Friday, 7 October 2011

Hope for the Impossible dream.

Hope.

Hope is the main thing Scotland have going into the last two qualifiers for Euro 2012.

Hope that Scotland can defeat Liechstein in their own back yard and pick up something in the Alicante in Spain while Spain and Lithuania beat the Czech Republic so Scotland are in the play-off round of qualifying for Euro 2012.

Goals from Juan Mata and Xabi Alonso helped Spain to a 2-0 victory over Czech Republic tonight ensuring that a Scotland victory in Liechtenstein would leapfrog Scotland above the Czechs with only one game to play.

However the last game is in Spain and they will face a side who have won all seven qualifying games so far, are the reigning World champions and European champions  and boast a reserve side of players like Fernando Torres, Juan Mata,David Silva, Cesc Fabregas and others of such quality never mind the players who are first choice!

Craig Levein's side must go into both games against Liechtenstein and Spain with the same mindset. That Scotland will win both games.

Six Points would ensure a play-off spot. It is a big ask and is probably building hopes up too high but it can be done.

Liechteinstein nearly caused a scare at Hampden before a last minute Steven McManus header gave Scotland a 2-1 victory but a win is a win and that is what the team must believe going in to the game against Liechtenstein. A 3-0 win would be great for morale but a 1-0 win is the same points as a 3-0 win and it would take Scotland up to second.

Spain will be a different matter and Scotland will have to expect to be on the back foot for most if not all of the game and will have to counter attack well against the World and European champions. Scotland have caused massive upsets before such as the Home and Away Double over France a few years ago and a performance like one of those nights will be needed in the Alicante.

It is a big ask for Craig Levein's side to get the six points but if Scotland have any chance of qualifying they must believe it is possible.

Here we go again building our hopes up for a fall,but just one of these days the hopes will pay off.

Hopefully this week!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Weekend SPL Predictions

With another busy weekend of SPL action getting under way last night with the return of Friday night football and Aberdeen picking up an impressive 4-0 win against Dunfermline, here are predictions for how the other five SPL games will play out this weekend.

Dundee United vs Motherwell:

Tannadice will host an interesting tie when Dundee United Welcome Motherwell.

United sit eighth in the table six points behind third placed Motherwell but it is unlikely it will stay that way in the next few months.

Motherwell have seen their great start to the season seem to fizz out over the last few weeks but they will be hoping to build on their victory over Aberdeen last week and Stuart Mccall will hope his Well side can build some momentum with a win to try and hold on to third place in the table.

Peter Houston's side struggle to cope without last seasons star players like Conway, Goodwillie and Gomis but they have started to click together in the last few weeks and look like they could have a successful season if players like Russell and Daly keep fit.

This will be a close one i am going for a score draw.
Prediction: Dundee United 1 Motherwell 1

Inverness CT vs St Mirren:

What a contrast in these two teams this season.

Inverness and St Mirren last year were in the same area of the table fighting to avoid relegation. How times change.

Inverness sit bottom of the table and look set to be preparing for another relegation dogfight to try and survive in the SPL for another year.

St Mirren on the other hand sit fifth in the table and look like they have a real chance of making the top six this season after Danny Lennon has found a way to convert their good play into goals.

This will be a tough test for St Mirren but i think they will win the match to pile more pressure on Terry Butcher's Inverness side.

Prediction: Inverness 0 St Mirren 1

Kilmarnock vs St Johnstone:

Kenny Shiels will take his side into this match against St Johnstone trying to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat at Ibrox in Midweek.

Derek Mcinnes will also be regrouping his side after they were defeated 3-2 by Hibs in midweek and this could set up an intriguing tie between two teams eager for a win to gain some momentum back quickly.

St Johnstone's front two of Sandanza and Sheridan or "the SAS" have been on fire in recent weeks and they will be hoping to continue with goals against Kilmarnock.

Kilmarnock themselves have Heffernan up front who has scored his fair share this season as well and this could be a good game to watch.

I can see another score draw at Rugby Park.
Prediction Kilmarnock 2 St Johnstone 2


Rangers vs Hibernian:
Ally Mccoist will lead Champions Rangers into this game knowing a win would put them ten points ahead of nearest rivals Celtic.

Hibs have not played as well as they should have this season and tenth in the table is not where you would expect to see Hibs but Gary O Connor aside, Hibs have been poor this season.

Rangers will go into the game without Steven Naismith as he serves the second game of his two game ban and you could tell Rangers missed him in midweek against Kilmarnock even though they ran out 2-0 winners.

Rangers will also be weary of Hibs on a poor form. Last year a Hibs side came to Ibrox in poor form and ran out 3-0 winners to give Colin Calderwood his first victory as Hibs manager.

A repeat of last season is unlikely however and Rangers should be too strong for Hibs.
Prediction: Rangers 3 Hibs 0


Hearts vs Celtic:
The preview for this game on Sunday has been overshadowed by last seasons off-field problems in this tie but hopefully this game will be remembered for all the right reasons ON the pitch.

Celtic could go into this game ten points behind Rivals Rangers and will be looking to quickly pull back three points with a win at Tynecastle which has not always been a happy Place for Celtic in recent years.

Hearts have not been at their best recently but Paulo Sergio's side is slowly improving and a win against Celtic would help the teams morale and show what many believe, that Hearts are still "the third best team in Scotland."

This will be a tight one but i think Celtic will edge this with maybe a late winner.
Prediction: Hearts 1 Celtic 2

Friday, 16 September 2011

Old Firm Round one

This Sunday afternoon will see the first Old Firm game of the season at Ibrox Park.



The teams  have not exactly been away from each other for long and after seven contests last year,a bitter taste is still be left in the mouths of some as a few moments of madness in one particular game cast a cloud of darkness over the remaining fixtures. Lets hope the football is the focus this year.

New Rangers manager Ally McCoist who has experienced the Old Firm more than most as a player and assistant manager locks horns with Celtic manager Neil Lennon for the first time as manger after taking over from Walter Smith at the end of last season. He will be hoping to pick up his first Old Firm Victory at the first time of asking.

Rangers go in to the game top of the table, one point ahead of rivals Celtic and will hope home advantage will help them pick up an important win. With many players like Goian, Wallace, Bedoya, McKay, Bocanegra and Ortiz set to make their Old Firm Debut if they feature and they will hoping to get the ground running.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon will be hoping his side can emulate some of their performances last season in OF games as Celtic managed to win three of the seven OF games and pick up two draws compared to Rangers winning two and two draws.

 Celtic have had a decent start to the season like Rangers with the only blip being the 1-0 defeat at home to St. Johnstone. Aside from that loss Celtic have scored some big wins including big home wins against Dundee United (5-1) and Motherwell (4-1) being the pick of the games so far this season.

Rangers have had a decent start and sit top of the table. The opening 1-1 home draw was a disappointing start but since then Rangers have went on to five on the bounce conceding no goals in those five games and their best perfomance being a dominant 3-0 away win against Motherwell at Fir Park.

The game promises to be intriguing as ever with the winner gaining bragging rights for a few months and a place at the top of the table after the game.


The winner is not guaranteed to win the league. Last Year Celtic picked up more points in Old Firm games but never won the title and Rangers were champions. This shows what Graeme Souness used to say when he was in charge of Rangers is true when talking about Old Firm games in the league; "They are only four games of the season."


