Friday, 25 February 2011

The Fall and Rise of (?) Southampton Football Club Part 2

After countless renditions from fans of “Swing Lowe, Swing Rupert Lowe, Hanging from the Itchen bridge”, the chairman finally stood down from his position.  Numerous bids to buy the club failed, including the Pinnacle Group, fronted by Matt Le Tissier, who even made an exclusivity payment of £500,000, before Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr stepped in.

Markus Liebherr, owner of the Mali Group and with an estimated personal wealth of £5billion, purchased the club on 8th July 2009.  The club’s debt was immediately wiped off and significant investment into the team was made.  Nicola Cortese was unveiled as chairman, with Alan Pardew brought in as manager and Rickie Lambert was purchased for £1million from Bristol Rovers.  He was to make a huge contribution to the team, scoring 36 goals in his first season at the club.

Despite the difficult start to the season, Saints managed to finish 7th place in the league and also win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley.

On 11th August 2010, the club was hit with the tragic news that Markus Liebherr had died at the age of 62 from a heart-related illness.  Following this, the mysterious dismissal of Alan Pardew as manager following a resounding away victory at Bristol Rovers looked set to continue the club’s instability.

The 12th September 2010 saw the appointment of Nigel Adkins as manager.  The storm created by the January transfer window has been weathered with the retention of services of prized assets Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and plans to remove the current ‘Premier League standard’ training facilities in favour of a new £3million development of the club’s foundations have been approved.

15 managers in 10 years at Southampton F.C. gives an indication as to the instability the club has seen in recent times.  With the finances now seemingly secure, a strong chairman in place and a manager with the faith of all the fans behind him, it appears that the club is back on the rise.  All thanks go to Saint Markus Liebherr, a true legend and saviour of the club.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Fall and Rise (?) of Southampton FC Part 1 by Sam Loram

As of Thursday 24th February 2011, Southampton Football Club find themselves 5th place in the Npower League 1 table.  Just a little under 8 years ago, they had placed 8th in the Premier League, runners-up in the F.A. Cup and were to be competing in the UEFA Cup in a shiny new £30million stadium.  So, where did it all go wrong?

After a fairy-tale ending to 103 years of football at the Dell, with club hero Matt Le Tissier scoring a sensational volley to seal a 3-2 victory over Arsenal, the club were to move into the new 32,000 seater St. Mary’s Stadium.  Things started slowly at the new ground but picked up to see Saints finish 11th in the 2001/02 season under the guidance of Gordan Strachan.  Things got even better the following season with an 8th place finish and an F.A. Cup runners-up medal, but this was to be the beginning of a rapid fall from grace for the club.

The 2004/05 season saw a struggling Southampton acquire a certain Harry Redknapp from local rivals Portsmouth.  In addition to this, Rugby World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward was employed as ‘Technical Director/Performance Director/Director of Football’ on a multi-million pound contract from which no benefit was ever seen.  Despite the big-name investment, Southampton FC were relegated from the Premier League on 15th May 2005 after a total of 27 years in the top flight of English football.  Needless to say things didn’t get any better with Harry Redknapp returning to Portsmouth in November of the same year.

After a few seasons of Championship football, Chairman Rupert Lowe’s money-grabbing strategy of selling off the best young players rising from the clubs prestigious academy to line his own pockets caught up with him.  The sales of Wayne Bridge, James Beattie, Kevin Davies, Kenwyne Jones, Andrew Surman, David McGoldrick, Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale came to a total sum of £45million.

With £30million of debt, blamed on the new stadium, on 23rd April 2009 Southampton FC went into administration.  The Football League gave the club the following ultimatum:

“If you stay up this season, you will be deducted 10 points this season [ensuring relegation].”
“If you are relegated this season, you will be deducted 10 points next season.”

The club were relegated that season and therefore, providing they could find a buyer to keep them running, would start the following season on minus 10.

Part 2 coming later this week... 

Sam Loram

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Champions League Video Highlights

Goal highlights:

Lyon 1-1 Real Madrid (Gomis) - SEE IT HERE!

Lyon 0-1 Real Madrid (Benzema) - SEE IT HERE!

FC Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea (Anelka) - SEE IT HERE!

FC Copenhagen 0-1 Chelsea (Anelka) - SEE IT HERE!


