Competition Time

We all love free stuff right? Course we do! So here is a fantastic competition that is sure to excite you.

If like us you have spent many an hour in front of LMA Manager, Championship Manager or Football Manager you will know the feeling and emotional roller coaster that comes with playing those games. Well author Chris Darwen has taken that one step further and written a diary based around his fictional manager Johnny Cooper, all based on his experience of Championship Manager. In celebration of his forthcoming second book “Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager: The Second Season Syndrome (according to Champ Man)”, he is giving people the chance to win a signed paperback of his debut ” Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager: The Story of Mansfield Town FC 99/00 (according to Championship Manager)”.

All you have to do is email; johnnycooper@chrisdarwen.com with the answer to the following question:
Who ends the 99/00 season as Johnny Coopers top scorer?
The competition ends on Friday October 3rd and the winner will be announced afterwards.

You can purchase a copy of “Johnny Coper, Championship Manager: The Story of Mansfield Town 99/00 (according to Championship. Manager) from here.
Good Luck

Ry

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5 Reasons Why……. This Transfer Window was the best for a while.

Continuing our look at 5 reasons why…..
Our 5 today comes from SiRZ owner Ryan and he explains why the last transfer window was the best one for the Premier League in a long while.

1/ We had top quality players coming in

The first reason this window was better than any other was the simple fact we had quality players join the ranks of the Premier League. Di Maria, Falcao, Diego Costa, Sanchez, Mangala, Cabella & returns for Balotelli & Fabregas all go to show that despite recent claims, the Premier League is where all the top players want to ply their trade. Infact of the top 3 World Players of the Year only one hasn’t graced the League and that’s Messi, who it would take a lot to persuade him away from his beloved Barcelona.

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Diego Costa has adapted well to the Premier League.

2/ The Premier League now has the 3 most natural strikers in the game today.

It already had one in Sergio Aguero. But now with Diego Costa and Falcao joining Chelsea and. Manchester United respectively, we have the three top goal scorers who will hopefully lead their forward lines and continue to build on their own personal reputations. Certainly with Diego Costa already looking settled in front of the Chelsea creative machine he looks like he could be the missing part of their puzzle. Also with Liverpool acquiring Balotelli and Welbeck moving to Arsenal, those two will be worth keeping eyes on as they have have a natural ability to find the back of the net when played down the middle.

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Aguero carries the weight of the City fans on his shoulders in what they hope will be a title winning year.

3/ Liverpool got rid of their albatross.

Come on I did well to get three without mentioning the obvious. Luis Suarez has finally got his gnashers out of Anfield and although now FIFA got bitch slapped down by CAS they could have got a bit more for him, I think every Liverpool fan will be happy that he and the circus his actions attract has finally departed. He had some excellent solo match winning performances for Liverpool but often his actions were overshadowed by his cannibal routine, now hopefully every football fan will sit and enjoy the smooth counter attacking football Liverpool play and if not there’s still Mario who can cause us some amusement.

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Its the guy banned from football playing for his new team that was banned from signing players!

4/ Some English players got some great moves.

Micah Richards must have been fucking annoyed being at Manchester City, A product of their youth academy and once thought to be the next big defender for club and country and rightly so. He found himself marginalised and under utilised by City and despite a few injury concerns never got the game time he deserved. Now with a loan move to Fiorentina he should hopefully get a lot more time on the pitch and show City where they fucked up. Another good move was for Danny Welbeck aka Dat Guy, his desire to play and his bulldog chasing the ball mentality often meant he was played out of position at Manchester United so never lived up to the hype surrounding him. Hopefully Arsene Wenger will play him down the middle and let Dat Guy score a him 10 or so goals this year, my only concern with that is Arsenal still don’t have a guaranteed 20 goal a season scorer which the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea all posses. Elsewhere Thomas Ince made a clever move to Hull who have altered their play in the last two seasons to utilise wide men. Ashley Cole finally fucked off although unfortunately it was only to Italy, but it means we don’t have to watch him on a weekly basis unless we choose to. Frank Lampard proved he still needed to improve his bank balance to single handily keep Greggs afloat with a move first to the MLS and then to Manchester City on loan. and Manchester United finally cut their losses on “The Next Paul Scholes” Tom Cleverley and allowed him to join Villa on loan until his contract expires in the summer.