Key Players:

Rangers:

Nikica Jelavic: The Croatian striker is a fitness doubt for the game but he is a class act and Rangers are much stronger team with him than without him. He scored the winner in the League Cup Final against Celtic last season to hand Rangers the victory.

Kyle Lafferty: Lafferty has been an enigma for some fans and has not always produced the goods in Old Firm games but the "Big game player" on his day is a major threat and Jelavic and Lafferty together and on form would cause Celtic problems at the back.

Steven Davis: The Rangers stand in Captain is the playmaker and heart of the Rangers midfield. He is in fine form so far this season and he will be looked upon to influence play on Sunday like he has done before like in the League Cup final last season.

Celtic:

Gary Hooper: Hooper is Celtic's main striking force and a cert to start on Sunday. He is a constant threat when in form and Celtic's best performances usually include a big input from Hooper.He managed to score a couple of Old Firm goals last season and he is always a threat to defences in the box.

Beram Kayal: Pulling the strings in the Celtic midfield is Kayal's job as well as holding the midfield together to protect the defence. The defensive midfielder had a good Old Firm debut season and will be looking to stop Davis' threat on Sunday while enforcing his own on the game.

Ki Sung Yeung: The Souh Korean is one of the emerging talents in Scottish football. Ki has grown into his role in the Celtic midfield and when he plays well Celtic look a much better side. For Celtic's midfield to be dominant Ki will have to help Kayal.

Prediction:

There is not much difference between the sides and a draw would not be far from most people's minds when thinking of the game and i am sure both teams would take a draw. Rangers and Celtic will go for the game but i can't see many goals.

1-1

Major Change ahead in Junior Football?

Changes could be afoot for Junior football very soon as news has spread that an MEP is challenging the retention rule in Junior football on behalf of one of his constituency members.

The MEP and his constituency member are taking the matter to the courts with the argument that retention is a breach of employment laws and human rights. It is widely assumed that this court case will bring an end to retention once and for all in Junior football.

Under the retention rule a Junior football club if they want to, retains a player at the end of every season. For that player to move to another club at junior level, the club he is leaving is entitled to a fee  set by the SJFA from the club wanting to sign the player for the transfer to happen.

 Basically this means that for a retained player to move to another Junior club money must be paid for his services. If this fee or a bargained fee is not met then the player is not allowed to move to the team or any other Junior club until the retention fee is met.

The rule is met by criticism as effectively a club could end someone’s Junior footballing career by not letting them move without receiving their “asking price.” The player can play Amateur or professional football but not Junior until the fee is paid.

Some clubs will argue that they are entitle to receiving a fee for their retained players to cover what they have paid on the players wages and will not want to lose a top player for free when he could come back and haunt them. But surely paying for a player when he is at the club should not be a problem if he is proving his worth with his performances on the pitch?

The player would only be allowed to play trials for other Junior teams and even then you can only play as a trialist three times for a club. It is harsh on players wanting to play Junior football as they could be forced out if nobody meets their club’s demands.

If the case is successful against retention then effectively Junior Football will be changed forever. Clubs will no longer receive fees for retained players if they are out of contract and effectively Bosman transfers will likely be introduced with out of contract players being able to move freely from club to club with ease.

Players will more likely be happier than clubs if this ruling occurs and many frozen out players will be able to play Junior football again.

The sooner the rule changes the better.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Built up high only to come crashing down



It seems to happen regularly to Scotland fans.

Every time we build our nation's footballing expectations up , we are sent crashing to the depths of despair at the last minute.

- In 1978 Scotland were going to win the World Cup in Argentina but "Ally's Army" limped home instead of marching to victory!

- In 2007 Scotland's hopes of reaching Euro 2008, our first national tournament finals since World Cup 98 in France were thwarted by a late Italian Job and a "dodgy" referee.

- Now it is 2011 and it has happened again!

With only two games to go and after a disappointing home double header against the Czech Republic and Lithuania, it looks as if Scotland's hopes of reaching a national tournament will go on past Euro 2012.

Usually four points out of six in a European Championships double qualifier would be good news, however Scotland needed the full six points to make sure Craig Levein's side were in the driving seat to reach the play-offs and be in with a great chance of qualifying.

Drawing 2-2 with the Czechs inflicted the damage before the 1-0 win over Lithuania and leave Scotland needing to at least win in Liechtenstein and draw in Spain and need help from Spain and Lithuania when the sides take on the Czech Republic to have hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.

The Czech Republic will qualify on the next match day if either they defeat Spain and Scotland fail to defeat Liechtenstein,or they draw with Spain and Scotland lose to Liechtenstein. It is the Czech Republic's play-off spot to throw away now.

Leading 2-1 with eight minutes to go against the Czech's it looked as if Scotland were going to hold out however some play acting and some dodgy refereeing led to a late Czech equalizer from the penalty spot and the game finished 2-2 with Scotland's hopes seemingly crushed.

Is the ref fully to blame?

The simple answer is no. Yes Jan Rezek dived to win the Czech's a penalty near the end and the referee Kevin Blom had a terrible game from start to finish but Scotland were simply not good enough to win the game against the Czech's and a draw was a fair result.

Scotland defended too deep and were lucky not to be 3-0 down before Kenny Miller put the Scots ahead as Milan Baros missed easy chances early on and Kevin Blom missed a stonewall penalty for the Czechs when Charlie Adam went over the ball and stamped on Baros' ankle in the box.

The Czech's got back in the game at 1-1 and when Darren Fletcher scored Scotland looked set to steal a win but they defended too deep and if you defend in your own box letting the opposition run at you, it is only a matter of time before you concede.

Scotland managed to bounce back from the disappointing 2-2 draw to beat Lithuania 1-0 to keep our slim chances of the play-offs alive and there were some promising signs in the performance but they made hard work of a poor Lithuania side who were hardly in the game.

Man Of The Match Barry Bannan showed why he is a prospect for the future with a fine performance and the likes of Don Cowie, David Goodwillie and late sub Robert Snodgrass all showed some reasons to be cheerful after Steven Naismith fired Scotland to only the second win of the campaign however the finishing needs to be worked on.

Scotland should have been out of sight but Steven Naismith, Christophe Berra, Goodwillie and others wasted chance after chance and captain Darren Fletcher surprisingly took and then missed a poor penalty before half time when it was still 0-0. Another type of attacking option is clearly needed when Kenny Miller is suspended or injured.

Steven Fletcher could very well be that option.

It is time for Fletcher to put his spat with Levein to the side and come back to help his country when they need him. Fletcher is one of if not the top Scottish striker right now and scores regularly at the top level in the English Premiership against some of the best defenders in the world.

Fletcher back in the side would give Levein healthy selection choices which are needed and if he and everybody else is fit it is time for Levein to finally work out his top side for the next two crucial games.

 Levein has not covered himself in glory since he took over and it tells you something when his most memorable moment was the infamous 4-6-0 disaster in Prague but he has shown signs of promise with young talents like Graeme Dorrans, Snodgrass, Danny Wilson and Barry Bannan being involved in his squads regularly and there have been some impressive performances albeit in friendlies, Levein has to lead Scotland in the last two matches to the glory of the play-offs or to at least go down fighting and not go out with a whimper.