As it happened:

21:52 - Full Time Blackpool 3-1 Tottenham

21:51 - Goal! Blackpool 3-1 Tottenham (Pavlyuchenko)

21:41 - Goal! Blackpool 3-0 Tottenham (Ormerod)

21:40 - Full Time FC Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea

21:39 - Full Time Lyon 1-1 Real Madrid

21:26 - Goal! Lyon 1-1 Real Madrid (Gomis)

21:17 - Drogba comes on for Anelka. Ancelotti desperate for Torres to get on the scoresheet.

21:15 - So, both away teams winning in the CL. Interesting.

21:09 - Goal! Lyon 0-1 Real Madrid (Benzema)

21:05 - Underway by the way at Blackpool. They lead 2-0 against Tottenham.

21:01 - Is that game, set and match? Chelsea look to be cruising as Anelka doubles their lead.

20:57 - Goal! FC Copenhagen 0-2 Chelsea (Anelka)

20:50 - We are underway in both CL games.

20:48 - Tottenham's top 4 chances are taking a real blow tonight.

20:47 - HT Blackpool 2-0 Tottenham

20:40 - Goal! Blackpool 2-0 Tottenham (Campbell)

20:32 - HT Lyon 0-0 Real Madrid HT FC Copenhagen 0-1 Chelsea

20:30 - The chances keep coming for Chelsea, but only one goal for Carlo Ancelotti's men so far.

20:28 - Very open in Denmark, Chelsea pushing for the killer second away goal.

20:20 - Goal! Blackpool 1-0 Tottenham (Adam Pen)

20:18 - Lyon are by far the better team in France.

20:11 - Things just aren't happening for Fernando Torres at the moment.

20:08 - Chelsea dominating procedings.

20:04 - Great goal from Nicolas Anelka, who runs at goal and slides the ball into the back of the net from 18 yards. First blood Chelsea.

20:03 - Goal! FC Copenhagen 0-1 Chelsea (Anelka)

20:00 - 15 minutes played in both games, no clear cut chances as of yet.

19:53 - First chance for Chelsea, and it falls to Fernando Torres, but his first touch let him down allowing the goalkeeper to smother.

19:52 - Lyon also start lively against Real Madrid

19:50 - This is by no means an easy game for Chelsea. Bright start by their opponents.

19:46 - Both games kick off. Lyon vs Real Madrid and FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea. Come on!

19:42 - Teams in the tunnels at both CL stadiums.

19:40 - Great scenes as FC Copenhagen fans hold up banners as Chelsea fans hold up scarves. Great atmosphere.

19:38 - Don't forget, we will upload video's of any goals in the big games tonight, something you don't get anywhere else.

19:31 - "Drogba payed 2 hours on Saturday so I left him on the bench as Torres and Anelka is fresh" - Carlo Ancelotti.

19:30 - Just under 15 minutes until kick-off.

19:28 - Carlo Ancelotti is under pressure tonight. He needs the likes of Fernando Torres to perform. Carlo has recently stated that "Chelsea aren't dead". Defiant.

19:27 - Former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer starts for Copenhagen.

19:24 - My prediction for tonight is FC Copenhagen 1-2 Chelsea. Cold cold night in Denmark.

19:19 - Copenhagen come into the game having not played a competitive game for 11 weeks. Tough, tough game for the Danish team tonight.

19:15 - For now, we will concentrate on Chelsea's game at FC Copenhagen. Updates from elsewhere as and when they are required, of course.

19:13 - Big game in the English Premier League taking place from 20:00. It's Blackpool vs Tottenham

19:11 - So, Didier Drogba dropped again. What do you think of this?

19:09 - Champions League full teams are as follows:
Copenhagen: Wiland, Pospech, Jorgensen, Antonsson, Wendt, Bolanos, Kvist, Claudemir, Gronkjaer, Santin, Ndoye. Subs: Christensen, Bengtsson, Kristensen, Zohore, Vingaard, Hooiveld, Delaney.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Ramires, Essien, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Torres. Subs: Turnbull, Drogba, Mikel, Zhirkov, Ferreira, Kalou, McEachran.
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Oldenzaal)

Lyon: Lloris, Reveillere, Cris, Lovren, Cissokho, Michel Bastos, Gourcuff, Toulalan, Kallstrom, Delgado, Gomis. Subs: Vercoutre, Gassama, Diakhate, Briand, Pjanic, Gonalons, Pied.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Carvalho, Arbeloa, Di Maria, Alonso, Khedira, Ozil, Ronaldo, Adebayor. Subs: Adan, Kaka, Benzema, Diarra, Granero, Marcelo, Albiol.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)

19:05 - Where do I begin? A packed schedule tonight. Our big game is FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea. Domestic action too, so stay with us.

