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KB1862 last won the day on September 25 2018

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  1. The talk of Fixture Congestion in English football, most notably in the Premier League, has led to discussions about how the issue could resolve. This has seen the Winter Break come in to play for the first time this season as it’s been used for many seasons in other European leagues. It has also been spoken about that FA Cup Replays should be scrapped as well as the League Cup competition all together. But now, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has had his say by claiming it would be better for everyone if the English FA scrapped the League Cup. France have already agreed to scrapping their League Cup as from next season which might put pressure on England to follow suit. The whole point behind scrapping the League Cup is too “Help reduce fixtures and prevent congestion”. But, look at the bigger picture which is the fact that UEFA want to expand the Champions League. When you consider this proposal of an expanded Champions League and scrapping of the League Cup, it only benefits the bigger clubs in England. There is already a huge divide within English Football between the Premier League and the EFL so this would just add to the division. UEFA are also looking at the option of having a summer competition. Some of those teams in talks with joining the tournament, are the same teams who are the ones that believe the footballing calendar is already congested. But, rather than reject the proposal of a expanded Champions League or a Summer European club competition, the Premier League and “Elite” teams in the Premier League would rather see competitions like the League Cup scrapped. Money talks in football and that can surely be the only factor driving this. Rather than scrapping the League Cup, just have those who are participating in European competitions exempt from the League Cup. That way, the tournament will have back that competitive edge it so desperately needs after years of negativity resulting in the tournament being referred to as the Mickey Mouse Cup. Competiveness would definitely be brought back by this because of the end result that the winner would have European Football the following season which in more ways than one would be beneficial to many teams lower down. It would also mean that the competition is guaranteed a new winner every season due to entry to European competitions. In cases like these with UEFA looking to interfere with the English game and thinking of new competitions as well as expanding an already existing tournament in the Champions League, are we growing ever closer to the possibility of a European Super League? The “Big Dogs” that play European football are the only ones being considered by this. Those teams lower down are losing out because of the actions from those higher up which are pandering to the “Elite”. There is a way of adapting to scenarios without completely ridding of a competition. Whether it’s received negativity or not, the fact remains that the League Cup is still part of English Football Tradition. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. We all know all about the magic of the FA Cup. The fact that you could have a Non-League team come face to face with one of the Premier League Big Boys. A David and Goliath situation. Giant killings have been a theme of the tournament and it’s what makes it so special to each fan. But recently, there has been talks of scrapping replays within the Cup. It’s fair to say that the talks have receive both negative and positive feedback. But should the Cup really abandon replays? Those who have wish for the Cup to abolish replays have come up with some suggestions to adapt the Cup into life without replays. Such ideas have been... - If, after 90 mins, the scores are level, the match should go straight to a penalty shootout. As is the case in the Carabao Cup - Minnows to play at home when they face a Premier League team Minnows being at home could guarantee a sellout crowd, it could be beneficial to the club by having such a high profile club visit the stadium and could also give them the advantage needed to progress to the next round. But what if it doesn’t happen as it’s supposed to? Replays could be financially beneficial to lower league clubs. We’ve seen it in recent times where a club from League One or Two or even as far down as Non-League where clubs have found themselves struggling financially. Some have even faced winding up orders, some even liquidated. Simply because they could not afford the money needed to keep them afloat. FA Cup replays could well stabalise a club and help them move forward. Granted, rather than a replay and being able to go straight to penalties might give a minnow the chance to get through to the next round which would be huge in terms of prize money. But, that is not a guarantee. Where as, getting a replay guarantees them an income and possibly the chance to earn extra based on TV Coverage. The minnows being at home almost certainly guarantees a bumper crowd especially if the likes of Liverpool or Man City come calling. However, it could be a stadium with a max capacity of 5,000, which yes would be good for the club to sell out, but had if there was a replay you have the chance to visit Anfield or the Etihad where you could be taking more than 3x the amount you’d have at home. Imagine the finances behind those ticket sales. It comes as no surprise that it’s mostly those with associations to the “elite” clubs in England that have called for this rule change to be applied, based on fixture congestion. But no body seems to bat an eye lid when it comes to Non-League clubs starting there season early in FA Cup qualifications and then to fit in a congested fixture list of their own, despite with in some cases not every player is full time. Some of the clubs that appear in the FA Cup and can cause giant killings have players that work outside of football, some have even gone to the match straight from work or vice versa going to work from the match. It’s not just the fact of the money earnt, which in fairness, the bigger clubs aren’t one bit concerned about as much as a club from the lower tiers would benefit hugely from. But when you take into consideration that a club from a lower tier could take a big club to a replay and possibly experience playing at a Premier League ground, something many would have dreamed about and the fans would love to see. That’s what the FA Cup is all about, that’s the magic. Taking away replays would all but kill the competition. The Carabao Cup is already seen by most fans and teams alike as a nothing tournament until the Semi Final, so taking away replays and adapting a format in the FA Cup similar to that of the Carabao Cup would transform it into another nonsense Cup that clubs won’t want to compete for. Then all that magic will disappear. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. The Premier League introduced VAR for the first time this season but it hasn’t been without controversy. During its debut season, it’s received a lot of negative feedback, there has been social media takes on VAR which has prompted groups to form against the technology and use #VAROUT. Football Law Makers have already stated that the use of VAR within the Premier League is not being used correctly and should only be used for clear and obvious decisions, not the nit picking offside decisions we have seen that has caused most of the outrage to form against. When you look at some of the decisions it’s not hard to see why people want to see the end of it already, there has been offside decisions against someone for having an armpit in an offside position, a heel in an offside position. We’re talking millimetres offside which wouldn’t be visible to the Naked eye in real time. It won’t be long till we are seeing someone called offside for having a hair or even nose in an offside position. Just last week, there was a decision made by VAR in the game between Sheffield United and West Ham. Sheffield United were leading the game 1-0 when in the 90th minute Robert Snodgrass grabbed what looked like being the equaliser for the hammers but for VAR to disallow the goal for a handball against Declan Rice in the build up to the goal. But even replays show that the ball was headed onto the arm of Rice and those who seen the replay would agree that there was no stopping this and the handball was totally accidental. Even VAR didn’t get the decision right. Since VAR has been introduced, the linesman has to keep his flag down and let play progress. But say a player is played in behind the defence and he chases the ball and damages his Hamstring or is brought down by the defender and suffer a nasty injury, all that could have been prevented if the linesman flagged for offside. If the decision is clear, that a player is standing offside, the linesman should flag and free kick awarded as happened before VAR. The FA Cup introduced VAR last season and has continued this season, but the technology is only used at Premier League grounds. Which gives an unfair advantage and could determine winners and losers in games. An example of this exact occasion could be seen during the Chelsea v Nottingham Forest game, where Forest were denied a goal because of an arm being offside and VAR ruling the goal out. But had that been at the City Ground, the goal might have stood and been a completely different game because VAR wouldn’t have been in operation. A lower tiered club could benefit financially from a replay but with VAR decisions not at their ground, it gives an unfair advantage. But, VAR is not all bad. Believe it or not, VAR has some good points to it’s game. Take for example the 2018 World Cup. VAR was used the way it should have been, yes the games were slowed down but the decisions were correct and on the biggest stage of them all, it saw many teams benefit from vital decisions. The game in the 3rd round of the FA Cup between Derby and Crystal Palace, the referee used it the way it was designed to be handled. After an altercation between Huddles tone and Milovjevic, the referee awarded both players a yellow card. But the referee was informed of the altercation by those in charge of VAR. Rather than listen to what they had to say, like most referees have this season, he went over to the monitor and reviewed the situation himself which resulted in Palace’s Milovjevic being sent off. VAR can be included in the game, but there is a lot to be improved with the technology if it is too succeed and continue to be a part of our game. It might slow the game down, it might take a while for the referees to get the decisions right but in time the process will be speeded up. All that needs to change is use the technology the way it was designed, that is for clear and obvious errors and stop nit picking at tiny little details. The referee should also take charge more, review the situation himself and make the call based on what he has seen rather than listen to those in the VAR room and trust their judgement. Until the main issues are addressed, fans and pundits alike will continue to push VAR out. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. Over the years, Football fans have been divided in opinion whether it be the teams they choose to support or the English midfielder debate of Lampard v Gerrard. Players have often been compared to others that have never played at the same time together and often compared in both prime times. But one rivalry that has got fans debating for the past 10+ years has been that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It has been an age old battle between 2 of European Footballs greatest ever players. The real question though shouldn't be who's better but should we appreciate these 2 great footballers rather than compare them? As we may never witness another battle quite like this ever again. Some fans will argue the case that Ronaldo has been there and done that in conquering the Premier League and then moving to Spain to conquer more records ,and most recently ventured off to Italy for another challenge, where as Messi has only ever played for Barcelona, a team that has had bags of talent over the years with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. pulling the strings. There is also the argument that Ronaldo has something Messi has failed to achieve in his career, an International Trophy, with Portugal winning Euro 2016. Despite the efforts of Messi finishing runners up on 4 occassions with Argentina. On the flip side, many people argue the fact that Messi is more of a team player than Ronaldo and will pass up oppurtunities to benefit his team rather than have personal glory. Despite having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. Is Messi the real reason for Barcelona's dominance since the young Argentinian prodigy arrived on the scene in 2004? His own personal records speak volumes as to say that he could light up any team no matter the players that he is surrounded by and if he was to have joined the same clubs as Ronaldo has been to, might of replicated or beaten his rivals records. Since Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid in 2009, there have been 38 El Classico's with Messi's Barcelona coming out the better with 17 wins compared with 10 wins for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and playing out 11 Draws in the timespace from Ronaldo joining and leaving Real Madrid in 2018. It can also be added that during this time, they have a combined 640 La Liga goals in 601 games. Messi 329 goals in 309 games and Ronaldo 311 goals in 292 games. Both goal ratio's are unbelievable, which seems unlikely to be replicated anywhere else in the footballing world. Records and Achievements speak for themselves and these 2 goaliths are not shy when it comes to awards and trophies. Combining the records achieved by both these exceptional players are stats that seems too good to be true. 1,177 goals in 1,464 games at club level - Ronaldo (592 goals, 793 games) 4 different clubs Messi (585 goals, 671 games) 1 club Record goalscorers both Club & International Level - Ronaldo (85 goals, 154 Caps Portugal) (450 goals, 438 games Real Madrid) Messi (65 goals, 128 games Argentina) (585 goals, 671 games Barcelona) Combined personal Awards - 268 Ronaldo - 135 Messi - 133 Both winning the Ballon D'or a record 5 times. Combined Trophies at club level - 58 Messi - 32 Ronaldo - 26 Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 - 40 Messi - 25 Ronaldo - 15 Combined Champions League Goals - 228 in 293 games Ronaldo - 122 in 163 games Messi - 106 in 130 games Ronaldo's notable achievements - - Only player to score 50 or more goals in 6 consecutive seasons - Only player to score 60+ goals in a calendar year for 4 consecutive years. Messi's notable achievements - - World record 91 goals for both club and country in a single calendar year in 2012 - Only player to win more than 1 Club World Cup golden boot Considering all these records, these 2 players will forever go down as Legends. We may never see a battle quite like this ever again and we may never see players destroy records like both Ronaldo and Messi have done over the years. Stats will forever remain and this will forever go down as one of the greatest battles between players in footballing history. There is no comparing these players in their prime, as we are living in the moment of 2 of footballs greatest ever players. But as always, fans will forever be divided as to who is the better player. Should we just appreciate the players while they are still playing? Should we argue as to who was better when both these players retire? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Here at Football Manics, in our own opinions we are analysing the Top 5 Players from the Premier League. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the players I personally believe to be the best in each league with explanations of why I have chosen these players to be included in the list. There will also be an additional list of players who may have gone under the radar and deserve notable mentions. The Premier League, arguably the best league in the world. Top 5 Eden Hazard - Footwork that could mesmorise and terrorise any defence. The only way that defenders manage to stop him in his tracks is usually to bring him down. Though many believe him to blow hot and cold, when he is on his game, Chelsea usually benefit from him being in the squad. There is no surprise that Real Madrid wanted to recruit him as a replacement for a certain CR7. Sergio Aguero - That moment against QPR to win the title for Manchester City in the 2011/12 season is enough to make him a legend. A prolific goal scorer who can score goals whether it be a simple tap in or an outrageous strike outside the box. He has written himself in both Manchester City and Premier League history books by being Manchester City's all time top goalscorer and only the sixth player to score or assist 200 goals for one club in the Premier League. Virgil Van Dijk - The Liverpool defender has become a firm favourite with his club since his £75million move from Southampton. A solid no nonsense defender who has shown his class in defence which he has shown on multiple occassions which has lead to Liverpool becoming title contenders this season most notably due to a great defensive record which has also been helped by the recent addition of Alisson in goal who has formed a great partnership with his centre back. Christian Eriksen - On his day the Spurs playmaker can change the whole complexion of the game with excellent passing ability and great striking qualities. Whether it be a long range pass or simple keep ball passing he finds himself time and again opening up defences and setting away Spurs front players. If he's not assisting he's more than likely taking a pop at goal and usually finding the net or at least troubling goalkeepers. Kevin De Bruyne - The goal against Brazil and the counter attack he lead against Japan to seal a win for Belgium in the World Cup is just one of the many qualities in which De Bruyne possesses. He was pivotal in Manchester City's record breaking title winning season last season. His distribution to perfectly land the ball at the attackers feet, given that you have the likes of Aguero, Jesus and Sterling up top, it's no surprise that he usually has an assist to his name in most games. Notable Mentions Gabriel Jesus - Coming into the Manchester City will be hard for any striker considering that they are challenging Sergio Aguero for a starting position but Jesus has shown game after game that he is capable of competing with Aguero to become City's main striker. At one point, with Pep Guardiola's squad rotation system, Jesus was often picked ahead of Aguero and kept him out of the team for a few games. Deadly in front of goal with him netting in virtually every game he plays. Gylfi Sigurdsson - Possibly Everton's best player in recent seasons. He is a very similar player to the likes of Christian Eriksen in terms of playmaking abilities and passing ability. Sigurdsson is virtually involved in every goal in which Everton score, whether it be scoring a free kick, assisting an attacker with a delicate through ball or even in the build up play, he will be there heavily involved. Bernardo Silva - Has become a firm favourite with the Blues of Manchester. He shows the abilities of what a great midfielder should possess to become a decent player. His passing is next to none, which you'd expect from a Pep Guardiola team, but also he manages to find himself in pockets of space even when there are players around him watching him every step. David Silva - An ever present for Manchester City, works hard for the team and his passing has been shown to be excellent for years gone by. He finds the space to pop up inside the box to find a way to either square the ball or find the space to take a pop at goal which usually has one outcome which is to hit the back of the net. Andrew Robertson - One of the major factors in Liverpool's push for the title. An excellent left back with the ability to drive forward with the ball and go from defence to attack in a matter of moments. Liverpool have been looking for a left back to fill a void which has been left for years since the days of John Arne Riise but Robertson might just be the answer to there problems. However, the battle for the Premier League's top goalkeeper is still there for the taking. Hugo Lloris, Alisson and David De Gea are all the main contenders. De Gea has stuttered during last years World Cup and at the beginning of the season for his Club but has since shown why he was once regarded as a World Class goalkeeper. Hugo Lloris has been Spurs undoubted number 1 for years and Pochettino has been sure of that having not bought in a serious contender for his number 1 spot showing him the support which any player would love to have and he has certainly repaid his managers faith by making outstanding saves and being a huge part in Tottenham's rise to be a top 4 team in recent years. Alisson may have been an expensive purchase for Liverpool in the summer but he has certainly shown why Liverpool paid all that money for him with his solid performances in goal which has lead to Liverpool being one of the toughest teams to score against this season. Although, early in the season he was almost caught out multiple times with him keeping the ball a little too long trying to play out from the back. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. On the 12th of February 2019, the footballing world was shocked and devastated to hear about the passing of England's World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Here at Football Manics, we would like to take a moment and pay tribute to a legendary goalkeeper. Gordon Banks is proclaimed as England's greatest ever goalkeeper, not only because he is the only goalkeeper in England's history to win a World Cup, but because he was an outstanding goalkeeper in every aspect. Who could ever forget that save against Pele during the 1970 World Cup. The ability and athleticism to get down low and tip the ball round the post and over the bar from a perfect downwards header from Pele himself. The commentary in itself suggests how good that save was on its own "what a save". Not only is this save made famous because it was England v Brazil or whether it was because it was Pele in his prime but the way Banks saved the ball which was certainly destined for goal is absolutely astonishing. During his time at Leicester City, Banks had a huge impact on what was to be his successor at both club and international level, Peter Shilton. There is no doubt that Peter Shilton and Gordon Banks are regarded as England's best ever goalkeepers but having been the understudy to Banks for years, it is with no surprise that Shilton was as good as he was. In 1972, Gordon Banks lost sight in his right eye following a car accident which ended his career at both International and Top-Flight level. Not only is the achievement of winning the World Cup with his country and being the only goalkeeper thus far to win the World Cup with England impressive enough, he also has a few other honourable mentions to his name. In May 2006, Banks was inducted as the first legend to be inducted into a new Walk of Fame, where you will see a plaque outside Sheffield Town Hall. In July 2008, outside Stoke City's Stadium there was an unveiling of Banks holding the world cup 4 years before making that incredible save against Pele. Banks was also inducted into the City of Stoke Hall of Fame in March 2011. In 1965, during a game between Leicester City and Manchester United at the old Filbert Street, a stray dog entered the pitch. Who else but Gordon Banks to dive down and get to grips with the dog. The picture of him with that stray dog is absolutely legendary and will never be forgotten. Not only was he a master at saving a football, he shown us that his goalkeeping ability goes far beyond that. Gordon Banks will always be remembered, not only by football fans but by many people across the World. An inspiration to many, a hero to most and a legend to everyone. Rest in Peace Gordon Banks. Thank you for the wonderful memories you have provided over the years.
  7. FIFA's alleged new proposal of a new 'European Super League' which is reported to be set up by 2021 has sparked much controversy within the football community. Fans have expressed their concerns with most suggesting it could be the end of football as we know it. But what is the European Super League and will it succeed or fail? The hypothetical new European Super League would consist of 16 teams split into 4 groups of 4 teams with the top 2 teams from each group advancing to the knockout stages. This would likely replace the current UEFA Champions League but unlike the Champions League, it will only include selected clubs rather than those who qualify through their domestic leagues. The teams that have been reported to be the founding members are Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and the team that is reportedly the head runner of the operation along with FIFA, Real Madrid. It is also alleged to be prepared to feature guest clubs rumoured to be Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Roma and Marseille. The founding members of this alleged new competition will however not face relegation for at least 20 years. Which is the main cause for an uproar with those who are against this proposal. It would mean that even if these selected clubs were to fail year after year and struggle to adapt against the big clubs they will still be regarded as an elite club competing in this 'Super League'. FIFA have also reportedly suggested a Club World Cup to generate more revenue for clubs which would favour the richer clubs more than it would the lesser off clubs as they will be first pick to join this format. Which for years now fans have been protesting against the money involved in football which is hardly surprising considering how teams compare with money to those who haven't got the wealth as others. But what about those clubs who chase European football and succeed at doing so during the domestic season? It is not clear yet as to how this will effect the domestic leagues. When you look back at the 2015/16 season when Leicester City did the unthinkable and won the Premier League at 5000/1 odds. The following season they were playing at Europe's highest level, the Champions League. This was the reward for hard work and determination, which wouldn't guarantee them a spot in the European Super League, if the new proposal went through. It seems that rather than having to be the best in their respective leagues, they need to be a super power or household name, even if they don't do well in their domestic leagues, to be involved within the competition. Rather than having 4 separate groups of 4 teams, it should be made into a league format only of 16 clubs where they play each other twice and as any other league the top club will be champions with the bottom 4 playing in a relegation playoff. In the format of groups, not all teams will play each other. Another thing to add, it seems to be following a similar format to that of the UEFA Nations League where they make the competition a level playing field with the bigger clubs competing with each other as opposed to playing minnows and comfortably winning. If the competition adapts to a few things, than it could have the makings of a great competition but as it is being rumoured to be laid out, it doesn't look like succeeding. As it stands, it will favour the rich and powerful. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. A total of 92 teams compete in England's top four tiers of professional football, 20 of which contest in the top flight also known as the Premier League. Below the Premier League are 72 teams who compete in the English Football League (EFL) which is made up of 3 Divisions, The Championship, League One and League Two. But is there a divide between these divisions when it comes to class, publicity and investment? The Premier League is arguably the best league in the world, attracting millions of audiences worldwide. Billionaire investors have become interested in buying clubs competing in the top flight of English football, most notably Sheikh Mansour who bought Manchester City in 2008 and Roman Abramovich who bought Chelsea in 2003. But as the leagues drop lower, it is less likely the big money owners will come in with some facing restrictions due to the tier of which they compete in. When it comes to TV coverage, the Premier League has an advantage when it comes to profiting from TV rights. Sky Sports are the main source for Premier League action having secured themselves 128 games to screen live in a deal worth £4.64 billion and BT Sport adding 42 games per season to their schedule making more profit for the top flight. The EFL secured 183 games on Sky Sports, however, this is split between 3 divisions, the Carabao Cup and also the Checkatrade Trophy. BT Sport and Sky Sports combined make the Premier League 172 games per season compared with the EFL only securing 11 more games despite having 5 competitions screened against just 1. When it comes to the highlights, The Premier League and The EFL Championship overshadow the less fortunate League One and League Two. The Premier League has its own highlights programming with both Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 screening Premier League only action on BBC for an hour and a half. With the class and audience it has, there is no surprise to why it's such a favourite to have its separate programming. When it comes to the EFL however, whether it was on BBC as the Football League Show, Football on 5 or as it is currently EFL on Quest, The Championship has always been separated from both Leagues One and Two. On BBC's Football League Show, The Championship had a time slot of an hour with Leagues One and Two squeezing into an half an hour slot despite having to cover 2 leagues rather than just 1. When the programming moved to Football on 5, The Championship had a separate programming known as The Championship and Leagues One and Two being named Goal Rush, which once again was squeezed into a half hour time slot compared to Championship having an hour slot. Now with the programming known as EFL on Quest, it has followed suit in allowing the Championship covering an hour and Leagues One and Two slotting into a half hour slot. When the international break comes during the League season, Leagues One and Two still play league games, whereas Premier League and Championship have breaks due to most players being called up. However, Leagues One and Two are then slotted into an hour slot between them with the timings changed till later on in the night meaning that some viewers have to stay up later than normal to watch highlights from these two leagues. It can be said that the Premier League and Championship deserve more airtime and investment due to the level they play at but at the same time shouldn't the each league be treated fairly despite playing different levels? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. Earlier this week, Shahid Khan withdrew his offer of £600m to purchase Wembley due to the lack of support from council members of the FA. It was stated that had the deal gone through, the money made from the sale would be used to support grassroots football. Following the collapse of the deal, news media and footballing officials have all been asking the question, what does this mean for grassroots football? Grassroots football has for years been asking for a much-needed boost in investment from the FA to help for better facilities amongst many other things. There has always been the argument that football has became more about the money than it has the sport in recent times due to the business nature it is perceived to be. Fans are paying over the odds to watch their teams play. Millions of pounds or most recently billions of pounds are spent by clubs in transfer windows. Just to top off the ridiculous nature of spending and money involved within the professional game, TV rights are being heavily boosted to screen top tier football with a deal worth billions. It's not hard to understand the anger which has forced campaigns being put into place for the FA to act and improve their investment into the grassroots system. The amount of money already involved within the game should make for more than enough to cover the system for years to come and with money constantly being pumped into the game at such a high amount, there should be money made available to spread out evenly across the country. At the price of £600m, which was criticised by fans as "gifting" the stadium away, not only was Wembley Stadium going to be a bargain for Khan but that amount of money is nothing compared to the money already involved within the professional game. It can be said that the money would be used for grassroots football as the main priority but it's hard to believe that would have been true. Even if that was the case, the deal went through and the grassroots system did receive a significant amount of the sale, would it of been enough to sustain them or would they be back to square one in a couple of years needing more investment once again? Grassroots football needs every bit of help it can receive. More needs to be done to keep the system afloat but with the ever rising cost of football and football being invested in at all times, there will always be campaigns and there will always be the need for investment for the grassroots system. Despite all the negatives surrounding the collapse of the Wembley Stadium sale and what impact it could have on the investment to the grassroots system, it should be seen as great news to the fans within English football who believed that Wembley should not be sold off whatever the price tag. It's the heart of English football. From the playoffs to the FA Cup final. It's the home of English football. Share your thoughts about this feature on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. UEFA decided that in 2018 their would be a new competition launched as the UEFA Nations League where teams would be split into 4 separate leagues. A, B, C and D. Based on World Rankings. Then split further down into groups of 3 teams per group, with some groups having 4 teams in the mix. After playing each team twice, teams will then be promoted or relegated from their leagues. The competition is well and truly underway with a couple of games already been played. Many are still to be convinced. Every even numbered year, the matches will be played from September to November. Which would be the group stages. For every odd numbered year, the matches will be played in June for the Finals of League A where a Nations League champion will be crowned. Does the UEFA Nations League have a valid reason for being a part of the footballing calendar or is the whole tournament as pointless as many believe it to be? The main factor behind the creation of this newly found competition was to eliminate what many believed to be meaningless and pointless international friendlies. Fans were always vocal in their opinions against international friendlies with many suggesting that it disrupts club football. Whereas fans enjoy to watch major tournaments such as the World Cup due to this being played every 4 years during the summer time after the club season has finished. Managers are also known to show frustrations with the international break due to key players being called up to play in 'nothing' games only to be injured while out on international duty which could affect their club teams. Even with the reason being made clear that the whole point of the competition being created to prevent pointless and meaningless friendlies being played, we are still seeing international friendlies being played during the club season inbetween Qualifiers and the Nations League. Could just be due to this being a newly introduced competition but if that is the reason for it being created it will need addressing. Despite all the negativity surrounding the Nations League, some have found a positive to take from this competition. The positive being that teams who don't qualify for the Euro's in qualifiers may be given the chance to qualify for the tournament through the Nations League. Which would make for a lower ranked team being able to compete in a major tournament where before they wouldn't of thought possible. Also partly due to the Euro's increasing the number of teams that will be competing at the tournament. Many still argue against this one and only positive about the Nations League by stating that 'weaker' teams should not be allowed to qualify for major tournaments if they don't make it through the usual route of the qualifiers. After all, that is the whole reason for having qualifiers for teams to compete for a place in a major tournament. Rather than eliminating 'meaningless' international friendlies, have UEFA added more 'pointless' matches by introducing the Nations League during the footballing calendar which already seems to be mounting up and disrupting club seasons? If 'weaker' teams are being allowed a route to major tournaments through this newly formed tournament, maybe it just needs reformatting as a qualifier itself making higher ranked teams play each other for the right to be in tournaments? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Football, a game made for the working class. A game we all refer to as 'The Beautiful Game' but is it still the beautiful game we all grew up to know and love? Different generations have different opinions on how football is and how football was when they were growing up. In recent times, we have seen fans protest many things from ticket prices to ownerships of clubs. There has been a rise in fans stating that they are Against Modern Football, many have directed it due to the money being pumped into the game and changing the game from what was once a game for the working class to a game made for businessmen. Progression of Money When the game first came about, we had amateurs playing the game but about 150 years on we now have professional footballers earning hundreds of thousands a week, making them multi-millionaires. Over the years, we have seen players go from earning £4-a-week to £400,000-a-week. Transfers have also been rising from the first £1,000 player in 1905 to the first £1 million player in 1979 to now witnessing a mouth watering £200 million transfer for an individual player. Whenever we watch Transfer Deadline Day, it doesn't come as any shock anymore to see records smash and clubs spend over £1.2 billion during a single window. But how did it come about for footballers to be made so expensive? It all stems back to 1879 when Lancashire outfit Darwen FC were paying the Scottish duo of Fergie Suter and James Love which set a standard for other clubs to follow suit and start paying their players. This prompted professionalism to become legalised in 1885. In 1901, teams were restricted to pay their footballers a maximum of just £4-a-week. 4 years on from this restriction being put into place, Alf Common swapped Sunderland for local rivals Middlesbrough to become the first footballer bought for £1,000. Moving on 17 years to 1922, the maximum wage for a player to earn was upped to £8-a-week but only during the league season. It was made £6-a-week during the summer with a loyalty bonus of £650 after five years of being at the club. The first £10,000 transfer came in 1928 when Arsenal signed David Jack from Bolton. Jimmy Guthrie, then Chairman of the Players Union, kept the maximum wage of £12-a-week during the league season and £10-a-week for out of season in 1947. The turning point during since the legalisation of professionalism came in 1961 when new PFA Chairman Jimmy Hill finally won his case to abolish the maximum wage meaning players were able to be paid whatever a club felt necessary to pay their players. Was this where it all started? Could this have been the reason we now have players earning thousands? It wasn't long after Jimmy Hill made the announcement to abolish the maximum pay cap as in the same year Fulham's Jonny Haynes became the first £100-a-week player an increase of £88 within 10 years. Previously the pay cap only rose £4 in 21 years from when a maximum pay cap was bought in. In 1979, Nottingham Forest broke records in terms of player earnings and transfer fees when they signed Trevor Francis from Birmingham City making him the first player to be bought for £1 million. In the same year, they also made Peter Shilton the best-paid footballer in Britain with a new contract worth £1,200-a-week. From the first £100-a-week player to a player earning over £1,000-a-week it took 18 years. It was a rate that just appeared never ending that eventually we would see more and more increases for footballers to earn more and footballers to be bought and sold for more. Chris Sutton became the first player to break the £10,000-a-week mark when he signed contract with Blackburn Rovers after joining from Norwich City in 1994. Just one year later, the bosman ruling was introduced meaning that out of contract players can move on a free transfer meaning higher wages for players to earn. In the same year as the bosman ruling being introduced, Dennis Bergkamp signed a contract worth £25,000-a-week after joining them from Inter Milan. 1996 saw Britain's transfer record smashed as Newcastle United signed Alan Shearer from former Premier League Champions Blackburn Rovers for a fee of £15million. From this time onwards during the late 1990's, it seemed as though clubs weren't going to go any further than these fees for both transfers and wages instead settling for what was then seen as the normal price to pay clubs and players. However, at the turn of the Millenium, Roy Keane became the first footballer to break the £50,000-a-week mark when he put pen to paper in a new deal with, then Premier League Champions, Manchester United worth £52,000-a-week. In previous times, it took years for another record to be broken. But just one year on from Roy Keane breaking the £50,000-a-week mark there was a new standard set for players wages when in 2001 Arsenal signed Sol Campbell from North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur with Campbell putting pen to paper signing a contract worth £100,000-a-week. In the space of just 40 years since the abolishment of maximum wage caps, it has seen players go from £100-a-week to £100,000-a-week. Carlos Tevez was reportedly earning £286,000-a-week from Manchester City making him the first £1 million a month player. But when will this spending spree end? At the rate of which transfers and wages are rising, it won't be long till we are witnessing the first ever £1 million-a-week player or even the first player to be bought for £1 billion. Players in today's market tend to have release clauses which can't be met unless you have lucrative funds available to make these transfers, even if that was the case, there is still the case of Financial Fair Play to deal with. It's often reported that 'World Class' players who are indispensable to clubs have release clauses of between £300-£800 million. Was Jimmy Hill wrong for abolishing the maximum wage cap? Each