If Scotland don't qualify for Euro 2012 and if Levein is still the manager then attention will turn to World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

With Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Macedonia and Wales standing in our way , you can bet the expectation's and belief of finally qualifying for another National Tournament will surface again and we will build up Scotland's chances once more.

We will never learn.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Is Wenger finished?


Next month Arsene Wenger will celebrate being the Arsenal manager for fifteen years although if there is not much change in the next few weeks there will hardly be cause for celebration!
Wenger in his time at Arsenal has built great teams, brought through young talents regularly to the team and won Eleven honours at the club.

He has guided Arsenal to the  Premier League three times, the FA Cup four times and the FA Community Shield four times as well however Arsenal have not won a trophy since the 2005 FA Cup over six years ago and fans are starting to grow tired of winning nothing every season.

Selling star players like Thierry Henry and this season losing Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas has also angered fans who think it makes them look like a seller club and many paired with some of the media are building pressure against the man the fans once adored.

But is Wenger really finished?

Losing Fabregas and Nasri recently has left the squad looking depleted and even though there are many young talents at Arsenal waiting for a chance, A marquee signing is needed to appease angry fans.

Eden Hazard, Mikel Arteta and Kaka have all been linked with the club and Arteta or Kaka could be a great replacement for Fabregas whereas Hazard would provide quality on the wing. Arteta would be more likely as there is little chance of Arsenal wanting to pay 30 million plus nearly 200k a week for Kaka!

Wenger has many young talents coming through which was shown on their Champions League qualification victory over Udinese, they may not have played Udinese off the park in both legs but they were up to the challenge and showed they are not a poor team as well as being capable of playing the "Arsenal way."

Wenger is like he has been for the past few seasons three or four players from a team that can hold a Premier League challenge again as there is talent at the club already like Gervinho, Van Persie, Arshavin, Ramsey, Wilshere, Walcott and many others.

A solid central defender is needed which Wenger knows with constant links to defenders like Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, a goalscoring strike to partner Van Persie, a midfield playmaker like Arteta or Kaka and a top defensive midfielder like Nigel De Jong at Manchester City to hold the midfield together and protect the defence.

If Arsenal could sign four players like that then they would have a really good team and even signing two of the four would leave them in a better place. 

Wenger has given so much to the club over the past fifteen years and even though the days of Keown,Bergkamp,Henry and co are over, there is signs Wenger is far from finished and is capable of  building a new successful team if he manages to get the owners and fans appeased and on his side believing in the team. 

A marquee signing would do just that but he will have to move quickly, the Transfer Window shuts on the thirty first of August.


Friday, 5 August 2011

Season Predictions

This is not a full article this is just predictions on who i will think will win their respective leagues and who will be relegated etc in all the Scottish Leagues and the English Premier League:

Scottish Premier League:
Winners: Rangers
Runners Up: Celtic
Third spot: Hearts
Fourth Spot:Motherwell
Relegated : Dunfermline

Scottish First Division:
Winners: Hamilton
Runners Up: Ross County
Ninth and First Division Play-Offs: Ayr United
Relegated: Queen Of The South

Scottish Second Division:
Winners: Stirling Albion
Runners Up and  First Division Play-Offs: Cowdenbeath
Third and First Division Play-Offs: Forfar
Fourth and First Division Play-Offs: Brechin
Ninth and Second Division Play-Offs: Albion Rovers
Relegated: Arbroath

Scottish Third Division:
Winners: Peterhead
Runners Up and Second Division Play-Offs: Alloa
Third and Second Division Play-Offs: Queens Park
Fourth and Second Division Play-Offs: Clyde
Bottom of League: East Stirling

English Premier League:
Winners: Chelsea
Second Place: Manchester United
Third Place: Manchester  City
Fourth Place: Liverpool
Eighteenth place and Relegated: Wolves
Nineteenth place and Relegated: Swansea City
Twentieth place and Relegated: Norwich City

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Football clubs and the "problem" of Social Networking



Controlling a workforce is never an easy task.

Companies are always trying to make sure their staff stay in line with the rules and regulations and Football clubs are no different.


Football clubs have always had trouble trying to keep in control of their players but it is easier said than done.

Every year there are always players unhappy who want changes or even want to leave and there always will be, however the ways the players are expressing their discontent continues to change.

Going straight to the manager or owner is still the correct way to deal with problems and is the best way to make sure your concerns will be dealt with. This was once virtually the only way to express concerns however times have changed and continue to do so.

The Newspapers always have liked exclusives and a discontent player or problems at a football club is always going to sell papers to interested or worried football fans. Radio stations , TV channels and Internet sites have also cashed in on this as technology advanced over the years and they all joined at some stage the race for exclusives and big stories.

Clubs have had to try and stay private to make sure nothing leaks to the press that they don't want but this is difficult and continues to be a worry for clubs when trying to make sure they control their club and everyone linked to it.

However over the last few years a new threat emerged that is more dangerous to an extent than the press to football clubs in regards to news leaking out from clubs:  Social networking.

Private profiles means not just that news can leak quickly from journalists or sources before a club has time to release a statement, but also that players and staff can  leak information or say things they shouldn't say, giving the press a story without the press having to do any work to get it.

Social networking is like a microphone on players at all times and is very popular among players. Many high profile players such as Rio Ferdinand, Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney having countless amounts of followers so the spotlight is on players at all times watching what they say.

Ryan Babel, Carlton Cole and Darren Bent are some of the most famous cases of players going out of line on Twitter and all three have had to pay fines to their club or footballing authorities after comments they have made that were out of line.

One of the biggest stories in football right now is the Joey Barton episode at Newcastle and his Twitter account is the cause.

Joey Barton more than once has stated on his twitter page his concerns or unhappiness with Newcastle due to reasons such as breakdown in contract talks between him  and the club or the surprise transfer of his friend Kevin Nolan from Newcastle to West Ham.

Things have got to the stage where Newcastle had enough and have said he can leave for free and have fined him two weeks wages . Even this has not stopped him and Barton has laughed off his fine and said they are "kicking a man when he is down."

Whether Joey Barton is right to have concerns is not the big story, the fact that he has publicly stated them before talking directly to the club has caused a stir. Incidents like this are why clubs are trying to find ways to prevent situations like this with social networking sites.

Former Rangers boss Walter Smith banned his players from using social networking sites near the end of last season due to a poor run of form and it seemed to work a treat as with less distractions Rangers went on to claim their third successive league trophy and also won the League cup to complete a league and cup double.

Leeds United have banned their players from using Twitter recently after a pre-season game in which striker Davide Somma was taken off injured and he leaked into the public domain on his Twitter account that he would be out for six months before the manager Simon Grayson and his staff could tell certain personnel who needed to know the information first.

Banning Twitter and other sites altogether may seem extreme but some clubs will see it as the right thing to do. I am sure Mike Ashley and other owners will think of George Orwell's 1984 and wish they had a way of controlling their players like that but thankfully free will stops a situation like that happening!

Time will tell if it works out for Leeds but until clubs can to an extent find a way to control what players say on social networking sites you can safely guarantee stories like the Joey Barton one will continue to surface and cause a stir.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Changes needed at Ibrox so McCoist can avert danger.


Two games, zero wins, one draw and one loss.

Not the start Alistair "Ally" McCoist wanted to have in charge of his beloved Rangers.

An opening day 1-1 draw with Hearts at Ibrox did not get Rangers' quest  to retain the Scottish Premier league off to a great start and some fans began to grumble about problems that seemed to have already surfaced.

