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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The baby faced assassin

When Sir Alex Ferguson opted to sign the then unknown Norwegian forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of Alan Shearer back in 1996, you could have forgiven the united faithful for having their doubts. He was untested in the Premier League, was fairly Young and hand on heart we really hadn’t heard too much about him. However Solskjaer went on to become arguably Sir Alex Ferguson’s finest ever bargain in his managerial career.

Having signed Solskjaer for a mere £1.5 Million pounds, Ole quickly established himself in the Manchester United side, becoming an instant fan favourite amongst the united supporter’s. His knack of popping up at the right times in the box was becoming a real trade mark for Ole and one that would save United on countless occasions, from his famous injury time goal vs Bayern Munich in the 1999 European Cup Final, to his last gasp winner against Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round at Old Trafford in 2007. When the big occasions came calling Ole didn’t go missing, he delivered.

It didn’t take Ole long to get off the mark for the club, 6 minutes to be exact. After seeing his initial effort saved the keeper, Ole neatly slotted the ball home on the rebound and into the bottom corner opening up his united account. This would be only a sign of things to come, as Solskjaer continued to cause opposition defence’s havoc. Ole ended his debut campaign for the club scoring in all a total of 19 goals, helping United secure yet another League Title.

The following season may not have quite hit the heights of the previous year with the club missing out on the Premier League title to arch rivals Arsenal, but Ole’s ever growing importance to the Manchester United side was becoming ever more undeniable. His late late equaliser against Chelsea at Old Trafford, followed up by his double against Blackburn Rovers, kept United well and truly in the race. Even though he only managed 9 goals, you could see the development he was making as a footballer, we knew we had something really special in Solskjaer.

What was to follow in the 1998/1999 campaign was beyond the stuff even dreams are made of! As United completed an historic treble. This would arguably be Solskjaer’s finest ever season in a Manchester United shirt, on paper the 2001/02 campaign could be classed as his personal best, as he scored more goals. However throughout treble winning campaign Ole’s goals and performance’s was just that little bit more special. He showed not just us, but the entire footballing world just how important he was to our side, when a chance fell to Solskjaer in the box, you could almost bet your house on him scoring, he was just that good.

We had to wait until January in the FA Cup clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, to witness the first real bit of Magic arrive that season, but boy was it worth the wait! With United trailing 1-0 and all but a matter of minutes to go, Dwight Yorke looked to have rescued a draw for the reds with a late equaliser, but that was only to be half the story. Almost out of nowhere Ole dramatically appeared in the box, edging the ball to the left before then placing it past the keeper and giving United the victory, however the best was still yet to come. Picture the scene, last minute of a European cup final, 100,000 + supporters in the ground; probably will be the last kick of the game when the ball comes in from the corner, would the pressure be too much? No, Not for Ole, as he dramatically flicked the ball into the top right hand corner, winning the European Cup for Manchester United. The Treble was complete and so was Solskjaers’ legendary status at the club.

Of course it would be almost impossible to top or even for that matter match the standards set by the Treble winning campaign, it was a 1 in a million season. Despite the following seasons bringing more success, failure in Europe left us with a bitter taste in our mouths, the feeling that we could and should have won so much more, however from Solskjaer it was business as usual. A combined total of 28 goals over the next 2 seasons, (1999/2000/ 2000/2001) proved essential, as United eased their way to another 2 Premier League Titles.

The arrival of Dutch forward Ruud Van Nistelrooy would see Ole been given a more regular starting place in the Manchester United side, rather than appearing off the substitutes bench. Right from the off it was clear the pair had the makings of a fantastic partnership. In both Ruud and Ole you had two out and out goal scoring machines, they didn’t need 3 or 4 chances to find the back of the net, they only needed 1. The pair’s unreal striking partnership netted a combined total of a whopping 61 goals, as United narrowly missed out the League Title to Arsenal.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s persistence to playing Van Nistelrooy as the lone striker throughout the 2002/03 campaign did somewhat limit Ole’s opportunities to play in a more advanced role up front for the cub, but did see the Norwegian play in a unfamiliar position on the right wing. It was something we hadn’t really seen from Solskjaer before, but it was a role he did effectively with in particularly his standout moment coming against Newcastle United at Old Trafford, where he beautifully glided past Newcastle’s full back, before then giving it to Paul Scholes who empathically blasted the ball home helping United on their way to an 8th Premier League title. Ole was even selected to play on the Right hand side for the majority of United’s bigger games that season, including against the likes of Real Madrid and Arsenal where again he blossomed.

As we headed into Ole’s final few years at Old Trafford, injuries would become an unfortunate regular occurrence. A knee injury suffered against Panathinakios in September 2003 would limit the forwards appearance’s that campaign to a mere 19. An intensive Knee operation in August 2004 kept Solskjaer out on the side-lines for the next 2 years as he began his recovery process.

He finally made his long anticipated return from injury in August 2006 down at the Valley at Charlton Athletic, where in typical Solskjaer fashion coolly slid the ball home, adding United’s third and final goal of the game, It was almost like he had never been away. With it likely to be his last season, you just knew with Solskjaer he would leave us with just a few more injury time winners! And that is exactly what happened. Firstly it would be Celtic who would be on the end of one of Solskjaers late late shows, who after seeing Louis Saha’s effort saved by the keeper, tucked away the ball home, giving United a 3-2 victory, next it would be Aston Villa in the FA Cup. With the game seemingly all but certain to end 1-1, Ole from the edge of the area placed the ball under the keeper the club a 2-1 victory and a place in the next round off the FA Cup. Fittingly his last goal for the club came against Blackburn Rovers (where it all started off) scoring United’s fourth and final goal of the game in a vital 4-1 victory.

His retirement from the game was officially announced on 28th August 2007, which brought to an end an 11 year stay at the theatre if Dreams. His playing days may be long over but the memories he left still live ever present in the minds of every single Manchester United fan.

Michael Carrick, The man that makes united tick

For any side to be successful, yes you need your goal scorers, yes you need a solid centre back pairing, yes you need a top draw goalkeeper, but you also need that one player in your side who can do a job for the team without most people even realising they are actually doing it and that man is Michael Carrick.

He may not grab the headlines every week, nor make you leap off your seat in excitement, but his contribution to the side is just as important never the less. Take Carrick away from that central midfield and I doubt you would have seen the clubs attacking talent flourish so much.

There have been few better passers of a football that have ever graced the Old Trafford turf than Carrick, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 2 yard simple pass or a long range 40 yard pass, Carrick always finds his man.

Throughout his stay at the Theatre of Dreams, Carrick has won everything there was to win in the game. 5 Premier League Titles, 1 European Cup, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup and a collection of Charity Shields, round off a mighty impressive CV for the midfielder.

Having impressed for Tottenham Hotspur, Carrick joined United all the way back in the summer of 2006 for a reported fee of 18.6 Million Pounds. At the time the club were going through something of rough patch. Failure to overhaul Arsene Wenger’s invincible Arsenal side in 2004 and Jose Mourinho’s rampant Chelsea side for the past 2 seasons combined with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo’s rather infamous fall out at the 2006 World Cup, left the United faithful not really knowing what to expect over the coming years. What was to follow was beyond the stuff of dreams as United made their way to the peak of not just English, but World football.

