friend on the floor, unresponsive.

When a tragedy like this happens, the sounds and sense of the opposing teams rivalry is audibly extinguished, replaced with a soundtrack of sobs, gasps and nervous chatterings. A whole stadium coming together, focused on one thing only, and that's whether the player is going to be all right. Whether the player is from your team or the opposition is rendered obsolete - everybody is wishing for the same thing, supporting the same cause, united in concern.

Despite such a beautiful visual portrayal of unification, it is also deeply saddening that something of this magnitude of travesty has to occur before that happens. It shouldn't take something shockingly and deeply disturbing as this for people to remember the things that are important, and remember that although our passions run high, and we all like a healthy rivalry, it is just a game, and there are more important issues in life.

With this mind, take time to remember what is important - what matters in your life and cherish it. Tell the people who you love the most all the time that you love them, and don't take anything for granted - things can be taken away in a second, life can be snatched away most unfairly, so make every second count.

My thoughts are with Fabrice Muamba's family at this time and i pray for his recovery.

The latest on his condition:
18th March 9.09: Owen Coyle - Muamba is "critically ill. The next 24 hours are going to be absolutely crucial. Its very serious, there's no getting away from that. He's critically ill and God willing he makes it through"

Football players who have died on the pitch:

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Divers Demeaning The Game?

Obviously throughout the history of the game, there has always been divers. But recently, some over excitable, ambitiously aspiring actors take it upon themselves to resort to unbelievable theatrics in the hopes the ref will be fooled into believing their ridiculous ploys and award their defender a yellow card, or more beneficially, a sending off, in the most comical, but unnecessary of displays. In todays game it seems like these incidents are relentless, and guaranteed to occur in  at least one match per week, whereby players take it upon themselves to seek the advantage through foul play, rather than beating their opposition the conventional way.

When watching a game as a neutral, i may be tempted to laugh at such displays, as some invariably do induce a giggle here and there - we have quality footballers resorting to throwing themselves to the floor, wriggling and writhing most dramatically, clutching their supposed injured limb, contorting their faces into pictures of excruciating pain - and then, should the ref be fooled by these hysterics and do the unthinkable in punishing the non-offender, they suddenly jump up, skipping back into position, racing up and down the pitch, the complete picture of health. It may be funny sometimes, it may be completely shocking other times, but what is unanimous, is that these kind of ridiculous displays are ruining the game.

These days refs seem to hardly completely witness any crucial incident - they don't see the activity in the box that warrants their decision for penalty or not, they don't see whether the footballer who has just fell to the floor has a definite cause to do so and whether it was a two-footed off-the-floor tackle aiming for injury, or whether the ball was fairly won and therefore good job, despite another footballer's theatrics. No, they don't seem to be witnessing the incidents Neville and Redknapp discuss post match, adamant that they are looking, that they can see it, but actually no they're not - their view is impaired or they were looking completely the other way. Either way, it is easy to sit on our sofa, scrutinising the game, the footballers being traced every second by numerous cameras, our eyes seeking the action through various lenses that never miss a second. But the ref, well, he only has one set of eyes, that can't be pointed in every direction every second, and so obviously occasionally (more than occasionally) they miss something.

This has apparently been detected, especially by certain footballers, who use this Achilles heal of referees to adopt their theatrics, using the pitch as their stage and letting loose, flailing about on the floor as they are sure that this kind of reaction will warrant a red or a yellow for their marker, and the better for them.

When did the game become about amateur actors donning ludicrous roles, or even worse, a form of despicable cheating, whereby you are trying to punish your fellow footballer instead of beating him the proper way, man to man, in good old sporting competition? I don't know where it all went so wrong - surely spoiling footballers these day with such fame and fortune, adoration and respect has gone to their head, breeding arrogance and audacity, believing that they are royalty because this country treats footballers with awe and worship. Perhaps these days footballers are scared of getting their kit dirty, the gel knocked out of their hair, or actually getting injured, so they feign these attacks, escaping all of the above. I don't know - i don't know why top rate, top flight footballers feel the need to do it. Take for example, and this is by no means an exhaustive list or bias opinion, just the ones that have been in the press recently, but Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez - two of the best players in the Barclays Premier League right now and yet they resort to childish antics of falling over and play acting? Both players in recent weeks have been awared penalities whereby upon close inspection of the incident (via camera angles/discussion and the various snazzy but unnecessary tools the pundits in the studio have for circling things on the screen that are supposed to draw our attention, stopping and rewinding events, playing them in slow mention etc...- pretty sure theyre just little kids with a band new toy) neither player came into contact with the footballer that was punished, and the decision should not have been a penalty. Luckily for their opposition, both mens' teams did not go on to win in their respective games, hence a little bit of justice and fate entering the equation, but fateshould not have to have a factor in the outcome of a game - it should be played properly, good old fashioned footballl, proper ambitious tackles with the intention of getting the ball, and no player leaving his feet even if he has got clipped and less he is genuinely taken to the floor. What happened to motoring on, powering through the opposition, keeping on your feet at all costs and prevailing like a hero in the end? What is football coming to!?

