Tag Archive: Lionel Messi


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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By Tony Alvarez
Earlier in the week the shortlist of 23 players who are in contention to win the coverted Ballon D’or or the world player of the year award to you and me were announced.
Amongst the shortlist were many of the usual contenders Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and a whole host of other Spanish based players, the players who ply their trade in the Premier League on the shortlist were Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Nani Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero Liverpool’s Uruguayan hot shot Luis Saurez and former Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas (mentioned due to him being at Arsenal for most of the calendar year.) 

What makes the Ballon D’or different from other awards apart from its prestige is the fact it is judged on calendar year so from Jan 1st 2011 to Dec 31st 2011 this is so voters can take into account any international tournament there may have been during the year.
You will notice from the title of my article that its about the omission of one man from the 22 man shortlist, Robin Van Persie, I know I am an Arsenal fan but I don’t believe I’m being biased when I say in this calendar year he has been in the top 10 players in the world so to not be on a 22 man shortlist is ludicrous.
His goals to game ratio speaks for itself in the league in 2011 he has scored 29 goals from 28 appearances, only 5 men have ever scored 30 goals in the Premier League in a calendar year before fitness permitting Van Persie has 8 games to add his name to the list, not only is the record great but he has performed at every level, he is not only notching against the lesser sides, he has hit the back of the net at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and least we forget scored a pivotal goal in a victory against the eventual Champions League winners.
Not only has he consistently performed home and away whilst leading by example and captaining Arsenal he has also been on form with his international side a criticism which is often labelled at many of the nominees on the shortlist.

In the current season Van Persie has scored four goals in four international fixtures, these may have been against some weak competition but all the major nations will come up against weaker nations, they still have to be punished.

I am not for one minute saying that Van Persie is a better player than him but on goals per game record in 2011 Van Persie is second ahead of many people’s favourite to receive the award Lionel Messi, Van Persie’s record is bettered only by that of Cristiano Ronaldo.

How can the second best striker in Europe who is plying his trade in arguably the best league in Europe if not the second best be omitted, he has scored more goals than most others led his side and to be frank he does not have the quality of players along side him that other nominee’s have.

There are many people who can feel hard done by to not be on the shortlist includingManchesterCity’s David Silva but it can be argued he has not performed for the whole year and just since August.

There is obviously no way the shortlist will be changed but I feel Van Persie has been dealt a huge disservice in over looking him, as an Arsenal fan and a Football fan I hope he makes them take notice of his ability’s and keeps scoring from now until the date the player of the year is announced to make a mockery of the system.

What are your thoughts? Should Van Persie of been included in the shortlist? Where would you place him in terms of Worlds best player this year? Was Van Persie overlooked because Arsenal are no longer a glamorous side? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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By Tony Alvarez

Following his two goals in two starts for Arsenal including one on his Champions League debut which saw him become the youngest Englishmen to ever score in the competition, many sections of the press and the public are hailing the abilities of the young Arsenal star and also claiming he should be ahead of Theo Walcott in the pecking order for club and country.

Although I missed Chamberlain’s man of the match performance againstShrewsburyin the Carling Cup due to a holiday I was present to watch his Champions League performance against Olympiakos and I may be going against the grain but he didn’t overly impress.

 He had moments of magic and showed he has real ability and huge potential but at the moment from what I saw at the moment it’s just potential and not realised something I’m sure the lad himself would be happy to admit.

The following is not slating the boy but more a hope people don’t overhype him prematurely the same way they have with pretty much every young player showing a bit of promise for the last few decades at least.

 There were many flaws in his performance some you may of noticed on the TV others were off the ball and would not have been highlighted.

 The biggest problem I would say is his off the ball running he never runs in behind the defence always wanting the ball to feet, this makes him incredibly easy to defend against, say what you will about Walcott’s technique but one thing its never is easy.

Chamberlain showed a huge ability to run onto either foot and perform off both sides which will always be encouraged. But he needs to work so he can get in the position to be able to run at people, Sagna probably had the worst game I’ve seen for him in an Arsenal shirt, it can’t all be blamed on Chamberlain but he gave him no option or out ball.

