Tag Archive: London


 

South American contestants, Uruguay, have shown that they are taking Olympic football glory seriously, by selecting an extremely strong 18-man squad for London 2012.

The side are 7/1 for the gold in the Olympics football betting odds on Betfair, behind Spain and Brazil.

Liverpool striker, Luis Saurez, is one of the main attractions, and he is joined by fellow Reds player, defender Sebastian Coates.

Suarez is one of the three over-age players allowed to be included, with Palermo’s Arevalo Rios and Napoli’s Edinson Cavani also selected by coach, Oscar Tabarez.

So, at least England will know what to expect when they play Uruguay, having also been drawn in group A along with Senegal and the UAE.

Uruguay have won the Olympic gold medal on two occasions, having first triumphed on their debut at the Games in Paris, in 1924, beating Switzerland 3-0.

They followed up, four years later, in Amsterdam, beating Argentina 2-1 in a replay after the first match ended all square, but they have not been anywhere near as successful since.

However, the South Americans, who join fellow CONMEBOL side, Brazil, in London, are expected to be one of the big challengers for the gold medal, having won the 2011 Copa America.

In addition, quite a few of the squad were part of the side that captured last year’s South American under-21 tournament.

The inclusion of Saurez, while good news for Uruguay, means that Liverpool will be without their star player for the start of pre-season training, but, when he does return to Merseyside, it could well be with a medal round his neck, maybe even gold, although his fellow Premier League peers will hope not.

The Betfair Tennis webpage may also be of interest to fans of the Olympics; Andy Murray is fourth-favourite, as ever, to win the gold.

By Tony Alvarez

Following Saturdays somewhat embarrassing loss at the hands of Cheltenham Town, Dagenham and Redbridge sit bottom of League Two and look in real danger of dropping out of the Football League.

The Daggers are three points off safety albeit with a game in hand however with their inferior goal difference largely due to Saturdays defeat the gap more resembles four points than three.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

While most people up and down the country are either working off the Christmas turkey or rushing out for the high street sales, football fans are looking forward to one of the most traditional days in the season’s calendar.

Boxing day football has become a national institution, and this year is no different with several Premier League fixtures and a full programme of matches in the Football League.

But while we prepare to follow our sides across the land, the rest of Europe are taking their annual winter break to allow players and supporters to enjoy the festivities in its entirety.

This always creates the seemingly endless debate of whether we should follow in the footsteps of our continental counterparts and be football-free until the new year.

However, with no immediate plans for change, the festive period will continue to entertain us with the thrills and spills of the beautiful game.

But is a full set of fixtures right on top of Christmas something that appeals to you?

There never seems to be any sympathy for the players themselves, who have their Christmases heavily disrupted year in year out due to Christmas Day training sessions or staying in hotels that night with a game early the next day.

Then again, if you were paid the sort of money that a modern-day footballer receives then you’d be willing to play on the 25th December, let alone the 26th.

Yet this doesn’t exclude how we as supporters feel; we’ll support our clubs any time of the year, and so whether today you have a home game or a long journey for hundreds of miles for an away trip, we’ll make the effort to be there.

But this is usually the time of year to switch off, relax and enjoy time with family and friends. Finding the motivation to gear yourself up for the highs and lows of watching your team play doesn’t usually fit into that ideology.

Although Boxing Day football can split opinions, many of us see it as much of a tradition as turkey and watching The Snowman while falling asleep afterwards.

It’s been around for many years and will continue to be that way – but do you view football on this day as a Christmas cracker?

By Laurie Fitzgerald

This week, Queens Park Rangers owner Tony Fernandes announced plans to move the club away from Loftus Road and into a new stadium.

The Malaysian businessman, who also owns motor company Lotus, confirmed that they were looking at potential new sites across West London to take the Premier League newboys.

There are fears that Fernandes is thinking too big, and that a larger stadium would not regularly meet demand due to the current fanbase that is associated with the Hoops.

But Fernandes tried to allay those fears by saying, “Some fans are saying ‘we don’t have a fan base bigger than 20,000.’ My gut feeling is 40-45,ooo. That’s double where we are right now, but we’re in London and there’s a strong catchment area.”

It’s great to see that the 47 year-old has such ambitious plans for the club, especially as it shows that QPR are in the right hands for the long-term, something that couldn’t be said for previous owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone (despite their vast wealth.)

