Tag Archives: sports

FFA: Psychological Problems, Future Blueprints and the A-League


Socceroos

Soccerwhoos?

 

At current, I am scouring Jonathan Wilson’s veritable magnum opus, Inverting the Pyramid. As I stumble through this dense and frequently daunting HIST2034/FTBL101 compendium, that has truly proved a jarring amalgamation of the bane academia of history with a pastime, that at its root, enjoys a gloriously perfunctory accessibility, it seemed apt to contrast the globalisation of the world’s most unencumbered commodity with the stagnant progress of Australia’s national competition.

This is a country that treats football, more pertinently domestic football, with indifference at best. Australian culture is steeped with a sporting identity, but for the floundering A-League, that competes with the more traditional national sporting codes, the forthcoming version 8.0 could a tipping point for the future, whether  positively or otherwise. While the rites of passage journeys of Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton have ignited a flickering spark on the sporting landscape, attempts by the Football Federation of Australia have been thwarted by an ineluctable fact: Australian domestic sides compete in the best leagues in the world for their respective sports, be it AFL, NRL, Super 15 or the Sheffield Shield. With the proliferation of international coverage of football abroad, accompanied by Australia’s naturally refined and expensive sporting palette, the A-League has stagnated as a purveyor of mediocrity. Australia’s footballing populace is characterised, most discerningly, by their lack of sleep and late night habits in watching the English brand.

If Inverting the Pyramid spun the wonderful tales of football enigmas who spread the crimson thread of British supremacy and its past times to far-reaching corners of the world, then Australia’s clear absence must be noted. For a land that is drastically embossed with the English watermark, the lack of football is striking. While football spread to the imaginative, but poverty-stricken, villages of South America and Africa, gained a foothold in the Eastern European life of degradation and has seemingly conquered the remote Asian landscape, Australia, with New Zealand in tow, have remained untouched. Some have suggested that the uncouth convict origins drew the population to a more physical endeavour, but this seems a difficult leap to make, as Wilson’s description of early-period football seems a more close breed of rugby than the modern-day round ball version.

It seems more likely, however, that while Australia may have been served by their very own Alexander Hutton in Frank Lowy, of which I could only provide an injustice through description, and who has almost single handedly overseen the development of football as we know it in Australia through the 1970s to current, the sport is yet to meet its next visionary. If Alexander Hutton is credited with introducing the game to South America, then it is Charlie Miller who enjoys the accolades of its expansion. As philosophers describe, a movement may begin with an individual and then be propelled by a follower, but it still remains in infancy before it gains “followers of followers”. Only at this third removal from the initial starting point will the trend gain any momentum. This phenomenon is axiomatic throughout society, with marketers and businesspersons developing strategies over social media campaigns and celebrity endorsement. This is shown most succinctly by Derek Sivers and his TED company relies on this notion to gain interest and attention: Watch it Here

For football in Australia, Lowy marks stage 2 of this extended trend. To move forward, the Australian audience needs their next persuasive character, whether it be player, manager or administrator to imbue the local game with its own identity. Surely, 2006 marked a serious window of opportunity, with only a thinly velied Fabio Grosso dive, who has bewilderingly been heavily linked with a move to the A League, and an errant Luis Cantejelo shrill of his whistle barring the Socceroos from an unlikely quarter final appearance in Germany. For the English, tournament heartbreak has become a part of the national identity, but for Australia the disappointing African adventure of 2010 has had more a more sinister fallout, with Pim’s lack of ambition driving fans away, rather than towards, the round ball.

If the Australian sporting public demands the best, then it seems the World Cup and national team success would be the most self-evident mechanism to shift the national paradigm. The FFA must cast aside their inhibitions and provide a platform for an earnest campaign in 2018. Rather than financing the now defunct North Queensland Fury or the Gold Coast United, the game’s governing body should be distilling the talent pool with the foremost training ideologies, techniques and scientific developments; 3 areas Australia traditionally excels at in other codes. Following the lead of the burgeoning Japanese footballing community, that has achieved domestic league growth following national improvement, if not overwhelming success, would be a start.

