Passion, negativity and everything in between…

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England booked their place in next years World Cup last night. With an exciting and exuberant display, unlike most we’ve come to expect over recent years. We all love a World Cup campaign, the excitement before that first group game. Everyone piling down the pub or round friends to watch the three lions. The hope. The expectation, that maybe just maybe this could be the year, our year. Are we wrong for this hope? No of course not.

I see and hear such a huge amount of negativity when it comes to the English national team and it does baffle me. I see so many fans constantly saying ‘club over country’, why does it have to be like that?  I’ve heard every excuse in the book over the years. Not wanting players to get injured, hating the players in the squad, the team being boring and the team showing no passion. All of these are complete rubbish. They are all excuses, and poor ones at that. Every person reading this has a club they support, and at one time or another they have been ‘boring’ to watch or had a player not pulling his weight! Do you still support the team? Of course you do. As for the excuse of hating the players playing for England, what a crock of s***. I saw Arsenal fans begging Arsene Wenger to sign Wayne Rooney, the same man they hate and blame for ending their famous unbeaten run. I’ve watched Spurs fans get behind the likes of Emmanuel Adebayour, and William Gallas. Chelsea behind Ashley Cole. Man United behind Robin Van Persie. This whole debacle of hating these players goes completely out of the window once they pull on your clubs shirt. So why not when they pull on the three lions and head out representing their country?

The negativity I saw after last nights game astounded me. I saw and heard all sorts of things about fans now thinking we are world beaters and can win next years tournament. Yet I saw and heard no one say such things?! But some ‘fans’ can’t help but try to put a negative spin on something which had no real negatives to pull from it. England played attacking football, kept a clean sheet and qualified for the World Cup finals. Brilliant in my eyes. If we had been beaten last night, then yes, I could not argue with negativity over the performance, result and outcome… But we didn’t, we won and won well. If that was the club these ‘Englishmen’ support, we’d never hear the end of how great certain players are or how ‘proud’ they are. This blog has turned more into a rant to be honest, but this subject frustrates the hell out of me! Mainly because these negative people will be in the pubs with the rest of us cheering on England, celebrating when we score, and enjoying any success.

Yes, we have probably under achieved considering how successful the premier league is, and has been over the last twenty or so years. But no matter how successful your club sides are, you’ll still support them, still follow them through thick and thin. If you don’t want to do that with England, stop watching them, don’t watch any of the Word Cup. Sit indoors and watch countdown whilst the rest of us get behind our country. I for one, will love England the same, whether we go out in the group stages, out on penalties to Germany in the quarters, or win the thing.

Bring on next June! Come on England!!!!!

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English Pride

Obviously I couldn’t have something like this Januzaj nonsense pass by without my comments on it. So I thought I’d have my two cents worth on the hot topic flying around the world of football currently. That being, the eligibility of footballers to play for countries, notably England. There are a lot of differing opinions on this, I’ll give you mine here, and look forward to hearing you agreements or disagreements.

First of all I’ll start with the reasons we are even discussing this. There are two culprits, the press and Jack Wilshire. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with Wilshire on what he said, but I certainly don’t 100% agree. The lad is not the sharpest tool in the box, and if he had explained his point more eloquently in the first place, there wouldn’t be this ensuing controversy. Although young Jack stoked the fire, it was already lit and had gasoline thrown on it by the press. By the press, I mean any ‘journalist’ that decided the Januzaj story, was even a story. Let’s look at the Adnan Januzaj debacle realistically… He is an 18-year-old, with two Serbian parents, and born in Belgium. He’s been in England for two years playing for Manchester united. So for him to play for England he would have to not be selected or turn down the opportunity to play for either Serbia or Belgium until he turns the age of 21. Now, ‘journalists’ know football, they know the talent this young man possesses, they know that is not going to happen. So why even suggest it and make it such a big deal? Why wasn’t Januzaj just seen as a prodigy from Belgium? Is it because of the state of our national team? Is it because they really would love to see him pull on the three lions shirt? Is it because nationalisation of human beings and footballers has only just started happening? No of course not, it made for a controversial story, in which they could get the whole of England talking about something that has been happening before the first World Cup in 1934. Using a very unrealistic example to get people’s juices flowing and they did their job.

