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Hello once again, and let us delve into the most recent controversy in the footballing world, involving an old regular in Chelsea F.C. and a new addition in the form of a certain ball boy.



Right, first things first, let us get the analysis of the incident itself out of the way.
Now, I think we can all agree that both parties are to blame. Charlie Morgan, as he infamously posted to his Twitter account before the game, came out to time-waste for the Swans. He takes a very long time to get to the ball and by the time he does, Hazard is upon him wanting to get the ball back. The pushing from Hazard doesn't help as it enables the youngster to fall onto the ball and shield it from the Belgian. What happens next however should NEVER be done on a football field if you would like to remain on the pitch. Swinging your boot in the direction of someone lying on the ground is a red card offence whether you touch the ball or not and the referee was absolutely correct to take the action that he did.

Hazard will now have to wait for further FA judgement to be handed out to him as although it's quite clear that his kick was not malicious, it was still dangerous and sends completely the wrong message on how to handle those sorts of situations. Stepping back and getting the referee involved would have been the more sensible course of action.

It is certainly ironic that this incident has happened with Chelsea and any Chelsea fan that is feeling outraged should first consider these two points:

1) Even if this incident had not occurred and absolutely no time had been wasted, Chelsea would STILL have lost the tie.

2) Chelsea would not have won the Champions League last season had they not based entire game plans around time-wasting and conning the referee. Time-wasting and cheating in general has benefited Chelsea a hundred times more than it has hindered them.


Now let us move on to the delightful young moron that is clamouring to get his 15 minutes of fame (and succeeding) and my main point that I would like to express to you in this blog.

Charlie Morgan


He certainly looks like the sort of lad that you wouldn't be particularly distressed to see introduced to a fist at a not particularly subtle rate of knots.

However, that aside, the image does look familiar doesn't it. That is because we now see this sort of picture in every football game we ever watch. We see our favourite players whether they be Luis Suarez, Santi Cazorla, Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie or Cristiano Ronaldo flinging themselves to the ground every week under little or no contact and holding themselves in a similar way as though they have just been run over by a passing buffalo. Yet of course they are not too mortally wounded to not be able to look towards the referee to try and see if their ruse has worked. The body language in Charlie Morgan's case actually reminds me of Mr Orange as he lays in the back of a car after receiving a bullet to the gut.

We can all laugh and point at him and say "Haha look at him, he thinks he's a professional footballer!". Yet what worries me is that this sort of behaviour is now what we associate and expect with professional footballers. Why is Charlie Morgan acting like this? Simple. Because he sees the top professionals in the world doing it every week, thus making it perfectly acceptable to emulate for the young, naive and impressionable youth of today. Charlie Morgan is living proof of that.



Now we have had instances in the recent months where players like Suarez and Bale have been booked for simulation somewhat harshly. My opinion is as follows: excellent. Without trying to shove the moral of 'The Boy who Cried Wolf' down your throats too much, as it stands in these players minds, they have more to gain by going down than staying on their feet. That is what we need to change and it will take many more harsh decisions on many more players before the message is received and acted upon. It's a sad fact that it has resorted to two wrongs making a right, but it's important in tilting the odds back in favour of the defender. Players may have been wrongly accused of simulation, but you can bet that they have still benefited from simulation ten times more than they have been punished for it.

Whilst the top footballers are allowed to get away with diving, time-wasting, and general gamesmanship, the further warped the image of the game will become. Gone is the beautiful game that was played by men, now we have a low and underhanded farce that is played by little boys. And unless we can help referees to come down harder on the culprits, it will only get worse..

