Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three 6-0 wins in one week !

In 6 years of watching football, I have never come across something like this.
3 6-0 wins in one week !
A 6-0 win itself is a rarity , let alone 3 games ...
A total of 41 goals were scored last weekend from 10 matches, that must be a record too !
The matches were :
Arsenal 6-0 Blackpool (Theo Walcott hat-trick)
Wigan 0-6 Chelsea
Newcastle Utd 6-0 A Villa (Andy Carroll hat-trick)

The highlights can be found here :

The Toon Army is singing again !

[22.08.2010]  Newcastle United 6-0 Aston Villa

You can be excused for thinking this was just another high scoring match in the Premier league. But the real Geordies know the pain they have gone through before their spectacular comeback into the Premier league.

Newcastle united has always been special for me. I cannot forget the scene whenever I used to  pick Newcastle as my team in FIFA 05 (06-10) game, and  they show the stadium from the goalkeeper's view. Its just breathtaking ! Or whenever I watch the movie 'Goal' , it gives me goosebumps when they show the stadium !
It has one of the best fan bases in the world, an amazing stadium which is filled no matter who they are playing.

This is the story of Newcastle United, who were down in the dumps, making news for all the wrong reasons on and off the pitch 2 years ago, how after being written off by everyone revived and fought back their way into the Premier League.

2008-09 season - The Doom

Kevin Keegan, the legendary manager of Newcastle had just resigned from the club after a month into the new season, over the disagreement with the owner on the players he was forced to buy. This resulted in a big protest of fans outside the club asking for Keegan to return and the owner Mike Ashley to leave the club.Mike Ashley put the club on sale.

In a surprise move former Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear  took charge of Newcastle on 26 September 2008 initially on a 10 week contract. The intention was that he would manage the club until the owner Mike Ashley had sold it. Kinnear's contract was extended and he was then confirmed  to manage the club until the end of the season. But Kinnear had to undergo a heart surgery in February and had to be relieved of his managerial duties.

This allowed Alan Shearer, the most loved player of Newcastle to take charge as manager. Still the top scorer for Newcastle and in the Premier League, Shearer was looked upon by the fans as the man to lead them in the right direction.

But the damage was already done and Newcastle Utd got Relegated to the Championship on the final day of the season after losing to Aston Villa. It was a heart breaking moment for Newcastle fans. Shearer resigned from the job.Following their relegation, the club was put up for sale again for a price of £100 million by owner Mike Ashley and this was put up on the club's official website.

 Then came the lowest point in Newcastle Utd's recent history. They were beaten 6-1 by Leyton Orient in a friendly, before the Championship season began. The club was up for sale, manager-less and were from top to bottom in complete disarray as no one knew who was going to be in charge in time for the start of the season.

Also, a number of the first team squad players did not want to stay at St James’ Park, this led to a players’ meeting in the away dressing room immediately after that match where the unmotivated were told in  certain terms that they were not wanted at the club anymore.
Many experts predicted that the club was on a death spiral and it was not a surprise if they got relegated again to lower divisions.

2009-10 Season - The Revival begins
The Assistant manager Chris Hughton was  appointed as the care taking manager.
Star players like Sebastian Bassong, Oba Martins, Mark Viduka, Habib Beye and Michael Owen who seemed to be happy to pick up their massive wages whilst they sat on the sidelines nursing their latest injury, were offloaded. What was left was an admittedly less talented squad, but a squad nonetheless who were willing to fight for the club.
The team slowly started to gel and started winning games. In October, Chris Hughton was appointed as the full time manager and Mike Ashley announced that the club was no longer for sale, reporting that he had been unsuccessful in finding a buyer who could produce proof of funds, despite reducing his asking price to £80 million.
 The start of the 2009-10 season in the Championship saw the club placed top of the table at Christmas with an 8 point lead and a defensive record of only 12 goals conceded in 22 games. Manager Chris Hughton was named Manager of the Month for August, September and November 2009.

