Posts Tagged ‘England’

City Kill England’s World Cup Chances

In case you didn’t notice, it’s a Champions League week. We’re currently into the second of two days of match-day four. Without having to watch a single minute of football it is very easy to tell that the Champions League is back.

Glorious montages are everywhere (well on Sky Sports and ITV anyway. Sometimes even Sky1) and the main difference between these montages as opposed to the regular ones is that Darren Bent is replaced with Cristiano Ronaldo and Chris Brunt is now Lionel Messi. The other great giveaway is in the twitter behaviour of our most boring British journalists.

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David Conn takes the boring biscuit this week. As Manchester City qualify to the glory stages of the Champions League for the first time, he can only find regret. Regret that with this achievement City couldn’t find it in their hearts (hart pun here) to start an English player. And thus Manuel Pellegrini is to blame for England’s future failings. No doubt he’ll point to the several Spanish starters for Barcelona tonight. A mere coincidence that they are also world class footballers, of course. Or maybe he’ll make a similar comparison to Bayern Munich, as they seem to be very popular these days.

The thing is David, like so many others, for whatever reason, would rather see a team of English men (and perhaps one starlet Spaniard) fail to get a single win in Europe than see an English club progress in any other possible scenario.
What Mr Conn doesn’t realise is that if Manchester City are successful in Europe their squad value raises as a whole. Their academy, blessed with English players as well as others, will have a higher standard to reach and the benefit will be felt all the way through the club. A young 15 year old academy kid, English or otherwise, will have to further develop his skills to reach the level required to be a Manchester City player in the future. As Diana Ross would say; it would create a chain reaction. A positive one too. But of course, what’s that in the face of a bit of short term panic, eh?

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A Micro Guide to the Irish Team

They may play in England but they’re not that well-known, a micro guide of the Irish XI for English fans.

David Forde: Plays for FA Cup semi-finalists Millwall and at 33 looks unlikely to be a Premier League goalkeeper anytime soon. He came in during Ireland’s match against Sweden and put on a competent display showing strengths in dealing with corners and crosses.

Seamus Coleman: That full-back at Everton that isn’t Leighton Baines. NO NOT TONY HIBBERT. Good right back and this season has been more consistent a weakness he had which made Trap reluctant to play him initially.

Sean St Ledger: A typical Irish international who plays better for country than for his club. Released by Leicester he has stated he intends to use this game to win himself a new club. Plays best alongside Dunne – struggles in his absence.

John O’Shea: Played every big game club football has to offer but is error prone at centre back and could be a weak link that is exposed by England.

Stephen Kelly: Ireland’s left back was – once upon a time – an average right back but is not anymore and a glaring weakness as McGeady will do his best not to track back.

Jon Walters: Annoying for a left back to mark but not difficult. A Stoke player so you know what you get.

James McCarthy: Has a fractious relationship with Trap but his talent cannot be ignored, relegated with Wigan but will probably follow out going manager Martinez to Everton; or a stronger team.

Glenn Whelan: Our defensive minded midfielder that struggles to create on the ball; will concede free kicks, ideally around the centre circle.

Aiden McGeady: 200 step-overs and a poor cross, McGeady continues to frustrate. A talented lad that never matured into his own abilities; would rather be part of Soccer AM’s Showboat rather than be on the winning team.

Shane Long: Like West Brom this season Long also surpassed people’s expectations of him. A difficult to mark striker who has energy and enthusiasm in abundance; without saying he has fantastic ball control he has a knack for making defenders foul him – will probably win a penalty.

Robbie Keane: Our all-time record goal-scorer a legend and his experience is crucial. Will understand the significance of this match and could be doing a 90th minute cart-wheel & tumble.

 

The beautiful game no more, as modern football has sold its soul.

25th of May 1967, Jock Stein’s Celtic side just defeated Inter Milan to lift the European Cup for the first time in the clubs history.  An achievement made even more credible by the fact the ‘Lisbon Lions’ starting eleven were all born within 30 miles of the clubs ground.  This is unimaginable in today’s footballing world plagued with corruption and billionaire foreign investors.  Football was never a perfect game but it was beautiful, played and viewed by honest-hardworking people.  This is now lost.

Recently the Premier League sold the live rights to BT and Sky for £3.018 billion for three seasons, a figure which will probably further increase when the contract has expired. The amount of money being invested into the English game is becoming farcical and in truth, is killing off the charm of football.  However, England is far from the only country targeted by billionaires seeking a new club to guide to success – or in so many cases, send them into financial ruins.

