Opinion – The Football Page http://www.thefootballpage.com The Football Page has football - soccer articles, real time football scores, ranking, fixtures, and delivers the latest football news from the best online sources Mon, 19 May 2014 01:49:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.6 Why AC Milan is the most decorated football club in the world http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/06/30/why-ac-milan-is-the-most-decorated-club-in-the-world/ Mon, 01 Jul 2013 00:42:43 +0000 http://www.thefootballpage.com/?p=2323 Chances are that you have heard about the Real Madrid galacticos and the Barcelona elves invasion, but what you might not have heard is that at the time when this article was written AC Milan is the most internationally decorated football club in the world, winning a record of 14 European trophies (7 UEFA Champions […]

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Chances are that you have heard about the Real Madrid galacticos and the Barcelona elves invasion, but what you might not have heard is that at the time when this article was written AC Milan is the most internationally decorated football club in the world, winning a record of 14 European trophies (7 UEFA Champions League, 5 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cup) and 4 World titles (3 Intercontinental Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup). Don’t take my word for it. Next time you watch AC Milan play in the UEFA Champions League look at the multiple-winner badge on the shirt indicating more than 5 UEFA European Cups won.

What are the reasons that have made AC Milan one of the most successful football club in the world? There are many but I will address two of them: coaching and management.

Coaching

Over the years, AC Milan has been lead by excellent tacticians who have revolutionized the world of football with their ideas and approach to the game.

Nereo Rocco (1961-1963, 1966-1972) – the catenaccio coach. Rocco is AC Milan’s longest serving coach, managing the club for 459 matches, 323 as head coach and 136 as technical director. He lead Milan to 2 Serie A titles, 2 European Cups, 2 Italian Cups, 2 Cup Winners’ Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup. Rocco is the first proponent and some say the founder of catenaccio football style that continues to this day in Italy. Catenaccio in Italian means “deadbolt” referring to tight spaces and physical football.

Arrigo Sacchi (1987-1991) – the scientist. Under his tutelage, AC Milan won 1 Serie A, 1 Italian Supercup, 2 European Cups, 2 European Supercups, 2 Intercontinental Cups. Over the years pundits have argued that the success Milan gained during this period was largely attributed to the Dutch trio: Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. While this is a plausible inference, Franco Baresi, Roberto Donadoni and Paolo Maldini became legends because of Sacchi’s early direct influence.

Fabio Capello (1991-1996, 1997-1998) – the disciplinarian. He brought to Milano 4 Serie A titles, 3 Italian Supercups, 1 UEFA Champions League (runner up 1992–93, 1994–95), 1 UEFA Supercup. Under Capello, Milan remained unbeaten for 58 league games between 19 May 1991 and 21 March 1993. This included an entire season where Milan were unbeaten in Serie A. Capello was unafraid of clamping down on his players, even his leading stars, if he felt they were not pulling their weight for the team. Remember the clash with Di Canio in 1996? The greatest game under his tenure was undoubtedly 1994 CL final. Milan routed Barcelona resoundingly 4-0.

Carlo Ancelotti (2001-2009) – the European. Ancelotti is close to my heart. He coached at a time when I was living, breathing and watching dreams about Milan. For all the milan fans he won 1 Serie A, 1 Italian Supercup, 1 Italian Cup, 2 UEFA Champions League, 2 UEFA Supercups, and 1 FIFA Club World Cup. Carlo was no stranger to Milan, playing in the midfield from 1988 to 1992 under Sacchi. To dive deeper into his football philosophy, read Ancelotti’s autobiography, Preferisco la Coppa (I Prefer the Cup), referring to his Milan’s success in Europe, and lack thereof in Italy.

Management

Some say that Milan’s management is its curse and its blessing. While I cannot argue with that statement, I can certainly paint a picture that might help you to make up your own mind.

Milan has had it’s fair share in the dark ages. Most notably the 1980-1986 era when it was punished to play season 1980-1981 in Serie B due to goalkeeper Enrico Albertosi, midfielder Giorgo Morini, who ironically had a short stint as the Milan coach in 1996, and Stefano Chodi involvement in the Totonero betting scandal of 1980. Soon to follow, Milan played another season in Serie B 1982-1983 after finishing third to last the previous year. The horror movie had a final twist episode; President Giuseppe Farina who had several legal troubles decided to flee to South Africa with a substantial amount of the club’s money.

Silvio Berlusconi bought Milan from a bankruptcy tribunal in 1986 and ever since has served as the president with exception of the years that he served as Prime Minister of Italy. Under his tenure Milan has won 15 Italian pieces of silverware, and 13 international blink blink. That adds up to 28 trophies in 26 years. With that kind of record no wonder why people vote for Silvio every time he is on the ballot. That’s excellent results in and out of the field.

