Category: Latest

Manchester United’s Mournful Evening In Europe

It wasn’t even necessarily the result itself. A two-nil defeat in the first leg of a knockout competition can, with the right planning, be overcome. It was the nature of it. This was a Manchester United so devoid of life that it is possible to draw the conclusion that the team that strolled to the Premier League title at the end of last season has been kidnapped and replaced with imposters from the Planet Mediocre. Once Olympiakos had secured a two goal lead within ten minutes of the start of the second half – thanks, as if enough injury hadn’t been heaped upon them already, to a quite delightful goal from their Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell – the home side didn’t even really need to shut up shop. Manchester United had nothing in return, and nothing in reserve. And so it is that, before even the month of February is even out, the club that dominated English football so relentlessly for the last two decades sees its season spluttering to one final halt. Of course, it’s possible that David Moyes’ team could yet turn this tie around. We’re at half-time in this round of sixteen match, and the second leg will be played on home territory, after all. Quite where the inner reserves, that extra few millilitres of determination, are going to come from, however, is just about anybody’s...

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Bundesliga Round Up: Week 22 – Çalhanoğlu’s Wondergoal

“It was the best goal of my career” said Hakan Çalhanoğlu after his 40 yard free kick made a fool of Borussia Dortmund’s goalkeeper, Roman Weidenfeller and sealed a 3-0 win that even a week ago would have seemed fanciful. Çalhanoğlu is only 20 years old so he has many years to try to score a better goal. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that such a set of circumstances will ever present themselves to allow him to make such an audacious attempt.HSV were already 2-0 and the game was well into injury time. The Turkish international had been picked ahead...

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A Sort Of Blues Return At Cardiff City

For all the bullying and coming from their club of late, supporters of Hull City can at least take a crumb of comfort from the fact that, on the pitch, their team is holding its own in the Premier League at the moment this season. This isn’t a luxury that is currently being extended to the long-suffering supporters of Cardiff City. These two clubs met in the Premier League yesterday afternoon, and travelling Hull supporters might well have found it instructive to learn a little about what a policy of divide and conquer looks like after a couple of years or so. On the pitch – Hull City in blue, Cardiff City in red and black, of course – things remained as disjointed for Cardiff as they have at any point over the last couple of months or so. Goals from Tomm Huddlestone and Nikica Jelavic had already put anything like a result well beyond the home team by half-time, and a second goal from Jelavic twelve minutes into the second half proved to be the tipping point for some Cardiff supporters. The Cardiff City Stadium started to empty a little after this, and by the closing stages of the match, by which time the visitors were four goals up and cruising to their most comfortable win of the league season so far, there were large gaps in the...

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Get Well Soon, Butch: On The Subject of Wilkins’ Progress

Depression is a horrible, confusing and misunderstood affliction. Not only does the settling of a dark cloud over the mind have a rubberising effect on the emotions, blowing the most ridiculously tiny considerations out of all proportion whilst shrinking everything that matters to mere triviality, but it also is also a condition that still, even in the twenty-first century, can feel mildly embarrassing. With no physical symptoms apart from those brought about as a result of its debilitating effects (which can be easily be explained away to oneself in other ways, if one chooses to), it’s easy to convince...

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Divide, Conquer & Scare: Hull City’s War Of Attrition Continues

If the growing feud between Assem Allam and the supporters of Hull City AFC is to be viewed through the prism of being a battle for hearts and minds in some way, then today probably hasn’t been a very good day for Allam. The story appeared in the Hull Daily Mail newspaper and the headline was the obvious one: “Hull City season tickets could go up by 50 per cent if Tigers rebrand rejected.” This is, of course, a ridiculous and offensive idea and for several different reasons. But this also has the feeling of having something of the diversion about it. Previously in this soap opera, he has threatened to sell the club and plumbed frankly extraordinary depths in breaking with any sense of common decency in saying that, of those opposed to his plans, that, “They can die as soon as they want,” a statement so grotesque that it makes one wonder over his mental well-being. What sort of person, we might reasonably ask, would even think that, let alone say it publicly? The accusations of blackmail are an obvious reflex reaction to it all, of course, though who exactly Allam would be looking to blackmail isn’t necessary an easy question to answer. If the FA are as blasé about ticket prices as most people seem to think they are these days, why they should they give...

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