Innocent until Proven Guilty!

After staying quite on the issue for the past few months I finally feel I needed to throw my opinion into the mix on the John Terry Saga. This has been the most controversial moment in English Football in recent years and threatens to derail England’s Euro 2012 campaign. The video evidence would appear to suggest that Terry is guilty as charged but I’m yet to be convinced. We have seen this in the past where people are accused of something and the majority of people believe they are guilty but the person turns out to be innocent. Terry has been protesting his innocence so much that there is the possibility that he could be innocent. The verdict of the court case is irrelevant because the public’s perception is what matters and if we take this into account then Terry is guilty as charged.

There have been no winners from the incident: Anton Ferdinand has been subject of a hate campaign from certain areas even though he didn’t make any accusations. This is a police matter yet the QPR defender has received bullets in the post from some narrow minded individuals. Football in general has suffered from this incident and the image of the game has been tarnished. England’s Euro campaign looks like the next thing which is going to suffer because of the allegations. The FA has deemed it necessary to remove Terry as England captain against the Managers wishes. Why is it when ever a major tournament comes around the English try their best to make it difficult for their team to be successful? What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

It’s scary when Joey Barton has been the man talking the most sense about this issue.  The FA handling of this situation has been disgraceful? The have let the situation spiral out of control and have ignored all the rules when it comes to crisis management. Granted this is a police investigation but surely the FA should have acted quicker in dealing with this situation. Could they not have held their own investigation in the immediate aftermath of the incident and try to mediate between the two parties involved? The court case has been moved to the end of the season: this is just prolonging the incident for everyone and brings more media attention of the scandal. They should also have consulted with Capello and brought a united front to the captaincy issue. This situation is getting very drawn out now and needs a quick resolution

If there is one lesson to be learned from this it is that the FA is an organisation that needs to be changed and people with more football knowledge should have power positions rather than the suits who are conspiring to ruin the game for all of us football fans.

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Mario Balotelli – The best thing since Slice Pan

Since moving to the Premier League this man has been surrounded by controversy and he has become the most talked about player in the Premier League since Cantona hung up his boots. His excentric goal scoring celebrations (or lack of a celebration) and T-shirt as well as his off the field antics have given him hero status in many people eyes. Since joining Man City he has had a mixed experience in England… He has a fairly decent scoring record with 22 goals in 32 games but has also been sent off on 3 occasions and looks set to receive another ban for stamping on Scott Parker last Sunday. He is a very confident lad and showed this when he claimed that only Messi was a better player than him. At 20 years of age is is still immature and this is why we love him

Here are my top Mario Moments/ Stories

5. A child asked Mario for an autograph at the Man City Training ground. Balotelli asks the kid why he was not in school to which he replies that he is being bullied so bunked off school. Super Mario then drives the kid back to school and makes the kids apologise and become friends.

4. Balotelli dressed up as Santa last Christmas and drove around Manchester handing out money.

3. Super Mario was playing with Fireworks in his bathroom and nearly burned the House down. The Fire Brigade were called but luckily no one was hurt. This did lead Mario to wear his famous why always me T-Shirt against Manchester Utd.

 

2. He once tried to break into a women’s prison in Italy. Enough said.

1. Mario ‘Bib’ itelli . Just watch the video its self explanatory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qvMaFBe3lA

Easy Money – My football tips

Recently I have been successful with my Football Betting so I thought this week I would share some of my accumulator tips with my loyal blog followers: Last week I managed to win some money for a work colleague of mine so hopefully I can do the same this week and we can beat the bookies together.

*Prices from Paddy Power Website

Accumulator One: 8 Aways

Celtic 1/3

Chelsea 8/13

Liverpool 8/13

Southend 9/5

Crawley 4/6

Accrington Stanley 8/5

Middlesbrough 6/5

Dundee 5/4

Stake 5 Euro – estimated Return 1045 Euro

Accumulator Two – 4 draws

Leeds vs Ipswich 12/5

Birmingham vs Watford 12/5

Fulham vs Newcastle 12/5

Charlton vs Sheffield Utd 23/10

 Stake 2 Euro – estimated Return Euro 259 Euro

Would love to hear your betting tips??

Premier League Team of the Season so Far

GK. Tim Krul – has been a key man in Newcastle’s excellent start to the season and I think without him they could be back in mid table.

 R.B. Micah Richards – Despite all of Man City’s spending power Micah has been able nail down a regular place in the league leaders back 4 and has been very good defensively as well as an attacking option. Can’t believe he isn’t an England regular.