Silvio is not the lone decision maker at Milan, in fact, most decisions are delegated down to Adriano Galliani and Ariedo Braida. These two have cut the most unlikely deals over the years simply by fine dining with their counterparts in Barcelona, Rio, London, and Paris. It takes excellent negotiation skills to bring players like Ronaldinho for 16 M, Robinho for 13 M, and Ibrahimovic for 13 M. They also know a thing or two about buying low and selling high (Goldman Sachs take heed!): Kaka to Real for 60 M, an almost retired Shevchenko to Chelsea for 30 M, an injured Pato duck to Corinthians for 15 M followed by Thiago Silva for 42 M. Unlike some who want to raise taxes on jet owners, I would give Galliani and Braida the retired space shuttle if they asks for it.

In the last decade, Arab sheikhs and Russian billionaires have changed the rules of the game by buying stakes in European clubs, but what hasn’t changed is that if a team doesn’t invest in a well structured youth system, it will not succeed in the long run. Milan is well aware of this and has developed hierarchical age squads from the Pulcini (italian for chicks meaning young) to Primavera (under 19 years old). Many Milan players have climbed the ranks of the youth system such as Maldini, Baresi, Albertini, Costacurta, Oddo and the most recent De Sciglio and Abate.

AC Milan is not only a football team with the primary goal of winning trophies, but also a capitalistic azzienda (italian for company) with the goal of maximizing profitability. Similar to a manufacturing company which has to resolve disputes between union and management, Milan has managed to solve several boycotts and spat rows with powerful fan organizations such as Fossa Dei Leoni and Comando Tigre. AC Milan has adapted in a globalized world. Every year during summer breaks, it participates in North American tours, Asian tours or European warm up cups. As a result, it has created a strong global fan base with excellent presence in the web with millions of followers in YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter.

These might seem routine management actions in an ever increasing global competitive environment, but you would be surprised how many badly managed football teams (or non-football) exist out there.

For All The Right Reasons

No dynasty lasts forever and it looks like the wind of change is underway in Milanello. When Ancelotti left in 2009, Milan closed a cycle that football clubs inevitable go through. In Milan’s case, this cycle is defined by the retirement of a generation of players and tight finances. These are healthy zig-zags that will ultimately prepare and lead AC Milan to enter the next chapter of its glorious history.

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A Respectful Response From United’s Noisy Neighbors http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/04/24/a-respectful-response-from-uniteds-noisy-neighbors/ Thu, 25 Apr 2013 03:48:02 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=1849 In a superb 3-0 victory against Aston Villa, Manchester United confirmed their twentieth league title. Three fantastic goals from dutch genius Robin Van Persie including one Sir Alex called ‘the goal of the century’ helped United on their way to completing another phenomenal season. The reason Manchester United had the opportunity to win the title […]

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In a superb 3-0 victory against Aston Villa, Manchester United confirmed their twentieth league title. Three fantastic goals from dutch genius Robin Van Persie including one Sir Alex called ‘the goal of the century’ helped United on their way to completing another phenomenal season. The reason Manchester United had the opportunity to win the title so early was because of a determined and truly marvelous Tottenham Hotspur side. The day before United’s glory was guaranteed, Spurs came from behind with three stunning goals to beat an outplayed Manchester City side. If Manchester City had won, the race for the title would have continued.

All eyes were on Manchester City manager, Robert Mancini after United snatched his teams title. Through out this remarkable season, Mancini has claimed the league statistics don’t tell the full story. He believes his team are a better team and that his team lost many matches they didn’t deserve to lose. However, when interviewed after United were officially champions, Mancini was very respectful in saying they deserved to win the title. A reverent response from an excellent manager.

The Manchester rivalry has become much more competitive since City have risen to the top. Now, whenever the two teams play, everybody is prepared for top-notch footballing drama. Mancini guided Manchester City to their first title in 42 years. Unfortunately for him and his squad, there was nothing they could do about a simply breathtaking Manchester United side. Robin Van Persie has done it again. Let’s see how Manchester City respond next season. Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt make revenge very difficult.

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The Champions League: Who will win? http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/04/20/the-champions-league-who-will-win/ http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/04/20/the-champions-league-who-will-win/#comments Sat, 20 Apr 2013 23:57:20 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=1785 The Champions League 12/13 Winners are…. This year, the wonderful Champions League’s final four are a truly ambitious and dexterous quadruple. Each individual team brings a distinctive element to the semi-finals making it quite the challenge to predict the eventual victors. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will be playing their hearts […]

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The Champions League 12/13 Winners are….

This year, the wonderful Champions League’s final four are a truly ambitious and dexterous quadruple. Each individual team brings a distinctive element to the semi-finals making it quite the challenge to predict the eventual victors. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich will be playing their hearts out very soon in order to achieve the ultimate prize. Who do you think will win?

