Friday, December 24, 2010

Blackburn's Samba Request Move Away from Ewood

Blackburn centre back Chris Samba has requested a move away from Ewood Park in the wake of the sacking of former manager Sam Allardyce by the club's new owners and the growing unrest within the squad. Seemingly disillusioned by the recent unfolding of events at the Lancashire club, the giant defender has stunned fans and new manager Steve Kean alike by requesting a move away from Rovers. Arguably ranking as one of the Premier League's most underrated defenders, Samba has established himself at Rovers on the back of displays of supreme strength and aerial dominance which has been a potent weapon for Rovers as part of the club's defense and attack in the previous couple of seasons.

But now it seems the Blackburn man is set for pastures new - with high flyers Arsenal apparently interested in signing the Blackburn powerhouse as manager Wenger seeks to add some much needed steel to their stylishly assembled squad during the forthcoming January transfer window. The 26 year old defender’s desire to leave Ewood is also very much on the radar of Fulham manager Mark Hughes who had previously signed Samba for Blackburn when he managed there in 2007. The loss of Samba would be a big blow for Blackburn and their ambitious new owners who stated they are looking to finish in the Europa League places in this year's Premier League.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Football Holidays in South Portugal

Portugal, which shares parts of the Iberian Peninsula of southern Europe with Spain, is a country rich and unique in culture. The cities are lively, and its beautiful countryside is famous the world over.  There are numerous Lisbon hotels that you can stay in when visiting the country from the more affordable variety to 5-star luxury hotels.  Being one of the more popular areas in which to enjoy a holiday, there are also several Cheap Hotels in Algarve that you can choose from.  However, with football being the major sport of the country, south Portugal is an excellent setting for football holidays and vacations.

Family Attractions Close to Lisbon

Portugal is one of the more family-oriented countries in Europe, allowing for plenty of family attractions within close distance to Lisbon, as well as in the city itself.  Holidaymakers will easily find numerous activities and entertainment venues for teens and tots alike, while the city is filled with play areas for younger children as well.  Some of the recommended attractions include:

Parque das Nações – with numerous attractions suitable for all age groups, this district is known as the entertainment centre of Lisbon.  This traffic-free district with its many riverside paths and walkways is the ideal setting for a family day out.

Colombo Shopping Centre – if shopping is your passion, this is the primary venue to explore.  Take the kids as well because there is a huge children’s play area on the top floor of this shopping mall.

Estrela Gardens – with its exotic plants, numerous ponds, and a children’s playground on the premises, this is another must-see family venue.

Football Season in Portugal

The popularity of football in Portugal began in the latter part of the 19th century, when Portuguese students returned from England and brought the sport home with them.  For the most part, the football season in Portugal lasts about 8 months starting in September and continuing into April.  However there are competitions and playoffs that continue through the summer.  During the regular season, a number of monthly awards are handed out such as Fair Play Award, Player of the Month, and Young Player of the Month.

The Current Football Leagues and Score Tables, Upcoming Games, and Rivalries

The 2010-2011 season is now underway and it should be an exciting one again as it has been in past years.  Along with the Portuguese National team there are two entities in the league systems which are:

Primeira Liga – founded in 1934 and comprised of 16 teams, this is the primary domestic competitive league of the country with Futebol Clube do Porto, Sport Lisboa e Benfica, and Sporting Clube de Portugal being the dominating clubs of the league. 

Liga de Honra (League of Honour) – there is also 16 teams in this league which has been in operation since the 1990-91 season.

One of the things that make the sport of football so exciting is the rivalries that occur every year.  In Portuguese football, the two biggest rivalries are Benfica versus Porto and Benifica versus Sporting.  Known for continual animosity between Benifica and the other two clubs, these always prove to be major clashes whenever these teams compete.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Owls Tax Deadline Extended by 28 Days

League One side Sheffield Wednesday have been given a boost in their bid to avoid administration and a mandatory 10 point deduction having been granted an extra 28 days to come up with the cash they need for an unpaid tax bill to HMRC. The South Yorkshire club were staring down the barrel of another winding up order from the taxman who is chasing £1.4 in unpaid bills, but the High Court has granted a 4 week extension in what it has called exceptional circumstances. The Owls are desperately seeking a buyer to help clear their total debts that are thought to be in the region of around £27 million, and to inject new cash into the club to buy players that can help launch them back to the upper levels of English football.

Although there have been several interested parties, only Leicester city chairman Milan Mandaric has so far shown proof of funds that were required by the clubs main creditor the Cooperative Bank – but he has now seemingly shied away from the deal having failed to make an arrangement with former Wednesday chairman Dave Allen over a reported £2.4 million pound debt. In spite of such public off the field financial problems Wednesday have made a reasonable start in League One following their relegation from The Championship last season and currently lie in 9th position - just 2 points outside the playoff places.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Geordie Powerhouse Carrol Ready for England Call

Geordie powerhouse Andy Carroll looks likely to receive his first England call up by national team manager Fabio Capello when the Italian selects his next squad for their friendly match with France at Wembley on the 17th of November. The Newcastle United striker has made an excellent transition from Championship football to life in the Premier League and has already netted 6 league goals this season - with his most recent the winner against Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. In spite of numerous recent problems in his private life that may have hit the form of some other well known English strikers in recent months (not mentioning any names of course!), Carroll has maintained his excellent start to the season with continuing consistent displays of power and aerial dominance.

