Claude Makelele's grit in Chelsea's midfield and ability to play a quick pass made him the
fitting example of the 'Claude Makelele' role, whatever that means.Â It's even been said that he's
managed to define the holding midfield position as much as Franz Beckenbauer the sweeper role.Â
And he's now cashing in on the footballer bio.
The last dance of the season, of every season, the FA Cup Final is the jewel in the English
Football Crown. Last year's final betweenÂ Cardiff and PortsmouthÂ was arguably the exception, but
this year's certainly isn't:
Underdogs Everton come into the final for the first time in 14 years, since Joe Royle's infamous
'dogs of war' - led by the terrifying Duncan Ferguson - beat Manchester United in a final that was
described by many as "rubbish".
Barnsley and Cardiff City charged toward the final in a gripping giant-killing warpath. They
toppled Liverpool, Chelsea and Middlesbrough in their wake. (Boro were still a mid-table Premier
League side, so their undoing was still a feat.
Â With the Premier League race done and dusted and the Champions League trophy spending the summer
in Catalonia, there's only one more piece of silverware on offer in the 2008-2009 season, and
either Everton or Chelsea will lay claim to it tomorrow at Wembley. Who's in and who's
out - Frank Lampard, Alex and Juliano Belletti are available for Guss Hiddink's alleged
swan song as Chelsea's manager while David Moyes can select Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar, if he
Liverpool have been handed a massive boost with the news that Fernando Torres
has signed a new contract with the club. The extension of the Spanish forward's contract is a key
step forward as manager Rafa Benitez continues to turn his side into genuine title contenders.
The former Atletico Madrid striker has signed a four year extension which will keep him at
Anfield until 2014.
Football is often at its best when it revels in simplicity. And Barcelona used a simple
principle to win yesterday's final: if you never give your opponent the ball, he cannot beat you.
Sounds like something out of the Art of War. Maybe it was. United did have some time on the ball,
but it came in such short supply, they couldn't develop any serious attacks after the opening
Only a few days remain before the polls close in the inaugural EPL Awards, so if you haven't
voted yet, be sure to vote before midnight ET on Sunday, May 31st.
The voting is still very close in many categories. You have a chance to vote for the best
players, teams and managers of the 2008-2009 Premier League season as well as the best podcasts,
radio shows, web sites, football commentators, bloggers, football blogs and much more.
With the Champions League Final over, we now can look forward to the FA Cup Final this Saturday
featuring Everton against Chelsea in what promises to be an entertaining match with two teams very
hungry to win the trophy. There's alot of news and surprises in store in the build-up to the FA Cup
Now that the 2008-2009 Premier League season is over, it's time to take care of some business.
Namely announcing the winners of the Premier Fantasy League (EPL Talk private league), the winners
of the two I Know The Score (IKTS) leagues and a look at how well you, the readers, and I did in
our predictions for the final 2008-09 Premier League table.
Manchester United couldn't have picked a worse night not to show up in one of the most important
games of their club history. The Red Devils were so close to history. Just 90 minutes away from
being the first team ever to win two Champions League Finals back-to-back. So close to putting Sir
Alex Ferguson is the record books as one of the most successful club managers in the history of the
And now it's time for all good little football writers to predict the winner of today's final.
No dodging the question. No avoiding the responsibilities of punditry. Well, Clyde, I think
it's too close to call. I mean, if we don't pick a side, we're being wishy-washy, right?
Readers want deliberate statements.
Today is the day when we will crown, or perhaps re-crown, the champion of Europe.
As usual, EPL Talk has you covered. At 2 p.m. EST today, don't forget to check out our live
blog, hosted by Dave Warner from a sports bar in Cary, North Carolina - or about 55 miles from
where I'm writing this.
The above "Every Team Needs The Spark" video from Adidas featuring Lionel
Messi and promoting his new football boot he'll be wearing for tonight's Champions League
Final. It's the TUNIT boot â€“ the F50i.The new design boasts SprintSkin technology, the first-ever
single-layer, thermobonded upper designed to envelop the player's foot like a second skin.
As we count down the hours until tomorrow's clash of titans in Rome, wondering if we're going to
enjoy a goal fest or another penalty kick shoot-out, here's a look at the most memorable European
finals from the last ten years:
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan 2005
One of the most legendary comebacks of all time in any sport.
Some years, it seems like the UEFA Champions League is one part football, four parts money and
twelve parts hype. This year, however, the hype surrounding the Champions League Final certainly
seems justified. Manchester United v. Barcelona. Champions of England v. Champions of Spain.
