50,000 members have registered and now the funds are being raised through the £35 subscription. I have no idea if this is the biggest waste of my hard earned £35 and the Web project seems to bring up more problems every time I think about it.
Playing Football Manager for Real
I loved playing Football Manager when I was a kid and have always enjoyed the fantasy football competitions in the newspapers, even when I was in them. All the Professional players would wait with anticipation as the newspapers rolled out their listings of players for the upcoming season. Seeing your name in the paper with a valuation of £3,000,000 is very exciting.
Football Clubs constantly battle to stay in close contact with their fans. Pooling a group of people together on the internet with the only common interest being to buy a football club is hardly a well worked business plan. There is no loyalty to the particular team, no history with the club and it will be difficult to make this a success.
Lee Power, the Chairman of Conference side Cambridge United said :
"It's just not workable to have 53,000 fans make decisions on behalf of a club," he said. "Most will have allegiances to other clubs. What's to stop our rivals from buying a significant stake in our club, and acting with vested interests?"
Good point. If your other team, the one that holds your heart-strings is playing the internet club, are you going to influence the selection of the side to the detriment of the teams performance?
he goes on :
"You can't just whisk up genuine commitment by charging £35," he said. "Fifty-three thousand new fans would be great, but are these people going to buy football kits, match programmes, hot dogs? That's what a club needs, not internet voting."
Barry Hearns thoughts on the project were equally downbeat :
"The idea is totally impractical," said Mr Hearn. "One-and-a-half million won't get you far in football these days."
"As far as I'm concerned, when you're running a football club, the ideal size of the ruling committee is one. I don't buy this mass voting nonsense; democracy and football don't mix."
Although this is an unusual idea, sports clubs are always looking for new ideas to rise above the opposition. Tech savvy supporters may just jump on board this idea. In Silicon Valley, regular rounds of fund raising for yet to be proved websites easily raise £10s of millions.
Don't believe me. Business.com recently sold for £170,000,000. It is hardly a great website and surely not as interesting as owning your own Football Team.
Google to buy a Football Club?
Football Clubs have been bought up by wealthy investors and Global Branding in Football is a vital part of creating success if you are one of the biggest clubs.
The internet can bridge this global gap instantly. Maybe Will Brooks, owner of the site has in mind bigger fish and will hawk his idea around the corridors of Silicon valley. Google or Yahoo could buy their own football club. In fact if the website can attract 10,000s of visitors every day (as it surely will if there are 50,000 members all checking in to vote on the team for saturday and discuss their ideas for the club), then Brooks will have turned a fun project into a goldmine.
Do the numbers
50,000 visitors a day could easily be turned into £500,000 per year in Google adsense revenues.
Referring to the differences in Alan Pardews and Jose Mourinhos tactical nous he suggests that -
"football management is 1% perspiration, 1% inspiration, and 98% luck. You can put the same team out every week, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. You could make the same changes at half-time every week, and get a completely different effect every time you try it"
It's an interesting argument and one that has received much feedback.
Here is my take based upon how I felt going into matches and what I saw at Professional Football Clubs.
By the time match day arrives, 95% of the preparation has been made for the game. The manager and his coaching staff have completed 95% of the work necessary to get the result.
Players have been prepared during the week, told their duties. The manager has done most of his work in the run up to the game. He has studied the opposition on tapes, watched live games, spoken to all his players who will participate in the match and advised them of anything to be expected or to specifically look out for on the day of the game.
What this means is that EVERY player in the team will have been told what to expect on the day of the game. Defenders will be advised how opposition attackers play, what parts of the field they occupy, the goalkeeper will try and study the oppositions penalty takers routine and try and figure where he will place the ball. In the event that the opposition has a Beckham in their midst, the manager and coaches will devise some kind of plan to protect the goal at free-kicks.
The pre-game build up during the week will also include ensuring the players are at the height of their fitness. This should include not draining the players energy too much during the training sessions before the game. If the team has travelled a long distance for an away game then the managers job is to make sure that he has allowed the players enough time to loosen up for the game. For example, after sitting on a coach for 7 hours on a Friday afternoon, travelling from London to Newcastle, players will be very stiff. Therefore a small training session is required to get this out of the players systems.
Another part of the preparation and vital part of a teams success is ensuring the manager has as many of his players available to him for selection. This means sensible management throughout the season so that he can pick his best team. No person personifies this more than Sam Allardyce, now at Newcastle United. Whilst at Bolton, Allardyce lost only 72 player days to injury, compared to an astonishing 340 days lost at Newcastle last season. It does not take an Einstein to figure out that more injuries to more players equals a poorer match day performance.