Poor defending, lack of creativity, disappointing performances from players, the list goes on and with an Important Champions League qualifier against Malmo at Ibrox a few days later the fans hoped Rangers would "Step up and play" as can be heard in Sammy King's "Penny Arcade"  when it is played before kickoff at Ibrox.

Rangers did not "step up and play" against Malmo.

The negatives brought up from the  Hearts game were all on show again as poor defending, lack of creativity and disappointing performance's led to Malmo picking up a shock 1-0 win at Ibrox and left Rangers needing to win by at least two next week in Sweden or face an early Champions League exit on the same level of Kaunus a few years ago.

Rangers were poor against Malmo. McCoist set up his team like his predecessor and mentor Walter Smith would with a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation and it did not work. Errors were being made by many and an error by Steven Whittaker (who did not look like a player who recently signed a long term deal,) on the right side of his own box in the eighteenth minute led to Daniel Larsson scoring and grabbing an important away goal for Malmo. Daniel of course not being the first Larsson to break Rangers' fans hearts.

Whittaker's mistake at the goal was not the only mistake made by him or any of his team mates as most of the Rangers team struggled to make an impact.

Lee Mculloch and Maurice Edu in the heart of Rangers' midfield was not working for the second game in a row.Both are trying but neither player has the creative spark to control and boss the midfield and there is little pace between the two. Steven Davis is Rangers' best central midfielder but he is played out of position wide right yet he is still covering for Mculloch and Edu.

Madjid Bougherra continues to look like a disinterested player and McCoist will surely let the Algerian part ways with Rangers as soon as he finds another centre back to join Dorin Goian joining the club and create a new central defence.

In fact only newbie Lee Wallace, Nikica Jelavic and the outstanding  Allan McGregor in goals came out of the the game with any positives.

Wallace on his debut did not look out of place at Rangers or on the Champions League stage and was industrious going froward all night as he put in a solid shift trying to stop the Malmo attack down the right while contributing to Rangers' attacking options.

Nikica Jelavic looked a class act at times but looked a lonely figure up front most of the time. Even when Rangers went for it and put Steven Naismith up front with him, Jelavic was still isolated which was frustrating for him as he won many balls but there was no support and Rangers were constantly punting the ball up front to him and he could do nothing with them which would frustrate the fans sick of seeing the same tactics fail constantly.

Allan McGregor recently signing a new deal at Ibrox and saying he wants to end his career at Ibrox is fantastic news for the club as his fantastic performance against Malmo proved. McGregor was flawless and pulled off at least three important saves to keep Rangers' deficit a manageable one, his fingertip save from Figueirdo's long range drive was world class. McGregor's performance was one of the few positives to come out of the Malmo game.

The season is only two weeks old so Rangers fans and McCoist will not be too overly critical. There is a lot of football to play and if Rangers win by two next week in Sweden which is manageable, they will be closer to Champions League football. Kyle Lafferty is also missing through injury right  now and he is sorely missed . The Ulsterman is a threat in front of goal which from the evidence of the first two games, is sorely missed.

However changes are needed and whether McCoist rallies his current squad together or signs fresh new  faces, Rangers need to change a few things to make sure they will have a successful season and help McCoist be a success as manager as well as being a legendary player at the club.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Do fans like Pre-Season Friendlies?

Do fans like Pre-Season friendlies?

With big clubs competing in money spinning friendlies all over the world and other clubs using the summer to lure bigger teams to face them. There is plenty of money on offer for  the clubs but what is in pre-season friendlies for the fans?

I conducted a survey of  one hundred football fans today asking them one simple question; Do you like pre-season friendlies?

The results were even. Fifty percent of fans said they enjoyed pre-season friendlies while fifty percent of fans did not like pre-seaon friendlies. Even results but the reasons for choosing varied.

Reasons from Fans why they do not like pre-season friendlies:

They are a waste of money- Paying over the odds for bounce games that are not competitive.

Outcome means nothing- No matter what the score some fans believe nothing is gained from the games as the games have no importance.

Poor Quality of game- Friendlies can sometimes be boring affairs with little quality on display due to lack of competition and lots of substitutions usually taking changes.


Reasons from Fans why they like pre-season friendlies:

Gets team in shape for new season- friendlies help managers get their team in shape for a new seasonand know what positions they need to strengthen.

Chance to see players/teams you don't normally see- Glamour friendlies can be great for the fans as they will get to watch players they don't normally see and there is a chance to see teams they don't normally see their team play every year or if they might even get to see their own team if they live abroad.

Fun to watch as no pressure - no pressure on the players to perform so they will be relaxed and can show off skills and try things like long shots they would get shouted at for if in a competitive game.

A 50/50 split in the survey was interesting. There are ways to make friendlies appeal to most people:

Screen friendlies live on tv- One off games would be great for armchair fans. For example Rangers vs Chelsea on August the 5th this year would have an audience and so would many other friendlies if they were on free tv.

Cheaper tickets - Charging less for friendlies would bring in bigger crowds. Maybe even doing deals like kids go free or family discount prices would bring in younger kids and the chance to see their team in a more relaxed atmosphere than when the competitive season starts.

More pre-season tournaments- For fans who say they mean nothing. Even though the tournaments would be only friendly affaurs they would bring a little competitveness and excitement for fans. Tournaments like Arsenal's Emirates Cup has been interesting over the last few seasons and the Renfrewshire Cup is always a tasty affair between St.Mirren and Greenock Morton. Hardly a "friendly."


Pre-season friendlies will never be completely loved by fans but they are important for clubs to generate money and have a look at their squad before the season starts to know what is ahead of them and what they can change. Making friendlies cheaper to attend and putting them on free tv could help people get excited by them more but no matter what pre-season is like a support act before the main event that is the Season starts and it always will be. Fans just need something to fill the gap when the season is not on.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A new era at Ibrox



It has been a whirlwind few months for the blue side of Glasgow.

Craig Whyte’s takeover, a third successive league title, Walter Smith leaving and Ally McCoist taking over. There has been a lot to take in for the fans but they are not complaining!

Craig Whyte’s takeover seems to have ended years of financial uncertainty at Ibrox. With the bank in control money was tight as Rangers were repaying debts but now there is hope that the club will steer clear of financial troubles and stop having to keep the wallet closed. Whyte has promised to clear the debt and finance Ally McCoist so the future seems bright.

Walter Smith’s left Ibrox with another league title and as one of the clubs most successful managers and has handed the reigns to his assistant and Rangers legend Ally McCoist.

McCoist will have money to spend and the small squad he has needs at least five additions. Two central defenders, a central midfielder, a wide midfielder and a striker.

The Rangers defence needs some new faces. Club captain David Weir is 41 and if he does sign a contract it will likely only be short term and McCoist will be looking to find a defence he can base his team on. Madjid Bougherra will not be part of that defence.

If the rumours are true Bougherra wants away from Ibrox then McCoist should let him go. His replacement will be top of McCoist’s spending list. Danny Wilson or Kyle Bartley returning on loan would be a good short term signing but full time signings should be the priority.

The rumours about Carlos Cuellar are a promising start as Cuellar was key when first at the club and led them to the 2008 UEFA cup final. His return would be a crowd pleasing move.