The only thing that surprised me about Ricky Sbragia's resignation was the timing of it, coming
just 20 or 30 minutes after the final whistle. It was odd to watch Niall Quinn speaking about his
manager not wanting to take up the option of another year as manager, whilst Sbragia stood there
So less than 24 hours after Promotion to the Premiership and the usual round of tired cliches
and articles about "brave little Burnley" are beginning to pop up on-line and in the press. Do they
never learn, Do they know the football history attached to this club? Burnley fans will probably
laugh in the face of these doom mongers and pessimists, they're just glad that they still have a
club to support and after you've faced that, you can cope with anything.
Paul Merson. The name conjures up many memories. For some, it's the troubled footballer who
suffers from addictions of drugs, gambling and alcohol. For others, it's the former England
international footballer Paul Merson, who played 327 matches for Arsenal.
If you're wondering what the legend has been up to lately, he's been doing the dinner circuit in
the United Kingdom which consists of speaking engagements at sports and men's clubs.
The weekend promised excitement, drama and last-minute heartache with several sides still
fighting for survival at the season's very end. Sunderland, Hull, Newcastle and Middlesbrough were
all on the edge of the cliff. Some already hanging off the side. Others teetering on the brink. In
the end, four losses would keep all sides in their places.
Burnley Football Club has been promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its history
after an impressive 1-0 victory against Sheffield United in the Coca-Cola Championship Playoff
Final at Wembley Stadium this afternoon.
Wade Elliott scored the all important goal for Burnley in the 13th minute after his long range
effort found the top corner.
Images of Aston Villa's new away football shirt for the 2009-10 season have been released on its
website. The new kit is currently available for pre-order and will be officially launched on June
I'm not sure what it is about Nike, but many of their new shirt designs feature pinstripes which
I'm not a big fan of whether it's the United States men's national team home strip, the new blue
one for Arsenal or other pinstripe designs.
2/10 - Newcastle's bad boy typifies their season. Fancy a McDonald's, Joey?
West Brom: A season of Ifs, Buts, Maybes and Not Quites for The Baggies this season, but it was
nevertheless extremely entertaining. Tony Mowbray will not leave, nor should he, and he has created
a side who played some of the most exciting football this season.
Wembley, the venue for Monday's Championship play off final.
Well the epicÂ survival Sunday isÂ now overÂ and itÂ includedÂ tears flooding in Newcastle and
Middlesbrough - not to mention Fulham qualifying for Europe and Ricky Sbragia quitting as manager
We now turn our attention to the Championship final tomorrow at Wembley between Sheffield United
and Burnley, contesting for that precious final place in the Premier League.
It's finally here. This is what we've all been waiting for. The final day of the Premier League
season. Cue the TV footage of football supporters biting their nails, heads in hands, young
children crying and fans frozen in their seats even after the final whistle.
And, of course, we cannot forget the jubilant supporters singing, dancing and crying tears of
joy as their team stays up.
Should he be appointed Chelsea manager, will Ancelloti continue his trophy throwing antics at
I think we are all about 90% sure nowÂ that Carlo Ancelotti is to take the reigns at Stamford
Bridge.Â Rossoneri vice-president Adriano Galliani confirmed last week that the club will make a
statement on Ancelotti's future this coming monday, after achieving Champions League
With West Bromwich Albion's fate sealed last week we canÂ now prepare ourselves for a dramatic
conclusion to the Premier League season on Sunday.Â The neutral (including yours truly)Â will
relish it and will want to see as many twists and turns as possible. Anyone supportersÂ involved
will have struggled to sleep for a week.
We preview the 2009 UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United.
Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports, Chris Oakley of Some People on the Pitch, Phil Schoen who calls
LaLiga matches for GOL TV and South Florida Sun Sentinel Soccer writer Jeff Rusnak joins us.
Hear each of our guests feelings about the matchup in Roma as well as their feelings about the
seasons both sides have had and some general thoughts about European Football.
A few important house notes before this long holiday weekend (Memorial Day in the United States,
and a Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom):
The latest episode of the highly-recommended Soccerlens Podcast, hosted by
Stephen Darwin, features an interview with yours truly about the final weekend of the Premier
League, my predictions on how are going to get relegated, what team will give Man United a run for
the money next season, what position Liverpool needs to fill to have a strong chance of winning the
league next year, and much more.
With Newcastle teetering over the relegation trap door, skipper Michael Owen will lead a mass
exodus at the club, should they fall through it into the Championship on Sunday. With Owen out of
contract it is likely that he will leave the club in the summer regardless. The question is where
will he go?
So, how's your nerves? Sky Sports News have today been running an article about stress relief
for fans for Sunday. Tips included having a hot bath, avoiding alcohol and meditating to stay
relaxed in the build up to the final round of matches in the Premiership. Which will be no help to
any of the fans who's nerves are probably already shredded about Sunday.
This Wednesday's Champions League Final will be a mix of emotions both on and off the pitch.
