After another year of poor showings in the European competitions, and with the star players of the last couple of seasons leaving for the La Liga giants, the criticism of the Premier League as a league has come from all directions; and it has been coming hard. Actually, it is becoming a little tedious.
However, some improved decision-making (Manchester City, Manchester United) and further development of existing sides (Chelsea, Arsenal) down the line, and the top Premier League teams – fueled by ever more ridiculous amounts of TV-money – will compete for the big international trophies again.
But if we return to this year’s edition, looking at the 2014-15 season as it is nearing its end, one sign of the small step down in quality is the lack of truly exceptional
Updated 29th April 2015 at 07:19 AM by Veritas
It’s time to sneak in another of the quirky challenges set for me by the ever resourceful Nicola.
This time, however, I think I manage to turn it into a serious football blog.
It started when I opened a Mission Impossible style text message:
“Your mission Steve should you choose to accept it, is to find a link to football for something Kardashian and Kanye West related.
“And did you know that over 100,000 people signed a petition for Kanye not to play Glastonbury this year.”
I have to confess I have no knowledge of the Kardashians, or any interest in such reality programmes – the "famous for being famous" syndrome.
Apparently, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ is an American reality television
Aston Villa wrestled our hypothetical FA Cup baton from West Bromwich Albion at the Quarter-final stage of this year’s competition, as Tim Sherwood’s men marched into Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with Liverpool.
Tim Sherwood has galvanised the Birmingham club, as the recent Premier League win at Tottenham Hotspur clearly demonstrated. He now has the chance to take that form to Wembley with his star striker Christian Benteke full of praise for Sherwood’s impact at Villa Park:
“The first day he came he said we have to play without fear. You can see when he speaks he has a lot of charisma and confidence.”
As a player, Sherwood reached the 6th round stage with Glen Hoddle’s Spurs side in 2002 only to be beaten 4-0 at home to Chelsea, courtesy
Yeovil Town have already been relegated with new boss Paul Sturrock now planning for life in League Two, but who will be joining the Glovers in the basement division in 2015-16?
This week’s fixtures have some more of those clichéd six-pointers for the sides still fighting for their League One lives. Next to bottom Colchester United entertain Scunthorpe United and third from bottom Crawley Town play the team just above them, Notts County.
By Steve Sands (AFS contributor)
Elsewhere, struggling Crewe Alexandra host Walsall, who look to be safe while Port Vale visit high-flying Preston North End on Friday night and Leyton Orient make the short but tricky trip to promotion chasing Milton Keynes Dons.
If these latter games go with
Updated 16th April 2015 at 09:14 PM by Veritas
As we near the end of another fascinating Championship season, the best strikers in the league are battling it out to finish as the division's leading scorer. There has been no shortage of prolific front men in the Championship this year, and at this point of the season it could well be one of those strikers who fires their team to the play-offs or better still, the Premier League.
With it as close as it has ever been at the top of the table at this stage in the season, those teams vying for promotion will need their forwards firing on all cylinders between now and the beginning of May.
So who have been the Championship's sharpest shooters this season, and what might the future hold come for those players who have in fact caught the eye this year.
Updated 15th April 2015 at 06:40 AM by Veritas
As 2015 took its first tentative steps, it seemed that putting your mortgage on Hartlepool United to be relegated was one of the safest investments you could make for the New Year. Not only were Pool bottom of the league, they had just been dumped out of the FA Cup by non-league Blyth Spartans in front of a national TV audience.
by Steve Sands (AFS contributor)
But Hartlepool weren’t just rock bottom of League Two, they were cast adrift without a paddle, ten points behind third from bottom Carlisle United and seemingly doomed.
When you look at the table today it makes unbelievable reading, as the north-east side have lifted themselves out of the bottom two and can now look down on both Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers with a degree of satisfaction
The Football Conference will be re-named the Vanarama National League from the start of next season.
Following the announcement of a new three-year TV deal with BT Sport, in a re-branding initiative, the Vanarama National League will aim to engage fans, not only of the competition’s 68 member clubs, but football throughout the UK and beyond.
The new `Vanarama National League` will officially be launched on 6 June and the changes will include a new look logo, whilst acknowledging the past it looks to the future, to strengthen the competition's identity.
The National League will also launch a new broadcasting company, NLTV, which will be the first fully dedicated broadcasting channel focusing solely on the 68 member clubs, creating a regular narrative
We now experience televised sport, and football in particular, in a matrix of graphical wizardry. Sky, BT Sports, BBC, and even Setanta introduced so many nuances to the Beautiful Game, aided and abetted by pitch-side fans armed with smartphones, that the thought of just one, grainy camera at games, a la Kenneth Wolstenholme introducing Match of the Day way back when, seems totally alien.
by Alex Jones
Even international games at footballing outposts are now delivered in HD (and soon UHD), multiple cameras transporting images thousands of miles in crystal-clear vision. With our own, handheld technology in place to record goals and incidents, allied to the proliferation of cameras at every match, timing is now everything.
One wonders how many
Updated 28th March 2015 at 10:51 AM by Veritas
After the recent sixth round FA Cup clash, which saw Aston Villa knocking out West Bromwich Albion, many journalists were keen to write about something other than the Villans’ victory.
By Ryan James
In one of the most open FA Cups ever, Aston Villa displayed fantastic talent on the pitch, with particular kudos to youngster Jack Grealish, who scored the 90th minute winner. However, such was the excitement caused by the 19-year-old’s goal that fans gathered in their droves in a classic ‘pitch invasion’ before the final whistle was even blown.
Thousands of celebrating fans were the source of public condemnation by managers, journalists and the Football Association itself, which is allegedly investigating the
Updated 27th March 2015 at 12:09 PM by Veritas
Last week I attempted to predict ‘one of each’ in the Premier League – a home win, an away win and a draw to subsidise my Saturday night fish supper. To be fair I was just one goal away from nailing it on Saturday.
Crystal Palace obliged with my home win on the lunchtime, followed quickly by Aston Villa romping to my predicted away win at Sunderland.
The stumbling block was the draw as West Bromwich Albion held on to beat Stoke City 1-0 rather than allowing them back into the game with an equaliser as they were supposed to!
This week, as a different challenge, I’m going alphabetic and looking to do my soothsayer act on six teams beginning with the letter A i.e. the ‘A' teams!
As actor George Peppard, playing Hannibal in the cult 1980’s TV series, used to say: “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Updated 19th March 2015 at 05:11 PM by Veritas