Football

United 20 – Gerrard 0

I’m going to be interested to see how many Liverpool fans read past the title of this piece. If commenting on this blog was something that people did I’m sure it would be full of Liverpool fans saying how ridiculous the banner is and how I, as a United fan are just jealous of their season and to get back in my box. Well here is something that a lot of Liverpool fans might not expect I think the banner that flew over Anfield on the final day of the season was an absolute joke.

I’ve always described myself as a football fan first and foremost. Manchester United are my team, they have been since I first knew what football was and I will support them through good and bad times (and yes, this is really the first time in my life that you could consider bad although I’m sure Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich fans will tell me I have no idea what bad times are). Some might think that sounds kind of silly but let me explain the difference here. While I may have some fun with friends who support other football teams to me being a fan of football means that I can fully appreciate other teams, not just me own. I’m sure 90 percent of United fans still would never have a nice thing to say about Liverpool; the club or the fans I am someone who has openly said that if Liverpool son the Premiership title this year they deserved to and I would have applauded them for that, in the same way that today I applaud City. It’s about seeing above the rivalries, or at least not boiling them down to petty squabbling which is all too prevalent in football amongst fans.

Trophies Don't Make a Great Footballer

Trophies Don’t Make a Great Footballer

When I heard about the banner that flew over Anfield there was a part of me that found it funny, as someone who has a decent relationship with fans of other clubs, Liverpool fans included it’s the kind of thing I could say to someone who knows full well that I still appreciate Steven Gerrard as an all time great footballer. Those who arranged that banner would not have thought that, it would have been done because in their minds they think that the amount of trophies you win determine how good of a footballer you are.

If you are someone who thinks trophies won equals fantastic footballer have a little look at some of these names: Anderson, Raymond Van Der Gouw, Karel Poborsky, Darren Ferguson, Fabio and Luke Chadwick. All of those United players have at least one Premier League winners medal. Does that make them great footballers? Certainly not. For the most part it is a testament to Sir Ale Ferguson that he won so many titles with such dross but the fact remains that regardless of the number of league titles Steven Gerrard has one he is still one of the best footballers of his generation and someone that I am glad to say I have seen play.

This Man Has Four Premier League Winner Medals...My God.

This Man Has Four Premier League Winner Medals…My God.

It’s been funny over the years watching United fans (myself included) get annoyed with Liverpool fans who keep talking about their past glories. When they weren’t fighting for titles you would still always get Liverpool fans taunting United when they slipped up and missed out on trophies. So you would have thought that now the tables have turned this season you would have thought that United fans would have just sat quietly but no, the roles have well and truly reversed. I’m really not saying there should be no banter between clubs whatsoever (apologies for use of the word banter) but nine times out of ten there isn’t any humour intended when fans of these two great clubs come together. These people who flew the banner over Anfield genuinely believe Gerrard is an awful player and that him sticking with his boyhood club is something to laugh at. It isn’t.

It’s been a fantastic season for those who love football. Yes your club might not have had the greatest season but from the top of the Premiership to the bottom of League Two we have been treated to some fantastic football, as well as some utter dross of course. Here is looking forward to next season, here is hoping United are back challenging for the title but firstly, here’s hoping for a great World Cup and let’s just remember that whatever team wins the tournament there will be some absolutely awful players.

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Maybe Fulham Were Just A Bit Crap Mohamed?

Me and my friend Jona were having a laugh on Monday night during the ad break of Game of Thrones. We saw that Liverpool were 3-0 up and, as United fans, let out a massive groan. We kept talking about football and conversation turned to Fulham and how they were now confirmed to relegated to the Championship from the Barclays Premier League (it’s law that you have to call it that).

Now, Jona made the observation that it is obvious that Fulham have gone down because their new owners got rid of the Michael Jackson statue that stood “proudly” outside Craven Cottage over the years. We of course both had a little chuckle and then proceeded to watch the rest of Game of Thrones.

Fast forward a couple of days and the e owner of Fulham, Mohamed Al Fayed, has actually been saying that (and i’m paraphrasing here, it’s tough to actually understand what Al Fayed says) Fulham went down because they got rid of the statue. Now, this definitely does not sound like a bitter former owner having a pop at the new owner at all does it? Oh wait, it does.

Well, how about this Mohamed, maybe, just maybe the reason Fulham went down were because they were a little bit shit and not because of a terrible, terrible statue.

Michael Jackson statue Fulham FC

I don’t think this even needs a caption.

Something To Brighten Up Your Day

I didn’t watch the Chelsea / Madrid match last night so imagine my joy when I saw this on Sky Sports News this morning. Everyone’s favourite racist / cheater (excluding Luis Suarez) was crying his eye’s out after losing in the Champions League Semi Final.