 C.B. Vincent Kompany – Has been exceptional in the heart of Manchester City’s defence and established himself as the best defender currently in the league. A natural leader who City struggle without.

C.B. Phil Jones – Although he hasn’t always played in defence Jones has really developed since joining the premier league champions and has become a formidable premier league player who is only going to improve.

 L.B. Luis Enrique – Has been very consistent in a very good Liverpool defence and has been a revelation since joining from Newcastle.

 C.M Yaya Toure – Very athletic and powerful box to box midfielder who has taking the premier league by storm since moving from Barcelona.

 R.M David Silva – This little magician has really lit up the Barclays Premier League this season. He has contributed to lots of Manchester City’s goals this season and considered by many as the player of the season so far.

 L.M. Gareth Bale – Pacey left winger has been terrorising right backs all season and has added goals to his game this season.

 ST Robin Van Persie – His goals this season has turned Arsenals season around and propelled them back into Champions League contention

S.T.Demba Ba – A free transfer in the summer and is undoubtedly the signing of the season. Has score 15 league goals so far and will be missed by the Toon Army while at the African Cup of Nations

 S.T.Wayne Rooney – Hasn’t been spectacular but has quietly gone about his business scoring many important goals for his team

Festive Football Highlights

 

The fast few weeks have be very dramatic to say the least in the Barclays Premier League.

There has be excellent games, controversy and may shocks over the festive period. Things appear to be hotting up in the Premier League Title race with Man City and Manchester United neck and neck and Spurs creeping up behind. The competition for Champions League places is also very exciting with Arsenal Liverpool and Chelsea possibly fighting for that last remaining spot. It is also very tight at the bottom with teams fighting to avoid the drop. There was so much that happened in the Football World over the past few weeks that I would be very hard to discuss this in one blog entry but here are my Football Christmas highlights/ talking points.

10. Red Cards – Joey Barton and Milijas both received very harsh red cards which the FA has failed to rescind. This begs the question as to why there is an appeals process when simple decisions like these cannot be overturned.

9. Steven Gerrard’s return- I think I would be right in saying that Liverpool fans aren’t the only ones glad to see him back playing. Still one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and I hope he can help propel Liverpool back to the top 4

8. Gary Cahill – Looks like he will be getting a move to a big club after all. I’m surprised Chelsea are still interested as he has been in poor form lately. Can’t see Chelsea fans being happy at losing Alex for Cahill. Interesting times ahead at Chelsea.

7. Celtic back on Top – The SPL title race looked all but over a few weeks back but Neil Lennon’s squad have fought back well and a well deserved Old Firm victory has them back at the summit. One thing I have leaned from watching this game is that the SPL is going backwards and the quality of players that Celtic and Rangers can attract is diminishing.

6.  RVP – Had an excellent 2011 in the Arsenal shirt and came very close to equalling Shearer’s record. His form has helped Arsenal to climb quietly back into the top 4. Can he keep this form going? I don’t think so. RVP has had fierce injury problems over the years and I think he may be due one soon. Never fear Arsenal fans – Henry is back

5. Steve Kean – The fans may not like him but not many managers will go to Anfield and Old Trafford in the space of a week and come away with 4 points. Just as Blackburn looked like they could be on the up they were grounded by Peter Crouch and Stoke. I’m not a big fan of Steve Kean but he has brought through some excellent young talent at Ewood Park. Let hope they go down and let the sale begin …

4. Martin O’ Neill – The Premier League has certainly missed out on his passion over the past few seasons. He has started off like a house on fire with some excellent results, mostly notably a one nil win against Man City. Will be interesting if Sunderland can put a good cup run together?

3. Manchester United – two very bad results over Xmas with defeats to Blackburn and Newcastle. United also have an injury crisis and look suspect at the back. Combine this with Wayne Rooney’s off the field discipline problems and things aren’t looking good for United. One thing we have learned over the years is never write any Ferguson team off ..

2. Louis Suarez – 8 game ban has now finally being accepted by Liverpool. I think we just need to move on and leave this incident in the past. Suarez and Liverpool can get their revenge in Old Trafford in March when he returns and gives Era the Run-around.

1. Mario Balotelli – He has always been known for his antics off the pitch but took it to a new level over the festive period. He started on Christmas Eve by driving around dressed as Santa handing out money. He then placed $200 in the Church collection plate before putting $1000 behind the bar of a pub where he wasn’t even drinking. In keeping with the festive spirit Mario decided to check 24 Homeless people into the Hilton Hotel in Manchester. This man needs his own TV show.

