Premier League Week One Review

The Barclays Premier league was back with a bang this weekend, but what have we discovered about the 20 teams involved at this early stage?

We have to start at Old Trafford where the Van Gaal era was expected to start with a comfortable win for Manchester United. Someone clearly forgot to give Swansea a copy of the script, as they created history by walking away with all 3 points. For United it proved that their problems under Moyes very much still exist and more worrying was Van Gaal’s Plan B to hoof it to Fellaini, just like his predecessor’s Plan A!!!

Liverpool laboured to a 2-1 win against an impressive Southampton side who look like they may prove their doubters wrong this season. The Reds appeared to struggle adapting their game without the irreplaceable Luis Suarez, but Kopites will point to the fact their team lost this very same fixture last season. Raheem Sterling was the standout performer for Liverpool and at just 19, this kid is capable of being on of the very best.

Arsenal and Spurs both left it late to secure wins against two sides set to struggle this season in my opinion. Palace are running out of time to find a new manager, whilst West Ham are one of the favourites to be the next team looking for a new manager!!! I’ll be stunned if Big Sam makes it to January. As for the Gunners, although they weren’t at their best, the squad looks quality and they will have an exciting season ahead. Spurs will have to make do with battling for a Europa League spot.

Everton and Leicester played out an entertaining 2-2 draw which could prove to be a decent result for the Toffees as Leicester have an outstanding home record. The two other promoted sides were both defeated on the opening weekend, with Burnley falling 3-1 at home to an imposing Chelsea side. New signings Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas appear to have settled quickly and the Londoners have to be considered favourites for the title. Despite encouraging signs, Burnley lack the quality to survive this season. QPR will be disappointed to lose a winnable home game against Hull and they will have to improve dramatically if they want to remain in the top flight.

Elsewhere Aston Villa recorded a rare away win at Stoke, whilst relegation candidates West Brom and Sunderland slugged it out to a 2-2 draw. The reigning champions Man City won comfortably at Newcastle despite not being at their best, an ominous sign for the rest of the chasing pack.

For all of the great goals and action, the undoubted highlight of the weekend was the introduction of the vanishing foam. My guess is the refs haven’t had enough practice with it yet…….




England – heroic failure is no longer an option

When your best result in a World Cup is a 0-0 draw against an already qualified Costa Rica, you know you’ve fucked up massively. Let’s not sugar coat it, England’s performance in Brazil was nothing short of shambolic.

On the face of it, we could make the excuse that we were in a Group of Death with Uruguay and Italy being formidable opponents. In all honesty, the Italians came into the tournament on the back of a 7 game winless run and were eliminated without much fuss along with England. The Uruguayans were there for the taking, but a barely fit Luis Suarez was allowed to sink his gnashers into both Italy and England. As for Costa Rica, the opportunity to prove a point was clearly lost on the players that faced them in our final group game. Contrast that with the footballing powerhouses Bosnia, who pulled off a 3-1 win when they were already dumped out.


There were many fingers pointed throughout the tournament at individual players, but the truth is collectively the team were very poor. From the minute they stepped on the pitch, they failed to show any passion during the anthems and matched this limp effort on the pitch too. Having enjoyed the best season from Liverpool in a long time, I was shocked to see several of the key players from that team looking lost and restricted.

Roy Hodgson seems to have coached the free flowing attacking football style from these players and several others as we were barely able to mount an offensive spell of play at times. Sure we had our moments, but it was never sustained and we never looked secure defensively at any time. Even the weather was kind at times and this didn’t seem to help the team play at a high enough tempo. It’s even more frustrating when you see relative footballing minnows such as Nigeria, Chile and Colombia advance playing exciting attacking football.

We put our stars on a pedestal, but the truth is we seriously lack truly world class players. We don’t have a magical talent that can win a game on his own or play a spellbinding pass. I’ve heard many say we have the players, but if that is really the case, why is it that none of the England players ply their trade at a top foreign club? The answer is simple, our players are just not good enough. Are Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill top level centre backs? Not a chance, we left our best defender John Terry at home. Are Baines and Johnson able to cope defensively against the better sides? Again, not a chance. United fans may plead the case for Rooney, Arsenal fans for Wilshere and Liverpool fans for Sturridge, but the reality is none of these players would get into a Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich side.



