Archive for June, 2011

Now that Chelsea hero Roberto Di Matteo has been announced as Andre Villas-Boas’ new assistant manager, I’ve decided to take a look at some high profile returning heroes of the past, and whether they worked out or not.

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Kenny Dalglish – Liverpool

It’s a case of so far so good for King (ahem) Kenny. The wily Scotsman re-took the reins at Anfield while the club were languishing in the bottom half of the table after what I can only describe as a thoroughly enjoyable stint in charge by Woy Hodgson. Dalglish, helped by a £50million sale of Fernando Torres, seemed to reinvigorate the club – from the players to the fans. The surged back up the table and finished a very credible 6th position, a real achievement for a club like Liverpool.

Verdict – Success

Mark Hughes – Manchester United

Sparky returned to Old Trafford after spending time with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. After realising that football is indeed a non-contact sport in Europe, Hughes felt it was best for all involved that he returned to United, not least the wounded and mentally scarred centre backs. On his return, Hughes became a vital cog in the United machine which won 2 league titles and set them up for an era of dominance.

Verdict – Success

Kevin Keegan – Newcastle United

Yet another “King” returns. King Kev returned to Newcastle for the 2nd time after a successful stint as a player and previously as a manager. This time circumstances were a little different and after an “iffy” first few games, Newcastle found their feet and began a good run of games. After finishing 12th that season, Keegan spoke out against owner Mike Ashley and his board for not backing him in the transfer market and his time came to an abrupt end at St. James’ Park.

Verdict – Failure

Alan Shearer – Newcastle United

Newcastle sure love their returning heroes. This time, all-time leading goal scorer and demi-God Alan Shearer returned to try steer the Geordies away from the drop zone and to Premier League safety. Of course with no managerial experience (or qualities, seemingly), this was a classic case of an emotional appointment in the hope it would unite the fans and players in a massive whirlwind of black and white coloured victories and even a re-emergence of Biker Grove. It didn’t, Newcastle won one game out of eight and were relegated, Shearer left and hasn’t had a job in management since.

Verdict – Failure

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As Robbie embarks on his second tenure at Stamford Bridge, he will be employed as an assistant manager. Win or lose, the glory or blame won’t be laid firmly at his door but I feel he has an important role to play in any future Chelsea successes. He is Chelsea through and through and has an eye for attractive football. Every manager, no matter how good or bad, needs a sharp mind to bounce ideas off and of course to bring new ideas to the table. Let’s hope Robbie’s return will be deemed a major success.

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The Original Villas-Boas?

Posted: June 27, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Chelsea, England, Guest, Legends, Random

We all know the background behind the new Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas-Boas. He was only a youngster when he knocked on Bobby Robson’s door asking for advice. Since then he has gone on to learn from some of the very best in the game, landing himself one of the highest profile jobs in the world. But is his story original?

Many years ago, when I was just 15 years old, my school friends and I had to do a week and a half of ‘vocational experience’ as part of our school work. The idea was to gain some valuable experience in the workplace in order to get a taste of things to come. We could either let the school arrange our placement, or we could organise it ourselves. Some of my friends went to a local vet, newspaper or their dad’s workplace. However, this wasn’t my sort of thing. When I was 15 I was only interested in one type of career; professional football!

I grew up living on the Sussex coast, and so the easiest option would be to contact Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. Although I love football, BHAFC is not my team. The team I support is Chelsea! Therefore, with my dad’s help, I contacted Chelsea Football in the Community (FITC) to ask if I could help out there. They were more than happy for me to come in and see how the FITC team works. Sadly, my school said that the 120 mile round trip would be too far to travel each day. Too far for who?! Basically, a teacher was meant to come and observe you in your workplace and they weren’t prepared to do that.

After some negotiations it was decided I could go. I was over the moon. I mean, getting the train to Stamford Bridge everyday was hardly a chore! The only downside was the timing of the work experience. I had to do 8 days work in July, so none of the players, etc, were likely to be around. I didn’t mind; I got to wear a Chelsea shirt to work everyday and be around the football club I loved.

