Tuesday, December 30, 2008

FutureShocks: Liverpool Win EPL, Fergie Resigns, Arsenal Turmoil and Hull Fall

Just imagine if...

Liverpool were crowned Premiership Champions last week. But the news moves quickly as today's story is Arsenal's continuing decline, and Spurs being involved in a match fixing scandal with Liverpool and Alex Ferguson's shock resignation from United. Here's a brief rundown of this week's news...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Manager of the Year 2008: Roy Hodgson

Exactly one year ago, Roy Hodgson took over as Fulham manager after Lawrie Sanchez's ill fated run. The team were in disarray and were conceding goals at an alarming rate and relegation looked a foregone conclusion. And just to rub salt in their wounds, Roy Hodgson found himself taking over on the verge of the crunch tie with Chelsea, a match that saw Fulham sink to even lower depths after a 2-1 defeat.

Move forward a year, and Fulham sit comfortably in mid-table. They are unbeaten in seven games, only Manchester United have conceded fewer goals and today they dealt a massive blow to Chelsea's title ambitions by claiming a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage, a real fortress under Hodgson.

West Brom Given Hope in Relegation Dogfight

The relegation dogfight took another turn at the Hawthornes today, as West Brom beat Spurs in a real six pointer.

Heading into this afternoon's game, West Brom were five points behind Spurs. A defeat would have seen them cut adrift, as we head into the second half of the season.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Arsene Wenger Blows a Fuse After "Villains" Visit the Ref at Halftime

Arsene Wenger was said to be furious following their encounter with Aston Villa last night. The Villains secured a 2-2 draw with almost the last kick of the game deep into injury time.

The Arsenal boss vented his fury in an outburst aimed at Aston Villa's management and the referee after it emerged that Martin O'Neill's assistant John Robertson visited the referee's dressing room at half-time to have a "chat" with the officials.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Profiles of the Great and Good: Garry Brooke—Better To Be Lucky Than Good

There are very few outside Spurs who would have heard of Garry Brooke, come to think of it, there are few Spurs fans who would even remember his time at White Hart Lane.

But Brooke earned a place in the clubs history, winning two FA Cup medals, playing 75 matches and scoring 15 goals has ensured that Brooke's name will go down in the Tottenham opus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

As Dimitar Berbatov Heads To Utd, Who's To Blame? And What Do Spurs Do Now?

The death knell rang on Dimitar Berbatov's time at Spurs on Saturday after he was left out of the squad to face Roy Keane's improving Sunderland.

Monday, December 15, 2008

They Think It's All Over...EPL GameDay 17: Owen, Keane, Gomes, Gabby & Ince....

Gameday 17 of the English Premier League was all about managers and strikers, on and off the pitch. Michael Owen continued his return to form with a goal that set up Newcastle's 3-0 win over Portsmouth.

Gabriel Agbonlahor scored a couple for Aston Villa to enhance his already growing reputation, Didier Drogba came off the bench to change the complexion of the tie against West Ham, and Robbie Keane was firmly rooted to the bench as Rafael Benitez defied all known logic in leaving a £20M striker on the sidelines getting splinters while he made three baffling substitutions.

All good talking points, so let's move on...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

EPL: The Battle for 4th. Arsenal vs. Aston Villa Preview

Arsenal travel to Villa Park today in what looks like being another crunch match in the Gunners' up and down season. The battle for fourth place has intensified over recent weeks as Arsenal's poor form has been matched by Aston Villa's good form, the recent match between the two at the Emirates being a perfect example of both sides' seasons to date.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Luck Of Munich; as Bayern Snatch a Win at the Death Against Hoffenheim

In Germany, there's a saying about Bayern Munich, roughly translated it means "The luck of Munich." A testament to their ability over the years to grind out results when it looked unlikely.

Saturday's victory over high-flying Hoffenheim was exactly this type of result. Coming from a goal down to win the game in injury time, Hoffenheim manager Ralf Rangnick could be forgiven for thinking that Lady Luck was a Bayern supporter.

The highly anticipated clash between the best two sides in the country had captured the nation's attention, and rightly so.

Hoffenheim have been a breath of fresh air this season, playing magnificent football on their way to the summit, whereas Bayern, under a new manager in Klinsmann have struggled to hit the heights their supporters demand.

And heading into this first clash between Munich and Hoffenheim, the Bayern fans knew that a victory was essential, to keep within touching distance of the new arrivals with the winter break on the horizon.

The match between the top two was also a real "David and Goliath" type clash, Hoffenheim have come from no-where in a relatively short time to challenge the might of the Bundesliga establishment, leaving almost every team in their wake.

So far this season they have hammered giants Hamburg and Dortmund 3-0 and 4-1 respectively, they have played the most imaginative football seen in Germany in years and striker Vedad Ibisevic is the toast of Europe after notching up 18 goals so far this term.

Undaunted by what they faced, Ralf Rangnick stuck with the fluid 4-3-3 formation that has served Hoffenheim so well this season. And they started brightly, dominating possession in midfield without really creating any chances, but they never really let Bayern into the game.

Despite this, Bayern always looked dangerous when they used the direct approach, and Italian striker Luca Toni caused the Hoffenheim central defenders a lot of problems with his physical prowess.

Any chances that Hoffenheim created in the first half were easily dealt with by Rensing in the Bayern goal, and as the game reached half time the league leaders could feel happy with their shift, Munich had been rendered impotent by their crisp passing and their ability to close the game down.

Both managers would have given contrasting speeches at half time. Rangnick would have told Hoffenheim to keep playing as they were and a goal would come, while Klinnsman would have been furious with his charges, one could imagine the air turning blue in the red dressing room.

With the second half underway, it looked as if Rangnick's talk had won the battle of the managers.

Hoffenheim, instead of starting brightly, started like a whirlwind.