Reason being is that it'll be ESPN's last coverage of the Champions League before they hand the
"keys" over to Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports for next season. After broadcasting the
Champions League for 15 years, I for one will definitely miss ESPN's coverage.
Diomansy Kamara celebrates comeback vs Manchester City
For most of the season in the Premier League all the attention is focussed on the major issues
at the top of the league. The race for the title and the battle for the big prizes grab the
majority of the headlines and the lesser lights of the league are left to battle it out for much of
Remember how awful Tottenham were at the beginning of the season? Their fixtures and results
page looked like a game of Duck, Duck, Goose only the ducks were losses and the goose was a draw.
One squinted at the players dressed in white, wondering where they came from and what they had done
with the team who'd been knocking on the Champions League's door only a couple of seasons
Followers of English football have a lot on their minds right now. There's the final day of the
Premier League season followed a few days later by the Champions League Final in Rome. But just
around the corner is one of the most traditional and glorious days of English football, the FA Cup
What do you do if you're the programming director of a soccer channel and you don't have the TV
rights to this year's Champions League Final featuring the giants of Manchester United against
Barcelona? If you work at Fox Soccer Channel, you provide seven hours of live coverage from Sky
That's what Fox Soccer Channel has planned for next Wednesday, May 27th, 2009.
With another season drawing to a close and the usual suspects in their normal places in the top
four, isn't it about time that the second level of teams finally pushed up to join them? With
Everton once again in a Europa League place, Villa making massive strides, despite the fall away
they suffered after Christmas, Harry Redknapp finally making Tottenham hard to beat and Manchester
City getting ready to add to the squad to make them more consistent, next season may finally see
the gap between the big 4 and the other 4 draw a little bit closer.
A picture has been leaked of Manchester City's new home, away and third football kits for the
09-10 season. Designed and manufactured by Umbro, and featuring new sponsors Etihad Airlines
emblazoned across the front of the shirts.
During the past few seasons, Manchester City have been on the receiving end of some awful shirt
A new photograph has been leaked that features the new Arsenal away kit for the 09/10 season.
Modeled by Theo Walcott, the navy blue away strip is designed and manufactured by Nike, sponsored
The new Arsenal away football shirt features pinstripes and a polo-shirt styled collar.
When Mark Hughes agreed to replace Sven Goran Eriksson last summer, no doubt he knew things
would be interesting at Manchester City, it very rarely isn't in the sky blue half of Manchester,
but I doubt he'd have expected anything like the events that ultimately played out. What with the
takeover and the crazy final day of the summer transfer window, with City making 10 bids of over
Â£15 million for players, it was probably the maddest 24 hours the City faithful could remember in
The season brought no trophies to Anfield... Manchester United tied the league title record...Â
The big money summer signing proved a flop... Seven miserable home draws... Mid-season position
squandered... Lengthy injuries to the big guns...
The majority of Premier League clubs have already announced release dates for their new
2009-2010 football kits. Many of the clubs will adorn themselves in new home, away and third kits.
Please note that the dates are subject to change.
Arsenal: June 25 (away, 2009-2010 season), July 23 (third, 2009-2010
Aston Villa: June 20 (away, 2009-2010 season), August 13 (home, 2009-2010
Birmingham City: June (away, 2009-2010 season), August (home, 2009-2010
Blackburn Rovers: May 14 (away, 2009-2010 season), July (home, 2009-2010
Bolton Wanderers: June (home, 2009-2011 seasons)
Chelsea: May 14 (home, 2009-2011 seasons), July (away, 2009-2010 season),
August 27 (third, 2009-2010 season)
Everton: June (home, 2009-2010 season), July (2009-2010 season), August
Fulham: Unknown at press time
Hull City: Unknown at press time
Liverpool: June 11 (away, 2009-2010 season), August 27 (third, 2009-2010
Manchester City: July (home, 2009-2010 season), August (away, 2009-2010
Manchester United: June 29 (away, 2009-2010 season), July 16 (home, 2009-2011
Middlesbrough: Unknown at press time
Newcastle United: May 14 (home, 2009-2011 seasons), July 23 (away, 2009-2011
The four teams have been named for the 2009 Premier League Asia Trophy to be played in China
between July 29-August 1, 2009. It's the first time the tournament will be played on mainland China
when Beijing will be the host to Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Hull City and Beijing
It's the news that soccer fans with Comcast have been waiting for. ESPN and Comcast have agreed
to deal to bring ESPN 360 to Comcast customers by the fall of 2009.
Up until now, none of the 17 million Comcast subscribers had access to ESPN 360, the broadband
video site that features the Champions League, Coca-Cola Championship, Serie A, Major League
Soccer, Bundesliga and several other leagues.