But surely the most promising avenue towards such an outcome must be Australia’s spectacularly fruitless  2018/2022 World Cup bid. To go back on the small, but nonetheless valuable, progress that has been made would be a retrograde step. While critics have bemoaned the financial waste of the Lowy-led recent World Cup bids, the FFA must rally to ensure future support does not wane. The Australian footballing community must demand a further bid when the time comes, for this would provide the impetus to embrace the one truly international sport as the preeminent Australian game.

#tellhimhisdreaming

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Top Players by Club – Part 3 of 5


Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:

Manchester United

Wayne Rooney Soccer Football Man United

wayne’s alternative pasttime

Ultimately, the Red Devils season has culminated in trophy-less disappointment. Further, the 2011/12 campaign was emblazoned with teething pains through a period of transition and evolution. With the noisy neighbours proving more deafening than irritating, the continued overarching shadows of Giggs and Scholes presiding over a dormant, unexciting midfield and the archaic Sir Alex, who’s tactical mismanagement has become a regular feature at Old Trafford, United have done well to challenge in earnest. With hindsight, Ferguson’s flippant disdain for a true holding midfielder in that Everton game, saw Fellaini reinvigorate the title race in a rampant display. And it was another Ferguson blunder, using the ignominious Park instead of Valencia, within a 5 man defensively steeped midfield, belying the brash confidence (sic: arrogance) that has typified United previously, that ultimately surrendered the title to City, when they met at close quarters.

If there are signs of creaking emerging from the titanic Manchester United bandwagon, then it has been their chief lieutenant in Wayne Rooney that has been tasked with keeping the vessel afloat. While Valencia took out the less official plaudits, the FFTD finger points at Rooney, with his swag of goals and constant energy about the park. Often it was Rooney who was willing his comrades to greater efforts with his demonstrative gesticulations that became an all too regular feature. Surely it is unfair to judge Rooney with a different yardstick to other Premier League front men at the behest of reputation and expectation? We’ve read articles suggesting Wayne’s efficiency and the impetus behind his goals have been less important than others, but in a year of comparative mediocrity and few genuine stand-outs, we’ll take England’s Wayne Rooney please and thank you.

Newcastle

Newcastle Football Soccer Graham Carr Transfer

a portrait of excellence

It’s difficult to recall the seemingly dire context that the Geordie’s season was facing from the outset. With the departure of Barton, Carroll, Enrique and Nolan (amongst others) prior to the season and the arrival of almost no one, save for unknowns such as Cabaye, many were predicting a difficult period for Mike Cashley and his boys. Further, there were murmurs of discontent around the tactical nous of Alan Pardew, who had been labelled as dour and unimaginative, pointing to a season of discomfort on Tyneside. Much has been written around the Moneyball renaissance of the club, laying the blueprint for those perennially facing the malaise of mid table to step up as realistic challengers to the traditional top 4.

More has been said as to the transfer dealings of Alan Pardew and his management team than most English clubs, particularly one that was ensconced in relative anonymity last year. And most of it has been sceptical, at best. What is clear, is that the burgeoning reputation of Graham Carr, as some sort of super-talent-scout seems warranted. Since joining in February 2010 it is clear that Carr has made building a French connection his top priority signing Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux, Cheick Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa and Gabriel Obertan in that period. French talent is generally considered affordable, both in terms of wages and initial fees, and technically proficient. Going the other way has been a stream of house hold names: Barton, Carroll, Nolan, Harper, Enrique and Smith – the majority English, and all sold for exorbitant amounts. With the recent addition of Cisse, Newcastle have the spine of a side ready to continue to challenge going forward. At full strength, we see little difference between Liverpool, Spurs and the Black and Whites on paper, and this is an almost thaumaturgic feat given their championship status so recently. To this end, we’ll break convention and acknowledge Carr’s under-appreciated efforts.

Norwich

Grant Holt Norwich England Striker

that’s his name…

This year’s Premier League fairytale is undoubtedly the emergence of Grant Holt from the backwaters to the cusp of Euro 2012. The striker has seen 8 previous clubs, has been employed as a tyre fitter and appeared in Perth’s second division for Sorrento. Perth, Australia that is. The list of former clubs reads as a roll call of industrious, workmanlike and unfashionable outfits, including Workington, Halifax, Barrow and Rochdale. We won’t shove any morals of perseverance, or fate down your eyes, but instead, we’ll just thank Mr Holt for making every park footballer BELIEVE.

QPR

Jamie Mackie QPR English Premier League

where’d he go?