The 2006/07 campaign seen the midfielders make a stunning 52 appearances in all competition’s, (his most ever to date) netting a total of 6 goals, including two wonderful strikes against Roma in the 7-1 demolition of the Italian side at Old Trafford. Ronaldo and Rooney may have been stealing the show, but Carrick was doing his job for the side quietly and effectively as United won back the Premier League Title from Chelsea.

The following season (2007/08) seen United crowned not only Champions of England but Europe too and whilst a certain Portuguese footballer was scoring goals for fun, Carrick’s influence on the Manchester United side wasn’t too far behind. In all the midfielder made an impressive 49 appearances in all competition’s most notably playing the entire 120 minutes against Chelsea in the European Cup final.

As we headed into the 2008/09 campaign, United won yet another Premier League Title making it three in a row. The club even went a step further and were crowned Champions of the World! After defeating Liga de Quito 1-0. For Carrick it was again another successful personal campaign, which seen the midfielder make a total of 43 appearances, scoring 4 goals and again played the entire match in the European Cup final, only this time losing out to Barcelona.

The departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez the following summer would always make it a difficult season for the club. Despite losing two key members of the squad, United only lost out on the League Title on the final day. Throughout the campaign Carrick made a total of 44 appearances for the club, finding the back of the net on five occasions, with arguably the highlight coming against Manchester City in a League Cup clash at Old Trafford, where Carrick calmly and coolly tucked the ball home scoring United’s second goal on the night and third on aggregate.

As Carrick has edged closer to his latter days of footballing career, his game hasn’t really changed, it didn’t have to. He was never one to rely on pace and can still dictate play from the centre of midfield with ease.

In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final three season’s in charge at Old Trafford Carrick was a consistent figure amongst the United first team squad, and never managed to make less than 40 appearances throughout. Two more League Titles followed (2011, 2013) as did another appearance in a European Cup final, only to lose out again to Barcelona (2011). His efforts on the field were to be rewarded as at the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson’s final campaign in charge (2012/13, Carrick was included in the PFA Team of the year along with picking up the clubs Players player of the year award.

Sir Ale Ferguson’s retirement from the game in 2013 led to the appointment of David Moyes, which seen the club have a season they would rather forget finishing in seventh place, leading club to sack David Moyes and place club legend Ryan Giggs in charge for the final 4 games. It would be hard to pick anyone who could have held there head up high after that season, not just Carrick.

The following campaign seen the arrival of Dutchman Louis Van Gaal, but Carrick didn’t feature for the club until November after suffering an ankle injury. His stop start campaign only seen the midfielder make limited appearance’s that campaign, as United finished fourth in the Premier League. The 2015/16 season under the Dutchman seen the club finish outside the top four, finishing in fifth place, whilst for Carrick on a personal note featured a lot more than the previous campaign, as he helped the club win the FA Cup for a 12th time.

Following the arrival of Jose Mourinho to the club last summer Carrick has once again shown this season just how important of a player he is to Manchester United and still remains one if the first names on the team sheet for Mourinho when the big games come calling.

 

 

Wonder kids who failed to live up to the hype

Tipped as the next big thing in football we take a look at four wonder kids who despite having all the talent in the world failed to make it to the very top.

Federico Macheda

Having impressed for the clubs reserves at just seventeen years of age Federico Macheda was introduced to the Old Trafford faithful late on in the second half during a Premier League game against Aston Villa. It was a debut he or the Manchester United supporters would ever forget as he went on to score a stunning stoppage time stunner to defeat Martin O’Neil’s men.

Having received the ball on the edge of the penalty area he neatly turned the defender and superbly curled the ball into the back of the net sending the Old Trafford faithful wild.

The game arguably proved to be a turning moment in the season for United. Having lost back to back fixtures against Liverpool and Fulham they could not dare afford to lose another game if they were to win league that season and in Macheda scoring the winner against the Villa it acted as a springboard for United to go on to win the Premier League title.

However that was about as good as it good for the young Italian. Despite following up his strike against Villa with another winner against Sunderland at the stadium of light he failed to take his chances in the first team over the coming seasons and was eventually released to Sampdoria on loan in January 2011.

He has since go on to have numerous spells at Cardiff City, Queens Park Rangers, VtB Stuttgart, Doncaster Rovers, Birmingham City and now finds himself at Nottingham Forest.

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Kerlon

Once tipped as the next big thing in Brazilian football back in 2005 Kerlon now finds himself in Malta playing for Villa Nova-MG.

Voted Brazils best player at a Under-17 tournament Kerlon had the world at his feet back in 2005. His stunning performances at international level combined with his outrageous seal dribble had caught the attention of the footballing world and it wasnt too long before he got his move Europe with Italian side Chievo signing the youngster up in multi-million pound deal.

His move to Chievo would prove to be a pivotal moment in the Brazilians footballing career. It would be the moment where we would see whether Kerlon had it in him to go on and make it to the very top or the moment where he would fail to live up to the billing and unfortunately it proved to be the latter.

Kerlon has gone on to feature for a host of clubs including Parana, Nacional-NS, Fujieda MYFC, Miami Dade FC, Silema Wanderers and now finds himself playing for Villa Nova.

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Ravel Morrison

There was little if any doubt inside Old Trafford that then teenage star Ravel Morrison would make the grade at Manchester United. In a side that included Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and the likes it was Morrison who stood head and shoulders above the rest as his talent shown through.

His ability to glide past his opponent with ease combined with outstanding trickery on the ball made him one of the most exciting prospects in British football and is a player that without question should have go on to achieve big things in the game.

Many to this day still remain none the wiser as to why Morrison didn’t make it at United. Some point to his temperament on and off the field and some point to his bad attitude. What ever it was its a crying shame that he didn’t fulfil his potential and he now finds himself over in Italy playing for Lazio where the same problems continues to occur.

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John Bostock

Having made his debut for Crustal Palace back in 2007 John Bostock became one of the most sought after teenagers in the game.

After impressing for Palace he got a move to Tottenham Hotspur. This would finally be the opportunity which Bostock had been wanting but unfortunately it became the opportunity which he failed to take.

After failing to impress at White Hart Lane the youngster went on to have loan spells at Brentford, Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday, Swindon Town, Toronto FC, Royal Antwerp, OH Leuven and RC Lens.

Looking back now he will undoubtedly have regretted joining Tottenham at such a young age. He should have spent further time at Palace to develop his game and when the timing was right moved on, he just wasn’t ready.

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The Spooky World Of Quantum Physics

If you take a cat, put it in a box with a poison vial that will rupture when a radioactive source within the box decays, and close the box, you’ll more than likely end up with a criminal record, or leave Mum a messy surprise for when she gets home from work. However, proposing this in the world of Physics will actually bag you some street cred, and open up more than a few fiery debates. This experiment was indeed proposed by the late Erwin Schrodinger, a contemporary of Einstein back in 1935, and what he proposed should amaze you.