19:02 - If you want to get involved tonight, you can via twitter @SideNettingBlog

19:01 - Some big games tonight. Champions League games are above, watch them live if you wish.

19:00 - Welcome to Football Live on

Champions League Preview

Uefa Champions League Last 16 First Leg

FC Copenhagen vs Chelsea (KO 19:45)
Fernando Torres is expected to make his European debut for the blues tonight, but fellow newcomer David Luiz is cup-tied.
Nicolas Anelka, Jose Bosingwa and Michael Essien all return after missing Saturday's FA Cup defeat to Everton.
Copenhagen, who have not played a game for 2 months because of the winter break, will have former Chelsea favourite Jesper Gronkjaer available to face his old club.
Lyon vs Real Madrid (KO 19:45)
Lisandro Lopez will be missing for Lyon tonight after pulling his hamstring in training.
Bafetimbi Gomis will play the lone striker role, with playmaker Yoann Gourcuff playing just behind him.
Real Madrid have a full strength squad, so manager Jose Mourinho will have the luxury of chosing between Karim Benzema and Emmanuel Adebayor to play upfront.

Monday, 21 February 2011

West Ham vs Burnley Match Report and Video Highlights

West Ham produced a classy display to sweep aside Burnley to reach the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup.

Full Time: West Ham 5-1 Burnley

90 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 5-1 Burnley (Freddie Sears) Watch it here!

71 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 4-1 Burnley (Jay Rodriguez) Watch it here!

59 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 4-0 Burnley (Winston Reid) Watch it here!

50 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 3-0 Burnley (Carlton Cole) Watch it here!

48 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 2-0 Burnley (Carlton Cole) Watch it here!

Half Time: West Ham 1-0 Burnley

23 Mins: GOAL! West Ham 1-0 Burnley (Thomas Hitzlsperger) Watch it here!

West Ham: Green, Reid, Tomkins, Jacobsen, Bridge, Sears, Parker, Noble, Hitzlsperger, Cole, Ba.
Subs: Boffin, Barrera, Boa Morte, Spector, da Costa, Hines, Piquionne.
Burnley: Grant, Mears, Duff, Carlisle, Fox, Elliott, Cork, Eagles, Marney, Wallace, Rodriguez.
Subs: Jensen, Alexander, Iwelumo, Edgar, Bikey, Easton, Thompson.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

Gattuso receives four match ban

Milan hardman Genaro Gattuso has been handed a 4 game european ban by UEFA for his clash with Joe Jordan in the recent Champions League match between AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur.

Tempers were running high in the match with Gattuso having already received a yellow card for his aggressive play along with Flamini putting in a reckless, 2 footed challenge on Verdran Corluka which resulted in just a yellow card for the former Arsenal man.

This boiled over at the final whistle and resulted in a melee in front of the dugout involving many players and officials, which ended with Gattuso headbutting Tottenham coach Joe Jordan.

UEFA will feel as though they have done their duty by banning Gattuso for 4 games but the question does need to be asked, if this was an English club, would the punishment have been more severe?

Didier Drogba received a similar ban simply for swearing towards a TV camera, something which is neither dangerous or overtly violent. UEFA's and particularly Monsieur Platini's dislike of English football is well documented and you have to wonder whether he would have gotten more involved had it been the other way around.

Evra puts pen to paper on new United contract

Machester United left-back Patrice Evra has signed a contract extension with the Premier League leaders, keeping him at the club until at least 2014.

The deal ends on-going speculation that Evra, 29, would leave Old Trafford, with Real Madrid apparently a fan of the Frenchman.

Evra signed for United for £5m in January 2006, from French side Monaco. Since then, he has developed into what Sir Alex Ferguson has recently described as "Unquestionably one of the World's best left-back".

Sir Alex will be delighted at securing the ongoing services of Evra, after Ryan Giggs also signed a one-year contract extension with the club last week.

Ancelotti to be rescued by Roma?

According to The Daily Telegraph, Italian side Roma are keen on saving Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti from his Stamford Bridge crisis.

Roma are managerless after Claudio Ranieri, ironically a former Chelsea man himself, resigned after they conceded a three-goal lead and lost 4-3 to Genoa - their fourth successive defeat.

It is now thought that Ancelotti is top of Roma's wish list, and according to reports in London, the Italian is keen on leaving Chelsea, especially after Saturday's FA Cup defeat against Everton, which leaves them with the Champions League as their only realistic chance of Silverware.