Putting young Adnan to one side. As we’ve established it’s a joke that he is even spoken about playing for England, we broach the subject of what should be the requirements. And also the high horse I’ve seen and heard a lot of people jump up onto since last Sunday.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of theories on this other the last week, and before I tell you mine. Here are some facts about players representing a country despite not being born or having heritage in that country and it should lead me well into my opinion.

Before Italy’s 1934 World Cup win, they nationalised 4 South American born players. Alfredo Di Stefano was of Italian heritage, yet played for Argentina. Then more recently, France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad consisted of Zidane, Viera, Desailly, Thuram, Henry, Karambeau, Pires, Trezeguet, Djokaeff, and Boghassian. All of which were not French-born. Germany have had similar with Bobic, Scholl, Kuranyi, Asamoah, Ozil, Klose, and Podolski. Holland with Seedorf, Davids, Gullit, Kluivert, Rijkaard, Van Hooijdonk, Aaron Winter, and Cocu. Two of Sweden’s greatest players, Ibrahimovic, and Henrik Larsson were not born of Swedish descent. Portugal with Deco and Pepe…. Well you get my point. I can tell you now that all of those players regarded themselves as part of those countries they played for. Gave everything they could for those countries they represented, and with pride. And I guarantee you all agree that you couldn’t fault their ‘pride’ on the pitch. Exactly the same as the likes of John Barnes, Terry Butcher, Owen Hargreaves, Luther Blissett, Graham Le Saux, Matthew Le Tissier, Cyrille Regis and others have for England, despite not being born here.

Which rolls me onto my opinion, Wilshire’s point of having to be born here isn’t correct into today’s society, not just in this country, not just in football but anywhere in the world. If that was the case, players like Wilfried Zaha and Raheem Sterling, both not born in this country to non-English parents are not eligible for England. Zaha has been in this country since the age of four, brought up in an English environment, going to English schools, and has the passion to play for England. Why shouldn’t he be able to? Anyone that says he can’t is wrong, and you won’t be able to change my mind on that. Not everything is clear-cut in life, and people try to make it too much about being born and bred in England no matter what. As long as players understand the English passion for the game and show that same passion, I’m happy. I do however disagree with the example of Mikel Arteta and Manuel Almunia from recent years becoming eligible, these players have only come to this country as adults, and have always dreamt of playing for their native countries. Not saying they wouldn’t try for the country if selected, but their heart naturally just wouldn’t be in it, in my opinion.

My ultimate opinion is the rules do need tweaking slightly, and maybe if the five-year rule for eligibility was only enforced up until the age of 18 (when most regard a boy/girl to become an adult). In other words if on the players 18th birthday they have not lived in the country for five years or more they cannot play for that country. I believe that would end all debate, because in my opinion, your young years are what shape your pride and allegiances, in whatever it may be. Anyone saying a person from outside this country but brought up here wouldn’t give everything for the shirt, needs to take a long hard look at themselves, and what they currently see if our current national side. I’d take a team full of Wilfried Zaha’s, John Barnes, Terry Butchers and Owen Hargreaves over some of the ‘born and bred’ English players in our history.

Boys (and girls) and their toys!

Having recently purchased FIFA 14 on the playstation 3 at the ripe old age of 28, it got me to thinking. Will I playing computer games when I’m 38, 48, and beyond… The answer is probably yes. But will it still be seen as ‘childish’ and ‘ridiculous’ that I’m playing computer games at that age? This is the sort of stuff I see and hear said about my generation still enjoying games like Fifa 14, GTA5, and Call of Duty.

Now, I know some wife’s, girlfriends, boyfriends and mates see our addiction (mild in some cases, extreme in others) to these ‘silly’ games as ridiculous. But it’s part of how we’ve been brought up, and in my opinion is a hobby, which I personally really enjoy. When I was younger, I was either out at Woodlands park playing football, sneaking into Colyer Road to play cricket, or playing computer games. I loved it!!! I don’t agree with the extremity to which kids play computer games now, and it always disappoints me to learn that kids would rather play games, than football with their mates down the park. But hey, that mindset, I blame that on some parents. However that is a complete different subject for a completely different day. I will always have fond memories of my childhood, and computer games were a big part of it, I played countless hours of games such as Metal Gear Solid, The FIFA games, Pro Evolution Soccer, sonic the hedgehog, Super Mario and of course Championship Manager. Ask most guys between the age of 24 and 32, I guarantee they’ve spent a huge chunk of their teenage years saying to themselves just one more game before bed, as the clock ticks past 2am. Something we all loved doing.