On the 5th April 2010 the club secured automatic promotion with 5 games remaining . Newcastle were promoted back to the Premier League after just one season away, 316 Days after being relegated on the final day of the 2008/2009 season against Aston Villa. Newcastle secured the league title . The club finished the season with a 1-0 victory at QPR on 2 May, completing a total of 102 points earned during the season which is a club record and the first time the Magpies had achieved 100 or more points in any league campaign.

2010-11 season - The new beginning

Newcastle began their new Premier League season with a tough away match against Man Utd which they lost. But they erased whatever bad memories of relegation they had by beating the same Aston Villa 6-0, to whom they had lost and got relegated one year ago.

The new striker Andy Caroll scored a hat trick,  already showing signs of becoming a great player.
Is he the new No.9 ,after Alan Shearer to bring back the glory days at Newcastle ?
Time will tell.
Newcastle United will not win the Premier league.
They will not qualify for the Champions League.
Yet, they are a special club and hope we see them play in the Premier League for many more seasons to come......

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The new 25/8 rule in Premier League

Premier league has introduced a new rule this season. There has been a fair amount of discussion on this with the experts divided in their opinions.
Lets have a look at what is .

The letter of the law states this :
  • From the 2010/11 campaign, the 20 Premier League clubs have voted to introduce measures which will see all teams required to have 8 home-grown players out of a squad of 25.
  • As of next season clubs will be required to have a squad named of up to 25 players, of which no more than 17 can be over the age of 21 and not home grown.
  • The definition of home grown is trained for 3 years under the age of 21 by somebody in the English and Welsh professional system.
  • Clubs will have to declare their 25 at the end of August when the window shuts and then again at the end of January.
  • Players who are aged under 21 are eligible over and above the limit of 25 players per squad.

Many experts have come down hardly against this rule with Arsene Wenger saying this :

"The rules they decide are a disaster for this country. Ridiculous. They are all artificial and have nothing to do with top-level sport.' Wenger, who has introduced the likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Cesc Fabregas to the Premier League during his 14-year spell with Arsenal, continued: 'You have as many foreign players in Spain as in England. You can sign players from all over the world in Spain. Why do they still produce players and we do not? It's down to the coaching." 
The premier league chief Scudamore replied
"In some ways I agree. For 12 years I argued for an open system. But there is a point at which you have to do something for the greater good. What we're trying to do is get young players through."

The effect of these rules still remains to be seen ...

Friday, August 13, 2010

It's back !

The Premier league is back !
It's that time of the season , when you cant control your excitement, eager to see your team in action after a break of 3 boring months. I watched the world cup this time, but to be honest, it was nowhere exciting as the league. Some might say passion for playing for the country and all that, but it can no where come close to the 100+ years of history and rivalries of the club. You can nowhere find an atmosphere like in a 60,000 capacity packed stadium with everyone singing the club anthem !
As always, its hard to make predictions as the premier league never fails to surprise you - who would have thought Liverpool would finish 7th last season ? or that Spurs would qualify for Champions League ? or it would be a 3 - horse race for the title with 2 months left ?
So, I would just play safe and just give a brief  look on how the teams shape up at the start of the season.

Positives : Arsenal look the most refreshing side this season, with all the creative players they've got and adding Chamakh to the strike force might just be the missing piece of the puzzle ! There has been never been a problem scoring goals for Arsenal, and it is enough if they just keep playing the way they play but just tightening up the defence.
 Negatives : If Arsene Wenger is at his stubborn best and fails to sign a decent GK and Centreback,  that can severly affect Arsenal's title chances.

Positives : Quality players, quality squad, experience of winning titles. Just about everything right apart from their style of football. Defending champions Chelsea begin the race as the team to beat.
Negatives: Aging squad. Though full of quality players, everyone is above the 30 age mark and this might affect their performance in mid season. There are times in the season where they lose the motivation and start dropping points.

Positives: Roy Hodgson. Frankly, I was expecting Liverpool to collapse after last season's 7th place finish but they have surprisingly recovered by signing Roy Hodgson, a great manager and holding on to their want away players - Gerrard and Torres. If Gerrard and Torres can manage top form for most of the season, Liverpool will be back in Champions League.