Roman Abramovich is understood to have held crisis talks with senior Chelsea officials in response to Saturday's loss. The Chelsea owner splashed over £75m in January, and is believed to be keen on investing even more into the club, but will his next signing be a new Manager?

Matt Dawe

FA Cup 5th Round - West Ham vs Burnley

West Ham will be hoping that the FA Cup will bring a benificial distraction from their Premier League relegation battle, as they take on Championship side Burnley.

Thomas Hitzlsperger will make his debut for the Hammers, whilst Burnley are without new signings Charlie Austin and Marvin Bartley as both are cup-tied.

Catch the game live on ESPN, kick off 20:00.

Match report and Video Highlights will appear here at 10pm.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Sunday Round-up

Goal of the Day:

Barclays Premier League:

West Brom 1-1 Wolves

FA Cup:

Fulham 0-1 Bolton
Leyton Orient 1-1 Arsenal
Man City 5-0 Notts County

Scottish Premier League:

Celtic 3-0 Rangers
St Mirren 0-1 Hibernian

<b>Football </b> 

The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON Quarter Final Draw

The draw for the Quarter Finals of the The FA Cup sponsored by E.ON is as follows:

Stoke City vs Burnley/West Ham United
Manchester City vs Reading/Everton
Birmingham City vs Fulham/Bolton Wanderers
Manchester United vs Leyton Orient/Arsenal

Ties to be played on 12th / 13th March 2011

Celtic vs Rangers Match Report & Video Highlights

Full Time: Celtic 3-0 Rangers

70 Mins: GOAL! Celtic 3-0 Rangers (Kris Commons)

Half Time: Celtic 2-0 Rangers

28 Mins: GOAL! Celtic 2-0 Rangers (Gary Hooper)

17 Mins: GOAL! Celtic 1-0 Rangers (Gary Hooper)

Betting Tips from our Tipster Matt Dawe

Todays late kick off sees Arsenal travel to face Leyton Orient in the FA Cup.

Whilst many people are predicting the Gunners will walk all over the League 1 outfit, I fancy the O's to get something from this game. They are on a good run of form which has seen them unbeaten since New Years Day, and they will be hoping to take advantage of an Arsenal side which could still be recovering from their stunning comeback against FC Barcelona last week.

Tip of the day:

Leyton Orient to DRAW against Arsenal : 5/1 (Best price @ BetFred)

Matt Dawe

Celtic vs Rangers (12:30pm Sky Sports 1)

Sunday's big game sees the Old Firm go head to head in what could be a vital game at the top of the SPL. Rangers are currently 5 points behind rivals Celtic, however they do have 2 games in hand.

Watch this space for up-to-the-minute updates, the match report and the video highlights.

Is the Magic Fading?

Manchester United vs Leeds United, Stevenage Borough vs Newcastle United, hell, even Chelsea vs Everton. Much has been made about the magic of the cup in the last few years (well, if you watch ITV's coverage at least) but with attendances dwindling and the top sides putting out weaker and weaker teams, the question must be asked, is the magic still alive or is it simply a case of holding on to past glories for the FA Cup?

There have been calls of late for a complete overhaul of the FA Cup. For it to be revamped and changed beyond recognition in an attempt to bring back some of the spark that it has been missing during the Premier League years.

Many of these proposals, be they eliminating replays, changing the times of kickoffs or even handing a Champions League place to the winners, have come under fire from fans and journalists alike however the question must be asked, if there is so much love for the cup in its current incarnate why are fans not attending? For Wednesday's replay between Bolton and Wigan a frankly embarrassing attendance of 7,515 was recorded. This is a match between 2 of the (relatively speaking) best sides in the country and only 7500 decided to go along.

There are many possible reasons for this lack of support; recession, increase in ticket price, work commitments etc etc but the point remains that attendances for league matches (which are often more expensive) are continually considerably higher than in the cup leading to lower gate receipts and generally devaluing the competition.

Obviously there are the few exceptions, Portsmouth's cup win in 2008 was a truly magical day for the club (and provided the fans with one last hurrah before seeing it crumble) and the huge upsets that are seen every now and again do bring a smile to every football fan's face. But these small moments are few far between and are not enough to justify keeping up the facade.