The final day of the 2008/2009 Premier League season is this weekend, and all of the attention
will be focused on the bottom of the table to determine who will be relegated or not. Here's the TV
schedule for residents in the UK and USA:
The predicted great escape was sadly not to be for West Bromwich Albion, a 2-0 defeat to
Liverpool condemned Tony Mowbray's side to life in the Championship. It seemed a late run of form
was going to provide the springboard for the Baggies to perform another miraculous feat, ala 2007,
but it was too little too late for them as relegation was confirmed on Sunday.
Is Roy Keane smirking right now? Is he rolling his eyes? Both?
For two years Sunderland was Roy Keane's baby. He took the struggling side, nurtured it back to
health and delivered it from the relegation zone of the Championship and back to the top flight. In
every transfer window he made moves to improve the squad.
World Soccer Daily host Steven Cohen issued an apology Monday in response to his inaccurate
statements he made in April when he blamed Liverpool fans for being the root cause of the
Hillsborough Disaster, as well as other false claims.
In an open letter to his listeners and readers, Cohen said "I would like to apologize for
comments made on World Soccer Daily on Monday April 13th that referred back to an event from April
1989 (the Hillsborough Disaster).
All they needed was a win to make sure they were free of being dragged in to the final day
relegation battle against a side guaranteed Premiership Football for next season but Portsmouth
proved a bridge too far for Sunderland. They will now go in to Sunday's final round of matches
knowing whatever happens they have to match Newcastle United and Hull City's results come 6pm to
have any chance of survival.
It's perhaps inevitable in this day and age that footballers will not follow in the footsteps of
their predecessors into the inevitable job opportunities that present themselves. Manager, Coach,
Television pundit, Pub landlord, Priest and Horse trainer are just some of the roles that former
players often either fell into, or chose to follow their career.
I admit it. I was fully dazzled by Amr Zaki when he first came to play in England. The stunning
goals came so quickly. And they were gorgeous. Wigan Athletic's unknown striker just needed half a
second on the ball to make miracles happen and it seemed like the goals were going to stream from
his thirsty feet all season.
Why do managers always complain about opponents resting players on the last game of the season?
Alan Shearer became the latest to ignore 37 games in a season when he admitted he was worried that
Manchester United and Chelsea will rest players for the last round of Premiership matches. Yes
they're playing Hull City and Sunderland, Newcastle's relegation rivals, but the Geordies aren't
3rd bottom out of bad luck.
It says a lot, for better or for worse, that Manchester United's eighteenth championship sent
barely a ripple through the footballing press.Â Most headlines read, "Man United 0 - Arsenal 0,"
with United's Premier League-winning feat mentioned in the sub header.Â It seems the Premier
League ended some time ago, perhaps when Liverpool drew Arsenal in a more exciting fashion then
Saturday's soaking wet kick about (or at least for me, when Aston Villa drew Stoke in early
The decision makers at the Premier League and IMG Media are finally starting to wise up. Classic
Premier League matches and goal highlights are now available on iTunes, but only in the UK iTunes
store, for now.
The deal between the Premier League, IMG Media and Apple means that iTunes users in the United
Kingdom can now download up to 50 Classic Matches from 5 seasons from 2002/03 up to and including
The past several months have been a game of cat and mouse for Fox and ESPN. This year has
already seen Fox beat ESPN to the UEFA Champions League TV rights in the United States, Central
America and South America. Now, ESPN along with SBS have acquired the TV rights in Australia to the
Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup
According to The Australian, it's not known whether Fox tendered a bid for the Australian
Gareth Southgate's Middlesbrough look al but destined for the drop after a 1-1 draw against
Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon. Sanli Tuncay scored their only goal, which was a sublime
overhead kick. But the impotence of the Boro' attack was apparent as they failed to convert one of
the many chances they fashioned.
So the race is run and we football enthusiasts are left to pick the bones out of a season that
hadÂ many twists and turns but concluded with a very familiar outcome. Yes, once again, for the the
third time in a row Manchester United have won the Premier League title, and deservedly so.
Liverpool pushed them all the way but their poor run after Christmas left them with too much to
Two new photographs have been leaked of what is allegedly Manchester United's new home shirt for
the 09/10 season. Both designs featured in the images are quite similar. The major difference being
the collar. But whether either of these photographs of the new home shirt is legitimate is unknown
at this time.
As far asÂ title winnersÂ go, Manchester United's Class of 2009 have been one ofÂ the best. In
cold, hard terms of consistency United have been absolutely incredible - 27 wins from 37 games, 87
points from 37 games and just 7 points being dropped at homeÂ belies a level of reliabilityÂ
unmatched since Mourinho's glory days in the mid-2000s.
Facing the sobering reality of a fourth season without a major trophy, Arsenal fans have been
disappointed.Â The disenchantment has created a culture of negativity around the club, which
Arsene Wenger lashed out at on Friday.
