Month: October 2010

Which Way Now For Liverpool?

It has now gone far enough to stop even being amusing to the neutral. Supporters of Manchester United and Everton may seek to disagree, but there was something sombre about Liverpool’s home defeat at the hands of Blackpool this afternoon. We are some way from reading the last rites of the club, but there is something in the air at Anfield. That familiar stench of dry rot hangs over the club this evening. The spirit of Liverpool Football Club feels broken. With each passing week, the feeling that this is but a mere blip has receded further and further into the distance and the dread reality for Liverpool supporters, that a season of having to fight the unthinkable fight – the fight to hold onto the club’s place in the Premier League itself – might be looming on the horizon. There was nowhere else to go this afternoon. There were no excuses and no justifications. Liverpool were beaten by a better team. Blackpool came to Anfield fully aware that this particular beast is wounded at the moment and they had a plan for it. They worked tirelessly, never stopped playing football and there is, ironically, no shame in losing to a team that played as well as they did this afternoon. Their £10,000 per player, per week ceiling on wages is common knowledge. Steven Gerrard alone earns more than...

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Match Of The Week: Wigan Athletic 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

During their season in the third tier during the late 1990s, Manchester City supporters had a song that summed up their feeling of disbelief at the turn for the worse that their club’s fortunes had taken: “We’re Not Really Here”. This lunchtime, Wigan Athletic have taken this to its logical conclusion by being not actually there. There are gaping holes in the crowd for this lunchtime kick-off, most likely on account of the Rugby League Challenge Cup final being played today. To this extent, the town of Wigan remains, in sporting terms, conflicted. Yet this is an important match, in its own way. The nature of the league programme means that there is a tendency for the points accumulated at the end of the season to be treated as more important than those won earlier on in the season but, of course, they’re not. If either of these two clubs wants seriously bolster its chances of avoiding the relegation trapdoor, picking up points from matches like this is not far from essential. Take a moment, if you will, to consider the amount of preparation that a professional football club puts into its match on a Saturday afternoon – the training, the tactical preparation, the logistical side of matters and the travelling supporters, who give up the majority of their Saturday afternoons (and, let us not forget, a reasonably voluminous...

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Light At The End Of The Tunnel At Bournemouth

Even I’m getting bored with my cynicism these days, so I can only apologise to you. The moment I saw the ice being applied to Wayne Rooney’s “injured” ankle at Bolton last weekend, I was applying those inverted commas in my head. I was not a jot surprised when Man Yoo’s BBC spokesperson Michael Phelan said that Giggs was the main doubt for the Valencia. Even when the “Rooney out for three weeks” story came out and I saw pictures of the spud-faced nipper leaving hospital, I never once thought, “Oooh, maybe this injury is for real after all.” When I read the Portsmouth News headline “Clampers are not down to us, say Pompey,” my first thought was, “what’s Gaydamak up to?” remembering that he still owned the land around Portsmouth’s Fratton Park. And every time Andrew Andronikou opens his mouth, I hear Jeremy Paxman’s voice inside my head (which is not fun), saying “why is this lying bastard lying to me?” (even though Paxman no more said that than Bogart said “play it again, Sam”). Now, OK, I was right about Gaydamak. And there is a school of thought the size of Lincolnshire that I may be right about Andronikou. But my ability to see the worst in football finance people from the word go is, I’m sure, clouding my judgement on some issues. So I’m more than...

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The Twohundredpercent FIFA 11 Review

Football games on consoles. FIFA vs Pro Evolution Soccer. There was a time when it was all so much easier than it is now. EA Sports had spent all of the money for FIFA on the licences and seemed to have very little left over for the game itself. Konami, on the other hand, knew that with Pro Evolution Soccer, if you wanted something that felt like the real thing, you would put up with Merseyside Blue playing against Connaught. With the seventh generation – the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 – of consoles, however, the balance tipped dramatically in the other direction. Pro Evolution Soccer stood still, while FIFA 2008, FIFA 2009 and FIFA 10 made quantum leaps in terms of the actual game-playing experience itself. FIFA 11 was released today, but this will not be a gamers’ review of the game. This is not a gaming site. This review is looking at FIFA 11 from a footballing point of view. In recent years, the one of the biggest selling points of the FIFA series of games is that they have started to feel as if they are written by people that actually understand football. You can play as the manager or a player from any of the ninety-two clubs of the Premier and Football Leagues, and this is present and correct in this year’s edition and, while...

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