 The midfield  needs a few additions urgently. A wide player is needed. Steven Naismith and Greig Wylde have done great but cover is needed or a winger to start as Wylde is still young so should not be under pressure and Naismith was originally a striker. 

Steven Davis in the centre of the midfield is one of the key players in the Rangers team. He needs a central midfielder to help him out as Maurice Edu and Lee Mculloch don’t seem to work with him and when Davis is not in the team Rangers are not the same.

As the season finished Kyle Lafferty and Nikica Jelavic were on fire. Jelavic has been great for Rangers since he signed and is paying back his heavy price tag of four million pounds.

Lafferty has had three up and down seasons for Rangers. When on form he has been great but at times his stupid actions have held him back. A striker to cover these two would be beneficial to Rangers as they lack cover up front. The rumours of David Goodwillie signing would be good news for Rangers as he is a talented player and McCoist is a known long time admirer of him.

McCoist could not have taken over at a better time at Ibrox. New owner, money to spend, McCoist and his familiar coaching team will have more at their disposal than Walter Smith had and if their results are the same then the Rangers fans will be very happy and it will lead to McCoist to be a successful manager as well as player.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Is this the Premiership Title decider ?




This Sunday Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford and what is usually a big game has everything at stake for both clubs regarding the outcome of the Premiership title.

Manchester United lead the Premiership by three points which is crazy compared to the eleven point lead Manchester United had over Chelsea on the ninth of April.

Chelsea have been on blistering form in the past few months since defeating Manchester United 2-1 at Stamford Bridge while Manchester United have struggled at times , stuttering and only just grasping the advantage in the title race.

Manchester United fell at the hands of Arsenal last Sunday while Chelsea overcame Tottenham 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. This will give Chelsea the advantage in terms of form in the league however Manchester United have just qualified for the Champions League final at Wembley this year where they will face Barcelona and this could lead to confidence from Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

Manchester United are chasing a historic double. If Manchester United win the Champions League(which they knocked Chelsea out of this season), it will be their fourth European Cup with three under Ferguson and the League which will hold even more prestige would be their eleventh under Ferguson but more importantly a record breaking nineteenth league title which would beat Liverpool’s record. These incentives help build belief that Manchester United have the edge and experience under Ferguson to win this match and a win would almost guarantee the historic nineteenth title.

Chelsea however have no other chance of silverware after crashing out of the other domestic and European cups. Carlo Ancelotti was on a shaky peg job wise a few short months ago. Fernando Torres’ lack of form or goals since his 50 million transfer in January has also put Ancelotti under a pressure as he just can’t drop a 50 million pounds striker and has had to try and help Torres out but Torres has still only returned a single goal and is being substituded regularly as he struggles.

A win at Old Trafford and a second Premiership title in a row however would surely change Ancelotti’s job safety. Two in a row would leave Ancelotti sighing with relief after a rollercoaster season.

After this clash both sides will have two games left. If Manchester United win they will be six points clear. If Chelsea win they will be top on goal difference.

With so much counting on this game would it surprise anybody if it ended up a boring 0-0 draw? I didn’t think so.



Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Crazy World of Mario Balotelli by Calvin Berry



Since coming to England Mario Balotelli has managed to go from problem to problem.

It was not a new thing for Balotelli as his time with Inter Milan was full of problems as well. Even the “Special One” Jose Mourinho could not control him.

Roberto Mancini who had coached Balotelli before Mourinho at Inter decided that Balotelli could help Manchester City to glory.

Since then Balotelli has been a mixed bag.  At times he has been great and there is no question that he has the quality to succeed if he keeps his head but more often or not he will lose his head. That is where the problems begin.

Soon after his arrival he began to hit the headlines with his off field antics with girls and antics like crashing his Audi and escaping unscathed. He also became an internet sensation recently when a video of him having trouble to put on a bib being watched over and over on the World Wide Web.

His antics did not just stop off the field, they spilled on to the football field  and he has picked up a few stupid Red cards. The red card he received in the Europa League against Dynamo Kiev for a karate kick on an opponent was crazy and these problems have led to his skill being overshadowed by his stupid antics.

After the FA Cup semi final Manchester derby he was at it again causing trouble. He celebrated Manchester City’s victory in front of the Manchester United fans and this led to a heated clash between Balotelli and Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand which threatened to overshadow City’s win for a little while.

Manchester City are having a successful season.. They are in a great position to win the FA cup and finish in the top four of the Premiership which would lead to City gracing the Champions League for the first time and Balotelli could still prove to be important for the rest of the season.

The problem is that he has to calm down and keep his cool. Too often does he descend into red mist and this could lead to him leaving City as continues to cause trouble.

Balotelli is only twenty one so he has time on his side to overcome his problems and if he can keep his head then he could go on to become a star for City and help lead them to glory in England and Europe as City continue to throw money at players and clubs as there onslaught for success continues.

Time will tell if Balotelli will calm down and the only thing for sure is the fact that no matter what Mario Balotelli will continue to hog the headlines. Whether it is the back pages or front pages is up to him.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Champions League Predictions

The UEFA Champions League has reached the Quarter Finals stage and the draw has made some cracking ties for Football fans to enjoy.

Here are predictions for the Quarter Finals matches.

Inter Milan vs Schalke 04:

Inter Milan will go into the first leg of on the back of a crushing 3-0 defeat at the hands of rivals AC Milan and Leonardo will hope they can bounce back quickly and that may lead to a completely different Inter taking the field against Schalke.
Inter look to have too much for Schalke over two legs however Schalke are a good side and with the experienced Raul who loves scoring in the Champions League leading the attacking line, don't expect Schalke to be pushovers.

I reckon Inter will have too much over two legs but Schalke will push them close.

1st leg: Inter, 2 Schalke  0
2nd leg: Schalke 1 Inter 1
Aggregat score: Inter (3) Schalke (1)

Real Madrid vs Tottenham:
After a surprise home defeat on Saturday which was coach Jose Mourinho's first home defeat in nine years, Real Madrid will come out fighting against Spurs and will be boosted by the news that Ronaldo is likely to feature in the first leg.
Spurs have been very impressive in their first ever Champions League appearence and they will hope to spring an upset like they did to AC Milan in the round before and they too will be boosted by the news that Gareth Bale is fit to play as he has been so important for them this season.
Real Madrid however, look too much for Tottenham but Tottenham will give their all in what will be an exciting tie.
1st leg: Real 3 Tottenham 0
2nd leg:Tottenham 2 Real 1
Aggregate score: Real (4) Tottenham (2)
Barcelona vs Shaktar Donetsk:
Barcelona have looked unbeatable at times this season and with Lionel Messi and company on blistering form , not many will give Shaktar a chance but the facts show Shaktar will put up a fight.
They have a higher win ratio in this seasons competition ,87.5 per cent to Barca's 62.5 per cent and have scored 18 goals in the competition, the same amount of goals as the high flying Barcelona and an incredible home record to match, Lucescu's side will certainly put up a fight.

Barcelona look unstoppable and i think a victory by a few goals in the first leg at the Nou Camp should kill off the tie with a draw in the return leg.

1st leg: Barcelona 2 Shaktar 0
2nd leg: Shaktar 1 Barcelona 1
Aggregate Score: Barcelona (3) Shaktar (1)

Chelsea vs Manchester United:

The English media will be drooling over this tie as two of "the big four" go head to head in what looks like an exciting tie.