In this reporters opinion, the traditionalists need to realise that the FA Cup is not what it was. Gone are the days of the Royal Family attending and “Its a Cup Final Knockout” on a sunny Saturday afternoon. What the FA Cup needs is a total overhaul. Give the teams something to play for, as no football fan wants to spend 20 of their hard earned pounds watching two reserve sides go at it. When the Football Association attempt to make a change, these need to be greeted with open arms and adulation and the realisation that unless they want the FA Cup to take the same path down in the realms of mockery as the League Cup, then something has got to give.

Richard Allum

Championship Round Up by Football League Editor David Mayer

Welcome to the Saturday roundup of the Football League. This will is the first of what will hopefully be many blogs providing a roundup of the latest Football League action. We start by looking at the bottom of the Championship clash, which saw Sheffield Utd take the trip down to London to face Crystal Palace. Both teams are both at the wrong end of the table and only two points separated them at kick-off. The game saw the away side have the majority of possession, but were unable to create many chances and the home side punished their lack of creativity. The first half went by without any goals and the second half began in a similar manner that was until the introduction of Scannell, who had an immediate impact setting up Darren Ambrose who smashed a right foot strike beyond Simonsen in the Utd goal to give Palace a vital lead. They also had a chance to extend their lead at the death with Scannell once again setting up Ambrose, but his shot was spurred over the crossbar. The final score was Crystal Palace 1 – 0 Sheffield Utd and the result saw the gap widen to five points between those teams in the relegation zone and those outside.

Elsewhere in the Championship, bottom of the table, Preston North End, welcomed top of the table, QPR, to Deepdale. Things seemed to be going according to plan for Neil Warnock’s team as they went in 0 -1 up at half-time thanks to a tap-in goal from Heidar Helguson in the 37th minute. However Phil Brown galvanised his team as they got back into the game after Nicholson grabbed an equaliser from 18 yards. Sadly the game saw no more goals with both teams cancelling each other out to earn a share of the spoils with the game finishing PNE 1 – 1 QPR.

Other results include five goal thriller at the Den with Middlesborough beating Millwall 2 – 3, thanks to a 83rd minute goal from Leroy Lita. Four goals also went in at Elland Road as Leeds and Norwich shared a 2 – 2 draw, as both teams maintain their play-off positions. Another top of the table clash saw Nottingham Forrest welcome Cardiff City. Morgan gave Forrest the lead after 32 minutes. But only to be cancelled out with a Peter Whittingham penalty in the 63rd minute. Although it didn’t take Forrest long to regain the lead and win the tie 2 – 1, thanks to a 67th minute goal from Rob Earnshaw. Ipswich and Hull drew 1 – 1 in a mid-table clash, similarly, Reading and Watford drew 1 – 1 to keep both teams positioned in the middle of the table. Portsmouth gained another 3 points at home to Barnsley as they look to continue to pull away from the relegation zone, while Doncaster may have to start looking over their shoulder after a 3 – 0 defeat away at high-flying Swansea City and relegation fears continue for Scunthorpe fans as they drew 0 – 0 with Derby County, despite their impressive 1 – 0 win at home to Nottingham Forrest midweek.

 Finally there was one Friday game that saw Leicester City continue their push for the play-offs with a 2 – 1 home win against struggling Bristol City. The winning goal came in the 92nd minute thanks to an unstoppable Martyn Waghorn drive.

David Mayer

League 1 Round up by Football League Editor David Mayer

Moving on to League 1, we begin with the top of the table clash down on the south coast as the Cherries, Bournemouth, welcomed the Terriers, Huddersfield, to the seaside town. The first half was a cagey affair and it took an additional 30 minutes in the second half before the first goal was scored.  It came about from a typical Liam Feeney cross, which was headed home by Michael Symes to give Bournemouth the lead. But just as the three points seemed to be going to the Cherries, the Terriers thought otherwise as Roberts played through substitute Cadamarteri who finished calmly to earn Huddersfield a 1 – 1 draw. A result that was probably harsh on Bournemouth after HuddersfieldManager, Lee Clark, admitted that Huddersfield was off the pace.