However, the main issue for Fernandes will be whether or not building such a big new stadium is a realistic proposition when there are clubs all across London trying to attract the same supporters.

Loftus Road has been the home of Rangers for the past 107 years, and their current capacity of around 18,500 is a regular sell-out.

So there is a definite need to have a ground with greater attendance, but why not have that possibility where they currently are now?

If Fernandes looked into increasing the current capacity to around 25,000, it would not only give QPR a regular chance of attracting more supporters, but also give them a realistic chance of filling the stadium every week.

Going into a bigger stadium just because London is a big catchment area doesn’t guarantee the increase of the fanbase. The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and West Ham make that difficult enough whatever the stadia.

No-one can dispute Fernandes’ belief in what he can achieve for QPR, and he has also made it clear that the short-term aim is to consolidate their position in the top-flight. He knows without that status, any plans for a bigger stadium will be scrapped.

But while they search for potential sites for a new home, there is no reason to rule out the long-term possibility of where they are now.

 Source: BBC Sport

So what do you think? Has Fernandes got it right in outlining plans for a 40-45,ooo seater stadium? Or are his plans too ambitious and look to increase the current capacity of Loftus Road? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

 

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

 

Yesterday Kenny Jacketts Millwall side who have been struggling for points and goals of late, held high flyingMiddlesbroughto a 1-1 draw thanks to an equaliser from midfielder Liam Trotter.

Trotter’s equaliser was only the 8th League goal in 11 games which everyone will agree is not good enough, they are the second lowest scorers in the Championship and thus find themselves lucky to find themselves outside the relegation zone.

The draw puts to bed a run of three Championship games without victory and the club that the point picked up can act as a confidence boost for the London side to end their run of 9 games without a win in all competitions the club have only tasted victory in the league once this term way back on the 13th of August.

The Lions hunt for that elusive victory does not look to be getting any easier with the clubs next three fixtures coming against high flyers Brighton, big spending Leicester and 10th placedIpswich who on their day can beat anyone.

Before the international break Millwall once again drew a blank when going down 1-0 toBurnley.

The Lions have boosted their striking options since their game atBurnleywith the loan signing of QPR front man Patrick Agyemang.

Agyemang made his Lions debut in the draw against Middlesbrough but was withdrawn at half time with many of the believe it was due to his lack of match sharpness, even though he may not of been able to perform to his maximum today it is clear that he is a handful for Championship defences and gives a different option to the likes of former Arsenal man Jay Simpson.

I think Millwall are a good club and are easily of the level to play in the Championship however the longer this run goes on for the more the morale amongst the squad will drop and the belief they have in their ability will fade.

I’m not claiming Agyemang is a 30 goal a season man who will instantly change the clubs fortunes but should he hit the back of the net a couple of times during his loan spell which I’m sure the club will hope to extend for longer than the original month then the confidence at the Den will coming flying back and they will yet again become the side who everyone hates to play.

What are your thoughts? How long will this run continue? Could it go on long enough to threaten Millwalls Championship status? Can Agyemang bring back the fight in the club? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

By Tony Alvarez

Today it was announced that West Ham’s move to the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games has been left in tatters.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) had chosen West Ham as their preferred tenants back in February, but an ongoing legal battle involvingLondonrivals Tottenham and Leyton Orient has forced the OPLC to scrap the deal.

It was feared that the legal challenges made by Spurs and Orient would damage the legacy and reputation of the games and, eventually, leave the Olympic Stadium empty for years meaning no money being made back against the astronomical build costs.

  The Olympic Stadium will remain in public ownership, with all potential tenants having too bid again for the right to rent the stadium at a cost of a suspected amount of £2 million a year, however it is not yet known if the price will remain the same should a club agree a 10 year rental for instance.

West Ham have confirmed that they will be interested in renting the stadium which will now see the OPLC foot the bill for reducing the stadium from 80,000 seater stadium to a 60,000 seater but however would mean that the running track would remain in the stadium almost guaranteeing a loss of atmosphere and a reduced quality of view for the spectators.