Schrodinger, a pioneer in quantum physics, proposed that until the box is opened and the fate of the cat revealed, our feline friend can be considered both alive and dead at the same time, in other words, existing in a state of superposition. If this amazes you (it should), prepare to tumble down the rabbit hole of an area of Physics called Quantum Mechanics, a field who’s theories attempt to demystify so much of the phenomena that we observe in the world around us, but is however, understood by so few.

Quantum mechanics concerns itself mainly with the behaviour of subatomic particles. For the uninitiated, subatomic particles are essentially the building blocks of literally everything we see around us, and also of the infinitely large Universe that we find ourselves in. By taking a look at your current surroundings, you may fall into the trap of thinking that you have the Physical world pretty much cracked. The phone or laptop that you are using to read this is solid, and therefore must be made up of things that can only themselves be solely described as solid. When you are not looking at your device, it behaves just as it would as when you are, and therefore the things that make it up must also behave in a similar fashion. The device you are reading this from isn’t physically connected to anything else (aside from a portable charger perhaps), and therefore could not be affected by similar objects light years away, so the things that make it up cannot be either. I hate to break it to you, but this seemingly fair bit of reasoning is in fact considered wrong in the world of Quantum Mechanics, and I’m going to try and explain as best I can why that is.

Taking the first statement, that the things that make up your solid device must also be solid themselves. If you agree with this, then Louis De Broglie (pronounced ‘Broy’ not ‘Broccolli’) will beg to differ. A hypothesis of his based upon experimental data from 1924 suggested that electrons, and by extension everything that they make up (so… everything), actually have wavelengths, meaning under certain situations, they can behave like waves, and at other times, like particles. This was first demonstrated when electrons fired at a screen, were shown to diffract (spread out), behaviour shown only by waves. This experiment caused quite the ruckus among Physicists of the time, and understandably so. Imagine someone telling you that the chair you’re sitting on right now had a wavelength!

In the case of the second statement, that when you look away from your device, it behaves in the same manner as if you were looking at it, and therefore that the stuff its made of should as well, is also sadly wrong. In an infamous experiment first devised by Thomas Young, electrons were fired through a screen with two tiny vertical slits in. After passing through, you would expect to see to vertical lines directly behind the slits where the electrons had hit the screen. The result however, was far more interesting. These electrons had in fact diffracted (as mentioned before), even when fired through one at a time! They had been shown to be interfering with themselves. Physicists, ever curious, set up complicated devices to see what was going on, as it appeared that these electrons were existing in superposition (more than one place at once), but when the experiment was re run, with measurements being taken, these mischevious electrons went back to behaving like particles, forming two distinct lines behind the screen. It seems, even today, that electrons radically change behaviour when being observed (don’t worry, I don’t understand this at all either).

Dealing with the final statement, that without physical connection, the device you’re reading this from shouldn’t be affected by anything, and therefore neither should the particles that make it up, is also wrong. This is perhaps the spookiest of all, or so said Albert Einstein. Electrons, much like everything else in the world, have properties. Not houses or flats, but characteristics that define them. One such property is spin. They’re not actually spinning (take it up with Wolfgang Pauli), but are different depending on whether they’re spinning up, or spinning down. When two electrons are separated, and the spin of one observed, you can say with absolute certainty that the spin of the other will be the opposite, nothing amazing right? However, imagine these particles are separated by astronomical (excuse the pun) distances, with no physical connection, and the spin of one is observed, what happens? You guessed it, the spin of the other is instantly determined to be the opposite. This confused even Einstein, as information appeared to be travelling between electrons faster than the speed of light, so don’t feel guilty for being confused. Einstein refuted this idea of inherent connections between particles his whole life, calling it ‘Spooky action from a distance’ and proposed that these electrons held information within themselves that predetermined their spin states. This was experimentally disproved some years after his passing, and the phenomena is today called Quantum Entanglement, and still baffles almost everyone, and leaves me with a sore head. It does however, go some way in showing that even without a Physical connection, two things can determine each others behaviour, and offers promising real world applications, such as advancements in quantum computing.

I don’t profess to understand why these things happen, but I do believe that they’re too amazing not to share. I hope this article has somewhat sparked an interest in the Quantum World for you, as these things did for me when I first discovered them. There are countless resources on the web discussing topics like these, and they will undoubtedly explain them far better than I will ever be able to, but I thought I’d have a pop anyway.

Thanks for reading, and if you feel like it, I’ll leave you with the equation that allows you to calculate your very own wavelength! Take your mass, and your velocity (roughly 2 meters per second if you’re walking to the shop), multiply these two values together, and divide the Planck Constant (6.63×10-34) by this value, and there you have it, your very own wavelength! Do with this information what you will.

 

Written by Samuel Johnson.

Originally published: 1st August 2016

Updated: 15th October 2016

The Premier League’s greatest ever defenders

For any side to be successful you need a solid backline. From Arsene Wenger’s invincibles to Jose Mourinho’s dominant Chelsea side of the mid 2000’s, all have had a top draw defence which that can within stand the pressure no matter how big the circumstance may be.

Whilst scoring goals is an important aspect of the game defending is just as if not more important. Throughout this article I will take a look at some of the greatest defenders who have ever graced the Premier League and take a look at not only how great they were individually as a player but how important they were to their club.

Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United

In a stay that lasted twelve years at Manchester United Rio Ferdinand went on to become one of the greatest defenders who have ever graced the Old Trafford turf. His excellent tackling combined with his outstanding reading of the game made him one of the finest centre-backs in world football and one that played a key role in the clubs success on the pitch.

If there a moment to prove just how important Ferdinand was to United it would be the second half of the 2003/04 campaign. After missing a drugs test the defender was handed a eight month ban from football by the FA meaning that he would miss the rest of the season and in his absence United simply fell apart. No longer were United able to see out games nor keep the opposition at bay they were leaking goals for fun and there was little Sir Alex Ferguson could do about it until he returned.

He finally made his long anticipated return in September 2004 helping the club secure a 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford and well the rest is history.

Six premier League titles, one European cup, three cups, and a bundle of Charity shields capped off a mighty impressive medal collection for the defender with only a FA cup winners medal missing on the stars mantel piece.

His time at Manchester United was officially brought to an end in May 2014 after it was announced he would be joining Queens Park Rangers.

Sol Campbell, Arsenal

Having made the dreaded switch from Tottenham Hotspur to Arsenal back in 2001 Sol Campbell quickly became an integral part of Arsene Wenger’s side playing a key role in the clubs success in the early 2000’s.

Campbells’s pin-point tackling combined with his excellent leadership from the back made him one of the first names on the team sheet for Wenger and one which proved to one of his finest signings of his managerial career.

 Without Sol Campbell they were simply not the same side. In having such a trusted figure like Campbell at the back it allowed the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires to fully express themselves further up the pitch in the knowing that should they lose the ball Campbell would be there to make amends.

