Tuesday, 30 November 2010

8 Years In Waiting For Borussia ...

The severe unpredictability of the German Bundesliga has seen League triumphs for Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, Stuttgart and Werder Bremen in the last 6 years but the success of others has caused others to be starved of trophies. It's the nature of the beast and the Bundesliga has whipped another fascinating title race for the coming year.

At the summit is one of Germany's biggest clubs who have not won the Bundesliga since 2002.

Borussia Dortmund have had a roller coaster time since the memorable season of 2001-2002 in which BVB won the Bundesliga and reached the UEFA Cup Final, losing out 3-2 to Feyenoord. It has been a hell of a time for Dortmund financially which saw the German giants on the verge of bankruptcy in 2005. Their debt peaked at over £150m and it required selling the naming rights to the Westfalenstadion and taking a £75m loan in 2006 to steer them in the right direction.

With the massive changes that have taken place in German football over the last 10 years, debt figures for football clubs has dropped dramatically with a huge rising in income through TV and supporter revenue. The days of German clubs spending ridiculous sums of money on players they cannot afford are long gone thanks to the new Bundesliga legislation's and a determined focus on youth development and scouting.

Charismatic head coach Jurgen Klopp has helped Dortmund rise above the number of title challengers to currently sit at the top of the table with a comfortable 7-point lead over Mainz. It would take a massive capitulation, something similar to Hoffenheim two years ago, for Dortmund to lose out on their first Bundesliga trophy in 8 years.

Klopp has found the perfect mix in talented youngsters and an experienced spine but more importantly has not over-stretched the budget in his pursuit for success. Dortmund spent just £300,000 to bring exciting Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa to Germany and the youngster has taken the Bundesliga by storm this season. Klopp also has 21-year-old Serbian Neven Subotic, 22-year-old Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, 22-year-old Turk Nuri Sahin and another 21-year-old in Sven Bender who have all shone in the yellow and black of BVB this season. These youngsters are commanded by a strong, experienced spine in 30-year-old goalkeeper Roman Wiedenfeller, 30-year-old captain Sebastien Kehl, 32-year-old Dede and the relatively experienced guys like Lucas Barrios and Jakub Blasczykowski who are both established internationals for Paraguay and Poland respectively.

BVB have not finished in the top three since the year after their title success in 2002 and narrowly missed out on Champions League football last season. Klopp's new breed of talent will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous title winners at Dortmund like Jan Koller, Christian Worns, Stefan Reuter, Lars Ricken & Tomas Rosicky in bringing silverware to the Signa Idura Park.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Sporting Integrity? Don't be ridiculous!

Bruised, beaten and battered.

The integrity of the Scottish Football Association will be licking it's wounds now as we approach matchday after an embarrassing saga which now leaves Hugh Dallas and five other employees out of a job.

And for that, well done Celtic Football Club. I hope your happy.

Apparently, it's a conspiracy, and there's an anti-celtic and anti-catholic agenda down Hampden way. Apparently, referees have been conspiring against Celtic since 1888. Apparently, if it wasn't for referees then they'd be the greatest football team of all time. Apparently, the whole world is against Celtic Football Club.

Scotland's (or Ireland's) shame has brought embarrassment upon Scottish Football yet again. As SFA supremo George Peat put it, "a culture of innuendo and conspiracy theories have tarnished the image of the game".

Sadly, the Scottish FA didn't have the bottle to name, shame and hammer the sole cause of this embarrassment. If the referees are coming under excessive criticism from certain people and certain club - then let's hear it. Don't hide away, bring Scottish Football to it's knees then try to ignore it.

What's going to be the next step?

If referee's are receiving death threats after making correct decisions against Celtic, then what's it going to be like when they return?

Abused and threatened for making correct decisions. Sky footage during the Dundee United v Celtic game showed the extent of Celtic fans launching conkers at referees. Anything being done about that?

Out of Europe by August - Braga was the referee's fault. So was Utrecht.
Celtic's penalty being overturned (Correct decision) - Referee abused.
Catholic referee Willie Collum is now a 'hun' apparently.
You could be here all day.