Elsewhere top of the table Brighton, took a break from league fixtures as they played their FA Cup game against Stoke City and the Rochdale vs Southampton game was postponed thanks to a waterlogged pitch. There was action for other top of the table side Peterborough who welcomed mid-table Tranmere Rovers to London Road, where the game finished 2 – 1 to Peterborough, following Tranmere taking the lead in the first half, only to be pegged back in the second half. MK Dons moved up into the final play-off spot following a 0 – 1 away win at Hartlepool, with a Powell goal proving to be the winner. Meanwhile Charlton were the team to make way for MK Dons after a bad day at the office at home to Exeter City. The game was goalless at half-time and it took until the 64th minute for the deadlock to be broken. The opening came from Exeter, which led to the floodgates opening and Exeter scoring 3 goals in 20 minutes to make it 0 – 3, before a consolation goal for Charlton from Bradley Wright-Phillips to make the final score Charlton 1 – 3 Exeter. Oldham failed to continue their push for the play-offs with a 1 – 0 away defeat at relegation candidates Bristol Rovers. While fellow bottom of the table teams Walsall and Swindon, who lost to Colchester 2 – 0 and Carlisle 0 – 1 respectively

League 2 Round up by Football League Editor David Mayer

Moving on to League Two, sadly the top of the table clash between Rotherham and Shrewsbury fell short to the weather, which meant top of the table Chesterfield could potentially strengthen their lead away at in-form Lincoln City. Chesterfield looked like they were going to just that after an opening goal from the club’s top goal scorer Craig Davies after he pounced upon a mix up at the back after 15 minutes. But it then took another 70 minutes before the next goal was scored, which was again from Chesterfield, but not before a penalty miss from Davies after being brought down in the area. The goal came from a Dean Holden header from a Whittaker corner, to give Chesterfield all three points and a 0 – 2 win.

Elsewhere, Wycombe failed to capitalise on the postponed game after losing 1 – 2 at home to Accrington Stanley to remain behind the Millers and the Shrews in the table. Bury grabbed a 1 – 1 away draw at fellow play-off zone team, Gillingham, after the Gills opened the scoring through Weston in the 25th minute, only to be pegged back from the league’s top goal scorer Lowe on the 72nd minute. Port Vale also remained in the play-off places with a 2 – 1 home win against Bradford City on Friday night, with the both goals coming from Pope. While Oxford Utd continue to knock on the play-off door with an impressive 0 – 3 win away Morecombe, despite a Morecombe missed penalty.  The points were shared in a ‘six-pointer’ down at Plainmoor where Torquay hosted Southend. An opening goal from Torquay striker Billy Kee in the 73rd minute, was cancelled out by a Southend equaliser from Barry Corr in the 81st minute. 

Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Stockport hosted Macclesfield, a key game for both teams. The game seemed to be going the home team’s way with the first goal going to the home side after a goal from Wallace after 25 minutes. But this was soon cancelled out with a 33rd minute Reid goal. In the second half Macclesfield took the game by the scruff of the neck scoring three further goals to win 1 – 4, in what looks like to prove to be a crucial game come the end of the season! Other relegation positioned team, Barnet, were away at Cheltenham and looked set to face another defeat after a Thomas goal for Cheltenham, but Barnet decided to spoil the party with a 92nd minute goal from Devera to earn Barnet a crucial point with a 1 – 1 draw. Two other bottom of the table teams Hereford and Burton also shared the spoils with a 0 – 0 draw and mid-table games Crewe vs Stevenage and Northampton vs Aldershot, ended 0 – 1 and 1 – 1 respectively.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Chelsea 1 Everton 1 Video Highlights

Click here for >>Video Highlights
Chelsea's poor run of form continues as Everton equalise in the last minute of extra time to force penalties. The equaliser itself was a masterful free kick from Leighton Baines. For full video highlights click below

Manchester United 1-0 Crawley Town Video Highlights

An understrength Manchester United side scraped past non-league Crawley Town thanks to a 26th minute goal for stand-in captain Wes Brown.

Sir Alex Ferguson will take little out of the game, although he will be satisfied that his side avoided an upset that would have gone down in FA Cup History.

United started the game with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Dimitar Berbatov all sitting out. However their fans would have expected Internationals such as in-form Javier Hernandez and Brazilian playmaker Anderson to pose more of a threat to the team 93 league places below them.

It was Crawley, however, that rose to the occasion a lot better than their opponents. They started the game well, and manager Steve Evans will take pride from the fact that his side were not awed by the occasion.

In what was quite possibly the only time in the match that United's class was evident, they went ahead. A fine inswinging cross from Darren Gibson was met inch-perfectly by Wes Brown, who's flick took the ball past the stranded Crawley goalkeeper.

Although Crawley continued to get their teeth stuck into United, their only real chance came on 76 minutes when striker Matt Tubbs went for an overhead kick which was unlucky not to hit the target.

United were unimpressive to say the least, and, even with the introduction of Wayne Rooney at half time, they were unable to go on and put the game to bed.