Capello may see the 21 year old as an excellent option as a target man for England - and with the striker also banging in the goals at club level it is understandable that the Geordie born star has caught the England manager’s eye. Newcastle manager Chris Hughton has been keen to keep Carroll’s feet on the ground, but would not begrudge his young star for making his debut for England in the coming months: "He has still got a long way to go. Andy is working hard on all aspects on his game and he is certainly going in the right direction…For me, being picked for Newcastle United is the most important. Anything which comes from that means he has earned it." If he can keep a lid on his temperament it is almost certain Andy Carroll will be one to watch for the future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Arrogant Platini Turns Nose Up at Technology

Eufa president Michel Platini has arrogantly snubbed the use of modern technology in football suggesting that it widespread implementation could result in what he called "Playstation football". Football’s world governing body FIFA had recently performed a major U turn on the subject of goal line technology after initial tests had proved poor and ineffective, but in the wake of Frank Lampard’s “goal” against Germany at the 2010 World Cup there had been great pressure for the technology to be scrutinised further.

However, former French superstar Platini dismissed Fifa’s decision to re-investigate the possibility of goal line technology as “nonsense”, instead suggesting that employing extra referees to assist the man in the middle was instead the best way of moving football officiating forward. Platini was quoted as saying "One referee is not enough, not in the modern era where you have 20 cameras…It is a logical step with so many cameras that can pick up incidents: the more eyes there to assist the referee, the better the chance of spotting those incidents."
Such a casual dismissal of advanced technology is sure to incense England fans who felt their chances of success in the World Cup were dashed by a poor decision from the assistant referee leading to Lampard’s strike not to stand when replays showed it had clearly crossed the goal line.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hatters Highlight Holes in Liverpool Squad as the Future Looks Bleak at Anfield

Although following another devastating blow for the club, Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson was humble and decent enough to unreservedly apologise for his side’s latest shambolic cup exit to lower league opposition at the once “fortress” of Anfield, this defeat was merely the tip of a significantly greater iceberg when the true and harsh realities of Liverpool Football Club’s plight is continued to be further scrutinised under the ever present microscope of English football’s fans and media. Hodgson himself will no doubt have known that the task that lay before him once he took over the reigns from Rafa Benitez at the Merseyside club was sure to be no picnic, but after watching the latest chapter in the football horror show that has been played out over the past few seasons, even Roy himself must have been left scratching his head and delving deep for inspiration.

Liverpool die hards would argue that the 11 players Hodgson selected for their the League Cup encounter with Northampton Town (a club who at the time lay in 17th position in League 2) was one that bore no resemblance to the side that had in itself looked largely laboured during the previous match against a determined Manchester United side, there was surely little doubt that a team that included several multimillion pound signings, blended with supposedly promising prospects from the clubs academy and also numerous players who had represented their countries at full international level would be sufficiently strong to professionally dispose of what would surely have been fully expected to be a fired up, but nonetheless inferior opposition - particularly in front of their own fans.

But it wasn’t to be - and this time there could be no excuses. Taking nothing away from the Hatters, who had themselves put in fine and energetic display that defied their lowly league position, scoring twice at Anfield before battling through extra time to give themselves a fair shot at beating one of English football’s big hitters in a penalty shoot out, surely Hodgson’s men would still have found the courage and composure to bury their spot kicks in front of the world renowned cop end? However, the Merseysiders again fell short of the mark, and as a cool headed Abdul Osman fired the winner for Northampton, sending the team and their already jubilant fans into dreamland, the damp weather and gathering storm clouds circling above Anfield seemed to some up the club’s current position and mood of their suffering fans.

With well documented off the field problems in the boardroom, ongoing financial strife and a playing squad that looks alarmingly short of depth, Hodgson - as talented and experienced football manager as he is - will know he has his work cut out if he is to avoid a season of total humiliation for Liverpool. Qualification for the Champions League has become a minimum requirement for the reds in recent years - but even achieving a Europa League spot may yet be beyond a club who currently lie 16th in the Premier League with just 5 points from their first 5 matches. Managing the fans and shareholders expectations now becomes as much a priority for Hodgson as motivating his team to perform on the pitch - and the ongoing rumors surrounding the departure of star striker Fernando Torres will surely not help his side to settle. Unless Hodgson can string some wins together soon and make progress back up the Premier League table, with the new football season barely underway, it already looks like it may be all but over for Liverpool Football club.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Everton’s Season in Deep Trouble following Double Injury Blow

Everton’s already disappointing start to the season has taken another turn for the worst today following news of a double injury blow for strikers Louis Saha and Victor Anichebe. The Toffees have been in poor form so far in the Premier League, picking up just 2 points from a possible 15 so far this term and were also recently subjected to a humiliating League Cup penalty shoot out defeat to League 1 minnows Brentford earlier this week.