Munich were swept aside as Ibsevic continued his fine form in front of goal with a brilliantly taken strikers goal, reminiscent of the great Gerd Muller.

After a brilliant one-two between Tobias Weis and Salihovic, Weis found himself in space on the right hand side of the box. His drilled low cross went behind Ibsevic, but he controlled it perfectly, and as the ball sat up slightly behind him, he drilled it home giving Rensing no chance.

Ibsevic has been a revelation within a revelation this season, and is now one of the hottest strikers plying his trade in Europe at the moment. His form is such, that he is now being compared to German goalscoring legend, Gerd Muller. And his strike against Bayern on Saturday bore remarkable resemblance to Muller's famous strike against Holland in '74.

Munich began to fade under intense pressure, as Hoffenheim went in search of the killer blow, and Klinsmann was frantic in the technical area as he tried to get instructions to his players.

They rode the storm, and "luck" played it's part. Lucio, Van Buyten, and Rensing were magnificent during this onslaught as Salihovic, Ibsevic, and Obasi all had chances to increase the scoring for Hoffenheim.

After coming through ten minutes of Hoffenheim peppering their goal, Munich began to settle, and won a corner. The corner was dealt with easily and the ball was cleared to Lahm on the halfway line.

For once Hoffenheim didn't close a player down, leaving Lahm with acres of space to run into, he powered his way to the edge of the box and shot at the goal, the ball taking a massive deflection which looped the ball over a stranded Haas, to make the scores level.

The goal took the wind from Hoffenheim's sails and directed it towards Munich, who now attacked with real confidence, the game flowing from end to end as the teams went in search of a winner.

Both sides went close, the best of Bayern's chances falling to Luca Toni. The big Italian has wrestled with his confidence this season, only returning seven goals from 16 games. His lack of confidence evident as he failed to dispatch two great chances with the goal begging.

Hoffenheim weren't out of the game either, Rensing pulled off a number of saves to keep his side in the game, before Salihovic missed a glorious chance in the 88th minute when it looked easier to score, firing tamely at Ransing.

With the game moving into injury time, Rensing cleared it long towards Toni, the Bayern forward won the header but the ball went straight up into the air, as both players looked for the ball, it bounced kindly for Toni who played it through for Klose.

But he was tackled by Beck who knocked the ball back towards his box, effectively playing a one-two with Toni, his first touch was heavy and as he was charged down he struck an on rushing Haas with the ball, it barely had enough legs to carry the ball over the goal line. Bayern had won the match in injury time. "The luck of Bayern" had played it's part again.

In winning, Bayern are now level on points with Hoffenheim at the top of the table. And with next weekends game being the last before the winter break, the result can't be underestimated.

It was a fantastic game of football, one of the best the Bundesliga has seen in years, unfortunately Hoffeheim came off at the wrong end of the result.

How they react in their next game will speak volumes of their title credentials, lose with Bayern winning and they face a long break thinking of what might have been.

Ralf Rangnick may have brought them to dine with the greats of German football, but the main meal has yet to be served, and it remains to be seen whether Hoffenheim have the appetite for a season long tussle with Bayern.

Hopefully the fairytale will bring us right to the end of the season, and if it produces another match like this, no one will complain.

twitter / WillieGannon

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Darren Anderton Retired Today, But He Bowed Out in Style for Bournemouth

In his final match as a professional footballer, ex-Spurs, Portsmouth, and England player Darren Anderton came off the bench to score from the edge of the box with a trademark finish to secure vital points for Bournemouth as they strive to fight off the threat of relegation from League Two.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The FA Decide Not To Take Action Against Liverpool Over Michael Shields Shirts

The FA today decided not to take any action against Liverpool FC after its players wore t-shirts supporting jailed Michael Shields during the warm up against West Ham on Monday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Roy Keane and the Influence of Brian Clough: Why He Won't Resign from Sunderland

Despite Roy Keane stating that he is unsure whether he will stay at Sunderland or resign after a poor run of results, I am of the firm belief that he is going nowhere. And furthermore, that he has no intentions of going anywhere until a job comes up that he considers a step up.

To understand why I believe Keane has no intention of resigning, I'll go into his background a little.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Do YOU Rate Players?

How do you rate players? I mean, how do you do it exactly?

Ever since the dawn of time, players have been compared to each other. Teams have been compared to each other. Players have been described as great, brilliant, poor, and average. But when it boils right down to it, what do you look for in a player?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What Just Happened? Liverpool, United and Chelsea Draw Blanks While Arsenal Are Hammered

In the strangest day yet in this seasons EPL, Chelsea and Liverpool were held scoreless at home, Aston Villa kept Manchester United at bay in Villa Park and Arsenal were well and truly mullered by Manchester City at the Eastlands...

The FAI Cup Final Preview: Bohemians v. Derry City

Sunday's FAI Cup Final between Bohemians and Derry City promises to be an intriguing affair. With both managers having managed the opposition in recent seasons, one could be forgiven for thinking that this match was all about the men in the technical area.

In the build-up to the match, Derry City boss Stephen Kenny has done everything in his power to deflect attention away from the rival managers. But with their recent histories so intertwined, it is hard to look at this match and not refer to either Kenny or Pat Fenlon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Winning Ugly, As Good As It Gets In The MLS?

On Sunday, the MLS season draws to a close rather than reaching an exciting climax.

The Columbus Crew take on Red Bull New York in what threatens to be a travesty of justice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Profiles Of the Great and Good: Roy Race: It's Real Roy of the Rovers Stuff Here

Roy of the Rovers was by far the most popular football comic ever.

Running from 1954 to 2001, stories covered various issues—Roy as a teen trying to break into the famed "Melchester Rovers" team, winning every trophy imaginable, representing his country in the World Cup, playing with pop stars and even relegation.