So where are the positives? I’m genuinely not sure. We were banging on about the young players such as Sterling, Barkley and Shaw, but they had little impact on the tournament. Will they be able to impact on future tournaments with Roy Hodgson still in charge? My biggest fear is that nations who were nowhere on the footballing map 10 years ago are growing stronger, whilst England are growing weaker. If we can’t solve our problems, even simple qualification for the major tournaments may prove to be out of reach for our nation’s ‘finest.’


Premier League 2013/14 awards, as voted for by the SirZBlog team

It’s been a tremendous Premier League season so far and it’s nearly time for the seasonal awards to be handed out. Check out who the SirZBlog team felt were deserving of them and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.



Player of the Year – Luis Suarez
Young Player of the Year – Eden Hazard
Manager of the Year – Brendan Rodgers

Team of the Year –

Coleman – Koscielny – Kompany – Shaw
Hazard — Gerrard — Toure — Silva
Suarez — Sturridge

Ross Jones

POTY – Luis Suarez
YPOTY – Luke Shaw
MOTY – Mark Hughes (for getting Stoke passing)


De Gea
Coleman – Kompany – Caulker – Shaw
Barry — Yaya Toure –Hazard –Lallana
Suarez — Rodriguez

Billy Judd

POTY – Luis Suarez
YPOTY – Aaron Ramsey
MOTY – Brendan Rodgers


Coleman – Koscienly – Lovren – Azpilicueta
Ramsey — Toure — Fernandinho
Hazard — Suarez

Ryan De Freitas

POTY – Luis Suarez
YPOY – Raheem Sterling
MOTY – Brendan Rodgers (miracle worker, imo)


Zabaleta – Koscielny – Kompany – Shaw
Yaya Toure — Henderson
Sturridge — Silva — Hazard

Andrew Peck

POTY – Luis Suarez
YPOTY – Raheem Sterling
MOTY – Brendan Rodgers


Shaw – Kompany – Skrtel – Caulker
Hazard — Henderson — Toure — Barkley
Suarez – Sturridge

Ryan Howe

POTY – Luis Suarez
YPOTY – Luke Shaw
MOTY – Brendan Rodgers (although Martinez comes close)


De Gea
Shaw – Dawson – Kompany
Hazard — Yaya Toure — Henderson — Barkley
Rooney – Aguero – Suarez

David Moyes – Stuck between a rock & a hard place.

” I’d also like to remind you that we’ve had bad times here. The club stood by me, all my staff stood by me, the players stood by me. So your job now is to stand by our new manager, that is important”

The words above were said by Sir Alex Ferguson on his last home match in his long and illustrious career. And after reading our Twitter timeline in the last few days many a Manchester United fan would do well to remember them and get behind the man Sir Alex chose as his replacement David Moyes.

In his first 6 months in charge of Manchester United, Moyes has had a few highs but in the eyes of most fans more downs, in all fairness to him though he was always in a slightly losing battle unless he came into the club and announced he was signing Messi & Ronaldo in exchange for Tom Cleverley and Anderson. Also let’s not forget he is also working under a Chief Executive who is new to the club as well and eager to make a good impression.

So after defeats to Spurs, Sunderland & the early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Swansea what could Moyes do to turn it around?


      The current squad is the same squad which won the league last year so is it a case of them not performing well, losing their edge or poor selection by the manager?
      When you look at the squad you look at some of the players who are backup players and you have to think that some of them are not good enough. Anderson, Fabio & Nani all spring to mind as “dead weight.” it’s disappointing in the case of Fabio who when you look at the progress made by his brother Rafael should have been looking to kick on although it’s worth noting Fabio couldn’t force his way into the QPR team that was relegated last season. Then there is the likes of Cleverley, Valencia & Young all of whom feature regularly in the Manchester United line up but never impact the game as much as their talent dictates, Moyes needs to be tough with them and say “shape up or ship out”

