Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Premier League Player Restrictions

We are all excited once again as the football season has started, but should we? The league appears again only to be driven by money and the even if we don't have it we are going to spend it type of attitude. This year sees the promotion of AFC Bournemouth to the top league for the first time in their long history. As the junior members and having just a few years ago nearly succumbed to financial ruin, they fielded highest numbers of players on the first day that could qualify for the national team with eight of the starting eleven. You might think that's good, but three teams only started one home player. Look at the detail below.

Only a third of those started were home players, no wonder we are useless when it comes to international matches and tournaments like the World Cup and Euros, if we actually qualify. It is two full years since I first suggested the idea of restricting the number of imports playing on match day, no limits on squad or spend. If you limited it to five players then only four of the twenty teams qualified. It all goes to show there is not a snowballs chance in hell that a home nation is going to win anything if home players are not developed and populate the Premier League in substantially increased numbers.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lewis Hamilton F1 World Champion 2014

What a year for Lewis Hamilton, eleven victories, world champion and elevated to legend status. Well that is my opinion and I won't apologise for it because I think Lewis has truly earned it. 

We all thought at the begining of the year during testing that Mercedes just may have car that could win the championship as a constructor however what we did expect was the domination. Red Bull and Renault missed the boat producing machinery that could not match the might of Mercedes. It was expected that Red Bull would come good later in the season but this only happened when Mercedes missed a beat and Ricciardo grabbed the opportuinty with both hands.  Before this happened it looked like Hamilton's season was going to be punctuated by bad luck, poor reliability and loss of emotional control. It be came clear at Silverstone that this was going to be a Lewis's year. The determination and drive he demonstrated at his home GP convinced me that Lewis would make it happen bad luck or not.

It was noticable throughout the season that the pundits were not going to pick a winner because of Rosberg's reliability and the double points at the end of the season. Even although Lewis was racking up the wins Rosberg was still there, just  ahead or just behind but always in touch. The complexities of the scoring system also meant that Daniel Ricciardo was also in touch highlighting the most surprising and unexpected outcome of the season - the failure of Sebastian Vetel to mount any sort of challenge to the Mercedes paring.

Lewis without doubt this season has attained the status of legend, not by winning his second championship alone. He has done it with a combination of achievements. Championships with two different teams, most GP wins by a Britain and most importantly his development into one of the most respected drivers on the grid and the most exciting and talented. He is now able to control his emotions a lot better and is an asset that I am sure Mecedes will do everything they can to ensure they keep him in contract. 

With all this mind I think Lewis will be the hot favourite for the BBC Sports Personaity of the Year followed closely by Rory McIllroy both worthy successors to Andy Murray.

Monday, 14 July 2014

World Cup 2014 Brazil - Full time Report

Germany the deserved victors in the World Cup final, which delivered possibly the best goal of the tournament from Gotze. Was it the best World Cup ever, possibly. It was certainly the most watched final with over an estimated billion viewers worldwide. Did we see the best football possible, possbily not. Messi Neymar and Ronaldo are as ever, only one man in a team and cannot expect to be at their best without the support of their team mates with comparable skills.

This World Cup will be remembered for a few things:-

Quick exit of some of the favourites and former winners - Italy, Spain and of course England. England yes we expected to go out but not Itsly or defending champions Spain.

Surprise performances from Costa Rica and Columbia brought the tournament alive. These teams showed that the small teams must now be considered as real competitors. The USA also turned in some good performances and woke up their home audience with record TV numbers.

Dramatic penalty deciders, in particular Netherlands v Columbia. Van Gal's decision to substitute his goalkeeper at the last minute was sheer genius or total luck.

The Suarez incident, where after producing killer goals against England he falls into old eating habits and tries a bit of Italian and gets a record transfer to Barcelona. It seems that you only have to be totally unprofessional in football to succeed.

Without a doubt the most memorable part of the last four weeks was the total disintegration of the Brazil team going down 7 - 1 to Germany and then 3 - 0 to the Netherlands shortly afterwards. You cannot lay all of this on Neymar as he like Messi or Ronaldo is only one player in a team of eleven.

