Attacking Defence….

As a student, I know only to well just what it takes to get something done, well, let me perhaps rephrase that, I know how to summon up the strength and mental focus to get a job done, at the last minute, & , one which I have no choice but to do. I call it the student technique, one in which you only perform when you are forced & when the work needs to get done.

Man Utd kind of remind me of this student technique somewhat, particularly this season. A season in which they have fallen behind in 8 of the 12 games they have played so far. It seems to me that United can only bring themselves to score once they have the motivation of going behind. Why not just save everyone a bit of time by  just booting the ball into their own net straight from kick-off.

Anyway, even without this act of self-motivating seppuku, we, I mean, United have a massive task on their hands at Chelsea tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what sort of tactics Sir Alex Ferguson has in mind – does he try and exploit the host’s potentially shaky defence (more on that shortly) by persisting with the attacking formation of the last couple of weeks, or does he beef up the midfield, given Chelsea’s strengths in that area? If there is one thing thats certain, is that United can not afford to gift Chelsea any goals, and this whole idea of you score first please will have to be addressed.

The idea of deploying an attack minded side could be quite a gamble, I say gamble as that would leave Uniteds already shaky defence exposed to Chelseas midfield trio, Hazard-Oscar-Mata. Perhaps Sir Alex may want to look at trying to balance the many attacking options (in-form options too – all four of their strikes have scored at least one in the past week) United have with the most sensible way to combat Chelsea is quite a head-scratcher for Sir Alex Ferguson. But then again he’s been dealing with such head-scratchers for a little while now. Rooney slotting into midfield and working his form from there seems to be working, and that could prove crucial in tomorrows game.
So, Chelsea all of a sudden appear to have a somewhat unstable back four. Two goals were waved in against Spurs and a further two against Shakhtar Donetsk, something that even Petr Cech agrees needs looking at. I remember him saying just after the Shakhtar game about the United game: “I think it will be another exciting game, and we have to defend better. But, on the other hand, they have been conceding and leaking goals, so it could be very exciting if both teams play like this! The score could be quite entertaining.”

He’s probably right to be worried. For all their other concerns, United have been scoring rather freely, bagging 21 in eight league games – perhaps, as mentioned above, scoring plenty out of rather pressing necessity, but scoring nonetheless. In addition, John Terry will be absent again, although his presence on Tuesday didn’t seem to help them out too much.

But Cech’s right – goals aplenty could be in order on Sunday.


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A “BFA”, Enough Already

I read in one of yesterdays papers “Daily Mail” that there was talk of there being a “BFA” being formed. For those of you a bit confused and yet to masters the art of abbreviations, the term which is dubbed “BFA” actually stands for Black Footballers Asscoiation. Dumb founded yet? Well, I for one certainly am. To think in the 21st century we would even have enough people with the IQ of frozen yogurt to gather momentum in getting this association founded is just mind blowing to me.

I understand and fully backed the actions of Rio Ferdinand this weekend, but for some to actually suggests they start their own association is just plain stupidity. Now before I go any further, let me explain why I backed Rio this weekend. Yes Kick It Out supports the idea of No Racism in football, but they don’t really do much and are unable to make big decisions. The reasoning behind Rio boycotting the campaign was to highlight this as well as show that not enough is being done.

Now, back to this “BFA”, by doing that you are creating two groups, and when you do this you force people to choose. This immedietly creates division, which already defeats the objective and the point some players were trying to make this weekend. Football is for us all, and the idea that I have to open a newspaper and forced to read issues of race and problems in the game really hurts.

I would, if only for the next few weeks love to turn on the tele or turn to the back pages of the paper and see headlines that have made this beautiful game ever so great. This weekend thankfully has the oppertunity to give us that, with the Liverpool derby and Chelsea vs Man Utd games, journalists have an oppertunity to bring this beautiful game back to the forefront, for all the right reasons.

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Whats the Sexy with Chelsea….

Chelsea? Sexy? Yes, a sentence not many thought they would read, but that is what has become of Roman’s boys in blue. There is a sense of swag and perhaps tika-taka that can now be associated with this current Chelsea side. It’s simple, with Di Matteo came a sexier more aero dynamic convertible and off went the blue coach that was last seen parked inside the Nou Camp last season.

I for one remember a time when you couldn’t pay us to watch Chelsea in the Champions League group stages. Well, I suppose you could, but we would take the money and watch whichever English side was also in action on the same night.  But that was then and this is now.