On my first day I remember turning up and being asked to make loads of cups of tea and coffee. Pretty standard stuff. Another job I had to do was inflate footballs in the storeroom, which was full of all kinds of Chelsea goodies. It was great to have a little sneak around. I remember finding a load of old Chelsea scratch cards with Glenn Hoddle on the front. They were out of date so I scratched a load off. All I can say is that the club must have made a fortune from this as hardly any of them had any winners!

Anyway, I had two main jobs to do each day. The first was to prepare party food for children’s parties that took place in the Stamford Bridge Press Room. I was given a large set of keys and was allowed to let myself into the tunnel entrance, just next to the East Stand reception. I went on a tour of Stamford Bridge recently and how things have changed! I used to go into the spare changing room and make jam sandwiches, plate up biscuits and crisps, etc, and then set up the press room for the party. Perhaps one of the most fulfilling jobs in my life! Being left alone to work in a Chelsea changing room. Brilliant!!! I could see the old baths, tactics board, but sadly no player shirts.

Another great job was to help with the tours of Stamford Bridge with one of the other FITC staff members. The tour was much different then, especially as it’s only the East Stand that is still standing! I was like a sponge on the first day, soaking up all the information. It was so fascinating.

After the 8 days of a great experience I had to return to school for the last two days of the week and write a presentation on the experience. My presentation involved a prop, which I will tell you about now.

Although I had to return to school for the last two days, I decided that it would be more beneficial to spend the last day back at Chelsea! I took the train as normal and made my way to Stamford Bridge. I made the teas and coffees and was then told that Ruud Gullit may be at the Bridge later. I was so excited by the prospect of meeting him! The FITC office was across the road from the ground, and didn’t have a fax machine. Therefore, a FITC staff member and myself had to go to the East Stand, and head to the 2nd floor to send the fax and pick up the post. I took one of my Chelsea shirts with me and left it with the receptionist to ask Ruud if he would sign it when he comes in.

Later that day I had to set up a birthday party. It was quite a big one and there was loads of rubbish. I searched around to find a bin to put it in but there were none around. I went outside and headed back down the side of the East Stand then saw the then Chairman of Chelsea, Ken Bates. He called me over and asked what I was doing! A little nervous and in awe I just said I was looking for a bin to put this rubbish in. His reply was to throw it over the fence and let it be British Rail’s problem. He was, of course, joking and said carry on. Phew!

After the party was set up I had to get the midday post from the East Stand 2nd floor. On the way down the lift stopped on the 1st floor. Who walked in? The new Chelsea Manager, Ruud Gullit. He was massive, and I was completely overwhelmed. However, I quickly picked up the courage to ask him if he would sign my shirt. He was more than happy to. Imagine that, a Chelsea mad 15 year old meeting a European and World Player of the Year, and now the new manager of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge!

My heart was racing and my mind was thinking a million thoughts. Especially as my dad was coming to meet me a few hours later! I still had to help with a tour of the ground that afternoon. When I got back to the office there was a bit of a panic. The guy who did the tours was running really late and may not make it to Chelsea in time. *A-hem* I could do it? Really? Yeah, I’ve been on loads now and have learnt the script to go with it. Well, maybe then.

Eventually, the guy did turn up and we did the tour together. However, as a special thank you, I was given the keys and told I could give my dad a private tour of Stamford Bridge. WOW!!! When my dad turned up I did exactly that, including telling him the story of meeting Ken Bates and Ruud Gullit earlier!

A bit tongue-in-cheek about me being the original Villas-Boas, but I was young, I have coached football in England, America, Australia and Denmark, and now do a little bit of work for Brighton & Hove Albion. We all have to start somewhere!

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If you liked this then please follow me on Twitter: @ChelseaChadder

With Andre Villas-Boas poised to take the reins at Chelsea, I have decided to look at a number of factors which willdetermine whether he will be a success or not. Of course results and trophies will be the determining factor, but there may well be a few underlying issues that have to go the young prodigy’s way if he is to fill the trophy cabinet and avoid Roman’s wrath.

Coaching Ability

With some of the egos at Chelsea, they may not look too favourably at a 33 year old former scout becoming their new boss. At the end of the day, this guy used to hand out scouting DVD’s to them under Mourinho , he’s the same age as Drogba and Lampard – now he’s their manager. However, I believe that he will be given a chance to win them over and I think within a matter of weeks this will be achieved. By all accounts, Villas-Boas has revolutionary training regimes which will keep the top players motivated and most importantly entertained.