person will have varied opinions on this but many might see this as the starting point that triggered such lucrative wages being offered to players. The previous restrictions to cap players earnings might have been put in to play for this exact reason. It could have been set in motion to allow clubs a level playing field in which to offer players the same amount. Imagine today witnessing a League Two club offering the same wages as a Premier League club to a top player. Financial Fair Play was introduced by UEFA in 2009, which is seen as a similar replica to the restrictions made in the early 1900's by The FA. It states that a club must generate a significant income to allow them to sign players for big fees and offer big wages. If they sign players with high wages without having the means to self generate this type of income, the club in question would be subject to sanctions from UEFA. A step in the right direction, in some respects. Cost of Following a Club We often grew up on stories from previous generations about how prices have spiralled out of control throughout the years from beers to houses. Football is no exception in these circumstances. The cost of following a club feels as though it will cost you an arm and a leg to be able to support them week in week out. Ticket prices, Merchandising and half time beverages have increased over the years. Many will argue it's a different era with pricing changing but in reality, it is deemed to be cheaper than in today's pricing. A football fan will travel thousands of miles each season, home and away to follow their respective teams. They will be there irrelevant of weather conditions from frosty tuesday nights right the way through to a warm weekend afternoon. It's often been said that a fan would need to be truly dedicated to following their teams due to the amount of games played in each season. Take into consideration that some clubs will travel from the full distance of the country in some cases for a late night midweek kick off. A fan would then have to leave work early, travel up/down to the stadium and then not arrive back home till after midnight which would mean that they would have to endure a minimum nights sleep or have the next day off work due to the late arrival back home. For some, it's not possible for them to have time off. Despite this level of support, clubs are still demanding that fans pay extravagant prices for tickets and on top of that the cost to travel down and also beverages while down there which can amount, in some cases, fans paying just shy of £100. Over the years, fans have not been completely happy with the cost of ticket prices home or away with many suggesting they are buying overpriced tickets. In response to this, a group called Twenty's Plenty was formed in 2013 to protest for the fans against clubs and the FA to make it more affordable for fans to watch their teams play. The protest gathered momentum with more and more fans taking action which gained a response from the Premier League when they introduced a price freeze of £30 for a match day ticket. This is still deemed unacceptable to many and the protests from Twenty's Plenty continue to gather momentum and still progress throughout England. There is a huge difference in pricing of tickets when it comes to comparing the Premier League and the EFL with Europe's top 5 divisions. While Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, a few clubs to mention, are playing in Europe's biggest cup competition, the Champions League, they charge significantly less in terms of season tickets than most of England's top four divisions. Many will pay whatever they are charged to watch their clubs play but to say that you could watch a team such as Real Madrid or Barcelona cheaper than Leagues One and Two states something that pricing needs to reduced in order for it to be back within the working class price range. Last season, some fans were charged £50 for an away game put on top of the cost of travelling down. Matchday prices are no exception when it comes to over pricing with some clubs slapping a £30 price tag on matchday tickets with many adding on an additional £2-£5 on the day. During the 1966 Final between England and West Germany, a fan paid, an equivalent in today's money, £11 to watch this historic event take place. Compare that with today's pricing seems extraordinary. The fact that a supporter could go watch a World Cup Final cheaper than it would cost them to watch a Football League match seems ludacris. On top of that, 1974 a fan paid £1.60, equivalent to £16.20 today, to watch an FA Cup game take place. Fans would be fortunate to receive a ticket for this price today as many clubs are being charged upwards of £25 when it comes to a Cup tie. Take into consideration the amount fans pay for tickets, it's also the cost of club merchandise which many feel to be expensive. From National League up to the Premier League, shirt prices range from £39 - £50 at the minimum to wear club colours. England changed sponsors from Umbro to Nike and with that transition came a huge hike in pricing to purchase an England shirt. Prices often came in at £60 for a replica. It was rumoured that some fans would be paying £80+ for a new adult shirt and £40+ for a childrens kit. When it comes to clubs, sponsors appear to dictate the price of shirts but it also depends on the place of the Footballing pyramid in which the club stands. Even saying that, should a shirt really cost as much as they do? Fans enjoy a half time beverage, whether it be a pint or burger and chips. But with cost going up, is it any surprise that many fans choose to avoid paying prices in stadiums opting to wait till after games when they reach the city? On a cold night, fans sometimes opt for a Hot drink and a pie but even that could further hit the pocket with some charging £5 for a pie alone. Fans are the heartbeat of any football club, without them clubs wouldn't stabilise. Home or Away, Summer or Winter, Day or Night. The fans are there, why should they have to break the bank, pay an arm and a leg to watch their beloved clubs? The suitable choice should be for clubs and the FA to take action and reduce prices to bring back affordable pricing for fans to pay. Billionaire Owners Throughout the years, it has become a common theme for businessmen coming in buying teams and pumping money into the team. But having these owners doesn't always result in to success as many clubs have realised over the years. Many owners have faced protest from supporters for what fans deem to be unsatisfactory running of their clubs. When it comes to unsatisfactory running of clubs, Mike Ashley certainly tops the list, even from a neutral point of view. Since 2007, when Mike Ashley bought a majority 43% stake in Newcastle United, the club have experienced two relegations from the Premier League. Alan Shearer, the Premier Leagues all time top goal scorer and Newcastle United legend, is one of the most famous names to be part of the Anti-Ashley movement. Despite being owner in retail sports giant Sports Direct, Ashley has failed to invest significant money in to the club which has often been met with criticism for not giving managers the means to strengthen the club. Fans became even more infuriated with Mike Ashley when earlier in the year, Mike Ashley offered a lifeline to debt ridden business House of Fraser to clear up £50m worth of debts as well as open 47 stores countrywide despite stating he couldn't compete with other owners in the football industry. Blackburn Rovers, since the takeover of the Venkys, have seen their club rack up debts and subsequently result in the club dropping from the Premier League to League One, which has been subject to many protests over the years. Blackpool have seen Owen Oyston take them to the heights of the Premier League but then falling to the bottom tier of English Football, Belokon, an investor of the club, was owed £31m by Oyston in which fans hoped would be enough to see Oyston sell up. West Ham United fans set out protesting against owners David Sullivan and David Gold mainly due to the issue of moving from their beloved Upton Park to the new London Stadium, many didn't feel it to be homely as it was promised. Charlton Athletic fans formed a group called the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet, which is similar to the group which was created by Standard Liege supporters which resulted in Roland Duchatelet selling up. But what happens when fans protest a movement and take matters into their own hands? In 2000, Pete Winkelman proposed a large retail development in Milton Keynes including a Football Stadium which was then offered to Luton Town, Wimbledon, Barnet, Crystal Palace and QPR. It was to be Wimbledon who were to be relocated, ridden with debt Winkleman injected funds in to the club to keep the club in operation while they were transitioned to Milton Keynes, 56 miles away. They were later renamed Milton Keynes Dons during the 2003-04 season. In response to this, a Wimbledon Fan Consortium formed a new club in the name of AFC Wimbledon. Since then, they have climbed from Non-League to League One. Following relegation to the Conference, National League, in 2003 Exeter City were then subject to takeover by a supporters trust meaning fans would have control. Wycombe Wanderers, in 2012, were taken over by a supporters trust and in doing so stabilised finances and ended an embargo set on the club. FC United of Manchester, a Non-League club, was formed by fans of in 2005 as response to Malcolm Glazers takeover of Manchester United. However, having these billionaire owners doesn't always result in fan protests or as some fans would say "a destruction of a club" as has been shown with Roman Abramovich, Chelsea, and Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City. Before their takeovers, Chelsea and Manchester City were regular mid-table finishers but since big money investment and spending big, they are both now regular contenders for the Premier League Title. But despite being successful, has this been an unfair advantage to allow them to gain so much success since their owners came in? They still have to comply with Financial Fair Play but clubs who are less fortunate to have these big money owners rely solely on revenue with majority income coming from fans. Modern Day Footballers When it comes to a modern day footballer, most people have the image of a person who takes home thousands a week, has a state of the art car, brand new mansion and has the latest fashion. It often comes with the job as a footballer you are asked to take part in adverts, photography sessions and attend events.As the game has progressed, so has the ability and training regimes of footballers. Not to mention the fame and image that comes with being a footballer in the modern era. Footballers of today have strict training