"When you look at people assessing the situations of the clubs, it has become ridiculous,"
On 27 May theÂ last meaningful gameÂ involving an English club will take place this season. That
is of course theÂ Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona - a nice little
birthday present for me. It will be an even better week for meÂ should my team prevail at Wembley
on 25th May.
As I watch Bolton's Reebok Hunt slide tackle Liverpool's Xabi Carlsberg at Carlsberg Lite
Stadium in Liverpool on an overcast Saturday in April, I am filled with an unbearable nostalgia for
As Fly Emirates Bennett holds the red card aloft in Hunt's face who behins his long walk of
shame, (brought to you by Reebok), I can't help but long for the days before players, refs and
stadia started adopting the names of massive corporate sponsors.
It's been a long but very exciting Premier League season. In some ways, the season has flown by.
The close title race between Manchester United and Liverpool has been incredible to watch. There
have been so many scandals off the field. On it, we've seen some wonderful goals and brilliant
play. We've seen Hull City rise and fall.
Just a quick note to let you know that National Public Radio (NPR) will be airing a segment
regarding the Hillsborough Disaster and the misinformation that Steven Cohen has been presenting on
its afternoon show, All Things Considered, which will be aired nationwide today (Friday)
between 4-6pm ET.
Wigan Athletic have unveiled their new home football kit for the 2009-2010 season.
The new kit is designed and manufactured by Vandanel and is sponsored by 188Bet, the same
company who is also sponsoring Bolton's football kit for the 2009-2010 season the first time a
company has sponsored two clubs in the same season of the Premier League.
Bolton Wanderers have unveiled their new home kit for the 2009-2010 season, and boy is it
Why on earth they decide not to consult fans regarding these designs before they're released to
the public, I don't know. For the 2008-2009 season, the Trotters wore a football shirt that was
designed, not on purpose I hope, to look like a sports bra.
In October 1999 Sam Allardyce breezed into his office at the Reebok Stadium to take over a club
at the foot of the first division table. Amazingly, he guided Bolton Wanderers to the play-off semi
finals the same season as well reaching both domestic cup finals.
Liverpool have come close to the title this season and if it hadn't been for some silly points
dropped along the way could have been even closer to Man United at the top of the table. It is
still possible that they can win, but it looks increasingly unlikely.
Benitez has built up a good squad and has some exceptional players in the team but what is next
Liverpool FC has officially unveiled their new away football kit for the 2009-10 season.
Designed and manufactured by Adidas with Carlsberg as sponsors, the new shirt is currently
available for pre-order. Pictured above, the new Liverpool away shirt is black with red and gold
The new away Liverpool football kit has been launched under a new advertising campaign from
Adidas entitled "Every Team Needs The 12th Man.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a weekend cruise to Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas. Sailing
from Fort Lauderdale, all I had on my mind was relaxation. The kids stayed at home with my
relatives. I left the laptop home. Instead, it was a rare weekend of just sun, drinks, gambling and
If Wigan had hosted United in mid-August rather than mid-May, they might have thought they had a
chance to hold onto the draw as the 80th minute mark passed. Ten minutes to go. A one all
scoreline. Why not? But this season has been a long lesson on Manchester's late resolve, and so
Michael Carrick's 87th minute winner came as no surprise to Steve Bruce or the Wigan players or
After Manchester United's 2-1 win over Wigan last night Alex Ferguson's men require just one
more point from their last two games to retain their Premier League title. On Saturday they take on
Arsenal at Old Trafford and will be eager to put one over their rivals and wrap theÂ league up in
front of their own fans.
Pictures have been leaked of Arsenal's new away football kit for the 2009-10 season. Pictured
above, the shirt is navy blue with thin light blue pinstripes and is designed and manufactured by
Nike. Emirates will continue to be featured as Arsenal's shirt sponsor.
The last time Arsenal wore a navy blue shirt was the 2001-02 season when they wore a navy blue
shirt as their third strip.
Over the weekend, the BBC gave football fans the length and breadth of the world the news that
they'd waited years to hear. Finally, after 13 years of clueless ramblings, smug arrogance and a
frighteningly poor knowledge of the game he professes to love, Tim Lovejoy is to be booted off as a
regular presenter of 5 Live's 6-0-6 football phone in show.
When Guus Hiddink stepped into the breach after a heartfelt plea from Roman Abrahamovich, the
only definite thing we knew was that Hiddink would only be there until the end of the season.
Hiddink has stuck to his line of response throughout his time at Stamford Bridge, politely but
firmly dealing with the increasingly banal questions fired at him over his future plans.
Yes, yes: Football is a team sport and all that... but lately it feels like Liam
Lawrence is keeping Stoke City clear of the drop all by himself. Two dazzling goals to secure key
points for his side will standout as the highlights of Stoke's late climb from the danger zone.