Philosophies

Villas-Boas is an excellent communicator who will get his points across without anything being lost in translation, something that perhaps Ancelotti struggled with after Wilkins got the chop. He will also be an ally to the Brazilian players who are still finding their feet (Luiz and Ramires) and due to the common language will help bring these players on and fulfil their potential. He will have buy-in from all players and they will all understand 100% what is required of them, ensuring a more cohesive and efficient machine on the pitch.

Signings

Chelsea clearly need 2 or 3 signings, regardless of who is going to be manager. Last season with Porto, Villas-Boas played an adapted 4-3-3 formation. Chelsea do not have the players to compliment this formation. Chelsea need to sign a winger (or two) and a creative midfielder to help Villas-Boas replicate his tried and trusted formation. Saying that, I believe this guy has a book of tricks that he can adapt to most situations. He is a student of the game and a real innovator.

Strong Director of Football

This, for me, is perhaps the most important issue. Villas-Boas needs a Director of Football in place who is going to stand side by side with him and buy into his ideas, not another Churchill insurance dog who can’t stop nodding his head when Roman says something… Ooooh yes.

Easier said than done – who will challenge Roman, or more importantly, who does Roman trust and take advice from? All roads seem to point to Guus Hiddink. Now it looks like Hiddink is staying with Turkey but I believe (and hope) he will take over the role after the Euro Qualifiers end in October. He is a strong personality with sway over Roman, and can act as a shield for Villas-Boas should he need him to. Baring in mind that Villas-Boas is still young and effectively learning his trade, Hiddink will be a generous and valuable mentor for the young Portuguese.

At 33 years old and with one full season under his belt, is Villas-Boas a gamble? Well, isn’t every managerial appointment a gamble in some way, nothing is ever certain in this beautiful game…..

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

Is The Romance Dead?

Posted: June 16, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in England, English Premier League, Guest, Legends, Money, Random

The mind has time to wander during the close season, and as sick as I am about hearing and talking about “would be” transfers, my thoughts have drifted elsewhere. Just recently I found Paul McGrath on Twitter (@PaulMcGrath5) and it brought back some fond memories. The reason for this story is to compare the modern footballer with the gentlemen of yesteryear.

I cast my mind back about 5 or 6 years to a summer’s day in my native Cork City. Aware that Paul was due to play in a golf tournament in Fota Golf Course, I made my way down in hope to see one of my heroes. Luckily for me I wasn’t disappointed. Seeing Paul across the clubhouse I felt genuine awe for a man who helped put Irish football on the map, a true legend of the game. Seeing Paul was about to leave, I shouted across the clubhouse “Paul, you’re my hero!” Not one of the most suave moments of my life but one I don’t regret nonetheless.

Paul came back in and shook my hand and said he’ll be back shortly and he’ll talk to me. Not expecting him to come back, I was happy just to have shaken the great man’s hand. I sat down with the group I was with for a tea and low and behold, 20 minutes later Paul arrived back in the clubhouse and sat with us for about 15 minutes just shooting the breeze. We got our photos and said our goodbyes and that day remains in my mind forever. It’s not every day you meet a genuine hero. They say you shouldn’t meet a hero as you will be left disappointed, well that couldn’t be further from the truth in this instance.

Paul has had his well-documented demons over the years but his warmth and kindness hasn’t been affected. He is a genuine guy who appreciates the chance he was given and support he was lended by us fans. For what it’s worth, his autobiography is a great read for anyone who’s interested.

Now, the reason I have told this little story is to show the class associated with former players. I have also had the pleasure to meet Peter Osgood and Peter Bonetti, two Chelsea legends and couldn’t have been nicer and more accommodating. The same can be said about when I met Kerry Dixon, Jason Cundy and Clive Walker. Exceptions aside, can you imagine many of today’s top players giving you the time of day? No? Me neither.

Is it the money? Is it the increased fame? Is it a security issue? Is it just that people in general have become less friendly and maybe even more arrogant? Whatever it is, it is ruining the romance and the bond between fans and players. Now I know certain players make the extra effort to engage with fans but it will never be the same. I know people who have drank with the Irish squad on international trips; I hear stories of people who’ve done the same with various clubs around the UK. If you tried approached Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard and offered to buy them a drink you would probably be on the receiving end of a tongue lashing for daring to interrupt them (that’s if you even get that far before being tackled by a security guard).

