10th June 2011
On the penultimate day of the Premier League season I sat down on the sofa, drink in one hand and feet up ready to watch my Chelsea team take on Newcastle United in a pointless, nothing to play for match at Stamford Bridge. The mood in the stadium seemed a little subdued, and the match proved a perfect opportunity for Chelsea to model their new home shirt for the next season. This game never had the makings of being a thriller, effort levels were low, bodies were drained from the long disapointing season and Newcastle came away with a deserving point.
After the game I studied a few match reports as well as comments on forums from Chelsea fans disapointed with the performance and decided to air a few of my concerns and views in a sensible fashion about the following season, something I feel I am entitled to do through following my team since the earliest of memories and spending a sizeable amount of money each year on attending home and away matches. However some of the responses I (as well as others) were given were quite rude and unreasonable and one even questioned my loyalty to the club questioning whether I was a 'real fan' due to not attending the match. This led me to think and made me pose the question what constitutes a 'real fan'?
Watching the Sepp Blatter news conference yesterday, I was struck by a strange sense of deja vu. I had seen this scene played out somewhere before in the dim and distant past. A man of authority stood before an angry crowd who were demanding answers. A man who forgot that with authority comes responsibility. A man who did not have the backbone to meet that responsibility and decided to take the path of least resistance. "This has nothing to do with me."
Who was this man? Where had I seen him before? Then it struck me. This was Pontius Pilate, the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from 26–36 AD. As I am neither two thousand years old, nor the owner of a particularly good memory, it was not the original events that I was taken back to, but rather Franco Zeffirelli's epic film from the late 1970s.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
30th May 2011
As somebody who is usually one of the first to criticise the poor sportsmanship, bizarre excuses for losing and general lack of good grace amongst today's crop of football managers, I feel the need to offer praise to Sir Alex Ferguson for the good grace and sportsmanship he has shown following Manchester United's defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final.
Not known for his humble pie eating abilities, Sir Alex displayed an unexpected frankness and honesty following the Wembley game that will give his detractors a lot less ammunition than they may have been hoping for. Sir Alex is not a good loser. That statement is not intended as a criticism. He is a winner, and his usual refusal to accept defeat is a force that has permeated his players through the years and is one of the reasons that Manchester United very rarely do lose.
25th May 2011
Last Sunday the curtain was finally drawn on the 2010-11 Premier League season, with many commentators and pundits claiming that it was the best season ever.
There are certainly quite a few factors to support this argument. The title race was wide open for the vast majority of the season, with Chelsea and Arsenal both in with a chance of claiming the title prior to Manchester United finally clinching the honours. Manchester City at last managed to fashion a team out of their myriad of stars and broke into the champions league places. Tottenham may not have repeated their champions league qualification of the previous season, but they cemented their place at the upper reaches of the league, beating Liverpool into fifth place and suggesting that we now have a big six rather than a big four. The three injury time goals scored on the final Sunday also lifted the goals tally for the season to a record for a 38 game season, with 1063 goals being scored throughout the season. However, the real drama took place at the bottom of the table, with one team in particular encapsulating all that has been good and exciting about this season.
Magical Messi Fires Barca to Brink of Final
30th April 2011
Last Wednesday night, Cristiano Ronaldo showed his credentials to be labelled ‘the best footballer on the planet’. In extra time he scored the winning goal with a sublime header to win the Copa Del Rey final for Real Madrid. Ronaldo gained the headlines although Sergio Ramos can lay claim to most YouTube hits for his infamous dropping of the trophy from the celebratory double decker bus. One week later and another El Classico fixture fulfilled, there can be no doubt as to who is the real superstar of world football.
Poised at 0-0 in the latter stages of the semi-final at the Bernabeu, standing at 5ft 7, the little Argentine Lionel Messi up to then - apart from a few brief pieces of magic - had been effectively marked. Marking him was a task performed admirably by the omnipresent former Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra with assistance from Real’s other employed deep midfielders Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso.
