Wales and their team photo formations

Wales employ the 3-8 formation before the Georgia World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters
Wales employ the 3-8 formation before the Georgia World Cup qualifier. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Anyone passing a glance over Wales’s pre-match team photos in recent months would notice there’s something just not quite right about them.

From the numbers not stacking up (four at the back, seven at the front anyone?) to the lopsided nature of the players’ arrangement when a more traditional six-plus-five formation is put into practice, it would appear members of the Welsh national team have a curiously skewed idea of what symmetry is.  Then again, it’s more likely that they’re just having a bit a team in-joke.

 

The 4-7 formation (before the Austria game at Euro 2016). Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
The 4-7 formation (before the Austria game at Euro 2016). Photograph: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters
Another lopsided effort from 2015 (before Belgium in the Euro 2016 qualifiers). Photograph: Getty Images
Another lopsided effort from 2015 (before Belgium in the Euro 2016 qualifiers). Photograph: Getty Images
Just loose (before a friendly with Australia in Cardiff in 2011). Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Just loose (before a friendly with Australia in Cardiff in 2011). Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

Man United break another record… their squad is worth 100% more than Liverpool’s

CIES Football Observatory revealing that they have the most valuable squad of players in world football.

cies-football-squads

As their research into Europe’s top five leagues shows, Man United’s first-team squad cost €718m (£628m) to assemble, putting them ahead of Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Interestingly, Liverpool’s €356m (£311m) is less than half of Man United’s outlay, while title-winning Leicester have a squad worth just 18% of the Manchester rivals’ ranks.

Total football, total Church

Total football, total Church

I love this blog post on Total football, total Church by the Threads team.  Check out this snippet:

This European Championships will be the first to take place after the untimely death of football’s great philosopher-king, Johan Cruyff. While sadly Johan himself will not be present, Cruyff’s legacy will very much be felt at Euro 2016.

Cruyff is regarded as the pioneer of ‘Total Football’, a way of playing football in which players were free to respond to the demands of the game without traditional positional constraints. Players rotated, swapped positions and moved around the field; it is remarkable and sometimes disorienting to watch. The system relied on a strong understanding between players, effective on-pitch communication and a willingness to sacrifice individual self for the sake of the team’s collective success …

Like Total Football, the Church depends on its members working in unison to achieve an outcome that no one individual could muster alone. Each member has a role – a preferred position, if you will – and where we are able we should fulfil the role given to us (1 Corinthians 12:18). You can move around to fill the needs of your context, and sometimes you’ll feel out of position, but if your teammates (‘fellow workers’ to use a biblical term) are on the same wavelength, then you’ll be covered (Galations 6:2).

Cruyff’s disciples wholly bought into his way of playing and thinking about football. Ronald Koeman (Southampton FC manager) said, after Cruyff death: “Johan walks through my life.”

You’re a disciple of Christ? To what extent does Jesus Christ “walk through your life”? How is his presence felt in the way you perceive the role(s) you’ve been asked to play?

You don’t get to rewrite the rules of Christian discipleship, you’ve not be asked to move the goalposts, and you’ve definitely been given a position to play. But you do get to do everything in your power to play that position as intelligently and selflessly as you can. These are the tactics that have been given to us by our very own Philosopher-King.

Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund fans singing YNWA in unison is amazing

Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund fans singing YNWA in unison is amazing

When two clubs who have passionate supporters play against each other on a big occasion it’s usually an amazing atmosphere. But when Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund supporters get the chance to serenade the Signal Iduna Park with You’ll Never Walk Alone in unison it’s simply breath-taking.

James Milner reads his Twitter parody account tweets

James Milner reads his Twitter parody account tweets

If you’re a big Twitter user and a football supporter there’s a good chance you’re aware of Boring James Milner (@BoringMilner). If you’re not it’s a really simple yet almost brilliant concept. It’s, as the handles suggests, a parody twitter account mocking James Milner as being one of the most boring people you’ll ever meet.

james-milner_ap_m

The account basically tweets out the most boring things possible and acts like the Liverpool midfielder while doing so. It’s strangely amazing and quite funny. So much so that it’s grown a following of nearly 500K on the social media site.

The account is so popular that football culture outlet Copa 90 had the real James Milner recite some of the tweets from his Twitter counterpart. The results are as boring as you’d expect.