Two last things that must be mentioned. 
1 The introduction of the spray foam for the referees to control free kicks was a winner and cut out vast amounts of time wasting.
 2 Against all expectations the hosts Brazil produced an excellent tournament. There may have been a few elements not complete but who really noticed, the football won through. This ultimately gives Russia the next hosts a big "follow that" . They will have to overcome the exactly the same problems as Brazil - corruption, building delays, security and the size of the country. If they achieve the same level of success then we will have the prospect of another great tournament.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Messi - an example to all footballers

 Lionel Messi we all know his skills and have been impressed by his performance so far in Brazil. What is not always publicised is the way he plays. What do I mean? The example he is setting is for all footballers who when touched ever so slightly in tackle or just brushing past dive to the ground via a double somersault with twist and holding of an uninjured body part.
Tonights game against Belgium was a perfect example, attacking he had four or five Belgians take a hack at him but he continued to display fantastic football skills, it was only after one last hack he went down. This guy is a true professional footballer who has never been to drama school. Almost single handed he has guided Argentina to the World Cup semis without complaint and without argument. What is even more remarkable is that he is a target more than anyone else because of his skills and is often hacked out of a game but still his complaint are minimal and certainly you never see a dive. All footballers note, this is the star to copy. This is the image young footballers should aspire to not the Suarez one. Unfortunately with the money / business now involved in football what are the chances of this happening?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

World Cup 2014 Brazil - Half Time Report

With the group stages of the World Cup  coming to a conclusion we have some big headlines and food for thought. The overall impression is a very positive one, some very good football and underdogs like Costa Rica going through. It bodes well for the knock out stages with more good football.

Ready or not ?

I think there was genuine worries about the readiness of the stadiums and the supporting infrastructure however normally you would get horror stories. Well they have been few and far between or I have been reading the wrong reports. The only one I have seen showed a video of a temporary staircase that looked very unsafe however the game started and finished without any reported dramas. All the stadiums have looked good and the playing surface up to standard with only one looking bare and one other cutting up a little. Overall I think Brazil have done well against all odds.

Manaus jungle game for England

Englands opening game in Manaus was hyped beyond belief - high temperature, high humidity, bad pitch, middle of nowhere and any other combo of excuses you can think of. As always the opponents have the same conditions and it all seemed to be a bit of a non event and England poor against a poor Italy.

England - Oh England

Whilst talking about England I will get it over now. Poor performances from all round from our so called highly paid stars. The team knew what they  were facing with Uruguay, we had at least four Liverpool players on the field and yet Suarez still scored two great goals. Were players not following Roy Hodgson's instructions or did he omit to tell them that Suarez was playing albiet slightly unfit. 

Champions Exit

Like England, Italy as former champions exit at the group stage but what was really surprising was the very early exit of the current champions Spain. Widely favoured to do well in their defence of the title, they were humiliated by the Netherlands and Chile. The other former champions are all through Brazil, Germany, Uruguay and France.

Star Teams

Two teams for me have stood out, because they are doing the unexpected. Netherlands having a dream start with victory over defending champions Spain. The Dutch shining with Robben and Van Persie. The USA have got through with Germany in a very tough group. What is more remarkable is the home support the team, it is reported that TV audiences have broken all records for football in the USA and even challenging the established sports of baseball and basketball. If they can get another result it will do wonders for football or soccer in the States.

Star Players

Who are the stars of the tournament, well for me that is easy Messi. He just exudes class that no other player displays. From his technical ability to the way he rides tackles and if downed he is straight up again back in play. He does not a drama star like some of the others who are playing - outstanding. He has also scored some of the best goals of the tournament so far along with Neymar, Mueller, Jones of the USA and the Dutchmen Robben and van Persie. I should also mention Miroslav Klose of Germany as he has now equalled Brazil's Ronaldo at 15 goals in World Cup finals.

Suarez Banned for 4 Months

We must have all seen it know now, football fan or not you cannot escape the Suarez biting during the Uruguay v Italy match. Loosing out on a tackle he immediately started to knaw at Chiellini's shoulder in front of the world. Then after being thrown off he checks his teeth - what is wrong with this man. It is all very sad as he is a very talented player but this cannot be excused for any reason. Interesting stat is that he has now been banned for over 40 matches, but none as a result of a red card. Not the kind of record a player wants on his CV. The losers here are Liverpool who will start the season without him and may even have to make a brave decision and get rid of him, it all goes against the Liverpool image. The man in all likelihood could suffer financial and career ruin as sponsers start to pullout. In case you did not know this the third time he has done this so deserves all the penalties he gets as a result.

