Thursday, December 30, 2010
The striker is one of the few top class strikers in the world today not residing in what would be regarded as a top club. However, the deal may not be as simple as a mere £25 million bid and buy.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Who will be the next manager to get the sack in the English Premier League? Are Avram Grant’s days numbered? Does Wenger have to win a trophy? Can Roy Hodgson turn Liverpool around?
You wait around all season for the first EPL manager to be sacked and then two happen within the space of a week.
Chris Hughton’s and Sam Allardyce’s removals were both strange to say the least, as neither man was doing what would normally be considered as a bad job.
Whichever way you look at it, the money is the owners at the end of the day and they have the right to decide upon who takes the key roles in their organisation.
In the end, they make their own beds and have to lie in them…
Here we take a look at the odds for each manager and assess whose job is safe, or not.
Monday, December 13, 2010
FIFA's decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in 2022 has received its fair share of criticism.
Most commentators seem to be condescendingly focusing upon the fact that the country is too small to host such a major tournament. There has also been mention that the country has no past footballing pedigree. The Middle Eastern peninsula does however have a growing reputation within professional sporting circles as being one of the locations of choice for major events over the last 20 years.
At the very epicentre of Qatar's hopes for 2022 will be the ASPIRE Academy. Since its inception in 2004, the Academy has risen to the forefront of leading sporting centres around the world. While Dubai and Abu-Dhabi have moved to attract the world’s business clientele, Qatar has taken quite a unique step and has looked to improve its name by becoming a centre for sporting excellence.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
As the January transfer window closes, Michael Owen and Robbie Keane in particular face uncertain futures at their respective clubs, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Rewind 10 years and these two players represented the future of the English Premier League. Owen was in his third full season as the main striker at Liverpool, while Keane had just finalised a dramatic transfer to Inter Milan after finishing top-scorer for Coventry City in his first year in the Premier League.
Both strikers represented all that was good about English football. Owen was the hottest prospect in the game and had held talks with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal before signing for the Reds.
Keane was his English counterpart’s equivalent in Ireland and also had every major club scouting him before surprisingly moving to Wolves.
Now at 30, each player is surplus to requirements at their club...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Italian football is at a crossroads. Every direction is fraught with with danger.
However, one man can bring the glory days back and steer Italian society towards a new era. That man is probably the most important Italian footballer of all time—Mario Balotelli.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Barcelona’s most recent great run of form almost came to a "Messi" end tonight after the Catalan club almost failed to show up against Osasuna! The La Liga champions had believed that their game had been postponed until Sunday because of the wildcat strike by Spanish Air Traffic Controllers.
However, and much to Pep Guardiola's dismay, La Blaugrana found that the game had not been re-scheduled, and they had to leave the Catalan capital by high speed train with just hours to spare before kickoff.
In a mad dash, Barcelona's first team high tailed it to Zaragoza by train. They left their home city at 14:00 with the match scheduled to kick off at 19:00. Fortunately, the game was put back to 19:45, as Lionel Messi and Co. only arrived at the Reyno De Navarra at 19:00, leaving the travel weary team just 45 minutes to limber up for a crucial encounter.
Friday, December 3, 2010
The morning after the afternoon before and the dust has finally settled on Russia and Qatar's respective wins for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals. England's bid team is waking up from the mother of all hangovers wondering what exactly happened yesterday, and now the recriminations can finally begin.
Monday, November 29, 2010
The FIFA Exco will meet over the next three days to decide the destination of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Here we look at each bidding nation and the 23 men whose vote will decide the winners.
The 2018 World Cup will go to Europe as Holland/Belgium, Spain/Portugal,
England and address the FIFA Exco with their final submissions on December 2. One day before the five bidding nations for 2022 will get their chance to state their case. Russia
Each submission can only last a maximum of 30 minutes and is the final chance the bidding nations have to sway the vote.
So far, the Iberian bid claims to have eight votes guaranteed for 2018 while
seems quietly confident for 2022. Qatar
To win the World Cup 13 votes must be won, with the process eliminating a bidding nation until that total can be reached.
Here we look at each bidding nation, their strengths and weaknesses and the 23 Exco members and where they may or may not vote.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Having worshipped at many alters in my time, I took the chance to visit one of the greatest churches of all two weeks ago; the Camp Nou.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
During Tuesday night's Champions League game between Real Madrid and Ajax, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos appeared to get themselves sent off on purpose. Dutch broadcaster NOS showed footage of Jose Mourinho apparently issuing instructions to Alonso moments before the midfielder received his marching orders.
UEFA have now decided to investigate both sendings-off.
Monday, November 22, 2010
We always knew this day would come. Manchester United, like any major other organisation would, is preparing for the day that Sir Alex Ferguson retires by putting together a short list of candidates to succeed the great man.
It is no great secret that Sir Alex Ferguson will retire in the not too distant future.
After a career that has, thus far, spanned 53 years the sands of time are running out on the Scot's footballing lifetime. Now in his 36th year as a manager Ferguson is moving towards the last days of his life on the touchline with David Gill and Manchester United determined not to be caught out by the obvious void that will be left and they have begun to eke together a short list of potential contenders for the Old Trafford hot seat.