I have included a little montage of funny, but outrageous diving - that should be viewed for entertainment whilst simultaneously condemning the amateur actors:

Monday, 12 March 2012

One Club Wonders

Loyalty – A One Sided Affair.

The undying loyalty of footballing fans has always been a beautiful sight; masses of red sweaty faces chanting for their team and insulting the opposition. Those slightly crazier fans with painted faces and hair their clubs’ colours, who rearrange their life around the weekly two-hour-slot when their team play – this a dying loyalty that only sports fans know. An unquestionable vow we make to one team: to follow them regardless, to believe in victory when the score line reports defeat, and believe the impossible possible when facing a superior team. Obstinate belief: we’re the best, and we’ll sing eternally about it. Before, after, all the way through the match – we sing and stand together, united. What’s happening outside the match is, essentially, irrelevant. In the stadium, on the sofa, in the pub – that’s what’s happening. So why don’t the footballers, those we idolise, the ones that smile at us from posters on the wall – feel the same?

Players become accustomed to the idea of their self-importance, which gives birth to audacity; advertising for bigger clubs to sign them when they’re playing for another. Villa captain Petrov claimed “I’d swap with any Liverpool player because I’m a Liverpool fan.” Whilst it’s loyal to continue supporting the clubs footballers did as a child, it’s ultimately disrespectful to your current club and fans, who don’t deserve to be abandoned.

Footballers are enticed by lucrative endorsement deals and ridiculous salaries. And the club that signed them initially – that believed in them and presented an opportunity? Well, that was just a platform. They come, steal our respect, bask in our admiration, and move on. Leaving us wounded, bereft of our idol -wondering why our precious club wasn’t good enough for them.

The new generation of footballers are models and amateur actors – they’re on TV adverts as much as they’re on the pitch. Prima donnas who crave the spotlight from any direction - the disloyal ones.

In a billion dollar industry it’s unsurprising they only stick around until the next highest bidder. It’s nothing short of a travesty that we may lose one-club-wonders: those who play for clubs they genuinely support, like the golden generation Gerard, Scholes and Giggs. Approaching retirement, they’ll take their loyalty with them. No more welsh wonder tearing down the wings, no ginger ninja entertaining the crowd with his inability to tackle, and no scouse hero, whose free kicks still magically curl into the net.

Giggs’ devotion to United has been remarkably rewarded; he revels in the adoration of thousands and is the most decorated footballer in English history – is this title not worth the loyalty?

This is a world where men are allowed to cry when we lose a cup final, to hug another man in celebration, and not care when players slap each other on the bum after the game. But what they do mind, what is unforgivable, is a disloyal, straying footballer chasing fame and fortune, rather than the ball. But, this is now the world of football.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Suarez Sorry; Apology Too Late?

So Suarez has issued an apology for not shaking Evra's hand in yesterday's match.

However is it all too little too late? I think so. The apology seems routinely made with no sincerity behind it whatsoever. He should be apologising to his team, but most importantly United's Evra who he has continually abused throughout this racism debacle. The fact that he hasn't personally apologised to him makes this emotionless 'apology' seem irresolute. It seems obvious to me this is an automatic response to a public outcry on how Liverpool Football Club's handling of this situation was inappropriate and ineffective in quelling the restfulness of footballing fans everywhere who do not want the issue of racism to blight football. Public unrest aimed at Liverpool therefore is unwanted by club and manager and when yesterday should have been the time for explanations apolgies and peacemaking, all that was apparent was that Liverpool headed by Dalglish were backing their rebellious player and refusing to calm the situation - Dalglish's stubborn stance in supporting Suarez perhaps igniting the feud further.

