One of the first and biggest transfers of this season’s transfer window came when Barcelona finally sealed the signature of Brazilian starlet Neymar, a move for Neymar to European football has been coming for years and it was just a matter of time before one of largest clubs in the world beat their competitors to the talented youngster’s signature. Neymar, if you haven’t heard of him already (seriously, where have you been? YouTube him) has been closely followed for years after impressing hugely at his previous club Santos, winning South American footballer of the year in 2011 after previously coming third in 2010, and after a very impressing display for his country leading Brazil to a very important Confederations Cup win, this could be a warm up for next year’s World Cup held in his home country.

If you know anything about Neymar his style of play has been a talking point for as long as he has been in the spotlight, his acceleration, his tricks and his amazing power (given how small he is weighing only 64kg and still being able to smash a ball as hard as he can, it’s pretty much a miracle) all have brought him fame and fortune, but how well will he settle in the Catalonian giants, and how welcome will he be amongst the rest of the team. Firstly as has been advised by Barca’s doctors and coaches, is for Neymar to put on weight, his tricks and speed were enough to make him the lead role in Brazil’s league, but settling into European football isn’t an easy task, football in Europe is a lot more physical, which given Neymar’s size, could be a problem, I can’t see him lasting two seconds against the likes of La Liga rivals centre backs Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, this will be exacerbated when the Catalonians start their European campaign in the Champions League later on this season, there’s not many easy going centre backs and with the likes of Thiago Silva, Nemanja Vidic, Mats Hummels, Giorgio Chiellini or Branislav Ivanovic awaiting him at some point in the future, something needs to be done . This may be the biggest task of all as he can’t keep his incredible speed and increase his power, at some point, something has to give.

Next is the fact that although his talent is irrefutable, the cold hard truth is, he’s second in line to Lionel Messi in Barca’s current set up, they usually play with a lone front man, either this will change of Neymar will spend a lot of time on the bench. Needless to say that with Neymar’s age and talent, he has plenty of years of success in front of him, but from my point of view although Barcelona might be one of the biggest teams in the world, it might not have been the best place for him to start his European career, maybe he’ll put his stamp on the team and they’ll be better for it, but only time will tell.

Lastly is how the team will take to him, Neymar is used to the limelight but in such a talented team there’s not much spotlight spare, (not to mention he led Brazil to a win over a Spain team almost dominated by his Barcelona teammates that ended an over 30 competitive match unbeaten streak) they might not take lightly to his showmanship and finesse, it might be a tough few years but if he proves himself as well as he did in the Confederations Cup, he should fit in just fine.



Is Adnan Januzaj the next big breakthrough player at Manchester United?

Manchester United is one of many teams going on a pre-season tour. The first game of the Red Devil’s tour on 13 July 2013 was one many fans were looking forward to. Unfortunately, the Reds seemed not to be in their full form as they lost 1-0. But the fans got something else to be happy about as a not so famous name, Adnan Januzaj, has been all over the social networks during the match. But who is this Manchester United youngster?

In 2011, the English club paid nearly 600.000 euros for the Belgian winger Adnan Januzaj. It was in that season that Adnan won the status as best U21 footballer at Old Trafford. Former Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken very positive about Januzaj the past few weeks, but with his retirement the talks with Adnan about a new contract were postponed. Although, last season, Manchester United offered the 18-years-old a first-team contract at Old Trafford. The youngster received shirt number 44 which is the number usually reserved for players on the brink of the Manchester United first team.

Adnan Januzaj is said to be the next big thing at Old Trafford, but what about his national career?
A dilemma between the Belgium national team and the Albania national team must give the Red Devil nightmares. It is known at the Belgium U18 team that Januzaj has rejected every offer to play so far. His father, who has Albanian roots, prefers the Albania kit for his son. Adnan has been to a few Belgium training sessions, but it is clear that the youngster still doesn’t know where his international career will bring him. It has been very fast since Adnan Januzaj’s name was all over Twitter as he was one of the starting XI for Manchester United’s first pre-season. Fans agreed that David Moyes made the right decision to pick the youngster.
Following next is a selection of tweets about Adnan Januzaj

“Arguably a Man of the Match performance from 18-years-old debutant Adnan Januzaj.” (@RedDevilsDaily)

“This Januzaj guy sounds impressive! We have got to take a gamble and draft him into our squad for the upcoming season!” (@Calvin_94)

“It was hot and sweaty. They defended lots. Poor goal; Zaha and Januzaj promising.” (@SteveBeales)

“Adnan Januzaj, what a talent!” (@roscomanunited)

“The kid, Adnan Januzaj, is bloody talented!” (@OmsMUFC)

“Adnan Januzaj, remember the name. You’ll be screaming it later!” (@sho_mufc)

“Who needs Thiago when you have Januzaj? Jhaaan-nu-saay!” (@_MustaphaUsman)

“Can see Januzaj become a Giggs like player. Both played on the wing to start their career and he seems like he could be a one club man.” (@NoahSavadier)


Goal-Line Technology – The Future of Football?