Positives: They are Manchester United. It happens every season. However mediocre the squad may look, one or two players step up,like Ronaldo or Rooney, have an exceptional season and challenge for the title.
Alex Ferguson's teams always have a good defence and they are the masters of grinding out wins from ordinary performances. And they have the new boy Javier Hernandez, who looks sharp !
Negatives : The squad looked too jaded last season, and with Rooney out of form this season, it is a possibility that finally the frailties of Man Utd get exposed.

The Premier League kicks off on August 14, 5:15 PM IST with the match between Spurs and Manchester City.
And we have the big match coming up on Sunday 8:30 PM , it's
Come on Gunners  !!!
Have a great season !!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Phil Brown : The rise and fall

I am not a great fan of Phil Brown but thought his career with Hull city is something that does not deserve to be forgotten. Football is a cruel game, also off the pitch. Hull city sacked Phil Brown, after a string of poor results.
Here is a little glimpse of Phil's time with Hull city.

Brown was appointed as first-team coach at Hull City on 27 October 2006 under Phil Parkinson, and took over as joint caretaker manager alongside Colin Murphy on 4 December 2006 after Parkinson's sacking, with Hull in 22nd place in the Football League Championship. After taking Hull out of the relegation zone with three wins and a draw in the six matches as caretaker manager, he was appointed as the permanent manager of the club on 4 January 2007. Then Brown went on to lead 'The Tigers' to Championship safety and the following season Hull City won promotion to the top level of English football for the first time in the club's 104-year history.
Hull city continued their fairy tale run in the Premier league with six wins in first nine games and they occupied Third place, only next to Arsenal and Liverpool on goal difference. In this run, Hull beat Arsenal in  the Emirates stadium which is still regarded as their greatest victory in club history.

Gradually the fuzz settled down at Hull city, and they were able to win matches here and there just languishing in the mid-table.
Then came the dreaded day on 26 December 2008. Hull were playing Manchester City in the city of Manchester stadium. Hull were 4-0 down at half time. This infuriated Brown, who just couldnt take the fact that his team were playing so poorly in front of Hull fans, who had made a trip all the way to Manchester sacrificing their festival celebrations. He didnt let the players go off the pitch, he made them sit down near the touchline and gave them the first half team talk in full view of public. This was the moment Hull players lost it.
Their morale went down the pits after this humiliation, and they won only ONE match in the remaining half of the season.

But thanks to their amazing run in the beginning of the season, they managed just about enough to survive in the Premier League, finishing 17th, in a battle which went to the final day of the season. Brown was overjoyed and he even did sing after the match !

2009-10 season was much tougher for Hull and Brown couldnt inspire them to win games. Hull were playing like typical relegation strugglers. Brown managed to hang on to his job early in the season when he was on the verge of getting sacked. But on 14th March, defeat to Arsenal by the Nicklas Bendtner's injury time winner proved to be the final nail in the coffin ,the board had seen enough and finally parted company with Brown.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The return of 'The Special one' !

Chelsea had just parted company with Ranieri and signed Jose Mourinho , the champions league winning manager of Porto. An unknown figure for the English press, the first words in the press conference by Jose were these -" Please don’t call me arrogant, but I’m European champion and I think I’m a special one.”  He has lived up to his words since then,with his achievements, ofcourse with a touch of his trademark arrogance. He took control of a club which had not won the Premier league in 50 years, and won back to back Premier League titles in 2004 and 2005, FA cup in 2006-07 and Two league cups.

He didnt build just a team in Chelsea, he built a family. Mourinho was a father figure to everyone and even 2 years after his departure from Chelsea, players like Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Cole consult him regularly.He built a team with character who simply hated to lose and for 2 years dominated the premier league such that the race was over half way thru the season.
He has this incredible record of NOT losing even a single league game at home during his four and half years reign, which can never be matched by anyone !
Just the fact that - Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in English football, played 11 matches against Jose and won only 1 (yes, only ONE !) speaks about Jose Mourinho.