The examples I used may not be representative, maybe they are, and there are of course exceptions to the rule, but what I’m getting at is that people are falling out of love with the game because our heroes have become detached and almost untouchable. I almost feel that the modern day players are robots who are taught to say a bunch of clichés and dare not say anything else which may be controversial or honest. Maybe it’s just me, is it?

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

Callum Maclean gives us a detailed insight into his underrated 11 of the 2010/11 season.  Read on to find out who made the XI.

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The 2010/11 season in the Premier League for many was one of disappointment. Teams failed to build on the foundations they had laid down over the period from the end of the 2009/10 season to the first few games of the season, and players suffered from losses of form over Christmas, which may have been down to too much turkey, injury, super-injunctions, or the approaches of another club in the January transfer window. Which brings me great difficulty in writing about who I believe was underrated this year in what is known as the best league in the world. It would’ve been easier to speak of overrated players, or players who failed to impress, but I gave it my best shot.

Going through teams, if there any from them, I picked my players, and will try and get some sort of squad made up out of them. So, to start with, Wojciech Szczęsny of Arsenal. Coming in after injuries to Manuel Almunia and Lukas Fabianski, Arsenal’s third choice ‘keeper became first choice even after an injury to a finger, keeping six premier league clean sheets in the process. If it hadn’t of been for Szczęsny, Arsenal may well have been playing on Channel Five next season.

Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark comes next. Making 16 appearances this season, Clark helped Villa’s topsy-turvy season end in mid-table mediocrity, scoring three league goals in the process, leading to him getting his first call-up for the Republic Of Ireland.

Even though, Birmingham City got relegated, I feel 28 year old Roger Johnson deserves a shout for the underrated players of the season, trying to keep Birmingham up. Courtesy of OptaJoe, he made more headed clearances than anyone else, with 287. Expect to see him in the Premier League again next season.

Up until his injury on the 19th March, Stuart Holden may well have been on for getting into team of the year, with his performances for Bolton helping them make a march up the table with at one point, a possibility of European Football.

Though he played for a big club that didn’t perform nearly as well as early form suggested, and maybe because there is some Chelsea bias, but I think Fernando Torres was underrated for his half a season… Just kidding. John Obi Mikel, yet still not scoring a league goal for Chelsea, he has been pulling the strings from the midfield when players have been injured, or under performing, and goes unnoticed, because he doesn’t whip cross-field passes about and the like. Simple, but effective.

Everton come in with three players that have been, in my opinion at least, underrated. Sylvain Distin, Tim Howard, and Louis Saha. Distin’s consistency and Howard in goal managed to help Everton get to 10 clean sheets for the season. Distin also scored his first Premier League goals, with two against Liverpool. Louis Saha, although maybe not having had his best season, still managed in 22 games seven goals and his performances along with Distin and Howard’s helped Everton get better as the season went on and have a seventh placed finish.

Chris Baird, makes his way into the underrated players for the season. A regular fixture at the back, the 29 year old defender gave Fulham fair defending at the back, which granted them both a top ten spot and a Europa League place. Thanks to OptaJoe, he was only one of four players to score two goals from outside the box in the same game too.

Cheik Tioté of Newcastle United is also a player who I feel was underrated. Granted, his goals against Arsenal wasn’t underrated at all, but it’s his passing, interceptions and tackling that has helped Newcastle in the middle, whilst just getting on with his job, unlike the egos of Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan.

Stoke City also have three players that come in as underrated. Former bad boy, Jermaine Pennant, has, this season somewhat transformed, with an untroubled season, with only three bookings, and three goals too. Quiet, but his experience under the watchful eye of Tony Pulis helped Pennant and Stoke have a very successful season. Whether you call gambling a bad boy hobby or not, Matthew Etherington has transformed into a decent winger, alongside the other underrated player, Jonathan Walters, who have contributed with goals and assists in a successful season for the Potters.

Keiran Richardson was also, in my opinion, underrated this season. Versatility is what is needed at a club like Sunderland, and Richardson had that, scoring four goals in the process with his more than able covering abilities.