FC Barcelona are currently considered the best team in the world. Their superior techniques and excellent team communication allows them to play right through many of the world’s best teams. Obviously, the exquisite Lionel Messi is expected to lead his team to European glory. However, due to a small injury in the first leg of the quarter finals against Paris Saint-Germain FC, he might need his teammates to assist him. Not that that’s a bad thing. Iniesta, Xavi and Fabregas are all absolutely phenomenal players who often have the spotlight taken away because of Messi. Although Barcelona are clearly capable of playing their own spectacular game when it matters the most, will their leader be one-hundred percent? Let’s hope he will be for their sake. As brilliant as the other Barcelona players are, Messi does make a significant difference.

Real Madrid. FC Barcelona’s biggest rivals. Messi versus Ronaldo. Casillas versus Valdes. This monumental rivalry of two of the worlds greatest teams could potentially be this years Champions League Final. Currently, Barcelona are flying away with the Spanish League Title, but the last time these serious competitors played, Real Madrid were victorious. Considering the Spanish League statistics, it would make perfect sense for Real Madrid to prioritize the Champions League. Player’s such as Ronaldo, Benzema, Ozil and others all have the ability to turn a game on it’s head regardless of who the opponent is. Real Madrid were heart broken last season when losing in the semi-final and they will work their hardest to stop that from happening again. In their history, Real Madrid have won the Champions League a record nine times. I’m sure Ronaldo could get his team to double digits.

Borussia Dortmund are definitely the surprise act. A young and talented team prepared to fight for a place in the final. This semi final will be played against the dangerous Real Madrid, but in a magical and unpredictable competition like the Champions League, anything is possible. Dortmund have only won one of their six competitive encounters with the spanish giants but are proudly unbeaten in their last three. This dramatic fixture has already taken place twice this year in the Champions League group stage. Borussia Dortmund currently hold a better record in the competition. Not only did they avoid defeat from Real Madrid, but they have remained unbeaten through out the whole competition. Although their record is truly impressive, they are facing one of the most threatening teams in the world in one of the most important matches of the season. It will be quite the fixture. Definitely one to watch.

Last but definitely not least is the preeminent german side Bayern Munich. Bayern had the worst of experiences last year, losing the final at home in a penalty shoot-out. The vast majority of their lethal squad took part in the final against Chelsea, and will no doubt work their hardest to achieve what they came so close to achieving last year. The deadly attack force of Bayern Munich is one Barcelona should definitely  be nervous about. The slick footwork and pace of Arjen Robben, the consistent and top-notch finishing of Mario Gomez and the all round force, skill and threat of german genius Bastian Schweinsteiger. These three plus many others are definitely capable of causing an upset at the Camp Nou. The german champions, Borussia Dortmund are combining with Bayern to represent the pure prowess that German teams possess. Although Bayern might have drawn the most difficult semi-final possible, Barcelona could be in for a shock.

This clash of giant’s from two of Europe’s top footballing countries could be quite a memorable end to what has been a sensational and thrilling Champions League year. All four teams will be extremely committed to the potential success, and the next few weeks will reveal which of these remarkable squads is Europe’s most masterly and dangerous squad. Will Lewandowski save the day for Dortmund? Will Gomez win it for Munich? Will Ronaldo do it again for Madrid, or will Messi show why he is the best in the world. We will see…

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The Legend of Ryan Giggs http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/04/14/the-legend-of-ryan-giggs/ http://www.thefootballpage.com/2013/04/14/the-legend-of-ryan-giggs/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 04:14:53 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=1666 When the fascinating subject of the world’s greatest footballer’s is discussed, often the first names that come to mind are Messi, Ronaldo, Maradona, Pele and others. However, one man who is truly adored and has become a true inspiration for all football obsessives around the world is the Manchester United phenomenon and legend, Ryan Giggs. […]

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When the fascinating subject of the world’s greatest footballer’s is discussed, often the first names that come to mind are Messi, Ronaldo, Maradona, Pele and others. However, one man who is truly adored and has become a true inspiration for all football obsessives around the world is the Manchester United phenomenon and legend, Ryan Giggs.

The star made his league debut in 1991 at the early age of seventeen. He opened the gateway for talented youth players to rise into United’s first team. Now, at the mature age of thirty-nine, Giggs is amongst the most successful and triumphant player’s ever. Statistically, Giggs’ record is truly outstanding. The welsh wizard has made the most appearances of any Manchester United player ever, surpassing Sir Bobby Charlton and other United heroes. He has won 12 Premier League Titles with Manchester United and it looks as though a thirteenth is coming his way. These statistics help to represent his pure brilliance.

As well as being an icon for fans and younger players, Ryan Giggs appears as an excellent mentor for those he plays with. During his time at Old Trafford, many acclaimed footballers have had the honor of training, performing and winning with him. Player’s such as Eric Cantona, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo have all teamed up with Giggs to reach success in past years. Giggs has also been part of some of the most intense, nerve wrecking but magical footballing events to ever occur. He was part of the sensational treble winning United Squad in the 1998/99 campaign playing in the unforgettable European Cup Final against Bayern Munich. He also won the award for goal of the season that year for his remarkable individual effort against rivals Arsenal in the F.A Cup Semi Final. During the slow and rainy penalty shootout against Chelsea in the 2008 European Cup Final, Giggs was amongst the successful penalty takers. That victorious appearance in Moscow was the one that allowed him to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton.