Predicted to be the strongest of the newly promoted sides, the R’s endured a miserable campaign that saw them escape relegation through some less than exemplary refereeing decisions at Stoke, made against Bolton, while they played City. Confusing. Anyway, we’d love to pick Joey Barton, and surprisingly we feel we could actually make a case for the infamous tweep, but instead, to ensure we don’t completely marginalise our burgeoning fan base, we’ll pick Jamie Mackie for this prestigious honour. Mackie has epitomised the endeavour and resilience that fellow promotees in Swansea and Norwich have enjoyed from the majority of their employees. Unfortunately for the Londoners, Mackie was at times the sole provider of the tenacity required for premier league survival – and in the end, it was survival by the smallest of margins. Look no further than Mackie’s gut-running/lung-busting/stomach-turning effort against City to be in a position to complete the header that afforded us with the golden finish. Mackie was player of the year when the Hoops came up, and if anyone can find out who it was this year, we’d be greatly appreciative.


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Gareth Bale: Spurs’ 40m Ticket to the Big Leagues


Gareth Bale Tottenham Spurs Heart

an everlasting love?

The love bearing Gareth Bale will be one of Europe’s hottest prospects over the forthcoming summer of transfers. Bale’s Tottenham exploits have seen him fill the gossip inches in many a tabloid over the previous 2 seasons and get ready to see his name continually with your daily English Breakfast. But for Football for the Day, the Welsh national has under delivered to the Yids of North London and England’s declining managerial patriarch in Harry Redknapp.

Make no mistake, Bale is one of England’s most dominant wide players, possessing the skill and speed to ghost past players with apparent nonchalance. In that taxi for Maicon game, on an extraordinary Italian evening, Gareth forged his reputation as a genuine top liner in the Premier League. Indeed, 2010/11 was a year of brilliance with the resurgent Spurs left edge being front and centre.

More Gareth Overleaf….

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top Players by Club – Part 2 of 4


Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:

Everton

Marouane Fellaini Everton

our fave

In a season not dissimilar to last year, or the one before that, or any year during the Moyesian Era, the Toffees have been highly watchable, relatively competitive and mid table once more. Marouane Fellaini sits front and centre of a resurgent second half of the season that has seen the blue half of Merseyside salivating over their future prospects. Look no further than the Old Trafford frenzy that saw us a little overwhelmed with:

YEEHHHHH!!!! If Everton aren’t your new second team then step right up onto the bandwagon and join our merry forray as we celebrate a title race in earnest. AT LAST! Indeed, we could sharpen our focus onto Fellaini’s fuzzy frock that seemed to give the impetus for a transcendental performance of epic proportions. The Belgian provided the best display from a box to box midfielder that I can care to remember and has afforded pundits from all points of the Earth a Monday night/Tuesday morning to relish. Thanking you.

No longer do we have to feign interest in the scramble for 4th, or the glamour of the scrap between teams like Bolton, Blackburn and Villa to put themselves through another season of abject disappointment in the top flight.

I love you Marouane

Enough of that then…

Fulham

Clint Dempsey Fulham

ahoy

Fulham have had a tumultuous year. At times devastatingly efficient, and at others, drastically lacklustre, Craven Cottage has certainly not been easy viewing for Fulham fans. Martin Jol has revamped his side with new faces with difficult names such as Progrebnyak, but more importantly, new positioning for several outstanding prospects. Swapping Belgian connoisseur, Dembele, with the swashbuckling Dempsey, has been a masterstroke, with Dembele developing towards a Xabi Alonso type figure, while our pick of the bunch, in Clint Dempsey, has been simply rampant. The American has been a revelation, completing a rights of passage towards European action at one of the supposed big four. Apparently Fulham are resigned to losing the man from the big US of A, already lining up new Dutch talent. They’ll have enormous size 14s to fill, however, with Dempsey’s return of 17 goals, 7 assists unparalleled within a mid-table outfit.

Liverpool

Martin Skrtel Liverpool Blindfold Defender

explains everything

In truth, few players to pull on the famous red in 2011/12 deserve positive recognition, but of the maybe 3 players to enhance their reputations, Martin Skrtel has been the unclear standout.  Skrtel has displayed the consistency that his salary warrants, but not much more. Resolute in the air, adhesive across the park (save the Drogba FA Cup goal) and dangerous aerially at the set piece, Skrtel has done more than simply offer a grammar-defying surname.  Liverpool’s defence was hailed as the finest in the land on FFTD before Brazilian road block, Lucas, was forced from the stage by injury. Since then, Skrtl and Agger have established a robust centre pairing that at least bodes well for seasons to come. Marto deserves the plaudits for not dropping his standards under trying conditions.