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Thomas Ince should settle right in under Steve Bruces watchful eye.

5/ Transfer Deadline Day was brilliant as always.

Jim White, Purple Dildos, Fuck Her Right In the Pussy chants, Jason Bent doing an Odemwingie, Fans turning up at other teams grounds and ‘Arry blanking an interview in the car I love he randomness of Deadline Day, roll on January!

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Evertons new signing is a massive one.

Agree or Disagree? Get in touch the normal ways on social media or commenting on the article we read them all.

Ry

Our Premier League Predictions

Adamdellboy

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Arsenal
3. Man United
4. Man City

Bottom 3

18. WBA
19. Leicester City
20. Burnley

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard will be top stars this season. Keep an eye on Remy Cabella at Newcastle as a surprise hit.

Young player: A trio of Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Lazar Markovic would terrify teams. Looking forward to see if Suso can make an impact too. Elsewhere, can Danny Ings score at the top level?

Top scorer: Diego Costa

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Ryan Howe

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Arsenal
4. Manchester City

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Burnley
20. Leicester

Player to watch: Juan Mata. He is going to be at the hub of everything creative and will have a big bearing on Uniteds season. Or Bojan

Young Player: Ryan Bertrand. Just think this May be the season he kicks on.

Top Scorer: Romelu Lukaku

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Ross Jones

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Man City
3. Arsenal
4. Man United

Bottom 3

18. Burnley
19. Aston Villa
20. Leicester

Player To Watch – Eden Hazard – will be decided whether he becomes world class this season.

Young Player – Jordan Ibe – If he gets a chance could be a sprightly show like Sterling for Liverpool.

Top Scorer – Mame Diouf / Bojan Krcic – 35 goals each.

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Jade Li

Top 4

1. Chelsea
2. Man city
3. Liverpool
4. Arsenal

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Leicester
20. Burnley

Player to watch: Coutinho

Top scorer: Aguero

Young player: Coutinho

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Pete Walton

Top 4

1. Man City
2. Chelsea
3.  Man United
4. Liverpool

Bottom 3

18. Hull
19. Southampton
20. Leicester

Player to watch: Going to go with Mata especially under Van Gaal going to be interesting to see him develop this season.

Top Scorer: Sergio Aguero

Young player: Mangala

Mangala

 

So what do you think? Agree with us on anything? Or are we barking up the wrong tree? Let us know via our usual lines.

 

Blackpool FC – Glad All Over?

“It will absolutely change the club forever if we go up. It can’t fail to”
— Karl Oyston talks to the Gazette on June 15 2010, nine days before Pool win promotion to the Premier League.

On a searing hot day at the home of English football, Blackpool FC achieved the impossible in earning promotion to the Premier League with a 3-2 victory over Cardiff City. I was there that day and there were many who were so drained physically and emotionally, that they literally couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was a truly glorious moment to be a Blackpool fan and they quite rightly sang about it being the best trip they’ve ever been on. How times can change…..

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Fast forward to Saturday 19th July 2014 and Blackpool have just played their first preseason friendly match, having cancelled a tour to Spain due to insufficient squad numbers. This is the starting lineup:

Blackpool’s current plight has been well documented on social media, with support flooding in from supporters around the country for the beleaguered Seasiders. This is a team that earned many admirers during their season in the Premier League due to their incredible attacking spirit and ability to entertain. They almost pulled of an even bigger shock as they were only relegated on the last day of the season, also the only time they were in the bottom three all season. This was all despite the likes of Alan Hansen tipping them to only get 10 points.

