Tag Archive: sport


Can Portsmouth be saved?

By Tony Alvarez

For the second time in the last few years Portsmouth FC find themselves in dire financial problems which has led to them yet again being placed into administration, losing many of their players for nothing, not being able to pay wages and more seriously than before look like they wont be able to fulfil their fixtures until the end of the season.

It is widely thought that if the club is not brought in the next six weeks or the debts are not taken on by someone thenPortsmouthcould cease to exist something that has rarely happened in the Football Leagues.

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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

September’s League One manager of the month award may have gone unnoticed by many, but it underlined a promising manager who is looking to fulfil his potential once again.

Notts County manager Martin Allen was rewarded following his team’s run of four wins and a draw last month, and last weekend’s 3-0 win over Hartlepool saw the Magpies move into the play-off spots.

It may be only a quarter of the season gone, but Allen deserves credit for helping to lay the foundations to push the squad on after they stabilised their position in the league following promotion back in 2010.

However, this stability ironically came on the back of constant chopping and changing of managers, with Steve Cotterill, Craig Short and Paul Ince all leaving the club for various reasons before Allen arrived to secure their third-tier status in mid-April.

Allen looked to build on their 19th-placed finish and made wholesale changes, bringing in a combination of free transfers and loan deals to improve the squad.

Young but promising players such as Ishmel Demontagnac, Hamza Bencherif and Julian Kelly were drafted in, while Allen also brought in striker Cristian Montano on loan from former club West Ham.

Now they have a team that have goals in them and are starting to turn Meadow Lane into a fortress, and for Allen his managerial career is starting to move in the right direction following some setbacks over the last few years.

The 46 year-old started off at Barnet before moving on to Brentford, where he built a team that pushed for promotion to the Championship over a two-year period before resigning from Griffin Park after falling out with the board in 2006.

Allen found a team that had the same ambition to move forward, but he had to go backwards to find it, dropping down to League Two to manage the MK Dons.

However, after missing out on promotion in the play-offs, his talents had been spotted by bigger clubs, and Milan Mandaric decided to bring Allen to Leicester City to help try and get the Midlands outfit to the Premier League.

But despite an encouraging start on the pitch, Allen’s relationship with Mandaric off it deteriorated dramatically over transfer policy and he was sacked three months into the job.

Things got worse in his next role in charge of Cheltenham Town. After failing to save the Robins from the drop in League One, Allen was unable to stem the tide and after allegations over a dispute on a night out, he was suspended and eventually sacked.

It looked like Allen’s career as a manager was going to drift into obscurity, but after helping Barnet stay up before moving to County, the man popularly known as ‘Mad Dog’ looks a rejuvenated character capable of discovering the potential not only at his current club, but also of his managerial credentials.

So what do you think? Will Allen carry on rebuilding his managerial career successfully at Notts County? What can County achieve this season? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Laurie Fitzgerald

After months of speculation and interest, Adam Le Fondre has finally got his move up the Football League.

The 24 year-old signed for Championship side Reading after they agreed a fee with Rotherham United for the striker’s services – believed to be in the region of £350,000.

The Royals were a number of clubs that had shown a real interest in the striker but it’s the Berkshire side that have won the race ahead of the likes of Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday and also West Ham United.

If you’re wondering why Le Fondre is in such demand, then a quick glance at his goalscoring record gives a justified reason.

Since coming through the ranks at his hometown club Stockport County, the lad from Offerton has scored 110 goals in 256 games in League Two, a record that has got better with each club he has played for.

He left County to join Rochdale on a permanent deal in 2007 following a successful loan spell at Spotland, and went on to net 38 league goals in 98 matches.

This form alerted Rotherham, and in his two full seasons at the Don Valley stadium, Le Fondre scored a stunning 50 goals and had already bagged four goals in just five matches this campaign for the Millers.

So his eye for goal is clear for all to see. However, the big question now is whether or not Le Fondre can make the step-up and acquire a similar goalscoring ratio in the second tier of English football.

While he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, there are question marks in regards to what else Le Fondre brings to a team.