His time at Highbury was brought to an end back in 2006 after it was announced the defender had signed a deal with Harry Rednkapp’s Portsmouth.

John Terry, Chelsea

Brought through the clubs academy system back in 1998 John Terry has remained ever present in the Chelsea side ever since going on to become one of the clubs greatest ever servants.

Terry’s excellent leadership from the back combined with his no nonsense tackling made him one of the greatest centre-backs of his generation and one which undoubtedly played an essential role in Chelsea success over the years.

If there was one period in which you could say John Terry was at the peak of his game it would be the mid 2000’s. The arrival of Jose Mourinho to the club started a period of domination for Chelsea as he led the club to back to back premier league titles (2004/05, 2005/06).

Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and the likes all played a decisive role in the clubs success under Mourinho but it was John Terry who stood head and shoulders above the rest.

He remains Chelsea’s best central defender at the club still to this day. Now at the age of thirty five he is no longer the force he was once but he can still a play a key role for the club and should Chelsea go on to have a successful season under Conte, John Terry will without a doubt have a part to play.

Jamie Carragher.

In a career that spanned seventeen years at Anfield Jamie Carragher stands as one of the finest centre-backs to have ever worn the Liverpool shirt.

Having made his debut back in 1997 the defender went on to make a whopping 508 league appearances for Liverpool.

His terrific work rate along with his pin superb tackling ability made him a real asset for Liverpool and which undoubtedly played a key role in the clubs success on the pitch.

If there was one performance to show just how important a player Carragher was to Liverpool it would be against AC Milan  in the UEFA Champions League final on that famous night in Istanbul. From the first minute to the last Carragher just never gave in and his performance alone that night stood as one of, if not the greatest individual performance by a defender of all time, he was magnificent.

He officially announced his retirement from the game back in 2013 and almost rounded off his career with a goal! Hitting the crossbar from long range against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2012/13 campaign.

 

The Premier League’s most underrated footballers

For any side to be successful, yes you need your goal scorers, yes you need a top draw midfield, yes you need a solid back-four, but you also need that one player in your side who you can rely on when called upon to come in a do a job for the side .

You may not notice them on the pitch, nor even be fully aware of the job they are dong for your side, but they are the players who can prove the difference between winning and losing.

Darren Fletcher

Throughout his stay at Old Trafford, Darren Fletcher became one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first names on the team sheet when the big games came calling, pulling the strings in the heart of United’s midfield.

Despite getting the recognition from Sir Alex, Fletcher never received the same praise from the footballing world with many under valuing just how important Fletcher was to the Manchester United side.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney at the club, it would of course always be hard to grab the limelight, but the Scot’s importance to United was unquestionable, without him they were simply not the same side and who knows, if Fletcher hadn’t been suspended for the European Cup Final in Rome back in 2009 against Barcelona, Manchester United might now be sitting of four European Cups.

Fletcher currently plays his trade at the Hawthorns with West Bromwich Albion, where he is the current club captain.

James Milner

Having played at the likes of Newcastle United, Manchester City and now Liverpool, James Milner is no stranger when it comes to playing for big football clubs. Managers from Roberto Mancini to Jurgen Klopp have all realised just how important the midfielder is to their side.

However despite earning the recognition from his fellow managers, Milner has failed to win over supporters with many failing to appreciate just how valuable a player like Milner is to their club.

He may not score a screamer, nor may he produce an outrageous piece of skill in a game but what he does give you his work rate and dedication. It doesn’t matter whether its the first minute or the last Milner will always work his socks off your side.

Brad Friedel

Having spent a near seventeen years playing in the Premier League, Brad Friedel is arguably one of, if not the most under rated goalkeeper of all time.

Friedel has featured over the years for the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa but it would be at Blackburn Rovers where the keeper truly established himself.

What made Friedel particularly stand out from the rest is that he didn’t necessarily have that great of a defence in front of him and was still making countless saves throughout every game. He was called into action far more frequently than other goalkeepers.

If there was one game to optimize just how great of a goalkeeper Brad Friedel was it would be back in August 2004 when Blackburn entertained Manchester United at Ewood Park. No matter what united threw at Friedel there seemed no way past him. Save after save after save! It was almost like Superman was in goal and remains the finest goalkeeping performance I have ever seen.

He was to be beaten seconds from time as Alan Smith rescued a point for Manchester United with a late powerful strike. However it wouldn’t take away just how phenomenal of a performance it really was from Friedel.

Friedel finally announced his retirement from the game last summer.

Gareth Barry

Despite playing at the highest level for eighteen years, many still to this day do not fully recognise just how important a player Gareth Barry is.

He is one of those players who you would only really notice when they are not in the side. Then you would see just how important he is and how much a difference he makes to your team.

Barry isn’t necessarily  a footballer who will you get off up for seat in excitement, nor do anything remotely exciting in a game, but he is still just as important never the less.

He currently plays his trade at Everton under new Manager Ronald Koeman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Premier League’s finest ever bargains

As we head into the final weeks of this summer’s transfer window, millions upon millions of pounds are likely to be spent as clubs go in search of adding to their squads before the window slams shut.

From Manchester United splashing out a world record fee of ninety plus million pounds to persuade Paul Pogba to re join the club, to Pep Gaurdiola paying Everton fifty million pounds to land John Stones. The footballing world we live in has spiralled into madness with even come of the league’s smaller clubs paying way over the odds to land their respective targets.

However throughout the Premier League era there has been those signings that have cost clubs next to nothing. Money doesn’t always buy you success and these players almost certainly prove that.

Peter Schmeichel. £505,000 from Brondy to Manchester United, 1991

When Sir Alex Ferguson brought then relatively unknown goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel to Old Trafford, few if any could have predicted what would have happen next, as the great Dane went on to become one of Sir Alex’s finest ever singings throughout his managerial reign.

Schmeichel went on to make 393 appearances for the club in all competitions, winning 5 Premier League Titles, 3 FA Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 Super Cup and a bundle of Charity Shields and is highly regarded as one of, if not the greatest goalkeeper in the history of Manchester United.

His stay at Old Trafford lasted eight years ,before the keeper eventually moved on to Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 1999.

His playing days may be long over, but Schmeichel’s contribution to the club will never be forgotten.

Joe Hart. £600,000 from Shrewsbury Town, 2006

Joe Hart’s days at Manchester City under new boss Pep Gaurdiola may be numbered, but it doesn’t put the gloss of what a magnificent career the keeper has had at the club.

Signed from Shrewsbury Town as a teenager back in 2006, Hart has since gone on to become one of the finest goalkeepers in the world, playing a pivotal role in City’s Premier League Title winning campaigns in 2012 and 2014.

The keeper has made 347 appearances for thus far for the club and has picked up nermous accolades along the way, including winning the Premier League Golden Glove award a mighty impressive four times.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. £1.5 Million from Molde FK, 1996

Nicknamed the baby faced assassin, Norwegian forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer quickly went on to become a Manchester United legend. If you hadn’t heard of him prior to his move to Old Trafford, you had certainly heard of him not too long after, as Solskjaer quickly adapted to life at the club.