By the time Saturday arrives, I think that as Frankie says (and as my dad has insisted for many years) results can go many ways and any tom, dick or harry could make the team decisions. I agree. I think that this is very true because the nature of a football match is that there a million and one variables and no manager or computer can figure out how the result will go.
What matters is :
- how good are your players
- how fit are your players
- how prepared are your players
- how prepared is the team
None of the above is done on a Saturday. It's all done beforehand. So I would say that football management is :
- 90% Pre-match preparation which includes the quality, fitness and preparation of your players and team
- 1% Inspiration
- 1% Perspiration
- 8% Luck
If Pardew fails to deliver for Charlton this year it will be based around his ability or inability to get the best players out on the field in the peak of their physical condition and at the peak of their abilities. If he gets this right then the rest falls into place.
- Day 1 - played competitive game for 1 hour
- Day 2 - played competitive game in searing heat. 3 hours after game did stretches in the swimming pool for 20 minutes.
- Day 3 - total rest. Swimming and 20 minutes of stretching.
- Day 4 - Weight Training circuit for 1/2 hour. 3 sets of 5 or 10 for all muscle groups. Plus 3 sets of 30 sit-ups. 2 sets 10 back raises. plus 4 sets 10 single leg jumps on trampoline. swim in the pool for 1/2 hour with lots of stretching.
- Day 5 - Swimming for 1/2 hour plus stretches. Plus 3 sets single leg jumps on trampoline.
- Day 6 - Training on football pitch. 3 lap warm up. Stride out to half way line, 4 runs. Stride out to half way line and back, 2 runs. Stride out full pitch and back, 2 times. Duration 17 mins 16 secs. 2 laps and 1/2 hour in swimming pool stretching to warm down. 3 sets 30 sit-ups. 2 sets 10 back raises
- Day 7 - Total rest. swimming for ½ hour with stretches
- Day 8 - 3 lap warm up. Stride out to half way line, 4 runs. Stride out to half way line and back, 2 runs. stride out full pitch and back, 2 times. Duration 19 mins 38 secs. 2 lap warm down. Weights Training circuit for 1/2 hour. 3 sets of 5 or 10 for all muscle groups. Plus 3 sets 30 sit-ups. 3 sets 10 back raises. plus 4 sets 10 single leg jumps on trampoline. swim in the pool for 1/2 hour with lots of stretching.
- Day 9 - Total rest.
- Day 10 - Played competitive game in very hot weather.
- Day 11 - Total rest.
- Day 12 - Stamina Run for 30 minutes
- Day 13 - Training for 1 ½ hours. 5 lap warm up followed by various ball and running exercises. Then 3 sets of weights, all muscle groups and 3 sets of 30 sit-ups.
- Day 14 - Training for 1 ½ hours. 5 lap warm up followed by ball and running exercises. Then a ½ hour game.
- Day 15 - Total rest
- Day 16 - 30 Minute Stamina Run. Leg weights. 6 sets of heavy leg weights. Afternoon: ½ hour ball skills
- Day 17 - Morning: Training for an hour with ball skills. Afternoon: Friendly but competitive game. Played 90 mins
- Day 18 - Total rest
- Day 19 - Morning: Stamina Run for 30 minutes. Afternoon: 3 lap warm up with 20 minutes stretches. 5 sets heavy leg weights. 45 minutes ball skills and sprints.
- Day 20 - Total rest
- Day 21 - Morning Stamina Run for 30 minutes. 1/2 hour ball skills. Afternoon: 3 lap warm up and stretches with 20 minute ball skills.6 sets of 5 heavy leg weights. 6 sets of 30 sit-ups.
- Day 22 - 30 minute Stamina Run
- Day 23 - Total Rest
- Day 24 - Played competitive game in midday heat.
- Day 25 - Total Rest and Stretches in the Swimming Pool
- Day 26 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 50 minutes of ball skills, jumping and dynamic exercises. Afternoon 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 4 sets heavy weights for legs and upper body. Plus 4 sets 30 sit-ups.
- Day 27 - Total rest. 20 minutes stretching in Swimming pool
- Day 28 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hour of running, jumping and ball skills. Plus 3 sets of heavy leg and upper body weights. 3 sets 30 sit-ups.
- Day 29 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hour of ball skills, sprinting and stretching. 3 sets 30 sit-ups.
- Day 30 - Afternoon: Played a friendly match. 90 mins
- Day 31 - Morning: played in a match. 90 mins.
- Day 32 - Total rest
- Day 33 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hour of ball skills and sprints. Then 3 sets of heavy leg and upper body weights. 3 sets 30 sit-ups.
- Day 34 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 45 mins of ball skills and sprints. Afternoon 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 45 min ball skills and sprints. Plus 3 sets 30 sit-ups.