When considering the man he is replacing at the Madjeski, Le Fondre’s work-rate needs to step up a level to fill the void of the hugely-influential Shane Long, who has made a step-up of his own to the Premier League with West Brom.

Long was the best striker in the Championship last season, not just because of his 24 goals but also because of the continuous pressure that he would put on opposition defences, never giving them a moment’s rest.

Thankfully, the man that has moulded Long into the player he is today over the past few seasons is still at the helm for Reading, and can have a similar impact with Le Fondre.

Brian McDermott is an excellent man-manager that can get the best out of players, and he knows that he will have enough raw talent in Le Fondre to work with and make him a Championship striker.

McDermott will also know that he has the creativity in his squad to craft the chances for Le Fondre to finish in the likes of Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff.

Time will need to be given to Le Fondre as the step-up will not happen overnight, but the Royals may have purchased a rough diamond that can help fire the goals lost in Long to maintain another promotion push.

So what do you think? Will Le Fondre make the step-up from League Two to the Championship? Or should Reading have spent their money elsewhere to replace Shane Long? Leave a comment and let us know your views.

By Tony Alvarez

With all teams now back at pre season training and with most sides having played their initial friendlies the clubs of League One are back in the swing of things and close to being ready for the big kick off on 6th August.

Whilst most people will have had their eyes on the numerous transfer sagas surrounding the Premier League in the Football Leagues the heart of English Football teams have been going about their preparation and getting minutes on the pitch under their belts.

Many neutral eyes will be on the relegated sides from last seasons Championship, Scunthorpe have been the yoyo team in recent years after being promoted or relegated in each f the last 5 years bar one, looking at their squad player for player you would not predict them for the title however they have proved they have what it takes at this level.

Newly relegated Sheffield United will be many peoples favourites to take the title. The Blades have not been in the third tier of English football for over 20 years, many believe they still have a side of Championship players and will probably have two of the best players in the League if they manage to hold onto Ched Evans and Daniel Bogdanovic. Also in Danny Wilson they have a manager who knows all about the rigours of the Football Leagues.

The final of the relegated clubs Preston will also be heavily fancied, it was a shock to most that the club were caught up in and eventually lost a relegation battle in the Championship last term, things picked up for the club towards the end of the season but in the end it was too little too late, the squad contains some talented players such as Clarke Carlisle (On loan from Burnley) and young Adam Barton who impressed last term.

There will be many clubs looking to challenge the three relegated clubs for a spot in the Championship, my personal choice would be last seasons 3rd place side and losing play off finalists Huddersfield Town, the side played the most attractive brand of Football in the League last term and were desperately unlucky to miss out on promotion having finished 8 points above Peterborough but that’s the way things go with the play off system.

The battle at the bottom of the table will also be an interesting one again many will expect the clubs promoted from last seasons League Two to struggle.

In recent years this has been the case which was proved my Dagenham and Redbridge’s relegated despite a brave fight andNottsCountyhaving a huge battle to keep their league one status.

However the performances of Bournemouth andRochdalewill give the promoted sides hope that if they are good enough they can have a comfortable season and even fight for promotion.

Wycombe will be most keen to cement a place in League One having been relegated at their first attempt two seasons ago, however last time around a lot of the damage was caused early in the term prior to the appointment of Gary Waddock, after Waddock was drafted in he performed admirably however it was too little too late, he will now hope to perform better given a full season in League One.

I personally don’t hold much hope for play off winnersStevenageI don’t feel they have the calibre of player to succeed at this level following back to back promotions. However they have always had an incredible team spirit which could propel them to a good campaign….stranger things have happened.

The other two promoted clubs (Champions Chesterfield and runners up Bury) worked on the basis of if you score 3 we will score 4 if they try to adopt this attacking philosophy in League One it could be along season for both sides.

No doubt both sides have brilliant attacking qualities and Strikers in Jack Lester and Ryan Lowe respectively should he stick around, who will put the fear of any defence in the league on a good day. As they will no longer be the most dominant side in the League they will be unlikely to have as much of the ball during most games to create the chances.