He even had an unstoppable shot called the "Racy Rocket"....ah, those were the days.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

EPL Game 13: Fulham 2-1 Tottenham: Spurs Unbeaten Run Comes to an End

Tottenham Hotspur's recent revival under Harry Redknapp was halted at Craven Cottage today as Fulham won a pulsating match by a score of 2-1.

Ex-Spurs player Simon Davies came back to haunt his old club with an innocuous shot that the error-prone Heurlelho Gomes fumbled into the back of the net. Andy Johnson added a close range second before Fraizer Campbell scored a late goal to give Spurs some hope.

Friday, November 14, 2008

EPL Week 13 Preview: A Definitive Guide to the Weekend's Fixtures

Bolton v. Liverpool

Bolton will have a full squad to choose with Kevin Nolan returning from suspension. And this should see Megson revert to his favourite 4-5-1 formation, with the irrepressible Kevin Davies at the pinnacle...

After 21 Years, Its the Dawn of a New Era as Shamrock Rovers Finally Move Home

For those outside Emerald Isle, Shamrock Rovers are synonymous with football in Ireland.

One of the oldest clubs in the country—they were founded in 1901—Rovers have also proved to be the country's most successful club.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Carling Cup: Tottenham 4-2 Liverpool, Lightning Strikes Twice for Harry

Lightning struck twice at White Hart Lane tonight as Spurs beat Liverpool for the second time in ten days thanks to a brace from Roman Pavyluchenko, and another two from Frasier Campbell, who scored his first goals in a Tottenham jersey since his loan move from Champions Manchester United.

Glenn Hoddle, Giving a Little Back Through His Football Academy in Spain

Glenn Hoddle was the most gifted footballer of his generation. Blessed with sublime technique and a phenomenal range of passing, he was revered at all the clubs he played for in his 20 year career as a player but is most famed for his time at Tottenham Hotspur.

As a manager he has led teams at all levels of the game. From guiding Swindon Town into the Premier League to becoming player-manager at Chelsea and then on to his spiritual home at Spurs, Hoddle accumulated vast management experience during his career as a manager.

Even becoming England manager in 1996 and steering them to the World Cup '98 before an ill-thought-out interview would cause him to resign.

So it's fair to say that when it comes to professional football Glenn Hoddle has seen it all. Still a young man at 51, Hoddle has so much to offer the game we love. But instead of managing a team in the Premier League he has chosen to walk away from the professional set-up he knows so well and move to Spain.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rafa Benitez Anxious To Sign a New Deal As the Sale of the Club Stalls

In a move that all Liverpool fans have been longing to hear, Rafael Benitez has signalled his intentions to see out the job he has started at Liverpool by saying he is ready and willing to sign a new contract whenever the club gets around to begin negotiations with his advisers.

EPL Game 12: Man City 1-2 Tottenham: 3 Goals, 3 Sendings Off and 3pts For 'Arry

A sensational game at the Eastland's saw a resurgent Spurs come back from a goal down to win the game through two goals from an on-form Darren Bent, who has now scored seven goals in five games since Harry Redknapp took over as Tottenham manager.

The match also saw Manchester City players Gelson Fernandes and Richard Dunne both sent off to reduce City to nine men and just to get in on the act Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto was sent off with a minute to go as Spurs clung on for the much needed points, and to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mounting Pressure from Fans and Media Forces Wenger to Come out Fighting

In the build up to the crucial clash with Manchester United, Arsene Wenger was forced to come out fighting against mounting pressure from Arsenal fans and media organisations.

And in one of the biggest surprises of this or any other season, Arsenal fans seem to have lost confidence in their mercurial managers philosophies and methods, as their team has slumped to three defeats in their first 11 games of the season...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

EPL Game 12 Preview: Arsenal v. Manchester United—Crunch Time for Someone

After being booed off the pitch against Fenerbahce on Wednesday and with fan morale at an all-time low, Arsenal take on Manchester United on Saturday in what is already a massive fixture for both sides.

West Ham Extend an Invitation to Barack Obama

Despite their owner being in financial peril and results not exactly going their way recently, West Ham have moved swiftly to invite the most powerful man on the planet to see them play at Upton Park.

In a shrewd move, perhaps to gain publicity, perhaps to seek a new American owner, West Ham today joined leaders from around the world in extending an open invitation to President-elect Barack Obama in the hope that he will come and visit the famed club from East London.

Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur: Right Man at the Right Time

A little over one week ago Juande Ramos was sacked after presiding over Spurs' worst ever start to a season.

The sacking came as a surprise as it was announced on the eve of a league game against Bolton at White Hart Lane. What came as a bigger shock was news of who his replacement would be, and after Daniel Levy had a bid accepted by Portsmouth, Harry Redknapp became Spurs' 28th manager.

That Ramos was sacked in itself came as no surprise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gianfranco Zola Faces a Bleak Future at West Ham

Gianfranco Zola was mesmeric as a player. The little man from Sardinia is loved by those who were lucky enough to see him play. The skill, professionalism and good nature he provided during his seven years with Chelsea mean he is regarded by most as the best foreign player ever to play in England.

In 2006, when he announced he was getting into management with the Italian U-21s, he was given an unbelievable amount of goodwill as he began on his new career path. And most fans of the EPL hoped we would see him in charge of a team in England someday. Most suspected it would be a return to Chelsea, few would have predicted West Ham...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

EPL Week 11: Spurs 2-1 Liverpool - Redknapp Inspires Another Tottenham Comeback

For the second game in a week Tottenham Hotspur have left it late to comeback into a game when they looked dead and buried. On Wednesday Spurs shocked Arsenal to come from two down and draw 4-4. Today, against Liverpool they went one better. Scoring two late goals to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat...

EPL Week 11: Stoke City 2 Arsenal 1 — And Then There Were Three...

