Terry Lane - Monday 25.11.13, 19:25pm
Tonight’s midlands derby between Aston Villa & West Bromich Albion will probably be an open, exciting close affair and round off another great weekend of Premier League action with all teams completing 12 matches and almost a third of the season played.
Back in August, before a Premier League ball had been kicked, I wrote “Chelsea & Manchester City will lock horns as they do battle for the Premier League title.” I still believe that will be the case, come May. Furthermore, I also stated “I believe David Moyes and Manchester United will struggle with a post-Fergie hangover this season.” But I went on to say, Tottenham would become the top dogs in north London and Arsenal would need to look over their shoulders at an on-coming Liverpool in a race for fourth place and a back-door entry into next season’s Champions League. In my defence, these predictions were written ahead of Arsenal’s shock signing of Mesut Ozil.
As it happens, Arsenal and Liverpool lead the way as we head into December with Manchester City & Chelsea on their tails. Manchester United appear to be gelling but are still not the force they have been over the past 20 years; and though Tottenham had only leaked 6 goals before yesterday, they appear to be suffering from buying too many first-team players in the summer.
Not wishing to sound like a broken record, this season is living up to the speculation of being the most open and exciting Premier League season to date. Surprise results have kept things interesting, Manchester City losing at Cardiff & Sunderland; Chelsea losing at Newcastle & Everton; Southampton winning at Anfield & holding Man United at Old Trafford; Manchester United losing at home to West Brom. And there’s been a fair share of goals to add to the excitement.
Man City have scored no less than 13 in their last two home matches, hitting lowly Norwich for 7 and humiliating Spurs yesterday with a 6-0 drubbing. This followed a great weekend of Premier League football that started with the Saturday lunch-time Merseyside derby, a thrilling, end-to-end match that ended in a 3-3 draw. Other results saw Chelsea cruise past West Ham scoring three in the process and newly promoted Cardiff grabbing a last minute equaliser against Manchester United in a 2-2 draw where Wayne Rooney should have been shown a straight red for violent behaviour in the 8th minute.
The surprise of the season so far, is Southampton. Since his appointment in January, Mauricio Pochettino has had Southampton playing exciting football going forward, while managing to become one of the best defences in the Premier League. Pochettino has Southampton playing as a solid unit, and is bringing out the best of an average squad.
But as we get closer to the Christmas period I still believe ultimate success will be down to the size of each team’s squads. One or two untimely injuries to important players will have a say in how the Premier League plays out. To this end, I will stick with Chelsea & Man City, but only because of the quality of their second eleven.
On current performances and summer transfer failures, I would also suggest that the January Transfer Window will be interesting for Tottenham, Arsenal & possibly Chelsea to sign a top quality striker, and Man United to spend big on attracting a seasoned world class midfield general who could hit the ground running – the likes of a Cesc Fabregas or Wesley Sneijder.
It seems unthinkable for Manchester United not to be in the Champions League next season. But Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal & Liverpool are going to take some beating.
Edwin Huxley - Monday 18.11.13, 20:12pm
With so many channels these days, have you ever wondered how important any single, individual option is? This is something football fans know more than others – if you want to follow your favourite team, you’ll often find yourself going to the same channel over and over again, and to get the best football viewing you may need a package a little more premium than the standard Freeview that comes with digital TVs.
You can use this information to better improve both your own football knowledge and experience and the general family lifestyle over all. Since you know how much difference the right channels can make, searching for the best TV packages for your family can improve the experience for everyone.
Big changes in 2015
As a perfect example of this, let’s take a look at the latest news regarding the Champions League – an area many readers are undoubtedly interested in.
This has traditionally been shown by Sky but, from 2015 onwards, it will move to BT. If you want to watch these matches then you need the right channels. Sky will no longer be able to show it so it might be time to ask whether a change in TV package is available. Now would certainly be a good time to look into it.
BT also hosts the English Premier League and will soon have the rights for the UEFA Europa League. In short, with so much football moving to BT, is this a sign to make the change yourself? Nonetheless, it highlights the individual power of a singular channel in an area dominated by exclusive rights, matches and content.
The importance of variety
Of course, family life is about many things, not just football, so how can these findings be applied for the greater good? In short, you should aim for variety. It’s not always about having a plethora of channels in the same genre since you need a package that caters to everyone’s different needs.
In other words, aim for a mixture of channels. If you have a few covering certain areas, than you’re usually prepared. This way, if someone wants to watch a movie, documentary or anything else, you will have a channel that caters to that. When it comes to family life and pleasing others, this is much better than focusing on hundreds of channels offering the same sort of thing – believe it or not, not everyone wants to watch endless repeats and football highlights!
In short, it’s a quick change with lots of long-term benefits. Whether it’s supporting your favourite team or keeping the family happy, the right channel makes all the difference.
Terry Lane - Tuesday 17.09.13, 18:42pm
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United by Søren Frank published by Bloomsbury
Following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, a new book by Søren Frank provides an insight into Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy in his new book Standing on the Shoulder of Giants – a Cultural Analysis of Manchester United.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is a unique thematic history of Manchester United from the club’s creation as humble Newton Heath in 1878 to its status as the world’s greatest football brand. Gain an insight into the essence and soul of the club as you learn about its ability to rise from the ashes, its commitment to youth and propensity for an adventurous style of football, along with the club’s glamour, and the growth of commercialisation and aggressive marketing.
Free Football Book Competition
Buzzin Football has 4 copies of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United to giveaway.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
To enter the competition all you need to do is correctly answer the following question:
In which year did Manchester United first win the European Cup?