Throughout his stay at Old Trafford Solskjaer netted 126 goals in 366 appearances for the club in all competitions, as he played a pivotal role in the clubs success on the field towards the late 90’s and into the new decade (2000’s)

His finest hour in a Manchester United shirt arguably came in the 1999 European Cup Final 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich, where Solskjaer flicked on Teddy Sherringham’s downwards header into the top right hander corner, winning the game and European Cup for Manchester United.

He officially announced his retirement from the game back in 2007 and has since moved into management, where he currently manages his beloved Molde FK.

Sami Hyppia. £2.6 Million from Willem ll, 1999

In stay that lasted a decade at Anfield, Sami Hyppia went on to become one the clubs finest ever servants, as the centre-back became an integral part of the Liverpool side.

During his time at Liverpool Hyppia won ten major honours on the field, including one European Cup. Individually he was named in the PFA team of the year on two occasions ( 1999/2000, 2001/2002) and was named in the UEFA Team of the year for 2001.

His stay at Liverpool came to an end in May 2009,before the Finish international later joined Bayern Leverkusen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamadou Sakho – Liverpool’s Joker

Mamadou Sakho certainly has had an eventful few months at Liverpool. Lauded  towards the end of last season for his performances for Liverpool especially against Manchester United in the Europa League,  to been wrongly banned from football by UEFA (and himself) over a failed drugs test for using a substance that was not even on the banned list. Then there is the whole Alcatraz incident (I think Klopp would have left him there if he could have!!!) which lead to the French defender being sent home from Liverpool’s tour of America. 

Now according to who you believe, Sakho’s career at Liverpool is over. While it certainly looked like manager Jürgen Klopp was not best impressed by Sakho’s interruption of his interview with LFCTV where he chastised the Frenchman for being late for the flight to America, even though Klopp laughed it off it at the time, it was the same as one of those moments when your missus says she’s fine, you know you’re in trouble even though she has not said it, the assumption that his Liverpool career is over is a bit premature. Others will tell you that Sakho was sent home to Liverpool for specialist treatment on the groin injury that he picked up in pre season. Sakho is a joker, there is no doubt of this. You just have to watch his snapchats to see just how much of a joker he is but on the other hand he is a hard worker on the pitch for Liverpool. He has shown over the last couple of seasons just how important he is to the Liverpool defence.

Sakho has a lot to offer Liverpool in terms of experience, he is the type of player who has the ability to lead the Liverpool as captain for years to come. Don’t forget he was PSG’s youngest ever captain. With rumours that Jürgen Klopp is about to announce a new captain at Liverpool, I believe Sakho is the man to fill that void. It might just settle the joker down a wee bit. If you have not already figured it out I am a massive fan of Sakho, (even if he did storm off after learning he was dropped for a derby match in his first season at Liverpool) I have been a fan of his since he came in to the Liverpool team against Manchester United and settled a nervous defence out.

I personally can not see Klopp shifting on Sakho. With Liverpool’s defence already looking shaky with injuries to new signing Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Sakho himself and Tiago Ilori on duty with Portugal at this summers Olympics, it may be a case of Sakho getting a severe dressing down from Klopp. While Klopp has been known to be ruthless when it comes to wielding the axe with players in the past, I think Sakho’s ability and Premier League experience might just be enough to save his career at Liverpool. He will no doubt have to learn hard lessons when it comes to his behaviour in the future but I do feel he will and form a partnership with Matip that will provide the basis of a successful time in Liverpool’s history under Herr Klopp.

All Sakho needs to do for me is to start concentrating on his football again and come the end of October the whole silliness in America will have been forgotten and fans will be back talking about his footballing ability instead of his joker side. Although in saying that, I have a feeling that will be easier said than done but if anyone can do it, Sakho can. 

Greatest games the Premier League has ever seen

Since it was founded all the way back in 1992, the Premier League has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of if not the best football league on the planet.

Over the years we have been fortunate enough to have witnessed some of the very best footballers that the game has had to offer, from Thierry Henry at the peak of his powers at Arsenal to the unforgettable days of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. The list of magnificent footballers that have graced out shores is near endless, all whom have contributed into making what the Premier League is today.

Throughout this piece I will go through some of the very best games that have occurred in the Premier League era.

Tottenham Hotspur 4 Chelsea 4, 20th March 2008

This was arguably the game that all but ended Chelsea’s hopes of winning the Premier League title as they conceded a late equalizer drawing 4-4 at White Hart Lane.

In a rollercoaster of a game, it would be Chelsea who took an early lead through Didier Drogba heading home a John Terry cross. Spurs responded well and on the 13th minute mark levelled through  Jonathan Woodgate.

However not long after Chelsea restored their lead, this time through Michael Essien neatly placing the ball into the back of the net. Chelsea looked to have sealed all three points just after half time as Joe Cole cheekily dinked the ball over Paul Robinson in the Tottenham goal making it 3-1 to the visitors.

If Chelsea thought the game the over they were badly mistaken, as Spurs clawed their way back into the game. An excellent header from Dimitar Berbatov inside the penalty box pulled Spurs back in it with over half an hour to go, before an emphatic Tom Huddlestone strike brought the home side level.

Joe Cole appeared to have secured all three points for the visitors after delightfully edging his way past Pascal Chimbonda, superbly placed the ball into the top corner giving Chelea a 4-3 lead.

However the drama wasn’t over yet. It would be Robbie Keane who would save the day for Spurs.After seeing the ball bounce off Ricardo Carvalho’s back, the Irishman incredibly smashed the ball into the bottom corner levelling the game up at 4-4.

Spurs even had a chance to win the game at the very end, after clever work from Dimitar Berbatov he seen his shot superbly saved by Carlo Cudicini.

Manchester City 3 QPR 2, 13th May 2012

The 13th May 2012, the date that will live on in the hearts for every Manchester City fan for eternity. It was of course the day Manchester City were crowned Champions of England for the first time in forty four years.

Going into the game it looked almost a foregone conclusion that Manchester City would beat Queens Park Rangers to secure the League Title. United had to win at Sunderland but even if they did, it wouldn’t matter as long as City did the business and took 3 points.

The first of the goal came in the 39th minute through all people Pablo Zabeleta, who seen his effort bounce off Paddy Kenny onto the back post and into the back of the net.Few if any could have predicted what would happen next.

Just two minutes into the second half Queens Park Rangers were level through Liverpool old boy Djibril Cisse as the Frenchman emphatically blasted the ball past Joe Hart. Things got even worse for City twenty minutes later, after Jamie Mackie headed home a Armand Traore cross putting the visitors 2-1 in front.

Looking all but down and out as we headed into stoppage time, City pulled off one of the most dramatic comebacks in sport, let alone footballing soring two goals in added time.

The first came through Bosnian forward Eden Dzeko, heading home a David Silva corner.However it would be Sergio Aguero who grabbed the headlines and win the game for City, cleverly blasting the ball past Paddy Kenney in the QPR goal handing Manchester City their first title in forty four years.

