Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The BIG map of news!!

There's a lot going on in the world of football, almost too much to keep up with it. So, every Wednesday, I will be rounding up the biggest stories and results outside Britain in a map of news, and it's big.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


This is a short slideshow that I have been asked to make and include on my blog as part of my course.

It illustrates the walk from Avenham Park to the Foster Building, of UCLan, in Preston.

I will hopefully be able to post more foootball related slideshows and videos soon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Catch 22 for Benitez

After yesterday's shock win at Anfield, for Barnsley, a lot of criticism has been leveled at Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, mostly surrounding his deicision not to pick striker Fernando Torres.

However, aside from the fact that the side Benitez fielded should have been good enough to win the game anyway (both Kuyt and Crouch are internationals costing £10 million and £7 million respectively), Benitez was positioned in a 'no-win' situaton when it came to deciding whether or not to pick Torres.

The facts are that Torres lasted little more than 20 minutes in Spain's international friendly, last Wednesday, after pulling up with a hamstring injury. Given that Liverpool play a highly important game against Inter in the Champions' League, playing Torres against Barnsley would have been a huge risk, especially after picking up an injury like a strained hamstring.

If Benitez had picked Torres and Liverpool won 5-0 but featured Torres pulling up with a recurrance of his hamstring injury, putting him out of the Inter game and possibly a lot longer, then Benitez would have been slammed for risking Torres in a game that Liverpool should have won with the other strikers available to them.

However, Benitez decided not to risk his top goalscorer and Liverpool lost. The result? A mass media assault on Benitez's decision not to pick the Spanish number nine. If Liverpool had won then nothing would have been made of it.

The fact is they didn't win and credit must go to Barnsley, especially their debutant 'keeper Luke Steele, who withstood a barrage of Liverpool shots before snatching a win.

However, while Benitez is criticised left, right and centre for not picking Torres, if Manchester United lost 4-0 to Arsenal yesterday, would Ferguson be criticised for not picking Ronaldo and Tevez? I very much doubt it.

Like so many other managers hounded by the press in the past, like Martin Jol, no matter what decisions Benitez makes he cannot win. Benitez is in catch 22.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2 Heads Aren’t Always Better Than 1… Or Are They?

It has often been an unwritten, and frequently recited, rule in football that joint managers never have, and never will, work.

There have been examples of joint managers, over the past decade or so, that either didn’t last or didn’t work.

Probably the most famous case of all being the joint stewardship of Liverpool, by Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier. This particular partnership lasted only four months of the 1998/99.

Critics of a joint management regime frequently point towards this example as an argument against having joint managers and, to be fair, they have a point. That season Liverpool failed to qualify for a European competition.

To further back up this point of view there hasn’t been a semi-successful spell for a club under joint management since Alan Curbishley and Steve Gritt, laying the foundations for Alan Curbishley’s successful sole reign, at Charlton in the early 90’s.

Attempts at join management since then have either been low-key, short affairs or disastrous… until now.

Step forward Darren Sheridan and Dave Bayliss of Blue Square North team Barrow A.F.C.

Former Barnsley midfielder Sheridan and, ex-Rochdale defender, Bayliss took joint charge of Barrow, along with club captain Paul Jones, as caretakers in November 2007.

Their first three games in charge saw the team beat, local rivals, Workington in the Setanta Shield, hammer high flying A.F.C. Telford 4-0 and narrowly miss out on producing one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of the season, narrowly losing 3-2 to a goal in the last minute of extra time, at Bournemouth, in a 1st round replay.

In December Sheridan and Bayliss were appointed on a permanent basis, on a verbal agreement. Since then the Bluebirds have moved from a relegation battle to, recently, having an outside chance of making the play-offs, playing attractive, attacking football in the process. Something that was regularly lacking under the previous, sole, manager Phil Wilson. In fact Barrow recently went on a run of scoring four goals in four consecutive home games.

The duo are now about to be offered a formal contract, three months ahead of schedule.

In an interview with the North-West Evening Mail, Barrow director Tony Keen said: “We originally agreed to review the situation at the end of the season but the directors are more than happy the way things have been going under Darren and Dave.

"It has been play-offs and promotion form and in a way they have written their own future.”

The success of these two joint-managers may be a one off, but maybe, just maybe, it is an example that, if done correctly, a joint management team can work.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The End of El Fenomeno?

As one Ronaldo’s career goes from strength to strength, the career of the original Ronaldo, once the World’s brightest talent since Maradona, is in danger of fizzling out altogether.

Once a lean, fast, energetic goalscorer, the three times FIFA World Player of the year, is now a shadow of his former self.

A considerable gain in weight and an run of injuries, that has almost made him eligible to claim ‘squatter’s rights’ on the San Siro treatment table, has led to Ronaldo becoming a laughing stock in the world of football.

With the spectacular introduction of, 18 year-old wonderkid, Alexandre Pato and the emergence of Alberto Paloschi, a product of the Milan youth set-up, the two time World Cup winner’s future at Milan has become increasingly precarious.

Now reports from Brazil suggest that after years of troubles, Ronaldo is now set to hang up his boots after his contract at AC Milan expires in the summer. Although many people still believe he will choose to play on next season, with Brazilian side Flamengo, before eventually retiring. In fact, many Milan fans would probably offer to carry him to Brazil, on their backs, themselves.

If Ronaldo was to end his career at the end of such a disappointing season it would no doubt be a somewhat very sad end for a player with such amazing natural talent, a strike rate of just under a goal a game for club and country and possibly one of the greatest footballers ever to walk the earth.


Monday, February 11, 2008


Imagine being sat in your living room, watching 'Soccer Saturday', when Jeff Stelling suddenly cries: "There's been a goal in the game between Middlesbrough and Fulham! Let's find out which way it's gone! Over to Chris Kamara at the Al Shaab Stadium in Baghdad."

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking they have had one to many bottles of beer, but as improbable as it seems, this scenario could actually happen.

Well, ok, Iraq maybe pushing it a bit, but a recent proposal by the Premier League has shown that this could be closer to the truth than it would initially seem.

On the February 8th, in a move straight from the NFL playbook, the Premier League revealed that the 20 clubs, that make up the league, have agreed to discuss the possibility of introducing a 39th fixture for all clubs... to be played abroad.

There has been a somewhat mixed reaction to the news with a selection of people backing the idea. Birmingham City co-owner, David Gold, has described the plans as "amazingly exciting". A number of people, such as Wigan boss, Steve Bruce, and Sunderland chairman, Niall Quinn have said that they are open to the idea.

However, there has been an overwhelmingly negative response from the fans, criticising the plans as a way to make yet more money from the cash cow that is the Premier League. A petition against the plans has already been set up at

If they get the go ahead, these plans would be the biggest revolution since BSkyB helped spawn the Premiership in 1992.

Who knows? In the near future you could be boarding the supporters coach with a Tesco bag containing your sandwiches, a can or two, a rolled up copy of the Mirror, your passport and a set of inoculations for various tropical diseases.