Steve Evans and his men can take a lot of pride back to Crawley Town with them, which may give them a welcome boost in their quest for promotion.

So despite Crawley's grit and determination, there was no upset so it is, as expected, United's name to go into the hat for the Quarter Final draw.

Matt Dawe


Video Preview : Man United vs Crawley

The ultimate David and Goliath battle. The sort of fixture usually only seen in the 3rd round has captivated the competition.

Prior to this round Manchester United defeated rivals Liverpool 1-0.

Whilst Crawley scraped a 1-0 away victory against League 2 Torquay

 Can Crawley do the impossible and continue this brilliant run, find out live on ITV at 17:30.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Video Preview : FA Cup Chelsea v Everton

First game of the day see's Chelsea take on Everton in a replay from the previous round. Its live on ESPN from 11:30.  Lets have a look at the video highlights of this fixture.

First game of the tie ended in a 1-1 draw

Previous meetings have seen some great goals

Lets not forget these were the two finalists in the 2009 final which saw Louis Saha score the quickest ever FA Cup final goal

FA Cup Tip of the Day

Expect drama, tears and upsets this weekend, as the magic of the FA Cup returns with 16 teams vying to make it to the quarter finals. With the likes of Crawley Town visiting Old Trafford to face Manchester United, and Leyton Orient hosting Arsenal, it I sure to be yet another FA Cup weekend to remember. 

The weekend will kick off with Chelsea vs Everton at 12.30 on Saturday (11.30 ESPN). With both teams struggling to find form recently, both managers will be hoping a good result here will boost their players confidence. 

Although the game has to be settled today with it being a replay,  I see this one going past 90 minutes, so my tip is as follows:

Chelsea vs Everton

Correct Score 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes @ 15/2 with Coral (best price)


Fernando Torres - Is The Criticism Fair?

New Chelsea front man Fernando Torres is used to being at the forefront of conversation. Be it his goals, international accomplishments, and even injuries the Spaniard is used to the attention. Yet following his £50 million move from Liverpool to Chelsea such terms as amateur, waste of money and lost have labelled El Nino. Is it really fair after two games that one of the world’s best forwards receive such flak or should a price tag and pedigree so high mean instant results for him and his new employees from the Kings Road?

The build up to his debut was intense, combine the fact he was Chelsea’s biggest ever signing, the magnitude of a club such as Liverpool selling a star player to an rival and throw in his first match being against the aforementioned Anfield outfit and its easy to see why all eyes were be on the number 9. He wasn’t involved a great deal in the first half but did fashion Chelsea’s best opportunity from a Drogba ball. The hype surrounding “will he score” summed up perfectly by Sky’s Martin Tyler who quipped “is this the moment?” as Torres pulled back his right foot. Unfortunately for Torres and Chelsea it wasn’t. This was his last telling contribution before being substituted in the second half. It was an interesting choice by Ancelotti to take him off despite him playing no worse or better for that matter than Drogba or Anelka who remained on the pitch. A decision that gave Liverpool and there travelling fans a huge lift. Moments later Raul Meireles punished Chelsea to make it 1-0, coincidence? The blues failed to recover and Liverpool left with an impressive victory, spoiling Torres debut and continuing their newfound success under Kenny Dalglish. Based on this first game, although Torres hadn’t scored, he was part of a new experimental line up which attempted to incorporate three front man. It ultimately failed and despite Torres showing small glimmers he’s first game for Chelsea was genuinely portrayed as huge disappointment.

8 days later Chelsea took on Fulham in a West London Derby, once again in front of the TV cameras for a Monday night kick off. Fernando lined up alongside Anelka, there was a sense of optimism amongst Chelsea fans, and this would be where Torres got his chance to shine. Chelsea were quick out the traps dominating early possession and creating numerous half chances. The man under immense scrutiny was most likely wishing he wasn’t, as every touch seemed an erroneous one. Loose control, and inaccurate passes were met with celebration from Fulham supporters. Chelsea’s other new boy David Luis was fairing far better showing great industry and technique, making exciting runs normally exclusively for full backs. The young defender launched a brilliant aerial through ball seconds before half time, Torres was there he had latched on to it, surely this was his moment, but amazingly he failed to make meaningful contact and the chance was gone. In the second half both teams exchanged positive spells with Chelsea once again having the more possession. Torres showed endeavour but was eventually substitued for the second game in a row. Despite Chelsea’s countless efforts they had Petr Cech to thank for keeping the scores level after saving a poorly stuck Dempsey penalty.