The Hunt for a New Red Devil:
David Gill is fully aware of just how big United are as a club. They are an institution and are under pressure like never before. With their debt growing under the ownership of the Glazer family, Gill knows that on-field success has to be maintained.
Speaking to Sirius XM, one of the world's largest internet radio stations, the Red Devils Chief Executive spoke about how the club are already looking at alternatives to Ferguson.
"What happens on the pitch is crucial to all our off the field aspirations and we have to understand that. So someone coming in to take over United will have to have pedigree, will have to have that logical success and achievement as it's such a big club.
"But I think the other key asset, or key requirement for someone coming in, is to understand the history and heritage of the club. They need to understand how we work commercially, what we aim to achieve to get the right balance there and make sure we can continue as seamlessly as possible as we have under Sir Alex.
"Those are the things, but identifying that person is not easy."United's recent transfer strategy suggests that the club want the new manager to walk into an almost fully formed squad and that Ferguson is readying the troops for that fateful day. Five of United's last six signings are all under 25 years of age with Michael Owen as the obvious exception. That strategy would seem to fit into the next manager being left a good nucleus of players to work with.
Gill added; "Obviously at some stage, Sir Alex will retire.
"What we're doing with him, with his coaches and scouts, is getting a great squad with the right age profile so a new manager coming in - yes he will probably want to change one or two players - but won't need wholesale changes.
"There will be a sensible transition to a new manager. So that's where we're at."Who Will Replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United?
Given Gill's comments about Ferguson's successor it would seem that a number of Ferguson's old boys were considered but have now been rejected in favour of a manager of higher standing.
Roy Keane has done very little at Ipswich to be considered by any Premiership team let alone United.Steve Bruce has done well wherever he has worked but will need to break the top four and win some cups with Sunderland if he is to be considered a viable choice. While Mark Hughes has the baggage of being an ex-Manchester City manager and would also seem to have been ruled out
Ole Gunnar-Solksjaer has probably left his move to Molde too late to be considered a successor to Ferguson but is an ideal candidate for the Assistant Manager job when it arises. It remains to be seen if his ambitions lie in that direction though.
The Premiership managers that stand out as contenders are David Moyes, Harry Redknapp, Carlo Ancellotti and Martin O'Neill.
Moyes has done sterling work at Everton over the past eight years but he has never tasted cup success and would probably be seen as something of a gamble by the United board despite Ferguson's recommendation.
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Redknapp would be an ideal candidate if United were looking for someone now, but the Spurs boss has already indicated that Spurs will be his last job in club football and he is highly tipped by many to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager. Leaving the door open for Spurs to approach Moyes...
Carlo Ancellotti is not as cemented in Chelsea's heart as many would believe or with Roman Abrahmovich for that matter. Despite winning the double in his first season as manager the club cancelled recent contract negotiations after the Blues lost three of their last four league matches.
The Italian was deeply unhappy with how Abrahmovich's ruthless sacking of Ray Wilkins and would jump at the chance of managing one of the jewels of world football.
Martin O'Neill has done great work wherever he has gone and his teams are always more than the sum of their parts. However, his recent argument over transfer funding, ending with his resignation from Aston Villa will have been noticed amongst many boardrooms.
Outside England the list of potential candidates is not as large as one would have hoped. Pep Guardiola is an obvious choice but Barcelona has already given their manager 100 percent control of the club in a major show of faith.
He was unhappy at La Blaugrana's insistence that he sign a new contract last year and is head-strong enough to resign if he feels he is not being treated properly by the board so he will always remain an outside bet to succeed Ferguson.
The other candidate from Spain is Jose Mourinho.
The Real Madrid manager has already intimated that a big job in England is waiting for him in two years and it is something of an open secret that he wants the United job. He would undoubtedly be the boards choice, as Revie was in 1969, but it is not so clear whether Ferguson would endorse him or not.
Last year, while at Inter Milan, Mourinho approached Darren Ferguson, Sir Alex's son, to offer him a coaching role at the Italian club. Fergie Jr. turned it down but there are obvious links between Ferguson and Mourinho.
After that you are left looking at outside bets like Louis van Gaal, Carlos Quiroz, Fabio Capello,Guus Hiddink, and Laurent Blanc.
Most are very long shots indeed but nothing surprises like football.
After he Retires: Sir Alex as Director of Football? No Thanks...
Around the same time that Sir Alex Ferguson's career as a manager was just beginning the last great dynasty at Manchester United was coming to an end when Sir Matt Busby's 24 year career with the Red Devils came to an end.
One year after United's famous triumph in the 13th European Cup Final over Benfica at Wembley, Sir Matt Busby decided to call it a day. He moved upstairs into a Director of Football type role and handed the reigns to Wilf McGuinness who had been promoted from within.
When Busby announced that he was going to retire in January 1969 the footballing world shook and speculation immediately arose as to who was going to replace him. Names like Don Revie, Jock Stein, Jimmy Adamson, and Dave Sexton were all mentioned as potential candidates.
Busby immediately ruled out Revie, feeling that the Leeds United manager was the complete opposite to everything he stood for in the game. The United manager then inquired about Sexton at Chelsea but the Pensioners boss turned him down as his young family had just settled in London and he did not want to move again so quickly.