Tuesdays night’s fixtures was a no-brainer for me, it had to be Chelsea vs Shakhtar Donetsk, and not just because I wanted to see an impressive Ukrainian side so Brazilian that they barely have a last name between them, but because I genuinely felt this is where I would find value for money. Chelsea are now genuinely interesting to neutrals – predictability and emphasis on shape have been replaced by vulnerability and emphasis on creativity and attack, que Hazard & Mata.

Now, for all Chelsea’s creativity, they haven’t really been tested at the back this season, well, Spurs had a go this weekend, but seemed to have forgot how to defend. Non the less, this defeat was coming for Chelsea. They have played only two genuinely good teams in the Premier League and twice rode their luck to come away with all three points. They may have allowed Shakhtar 23 shots on Tuesday night, but that was less than the 26 gifted to Tottenham (who were of course equally generous with a raft of defensive mistakes) on Saturday.  Shaktar showed us exactly what can happen when the opposition do not tremble at the sightings of Hazard, Oscar & Mata.  The trio will scare the life outta most Premier League defenders, but Donetsk worked hard, kept their defensive shape, gave them no time on the ball and then unleashed their own terrific triptych of Willian, Alex Teixeira and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The term ‘Footballing lesson’ is an over-used phrase in football – but on Tuesday night it seemed apt.

I just now wonder what Roman Abramovich might have made of Chelsea’s performance in Ukraine and whether the Russian understands that this is the kind of schooling that can happen if you commit to a more open brand of football. This new Chelsea is altogether more entertaining but can this new Chelsea repeat the trophy-winning feats of the older, duller Chelsea? Well, there is one thing for sure, I will rather enjoy watching them try.


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Kick It Out, but how far……

Again, football has been dominated by one issue in the last week or so, and indeed over the last year.

I’m not referring to the fact that a toddler’s got more chance of finishing a bowl of soup with a plastic fork than Luis Suarez has of finishing a decent chance. And No, it’s not even the question as to why the Wayne Rooney who plays for Man United seems a master class away from the one who turns out for England. Nor is it the fact that Harry Redknapp continues to make the rest of the pundits on Match of the Day look like chumps of the highest order.


No, it’s race. And racism. And what to do about it.

When Jason Roberts said he would not wear his “Kick It Out” T-shirt on Saturday, he sounded more like a lone voice in the wilderness. Well, that was until a handful of players decided to follow suit, with the most high profile of these being Rio Ferdinand. It looks like Roberts, Ferdinand et al are disassociating themselves from a campaign that almost every other footballer has signed up to and undermining the consensus. So the question is ‘Why?’

Well, the amount of money the Kick It Out campaign receives would make a football agent blush. In 2010-11, this figure was less than half a million pounds, or 2 weeks of Carlos Tevez’s wages. Or the daily rate for John Terry’s lawyers.

Let’s face it, Kick It Out hasn’t played an enormous role in the recent issues surrounding the Uruguayan tumbler and the Chelsea skipper – and yes, despite everything, Terry remains the club captain. That’s just embarrassing. That might have something to do with why some black players don’t think the race issue is being addressed properly. I read in one statement released by Kick It Out that;

Kick It Out said it “works in partnership with the game’s governing bodies” and added: “We are not a decision-making organisation with power and resource as some people think, and can only work effectively in the context of these partnerships.”

So, in other words, we are not up to much really. In actual fact, we can’t do anything, however, we do promise to go round and ask people to be nice to each other, but if they choose not to be, we are sorry, but we can’t help. Frankly, If I was a black player I would also start to wonder what the point of the whole thing was. I could almost compare it to our good friend Sepp Blatter, a man who so patently treats the game with contempt, urging football to get behind this Respect campaign. It takes a lot more than a few handshakes and some nice tee-shirts to imbue respect and anti-racism.

As for criticism, i feel it needs to be highlighted whether it’s Serbian fans, John Terry or Luis Suarez. The unequivocal call to ban Serbia for failing to ensure their fans behave in a non-racist way seems logical. However,  I can’t remember the same righteous logic being applied to banning Chelsea or Liverpool for having high profile players using racist abuse. Chelsea were even involved in a cover up according to the FA. If teams deserve sanctions for their fans behaviour, and most of us agree that they do, then what sort of punishment should a team get when their captain, leader, legend is guilty of racism. Like I said, suddenly with the matter is closer to home, people’s judgement appears to become blurred. Not so easy is it?

