Category Archives: football

Manchester United Revolution to Continue

The Manchester United ‘Glory Years’ look set to continue even after the departure of legend Sir Alex Ferguson as new manager David Moyes instilled Ryan Giggs and potentially Phil Neville into his backroom staff today.

The pair are products of the highly successful ‘Fergie Fledglings’ who won all in the game including a superb treble in 1999 and will provide additional knowledge into an already superb camp.

The former Everton manager, Moyes, has a hard task to follow  as he looks to win his first major titles in the game, but this latest announcement is a sign of the continuity that is lacking at so many major clubs.

A recent stat in the paper showed that with the exception of Arsene Wenger, Alan Pardew is the longest serving manager in the Premiership with just over two years at the helm of Newcastle United, who have themselves caused some controversy in recent weeks.

Many clubs have managers who have had just over a year at the sides, with Chelsea and Manchester City both with managers who have had less than a month. You could arguably say though that with Jose Mourinho experience of everything will still mean Chelsea must be taken seriously.

Moyes of course is new but was a great leader at Everton during his ten year reign and will bring added impetus to an already star quality assembled side, who could well dominate the English game for a few years yet.

With Ferguson in the senior ambassadorial role at the club too, he will still have a watching pair of eyes, even though it is expected that Moyes will have free reign and Ferguson will be used sparingly by the former Preston North End manager.

With the club preparing for a pre-season tour in this month and the kick off for the new year fast approaching, Moyes is already putting his marker down but in that ‘United’ way.

For all those who believed it would mark the end of an era, watch this space because they will, as always, take some beating.

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Pre- season – In the UK or abroad?

With pre-season training for the start of the 2013-2014 football season well underway for many of the professional clubs, the Sporting Week looks at where a pre-season will take place in the new era of world football.

Recently, many big name clubs have traveled to Asia or to the USA in money spinning tours to play against dream teams or other big name clubs as football continues its development in reaching out to the world.

It offers a financial luxury and opportunity as well as hot conditions, a tight knit community and a chance to get in some hard graft away from UK media and public distractions.

It is an option that many other clubs, perhaps not so high in profile, have taken on board with teams like Huddersfield Town travelling to Spain next week for a ‘camp’ of their own.

But is it the right option? The past saw teams develop their fitness with trial games or traditional local friendlies with lower league opposition.

Wycombe Wanderers have always played against Beaconsfield SYCOB or Flackwell Heath in the past as well as a few higher league opponents, giving the community and the players a chance to shine. Should the likes of Leeds United and Manchester United thus play Guiseley or Curzon Ashton  rather than Juventus in Tokyo?

In the past, the discussion of hard work has also raised debate with QPR going away for a few days mid season, when it was reported that their sessions include only two hours in the heat.

This caused huge backlash on 606 with Robbie Savage and Mark Chapman as the general public believed that two hours running around was not hard work.

So The Sporting Week want your opinions. Should a pre-season schedule involve a trip abroad or should it be a way of bringing the community together?

The Sporting Week will discuss our findings next week.

 

 

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Is This The End

England Under 21 boss Stuart Pearce faces an anxious wait to see if he will remain as the head coach of the side.

After an abysmal effort in the Under 21 Championships, where the young three lions lost all of their group games, scoring just one goal, the former England player has come under scrutiny for his managerial credibility.

However, let’s not forget that the squad he had to choose from had the minimal number of under 21 players playing in the top flight out of all European divisions, with the best of that crop already in the senior England side.

Some fans and pundits have called for this to be the way it should be, with the senior side getting the overall benefit, but in reality it shows the complete lack of depth in our International game.

Other nations such as Spain and Germany have more younger players in their senior squads, yet still produce players of star quality in the Under 21 and the Under 19 categories.

A recent article by the Mail showed less than 35% of players in the Premiership were English, which is down 10% on both Germany and Italy, while Spain have an impressive 59% of players.