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So then, Euro 2012 is looming and I personally can't wait, just hope I can be off work for the important games really, though it's not looking too good at the moment. :(

It got me thinking, what about constructing the best England team possible using players who have played for England from 1996 onwards. Worth a shot, if you read this, tell us your opinion on how it could be improved or whatever you like, I'm just doing this to kill some time, exams are over and nothing to do til 4th June when I start work! So we'll have the starting 11 and 7 substitutes, here we go:

GK: David Seaman (Don't need to justify this I'm sure)
DR: Stuart Pearce (Commanding defender in his time, scared the shit out of many a strike force)
DC: Tony Adams (Nuff Said)
DC: John Terry (Commanding again, as a person, not my cup of tea, but his past awards speak a great deal)
DL: Ashley Cole (As far as left - backs go, one of the greats, certainly helped Arsenal and Chelsea in the past)
MR: David Beckham (World class player, end of)
MC: Steven Gerrard (Again, great player, unlucky his team had a bad season this year, but still today, an admirable midfielder)
MC: Frank Lampard (Whether he should be in the starting 11 for the summer is questionable, but a few years back, immense player)
ML: Joe Cole (Alike Owen, Cole's had some annoying injury problems, but at his peak, a great winger and playmaker for England)
ST: Michael Owen (One of, if not the best player in the world at the start of the 2000s, got to feel sorry for him and his career being dogged by injury, but defo deserves this place)
ST: Alan Shearer (The man was an exceptional player, helping Blackburn win the league in 1995, and going on to be a Newcastle legend)

SB: Joe Hart (A real cracker of a keeper, great season this year and the future's looking very bright indeed)
SB: Gary Neville (Love him or hate him, throughout his England career, fair to say he proved a consistent right - back)
SB: Rio Ferdinand (Another player I really rate, unlucky not to get called up to the Euros, but has played many a fine performance for both club and country)
SB: Paul Scholes (Cracking attacking midfielder, had a great career for Man Utd, great at long distance shots and has been gifted for England in the past)
SB: Ashley Young (Personally really rate this lad. Stick him on the wing, let him do a lot of attacking play, defo one to look out for this year and for the future)
SB: Teddy Sheringham (A great striker in his day, perhaps unlucky to not win as many caps as he should of, but has helped England out on a few occasions it's fair to say)
SB: Wayne Rooney (Certainly a great striker, form for England hasn't been it's best recently, but hopefully will turn it around in the summer)

Of course I'll probably have forgotten someone, so give us your opinion or whatnot, but in my opinion, a fair 'best of' England squad from 1996 onwards.

Cheers,

Tom

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It's been a chaotic year in the Arsenal camp. Highs include the famous 2-1 victory over Barcelona in last season's Champions League and the inspiring 5-3 win over Chelsea. Lows include, well.. that cannot be summed up in a simple sentence.

After allowing the Carling Cup to be won by Birmingham was the customary exercise of completely falling apart and unravelling at the seams as Arsenal are in recent campaigns becoming famous for. They will often go from competing in all competitions to competing in none in the space of about 2 or 3 weeks these days. Many would attribute it to a defence that has been gutted of power and reliability ever since its members decided to either leave for richer clubs, were emotionally destroyed by Bobby Zamora, or just plain thought that a pitiful £55,000 a week was not worth turning up to work for.

However, there is hope in Arsene Wengers current set of 'kids', I feel. In Wojceich Szczesny we have found a keeper whose reflexes, presence, and overall, consistency are reminiscent of the great David Seaman.

Thomas Vermaelen, injured now, as I'm sure some feel is the norm in his few years at Arsenal, represents our most commanding, fearless and composed defender since Sol Campbell was the rock of the Arsenal back four. If he manages to stay fit for a decent stretch then he will be vital for Arsenal in a defensive (and also an attacking) sense.

Laurent Koscielny is (along with RVP of course) our player of the season so far in my humble opinion. His ability to read the game and make vital interceptions has saved Arsenal from conceding on countless occasions. His strength and determination has also shone through in Arsenal's increasingly make-shift back line. If he continues to improve then he really will deserve to wear Tony Adams' number six shirt.