However, as with everything, there is a massive negative vibe towards computer games and the effect they have. I’ve heard that computer games numb the mind, they are childish, and pathetic. However I hear these comments from people that sit there and watch the mentally stimulating TOWIE, or 12 adults living in a house together. In my opinion, computer games at whatever age are fun, and that’s exactly what it is meant to be, why do people try to make it more than that? If you were to go into the logistics of playing these ‘silly’ games, they do actually provide plenty of stimulation for the mind. I know that I concentrate more playing my game of fifa then I do laying on the sofa watching E4. Not to mention, the hand eye co-ordination gained, and the great social aspects some games provide.

Obviously computer games aren’t for everyone, as some things, like Gok Wan anywhere near my tv, are not for me but it’s a generation thing.

We, as a generation, are always going to enjoy video games, probably even more so as more and more of my generation become parents. Why judge it? Why not just let people enjoy their own fun pastimes? We all have an inner child, and that inner child always brings out the happy side of people. It’s just that mine and a lot of people’s inner child loves smashing people on FIFA, and sniping from the bushes on Call of duty.

Too much, too soon?

Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog. It’s my first attempt at this, so bare with me and I hope you enjoy it.

As of writing this Manchester United are preparing for their Champions League tie in Donetsk. A game, that under Sir Alex Ferguson, you’d expect them to win in a professional and military like manner, not so much the case now though under David Moyes. Now, we all have our own opinions on whether David Moyes was the right man to succeed the great Sir Alex. However, that isn’t what I’m going to discuss here, the concern for me with United is have they changed too much, too soon?

From the top to the bottom, the club has made a lot of changes to their Championship winning set up from last year, arguably Ferguson’s most impressive league win of his United career. First obviously, Sir Alex stepped down after 27 amazing years in charge. A big loss to any club, but not only this,  David Gill also stepped down from his duties being replaced by former investment banker Ed Woodward. Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill had built up a great rapport over their 16 years together at United’s helm, and very rarely failed to land a transfer target they set their eyes on. This is something the new regime was very heavily criticised for in this summers transfer window, missing out on several high profile names. As well as causing some embarrassing moments, something very un-united like. My question is, could David Gill not have stayed for one or two more years to help Moyes in this transition? Who obviously doesn’t have the clout that Ferguson had in world football. It just seems like a lot for a new team like Woodward and Moyes, neither big names in European or World football, to persuade players like Cesc Fabregas to sign for Manchester United. From the outside looking in, United’s transfer dealings seemed very slap dash, with it all culminating in panic signings (and attempted panic signings last minute). It all started with Moyes making a very naive statement about having ‘unlimited funds’ for his first summer at Old Trafford. Giving every club license to up their players prices by 5-10million pounds, and it never really got better than that for Moyes and United.

There have also been big changes on the training pitch as well, something if you believe reports Sir Alex suggested against. Moyes chose to bring in a lot of his staff from his Everton reign, Steve Round, Jimmy Lumsdon, and Chris Woods, amongst others. Now, in normal circumstances there is nothing wrong with bringing in the men you trust, taking over from a manager that has been sacked or resigned because a new path was needed for the club. This however, isn’t the case, and is a special circumstance. Common sense needed to prevail and see that this change from the most successful manager in the history of English football, to a man who hasn’t ever won a trophy, needed to be gradual. Sir Alex had a settled and very well respected backroom staffing unit, did they all need to go? I can totally understand Moyes wanting to be his own man, and stamp his authority on the club. He is that type of manager, and that is probably one of the reasons Sir Alex wanted him as his successor. Sometimes though, a more tactful method is better suited. Moyes is going to be given time, that is without doubt. Surely over the next few years Moyes could have filtered in his own staff, and kept the stable unit going, making the change gradual. Yes, I know people’s argument will be that United have a professional set of players, and they shouldn’t be too affected by this, but they are human at the end of the day. You can’t tell me the players didn’t have the same concerns/hope that every United or other clubs fans about Sir Alex leaving.

I just think United and Moyes will look back at the summer just gone, and wonder did we try to change too much, too soon.

I’d love to hear people’s opinions on my first attempt at a blog! Thanks for reading.