regimes with such things as a diet they must stick to. Back in the early 60s, 70s and early 80s, footballers would often smoke cigarettes and go for pints after games. There was even rumours that some footballers often took part in drinking at a pub before a game or breaking curfew set by their manager to go to a club and have a few drinks the night before a match. However, today footballers aren't smokers and many don't have drinks before or after matches at the local pub as they once did. This is due to the strict nature of managers today to restrict them from taking part in these activities. It's often been rumoured that players have been told to quit smoking or even fined for having a cigarette here and there. Despite being, in today's era, what's deemed an unhealthy professional, the players still took to the field and got on with the job at hand. When it comes to Christmas, as fans we all love the festive period due to the amount of games that is played in the space from Christmas to New Years. However, there has been many footballers and managers who have come forward in the press to state their dissatisfaction about the amount of games played during the festive period. It's understandable that players may be tired and may wish to spend more time with their families but the training regimes of a modern day footballer and the pay grade in which they are in, it seems less understandable for them to make complaints when you take into consideration that a Non-League team can play 11 games in the space of 14 days, which has been known to happen due to postponements of games or a cup run. Those who play Non-League often have part-time jobs they have to work to make ends meet and some often come from work to play their matches and then back to work straight after the match has finished in which we also witnessed during a few FA Cup runs in the past. Compare the training regimes on top of this, the professionals should be able to cope with the pressures of playing so many games as they train day in day out. Where as part-time footballers have training only a selected few nights a week in avoidance clashing with jobs, which sometimes has to be done. With the introduction of Social Media, fans often make their voices heard and opinions known the clubs and players alike. Most notably, Raheem Sterling requested to sit out of England's 1-0 win over Estonia in the 2016 Euro Qualifier due to 'tiredness' even though he has trained his entire life to make it as a professional footballer and raking in thousands a week. This made for an interesting backlash by fans as many were quick to take to Social Media to mock Sterling. Are we being too harsh on players to believe that they should be able to cope with the physical demands of games? Players are under contract with clubs and have to stick to the terms associated with their contracts. But what happens when a player can dictate what goes on at a club and has leverage over clubs to meet their own demands? It isn't uncommon as most might believe, it has become more of a trend now that players believe they are above clubs and the club will bow down to them to meet each and every demand stated. If the clubs star attraction isn't happy, the club will then do everything they can to make him stay and keep him happy. In 2011, Carlos Tevez made headline after headline for the wrong reasons. Failure to turn up to training, opting to return to his native Argentina. Roberto Martinez stated "he wanted him out of the club" after he refused to come off the bench in a Champions League match against Bayern Munich. He was then suspended for two weeks and was guilty of five breaches of contract then given a fine of four weeks wages only for the PFA to reduce it to just two weeks. It was also rumoured that fellow Argentine, Lionel Messi, 'demanded' that the Barcelona board sack Luis Enrique or he will leave the club for China back in 2017. Thibaut Courtois managed to force a move away from Chelsea to Real Madrid earlier this month by refusing to report in for training having previously stated his desire to move. When he was unveiled as a Real Madrid player, he was pictured kissing the badge, even though he had previously played for rivals Atletico Madrid. But this isn't the first time a player failed to report in for training to force a move to the Spanish giants, as in 2013 Gareth Bale was ordered by Tottenham Hotspur to report for training only for the Welshman to decline. Having previously rejected bids, Tottenham had no choice but to succumb to the demands and sell Bale. Even though both players forced a move away they still had the audacity to state that they were "thankful" for the clubs. In a generation of players bigger than clubs, would managers such as Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson or Bill Shankly have let these players behave in the manner in which they do or would they be quick to show them the door if they weren't happy? My guess would be the later, they wouldn't hesitate in showing a player the door no matter how big the player is. Money Talks When it comes to money, it's not just about what goes on the players or how much it cost to watch a team. It also comes down to how much money is actually being pumped in to the English game. Where is this money going? Is it being used to great effect or could there be more that could be done with the amount of money pumped in? It's often been said that grassroots football is failing due to the lack of funding being provided by the FA despite so much money being pumped into the system and being promised so much to keep grassroots alive and kicking to develop the best players it possibly can. Each footballer has come from developing as a youth product in academies or playing for their local teams and many often go back to visit where it all started to help out as best they can but still more could be done in investing in to the heart of the English game that could determine the future of English football. Billions of pounds are pumped in to the game each year with majority of it going to England's top division, the Premier League. There has to be enough money to spread out across from the Premier League down to grassroots and share out equal amounts rather than pay more for higher levels of football. Over the years, we have all witnessed the English League Cup change names in accordance to sponsorship from the Worthington Cup to the Capital One Cup for it now to be known as the Carabao Cup. Despite having different names for the trophy, the draw has always remained in England. But that was all changed when sponsors, Carabao, decided that it was to host the cup abroad with events last season being staged in both Bangkok and Beijing leaving many fans frustrated due to having to stream online for the draw during the early hours of the morning. It also proceeded to make the first round draw in Vietnam on the 15th of june 2018. It was stated by the EFL that this was to build relations abroad but was it in fact to keep the injection of money coming in? Similar situation happened earlier on in the year with Spain's La Liga when it was announced that the fixture during Barcelona and Girona will be played in New York City, USA. Meaning fans would have to travel thousands of miles on a plane to watch their teams play a league match. Abroad. For many years, it has been speculated that more clubs could soon follow suit with the EFL and Premier League contemplating the prospect of having league or cup matches outside of England. These are speculations and possible rumours but in the case of it happening, fans, clubs and players must be voters in this scenario. Since the introduction of the Premier League in 1992, Sky Sports have had the rights to every game. As witnessed in many football grounds across England, fans have taken to protesting Sky Sports and the prices they are charging by holding signs up that read 'Football was not invented in 1992'. Fans are expected to dish out hundreds of pounds to watch their club on TV with some fans opting to wait till Match of the Day is aired on the BBC, free on National TV, to watch the highlights. From 1992 to 2018, it is estimated that the price Sky Sports has paid for the rights of the Premier League have gone up from £192m to £5.9bn. A huge amount of money which is being pumped in to the game. It's seen as an opportunity taken by higher authority in the English game. In 2018, UEFA's new competition, UEFA Nations League, began. Sky Sports were first in the que to gain the rights to this new competition. Following Sky Sports having the rights, England fans were left bemused when their games against Spain in the UEFA Nations League and their friendly against Switzerland a few days afterwards in September wasn't to be hosted on National TV Channel ITV, free to viewers. Instead, fans were made to wait for highlights shown later on ITV, buy a Sky Sports pass or stream the matches. Those who already had Sky Sports bundle were able to view. It was then announced that England's UEFA Nations League matches as well as Friendlies would be hosted on Sky Sports while Qualifiers were to be shown on ITV. As a result of this, fans have taken to social media and let their feelings be known that the matches of the National team should be free to view for everyone. Still, the FA Cup is still free to view on National TV with them being played on BBC live. Including the Final. Despite TV rights being an astonishing amount, there is still a class divide when it comes to Premier League and the EFL Championship compared with Leagues 1 and 2. While the Premier League has its own dedicated programming, Match of the Day, the Championship also had its own dedicated programming on Channel 5, for the 2017/18 season followed by Goal Rush which is half an hour long for both Leagues 1 and 2, before being moved to Quest as an all in one programming. Despite being a programming as one, the Championship still has an hour showing with Leagues 1 and 2 still crammed into a half an hour slot. Where there is money available, scandal and bribery isn't far behind. As has been shown with former FIFA President Sepp Blatter who was sacked from his position and banned from FIFA for accepting bribes allowing Qatar the rights to the 2022 World Cup and also rumoured acceptance of bribes which led to Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup. There is certainly a lot of money involved with today's game but has it been transformed in to a tycoon property rather than the sport it is supposed to be known as? Business appears to come before the needs of the fans with money being the main objective for most. Homegrown Talent While most will argue that it is the foreign imports that light up the Premier League and help give it the reputation as the greatest league in the World, are they preventing our youth products from developing due to them