Coaching him in his first ever game up until now, Sir Alex has worked with Giggs his entire career. Sir Alex Ferguson has been a key figure in improving Giggs’ ability. He has had the distinct pleasure of raising the star. Clearly, Sir Alex Ferguson has done an exquisite job.

Ryan Giggs began his career as an eye-catching, intelligent and truly first-class footballer. Now, twenty-two years into that brilliant and everlasting career, Giggs is still the game changing and effective player he was then. If you were to create a dream Manchester United squad, Ryan Giggs would no doubt be included.

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Lukas Podolski signing might rejuvenate the Gunners http://www.thefootballpage.com/2012/05/02/lukas-podolski-signing-might-rejuvenate-the-gunners-heres-the-reasons/ Wed, 02 May 2012 11:26:07 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=1439 The Gunners have finally made a big name signing. The name Lukas Podolski won’t be treated with the same respect that is usually given to Iniesta, Robben, Robinho or David Silva, but this is one person who can surely turn the current Arsenal side into a cup winning outfit. Now lets move on to the […]

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The Gunners have finally made a big name signing. The name Lukas Podolski won’t be treated with the same respect that is usually given to Iniesta, Robben, Robinho or David Silva, but this is one person who can surely turn the current Arsenal side into a cup winning outfit.

Now lets move on to the reasons as to why Podolski might be successful for the North London side.

1. Podolski can play in different positions; left winger for the Die NationalMannschaft and a striker for FC Koln.

2. Arsenal have been lacking a left winger for too long. This season they snapped up Gervinho but it looks like he is another injury prone player. In that case Podolski can offer a lot from the left side of the field.

3. Podolski has proven himself as a selfless player for his national side, combining well with the likes of Gomez, Klose and Mueller. That is a characteristic that suits well for the Gunners.

4. Arsenal for long has been lacking an attacker who can send in long range power-packed shots towards goal. This void could finally be filled in. Arsenal’s passing game cannot win matches against defensive sides with well-built players, say for instance Stoke City. On such days, someone who can score long range goals can change the fate of the game.

5.Lastly, there can be no doubt regarding Podolski’s quick settlement within the Arsenal side and their type of game play. Deutschland’s style of play developed under the reins of Jürgen Klinsmann Klinsmann and Joachim Löw is more or less similar to the Arsenal style put forth by Arsene Wenger. Klinsmann pleaded with the teams of the Bundesliga to embrace the style he developed for the national side, to bring about a revolution in the way players from Germany play the game. This is the reason that made “le Professeur” term the Bundesliga as the ‘League of the Future’.

Finally, Gunners fans have been unlucky in terms of silverware, with several close misses for the past 6 years. Lets hope Lukas Podolski brings in loads of skill and luck to change the tide.

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David Beckham – Retired and still Playing http://www.thefootballpage.com/2012/03/23/david-beckham-retired-and-still-playing/ Fri, 23 Mar 2012 18:42:39 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=1273 Knowing the title challengers from the start of a football season, gives it a sense of direction and purpose. I don’t watch the first few MLS season games not only because they tend to be slow and confusing, but also because the teams’ ambitions tend to change from year to year, hiding true contenders among […]

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Knowing the title challengers from the start of a football season, gives it a sense of direction and purpose. I don’t watch the first few MLS season games not only because they tend to be slow and confusing, but also because the teams’ ambitions tend to change from year to year, hiding true contenders among the crowd of teams trying to establish themselves.

On March 26th 2011, Real Salt Lake played their second game of the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy, David Beckham’s spring-summer vacation team. This reason alone was the culprit to break my rule of thumb and reserve my seat in the Rio Tinto stadium along with two of my friends. As we know David attracts multitudes of people not just when he plays football. There was no surprise to see the stadium in full capacity with kids shouting his name and moms giggling when he touched the ball. I say touch because I rarely saw him construct a play. He had a few good crosses, his specialty, and a few free kicks, his specialty as well, but predominantly his game was accompanied with long walks along the sidelines and spurious halts to catch the breath by placing hands on the hips as my phone photo illustrates. Make no mistake on thinking that I don’t like David as a footballer. I think he has given plenty to the sport. I remember, besides his hair that made him famous back in the 90’s, the epic Manchester United victory against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League 1999 final. Beckham’s cross in the last minute lead to Solskjær winning goal, which proceeded by Sheringham’s goal on the same last minute. Manchester won 2-1.