Send your entries to email@example.com with ’shoulders of giants’ in the subject line (any other subject title will be not be entered) with your answer and your full address and contact telephone number.
This Buzzin Football ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – a Cultural Analysis of Manchester United‘ Book Competition ends on 17th October, 2013. The editor will randomly choose 4 winners.
The editor’s choice is final.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United by Søren Frank is published by Bloomsbury.
Terry Lane - Thursday 12.09.13, 07:50am
After denying that England would play for a draw against the other half decent team in the group, following a drab 0-0 affair, Roy Hodgson defended England for playing for a draw against Ukraine on Tuesday night. In fairness, I only saw the second half, but by all accounts I didn’t miss much.
Going to an intimidating place such as Kiev to play a Ukraine side who have only leaked 4 goals in this world cup qualifying campaign coupled with a pretty good strike force was in my opinion exactly the right approach to take, especially as England had only managed a draw in the reverse fixture by way of a late Frank Lampard penalty. Hodgson approached the game with caution rather than the headless chicken Keegan-esque approach which didn’t go down too well with seething post-match callers to 606.
For me, it wasn’t the sensible tactics but the poor performance that had me shaking my head throughout the painful sub-standard display. Steven Gerrard & Gary Cahill appeared to play with the quality expected, and Ricky Lambert done his best to rough up the opposition as he was left stranded throughout the whole game. But the quality of the passing and gameplay was very poor. Theo Walcott reverted to running with his head down while Frank Lampard appeared to find it hard to get into the game and misplaced more passes than I can remember. Jack Wiltshire looked sluggish and was possibly not fit enough to play. If that be the case, it was an odd decision to leave Michael Carrick on the bench.
Furthermore, Ukraine had a poor game too by their recent standards. If they hadn’t wasted a few chances in the second half they would have won the game by two or three goals.
So, though there was a lot of disgruntled football fans including a very outspoken attack by former England captain Gary Lineker , the majority still felt confident that England were going to win their last two home games against Macedonia & Poland and qualifying for the world cup finals in Brazil next summer. Personally, I am not so confident. Beating Macedonia shouldn’t be a problem, so it will all be down to the last game, at home to Poland. Does anyone remember Jan Tomaszewski, the goalkeeper who in 1973 an outspoken manager by the name of Brian Clough called ‘a clown’?
Terry Lane - Monday 09.09.13, 19:14pm
In 1966 the top tier of English football was full of English footballers with a healthy abundance of top quality ‘foreign’ footballers from the rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland. That year, despite losing their main striker, Jimmy Greaves, to injury England played up with home advantage and beat West Germany 4-2 to become world champions. Following a quarter-final exit four years later at the hands of the old enemy England then proceeded to fall from grace and failed to qualify for the following two world cup finals held in West Germany and Argentina. It wasn’t until 1982 that England made it to the world cup finals again; and in 1986 they were beaten quarter-finalists to Argentina and ‘the hand of God’.
Since 1966, the closest England has come to winning any meaningful football competition was in the 1990 World Cup and 1996 European Championship. On both occasions they were beaten semi-finalists, losing to Germany on penalties.
Since Stuart Pearce & Chris Waddle blasted penalties wide of the goal in 1990 English football has experienced two polar issues. While the national team have continued in their failure to win anything, even with a so-called ‘golden generation’, the top tier of English football has been transformed into the most lucrative football league in the worldby way of the FA Premier League which was formed in 1992. Bankrolled by TV revenue it has attracted an influx of foreign players. This has helped English clubs return to winning ways in European competition at, the majority of critics believe, the detriment of the English national team.
While appreciating the argument isn’t a clear black & white issue, and lower league teams are now importing lesser quality foreign players over more expensive English talent, if the influx of foreign players is the cause of England’s failing to win a single competition since the start of the Premier League, who can we blame for the baron years between 1966 and 1990?
The root of the problem is not foreign players being brought into the Premier League for instant glory limiting the chances given to nurture young home-grown talent. The essence of the problem is in the way we coach youth teams and young kids in the UK. Critics boast of the fast and furious pace of the English game and how that leads to sheer excitement. But then faced with the elegance and patience of Spain or Germany, England crumble when put under pressure; and if they go a goal or two behind the confidence drains and the training ground routines go out the window as they revert to the long ball game. Toe punt it up to the big man!
Over the past 30 years or so, the game of football change dramatically. But England not keeping pace with the changes is nothing new. I recall watching Holland in the 1970s and France in the 1980s. Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Ruud Gullit. Total football played by teams that were comfortable in possession of the ball.
The current European & World Club champions Bayern Munich’s squad includes almost 50% foreign players yet Germany has managed a successful transition phase for their national team over the past decade by focussing on youth policy. Belgium currently has one of the most exciting squads in Europe and most of the players play their football in foreign leagues; and then there is Spain. Who will bet against them retaining the World Cup in Brazil 2014 for a record breaking third consecutive time.
Whether England win, lose or draw tomorrow night against Ukraine only the media response will change, but not England’s chances of winning a World Cup next year or by 2022. After a fortunate draw in the corresponding fixture at Wembley through a late Frank Lampard penalty, I believe Ukraine will win; and that will have the back pages full of the usual rubbish; and if England were to win? The back pages will be full of rubbish too.
Over the past 20 years England has been a top 10 football nation at best and so to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup or European Championship is what should be expected. To reach a semi-final should be a credit. But until England fundamentally change the way the youth of today and the footballers of tomorrow are coached, winning the World Cup is a simple and unrealistic fantasy.