Football (Soccer)

The Premier League Transfer Madness, Explained.

After a painfully slow start, Monday’s Premier League Transfer Deadline Day proved to the masses of football fans all over the world that English Football world has gone mad.

Here is the madness explained…

Aston Villa

US International Bradley on loan at Villa

 

The Villains made two transfers of note in this window, the first being the loan signing of USA midfielder Michael Bradley, an interesting signing and it will be interesting to see how he fits in at Villa.

He is a hard-working midfielder and I think he will compliment Villa’s other signing; the 24 million pound signing of Darren Bent from Sunderland. The second the Bent transfer
was announced people were talking of how crazy the deal was and that Bent isn’t worth that much and etc., however a goal on his debut against Man City which proved to be the winner says that was he was bought for, his undeniable goal scoring ability.

The only departure of note was new signing Stephen Ireland off to Newcastle, it has been well documented that he didn’t want to join Villa but rather than keep his head down he pouted and played poorly and has now found himself at Newcastle, maybe he’ll find his love for the game again.

Blackpool

Ian Holloway is most people’s man of the hour, his witty retorts and blunt opinions have brought something to the Premier League not seen since Jose Mourinho left for Italy, however the situation surrounding Charlie Adam brought into light Holloway’s resolve.

Following a number of bids from Villa and Birmingham, Liverpool made an offer and Adam in turn handed in a transfer request, however Holloway was unimpressed with Liverpool’s offer and he managed to keep his star player – just a day later, the Scott showed why he is so highly rated, putting in a man of the match effort against League Leaders Manchester United.

Holloway, then managed to add Adam Reid and James Beattie to his side on the final day of the window, signings which I believe will add to his already hard-working team and should keep them up if they play to their potential and recover their form.

Manchester City

27 Million Pound Man Dzeko excited to be at City

Only three changes at the blue half of Manchester this time round, with Strikers being the only players to move.

Out of favour Roque Santa-Cruz returned to Blackburn on loan and Emmanuel Adebayor headed overseas to Real Madrid.

Their big purchase was Edin Dzeko, brought in to replace the departed duo. Certainly an interesting move, Dzeko is a good player but so were Adebayor and Santa-Cruz, but the question will be how well he can adjust and he copes in the physical English league. If this edition works out, it appears Manchester City will be able to make a real push towards the top of the table.

Chelsea and Liverpool

I’ve grouped these two teams together because they managed to make transfer deadline day interesting.

With the revelation that Fernando Torres wanted to leave Liverpool after Chelsea had made a bid, it became apparent that he was joining the Blues and Liverpool needed to find a replacement, quickly.

Suarez took just 16 minutes to score on his LFC debut.

Their attentions turned to young Andy Carroll, the Newcastle striker and England international. After a day of drama it was announced that he would be joining fellow new signing Luis Suarez at Liverpool for a fee of 35 million pounds.

Crazy money in my opinion for an unproven striker, but a gamble Liverpool needed to make in order to replace the hole left by Torres, they do however finally have two good strikers with which to lead the line. Whether they can now turn Liverpool’s season around is going to be exciting over the next few months.

Chelsea meanwhile have a strike-force that is in transition, despite pairing Drogba and Torres up, their squad is on its last legs as its age begins to show with injuries to Lampard and Terry. The summer will be one of interesting developments, can Torres fire Chelsea to the top or will he be the lone star as the inevitable mass chop and change of the summer occurs.

As usual Arsenal and Manchester United sit quiet during the January transfer period.

The top two teams in the Premier League, happy with their squads and ready to fight to the end of the season.

One thing is for certain, an interesting end to the season lies ahead.

Tom Dobbyne throw’s his own spin on current sports affairs and offers satirical commentary on current events. Follow him @TomDobbyne or on Facebook as English Tom.

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May the Best Bid (not) Win

England Snubbed for 2018 WC

Two votes.

Out of a grand total of 22 votes that England could have garnered in the World Cup 2018 Host race, they received just two votes.

Shocked?

Don’t be, the decision to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar reeks of retribution and political gamesmanship.

Despite England garnering the titles of ‘lowest risk’, ‘most profitable’ and ‘strongest technically’ by reports released by FIFA, it appears that the governing body of the beautiful game has dealt a tough lesson to the motherland of football.