Here is Boring James Milner tweeting a video of James Milner reciting Boring James Milner tweets:

No matter your feelings about Twitter, the fact that something like this can grow to be this big is quite astonishing. The power of social media knows no bounds.

Biggest football transfer: Stuart Pearce comes out of retirement!

Stuart Pearce

In what has to be the biggest news of the January transfer market, the so-called ‘worst team in English football’, Longford AFC, have coaxed England and Nottingham Forest legend Stuart Pearce out of retirement and into their defensive ranks.

The former England defender won 78 caps for his country in a glittering career, playing most notably for Forest, before going on to manage Manchester City and England’s under-21s as well as a short and ill-fated spell in charge of Forest.

His final hurrah as a player, however, will be for Longford AFC, dubbed the worst team in the UK due to the fact that they sit bottom of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two and have lost all 19 of their games this season, their first goal coming in a 9-1 defeat on 13 January.

They have managed to secure Pearce’s signature as part of a marketing campaign for Direct Line, but his experience may not be enough to turn around the fortunes of a team with a goal difference of minus 180, especially given his lack of pace and athleticism!

Pearce said he, “Jumped at the chance” to join the amateur club, citing the fact that “Grassroots is essential to the lifeblood of the game”.

 

Europe’s most expensive football squads revealed

A new study has revealed the most expensive squads across Europe’s top five leagues and one of the eye-catching statistics is the fact Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool squad cost more than German champions and European titans Bayern Munich, according to the Football Observatory. 

The Reds splashed out a hefty amount of money this summer with eight players coming to Anfield in the form of Christian Benteke, Joe Gomez, Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino.

Meanwhile, Bayern were also busy with Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal amongst those to come in, but it seems as though the Bavarian giants could do with giving Rodgers some advice on how to conduct shrewd transfer business.

The aforementioned study reveals that Liverpool’s squad costs €344 million – the fourth most expensive in the Premier League – whilst Bayern’s is €337 million – the most in Germany, but seven million less than the Reds.

Football Squads

Meanwhile, the study also confirms – not much of a surprise – that Manchester City have assembled the most expensive squad in England, after bringing in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin De Bruyne this summer.

Rafa Benitez will have to cope with severe pressure this season after it was also revealed his squad is nearly €200 million more than rivals Barcelona, whilst the gulf in class is evident in Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain’s closest rivals Monaco have a squad which is nearly €400 million cheaper.

Top 20 most expensive squads in Europe:

1. Real Madrid (€587m)
2. Manchester City (€560m)
3. Manchester United (€533m)
4. Paris Saint-Germain (€525m)
5. Chelsea (€407m)
6. Barcelona (€396m)
7. Liverpool (€344m)
8. Bayern Munich (€337m)
9. Arsenal (€305m)
10. Juventus (€301m)
11. Tottenham Hotspur (€231m)
12. Valencia (€226m)
13. Inter Milan (€212m)
14. Napoli (€185m)
15. Southampton (€182m)
16. Atlético Madrid (€180m)
17. Wolfsburg (€163m)
18. AS Roma (€160m
19. Newcastle United (€157m)
20. AS Monaco (€152m)

Liverpool FC home kit 2015/2016

The first ever New Balance Liverpool FC kits were launched on 10th April, confirming many of the previous leaks.  The new Liverpool 15-16 Kits are the first jerseys made by New Balance, after Warrior Football was re-branded as New Balance.  The New Balance Liverpool 2015-16 Kits feature a classical kit design, sponsored by Standard Chartered.

Take a closer look at the strip:

The new red Liverpool 15-16 Home Kit features a classical kit design with a unique kit collar.

On the front of the New Balance Liverpool Kit is a chequered pattern with differently sized squares. It is “inspired by the red and white mosaic formed when supporters on the Kop hoist aloft their Liverpool flags and scarves on a matchday.”

The New Balance logo, the Liver Bird and the Standard Chartered logo are white. The New Balance Liverpool 2015-2016 Home Shirt has yellow and white details.

Red shorts and red socks complete the new Liverpool 15-16 Home Kit, made by New Balance.

 

Ched Evans is not the victim

Ched Evans 1

I find the whole Ched Evans story deeply disappointing.