Paris Saint Germain (PSG) were bought by a Qatari businessman looking to flounder some money in football – money that he will more than likely never see again – and for what?  PSG are a relatively new club in footballing terms, formed in 1970 but it is only now that Parisian side are making a real name for themselves in global football, despite previously winning multiple titles in France.  The fans seem pleased with the good times, naturally, but it is the other teams in France who are forced to sell their best players –that they produce year-in-year-out that suffer.

Ajax fans protest vs Man City

Rumoured by The Telegraph, PSG are one of the elite clubs backing the proposed Dream Gulf League (DGL), a club competition that is to be held in Qatar and neighbouring countries on a bi-yearly basis.  The competition is backed by the Qatari royal family who aim to set-up the tournament in the summer of 2015.  The DGL is to be ran during the summer in order to prove the doubters wrong – who believe it to be too hot in Qatar to host the 2020 World Cup – by hosting games in air-conditioned stadiums. The tournament is set to rival other competitions such as Uefa competitions and the Club World Cup.  Surely though clubs will not want to partake in a quite meaningless tournament in the Gulf regions over the prestige of winning a European Cup.  Sadly nowadays, most clubs are attracted to where the money appears.  It is rumoured that Sheikhs are prepared to off £175 million to each invitational club, a very appealing proposition once the Financial Fair Play rule comes into effect. Unlikely, but if this were to happen, it would be disastrous for the world game.

Clubs are viewed as pawns by these businesspersons and the fans voices fall on deaf ears.  The investors are the ones with the money, so they are the ones with the power (or so they see it).  In order for football to reclaim some pride, something has to happen

Mindless thugs or adrenaline junkies?

From one corner of Peru to the far corner of Poland, hooligans have been a part of football culture for a countless number of years and it doesn’t look like it’s going to disappear anytime soon.

 

Hooliganism has been associated with football as early as the ninetieth century. Then, like now, the biggest rivalries took place between sides from the same city or area. However after the two world wars violence at football matches started to decline.

The 1960’s was plagued with social uprisings by angry and misunderstood youths. Juvenile’s crime rates were increasing rapidly throughout Britain. Looking for violence – an adrenaline rush – the youths targeted football stadiums as it was an ideal place to fight due to the large number of people at the games. Following this, teenagers mainly from council estates began to form alliances among themselves, known as firms. This gave them a sense of community, a place where they felt like they belonged.

The “English disease” was now spreading rapidly in 1980’s Britain. A rise in unemployment, racism and inflation are among the main contributing factors for increased hooligan activity. Along with the growing numbers of hooligans came a decrease in the number of police due to government cut-backs. As a result to the cut-backs only 150 police were left to control 10,000 travelling Millwall supporters on their way to Luton for an FA Cup tie. During the game Millwall fans climbed out of the away terrace and stormed the Luton fans, ripping up seats and firing missiles at the home supporters. Following this incident, known as the ‘Kenilworth Road riot’ Luton Town banned away fans for the next four seasons. It was evident that hooliganism was getting out of control.

 

 

 

 

 

On the 29th of May 1985 the Heysel Stadium disaster occurred. On this day 60,000 supporters made their way into the stadium in Brussels for the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool. Roughly an hour before kick-off, the opposing fans began taunting each other but quickly things became violent as missiles were thrown and Liverpool supporters began to charge the Juventus section. This led to the wall dividing the supporters to collapse under the pressure which resulted in hundreds of fans being crushed and trampled. Thirty-nine fans were killed and another six-hundred injured, a majority of them Italian and Belgian. The Liverpool fans were largely blamed for the deaths; as a result of this English clubs were banned from European competition for the next five years. Six years for Liverpool. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported the ban, saying; “We have to get the game cleaned up from this hooliganism at home and then perhaps we shall be able to go overseas again.”

 

England was definitely not the only country prone to hooliganism as it was becoming a major problem in Italy, Netherlands, Germany and many parts of Eastern Europe. Social class was the main contributing factor in England but in Spain it’s down to sub-nationalist politics, sectarianism in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and historical regional antagonisms in Italy. In most European countries football related violence is an internal problem, meaning the violence occurs at club level. Most European sides international support is well behaved, but there are a few exceptions such as England, Germany and the Netherlands who are known for organising fights with opposing fans at major tournaments. It is believed that close to 10% of European football fans are classified as ‘violent’. So it is clear that hooliganism is not an English problem, but a European problem, and on a greater level, a world problem.