Latest news reports from Merseyside suggest that long term injury absentee Saha is set to see a specialist in France and his return to first team action will be delayed for another few weeks. Meanwhile young forward Anichebe faces around 6 weeks on the sideline following surgery on his knee injury. The news will come at the great dismay of Everton boss David Moyes who has seen his side lack a clinical edge in front of goal having failed to score away from home in the Premier League this season and struggled to break down Brentford in mid week – resulting in extra time and eventual penalty humiliation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Big Sam Backtracks on “Managing Worlds Top Clubs” Claims

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce has today backtracked on his somewhat outrageous claims made earlier this week that he would be fit to manage any of the worlds top clubs and “would win the double or the league every time”. Big Sam has however claimed that his somewhat amusing comments had been purely meant as a tongue in cheek way of expressing his personal desire and driving ambition to improve as a manager and ultimately drive his managerial career to the highest levels in world football.

Blackburn have enjoyed a solid start to the new Premier League season under Allardyce and remain unbeaten so far, but his claims that his combative and often direct “long ball” style of football under which his teams tend to operate would be welcome at the likes of Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United has been a source of great banter and debate by English football fans and the media alike this week. However, as ever Big Sam remains unperturbed and will look to drive his Blackburn side forward when they face Aston Villa in tonight’s League Cup 3rd round clash at Villa Park.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Capello’s England Boosted By Rooney Inclusion

Fabio Capello’s England squad have received a huge moral boost this afternoon after England striker Wayne Rooney travelled with the squad to Switzerland prior to Tuesday night’s all important European Championship qualification match. In spite of potentially damaging allegations surrounding the Manchester United striker’s private life, the England coach confirmed that England’s star man would travel and play for his country against the Swiss as England seek to keep up the momentum after a promising 4 - 0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday.

The news will no doubt be music to the ears of England fans who are now seeking much improved performances from the scouse forward after what was by the player’s own admission a bitterly disappointing World Cup campaign - and many fans seem to think that such distractions off the field may ironically in fact help focus more Rooney when on the pitch. Rooney showed glimpses off his best form with critical assists in England’s group opener against the Bulgarians and English fans will now hope for more quality play from their star man as he seeks to end a poor run of games without scoring for the national side.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blackpool Prepare for True Test of Premier League Credentials

Before the start of the new Premier League season there was surely little doubt even that amongst even the most die-hard Blackpool fans that the Lancashire club’s first season in English Football’s elite would surely end in relegation back to the Championship. However, after a fairytale 4 – 0 away win on the opening day against a seemingly shambolic Wigan side, their hopes of achieving the near impossible will have been some what lifted. Goals from new signing Marlon Harewood as well as Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Alex Baptiste sent the men in orange into dreamland as they brushed Wigan aside with ease.

Blackpool now travel to the Emirates stadium to face the multi million pound Arsenal side on Saturday afternoon – but will head south on a high after their opening day win. Seasiders boss Ian Holloway will however know that this fixture will pose a much greater test of his players ability and mentality as Arsenal seek to build on their opening day draw at Anfield. It is arguable that fixtures such as this are hardly likely to define Blackpool’s season, but it will give Holloway’s side a true test of their Premier League credentials.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brazil Still Struggling with Challenge of New Infrastructure for 2014 World Cup

After the excitement and glamour of World Cup 2010 begins to fade it is perhaps not surprising that football fans and governing bodies across the globe will gradually become more and more focused on their team’s preparations for the next World Cup event set to be held in Brazil in 2014. The event should be a true celebration of Samba football as the game’s biggest global sports event returns to South America after a prolonged absence – and to the nation of Brazil for the first time since 1950. Few teams across the globe inspire the football fan more than Brazil in full flow – and the prospect of such a talented and historic football nation hosting the event is surely one that any football lover would saver.

However, their is growing concerns raised by footballs world governing body FIFA about the host nations preparation for the event, with Brazil’s 12 host cities apparently under increasing pressure and scrutiny to meet the demands of hosting such a prestigious event. Many development projects across the host nation are thought to be falling behind schedule and although World Cup Brazil is still nearly 4 years in the future their has already been growing concerns that the planned improvements to grounds, transport infrastructure and surrounding facilities are struggling to stay on course to meet the heavy demands that such a large influx of visitors would bring to the nation.

Friday, August 13, 2010

English Premier League Set for Big Kick Off in 2010/2011 Season Opener

This afternoon the 20 English Premier League clubs across the length and breadth of the country are in the process of making their final preparations for the opening day fixtures of the 2010/2011 English Premier League season. The first round of Premier League fixtures are set to take place this weekend, and it seems that 2 of the newly promoted teams are set for a baptism of fire with tough away games on the cards.