Before Beckham became famous for his looks, his Spice Girl wife Victoria, or his tattoos, he already was a top caliber footballer playing for Manchester United. Now he is a veteran of the England National team with 115 appearances and has played for top clubs such as Real Madrid, and AC Milan. So when will Beckam retire? Realistically, Beckham indirectly announced his retirement when his PR team announced the 5 year $250 million deal with Galaxy. The deal turned out to be more of a marketing stunt rather than hard dollars. The figure was hypothetical of what David could make during this time including personal endorsements and Galaxy pay check, which is a modest $6.5 million per year. Beckham’s MLS experience with Galaxy doesn’t take away from his illustrious career as it follows the same trend of other European stars retiring in USA. He will honor his contract with Galaxy and be the latest statistics of European players retiring in USA.

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Music to the Eyes http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/13/music-to-the-eyes/ Wed, 13 Jul 2011 18:54:43 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=968 This piece is written with the aim to present a new definition and perspective to modern football. It should be a walk in the park to those who know their basics about music and soccer. Alright, so lets roll. A Football Team is like a well composed song. It is music to the eyes. 1. […]

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This piece is written with the aim to present a new definition and perspective to modern football. It should be a walk in the park to those who know their basics about music and soccer. Alright, so lets roll. A Football Team is like a well composed song. It is music to the eyes.

1. The Introduction – The Goalkeepers, Joe Hart, Stuart Taylor, who guard the goal and distribute the ball forward (The same way a song begins sometimes slow and steadily and other times with aplomb).

2. The Bridge – The Defenders, Pablo Zabaleta, Kolo Toure, Micah Richards, Stefan Savic, Joleon Lescott, Gael Clichy, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov, who not only hold the fort at the back but also distribute the ball effectively to the Midfielders (The same way a song escalates to the best part).

3. The Chorus – The Midfielders, Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson, Nigel de Jong, Yaya Toure, James Milner, David Silva, Shaun Wright-Phillips, who spray passes, play through balls or burst into space to create openings for the Strikers to score a goal or some who even go through all the way and score themselves (The same way a song hits its peak point at its most creative part).

4. The Closing – The Strikers, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko, Carlos Tevez, who put the finishing touches to all the hard work and finish with a wonderful goal (The same way a song ends and when it is a good one, you have this immense craving to listen to it again and again).* Point to note – Reserves, players that have been loaned out or don’t play regularly have been omitted.

5. The Composer – The Coach and his assistants, Roberto Mancini, Brian Kidd, David Platt, Attilio Lombardo, Fausto Salsano, Ivan Carminati, Massimo Battara, who draw out the strategies and guide the team with all their heart and soul (The same way a great composer uses his team of Drummers, Guitarists, Bassists, Orchestra and Sound Engineers, to create an album of chartbusters).

6. The Producer – The financial backing, backbone and spine of the team, Mr Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (The same way a record label produces an album).

The results that the team produces are like the different tracks in a music album. It is not a divine right that all these tracks or songs must be successful or instantly liked by its listeners. For example,

1. Track no.1 – May be a Draw Result. (Some may or may not be contented with it)
2. Track no.2 – May be a Thrashing of the Opponent Team. (Instant Billboard or Top 10 Hit)
3. Track no.3 – May be a Loss. (Flop Song)
4. Track no.4 – May be a Scrappy 1-0 or 2-1 Win. (Again, some may or may not be contented with it)

Each season is like a New Music Album. Overall, the album will be judged on how well it sells and how many copies are received well, worldwide. (This is tantamount to the end of a roller coaster of a season where a team is judged to have performed based on its League Position as well as number of Trophies Won.

Only difference is, a music composer is not going to be sacked for a flop album or even a couple of them. Sacked coaches or as most teams put it subtly, those relieved of your duties, I feel for you.

The Producer may pump millions of dollars on a good recording studio, guitars, drums, synthesizers, mixers and musicians but that alone will not guarantee a hit album or a couple of hit albums for that matter. Likewise, spending millions on players and infrastructural enhancements are not going to result in success being served on a silver platter for any team. Hard work, Determination, Luck and Support from all quarters including passionate fans are needed in abundance to achieve massive success.

The loyal fans who go tirelessly to watch every game, spending their hard earned money as well as time and cheer the team on even when the team doesn’t win every other match. They truly believe that success will come to those who keep the faith. This is similar to the millions of fans of a certain composer, who keep buying and supporting their favorite artist even if he/she has given a couple of bad albums.

One bad music album is always going to be compared to another one by some other composer. Likewise, one soccer team that does not do so well as another team is always going to be used as a comparison by critics who have a field day with their so called constructive criticism columns. The point that goes missing in translation is the fact that a team or critics that slam a team without any conscience seem to overlook the past achievements of that team itself.

Third Placing in the just ended 2010/11 Barclays Premier League Season, FA Cup Champions 2010/11 and qualified team for the Champions League 2011/12, without having to play in any of those dreaded and draining qualifier games. Has this team improved or reinvented itself? You be the judge.

