We need to talk about Luis.

Today I was planning to a piece on the poor performance by the England team in the World Cup but then I witnessed something we thought I would never see again. The sight of Luis Suarez biting another player.

Let me preface this by saying that I am a Manchester United fan, but even I appreciate Suarez as a top player and I completely agree with his clean sweep of awards last season as he was phenomenal and almost pushed Liverpool to their first league title. The thing is this time, unlike the others times there are no words of support coming from Liverpool, fellow pundits or anyone. It’s almost as if the patience has run out for the Uruguayan from everyone. There is even talk about Adidas and 888 Poker withdrawing their endorsements with the striker.

So in case you live under a rock what actually happened? Suarez and Chiellini clashed shortly before the goal that ultimately decided the clash and eliminated the Italians, at first look the Uruguayan seemed to run and headbutt the Italian defender and both men went down. The first inkling that something was different from a standard clash in the box was the sight of Suarez grabbing his front teeth as if he had been elbowed. It wasn’t until the second and third replay that I thought hold on a minute, surely not, not again, he didn’t just bite Chiellini did he? The answer is yes, yes he did. It became obvious when Chiellini pulled down his shirt to show 5 teeth marks on his shoulder. The whole thing cast a massive shadow over a big win for Uruguay, the Italians elimination and Pirlo’s & Buffon’s last international game.

So the big question is whats next? Well there is no doubt that FIFA will impose a ban on him that could have potential ramifications not just for country but for club as well as they could put a worldwide ban on him, although this is highly unlikely as it would leave them more open to appeal and reduction under various human rights infringements. If they go down the route of just banning him from all international football it may make him more desirable to teams looking to sign him from Liverpool as they wouldn’t have the burden and risk of him going halfway across the world to play football for Uruguay, so he would essentially have a two week rest every couple of months which would probably make him an even more useful player for the club. As we have already said he risks losing potential endorsements with this latest blot on his copy book, although in his native country he is seen as a bit of a hard man and uses it to trade on his likeness in adverts.

The thing is as well is if this was an isolated incident then perhaps it could be written off as a lapse of judgement but it’s the regularity he seems to do something controversial that would alarm me if I was a Liverpool fan, after all this is now the second world cup in a row that Suarez has done something to cast a shadow on his performances. I have seen various things saying that this is like his way of blowing off when his frustration gets to its maximum, but surely fans would prefer him to go and destroy a team with a magnificent solo goal? or a bit of outstanding play like he showed last season in the Premier League? And if it is the case then why did he not do it last season when the pressure was on Liverpool  in their title run in.

Either way FIFA need to exercise the full force of their power in this instance more than anything to show that they are not as corrupt as they seem. Let me know your thoughts?

Ry

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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

Why you’d be nuts not to back Brazil at the World Cup.

It might be an obvious choice but for me, Brazil are the clear favourites to win this summer’s World Cup and here’s why…….

That anthem

When watching Brazil on the TV this summer, I guarantee you will find their national anthem impossible to resist. The Brazilian players and their fans sing it with such gusto, you’ll be wishing it was your own national anthem. Thank heavens for ‘God Save the Queen’……..

The fans

Those fans that will make every Brazilian national anthem more of a spectacle than the entire Honduras v Ecuador match, will back their team like nobody else can. The Brazilian fans will be a mixture of passion, noise and colour combining to give Brazil the ultimate home advantage. Oh and there’s bound to be plenty of eye candy in the crowd to keep us boys and the cameramen busy.

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Neymar

Now is the time for the latest Brazilian superstar to step up to the plate. Surely there will be no better time for the magical Brazilian to emerge from the shadow of his fellow South American Lionel Messi. Get on Neymar to win the Golden Boot and become the Golden Boy of Brazilian football.

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Brazil nuts are harder to crack

Gone are the days of Brazil being dodgy at the back, they now have quality defenders like David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves and Marcelo to count on amongst others. Julio Cesar is still a top level keeper and will be well protected by a solid defence and a powerful midfield.