not being given game time? Most clubs will opt to bring in a foreign import as opposed to bring through an academy product or so it seems. While some players have moved abroad in hopes of game time and making strides to gain a call up. Jadon Sancho, a most notable name to mention, has lit up the Bundesliga with Dortmund. Fans alike have taken to social media to show support and encourage many others to follow suit. But should we rely on other leagues to give valuable game time to our youth players? It must be a case of English leagues and clubs to produce players and develop them in to the best of their abilities. Sepp Blatter once suggested that the Premier League should introduce the 6+5 rule only for the Premier League to refuse to adapt this rule. The Premier League however do state that out of 25 players in a squad 8 of which should be home grown. But we still don't see many homegrown players playing for the top clubs which makes it hard for selection of the National team. Despite winning 5 consecutive youth championships, only 32.5% of Chelsea youth players have gone on to make it into the first team with a reported 31 players out on loan in the 2018/19 season. Which has began speculation of should teams be limited to how many players can be loaned out. During the 90s, England saw a whole host of stars in the making from Gazza to Beckham to Owen. However, these players who were seen as the 'Golden Generation' of English Football from the early 90s to early 2000s, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Gary & Phil Neville, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney. A few names to mention, all achieved great success with their respective clubs but they had regular footballing time in England's top flight. Still not to amount to any major success on the International stage. But, with more foreign imports coming in are we going to witness another 'Golden Generation' due to the lack of game time given to our youth products? With many youth products sent out on loan to lower divisions, it hasn't dampened their success at youth level. In 2017, the Young Lions of English Football took the World by storm winning Three competitions including; - Under 17s World Cup coming from 2-0 down to beat Spain 5-2 - Under 19s European Championships beating Portugal 2-1 in the Final - Under 20s World Cup with a 1-0 win over Venezuela. Despite this success, which seems to be a regular occurance for our youth squad, we are still yet to witness a breakthrough for many of these in both club form and Senior call ups. It has been a proven success by the likes of Germany and Spain who have bought players through their ranks. In 2009, England Under 21s lost 4-0 to Germany Under 21s in a European Final. Since that final, the 11 players who started that match for England have only made a combined 143 caps for the senior team. Only a handful of that starting 11 are now playing in the top flight of English Football. Compare that to the German starting 11 having a combined 418 caps for their seniors including regulars such as Ozil, Neuer, Khedira & Hummels. But yet, despite finishing runners up it was still a success for a finish to be known that high in English football. Spanish football was dominant from 2008 to 2012 winning, 3 consecutive tournaments on the bounce. Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012. But they have utilised their youth products in order to achieve this success which could be seen as a precedent to follow. Most common names include the likes of Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Iniesta, Xavi & David Villa. Away from foreign imports and players making it through the ranks, are we developing players in a way to let them showcase their abilities? Many pundits and fans alike have argued the fact that when a club signs a youth player from the tender age of 6, from that moment the player is developed in accordance to the teams philosophy which might not be suited to ways some like to play their football. While back in the 90s, some players weren't signed until they was in their teenage years and often got to showcase abilities of their own, playing their own way of football with friends on a local park or for their local team. Gareth Southgate and his class of 2018 defied all expectations when England finished their joint best position in the World Cup since winning it in 1966 by finishing in 4th place, same as the squad of 1990 under Sir Bobby Robson. There was no expectations for this team which many wrote of before the tournament had started due to the lack of inexperience and being one of the youngest squads in the tournament. But Southgate looks set on keeping faith in his youth products, encouraging more clubs to play young academy players to allow them to make strides in gaining a call up. The door is open for these youth products, it's just the case of will they be given the chance? Should there be a new ruling which prevents clubs loaning out so many players and have a 6+5 rule allowing more graduates to make statements in clubs? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. Football in recent times has become more of a business rather than a sport with more and more billionaires coming in to invest into clubs. But it hasn't been without controversy. In the past we have seen mass protests at clubs with some fans refusing to turn up at games and disrupting matches while they are being played. Blackpool, Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham and most recently Charlton Athletic have all staged protests in anger to how the club is being run. MK Dons owner Pete Winkleman bought out a debt ridden Wimbledon in the early 2000s moving them from London which forced fans to take action and form a new club in the name of AFC Wimbledon who are now playing in League 1. When it comes to owners who fans believe to be destroying their club, Mike Ashley certainly tops the list. In 2007, Ashley bought a 43% stake in the club for a reported £55m. Since his takeover, Newcastle have endured 2 relegations to the Championship, bouncing back on the first attempt both times. Alan Shearer, a Newcastle United legend and the Premier Leagues all time top scorer, is certainly one of the biggest names to be against Ashley's running of the club. There have been many protests from fans as well as protests against Sports Direct, which Ashley is also an owner. The main complaint is that Ashley fails to back the club in any financial way suggesting he can't compete which was met by anger when earlier this year he offered to bail House of Fraser out while they owed £50m to pay off debts. Chelsea were the first club in England to have a high profile investment when in 2003 Roman Abramovich bought the club. Since the arrival of the Russian Billionaire, Chelsea have gone on to win 6 Premier League titles, 4 Fa Cups, 3 League Cups, 1 Champions League and 1 Europa League. Before Abramovich took over, Chelsea were regularly outside of the top 4 and never considered title challenges. In his first season as owner of the London club, he saw them finish in 2nd place. The following season however, under Jose Mourinho they won back to back Premier League titles. In their first title winning seasons, they spent a combined £257m. There last league triumph in 2015, they spent a total of £137m. This season they broke the record for a fee spent on a goalkeeper securing Kepa for £80m. In 2008, Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City for £200m. Since his investment, Manchester City have gone on to win 3 Premier League titles, 1 Fa Cup, 3 League Cups and last season secure a best 100 points in a single campaign on the way to their latest league triumph. Before this investment, Manchester City's best finish in the Premier League was 8th back in 2005. Manchester City's first big money buy since Sheikh Mansour took over was Robinho in 2008 for a fee of £32.5m. Last season's dominance in English football came at a price as Pep Guardiola's side spent a whooping £268m on new recruits. Ironically though, in 2009 Pep Guardiola was quoted in saying that modern day football is all about buying class and rather than spending £50m on a new player they should look towards the youth. Despite this, Pep has spent £50m+ on 4 players since arriving. Wolverhampton Wanderers have been nothing short of controversy since they won the Championship last season. Many believe that the owners are working in line with well known super agent Jorge Mendes to secure big name signings such as Rui Patricio and Ruben Neves to name a few. In 2016, Fosun International bought Wolves with the business having a 20% stake in Mendes' agency. Before there title winning season last season, Wolves finished 7th, 14th and 15th since being promoted from League 1 in 2014. It can be argued that teams such as Liverpool and Manchester United spend big to try gain success. However, these clubs are 2 of English football's big names having had a successful history, they don't need investment to have a huge profit as they can generate huge incomes based on their names and revenues. Despite this, Liverpool owners have recently rejected a £2bn takeover bid from Sheikh Monsour, Manchester City owner, cousin. Are these Owners seeing this as business oppurtunities? Do they really care about success or do they care more about the profit they are making? Personally, despite the sanctions of FFP clubs should have to generate there own incomes to allow a more fairer level playing field. Which could benefit lower level clubs who are unable to compete with big money owners. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. Since Jose Mourinho arrived on the scene at Porto, many people were full of praise. More so when he joined the likes of Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid where he achieved success wherever he went. But has the Mourinho that everyone wanted to be the manager of their club disappeared? Has the Special One lost his touch? Just 3 games into the new Premier League season, Manchester United look far from convincing challengers. They have at times looked mediocre under Mourinho. Last season, they finished second behind city rivals Manchester City, by a margin of 19 points. Mourinho has earned critics over the years but often silenced them by guiding his teams to major success. In December 2015, months after winning the Premier League with Chelsea, Mourinho was sacked with 9 losses from his first 16 league games. Was this the turning point from the ruthless Mourinho of old we saw when he first entered the Premier League in 2004? When he arrived in 2004, he took the league by storm leading his Chelsea team to 2 consecutive Premier League titles. He also became Chelsea's most successful manager winning 6 trophies in 3 years in his first spell at the club as well as boasting an undefeated Stamford Bridge record, which would ultimately be ended by Sunderland in his second spell in charge of the club. Having won trophies at Porto, Chelsea & Inter Milan, Mourinho didn't enjoy his time with Real Madrid despite winning the Copa Del Rey and La Liga while in charge of the Galacticos. It was after the defeat to local rivals, Atletico Madrid, in the 2013 Copa Del Rey Final when Mourinho and Real Madrid decided to part company. Was Real Madrid a step to far for the "Special One"? He certainly didn't look comfortable there as he once did while in charge of his previous three clubs. When Mourinho arrived at Manchester United, which was the worst kept secret in football, fans were in belief that the glory days of one of football's biggest clubs would be heading back their way. Which they hadn't seen since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. It certainly looked set to be as in his first season he won the Europa League & EFL Cup. But nothing ever materialised after that with fans calling for Mourinho to change his style of play and disappointed in seeing Mourinho's tactic of "Parking the Bus" which was made famous for his style of play for Chelsea. Following on from Manchester United's defeat to Brighton, their were reports of a rift between him and Ed Woodward, which he later denied. He appears to have lost the dressing room with players such as Paul Pogba coming out after the game suggesting "they weren't in the right mind to play". Surely the Mourinho of old would have whipped his players for these comments? He has also failed to address the Riola - Scholes situation and Pogba - Barcelona situation. Which in previous years he would have been first to step in. Manchester United have now lost 2 games from their opening 3 games a feet they haven't seen since their title winning season in 1992/93. With Zinedine Zidane lurking, open to taking charge, could we be seeing the end of Jose Mourinho at Manchester United? It certainly appears to be looking more likely given his recent post-match interviews suggesting he "deserves respect" and having short interviews uncharacteristically. Pundits have also started to suggest Mourinho has been putting on a front, suggesting he's not the same "Special One" he once was. Has the "Special One" Disappeared? Will we see Zidane succeed Mourinho? What next for Mourinho? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. The Premier League is arguably the greatest league in the world but rather than homegrown players making an impact, it's foreign imports lighting up the league. Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, we have seen the National team go from mediocre to really average. Teams that have had great success Nationally have seen their National players thrive in their respective leagues. Should the FA be doing more to address the situation of boosting home grown talent? On Boxing Day 1999, Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli fielded the first non-British starting 11 against Southampton. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened as 6 years later, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal was without a single Englishman in their match day squad when they beat Crystal Palace 5-1 in 2005. Manchester United started the Manchester Derby in 2009 with no English players in the starting 11 with Rooney & Scholes coming on as second half substitutes in the second half in Manchester United's 2-0 win over City rivals Manchester City. As the years went on, more and more English players were being pushed out of big teams making way for foreign imports and those English players were often loaned out or dropped down divisions. Chelsea are the main culprits for loaning young players out with a reported 31 players out on loan this season. Since Roman Abramovich arrived in 2003, Chelsea have fielded the most foreign imports in Europe’s top 5 divisions. Despite winning 5 consecutive youth championships, only 32.5% of Chelsea youth players have gone on to make it into the first team. Most recently, a product of the youth system Reuben Loftus-Cheek has been given the opportunity to make his mark and force his way into the Chelsea team since making an impact for England since his Man of the Match debut v Germany in 2017 and further performances in this years World Cup with limited game time. He also made a mark while playing on loan at Crystal Palace last season with consistent performances. But if they have high expectations of him, why would they sign players such as Barkley or Kovacic who play in a similar position? Rather than keeping the bench warm, he should be loaned out for game time. U-17 World Cup winner Callum Hudson-Odoi another Chelsea product, had fans raving in pre-season after his game v Arsenal. Surely he should be in the frame for a start? Ademola Lookman, a player with great potential at 20 years old. Loaned out to RB Leipzig last season scoring 5 goals, 3 assists in 11 games for them. But Everton are reluctant to sell the striker by slapping a £28m price tag on him despite having signed Richarlison for £40m who is alongside Walcott & Tosun who play similar positions. Another example that a young product is being over shadowed and not allowed game time, it seems. Sepp Blatter once suggested that the Premier League should introduce the 6+5 rule only for the Premier League to refuse to adapt this rule. The Premier League however do state that out of 25 players in a squad 8 of which should be home grown. But we still don't see many homegrown players playing for the top clubs which makes it hard for selection of the National team. Gareth Southgate, as we seen in this years World Cup with the young England squad reaching the Semi-Finals, has faith in the youth system of the Country which has seen them achieve great success with the England youth teams winning World Cups and European Cups. Surely, to boost the National game and raise standard for the England National Team would be for the FA to adapt a system where each club has to field at least 5 or 6 home grown players. This would boost players chances of playing regular football rather than being pushed out of clubs and not being given any sort of opportunity. Share your thoughts about this feature on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. England have had some great players appear for the National Team over the years. 1966 World Cup Winning Goalkeeper Gordon Banks, record goalscorer Wayne Rooney amongst others like Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, David Seaman, Paul Scholes. We can even include the class of 2018 in this category who reached the Semi-Finals of the 2018 World Cup. But What is England’s Greatest 11? Here is my take on the greatest 11 to ever appear for England. Goalkeeper - Peter Shilton, England’s record appearance holder with 125 caps. He was the man in goal that conceded Maradonas "hand of god" that ultimately knocked England out of World Cup 1986 against Argentina. 4 years later, he was in the England squad that finished 4th in World Cup 1990 having lost to Germany on penalties in the Semi-Finals. Right Back - Gary Neville, appearing 85 times for his Nation, he was a hard man to displace from the team having been a successful player during Manchester United's dominance in English football. When it comes to Right Backs, he is right up there as one of the best for England. Centre Back - Bobby Moore, with 108 caps to his name, he is the only man to captain England to a World Cup trophy back in 1966. Solid at the back with a calm head, it was his pass that set up England’s fourth in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the final. He also held the record for being England’s youngest ever captain when he was selected in 1963 at the age of 22. Centre Back - Terry Butcher, with 77 caps to his name, he was part of the 1990 World Cup squad who reached the Semi-Finals of a World Cup only to be knocked out on penalties v Germany. But who could forget the famous blood bath he experienced while playing for England v Sweden in 1989 an historic image that shows pride and passion to play for his nation. Left Back - Stuart Pearce, 78 caps, a man that oozes passion for his country. Having being one of the players who missed a penalty in the Semi-Final penalty shootout defeat against Germany in 1990, it was clear to see the devastation in his eyes. But 6 years later at Euro 96, he redeemed himself scoring in the penalty shootout against Spain, which England went on to win, with the famous roar after putting away his penalty. Right Midfield - David Beckham, a man that needs no introduction, the ultimate English footballing icon. Having played 115 times for his country, he played with passion every time he wore the Three Lions shirt. Although, he did get sent off against Argentina in 1998 for lashing out and kicking Diego Simeone, he went on to captain England in 2001 when Sven Goran-Eriksson took charge. He was Captain for England in there most famous win, behind the 4-2 win in 1966 which saw them win the World Cup, by beating Germany 5-1 in a World Cup Qualifier in September 2001. Centre Midfield - Paul Gascoigne, 57 caps for his nation, he often made headlines for his off the field antics but on the field he was a master class in midfield with mesmorising dribbling abilities who could forget his most famous goal against Scotland in Euro 96. He was booked in the 1990 Semi-Final, which meant he would miss the Final had England reached it. Thus came the infamous Gazza Tears. Centre Midfield - Bobby Charlton, 106 caps and 49 goals, he was England’s all time leading goal scorer for 45 years until Wayne Rooney took the record away from him in 2015 against Switzerland. He was also a member of the 1966 World Cup winning team, having made his full debut in 1958, 2 months after he survived the Munich Air Disaster. Left Midfield - John Barnes, the Jamaican born midfielder moved to England at the age of 12 and chose to represent England at international level making 79 appearances. Silky skills and often referred to as a Brazilian like player, he was part of the 1990 England squad who made the Semi-Finals of the World Cup. Centre Forward - Sir Geoff Hurst, the only man to ever score a Hat-Trick in a World Cup Final against West Germany in 1966. He made just 49 caps for his country scoring 24 goals. He didn't make his England debut until February 1966, a few months before the World Cup. Centre Forward - Gary Lineker, Golden Boot winner in 1986 and Semi-Finalist with England in the following World Cup in 1990. He was the ultimate goal poacher scoring 48 times in 80 caps. Manager - Sir Bobby Robson, 1 of 3 managers to take England to a World Cup Semi-Final, alongside Gareth Southgate & Sir Alf Ramsey. His credentials in both Club & National management speak volumes. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.

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