Social media has led to a mob mentality: Evans blamed the collapse of a deal with Oldham on a mob mentality.  David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Clive Efford, the Labour MP, have all voiced their unease about Evans being helped back into the national game, and none is an obvious exponent of “mob rule”.  Equally I can’t quite see Jess Ennis as being the leader of a mob as she challenged Sheffield United to rethink their view on him returning to the club.  Instead the mob mentality that led to the collapse of the deal was that of Evans’ supporters making death threats to the Oldham staff and their families.  There were even suggestions one director was told the address where his daughter worked and that she would be raped if Oldham proceeded.

Footballers seem unable to talk about the importance of being a role model: I have not heard any professional or ex-professional footballer come out and talk about the importance of how they are a role model to influential young people.  Last November, the chairman of the FA, Greg Dyke, described it as “not an important issue” on Newsnight, although this week he issued a statement saying that “it was important” to look at the issue of player’s behaviour, adding: “I would encourage the game to consider and discuss this matter and the prospect for future guidelines and codes of conduct.”  The PFA and FA need to set up strict guidelines about how players can rehabilitate themselves, and inspire the young who regard them as role models.

A lack of apology: The apology has taken too long to come, finally arriving 83 days after he was released from prison, via the Professional Football Association (PFA):

“I am grateful for the support of the PFA in helping me try to return to football and continue my career. 

“Upon legal advice, I was told not to discuss the events in question. This silence has been misinterpreted as arrogance and I would like to state that this could not be further from the truth. 

“I do remain limited at present by what I can say due to the ongoing referral to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned. 

“Finally, it has been claimed that those using social media in an abusive and vindictive way towards this woman are supporters of mine.  I wish to make it clear that these people are not my supporters and I condemn their actions entirely and will continue to do so.”

It is a classic PR written statement which apologises for the “effects that night in Rhyl has had on … the woman concerned” but not for his actions – it comes across like the child who is forced by a teacher to say sorry to another child for hitting them – they aren’t really sorry.

Henry Winter hits the nail on the head with this:

Evans’s next step on the road to rehabilitation must be to undergo an educational programme in which he learns respect for women and then works for the Professional Footballers’ Association in urging young players to avoid what has become known as “night games”.

Parts of the professional game have a misogynistic problem towards women, an arrogant outlook that the PFA should be confronting rather than embarrassing itself by trying to rush a convicted rapist back into professional football before he has served his sentence. Evans is out on licence. He should be allowed to return to football only when the judicial process is complete, and when he has shown proper contrition.

Footballers’ sense of entitlement, encompassing the “I’ve got a bird” culture, cheating on their partners, having sex with a woman too inebriated to give consent as laughing team-mates try to film events, before leaving through a fire escape, has now been challenged by the public.

Ditch the website: In addition I believe that Evans should take down his website.  This website has fuelled his supporters who insist he is innocent, and yet fail to remember that he was found guilty by a jury and his leave to appeal was rejected by a Lord Chief Justice.  This website includes asking visitors to “judge for yourself” from the uploaded CCTV footage from the night in question whether his victim was incapable with drink.  It doesn’t come across as someone who is showing remorse.

The key to all of this is that Ched Evans is not the victim. She is.

Ludogorets reach Champions League after defender goes in goal – and brilliantly saves two penalties

There are fairy tale stories and there’s Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets, who have amazingly qualified for the group stages of the Champions League – all thanks to their heroic centre back Cosmin Moti:

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With the scores level over two legs against Steaua Bucharest, the match went into extra time, where many tipped Ludogorets to be beaten, especially after their goalie was sent off.

But defender Moti grabbed the gloves and went in goal, and as the match went to penalties, he performed magic by brilliantly saving two spot kicks.

Cosmin Moti

The second of which crucially won the match, securing his team a place in the Champions League group stages with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

The saves were also worth about £30million in prize money, which will definitely help Ludogorets who are in the process of paying for a new stadium.

Great times.

Frisbee Trick Shots

Frisbee master Brodie Smith shows us a compilation of his trick shot Vines. He’s amazing with a Frisbee, but you’d expect that. He’s also pretty good with a basketball, football, and skateboard, too! Maybe it’s the secret stuff he drinks:

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