So where did it all go wrong? The villain of the piece appears to be club owner Karl Oyston, who many Blackpool fans will tell you is notoriously tightfisted. Blackpool achieved their recent success in spite of his actions, but now the ugly side of Oyston’s ownership is starting to rear it’s head. Fans will talk of the missing £90m of which little, if any was reinvested back into the club. A promised new training ground has yet to materialise and the temporary stand required to fit Premier League regulations is more permanent than ever.

“Blackpool are the only team I can remember actually, who won that lottery (Promotion to the Premier League) and said you know what? We’re not giving our manager a rise, we’re not putting the wages up, we’ll just trouser the money and go back down.”
— Former Liverpool MD Christian Purslow discussing newly promoted clubs on 5 Live – 2nd September 2013

“If you look at it, all that is different now from when I arrived are some sprinklers for the pitch”
— Ian Holloway talks to the Blackpool Gazette, April 1st 2013.

Blackpool fans have grown used to broken promises, but their dramatic nosedive during last season meant closer scrutiny of the owner’s actions and it continues to go downhill. Today the club has just 8 professionals, no goalkeeper, no reserve team and a new manager who is threatening to quit before the season even begins. Their title winning youth team has been completely released, furthering the lack of an actual playing squad.

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Many former players have weighed in on Twitter, with much of it directed at Karl Oyston himself. Yet despite all this, Blackpool supporters remain loyal to the club, with a reported 8000 season tickets sold(approx 50% of stadium capacity). I was present at all of the games last season, where frustration often turned into threatening violence, it was a truly toxic atmosphere and I don’t want to experience that again. Unless a massive change happens, I’m afraid Blackpool are going to be in the news again for all the wrong reasons.

“I look back at what we achieved at Blackpool and wonder if there’s a legacy. Has it been built on? At the moment I look back and there isn’t one.”
— Former ‘Pool man Gary Taylor-Fletcher talks to the Gazette on the 25th September, 2013.

@adamdellboy

World Cup 2014

So here we are, only a few hours away from the biggest event on the footballing calendar.

After all the hype, scandal, deaths and protests lets hope that Brazil 2014 doesn’t disappoint. But who are some of the teams and players a few members of our writing team think could catch the eye. I will also provide a few players and teams that shouldn’t be written off.

Adam Dell Boy
Winner: Brazil
Player of the Tournament: Neymar
Potential Shock Exit: Portugal

Pete
Winner: Brazil
Player of the Tournament: David Silva
Potential Shock Exit: Italy

Ryan
Winner:Brazil. Although Netherlands would be a good left field bet and Belgium could make it to the semis
Player of the Tournament: Toni Kroos
Potential Shock Exit: England, sorry. Although if Ronaldo doesn’t drive Portugal as he has done on many occasions they could be out at the group stage.

As well as the players highlighted I think Arturo Vidal could continue to build on his fantastic domestic season and help Chile provide a tough test for Spain and the Netherlands. All eyes will be on Neymar and as he showed in the Confederations Cup, he can handle the weight of a nation in an international tournament, but can he handle it on the biggest stage? Romelu Lukaku will be licking his lips and hoping he can win his fitness race before Belgium’s opener against Algeria on Tuesday. This tournament could put him right in the shop window, especially if Mourinho is in a selling mood, also keep an eye out for fellow countryman Axel Witsel who has sparked time and time again at domestic level. Let’s hope it’s Brazil 2014 where he catches fires.

As for teams I’ve already said Belgium and Netherlands are both good “outside” bets for getting far in the tournament and perhaps in Netherlands case winning but who else do I think can do a job? Well one team would be USA, managed by Jurgen Klinsmann and a team that plays a patient game and looks to hit teams on the break, they could prove a real test for all the other teams in perhaps what could be the hardest off all the groups.
The other team to watch is Russia. Built on typical stoic soviet defensive techniques and managed by Fabio Capello who despite his lack of personality is a tactical genius and builds his teams to be fantastic on the basics of the game.