Rallying the heavy artillery, England 2018 sent David Beckham, Prime Minister David Cameron, HRH Prince William into the snake pit in Zurich to sway the FIFA Executive to vote on the merits of the bidding countries and not punish the Brits for their outspoken media.

Sure, Russia was a heavy favourite leading up to the vote; they were a new frontier to discover, somewhere for the Football world to spread towards and continue to build Sepp Blatter’s legacy of ‘spreading the game’ throughout the corners of the planet.

However, let’s not kid ourselves that in order to ‘spread the game,’ FIFA has awarded the World Cup to a country that did not have the best bid.

Look no further than the results of the 2022 race to see the intent behind FIFA’s two decision; denying an extremely strong USA bid for that of Qatar; the country deemed ‘highest risk’ by FIFA regulators and a country that would see it’s population grow by 25% with the influx of over 400,000 fans during the tournament.

Qatar bought the support of high profile athletes like Zinedine Zidane

When a country like Qatar has to pay stars and celebrities to endorse their campaign, Zinedine Zidane is being paid $15million for the successful bid, you have to question the reason’s behind the decision. Sending the World Cup to the USA in 2022 would help grow the North American game and would allow more people access to the games.

Meanwhile pundits are already discussing the possibility of the World Cup in Qatar being the least attended in the tournaments illustrious history, but don’t worry, as the government has more than enough Oil money to cover the costs and ensure that FIFA goes home with their pockets lined in fresh bills.

Then there was the buzz word of the two races: Corruption.

British media outlets News of the World and the BBC, each fought the crusade against the corruption that covers the global game; Payoffs, tickets being sold on the black market, voters taking bribes etc.

Not an issue?

Just moments before voting, Sepp Blatter warned those present of the ‘evil of the media’ and ‘recent events in the media.’ While, Cyprus voting member Marois Lefkaritis, said ““If the [England bid team] think they did not [suffer because of the media], then they are stupid and naive.”

Allegations that there was collusion between the 2018 Spain/Portugal bid and the 2022 Qatar bid to garner support for each in the separate votes will not help, with Qatar winning and the Iberian bid being a finalist in the 2018 race.

With so much controversy revolving around the final decisions and such strong bids obviously snubbed, it asks the question: Why are the best candidates being ignored?

And while there are many other questions to ask, some are already taking action.

England 2018 bid Chief Executive Andy Anson has called for reform, asking for more transparency in the decisions, stating that accusations of corruption have tainted the process.

“I would say right now don’t bother (bidding) unless you know the process is going to change,” said Anson.

“When there are only 22 guys that gives them too much influence.”

While England’s Football Association chairman Roger Burden resigned, stating that he could not work with FIFA as long as he did not trust them.

“I recognize that an important part of the role is liaison with Fifa, our global governing body,” he said.

“I am not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust and I have withdrawn my candidacy.”

Finally, Arsene Wenger was steadfast in his call for FIFA reform, “The way to decide looked to me, in fairness, a little bit from the Middle Ages. It doesn’t look right in

Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger has joined the cry for FIFA reform

modern life that people have to go over there and lobby and say, ‘please believe in us’. Frankly, it looks a little bit that you have to flatter them to get the World Cup.

“I don’t think that is right. You would like to have much more technical than human criteria. It is difficult to explain to people that the technical bid of England was perfect but you get only two votes. That is not rational,” finished the Arsenal manager.

While FIFA will want to move forward and past their decision, it appears there will be a definite push for reform and transparency in the future.

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Henry Whitfield is an avid Mooseheads fan and you can find his thoughts on sports and more on his blog, or follow him on twitter @HenryWhitfield. You can also listen to him on air as a regular contributor to the Bill McLean Sports show on 88.1 CKDU.

 

English Premier League – Power Rankings

With all teams having eleven games under their belt and just over a quarter of the season done with, it’s time to look at which teams are hot and which teams have started to slide down the rankings.

Who’s Hot

Fergie continues to create greatness.

Manchester United, 2nd– Outside of fan circles, Manchester United continues to be underrated, despite not losing in any competition this season. The Red Devils are just two points behind Chelsea and although Wayne Rooney has been a distraction for much of the last few weeks, Alex Ferguson’s boys continue to push their way forward.