Both sides do have the ability to stay in League One and press on further however I fear if they keep the attacking philosophy they could be in trouble, but will entertain along the way.

What are your thoughts? Who will we be talking about as Championship sides a year from now? Can Chesterfield and Bury survive with attacking philosophies? Will they keep this gung ho mentality? Are there any other outsiders you tip for promotion? If you’re a supporter of a League One side let us know how you see your side fairing?

Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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First of all, we want to say a big thank you to all those who have followed Shouts from the Stands in its first season!

All the support provided by viewing our articles, as well as providing feedback and debate (whether it has been positive or negative) has always been welcome.

We’ve tried to ensure that we’ve focused on all four main divisions within English football so that all fans across the country can relate to what we’re talking about, as well as reading about the issues that matter to each and every one of you.

This summer, with footballitis set to kick in over the next few weeks and the lack of a major tournament to fill the void, we will be doing a weekly blog on Wednesdays instead of on a daily basis – but this will only be in June and July.

Come August we will back to focussing on the new campaign each and every day, and making sure that we preview all 92 teams in the build-up to the start of each league.

Right, we’re off to have a hard-earned drink or two, but many thanks once again, and we hope you’ve enjoyed this season as much as we did!

Best Regards,

Shouts from the Stands (A.K.A Tony Alvarez & Laurie Fitzgerald)

Can long-serving Accrington boss John Coleman achieve a fourth promotion?

By Laurie Fitzgerald

The battle for the fourth and the final promotion spot in League Two begins this weekend with the beginning of the Football League Play-offs.

On Saturday, Torquay host Shrewsbury Town, while the following day sees Stevenage take on Accrington Stanley at Broadhall Way.

The semi-finals conclude with both second legs taking place on Friday week with a place in the final at Old Trafford up for grabs on Saturday 28th May.

The favourites of the quartet will be a Shrewsbury side that battled impressively for an automatic promotion spot, only to be denied by Wycombe Wanderers on the final day.

But Graham Turner’s side have built up real momentum having won seven and drawing two of their last ten league games.

Turner knows what it takes to get a team out of League Two, as he managed it with former club Hereford Town back in 2008.

A great run of form breeds confidence, and in the likes of the club’s player of the year in Mark Wright and striker Matt Harrold, the Shrews are the team to beat.

But they will face a Torquay side that are bidding for back-to-back promotion after an excellent first season back in the Football League.

Paul Buckle has ensured the squad have coped with the expectations at the Devonshire club.

They have lost just one of their final dozen games, although they have struggled in recent wins with four draws in five games.

Defeat on the final day at Rotherham put their top seven spot in doubt; however, Gillingham’s defeat at chanpions Chesterfield handed the Gulls a reprieve.

Much will depend on Chris Zebroski to fire the goals to gain promotion, while player of the year Guy Branston will provide the defensive backbone despite not yet being offered a new deal at Plainmoor.

The other semi-final sees two teams that have won many plaudits over the past few campaigns.

If Torquay’s attempts at back-to-back promotion is impressive, then the efforts of  Stevenage to do the same is all the more remarkable.

This is Boro’s first ever season in the Football League, as manager Graham Westley looks to improve his burgeoning reputation in management.

Their form has been indifferent in the run-in, with just one win in their last six matches, although that preceded an impressive six wins on the spin.

Their consistency has been built on a solid foundation, such as the experienced ever-present goalkeeper Chris Day and the likes of Scott Laird, Lawrie Wilson and John Mousinho providing the necessary structure to the Hertfordshire outfit.

But in their opponents Accrington Stanley, they come up against a manager that has contined to take his team to new heights in his 12 years in charge.

Only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have been in charge longer than Accrington boss John Coleman, but he has performed great things on a different scale to his long-term counterparts.

Since the 48 year-old took over at the Lancashire side in 1999, he has taken the club from the Northern Premier League Division One to the brink of League One.

With Stanley going for their fourth promotion under Coleman, they have the momentum to make another great step in the history of the club.

Accrington are unbeaten in 13 matches, and hope the likes of Phil Edwards and Sean McConville can continue their excellent form. 