 

The government and police have worked side-by-side to prevent hooliganism and advanced techniques were being used to tackle the issue. One such technique is by using spotters. The spotter system involves a liaison officer being attached to a particular club. His job is then to identify and monitor hooligans when they are travelling to away games. The spotter would then co-operate with police forces from both the UK and abroad to inform them of any hooligans travelling who may cause trouble. As technology has developed over the years, it has as a result played an important and crucial role in the policing methods used to prevent hooliganism. CCTV cameras are now a common sight at any modern grounds, this has been the most successful method so far. The sale of alcohol has been reduced in a majority of stadiums across Britain which was seen as a catalyst to football related violence. The police have been successful at combatting hooliganism in the football grounds but these methods do not prevent the violence that occurs outside the grounds, at times organised between two rival firms. Despite the efforts of police and governing bodies hooliganism does not seem to be going away at any time soon. It may be less prevalent but it still continues throughout the world.

 

Are these die-hard fans that spend their hard earned cash travelling the country and continent to see their team play or are they thugs just using football as an excuse to locate violence?

Animated version of one of the greatest goals of all time.

Maradona’s goal vs England at the ’86 World Cup truly is one of the all time great goals and what makes it even better is the commentary from Victor Hugo Morales.

Michael Owen Digs a Hole

Michael Owen took to Twitter this morning to rubbish reports that he has dived in the past to win a penalty.

Owen said he was “let down” by the British media and even went as far as saying that headlines like ‘Owen: I dived to win a penalty’ were a disgrace. Which would be true if it weren’t for the fact that the night before Owen did admit to simulating a fall after minimum contact that led to a penalty, which would fit, in most peoples definition, of diving or at the very least conning the ref.

“I’ve earned penalties in 2 World Cups both against Argentina where I was touched yet could have stayed up if I had tried” Owen tweeted last night. So according to Owen he could have stayed on his feet but didn’t, yet he is still struggling to understand why most people see this as diving/simulating.

When you think of divers within the game Michael Owen’s name rarely comes to the forefront of many peoples mind. Most think of Luis Suarez, Ashley Young or Sergio Busquets, but his comments may have changed that fact. He also needs to realise that after admitting he could have stayed on his feet on occasions that most football fans will see him going down as trying to convince the ref to award a penalty, when he should be more focused on trying to stay up and score a goal.

Michael Owen’s defence to going down when touched is something pulled by many forwards, that he simply wanted to aid the ref, but Michael needs to understand that that is not his job and by doing so a referee has every right to wave an appeal away as diving is something that officials are desperate to stamp out of the game.

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Time is golden

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has asked for an alternative to penalties, so is it time to bring back the golden goal rule?

The golden goal rule: Following a draw, two fifteen-minute halves of extra-time are played. If any team scores a goal during extra time, that team becomes the winner and the game ends at once. The winning goal is known as the “golden goal.” If there are no goals after both periods of extra time, penalties decide the game.

Golden goal was introduced in 1993 by Fifa but was not made compulsory, individual competitions could choose whether to stick with traditional extra time (15 minutes a half) or golden goal. The first major international tournament the rule was introduced for was Euro ’96 in England, hoping to promote more attacking play. However it didn’t exactly promote attacking play at all, with teams more concerned about conceding than trying to get the match winning goal. Oliver Bierhoff did in fact score a golden goal in the final to win Germany the Euro’s though.

Probably the most famous golden goal was scored at Euro 2000 when French striker David Trezeguet sealed the winner with a stunning strike.

Many will also remember the Italians crashing out of the World Cup 2002 to a South Korea golden goal that shocked the world.

Golden goal didn’t really last too long though, officially being removed in 2004 despite giving us some great moments over the years along with some very dull moments.

As a football fan I do believe that reintroducing golden goal would add more excitement and suspense to extra-time, knowing that one mistake or one kick of the ball could win or lose the game for either side. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve watched two teams knock the ball about during extra-time, both looking pretty content to bring it to penalties. Golden goal, I believe, would somewhat do-away with the defensive mentality adopted during extra-time.

David Trezeguet famously scores a golden goal to win Euro 2000 for France.

Task Force Football 2014 was set up to come up with an alternative to penalty shoot-outs even though I don’t think penalties are the main problem, extra-time is. It looks likely that golden goal could be that alternative but what will make it different than before? How can they guarantee that teams will not adopt a defensive mentality once again? We’ll have to wait to see what they come up with, if they do come with an alternative at all.

Do you think they should reintroduce golden goal or should everything remain as it is?