 

Newcastle, 5thDespite a few rough weeks, the Magpies have pushed forward and find themselves fifth in the standings. After a two goal comeback to pick up a point against Wigan on October 16th, Newcastle has scored 8 goals in their last three League games, and picked up a big victory over Arsenal this past week.

Liverpool, 9th With Fernando Torres firing on all cylinders this past weekend, blasting two goals past League Leaders Chelsea, the Merseyside team has picked up three straight League wins. A team that stuttered out of the gates and were quickly in the relegation zone, Liverpool has picked up its form and Roy Hodgson looks to be turning the ship around, but they still have a lot to prove.

Who’s Cold

He hasn't got a "Kalou"

Chelsea, 1st The League leaders looked a shadow of the team that stormed out of the gates at the start of the season. Missing Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Didier Drogba. Salomon Kalou continues to be lacklustre in front of net, scoring once since September 19th, and was a poor replacement for Drogba on Sunday.

 

Tottenham, 7th – Despite excellent European form, the team that were highly rated coming into the season have just two wins in their last six league games and the 4-2 loss to Bolton this weekend highlighted a season already filled with inconsistent play on the pitch. This is a team full of top rated players and I wouldn’t expect them to finish the season out of the top five but have a lot of work in front of them to improve on their current standing in seventh with 15 points, a total that five teams are sitting at.

West Ham, 20th – Just seven points this season and a total meltdown in the second half of this week’s game against Birmingham saw them give up a two-goal lead and settle for a draw. Robert Green has continued his fantastic World Cup form and lacks confidence in-goal for a team that looks destined for relegation.

 

 

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Quote of the Week – Despite a string of bad publicity for out of favor striker Wayne Rooney, England teammate Frank Lampard had this to say about the Manchester united player, “Confident, very good to be around, funny, and one you want next to you as a mate if you go to war or if you just want a laugh. He’s a lad’s lad and that’s what I love about him.


Player of the Week – Liverpool’s Pepe Reina faced a stern test against Chelsea, but turned away their talent with some spectacular saves and picked up the clean sheet for his team.

 

Owen Hargreaves: A synonym for injuries, let downs and heartbreak.

Disappointment of the Week – The highly anticipated return of Owen Hargreaves was a complete, utter failure, when the England Midfielder limped off the field just six minutes into his return. Fans for England and Manchester United will have reason to worry as Hargreaves suffers another blow to his career.

 

 

 

Henry Whitfield is a sports contributor to the Dalhousie Gazette and provides commentary on local sports in and around the HRM. You can follow him on twitter@HenryWhitfield or on his blog, Sports With Henry.

Champions League Draw!

Football is back!

Today marked the group stage of the European Champions League being set and awards being given out for Player’s of the year.

The stage was set by an array of Footballing superstars including Gianfranco Zola, Gary Lineker and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With three London based clubs in the draw, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham,it marked the first time since 2003/2004 that three teams from one city have made it into the group stage.

Group A – Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente

Group B – Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Tel-Aviv

Group C Manchester United, Valenica, Rangers, Bursaspor

Group D – Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Group E – Bayern Munich, AS Roma, FC Basel, Cluj

Group F Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina

Group G – AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Group H – Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partizan

Some very interesting match ups, with Group G including no less than first ever winners and 9 time champions Real Madrid being drawn with 7 time winners AC Milan. Also featuring 4-time winners Ajax, Group G is the clear “Group of Death” for this year’s draw.

Another interesting match will feature Manchester United battling with Rangers FC, a club that Sir Alex Ferguson scored 25 goals for during his time there in 1967-1969.

Elsewhere, Chelsea FC was drawn with Spartak Moscow, which sees owner Roman Abramovich takes his club to his home country and the return of Russian player Yuri Zhirkov.

First matches are played on September 14th and 15th.

Not only were the groups drawn, but UEFA Player of the Year awards were announced and awarded, here are this year’s winners:

UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan)

Inter Milan continued their winning ways

UEFA Defender of the Year: Maicon (Inter Milan)

UEFA Midfielder of the Year: Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan)

UEFA Forward of the Year: Diego Milito (Inter Milan)

UEFA Player of the Year: Diego Milito (Inter MIlan)

It was a clean sweep for Mourinho and his men in blue stripes, his legend grows and the special one will look forward to completing another clean sweep with Real Madrid this year.