After drawing with Spurs midweek, Arsenal fans called for Arsene Wenger's head. They blamed their side's late capitulation on their much heralded manager. And after today's loss away to Stoke City, it will be interesting to see how the Gooner's respond as the slow realisation of another season as also rans dawn on them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

EPL Week 10 : Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur - Spurs Comeback Shocks GunnersWorl

An incredible night at the Emirates saw Aaron Lennon score in the 95th minute to give Tottenham Hotspur a draw, when few would have thought it possible, as Spurs came from two goals down to earn a 4-4 draw against their bitter rivals Arsenal.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

EPL Week 10 Preview: A Guide to Arsenal v. Spurs, the 143rd North London Derby

So Harry Redknapp worked his magic on his first outing as new Tottenham Hotspur manager. Spurs were victorious against a poor Bolton team on Sunday, but Wednesday's 143rd North London Derby against Arsenal is another thing completely...

Monday, October 27, 2008

WWE: Cyber Sunday Review and Reflection as Batista, 'Taker, and Triple H All Win

Well Cyber Sunday has come and gone for another year. And while none of the bouts were five* bouts the show was pretty solid. Batista got his title back after a couple of attempts, and while I feel he was always the right choice to be the next champion, I think it was too soon to take the strap from Chris Jericho.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

EPL Week 9 Review; Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool; Reds Are Officially Contenders

Records are made to be broken. Chelsea's proud home record of 86 games unbeaten at Stamford Bridge was always going to fall one day. That it was Liverpool who ended this run is significant, as Rafael Benitez's charges have finally confirmed they are ready to challenge the elite of English football.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Juande Ramos Sacked by Spurs as Daniel Levy Moves for Harry Redknapp

A night of long knives at White Hart Lane saw Juande Ramos, Gus Poyet, Marcos Alvarez, and Damien Comolli all sacked.

The move came as a surprise late Saturday night, as Spurs face Bolton tomorrow in what was already a crunch game for the club. Spurs have had their worst start to a season since 1912 and are rock bottom with two points from eight games. Ramos was expected to have at least one more game to turn it around, but the move on Saturday comes as a shock.

Early contenders to the White Hart Lane hot seat are Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Graeme Souness, and, surprisingly, Roy Keane. The move to remove Ramos on Saturday night would suggest the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy already has someone lined up. And that would turn out to be Redknapp.

WWE: Cyber Sunday Preview

Cyber Sunday is a strange WWE PPV. There's much to ponder: Are the bouts already decided? Do we actually need to vote? Is it just a money-making gimmick? Does the WWE actually read the tallies and adjust their future programming accordingly?

EPL 2008/'09- The Most Underrated Players in the English Premier League

Everybody knows the stars of the English Premier League: Ronaldo, Gerrard, Terry, Lampard, Fabregas...The list just drips with class. But behind every star player is a player who puts the team first, every time. A player who is priceless to the manager and does just enough to avoid media praise and just enough to be one of the first names on the team sheet every time.

But who are these masked men? Who are the true heroes of our Premiership age? Let's take a look at some of the current crop.

EPL Week Nine Preview: A Guide to Spurs vs. Bolton, Harry Redknapp's First Game...

The two biggest matches of EPL Week Nine take place on Sunday. And while one features teams on top of the league, the other features teams at the bottom.

And with the news that late last night Juande Ramos was sacked only to be replaced by Harry Redknapp, most Spurs fans will head into this game with renewed optimism. Harry still has it all to do to motivate this team, but he's performed miracles before...

EPL Preview: Chelsea vs. Liverpool

The two biggest matches of the weekend take place on Sunday. And both are of the upmost importance for completely different reasons. Liverpool take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, as the only unbeaten sides in the Premiership lock horns in what should be a fascinating encounter.

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur entertain Bolton in what is now a must-win match for under-pressure boss Juande Ramos. Spurs have had the worst start to a season in their history, and after only accumulating two points from eight games, they look like being involved in the relegation dogfight for the rest of the season.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Profiles Of The Great and Good: Arthur Friedenreich: The Original "Black" Pearl

What do you get if you cross a German Footballer and a Brazilian Footballer? You get Arthur Friedenreich, the greatest goalscorer the world has ever seen. He scored more goals than Pele, furthered civil rights, had a 26 year career and got his teeth kicked in.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Wrestling: How The Mighty Have Fallen

Hulk Hogan's "Celebrity Wrestling" debuts on CMT tonight. No it's not the Hulkster trying to make money from his son's prison stay. Hogan's son is currently serving time after he left his friend in a vegetative state after a "drink driving accident" and after Hogan was caught on tape saying he was looking for a reality TV program for his son, some felt that this effort may be it.

Hogan is one of the biggest stars pro-wrestling has ever produced. He is largely responsible for the massive rise in popularity of the sport in the 80's. Numerous factors at the time came together in perfect cohesion to propel wrestling into the main stream. And Hogan was at the epi-centre of it all...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ireland 1-0 Cyprus: The Odyssey To South Africa Begins

IL Trap's first home match as Ireland manager was against Cyprus, a side who 12 months earlier had brought the curtain down on Steve Staunton's short career as Ireland manager. The last time the two sides met was a 1-1 draw at Croke Park where Cyprus had played a disjointed Ireland side off the park.

With the media focusing their attention on Trappatoni's decision to start with Manchester United reserve Darron Gibson in the centre of midfield ahead of Sunderland duo Andy Reid and Liam Miller, this was always going to be a decisive night for Giovani Trappatoni...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is the EPL Recession Proof and how Investors and Debt Impact in England

On Tuesday the "Leaders of Football" met to discuss the financial state of the English Premier League in Stamford Bridge of all places. During the meeting FA Chief Lord Triesman and EPL supremo Richard Scudamore contradicted each other, and were polar opposites when it came to the finances of the EPL.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

SFA v FAI: The James McCarthy War

For those of you who don't know, James McCarthy is the hottest midfield prospect plying his trade in Britain today. At the tender of 17 he has affirmed himself as one of the best midfielders playing in Scotland, for Hamilton Academicals in the Scottish Premier League. But the Scottish Football Association and Football Association of Ireland are at loggerheads over James, why?