Image

 

Any one else and I would have sympathy (except Luis Suarez). So, if you’re having a bad day, just take a look at the image above and have a chuckle.

You’re welcome.

Play to Win, Not to Entertain.

If England played football like Chelsea at the world cup and won it, I wouldn’t care less, it’s about winning. It’s not pretty, but it gets the results. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it week in week out, but if it gets results then that is what matters.

A lot of people will tell you that football is entertainment and while for us, the fans we can certainly see it as entertainment the fact remains, when all is said and done football is a sport, it is about a team playing to win trophies. You don’t play football as a kid to entertain your parents watching on the sidelines, you play to win and its the same all the way up the football pyramid, it doesn’t change.  It shouldn’t change. Just because football is now this huge global phenomenon the core goal is still the same, win football matches. Win trophies.

It's all about trophies

It’s all about trophies

While I would love teams I watch or have played for to play beautiful, free flowing attacking football I would still sacrifice that for victories. That feeling of winning outweighs anything else. If Chelsea end up winning the Champions League and maybe even the Premier League then do you think Mourinho, the players or the fans will care about the striker less team that was put out at Old Trafford earlier this season or the digs from other managers who have been defeated by Chelsea? Not at all, that feeling of having your club lifting a trophy is amazing.

There is that phrase that manager’s use just before they get sacked; it’s a results business. And that is the truth of it. While there are a few owners of clubs who might get rid of a manager for not being entertaining (and Abramovich was one of them, he seems to have accepted results over style now) the most important thing, especially in the modern game where the amount of money a club receives for just staying in the Premier League is astronomical, is results. Just look at the handful of clubs at the bottom of the Premier League at the moment.  There have been so many changes of manager because the results just have not been coming.

Yes as fans we would love to see free flowing football but whether its on a park on a Sunday, or playing at Anfield / Old Trafford at 3pm on a Saturday the main goal is the same, win a football match. You play the right tactics against the right teams.

Only the result counts

Only the result counts

To address the criticism of Chelsea a little more head on hear I actually think Mourinho would be playing a little more expansive if he had brought a striker in the summer or in the January transfer window, he is playing to his teams’ strengths. I have absolutely no issues with how he sets his teams up to get a result, Liverpool and Rogers were sore losers on Sunday and of course you can understand that a little, being close to their first title in over two decades and seeing it slip away must be heart breaking but Mourinho did his homework, knew Liverpool have one way of playing (which is beautiful to watch and will blow away 90 percent of other teams in the league) and set out his team to counter that and win. And he did.

What doesn’t sit well with me about Mourinho is how he criticises other teams for setting up teams against him in the same vein. He’s a genius when he does it, but Big Sam and West Ham play 19th century football when they do it.

Jose-Mourinho-001

Love it or hate it, Mourinho’s way of playing football is successful and while the larger football world might not look back in twenty years time and remember that classic Chelsea side who won all those trophies, the history books will still read that Chelsea won and if Mourinho comes out against Athletico Madrid tonight and heads to Lisbon to face his old club Real Madrid in the final then again his tactics from the first leg would be totally justified.

To take you back to the top of this piece I will ask a question of you: If England (or your nation if you aren’t English, I’m not UKIP) win the world cup playing the type of football Chelsea have in the big games this season would you really complain? Or would you be out on the streets waving your flags and having a few drinks? I’ll be out on the streets.

FIFA Manager 12 – Preview

Let’s get this out of the way right now, not everybody loves football management games. It could be because they don’t like Football in general or it could just be that people find them too fiddly, and I can understand why people would feel that way. As someone who plays football (when I’m not injured) and who has tried my hand at coaching and managing a side, I am one of those people who really quite enjoy the genre, and find it a perfect way for me to see if I can manage the egos of a top class football team (though I draw the line at trying to keep them away from ladies who aren’t their wives).

FIFA Manager 12 is the eleventh instalment of the FIFA Manager series and also happens to be the first time I have ever seen a FIFA Manager game running. Based in Cologne, the developers, Bright Future, have been working on the FIFA Manager series since 2007 and, since taking over the development reins, they have managed to produce a game that has gone down quite well with the critics. This year, FIFA Manager is looking to blow the competition out of the water with some brand new features and refinements of old ones. During a visit to EA’s offices last month, Producer Adrian Curry ran me through some of the new features for the game and talked over what I could look forward to getting out of this one…

The first thing that struck me is the quality of the presentation. In football management sims, I’m used to staring at the same dull menus – a massive issue for me in this genre as you’re usually just staring at a screen full of boxes and menus – but Bright Future have picked up on that and created some beautiful and intuitive menu screens. This was best shown off in the game’s 3D match engine, an enhanced and tweaked version of the previous FIFA engine that not only looks good, but provides minimal loading times in the transition from menus to game and certainly looks impressive.