Currently our first choice full-backs are on the operating table, but when fit, Sagna and Gibbs provide a potent attacking threat and decent defensive coverage. Gibbs needs to work on getting back a bit more, as does his understudy Andre Santos, though he can be excused as it is in his Brazilian nature to be a forward-thinking defender.

With these players fit on a consistent basis, then Arsenal can begin to look more like the composed and solid defensive unit we remember from nearly a decade ago.

What needs to be addressed is that much better cover needs to be made available. Mertesacker and Jenkinson look completely lost and out of their depth when they play. Mertesacker is not used to the pace and physicality of the English game and Jenkinson looks like what he is, a player that barely made an impression in League One. Djourou had moments last season when he looked quite solid at the back, and he is a more consistent choice at right-back than Jenkinson, but he is still caught out of position too commonly and doesn't read the game as cleverly as his peers. He needs to improve fast if he wants to survive in the team, he's had more than enough time to do it.

I'm going to finish by saying welcome back to King Thierry Henry. I'd take him over Marouane 'I promise I was good for Bordeaux' Chamakh and Yao 'Maybe if I dribble into a player he'll disappear' Gervinho any day. :)

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Fantasy Football Winter Wildcard


It's January, and we've all got a great chance to totally reshape our teams in the form of another Wildcard. Yes, that's right, unlimited transfers for one week only. You're doing awful, thinking you're never going to get into the top million, never mind win a league, so who are you going to buy? Well, look no further than this guide.



Goalkeepers


Ali Al Habsi - Wigan - £4.1m - 71

If you want to spend big in other departments, Ali's your man. He's extremely cheap, and as Kirkland is out on loan, he's Wigan's number one. At 71 already, you can't go wrong.


Defenders


Seamus Coleman - Everton - £5.2m - 80

The great thing about Seamus is that even though he's marked as a defender, he plays right wing so he gets four points for a clean sheet and can easily get in the scoring list. He's a regular fixture in the Everton starting eleven, and with Pienaar gone he's even more likely to play the majority of Everton's remaining games.

Rafael Da Silva - Man United - £5.7m - 48

Rafael is really making the right back slot his own this season at Old Trafford. With our defence being so disciplined, he has license to get further up the field, where he can really cause damage. Even against the might of Gareth Bale, he took the initiative to attack, attack, attack, and used his skills to great effect until he was harshly sent off. He may only have 48 points this season, but he will add to that by the end of the season.

Ahmed Elmohamady - Sunderland - £5.2m - 89

One look at this creative fullback's graph and you can see it's up, down, up, down. His assists have been one of Sunderland's key driving forces this season, and Steve Bruce will surely be considering signed Ahmed on a permanent basis in the Summer.


Midfielders


Matthew Etherington - Stoke - £6.0m - 106

He simply can't stop assisting. Since last season, Matthew has been taking the phrase 'purple patch' to a whole new level. With the likes of Ricardo Fuller, Kenwyne Jones and now John Carew up front, he can only continue to score and assist for fun.

Gnegneri Yaya Toure - Man City - £5.6m - 92

Despite the fact he's primarily a defensive midfielder, Yaya is Man City's most attacking central midfielder. Even Vidic would have a tough time stopping this tank of a player, who specialises in making powerful runs through the middle. It's hard to see why he's so cheap.

Adam Johnson - Man City - £5.7m - 73

Man City's super sub is one of England's hottest prospects. He's a delight to watch, what with his dribbling and shooting. Even though he has so many points, one of his disadvantages is that he (wrongly) doesn't always play.


Forwards


Andrew Carroll - Newcastle - £6.1m - 113

England's biggest hope and the next Alan Shearer without a doubt. What he has over Shearer is that he's left footed. Currently sidelined with a thigh injury, Andy is one of the top scorers in Fantasy Football due to his habit of scoring pretty much whenever he plays. Still extremely cheap, you won't regret signing him once he's back.


