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.