So that’s who we think could be lighting up your TV in the next few weeks but what’s your opinion?

Ry

Moyes: The Postmortem

So after all the hype and fanfare surrounding David Moyes arrival at Manchester United it’s now over, ending in whispers and rumours until this morning when it was announced in a short statement.

So what can be made of the Scotsmans short tenure? Well it was a shambles from start to finish. He wasn’t even in the top 3 of successors United fans wanted when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement so was always going to face an uphill task but he didn’t exactly make things easy for himself. Then in terms of his decision to go against Sir Alex’s advice to keep his back room staff and appoint his own he was also making a rod for his own back, after all the back room staff have played a big part in the success Manchester United had enjoyed in the last 20 years so to clear them all out showed naivety.

Moyes’s first transfer window was a disaster, bringing in Fellaini and not starting to trim the squad down to help mould it in his own vision. He showed no planning in his transfer activity. Manchester United have been crying out for investment for a few years in the midfield, they have been missing the midfield general who is willing to put his foot into the opposition and grab a hold of the game. Likewise the defence needed to be upgraded with 3 of the first choice back 4 out of contract in the summer, last summer would have been the perfect opportunity to bring in Garay or Thiago Silva but no movement came on this. They should have trimmed squad and the likes of Nani, Anderson, Cleverley & Fabio should have gone then. Now as we come to the end of the season no one knows if Ferdinand or Evra will be at the club next year and we know for a fact that Vidic (who would have been the only one of the 3 I would have retained as a member of the playing staff) is off to Inter.

Moyes’s tactics as well were sometimes baffling and you sometimes got the feeling he didn’t know who the best team to put out or where to play them. In what turned out to be his last game in charge against Everton it showed all sorts of issues that have been present all year. Yes United had a lot of possession but with no penetration what so ever, it’s no wonder Rooney was dropping further and further for a touch of the ball because there was nothing coming to him. His substitutions were predictable and forced after he picked the wrong team to play against an Everton team who must have eyes on United’s Champions League place. Other games his idea of get it wide and lump it in to the box early showed a real lack of ideas, with the likes of Mata, Rooney, van Persie, Kagawa & Januzaj on the pitch in any combination there is more than enough talent to carve teams open but they just didn’t ever play to those strengths.

Now we look back and say Moyes always was going on about this being a transitional season but maybe with the right appointment maybe he will proved to be right,but just without him at the helm. You now have to look at the potential people to come in and see what quality of players they can bring into the club.
We have no sympathy for him however as he always looked out of his depth in the Old Trafford hot seat and never seemed to resolve some of the problems that were left by Sir Alex and his ageing squad, as for his future there’s a noises that he may reappear at Spurs or Newcastle and we wish him all the best.

Ry

How to change football for the better.

We all often sit around and offer opinions on how to make football better and here is one we would like to see happen. Lets stop transfers for players under 21. Now we can understand any of you scoffing at the prospect but consider this, how many players under 21 can you say are worth the transfer fees you see banded about for them?

Take for example Luke Shaw of Southampton, now if you were to believe the rumors he is valued at around £30m. £30m for a player who is only just past 50 games for his club and one full England cap is far too much, we can understand Southampton placing that value on his head to try and ward off potential suitors but it shouldn’t be an issue. Southampton are no longer in the position they were with Walcott, Bale or Oxlaide-Chamberlian where they have to sell as they aren’t in the Premiership or in financial difficulty they should simply say he is not for sale full stop.

Daniel Sturridge is another example of youngsters moving about when they are too young, although he himself must take some blame for this one. Sturridge started his career at Manchester City but had his head turned by the money that was on offer from the up and coming billionaire plaything that was Chelsea and allowed his contract to expire. Once at Chelsea his career floundered, he was rarely used as an out and out striker, instead coming on as a wide player where his speed was a great attribute. We are glad he is now showing his true skill and attacking quality now at Liverpool where he has to be in line for featuring in Teams of the Year.