By his own high standards Torres has not had a great start to his Chelsea career. Radio shows, Internet sites and newspapers are already lambasting the forward. It’s worth noting he hasn’t finished a full game yet, he’s transfer value puts extra pressure to deliver instant results but this isn’t always the case. Give Torres at least two more games before we write him off, especially when you cant help but feel once he grabs that first goal he’ll be bang back on the form that earned him that hefty price tag.


Coaching 101

Football can easily be touted as the king of all sports. Almost every nation on this planet is associated with the football body, FIFA. Such a huge popularity of this sport carries with itself the intense competition at all levels.
Therefore, it becomes quite imperative that players are well trained to compete in this global arena. Thus, coach's role comes into play. It is very important that the coach devises a properly planned training program so that his players' efficiency and skills can be developed.
Coaches around the world employ various drilling exercises. Some of them are mentioned below:
1) Ball Control: Ball control is the first and foremost important thing that a budding soccer player has to develop if he/she wants to play at professional level. First touch is an integral part of keeping the ball in your possession. You must move towards the ball, reducing the chances of ball interception. Your body weight must be on the non kicking foot while getting behind the ball. As the ball comes to you, withdraw your kicking foot slightly on impact. Never rush. Repeat this exercise over and over again to gain control over the ball.
2) Passing: Using the inside of the foot is the best way to pass the ball, as it is the flattest part of the foot. Make sure that your knees are bent. Weighing, i.e. the force with which you kick the ball determines the accuracy of the pass. A well balanced movement and eyes on the ball till the very last moment would go a long way in improving your passing.

3) Heading: Heading is an important skill that you must develop to control the ball when it's air borne. Using your forehead is the best way to head the ball as it gives you a better control over the ball. Never take your eyes of the ball while heading as it would lead to inaccuracy. The key element is your positioning. Get in line with the ball while keeping your head, neck and back in straight line. Attack the ball rather than waiting for the ball to come to you.
4) Shooting: Combination of power and accuracy determines the effectiveness of your shot. Top part of the foot is the best place to hit the ball with power. The non kicking foot plays the anchor role while shooting. It is this foot which provides balance. Try standing on your non kicking foot for several seconds to improve the skill. Keep this foot as close to the ball as possible while taking a shot. Approach side on. Timing and control should be developed first as power will follow. Make sure that you practice shooting with both feet.
5) Dribbling: Dribbling is the most sought after skill among football players as it helps them to steer pass the defense. Body swerve is one such skill. While moving with ball inside of your foot, change your foot position in such a manner that it falls on the outside of your foot. Begin this exercise with standing position and then as you gain confidence, try this while running with ball. Develop the skill and you'll find it much easier to change direction leaving the defender of the opposite team confused.
Remember, you cannot develop these skills over a day's time. Practice, practice and more practice - that's the mantra to become a great football player.

Football Injuries

Due to the high number of terrible injuries that have been taking place recently in football, a lot of investigation has begun about whether it is due to the football boots worn by the players which causes them. They are trying to inquire whether it is due to the blades that are fitted in football boots these days or because of the regular studs worn.
One case of severe injury was that of Antonio Valencia who plays for Manchester United, as he ended up with his foot trapped while trying to tackle the ball. While going through a challenge with Kirk Broadfoot, one could notice after watching several replays that his leg got snapped instantly, so much that the bone started protruding out of the skin.
A lot of blame is also put on the turf being used these days, as it is a lot more firm than and not as fragile as it should be. Moreover, the tough turf and studs being used together must be causing the problem.
The reason why bladed studs are preferred by most people is because of the fact that they provide more acceleration while sprints. However while on a firmer ground, a lot prefer using the traditional studs.
The only case when players are supposed to wear a particular kind of shoe is when they are being sponsored by the brand. Other than that they can wear any brand of their choice, as there will not even be any advice about which shoes would be more stable and resistant.
A lot of professionals go for custom made kinds of shoes that have a touch of the stud layout along with blades and circular studs. The more combinations that you will have, the more difficult it will become for one to monitor it.
Nike is probably the only brand around which takes this issue under consideration. Their range of boots is especially designed in such a way to have great stability, high speed and control. But they would also let the natural loss of balance and grip take place.
Another concern that is kept into mind is that of making the boots light weighted so you can move around very well. This is done by using a material that is very light and easy to maneuver in. However a lot of players still tend to have foot injuries, such as David Beckham. Therefore, it is very important that the shoe works for you.

Allie Watkins -