Terry Lane - Saturday 10.05.14, 16:41pm
Tomorrow sees all 20 teams kick off simultaneously at 3pm for the last round of matches of the 2013/14 Premier League season; and what a vintage season it has been. It started with all top 3 teams from last season, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United changing manager and ends with Manchester City only needing a draw at the Etihad Stadium against West Ham United to win their second Premier League title in three seasons. Along the way, City have scored 100 goals and, with Liverpool, played the most exciting cavalier football throughout the season. Liverpool have scored 99 goals going in to their last match, at home to Newcastle, who I predict will be looking for a new manager this summer. I predict both Man City & Liverpool will win by four or more goals.
This season, Arsenal fell away in traditional fashion at the start of the year as did their star summer signing Mesut Ozil. While Jose Mourinho claimed while he had no in-form strikers Chelsea had no alternative but to park buses and play the kind of negative football that allegedly got him sacked the last time round by Roman Abramovich. There’s no doubting Mourinho’s coaching and tactical genius. But the amazing feat of taking 12 points from Liverpool & Man. City this season wasn’t enough for a victorious Premier League return for the so-called ‘Chosen One’, as Chelsea lost to the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace & Sunderland; though the bitterest pill for Mourinho & Abramovich was being completely out-classed by Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of the Champions League. Next season I believe Chelsea will be a differently animal altogether as they go all out this summer to bring at least one if not two top in-form strikers to Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa and possibly Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint Germain) or Radamel Falcao (Monaco) with Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto making way.
As for the reigning champions, Manchester United, it was always going to be a tough gig following Sir Alex Ferguson who managed to bail out gracefully by winning the Premier League last season with a tired looking, aging and below par Man Utd team. But with each loss the pressure mounted on successor and ‘Chosen One’ David Moyes, who was eventually sacked in April. Manchester United will finish a lowly 7th unless they beat Southampton and Spurs lose their final home game to Aston Villa. A match that will probably be manager Tim Sherwood’s last.
So, over the course of the season, the best two teams will fight to the finish; and though both managers have played a significant part in their teams’ success, I believe Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rogers achievements come second to the magnificent job Tony Pulis has done at Crystal Palace. Not only has he managed to avoid relegation, but taken the team from 20th to 11th and caused some shocks along the way; none more so than beating Chelsea and forcing their way back from 3-0 against Liverpool.
Tomorrow I will be having an accumulator bet on wins for Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton, Crystal Palace & Sunderland; and next weekend tempted to go with Hull City causing an upset against Arsenal in the FA Cup final. In the meantime, you may want to have a gamble or two on casino games at euro palace before looking forward to the World Cup which starts on 12th June.
Edwin Huxley - Wednesday 02.04.14, 18:33pm
It’s been a difficult first season at Old Trafford for David Moyes but as yet, the club haven’t pressed the panic button and looked for a managerial alternative.
The former Everton man remains under pressure however, and if – as seems probable – he fails to qualify for the Champions League, then Manchester United’s owners may potentially appoint a successor after the World Cup.
David Moyes is available at 4.40 with Betfair to leave before the end of next season but does he deserve a second campaign and if not, who is set to come in and replace him?
The case for the defence
It’s said that a manager is only as good as his players and while Moyes retained the core of the squad that won the league in 2012-13, many have seriously under-performed. Defence has been a real concern and while David De Gea has improved after an uncertain first season, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand have all had issues with form – both individually and as a collective back four.
Paul Scholes is one of a number of former Man Utd players who claim that Moyes deserves a second season and a summer where he is able to buy and sell to address the problem areas in the side. That’s a logical assessment but the Scot’s detractors will point to Marouane Fellaini and suggest that the manager shouldn’t be trusted with a sizeable transfer kitty.
United might however, look back to the start of Sir Alex Ferguson’s career, which wasn’t exactly glorious. Fergie turned it around but will David Moyes be given a second chance? If not, just who will come in?
Louis Van Gaal
62-year old Van Gaal is expected to leave his post as manager of the Netherlands after the World Cup in Brazil and although he had been tipped to take over from Tim Sherwood at Tottenham, a vacancy at Old Trafford is likely to appeal more.
“I have said before that a challenge should be a club in the Premier League. That’s a challenge,” The Dutchman told the Guardian back in February.
Van Gaal’s credentials are seriously impressive. He’s won the Dutch Eredivisie with two different clubs, claimed two La Liga titles with Barcelona and the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich. His availability could come just at the right time for United and there can be few better managers around.
There is a theory that Borussia Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp is being groomed as the ultimate successor to Arsene Wenger at Arsenal but at 46, he could represent a better long-term solution than Van Gaal for the Old Trafford hot seat.
Klopp was among many managers to be linked with the job in the brief period following Ferguson’s retirement and Moyes’ appointment, after steering his current club to back-to-back titles prior to Bayern Munich’s dominance.
Juventus boss Antonio Conte is set for a Serie A and Europa League double but while he remains as one of the leading contenders to take over from David Moyes, an unexpected exit in the group stages of the Champions League could count against the 44-year old.