      There are a few fringe players who would also benefit from a bit more game time, the likes of Büttner who is a left back with a decent amount of pace and a ferocious shot on him. With Evra advancing in years and also rumblings of him wanting to return to his native France for me Büttner would be a more than capable replacement. Jesse Lingard is just back from a lightning loan spell in the Midlands and has staked a claim for the matchday squads, indeed he was an unused substitute in the home victory against Swansea this past weekend and hopefully he gets a look in because as Birmingham City fans will tell you he makes daring late runs in to the box and finds space. Nick Powell is currently out on loan and is another who is getting rave reviews, with talk of Moyes recalling him to send him back out on loan to a Premier League team it seems silly, let’s see if the lad is Old Trafford material, same with Zaha. If someone asked me who would be my future a United midfield would be at the moment I would say Zaha,Powell, Lingard & Januzaj.


          There has been talk of a “£200m war chest” but I can’t see Moyes spending all that in January, especially with the potential risks involving January transfers taking a while to bed in. A lot of the talk is centred around this apparent gaping hole in the center of Manchester United’s defence and whilst the first choice of Vidic & Ferdinand may be creaking a bit and in the formers case rumours of him wanting him to leave the club, there is more than enough decent cover already contained within in the 25 man squad with the likes of Evans, Smalling, Jones & Michael Keane all possessing great talent and potential.

          An area United may look to strengthen this window is the forwards, with Rooney & van Persie having an injury hit season and also murmurs of them eyeing the exit it may be time for United to bite the bullet and hit Diego Costas rumoured £32m release clause and get him in tone squad, yes he wouldn’t be eligible for UCL but United have to concentrate on their league campaign to make sure they are in the competition again next season. Another forward they could move for would be Jeremy Menez of PSG, out of contract in the summer he is a player who they would save on the transfer fee so could afford to offer him a bit more. Menez is a great player to tuck in behind the main striker owing to his reading of the game and overall movement and if Rooney or RVP do move on he could help Hernandez or Welbeck really kick on.

          Another area they realistically need to strengthen is the holding midfield role. The holding midfielder should provide you with a bit of meat in the tackle and also cover for the defence so in that respect Phil Jones would be your ideal man but with him constantly being switched from one position to another he isn’t getting the time to really master any. Arturo Vidal has been linked to United and would be a great addition to the squad, a midfielder in the same mould as Paul Scholes with a never ending reserve of energy and a ferocious and fiery temperament he may provide the engine room that United need. Another midfielder United could look at bringing in is Real Madrids Nuri Sahin. He didn’t really show his true potential when he was loaned to Liverpool last year although that may have been down to Rodgers playing him in a more attacking role than he played in his time at Dortmund, he also doesn’t seem to have settled in too well at Madrid where he has been sent out on loan from for nearly two seasons after some understated performances for them so he may be available for around £10m. Jonathon Dos Santos may be a purchase with one eye on the future, the Mexican seems to have fallen back down the pecking order at Barcelona despite some impressive performances at he start of the season.

          Fantasy purchases for me come in the form of Reus, Gündoğan and Bojan Krkic but to move for any of those in this window seems to run a risk of not giving the players enough time to settle and expecting them to hit the ground running which sometimes they don’t and it ruins their hype and the fans soon turn against them. Either way it seems any business will be done late on the window again but United fans may be hoping that it doesn’t turn into another Felliani.

          Give us your views in the usual way. By commenting on this or shouting at us on Twitter & Facebook


Why Non-League Football Needs 3G Pitches

Excellent article, and raises a good point.

The Inside Forward

If I were to travel to every non-league game across the country on Saturday, I guarantee I would hear two things at most, if not all, stadiums. The first conversation is highly likely to be multiple groups of middle aged men complaining about how their weekend’s are routinely ruined by these constant postponements due to the weather. Sure, it’s bad, but that’s football. Football is a winter sport, and we know it as the game played on a muddy pitch in freezing cold temperatures. Nevertheless, it seems every one of these middle aged men would have the solution, and it’s always the same outcome. 3G pitches. Of course, 3G pitches have taken a massive boost within the footballing industry over the recent years, but are yet to progress extensively to the level of certain games, notably lower-leagues and non-league football.

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Happy New Year & Thank You.

Firstly, Happy New Year. I hope you had a good one and are not suffering to much.