Liverpool 4 Newcastle United 3, 3rd April 1996

Arguably the greatest game of the Premier League era, when Roy Evan’s Liverpool hosted Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United side in April 1996.

Going into the game Newcastle needed the three points to keep pace of leaders of Manchester United, after seeing their 12 point lead over United disappear, whilst Liverpool still had their hopes of winning the Premier League Title.

Liverpool scored the first goal of this thrilling encounter inside the first two minutes as Robbie Fowler headed home a Stan Collymore cross inside the six yard box. However Liverpool’s lead wasn’t to last long too long. Great work from Faustino Asprilla inside the box found Les Ferdinand, who seen his effort edge past Liverpool goalkeeper David James.

The game was then turned on its head four minutes later and found themselves 2-1 in front, after David Ginola superbly finished off Les Ferdinand’s pass and put the ball in the back of the net.

As the second half got underway, Robbie Fowler levelled the game up for Liverpool brilliantly finishing off McManaman’s from just inside the box.

In a game full of twists and turns, Newcastle would be next to add another twist to this enthralling encounter taking the lead again, this time through Faustino Asprilla, who after getting on the end of Rob Lee’s pass, curled the ball into the net giving Newcastle a 3-2 lead.

However Newcastle’s lead was to only last eleven minutes, as Stan Collymore tapped the ball in from close range from Jason McAteer’s cross. The drama wasn’t over yet, far from it in fact.

Deep into stoppage time with only a matter of minutes left to play, It would be Stan Collymore who would be the match-winner for Liverpool finishing off a superb attacking team move by smashing the ball past Newcastle keeper Pavel Srnicek handing Liverpool a 4-3 victory.

Manchester United 4 Manchester City 3, 21st September 2009

Probably the greatest Manchester derby of all time. Going into the game the rivalry between both clubs had already been taken up an extra notch following Carlos Tevez’s controversial switch to City in the summer transfer window.

City’s millions spent on players and with the club starting to look like the real deal, made this particular Manchester derby have an extra edge to it. You just knew it was going to be something special and it didn’t disappoint.

It would be United who scored the first goal through Wayne Rooney, after getting on the end of Patrice Evra’s pass inside the box, Rooney neatly put the ball in the back of the net, putting united 1-0 up.

City drew level on the 16th minute after sloppy play from Ben Foster in the united goal, his error gave the ball to Carlos Tevez who then found Gareth Barry from just outside the penalty area who then calmly and coolly placed the ball home.

With the second half just four minutes old, united found themselves back in front, this time through Darren Fletcher who got on the end off Ryan Giggs cross to head the ball past City keeper Shay Given. However United’s lead was to last only a matter of minutes, after Craig Bellamy’s thunderbolt strike drew city level at 2-2.

It would be Darren Fletcher again who would find himself on the score sheet in similar fashion, heading home a Ryan Giggs cross putting the home side 3-2 in front.

However an uncharacteristic error from Rio Ferdinand led to a city equalizer. His miss placed pass fell to Martin Petrov, who’s pass then found Craig Bellamy who’s pace got the better of Ferdinand before then neatly rounded united keeper Ben Foster and placing the ball in the back of the net levelling the game up at 3-3.

The game’s most dramatic moment was yet to come. With all but seconds of the game remaining it would be Michael Owen who won the game for united. A long punt from the half way line up field from Wayne Rooney was cleared before then falling to Ryan Giggs in the centre, his pass then almost perfectly found Michael Owen lurking on the edge of the box where in typical Owen style he put the ball away giving united a 4-3 victory.

Newcastle United 4 Arsenal 4, 5th February 2011

Sitting 4-0 down to Arsenal at half time, I doubt even some of the most optimistic Newcastle United supporters out there would have given them much hope in coming back in this.

An early strike from Theo Walcott had given the visitors an early lead with a neat finish into the bottom corner. A second soon followed all but two minutes later, from an unlikely candidate in Johan Djourou with an header into the top corner. Seven minutes later it was 3-0, this time it was Robin Van Persie who found himself on the score sheet tucking the ball home. The Dutchman grabbed his second and Arsenal’s fourth goal of the game on the twenty sixth minute mark heading the ball past Newcastle keeper Steve Harper.

Arguably the key turning point of the came just five minutes into the second half, where Abou Diaby was sent off and Arsenal were reduced to ten men.

Newcastle began their comeback in the sixty eighth minute, as Joey Barton converted a penalty spot kick coolly putting the ball in the bottom corner. A second seven minutes later soon followed as Leon Best brought down a cross from Jose Enrique and slotted the ball away. The comeback was well and truly on.

Newcastle found a third eight minutes later in much similar fashion through a Joey Barton spot kick, only this time placing the ball in the centre of the goal.

The best was undoubtedly saved till last, as Cheick Tiote fired in a contender for goal of the season, hammering home a volley from outside the box and into the back of the net, as the game finished 4-4.

Portsmouth 7 Reading 4, 29th September 2007

When Portsmouth hosted Reading at Fratton Partk, few could have forseen a game like this unfolding like this, it was crazy!

The first goal of the game came in the seventh minute after Benjani tapped the ball in from close range. A second Pompey goal followed in the thirty seventh minute after the Zimbebwean finished off a lovely run putting the ball past Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann. Reading did manage to pull a goal back just before half time, after chaos in the Pompey box, Stephen Hunt’s header was judged to have crossed the line and the goal was given as we headed into the break with Portsmouth leading by two goals to one.

Just three minutes into the second half Reading were level. Dave Kitson willingness to chase a seemingly lost ball, led to Portsmouth goal keeper David James running out of his goal,with Kitson then taking the ball past James and striking the ball into the net levelling it up at 2-2.

However Portsmouth regained their lead not not after through Hermann Hreidarsson, as he made the most out of Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann’s error and neatly headed the ball home restoring the home sides lead. Benjani added Pompey’s fourth and the strikers third goal of the game fifteen minutes later, taking the ball round a charging Hahnemann. The home side then added a fifth through Croatian Niko Kranjcar, who headed the ball in at the back post.

Reading’s hopes of an unlikely comeback gained some momentum, as James Harper’s deflected volley ricochet off Shane Long and made its way past Pompey keeper David James making it 5-3 in the seventy ninth minute.

However Reading’s hopes of a comeback were all but ended two minutes later, after Sean Davis effort from distance was deflected into the goal. Sulley Muntari added a seventh for the home side in stoppage time, before Reading grabbed a consolation goal moments later through a Nicky Shorey deflected strike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greatest ever footballing comebacks

In the game of football, it really isn’t over till it’s over. Until the last gasp of the referees whistle anything can happen.

Throughout this piece I will go through some of the most incredible football comebacks of all time, from Liverpool’s historic comeback vs AC Milan in Istanbul, to Manchester City doing the near impossible at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup.