As every fairytale has its end, Jose's reign too was slowly coming towards an end. Jose, a man with big egos was growing more and more agitated by the interference in club matters by the Chelsea owner Roman Abrahamovich and eventually Jose got booted out of Chelsea on 20th Sept 2007, well he liked to call it 'leaving Chelsea by mutual consent'.

March 16,2010.
Jose is returning to Stamford Bridge to play against Chelsea with his team,the Italian Champions - Inter Milan. It will be deja vu for Mourinho, entering the Stamford bridge , amidst the cheers of the Chelsea fans, only this time,as the opposition manager, playing against the same players who he nurtured and developed into champions. He already has a 2-1 advantage from the first leg which should make his job easier, only if he doesnt get carried away by the occassion. Anyway, he certainly knows how to keep emotions in check and win games, he is 'The Special one' !

David Beckham's green and gold Manchester United stunt was a load of tosh - the only cause he truly supports is himself

[This whole post is a part of Piers Morgan's article from Dailymail. Cant stop admiring this guy !]

Touching, wasn’t it? Watching that loyal, diehard United hero David Beckham getting the roaring welcome so thoroughly deserved of Manchester’s prodigal son brought tears to the uncynical eye.But not, I’m afraid, to the cynical like mine.
Beckham keeps telling us United is, and always has been, the only club for him. And the inhabitants of Old Trafford seem to happily go along with this tosh. When the reality is that he walked out on United at the peak of his powers for the riches of Real Madrid, then walked out on Madrid for the even greater riches of Hollywood, and now cheats on LA Galaxy whenever he can with AC Milan, purely to keep himself in the World Cup frame, where England glory could bring the greatest riches of all.
Compared with genuinely loyal United heroes like Giggs, Scholes and Neville, Beckham’s been a treacherous, money-grabbing, club-hopping, fame-hungry, egotistical little weasel who likes nothing better than making everything all about HIM.
And nothing personified this more than when he swooped to pick up the green-and-gold anti-Glazer protest scarf and wrapped it round his tattooed neck. The crowd roared. There he was, the most loyal man in football, their Becksy, showing the world he was united with United fans in their fury at foreign ownership.
Because the very last thing David Beckham would ever want to associate himself with is rich, fatcat Americans exploiting soccer for pure commercial gain. Which is why he currently resides in Los Angeles, choosing to play pub football over proper football because rich, fat-cat Americans line his Armani pockets with millions of dollars to exploit soccer for pure commercial gain.
Of course, as David explained afterwards, he wasn’t actually supporting the protest, nor trying to interfere in the running of Manchester United.
Nothing could be further from his massively cerebral mind. He just liked the colours of the scarf because they used to be United’s original colours.
What a load of old Goldenballs. Let’s face some harsh facts here, Becksy old son. You’re not the best footballer in the world. In fact, given you can’t actually get into the AC Milan starting line-up, you’re not even the 11th-best player in a shockingly mediocre side.
But you ARE the greatest self-publicist the game has seen and you knew exactly what you were doing when you swooped on that glinting symbol of disloyalty to the Glazers. For weeks, you’ll have been monitoring the mounting furore and planning exactly the image you would communicate to the world. It’s what you do best.
And you seized the moment in typically self-adulatory Beckham style. Waiting until the pitch was empty, standing like Emperor Nero, alone in the amphitheatre, milking the applause in the eager way a farmer milks a particularly well-uddered Friesian cow, then dramatically pausing to pick up the scarf. Thus quite deliberately pushing the much more deserving Wayne Rooney off the headlines (I was only surprised he didn’t leap on Rooney’s back when he scored, to share the photographic credit — a crafty move that has served Beckham well over the years).
It was the most perfectly choreographed stunt since Sacha Baron Cohen parascended, as his Austrian fashion reporter character Bruno, on to Eminem’s lap during last year’s MTV awards. And just as fake.
The Glazers are big boys and I don’t have much truck with the way they’ve allowed United to build up such potentially ruinous debt. But the hypocrisy of David ‘United ’til I die’ Beckham definitely moved me.
To extreme nausea.