School For Football? The Premier League's Way Around the 90 Minute Rule

The 90 Minute Rule is an FA rule which states that academy players must live within a 90 minute commute of their team.

This rule is designed to protect smaller clubs who constantly produce talent only to see them move to a bigger Premiership side with the club re-couping a fraction of the players potential value. Every team in the English Premier League is guilty of abusing this rule but the top-4 are perhaps the most blatant abusers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Juande Ramos Stares Into the Abyss. Is His Job on the Line at Spurs?

Things at Tottenham Hotspur have gone from bad to worse. Not content with their worst start in 53 years, the team conspired to lose against Hull City at White Hart Lane and begin the season with just two pts from their opening seven games, the clubs worst start since 1912...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Arsene Wenger Contributes to Arsenal's Poor Display at Sunderland.

Arsenal's slim title aspirations all but disappeared at the Stadium of Light this afternoon. After losing twice in the opening six games, Arsenal had placed un-wanted pressure on their young shoulders.

After grasping a draw from the jaws of defeat Arsenal come away from Sunderland with a point, but the ramifications of the result mean that to win the league the Gunners will have to go the rest of the season only dropping six points if they are to be realistic title challengers...

Friday, October 3, 2008

EPL 2008/09 Week 7: A Definitive Guide to the Weekends Fixtures

The new season might only be seven weeks old but the fixture list is as intriguing as ever. Here is a definitive preview guide to the key games this weekend...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Profiles of the Great and Good: Robin Friday, the Greatest Player You Never Saw

Robin Friday's career lasted only four years. He never played for England and he never played in the top tier of English football. But for those who saw him play he was the greatest player ever to walk the Earth. Unfortunately he also had a wild side that even made even George Best look tame...

Robin Friday was born in London in 1952. He spent most of his chaotic young life in and out of borstal homes. But it was his god given talent that would eventually make him stand out.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Profiles of the Great and Good: Francis Benali

Every team has a "water carrier". The phrase was made famous when Eric Cantona described French team mate Didier Deschamps. A water carrier, for those who don't know, is the player who does the insignificant—but extremely important—things on the pitch.

He makes little tackles, takes the easy pass, covers for others when they go forward. To the general public he doesn't do a lot. To the manager he's priceless. Every team needs a water carrier.

Francis Benali was almost certainly one of the least gifted players ever to play top level football in England. He made his debut for Southampton in 1988 and went on to play 389 times for the Saints over 16 years.

Juande or Another Tottenham Hotspur Will Get it Right...Maybe

Tottenham Hotspur have had their worst start to a league campaign in 34 years. They sit at the bottom of the table. And the only domestic match that Spurs have won this season was against a dismal Newcastle in the Carling Cup on Wednesday.

Surprisingly, the only club in a worse off state than Spurs are Newcastle. And over the last 10 years the clubs have a remarkably similar record...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Can Rafael Benitez Lead Liverpool To This Seasons EPL Title?

Liverpool beat Everton 2-0 to give them 14pts from six games and their best ever start to a Premier League season. But does this good run make Liverpool serious contenders for Manchester United's crown?
We wrote this version when Jol was manager, but it's still apt...

Kevin Nash Signs a New Deal at TNA

Kevin Nash, who had been telling anyone who would listen that he was going to WWE for one last hurrah, has reportedly signed a new deal keeping him at TNA for the next few years...

Stephane Mbia Issues a Come and Get Me and Other Quotes From EPL Week 5

We've all read come and get me pleas at one stage or another. But Rennes midfielder Stephane Mbia takes the biscuit.

"I want Everton- It's my dream. Everton want me, and Arsenal do too, so I'm waiting. I want to play for Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. Chelsea is my favourite. If Manchester, Everton or Arsenal come for me I will go. It's all very very good. Manchester is my dream: I'd like to join them. And I like Everton. So I'm waiting."

No Spurs?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some Of The Best Sports Books Ever Written

Well September is almost over. And if where you live is anything like where I live, then Christmas ad's on radio and tv have started already. Actually the first ad I heard for Christmas was back in July so I guess the Christmas market never really goes, or is that just my little corner of the world.

Anyway, here's a list of books that I've read over the last few years and one or two that were recommended to me, Cricket isn't my favorite sport but it's highly recommended by Sanjeev if you're interested.

I'd recommend any of these books to fans of any sport. Some let you inside the game, some let you inside the mind of a professional athlete and basically they're just good reads.

Hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TNA's Biggest Enemy Is Themselves

I've watched TNA for some time now. Alot of what it does is great, no doubt about it. The six-sided ring was a novelty when I first saw it. Now I really like it. It's quite conducive for fast high flying matches and The X-Division has been a revelation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Ryder Cup: Fairways, Fans and Greens Oh My! Why This Should Be USA's Year

The Ryder Cup is upon us once more. Over the last decade the competition has really captured the public imagination, and is now firmly entrenched as one of the greatest team competitions in the world.

What makes the Ryder Cup so special?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blind Paralympian Wins 100m & 200m Double, In Soccer Malone Stays Expelled...

Jason Smyth pulled of a remarkable double at the Paralympic Games in Beijing today. After winning gold in the 100m, Smyth completed his double by winning the 200m in a new world record time of 21.43 seconds.