- Day 35 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by sprints. Half way line and back – 6 times. Full pitch and back – 3 times. Afternoon 30 minute stamina run followed by 3 sets heavy leg and upper body weights. 3 sets 15 sit-ups.
- Day 36 - Total rest.
- Day 37 - Morning. Played 90 minutes. Afternoon: 30 minutes sprinting exercises.
- Day 38 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hour of ball skills, sprinting and jumping exercises. Afternoon: 4 laps of the pitch with stretches. Plus 3 sets of heavy leg and upper body weights. 3 sets of 45 sit-ups.
- Day 39 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hour of ball skills and sprints. Plus 3 sets 45 sit-ups. Afternoon: 5 laps of pitch with stretches. 45 mins of balls skills and sprints. 5 sets 45 sit-ups.
- Day 40 - Afternoon: 4 laps of pitch with stretches. 1 hr of ball skills and sprinting. Stride outs to half way line and back. 5 times. Followed by 3 sets of heavy leg and upper body weights. 5 sets 45 sit-ups.
- Day 41 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by 1 hr ball skills and sprints. Plus 6 sets 60 sit-ups. Afternoon Stamina Run followed by 3 sets 45 sit-ups.
- Day 42 - 3 sets leg and upper body weights. Plus 5 sets 45 sit-ups.
- Day 43 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run. 3 sets 45 sit-ups.
- Day 44 - Played 90 minute match
- Day 45 - Total Rest
- Day 46 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run followed by and hour ball skills and sprints. Followed by 3 sets heavy leg and upper body weights. 5 sets 45 sit-ups. Afternoon: 6 lap warm up with stretches. 45 mins of sprints. Half way line and back and full pitch and back.
- Day 47 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run.
- Day 48 - 5 sets heavy leg and upper body weights.
- Day 49 - Morning 30 minute Stamina Run.
- Day 50 - 5 sets heavy leg and upper body weights
After the completion of this program I was able to fit in comfortably with a Professional teams daily training schedule. The only thing I was a bit short on was match practice at the highest level.
More Articles on Pre-Season Training Programs :
- Part 1 - Becoming a Footballer - From Ashill to Kettering,
- Part 2 - Realising the Football Dream - Signing for Newcastle United
Rhain Davis from, Brisbane, Australia has been spotted after his family put this video on You tube. He was spotted by Manchester United and is now under their guidance.
What a great player. Very gifted and looks so comfortable with the Football at his feet. Good Luck to the boy and congratulations to his family for their creative use of modern technology to further their boys chances of being a Professional Footballer.
I remember trying many different clever free kicks in training but we were never brave enough to put together some of the moves seen in this video. The timing and skills needed to pull off some of these free kicks is pinpoint and so accurate that you really cannot appreciate them until you have tried it yourself. Not to mention the team work involved and a good dose of luck.
"I prefer the whore that is your sister," Materazzi wrote in his yet-to-be-released autobiography, according to Italian news reports Saturday.
Materazzis "furbo" had to be family orientated to get the kind of reaction Zidane produced. I thought he might have spat at Zidane. Calling your sister a whore might even get a reaction from Borat but I still cannot believe Zidane fell for it. This scheming continues to fool the best players in the world as seen by Ronaldos sending off against Portsmouth, forcing Ferguson to admit that he fell into a trap as old as the game of football itself.
At the end of every season I would buy the club video that highlights the season and shows all the goals. I have West Bromwich Albions seasons from 1992/1993 up to 1997/1998, the year I transferred to Charlton Athletic.
I also have the Charlton promotion and championship season in 1999/2000. I have transferred all of these old videos on to DVDs and then to my computer, backing them up on an external hard drive. Now all I have to do is upload them to youtube and my football career is preserved forever.
Unfortunately my videos from Newcastle United in 1990/1991 and 1991/1992 have been destroyed by 6 years of mould and fungus from living in the tropics. I also neglected to purchase highlights of Charlton Athletics first season in the Premiership in 1998/1999 (I guess I was disappointed with the year and didn't want to be reminded of how crap that season was) and also forgot to buy the Premiership season highlights from 2000/2001.
Well life passes by and I am now keen to get this stuff down on a hard drive. Scoring goals at Highbury, White Hart Lane and other famous stadiums are parts of my Professional Football career that my children will love to see when they get older and something I should be proud of.
If any kind Charlton or Newcastle fans have copies of these missing seasons I would love to get them. Of course I will pay for the post and videos, so please email me at email@example.com if you can help.
