Tag Archives: #PremierLeague

5 reasons why the neutral should support Liverpool.

1.     Time for change.

In recent years Manchester and Chelsea have contested the Premier League title and the ‘top 4’ has been set in stone. The current campaign has shown that the best league in the world is also the most competitive in the world too. With the likes of Everton and Liverpool fighting amongst the leagues best it makes for exciting viewing.

 

  1. English.

If the Premier League were decided on only goals scored by English players counting, Liverpool would have walked away with the title. Diversity and foreign talent has its benefits, however it’s easy to forget we watch the English Premier League. With players such as Glen Johnson, John Flanagan, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge all influencing Liverpool’s title charge, England’s World Cup hopes look brighter and brighter. Why not get behind those lads now?

 

  1. Steven Gerrard.

The England captain’s reaction following the 3-2 victory over Manchester City was one that football fans can relate to. He showed real passion and emotion that should be expected from all professional footballers. I would love to see the Liverpool legend lift the trophy; he deserves it.

 

  1. Brendan Rogers.

Brendan Rogers has shown that he is possibly the best, most tactically astute British manager in the game. His attacking philosophy is one to be admired and encouraged amongst English teams.

 

  1. The club, city and fans.

It has been heavily publicised in recent months what Liverpool fans have been through with the Hilsbourgh appeal, so much so the club’s magnificent history is often overshadowed by the tragic event. Throughout this the working class city, the club and fans of Liverpool Football Club have been impeccable in their behaviour and commitment to their team.

 

 

A letter regarding the current state of English Football.

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Original points are that of Paul Lawrence. Edited by Ed Delaney – @thedition.

I am writing to express my concern for the current situation of English Football as well as the future development of the game in this country. At the present time I think English Football is taking a severe downward spiral and is losing its reputation of being one of World football’s biggest nations. I believe the National side has lost the fear factor they once had, and clubs in England are also becoming less feared when they play teams from different nations. There is no denying that the elite club sides in the world are not from England but from countries such as Spain and Germany. When a ‘top’ English side draws a top Spanish side in the Champions league the English team is automatically labeled as underdogs; to some this may be a good thing however do we always want to be known as the underdogs? We should be aspiring to be one of the feared nations in the world.

Out of 500 players named over 20 squads in the English Premier League, only 222 are home-grown talents. That’s an astonishing figure compared to other nations. A model example would be that of Athletic Bilbao in Spain, they have installed the philosophy of only using players that are from the Basque regions. When Bilbao met the English giants Manchester United in the Europa League in 2012 they were given a lesson in fast paced passing football – United ended up losing 5-3 on aggregate. This was an eye opener to many and showed how good the standard of football in Spain is compared to England.

The principle of football ownership and general running of clubs is also something that is a major cause for concern. Owners who are in it because of their passion for football are becoming a thing of the past – Dave Whelan of Wigan still a shining example – and are rapidly being taken over by people who think they can make quick profit. Take QPR for example, which were taken over by the director of Air Asia, Tony Fernandes. They pumped millions of pounds into QPR to try to become one of football’s big names however this backfired when they were relegated last season. When experienced head of football management, Harry Redknapp, took over as manager there last season in a last-ditch attempt to save them from relegation he said in an interview, ‘There’s an awful lot of players at this club earning far too much money for what they are; far, far, far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club.’ This shows that spending ridiculous amounts of money on wages and transfer fees doesn’t always pay off. On the other hand there is Norwich City who are owned by British Businessman Alan Bowkett, supported by lifelong Norwich fans Delia Smith and Stephen Fry. They have recently announced that they have erased £23 million of debt. This means that they are free of external debt. This is a great example of how a club should be run financially. Carrow Road regularly sells out and because of these foundations there is a real passion for football at the club. The benefits of this sensible, patient style is that now they will be able to invest more money into their squad so that they will be able to ensure Premier League stability and compete in the top half of the table. In my opinion this is where football should be changed to ensure financial stability, therefore concentrating on improving their squad and youth setup.

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Promising England talent coming out of Southampton.