The first was a deft piece of in-the-box maneuvering 15 minutes from time in a tense match
against Blackburn Rovers.
If you would believe various pundits, the annoying debate that many football fans have been
subject to this year and last - Ronaldo vs. Messi - will come to its conclusion in the UCL final in
Rome.Â On the biggest stage in club competitions, the two most complete players in attacking
football will meet head to head.
The life of Theo Walcott must be a peculiar one, thrust into the limelight in 2006 as a 17
year-old when picked for the England World Cup squad, the glare has been on him ever since. When he
scored a hat-trick against Croatia for the national team last September he was hailed as the next
Alan Shearer needs all the good luck he can find in the dying weeks of Newcastle United's
disaster of a season. And after his 69th minute substitution of Michael Owen for Obafemi Martins,
fortune smiled on the Magpies' former number nine when their current number nine found the back of
the net almost immediately after being subbed into the match.
Depending where you live in the world, there's a good chance that a Premier League club will be
traveling during the summer of 2009 to play friendly matches near you. Here's the latest schedule
of where the clubs will be playing, as of press time (dates are subject to change):
Arsenal: Other than training in Austria, Arsene Wenger doesn't take his team
too far away from England on their summer preseason schedule.
After another defeat against a fellow top four side, it is clear that Arsenal have a fair amount
of work to do that will enable them to challenge for the end of season silverware once more.
Defeats from Manchester United and Chelsea have shown that the Gunners are a long way from being a
championship winning side once more, but the manner of the losses were far more telling.
As Manchester United moved closer to their 18th championship, it was Carlos Tevez who made the
back pages of the Sunday papers with the revelation that he probably wont be a Manchester United
player next season. After months of speculation it appears the Argentinean has ran out of patience
with United's lack of urgency in making his loan move permanent.
Why is it so hard to have a governing body with an ounce of common sense, UEFA just seem bereft
of it every time it seems like they'll do the right thing. Are your matches blighted by neo-nazi's
forming swastika shapes on the terrace? Here, have a fine of $3 and don't do it again. Do your fans
steal a visiting fans scooter, carry it into the ground, set it on fire and throw it on the pitch
during a game?
Too often, players will often blame off field problems for a lack of discipline, form or
fitness, it becoming something of a Teflon shield to protect them from criticism off fans and
players. It's a catch all term to cover all kinds of issues, from drinking (Too numerous to
mention) , drugs (Adrian Mutu) , gambling addiction (Michael Owen) to having a persecution complex
even though you do yourself no favours at all (Joey Barton).
When the final whistle went after Sunday's match, Arsene Wenger could possibly view the previous
7 days as one of his worst weeks since he began his 13 year tenure in charge of Arsenal. In two
massive matches, Wenger has seen his side start fantastically well in both games, get caught by a
sucker punch and then collapse, his players heads dropping with a collective "Here we go
Watching the brilliant game on Saturday between Fulham and Aston Villa two shining examples of
entertaining English football clubs outside of the Big Four, I decided to try something I
occasionally do. I turned off the volume.
The results were remarkable.
Believe it or not, but you get to "see more of the game" with the volume turned off because
you're not limited by only what the commentator points out - which is usually the obvious.
When the fixture list was released back in June 2008, no doubt the fans of both Newcastle and
Middlesbrough hadn't a thought that they'd be facing a six pointer to try and save their
Premiership survival with today's clash.Â Yet here they are, staring down the barrel of relegation
with West Bromich coming up close behind and it would seem a choice between any three from 5
After watching Arsene Wenger's young guns humiliated at home for the second time in less than a
week, the perennial questions surrounding Le Professeur's philosphy and transfer window policy are
being whipped about in earnest.
The possibility of a waning Arsenal side doing enough to steal third place from Chelsea could
only be called that, a possibility, if the Gunners' recent performances were anything to go by.
It was another exciting weekend of football in the Premier League. Liverpool continued to keep
the heat on Sir Alex Ferguson after the Merseyside club beat West Ham United 3-0, while Manchester
United moved one step closer to the 2008/2009 title with their comfortable 2-0 derby win. Is the
race over or is it just beginning?
Think of Herbert Chapman's Arsenal of the 1920s, ravaging England with the WM formation; Real
Madrid of the early days of the European Cup, with Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas wreaking
havoc on unsuspecting continental champions; Liverpool getting comfy on their "fucking perch,"
winning four European cups in the span of seven years in the late seventies and early eighties; AC
Milan's post-Berlusconi Dutch delight in the mid to late eighties and early nineties.
Allardyce's Arrival Has All But Staved Off Relegation
Who else could have saved Blackburn so effortlessly? Sat second bottom of the Premier League,
five points from safetyÂ with just 13 points from 17 games, Sam Allardyce succeeded Paul Ince as
Blackburn Rovers' manager, and in less than 20 games he has made them all but safe - almost in
Roy Hodgson, surely the Premier League manager of the year?