The question that remains now is this; just who will join Chesterfield, Bury and Wycombe in promotion to League One in 17 days time?

So what do you think? Which of the four teams will secure promotionto League One? Will this be the hardest fought of all the play-offs? Let us know your thoughts

 

By Tony Alvarez

Barnet manager Mark Stimson has become the latest managerial casualty after his sacking following his sides 2-1 defeat at home to Aldershot Town.

Stimson took the job as Barnet boss in June following his sacking from Gillingham due to their relegation from league one, but saw his side only manage 5 league victories in 23 games.

Stimson who saw his side win only once in their last five fixtures said “I am very disappointed. We need to focus on Barnet Football Club, getting enough points to stay in this league and I wish Barnet Football Club all the best in the future.”

Many Barnet fans are happy with the sacking as it has been done before the real damage has been done and the club losing their football league status.

But was Stimson given a fair chance? 23 fixtures is not a lot of time to turn fortunes around of a football club. I could understand if he took Barnet from a promotion chasing side to relegation candidates but that is not the case.

Despite poor results Stimson did take some positive steps for the future of the club, if Barnet are to stay in the Football League’s you would think the September signing of Izale McLeod will be key.

Despite signing in September McLeod didn’t start a fixture until December due to knee surgery. Since coming back to full fitness McLeod has scored 4 goals in two starts and 3 substitute appearances.

Given time and with a striker who is easily capable of 15 league goals Stimson really could have turned things around at Barnet and steered them to safety and prepared them for a big push next season.

However, you cannot argue with the board for sacking him, lying in the relegation zone with only 19 points from 23 games is not a good position for any club.

What do you think? Were the board right to get rid of Stimson? Do you think if he was given the time he would have steered Barnet to safety? Who would you like to see given the job? Where do you think Barnet will finish this season? Leave a comment and let me know your views

With Welsh clubs Cardiff and Swansea gunning for promotion into the Premier League Shouts From The Stands asks the question: Is it right to have Welsh teams playing in the English leagues?

The question is being asked in many circles due to Cardiff and Swansea lying in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Coca Cola Championship and looking promising to gain at least a place in the play offs.

There have been talks of Scottish teams, mainly Rangers and Celtic joining the English leagues for years and reportedly this proposal has been rejected. So why the double standards?

I understand that constricting the Welsh sides to the Welsh leagues would bankrupt them almost instantly where as the Scottish teams can survive financially playing in their own league, however they would be severely better off were they involved in the English league system.

A media report last season suggested that Rangers the Scottish champion’s highest paid player was on around 5 thousand pounds a week, I happen to know that there is a player at a middle of the table Championship side who is on eight thousand and not a guaranteed starter.

Many fans will think why the fuss now no one has ever really cared in the past 100 odd years, but with at least one of the Welsh sides looking like gaining promotion Fans are saying it is unacceptable to have a Welsh side in the elite of the English league.

Why is it deemed acceptable to have Welsh sides in the second tier and lower but as soon as they “make the big time” it is unacceptable?

Consider the idea for a moment that one if not both of Cardiff and Swansea were to get promoted and then qualify for the Champions League, is it correct to have a Welsh side representing the English league in Europe?

So what do you think should the Welsh be included in the English leagues? If so should Rangers and Celtic and all the other Scottish league clubs be invited to join the English league system?

If you disagree with Welsh sides in the English leagues what do you think could be done about this problem? Is it too far down the line to find a solution? I of course don’t want any clubs to be made bankrupt and to go extinct.

Please read the comments from other fans and see if you agree with their points.

Check back regularly to see other fans response to your comments and to see if there are any more articles which are added almost daily.

Also if you use a social network site such as twitter or Facebook and think your friends would be interested in reading this article please re post the link as your status or as a tweet. Thank you

 

Former Orient and current Welling Town man

PLAYER PROFILE
Full Name; Loick Pires
Date Of Birth; 20/11/89
Place Of Birth; London
Height; 6 ft 3
Current Club; Welling United
Position; Winger/Striker

GETTING TO KNOW ‘Loick Pires’
Most famous person on your mobile?
Paul Davis, Arsenal legend

Best place you’ve ever been too?
The best place I’ve been is probably the south of France

Favourite television program?
Scrubs is by far the best thing on TV

Who Was/Is You favourite Sportsman?
The Brazilian Ronaldo
Football team Do You Support?
Arsenal
Best Film Ever? 