Chelsea will be looking to avenge their 2008 final defeat on penalties to Manchester United by putting them out of this years competition and the Champions League looks like Chelsea's only realistic chance of winning silverware and they are hoping Didier Drogba, Nicholas Anelka and the misfiring Fernando Torres will start to click and the two that start the ties will put United to the sword.

Premiership leaders Manchester United will go into the tie slight favourites with Wayne Rooney getting back to his best form and if they can hold off Chelsea at Stamford Bridge they will fancy their chances of victory at Old Trafford.

I reckon Chelsea may sneak this tie over two legs with a victory on aggregate or by one goal.

1st leg: Chelsea  2 Man United 1
2nd leg: Man United 1 Chelsea 1
Aggregate: Chelsea (3) Man United (2)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Should standing areas return to British Football?


Could safe standing areas be reintroduced to British football soon?

If the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have their way then the answer will be yes.

At the end of March the FSF launched a campaign to bring in safe standing areas to football grounds and the move has been backed by a large number of football fans who see the campaign as welcome move in bringing back an atmosphere to football stadiums.

There are many teams in the lower leagues of football in Britain who still have standing areas and the amateur and junior leagues have terraces as well with no problems so there is evidence to show no problems would be created if safe standing areas are reintroduced.

German football has incorporated safe standing areas successfully which has led to bigger crowds at the games and the FSF claim that following the lead set by the German leagues, a more enjoyable experience at football games would be created.

Many people claim that all seated stadiums have ruined the atmosphere at football games and when some fans try to stand up and sing their support for their team they are singled out as troublemakers and advised to sit down.

This would not happen if areas are created so fans are able to stand for the whole game if they like and sing away while the fans who want to sit down can sit in the seated areas of the ground. The FSF believe this would be ideal for all football supporters.

However, the campaign could be over before it gains any momentum.

The 22nd anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster is this month and the 96 people who tragically lost their lives will never be forgotten. The disaster paved the way for a radical overhaul of British stadiums to make sure they were changed to be all seated stadiums to avoid any further fatalities.

Any move to bring back terracing would be met with the response that another disaster could happen which would be the main stumbling block if the FSF try to push the campaign.

Another would be the statistics on women and family attendance of football games.

Women make up 20 per cent of the English Premiership alones attendance with many more woman supporting their teams up and down Britain. This is double the number of women who attended football in the 90s.

Children at the football has also increased as the football grounds have become more hospitable and family friendly.

 The main reason for the higher attendance from women and kids however is safety as grounds are much safer than they were in the 80s and early 90s are there are strict rules and regulations to ensure the safety of the supporters.

The debate will go on if safe standing areas should be introduced however, unless the FSF can prove that there is no chance of another Hillsborough , safe standing areas in football grounds will stay as only a debate heard in the local pub or stadiums up and down Britain.

Monday, 21 March 2011

David Weir shows Doubters he still has much to offer

The 2011 Co Operative Insurance final brought joy to the blue half of Glasgow as it has done to more than any other club. Yesterday however the trophy was lifted by maybe someone who deserved to lift the trophy more than anybody else after the hassle he has been receiving.

That man is Rangers Captain David Weir.

Approaching his 41st birthday this May David Weir has done in his career that some may not have managed in two yet as he captains Rangers in their quest for their third title in a row , he would have been forgiven for thinking that he should have retired at the end of last season.

This season has had many positives for Weir but the last few months have called his role at Rangers into doubt with many unfairly writing him off as “past it.”

Outpaced and outplayed by Gary Hooper in Rangers’ 3-0 demise at Parkhead in the league at the end of February, Weir was the victim of criticism from many who claimed Weir should be dropped and recent games like the Europa League ties against PSV and Sporting Lisbon have seen Weir taken off when Rangers have been going for it which looked as if Weir may be dropped with Kyle Bartley impressing more and more each time he plays.

If a 24 year old has a bad game he is off form but because Weir is 40, his bad game at Parkhead was seen as the end of his career.

Walter Smith has stuck by his Captain and with Bartley ruled out of final many would have been worried about Weir being made vulnerable. Walter Smith was not one of these doubters.

David Weir finished the Cup Final as one of the best players on the park with the on form Gary Hooper in his backpocket and he finished the 90 minutes plus 30 minutes extra time looking like one of the youngest players on the park with a great performance which should cast doubt in the minds of people who say David Weir is too old to play for Rangers.

If this happens to be Weir’s last season as a Rangers player then he can leave Ibrox with his head held high no matter what the outcome is of the season after being a great servant and captain for Rangers. If Rangers do win a third successive title then David weir will have the last laugh over all the doubters and yesterday was a little victory on its own for Weir who will have had a laugh to himself when he got home and went to bed that night.

Age is only a number.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Toure not the first case of failing Drugs test.


As Kolo Toure serves his suspension after failing a drugs test, Toure joins the list of famous Footballers who have failed drug tests.

Medication has been blamed as Toure tries to prove his innocence but others have not been so adamant of their innocence:

Here is a few other examples of players who have failed drugs tests:

Diego Maradona:

One of the greatest players of all time had many ups and downs in his career. One major one was in the 1994 World cup where after only two games Maradona was sent home for failing a drug test for Ephedrine doping.

Adrian Mutu:

Adrian Mutu's career at Chelsea was terminated in 2004 after he failed a drugs test was fined and ordered to pay Chelsea for his misconduct. Legal battles have been on and off for years and Mutu who is now at Fiorentina is supposed to pay Chelsea 17 million euros which he is expected to challenge again.

Simon Mensing

Not as high profile but a recent stroy. Simon Mensing has just returned from a month long ban for failing a drugs test.Mensing was banned for a month positive  for testing for a banned substance methylhexaneamine.  He missed five games for Hamilton in total. Mensing revealed that the substance was in a dietary supplement he had purchased of the high street and he had taken advise before taking and believed there to be no banned substances in it. Hamilton and Mensing only revealed details of the ban after it had been served. He was banned between the 29th of January and the 28th of February 2011 and as soon as his ban was finished the player and his club came out blasting the way drugtests are handled.

As these examples show Toure is the latest in a line of failed tests but he will likely not be the last.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Where does the FA draw the line?



The FA cup has produced many magical moments over the years but Aston Villa's tonight was not one of them.

Beaten 3-0 by a rampant Manchester City does not sound terrible but when you look at the team selection you can do nothing but scratch your head.

Making eight changes to your side when going to face a clubin the FA cup  who are sitting comfortably in top four is a crazy idea. Gerard Houllier has shown that next weeks game against Bolton and survival in the Premiership is more important than winning a trophy this season.

A disappointing Villa season could have ended with some success if they had wnet for the Cup and won it but changes were made. Will the FA fine Houllier and Villa for his team selection? I very much doubt it.

The FA don't see dropping players for cup games as a problem however somehow changing your team around in the league is supposedly different. Just ask Wolves and Blackpool.

Wolves were fined last season over team selection and this season Blackpool were fined for making ten changes to their team for a league match against Villa they narrowly lost.


Ian Holloway and Blackpool were furious that they had been fined and you can see why. Why do the FA make you pick a 23 man squad if you are not allowed to use the players you have picked without scrutiny?