A “long ball” label currently underpins English football and this stereotype has been relevant for as long as I can remember. This is something that needs to be changed in order to compete with the best in the world. The successful clubs of recent years have implemented a fast passing style whilst in possession, and a fast pressing style off the ball. This is something that very few English clubs have tried. Take Southampton for example, they play a high intensity passing game combined with fast pressing. It is no fluke that they are in the top half of the Premier League and took on, and beat the supposed big clubs with their usual self-confidence at the start of the season. They have a squad of players who are far from world-beaters, in their squad of 25 they have 13 home-grown players – including promising England talents such as captain Adam Lallana and 19-year-old James Ward-Prowse. The mix of technical ability and passion between the players alongside the style that Mauricio Pochettino has brought to Southampton has made them into a great team to watch. Other clubs such as Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich are also playing this way and they lead the line in international football at this time. The club I support is Coventry City, it is no secret that we are a terribly ran club off the pitch hence the reason we play our ‘home’ games in Northampton and began the season under a transfer embargo on minus 10 points. On the pitch however we are playing brilliant football and are the in-form team in League One. We are now mid table and pushing for the play offs. Steven Pressley and his players have been a credit to the club recently, Pressley has installed a fast paced, passing style of football and other League One sides are struggling to handle the Sky Blues. Recently Leyton Orient, nicknamed the ‘Orient Express’ came to play Coventry having won 10 out of 10 fixtures sitting comfortably at the top of the league. The ‘Orient Express’ came to an abrupt stop with a 3-1 defeat at the hands off Pressley’s young team. This shows that this style of play isn’t all about the players you have but how you adapt them to play the way you want them to. The 40-year-old manager has moulded his young side magnificently. They do say it’s easier to teach young dog new tricks.

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Pressley of the mighty Sky Blues.

Another massive problem in modern-day football is the inconceivable salary of the professional players. How can someone possibly earn £200k a week in the current economic state? It’s ridiculous. With an increasing amount of footballers declaring themselves bankrupt, it’s not like you can say they all use their fortune wisely. There are some exceptions to this, take Didier Drogba for example, he sends money back to his home country to develop infrastructure and improve the quality of life of the people in the Ivory Coast but unfortunately this is not a common occurrence in modern-day football. If I had the authority to make big decisions in football I would bring in a wage cap to English football, each stage of the English football pyramid would have a different individual wage barrier. For example no player in the Premier League could earn over £80k a week, £15k in the Championship and £5k in League one etc. This would encourage players to work harder to earn the highest salary they can get and play in the top leagues. No 10-year-old boy who aspires to be a footballer when they grow up want to do it for the wages. They do it because they love the game like so many millions. It is disgraceful how greedy some professionals and their agents have become in recent years. Would Bobby Moore have refused to play for his club unless they offered him a new contract with a wage rise? No he would not.

This again brings me back to the point about Grass Roots football; all the money that clubs would save from the players’ salaries could be used to ensure financial stability and then to invest into the surrounding area at Grass Roots level. This would produce more English talent and would ultimately make English football a stronger force in the coming future. I am looking to gain my coaching badges in the near future, as football management has always been something I have been interested in from a young age. I looked to see where and when I could gain my Level One qualification and was astounded to see that it would cost me £110 as well as travelling at least 10 miles to get there. To me this isn’t enticing young people to want to coach football, if anything it’s putting them off, as a teenager there are a lot of other things £110 could be spent on. So what are the FA’s plans in order to attract young, eager coaches? What’s going to happen when the current coaches decide they’ve had enough and want to stop? Then will there be a sudden light bulb moment that they could reduce the prices of gaining the essential qualifications by subsidising the costs with the ridiculous incomes from television rights? This is something that needs to be acted upon immediately, as England’s footballing future will be over before it’s even started.

Is enough being done with regard to young coaches in England?

Is enough being done to encourage young football coaches in England?