There is also the argument that a player should show a degree of loyalty, after all a young player has been a product of teams youth development system and should show thanks by helping the team to the best of his ability. After all if the player is truly good enough he will still be able to command a big enough fee when he turns 21, thereby giving something back to the club on two levels. We look at some of the situations and tribunals you see (no doubt there will be one this year with Thomas Ince) and clubs rarely get much above £3m and you feel sorry for them as they are losing someone who is probably a star turn for their team. Sometimes as well the players don’t get the benefit either, like we mentioned Sturridge is and example of this, as is Nick Powell, Willfried Zaha and Glenn Johnson (who was Roman Abramovich’s first signing when he came to Chelsea) his progress was majorly held back by that move at 18 and didn’t flourish until he went to Portsmouth and then to Liverpool. We just hope the likes of Shaw & Will Hughes see sense and give something back to the clubs who have shown faith in them.

 

Ryan

Adebayor: ….. To Be Loved

In the first 8 games of the season Tottenham Hotspur where winning all sorts of plaudits for their attacking play, with the focus coming on the emergence of Andros Townsend as well as the additions in the summer of Eriksen, Chadli, Lamela & Soldado. In amongst this time of great form their was a man forgotten, Emmanuel Adebayor. Banished to train with the youth team by then manager Andre Villas-Boas after returning late from his own brothers funeral and seemingly looking on his way out of the door.

Then Villas-Boas was discarded by Spurs after their form took a dip and AVBs negative tactics proved to much for the very loyal White Hart Lane crowd to stomach, and under rookie manager Tim Sherwood the man from Togo seems to have found a new lease of life.

Adebayor has always been a mercurial talent, from his tumultuous time at Arsenal where too often he showed glimpses of a player of special talent. To his largely forgettable time at Manchester City, although he will forever be a legend in my eyes for his pitch long run to celebrate his goal in front of the Arsenal fans. Then via Real Madrid he ended up at Spurs. Once again his first season showed how good much of a poacher the man is netting 18 goals and ending as their top scorer. Last season however Adebayor was everything his critics lambast him for: wasteful, lazy and seemingly at times disinterested and he only returned 5 goals, a figure he has already gone past this term.

So where exactly does Adebayor fit in in the criteria for a top striker? Well the answer to this lies in the fact which Adebayor turns up. On his day he has the perfect balance of speed and strength that all strikers need (a brilliant example of this was his goal against Everton a few weeks ago), he can also hold up the play well for midfielders coming from attacking roles. He posses a good eye for finding the net and has one of the hardest shots in the league. These are all his good traits so what about his bad ones? Well as we have already said he can often float through games seemingly disinterested, he is a forward so can’t tackle at all (see his red card in the North London Derby last season),he will certainly not track 40/50 yards with a player although as we mentioned he can’t tackle so maybe that’s a good thing and finally he has a one season syndrome about him, whereby he plays out of his skin for a year and then doesn’t really get off the ground for the rest of his time at that club. It’s something that can be tracked through his career and Sherwood must be hoping it doesn’t happen anytime soon with just Adebayor and Roberto Soldado (who doesn’t look likely to score anytime soon) as their only recognised strikers after Defoe goes to Toronto he needs both scoring.

Ryan

Fulham FC: Clueless & in Crisis

Now we will level with you first up, today’s artisan meant to be about Spurs striker Adebayor but last nights news prompted us to change the plan. It emerged last night that after just 75 days as head coach of Fulham, former Manchester United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen had been replaced by Felix Magath.

That’s right you read correctly 75 days! It’s almost like a celebrity relationship how quickly it had come and gone. Having been brought in initially to assist Martin Jol who he then replaced as head coach on November 1st. Since then he has seen his team flatter to deceive, sell it’s most dangerous striker, the return of a prodigal son in Clint Dempsey,Crash out of the FA Cup and become the latest team to leave Old Trafford with something. It has been quite eventful although you have to question why the sacking has come now? As it stands Fulham are 4 points away from safety and playing some grinding football and the way this season has been going they could have ended up mid table under Meulensteen and still might under Magath but we are not one who likes seeing managers being chopped and changed.