Last years Championship winners Newcastle United travel to Old Trafford for a testing opener against Manchester United (set to take place Monday night), while current Premier League Champions Chelsea will welcome West Brom to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. However, arguably the most exciting fixture of the Premier League’s first round is Arsenals visit to Anfield to take on Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool side. Both teams will be looking for a serious title challenge this season after both finished last year without a trophy in spite of multi million pounds squads.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

England’s World Cup Campaign Officially Worst Ever Confirm FIFA

Football’s world governing body FIFA today confirmed what most English football fans already knew: England’s 2010 World Cup campaign was officially their worst in the history of the competition. England were ranked 13th in the tournament according to FIFA’s official statistics published today – finishing below the likes of Japan (9th position), Paraguay (8th position), Chile (10th position) and the USA (12th position). England had scraped though what was thought to be an easy qualifying group only to be easily dispatched by Germany in the second round of the tournament.

The embarrassing revelation may come as no surprise to England’s enraged fans, but to the players who earn millions of pound a year in wages, endorsements, and sponsorship deals for their football boots - to lose out in position to these less established footballing nations must now serve as a rude awakening to the so called “golden generation”. England must now surely look to rebuild the nation’s tarnished reputation as a leading power in world football and brood younger players in their forthcoming European Championship qualifying campaign if they are to avoid another footballing debacle.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Capello Set to Carry Can for England Failings

As the dust settles on the burnt ashes of England’s world cup disaster and the inquest into its mind boggling failures begin, one man that may truly feel the sword of Damocles towering over his head is England manager Fabio Capello. The Italian manager, who had seemed so confident and self assured in England’s pre world cup press conferences following what was undeniably a highly successful qualifying campaign has seemingly subsequently been reduced to a stuttering buffoon in recent interviews, struggling with his English, using an interpreter and clutching to the same excuses that previous England managerial failures had clung to over the past few years in accounting for their team’s ongoing incompetence. Capello looks a frustrated and broken man – and who can blame him after such a wretched World Cup campaign for the English team.

The FA announced upon the arrival of England’s world cup squad’s return to the green fields of home that they would wait 2 weeks to decide on the future of the Italian. However, the question it seems may not to be whether they want Fabio to continue as England boss - but more a case of whether they can afford to get rid of him. If English football’s governing body had genuinely intended Capello to stay on as a spearhead of England’s Euro 2010 qualifying campaign, they would have immediately backed him publically and unashamedly following the national team’s defeat to Germany. Instead they have chosen a 2 week period of discussion thus illustrating their clear unrest at the Italian’s performance at the World Cup. A reported £12 million is needed just to get shut of Fabio Capello, and the FA’s wisdom of extending the mangers contract days before a major tournament now look very questionable indeed.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Woeful England Slump to Goalless Draw with Algeria

England produced an all round pitiful team performance as they were held to a 0 - 0 draw with Algeria in their second world cup fixture last night. The England side packed with highly paid internationally recognized names looked completely bereft of ideas as they struggled to produce any clear cut chances in the entire match, as the little known Algerians looked great value for a fully deserved World Cup point. England’s players often found themselves struggling with the basic elements of the game such as passing and controlling the ball in what was undeniably the worst effort they have produced under the current managerial regime.

As is so often the case, England’s biggest hopes lay in the form of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard - who both performed woefully under the spotlight of the international stage. Gerrard, once again acting as captain for the injured Rio Ferdinand produced arguably his worst performance in an England shirt, while Rooney was similarly ineffective, losing possession on numerous occasions before berating the England fans that had booed his side’s shambolic efforts at the final whistle. England now face an uphill battle to merely qualify from their group, and almost certainly must beat group leaders Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon if they are to progress beyond the preliminary stages of these World Cup finals.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

England Must Stand Up and Be Counted Against Fired Up Algeria

English football fans across the country are urging their team to stand up and be counted in tomorrows World Cup Group C fixture against an Algerian side that to some extent remain an unknown quantity. The African side have been fired up by recent quotes from Wayne Rooney in England’s press conference that they have seen as disrespectful of their footballing calibre. Nothing less than a win will do for Fabio Capello’s side after a lacklustre performance that led to a draw against the United States in their opening World Cup match - in which they failed to fashion many clear cut chances. German World Cup legend Franz Beckenbauer derided England’s efforts in a press conference earlier this week, and was quoted as describing the English national side as a “kick and rush” team, that had regressed under the leadership of their current manager. While this is a somewhat harsh summary after just 90 minutes of football, England know they still have a lot to prove if they are to silence the doubters of their World Cup credentials.

England will however be boosted by the return of holding midfielder Gareth Barry from injury, who’s neat and tidy play at the centre of the park was a critical element in the success of England’s qualifying campaign. Nonetheless, question marks still remain for the selection of the England side in key positions. One such area that remains the subject of great scrutiny is goalkeeper - following Rob greens devastating error against the USA. Capello’s alternatives David James has been struggling with an injury and young goalkeeper Hart is thought to lack sufficient international experience.

