Category: International Football


By Laurie Fitzgerald

There was no doubt what the biggest story was in English football this week, as Roy Hodgson usurped heavy favourite Harry Redknapp and become the new England manager.

The West Brom boss has agreed a four-year deal which sees him take charge for the next three major tournaments through to the European Championships in France in 2016.

64 year-old Hodgson was the unanimous choice of the 4-man FA panel that consisted of Chairman David Bernstein, Director of football development Trevor Brooking, General Secretary Alex Horne and Club England managing Director Adrian Bevington.

While many will preside in persisting that Hodgson is the wrong choice and may not inspire enthusiasm amongst the public, the main fact now is that we have to get behing him and give the man a chance to succeed in a job where many before him which had that public support failed.

His appointment has been hailed as a long-term one by the FA to help the development of their National Football Centre, which is due to open in Burton later this year.

But for the forseeable future Hodgson’s sole focus will be on Euro 2012, and one of the biggest decisions that Hodgson faces ahead of the tournament is the dilemma of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald

England prepare to take on the Netherlands at Wembley tomorrow on the back of a hugely eventful last few weeks in the set-up of the national side.

Fabio Capello is no longer in charge after the Italian resigned following the Football Association’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, with his impending court case for charges of racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand not due to take place until after Euro 2012.

So with no permanent captain and no permanent manager in place, Stuart Pearce has taken temporary charge while the FA decide who is the best choice to take the side to Poland & Ukraine this summer.

The Under-21 boss has picked a few fresh faces within the squad for tomorrow’s game, as the likes of Frazier Campbell and Tom Cleverley find themselves gaining international recognition.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez
With 2011 coming to an end with most clubs only having a single fixture left or having already completed their duties in 2011 we look back to the stand out moments in 2011 and to see what yours are no matter how big or small.

The joy of this topic is it will be different for everyone and can span from a Champions League memory to one in the lowest of levels of Football.

For the sake of this article I will look back to my top 4 memories of the year. These are in no particular order but are all moments that have touched my heart, made my chuckle or just made me celebrate like a mad man.
  Continue reading

 

By Tony Alvarez

It was announced yesterday that no player that is selected for the Euro 2012 championships will be selected for the London Olympics due to fatigue and also to keep relations strong between the clubs and the Football Association.

Of course initially this only effects English players as none of the other home nations qualified for Euro 2012, however there is still some disagreement whether players from other nations will play and the FA has contacted players to see if they would like to be considered for selection.

It is thought that Welsh players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey of Tottenham and Arsenal respectively are both interested in being part of the tournament next summer.

The squad will consist of 18 men 15 of which must be under 23 and the other 3 can be of any age.

The manager of the GB men’s squad Stuart Pearce said about today’s announcement “It’s a sensible football decision when you consider the demands on players, and it now leaves no room for doubt for players and their clubs about next summer and the two major tournaments”

Although it will come as a relief to many managers and fans who primarily focus on club Football it will mean that the team GB side will be a lot weaker than initially thought, players such as Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere, and Phil Jones to name just a few look likely to be selected for the Euro 2012 squad fitness permitting meaning they will not be in consideration for London 2012.

It had originally been thought before yesterdays announcement that no player would be made unavailable for selection and that players were likely to compete in both competitions much to the dismay of managers throughout the Premier League.

I personally think the decision is a great decision for the game inEnglandwhere many fans are proud in calling their league the best on earth. For me it is also a sensible decision and should mean there is a good balance between the standard of the Team GB squad and the Barclays Premier League.

It will also please managers such as Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger who could of lost stars such as Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere. However it will not all be joy for Wenger who could lose Ramsey until September should team GB progress through the tournament.

What are your thoughts? Is the decision to not select players for both tournaments the correct one? Will the decision help to raise the level of the Premier League? Will Team GB still have a chance of Olympic gold without the players who go to Euro 2012

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By Tony Alvarez

Yesterday Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic were fined £12,700 by Uefa after a report from Strathclyde Police about the fan singing “some offensive songs” during the clubs Europa League tie againstRennesin November.

 I am not sure if I agree with this decision and think Uefa have opened a huge can of worms and should the governing body promote equality then pretty much every team should be fined in the near future.

I cant say I am pro offensive chanting and don’t know what the chants were that the Celtic fans were singing however I will be the first to admit that I have often joined in chants that would be of offence to some people and any Football fan that says they haven’t is almost certainly lying.

I was part of a crowd that repeatedly called former midfielder Samir Nasri a C*#t during Arsenal’s Carling Cup defeat toManchesterCityat the Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago.

Of course there are different severities of offensive chanting but by Uefa just saying the fine is for offensive chanting they are opening up the situation for fines to be handed out to almost every side.