The FA will not charge Aston Villa as changing your team in the cup seems to be ok as teams like Arsenal and Manchester United do it every year against lower teams. The problem will lie with Houllier who is receiving severe criticism from his teams fans whoare angry that mid table is the aim instead of winning a cup as well as.

Houllier might not last much longer than the end of this season if the fans get their way.

Friday, 25 February 2011

League Cup Final 2011 preview


Last week Birmingham fans would have had little  hope going into this Sunday's Carling Cup final at Wembley against Arsenal.

Arsenal had just beaten the "best" team in the world at the Emirates and confidence was sky high with nobody  expecting Birmingham to stop Arsenal ending their six year trophy drought.

Fast forward a week and after Arsenal's makeshift side couldn't put a brave Leyton Orient to the sword in the FA cup which will now go to a replay,this will have lead to belief among Birmingham fans and if that was not enough then some big injuries has put Alex McLeish's Brum side in with a real chance of causing a big upset.

Theo Walcott will be missed and his pace can change a game in an instant with his eye for goal however, Captain Cesc Fabregas will be the big miss as the influential Midfield maestro is the heart of the Arsenal side and he will be missed on Sunday.

Birmingham have worked their way to the final and can cause an upset if they play like they have shown over the last few seasons and in this cup run. Full of team spirit who don't know when they are down.

Arsenal will still start as favourites and if Arsenal turn up then and Birmingham are not at their best then Arsenal will run amok as they can to any English side. When Arsenal play at their best there is not many teams who can compete with Arsenal at their best.

No matter who wins the Final should be an exciting spectacle for fans of both teams and neutrals alike.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Crawley Town's Big day out



The FA Cup is known for producing memorable cup ties and great draws that can lead to memorable games and upsets.

On Saturday Crawley Town have the chance to produce one of the biggest if not the biggest Giant killing in FA cup History as they travel to Old Trafford to face English giants Manchester United.

2nd in the Blue Square Conference with four games in hand Crawley town are the big spenders of the lower leagues however their big spending is nothing compared to what any team in the Championship never mind Premiership leaders Manchester United spend.

Manchester United seem to be cruising to the title without really having to step up to first gear, however it is unlikely that Sir Alex Ferguson will field his strongest side as he will trust his young stars and reserves will have enough to defeat Crawley who have never played in a match like this before.

Crawley have money and have splashed out on expensive signings which is big for their lever with acqusitions of Sergio Torres,Richard Brodie, Matt Tubbs and willie Gibson over the last year costing a total of £595,000 which shows they mean buisness.

Crawley have a chance to cause a massive upset that will go down in FA cup history if they beat Manchester United and all eyes on Old Trafford on Saturday that are not Manchester United fans will most likely be hoping an uoset is on the cards.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Top 5 loan signings of January Transfer Window

As the dust has started to settle on what was a record breaking January transfer window, the headlines were hogged by the bank busting efforts of Chelsea's 50 million pounds Torres swoop and andy Carroll's 35 million move to Liverpool which rightfully so where the major talking points on an incredible deadline day.
   The January Transfer Window was full of many other big money moves like Darren Bent for example however as well as these big money moves there was some important signings that cost nothing at all that could turn out important over the remaing months of the season and here is five that could turn out to be important signings:

 Yakubu, Everton to Leicester:    A few seasons ago Yakubu was one of the top strikers in the Premiership. Successful spells with Portsmouth and Middlesbrough earned him a big money move to Everton and Yakubu keps his striking prowess as he continued to torment defences in the Premiership. Injuries have hampered his recent from and a loan move to Championship side Leicester doesn't sound like a good move
 but 2 goals in 3 appearences so far could lead to Yakubu finding his form and tormenting defences all over England once again.
 Adebayor, Man City to Real Madrid: Jose Mourinho has had some problems with his forwards in his quest for glory with Real Madrid and a loan signing of out of favour Manchester City striker and former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor may not sound perfect but in Spain's recession it is looking like a wise move. Two goals already in his short time will help get the fans behind him and Adebayor has enough quality to fire Real Madrid to success.
 Obafemi Martins, Rubin Kazan- Birmingham:  Martins is a quick player who has the ability to score goals and torment defences. Birmingham are in a relegation dogfight so the loan signing of Martins could prove to be shrewd buisness by Alex Mcleish in his quest to keep Birmingham in the Premiership.Time will tell but on paper the signing of Martins could add some much needed pace and quality to the Birmingham front line which may be an advantage against their rivals.
 Stephen Ireland, Aston Villa - Newcastle: After falling out of favour at Manchester City when Mancini came to the club, Ireland was sold to Aston Villa at the start of the season as Milner went in the opposite direction. Ireland's time at Villa was short and not what he hoped for so a loan move to Newcastle could be perfect for both parties as he could help keep Newcastle up and also help get his career on the right track again.
Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea to Bolton: 21 year old Sturridge is a prospect for the future at Chelsea and Owen Coyle has pulled off a swoop with bringing Sturridge on loan for at least the rest of the season to help Bolton have a successful season. Two appearences so far and two goals to his name, Sturridge has began to show already why Coyle has brought him to Bolton and why Chelsea rate him so highly.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Letting Torres go could go either way for Liverpool


As we near the end of a relatively quiet January transfer window, things are starting to get a bit hectic!

With teams battling for players and lots of cut price deals circling the footballing world so teams can make a profit of players going out of contractin the summer, one transfer story has appeared from the crowd yesterday that has got everybody talking.

Yesterday morning Liverpool rejected an offer from Chelsea for their star striker Fernando torres in what is a believed fee of £35-40 million pounds.The Liverpool striker a few hours ago submitted a written transfer request to the club asking they consider Chelsea's offer as he is interested in the move and a new challenge.

Liverpool quickly rejected the request expecting him to honour his contract however has the damage already been done?

Fernando Torres is a fan favourite and the news will worry Liverpool fans who hope to hold on to Torres as they try and fight their way back to the top 4 after a disappointing season last season under Rafael Benitez which had carried on under Roy Hodgson before his dismissal.

Despite not having the best of seasons so far which has mostly been plagued by injuries or disappointing performances, Torres is one of the major players at Liverpool with 9 in 26 games so far this season and along with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher , was  "indespensable" to the club until today where things seem to have changed.

On the same day Torres is wanting out, Liverpool have signed a highly rated and so far proven goalscorer in Luis suarez from Ajax for £23 million pounds.

Suarez scored 111 in 159 games for Ajax and is rated as a top class player with his very impressive pedigree and his impressive displays in the world cup for Uruguay,in which he scored three goals while also being involved in the controversial "handball incident."

Suarez may be replacement for Torres or he may be his new striking partner but if he is the replacement and he continues to play the way he has for Ajax and Uruguay, Suarez will help Liverpool forget about Torres and will be their new hero while Liverpool get lots of money in from the Torres sale which would help invest in other areas of the team which has to be done if Liverpool are going to improve.

Selling Torres however, could lead to Liverpool slipping even more than they have as Torres has a prescence and like Steven Gerrard for Liverpool,when they are on the park the other players seem better and more confident with great players lik Torres alongside them and they know they can create magic, scoring great goals every so often.

We will see in the next few days if Torres moves or if he stays until at least the end of the season but sand in boss Kenny Dagleish has a job on his hands making sure Liverpool are fit to continue their rise up the table no matter if he stays or goes.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Miller's departure not the main problem for Rangers in their title challenge:

Saturday's loss at Tynecastle to Hearts has caused a bit of doubt among the Rangers support and the media on whether Rangers will reclaim the SPL title for the 54th time this season.Has the departure of Kenny Miller cost Rangers the SPL title?