With this stat, it is little wonder that their are no longer the sheer volumes of players coming through, or the star quality to make England a force on both fronts.

Pearce could potentially done better in the championships but with a lack of talent at his disposal, cannot be blamed fully.

Unless an overhaul in the structure of the game is produced, expect to see England fail at Championships for many years more.

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Terrace View – Arsenal Clinch Fourth – By Billie Marshall

Arsenal endured a nervous last game of the season to qualify for the Champions League for a 16th consecutive season after a narrow victory over Newcastle at the Sports Direct Arena.

Heading into the final day needing to win to assure Arsenal the 4th place they wanted, Laurent Koscielny scored the only goal of the game to fend off any potential challenge from north London rivals Tottenham.

It was a nervous ending for the Gunners after Gareth Bale had struck late in the game at White Hart Lane but Arsenal held on to the relief of the travelling support.

Newcastle had the better of a first half starved of any real chances, but it was another second half performance that inspired Arsenal to victory. Koscielny smartly turned in a Theo Walcott free-kick to score the winner.

At a ground that has been somewhat unfortunate to Arsenal in the past, Newcastle started the better. Yanga Mbiwa escaped down the Arsenal right and pulled back the ball but Papiss Cisse hit his shot well over.

In a similar move at the other end, Kieran Gibbs raced cleared and cut inside of Debuchy, but his pull back was hit high and wide by Santi Cazorla from the edge of the area.

Both sides failed to create many chances in a first half dominated by each sides defensive capabilities, with long range shots from Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye comfortably wide.

Arsenal have the best record in the Premier League in the second half of games this season and it showed yet again. Walcott’s free-kick was headed goal bound by Lukas Podolski for Koscielny to smartly turn and volley the ball past goalkeeper Steve Harper from close range.

Newcastle continued to apply pressure but failed to break the Arsenal defence, capped by a fantastic performance from goal scorer Laurent Koscielny.

Ben Arfa again shot from long range, but when Tiote gave the ball to Theo Walcott in injury time the striker could only see his shot cannon back off the post and miss a chance to wrap up the game.

Despite more Newcastle pressure Arsenal held out to claim a vital victory which see’s Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger again achieve Champions League qualification.

There was a small chance of 3rd place or a potential play-off to decide 3rd place, but due to Chelsea’s victory over Everton, Arsenal will remain in 4th position.

It has been a season of up and down’s at Arsenal but their 7th 1-0 victory of the season has ended the season on a high and seen them once again finish above rivals Tottenham.

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Weekend Roundup

Last weekend saw some classic sport on your screens, but did you miss some of it.

Lightening struck twice in the football league this season as Watford scored 18 seconds after their keeper had saved a penalty to put them into the playoff final, a repeat of the Brentford V Doncaster Rovers game which saw Rovers claim the title.

Manager Gianfranco Zola celebrated on the pitch with his stars and they will now face either Brighton and Hove Albion or Crystal Palace in the richest game in football.

Outside of football, Fernando Alonso won his home Grand Prix in Spain as Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (who started on pole) and Lewis Hamilton (second on the grid)  were unable to cope with their tyre wear.

Leroy Cudjoe produced a fantastic performance as Huddersfield Giants defeat Leeds Rhinos 24-8 in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, with the England centre scoring two tries.

Elsewhere Wigan Warriors’ star Sam Tomkins scored four tries as they beat Hull Kr 46-14 and holders Warrington Wolves won 52-6 against Salford City Reds.

Rafael Nadal won the Madrid Open as his dominance on clay continues and Serena Williams claimed her 50th career singles title beating Maria Sharapova.

Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints beat Harlequins and Saracens respectively as they set up the Aviva Premiership final, with the Tigers looking to take another title.

In America, Tiger Woods claimed his second Players Championship title beating Sergio Garcia after the Spaniard found water on the par three 17th.

For more information about this weeks sport, look out for our preview later in this week.