Being a young football fan I have played football since the age of 9, I have played at Sunday league level my entire career. Sunday league football is very popular for both adults and children throughout England. I have played with very talented footballers who have never been given a look in at Professional clubs academies; I believe that if a player can stand out on a park pitch playing with friends, then they will stand out on the green carpets that the professional clubs play on with other talented players around them. More scouts should be sent to watch footballers at a young age so that good English talent does not get wasted. The quality of pitches, coaching and officials is crying out for improvement all over the country. Professional players are earning hundreds of thousands of pounds yet amateur football clubs are folding because they can’t afford to pay for essential equipment. To prevent things like this happening there should be mandatory rules for each professional club that means they need to invest a certain percentage of the clubs income into grass-roots football in that area. This would lead to a higher quality of pitches, better coaching and top-level equipment. This would be a long-term investment that would bring great rewards in the next generations of English football.

If I were a Football manager I would try to model my team on someone like Borussia Dortmund. With the ball, play a fast passing game that will pull defenders on the opposing team out of positions therefore creating space for the dynamic midfielders to exploit. A key thing in football that I think isn’t said enough is that the opposing side cannot score without the ball. Ball retention is key. The transition from attack to defence is also essential as when a team are piling players forward and applying a lot of pressure this is where they are most vulnerable, so to have fast players that can counter attack quickly and take the pressure of the defence are vital. Borrusia Dortmund is also a great example in terms of the relationship between fans and players and club and fans. This relationship is one that should be installed in every club, because after all it’s the fans that pay the players’ wages and makes sacrifices to watch their team play around the country.

As you can see, in my opinion English football needs big changes and big changes fast. Other nations have made big changes to their footballing structure and they have all benefited massively from it. Its England’s time now to start a new chapter in International football.

Thank you for taking your time to read this and hopefully I have got some points across that I think English football can benefit from.

By Paul Lawrence. (Edited by Ed Delaney)

Man City Quadruple – The Impossible Task.

Following Manchester City’s two supremely convincing domestic cup victories, over fellow Premier League outfit West Ham and Blackburn Rovers respectively, both Vincent Kompany and former Manchester United trainee Robbie Savage have come out suggesting winning the Premier League, F.A. Cup, Capital One Cup and elusive Champions League in one season is not beyond Manuel Pellegrini’s men. With Manchester City on the verge of their 100th goal this season from just 33 fixtures in all competitions there is no denying their attacking strength in the form of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, however whilst form continues to bring Man City up to speed with the best clubs in Europe, it raises the question… Is the Quadruple a possibility for any team?

Whilst the Manchester City captain has emerged as one of the most consistent and reliable centre backs in world football, placed between the England number one and African Footballer of the year, his view of the quadruple being ‘only a matter of time’ seems naive.

For a team still under a relative transition period following Roberto Mancini’s departure in the summer, the failure to win the F.A. Cup and defend their first top flight title since 1968 came as a set back for the ‘noisy neighbours’. Achievement in all competitions requires an incredible amount of fixtures that would demand a squad of such strength and depth that no club team in the world has. For a club that has lost to Cardiff, Aston Villa and Sunderland already this campaign, I simply do not see them having the consistency to compete for the most competitive league in the world as well as overcoming Europe’s finest such as Munich, Madrid and Barcelona.

Local rivals Manchester United performed the sensational ‘treble’ in 1999 with the ‘Class of 92’ as the driving force. But whilst the top three Ballon d’Or contenders play away from the Etihad, the ambitious quadruple really does seem a long way off.

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Bad Boy Barton. (September 2011)

Harry Potter had Voldermort, the 101 Dalmations had Cruella de Vil, Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, and the Premier League has Joey Barton.
With every great story-line and for every hero, there’s always villains in equal measure. Set on spoiling the party and causing controversy as they go. Required figures to make all the best ‘good over evil’ stories, the plot needs a character we love to hate, take a bow Joey Barton.

QPR's Joey Barton.

QPR’s Joey Barton.