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Luis Felipe Scolari


Big Phil is one of the few managers at the World Cup that can truly class himself as a winner. Now in his 2nd spell as national coach, Brazilians will be hoping he finds the same magic that inspired his side to their most recent World Cup success in 2012. That team blew away the opposition and the signs are that history may be able to repeat itself. Scolari will be a massive factor when the pressure rises as high as the Amazon temperature.

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Recent success

Brazil were mightily impressive in winning the Confederations Cup last summer, comfortably brushing aside the unbeatable Spaniards thanks to a combination of all of the above factors. They’ve proved they can handle the expectation of a nation already, now it’s time to deliver on the grandest stage of them all.

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@adamdellboy

Is it now time for Liverpool to cash in on Luis Suarez?

When the final whistle blew on that extraordinary 3-3 draw between Crystal Palace and Liverpool, one of the most striking images was of an inconsolable Luis Suarez. A season of redemption, marked by an incredible personal performance appeared to have ended in spectacular heartache. Many Liverpool fans suggested that he felt like this because he cared about the club so much and that as a result, he was guaranteed to still be a Liverpool player next season. However, I’d seen this Luis Suarez before……

I was at Anfield last season when Liverpool were knocked out of the Europa League by Zenit and I distinctly remember a similarly crestfallen Luis Suarez after that match ended. Some will say he was just as disappointed to lose and to some extent I believe this, but I think there was more to it. I was lucky enough to be present at the Man of the Match award presentation after the game and something clearly wasn’t right with Luis. Was this the precise moment when he realised his future wasn’t with Liverpool FC?

Brendan Rodgers managed the Suarez transfer saga admirably in the summer and perhaps an even bigger achievement was to then get the very best out of the man. Despite his heroics, it appears that it may be in vain as Liverpool have faltered in the crucial stage of the title race. Suarez may feel he has delivered Liverpool Champions League football and that at 27, he may not be prepared to be part of an ‘unfinished article’ for another season.

Next season will be a difficult one for many reasons at Liverpool. A 1st season in the Champions League for Brendan Rodgers will be tough, particularly as they will be unseeded. They will need to considerably strengthen one of the smallest squads playing at the top level, with a budget that is modest compared to their main rivals. The big question is, if a team like Real Madrid pay the big bucks, would another pot of cash help Liverpool’s progress more than keeping Suarez?

I asked a similar question at the start of the season and the answer was overwhelming. Suarez has helped drive Liverpool on, but at some point the fans of the Reds may have to accept that Suarez deserves a chance to play at the very top level. If you were Suarez, imagine playing in a front 3 for Real Madrid alongside Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Maybe now is the perfect time to part ways……

@adamdellboy

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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

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.

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Adamdellboy

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

Team of the Year –

Mignolet
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)

TOTY –

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

Billy Judd

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

TOTY –

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

Ryan De Freitas

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

TOTY –

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

Andrew Peck

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

TOTY –

Hart
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)

TOTY –

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

Redemption – Should John Terry be in England’s World Cup squad?

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is still a few months away, yet people are already starting to post their own squad selections in anticipation of Roy Hodgson’s announcement. Whilst England look blessed with midfielders(despite Tom Cleverley’s continued inclusion) and wide players, there is a position that I believe will be a key area of concern for the boss.

England’s current central defensive partnership looks to be Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, with the useless Chris Smalling and injury prone Phil Jones as backups. Cahill is a player who has improved dramatically in recent years and is enjoying a prolonged spell in the heart of the Chelsea defence. Another big plus for Cahill is his mobility, the guy can cover the ground rapidly and chips in with a fair few goals. For me, he needs a rock solid, aerially strong centre back beside him and none of Jagielka, Smalling and Jones fit the bill. I just see the likes of Italy and Uruguay licking their lips at the prospects of facing him and that’s just in the group stage!!! Perhaps controversially, the best man for the job is former England captain John Terry.

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The man is enjoying something of a renaissance under Jose Mourinho and is a massive part of the reason that Chelsea sit comfortably at the summit of the league table. Wouldn’t it make sense to build a team around a central defensive partnership that is clearly working at the highest possible club level? England also lack natural leaders in the squad, another box that John Terry ticks in a big way.