Dimitar Berbatov - Man United - £9.6m - 132

At time of writing, Dimitar is the highest scorer in Fantasy Football, and under £10m. Whenever he's partnered up front with Rooney, he seems to really shine, as he's proven with three against Liverpool, five against Blackburn and three against Birmingham. He plays best at home, so you might want to get him when we play at Old Trafford.


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After seeing the Jaguars play so horribly in some games earlier this season (like against the Chargers and in the first Titans matchup), it's almost incredulous that they'd be leading the division and quite comfortably in the playoff hunt. But if they can keep up that dominating rushing attack, who knows what could happen?

While Maurice Jones-Drew's career-high 186 rushing yards were laudable, don't overlook the offensive line - and guys like Greg Jones and Zach Miller - who had amazing games opening holes for MJD (and other runners).

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WikiLeaks, the rogue media organization, has been getting lots of attention by disseminating thousands of classified documents. I don't know all the details of this situation, considering I haven't personally studied the leaked documents, but I applaud what they're doing as long as they focus on the really juicy stuff and redact names of ordinary people who might be harmed by the release of certain information.

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I don't feel like writing too much today - it's just too cold to type particularly fast. If the weather stays as cold as it was last winter, that would be truly unprecedented in Jacksonville's recorded history - having a very warm summer followed by a very cold summer - and would either make me believe Al Gore or else buy a 1960's muscle car to get our carbon back into whack!

Maybe I'll start posting more often - and longer - if people start reading this. Until next time, that's all folks.

- Vinny

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Two votes out of a possible twenty-two was a clear message to England and its media, FIFA are not to be trifled with.

The following day, the British papers emblazoned their front pages with words such as 'BUNG', 'FIXED' and 'DISGRACE' as they tried to direct the country's disappointment and inevitable backlash against FIFA, rather than themselves. For as much as the media impact has been downplayed in.. well the media.. it is of no doubt that their interference has proved catastrophic for not just England's World Cup bid, but also their relations with FIFA.



Put yourself in the shoes of one of the 22 (remaining) voters that will decide which nation hosts the 2018 World Cup. Two of your peers have been suspended from voting on charges of bribery and corruption. The instigators are a media group from one of the nations actually vying for the bid. This media group did not just hear of bribery and report it, they physically went out of their way posing as American lobbyists with the deliberate intent to misle your peers, discredit them and, of course, cash in on the story. Now with this turn of events, not only is your organisation's integrity in question, but your own morality is thrown into the spotlight, suddenly you have to answer for all your actions and your every move is scrutinised by everybody looking for the tiniest hint of collusion with your neighbours to pounce on.

Well you know something? I wouldn't feel particularly good about England or the English media either.

David Cameron and Prince William can bleat about people 'promising their vote and then voting elsewhere' all they want, as people that know about politics, they are well experienced in putting on a smile and lying through their teeth to someone, it's the easiest way to get them to leave you alone if you tell them what they want to hear. What is important is the bridges you have built with them when they enter the meeting room and that's what will influence where they will place their vote. Standing by and letting your own media paint them as corrupt for months and then appearing to shake their hand in the final week is not a vote-swayer, it's not even a peacemaker. For the case of England, after their media were allowed to cripple their bid completely, it was too little, too late for Cameron and his men.






What is also interesting is the 2022 vote. Now Qatar are a nation that raise many eyebrows when spoken of in a footballing sense, mainly, because their team has never even QUALIFIED for a World Cup. However, I fear that FIFA felt pressured from all this media scrutiny that has made them look far from impressive in recent weeks. One key aspect of the Middle Eastern nation's bid was to 'flatpack' their stadia, enabling it to be dismantled once the World Cup was over and transported to much poorer nations. A unique gesture. A gesture that presented itself as FIFA's knight in shining armour. What better way to restore your image than support a bid that has immense humanitarian strength and meaning. FIFA can use this 'human interest' bid to iron out the crease that has been exposed in their armour, the British Media have a little more work to do than that.