Should not Dalglish issue an apology therefore also? If Suarez has been condemned by managing director Ian Ayre ( ) should Dalglish not be also, who practically said that perhaps Suarez was right in what he did, if not in those words, that he was definitely not wrong and should 'not be blamed' for what happened? I think this is a desperate attempt to pass the blame and whereby a few weeks ago Liverpool were all too ready to jump to the defence of their star striker, now they are in hot water and are desperate to pin it on Suarez: now the scapegoat for both his own and the club's blunders. It is no surprise to me, therefore, that Dalglish is hiding in the wings somewhere, no where to be found for a comment, considering that surely now Liverpool have gone over his head and made their stance that Suarez was wrong, indeed therefore they are distancing themselves from Dalglish who stood by his player, and saying their manager is wrong?

Of course Liverpool wouldn't alienate the manager that their fans love and has somewhat turned their season around after a shocking start, and of course therefore the player must remain in the spot light, alone, taking all the blame that his club and manager had previously said was misplaced on him.

Rivalry Runs Riot

Having been a Manchester United fan all of my nearly 21 year old life, i can safely say that the game yesterday, 11th February 2012, between the two Red and Whites of the North was one of the most shocking I've seen in terms of unrelated football incidents.

I think its a very sad day when the two titans of football, United and Liverpool, clash in a live Premier League tie - and yet the football to come is not involved in the pre-match chit chat. 'Will he or won't he' was the question flying around pre-match, relating to whether Evra, the victim of racial abuse at the hands of Luis Suarez, would shake hands with his abuser. I personally felt that if i had been racially abused, and never received a formal apology, i would not shake hands with the person who can only be deemed as a racist through his lack of remorse and insistence that he is not at fault for what he has done and said.

There are so many issues that have further exacerbated this intense rivalry that it is hard where to start. However as i said i find it disgusting that Suarez has not apologised to Evra and has not acknowledged the fact that he was wrong for what he said. Like i discussed in a previous blog, it is mind blowing that he has admitted to the offence and been punished and yet insists he had done nothing to warrant that punishment. This incident occurred just days before Anton Ferdinand, brother of United legend Rio Ferdinand, accused Chelsea's John Terry of racially abusing him of the pitch. However the incidents differ in that Suarez ultimately believed he was innocent by the fact that he does not regard what he said as wrong and stands by the view he should not have been punished. Yet Terry believes he is innocent because he claims he did not say anything racist. This different between what essentially defines being innocent in light of the conviction of being a racist is massively important. Obviously i will not comment on the Terry incident as he has had no trial and therefore he is neither guilty nor innocent until this is ruled upon by a judge. However Suarez's mentality in this instance and his lack of apology to me would seem to obliterate his persistent claims hes not a racist, and formally paint him as one as he does not deem his racist behaviour, racist. Surely if you had been unaware that such a disgusting word was racist in English society, you would be profusely apologetic about your actions as they were rash as well as uninformed, and you did not want to cause any offence or upset. Yet Suarez has done completely the opposite, and despite the fact i admired his footballing talents (which are now sadly but perhaps necessarily being overshadowed by his unsportmanship conduct) and indeed he had a place in my fantasy football, i believe that he should no longer be able to play in English football, if he cannot abide by the rules. Not only did his display disgrace his self, his football club and his manager, i believe it demonstrated a blatant refusal to follow the rules of not only English Society, but EPL as nobody has ever or should ever (before the recent racism issues popped up) refused to shake a hand, and therefore disrupted the game and put two fingers up at the formality which has run for twenty years without a problem

I also found it hard to believe that the FA were enforcing the hand shake, and would not remove the premier league formality like they had done in the similar instance regarding John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. I do not see how they could not have followed suit from that match, which went ahead with both the accused and the accuser on the pitch, and played a fine football match with no incidents. I thought that this decision probably boiled down to the fact that Terry has not yet had a trial, and so it is essentially an unresolved issue. However, just because Suarez has been found guilty, punished and now eligible once again to play, without remorse or apology on behalf of Suarez to Evra, how can the issue have been resolved?  I understand some peoples' views that it is almost petty not to shake someone's hand, but with an issue as big as racism seemingly reemerging in the sport this country so adore, i think that perhaps it should be overlooked. In society if you did not like someone or they had massively wronged you, you would not like to be forced into social pleasantries with them, so why should footballers? But then again i understand the other side of the coin, which discusses if you scrap a handshake for one match, or one incident, where do the boundaries lie? Surely lots of footballers don't like each other, but does that mean they shouldn't shake hands? 