There is some great speculation also in terms of who should partner England talisman Wayne Rooney in England’s attack. In spite of ongoing criticism from the English media and fans alike, Emile Heskey was arguably one of England’s few shining lights against the USA, setting up the goal for Steven Gerrard and proving a strong and consistent outlet for his side throughout his time on the field. He may yet however be set to be replaced by pacey Tottenham front man Jermaine Defoe, who is thought to offer a greater threat and more prolific record in front of goal. Whoever England select tomorrow they know they must up their game if they are to stand any chance of winning the biggest prize in international football.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Humble Keeper Green Apologises to English Fans

England goalkeeper Rob Green has openly and publically apologised to English football fans after his disastrous mistake against the USA in England’s opening World Cup fixture last night. Green somehow managed to allow a Clint Dempsey grubber to squirm away from him when he was apparently in the correct position to cut out what had seemed to be a fairly innocuous shot from Fulham’s American midfielder. Some sources suggest that Green may now make way for the more experienced David James in England’s goal – although the Portsmouth star has himself had a season plagued by injury.

The keeper’s mistake proved costly for Fabio Capello’s side, as England failed to add to their 4th minute opener from captain Steven Gerrard to earn what will ultimately seem a frustrating 1 – 1 draw against a lively USA side. England must now rally quickly in order to secure victories against other group rivals Algeria and Slovenia if they are to avoid a shock exit in the preliminary group stages of the World Cup.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Brazil Confirm Final World Cup Warm Up Match Against Tanzania

The 5 time football World Cup winners Brazil have confirmed they will participate in a friendly match against Tanzania on the 7th of June 2010 as part of their final preparations before this summers World Cup finals get underway in South Africa. The world renowned Samba Stars will play the African nation in the National Stadium at Dar es Salaam before taking part in their opening World Cup Group G fixture against North Korea on the 15th of June.

Brazil are looking to add to their already unrivalled World Cup pedigree by taking home the biggest prize in world football for a sixth time, and not surprisingly therefore rank amongst this year’s tournament favourites alongside the likes of European Champions Spain, Argentina and England. Brazil coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player and now seeks to bring the trophy back to Brazil - but this time managing the team from the sidelines. The finals of World Cup 2014 are set to be held in Brazil, so Dunga and his players will surely want nothing more than to enter that tournament as reigning champions by triumphing in South Africa during 2010.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Walcott Humbled As Capello Slims 30 to 23 Ready For South Africa

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott was the most notable emission from England manager Fabio Capello’s final 23 man squad for the national team’s forthcoming World Cup campaign. The young speed merchant has seemingly paid the price for some disappointing recent performances in England’s friendly matches against Mexico and Japan. During these recent fixtures Walcott’s critics had suggested that while he had shown some glimpses of his great pace and willingness to take on the full back, he had consistently failed to deliver crosses into the box of sufficient quality for an international footballer - and the player has indeed seemed to have made little real progress over the last year in which he has been plagued by injury and inconsistent form.

With the absence of Theo Walcott, Capello’s final 23 man squad does in retrospect seem to offer a greater degree of balance with the addition of Michael Carrick as cover for Capello’s preferred holding midfield player Gareth Barry - who was today himself passed fit after a great deal of scrutiny by the England physio team. Joe Cole also played himself back into contention with a fine second half against England’s most recent opponents Japan - and offers a greater level of big tournament experience on which the coach can draw. The final 23 man squad will now fly out to host nation South Africa carrying the hopes of the English people on their shoulders - and no doubt dreaming of being the first England side to reach a World Cup Final since the country hosted and won the famous tournament back in 1966. For those who have been left behind the pain they feel must be immense - but you would feel that Walcott at least at the tender age of just 21 will remain hopeful that his chance on football’s greatest stage is still yet to come.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fans Across The World Ready For World Cup

Fans of the English national team are growing in excitement in the ongoing build up for the countries 2010 World Cup Campaign. The England squad are currently in preparation for their final friendly match before the start of the tournament as they are set to face Japan in Graz, Austria on Sunday (Kick off 1.15 GMT). Fabio Capello’s final England squad will be announced following the match, and fans are already speculating as to which 7 unfortunate players will be left behind as the squad is shrunk down from 30 to 23.
World Cup fever is clearly gripping England at this time, with the English press and television channels packed with stories surrounding the players and their fitness worries - most recently Wayne Rooney was the focus of such concern, although the start striker has since allayed any concerns on his fitness.
When the tournament finally gets underway when hosts South Africa play Mexico on the 11th of June, luckily fans will be able to enjoy all the World Cup the games live on terrestrial television channels as well as cable TV and internet. Its sure to be a great tournament generating interest from around the world – and no more so than in England.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Seasiders and Bluebirds Prepare For Lucrative Wembley Playoff Showdown