Smyth from Co. Derry in Ireland emulated his Usain Bolt in not only winning the double but also in the way he dominated the field in both events.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You Got Robinho, Pool Beat Man Utd and Other Stories From Matchday 4 of the EPL

Matchday 4 of the 2008/09 EPL season produced a great stories up and down the league this weekend. From Chelsea trumping City in Manchester to Liverpool getting one over Manchester United at Anfield.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Match Of The Day: Liverpool Vs Man Utd and Spirit Of Shankly Vs Gillett & Hicks

Before Liverpool take on Manchester United at 12.30 tomorrow a battle will take place at the famed Shankly Gates.

The Spirit of Shankly (SOS) are staging a protest against American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks. The American's inability to raise cash for a new stadium and with Manchester City taken over by Sheikh Mansour recently, the fans wish to vent their frustrations at DIC (Dubai International Corporation) not being allowed to buy the club.

Irish Paralympian Told He's Not Disabled Enough for Paralympic Games

Derek Malone spoke last night of his "bitter disappointment" after being told he would not be allowed to compete at the Beijing Paralympic Games because he was not sufficiently disabled to compete.

WWE: A Star is Bourne?

For WWE wrestling fans, something great happened on Monday night's RAW. It wasn't seeing Chris Jericho as champion, nor was it Batista's two-on-one confrontation with JBL and Jericho. And it wasn't the beginning of a "Young Guns" style stable for Orton, Dibiase, and Rhodes.

No, look away and you would have missed it. If you didn't pay attention, and it would have seemed like a nothing bout, but last Monday night marked the debut of Evan Bourne on RAW.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The All-Ireland Hurling Final, The Most Important Fixture in the World This Week

In Croke Park tomorrow, Kilkenny will take on Waterford, in what is perhaps the most important sporting fixture in the world.

For those who don't know what hurling is, and let's face it, that's just about everybody who's not Irish, hurling is the fastest field sport in the world. It's faster than soccer, faster than rugby, and even faster than ice hockey...

Ireland vs. Georgia : Game Preview For Trappatoni's Debut

After seven months and three friendlies the Giovanni Trappatoni regime finally get to savour a competitive match.

Ireland take on Georgia tonight in FSV Mainz's stadium in Germany tonight. The match originally due to take place in Georgia was moved after the Football Association of Ireland and FIFA had reservations about the Ireland side travelling to the war torn region.

Fabio Capello Won't Succeed Until the English Footballing Culture Changes

Fabio Capello's England team began their World Cup Qualifying campaign against Andorra with a 2-0 victory, and will then take on Croatia in Zagreb on Wednesday night in what already looks like being a crucial match.

But Capello faces a difficult task to bring this team to the World Cup. At the moment there is a split between the England manager and the club managers, a split between the fans and the players, and with some players still questioning the manager's methods this qualifying campaign is already set up to be a hard one—and a ball hasn't been kicked yet...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kevin Keegan Resigns: A Brief History To Understand Why He Left

The transfer deadline closed last night at midnight, with possibly Newcastle's chances of ever reaching the top four closing too.

The big losers in the amazing sale of Manchester City weren't Liverpool or even Chelsea. No, the big losers were Spurs, Aston Villa, Everton, and Newcastle.

How the managers, chairmen, and supporters of these clubs feel after the revelation that now City are a power to be reckoned with will only be seen in the next few weeks, as the slow realisation dawns on them that not only are the top four positions out of reach, but now the fifth position is gone too.

Kevin Keegan awoke this morning...
, looked at himself in the mirror, the hair that was once his famous trademark now gray with age. He saw the pronounced lines of age on his face where laughter lines should be, and realised that the club he loves so much had not only taken a step back in their transfers over the summer, but now the land that he dreamed he'd bring to the Geordie hoards was just that, a dream.

Kevin Keegan, once the most optimistic man in football, had been broken, again. But to fully understand why he resigned, we must first understand the man.

Keegan's first professional club was Scunthorpe, he signed his first professional deal at 15 but was quickly dismissed as being too small to play professionally. This only served to make Keegan train even harder, putting in double sessions every day and then training by himself at home.

Keegan eventually broke into the first team at 17 and went on to play over 124 games across three seasons in the old Division 4.

What was remarkable about this feat was Keegan's young age in such a tough league. In English football during the late 60's prisoners weren't taken on the pitch, especially in the lower leagues. The fact that Keegan played 124 times at such a young age in such a tough league marked him out as a player to take notice of.

In 1971 Bill Shankley did just that. Shankley had been monitoring Keegan for some time and, impressed by his work rate and superior fitness, he brought Keegan to Liverpool for a fee of £35,000 (this wouldn't happen today, div 4 to div 1).

Shankley immersed Keegan in all that was Liverpool during his first summer there. Training was done right, eating meals was done right—nothing was left to chance.

So impressed with his new signing from Division 4 was Shankly that he put him straight into the opening game of the new Division 1 season against Nottingham Forest. Keegan duly responded, returning the favour by scoring after 12 minutes of his debut.

Kevin Keegan had reached Division 1 at the age of 20. He had been rejected twice as a teen, and had worked harder, and trained harder than anyone else to achieve his dream.

But instead of being satisfied with Liverpool and playing in Division 1, now Keegan wanted to win the league and to play for England. To achieve this he knew he would have to be fitter, faster, and stronger than his rivals, so Keegan again took extra training to try to fulfill his new dream.

The extra work and playing regularly for Liverpool soon payed off, as Keegan made his debut for England U-23s in the old Home Nation Tournament.

Over the next six trophy-laden seasons at Liverpool, Keegan established himself as not only Liverpool's most important player, but quite possibly England's as well. During this golden period for Keegan he won the league three times, the FA Cup once, the UEFA Cup twice and the European Cup once.

In the 1976-77 season Liverpool won the league, Charity Shield, European Cup and it was only Manchester United's victory against them in the FA Cup final that stopped the team from winning the first treble in English Football.