Celtic do have a bit of a history of complaints against sections of their support for offensive chanting, during the sides defeat to Hearts earlier in the season the club were apparently inundated with complaints from their own fans about chants from other sections of the Celtic support.

As the above was not mentioned to Uefa it cannot by that the fine the club were handed yesterday was due to it being a second offence for the club.

Celtic’s greatest rivals Rangers were fined in the past for a very similar offence and both clubs can feel hard done by, if the chants were really off key then the severity of the fine should reflect that and so should the title of the punishment.

12,700 is a slap on the wrist when you consider the funds that these clubs bring in on a weekly basis, a slap on the wrist punishment would suggest a minor crime however if these chants were as distasteful as being reported then the punishment should reflect that.

Just to make it clear that the suggestion is the chants were pro IRA which I am by no means condoning I just feel Uefa could of made things clearer with both the punishment and the name of the offence.

It is a bit harsh on the club as by all accounts they are doing all they can to cut out the chants and remove the individuals or the section that were singing them, however once Uefa decide to punish they should punish with the severity that the crime deserves.

What are your thoughts? Does the punishment match the crime? How should Uefa of dealt with the crime? How can unacceptable or offensive chanting be cut out of the game?

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

This afternoon, the 16 nations that have qualified for the 14th European Championships will find out their fates in the draw of the group stages in Kiev.

Fans of both England and the Republic of Ireland will be particularly interested in who they face after recent qualification heartache for previous tournaments.

England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, while the Republic have not participated since their only appearance back in 1988, so there will be great anticipation by both countries.

For Fabio Capello, an unbeaten qualifying campaign has helped lift spirits following a pitiful World Cup campaign in South Africa last summer.

Despite reaching the finals without defeat, Capello’s Three Lions find themselves in the second pot of seeds along with Germany, Italy and Russia.

Whilst it is a boost to avoid that particular trio, it does leave England exposed to the possibility of playing either Spain or the Netherlands in the group stage.

Last year’s World Cup finalists are joined by the joint-hosts of Poland and Ukraine, who despite being two of the weaker teams in the tournament are put into the top seeds category due to their hosting responsibilities – together.

In fact, due to the way that the rest of the seeding is based on world rankings and recent qualification results, England could find themselves in a group of death consisting of Spain, Portugal and France.

However, a kinder draw could see them draw Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic, which would give Capello’s men a great chance of making the quarter-finals, especially in the absence of star player Wayne Rooney through suspension.

For Giovanni Trapattoni‘s side, they find themselves in Pot Four along with the French, the Czechs and Denmark.

It means they can find themselves in a similar group to England’s worst case scenario, with a group of Spain, Germany and Portugal lurking in the draw.

But a more positive looking outcome could see them face Poland, Russia (who they will be familiar with from the qualifying campaign) and Greece to give them a very realistic chance of reaching the last eight.

So there is plenty of permutations that can occur from today’s events in the Ukraine Palace of Arts. But the paths chosen for both England and the Republic of Ireland will give us a greater understanding of both team’s chances in Central and Eastern Europe next summer. 

Pot 1: Ukraine, Poland, Spain, Netherlands.

Pot 2: Germany, Italy, England, Russia.

Pot 3: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden.

Pot 4: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland.

So what do you think? What will be the best outcomes for England and the Republic of Ireland? Who are the teams to avoid from the draw? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Lawrie Benfield (Guest journalist)

I would like to start this article by explaining that I believe Adam Johnson’s game has improved dramatically since his move to Manchester City. There has been a huge development in Johnson’s first touch, final ball and decision making. This has of course occurred as a result of him training day in and day out with world class players. However, the left footed winger needs games to take his career to the next level.

Johnson has only started four league games this season. At the age of 24 he needs to play football and at the moment this is not happening. The winger seems to be making the same mistake Shaun Wright-Phillips made at a similar stage of his career. Wright-Phillips signed for Chelsea in the hope of furthering his career. Although he collected a league title withChelsea, his lack of games hindered his potential and he now sees himself plying his trade at newly promoted Queens Park Rangers. It will be sad to see Johnson’s career taking a similar path to Wright-Phillips’.

Additionally, Johnson needs to start playing more regularly in order to claim a spot in Capello’s England squad for the upcoming European Championships. He is a much more of a gifted footballer than Stewart Downing but will not obtain an opportunity to start forEngland unless he is given more of an opportunity for City.

However, Johnson is good enough to start more regularly forManchester City. When he gets his opportunity he always seems to produce. Manchester Citywere poor against Arsenal on Tuesday night but Johnson always looked dangerous. The winger had very little of the ball in the final third and had to feed on scraps for the majority of the game. Nevertheless, he caused problems for the Arsenal back line whenever he touched the ball.  He also played a vital part in the City winner by demonstrating quick feet to provide Aguero with a simple chance to score the only goal of the game.