Conte steered Bari to a Serie B title and has won two Serie A titles since taking over at Juve, but until he proves himself on Europe’s biggest stage, the Italian will not be considered amongst the world’s top managers.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Fergie is tipped in some areas for an unlikely return to the Old Trafford hot seat in an attempt to steady things while the club looks for a more permanent successor.
Sir Alex attends United games while fitting in his horse racing interests but at 72, will he really be tempted to come out of retirement and handle all that pressure again?
Terry Lane - Monday 31.03.14, 22:54pm
Neymar: The Making of the World's Greatest New Number 10
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is the new global football superstar, already acclaimed as ‘the next Pele‘. He is the player everyone wants to watch in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, his home country.
Neymar has twice been elected the best player in South America while playing for Santos; and with Barcelona, who signed him for 57 million euros, he is destined for great things alongside Lionel Messi.
In NEYMAR: The Making of the World’s Greatest New Number 10, Luca Caioli’s book recounts Neymar’s life and career so far through exclusive private access to his friends, his family, his coaches, his teammates, his advisors and his fans.
Free Football Book Competition
PLEASE NOTE: THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED
Buzzin Football has 5 copies of NEYMAR: The Making of the World’s Greatest New Number 10 by Luca Caioli to giveaway.
To enter the competition all you need to do is correctly answer the following question:
From which Brazilian football team did Neymar sign for Barcelona?
a) Sao Paulo
Send your entries to email@example.com with ‘neymar book’ in the subject line (any other subject title will be not be entered) with your answer and your full address and contact telephone number.
This Buzzin Football Book Competition ends on 30th April, 2014. The editor will randomly choose 5 winners.
The editor’s choice is final.
NEYMAR: The Making of the World’s Greatest New Number 10 by Luca Caioli is published by Icon Books priced £8.99 paperback / £7.99 ebook).
Amazon | Waterstones
John Edwards - Saturday 08.02.14, 14:05pm
The monopoly that Sky and BT have over the showing of live football on TV does have its advantages. Most notably, it has enabled me to go and watch non-league football in my home town on a Saturday at 3pm.
Being from Maidstone, that has not always been possible but that’s not just because of the introduction of Sky Sports.
The Stones played their football outside the Town for 20 years but came back home in 2012 having been in the wilderness sharing grounds with Sittingbourne and Ashford. Depressing times indeed.
Mind you there were darker days. Some anoraks might remember that The Stones reached the nosebleed heights of the Football League in 1989.
Due to a combination of poor management and a total lack of support from the Local Council, Maidstone United went under in 1992. From its ashes, the resurrection has been nothing short of miraculous. Maidstone United was reborn in 1995 initially through a Youth Team and it then developed and gained periodic promotions through numerous leagues. All of this time the Team had no home and had to pay rent to other Clubs so it could play Footie.
Finally, through the incredible dedication of fans and the business acumen (and money) of the Club’s saviours Oliver Ash and Terry Casey, the new £2.6m Gallagher Stadium opened in 2012. Nestled next to the River Medway, the ground opened to a packed crowd with Brighton the visitors (we got stuffed!).
Ash, Casey and the supporters consistently fundraised and stirred interest in bringing back Football to Maidstone. I can still taste the delicious cakes I bought on Fan Cake days to raise money in dreary Ashford whilst counting how many Footballs were hoofed into the Industrial wasteland that surrounded the quagmire of a pitch.
Even during the Club’s resurgence, sharing badly drained Football pitches almost brought an end to the Club again as match after match was postponed leading to players not being paid for weeks on end.
The Owners of the Club have always stressed that the Club has to stand on its own two feet. They knew revenue had to be guaranteed and games had to go ahead. Also Ash and Casey wanted to make sure that the Club had a link with local community. So an artificial 3G pitch was laid and is now used buy no only the First Team but also numerous teams that are part of the Football Academy.
Artificial pitches have moved on since the day of sliding tackles resulting in burnt legs and tights being worn by players at grounds such as Loftus Road. The new synthetic pitches are brilliant. If it’s good enough for the Champions League, with Spartak Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium, then it should be good enough for the Football Conference League. Sadly, Clubs have voted down Maidstone’s request for 3G to be accepted in leagues higher than The Ryman Premier. Therefore, if the Stones gain promotion this season (and they are flying high) they will not gain promotion to the Skrill League South.
To date this season, Maidstone have not postponed any match at the Gallagher and yet 5 away matches have been postponed due to waterlogged pitches. Something has got to give and Maidstone continue to campaign on the issue, getting media coverage in The Times and even on TalkSport!
As for the Match Day experience at Maidstone? Well it brings a lump to the throat and that’s not because of the Strawberry Bon Bons you can buy from the back of a Van at the ground (a sort of Pick (up) ‘n’ Mix). The sweet Stall sits proudly next to the Pie Hut and the Conservatory which masquerades as a Bar courtesy of sponsors Britelite.