Halifax Dunbrack Win NSSL Championship In Shootout

After finishing atop the Men’s Nova Scotia Soccer League, Suburban FC went in against Halifax Dunbrack Tuesday evening with all the confidence in the world.

The match pitted outstanding soccer talent Mesut Mert, League MVP and goals leader, against a stingy Dunbrack defence that has allowed just seven goals all season and backstopped by an outstanding keeper in Ben Ur, who finished the regular season with 10 clean sheets.

First Half Recap

The opening twenty minutes were cagey and both teams probed the defensive lines looking for breaks, the only bright spot was a brilliant ball played in by Mert but keeper Ur was quick off his line to break up the run of play.

The deadlock was broken in the 21st minute when Jon Cordoba broke away, showing off his speed and the striker’s shot blasted right through keeper  Hogg who got a piece of the ball but just couldn’t keep it out of the net.

The goal spurred both teams on and the pace of play picked up, with Mesut Mert coming right back down the field and scoring just more than a minute later. Mert clear on goal used his agility and skill to weave around keeper Ur and calmly placing the ball in the back of the net.

The game continued to go back and forth, with not much difference between the both sides. However, it was once again Dunbrack to break the deadlock. In the 35th minute Alex Cordoba put Ryan Devereaux free past the last defenders and he blasted a shot past a helpless Hogg to put the score to 2-1.

In similar fashion Suburban FC broke quickly to respond, but this time Dunbrack covered well and kept their slim one goal lead after strong defensive play.

Dunbrack made the first substitutions of the game in the 38th minute, taking Peter Garonis out and throwing Ahmed Negahban into the mix. Followed up shortly it was Marvin Okello coming off due to injury in the 41st minute, meanwhile the coaching staff of Suburban FC took issue with the delay in allowing a substation and berated the fourth official.

With the rain pouring down Halifax Dunbrack got another excellent opportunity from a free kick with Jon Cordoba forcing a brilliant save from keeper Hogg, and then another shot came near from J. Cordoba.

The game looked destined to be a 2-1 score lineat halftime but Suburban FC upset the storyline when Ian Greedy struck a fantastic strike past the Ur and into the upper left corner just below the woodwork. With that wonderful strike from the Greedy, the game was deadlocked at two goals apiece at halftime.

At half time it was clear that the raw pace of Jon Cordoba was causing issues for the Suburban FC defence, unable to keep up with the speedy striker, with player/coach Mesut Mert saying that the team was giving the striker too much space.

Second Half Recap

The game was played at a much slower pace for the start of the second half, with both teams playing more cautiously and not wanting to concede the next goal in the deadlocked match.

The only action in the first twenty minutes of the second half was a pair of nasty challenges on Dunbrack players Shawn Kodejs and Jon Cordoba, with the Dunbrack star in obvious discomfort after the challenge.

In the 75th minute Dunbrack were given another set-piece in a dangerous area, but were unable to convert an opportunity with a foul being called against Kerry Weymann. Suburban FC came right back down the pitch and were awarded with their own set-piece just outside the Dunbrack box, however, it was Ben Ur getting down to his left to make a spectacular save off of the Mesut Mert strike.

Extra-Time Recap

Both teams seemed content with playing for extra time and neither side seemed the likelier to score the next goal. Both Mesut Mert and Jon Cordoba were quiet in the second half; neither stars able to make an impact for their teams.

The first half of extra-time started much the same, but just a few minutes in Chris Maceachern went down hard and remained on the ground for a few minutes as he received medical attention. The player was able to make it off the field under his own power, but would not return to action.

Thick fog covered the field at the extra-time interval and both teams sat back and let the play run, with neither side looking interested in scoring the go ahead goal.

Late drama in the second half of extra-time, with Suburban FC Captain Talal Al-Awaid being awarded a red card, giving Dunbrack ten minutes of play with a man advantage. It was ten-man Suburban FC who had the best chance of the final moments, with Ian Greedy coming close but skied a ball over the net.

In the dying moments and with Marvin Okello ready to come on as a substitute to be in the shootout, the ref blew for full-time and off to penalty kicks the game went, without a visibly upset Okello to shoot.

Penalty Shootout Recap

One of the cruellest moments in sports, the Penalty shootout but with Ben Ur in net Dunbrack had the clear advantage heading in.

