Tag Archive: Premier League


Time for divers to be banned?

Once again, the Premier League weekend was subject to a little controversy as a number of players were accused of diving to try and win their side a penalty, or get an opposing player sent off.

One of the big examples of this was Luis Suarez for Liverpool against Stoke City on Sunday as the Uruguayan went down far too easily in the second half of the a football result   that ended goalless draw between the two sides at Anfield.

This made Stoke boss Tony Pulis come out and ask for Suarez to be banned, suggesting that too many players get away with doing it and that if they were suspended for diving, it would cut it out of the game.

These days it is almost impossible for a referee to give a penalty as there is always the doubt that a player has tried to con the officials or whether there was enough contact. Someone like Suarez is constantly in the headlines for playacting and it has led to him getting a lot less spot-kicks.

However, he seems to keep on doing it and maybe a ban would be a big statement of intent from the Football Association that they want to get diving out of the game and it would make a player think twice about doing that.

The FA could use video evidence after the match, and if someone has clearly dived to try and win a penalty of having a member of the opposition sent off, then it is them that face the ban.

No one likes to see a player cheating – there is a big difference between winning a penalty and looking for one. If you feel contact in the box, then you have every right to go down, but if you go into the area knowing you are going to fall to the ground – you deserve to be punished.

This is not just a pick on Suarez either, there are players all round England that are guilty of it. When you are successful in trying to con the referee it can have a massive impact on a team’s season – which is really not fair.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup‘s comments that he sees nothing wrong with clubs offering rival teams money to win if it will benefit them – so-called ‘suitcasing’ and apparently commonplace in Spain – have quite rightly sparked anger amongst British football fans.

Laudrup has caused controversy by saying he doesn’t “see anything bad” in the suggestion that a third side can offer another in the league a financial reward, or incentive, to win a game that benefits them both.

To explain further, a hypothetical example would be Swansea players being offered an extra financial bonus by, say, Wigan for the Welsh club to beat, for example, Southampton, if that result would directly benefit Wigan in a relegation battle.

While these crucial occasions are not common and usually restricted to the final weeks of a season, the suggestion that it is ‘OK’ for this practice to go ahead is surely dangerous for the game – and for someone of Laudrup’s standing to offer his backing to it, quite frankly, shocking.

Laudrup said: “If Swansea play the last game against a team and a third team pays Swansea to win the game, I really don’t see anything bad about that.”

Online message-boards and phone-ins have been dominated by fans angered by his comments and they are quite right to object to what is a flawed wisdom which breeds and feeds an underground current and a totally unregulated culture that will unduly affect results and scores

It is a very dangerous and murky road to go down. If players are suddenly offered more money to win games then how long before others are offered more to lose a meaningless game? In truth, while it might not be technically illegal, it completely goes against sporting traditions and is a short sidestep away from blatant match-fixing – something we are thankfully not too familiar with in the Barclays premier league but an issue which remains a threat in other parts of the world, not least Italy, where an ongoing match-fixing scandal at the highest level continues to be investigated.

In the light of Laudrup’s naive and outspoken comments, the FA have reminded everyone they, of course, have clear rules to outlaw any form of bribery, match-fixing and corruption.

Some will say that Laudrup, brought up and used to football in another culture, was merely revealing what many know goes on ahead of certain crucial games in other countries and expressing his personal opinion that he doesn’t see much wrong with it.

But it is clearly a dark route for football to go down and, while it may be seen as ‘the norm’ in Spain, it is never something that should be tolerated over here.

It is clear that England have a shortage of top class strikers at the moment. With Wayne Rooney constantly struggling to re-produce his club form for the national team, and the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck lacking experience on the international stage; there is an opening for forwards to stake a claim to be a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s future squads.

The Likes of Grant Holt, anyone who follows Premier League news  will have seen that he bagged 15 League goals in his debut Premier League season last year for Norwich City, and Danny Graham at Swansea City have consistently been overlooked for a place in the Three Lions squad despite performing superbly for their Club sides.

But another man who has not as yet been given a look in is Gary Hooper at Celtic. The Harlow born front man has been nothing short of a goal machine for the Bhoys after making a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United back in 2010.

Since then, Hooper has netted over half a century goals for the Hoops and his manager, Neil Lennon, has urged England to give him a chance.  His blistering form has led to both Scotland and Wales making enquires over whether the 24 year old could be eligible to play for them, but such a turnover of goals should have caught the attention of Roy Hodgson.

Many sceptics will point to the fact that Hooper has been plying his trade at a relatively poor standard in the SPL,  but the ball still needs putting in the back of the net; no matter what level you play – and Hooper does that better than most.

What’s more, he has dealt with the pressure of playing for one of Britain’s biggest club’s in the shape of Celtic and thrived on the atmosphere. The prospect of playing for his country in front of big crowds is something that is unlikely to faze him and natural born goal scorers will always have that ability to create something out of nothing.

If you like a football bet , you will see that Hooper is the favourite to be the leading scorer in the SPL this campaign.