Keegan was pivotal for club and country throughout. And at this stage of his career, ten years after starting his apprenticeship with Scunthorpe in Division 4, Keegan was perhaps the best if not most important player in Britain.

Then, after scoring 100 goals in 323 games, Kevin Keegan shook English football to its foundations by signing for German side Hamburg. He had achieved everything English club football had to offer. He dined at the table of greats and decided that what he had achieved wasn't enough.

In choosing Hamburg, Keegan turned down Spanish and Italian sides. He wanted to win trophies in Europe but he wanted to do it the hard way.

Initially Keegan failed to settle in Hamburg, his grasp of the language was poor and many felt he was a big name player taking it easy and earning huge wages. Hamburg were beaten by Liverpool in the European Super Cup—with Keegan's replacement Kenny Dalglish showing that Keegan wasn't missed.

Keegan's frustration's in Germany began to get the better of him, and he was sent off against Lubeck for punching a player. This, ironically, was perhaps the message he needed because after this lowest period in his career he began to knuckle down and although Hamburg finished 10th, Keegan went on to score 12 goals and win the European Footballer of the Year.

The following season, Hamburg won the Bundesliga with a settled Keegan instrumental throughout the season, he also won the European Footballer of the year award for the second time. The following season, Keegan's last at Hamburg, they were beaten by Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest in the final of the European Cup.

At the age of 29, Keegan announced he was leaving Hamburg, and sides around Europe courted the English star. But instead of choosing to see out his playing days in the sun, Keegan sent shockwaves through the football world by signing for Southampton.

This period at Southampton was perhaps what shaped Keegan's managerial style and football philosophy. The hardest working player in England was now part of the most flamboyant side in Britain.

The names just roll off the tongue, even now: Mick Channon, Alan Ball, Phil Boyer, and the majestic Charlie George entertained their way to title contenders.

The following season, a happy Keegan had gelled with his team mates and they were challenging for the title right up until March. But a poor run of form, resulting in only two wins in their last ten games, saw Southampton fall away.

This pattern was to be repeated at Newcastle, some 20 years later.

The 1982 season finished badly for Keegan. Carrying injuries and playing through the pain barrier began to take its toll physically, as England and Keegan wilted at Espana 82.

Mentally, Keegan was pre-occupied with next season and whether Southampton would make some defensive signings to strengthen the side. This would eventually lead to a massive split between Keegan and the manager, which ultimately resulted in Keegan leaving to join Newcastle Utd.

The Newcastle fans took to Keegan immediately, and considered it an honour that one of the greats of English football would choose them to finish his career with. Keegan helped Newcastle gain promotion to Division 1 in a side that played their way to victory.

Veterans Keegan and Terry McDermott were joined by a young Peter Beardsley and a new recruit who went by the name of Chris Waddle.

By this stage Keegan, although he loved Newcastle, was beginning to fall out of love with the game. At the end of the 1983-84 season and after a 18-year career, Keegan retired from football, vowing he would never return to the game to coach or manage.

Neverthelees, on February fifth, 1992, Kevin Keegan entered football management at Newcastle. He took over from Ossie Ardilles, who had steered Newcastle towards relegation from Division 3.

He was given the task to save Newcastle.

Survival was achieved, on the last day of the season. And with the Premier League being created, Newcastle and Keegan found themselves in Division 1, uninvited to the biggest football party English football had ever seen.

Newcastle started the season as one of the favorite's for relegation, but after winning their first 11 games that was quickly revised. Newcastle led the league from start to finish and were promoted to the Premier League as champions.

Keegan proved he had a ruthless streak, selling top scorer David Kelly and Division 1's best midfielder Liam O'Brien. He recruited Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole for Newcastle's first season in the big time.

Again they started the season as one of the favorites to go back down, but Newcastle finished third in their first season up. Between '93 and '96 Newcastle challenged for the title every year.

Their players included David Ginola, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, Phillipe Albert, Faustino Asprilla, and David Batty. Keegan's philosophy was entertaining their way to the title and Newcastle literally hit the cross bar.

It was during this '96 season that Keegan famously lost it after a match, after he had been psyched out by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. "I'd love it if we beat them", will follow Keegan to the grave.

Newcastle's run towards the end of the season mirrored Southampton's in 1982, leaving Newcastle a distant second after leading for so long. Keegan took this disappointment personally and struggled to overcome it before the new season.

Then, on January seventh, 1997, at the height of their powers, as another title challenge won the way, Keegan resigned as manager. Feeling he had nothing left to offer Newcastle and that he had taken them as far as he could, he walked away.

Again, he vowed to stay away from football.

But again the lure of football was too much, and in September 1997 Keegan returned to manage Fulham in Division 2. Keegan stayed in charge at Craven Cottage until 1999, when he became the national choice as England Manager.

After an initial period in charge where everything went right, the wheels started to come off in the Euro 2000 campaign. England beat rivals Germany 1-0 but were beaten by both Romania and Portugal and failed to qualify for the knockout stages.

The English media, as famously harsh as they are fickle, turned on Keegan for England's poor displays.

The final straw for Keegan occured at the final match at the old Wembley, as Germany won 1-0. With the media calling for his head and Keegan under severe pressure, he resigned.

Keegan again said he was walking away from the game and needed time to re-charge after his England ordeal. But the rest period only lasted seven months, with Keegan once again surprising everyone by taking over at Manchester City.

The four years in charge of Man City were largely fruitless, but Keegan showed he could be a shrewed manager guiding City to mid table safety on a shoe string budget.

In 2005 Kevin Keegan retired from football completely.

He was burnt out, and the game had changed massively from his time as a player. Keegan didn't like the direction football seemed to be taking, and stepped away from the competitive game. He set up the Soccer Circus roadshow in the hope of training young players and passing on some of his vast knowledge.