Manchester City

Yaya Toure Man City Ivory Coast

#yeyeyaya

It continues to astound that an air of negativity persists around Eastlands. City may have tipped their, at times, substantive lead into the garbage, and disappointed in Europe, but if you’ve been hiding in Hungary with Zoltan Gera, that Blue Moon progressing on its lunar orbit. Seriously progressing. Mr Mancini deserves much of the credit for banding his combustible set of stars into a committed unit. Despite golfing sojourns and the Balotelli, City have been the most dominant side throughout the year; irresistable across the pitch. From the ever-reliable Joe Hart to the ruthless Sergio Aguero, so many in their squad deserve a mention in this column; the ultimate accolade.

But there can only be one winner, and it has to be Yaya Toure who has been talismanic, providing a sturdiness across the centre of the pitch. One of Toure’s most striking strengths remains his discipline – fulfilling clearly defined roles for the team – never more evident than against Newcastle, where he wallowed, poised and ready, as a deep lying midfielder, until with startling effect, he was released forward to overwhelm the opposition and effectively win the title. Toure’s presence seems to preside over contests, with the Ivorian providing crucial interventions at key moments and discerning nuances within the ebb and flow of contests to utilise in his side’s favour. Opta Stats has developed a new methodology for determining the most impactful talent, citing the value of particular actions as variant. For example, the volume of goals is less important than the volume of winning goals, meaning the value of a goal is not a constant (scoring a winner is more impactful than Dzeko’s 6th in their 6-1 demolition). In this measure, it was Toure who featured atop the Man City combatants and near the summit of the wider Premier League pool of employees. To one of the more likeable figures in the English game, we salute you.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Top Players by Club – Part 1 of 4


Welcome to our look at the players that made the Premier League as watchable as ever, earned the respect of their peer group and endeared themself to their club’s fanbase – here’s our top player from every side:

Arsenal

Alex Song Arsenal Football Soccer Cameroon

melodic at the emirates

In a season dominated by the rampant Dutchman up front, Alex Song has been overlooked by many in a year of progress for the Gunners. Without Wilshere for most of the campaign, Song has established himself as a cunning midfielder with the nous to unlock the most ardent defensive structures. At this stage he has 12 assists for the year – double the output for the more highly fancied Luka Modric. If RVP has provided the goals, then Song has provided midfield authority across the pitch, proving he’s more than just a changing hair style. Wenger’s midfield mob for 2013 looks outstanding with the resurgent Rosicky, returning Wilshere and Diaby, Song, Walcott and a crafty Benayoun inflating the ballooning expectations of the red half of North London. It will be interesting to see how the arrival of M’Vila, who is considered a close replica to Song, fits into the system.

Aston Villa

Darren Bent England Villa Injury

#sigh

What a miserable 9 months for the Villians and what a fall from grace following the departure of M. O’Neill from the managerial hot seat at Villa Park. Picking a standout has been difficult, near impossible, and the choice of Darren Bent from our ardent stargazing tells its own story. Bent was dynamic and prolific before his season was curtailed by injury; a setback that few predicted would add such significant impetus towards relegation. No side in the league is more dependant on one asset.

Blackburn

Blackburn Chicken Venkys Yakubu

too many captions…

Football for the Day’s favourite shambles have ended up precisely where many predicted. We await with bated breath to see Venkys grace the luxurious Barnsley or bask in the glamour of Watford. Never before has a playing group been so absolved of responsibility for a measly return of 31 points, with owners, managers and everyone else barred from actually taking part between the white lines being liable according to the persistent protests. So persistent, a fan protest 3 weeks ago failed to even warrant a mention during coverage. So persistent, FFTD wonders if seasoned patrons even saw the glimpses of promise seeping from the boots of Junior Hoilett, who’s our clear standout. At times, Hoilett was the only viable route to goal and we think he’s bound for continued premier league action. A close second was that chicken that hit the back of the net against Wigan, overcoming driving rain and the unflappable Al-Habsi.