I rest my case.
Yours Musically

A Manchester City Fan (For those who didn’t get which team I was referring to, this line clears that doubt I hope)

Wriiten By
Suresh Menon ( S M )
Singapore

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Manchester City – Insight into the Biggest, Brightest and Boldest Football Club in the World http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/08/manchester-city-biggest-football-club/ http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/08/manchester-city-biggest-football-club/#comments Sat, 09 Jul 2011 05:23:11 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=960 Transition plays a very important role in shaping the future of an individual or anything that can change for the better. The transition or exciting transformation we are going to speak about today is about Manchester City FC with a BIG ‘M’, not Money but Mighty, Magnificent, Majestic, Marvelous and all the words associated with […]

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Transition plays a very important role in shaping the future of an individual or anything that can change for the better. The transition or exciting transformation we are going to speak about today is about Manchester City FC with a BIG ‘M’, not Money but Mighty, Magnificent, Majestic, Marvelous and all the words associated with top class quality.

A successful Football Club isn’t restricted to just the players on the pitch. It’s the structure. The one to get the ball rolling was Former Thai Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in July 2007 when he bought over Manchester City FC and appointed Sven Goran Eriksson as coach. Though this revolution was shortlived and lasted only for one season, it paved the way for Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan who bought over the club in Sept 2008. Mark Hughes was the coach at that time and after half a season of poor performances, he was finally axed and replaced by Roberto Mancini who has steadied the ship over the past 1 and a half years.

So the Hierarchy as of now, is as follows.

1. Financial Support – Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
2. Chairman – Khaldoon Al-Mubarak
3. Coach – Roberto Mancini
4. Assistant Coach – Brian Kidd
5. Backroom Staff/Physio/Trainers/Groundsmen
6. And most importantly , ‘YOU’ , the die-hard hardcore, wacky, zany Man City-iacs who stick with the lads and the team through good and bad times

All these translates to a major part of what the club has achieved till today and everything else that we are going to achieve over the coming years. The end product is of course results and we are gonna put in a few stunners come next season. What say you about US beating the daylights out of Manchester United to the tune of a 5-0 or 5-1 scoreline at Eastlands with Carlos Tevez on the end of a hattrick? Refreshingly cool like a cold icy pint of beer isn’t it?

Now lets not take anything away from the great history of this wonderful club. We have come a long way from the heydays where we thrilled our fans with the likes of some really magnificent players like Mike Summerbee, Paul Lake, Frank Swift, Denis Law, Trevor Francis, Niall Quinn, Colin Bell, Francis Lee, Shaun Goater, Paul Dickov, Marc Vivien Foe(RIP) and even a Chinese player, Sun Jihai.

Fast forward to present day (2011) and we have todays modern superstars in our ranks. A good blend of all nations. Like a fusion of the best and most exotic spices in the world. Just to name a few, We have Joe Hart (England), Gareth Barry (England), Micah Richards (England), James Milner (England),  Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), Adam Johnson (England), Joleon Lescott (England), Jerome Boateng (Germany), Nigel De Jong (Holland), Vincent Kompany (Belgium), David Silva (Spain), Edin Dzeko (Bosnia), Mario Balotelli (Italy), Carlos Tevez (Argentina). These outstanding individuals are a testament to the term ‘money isn’t everything in this world’, as they have proven wrong, the critics who said that Man City were just a flash in the pan, by finishing third in the 2010/2011 BPL Season that just ended, thus qualifying for the much coveted Uefa Champions League 2011/2012 where only the best clubs in the world compete for glory. Add this remarkable achievement to another Awesome one in the name of the FA Cup 2010/2011. Hmmm…is the sky the limit? I don’t think so.

The transitional phase at Eastlands has very much taken shape by now but for those of you who think that this is it? Guess what? Hold your horses I would say, as I foresee loads of exhilarating and unbelievable moments in the near future.

Lets start with some transfer gossip. Our birdies are chirping that, in a bid to fund a move for Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez, Barcelona are willing to sell David Villa (27 Million) and Lionel Messi (150 Million). And guess who is gonna buy? Here is another. Wesley Sneijder has apparently been brainwashed by Dutch teammate and pal, Nigel De Jong to sign on the dotted lines and to join the revolution at Eastlands. Many more interesting and mindblowing players are the mix at the moment. They range from Cristiano Ronaldo to Andres Iniesta to Edinson Cavani to Marek Hamsik to Juan Mata to Gianluigi Buffon to Dani Alves. Shocked? I don’t think so. These players would be insane to turn down an offer to play for the biggest, brightest and boldest club in world football but for now, your guess is as good as mine.

One thing is for sure though, nothing is impossible at Manchester City FC and tomorrow will always be a brighter day.

Report Written by
Suresh Menon ( S M )
Singapore

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You Will Never Walk Alone? Or Will You? http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/08/you-will-never-walk-alone-or-will-you/ http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/08/you-will-never-walk-alone-or-will-you/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 14:04:02 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=948 Being one of the most celebrated and decorated clubs in English Football sure has its repercussions.  Seven FA Cups, Seven League Cups and a massive Eighteen League Titles are the envy of gazillions of supporters and haters of the club worldwide. This success has not come easily at all for a club that came back […]

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Being one of the most celebrated and decorated clubs in English Football sure has its repercussions.  Seven FA Cups, Seven League Cups and a massive Eighteen League Titles are the envy of gazillions of supporters and haters of the club worldwide. This success has not come easily at all for a club that came back with a Big Bang to win its critics over after being relegated in 1953.