Despite being deployed as a winger for his time at Southampton Chamberlain still appears to have no idea where to be when defending to be fair to him he does get back to try and be an extra body but he has no idea where he is supposed to be and does not track runners.

For me Chamberlain is also not fit enough for the Premier League, the game against Olympiakos wasn’t the fastest pace it was not slow but I’ve seen a lot quicker. At times in the second half Chamberlain went and stood at right back and sent Sagna up ahead of him as he did not have the fitness to get up and down, unsurprisingly he was substituted shortly after.

The problem I think, especially from what I heard from around the Emirates is that Chamberlain is very good at the things Walcott isn’t (e.g. delivery and composure on the ball) because Arsenal fans have had varied levels of frustration with these aspects of Walcott, Chamberlain’s emergence has been like a breath of fresh air, however I think the fans are overlooking all the plus sides of Walcott’s game. 

Some where between the two is the perfect player, one journalist commented “Chamberlain, if only he had Walcott’s pace, if only Walcott had Chamberlain’s feet” whilst being partially correct I think this also taps into the lazy journalist aspect of claiming Walcott only has pace, Lionel Messi doesn’t brand you one of the worlds most dangerous players on pace alone.

It is also important to point out that both players are still improving of course that is clear with Chamberlain as he’s very young people seem to forget Walcott is no old man due to his emergence nearly 6 years ago now.

For me at the moment if I had a straight choice between the two Walcott would be starting every time and I think most Premier League defenders would prefer to face Chamberlain than Walcott, in the future this may change and given the technique Chamberlain posses I would not be surprised if at some point he is moved more central.

What are your thoughts? Do you think too much hype is around Chamberlain at the moment? Who would you pick between Walcott and Chamberlain? Do you se ea central role in the future for either of the two? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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Will it be United or Barcelona that lift the Champions League trophy tonight?

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This evening sees the conclusion to the European football season with the 2011 Champions League final.

For football neutrals, it looks a dream tie; Barcelona take on Manchester United at the home of football, Wembley Stadium.

Both teams have enjoyed domestic success once again, with Barca winning the La Liga title for a third season in a row, fighting off the challenge of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.

Manchester United completed a historic landmark when they clinched the Premier League two weeks ago.

Not only was it Sir Alex Ferguson‘s 12th Premier League title, but their 19th championship in all, making them the most successful club in English football.

However, United will know that they go into the game tonight as the underdogs, up against a side viewed by many as the team of it’s generation.

The likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have created a brand of football that has taken the modern game to a whole new level.

While the rest try to aspire to the Catalan giants, much praise goes to manager Pep Guardiola for the success he’s brought to the Nou Camp.

This game is also a repeat of the 2009 final, when Barcelona outplayed United in Rome’s Stadio Olympico to clinch a 2-0 triumph with goals from Samuel Eto’o and Messi.

Now it remains to be seen whether Ferguson and his side can turn around their fortunes against Barcelona and repeat the achievements of United’s 1968 European Cup-winning team.

Containing the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles, United beat Benfica by 4-1 to win their first European trophy at the old Wembley stadium.

A victory at the new Wembley will go down as one of United’s greatest triumphs.

KEY BATTLES

JAVIER HERNANDEZ vs CARLOS PUYOL                                                                   There haven’t been many better signings than that of 22 year-old Hernandez from Guadalajara. The Mexican striker was expected to play a bit-part role as he acclimatised to English football. But his natural goalscoring touch (20 goals this season) and lethal partnership with Wayne Rooney have propelled him to become a regular starter.

Hernandez comes up against arguably the best centre-half of the last decade. 33 year-old Puyol has achieved greatness with both club and country, having won World Cup, European Championships and Champions League medals. While his no-nonsense defending is admired by many, his fantastic reading of the game is acclaimed by all.  

RIO FERDINAND vs LIONEL MESSI                                                                                When it comes to great modern-day centre-halfs, Ferdinand is up there with Puyol. The 32 year-old has been a colossus for United and England, and his return to fitness in recent weeks has been crucial during the run-in.