I still can’t quite believe The Stones have their own purpose-built Stadium.
The Club of course has its own Clubhouse with a specially brewed Stones Bitter on tap. Shepherd Neame’s finest …. Well almost!
Advertising revenue has been increased through local company hoardings everywhere around the Ground and there is even a sponsored Brick Wall where for £30 fans could have their names immortalised on a wall. It really is a fabulous site to see and some of the names have actually been spelt correctly!
The ground capacity is 2,300 and the Stones average home attendance is the fourth highest in non-league Football in the UK regularly attracting 1,600 – 1,900 at each match at The Gallagher.
The quality of the Football is pretty high. Less balls are lost compared to the Ashford/Sittingbourne days. Thankfully the retrieval of any ball thumped out of the ground in to the River Medway is made easier by employing Ball Boys in flippers and snorkels.
Frannie Collin, Alex Flisher, Tom Mills, Michael “Iniesta” Phillips and Alex Brown are household names. Admittedly I live on my own but you get the idea.
There is a great family atmosphere and the half-time entertainment often includes a Parent v Child Penalty Shoot Out. If you are lucky you can also witness The Stonettes, who not only almost dress in similar outfits but also almost dance in time!
I have bought a Season Ticket each season since the Club returned to the Town as I wanted to do my bit to support the Club financially. Matches cost £10 and I think that is value for money.
I travel to matches from London as much as I can and enjoy the pre-match ritual of meeting friends for a beer and a bite to eat at The White Rabbit and another couple of beers at the match (you can have a pint on the touchline!)
My mates and I usually pitch up at the corner flag near The Mystery Burger Van and between banter and laughter we sometimes get to see the match too.
The town is buzzing on matchdays and businesses are seeing the benefit of the Club being back in town.
Maidstone United are on the up. They are in the news through their 3G campaign and their Football is attractive to watch, their ground is something to be proud of and their pies are normally hot.
If we can just muster a chant to beat the one heard last season from the Horsham away fans then I think we will be on our way back to the Football League in the next 5 – 10 years.
“No surrender to the low fat spread!”
Terry Lane - Sunday 26.01.14, 15:08pm
The Forgotten Legends – Manchester United Legends of a Bygone Era
There’s something very magical and appealing about Manchester United football club. It rightly claims to be one of the most popular football clubs in the world. The club have always played exciting, attack-minded football; with the mentality they will always score more goals than the opposition. That in itself is enough to understand the Red Devils appeal.
But its global appeal is built on more than that. Objectively, it is easy to see where that popularity comes from in the modern game. It started in the 1950’s as Matt Busby a former player for both Manchester City and United, set about building a young team with the dream to be the best in England and Europe. But the invincible team was struck down in its ascendency as eight of ‘The Busby Babes’ tragically lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 including Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor and Billy Whelan – all Manchester United legends in the making.
Bobby Charlton survived the air crash along with manager Matt Busby; and ten years later they helped Manchester United become the first English club to become European Champions, along with new united legends Denis Law and George Best.
But little is mentioned about the stars and legends before Matt Busby and The Busby Babes; the legends that played for Manchester United (and Newton Heath) before the Second World War. Without them, the club may never have existed.
The Forgotten Legends – Manchester United Legends of a Bygone Era reviews the careers of six important Manchester United (and Newton Heath) players from a bygone era, all of whom made their debuts for the Red Devils from the earliest years of the club up to the start of the Second World War. The six players are Harry Stafford, Charlie Roberts, Sandy Turnbull, Joe Spence, Johnny Carey and Jack Rowley.
There are no shrines or statues to these players at Old Trafford yet without them, other legends might never have emerged, and indeed the club itself might not exist. All six of these “forgotten legends” had two things in common: all made their Manchester United debuts before the start of the Second World War and amazingly, none of them have had their story told in print before.
As footballers continue to be paid exuberant wages, are treated like rock stars and live lifestyles in the public eye, this is a wonderful book that takes us back to more innocent times where footballers remained working class and played for the love of their ability, rather than a big house in the country.
HARRY STAFFORD – The mysterious figure who saved Manchester United and then disappeared
CHARLIE ROBERTS – Manchester United’s first great captain and founder of the PFA
SANDY TURNBULL – a figure who attracted controversy as easily as he did match winning goals
JOE SPENCE - United’s only true great between the wars, a legend among the fans
JOHNNY CAREY – United’s next great captain, leading the club back to glory
JACK ROWLEY – A prolific striker with a fearsome reputation on and off the pitch
As Manchester United’s illustrious history begins a new chapter, following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson as team manager, and recent demonstrations by fans include wearing the yellow and green colours of Newton Heath, the team that were to become Manchester United, it is fitting that authors Frank Colbert, Charbel Boujaoude and Iain McCartney, have collaborating in writing this very interesting and well researched football book embracing some of Manchester United’s original legends.
The Forgotten Legends – Manchester United’s Legends of a Bygone Era by Frank Colbert is published by Empire Publications Hardback Price: £14.95