Bill Shankly was one of the key reasons in the major reconstruction of Liverpool FC, when he took over as coach in 1959.  By the time he retired in 1973, he left behind a great legacy and history which would make any football coach turn green with envy or should we say Red? (In line with the club’s red jersey and nickname ‘Reds’). Promotion back to the English First Division in 1962 was the tip of the iceberg followed by Three Outstanding League Titles in the space of Eight years (1964, 1966, 1972), as well as UEFA Cup Champions in 1973 summed up the Anfield Giants rise to stardom and the club’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, became an anthem of success and a fashion statement too.

The “Weight of the World” will be on your shoulders with each day of rising success. To put it simply, when you do something well or extremely well and get noticed for it, then you will be burdened to maintain or keep improving on that and can ill afford to rest on your laurels. Over the years, Liverpool FC is one such club that has fallen prey to these predators of success. No massive trophies in the last 10 years except for the UEFA Champions League Title won in 2004 courtesy of a nail-biting 3-2 penalty shootout win against AC Milan and an FA Cup Title in 2006 have become unacceptable to the club’s disillusioned fans. A style of play that hinges on the borders of boredom and a sense of non urgency in killing off opponents especially the weaker ones, on the pitch so very often, have become a real predicament over the recent couple of years.

A whiff of fresh air, a new sense of optimism and a sense of renewed hope have been brewing at Anfield ever since October 2010 when ownership of Liverpool FC changed hands to John W.Henry of New England Sports Ventures coupled with the shrewd appointment of Kenny Dalglish as coach after being interim coach from the middle of the 2010/11 season that just ended 2 months ago. The footballing jargon, “Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent” seems most apt at this juncture. Kenny Dalglish seemed to have successfully brought back the missing swagger in the players style of play and a sense of enterprise and hunger in the way they performed on the pitch. This resulted in a stream of steady and consistent performances which ensured a healthy top six finish for a club that was playing with another possible nerve wrecking relegation battle at one point of time.

Inconsistency and losing seem to have taken a much needed holiday, which most fans will hope is a permanent one. Brilliant moves in the transfer market for hotshot strikers Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll (Both of whom have already put in some scintillating performances on the pitch, for the club in such a short span of time) as well as the sale of misfiring and underperforming Spanish star striker Fernando Torres for a record 50 million pounds, have created a new generation of fan following for Kenny Dalglish and company as well as a shining ray of hope among the KOP fans that the glory days are back. King Kenny as he is endearingly referred to as, by Liverpool FC fans, is not a stranger to the club though, as he was an ex player/coach who was instrumental in winning Three League Titles, Two FA Cups and One League Cup during the club’s successful days.

The acquisition of midfield wonderkid Charlie Adam from Blackpool a few days ago was a masterstroke in the rebuilding program for future glory. A few more interesting and useful players are also probably on the way to signing for Liverpool FC after creative midfielder Jordan Henderson signed from Sunderland not very long ago. All said and done, the Anfield faithful remain hopeful that the trophies will start piling up once again and ending the season empty handed will become a distant memory very soon.

Report Written by
Suresh Menon ( S M )
Singapore

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England – Giants in Slumberland http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/06/england-giants-in-slumberland/ http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/06/england-giants-in-slumberland/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2011 18:13:26 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=919 For a nation that produces the Cream of the Crop in genuine footballing talent, it is seriously a wonder why such massive quality has not translated to much success on the Big Stage save a 1966 World Cup Final extra-time 4-2 win against Mighty West Germany and a semi final 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia in […]

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For a nation that produces the Cream of the Crop in genuine footballing talent, it is seriously a wonder why such massive quality has not translated to much success on the Big Stage save a 1966 World Cup Final extra-time 4-2 win against Mighty West Germany and a semi final 1-0 loss to Yugoslavia in the 1968 European Championship Finals.

Players of exceptional standard like Alan Shearer, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Gary Lineker, Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Paul Gascoigne, Bobby Robson, Terry Venables ,Paul Ince, Glenn Hoddle, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright,  Gordon Banks, Gary Paliister, Bobby Moore, Gareth Southgate , Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Andy Carroll, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Ashley Young and the list continues.

Are the expectations of touching the pinnacle of success and the faint hopes of the millions of fans and supporters all over the world always going to end with a bitter pill of disappointment.

Most often, the players are always at the receiving end of harsh criticism and flak for choking where it matters most and not delivering the much coveted success expected of them. Are they the real problem? Is it true that they are just some prima donnas that have no sense of pride in representing their nation and achieving fame on a Global Level? These players do not seem to have a problem expressing themselves and performing beyond expectations where their respective clubs are concerned be it the English Premier League, The Spanish League, The Italian League, The German League or any other League.