However, Ferdinand faces the toughest challenge in world football; stopping Leo Messi. Superlatives don’t do the best player on the planet justice, so we’ll just show the stats. In his 54 games this season, he has contributed a staggering 76 goals – 52 scored, 24 assists. Good luck Rio!

ANTONIO VALENCIA vs ERIC ABIDAL                                                                        When 25 year-old Valencia suffered a horrific broken ankle in a Champions League match at home to Rangers in September, his season looked over. But the Ecuadorian right-winger has shown great courage in coming back and playing a big part in United’s success. It’s no coincidence the team has looked more dangerous with Valencia back in it.

If there’s one player that’s shown greater courage than Valencia this season, it’s Abidal. In March, the 31 year-old was diagnosed with a tumour on his liver. Thankfully, after a successful operation to remove it, the French left-back has returned to the first team and ready to take on the opportunity to quell the threat of Valencia in a battle that could decide the final.

DARREN FLETCHER vs ANDRES INIESTA                                                                       In 2009, Fletcher missed the Champions League final against Barcelona through suspension. Two years on, and having overcome an energy-sapping virus, he is ready to right the wrongs of missing out on Rome.

His return couldn’t be more timely. United need a a tough-tackling warhorse continually pressurising the midfield maestro that is Iniesta, and if the Scot is given a chance, his fitness will prove critical. The Spaniard’s ability to pick out a defense-splitting pass time and time again never ceases to amaze – and has he ever lost possession of the ball?

MICHAEL CARRICK vs XAVI HERNANDEZ                                                               England midfielder Carrick has often polarised opinions during his time at Old Trafford. Critics suggest that his all-round game isn’t sufficient enough to control a game, even though he has been part of four title-winning sides; however, his form in recent weeks has won many plaudits going into the Wembley showdown.

Carrick has a fantastic passing game, but so does his midfield rival. Xavi consistently takes games by the scruff of the neck, epitomising the modern-day holding midfielder. Wonderful protection for the defense, as well as consistently picking out successful pass after successful pass. He could prove to be the man that inspires Barca to a third Champions League trophy in six seasons.

So what do you think? Will United clinch their fourth European Cup and complete a remarkable double? Or will this Barca side take another step towards becoming one of the greatest of all time? Let us know your thoughts.

By Tony Alvarez

Following today’s announcement from Brazilian superstar Ronaldo that he is to retire from Football with immediate effect, many fans and sections of the media are celebrating his glittering career.

   Despite numerous injuries Ronaldo has represented some of the World’s most illustrious clubs and has won many major honour that the world has to offer, he is one of only two players to be named the World player of the year on three occasions, a winner of the World cup in 2002 a runner up in 1998.

 In domestic football Ronaldo represented Cruzeiro, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan and finally Corinthians scoring 326 goals in 466 club games a record bettered by no one add to this his 62 goals in 97 appearances for Brazil.

 He also boasts the record of being the highest scorer in the history of the World Cup with 15 goals, no one could argue that the man had an illustrious career but is it to early to call him a legend or as some people have suggested the player of a generation.

  For me a legend who is someone who is well regarded way after his playing career has finished, with Ronaldo’s goal scoring there is little doubt he will achieve legend status in the future.

However it’s the player of the generation tag that I simple cannot agree with and this may be controversial but for me Ronaldo does not possess the ability that Lionel Messi does.

 Now I am sure in counter arguments people will argue that Messi’s scoring record does not match Ronaldo’s he has never won a World Cup or competed at the top level for the amount of time that Ronaldo did. But people must remember that like Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi is not an out an out striker this makes his scoring record all the more impressive, he is not generally injury prone which it certainly cant be argued that Ronaldo was and offers more to a side than just goals.

I am aware that any counter argument would also point to the fact that Ronaldo was proved in many countries and for many different clubs where as Messi has only shown his ability in possibly the best club side ever.

So whilst for me the man more affectionately known as “the fat Ronaldo” will be consider as a legend for me he is not the player of his generation.