Neil Lennon calling the forth official every name under the sun. A controversial free-kick for Dundee United before their equaliser last week. Embarrassing. And where was Lennon condemning the referee for refusing to give a foul against Majstorovic's blatant barge on Goodwillie which might have cost them 3 points?

What's even more embarrassing is our Scottish media's coverage of the whole scenario. The day of Scotland's champions and European representatives clash with Manchester United, guess what dominated the back four pages?

But, apparently, the media are all 'anti-celtic' and full of 'hunnism'. Yes, 'hunnism'.

And now the catholic church and Celtic football club are calling the biggest decision in Scottish Football for decades. Cardinal Keith O'Brien called for action over Hugh Dallas sending what he calls "a deeply offensive" image - which is pure bullshit - to other employees.

What did Cardinal Keith O'Brien have to say about Sheep duo Diamond and Paton calling for all protestants to be burned? Silly question.

What did he have to say about Ayr United's Scott McLaughlin making sectarian comments towards protestants?

What did he have to say about pro-IRA chants at football matches? After all, he was quick to dismiss the famine song wasn't he?

And this horrible football club still gets away with abusing our armed forces. What was that they said about the poppy again?

UEFA and FIFA are against politics and religion intervening into football. By that logic, then the Scottish FA should be facing a good skelping after Regan's handling of the situation. So it's okay for the Catholic church to decide who is employed by the SFA?

Time to shame these people for bringing Scottish Football into chaos and time to hammer the media for their pathetic coverage of this embarrassing mess.

Celtic Football Club - Embarrassed by nothing, Offended by everything since 1888.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Long-Term Outlook Of England's 2018 Bid

On December 2nd, FIFA will unveil the host of the 2018 World Cup with England, Russia and two co-host bids between Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium. Last week's inspection reports claimed that Holland/Belgium and Russia would be 'medium-risk' bids and that Spain/Portugal and England would be 'safe, low-risk' bids. Whether that is an early indiction from football's main governing body that it is a two-horse race is anyone's guess.

More than £400m will be ploughed into the 2018 World Cup bid and plans are in place for the construction of 4 new stadiums in England. Twelve host cities have been chosen with over 20 stadiums highlighted as potential World Cup venues. The 12 host cities that were chosen are: Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sunderland and Sheffield.

Villa Park (Birmingham), Elland Road (Leeds), Old Trafford and City of Manchester (Manchester), St James' Park (Newcastle), Stadium of Light (Sunderland) are the only stadiums which look a definite in England's bid, with development planned for Hillsbrough & Stadium:MK. The bid is also is open to new stadiums like the New White Hart Lane, New Anfield and the Olympic stadium in London. Of course, if FIFA select England as the host nation then they will have to narrow their options down to the final 10 stadiums.

A number of new stadiums will be constructed for smaller league clubs ahead of the World Cup bid. Plymouth Argyle, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City are likely to have stadiums constructed holding over 40,000 each. Plymouth have an average attendance this year of just over 7,000 - so why on earth would they attract anywhere close to 40,000 post-World Cup?

And it is the same situation with Bristol City who have an average crowd of around 14,000. MK Dons will have their own 40,000-seater arena but only attract crowds of around 8,000 per matchday.

Is that a sensible investment of England's money, considering the blatant lack of quality footballers coming from grassroots level?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

River's Lamela and Mori Set For New Shores

Argentinian giants River Plate have been famed for producing some outstanding footballers over the years and many of them have moved on to bigger and better things at the highest level of European football. Some of the most famous exports from Los Millionarios include Hernan Crespo, Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola, Esteban Cambiasso, Mario Kempes and Gabriel Batistuta who have became household names in Europe.

Amidst a time of uncertainty at El Monumental after coach Angel Cappa was axed last week following just one victory in eleven league matches, there have been little positives for River's followers but the emergence of Erik Lamela and Funes Mori might excite Los Millionarios for the near future. Lamela and Mori's days at River could be over in the next transfer window after big boys Juventus and Benfica expressed an interest in both players respectively.