Suburban FC Ian Greedy – SCORES – Off the post and past the keeper Ur

Halifax Dunbrack – Shawn Kodejs – SCORES – Sends keeper wrong way and score easily

Suburban FC – Second Shooter– MISSES – Ur chooses right side but Reddich misses net

Halifax Dunbrack Peter Garonis – SCORES – Blasted over the keeper to the right

Suburban FC – Jason Paul – SAVED – Ben Ur Dives left and saves

Halifax Dunbrack – Fourth Shooter– SCORES – Another shot hammered into the top right

Suburban FC – Fourth Shooter – SAVED – Ben Ur guesses right again and its another brilliant save!

*Due to technical difficulties, some names were missed during the action and will be filled in later.


As the Dunbrack players swarmed their keeper, it was clear that Ur was the hero for Halifax Dunbrack. The keeper came up with two gigantic saves in the shootout and he coolly booked Dunbrack’s place at Nationals.

Suburban FC will be left wondering `what if,` as they came so close to a Championship but had their dreams snuffed out in one swift, cruel moment.

Now League Champions, Halifax Dunbrack will get ready for Nationals where they will hope to add to their current silverware.

England’s Goalkeeping Makeover

Flashback two months, David James was the England number one, with Robert Green and Paul Robinson seen as backups to the Portsmouth keeper.

Due to injury Green started the first match in place of an injured James, but had a gaffe that will make his career for decades, while Paul Robinson never got a shot at the big show.

James returned to injury and although he played well in his first two matches, he showed a lack of skill and very slow reflexes in the four to one drubbing by Germany.

With England playing Hungary on Wednesday, Fabio Capello has gone full

Joe Hart look's to be the future for English goalkeeping

circle on his goalkeeping selections and has named young Manchester City keeper Joe Hart as his starter. Meanwhile Scott Carson will be his backup and Ben Foster had been named as third choice.

Many will wonder that after a strong season with Birmingham, why didn’t Joe Hart get a shot at the World Cup? He will seemingly be the England goalkeeper for the next decade and the experience would have given him valuable insight into the pressures of playing in important matches.

Ben Foster has since pulled out due to injury problems and this prompted Capello to call up inexperienced Watford keeper Scott Loach and Blackburn reserve keeper Frankie Fielding.

Loach has become England’s U21 first choice after Hart made the move to the senior level and is seen as a possible replacement in years to come but has little experience at the top level.  While Fielding is a Blackburn player he has yet to play for the club at Senior level and has been on loan at various teams since 2007, his most recent stint with Rochdale where he made 17 appearances.

Fabio Capello promised a youth movement in the aftermath of a terrible World Cup and it seems the first changes will be at the back.

Community Shield Preview and Predos

Football is back!

Yes, the lower England football leagues kicked off this weekend and we have a few international tours to keep us busy, oh and that league they call the MLS was going on, but today the real football season starts.

The annual Community Shield pits defending league champions Chelsea against runner-up Manchester United. The one-point difference at the end of last season will still be fresh in both teams and the battle for dominance between the two powerhouses will ensure this matchup is as exciting as ever.

Last year Chelsea pipped United in penalties, but go into the match this year on the string of four pre-season losses and a run of injuries. Goalkeeper Petr Cech is out, along with defensive stalwarts Alex and Boswinga, while Didier Drogba will start on the bench.

Manchester United has its own set of injuries to worry about with Michael Carrick out for the start of the season and both Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney battling injuries last year, both strikers will play at least 45-minutes but Sir Alex Ferguson will rely heavily on his young stars to fill in the gaps.

Many of the players in today’s match will have much to prove after a dismal, disappointing, disastrous, absolutely horrible World Cup for England and an implosion of France, which leaves Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Florent Malouda, Nicholas Anelka and Wayne Rooney.

This season will be a testing one for Manchester United who have a squad filled with a combination of experience and youth, but time will tell if legends Paul Scholes, Edwin Van Der Sar and Ryan Giggs will contribute at the same level as before or if young stars Nani, Anderson, Smalling and new signing Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez will usher in a new era.

Match Predictions

Henry – Chelsea wins 3 – 2, with Malouda scoring and Drogba hitting the back of the net twice, while Wayne Rooney answers with a goal and sets up Hernandez for his first United goal.

Tom – Manchester United wins 2-1, while Javier Hernandez scores both for United.