What do you think? Can Ronaldo be considered a legend? Is he the player of your generation? Do you consider Messi as a better player than Ronaldo was or does he need to prove himself in another side? Will anyone ever best Ronaldo’s World Cup goal scoring record? Let us know your thoughts….

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Will Torres give up on Liverpool today?

By Laurie Fitzgerald

It’s that time of the year when the rumour mill goes into overdrive; Lionel Messi has just been seen in a Little Chef off the M25 ordering an all-day breakfast, Lassana Diarra has been seen waving for a taxi at Manchester Airport, and Cristiano Ronaldo has just checked into a Travelodge in Birmingham.

Yes, welcome to transfer deadline day. When you refuse to believe your manager when he says that there will be no more signings, tuning into Sky Sports News with reporters standing outside club gates for 18 hours as they try to peer through a window, hoping that a deal hasn’t been confirmed yet because “the paperwork is still in the fax machine at the Premier League headquarters,” and continually refresh your club website well into midnight, in the hope that the picture of a top player appears with the words, ‘deal agreed’ underneath it.

While the majority of the time a transfer deadline day turns out to be a huge hyperbole of nothingness, with a couple of signings for reasonable fees and a whole host of loan signings by Football League sides, this year’s close to the January transfer window may turn out to be the exception to the accustomed waste of time.

Despite most clubs usually unwilling to lose their prized assets at this time of year, either saying that they would rather listen at the end of the season or putting a hugely-inflated price on their players, there are a host of big-name players whose futures remain very uncertain going into the last 24 hours of the window.

The biggest of which seems to be Fernando Torres. It would have seemed almost unthinkable that the 26 year-old would think about leaving Liverpool right now with his form re-invigorated under the Kop legend Kenny Dalglish, but it seems the Spaniard’s head may have been turned by a £35 million bid by Chelsea, understandably rejected by the Reds.

Torres has since handed in a written transfer request with his heart set on talking to the West London side, but it seems it didn’t tug at the heartstrings of the decision-makers at Anfield, who flatly rejected this request. It remains to be seen whether Chelsea come back in with an offer they can’t refuse or wait until the summer, or whether Torres gets on with the job in hand or starts throwing a strop for the rest of the season.

It’s incredibly frustrating for Liverpool fans, who are celebrating the signing of a top-class striker in Luis Suarez in a £22.8 million deal from Ajax. They shouldn’t be in fear of losing a top-class striker in the process, as their hope was that Suarez was brought in to partner Torres, not to replace him.

The Torres saga may have a negative impact on any other business Chelsea were hoping to conclude today. They’ve already been entangled in one drawn-out transfer this month, with their efforts to sign Benfica’s Brazilian defender David Luiz seemingly doomed to fail.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side seeked a work permit for the crazy-haired 23 year-old, but were unable to do the important thing and actually agree a deal with the Portuguese giants, with the club telling their national stock exchange they have called off talks to sell Luiz.

Keane's bench-warming days look set to be over

Chelsea and Liverpool aren’t the only ones playing their part in a potentially explosive transfer deadline day. Aston Villa were the side that brought this window to life when they made the stunning signing of Darren Bent from Sunderland, and they have been linked with signing Jermaine Jenas from Tottenham to add to their earlier midfield addition of Jean Makoun from Lyon.

Of course it wouldn’t be the end of a window if deadline day specialists Tottenham weren’t involved. Whether it’s memorable transfers (Dimitar Berbatov, Rafael Van der Vaart) or slightly forgettable ones (Grzegorz Rasiak anyone?) Spurs always seem to leave their dealings in and out of the club until the very last minute.

Today probably won’t be different. This weekend saw the club have a £23 million bid for Newcastle striker Andy Carroll rejected, with the Magpies making it clear they have no intention of selling their top goalscorer any time soon. Whether a higher bid from Spurs will change their mind remains to be seen.

Since then, they are reported to have made British transfer record bids for Sergio Aguero and Fernando Llorente, but it looks like they are set to end in disappointment too. But drama in N17 shouldn’t be too far away today.