Of course with the clock striking midnight two things happened. Firstly the transfer window has opened! I love it, reading all the rumours and trying to second guess where a player will end up. Secondly we entered a World Cup year! That means no boredom for the average football fan, let’s be honest England won’t win it but we can at least hope that we go out to a team playing decent football, unlikely though as England will probably stutter and struggle in the group stage.

With a new year it’s always worth looking back at the previous one and it’s been brilliant. I first got an idea, for the site at the end of last year and I have been lucky enough to have an amazing team so Adam, Andy,Annelies, Billy, Elijah, Pete, Jade,Ross & Ryan DF thank you once again for doing what you all do so well and in your own styles.

My final thanks is to you; the readers. Without you guys what we do would be pointless, you reading it, giving us feedback and interacting with us on social media makes us want to carry on and the number of readers we hit in our first 5 months was more than I could ever have hoped so thank you.
Happy New Year.


Interesting read

No Standing

A lot has been written recently about Football Hipsters and Hipster Teams. You know, the “cooler-than-thou” football fans who purport to support a foreign side you’ve never heard of (because you’re not cool and hip enough!), and the cool clubs themselves the hipsters follow. Whilst bringing them to the common football fan’s attention no longer makes the teams referred to elitist and exclusive, these hipster writers and bloggers need to maintain their cool quotient by constantly telling people just how cool they are, so they’re in a bind. However, they probably don’t follow that particular teams referred to any more anyway, as it’s “you know, SO last season”, and they’ve moved on to someone far more obscure “that you just wouldn’t have heard of…”.


Venn diagram of hipster team coolness

Anyway, at the risk of simultaneously trying to sound cool and immediately blowing it by telling you about it, here’s…

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Cuvelier: The Next PL Belgian?

Excellent blog on the next Belgian Breakthrough

The Inside Forward

Looking at the talent Belgium currently have at their disposal, it’s hard to believe that this is a national side who have failed to qualify for the last five major tournaments. In the Premier League alone you can now realistically build an entire team of Belgian players, a sort of

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The Championship Playoff winners – champagne moment or poisoned chalice.

At the start of every Championship season, each team has a dream of reaching the promised land and the riches of the Barclays Premier League. Some will have a realistic chance and will arrive at the top table of English football in style, whilst others will fall painfully short. Undoubtedly the most exciting way to join the big boys is through the Playoffs, often heartbreaking, always dramatic. A multi-million prize awaits the winners, but how have the sides that have achieved this glory fared over the last 10 years?

Back in 04/05 Crystal Palace were the victims of a last day relegation having spent just £4.5m on new players, with their most high profile signing being Fitz Hall at £2m. It has taken them the best part of the next 10 years to regain their place in the elite, following this summer’s playoff success. During that time it has needed a multi million pound takeover to put them back on the right track.

West Ham United have undoubtedly been one of the most successful playoff winners of this period, finishing 9th in the 05/06 season and runners up in a famous FA Cup Final against Liverpool. They were backed to the tune of £20m that season, with Dean Ashton arriving for a whopping £9.5m, whilst Yossi Benayoun at £3.3m provided further class. Their spending continued for some time after, the next season saw the stunning arrivals of Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez before they ultimately hit the wall financially, concluding in relegation in 2011. West Ham maintained the majority of a Premier League quality squad and bounced straight back, again through the playoffs. They splashed the cash once more upon their return on players such as Matt Jarvis(£8.3m), high profile loan signings such as Andy Carroll and quality free transfers in Mo Diame and Jussi Jaaskelainen. That spending on Premier League class players resulted in a comfortable 10th place finish and provides a foundation for further success.

Watford were relegated immediately, finishing bottom with just 5 wins after their playoff win in 2006. They spent £9m in the Premier League, with Danny Shittu their most expensive acquisition at £2m, failing to build a squad strong enough to survive. They unfortunately fell short in this year’s playoff final with a squad filled with loanees.

Derby County fell at their attempt in season 07/08, scoring an all-time low points total despite spending a relatively high sum of £20m. This included £4m+ strikers Rob Earnshaw and Kenny Miller, both proven goalscorers. They also added the experience of the likes of Robbie Savage and Danny Mills to no avail. What may have caused difficulties for Derby was the mid season change of manager from Billy Davies to Paul Jewell, alongside a corporate takeover.