The answer is no. Kenny Miller's departure is a big blow and his 22 goals have helped Rangers to the position they find themselves in right now however there is a much bigger problem than where the goals will come from.

There are strikers at Rangers who have what it takes to step up to the plate such as Jelavic, Naismith and Lafferty who could fill that void for Rangers and rumours seem to suggest Kris Commons will be at Ibrox any day now which would be a good signing and would bolster Rangers' attacking numbers, however Rangers may have to change the way they play if the title is to be taken back to Ibrox once again.

Rangers never seem in a rush when attacking and nobody seems to go for goal straight away. It sometimes looks like they are trying to avoid having to take a shot by passing it quickly and shifting the responsibility.When this is mixed with the odd case of mistaken choice when shooting Rangers don't seem to create many clear cut chances and hardly any of the chances Rangers create are inside the box.

The strikers are not given the support they need from a midfield which is able to pass the ball around well but rarely manages to create clear cut chances and this leads to frustration in front of goal which has been shown particularly in last few games against Inverness and Hearts .

The defence isn't exactly in great form either and at times is a bit shaky and for me there is two main reasons or players to blame for this: Lee Mculloch and Madjid Bougherra.

Lee Mculloch hasn't made an impact in a game for Rangers in a while and Madjid Bougherra has to start staying in his position as he is leaving the defence open for a counter attack every time he tries to play winger, midfield and striker and he should just leave these roles to the people who were originally put in these positions by the manager.

Rangers are still in a good enough position and a win tomorrow away to Hibs will help return some of the confidence as well as getting revenge against Hearts at Ibrox next week. With two games in hand over a Celtic side five points aheads of Rangers, Rangers need to win their games in hand and continue winning to maintain their position at the top of the pile.

A 4-4-2 with Jelavic and Naismith up front seems to be the best option available to provide the right stuff needed up front and both can find the net which is needed.

Rangers may stick to the way they are playing and it could come right but no matter how they play, the next few weeks are crucial to Rangers' season and they have to play at the highest level they can and if they do this, they will be in the best position possible to keep up their chase of trophies on four different fronts and winning the league with maybe a few other trophies would be the perfect way for Walter Smith to bow out at Rangers.

A change in style would help make this perfect ending for Walter's second reign at Ibrox and help make it an easier trasition to whoever the next manager is.

Monday, 10 January 2011

El Hadji Diouf - lower life form than a Sewer Rat?

"In my opinion he is an absolute disgrace"-Jamie Mackie
"I would say he was a sewer rat but that would be offensive to sewer Rats."-Neil Warnock


The words of QPR manager Neil Warnock and striker Jamie Mackie about El Hadji Diouf could not be anymore spot on when discussing a man who has constantly disgraced Football fans in the Premiership, fans of football and just people in general with his constant antics that shame the football club he is playing for at the time.

Yesterday which was Sunday during the Blackburn/ QPR  Fa Cup game  Scottish International striker Jamie Mackie contested for a 50/50 ball with the Blackburn defender Givet however they collided and both players had to be stretchered off after the incident which had no malice or intent and the players even chatted after the game to show there was no feelings.

As Mackie lay on the floor writhing in agony with what has now been revealed to be a broken leg ,El Hadji Diouf ran over shouting obscenities at Mackie branding him a disgrace and screaming "F**k you and F**k your leg you are a disgrace among other obscenities"

Every other player looked on ashamed and even his team mates looked ashamed as diouf disgraced himself again.It was a fair challenge which both players had every right to go for and Mackie done no wrong.He is an honest professional who was not in the wrong at all and his season is now over which is a shame as Mackie has been on form this season with his 9 goal helping QPR to the top of the Championship. He also made his Scotland debut this season which means he will never forget this season although it had an abrupt ending which was not fair for the player but he will be back fighting next year and he has expressed his support for his team mates to fire QPR to the Premiership so he can face Diouf again.

As Mackie's career gets better and better, the same cannot be said Diouf. Hated by many fans across Britain for his antics, Diouf continues to shame wherever he goes.

When Diof was at Liverpool he caused all the wrong headlines when during a Uefa Cup game against Celtic at Parkhead he spat at a fan in the home support. The incident caused furious backlash and Diouf was banned for a few games as a result of the incident.

Diouf hit the headlines again when he spat at Middlesborough fns during a loan spell with Bolton. And a few weeks later he was caught on camera spitting in Arjen De Zeeuw's face who played for Portsmouth at the time. Diouf was charged by police and given another ban.
El Hadji Diouf

Diouf has showed time and time again he will never learn and Blackburn should disassociate with Diouf as quick as possible as he has shown he has trouble on many occasions and he doesn't seem like the type of player who was once voted as African footballer of the year.

There is no doubt he could be good if he kept his calm and didn't go crazy all the time.He has had enough chances to change and he never has. Neil Warnock describing him as worse than a sewer rat is probably one of the nicest things anybody has said about Diouf and it is hard not to agree with Warnock.

I think most teams would rather have a sewer rat in there squad.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

10 Team SPL may not be popular but it is necessary



Today the SPL clubs voted in agreement for a 10 team SPL tier which may be seen by many fans as a big problem. The proposal has been widely seen by fans as the wrong move and a backwards step. A recent survey showed. 88% of the people asked in a recent survey of Scottish Football fans were against the proposal of a 10 team SPL and fans of teams outside the SPL are also against regionalised leagues and Football fans will feel hard done by after showing their view against the plans.

However, the plans are going to go ahead and although seen as a problem now, a ten team SPL could be a move forward in Scottish Football instead of the backwards step many see it as.

A 16 team or 18 team SPL may be seen as an exciting league setup however an 16 or 18 team league would never work with the way Scottish Football is right now. A 10 team SPL makes sense as it will not be a massive change with only two teams dropping out of the SPL and it would get rid of the horrible split.

The split doesn't work and causes many problems as it never worls out even. The team who finishes 7th in the league before split can finish 5th or 6th after the split which is stupid and the fact that every year a few teams has played another team three times at home or away and once the reverse in the league as the SPL fixtures always end up confusing shows obvious problems that have been in the game for years and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place so good riddance to them.

Play offs are the same for promotion and relegation or for the title itself. Why should a team that finishes 8th be relegated before the team that finishes 9th? Why should the team that finishes 4th be able to win the league instead of the team that finishes 1st? It doesn't make sense and it doesn't matter how exciting it would be it shouldn't be aloud to happen. The funniest thing about the call for the SPL title playoffs is the teams calling for them are the teams who are against the split!

The new SPL plans will reportedly bring more money to the clubs in the SPL which will be one of the main reasons for the new SPL plans being passed.The game needs to be improved and mnay clubs earning more will be very beneficial to the game. An SPL 2 if it is introduced will also make more money available to the teams in the SPL 2 and this will be great for the game.

I have already shown my support for the plans and i am very happy that the 12 team SPL will be no more and it will take the split with it. It may not be everybodys cup of tea but in the short term at least it will be beneficial to the Scottish game until improved plans are created.Lets hope the next meeting to discuss the introduction of earlier season starts and winter breaks are just as productive.