Lets look at the real culprits in question, beyond the façade of the players not performing well. I managed to narrow them down to two possibilities.

The first one seems to be the amount of time the players spend together to develop and train as a team and to gel as a unit. The most successful football clubs have always done well largely due to the fact that the players have spent a great deal of time training together and familiarizing themselves with one another over many years. So just spending a few weeks training together before each game will not bring about any sense of cohesion or familiarity among the players. This in turn will badly affect their game and horrendous performances will follow after.

The second reason in my opinion, is tactics. Be it a (4-4-2), a (4-5-1), a (4-3-3), a (3-4-3), a (3-5-2),  a (5-4-1), a (5-3-2), a (6-3-1) or any other gung-ho or ultra defensive tactics or formation, they need to change accordingly to counter the opposition. If every match is going to be played with a (4-3-3) or  (4-4-2), it is never going to translate into anything fruitful on the pitch. The greatest players will most certainly be willing to adapt to any formation or tactics for the benefit of  going forward as a footballing superpower. Likewise, the greatest coaches must be willing to exploit the opposition shrewdly in order to achieve great success.

If the above shortcomings can be addressed and tackled tactfully, accolades, superlatives and trophies aplenty will be the order of the day in no time. Euro 2012 and WC 2014 are not very far away and the dreams and hopes of the starry eyed millions of fans, of landing these much awaited trophies will hopefully not fade into oblivion.

Will the Giants in Slumberland finally wake up and smash their opponents to smithereens?

Report By
Suresh Menon ( S M )
Singapore

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What is the Problem with Black English Strikers? http://www.thefootballpage.com/2011/07/05/what-is-the-problem-with-black-english-strikers/ Tue, 05 Jul 2011 18:17:23 +0000 http://www.thesoccerpage.com/?p=913 Ever since our beloved English premier league began way back in 1992, we have only had two black English players winning the golden boot award and that is Dion Dublin for Coventry and Andrew Cole for Newcastle. In I5 appearances for England Cole has only managed to score a solitary goal while in 4 appearances […]

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Ever since our beloved English premier league began way back in 1992, we have only had two black English players winning the golden boot award and that is Dion Dublin for Coventry and Andrew Cole for Newcastle. In I5 appearances for England Cole has only managed to score a solitary goal while in 4 appearances Dublin failed to find the back of the net. Surprisingly Jermaine Defoe who has never played full 90 minutes for his country, is the highest scoring black English striker for the three lions with 15 strikes in 46 caps. Emile Heskey has 62 which is the highest number of caps for a black striker but he has only managed to score 7 goals.

Countless Black English strikers have been tipped for greatness but in reality most of them have endured or still enduring mediocrity. Randomly I will give a list of strikers who were expected to be great but failed to reach the expected height.

1) Darius Vassell

Still at a ripe age of 30 Vassell is now considered as a fallen star. Back in 2002 at the tender age of 22 playing for Aston Villa, Vassell was considered as a hot prospect for the future. With super sub appearances in 2002 world cup in Asia and EURO 2004 many thought he was destined for good things. After a mediocre spell in Turkey he is now back in England playing for le

2) Carlton Cole

“I’ve never coached a young player like Carlton. He’s fantastic even though he hasn’t really started his career yet” those were the words of Claudio Ranieri whom along with many other speculated a bright future for a young Cole. But now at 27, Cole is far from the player we expected him to become. With over 248 club appearances, he has only managed 52 goals. So far he has only earned 7 caps for England and he has yet to score  for his country

3) Darren Bent

Having represented his country in all youth levels Bent  seemed destined to become one of the top strikers in Europe. After exhibiting  his  goal scoring abilities in Ipswich Town and Charlton Athletic, he was signed on a record fee by Spurs to spearhead their quest for Europe. Though in 2008-09 he was the top scorer for Spurs, Bent proved to be another mediocre English striker who never managed to reach world class status. Bent has been the most prolific English striker in the past few years but he has only 9 caps for his country

4) Emile Heskey

After Liverpool paid a record  fee  secure the service of  these big forward who was highly regarded to become a world class player. In his first full season for Liverpool he managed to hit the net 22 times  that was in 2002, now in 2011 the highest he has managed since is 14. With over 60 caps for his country, Heskey has never really fulfilled his potential as a goal scorer. If it wasn’t for his strength, he could have been in the conference division by now .

The list is endless, players such as Michael Ricketts, collymore, Dublin to name a few all deserve to be in the list. There also other attacking players who never lived up to their potential in spite of their earlier signs of greatness. These include the likes of  Kieron Dyer, shawn-wright Phillips, Kieran Richardson, Pennant,  Jermaine Jenas.

If not careful, Ashley Young, Welbeck, Agbonlahor, Walcott, Lennon among many, might soon join the list.

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