The game plays out as if you were watching a game of FIFA but, at any time, you can make changes to your formations and tactics, differing from rival footy management sims by allowing you to make all of these decisions right there on the pitch, without having to trawl through lots of menus and sub menus. If you know that the opposition striker is dangerous and needs close attention, you can find the defender on the screen and check out his man marking stats while the game is still in full flow, and then instruct the defender to man-mark that target. As soon as you have made that man-marking call, you will see your defender attempt to get close to the striker, though unfortunately in our demonstration the opposition striker scored within seconds of being marked, but it just showed that it’s not a guaranteed way of always keeping your opponents from scoring. With defending as just one example I was shown, you can also make changes on the fly all across the pitch, instructing your midfielders to take more long shots and wingers to cross the ball more often, all while the game is unfolding in front of you, just like a real manager.

To read the whole preview click here to be transported to GamingLives.com

An Open Letter To Joseph S Blatter

Dear Mr Blatter,

I have been playing football for as long as I can remember. Whether it is just having a kick about with some friends on a piece of green, my first organised game at eight years old playing out a 2-2 draw and being named captain or the eleven a side game I played at the home of football, Wembley Stadium, just a few years ago after winning a competition. I have had passion for this sport throughout my entire life. Being born into a family obsessed with the game I was always going to be involved with it.

But I, unlike you and your organisation, find myself in a crisis. At the beginning of the 2010 / 2011 season I found myself captaining a Swindon Sunday League side that had just started up. The manager was the most passionate man I have ever had the pleasure of playing under, every training session was a joy because I could see that this man cared about his players, he wanted to see each and every one of us improve. I remember having conversations with him where he mentioned that he rarely slept the night before a game because his mind was racing with thoughts on the next day’s game. This man lit a fire under me and I wanted to play every second I could for him and the team, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Five games in I tore the cartilage in my left knee and had to have an operation which kept me out for the rest of the season.

Tragedy then struck for our Sunday League team. The manager lost a member of his family and had to leave the club leaving myself as the captain and our club secretary to run team for the second half of the season. We struggled through the remaining 10 games of the season scraping together a team at times so that we could fulfil fixtures. I must admit that I very much enjoy the coaching aspect and at one point could see myself setting up a kid’s team, helping bring through the next generation of footballers but more on that later.

I have recently found out that I must have another knee operation and this is where I find my crisis Mr Blatter. As someone who loves the sport of Football I find my enthusiasm, my passion, my love wavering. I am on the verge of taking the next year out of football because I do not think I can put everything I have into it. There’s a big chance I would miss the beginning of the season injured and do I have it in me to come back from this to play again? In a time when football is a tainted word in a lot of circles, do I want to work hard to come back into a sport that is rotten to it’s core?

What you must remember Mr Blatter is that what happens at FIFA has a knock on effect to anyone involved in the game, at all levels. If I wanted to start up a children’s team in my local area how could I convince parents to let their children start devoting a big part of their life to a sport whose name is mud? Wouldn’t they rather their children took part in a sport that people in the street had respect for?

Now, I do not claim to know the inner workings of FIFA but how difficult is it for you to come out and be transparent. You speak about the damage done to the reputation of FIFA and you claim to be sorry for the fans of football worldwide. If this was truly the case you would listen to the millions of real football fans calling for you to resign so that FIFA can be rebuilt, from the ground up. You refuse to see that the organisation is crumbling around you, two of your biggest commercial partners Addidas and Coca-Cola are getting worried, if they pull out of their dealings with FIFA would you still claim that there was no crisis?

With footballs name being dragged through the mud, with no end in sight, I can see myself staying away from organised football when I am fit again. I think you would agree that would be a shame and surely I can’t be the only one? There are probably hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are becoming disillusioned with the state of the game, the game that you have ruled over since 1998. I know football will go on without me but it would be sad for the sport to lose someone who at one time had thoughts of giving back to grassroots football.

Mr Blatter, if you truly cared about football you would come out and admit that your time is up and that your position is no longer tenable. You should make the decision to halt proceedings of this week’s sham election. You should also allow an outside organisation in to investigate the numerous allegations of corruption, if FIFA has nothing to hide like you seem to think then surely it wouldn’t be an issue.

Remember Mr Blatter, football is bigger than all of us and will ultimately prevail but it will prevail a lot quicker without you.

Yours Faithfully

Joe Dale