I understand this is a different approach to many that you'll read but remember this, the media will happily discredit anyone, anyone but themselves.

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I know that my hometown is unknown to most likely the whole community here, but this is a huge feat around here.

My high school's football team has won back to back Conference championships and has reached State Championships twice, but hasn't won it since 1958. Being a senior in high school, this is the one thing you'd like to tell your kids when they go to school.

The Pine Bluff Zebras (Pine Bluff, AR) are 9-4 coming into the state game. Hootens.com predicts that they will win rather than the No. 1 El Dorado Wildcats. I know that we will win this Saturday, and it will be a much bigger deficit than 2 points. :D

(Btw, our record as of last Friday (Nov. 28) is 11-1. We were undefeated until we played Pine Bluff's team)

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I'm certainly not going to win any awards for creative titles this time. This is my first post in over a month, when I said that it's safe to go trick-or-treating without worrying about those sex weirdoes who put old razor blades in the Snickers and turn into bats at night.

And to reinforce that idea, I didn't go trick-or-treating, but I did pick up a piece of candy thrown at the Terry Parker High School homecoming parade, which had probably been stepped on by many a cannabis-stained sole (or maybe something a shoe laced with something a lot worse than weed). And you know what? I ate it! And that caramel pop was really yummy and didn't make me high out of my mind! I'll now need surgery to repair the eight-inch laceration in my throat from the razor, but it was good candy! Then again, maybe I'm making up that last part.

As for Parker's football team, they went 0-10 this year - their worst season since they went 0-10 in 2003. Their parade was a bit of a disappointment, too - it was shorter than ever before (or at least shorter than any of the 16 I've been to in the past 17 years), and prerecorded rap music for the Ladies of Affinity replaced most of the band music. Someone told the "DJ" that one of the songs was "really inappropriate," too, although I missed that. And the police have gotten less effective at closing the streets.

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Yes, I did make my last post - the one where I said not everybody is out to getcha - the day after Somer Thompson went missing, although I had actually written it weeks before. I don't care if anyone thought that was somehow distasteful. Again, situations like hers are exceptionally rare, and we must not allow paranoia to conquer our lives. We can't shackle ourselves just because of what that stupid safety tip on the back of the junk mail said. As old Pat Hank told us so many years ago, life and peace aren't so dear to be worth the cost of chains and slavery.

~ ~ ~

I'm sorry, but I can't resist putting this in about Ronald and Misty Cummings and their short-lived knot. It was a bond forged from youthful lust (well, he was almost a decade older, but anyway), yet tempered through tragedy. I thought the well from which their eternal love sprang would never go dry, since they did and loved the same things - in particular, they liked the same drugs.

They and their wonderful families seem to be on first-name basis with the cops and the dealers, too.

~ ~ ~

It's hard to believe that the Jaguars are now in position to reach the playoffs, considering how badly they've played a lot of the time and how narrow their wins have been. But that's football, and football doesn't care if you've given up more points than you've scored.

~ ~ ~

Hence the title of this month's post, I shouldn't conclude this post without being thankful for family, friends, good food, and bad Detroit Lions football.

~ ~ ~

I've probably offended enough people for the time being. If you'd like to tell me why you're offended, just post a comment, or e-mail me directly at VHamilton002@gmail.com.

Until next time, sayonara.

- Vinny

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The approach of October is a major event in a football-lovers calendar. Not simply because they now know that Owen has survived the first couple of months of the season hence actually becoming a viable option in their fantasy team, no, it's the arrival of the newest football games.

FIFA versus Pro Evolution Soccer has been a battle that has raged long and hard for more years than it takes for Cherie Blair to take a 'good' photo.

As a staunch PES fan since ISS Pro Evolution 2 on PS1, I have now become totally disillusioned by the startling lack of the same charm on PS3.