This was Johnson’s first start in over a month with his last coming in the previous round of the Carling Cup against Wolves. Johnson turned this game on its head with five minutes of brilliance. He scored with a magnificent left footed shot from outside the box, played a beautiful side splitting pass for the second and provided a deft cross for the third. The three goals demonstrate the players’ outstanding finishing, vision and creativity. Furthermore, Johnson has frightening pace and adds a different dimension to theManchester Cityattack being their only natural winger. Mancini has recently stated that Johnson can become ‘one of the best wingers inEnglandorEurope’. If this is the case then why doesn’t Mr Mancini give Johnson a few more chances to display his ability?

What are your thoughts? Can Johnson make the England squad whilst only being a bit part player at City? Does he have the ability to be more than a bit part player? Should he move to further his career? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

There are moments when the game we love is put firmly into perspective and we are reminded that it is just that – a game.

The news of Gary Speed‘s death at the age of just 42 is one of those moments. To commemorate his life, Shouts from the stands looks back on a man who epitomised true professionalism throughout a distinguished career:

Born in Flintshire, Wales on the 8th September 1969, Speed came through the youth ranks at Leeds United, and made his senior debut for the club in 1988.

Over the next few years he established himself as a key figure in Howard Wilkinson‘s side, and played an integral role in their quest to become the best team in England.

The culmination of this aim came in 1992 when Speed was at the heart of the midfield as Leeds won their first title in 18 years, and at the age of just 22, the Welshman had become one of the best young players in the domestic game.

Speed remained at Elland Road for the next four seasons, playing in the League Cup final defeat to Aston Villa in 1996, before the summer of that year saw him move to his boyhood club Everton.

He became such a pivotal figure at Goodison Park that he was made club captain and the heartbeat of the side under Howard Kendall. However, he was sold by the club in 1998 to Newcastle United for a fee of £5.5 million.

The next seven years saw Speed not only become a permanent fixture in the Newcastle side, but also become the player with more Premier League appearances than any other.

He was the first man to play 500 Premier League games and went on to make a total of 535 appearances in the biggest league in the world.

Speed helped a resurgance at St. James’ Park under Sir Bobby Robson, as the Magpies went from top-flight mediocrity to Champions League contenders, reaching the competition in 2002 and 2003. He also featured in two FA Cup finals during his time in the North-East.

At the age of 34, Bolton manager Sam Allardayce persuaded his board to give Speed a two-year deal to sign him from Newcastle in a £750,000 deal in the summer of 2004.

It proved to be an astute signing, as Speed played a crucial part in helping Bolton to the highest ever finish in the club’s history in 6th place at the end of the 2004/05 campaign.

As well as an excellent club career, Speed’s international record was outstanding too; he made more appearances for Wales than any other outfield player, and that record of 85 caps has yet to be bettered.

After finishing his playing days at Sheffield United, he took a first step into management with the Blades in 2010 before just a few months later his country came calling after John Toshack resigned as the Welsh national manager.

41 year-old Speed was given the task of building a team for the future that would seriously challenge for qualification in major tournaments, and finished their Euro 2012 campaign in brilliant fashion.

While qualification was beyond them, a team with the likes of young stars such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey went on a run of four wins in their next five matches, with genuine hopes of a bright future under Speed.

Sadly, it won’t be under the man that has worked so hard to turn around the country’s footballing fortunes. He leaves behind a wife and two sons, and are thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time.

Rest in peace Speedo.

If you’d like to pay your respects to the late Gary Speed, please feel to leave a comment of your memories of a man widely respected throughout the world of football.

 

By Tony Alvarez
Since the announcement that there will be a team GB Football team competing at the Olympic Games in London, there has been dismay and negativity from many different parties.
In the last week Dai Greene a World championship gold medallist and one of Britain’s top gold medal hopes spoke out against the idea.
Greene explained that he felt it unfair that athletes train for four years, with the games being the pinnacle of the athlete’s careers in many cases, where as footballers will go into the tournament on the back of a prolonged break and will not be in peak condition for the games.
I can understand Greene’s point of view a star studied football side is not in the spirit of the Olympics whilst athletes like Greene grew up dreaming of Olympic glory, the footballers who will be playing never had the Olympics in their minds at all on the road to stardom.
Many clubs are also against the inclusion of star players in the team, with many players expressing an interest in playing should they be selected the clubs will be powerless to stop them.
The concerns for the clubs is that the tournament comes on the back of Euro 2012 meaning players participating in both will barely get any rest during the summer and my suffer burnout during the season.
The other major concern for clubs is that the Olympic football tournament will run alongside the premier league meaning the players selected will miss fixtures for their clubs whilst on duty with team GB.
The welsh FA are believed to be strongly against being part of a British team, however star players Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale have both been pictured in official 2012 merchandise adding fuel to the speculation that both will compete should they be selected.