Leyton Orient who were the biggest opposition to West Ham’s bid for the stadium along with Tottenham Hotspur have released a statement via their chairman Barry Hearn saying “It is a fabulous day for Leyton Orient” after confirming Orient would rival West Ham for tenancy he added “West Ham are not a shoo-in, that’s very good because they will be competing with a host of other people who have claims on and plans for the Olympic Stadium…. We have already thrown our hand into the ring and we are going to be part of the bidding process”

The title of the article is could this be a blessing in disguise because I know many West Ham fans were opposed to this, one of the most famous things about Upton Park is the famous atmosphere especially “forever blowing bubbles” which could be lost in the Olympic stadium as the sound would have to travel over the running track to get onto the pitch.

I am not sure who the ideal tenant would be for Olympic park Orient with all due respect will not fill the ground, West Ham may or may not sell the ground out every week but would certainly lose the atmosphere and the 12th man effect and the other original suitors however its now believed they wont re-enter the race Tottenham would have to move way out of the area the team is based in order to occupy stadium.

What are your thoughts? Would a rental agreement be the best move for West Ham United? Would the atmosphere created really be lost due to the running track? As Hammers fans would you welcome a move to OP? Who do you think the rightful tenants should be? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

We’re all set for the last weekend of Premier League action before the international break, and there are some intriguing match-ups before the two-week interval.

Today’s early kick-off sees Liverpool travel to Everton for the Merseyside derby, and tomorrow Tottenham take on Arsenal at White Hart Lane in the battle to see who is the current king of North London.

These two matches epitomise the fierce and passionate rivalry that exists for many clubs in English football, and for supporters of the four clubs, these particular games always mean that little bit more.

But which one stands out above them all, not only domestically but also considering some of the famous rivalries from around the world?

Liverpool and Everton always contest passionate and physical encounters, with this fixture usually throwing up the odd sending off or two.

With both clubs having a rich history and not much to separate them in current circumstances, it has made the contests in recent years even more difficult to call.

For Arsenal and Spurs it is a similar situation; following years of Gunners’ dominance under Arsene Wenger, the gap has closed considerably.

This fixture also lives up to expectations – who can forget Arsenal’s 5-4 win at White Hart Lane in 2005, and Spurs salvaging a dramatic 4-4 draw at the Emirates back in 2008?

These are not the only great rivalries in English football; there is a rivalry in Manchester that is getting more contentious by the week.

After decades of superiority, Manchester United have always seemingly had the upper hand over Manchester City. Even when City last won the title back in 1968, United went on to win the European Cup in the same season.

However, with City re-emerging as a major force, these two will not only be fighting to be the kings of Manchester, but most probably the kings of England too.

The second city derby is another fascinating spectacle with Aston Villa and Birmingham providing plenty of talking points, especially in recent years.

How about incidents such as THAT goal that Peter Enckelman conceded at St. Andrews in 2002? Or Dion Dublin’s headbutt on Robbie Savage in the same season?

While the two sides will have their rivalry uncontested this campaign, the controversial decision by Villa to appoint Blues manager Alex McLeish as their new boss in the summer will have ensured it will not be forgotten in the forseeable future.

Then there is the derby between two different cities but is a rivalry that is intense as any other; when Sunderland and Newcastle face one another it always generates an incredible atmosphere between two of the most passionate sets of supporters around.

There are many rivalries that will catch the attention of neutrals and make the players realise just what the club means to the fans.

Both Nottingham Forest and Derby enjoyed great success under the legendary Brian Clough, but this doesn’t stop them enthralling fans in passionate Midland derbies.

West Ham and Milwall’s disdain from one another originated from the docks, but it now firmly exists on the pitch.

While in League One, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United may have gone through difficult times, but the passion within the Steel City derby.

Swansea City and Cardiff City may have been separated by the Swans’ promotion to the top flight in May, but their battle to be the best in Wales has made it one of the biggest hate-hate relationships in Britain.

Talking of Britain, can any of those mentioned contest with the Old Firm, where the hatred between Celtic and Rangers is fuelled not only by football and city loyalties, but also religion?

On a global scale, there are few bigger than the El Classico; not only are Real Madrid and Barcelona two of the biggest clubs on the planet, but it’s difficult to find any side better than those currently on show at the Bernabeu and Nou Camp. 

The great thing is that everyone has a rivalry that although may not get the same attention as some, it doesn’t take away what it means to those involved.

