Arsenals Emirates Stadium and Bridging the Divide in Premier League Football

Arsenal have built a fantastic new stadium in the North of London and to my surprise my friends who live in Islington have a clear view to the Emirates Stadium from the upstairs rooms of their North London pad.

As I am back in the UK for my holidays, I have taken the opportunity to catch up with some old friends. I had lunch with a Director of a football club yesterday, whose name/club I am not going to divulge, but needless to say it had nothing to do with coming back to football or getting involved with football in the UK. Life for me and my family is too good in the tropics of Belize to be tempted back to the UK.

In fact the glorious sunshine that is illuminating the British Isles is reminiscent of a typical Belizean Day, so for us the temperatures are not so difficult to deal with.

Anyway back to the story, and after a nostalgic ride on the London Underground, I met my friend and we spent the afternoon discussing the World Cup, Premier League and the life and times of a professional football club.

You can't help but be overawed by the football transfer market, Arsenals fine new stadium and ponder how even the likes of Manchester United can keep up with Chelsea’s millions. My friend told me how it is worth £16,000,000 to a premier league club to stay in the top flight. That’s a lot of money to find, if suddenly you are dropped out of the elite.

And just how do you bridge the gap if you are a promoted club from the Championship? How do you maintain your status in the top flight without taking a huge gamble on players wages and bankrupting your club? And how do you climb into footballs elite top 6 after you have successfully stabilized your club in the premier league?

It has to be the aspiration of every football club to want to be the top 3 in the premier league, play in cup finals and challenge for honours in Europe. On a consistent basis. However the realistic ambitions of most clubs cannot possibly reach these high expectations.

I suspect the answers to the first 2 questions are easier to find than the 3rd one. In fact the answer to the 3rd question involves elevating your clubs status to more than just a club in the premier league. They have to be an international corporation, capable of selling Club Shirts in Tokyo, Filling stadiums at pre-season friendlies around the world and not to forget attracting massive media interest through Television rights. Someone like Arsenal who are capable of selling the name of the stadium for a cool £100,000,000.

All this and more needs to be achieved in order to become one of the giants of football. Good youth policies can only take clubs so far. Ultimately World Class players with years of experience are an absolute requirement to reach this pedestal and they don't come cheap.

It hardly seems possible that the likes of Bolton, Charlton, Aston Villa or any of the other clubs in the premier league can bridge this chasm.

So I think that quite possibly, most of the premier league clubs are resigned to not even asking the 3rd question : How do you climb into footballs elite top 6 after you have successfully stabilized your club in the premier league?

And the fans will have to accept that a good season for teams other than Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal is a cup run and the possibility of an occasional glimpse of European Football.

Picture of Arsenal Football Clubs Emirates Stadium

Emirates Stadium - Arsenal FC

World Cup Finals 2006 - What a Finale?

The World Cup ended in high drama and astonishment for the whole of the footballing establishment.

Zidanes sending off overshadowed the 2006 World Cup finals. What looked to be a cracking final after the first 20 minutes, drifted off into an enthralling match, but without the spark to really light up the tournaments finale. Of course that was until Zidanes moment of madness.

The term for this in Italian is "furbo", referring to Marco Materazzi cunning ploy to get the Frenchman sent off. Or at least to wind Zidane up to the point where his game starts to be effected.

My first impression was that Materazzi had spat at Zidane. The only time I could imagine doing what Zidane did during my professional career was when being spat at. This did happen several times, coincidently against Italian opposition on the first occasion. (Anglo-Italian Cup).

But careful observation doesn't show a "greeny" heading in Zidanes direction. Whatever did cause Zidane to make the head butt must have been something he has been subjected to many times through his career, as have most footballers (See Mark Hateley and Chris Waddles comments) and there can be no excuse for it.

And a big congrats to the Referee of the final who did a great job. He let the game flow and kept good control of a match with some controversial and difficult decisions to make. I think many of the referees in the tournament got a little stage struck.

As for the World Cup finals I enjoyed them immensely. Shame it couldn't go on forever. I now have to remove the BBC and Guardian Newspaper feeds (RSS) from my blog sidebar and wait for the start of the premier league...

