Tag Archives: Premier League

Football Matters Part II: Beyond the pale, the money game and the mercenaries

Author’s Note: This is the second installment of the ‘Football Matters’ series, you can read the first part ‘Two colors inside and the divisions outside’ here.

Football and mercenaries, two terms that sound unrelated and should actually be unrelated, but aren’t. The ever increasing money revolution across various parts of Europe that has seen more and more clubs being taken over by business oligarchs has seen modern football take a new meaning, where money defines how it’s run, not as a sport but more as a business.

There are two iterations valid in most cases today: Footballers = mercenaries or mercenaries = footballers, in either case money is the common denominator, not loyalty or love for the game or the club you play for. There was a time, not too long ago, when loyal and one-club men used to dominate Football all around the world. Longevity used to be a factor and the players would love to play it out at the club they loved, to be called legends at the club which to them was be-all and end-all, for money wasn’t as important as staying true to your roots and staying with the club that you’ve loved all so much, for they were as much a part of a club’s legacy as the club was definitive in making their own identity.

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Football Matters Part I: Two colors inside and the divisions outside

Football matters, indeed it does, to you, to me and to millions of other fans around the world and to the players who play it day in day out. And what’s also certain is that there are football matters that continue to haunt the very basis of modern football, none more so than the one in question here.

Football, without doubt, is the most watched and followed around sport in the world in this day and age. There are kids around the world who would sacrifice their studies just to have a few extra hours of playing it and then there would be ‘adults’ who would refuse to get going with their normal lives should their favorite team lose a match. Yup, football is a common denominator that strings millions of distinct individuals from around the world. For some it’s passion to be following the sport, for some others it is a religion that they live by and for a distinct few it is a matter of even more- for whom football is a feeling that can’t be explained but they spend their lives explaining it.

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David de Gea: Oh he’s gotten United with life in Manchester lately

Last season’s end brought to an end the career of one of the best goalkeepers in United’s history, van der Sar went away to cool his heels in the calm realms of the Netherlands, away from the scrutiny of the Premier League. In his place, anointed was a young Spanish prodigy with limited match experience and whose age was only as much as the number of years that his predecessor had spent at the top level in European football.

The task while being obviously difficult in itself trying to follow up a legendary figure like van der Sar in the club’s history was added to by the unmatched hype and the continuous, and at most times, unwarranted scrutiny from sections of the media for both his on field and off field behaviour. The question of whether Manchester United goalie David De Gea was good enough, at the start of the season divided opinion due to some high profile gaffes that United hadn’t been accustomed to in the seasons gone by.

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Quote the quotes: The 25 most popular Fergie-isms

Just about twenty five years ago, a man by the name of Alex Ferguson had been setting alight the Scottish Premier League, he had achieved the unthinkable in the eyes of many by tearing apart the age old Old Firm domination on the Scottish territory. Quite naturally a move to an English team beckoned, Arsenal came close to getting him, but it was Man Utd who would eventually get the man who would go and become arguably the most important figure in the club’s history as well as the present.

And so, over to England went the man soon nicknamed ‘Fergie’, the Man Utd board thought he was a good choice and Sir Matt Busbie liked him, the fans were restless for a while before being pacified by a string of trophies in the years that followed eventually forging themselves into cult followers of the Scot. That man’s name today defines the club itself, just as much as the club helped define his legendary status. Over the years,  players have come and gone, managers been sacked and then reinstated again, yet one man survives who without doubt is the protagonist to everything ‘Man Utd’. And his legacy would be incomplete without his ramblings, at the opposing managers, to his staff, to the journalists or the hairdryer’s meted out to his players.  Here’s an attempt to recollect some of the most famous quotes ushered by one of football’s most famous men.

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Man Utd: A look at those who got away

Not many teams have dominated the English footballing landscape in its entire history quite like United have done in the last two decades and not many teams have produced as many high caliber players from within its own youth system quite like United have and still continue to do so with Cleverley and Welbeck going great guns before being bogged down by unfortunate injuries. Rather unsurprisingly, nearly 200 footballers(or a few more) have graduated through the United academy and went on to play for the club’s first team since the WW2.

Fergie- Believer of the youthful.

Regardless to say, there isnt a better youth academy and youth scouting system in the country that has consistently brought in and reared such prodigiously talented players, and the only one’s comparable on the continent would be Barcelona’s La Masia and the youth setup’s/scouting networks of Ajax, PSV and FK Partizan.  And during the quarter of a century long reign of Sir Alex alone, the likes of Mark Hughes, Lee Sharpe, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Neville brothers, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Darren Fletcher, Nani, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck, and countless others, have either been brought through the various stages of the United youth setup or brought in at a tender age only to be moulded to play the United way, as envisioned by the gaffer.

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English Premier League: A look at the future stars

In a league as arduous and as tough to handle as the English Premier League and in an era of massive windfall of proven overseas talent being brought through at colossal prices to provide an immediate fix to match most premier league clubs’ ephemeral first team ambitions and targets, it isn’t really hard to see why the number of academy graduates at most Premier League clubs breaking into the first team picture have steadily dwindled in recent years, more so after the continued foreign investment in some of the now prominent clubs in this much publicised and talked about English Premier League .

Regardless to say, the path that a lot of these youngsters is blocked by more experienced ‘pros’ which has served as a deterrent to the budding careers of many a young footballers in recent years. It only takes a moment to remember the potential the likes of Michael Johnson, Fabio Borini, Jack Cork once displayed but have since moved on to other clubs permanently or on loan, for the longing of first team football. But on the flipsoide for every Johnson, Borini and co, there are young success stories who have broken through at their clubs having clutched at their oppurtunities that have arisen due to a multifarious set of reasons- from injury to lack of squad depth or even due to prolific performances for the reserves. The likes of Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere, Seamus Coleman, Andy Carroll, Marc Albrighton, Phil Jones have all announced their arrival to the big time in the last twelve months. And there’s no reason why others would not emerge from the shadows this season, announcing their arrival. So here’s looking at some break through kids who could well breach the cuffs and make their way to their destiny of first team football.

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