From Fenerbache v Galatassaray to Brighton v Crystal Palace; River Plate v Boca Juniors to Luton v Watford. Each rivalry may get different levels of attention, but it doesn’t make them any less special.

Without it, football just wouldn’t be the same.

So what do you think? What is your favourite rivalry in football? What are your best memories of rivalries that involve your clubs? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Tony Alvarez

A look at the latest FIFA World rankings will show England sitting pretty in fourth place, many followers of the England side and of course followers of Football in general will know this ranking is unjustified and there is no way we are the fourth best nation in World Football.

I am the biggest optimist when it comes to the English national side which leads to quite regular disappointment, this led me to asking: Why areEnglandso off the pace in terms of the leading international side despite having one of the best leagues in the World?

 Many are quick to blame the Premiership for having a huge percentage of players ineligible to represent the national side, personally I’ve never brought that excuse for me it just makes the top English players raise their game to try and be able to compete with the talents of the foreign players.

For me I think this should help our players there playing against top players, some even World class week in week out, I cant see how people honestly think our players would be better if they were playing against worse English players.

TheEnglandmanager would have a greater selection but of worse players, I would rather Mr Capello or who ever it is in charge have a choice from 30 top draw players than 100 run of a mill players.

Another common excuse for failure is the press and how they get on the national sides back and try to cause controversy within the camp, whilst I think the way the press act is poor it cannot be used as an excuse for under achievement, the players get as much criticism at club level in most cases and deal with it well enough to be selected for England in the first place, the press are not a major issue more an annoyance.

Although it has little effect on our national team our league system is so much stronger than other nations its laughable, for family reasons I visit Spain quite a lot, the local side to where members of my family live are in the league below the Segunda, the third stage of Spanish Football in effect our League One, despite being at least a mid table team if not promotion chasing they are awful, I play Saturday League in London for a side on the 16th stage of the English ladder, my side would run the Spanish side close, if they were to play their League One equivalents it would be farcical.

You may think I’m going off topic but I am highlighting that we have a system where we can loan out our younger players and they can get a good level of competition whilst gaining experience that is something that even the league of the World champions cannot offer.

After quite some time looking into the problems of our national team and why we “underachieve” at every given opportunity I think I cracked it yesterday.

As a sports coach I am often called into schools to do after school clubs, I happened to arrive early for my session and watched in on the last 20 minutes of a Football session for kids between the ages of 11-13 what I saw shocked and worried me.

As their session was nearing an end they were playing matches I assume the coach had already completed training drills but I don’t know, whilst watching the kids play their games I noticed not one of the kids knew HOW to play Football, don’t get me wrong the level of ability was quite high but the brains were non existent. There was no pass and move no finding the player in acres of space, everyone was cramped up in a tiny section of the pitch where the ball was.

Any time and space a player did find was not a chance for them to get their head up and find the killer pass but instead a chance to show off their latest trick or how they could nut meg some without any idea what was going on around them.

 It made me think back to my school days, my school team had two players who are now professional Footballers, no where near the international stage granted but still at a high level. One of them was the best in our year by a long way and had a natural technical gift, but he wasn’t flashy trying to show a new trick at every opportunity he realised that a goal was as big an embarrassment to an opponent that any thing else, in short he know how to play football along with the ability to do it.

The other boy now making a living form playing Football was not even a guaranteed starter for the school side he was not big he was not strong or the best finisher. What he did have was a amazing work rate and an understanding of the game around him, everyone grew up and the kids being picked because they were bigger no longer had their edge, not everyone developed a Football brain.

For me there lies the problem of the English national team not enough kids at a young age are taught how to play Football and think like a Footballer, some players get through who develop this side of the game on their own but were losing about 90% of players before any career has even started by not teaching them this side of the game, ability is not the only trait that makes a Footballer.

What are your thoughts? Are my assumptions correct? Is there any other reasons why England are serial underachievers? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts

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As I’m sure you’re all aware, due to the outbreak of violence in London and the rest of the country over the last few days, there have rightly been postponements within the football programme.

These include the two Carling Cup games that we have previewed – West Ham vs. Aldershot and Crystal Palace vs. Crawley Town. Because of this, the articles will be re-scheduled for when the games will now take place, which will be confirmed at a later date. Articles on SFTS will continue from tomorrow.

Many thanks for your understanding.

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