Peter Odemwingie, of West Bromwich Albion, was also underrated. Although his form was hit and miss at times, when on form, he was one of the top strikers in the Premier League. 15 goals in 32 games for a team that were in serious danger of being relegated is some feat.

West Ham United also have an entry to the underrated players list, in the form of Demba Ba, Scoring seven goals in a team apart from Scott Parker, was ultimately doomed, is an impressive tally, and definitely made the Hammer’s relegation fight last longer.

And the final player is the man who may well be credited with helping Wigan Athletic stay up, Charles N’Zogbia. After a poor start to the season, and trying to get a move away from the DW Stadium for a bigger club, five vital goals towards the end of the season secured Wigan premier league status for another season. Maybe he’ll be at a bigger club next time around?

So there we have it, underrated players. Time to make a starting 11 out of them:

GK: Howard

DEF: Baird  Distin   Johnson   Clark

MID: Pennant  Tioté   Holden  Etherington

     ST: Odemwingie     Ba

Leave your comments below with any players you think may have deserved a mention in the underrated XI.

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Written by Callum.  You can follow him on Twitter @callummaclean91

Paying for the Passport?

Posted: June 14, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in England, Guest, Liverpool, Manchester United, Money, Spain, Transfers, Youth

Looking at England Under 21’s take on their Spanish counterparts on Sunday got me thinking about value for money in terms of the transfer market. A quick look through both teams and something stood out to me immediately – the high profile status of the English players due to their transfer fees in comparison to the Spanish. Intrigued by this, I was curious to see if this would translate into a comfortable win to back up their hefty fees…. It didn’t.

Here are the facts: Chris Smalling joined Man United two years ago for £12million, Jordan Henderson has just joined Liverpool for £20million, Phil Jones’ inevitable transfer looks like it’s going to net Blackburn close to £20million and the clubs of Sturridge, Wickham and Rodwell have all slapped £20million price tags on their young gems. Compared to Spain, David de Gea aside (who looks set to command a hefty fee) – only Juan Mata would cost a suitor over £10million.

Player for player, there probably isn’t a whole lot between the teams, but if anything, Spain were the better side. So why does an English player command so much money compared to an equally talented Spaniard? Surely Thiago Alacantra, Javi Martinez, Jeffren and Bojan would be regulars in most Premier League teams, yet I believe they would cost half the price (if even) of Henderson and Jones. I believe it is important to have a homegrown spine in a team but clubs can no longer afford to splash out £15million plus on an essentially unproven English player, especially when there is a much cheaper alternative abroad.

So why the inflated price tags? This is hindering the progression of the English national team in my opinion – talented English players are restricted from progressing their careers as they are simply unaffordable for a lot of clubs. Those that can afford them will usually have a world class player already instilled in his position, making it difficult to get regular football (see James Milner and Adam Johnson). Another interesting point is that not many English players play their football abroad – again the inflated price tags being the reason. This can also be a huge factor in developing players for the national team, as they gain experience of a different style of football and probably more European football.

While it’s important that the club that nurtured the player is justly rewarded, a bit of realism has to be applied. Rodwell is not a £20million plus player; sell him for his true value of about £8-£10 million with a number of sell on and appearance clauses that reflect his career progression of lack of it for that matter. This reduces the pressure on the kid and will in time aid the development of young English talent. I also believe it will generate money in the game at all levels as there will be increased “local” transfer activity – rather than one or two large transfers every year, much like they do in Spain (Madrid and Barca aside!), are their national side aint doing too bad now is it?

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Written by Derek.  You can follow him on Twitter @fattyfoulke

As much as I want the FFW blog to be unbiased, we all have to admit that Liverpool have been a bit down trodden in the past couple of seasons.  Poor league finishes, lack of Champions’ League football and some truly shocking FA and Carling cup results.  But it would seem they are beginning to put all of this behind them, which leads me to say that they will be major title contenders for next season.

Fernando Torres’ transfer to Chelsea seems to have brought a new lease of life back to Liverpool along with that spark that they so sorely missed.  It looked as if a huge weight had been lifted from their shoulders.  £50 million richer, they wasted no time in splashing out on Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll in quick succession; there are also strong rumours that Liverpool will bring in Jordan Henderson and even battle Manchester United for Phil Jones, to join the ranks at Anfield.