Let’s be clear, racism in British football is nowhere near the issue it was when Clyde Best was enduring obscene chanting, not least from the terraces at Ayresome Park. Old ‘Arry was right about that on Match of the Day. But that’s still no reason not to stamp it our where you find it.

And if Kick it Out isn’t helping then what is the point of it?

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The Beckham Rule

In MLS, the highest salary a player can be paid due to salary cap restrictions is $350,000. So, when the MLS wanted to branch out and look elsewhere outside their comfort zone for talent, nothing in the United States could entice big name players. However, when David Beckham showed interest in the Los Angeles Galaxy, the MLS tried to adjust to hasten his move over. Thus, the Designated Player Rule was created, or commonly known as the Beckham Rule.

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Do or Die For The USA

Typically, the USA does moderately well in the qualifying for the World Cup, having qualified for every World Cup since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. However, with their last Third Round game just around the corner, their fate in qualifying is certainly in their own hands. In their last game, they play host to Guatemala who were able to equalize against USA in the 81st minute in their previous group stage match up. This game will be the last of the group stage (Third Round), with the top two teams of each group advancing to the Fourth Round, which will play itself out a year from now.

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John Terry – Guilty or not?

John Terry - Was he guilty?For casual onlookers, it seems strange to see one man cleared of an offence in a British court of law only to be found guilty of the same allegations by a sport`s governing body. However, that is exactly what has happened in the case of Chelsea captain John Terry who was charged by the FA and subsequently declared to be guilty of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers` defender Anton Ferdinand.

It`s easier to accept the fact that the Football Association can come to its own conclusions, irrespective of court findings and not to question the reasons why this is possible. So that leaves the question as to why they have come to this decision.

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What a week for Rooney

A great few weeks for Wayne Rooney, he has looked very settled on the evidence of Cluj and Newcastle away in his new position and now he has been awarded the England captaincy at least for Friday.

To top of all of that him and his wife have announced that they are expecting a new child. A great turnaround for the Rooney family and one for Wayne to tell his new son that in the same week he also captained England.

It is a nice positive for Wayne, because as soon as he got injured people were again on his back and doubting whether Manchester United needed him, I think as they coughed and spluttered through many of their games. It was clear they still need their star man.

I predict we will see a fantastic display from Rooney with the captaincy stuck on his arm, but wouldn’t anyone? it’s a shame however well he does it will only be against San Marino, who we all know have a woeful record.

It is also a real shame that Ashley Cole is still a fool, you would have thought people around him would have been saying Ash don’t do anything dodgy as really he should be captaining England in these next two, to take him to 100 with the armband on his arm.

I would also like to know if Terry prompted or begged the likes of Joe Hart and Rooney to say what a miss Terry would now be with his confirmed retirement from the international scene.

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Jose Mourinho – Which English team will he manage once he has left Spain?

Mourinho- Which English club?Jose Mourinho has openly said that he would welcome a return to England and manage `any club` in the Premier League when his stint in charge of Real Madrid is over. The straight talking Portuguese made some very direct comments over this stating that after Real   `England, that`s for sure`.

Mourinho also said that when in England he is Blue   a direct reference to his old team Chelsea but is a return to Stamford Bridge remotely likely? Roman Abramovich sacked the `special one` in 2007 after three years that brought a string of honours, including back to back Premiership wins.

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Ashley right to get some Wonga?

If you haven’t heard and some of you probably live in that kind of youtube bubble anyway, Newcastle have secured a deal to be sponsored by quick loan company Wonga.

Is this morally correct for a club of their size with stories that some of the clubs fans borrow money to be able to purchase their season tickets.

It works no differently to a normal loan company you borrow some money and you pay back the same amount and some more for the privelege.

Except in this case if you did that, if Newcastle wanted to borrow 6m and couldn’t pay it back for 12 months they’d have to pay back 250m, that is how harsh, unreasonable and the kind of profit margins they work with.

Is is any different to a bank or a beer company, the bank still lend out money but not at such a brutal rate and we all know how addictive and dangerous alcohol can be.

I think it shows the desperate nature of the club and its fans.

They need to borrow money upfront to fund their season ticket and the club are desperate to find a sponsor, in order to fund new contracts and new players.

If I had my way we wouldn’t allow loan companies or beer companies or fast food companies anywhere near the sponsorship of football clubs.

It’s laughable that we have things like Mcdonalds sponsoring things like the Olympics, what kind of message is that to the children of the future.

Football and a Maccies go together hand in hand? don’t think so wrong message Sepp…

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