Hull City survived the following year, although it also went down to the last game of the season, Their success stemmed from a stunning start, spearheaded by the brilliant Geovanni and their highest value signing at £4.6m Jimmy Bullard. Despite the glory of survival, Hull succumbed to supposed ‘2nd season syndrome’ and were relegated. A couple of seasons in the Championship supplemented with heavy spending have lead Hull back into the top flight for this season via automatic promotion.

Burnley changed their manager from Owen Coyle to Brian Laws in their sole Premier League season in 09/10, with Steven Fletcher their only major signing at £4m. He wasn’t enough to save them despite an impressive win over Manchester United. Burnley have since struggled to find the form that propelled them to a surprise season in the top flight and have changed their manager on a number of occasions in search of the solution.

Blackpool were shock playoff winners next time around and almost pulled off an even bigger shock after reaching 30 points well in advance of Christmas. However, a lack of major signings and a stream of free transfer journeymen were not enough to survive, ultimately going down with defeat at Old Trafford on the last day of the season(the only time they were in the bottom 3 all season!!). Blackpool were relegated having spent less than £5m on new players, their chairman refused to sanction the signing of a goalkeeper when they were down to just one half fit keeper in the second half of the season. Their captain Charlie Adam earned himself a place on the PFA Team of the Season, illustrating what may have been with a couple of million spent in the right place. Blackpool came within a whisker of an instant return, losing the playoff final 2-1 to West Ham despite being the better team on the day. They’ve since gone into free fall thanks to a lack of investment and a crazy managerial merrygoround.

In 11/12, Swansea defied the odds after a terrific debut season by finishing a respectable 11th under Brendan Rodgers, a performance which earned him a move to Liverpool. They spent a modest £11m, but brought in reliable top level players such as Wayne Routledge and Michel Vorm. Their style of football was a departure from previous promoted teams as they did not sacrifice their footballing principles in order to survive. They’ve since gone on to complete another successful campaign including a League Cup win under the guidance of Michael Laudrup and continue to go from strength to strength.

So what of Crystal Palace this time around? Their manager Ian Holloway has been there before with Blackpool where he vowed to ‘attack the Premier League’. What he found that time around was that the result of playing in the playoffs meant that his time were weeks behind others in terms of fitness, preparation and perhaps more importantly, the signing of new players. He was left with the scraps that no one else wanted and had to resort to signing relative unknowns.

At the time of writing, history appears to be repeating itself as Crystal Palace have only been able to secure 7 new players, none with real Premier League experience. Dwight Gayle at £4.6m is their most expensive purchase but has no experience at the top level, whilst Arsenal fans may warn the signing of Marouane Chamakh my not be anything to get excited about. My prediction is that yet again the Championship Playoff winners will struggle to keep their heads above water and will find themselves back in the Championship when the dust settles on the new season.

It’s clear to see that a combination of things are required in order to survive. Money needs to be invested in the squad wisely, including the acquisition of experienced top flight talent, faith in the team that achieved promotion may only get you so far. Stability is key, though the pressure of top flight survival affects the judgement of many chairmen!!! Planning ahead is vital if you’re going to keep up with your competition given the time restraints that the playoff winners suffer. Finally, the likes of Swansea and West Ham have proven that maintaining your footballing principles reaps dividends and an intimidating atmosphere will help secure those vital home wins. Crystal Palace, it’s over to you………..



Sat In Row Z: We Are Coming For you!

When everyone asks you about football they always ask who you support, well we support football. We watch any games we can either live or on the TV, we all have teams we follow but we enjoy football and all its aspects. We talk about it online, in the pub, at work, with friends,  everywhere to us it really is a beautiful game!

This blog is about Football and written by the fans, for the fans. We aim to give people a place to discuss the current footballing issues like adults but we also want to be the place you go to read honest & unbiased opinions on your way to the game, on the terraces or anywhere you choose to enjoy it. We will publish articles on a Wednesday & Saturday lunchtime but we will be active on our social networks throughout the day.

We always welcome suggestions, debates, criticism & anyone wanting to help. If you enjoy what we do, have any feedback or would like to help out with the site email us: