Sunday, 19 June 2011

Change from Blogger to Wordpress

After some thought, I decided to change from Blogger to Wordpress. I think Wordpress is a better host, with a lot more options 'under the bonnet' so I created the new site over the course of the day, and here it is:

So from now on, all my content will be posted there, as opposed to here. Do let me know what you think of the new site! The next 'My Perfect Player' will be up on the Wordpress site later tonight. 

Thanks all.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

My Perfect Player #2

The second 'My Perfect Player' is brought to you by the excellent Daniel Feliciano. He writes at DMF's Football World, a blog you should really be taking a look at.

Brain - Manuel Rui Costa 

A magnificent footballer, he was truly steps ahead of the game. Always had an image in his mind of what would happen in the game and had a superb eye for a pass and often chipped in with the odd spectacular goal - England in Euro 2004 pops up in my mind.

Head - Hernan Crespo

He could head the ball with power, precision and incredible accuracy. Always in the right place at the right time too, meant he was a clinical striker and one that in his prime was near unstoppable.

Eyes - Paul Scholes

Scholes' vision made him one of the best midfielders of his generation. The nickname 'Sat Nav' didn't come from anywhere, as he was see things others couldn't and then pick the perfect pass. No wonder he had so many players sing his praises in his final season.

Mouth - Roy Keane

He was a leader on and off the field, for club and country and was an excellent example to youngsters. Born for success, he knew when something had to be said, and what needed to be said. Could run a game by himself and took each game by the scruff of the neck.

Lungs - Cafu

Legendary Brazilian full back just didn't know how to stop running. Even at the age of 34 while at AC Milan, he could be seen charging up the touchline looking for the pass in stoppage time. A real engine and a model for fitness. Great player too.

Left foot - Lionel Messi

Closely run by Raul Gonzalez, Messi's left foot scrapes it due to the moments of magic he can produce. A truly magnificent player, the ball sticks to his foot when dribbling and it's almost impossible to stop him when he's in full flow. 

Right foot - Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, for me, is the greatest player in the modern era of football. He had everything in his right foot. Control, accuracy, shooting power and more. The perfect right foot.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Perfect Player #1

As promised, here's Ben Leeder's Perfect Player. You can follow him on Twitter here, and check out his excellent blog 'You've Got Acres Of Time' here.

Brain - Dennis Bergkamp 

Always three steps ahead of everybody. A true genius who made football seem so easy. A true legend but more importantly a true gentleman. Everything a footballer should be.

Head - Alan Shearer

He could head the ball with so much power. He had amazing accuracy, he could put the ball across the keeper with so much ease and find the net.

Eyes - Zinedine Zidane 

Zizou had an aura, he seemed to glide around the pitch (my favourite player of all time). He could see things no one else could even dream of. He always had an end product; either a great finish or a perfect sliding pass. The perfect midfielder.

Mouth - Patrick Vieira

Everyone wanted to follow him, he could completely control a game on his own. Go on lung busting runs, slide tackles and scored some great goals. The complete midfielder who would take the game by the scruff of the neck and always give 100 per cent every week. A great leader.

Lungs - Wayne Rooney

Wayne chases, chases and chases again and he loves every minute of it. He plays with his heart on his sleeve, which is an amazing attribute to have. He gives everything for his team every week and will fight until the final whistle blows.

Left foot - Lionel Messi

The ball just seems to stick to his foot. He can do whatever he wants.. Once he gets going it is impossible to stop him. Seems pointless trying to sum him up, he is just so good! The best player of all time? Hell yes!

Right foot - Ronaldo (Brazilian)

Pace, power and precision - he had it all. In his day the best player in the world.. untouchable. He had tricks that would leave to defenders for dead. The greatest goalscorer in world cup history, what more can I say. The phenomenon is a fully deserved nickname.

My Perfect Player

Seeing as this summer seems to be yet another tedious one full of transfer nonsense, I thought I might brighten up your boredom with a new series.

I was scouring my Match! annuals for inspiration on another project I had in mind (keep your eyes peeled) and stumbled across a feature called "The Ultimate Player" and was inspired by it. It picked out different body parts of players to form the perfect "wonderkid", so I thought I'd incorporate something similar.

Starting off with Ben Leeder's contribution, I'll be looking for others to also get involved, so if you're interested, send me an email at and I'll let you know what's required.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Football is becoming a rich man's game

Here's my article on Freestyle Football World about money in football, hope you enjoy.

There are a few problems in football. The corruption surrounding the game’s governing body, FIFA, for example. But another that has come to the fore lately has been inflation.

And not just transfer fees like Jordan Henderson’s – as the world goes through inflation, football as a whole does. That means shirt prices, food prices and, most importantly, ticket prices.

A key example of this would be Arsenal. Despite a sixth successive season without a trophy, the club made the decision that, in keeping with the global and footballing price rises, they would increase season ticket prices by 6.5%.

Considering the club’s recent failure on the pitch, the fans didn’t take kindly to these increases. There was a walk engineered by supporters group “Black Scarf Movement”, who have asked the question: “Where has our Arsenal gone?”

We can, in the same way, ask: “Where has our football gone?” Without even getting started on the corruption in the game, if you take a look at the absurd transfer fees and wages being paid these days, it’s little wonder that some are feeling a little out of love with what was once known as the beautiful game.

Of course, on the field football is probably as enjoyable as ever. But those who used to be able to go to many games are now being priced out of it. “Club Levels” are being introduced to stadiums, where rich people can wine and dine, whilst occasionally glancing towards the game.

And the players that fans used to become attached to are jumping ship as soon as a better offer arises. Not just because it’s good for their careers – for the money too. Ashley Cole is a prime example. While Chelsea may have been on the up, when he left Arsenal, the Gunners had just reached the final of the Champions League.

He had claimed to be a lifelong Arsenal fan, having come up through the youth ranks, and the fans could themselves relate to that. One of the best things of being a football fan is those players who spend their entire career at their childhood club, and show the same passion as them.

But no. Cole went to rivals Chelsea, for a few extra thousand pounds. He said he “nearly crashed his car” in anger when he found out that Arsenal were offering him £5,000 less than he wanted. The fact that he was on his mobile in the car is an entirely different matter.

The point is that footballers and those involved are becoming increasingly greedy as the inflation hits football. When players see the insane amounts of money players like Yaya Toure are being paid, they feel that they deserve a similar amount.

A recent example would be Samir Nasri. After a fairly decent few years at Arsenal, without exactly setting the world on fire, he had a terrific half-season, before fading away for the remainder of the year. However, this seemed to give him reason to believe that he deserved to be on wage parity with the captain of the club, Cesc Fabregas.

Even worse was the way that he seemed to use the perceived interest from Manchester United to engineer him that wage parity. While it may have been agent influence (another source of money-grabbing) or paper talk, there’s never smoke without fire.

Gone is the day when a player would say something and actually mean it. Contracts mean nothing these days – Felipe Melo left just days after signing a new contract with Fiorentina. If anything, they’re just to ensure that the clubs get the maximum amount of money for their players.

In the end, it all comes back to that word which has polluted football. Money.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Michael Thomas broke my heart

I'm delighted to welcome Simon Furnivall as a guest poster on 15YOG. A Liverpool fan, here he talks about how Michael Thomas broke his five-year-old heart. Enjoy. 
“Thomas, it's up for grabs now!” 

Those words still hurt me. I was just shy of my sixth birthday, but I still remember it as if it were yesterday. The crushing disappointment, the broken heart of a sports fan, to my dying day I will never be able to forgive Arsenal for inflicting that pain. 

My first memory of anything to do with football is the 1988 FA Cup final. As the son of a man who grew up on the Kop, a man who had been at Heysel, the fact that I was born in Leeds was not going to have any say on the matter, I was destined to be Red through and through. I was told stories of the glory days of league titles and European Cups, I grew up safe in the knowledge that Liverpool were the greatest team in history. 

Lawrie f***ing Sanchez fairly quickly shattered that illusion. But it mattered not, we were still league champions, still the best. I don't remember much of the detail of the '88-'89 season - save for the fact that I fell deeply in love with John Barnes - but May 26th 1989 is burned on my memory, and you're crazy if you think I had to look up that date. 

Back in those days a live televised match still generated excitement. We had won the FA Cup just six days earlier - a cathartic moment after the horrors of Hillsborough - and I remember the thrill of anticipation growing throughout the day. 

My dad was working away for the day, down in Oxford or some such place, and wasn't going to be back in time for kick off. We had arranged that my mum would tape the game and when my dad got home he would get me up and we would watch it together, 'as live'. 

Being a cheeky little b*****d, however, I spent the entire evening after getting home from school bugging my mum to let me watch the game live, then again when my dad got home. Eventually she gave in, but first made me promise that I wouldn't let on that I knew the score. 

Despite my tender years, I fully grasped the fact that Arsenal had to beat us 2-0, and just how unlikely that was. I had grown up with 'This is Anfield' still putting the fear of God into opposing sides, and we simply didn't lose at home.
A goalless first half and things were looking rosy. Two seasons and two titles and an FA Cup, my football supporting career was getting off to a pretty good start. Even Alan Smith's 52nd minute header didn't overly perturb me. I was soon back to thinking everything was rosy and lifting my imaginary league trophy to the sky. 

At some point towards the end of the game I had started doing laps of honour around the living room. I was probably jogging past the imaginary Kemlyn Road stand in my front room when Brian Moore uttered his immortal line; I certainly wasn't looking at the TV. I turned round just in time to see the ball rolling back out of the net and Michael Thomas doing his weird backflip celebration as hundred of Liverpool fans streamed out of the exits behind him.

The immediate feeling was one of utter betrayal. Liverpool won league titles, they didn't lose them. Liverpool won at Anfield, they didn't lose by two goals in matches of monumental importance. I couldn't quite process what had happened, other than to explode in a flood of tears. 

My mum comforted me then shepherded me off to bed, but I couldn't settle. I got back up and wandered around, eventually sitting at the top of the stairs, tears still streaming down my cheeks. When my dad walked in the front door, the first thing he was was me, inconsolable, and he instantly knew what had happened. To this day he has never watched that game. 

It is said that it's the hard times which define us as sports fans. They bring us together, and it is certainly having tasted the lows that make the highs all the more enjoyable. Twenty-two years later, however, the pain is still as raw as it was then. No matter how much beautiful football Arsenal now play, no matter that Thomas went on to score in the 1992 FA Cup Final in a Liverpool shirt, I will never be able to forgive them for the day that Michael Thomas broke my heart.

Simon can be found at the excellent Lovely Left Foot, and occasionally guest posting on (the equally excellent) The Makélélé Role.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Transfer update - more on Willian, Benzema, Higuain, Odemwingie & Lukaku, plus Alvarez

No new rumours for you to get your teeth into - just updates on previous rumours.

Firstly, we've been linked again with Shakhtar Donetsk winger Willian. Denilson wanted us to sign him a while back, despite being on his way out of the club, and from what I've seen of him he's a decent player. Apparently he's only valued at £5 million, while other news outlets report a fee in the region of £15 million. Somewhere in between would probably be about right. 

Personally, I'm desperate for us to sign a winger. I think it's an area in which we could use more depth - Nasri and Arshavin are our only natural wingers in my opinion, as Walcott often struggles. He has good games, but sometimes gets forced out of a game by his full back. I think Willian would be a decent option on the flank, but it depends on a few things. Personally, I can't see Wenger going for him, but we'll see.

Jose Mourinho has commented on the Benzema & Higuain rumours. He says they're both "intransferable", so it looks like both of those rumours are dead in the water at the moment. I doubt we'll see that situation change, so right now they're just pipe dreams.

Further fuel has been added to the "Odemwingie to Arsenal" fire, this time with a few major news outlets reporting that we've bid £4 million for the West Brom striker. This all came from wearethenorthbank's exclusive about us being interested in Odemwingie, and I doubt there's much else to it. 

According to givemefootball, Arsenal & Chelsea target Romelu Lukaku will join one of the two soon. I can't see him coming to Arsenal, he has Chelsea written all over him. It's sad, because I think he's going to be an absolute beast. In fact, at 6ft5, he already is. He'll probably end up like Drogba, our nemesis, always scoring against us, which is a shame. 

That's about it for today, although if there's anything worth reporting later on it might be up. Until then, I have to learn my German script. Auf wiedersehen...

(update: apparently Manchester United were scouting our target Ricky Alvarez last night. Hands off!)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Transfer update - Higuain, Menez, McCarthy

Well I said I wouldn't do an update unless we signed anyone...

Well, we haven't. But I woke up early-ish again, and couldn't get back to sleep, so I trawled the internet for the latest Arsenal rumours, just for you guys.

The first rumour is the one that links us to Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid. We've been linked with him before, and it didn't happen. This time, the Daily Mirror claims that he's available for £15 million, alerting us, Liverpool and Sp*rs. What player that we're linked with isn't immediately linked with Sp*rs? They pretty much try and sign every player we do. 

Anyway, I can't see Higuain being available, and certainly not for that price. Although Real do have a history of offloading players for cut-price deals (van der Vaart to name one) they haven't got an awful lot of strikers. Higuain and Benzema are their two natural strikers, and they play Ronaldo up there a lot too. I think Higuain's availability will come down to what Real do this summer - they've been heavily linked with Aguero, and at one point the deal seemed all but done. There remains a little uncertainty over him joining, but I still think he's headed to the Bernabeu.

I think Mourinho would be happy with three top class strikers in Aguero, Benzema and Ronaldo, seeing as he only signed Adebayor as cover for injured/out of form players, so if Aguero did end up crossing the Madrid divide, then I think Higuain would be a possibility. He's a player that Arsene admires, like Benzema (who he called an "interesting" player) and for £15 million I could see him making a move for Higuain. Personally, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I'm a big fan of Higuain, and at one point he was one of the top strikers in the world.

Another striker we're linked with is Jeremy Menez. RMC Radio have reported that Roma are going to offer the French international for our French international. Oh... the one who plays in defence... er, the full back... the one who can't cross... Gael Clichy. Apparently Menez will be just one player who Vincenzo Montello looks to offload this summer. 

To be honest, other than knowing how rubbish he is on FIFA (seriously, don't sign him in your careers) I don't know an awful lot about how good this lad is. I'll have to ask around for a little more information about him, but until then I can't comment on the rumour myself.

The final rumour is that of Wigan midfielder James McCarthy. Again, it's the Mirror that are linking him with us. They say that the chairman Dave Whelan has admitted they'll have to sell the player if he wants to leave, and that Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal are interested.

I'm fairly sure we were interested in him when he was at Hamilton Academical in Scotland, only for him to opt for first team football at Wigan. That's fair enough, as he wouldn't have played much at all at any of the big clubs he was linked with. He still probably wouldn't play much at Arsenal, but I think he's a tidy player who would be an excellent squad player. Whether or not he would be happy as such is anybody's guess.

That's about it on the transfer front for now - more later probably.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Transfer update - Odemwingie, Chamberlain, Gervinho

In today's transfer update, two likely transfers and a rumoured target.

You can probably guess which are which. 

Firstly, sorry for my lack of posts over the last couple of days. On Monday I went to the play-off final (in the Swansea end) and since then I've barely been back home. 

Now, the three latest rumours with the most to them have been involving Gervinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Peter Odemwingie. Lille striker Gervinho looks set to announce his next club within the coming week. Apparently Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle are the clubs jostling for the signature of the £9.5 million man. 

I also read somewhere that he's told close friends that he's coming to the Emirates. I'd be surprised if he went elsewhere - he's being offered Champions League football at Lille, and out of the three clubs mentioned we're the only ones also competing in Europe's premier competition. Being my usual optimistic self, I'd probably say the transfer will be wrapped up by the end of this week - unlike Arsenal, seeing as we like to drag things out.

The second transfer that looks likely to be completed soon is that of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His father, Mark, has encouraged him to join Arsenal 'as soon as possible'. In life, usually you listen to your parents (unless you're Mario Balotelli) and I think a young guy (yeah I know, he's older than me) like Oxlade-Chamberlain will be no different. I'm looking forward to seeing him play more often, which I'll be doing next season whatever happens. He seems a good player with a lot of potential.

Finally, the in-the-know wearethenorthbank have some more inside info, this time pertaining to the possible transfer of West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie. Apparently the 29-year-old is a target of Arsenal, although having said that, we target a lot of players. I thought he was a little younger than 29, so I'm not sure if we'd go for him, seeing as he'd have no resale value. But Arsene's surprised us in the past.

That's all for today's update, seeing as it's half term and I've also got a lot of revision to be doing, I doubt there'll be another unless we sign anyone. Still, keep your eyes peeled...