While Carroll and co looks set not to come to White Hart Lane, another striker definitely looks set to be plying his trade elsewhere. Robbie Keane is probably made for life from signing-on fees alone, and he will get another windfall after joining West Ham on loan until the end of the season. The Hammers are one of 132 teams who were linked with the Republic of Ireland forward this January.

Will Adam get his move?

Another player to be linked with several clubs is Blackpool midfielder Charlie Adam. The Scottish international has been one of the stars of the season for the Tangerines, and has been the subject of bids from Liverpool, Aston Villa and Birmingham, none of which have met the satisfaction of manager Iain Holloway.

Adam has since handed in a transfer request, but if one of the trio of clubs mentioned come in for him again, then the seasiders have to decide whether a potential £8-10 million gain will not sacrifice a £50 million gain from Premier League survival come the end of the season.

Sebastian Larsson is another player whose future is up in the air. The Birmingham winger’s contract expires at the end of the season, and the Blues have had to decide whether they should sell him now or let the Swede leave for nothing at the end of the season.

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier has already said he is willing to wait until the summer, leaving Birmingham fans wondering if Larsson will be all that bothered if they go down while he moves to their fierce rivals.

Let’s not forget the ramifications of the deal that started off the drama of this transfer window. While Darren Bent settles into his new surroundings in the Midlands, Sunderland now need to find a replacement for the Sandra Redknapp-wannabe with their striking options left a little short.

The Wearsiders agreed a fee with Stoke for their striker Ricardo Fuller, which would complete a transfer triangle with Villa letting John Carew join the Potters on loan until the end of the season after their signing of Bent.

But talking of triangles, it seems this transfer may have disappeared in one around Bermuda as a fee was agreed 10 days ago, and a deal still isn’t concluded. Although Sunderland’s claims that they haven’t made a bid for Fuller may be more of a logical reason for any potential transfer being held up.

Of course, all of these mysteries and sagas will be revealed throughout the course of the day. It may turn out to be the biggest disappointment in the history of transfer deadline days, but whether deals collapse or conclude, Monday 31st January 2011 may go down as the most exciting deadline day yet.

What do you think? Does the transfer deadline day excite you? Do you think it’s a waste of time? What deals do you feel will happen today, especially involving your clubs? Let us know

As 2010 is coming to an end, we had requests from many fans on our thoughts on players of the year as well as who will go on to pick up the major honours.

Due to this below are our thoughts players of the year, stars of the future as well manager of the year and many others.

Take a look and if you disagree let us know.

Team of the year:

 Laurie: Blackpool – Iain Holloway’s side, favourites for relegation to League One last season, now find themselves in the top 8 of the Premier League. A true footballing fairytale.

Tony: It can be anyone but Blackpool, even if they were 17th in the league and struggling it would still be a miraculous achievement for them to be where they are, so there current league form is just a big cherry on top of a thick layer of icing on a very big cake.

Manager of the year:

Laurie: Iain Holloway – See above.
Tony: Again I can’t disagree with Laurie, it’s not only his achievements the way he carries himself through both victory and defeat is remarkable. One of the only managers that will gladly call it as he sees it. I would happily tune into his press conferences every week.

Domestic Player of the year:

Laurie: Gareth Bale – It’s genuinely difficult finding a player that has made the same impact in the past 12 months. From being on the verge of loaned out to Nottingham Forest to being rated in the region of £35-50m. A stunning transformation.

Tony: I disagree because Bale’s good form has been this season, he did play in the early part of this year but he was not at the dizzy heights he is currently playing at, I am going to go with Carlos Tevez, he scores goals, he creates goals and he leads the line for his club. In a team of big name players he is clearly the shinning light and is a large part of the reason why they are challenging for the title.

Shock of the year:

Laurie: Martin O’Neill’s exit – While the sackings of Chris Hughton and Sam Allardayce were both ludicrous, no-one could see O’Neill walking out of Villa 5 days before the start of the season. We still don’t know why he left, as Villa find themselves edging towards a ridiculous relegation fight.