Blackpool and Cardiff City are set for the biggest day in the history of both their clubs as they prepare for today’s Championship playoff final at Wembley. For both sides it is a chance to make history by joining English football’s elite clubs in the Premier League for the first time in their history.
As well as providing the chance to ply their trade with the biggest clubs in the country and rub shoulders with some of the worlds greatest players, the match is said to be the most lucrative in world football - with the winning side expected to make up to £90 million through prize money, increased gate revenues, merchandising and TV cash. Increased parachute payments for the promoted club should they be relegated the following season also makes the Championship playoff final a game like no other in domestic football.
The financial benefits of victory today are surely not lost on Cardiff City who have faced a protracted period of financial uncertainty under former Chairman Peter Ridsdale - who has recently stepped aside from his role - with the club having faced no less than 4 winding up orders from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for an unpaid tax bill reportedly to be in the region of £1.9 million pounds.
For Blackpool too the financial benefits of joining English football's elite must be spellbinding - a club who’s Bloomfield Road ground still sports temporary seating down one side of the pitch and a very recently completed stand behind the goal at the pleasure beach end. Victory today would also see the Lancashire club make astonishing progress from Football League 2 to the top flight in the space of just nine years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Carragher Set For Shock England World Cup Recall

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher is set to make a highly unexpected return to international football after a plea from England manager Fabio Capello. With experienced centre back Rio Ferdinand continuing to struggle with a back complaint, John Terry’s sporadic dips in form during this season, alongside the sidelining of other possible cover at centre back such as Jolien Lescott who has been out for the majority of the Premier League season after he stretches hamstring – the Liverpool veteran is now to make a return to the international scene. Having been widely tipped in various sources of the English football media to make a shock return to coach Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad, the centre back has now been officially named in Capello’s provisional 30 man England squad earlier this afternoon – with the full squad finalised to just 23 to be announced on the 1st of June 2010.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Grimsby Town Relegated From Football League

Grimsby Town have been relegated from the Football League for the first time in 99 years. A dismal run of form earlier in the season had left the East Coast club a mountain to climb after they had at one stage found themselves adrift in the League 2 relegation zone an entire 7 points from safety. The Mariners had showed some positive signs of producing an incredible escape over the last month or so, securing 4 wins and a draw within their last 6 league matches. However a crushing 3 - 0 away defeat at the hands of Burton Albion this afternoon has ultimately condemned the North Lincolnshire side to relegation from League 2 in somewhat dismal fashion. Grimsby’s disappointing result was in the end made irrelevant by Barnet’s late winner at home to Rochdale - the mariners needing Barnet to slip up and then win there match in order to avoid the drop. The Mariners must now face up to the prospect of life outside the English Football League for the first time in almost a century.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Owls Crash Out Of Championship After Draw

Sheffield Wednesday crashed out of the English football Championship after there disappointing draw with relegation rivals Crystal Palace at Hillsborough earlier this afternoon. The Owls were desperately seeking the victory that would have relegated their opposition but fell short of the mark in front of some a passionate home crowd. It lays the final nail in the coffin for Wednesday after a season plagued with disappointment and further exposed the frailty and shortcomings of one of the supposedly biggest clubs in English football’s second tier. They now face a battle to merely survive as a football club, with financial pressures mounting on the fallen South Yorkshire giants who were regularly playing Premier League football what seems only a few short years ago. Promise of new investment seemed to be around the corner from both a local consortium and the USA, but Sheffield Wednesday must surely now look a far less attractive prospect with fixtures to come against the likes of Bournemouth and Yeovil Town already certainties on next seasons fixture list. In spite of the excellent home support they regularly received this season, the club have regularly failed to convert chances into goals, and have struggles from the off to win games in the Championship. Palace in contrast were performing well and chasing a playoff place until a ten point deduction for falling into administration drastically altered the path of there season. The Eagles will have the last laugh though, as the Owls are sent tumbling back into English footballs third tier.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Barca Boss Admits Tough Task Ahead at Nou Camp

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has admitted his side face an uphill task when they don the Barcelona football shirt to face Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan side in the second leg of the Champions League semi final next week. The Spanish giants trail 3 - 1 after being outplayed for the majority of the first leg in Italy - and in spite of boasting some of the best attacking players in the world of football such as Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, coach Guardiola admits they face an uphill battle to retain the Champions League trophy. The second leg of the tie is set to take place in Barcelona on Wednesday the 28th of April, and Inter will know that scoring an away goal could be critical to heap the pressure on the Catalonians. The Italians also boast a highly experienced and resolute defence which could prove to be critical in the melting pot atmosphere of the Nou Camp - and stopping Messi will clearly be central to their chances of success. The Argentine has been in scintillating form for Barca this season both in Europe and the Spanish domestic competitions - and a masterful hat trick against Arsenal in the last leg of the Champions League further strengthened his claims to being the best footballer in the world at the moment.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scholes Nods Vital Winner in Pulsating Manchester Derby

Evergreen Paul Scholes capped a fantastic individual display with a vital winner in a pulsating Manchester Derby. The midfielder was perfectly placed to power home a Patrice Evra cross for his sixth goal of the current campaign, heading into the bottom corner beyond the despairing dive of Shay Given deep into the third minute of time added on. The 35 year old once again proved his wealth of experience is vital to United with a display combining both quality of passing and tenacious desire. The former England star showed strength in the tackle and a desire to win back possession for his side that belied his years - and having just signed another 1 year contract extension, the Salford born star is seemingly set to go from strength to strength for Manchester United. United had created the better chances during the first half of an intriguing encounter with Giggs and Rooney both going close, yet in spite of a frenetic final 10 minutes the game was looking set for a draw until Scholes was on hand to snatch the 3 points for United. Scholes’ winner may yet prove even more important in the broader context of the Premier League as Chelsea’s defeat to London rivals Tottenham later that afternoon has cut the Blues lead to just 1 point, meaning that the title race is now wide open again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Adebayor Hangs Up International Boots