Most of us are too young to have been around to have enjoyed Geoff Hurst’s controversial goal in England’s 4-2 World Cup Final win against West Germany in 1966. Many of us would have cursed obscenities at the officials when Frank Lampard’s long range shot crossed the line by a fair distance in the 2006 World Cup, ironically against Germany again!! However, it has taken the football authorities nearly half a century to tackle the cause of this controversy by finally bringing in the use of goal-line technology.

Goal-line technology was in place for the first time at the recent Confederations Cup held in Brazil and was supplied by GoalControl, but there were no incidents of note which called for it to be used, other than to decide the scorer of a goal. English referee Howard Webb, who was one of the Confederation Cup referees, told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro that he was happy with the system. He said: ”It has been our first experience of goal-line technology but the reassurance the system gives us is a big benefit.”

British-based Hawkeye won a five-year contract in April to supply all 20 of the Premier League clubs with the technology required. It should make for an exciting addition to what many claim to already be the most exciting football league on the planet.

The Football Association is yet to strike a deal with a goal-line technology provider for Wembley Stadium. They expected a system to be in place for the Community Shield on 11 August, but are still in negotiations.

How does Hawk-Eye work?

Hawk-Eye’s system works by using six cameras, focusing on each goal, to track the ball on the pitch.

The system’s software then uses “triangulation” to pinpoint the exact location of the ball.

If it crosses the goal-line an encrypted radio signal is sent to the referee’s wristwatch to indicate a goal has been scored.

In line with Fifa’s requirements, the whole process takes less than a second to complete.


Of course Hawkeye will be familiar to watchers of tennis at Wimbledon and those who will have experienced it regularly during the current Ashes cricket series and it’s fair to say in those sports it is used regular and effectively. The questions in football are; how often will it be used? How long will it really hold up play? How decisive and accurate is it? How and will they show the decision to the fans? Perhaps most importantly,will it enhance our much loved game? One things for certain, it will make for an interesting addition to our league whilst eliminating some of the talking points that a goal line decision often causes.



Messi vs Ronaldo vs Bale

It’s the old pub debate. Who would you rather have in your team Leo Messi? Cristiano Ronaldo? or Gareth Bale? But stop and think about how much damage you could see if Real get there way and have Bale and Ronaldo in their starting lineup next year?

Firstly lets look at the proposed transfer fees you could expect to see if the prospective players were to move, now I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that Messi would a figure well in excess of £120m. Ronaldo has been surrounded by most speculation this summer with his will he, won’t he return to Old Trafford but interestingly the figure touted is only around £80m which would be the same figure that he was sold for, so all in all I think it depends on the player desire to leave. Then there is Bale, out of the three players he is the enigma. He has always quietly gone about his business, you never see him out with supermodels or in the newspapers for tax avoidance he is just Bale, a marketable throwback to the old days where all you hear about him is his performance on the pitch. You could easily expect a fee of around £55m for the Welshman who still has a lot in the tank if he stays injury free.

On the field you have the fact that Ronaldo is the oldest of the three at 28 and realistically he didn’t start performing at this supernova level till about 7 years ago which was around the same time Messi came to prominence at Barca, so you could argue that Messi has the advantage over Ronaldo as he has never had an “off” season since establishing himself with the Catalan club. Bale really toughened up as a player 4 years ago and finally seemed to find the extra level that a lot of players have always been convinced he had.

In terms of who is a game changer all three have a strong case, both Messi & Ronaldo seem to come alive around the attacking third of the pitch and always seem to be a contact threat whereas Bale seems to be at his most lethal (the San Siro hat trick withstanding) in the last quarter of he game against a tiring defence where his pace becomes a real threat. There is always an argument that Messi isn’t as good in the air as Ronaldo but I think that’s not an Issue as Reals style of playing relies more crosses being thrown into the box for the likes of Ronaldo and Benzema to attack whereas Barcelona play a more passing game with the ball staying mostly groused and to feet, and also les not forget Messi’s header against Manchester United in the Champions League Final where he showed incredible hang time. Bale again is the weakest of the three in the air As he doesn’t seem to be able to transfer the power of his running into the box and leap into the contact made with the ball, he also seems to get beaten a lot in the air.