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Ferguson was the Greatest. Who will be his successor? – By Josh Elderfield

After 26 long and memorable years at the helm of one of the biggest football clubs in the world, Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United.

The Scot, who has enjoyed 13 Premier League titles, two European Cups, five FA Cups, four League Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup, will bow out at the end of the season, with names already in contention to replace him at Old Trafford.

David Moyes, who has been the bookies’ favourite for some time to succeed Ferguson remains in pole position for the vacancy, with the Everton boss yet to agree to sign a new contract at Goodison.

But would this be the right acquisition for United? Would Moyes be the right man to bring a 21st league title to the club after securing title number 20 just weeks ago?

First of all, Moyes has yet to boast silverware in Merseyside, after managing Everton for over a decade. Of course, the squad contributes a huge factor to winning a trophy but it’s not as if his side haven’t had their chances to do so – 2009 for example against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

He has done well to be fair with the signings he’s made during his tenure and his attitude to nurturing young talent is similar one to that of Ferguson’s, but with no honours to his name, it’s difficult to see how someone could step up to the plate and manage a side as ambitious as Manchester United.

Jose Mourhino is another name being mentioned after his time is seemingly up at Real Madrid and has expressed his interest to move back to England but honestly, there is only one club in England which will steal the Portuguese’s direction.

One last contender worth throwing in to the fray is the Borussia Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp. Unlike Moyes, the Dortmund boss has won silverware during his time at the German side, winning the Bundesliga last season, and guiding his side to a Champions League final.

With Robert Lewandowski looking to be on his way out of Dortmund, and Shinji Kagawa already at Old Trafford, Klopp has a number of factors which could sway him to depart Germany too and start fresh.

Unsurprisingly a handful of managers are in contention to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor, interested to manage the likes of Robin Van Persie, perhaps next season we could be seeing an old number 20 in the hot seat at Old Trafford, I know one of them is managing in Norway at the moment, can’t quite remember his name…

One thing is certain though, whoever the board at Manchester United appoint, in their minds they know however many trophies the prospective successors have on their CVs or however much their club has developed, they know that nobody can replace the success Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved at Old Trafford.

Moreover, they know that nobody will ever have as much of an impact and be as monumental to world football as Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Sir Alex Ferguson, The Greatest, Retires

Sir Alex Ferguson has today announced that he will retire at the end of the season, after 26 years in charge.

He won 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 4 League Cups and 2 UEFA Champions League titles.

His first league title came in the first ever Premier League season and since 1991 he has become the most decorated manager in world football.

He leaves the game with an incredible record and his final game will come on Sunday 19th May against West Bromwich Albion, where United will be presented with their 20th top flight title.

In a statement from the club he said: “The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about. It is the right time.

“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.

“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.”

Ferguson will go down as one of the greatest managers ever with a lasting legacy for the next few years.

For a long time David Moyes has been linked with the job but with other high profile names available, it is anyone’s guess who will be the next manager.

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Terrace View – Van Persie Scores on Return to Arsenal – By Billie Marshall

Robin Van Persie scored on his first return to the Emirates to deal Arsenal a blow in their pursuit of a top four finish.

Van Persie’s first half penalty had cancelled out an early Theo Walcott opener as Arsenal fall behind Chelsea in the Premier League table, having played a game more.

Having secured the title in their last game, United were met by a guard of honour from the Arsenal players, but it was a performance from United which seemed lacklustre early on.

Needing to win all their remaining games to overhaul Chelsea’s Premier League points record, it was perhaps a result which has a bigger impact on the home side.

Arsenal were quick starters and shown the intensity and tenacity which they lacked in many games earlier the season.

Robin Van Persie, booed by the majority of the home support, was guilty of losing the ball on the half way line. Thomas Rosicky slipped the ball inside of Patrice Evra before Walcott calmly finished past David De Gea.

Arsenal continued their early dominance and De Gea was forced into a save when Santi Cazorla’s dipping and swerving effort was goal-bound.