10 things I hate about you
Who would you sing on stars in your eyes?
Pharrell – Frontin
What’s your signature dish?
Cous cous with Halloumi cheese
Favourite drink?
Volvic Lemon
CAREER QUESTIONS

You spent a part of your youth career at Stoke was you disappointed when it didn’t work out?

It’s always disappointing when a move doesn’t work out but I learnt alot up there and it put me in good stead.

Was it hard moving away from your London home to be part of the Stoke set up?

It was at first but moving away is one of the sacrifices you make when you’re trying become a footballer.

Were you always confident you had the ability to be a professional footballer?

Yeah I always believed in myself as long as I worked hard and stayed focused.

In 2006 you joined the Leyton Orient academy and spent two years before you signed on professional terms, do you think you learned a lot during this time?

Yes I did. It’s always an important time when you’re a scholar but I felt I took things on board well and always connected with the coaches.

When you signed your first professional contract did you feel you had “made it?”

The term “made it” is a matter of opinion. And my opinion is, I won’t make it until I fulfill my goal. Which is to play in the premier league!

You played 15 first team games for Orient but could never hold down a place in the side, what do you think the reason was for this? Was the level too much for you?

No it wasn’t too much for me at all. I think the one reason was I wasn’t given a fair chance. Which is understandable as the club was always in a relegation battle so it’s difficult to throw youngsters in those situations.

In May 2010 Orient decided not to offer you a new contract and you left as a free agent, according to reports you had offers from League Two side Barnet but decided to drop 3 levels to sign for Welling United, what were the reasons behind this?

At this point of my career I need to be playing regular football and I didn’t think I would be given that chance at Barnet so I spoke to a few clubs and decided that Welling would be best for me as I liked what the manager had planned for the upcoming season.

Are you still confident of making it in the Football Leagues?

Yes I’m very confident.

Do you see Welling United a stepping stone to get you back into the Football Leagues?

I’d like to have success at Welling both individually and as a team. I believe I can win things there.

Your English but have both Portuguese and Congolese background would you be happy to represent any of these countries at international level?

Yeah I’d be happy to represent any of them but preferably England as I’ve spent most of my life here.

Now moving back to the club football, where do you see yourself in say, four years time?
Hopefully playing premier league and champions league football having just come back from winning the world cup
Whilst on the topic of the future, let’s move forward 15 years time. Do you still wish to be involved in football or do you see yourself in a different career?

Yeah I’d like to stay in football in some capacity as I don’t mind coaching but I have interests in art and literature too I’m might get into that too.

TEAMMATES

Who is the biggest moaner in the dressing room?

Last season the biggest moaner was JJ Melligan. Moaned about most things

The hard man of the group?

Ben Chorley. He used to box when he was younger and supports Millwall. You do the math

Who’s the quickest?

Harry Baker, he’s at Dover now and is probably the quickest player in the league.

Most skilful?

Tamika Mkandawire, centre half but very skilful.

Worst touch?

I’ll say myself to save anyone else embarrassment!

The joker/ funny man?

Andrew Cave Brown and Sean Thornton.

Who’s got the best banter?

James Scowcroft always knew how to get under peoples skin.        

 

 

 

Most intelligent?

I’d say it was a toss up between me and Ben Chorley.

Least intelligent?

Harry baker. Lucky he’s a talented footballer coz he’s not the smartest.

Worst taste in music?

Adrian Patulea. I’m not a fan of trance.

Who chooses the CD on the team coach/ dressing room?

Any one of the Essex boys. Jason Demetriou Charlie Daniels.

Worst dress sense?

Sean Thornton. He only wears tracksuits.

Worst dancer?

Worst dancer was Adrian Patulea

Who’s longest in the shower?

Jonathan Tehoue….. Took ages.

 Thanks for your time and the best of luck in the future.

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