Tony: I am caught in two minds here, on one hand I think Allardyce is. When he got sacked a friend rung and told me, I was in disbelief I could not even see a hint of it happening. The other is Portsmouth reaching the FA cup final, despite all their off the field dramas and terrible league form they managed to reach the final of the  worlds biggest domestic cup competition and had a huge chance to win it.

  
 

Worst team of the year:

Laurie: England National team – Who else? We have gotten use to seeing disappointment after disappointment from major tournaments, but the spectacular collapse in South Africa put previous World Cup exits to shame. Not only did it once and for all destroy the myth of the golden generation, but it has left relations between public and the team at an all-time low.
Tony: Could not agree more. This was the year, this was our big chance, this was our destiny. No it wasn’t this was pathetic. Everything was wrong and you would be hard pressed to give any player credit for their performances in South Africa.

Worst manager of the year:

Laurie: Fabio Capello – Again, see above.

Tony: Again without a shadow of a doubt, he chose the wrong squad, he played the wrong tactics, he made the wrong substitutions at the wrong times and was as inspiring as a dead fish.

 Performance of the year:

Laurie: Barcelona’s demolition of Real Madrid – It would have been an injustice to football had I ignored the 5-0 hammering that the Catalan giants gave to Jose Mourinho’s side. The manner of the win, against an excellent team, was astonishing. We will look back at this Barca team 40 years from now in the way we look back on the Brazil 1970 team these days.
Tony: Again spot on, I urge every single person who likes Football to watch the full 90 minutes of this match the highlights do not do it justice, Madrid were not bad they were not allowed to be bad, Barca were magical it was pure entertainment.

Ultimatum of the year:

Laurie: Rafa Benitez – There has been many a manager that has demanded more backing from their chairman, but none have backfired so spectacularly as Benitez’s demand to Inter Milan owner Massimo Moratti. He gave him three options; Buy players, not buy anyone and have a disappointing season, or sack him. Moratti went with option three.
Tony: To be honest I can’t think of another one so Benitez takes the award due to a lack of serious competition, it would have been bettered had United or City called Rooney or Tevez’s bluffs but player power ruled.

Best player in the world:

Laurie: Wesley Sneijder – The likes of Iniesta, Messi and Xavi will get most of the plaudits, but for me there has been no-one better than the Dutchman. His all-round performances spearheaded both club and country to new heights. Inter won everything in sight, and he was joint top-scorer at the World Cup as the Netherlands got to the final. A marvellous player who doesn’t get the praise he deserves.
Tony: I am going with the boring and predictable answer here and going to say Lionel Messi, most people will agree that Messi is the best player on earth but believe Sneijder deserves the award on this years achievements, however these are team achievements if you look at stats Messi has had his best ever calendar year as an individual, Sneijder has had a great year and does deserve a lot of praise but for me I can’t see past Messi.

One to watch in 2011:

Laurie: Alex Oxlade Chamberlain who is currently at Southampton I’ve been recently impressed with this boy and a few clubs have been linked with him, this time next year he will be a house hold name and hailed as the future.

Tony: I agree with Laurie, Chamberlain is 17 performing in League one and linked with everyone. Another one I think should be watched closely is Tom Cleverly the Man United midfielder who is currently on loan at Wigan, I can see him going on to big things.

Goal of the year:

Laurie: Matthew Burrows – What? No Messi or Fabregas? Nope. How about a part-time footballer from Northern Ireland? Burrows back-heel flick wonder goal for Glentoran against Portadown became an overnight internet sensation, and rightly so. A goal Leo and co would have been proud to call their own.

Tony: This is a tough one there are so many to chose from, as I am a fan of team football over individual efforts I am going to go for Bolton’s goal in the last minute against Blackpool scored by Mark Davies, this was Bolton in the last minute the ball was not hoofed long to Kevin Davies it was a move with pace, movement and slide rule passing. An honourable mention to Johan Elmander for his solo effort against Wolves but for me it’s his team mate Davies who takes the award.