On 28 December Roy Hodgson accepted the managers post at Premier League sideÂ Fulham. The
Cottagers' immediate future wasÂ looking bleak - in the bottom three, with just 14 points on the
table. The revival was hardly immediate either,Â taking just two points from his firstÂ five league
games in charge.
One day hell will freeze over,the same day pigs will indeedÂ be givenÂ the power of flight.Â
Quite probably this will be the same day that Sir Alex Ferguson makes his departure from Old
On 6 November 1986 sat behind the managers desk for the first time at the helm of arguably the
biggest club in world football, even theÂ human-hairdryer himself could never have predicted the
magnitude of success to follow.
With their typical class, Chelsea players and staff asserted their belief, following their 1-1
agg defeat to Barcelona, that UEFA conspired against them to prevent an all-English final in the
Players, such as Didier Drogba, displayed their sentiment by all but physically assaulting the
referee as he left the pitch.
Away goals carry an immense weight in the Champions League.
They delivered Milan to the final in 2005. They saw Liverpool oust Barcelona in 2007, despite
the latter winning the leg at Anfield. And they pulled Barca's fate from the abyss in the 93rd
minute in this past Wednesday's controversial leg at Stamford Bridge.
The fall out from Chelsea v. Barcelona on Wednesday night continues unabated today as PFA chief
executive Gordon Taylor has called for the use of technology in football to assist referees.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: "We are putting referee's in too vulnerable a situation with the
conspiracy theories that abound that UEFA would not want an all English final, it was an accident
waiting to happen.
There's no doubt you've experienced the same frustration. You go to Google and search on a
specific phrase for your favorite Premier League club, click the 'Search' button and wet your lips
in anticipation. Except, the search results don't show the listing you were expecting. You try
again with a different search phrase thinking that this time, yes this time, Google will understand
Parts of the new away football kit for Blackburn Rovers for the 2009-10 season are being
unveiled on a daily basis. So far, the above pictured photograph/drawing shows what the new away
kit will look like.
Designed and manufactured by Umbro, the new away shirt will look drastically different than the
current away shirt (pictured here).
Ferguson and Ferdinand - probably laughing at the accusation they were losing their nerve.
Cast your minds back to Saturday MarchÂ 21 2009.Â Manchester United have just lost 2-0 away to
Fulham, I think weÂ were all surprised but it wasn't what one would deem unbelievable.Â SomethingÂ
IÂ did deem unbelievableÂ was the reaction ofÂ some fans and pundits after theÂ result.
The last time I visited my relatives in England, I was embarrassed after I switched on the
television and The Jerry Springer Show came on. As usual, the host, guests and audience
members went through their disgusting charade of ridicule and comedy at the expense of a few
members of the human race.
FollowingÂ last night's drama between Chelsea and Barcelona in the Champions League I felt it
was an appropriate occasion to dwell on memorable European encounters involving English teams in
the past.Â The Champions League/European Cup has at different times proved a hugely rewarding
hunting ground for English teams.
I've tried to find a football fan that has a strong disliking for Gianfranco Zola and failed
miserably â€“ the guy is just too darn nice!
Even those who aren't fond of Chelsea â€“ the club he played for so successfully - can't help
but respect and admire not just his skills as a footballer but his attitude and professionalism
both on and off the field.
Many have compared Manchester United's 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates last night to
Manny Paquiao's demolition of Ricky Hatton. In all honesty, it is clear to see the similarities â€“
Hatton and Arsenal were brushed aside by opponents with more speed, power and all round
I had said before the contest between Chelsea and Barcelona would be a contest of league styles.
Barca had yet to face an English side and this would be a vastly different context for the Spanish
giants. Chelsea would not allow them the space for the same kind of free-flowing football they
enjoy at home in La Liga.
For me a leading contender for manager of the year is none other than Everton's David Moyes. The
steps he has taken with Everton, comfortably 6th in the Premier League, an F.A Cup final to look
forward to and although lacklustre during the first few months, Moyes has brought the Toffees
forward, only to occupy that all to familiar area just below the big four.
If there was a Premier League Hall Of Fame, you could guarantee that many of Newcastle United
players from 1992 onwards would have made the list. Superstars such as Peter Beardsley, Alan
Shearer, Les Ferdinand and David Ginola would be certain inductees just to name a few.
You could also argue that many of Newcastle United's current players could be included in that
list too, but that's precisely one of the main issues of why I believe Newcastle are performing so
poorly this season and why they will get relegated.
The football season is nearly over for another year and you know you are getting down to the
business end of things when talk outside the Premier League turns to the play-offs. In England's
top flight there are still three games to go with essentially everything to play for. At the bottom
things are as they were at the start of the weekend after everyone from 13th downwards lost.