Manchester City Striker Emmanuel Adebayor has today declared that he will retire from international football with immediate effect. Adebayor and his international team mates were attacked by gunmen on their team bus on the 8th of January - an incident that left members of the party dead and several players also injured. The Togo star has admitted that he has since understandably struggled to mentally come to terms with the devastating effects of the tragic incident that occurred prior to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola, and as such has now opted to retire from playing for his country at the age of just 26. Clearly deeply shaken by the incident, Adebayor was quoted as saying: “We were just footballers going to play a football match and represent our country, yet we were attacked by people who wanted to kill us all. It is a moment I will never forget and one I never want to experience again.” Emmanuel Adebayor had represented Togo on 38 occasions - scoring 16 goals in the process. He won the African footballer of the year award in 2008.

Friday, April 2, 2010

West Ham Issue Complaint to Premier League Over Fulham Team Selection

West Ham United have registered an official letter of complaint to the Premier League’s governing body regarding Fulham’s team selection against Premier League relegation rivals Wolves. The Hammers are incensed that Fulham manager Roy Hodgson rested 6 key players including top score Bobby Zamora and influential midfielders Danny Murphy and Damien Duff for the league game against Wolves in preparation for their Europa League clash against Wolfsburg on Thursday night. Fulham went on to lose the game 2 – 0 against Wolves last weekend - handing 3 vital points to Mick McCarthy’s side which may yet prove to be vital in securing their Premier League status come the end of the season. Wolves themselves were earlier this season handed a suspended fine in the region of £25,000 after falling foul of the same Premier League rule E20 which dictates that top flight team’s must select their strongest available line up for all Premier League fixtures. The matter remains an issue of some contentious debate in English football, as fans would argue that title challengers such as Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool have regularly “rotated” their first 11 without question, yet smaller clubs have seemingly been subjected to regularly scrutiny over their selection policies this season.

The matter remains an issue of some contentious debate in English football, as fans would argue that title challengers such as Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool have regularly “rotated” their first 11 without question, yet smaller clubs have seemingly been subjected to regularly scrutiny over their selection policies this season. If you have the passion to complain, many clubs have contracts with live answering services to answer fan feedback lines.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Premier League Stars Face Ultimate Test of Fitness as Season Crunch Time Approaches

The Premier League title race in 2010 is the closest in years, with 3 of English football’s leading teams all still in with a strong shout of claiming the biggest prize in English domestic football. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal face a fight to the wire to see who will claim the Premier League crown, and as the games come thick and fast as season approaches crunch time, fitness levels of the club’s top stars are certain to play a key part in deciding who will take the season’s big prize. Although the majority of the Premier League’s leading sides now have extensive squads and player rosters at their disposal, maintaining the fitness levels of key players is paramount at this critical stage in proceedings – and their daily fitness regimes play a critical part in maintaining their optimum performance levels week in week out. As well as drills on the training ground with their fellow squad members, premier league players also face gruelling fitness programmes in the gym – completing aerobic workouts on the treadmill, exercise bike and commercial cross trainer amongst others - as they seek to gain a competitive edge over their league rivals. At this level the smallest margins can often decide the final results of matches – with Manchester United in particular famed for their goals at the final stages of games as their superior fitness levels and concentration come into play over some of the leagues less established opposition. Likewise, much has been made in the English tabloids of the “maturity” of Chelsea’s squad in comparison to their title rivals – with players such as Michael Ballack seemingly reaching the latter stages of their career. With key aspects such as this in mind, it seems very possible that the fittest team may indeed be the one that goes on to claim this season’s title.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Injury Rules Beckham Out Of England World Cup Squad

England veteran David Beckham now sadly looks certain to miss out on the World Cup in South Africa this summer following news that he will need surgery on an injury to his Achilles the player sustained while playing at loan club Milan. The player’s shin guards were not enough to protect the right winger from the heartbreaking injury blow, and he now looks set to miss out on becoming the first England player to make appearances at four separate World Cup competitions. However, although the England star - who is well known for his style and dress sense both on and off the field - will not be donning his own range of soccer shoes (the excellent David Beckham Adidas Predator Absolions) at this summers World Cup, recent newspaper reports amongst the Italian footballing press suggest that AC Milan Vice President Adriano Galliani will invite Beckham back for another chance to showcase his skills in Seria A next season should he sufficiently recover from this latest injury setback. Players across the major leagues in Europe are looking at ways to better protect themselves whilst playing without sacrificing flexibility and comfort, and the latest Puma King Shinguard have been developed to allow breathability and comfort whilst maximizing protection and minimizing the chance of impact injuries.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Capello Stamps Foot Down Over WAGS and Player Excess