Then, on the 16th of January 2008, after three years away from the game, Keegan returned to the his spiritual home as manager of Newcastle.

Yet after just one month in charge Keegan had to be talked out of resigning by owner Mike Ashley. Keegan felt undermined after Ashley had appointed Dennis Wise as Director of Football.

Wise would take charge of the transfer dealings both in and out of the club, and Keegan wasn't happy with this. Ashley eventually talked Keegan around, suggesting that it would give Keegan more time on the pitch and that it was the best way forward.

Keegan chose to stay, perhaps because the size of the challenge ahead of him enthralled him. And after an initially poor start, losing his first eight games in charge, Keegan guided Newcastle to safety.

Strangely for the ever optimistic Keegan, after a defeat to Chelsea he told a press conference that Newcastle would never challenge for major honours again. Ashley was furious, but Keegan had drawn attention to the lack of ambition at the club.

Throughout the summer rumours of Keegan's unhappiness under the Ashley regime persisted. Ashley made little or no money available, and players were offered around the Premiership.

James Milner was sold without Keegan's knowledge, and rumour has it that Michael Owen being offered around was the straw that broke the camel's back.

If you've lasted this long and read this much I hope I've shown that as a player Keegan never gave up. If he wanted to achieve something it was up to himself and he worked hard to attain it.

His career as a player is spectacular, but it was all down to him. He shaped his own destiny.

This is perhaps Keegan's downfall as a manager, because no matter how hard you try. and no matter how well you organise, you cannot foresee every outcome.

During his first term as Newcastle manager, Keegan signed who he wanted and played the way he wanted—but he just couldn't win the title no matter how hard he tried.

Something always conspired against him. It was this that eventually led him to walk away the first time.

At England, blind optimism carried him on. He really believed his approach could carry England forward, and when it couldn't again he resigned.

During his charge at City, Keegan actually seemed at peace with himself. But during this period they never challenged and this going with the flow was never going to be good enough for Keegan.

And now, back in charge of Newcastle, Keegan finds his authority eroded, his responsibility diminished, and once again he sees all the outside influences he can't control sniping at his heels, driving him mad.

As I write this, depending on which media source you listen to, Keegan is either still in charge or has resigned. Personally, I hope he resigns. Mike Ashley doesn't know what he's doing and Keegan is too good for him.

But if Keegan does go, a little bit of every supporter goes with him.

We'll all miss his optimism.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Manchester City and Spurs Dominate Transfer Deadline Day, Robinho to City, Berbatov to Utd

As the transfer deadline came to a close, the biggest transfer of the day took place at The City of Manchester Stadium. In an age where the media have sources in every corner, Manchester City pulled off perhaps the biggest move of the day.

It wasn't for a player of course, it was for the club!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Letter to Ken Shamrock

Dear Ken,

You are due to face Kimbo Slice in the main event of the EliteXC Circus in October. At this stage of your career, you have faced the best of the best and have nothing left to prove to anyone, other than the beast inside that all top competitors have.

Friday, August 29, 2008

David Moyes and Everton Look Forward to Liege—In More Ways Than One

When Standard Liege, the team who Liverpool laboured to defeat at fortress Anfield, drew Everton in the UEFA Cup you could hear the groans a mile away. This game is not going to feature high in matches of the season.

Standard, who got their tactics spot on against the uninspired Liverpool in the qualifying round of the UEFA Champion League, and Everton, who usually suck the life out of games, are not going to bring us a classic.

But as TV chiefs scratch their heads and the viewing public check the rest of the draw to find what they'll watch, David Moyes got the team he really wanted...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fidel Castro's Solidarity for Disgraced Cuban Taekwondo Kickboxer...

Fidel Castro has defended Angel Matos, the Cuban Taekwondo athlete who kicked a referee in the head at the Beijing Olympics. Castro feels that Matos was right to be indignant over his disqualification during the bronze medal match.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Roy Keane Revolution at Sunderland: How Long before a Top Job Comes Along?

Since Niall Quinn's surprise announcement that Roy Keane was to be Mick McCarthy's successor at Sunderland back in 2006, the Cork native has gone from strength to strength as a manager.

Many were surprised to see Keane accept a job so early in his coaching and management career. And few would have predicted him to take over a struggling Championship side, never mind one where Niall Quinn was chairman...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is It Time The Champions League Format Was Changed?

Clubs from all over Europe have progressed to the lucrative group stages of the UEFA Champion League, ensuring each club £30M sterling without having to win the tournament. And while the rich get richer and the rest can't catch up, is it time something was done to even the playing field?

As Dimitar Berbatov Heads To Utd, Who's To Blame? And What Do Spurs Do Now?

The death knell rang on Dimitar Berbatov's time at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after he was left out of the squad to face Roy Keane's improving Sunderland.

Berbatov had returned to Tottenham after international duty with Bulgaria, (where he scored twice) in what Juande Ramos (Tottenham Head Coach) described as "an unfit mental state" and was subsequently dropped. Berbatov was then fined a weeks wages £56k and told to report back for duty on Tuesday. According to media outlets Ramos was then due to have clear the air talks with the Manchester United target...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Liverpool Not Firing On All Cylinders at Start Of Season. Is The Title a Dream?

Despite getting off to the best possible start with two wins from two games, Liverpool have laboured to defeat North East rivals Sunderland and Middlesbrough respectively.

Last week after a lacklustre performance, it took a moment of magic late on by Fernando Torres to secure the win over Roy Keane's unlucky Sunderland. The Wearsiders had dominated most of the match but unless you take your chances against a team containing players like Torres, Gerrard and Robbie Keane 0-0 is never a safe scoreline. Liverpool came away with the three points, but in a game they were expected to win they barely got out of jail.