What’s more they have also seen fit to promote a few youngsters from their very own youth system.  One could say that everything seems to be on the up for the Merseyside Reds.

Now down to the nitty gritty.  Many will have taken a close eye to Liverpool’s end of season form.  And rightly so.

If their closing spell with 34 points from 18 games had been stretched from the start of the season, Liverpool would have been perched on the same amount of points as Chelsea in second place (71).  That’s just an “if” though.

Luis Suarez has already commented on next season: “We’ve been playing well and I think we’ve been getting into the type of form that we know we’ll have to keep up for a whole season if we want to be title contenders”.  So, it looks like he believes they can battle for the title and gain some silverware.

However Gerrard took a more down to earth approach by saying that as much as he wants to captain Liverpool to some silverware, he “doesn’t want to raise expectations” by saying that such a thing will happen.

All in all, it’s safe to say that after a poor couple of seasons, Liverpool will really push to be major contenders for the Premier League while also simultaneously attempting to get their feet back into the Champions League.  Watch this space.

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Follow me on Twitter @GaryCRobertson

Football and Politics (Part 2)

Posted: June 13, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Guest, Politics, Random

Continuing on from yesterday’s “Football and Politics” post, Keir tells us more on the influence politics has had on football.

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Zvonomir Boban

When people think of Zvonomir Boban, many will look at his illustrious career at AC Milan which saw him win 4 championship medals and, as a part of a Fabio Capello side that demolished Barcelona 4-0 in the final, a Champions League one. Or maybe his captaincy of a Croatia side that finished third in the 98 world cup at the first attempt and having only gained independence from Yugoslavia 7 years prior. Many though would look at a match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade played on May 13th 1990.

Tensions were running high. Just a few weeks previous, Nationalists had won the first multi party elections in Croatia (at this point a constituent country of Yugoslavia) and in Yugoslavia as a whole. With the match taking place in Zagreb between Yugoslavia’s two fiercest football rivals to throw the political backdrop of these nationalist victories into the mix was always going to create problems. Fights had broken out between the Bad Blue Boys (the Dinamo ultras) and the Delije (Red star’s ultras) in the hours before the match, but the trouble escalated inside the ground. The BBB started throwing stones at the away fans in their segregated area in response to the Delije chatting Serbian nationalist chants such as Zagreb is Serbia. Incensed by the stone throwing the Delije reacted by charging back at them with ripped up seats and advertising hoardings. The trouble would increase when the BBB eventually were able to get on the pitch to get at the Delije, this lead to running battles on the pitch and violent and bloody scenes in the midst of the chaos Red Star players had left the pitch to get to the safety of the dressing room but several Dinamo players were left on the pitch as the chaos ensued around them.  As extra police poured onto the pitch to try and deal with the chaos a Dinamo fan was being attcked by police Boban came over to try and stop it, the police were trying to pull him away but then this happened, The ‘kick that could be heard across the Balkans.’ It made Boban instantly a Croatian hero a symbol for the sentiment of the nation. Boban said of the incident:

“Here I was, a public face prepared to risk his life, career and everything that fame could have brought, all because of one ideal cause: the Croatian cause.”

Boban was suspended from the national team which led him to missing the World Cup (a moment more than made up for, by seeing an independent Croatia finish 3rd with him as captain in 1998) and criminal charges brought against him. In the end, Milan offered him a way out with the career he put on the line that day being well and truly fulfilled.

For many though he will always be the national hero who in that moment crystallised the feelings of a nation.

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Written by Keir. You can follow him on Twitter @Kingkeir