I am not particularly against a team GB side I think it will be nice to see them compete for medals and to be honest I will be attempting to get tickets to watch them play, I can understand the athletes frustration as this for them is their time in the lime light there chance to be on the back pages, they are over shadowed by Footballers on a daily basis and with a team GB side it is possible that the Olympics will now follow that trend.

I can also understands the clubs frustration, more games means more risk of injury and even if the players come back form both the Euro’s and Olympics injury free they will still of missed a fair amount of club Football all while the clubs are still paying their wages.

What are your thoughts? Is a team GB Football team a good idea? Can you understand athlete’s and clubs frustrations? Will you be happy if your side are missing players so they can represent team GB? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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By Tony Alvarez

FIFA have announced their 10 nominations for the Puskas award, which you would recognise as the goal of the year award, the shortlist includes goals from international fixtures, youth team fixtures and woman’s football.

I will run through my thoughts on all of the contenders and give my view on who should take the award.

For those of you who have not seen the nominated goals, you can do so on the following link http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/puskasaward/index.html

Benjamin de Ceulaer, LOKEREN vs Club Brugge

A stunning piece of skill and control topped off with a nice finish, this truly is one of those goals had it been scored by Cristiano Ronaldo or Xavi we would be seeing it endlessly, however I don’t think it has enough to win the award.

 

Giovani dos Santos, MEXICO vs United States

FIFA love to pushing their own competitions (you will hear me say this throughout the article) which for me is the reason this goal is in the shortlist, had this goal come in a League Two match it would not find itself on the shortlist, it was however a delightful chipped finish from the Tottenham youngster whilst on international duty for Mexico in the Gold Cup.

Julio Gomez, MEXICO U17 vs Germany U17

Again another goal that was in a FIFA competition the under 17 World Cup. If this is one of the top 10 goals this year I have been watching a different sport. Not taking anything away from Gomez it was a nice finish but the top 10 goals this year……. Not a chance.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC MILAN vs Lecce

This is a real contender I believe from the huge talent that is Zlaten Ibrahimovic, he can so often flatter to deceive but he is so often capable of the sublime. This goal combines pace, strength, skill and huge technical ability its not common that you can describe a goal that was scored from 30 yards out as having all those aspects.

 

Lisandro ‘Licha’ Lopez, ARSENAL SARANDI vs Olimpo

This for me was the best goal that was nominated, not many of you will of heard of Lisandro Lopez of Argentinean side Arsenal but he is a defender that showed the technical ability of a accomplished striker.

Following a whipped in corner, running away from goal Lisandro executed the perfect overhead/ bicycle kick, this is difficult at the best of times but running away from goal makes it virtually impossible. Top Strike.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA vs Arsenal

This is not me having an Arsenal bias as I am a huge Lionel Messi fan but had any other player on earth scored this goal it would not be any where near this shortlist, forget top 10 goals of the year this goal probably would not be the top 10 of any given week.

Neymar, SANTOS vs Flamengo

This is one of those goals I have watched over and over and im still not quite sure how he done it. The individual brilliance on display is supreme and shows off so many qualities, this is a real contender and will only help enhance Neymars reputation.

Heather O’Reilly, US Women vs Colombia Women

Yet again this is a case of promoting their own competitions and attempting to show equality in Football.

It was a stunning long range effort that found the top corner and dipped and swerved before hitting the back of the net.

I don’t think this is in the top 10 goals I’ve seen this year but it is also unfair to argue with its inclusion it is a fine strike.

Wayne Rooney, MAN UTD vs Man City

The probable winner of the award. It is certainly seen that way in England anyway not only is the quality of the goal recognised but also the circumstances it came in 1-1 with your local rivals who have newly become a threat and Rooney pulls out this act of brilliance.

I personally think Lopez scored the better goal but as there was no real significance that came with the goal I think Rooney will take the award.

Dejan Stankovic, INTER MILAN vs Schalke 04

The sheer technique and audacity shown in this strike by Stankovic mean that it deserves its place on this list.

Although he effectively scored an open goal having the ability and confidence to strike the ball from such distance on the volley set it apart from many other strikes.

This strike will not win the award but it is worthy of its place on the list.

What are your thoughts? Which of these will win the award? Have you seen any goals that trump all of the above efforts? Can you provide videos of any other lower league goals as FIFA tend to ignore lower leagues?

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