The display of football however, was something that cannot be overlooked; drama, wildly fast paced play, feisty tackles and dramatic goals - a typical rivalry match. Even if i wasn't a Manchester United fan i would still say they played absolutely sensationally, and that there should have been more than one goal as proof of the difference between the two teams on the day. United were all over their rivals and Liverpool struggled to keep up with the pace, and to get any meaningful possession. This could not have been clearer as Suarez had a tantrum at half time and kicked the ball into the stands - as if he hadn't already embarrassed himself enough. However even though the fans all love the rivalry, and there is nothing wrong with some banter and harmless taunts, the rivalry boiled over at the half time whistle, with tempers flaring to the max. There could be only one outcome: a fight. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed to follow the players down the tunnel and so we won't know what precisely happened; but we did see the players clash on their way down the tunnel and were alerted that the police had to be called upon twice to stifle out-of-control tempers.

My shock and entertainment continued post match also, as Dalglish went on to embarrass himself in an emotional somewhat hysteric interview.  His emotions weren't the only talking point after he scurried away from the interviewer; it was his shocking persistent support of Luis Suarez. I think Dalglish's emotions were running high because a player he had previously publicly talked of fully backing and supporting, had backed him into a corner with an immature display during the game - could he really concede on live TV after losing a game to his biggest rivals that all his spiel about how Suarez was innocent and wrongly punished was actually undone right in front of his face? No I don't think so. Despite the fact i am not Dalglish's biggest fan (or his fan in any sense) i did feel a smidgen of sympathy as obviously he had no idea Suarez had planned to shun Evra, but i think lying about the fact he 'didn't know' Suarez had done that when the managers were on the side lines and the referee had to interfere - how can you miss such a ruckus right in front of your eyes? It made him look like a small insignificant man; his display made him out to look as though he were losing it slightly as he let loose on the interviewer and tried to escape form the harsh light of reality as the public's' eyes were focused on him and he failed to deliver a rational interview.  I think this will definitely come back to bite Dalglish on the ass - he is manager of one of the most famous and successful clubs in the world and yet he is backing a man that looks suspiciously indeed as if he is a racist? I don't understand it. Furthermore, how are either arguably Liverpool's current best player and manager helping their situation as surely by taking this stance they are alienating black team mates and their black fans?

Whats to be said of all this in terms of United, is at the end of the day i am further given reason why i love this team so much and reminded why my loyalty is unwavering; as Ferguson rightly said, Dalglish' pre match comments referring to his belief that Suarez should never have been banned are absolutely disgraceful and he had no reason to state such controversial views days before Suarez would face Evra - surely he knew that the already raucous rivalry between the two would be set on fire with such a sparking comment as that. I am also very proud of Evra who undeniably did offer his hand despite Liverpool players' futile comments that he pulled his hand away (with so many cameras, i believe around 45, aimed at the incident there is visual undeniable footage that he offered his hand), for the perpetrator not to accept was disgusting as surely if anyone was not to shake his hand it should of been the victim? I am also glad Ferdinand rebuked Suarez's attempt to shake his hand as in my opinion he is not worthy of shaking any of United's hands, especially if he isn't doing so because they are of another race. Impartially, do i think Evra should have celebrated right under Suarez's nose? No. Was it entertaining and comical? Yes. But it could have sparked an even larger fight and that's not what we want - we want professionalism and good football, not warring footballers. Although i can see why he did it - to embarrass Suarez like he had embarrassed him.

In relation to Ferguson's post match comments, although delivered dramatically and perhaps too strong a sense of words, i agree with the sentiment. I don't want to see a foreign player come over to my country and disgrace one of the best leagues in the world. I don't want to see him on TV playing English football, and i sure don't want to see him back at Old Trafford if he is racist to the EPL players and blatantly disregarding the rules. Yes i can understand why it looks dramatic to some neutral people - it is not about the handshake, it is about the bigger issue: why did he not shake his hand, was it because he was black? If so he should definitely not play again and Liverpool should not sing his praises or stand by someone that is going to ruin their club's fantastic achievements and reputation. When we all tuned in yesterday we wanted to see sensational football sparked by the desire to beat the other team so that the fans can celebrate and taunt each other over their win. We did not want to see racism run riot over the rivalry

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Referees Ruining Football?