Laurie:

Top 4: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea

 Bottom Three: 18. West Brom 19. Wigan  20. Wolves

FA Cup: Tottenham

League Cup: Arsenal

Champions League: Barcelon

Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg

Championship promotion: QPR, Cardiff, Norwich (Play-offs)

Relegation: Preston, Crystal Palace, Bristol City

League One promotion: Brighton, Sheff Wed, Charlton (Play-offs

Relegation: Yeovil, Walsall, Dagenham & Redbridge, Tranmere

League Two
Promotion: Chesterfield, Bury, Shrewsbury, Rotherham (Play-offs)
Relegation: Morecambe, Hereford

Tony:

Top 4: 1. Man united 2 Arsenal 3 Chelsea 4 Man City

Bottom three: 18th West Ham 19th Wolves 20th Wigan

FA Cup: Chelsea

League Cup: Arsenal

Champions League: Barcelona

Europa League: Manchester City

Championship: 1st QPR 2nd Cardiff, play off winners: Leeds United

Relegated: Preston, Crystal Palace and Scunthorpe.

League one:  1st Brighton 2nd Southampton, play off winners Charlton

Relegated: Yeovil, Walsall, Tranmere and Dagenham and Redbridge 

League two: 1st Chesterfield 2nd Port Vale 3rd Shrewsbury, play off winners Wycombe

Relegated: Hereford and Accrington Stanley

Those are our thoughts but what do you think? Agree let us know, also tell us why the person or team is deserving of the award. Thank you for reading I hope you have enjoyed your read.

By Tony Alvarez

“Well, there is only one player who is a tiny bit better than me: Leo Messi. The rest are behind me!”

The above is a quote from Manchester City’s young Italian enigma Mario Balotelli, I agree that everyone that who either is or aspires to be at the top of the game needs a certain amount of confidence or swagger, but Balotelli is bordering on arrogance.

Balotelli who was awarded the golden boy award (which in itself is ridiculous) ahead of young Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere carried on to say “I don’t know who Jack Wilshere is, to be honest. But the next time I play against Arsenal I will keep a close eye on him.”

I will start of by criticising the awards, as regular readers will know I am a Arsenal fan who highly admires Jack Wilshere, but second in young player of the year is not justified. When he was playing for Bolton in March half the World hadn’t heard of him now suddenly he is the best player in the World, not for me.

Whilst Balotelli did feature a bit more for his club side, despite a ban enforced by his own manager Jose Mourinho, you would be pushed to say he had a huge impact in Inter’s treble winning side. Whether you agree with the decision or not Balotelli was not even selected in the Italian squad for the World Cup, hardly fitting for the best young player on Earth.

You can’t blame Balotelli or Wilshere for being given the awards but for what Balotelli said after he received the award he will have to take responsibility for.

Whilst it is possible that Balotelli has never heard of Jack Wilshere I find it very hard to believe, I find it hard to believe that you haven’t heard of a player who has started the majority of games for one of your biggest title rivals.

Not having heard of Wilshere is unlikely but plausible, considering yourself the second best player on earth despite achieving not very much is plain disrespectful.

Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo is proved in two of the world’s best leagues consistently winning games single handedly and scoring 30+ goals a season despite not being a striker.

Players such as Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Wesley Sneijder to name just a few have equaled and extended Balotelli’s Footballing achievements. Balotelli may have the potential to reach their levels but he is a light year away from them on current ability. 

Balotelli saying Messi is only a little bit better than him is ludicrous, much like Ronaldo Messi has won everything there is to be won in club Football and consistently played at an immensely high level.

There is no doubt that Balotelli has potential, if he learns to put his head down stop his moaning and put in the required effort he could be a very good footballer.

However, it is my personal opinion is that Balotelli does not have the potential nor the mental capabilities to reach the levels of the players mention above. He may well be a very good player in the future but in my opinion he will never be great.

When Balotelli has taken the Premiership by storm scoring 25-30 goals and pushing his side into winning things then he can come back with these quotes and perhaps be taken seriously, until then I think he would be wise to keep quiet.

 What do you think? Am I too harsh on him? Is he as close to Messi and co as he believes? Is saying he has never heard of Jack Wilshere pure arrogance or is he genuine? Leave your views.

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