Most clubs within the Premier League, all the way down to League 1, have some sort of youth or reserve system.  These systems are in place so that young boys can learn the art of how to play football.  The theory of a having an academy within the club is that one day some of them will work their way up through the system and eventually play for the first team.  The investment that the club has put in, whether it be the years and coaching or the money, is supposed to pay off in some way.  Not all boys become professional footballers and not all will end up playing for the team that they played academy football, but where does the line get drawn?  Not all of the boys will play first team football but shouldn’t some of them be able to make their way up as regular starters within the squad?
It seems that many clubs have gotten into the habit of sell, sell, sell.  They invest the time and money in a young man or even boy, but their investment never pays dividends.  Many young men find that their talents are loaned out or even sold  Many get tired of waiting for a first team call up so they leave to a club that they know they will play regular first team football.  Clubs make money on selling young, talented players to their rivals instead of trying to incorporate them within their own squad.
The big question that supporters seem to be asking themselves now is: Why do we have an Academy?  It is a legitimate question.  If all clubs are going to do is invest time and effort in a player, to then turn around and sell them to a different club, then what is the point of having an academy? Why have a surplus of players leaving and a shortage of players being incorporated within the first team?  It is very frustrating to the players and the supporters when they see young talents leaving their club when they are needed.  Many clubs sell their youth to eventually buy a player that is only a few years older but they come with a huge price tag.
Instead of selling young and talented players, more clubs should give their youth an actual chance.  They would see their efforts pay off more often than not and wouldn’t be wasting their time and money on a player from another club or country.  If more teams don’t start incorporating their youth then I see no point in even having an academy system.  That being said, I understand the importance of the academy system because of the talent it produces.  My thought is that more clubs should look within at their own youth instead of buying from an outside source.
In short, give the young lads a chance!
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Written by Amanda from Miss SW6. You can follow her on Twitter @AMANDAPCFC along with @MissSW6

Football and Politics (Part 1)

Posted: June 11, 2011 by GaryCRobertson in Guest, Italy, Politics, Random, Video

A phrase that is heard often is they shouldn’t mix. As if football is different to any other walk of life. As a student currently studying politics at university and a massive football fan, they naturally seem a good fit to write about together. Two footballers came to mind when thinking about football and politics:

Cristiano Lucarelli

Having been a keen player of Football Manager and before that, Championship Manager, there have been many players I have discovered through these football management sims. Anyone who plays it would know that each season there will be a player that you just have to sign who will score many goals for you whoever you are managing. Football Manager 2006’s player for me was Cristiano Lucarelli. Having signed him, he would score loads of goals for me. Being the inquisitive person I am, I wondered if he is this good. What is he like in real life? Having had a quick glance at his Wikipedia page, what drew my attention was that here was a player who had been frozen out of International football for the following celebration in an under 21 match in 1997.

As a lefty myself with the obligatory Che shirt, I found myself immediately warming to this Italian who before finding out about this celebration, had just been a random player who scored goals for fun on a video game. Lucarelli’s celebration was in honour of his hometown club Livorno and their fans known for their communists beliefs. Lucarelli signed for Livorno in 2003, taking up the squad number 99 in reference to the club’s Communist Ultras, the brigate Autonome Livornesi 99 (the 99 referring to the year they were formed). His first spell at his boyhood club was highly successful scoring 29 in his first season, in a successful campaign that saw Livorno promoted to Serie A. He then followed this up with 26 goals to become the top flights leading goalscorer that season.

The national team could no longer not pick him and his International debut came at the end of the season. In all, Lucarelli picked up 6 caps and scored 3 goals. Things turned sour for Lucarelli in 2007 at Livorno and soon he was sold to Shakthar Donetsk. Many footballers would love to be transferred and be able to pocket a sizable signing on fee but Lucarelli decided to invest the sizable fee into creating a newspaper in Livorno.

In an interview with FourFourTwo in 2007, Lucarelli spoke about his newspaper: ‘It doesn’t matter if you are right-wing or left-wing, as long as your ideas are honest and you judge events as objectively as you can. I’m sure there are other Italian footballers who have an interest in politics, it’s just that sometimes it’s more convenient to hide one’s beliefs in order to avoid problems.’ Cristiano Lucarelli’s politics’ even lend to him making an appearance at UniversityCollegeLondon to discuss politics and the state of Italian football.

In these days of millionaire footballers who seemingly care more about how many expensive cars they have or which glamour model they are going to date, here was someone who openly stated his communist beliefs. Who rather than spending millions on cars, spent millions on a newspaper in his home city. One quote that sums up his feelings was this: “Some football players pay a billion for a Ferrari or a yacht; with that money I bought myself Livorno’s shirt. That’s all.”

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Part 2 will follow tomorrow

Written by Keir.  You can follow him on Twitter @kingkeir.