But I am standing up for Joey. Nobody can deny his passion to the game, and commitment he shows during every 90 minutes he ever spends on a football pitch. So far this season he has triggered a 22 man ‘hand bags’ session while playing for one team, and single-handedly silenced 20,000 Wolves fans with a simple reminder of the score for another. Yes it’s not always pretty, pretty ugly at times in-fact, but a man that makes Saturday night’s in front of Match of the Day more interesting for a whole nation of football fans can’t be a bad thing. Love him or hate him, he makes the English game what it is, and would anyone change that?
So as far as I’m concerned he can go on dishing out fiery tackles and causing controversy for as long as he wants, playing a lead-role in the greatest, longest, most exciting story of them all…

The English Premier League.

First game of the season. (2011)

A nation becomes engulfed in the madness of the new football season, fans begin to get a realistic view of their teams chances for the upcoming winter. Hope, despair, optimism, frustration…

Transfer market mayhem, your club run by idiots who still refuse to give the gaffer the money for a much-needed striker, (Yes, I’ll get this out the way, I am a Coventry City fan!). It’s late, coming up to midnight on the 31st August, men across the country just like you sit by their computer, constantly refreshing their clubs home page to see if Xavi, Iniesta and Messi have fancied a new challenge, and liking the shade of blue in your clubs socks, all signed on a free transfer refusing to accept wages.

Then it happens, you sign Cody McDonald late into the night… Who exactly?

The clock flicks over to 1st September, until January, at least, you know the names of the lads who hold the power to determine your mood for every Saturday night in the coming months. Believe!

Meanwhile I am on holiday in Cornwall, no television, no internet connection, just the occasional glance of a paper headline to keep me in the loop.

How can I satisfy my need for football? Padstow United vs. St. Minver?

Sorted.

As I arrive at Jury Park during the half time interval, the players are gathered under a small covered area to avoid the rain. Padstow’s G.K. is crouched having a cigarette and the referee, (already carrying a fair bit of insulation I add), clutches a hot cuppa.

As the second half starts the home side is 1-0 up. Though according to the substitute, it should be 5 or 6! I take my place on the touch-line, standing in the pissing rain waiting for the second half to start. A short, ginger haired man wearing number 18 takes up his position in the centre of the park, I thought Paul Scholes had retired!

For the next 45 minutes I experience the passion that 22 men, an acre of grass and a bag of air can create, this is football! 
Plenty of fiery tackles being put in, scrappy 1 on 1 battles all over the pitch, banter from the touch-line and the Padstow United equivalent of Pep Guardiola barking out the orders from the side, “Get it down on the deck, play our football!’

As Padstow take a 2-0 cushion over their opponents the shout is heard… “Give Billy a run out!”. As Billy waits for his moment on the white line, the departing player trudges off as if he accepts it’s his ‘turn’ to make way for Billy, slap on the backside for good measure from the drenched manager. Billy starts his shift out on the left, but soon switches to the right hand side,  (I assume only to suit his preferred foot!). After about 5 minutes of tracking forwards and back, Cafu esque, Billy starts to slow, “Put it in now mate, 10 minutes” someone calls from the touch-line.

The Padstow keeper soon saves a penalty, showing incredible reactions from a man of his physique! You can guarantee the line he was repeating later down the local pub would be something along the lines of, “See my save? I am telling you Schmicael would not have kept that out!”

A classy placed finish from outside the box, low into the bottom left corner of the goal from a young, athletic striker makes it 3-0 United. There’s hope still! That’s until everyone is brought back down to the cold reality of Jury Park with 2 missed chances from…

You guessed it, Billy!

The game finishes 4-0 to Padstow. Full time.

Despite what you may think has been a sarcastic mockery of these keen footballers, (just like many thousands across the country embarking on their individual campaigns this season) that is not the case. I found the 45 minutes of football I saw, filled with hoof ball, goal line scrambles, rattling crossbars, yellow cards and plenty of balls over the hedge… a thrilling spectacle! Granted, not quite Barcelona in an El Clasico, but just as good in many ways. For me that is what football is all about!

The parting shot overheard from one of the terraces faithful, “Nice start to the season,  4-0 win.. I feel a pasty coming on!”

Who needs the Premier League?