England manager Fabio Capello has continued his famous hard line approach to man management by criticising the excesses of professional footballers in the English game. Speaking before this week’s 3 - 1 friendly win over Egypt at Wembley, Capello condemned the Hollywood lifestyles of professional players in the modern day arena, and was quoted as saying “the private life is a big problem for some players.” Although the Italian admitted that he believed that the problem was not rooted purely in English football but also across the other top leagues in Europe, he expressed his personal dissatisfaction at the way some young players acted off the field, stating that the large quantities of money associated with playing at the top level was potentially having a negative impact on their careers and development - particularly on young individuals within the game. Capello has already openly dictated that the players WAGs (wives and girlfriends) - who are famous for there lavish lifestyles, designer clothing, fashionable sports sunglasses and lives in the media spotlight - are not welcome with his playing squad at this summers World Cup, and that he wished them to keep a much lower profile than they famously held under the tenure of former coach Sven Goran Eriksson. Off the field issues have blighted the England squad in recent weeks, with revelations about the private life of John terry and Ashley Cole taking up tabloid inches that the England boss would have much preferred to be reserved for on the field performances after a successful qualifying campaign in the build up to this summer’s world football showpiece.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Terry May Face Bridge In FA Cup Quarter Final

Former England captain John Terry may possibly be set to face Wayne Bridge in the quarter finals of this years FA cup after his Chelsea side were drawn at home against either Manchester city or Stoke City. If City can beat Stoke in their cup replay they will then face a daunting trip to Stamford Bridge to face the might of current cup holders and Premiership frontrunners Chelsea. The draw has presented the possibility of a potential classic cup encounter between two Premier League heavyweights that would be made all the more fiery if Chelsea’s captain was to come face to face with former team mate Bridge. The relationship between the two former close friends and team mates has reportedly broken down following the publication of a report surrounding Terry’s private life concerning an extramarital affair with Bridge’s former partner - an issue that has recently been the subject of much coverage in the English sporting press and tabloid media, and that has ultimately led to Fabio Capello relieving Terry of the England captaincy. However, Bridge and his City team mates must first make their way past Tony Pulis’ battling Potters to reach the next round. The quarter final ties will take place on the 6th and 7th of March 2010.

Friday, February 12, 2010

England Face Up To Major World Cup Injury Scare Following Cole Surgery

England are facing up to a potential crisis at summer following emerging news that Chelsea left back Ashley Cole may struggle to be fit for the 2010 World Cup. Cole has been an England stalwart in recent years, establishing himself as a near automatic selection on the left hand side of England’s defence. The Chelsea star recently suffered a broken ankle playing for his club against Everton on Wednesday night and at first it was believed he would be missing for around 3 months. But now it appears the injury could be even worse than first feared after he underwent surgery earlier today. Although Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was hopeful of a return before the end of the season, he has admitted he is still unsure whether Cole would be back to fitness in time to play for Chelsea before this summers footballing showcase in South Africa. England’s alternatives at left back are arguably very limited, although Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge is a natural alternative in this position. However he lacks the speed of Cole and the same level of experience at international level. He may also struggle to form a bond in defence with England’s John Terry following the recent emergence of the controversial extramarital affair and personal issues concerning the private life of the former England captain.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

World Football Stars Out in Force to Raise Money for Haiti

Over 50,000 spectators turned out to watch the Match for Poverty that took place last night in Lisbon, Portugal. International football stars donned their football kits to raise money for the people of Haiti after the recent earthquake devastated the area in recent weeks. This is the seventh year running that football has reached out to people in need.

The match commenced after the players lined up in their football kits for a one minute silence in memory of the lives lost in the Haiti earthquake and resulted in a 3-3 draw between the Friends of Ronaldo and Zidane and the Benfica All Stars team. Two of Haiti’s own football players, Joseph Peterson and Jean Sony also took part in the game representing and supporting their nation. Unfortunately Ronaldo could not make it due to his current sport commitments but his side was represented by Brazilian player Kaka.

The star studded game included other players from around the world including Nuno Gomez for Portugal and Fernando Hierro for Spain. Together these stars and their contributions represent the world game's hope that poverty will be halved over the next five years.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Football Clubs Turn To Artificial Sports Pitches to Beat the Big Freeze

It has been well publicised in the English sporting press over the past month or so that the recent cold spell here in the UK has wreaked havoc for the football fixture list – with the lower leagues in particular falling foul of the heavy snow fall, frozen pitches and treacherous conditions in and around the grounds. While not every club in the English football league has the financial luxury of installing under soil heating to their grounds in order to ease the pressure brought on by the cold, the vast majority of clubs are now turning to all weather surfaces such as rubber crumb sports pitches at their training grounds so their players can at least train and maintain their match fitness in between games. Such facilities have proved critical when the usual grass training areas have been inaccessible through snow, or have been deemed unsafe for professional players to train due to the risk of any injuries they may sustain on the frozen surfaces. The recent advances in technology in this field have allowed artificial surfaces to provide an excellent simulation of the usual playing surfaces used throughout the football league – thereby proving an ample alternative for the leagues top players to keep sharp during the packed winter fixture timetable.