It would be great to see players rewarded for their league form, no matter who they play for, with international friendlies offering the perfect chance to try out new faces. In the shape of Hooper, England may have a predatory forward on their hands; but they will never know unless they give him a chance to prove his worth.

By Andrew Ward

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After a truly great summer of sport dominated our attention, it almost feels like the new football season has snuck up on without anyone realising.

But it’s easy to forget after the past few weeks of witnessing our Olympic heroes inspire a nation that last season’s Premier League campaign will be etched into the memory of every football fan for many years to come.

A title race that came down to the last kick of the season (literally) a battle for the Champions League places that had more twists and turns than a Carlos Tevez transfer saga, and a relegation battle that had supporters of several clubs biting their nails for several months on end.

Now, the new season gets underway today with either plenty of change or plenty of uncertainty dominating the thoughts of clubs ready for the next long journey ahead.     Continue reading

By Laurie Fitzgerald,

Tomorrow, the richest game in world football takes place as Blackpool and West Ham United prepare to battle it out for an instant return back to the biggest league on the planet.

A packed Wembley stadium will host the 2012 Championship play-off final, and while the Hammers start off as favourites to get back into the Premier League, the Seasiders‘ attacking intent means there is every chance of a tangerine party.

Both teams had rather different passages to the final; West Ham eased past Cardiff 5-0 on aggregate, while Blackpool had to resist a stirring Birmingham fightback to edge the Blues 3-2 over two hard-fought legs and earn a crack at reaching the big time again.

Now they are just 90 minutes away, and going into the match there is certainly a contrast between the levels of pressure that each manager will face.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez
Yesterday new England manager Roy Hodgson announced his first England squad, which is an important one as its also the squad that will represent England in this Summers European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine.
Shortly after his squad was announced at 1pm yesterday his decisions were met with much criticism from the general public as well as some of his decisions being questioned by Football pundits.

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By Tony Alvarez
Following Tottenham finishing fourth a position which would normally put them in the qualifying rounds of the Uefa Champions League, many fans who are not supporters of the North London side or Roberto Di Matteo‘s Chelsea have been caught in two minds about who they want to win the Champions League.
Of course Chelsea finished the season in a disappointing 6th place but all will be forgotten if they can win in Munich on Saturday and be crowned European Champions for the first time.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

Sergio Aguero’s 95th-minute strike secured the most thrilling of Premier League titles for Manchester City as Roberto Mancini’s side earned the club’s first title in 44 years in truly dramatic fashion.

That 3-2 win over Queen’s Park Rangers served as heartbreak for their Manchester rivals United, as Sir Alex Ferguson‘s men had the title given to them and dashed from them all within a matter of minutes.

It was also a fitting end to a Premier League campaign that has thrown up endless twists and turns, and this in a week when the 2011/12 season was voted the greatest in the league’s history, with each club having their own intriguing story.

City will look upon their triumph as potentially the beginning of a new and successful era, with the incredible financial backing of Sheikh Mansour now reaping the rewards.

United will try and use this moment to inspire their younger players such as Phil Jones and Danny Welbeck to drive them on and continuing the consistent success that’s been in place over the past 20 years.     Continue reading

By Tony Alvarez

By midnight tonight the Premier League season will be over, we will know where everyone has finished and more importantly who has grabbed the final important places that are still up for grabs.
It has been the first time in many a year that the final day of the season has seen so much still to play for.

The title is still there to be won with the Manchester clubs, City and United fighting to be crowned Champions.
3rd and 4th are still yet to be decided, really they shouldn’t be important placing but with the money the Champions League brings in they are extremely important, third is also more important that it has ever been before as the side who finish 4th will miss out on Champions League Football should Chelsea triumph over Munich in Munich on May 19th.

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By Laurie Fitzgerald

Birmingham City’s quest for promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking came to a disappointing end when they were knocked out of the play-offs by Blackpool.

Despite pulling the aggregate score back from 3-0 down to trailing 3-2 with 20 minutes remaining, the Blues were unable to get the goal needed to take the tie into extra-time as Iain Holloway’s men progressed to Wembley to take on West Ham next Saturday.

However, Birmingham’s fightback was a prime example of the character and the determination to defy the odds that they have developed under manager Chris Hughton over the past 12 months.

When City were relegated on the final day of last season, it began a summer of turmoil that would see major changes from top to bottom of the club.

Owner Carson Yeung was arrested in his native Hong Kong following allegations of money laundering, and with his assets being the subject of a criminal investigation – on top of the huge loss of revenue after falling out of the Premier League – it inevitably lead to asset-stripping at St. Andrews.

Key players in their Carling Cup triumph departed, with the likes of Roger Johnson, Scott Dann, Cameron Jerome, Craig Gardner, Barry Ferguson and Ben Foster all moving on to pastures new.

It was too much for manager Alex McLeish, who decided to resign from his position. To make matters worse for Blues supporters, the Scot would eventually take charge of fiercest rivals Aston Villa.

Hughton was appointed as McLeish’s replacement, left with the task of stabilising the club following a traumatic few months and having to work with a threadbare squad preparing for life in the Championship.     Continue reading

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