Newcastle United 4 Arsenal 4, Premier League 2011

4-0 down inside twenty six minutes at St James Park, Newcastle United looked down and out. If anything it was looking a case of how many Arsenal would actually get.

Newcastle’s historic comeback didn’t start till the 68th minute, where Joey Barton put away a penalty into the bottom corner making it 4-1. Newcastle’s second goal of the game came through Leon Best who neatly tucked the ball home. A third eight minutes later followed, again via the penalty spot through Joey Barton.

However the best was almost certainly saved till last, as Cheick Tiote hammered home a contender for goal of the season, emphatically volleying the ball home from distance.

Still with a few minutes remaining and with additional time to be added on, it may sound silly,

but Newcastle would probably still feel a touch disappointed they didn’t actually go on to win the game!

Liverpool 4 Borussia Dortmund 3 (Aggregate 5-4) Europa League Quarter Final 2nd leg 2016
Needing three goals with less than thirty minutes left on the clock to play, Liverpool pulled off one of the greatest ever comebacks in European football, coming back from 3-1 down on the night (2-4 on aggregate) to win 4-3 (5-4 on aggregate)
The comeback began on the 66th minute through Philippe Coutinho, where the Brazilian delightfully curved the ball into the back of the net. Ten minutes later Liverpool added another, this time through Mamadou Sakho heading the ball in from close range.
As the clock ticked past the 90 minute mark, it would be of all people Dejan Lovren who met James Milner’s cross inside the box and headed home the winner.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Manchester City 4, FA Cup Fourth Round Replay 2004
3-0 down and reduced to ten men at half time, the chances of Manchester City making it into the fifth round of the FA Cup looked a near impossible shot.
However against all the odds, Manchester City pulled off an astonishing comeback defeating Tottenham Hotspur 4-3 at White Hart Lane.
Three minutes into the second half, City grabbed their first goal of the night
through Sylvain Distin’s neat header. City’s second of the night came in rather more fortunate circumstances, as Paul Bosvelt’s shot was deflected off Anthony Gardner and made it’s way into the back of the net.
Eleven minutes later it was 3-3. Robbie Fowler’s excellent long ball found Shaun Wright Phillips who superbly lobbed the ball over Kasey Keller levelling the game up at 3-3. City were not finished there, it would be Jon Macken who completed the comeback heading home Tarnat’s cross.
Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3 (After Extra Time, Liverpool win 3-2 on Pens)
Arguably the greatest comeback of all time. Looking all but down and out at half time trailing 3-0 to AC Milan, Liverpool came back against all the odds and won the European Cup for a record breaking fifth time in Istanbul.
Going into the second half, it looked a case of how many AC Milan would and wanted to score. How wrong could they or the footballing world have been.
The comeback started on the 54th minute, as Steven Gerrard met John Arne Riise cross inside the box and headed the ball home. Incredible two minutes later a second goal from Liverpool came, this time through Vladimir Smicer who struck the ball in from range. The comeback was well and truly on.
Three minutes later Liverpool were level. After Steven Gerrard was brought down inside the box by Gennaro Gatusso, Xabi Alonso stepped up to the spot and despite seeing his first effort saved by goalkeeper Dida, Alonso emphatically smashed the ball home levelling the game up at 3-3.
 After the final half an hour or so was played out, the game went to extra time, but nothing it seemed could separate the sides. It all came down to penalties and it would be Andriy Shevchenko’s spot kick miss that proved decisive, as Liverpool were crowned Champions of Europe.

Record breakers, Footballers who broke the transfer world record

In the wake of Paul Pogba’s rumoured £100 million pound to Manchester United, I thought it would be an interesting idea to go back and have a look at players who had previously smashed the world record transfer fee, from Ronaldo’s switch from Barcelona to Inter Milan back in 1997 to Kaka’s Multi Million Pound move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.

Alan Shearer, Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United 1996, £15 Million Pounds

Having narrowly missed out on the Premier League Title the previous campaign, then boss Kevin Keegan was determined not to lose out to Manchester United again, as he signed Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers in a then world record transfer fee of £15 Million Pounds.

It’s fair to say the money was well spent, as Shearer went on to become the club’s all time leading goal scorer, in total netting a whopping 206 goals with his last goal coming against local rivals Sunderland in April 2006, where in typical Shearer fashion he blasted the ball home.

His playing days may be long over, but his legacy at the club will live on in the hearts of every Newcastle United supporter.

Ronaldo, Barcelona to Inter Milan 1997, £19.5 Million Pounds

Having shone emphatically for Barcelona throughout the 1996/97 campaign, Inter Milan broke the then world record transfer record, splashing out £19.5 Million on Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s time with the Italian Giants was a successful one, but injuries towards the latter end of the Brazilian’s stay limited the star’s game time.

Throughout his stay, he netted a mighty impressive 59 goals in 99 games for the club and if it wasn’t for injuries getting in the way, it would have been no doubt so much more.

One of the game’s true greats, and a footballer that will never be forgotten.

Hernan Crespo, Parma to Lazio 2001, £35 Million Pounds

Hernan Crespo will probably be best remembered for his time in England playing for Chelsea, where he endured a mixed stay at Stamford Bridge.

However it may have actually escaped most peoples notice that back in 2001, Hernan Crespo became the world’s most expensive footballer by joining Lazio for £35 Million Pounds.

The move itself worked out quite well for the Argentine, as the forward scored 48 goals throughout his 2 year stay at the club.

Luis Figo, Barcelona to Real Madrid 2000, £37 Million Pounds

For a Barcelona footballer to even mention Real Madrid’s name in the city of Barcelona would be seen as an insult, to actually go and sign for the club is simply unforgivable, but that is exactly what Luis Figo did, as he made a world record transfer switch from the Camp Nou to the Bernebeu in 2000.

The move turned out to be a clever piece of business on Figo’s part. Throughout his 5 year stint at the club, Figo won 2 La Liga titles and one European cup, going to become a key part of Real’s success on the pitch.

Zinedine Zidane, Juventus to Real Madrid 2001, £46 Million Pounds

Having joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2001 for a then world record fee of $46 Million Pounds, Zidane went on to become one of the finest players to have ever graced the Santiago Bernabeu turf.

Throughout his 5 years at the club, Zidane won 1 La Liga Title (2003) , 1 European Cup (2002) amongst other domestic honours.

His finest moment in a Real Madrid shirt arguably came in the 2002 European Cup Final vs Bayern Leverkusen at Hampden Park, where the Frenchman scored one of the greatest goals of all time, neatly and acrobatically volleying the ball home giving Real their 9th European Cup.

Kaka, AC Milan to Real Madrid 2009, £56 Million Pounds

Throughout his 4 year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu, Kaka was never able to rediscover his previous form that seen the Brazilian crowned world footballer of the year (2007)

Even his then world record transfer signing was overtaken and overshadowed by the arrival of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo not too long after.