Faced with going for a manager he did not know, Busby decided to look inwards and briefly considered Johnny Carey, Noel Cantwell and Paddy Crerard but decided that their lack of coaching experience went against them so he promoted Wilf McGuinness to first team affairs.
McGuinness, a player of some repute before his career was ended at just 22-years of age, was an outstanding youth coach, was Manchester United through and through and had progressed steadily through the coaching ranks of the club. The Busby Babes had been nurtured by McGuinness before Busby ever got his hands on them and so it was that the lad from Collyhurst became first team manager.
However, while McGuinness was perfectly suited to being a coach, being a manager was something else entirely. McGuinness was a straight shooter and lacked the cunning and guile needed to be a manager. He wasn't interested in the political minefield of the dressing room as a coach and never tried to understand it. But as a manager he now had to control it.
Behind the scenes though a different story soon emerged as McGuinness soon that he was only theChief Coach with Busby attending board meetings in his place and negotiating contracts with his staff and potential signings behind his back.
Add that to Busby vetoing moves for players like Malcolm McDonald, Mick Mills, and Colin Todd and all of sudden McGuinness began to feel the world at Old Trafford moving against him. All the responsibility was his, but all the power rested with the Director of Football.
McGuinness failed because he couldn't stand up to Busby, he was just too powerful and figure and still made the room tremble when he entered it. To no surprise he was sacked one year into his three-year-deal with Busby taking over as manager until the end of the season while a shocked McGuinness stayed on until June before leaving football in England.
Within days of being removed as United's manager, Bolton Wanderers approached McGuinness about taking over as Chief Coach with Nat Lofthouse as his Director of Football. Needless to say Wilf turned it down.
The following manager, Frank O'Farrell found a United team in serious disarray and tried to rebuild it in his image but found his requests turned down by the board more often that not.
The ex-Leicester boss suffered the same fate as his predecessor. Except this time there was a major blood letting at the club with a number of coaches and even George Best being told to pack their bags when all the while Busby was pulling the strings on the board.
Speaking to Eamon Dunphy who was writing A Strange Kind of Glory, O'Farrell said;
"I thought if Matt Busby and Manchester United are the good guys, what are the bad guys like?"Just like McGuinness, O'Farrell was put off professional football after his poor relationship with Busby.
There are enough lessons to be learnt from McGuinness' and O'Farrell's succession to Busby as manager. The club should know all about the pit-falls of a legend taking over as Director of Football and his new manager to avoid the same avenue again.
Ferguson should also recognise the dangers of taking on such a role and if he is to take on such a task then some years should be put between his retirement and return to allow the new manager time to settle and run things his way.
Whoever gets the task of replacing Ferguson will be in the toughest job in football. They will not only have to be mentally strong enough to handle a club like Manchester United and everything that goes with it but they will have to deal with the fact that they are replacing the greatest manager in English football history.
In short; Ferguson’s replacement will have to be a “special one.”
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Cristiano Ronaldo scored one of the greatest goals of all time in the remarkable 4-0 victory for Portugal over Spain. However, the Real Madrid wing wizard was anything but happy after the goal was disallowed…
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The NHS has just completed a survey of English Premier League fans. The online analysis was completed by over 25,000 fans from across the country, and its findings are not kind...
With many EPL teams based in areas where men die prematurely, the National Health Service decided to try and educate these fans by setting up an online questionnaire for them to fill out.
In a gentle way the questionnaire probed for fitness, eating and alcohol consumption type trends. When the survey was finished all the data was compiled into a football league of fitness, or obese levels as you'll see.
For the vast majority of the London based teams, the news was good. Unless you frequent Craven Cottage of a regular Saturday afternoon, that is, 49 percent of Fulham's fans are overweight and they finished in the lowest position for London and are the un-healthiest team of fans in the EPL...
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
On the eve of Liverpool’s, sorry Inter Milan’s, 4-3 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League, Rafael Benitez delivered one of the most bizarre press conferences of all time. It will be a moment that will go down in football folklore and leaves Rafa looking like a very bitter man indeed.
Think back to the mid-90s and Eric Cantona’s famous press conference "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much." Or maybe even Sam Allardyce saying that he was more suited to managing the likes of Inter Milan or Real Madrid—you get the picture.
Well, Rafa outdid them all.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The news that Wayne Rooney has told Manchester United that he wants to leave seems to have hit the club like a bolt out of the blue.
However, this has been coming for a long time, as his relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson has somewhat soured over the last seven months or so.
Amidst growing rumours over the weekend, United Chief Executive David Gill spoke tersely to the press stating that the very idea of Rooney leaving the club was nothing short of "nonsense."
But just 24 hours later, it would appear that the striker’s advisors have firstly halted contract talks and followed that up by saying Rooney also wants to leave the club.
The news that the club's best player, by a million miles, wants to leave will be a bitter blow for Alex Ferguson to take.
Having brought Rooney to the club as a prodigious 18-year-old from Everton in 2004, many felt that the wily Scot was putting the pieces together for his last great side before retirement...