Final thoughts :

  1. The final should not go to penalties. These teams have come so far and it would be great to see the golden goal. Even if the 2 sides were dead on their feet, it would be much more spectacular to see a winning goal
  2. Make the goals bigger!!. Yeah it's a stupid concept changing the goal sizes, but wouldn't it make the games much more fun? I really appreciate the skills of players like Ronaldhino, Zidane, Ronaldo etc, the intricacies of their game, the way they manoeuvre the ball, the team tactics, pace of the attacks and the fantastic goalscoring exploits of the worlds best players. BUT, the World Cup Final 2006 final stages were devoid of goals, with many coming from the penalty spot and many games ending in Penalty Shoot-outs. Teams are so well matched, fitness levels identical, tactics perfectly planned, which inevitably leads to stalemate.
  3. What the hell happened to Brazil? I saw a great picture in one of the British Sunday newspapers that showed Roberto Carlos, standing, hands on hips on the edge of the penalty area as Henry caressed the ball into the net for Frances winner against Brazil. I know if any defender had done that for any of the teams I played for they would have had the manager and other players cursing them forever more.

World Cup 2006 - Rubys Diner, Houston Airport, USA

What would I have done without Rubys Diner, Houston Airport, USA. I have become totally addicted to the world cup, although it's not been as good as many previous tournaments, I have still enjoyed every moment. So departing the tropics of Belize on Tuesday was a wrench as I was flying across the Gulf of Mexico while Germany played Italy in the first semi-final. With my family in tow we negotiated the once paranoid US Customs and border Control at Houston Airport in a breeze, only to bump into Rubys Diner at the next turn. Burger and Chips and more Plasma screens than Dixons, we sat down to see the final overtime of the Italy v Germany game.

It wasn't ideal but the crowd that had slowly formed around the diner were enthralled by the action and with a distinctly Italian bias the roars of approval made me feel content to have found a snippet of action that I was resigned to missing.

France v Italy would definitely have not been my prediction after the group stage; in fact I had hardly taken any notice of the sides before the quarter finals.

Zidane is one of the most complete players I have seen. He is so comfortable with the ball and drifts though games with ease, yet stamps his class all over it. (when he is in the mood). I'm sure the Italians will be preparing to minimize his impact on the game. And who knows, after 7 tough games in just 4 weeks Zidane may be starting to feel the pace. Lets hope that the players can make this an epic final with lots of goals and a game worthy of the world cup final.

World Cup 2006 - Europe shines

Where were Brazil today? The super cool french with their fancy flicks, solid tackling and razor sharp attacks just blew the famous Brazil side away. Thuram, Gallas, Makelele and Vieira were the perfect foil for Zidane who just oozed class today and outshone Ronaldhino in every way.

I just can't believe what I watched with Brazil hardly troubling the French keeper. With just 4 teams left (all european), who would bet against a Germany v France final now. The french were nearly eliminated in the first round scraping through the group stage. Since then they have found a steady rhythm to their play with Zidane prodding, poking and directing their play and they now look like the team that won the World Cup in 1998.

Parrot Fun in the Jungle

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Enough of the World Cup - Welcome to Paradise in Belize

Welcome to the Belize Jungle Dome

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World Cup 2006 - Penalties decide the tournament?

Why are England so bad at Penalty Shoot outs? This will probably be a headline in much of the press tomorrow. But it's true and yet again England has been dissappointed at the crucial stage of a tournament. Yesterday I watched the Germans, who were not at their best, grind out a result against Argentina, before knocking them out on penalties. They are as consistently good at winning penalty shoot outs as England are consistently bad.

I thought that in the England v Portugal game, the team played very well but there can be no excuse for what Rooney did (sent off for stamping on Carvalho), and I hope he got his ears singed by the other players in the dressing room. Even at 10 men England looked a decent force and had the chances to knock Portugal out.

Yet Englands tournament has been based around a rock solid defence, and a combative midfield which no team was able to break down. Looking back, Sven must wonder about his strikers, the bad luck with Owen departing early, Crouch not doing enough and Rooney just not up to the pace after his attempted come back. They just didn't have enough fire power in the team to make a dent in the opposition. I thought that his decision to bring on Carragher was a good one, presumably in the light of the impending penalty shoot-out. Yet he missed his penalty and Sven will go down in history as another manager who couldn't quite get the best out of his team.

I thought England had played well and made Portugal look a very average team, but when players like Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher miss penalties what can a manager do?

Where is the 2010 tournament?

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