Being crazy mad about football, i tend to watch most EPL games, especially the top teams. I have noticed that recently i'm screaming more and more at the TV; that my face is becoming redder than my hair (which is pretty damn red) and that my throat is increasingly sore after games. Unfortunately, this can not always be put down to an intense exciting game of football. It is actually due to the referees.

I find it so difficult to sit and watch a match and not find myself fuming at the refs and their assistants. Its frustrating to think that they only have one job to do: they run around after the ball and just have to follow the action. Yes its difficult, and yes it makes it harder when the football is getting better and the pace of the game ever faster, and yet! i still think that i could do a better job (if i had the stamina to run around for 90 mins of course). It makes you wonder if they have ever studied a rulebook of football, and if they need a bit more training.

It is absolutely unbelievable to watch the post game analysis and see that the ref is standing right there, over the action, his eyes glued to the perpetrator and his foul, and yet - nothing! Of course refs have their own problems these days with footballers giving Hollywood actors a run for their money as their theatricals force nonsensical penalty decisions and atrociously decided red cards, but i still feel that the FA need to call for consistency, as a matter of urgency.

These little mistakes here and there, with a false free kick here, and a harsh card there, are costing teams valuable points, and with it being so close at the top this season, are costing some the Title too.

I guess i find it mind blowing that a simple meeting can't be organised where officials are reminded of the EXACT rules, and in some instances the FA need to clearly define exactly what constitutes a card, a sending off, and a penalty. Every week we are seeing the same foul being committed, with different consequences, and penalties not being given for blatant fouls, and yet given when a beautifully dramatic dive in the box and a few angry players screaming at the ref suddenly warrants one. I feel that just because a players leg isn't broken after the tackle when it should be a red card due to the technical approach of the tackle, such as two feet off the ground, refs are deciding beyond the definitions of the rules regarding cards, just because a player avoided serious injury. Similarly some refs do not have what it takes to face built, angry, sweaty-faced celebrities as it were, screaming at them, and they simply do not have the conviction to stand by their initial judgement, and therefore become too easily influenced. Shockingly, although it is unfair you can understand a players reaction because they are there in the thick of it and tensions run high, but i think it is despicable when managers try to get involved and desperately try to influence the ref from the sidelines - we have Mancini waving imaginary cards every other second, AVB jumping an squatting at the touch line more theatrically than most, and Wenger throwing drink bottles every time a decision doesn't go his way.

This inconsistency is unfair, frustrating and ruining this beautiful game. Talk about pressure - no wonder the refs buckle.

RACISM IN FOOTBALL - kick it out

I don't know about you, but the recent game between Manchester United and Liverpool really riled me up. I mean, i just really don't understand how Liverpool fans can be angry with Evra - yes of course he got their best player side lined for eight games but as to the actual motivation behind it, it was purely just.

I guess i have a hard time understanding how players can boo Evra when Suarez admitted to saying a derogatory word which is deemed racist in English Society. Therefore, the case has been ruled upon, he admitted it, was found guilty, punished, and surely that's it, line under the sand? But no. Liverpool obviously feel like that's not the case. They feel like Evra should be booed because Suarez didn't do anything wrong. I really don't know how fans can come to this conclusion. We are in England, and therefore we follow English rule? Its simple as, surely? We wouldn't go into a Muslim society, such as Dubai, and purposefully expose ourselves or be 'intimate' publicly as it is common knowledge that the country doesn't accept it. 

So why then, can a famous football player, come here, know the law, and racially abuse a football player and expect not to be punished? Its no good saying 'its perfectly acceptable where i live to say N*****' because you're not back at home - i personally feel like the use of that word, especially when the person saying it is angry so obviously they are trying to insult you, has no place in today's society, and anyone found to be saying this, should be punished. 

I also think it was disgusting to boo a victim of racism, as what on earth has Evra done wrong? I was further appalled by the knowledge that Liverpool had supposedly 'unknowingly' published a video of some of their fans being racist/making racial gestures on their very own club site.  I find this shocking and too 'convenient' for Liverpool; after all they publicly displayed their support for Suarez by wearing Suarez t-shirts, so that to me seemed a step too far, and begs the question, what are Liverpool really supporting, do they condone what Suarez did, but most importantly: where's the support for the victim? 

Let me know what you think and please note, none of my blogs aim to be offensive or argumentative, i'm just listing my views, and am open to how other people see things!