Despite their poor start, United had the better of the chances. Van Persie was freed down the left and his clipped ball found Phil Jones but his header missed the target from 10 yards out.

In an identical move moments later, Nani crossed for Van Persie but his close range header was saved instinctively from Wojciech Szczesny.

Despite the pressure from Arsenal, it was a mistake from Sagna which gave United an opportunity to level. An under-hit back pass fell to Van Persie and his attempts to make amends gifted United a penalty, for which Van Persie emphatically put away.

After the break, Rosicky found space on the edge of the area but his shot was hit wide after a smart dummy to evade the challenge of Patrice Evra

Arsenal continued to remain patient, but the intensity of the first half lacked on both sides. Laurent Koscielny volleyed over before Santi Cazorla forced a smart save from compatriot De Gea.

As the game fizzed out, it was United who could have won it late on. Following an Arsenal corner, Wayne Rooney quickly countered and switched the play to Ryan Giggs, but his effort was deflected wide.

Manchester United seemed to be feeling the effects of a week of celebrations following their capture of a 20th league title but It was a result that gives Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham, a marginal advantage in the race for a coveted Champions League place with only 3 games of the season left.

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Game On – Liverpool Thrash Newcastle – By Tim Magnus

Liverpool ended their traumatic week in style as they demolished a woeful Newcastle United side 6-0 at St James’ Park.

After learning of Luis Suarez’s fate after his incredible act of stupidity, where he bit Branislav Ivanovic, in last week’s draw with Chelsea, Liverpool needed a strong performance to bring some much needed positivity to the club.

They couldn’t have started any better, as Daniel Agger gave them the lead after three minutes, but this was only a taste of things to come. Newcastle had bitten off more than they could chew against the Liverpool trio of Henderson, Sturridge and the impressive Coutinho and two goals each for Sturridge and Henderson, with fine assists from Couthinho, was the least they deserved in an awe inspiring performance.

Fabio Borini’s first Premier League goal put the icing on the cake for Brendan Rodger’s side as they proved too hot to handle for a Newcastle side, who also lost Mathieu Debuchy to a red card late on, and who don’t look up for the relegation scrap they are still, unexpectedly, involved in.

Tottenham rescued a point in the final stages as a 2-2 draw against Wigan at the DW Stadium did little to aid either side’s respective end of season ambitions. With Spurs pushing London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea all the way for a Champions League spot and Wigan pushing for yet another “great escape” from relegation, it was a must win game for both sides.

In incredible circumstances it was Tottenham, and inevitably Gareth Bale, who scored the first goal of the game after charging down a clearance from Wigan goalkeeper Joel. The Latic’s, despite being the architects of their own downfall here, responded immediately with an Emmerson Boyce goal to restore clarity in an open, end to end game of football.

Callum McMannaman’s first Premier League goal looked to be sending Wigan out of the Premier League drop zone but a late own goal from goalscorer Boyce cruelly stole a precious two points from Roberto Martinez’s side and gave Andres Villas Boas possibly an important point in his quest for Champions League football.

West Brom produced an emphatic 3-0 victory over Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium, in a game which saw three red cards from debutant referee Robert Madley. The star of the show was, once again, on loan Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku, as he scored one and assisted the other two to show his credentials for the PFA young player of the year, for which he has made the shortlist.

The Baggies first came from Marc Antoine Fortuné as he rewarded manager Steve Clarke’s decision to start him with a goal. Lukaku then doubled his sides lead before referee Madley produced straight red cards for Gaston Ramirez and goalscorer Fortuné for violent conduct with both decisions seemingly correct.

Shane Long then made the game safe with his side’s third before Danny Fox flew into a disgraceful two footed lunge on Steven Ried to leave referee Madley with no alternative than finish the game three players short of the original 22.

Manchester City recovered from losing their title by seeing off a strong West Ham side at the Etihad Stadium with a 2-1 win.