After announcing that GolTV has renewed its TV rights to the Bundesliga for the next three
seasons, a GolTV executive has revealed that the US TV broadcaster is also interested in the TV
and/or Internet rights to the Premier League which are up for renewal in the next 30 days for the
The clock is ticking towards today's Champions League semi-final second leg between Arsenal and
Manchester United at Emirates Stadium. As part of the excitement for the clash between the two
Premier League giants, click on the above video from Nike to watch Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas
and other stars strut their stuff.
Paul Aaron Scholes recently celebrated his 600th appearance in a Manchester United shirt.
Joining a club that consists of Ryan Gigs, Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes, where these players
receive plaudits, accolades and awards, Paul Scholes is a humble more understated type, preferring
to let his football do the talking, while also shunning the celebrity footballer lifestyle.
While this weekend could be the last stand for West Brom, there are four other key battles on
Â I have spent this morningÂ perusing the remaining fixtures for the relegation threatened
teams and it appears that everything seems to point to the round of matches starting Saturday 9th
May to Monday 11th May.
Liverpool fans voted Xabi Alonso man of the match against Newcastle. Clairvoyant passing and two
shots from distance that ricocheted off the bar: Alonso was a beast against the Magpies. But I
suspect it was his temporary martyrdom that won Alonso the honor over some of the other
I just returned from a weekend getaway to Nassau, Bahamas, so I didn't get a chance to watch any
football this past weekend. I'll write about my experience in Nassau sometime later this week, but
for now, the attention turns to the Champions League with two massive matches this week especially
for Premier League clubs.
It become an almost weekly occurrence throughout the season.
After each and every defeat Tony Mowbray, West Brom's beleaguered manager, has been forced to
batter away suggestions from the baying press that his side should change their style of play in
order to compete in the division.
When I saw Newcastle United's lineup today before their 3-0 loss to Liverpool, I said aloud:
Joey Barton's going to get a red card. I only meant it to elicit a laugh from friends, but
with Newcastle's fate in the balance and Barton's famous temper in mind, I had a vision of Barton
heading for the showers a bit earlier than his co-workers.
After another defeat, Newcastle United look destined for the Championship. Alan Shearer's men
have three games to save their season, but it appears too little too late, and although it is not
mathematically certain they will go down, performances on and off the pitch have made it clear they
are just not good enough to remain in the EPL.
Can Gareth Southgate keep Boro up? 25 goals in 35 games says he can't.
With West Brom's unfortunate defeat at White Hart Lane yesterday, the Baggies are all but
relegated with 28 points from 35 games leaving them 6 points behind Hull City - with the
Yorkshiremen having a game in hand.Â Barring a miracle, Tony Mowbray's outfit will be playing
Championship football next season, but who will join them?
Pottermus of Stoke City, sometimes plays under the name of Ricardo Fuller
When we talk about nostalgia and football we think of images of photographs of 20,000 people
crammed onto an open concrete terrace, a black andÂ white sea of flat-caps and players kicking a
ball that weighed half a tonne.
With four games of the Premier League campaign left, Fulham are leading the 'race' for seventh
place and for the Cottagers it will be a rare European adventure. This would of course be via the
all singing, all dancing UEFA Europa League.
This 'new' competitionÂ was created by reformatting and re-branding the ailing UEFAÂ Cup.
As Aston Villa's European dreams come to a halt, manager Martin O'Neill says he would allow
Gareth Barry to move on if the midfielder so desires. Once again, Barry is expected to request a
move to Liverpool. We all remember the tiresome saga of his transfer attempt last summer when
Liverpool tried to unload Xabi Alonso to fund Villa's hefty asking price, a reported 18m.
As we near the end of what has been and still is an exciting season in the EPL, the various
gongs and awards are being given out. As usual, they create plenty of controversy, particularly in
the case of Ryan Giggs, who was named Footballer of the Year despite only starting 12 league games
Man United boss sir Alex Ferguson, not content with moaning about Rafa Benitez's arrogance or
Arsene Wenger's team selection, has found another excuse for his side's failings: The changing
Yep according to Fergie the changing rooms at some Premier League clubs are below the standards
expected of the modern day footballer and he believes some sort of minimum code of standards need
to be brought in â€“ like those for the stadium terraces.
Well, I'm sure you're all aware that this season has produced some top-notch football, and some
horrible dross. So, let's get down to business, shall we?
10.) West Brom- What they lack in quality, they at least make up for with their desire to play
the game as it should be played. I applaud Tony Mowbray and his attempts to stick by his attacking
philosophy, despite the fact that it currently leaves West Brom at the foot of the table, and
almost surely- relegation to the fizzy-pops.