I have played roughly 10 games of the newest demo. My thoughts? Well, firstly my thoughts are to challenge the validity of my own thoughts, 10 games is not a significant number and the completed version will hold a lot more depth than a demo. However, the demo does contain an insight into what is most important in these games, the gameplay.

True, it is distinctly slower than both PES 08 and 09, possibly too much, to the point that star players feel quite manouverable, whilst any other player feels like they're wading in treacle. This may have validity in that it emphasises the star players of your team. But what of your reliable players? Your players that don't grab all the headlines but whom you couldn't function without? What of your Essien's? Your Alonso's? Your Flamini's? (yes I still reminisce about those days) Your Vidic's?

Another major concern for me, is the difficulty level. I often play my games on 10 minutes length, the demo makes you play games at 5 minute length. On my VERY FIRST play, on Regular, I beat Barcelona 5-0 as Liverpool. On Professional, I beat them 3-0. On Top Player, I beat them 2-0. You notice the difference but the CPU still seems much too weak. Goals are still too easy to come by with woeful goalkeeping and inconsistent defending.

The major plus for this game is the visuals, which are stunning beyond belief. The best visuals I've ever seen in a football game. Fact.


Look at Torres' freckles. Just look!!

But despite these mouth-wateringly luscious graphics, what do I do when I want an incredibly exciting football game, with balance, wit, precision, and most of all, a thrill that makes me punch the air everytime I score? Well it's simple, I don't go to FIFA, that doesn't excite me, I don't think next gen has any exciting football games, all I do is simply, go to the other room, switch on the PS2, and load up PES 5.

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Tuesday's game took us to Leyton Orient which happens to be very near to the site of the 2012 Olympics. This being Britain I didn't think we'd actually have started yet, probably due to the builders being on another tea break but I was pleasantly surprised to see they have already turned a massive area into a building site. For once it looks like we might meet a target on time as there is still 3 years to finish it.

I didn't actually realise when we got to the football stadium, we stopped at a block of flats which I thought was odd until I saw a gap between them that the ground was completely surrounded by flats. Indeed some of the balconies actually faced onto the pitch so you can watch the games from the comfort of your own home. It felt a little strange inside the game as the flats raised higher than the ground itself, it was almost like you were indoors.



For a Tuesday night there was a lot of Posh fans there and since a very low amount of Orient fans turned up we easily were able to outsing them for the majority of the match. We had lot's to sing about too, within 12 minutes we were 2-0 up, Whelpdale with the first and Sergio Torres with the second. It's great to see Torres finally breaking into the team, he's not really had much chance up until now but he's played in two games in a row now and certainly seems to have made an impression on Fergie.

If anyone was going to score for Orient against us though it was Scott McGleish, and he did...twice. He had a spell with us where he didn't score at all but every club he's gone to since he seems to score freely for, and almost always seems to score against us. Notably he scored the winner for Northampton at London Road a few years ago and last year a last minute equaliser for Wycombe to slightly delay our promotion party. His first goal on Tuesday was yet another penalty and his second came when they were 3-1 down after Russell Martin got his first goal for the club as well.



Joe Lewis saved the game for us right at the end, even if it was from himself he was saving us from. A last minute shot for Orient was spilled by Lewis for their striker to head towards goal at point blank range but Lewis managed to pull out a fantastic save to deny them just before the referee blew the final whistle.

The referee himself seemed to be two different people. In the first half he didn't make any notable mistakes, the penalty for Orient was a handball so I can't argue with that and I don't think many other Posh fans would either. However in the second half, him and his linesmen seemed to lose all competency. Orient only scored their second goal when the referee gave a freekick in the opposite direction to the one the linesman who was standing right next to the incident was flagging. The linesmen themselves seemed to be giving phantom offsides for both teams all half which is about the typical level of officiating at this level.

Next Match Attending

Hartlepool v Posh
7/3/09 3pm
Victoria Road

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