Bolton

Fabrice Muamba Bolton English Premier League Heart Attack Ovation Crying

Bolton – a miserable tale

The Reebok was a place of discontent over the last 38 weeks – bottom at Christmas, their great escape has stuttered, more than flourished. Picking a player that has seen his stock appreciate makes us feel like a Wall St broker back in 2008. Maybe it was Petrov, or could it be Eagles? In truth, it was calamitous and we’ll opt for sentimental favourite Fabrice Muamba for no other reason than his underperforming heart and his tears with the Bolton Lion. Mates that follow the Trotters fear that the fairly pedestrian (am I allowed to say bad things about Fab?) midfielder, and his feel good episode, may have sealed a new indefinite, uncapped contract with the Trotters.

 

Chelsea

Juan Mata Chelsea FA Cup Spain

thank you for your fantasy points

For the KGB bankrolled London outfit, the league has proved challenging and frustrating throughout. But in cups, both European and domestic, Didier and his merry bunch have shown glimpses of the output such a team of stars warrants – stifling the irrepressible Messi et al with a display of adhesive defensive efforts and swatting the pretence of Spurs and Liverpool in the cup. The AVB saga, that effectively ended a vehement title quest with the early season calamity at home to Arsenal, weighed heavily on the more experienced and traditional lifeblood of the side in Franky, Johnny, Ashley, Petry, Mikey and Droggy D’zz, and it was a new addition that glistened brightest. Juan Mata has joined David Silva as quality Spanish additions to the EPL with a consistently superb first year in the league. Mr Mata has 16 assists and 6 goals in the league – a return that few have exceeded. Mata is a constant menace on the left; the bane of right sided defenders across England. It will be a shoot out between Silva and Mata for a Euro12 adventure that involves more than perusing the standards of Polish/Ukranian pitchside facilities. Possibly the best input AVB added to the Blues, something RDM, RA and maybe PG can utilise going forward.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday Forecast – 4th May 2012


Didier Drogba Chelsea Liverpool FA Cup Premier League

up up and away didier

 

This is our preview for the weekend ahead – ensuring that our views are set in stone to be proven wrong come Monday.

Pick of the Week

Look no further than the Cup Final, scheduled in the evening for 2012. Traditionally the biggest match of the English calendar year, the lustre of the cup may have dulled of late, but for many, Wembley in May will always hold a certain sentimental privilege. The romantics haven’t failed us in 2012, with a perfect script delivering two sides converging towards fresh beginnings and distinctly new periods in the history of their clubs.

Newcastle vs City runs a close second and is the easy standout in the league. Here’s hoping for the type of titanic struggle that many of the “bigger” teams have already produced this season.

Bet of the Week

We like QPR into Bolton @ approx $4 depending on your bookie. Both sides are at home, against teams with nothing but Caribbean getaways to plan for. Expect sincere desperation from the trapdoor-threatened protagonists; for losing money is a legitimate motivation for effort. A loss in this fixture for either club, could see a miserable denouement of failure.

It’s a big Weekend for…

Several candidates over the next 4 days, but we’ll opt for a combination of Steven Kean, Venkys and the stumbling embarrassment that is Blackburn. Formerly a European dynasty, this marks a deterioration towards everyone’s most hated club. It is a little difficult to fuel the embers of sympathy for a side that has been overwhelmed by protests from within since before the new year. Even a win over a resounding Wigan may not be enough – a shambles that even poking fun at has become tiresome…

Tweet of the Week:

The Woy Hodgson XI

Wobinson
Wichards – Tewwy – Wio – Warnock
Gewward – Wodwell – Bawwy
Wellbeck – Wooney – Stuwwidge

#teamwoy

Best Article of the Week

That’s right, we also didn’t know Sol Campbell still warranted a formal retirement. Laughable really.

http://www.tottenblog.com/2012/05/happy-retirement-judas-scum-open-letter.html

What you should be listening to

Before a week ago, the name Tito Vilanova meant less to FFTD than the new Minister for Health in Bulgaria – but it did rekindle a genuine love for an absolute classic. You’ll work out where Mr Manager’s name fits in…

Come back next week for:

Season Reviews, Transfer musings, Euro excitement and dumb analysis as usual…

Have a footballing weekend!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,