You should have gone to Specsavers

In my opinion referees have the toughest job in the world – they can’t win. They are heavily criticized by the managers, players, fans and of course the media. Events this week have resurrected various debates around the ideas of refereeing and technology in football. It looks now like FIFA is going to introduce some form of goal line technology at the 2014 World Cup and I fear that this may have a negative impact of the “beautiful game” that we all love.

People have been calling for technology for years but I am totally against the idea. Many suggest that we limit technology to the goal line but these things have a way of evolving. If we introduce technology for goal line then the next move will be to escalate this for penalty decisions and before we know it technology will be replacing referees. This would lead to many stoppages in the course of a 90 minute game. If technology is introduced then the flow of a game will be affected. The fear is that technology may slow the game down that it will become very stop start and fans may lose interest. I would compare this to the NFL and phases of play will become shorter and shorter which will hamper a team’s ability to create momentum.

Although this is an extreme example I firmly believe that we should be prepared for the worst. The idea of giving teams 3 appeals has also been put forward by some people. I also feel that this is a very bad idea. What is stopping a team with who are leading one nil with 5 minutes left in again using these appeals as a method of time wasting? Tennis is used an example of a sport where this appeal system has been successful – Again I do not think that this can be compared to soccer. In tennis a player must reach a certain score to win whereas in soccer the winners are the team with the most goals after a certain time period.

Also FIFA has recently introduced the respect campaign whereby they are calling on players’ managers and fans to respect the officials. The introduction of technology would undermine any decision made by a ref and there would be no confidence left in any decisions he/she makes. Technology will also be very expensive and probably only available at the top level. Granted there is a lot more at stake in the professional game, football is supposed to be universal. Presently football is the most popular sport in the world – one of the reasons for this is that a football is the only equipment that is needed. Technology would great a divide between professionals and amateurs whereby two sets of rules would apply.

The other issue which has arisen lately with regards refereeing is the “letter of the law”. Over the weekend we saw two very similar incidents with David Luiz and Gary Cahill receiving different colour cards for committing a professional foul and preventing a goal scoring opportunity. Who is to blame for this???

Managers such as Owen Coyle are blaming the referee for getting these decisions wrong but I think we must look at the bigger picture in these circumstances. Referees are being asked to game strictly to the letter of the law and so when Cahill took down Parker he was technically preventing a goal scoring opportunity. (Even though anyone who has ever played soccer knows that Cahill was harshly treated and we are all delighted to see his red card rescinded).

I would rest blame for issue like this on the governing bodies of world and domestic football. There are forcing referees to make these decisions and adhere to the letter of the law. Referees are not only receiving criticism from players and managers but now there are referees assessors are monitoring their performances. It is no wonder the number of referees is decreasing at all levels of the game. My suggestion would be to allow these refs use common sense while refereeing the game. If they make the most sensible decision rather than the politically correct decision then I believe we will have far less contentious issues.

Is the Premier League still the Best in the World???

For the past 10 years the English media has been telling us that the Barclays Premier League is the best in the world and until very recently most people would have agreed.  English teams enjoyed a great period of success in the Champions League between 2004 and 2009 with an English team in the final each year. During this period Premier League teams were attracting some of the world’s best players and foreign investment in the game rapidly took off.  There was no doubt that during this time the premiership was in a league of its own and no other domestic league could rival it.

Many people feel that the tag “best in the world “is a self-acclaimed title which Sky Sports and various English tabloids have labelled the Premier League. The style of play in England is often criticized as the players give the ball away frequently are not the most technically gifted. When England failed to qualify for the 2008 euros and performed poorly at the last World Cup the Premier League received very harsh criticism. Pundits made the comparison to La Liga as Spain had won both these tournaments. The Spanish play an excellent brand of football with keeping the ball and being technically brilliant as the defining factors.  Real Madrid and Barcelona have emerged as the Powerhouses of world football and the best 2 players in the world play in La Liga in Messi and Ronaldo. 

Is the premier league in decline? And has La Liga taken over as the best league in the world?

I would have to disagree. Call me biased but I still believe that the Barclays Premier League is the still the best. There are currently 6 teams in England who can challenge for the league title – (Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool). In comparison La Liga is a two horse race between Real Madrid and Barcelona.  The style of football in La Liga is often boring and I find it difficult to sit through a full 90 minutes.  (Reminds me of the soccer scene in the Simpsons)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftlfPb0gyxI.

If given the choice between watching Stoke vs. Blackburn or Mallorca vs. Malaga I would be tuning in to watch the game at the Britannia any day of the week. Although the players on display may not be the most talented at least you can guarantee that both teams will give 100% and there will be excitement. I don’t think you can say the same for some La Liga games.