F.A Tardiness Spoils Fans' Celebrations
30th April 2011
Easter is behind us, the sun is shining and football fans have frayed nerves. It's that time of the season when fans of clubs up and down the country anticipate the pain of failure or the celebrations of success. All of the ifs, buts and maybes begin to fade away as the range of possible outcomes become narrower and narrower, leading ultimately to the certainty of a final league position. For some that certainty of success has been within grasp for a while.
Finally achieving that goal should be a source of celebration. These are the moments that football fans live for. Past hurts and disappointments are cast aside and forgotten in that moment of euphoria. For a lucky few groups of fans these moments come around with comforting regularity. For the vast majority, however, these moments are both rare and special. They are times to savour and remember for fans who turn up week after week, season after season, only to see their beloved team fall short year after year. Nothing should be allowed to spoil these moments. Cold reality sets in soon enough without any outside help.
Schalke Enjoying European Adventure
26th April 2011
FC Schalke 04 enter their most important match in recent history on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Kaiserlautern on Saturday. A champions league semi-final with three times champions league winners, Manchester United, beckons on Tuesday night and following their stunning 7-3 aggregate victory over the Italian giants last month, very few spectators of that night would object to Schalke deserving an opportunity for a place in the final.
So far this season at the Veltins-Arena, Schalke have conjured impressive victories over established Champions League sides including: Valencia, Benfica and Lyon. Their record of having won all of their home European matches this season, suggests that Schalke will provide a very tough opposition to Manchester United in Germany on Tuesday night.
Posted by David BA Week Of Celebration For The Royals!
25th April 2011
It seems that nothing is going to top Royal celebrations when it comes to grabbing the headlines this week. People will be dancing in the streets, singing their hearts out with songs of celebration and basking in the glory of a very special bank holiday weekend. Among all of the celebrations of the Royals, we likely will be firmly reminded that the Queen still rules and is very much unmovable at the top, and that the Wales's are refusing to meekly step aside despite pressure for other royals to replace them as next in line to the Queen. It looks like the other royals will need to wait a while to reach the top, though we are not quite sure yet. Even staff at the Palace will be celebrating. Despite recent financial troubles at the Palace, their immediate future will be secured and they will not be disappearing into oblivion. Even I am getting caught up in the excitement!
No, no, no! I'm not talking about that nonsense taking place on Friday. I couldn't care less about that. As far as I am concerned that is just a wedding between two people I've never met and never will. The only way that affects me is that despite the fact that they are rich and I am broke, I'm paying for a wedding that I'm not even invited to, and wouldn't go if I was! I've not even been offered a sniff of a vol-au-vont. Now that's just rude! I wish them all the best for the future, but please, please, please sort out your finances. I can't afford to help you out again!
Does It Matter If Our Footballing Heroes Are Not Perfect?
23rd April 2011
Another week, another footballing scandal. A mystery, married, premiership footballer has been having an affair with Imogen Thomas, a former Big Brother contestant. The identity of the player is likely to remain a secret as long as a High Court gagging order remains in place.
However, I can exclusively reveal that through diligent research I have learned who this mystery footballer is. Through trawling the hundreds of internet gossip and rumour sites I can confirm that he is probably, almost certainly, one of the thirty or forty different players whose names have appeared on these sites, confirmed by a friend of a friend who knows somebody who has a friend at the club....perhaps! While it is true that one name does appear more often than any other, the real identity remains a mystery to the vast majority of football fans. The question we should be asking though isn't who this player is, but rather, who cares?
Crunch Time For London Trio
20th April 2011
In one of the most exciting Premier League season's for many a year, three London teams know that there is no more room for slip ups as we approach the business end of the season. North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham are preparing for tonights clash at White Hart Lane knowing that neither team can afford to drop too many more points before the season end if they are to see their ambitions fulfilled. Results are all that matter now.
At the same time, Chelsea host tonight's visitors Birmingham City, in the full knowledge that they too require close to maximum points in their remaining games if this season is to produce silverware. To make matters more difficult for Chelsea, their visitors know that an unexpected win would virtually guarantee them top flight survival and another season amongst the elite of English football. The scene is set for an interesting night's action.
You'll Never Walk Alone