18-year-old Lamela is still a newbie to the cauldren of Argentinian football after only making 12 appearances since his first-team debut in June last year. Lamela was hunted by Barcelona at just 12 years of age, but no agreement could be reached at the time. The attacking-midfielder caused rivals Boca a host of problems in the recent SuperClasico and he has already insisted his heart lies in the Nou Camp. Pressure from the AFA saw Lamela's dream move to Barcelona fall through in a deal reported to be worth around £100,000 to him and his family.

River's new No.9 is eager to follow in the footsteps of legends such as Gabriel Batistuta, Hernan Crespo and all has already attracted strong interest from Manchester United and Benfica in the last month. The Portuguese champions have an excellent history in attracting South American youngsters to Lisbon and already have two products of River Plate in Saviola and Aimar. With an impressive 1 in 3 goal ratio at El Monumental and has already scored in a SuperClasico at the age of 19. He appeared on an American TV show 'Suenos MLS' in which he won a contract with MLS club FC Dallas before moving back to River Plate.

In recent times, Argentinian clubs have struggled to compete with the European hawks who have taken players from Argentina at very young ages and brought them through in their own acadamies. Lamela and Mori have survived thus far, but beware of the circling predators who will be looking to take them away from Buenos Aires sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Steven Naismith - In The Form Of His Life!

Since joining Rangers in 2007, Steven Naismith has taken a while to get going in a blue jersey after 2 injury-hit years at Ibrox. Now a regular in the side, Naismith has excelled in his new industrious midfield role which has saw him net 8 goals for the SPL Champions, including the winner against Bursaspor in the Champions League.

Naismith's £2m move to Ibrox from Kilmarnock in August 2007 was confirmed just minutes before the deadline window closed. BBC Sport claim that the paperwork confirming the deal only arrived at SFA offices one minute before the end of the window. But it could have been a so different story for the Ayrshire-born striker who was on the verge of sealing a £2m move to Celtic at the start of August 2007.

That deal fell through, and the lifelong Rangers supporter never looked back as he signed for his boyhood heroes on deadline day. His first goal for the Gers came against Aberdeen in September and he added another 4 goals to his account that season before picking up a nasty knee injury in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final which ruled him out for a year.

Having missed out on the chase for 4 trophies, including a UEFA Cup Final, Naismith was determined to get back into the team and he managed 7 appearances in the second-half of the 2008-2009 season where Rangers won their first league title in four years.

After an impressive pre-season in 2009-2010, Naismith returned to action and scored on the opening day of the season. At Tynecastle the week after, he won the decisive penalty which saw Rangers score in the final minutes there. His most impressive hour came in the League Cup Final against St Mirren where 9 man Rangers scored a late winner to take home the trophy. Naismith played a big part in the goal which won the League Cup, picking the ball up on the counter attack and supplying an inch-perfect cross for Kenny Miller to nod home. With 39 games in all competitions that season, Naismith deservedly walked away that summer with his first SPL winners medal.

This season, Naismith has excelled further and has become one of the most valuable players in the Rangers team. His excellent league performances merited a Scotland call-up and he netted one of the goals against Spain in October. From the right-side of midfield, Naismith's tireless energy has been a key commodity in Rangers achieving 9 straight league victories.

In the Champions League, Naismith has played in every match so far and has already opened his account this season. Naismith and Rangers produced a resilient and dogged performance to leave Old Trafford with a point, then he fired home the winning goal in Rangers' 1-0 win over Bursaspor. Against Valencia, Rangers managed to hold on to a draw despite creating numerous chances and Naismith's pace and energy was a real danger to the La Liga side. In a lacklustre performance at the Mestalla, Naismith managed to produce two fine moments and rattle the post on both occasions.

His great start to the season has seen Naismith score 7 SPL goals this term and pick up the Player of the Month for October.

There's absolutely no doubt the 24-year-old will have a big part to play in Rangers' quest for success on home and European fronts.