There were however some positives, he played his role in Jose Mourinho’s La Liga title winning side that overhauled arguably the greatest ever Barcelona team under Pep Guardiola (2012) and contributed a total of 29 goals and 32 assists throughout his stay at the club.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United to Real Madrid 2009, £80 Million Pounds

Having become a Manchester United legend at Old Trafford ,winning all there was to win, the Portuguese’s next step in his footballing career would see him move to Real Madrid and in the summer of 2009, Cristiano Ronaldo signed for the Spanish Giants for a whopping £80 Million Pounds.

His stay in the Spanish capital has been nothing short of sensational, as Ronaldo has gone on to become the club’s all time leading goal scorer.

Domestically the Portuguese star has won 1 La Liga Title (2012) 2 European Cup’s ( 2014, 2016) along with other domestic honours throughout his stay so far at the club.

Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid 2013, £77-85 Million Pounds

It came as no surprise when Real Madrid came calling for then Spurs star Gareth Bale in 2013. However the cost of the transfer almost certainly did!

There has been no official release of what Real actually paid for the Welshman for reasons we really don’t know and are never likely to know, but what looks a near certainty is the fact Real paid a world record fee to land Bale in the region of £77 Million – £85 Million Pounds.

Since arriving in the Spanish capital, Bale has endured a largely successful time at Real. His debut season seen the Welshman play a massive role in the club’s European Cup triumph over Atletico Madrid and whilst his second season fell below expectations, last season Bale shown not just the Madrid faithful but the entire footballing world why he is one of the best footballers on the planet, becoming an essential part of the Real Madrid side that claimed another European Cup defeating Atletico Madrid on penalties.

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What To Expect

What can us fans expect from Liverpool this season under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp? This is a question I have sat and pondered for the last number of days after being tasked with writing an article about it. Thanks Mike! 


When Klopp came to Liverpool last season it was reported he was dismayed at how unfit the Liverpool players actually were, this, for me accounted for some of the poor results towards the end of the Brendan Rodgers era. It took 6 or so weeks for those who were “fit” to get up to scratch and even longer for those who were coming back from injury. Klopp is a manger who likes his teams to press high up the pitch, something we saw towards the end of last season. Klopp likes his forward players to defend from the front and this is why he likes players who are pacy. He wants his team to give the opposition team as little space as possible and then break quickly. This is why he has rumoured to be having 3 training sessions a day this pre season. 

Liverpool last season for me lacked a quality box to box midfield player. Yes Emre Can can do that, he has bags of pace and is hungry to get the ball when the opposition has it but he needs a like minded midfield player beside him, a player bursting with energy and who can sit back when he goes forward and vice versa. And in Marko Grujic I believe Liverpool have this. With young Cameron Brannagan showing plenty of quality along with Ryan Kent, for some of the established midfield players at Liverpool I feel their careers are over. I’m not gonna mention any names but you have a fair idea who I’m on about. 


I think and hope Klopp dips in to the transfer market for a Defensive Midfield player to offset Can and Grujic, a player who has no problem bossing other teams attacking players. I’ve seen reports that Joel Matip can play in the DM role but I would much prefer to see him partner Mamadou Sakho in the centre of defence. Like Sakgo he’s a big strong player who likes to play football and not just hoof it up field at the first opportunity. Last season for Schalke he had 3 goals and 3 assists, something no Liverpool centre back had managed in a few years. While some may argue the Bundesliga and Premier League are two different beasts, the positional sense and the want to get in those positions is something you can’t teach on the training pitch. 

The only other problematic position for Liverpool is the left back role. We all know Moreno’s forgetfulness that he is a left back and not a winger, his contanst mistakes, been caught out of position and costing the team points and wins is something that needs changing. (Although in saying that in the Premier League last season he only made 2 defensive errors in 27 appearances last season. Let’s not talk about the Europa League final). Klopp can offset this by maybe going 3 at the back and playing Clyne and Moreno as wingers. This would allow Moreno for one concentrate more on attacking and less on defending but if Klopp insisted on playing a back four then Moreno has to go. 


The question What Can We Expect Next Season under Klopp is a question I’m afraid I can’t answer. Why? Well there’s too many factors to weigh up. Will the young players he has bought settle in to the league quickly or will it take them a few months. Will the buying of so called superstars by other clubs affect the minds of Liverpool players when they come up against them? Will Klopp be given the time by Liverpool’s loyal football manager playing fans to develop his team? What other players will Klopp buy and who will he be moving on? These questions will remain unanswered until, some until September 1st others until maybe October or November but one thing I am sure of us fans can be guaranteed of is plenty of Klopps laughs, hugs and emotions on the side lines. And for now that will do me. 

A Funny Old Game

Isn’t football a funny old game. For the past 6 months football fans of the Premier League witnessed a miracle when Leicester City won the Premier League with a team of unknown players, unknown unless you’re Sam McGuire or Dave Hendricks. Then at the European Championships, fans got to see the underdogs, the Icelands, the Northern Ireland’s and the Wales go and not only get out of their groups but do it comfortably while bigger nations such as England and Belgium stuttered through theirs.


As I sat watching the Portugal France match in the European Championship final I had a sneaking feeling that Portugal would win it and when Ronaldo went off injured I knew Portugal were going to win it. I know that’s a daft statement to make, but it’s like the whole Portugal team relaxed when he went off. The pressure to perform seemed to have lifted and Portugal got on with their own game. Earlier in the competition I commented that Portugal won ugly, won like the German teams of old, boring boring football but always sneaked through and thats exactly what happened against France. 

Portugal minus Ronaldo locked up shop, defended immensely, each player knew their role from Nani up front to Rui Patrício in goal, every player did their job and did it to perfection. I’ve seen and heard some pundits totally tear in to Portugal for the way they played. The whole “Portugal only won one game in 90 minutes”, finished third in their group behind Hungary and Iceland really pissed me off, who cares where they finished in their group, how many games they won in 90 minutes in the competition, they had the same amount of shots on target as France up to the final, they are undefeated in 18 competitive games under manager Fernando Santos. They played extra time in the European Championships and still came out on top.


If it was Germany or France that won the title the way Portugal did, would people be as quick to lambast them? I don’t think so. They would be praised and applauded the manager for getting his game plan correct and applauded the players for sticking to it for the full 120 minutes. They played for each other and didn’t crumble when Ronaldo went off, they stuck to their task & it payed off. Portugal are another example of why ultimately team work pays off. They worked the hardest over the tournament, yes they rode their luck at times (drawing with Hungary) but that’s the sign of a good team and a good manager. While many wanted France to win last night, I’m happy for Portugal, they caused an upset, they played against the grain and out the nightmare of Rio behind them. Will they go on to copy France, Germany and Spain and win the World Cup and do the double, it’s doubtful but if they continue to play the way they did in France anything is possible. 


On a side note, I have to say well done to Ronaldo for finally playing the team game. Instead of sulking and withdrawing in to himself after going off injured he played a blinder, a captains role. He inspired the players and never let their heads drop. He made sure that the players knew they were good enough to win the competition and for that he has to be applauded. Hopefully it’s a sign of a changing Ronaldo and instead of people talking about him being selfish, they’ll start to talk about his football skills more. 

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