So there you have it. It may seem like Bale is an afterthought but he is essentially a one man team as he plays at a higher level than his team mates and creates a lot of chances for himself, whereas either Messi or Ronaldo play in team of players with an equal ability and they just provide the focal point to a lot of attack.

Interview – Beez

Beez is instantly recognizable to the alternative community, after being on Scuzz TV for the past few years with his Scuzz meets……….. series and Lowdown shows, his passion for rock and wrestling T shirts is clear for all to see but we caught up with him to discuss another passion of his, Arsenal FC. Beez talked us through all aspects of his love for the club from The Emirates to Wenger to being Piers Morgan’s Siamese twin in a great interview.

Us: So first up you are an Arsenal fan, who is getting the responsibility for that?

Beez: My entire family are all Gooners, my Mum, Dad & Nan. my uncle is a Millwall fan, My Aunt is married into West Ham fans, and we have a one cousin who is Spurs. We only really see him at Christmas but he gets absolutely buried by everyone, but he’s gone off to Thailand for a year so maybe he has taken the hint and got out of dodge. But basically all my family are Arsenal we are all very different people in terms of stuff we are in to, that unites us all is Arsenal.

Us: Can you remember the first time you went to Arsenal? I am assuming it was at Highbury?

Beez: New Years Day 1992 a 1-1 draw against Wimbledon. I think Fashanu put them one up and Merse scored for us. The second one was we beat Sheffield Wednesday 7 – 1, a really weird game with 20 minutes to go it was 1 -1 and we ended up winning 7 – 1! A bit more romantic than a 1 – 1 draw.

Us: When you were growing up did you ever think you could play at Highbury?

Beez: No, I am professional watcher of sport. I’ve never been particularly gifted being like 3 ft 2 so I don’t think I ever had the level of physicality to play football and I was just a bit rubbish at it! I wanted to be a commentator before I discovered heavy metal. Could you imagine this voice doing it? And the level of bias that I have trying to do football commentary wouldn’t work.

Us: Maybe you should try it for like a web episode like a North London Derby or something?

Beez: I don’t even let people watch the North London Derby with me, I watch it at home on my own, there is no way I could do a live commentary when watching every other word would be a swear word so that puts n end to football broadcasting. Although I cant be any worse that Niall Quinn, and Redknapp fuck the whole Redknapp family.

Us: Do you get to go to many games?

Beez: I gave my season ticket up because at over £900 at the time in even the cheapest seats, although I was in one of the areas of the ground that actually had an atmosphere, I used to have a season ticket at Highbury in the clock end about 6 seats away from the away supporters. It felt lively every week. I wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet lets just say that. but then at The Emirates I was at the opposite end to the away fans and I didn’t feel I was getting as much out of it as £900 demands. Also at times it felt I was investing in the team but the club wasn’t. I live near the ground I have much more fun in the pubs near the ground that are all arsenal and all full of fans who have been priced out the game. I went with a mate to watch a North London Derby in The 12 Pins which is an amazing place to watch an Arsenal match and at half time he turned to me and said “Fuck me, its like Galatasray in here!”

Us: Who is the best player you have seen in an Arsenal?

Beez: It’s gotta be Thierry or Dennis. There was days where the other 10 players didn’t turn up yet Henry could still win you the game, there was like an 18 month period where every time he got the ball people around me stood up because they knew something would happen. But anyone that says there is no poetry in football never saw Bergkamp. It’s impossible to choose between the two. Henry had that season where he was top of the goal scoring and the assist tables, but he also did things like the back heel goal against Charlton and running through Spurs from his own penalty area. But things like Bergkamp’s goal against Newcastle you stood there look at each other like how did he do that? It’s between those two but I can’t give you a definitive answer.

Us: Highbury or The Emirates?

Beez: Not even a contest, don’t get me wrong The Emirates feels more like home now than it did but the romance of Highbury and the fact you were so close to the pitch make it Highbury.

Us: Last year was a bit up and down for Arsenal, do you feel that at times the crowd lost patience with the Wenger philosophy?