A first half Sergio Aguero goal and a superb second half thunderbolt courtesy of Yaya Touré looked to have given City a relatively comfortable three points but a Joe Hart howler late on gifted Andy Carroll a goal to take the shine off the fallen Champions of England’s victory.

Charlie Adam scored only his third goal of the season to move Stoke up to the magic 40 point mark as the Potters beat Norwich City 1-0 at the Brittania Stadium.

Despite not being mathematically safe yet, this victory will almost certainly mean that Stoke will be involved in a sixth straight Premier League campaign next season as they produced a typically hard working and physical display to see off fellow relegation rivals Norwich City who now may have to take something from their final two home games to be sure of staying in the division.

Everton continued their impressive campaign with a 1-0 victory over Fulham to keep in the shadows of their competitors for a European place next season.

Steven Piennar grabbed the only goal of the game, as he profited from one of the moves of the season as Everton passed the ball effortlessly around the pitch before finding Piennar on the edge of the area to drill home.

The three points may not eventually mean that David Moyes’ side get their European wish but it still gives them increased positivity before their Merseyside derby next weekend.

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Terrace View – Suarez does it again – By Billie Marshall

Luis Suarez scored late into stoppage time to rescue a point for Liverpool, but the game was overlooked after replays shown Suarez had bitten Branislav Ivanovic earlier in the game.

With the focus on the returning Rafael Benitez before the game, it was the controversial Uruguayan who again made the headlines in an entertaining game for the striker.

Brazilian Oscar had put Chelsea ahead earlier in the game before Daniel Sturridge’s half time introduction gave Liverpool extra impetus.

Sturridge tapped in for the equaliser, before the game turned into the ‘Suarez show’. His handball gifted Chelsea a penalty for which Eden Hazard put away to restore the away side’s lead.

But following a tussle in the penalty area, it seemed Suarez had bitten Ivanovic on the arm as frustration again got the better of the Liverpool forward.

However, In typical Suarez fashion it was his late header that rescued a point for Liverpool to cap off a dramatic match.

It is not the first time Luis Suarez has been in trouble for biting. He received a seven game ban when playing for Ajax after he appeared to bite Otman Bakkal. It is now likely the striker may have played his last game of the season for Liverpool with a ban looming.

The first half was a cagey affair, with Liverpool lacking any attacking threat and Chelsea keeping possession well after a slow start.

Glen Johnson drove forward and when Suarez returned him the ball, the former Chelsea man could only steer the ball wide under pressure from Petr Cech.

Chelsea grew into the half as the match went on and were ahead shortly after. An in swinging Juan Mata corner found the head of an unmarked Oscar to head past Pepe Reina.

As Liverpool failed to respond, they very nearly fell two goals behind. A dipping free-kick from David Luiz was spilt, only to be recovered on the line by Reina.

Recognising the lack of attacking intent, Daniel Sturridge came on at half time against his former side and was immediately involved.

The striker set up Steven Gerrard but his first time effort was saved superbly by the legs of Cech in the Chelsea goal.

Moments later, Sturridge again cut inside and his powerful shot bounced back off the post as Liverpool continued to apply pressure on the Chelsea goal.

Liverpool finally equalised just after. A lovely hooked cross from Suarez gave Sturridge a simple tap in to even up the scores.

However the lead wouldn’t last for long. A handball from Suarez gifted Eden Hazard the opportunity to re-take the lead, and he made no mistake, sending Reina the wrong way.

As the game drew to a close, relentless late pressure from Liverpool finally paid off in the seventh minute of injury time. An in swinging Sturridge cross found the head of Suarez to scores his 23rd league goal of the season.

The result will come as a bitter blow to former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who received a standing ovation on his entrance to the Anfield pitch.

The result leaves Chelsea in fourth position in the race for the Champions League, but the match itself seems to be overshadowed by a certain Uruguayan’s  controversial antics.

 

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