Well half time over what can we expect in the second half. I hope for more goals and exciting skillful play. What will happen to Uruguay - disappear without trace with no Suarez? I think you will choose the champion from Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and possibliy France. I think it will be good. End note - Well done Brazil, it's all going extremely well.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Fergie Time Runs Out For David Moyes

I am watching Ryan Giggs first game in charge since the sacking of David Moyes as manager of Manchester United and trying to work out how fair was his dismissal. First thing that crosses my mind is how hard Ferguson has fought to keep him there as he was his choice in the first place. The second thing is whether there has been any dicussion between the two either before or after the dismissal. It would be nice to know that Ferguson gave Moyes a heads up that this was a possibility, providing some advice along the way. It would also be nice to know that Ferguson was apologetic and sympathetic to Moyes privately afterwards, but I guess we will never get to know this until Ferguson writes his next bio.

It is one of the major downsides of being a manager of a top club, is that deserved or not you take the can for things going wrong not the players. The players I believe are responsible for David Moyes's demise. They are largely the same group of overpaid, underperforming individuals that won the Premier League for Alex Ferguson. So what has happened to turn in such a shocking performance by Man Utd standards as this. For me it is clear that the players did not like change and did not like David Moyes. But why? he was Ferguson's choice. You would think that if receptive to anything, the players would be receptive to Ferguson's choice and show some respect and effort for the new manager. No it was all a fairy tale for David Moyes ending unhappily ever after.

Could things have been different, yes of course they could have. The big miss was during the January transfer window where he had the chance to sell of Rooney and get two or three other to bolster the team in the weak areas. Instead I think the money squadered on Juan Matta has weighed heavily on the MU board's mind and probably tipped the balance as result failed to come.
 In this type of scenario no amount of lobbying by Fergie would overcome the business of making money. Remember Manchester United are under different ownership to that when Ferguson was hired. There is no chance in todays football for the honeymoon period he was given. We will never know if Moyes would have eventually got it together. I hope he gets another chance at top club and proves them wrong by getting a basketful of silverware.

I touched on Moyes precarious position earlier in the year in the following posts.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Premier League Champions Are?

With only seven or nine matches left for the leaders, it is time for everyone to make their prediction of who will ultimately replace Manchester United as champions. It is clear that even with the unexpected happening that Manchester United cannot win, as cannot Tottenham Hotspur or Everton. The title will go to one of the top four who are separated by only six points.

Arsenal in fourth will be the underdogs, as their form has taken a dip as the climax of the season draws closer. It seems that, like other seasons when they have mounted a challenge early in the season they run out of steam. The momentum just seems to run out, unlike others they have not really suffered from any injury issues. Their fate was really sealed when beaten comprehensively 6 - 0 by Chelsea on Arsene Wenger's 1000th game - what a disaster.

Manchester City are probably favourites even although they are in third. With two games in hand they don't have the points in the bag, but with good form and great scorelines it is difficult to overlook them. The goal difference they have built up could see off Chelsea in the end, but not Liverpool, this could be decided when they meet at Anfield on Sunday 13th April. The run in for Manchester City is probably viewed as the least problematic except for the number of matches.

The peoples choice of champions is for me Liverpool in second behind Chelsea. Their match on Sunday 27th April could be the season decider and if a draw, it is in Liverpools favour with their far superior goal difference. A draw however is unlikely, Liverpool is currently on great form pulling defences apart, Chelsea will be more difficult but possible. You can also be sure the support for Liverpool will be a big advantage.

Chelsea are in the lead, points in the bag and playing well but will their style of play have edge to hold on. They have an excellent defensive record as they hold back letting the other side attack. Once they have exhausted all their attacking ideas Chelsea pounce and get the winner. Mourhino's unbeaten record at the Bridge is testement to his defensive tactics. Not as exciting as Liverpool or Manchester City but effective.

Now my prediction - 

Heart - Liverpool
Points - Chelsea
Potential - Manchester City
Excitement - Liverpool

What is your prediction?

No matter who wins it will have been one of the best Premiership seasons ever.