The timing comes as a shock as well as Meulensteen has invested in the squad in January, bringing in the hard working Lewis Holtby & Johnny Heitinga to add more of a backbone to the team, as well as the Greek monster Mitroglou to replace Dimitar Berbatov who went to Monaco and also 3 youngsters in Kvist, Tunnicliffe & Cole. It seemed Meulensteen was starting to mould the squad to his own design and the owner was happy to fund that. Now Magath will have to work with what he has been left with and no time to bring in his own men.

With Fulhams next 4 fixtures looking ominous as well Magath really is being given a baptism of fire with 2 of the fixtures being against clubs that are close to them in the league and the other 2 against Newcastle & Chelsea you have to believe that Magath has an uphill task to try and motivate the players for the final half of the season. As for Meulensteen he joins the names of Kidd & Quieroz as ex Manchester United assistants who didn’t make the grade as managers, also it’s worth noting that he hasn’t left the club and has been told he can only leave of he resign. All a bit bizarre if you ask us.

Ryan

Leeds United: More of a family than a fan base.

On the last day of the January transfer window all eyes are normally focusing on the English footballs main players and who they are going to sign. This year the focus of every footballing fan was on Leeds United as a bizarre evening unfolded, and even at the time of writing is still unclear as to what is going on.

Leeds United’s captain Ross McCormack had been the subject of interest from a few Premier League clubs during the window after catching the eye with 21 goals in 28 league games this year. McCormack had only been made captain of Leeds during the middle of January so offers were unlikely to succeed unless they came in well over his market rate (£5 million was banded around for the Scotsman) but never the less in the early evening he put a statement out stating: “I am really happy at Leeds and look forward to staying at the club, I’m club captain and I look forward to continue playing at the club under Brian McDermott for the rest of the season.” Which seemed all well and good until around 8pm Leeds out a statement of their own, not to announce McCormack’s departure but the departure of manager Brian McDermott who was a popular figure amongst the players and fans alike. Within half an hour McCormack was on the phone to the Sky Sports News team voicing his displeasure at the dismissal.

McCormack was still a Leeds player come the end of the window and everyone thought that was that for the drama, until Saturday afternoon when Leeds announced (after their game against local rivals Huddersfield) that McDermott was still Leeds manager. It appears that a group who are in the process of a 75% takeover of Leeds United had dismissed McDermott despite the fact they don’t own the club yet. McDermott returned to his post on Monday morning and faced the media stating that he still wanted to be the clubs manager.

So with McDermott reinstalled and a buyer lined up all looks rosy for the Leeds? Well not quite the new prospective owner a mr Massimo Cellino still has to pass a Football League fit & proper persons test which may be an issue as he has 2 previous fraud convictions and is under investigation for embezzlement of a stadium his other club Cagliari were using in their nomadic search for a new home. Mr Cellino seems to have a bit of a maverick streak on him, he refuses to play on the 17th as he believes it’s bad luck, and once asked fans to turn up to a game that was supposed to be behind closed doors to get it abandoned. Will Cellinos antics go down well with the Leeds fans who are notoriously vociferous of anyone who doesn’t do the best for the club they hold so dear, In fact you could say Leeds are probably one of the best supported clubs in the country and certainly the most followed outside of the Premier League. So no I doubt they will stand for any messing about by anyone let alone someone who already has their back up before taking the reigns.

There may be some light on the horizon though as a consortium of past failed bidders for the club have come in and promised to match what Cellino has offered and would probably hold the clubs interest closer to their heart than Cellino who seems to be in it purely for the money.

As a Manchester United fan I sincerely hope Leeds get sorted out in the near future and they return to the top table of English Football sooner rather than later, if for nothing more than their fans.

As usual let us know your thoughts on Twitter & Facebook.

Ryan.