Beez: We are a split fan base at the minute. There is a vocal portion of the crowd who are against him, but I like to think that everyone wants him to succeed. Gary Neville made a brilliant point that we only spent £9 million pounds net and Wenger had kept us in the champions league for the past 10 years and what an astronomical achievement that is. But at the same time now he has got money he needs to start paying market prices. The year Eduardo broke his leg at St Andrews we had a team that we felt could compete but didn’t. Again last season when they had a more defensive minded second half of the season and the 0 – 0 against Everton stands out for me as the difference as a team that will win the league and a team who have to compete with Spurs and Everton which we are all bored of. Giroud had a decent first season but he took a lot of stick and I think that’s down to the previous run of strikers we have have had at the club and Giroud isn’t in the same bracket as van Persie, Henry, Bergkamp. Arsenal haven’t really spent the going rate for players apart from Arshavin. If we aren’t going to have a decent cup run and only be challenging for fourth frustration is going to set in. You look at Podolski playing in the center and he didn’t look like he had the fitness for it and was running around like a headless chicken, his finishing is brilliant and if you said pick a player to score a 1 on 1 in a cup final I would choose him every time but how we play he doesn’t look like the answer at center forward.

Us: Wenger’s tactic in the early part of last year with playing Walcott where he wanted to be played to get him to sign the contract then booting him back wide was genius.

Beez: I don’t think it was ever about Walcott wanting to play at center forward i think he just wanted to chance his arm at leaving and the only people who were interested were Liverpool! If someone like Chelsea had come in with a concrete offer for him I don’t think he would be an Arsenal player, anyone who watches Walcott regularly and thinks he is a center forward is off their rocker. You can tell what you are going to get out of Theo in the first 20 minutes, he is a confidence player. If he scores he will go on a run for 6 or 7 weeks but he does have barren spells. The best example I can give of Theo is if the season before van Persie had signed the contract he was offered Arsenal fans would have celebrated it like winning the world cup, when Theo signed everyone was like “yeah, ok then.” Oxlade – Chamberlain has got it, he is in the Fabregas class. For a kid to be bossing the AC Milan midfield when he is a teenager playing his first game at central midfield the kids got something.

Us: With the great end to last season and a strong showing in early pre season as well as the rumor of The Emirates now paid off where do you see Arsenal finishing?

Beez: Right now I see us challenging Spurs and Liverpool for 4th, but with a few signings and I hope it’s not Wenger making all this noise to mug us off again. If he has got all this money and just refuses to spend it or refuses to pay market rate for players then he could be in trouble. No one is going to let you live in a mansion and only pay £200 rent because that’s what you think its worth. When I pay £2.50 for a pack of Walkers at The Emirates you have to excuse me if my sympathies aren’t what they should be but Arsenal fans get charged through the nose to watch our team limp out of the FA Cup to Blackburn and look like they could give a monkeys flying piss about being there either its not good. He needs to start buying players for the now, if he spends and we are in the mix for the title till April he gets my backing, if he doesn’t spend and thinks this squad is good enough to challenge for the title which it isn’t then questions have to be asked you know? I am not an anti Wenger guy by any stretch of the imagination but the milk of human kindness only goes so far.

Us: He does seem to test the patience of the fans. Some of the things he has done at Arsenal are incredible though he basically made Henry.

Beez: Henry, van Persie, Fabregas. I feel for him he has built these players up and then had to sell them to pay for the stadium. He has a great history of buying player for peanuts and selling them for loads, just look at Adebayor. He has done wonders with a limited budget but now he has money and needs to invest in the right people. Look at someone like Reyes who helped drive us during The Invincible season he was a key player in that.

Us: Controversial one now. Obviously Spurs and Arsenal don’t get along but if Wenger turned round and raided the spurs squad who would you want?

Beez: Well we need a striker but theirs are worse than ours. The obvious choice is Bale who is nowhere near as good as they think he is. The second half of the season it didn’t matter where he got the ball you expected it to be in the back of the net and we haven’t seen that since Ronaldo left. Sandro is alright but not as good as Arteta.

Us: Lloris?

Beez: I have faith in Szczęsny, he had that spell out the team but came back good. And he seems to understand what it means to play for Arsenal. There was a game where he took out one of the Spurs players and got up and winked at the camera. I think he is going to be a world class keeper so not really Lloris.

Us: Walker?

Beez: (Laughs) No! against Sagna? And look at Carl Jenkinson he was up there last year with Szczęsny and Ramsey for most improved player. Look at the City game he ran them ragged. Compare Jenkinson to Walker and Walker would be one of the big red self destruct button signings.

Us: Vertonghen?

Beez: Vertonghen is good. I am a strong believer in strong center back partnerships. You look at Steve Bould, on his own not the greatest defender but with Adams the defence was watertight. Vertonghen came in to Spurs and made all the difference last season. Parker is a great example of a player ruined by Chelsea along with Wright-Phillips but lets be honest they made Hernan Crespo look average but I don’t like talking bout Chelsea and Man City as I don’t think it warrants any credit whatsoever.

Us: Exactly as much as people loathe Man United they have always had a core of youth team players coming though and brought young, a lot like Arsenal both sides developed team and a squad, to me us that’s football.

Beez: Exactly United have cherry picked the best young talent and had more money than us, just look at Rooney they had the funds to buy him when everyone could see he was going to be a world beater.

Us: Finally whenever we see you on TV you are always in a wrestling shirt so which wrestler would work well at Arsenal? And while you think could you imagine Paul Heyman as Arsenal manager?

Beez: He is ruthless enough! Would want someone hard to play for us, someone who enjoys kicking people and is just violent……Brock Lesnar at center midfield just going round kicking lumps out of people. I like nasty players who play for the shirt, like Keown, Dixon, Parlour, I always had a soft spot for Jens Lehmann. We have a bit of bite in the midfield now with Jack Wilshire. It’s hard to see players as one of us when they are heading out the door. One moment last year that angered me more than anything else was Robin van Persie refusing to celebrate when he scored at Old Trafford, it was hypocritical the fact that he sat on the injury table collecting £60,000 and Wenger stood by him through the alleged rape accusations as soon as he got fit an had one good season he showed us exactly how much respect he had for Arsenal by fucking off. When he scored and put his hand up I just thought what a cunt!

Us: You have to respect van Persie for what he did to Piers Morgan who is an absolute twat!

Beez: I hate van Persie so much I would take Piers Morgan over him. I cant say anything positive about Piers Morgan but van Persie is such a piece of shit I would take Piers over him. If I had to spend an entire month as a Siamese twin to either of them, and imagine spending the month as Piers Morgan’s Siamese twin? I would take Morgan. I have got a mate who did work experience at Rock Sound who is a wicked kid and seems to understand it on my level and we had a chat in the afternoon and I said “do you know what, if van Persie signs this contract and with signing Podolski we could have a real go at the title this year” then a few hours later van Persie came out and said he wasn’t signing the contract. The day he left for United my mate text me and just said “are you alright?” he told me my reply was the closest thing he had ever seen to literal venom. When van Persie left I found it hard to watch football, watching him score goals turned my stomach, he scored one goal and ran over and hugged Fergie and a felt like crying and vomiting at the same time which was a weird experience!

Beez was a great person to interview and had me in stitches for parts of the interview. We have said we will try and do another interview mid season to look back on this and to assess the season up to that point and I hope we can. As well as Scuzz TV you can catch Beez on Team Rock Radio 8 – 12 on a Saturday morning as well as read his thoughts on Twitter: @Beez_says and also in Front Magazine.

Cheers for taking the time to read this.


Borrusia Dortmund’s Secret Weapon

The work of a professional footballer is about 90% training and 10% matches. Training sessions are useful if they can give a footballer an opportunity to practice scenes that could happen in a match.

This season, Borussia Dortmund were the two-line defending champion of the Bundesliga and one of the teams in the UEFA Champions League. But the club has something others don’t…
Last fall, Dortmund introduced a striking device that can be compared to a martial arts arena. It’s a kind of science-fiction approach to improve an individual’s technical skills – The Footbonaut.

The Footbonaut, which is invented by Berlin-based company Christian Gütler, is controlled by a tablet computer and is about 15 square yards. A player enters and gets ready in a circle at the center of the artificial turf surface of the Footbonaut. Balls come his way from eight directions and the footballer must quickly place the ball into one of 72 panels, depending upon which one lights up. The player knows where the next ball will come from because of a buzzer noise.
The panels can light up in three different colours, according to your speed. Green light means that the reaction time is OK. Yellow says it has to be done faster. A red light warns you you were too late.

See the Footbonaut in action

“We are convinced that at the very least the Footbonaut will improve technique, but will also benefit spacial awareness and vision. We can closely monitor a player’s development with data from the machine. There is no reason why a player can’t translate the actions practiced in the Footbonaut onto the actual playing field.” – Steven Mislintat (Dortmund’s chief coach)
A footballer has to be able to perform a lot of actions: he needs to shoot or head a ball on target precisely and he has to have a good physical wellness and power. Also the reaction speed of a footballer is important, and he has to be able to anticipate on specific situations.

One of the devices that were used for header skills is the gallows with a ball attached to a rope. This device has been used in Holland since the 40’s of the previous century. It is used to practice footballer’s heading skills. Dortmund are the first club to get rid of medieval training equipment with the Footbonaut.

“It is as if you are surrounded by 10 colleagues who are there only to serve you balls. In a normal training, that level of intensity is not possible. The Footbonaut allows you to work on any weakness and ensures you that you play at pace but with precision.” – Mustafa Amini (Dortmund midfielder)


Billionaire Owners – Can money buy success?

Billionaire owners have become the must have accessory for Premier League teams in recent years, with a level of success that has seen the trend spread into the rest of Europe. However, is it really true that money can’t buy success?

I guess the most famous billionaire owner in recent times is Roman Abramovich, who swept into Stamford Bridge to buy Chelsea and proceeded to change the order of power in English football. At the nearest calculation, Abramovich has spent close to $3bn in transforming Chelsea’s fortunes on the pitch and they havent even started on a proposed new stadium/stadium move yet!!! His spending has propelled Chelsea to the top of the footballing ladder, winning 3 League titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 1 Europa League and 1 cherished Champions League. Some feat in the space of 10 years and that doesnt take into account a defeat in a Champions League Final to Manchester United and 4 Champions League semi final defeats. These stats arguably make Chelsea the most successful team on the planet over the last decade.

Yet despite this, during this era of success, Abramovich has overseen 10 different managers(Mourinho twice), perhaps illustrating how the thirst for success is all encompassing now for Chelsea. With increased success comes increased expectations, something no manager has been able to cope with for a reasonable period of time, yet.

Staying with the Premier League, Chelsea were followed in 2008 by Manchester City in being the beneficiaries of new billionaire owners, fronted by Sheikh Mansour of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. Fans of City were delighted to find out their new owners were even richer than Abramovich and were soon dreaming of stepping out from the shadow of their illustrious neighbours Manchester United.

A spend of over £300m on players such as £38m Sergio Aguero and the reported £250k per week Yaya Toure has resulted in a league championship secured in the most dramatic circumstances and an FA Cup. Regular Champions League football has been secured, yet City have struggled to get out of the initial group stage, the consequence being the sacking of manager Roberto Mancini. Again, the expectations have grown to a level where City cannot afford to fail. Mauricio Pellegrini is the next man to try his hand and will no doubt be assisted by the big money acquisitions of Jesus Navas and Fernandinho.

Money fever has recently spread to France, the Qatar Investment Authority took control of Paris St Germain in May 2011 and have since bankrolled the blockbuster signatures of £18m Zlatan Ibrahimovic, £40m Thiago Silva, £28m Ezequiel Lavezzi and £35m Javier Pastore among many others. Yet again the results were almost immediate with a league championship secured in 2013 after finishing runner up the previous season. Again though, they face management issues with Carlo Ancelotti moving to a traditional ‘big club’ Real Madrid, perhaps indicating that the immense pressure at the Bernabeu is preferable to working under a new billionaire owner.

Likewise, Monaco are set to make waves in the game, their new owner Dmitry Rybolovlev is worth a cool £6bn. Upon buying the club in 2011, he immediately broke the Ligue 2 transfer record with the £6.3m purchase of Nabil Dirar. The next season it was broken again with the £10m purchase of Lucas Ocampos and Monaco were promptly promoted back to Ligue 1 where arguably, they are now making the most noise. The reported £50m purchase of Colombian superstar Falcao has shocked the game, beating the likes of Chelsea and Real Madrid to his signing. It has perhaps deflected from the £60m double purchase of Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez, with more to follow I’m sure. Monaco’s buying power is despite an average attendance last season of 5,000, no doubt the mega bucks tax free wages and millionaire lifestyle are as much as a lure as their footballing ambition, this could prove to be their downfall.

Whilst the previous clubs have all tasted glory and at times disappointment, QPR are probably the biggest exception. yes they made it to the Premier League shortly after their acqipuistion by Tony Fernandes in 2011, but careless spending on giant wages for the likes of Chris Samba(£100kpw), Julio Cesar, Jose Bosingwa, Stephane Mbia and Ji Sung Park has proved devastating. QPR have since been relegated to the Championship, but will be keen to learn from their failure and I expect to see them return to the Premier League under Harry Redknapp.

You suspect that the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules will do little to stop the charge of these clubs and their almost overnight transformations. The question is, has it been for the good of the game?So does money buy success, the answer is simply yes, but there are obstacles to overcome along the way, the biggest one being the raised expectations of their fans……..and their billionaire owners!!!



England’s Footballing Youth.

Another competition, and another upset for England fans, this time it was the England’s Under 21’s team doing what English national teams do best, failing. The youth squad crashed out of the recent European tournament in the group stages and without a win. Is there something wrong with English players, or is this cruel fate?

Well, about 15-20 years ago Germany had a very difficult spell where there wasn’t a lot of youth talent available to them, after noticing this, they made a change, pumped a lot of time and effort into developing their youth training and providing a ground basis for young players to work towards becoming a football player, now they have one of the fiercest and most talented young players in the game.

English youth think of football as a hobby and that’s about it, and I think that’s the problem, with no ambition and no drive, there is no young players. So whose fault is it? There’s a massive contribution to blame for our sudden lack of talent (don’t get me wrong, I know we haven’t won anything on the national stage in a long time, but we’ve always been contenders), and this is from the top flight teams, now I’m not going to name names (cough, Man City, cough Chelsea, cough) but teams in other leagues work incredibly hard on providing a platform for their young players to develop and learn, this seems to have been lost on some of the English clubs.

Most teams in the Premier League search endlessly for talent, young and old, to boost their teams favours in the competition for the title, but do they search in England? Of course not, the Premier League is ram packed full of foreign talent (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when Premier League teams haven’t got a shred of English blood in them, there’s something wrong), this leaves a lot less time for English players to get good amounts of first team play, there are very few teams that build from the ground up, providing schemes and training for youngsters as they have in previous years, this could be a possible way of curing our current unfortunate spell.


Milestone In A Club’s History – SK Sturm Graz

9 July 2013 exactly 16 years ago today the UPC Arena became home to Austrian club SK Sturm Graz. The stadium offers place to 21.000 spectators and does not only host football fans. The UPC Arena has also hosted big artists like Tina Turner, Metallica and AC/DC.

After a day of research on the internet and in libraries, I discovered SK Sturm Graz not very famous among average football fans, they are a fine club with an interesting history. The club tells the story of students with a common love for the beautiful game to great successes through 104 years of existance.

1909. A group of austrian students start a new football club in Graz Autgarten, a city close to the Alps. The first football ground is the public park, located close to the Mur river.
The club’s passion is football, a sport which finds its way from England to Graz via Prague. The club took their name after a football team from Prague that has recently been in Graz. One year after the club’s birth, the first successes arrive.

Season 1912/1913, the German-Alpenländische Football Association will be held and Sturm create the excellence. From that season, the games will not be played in the Autgarten, but at a facility which is located behind the present city hall.

1919, the club has been moving from ground to ground during World War I, but an end has come to a decade of nomadic football. The club have found their first home at a place called the “space storm”, but it became famous as “Gruabn”.
In the first official Turian Cup season, held in 1920/1921, Sturm has the upper hand. By 1949, ten more Styrian titles can be added to the club’s history.
The first international success is recorded in 1934 when the Austrian State Amateur Championship is won. It is in that year when a new grandstand in honour for the 15-year anniversary of Chairman Franz Reistenhofer has been developed.
After the occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938, the “Gauliga” with the Vienna team is introduced, but in the summer of 1938, Graz is one step ahead and rises. 1940 is a good year for Sturm, as they beat the big Vienna sides with spectacular score lines.

After the war ended in 1945, the club starts to rebuild itself and succeeds to put a strong side together. This side has won four national championship titles and four national cup titles between 1946 and 1949. Remarkable is that the club only reached professional football in 1948 by reaching the OFB Cup Final against Austria Vienna. The club starts its first professional football adventure in the new State League, season 1949/1950. Only four years later, the club is doomed to slide into a financial crisis, but the drama was short as Sturm came back in 1955 to stay in the A-League for two more years. The supporters of the black and white team have to be content for six seasons with second power football before the club can make its comeback to the top flight in 1966. Since that year, Sturm has never been relegated from the top division.

Sturm Graz have know their first international success in Messestädtcup, the forerunner of the UEFA Cup, in the fall of 1970. They defeated English giants Arsenal FC at home.
It is in 1997 that SK Sturm Graz achieve another milestone in their club history. The Austrian club moved to the newly-built Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium, today’s UPC Arena. Sturm Graz won their first match of the season at the new stadium with 4-0 against city rivals GAK, it should be the prelude to a brilliant season.


The Belgians Are Coming

With the new season coming up and action in the transfer window, the interest in Belgian footballers will be increased. It is not unknown that the English leagues welcome more and more footballers from across the Channel, and it is also a fact that they can blow people’s minds.
Most of us will agree that there was a lot of red, yellow and black in last season’s Premier League campaign, which finished with a total of 68 Belgian goals. But how did it all begin?

Footballers like Moussa Dembélé, Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Simon Mignolet already proved themselves, but there are also a couple of new names who gained the interest of big clubs by having played an amazing season.

Think about Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku, who was on loan at West Bromwich Albion. He put an end to his season by scoring a hattrick in the 5-5 draw against Manchester United. Lukaku scored a total of 17 goals through the 2012-2013 season, which made the Belgium international finish sixth on the Premier League Top Scorers List. Only Christian Benteke, Aston Villa’s new boy who is also the first Belgian ever to score a hattrick in the Premier League, did better. He finished fourth with 19 goals. Another Belgian footballer who made it in the newspapers is Eden Hazard, who left Lille for Chelsea last summer. Eden is known in England for his assists, he finished second on the list with the most assists.

It is a tradition to select the Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Team of the Year awards at the end of a season. And with this, another selection of Belgian names was nominated. We think of Jan Vertonghen and Eden Hazard, who are in the Team of the Year. Hazard also was nominated for the Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards. This last award also was an option for Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke.

Chelsea probably is the Premier League club with the most Belgians in their selection. Last summer the Blues welcomed Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne, Thorgan Hazard and the Musonda brothers. Abramovic even placed a £20 milion bid on Everton’s Marouane Fellaini. It will be the ninth Belgian footballer to join the London club if the Evertonian says yes. Another place in England which is almost filled with Belgian colours, is the ‘blue side’ of Liverpool. The Toffies are proud with Marouane Fellaini and Kevin Mirallas and it looks like FC Twente’s Nacer Chadli is on their wishlist. Everton also placed a bid on Club Brugge striker Vadis Odjidja, but the club refused to sell their star. It is expected that Everton will place another bid.
Further north in England, Simon Mignolet gained his status as Sunderland’s goalkeeper. He recently moved and is the first Belgian footballer to join Liverpool FC with this transfer.
Another Belgian footballer who is on the wishlist of big clubs is Aston Villa goalgetter Christian Benteke. A transfer this summer is not planned.

How did this Belgian invasion start?

Turn back the time. The Premier League has Vincent Kompany at Manchester City and there is no other sign of a real Belgian talent. The national team is nothing more than a selection of footballers with a Belgian identity, collected from moslty Belgian teams and a few clubs in Europe. Nobody knows about us, we are just a country at the bottom of the FIFA ranking with a legendary history.
Belgium has produced legends in the past (think of Philippe Albert, Jean-Marie Pfaff, Eric Gerets, Vincenzo Scifo, Marc Wilmots, Rik Coppens and Michel Preud’homme) and the team finished far in World Cups, European Cups and Olympics. The most famous campaign of this national team must be the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. People are still talking about this campaign as it was just a few days ago, the match against Soviet Union obviously is a hot topic to talk about in a pub.

We jump to 2002. The year when everything goes wrong for Belgium. They have a strong team, but could not succeed to qualify for a World Cup or a European Cup. Belgian football fans lose interest in the team and coaches get sacked. Six years later, the belief in a “golden generation” came back as the Belgium U21 qualified for the 2008 Olympics and finished fourth. It still is waiting for Belgium to qualify for a big event after 2008 as they did not succeed to go to South Africa in 2010 and Poland and Ukraine in 2012.

We are 2013 and the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup are on their way. The Belgian Red Devils gained interest by the fans after some extremely strong performances and actions where the team challenges the fans to do something and the teams performs a compensation if the fans succeed. These challenges, known as ‘Duivelsuitdagingen’ (in Dutch), are very famous among Belgians. A ‘Red Madness’ has captured the country. The Belgian Red Devils became a trademark and the first fandays are organized.

The national team grew stronger and became famous. Belgium does not only get support from their own country, but even other natonalities show interest in the Devils.
England discovered the skills and talent in this little country and a wide interest from several Premier League clubs was unstoppable. A hunt for Belgian signatures was opened and big prices were given, just to make sure one of the Red Devils joined an English club.
It is the dream of almost every footballer to shine in England, but only the finest footballers make it this far.

Belgium was nothing more than a small country being famous for its fries, waffles, chocolate and beer…until coach Marc Wilmots and his team began a splendid series of victories!