There will be many that argue Terry shouldn’t be anywhere near the squad following his alleged racial spat with the Ferdinands, but time has passed and the game has moved on. The only real concern that Hodgson may have is that he’s decided to allow the WAGs to join the squad whilst in Brazil, but surely JT will be on his best behaviour with his missus around!!!

The fact remains, despite the tabloid headlines, Terry is still England’s best centre back and for that reason allow, Roy Hodgson should be drawing on all his powers of persuasion to bring him back into the fold. I know if I was Luis Suarez or Mario Balotelli, John Terry would be the last English centre back I’d want to face.

@adamdellboy

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

The next wave of the Belgian invasion is already on British shores.

The youngest one is seventeen, the senior class member is twenty-two. All of them could be the next big man in the world of football. I picked out six young Belgians in the Premier League who have the potential to carry on the Belgian invasion.

Andreas Pereira – Manchester United (Midfielder), Age: 18

Andreas is the son of Marcos Pereira, former Brazilian star at Antwerp FC. Just like his dad, Andreas loves spectacular goals. Based on his mixed origin, newspapers in Belgium already call him  ‘The New Januzaj’. Pereira can pick between Belgium and Brazil if he wants to when he starts an international career, but he already made clear his heart is Brazilian, just like his way of playing football. The Belgian-Brazilian playmaker is a future star. Pereira signed his first professional contract with Manchester United in 2013.

 

Charly Musonda Junior – Chelsea (Midfielder), Age: 17

Seeing this kid play is a fine memory of his father to Belgian football fans. He has no need to look at his feet to know where the ball is.  With a power you would never expect from a kid like him, Musonda sets up attacks and dodges tackles like it’s fun. Charly set off to London with his brothers, Lamisha and Tika, but there was no doubt that he is the most talented of the three. Charly is team captain at the Belgium U17 team.

 

Marnick Vermijl – Manchester United, on loan to NEC Nijmegen (Defender), Age: 22

Vermijl made it to the starting XI against Cluj in the Champions League last season. It was Sir Alex Ferguson who believed in this young talent. David Moyes on the other side preferred to put him on loan. Vermijl now plays for NEC, however a number of English clubs were interested. He decided to play for the Dutch side because he wanted more playing time and didn’t want to take the risk to stay in England and being called back to Manchester at any time. Vermijl is part of the Belgium national youngsters and won the U21 Championship with Manchester United last year. He was named the second best footballer in their (Januzaj being the best).

 

Jonathan Buatu Mananga – Fulham (Defender), Age: 21

Buatu joined Fulham in August 2013 after his contract with KRC Genk came to an end. Buatu is a strong center-back who also knows his way in midfield. Buatu was selected for all the Belgian age group representation starting with the U17. Buatu signed a one-year-deal with Fulham. The option for an extra year could hold the Belgian youngster in London until 2015. With the recent changes and uncertainty around the club maybe Buatu is capable of providing a much needed steel to a weak team?

Charni Ekangamene – Manchester United, on loan to Carlisle (Midfielder), Age: 20

Charni signed his first professional contract with Manchester United in December 2013. In January 2014, the club decided to put him on loan. He then joined Carlisle United. He caught the eye of the Manchester United scouts when he was playing at Antwerp FC, a club with close connections with the Red Devils. A strong player capable of playing either in a holding midfielders role, although this year has found him playing CB in Manchester United reserves.

Jason Denayer – Manchester City (Defender), Age: 19

Denayer originally played as a striker when he learned the beautiful game in Brussels with RSC Anderlecht. It was in his later youth when he learned to play as a defender. He arrived in Manchester after a stage session with Belgian side Waasland-Beveren. Denayer evolved into an upcoming talent under the control of Patrick Vieira. He has a youth contract with Manchester City until 2016, by that time he should be able to claim his first professional contract with ease. Denayer was also highlighted by Manchester Citys own Website as one to watch and has featured heavily in both the UEFA Youth League & the U21 League this season.

 

Annelies.