So again here are the videos I am looking for :
Newcastle United Football Club Season - 1990/1991
Newcastle United Football Club Season - 1991/1992
Charlton Athletic Football Club Season - 1998/1999
Charlton Athletic Football Club Season - 2000/2001
I am on holiday in England and Holland and enjoying watching the start of the 2007/2008 Football season. I even got the chance to chat to BBC Radio 4 about my career and change of life after Football on Saturday Live with Hardeep Singh Kohli. Hardeep suggested several times about how I must be envious or jealous of players and the lifestyle they lead, citing David Beckham and Thierry Henry as examples. Although my career was cut short at the Premier League level and the heady heights of £15,000/week contracts I never feel envy, regret or jealousy about what could have been. It's a shame the interview was cut because we had a good discussion. The interview is on BBCs website : http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/saturdaylive/saturdaylive_20070811.shtml
Charlton have definitely suffered early season nerves after their first 2 games. My article about the media and fans expectations at Charlton Football Club highlighted the difficulties they may face this season and how I as a Football player experienced it last time Charlton had to climb back out of the Championship.
Charlton will definitely need to show the mental strength required of all pretenders to the throne after this early blip, although their plight is nothing compared to the expectations at White Hart Lane. Tottenhams failure to secure a win after their first 2 games has seen Martin Jol come under increasing scrutiny already. Even arch rival Arsene Wenger provided comfort to Jol after the pack of sportswriters closed in on Tottenhams early frailties.
If anything has been seen from the Premiership seasons first few games it is that 2 games means very little, the big clubs may be slightly mis-firing at the moment but their high calibre squads will push the quality sides up the table and I still stand by my Top 7 Premier League Predictions.
- Manchester United
- Liverpool Football Club
- Chelsea Football Club
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Newcastle United Football Club (If they keep Owen Fit)
- Arsenal Football Club
- Sunderland (surprise package)
Alan Hansens predictions. (Chelsea FC)
Tevez signing for United gives them an undoubted attacking edge over all the other teams in an already formidable United line up and I see them going from strength to strength over this coming season. (Manchester United thrash Home Team Football Club 14-0). It will be very close but I think that even with my predicted sensational transfer of the season by Chelsea to lure Beckham back from the MLS (Beckhams Major League Football mistake), the title will be red this year.
Will Signing Carlos Tevez make Manchester United untouchable
And my pick for the Championship? :
- Charlton (see my seasons predictions for Charlton)
- West Bromwich Albion
When I played professionally I used to have a little wager at the start of the Football season on who would win the various leagues. I would place a £100-£200 yankee bet at the local bookmakers which if it came in would bring a big return. Looking back now I believe that this was probably illegal and against the FA rules, but with all the corruption and scandal that is hitting the Leagues at the moment I doubt they would even bat an eyelid.
If I did win the 4 bet Yankee I would send a "friend" to pick up the winnings in case I was spotted by an observant fan. I have just returned to the UK for a months break so I might re-ignite my pre-season ritual and make it to the bookmakers one last time.
I remember in 1999, at the start of the season, Alan Curbishley was very nervous. It seemed to me that he knew the expectations on the club even though we had only graced the premier league for 1 unsuccessful season.
His first few team meetings were to drill into the squad that it was vital we got off to a good start in that 1999/2000 season. In pre-season and the early games I felt Curbs was over-anxious that we get off to a good start.
Curbs knew that as one of the sides that had been relegated from the Premier League we were expected by the media and by our own fans to be one of the front runners to get promotion. Life then was different for the club as Curbs had not spent big in the summer, signing only myself on a free transfer from West Brom and a few others to strenghten his squad.
This year, the 2007/2008 season will be very different down at the Valley. Charlton have had a long stay in the premier league, subsequently building a squad of higher calibre players than we had in 1999, upon whom the expectations of the fans will be huge.
The bonus Curbs had then in 1999 was that his squad was a good Championship squad, full of experienced players from that division such as Richard Rufus, Clive Mendonca, John Robinson, Mark Kinsella, Steve Brown, Myself and many others who were competent playing at that level. This allowed us to put together a strong season of consistent play as we marched towards promotion and the championship title.
Many of Charltons players will not know life in the Championship and it could be a big surprise to them. With a squad of higher paid players, expectations from the fans will no doubt be very high and emotions will be tense in the early stages of the season as everyone wonders whether Alan Pardews inherited team have what it takes to scrap their way out of the Division.
Pardews side will need a strong start to ensure that they live up to their role as early season favourites and get the crowd on their side. What Pardew will be keen to avoid is a shaky start which will tough on his squad. We worked very hard in the 1999/2000 season and it showed as we dominated the league. Our players were very fit, well organized, played well together, but more than anything mentally very strong.
Pardew has proved himself to be a great manager in the Championship and he will definitely know what it takes to get the addicks back into the Premier League this season. Charlton deservedly are one of the favourites for promotion and lets hope the team hits the ground running on the opening day. I will be watching the season unfold from another continent and will not be nearly as nervous as the last time Charlton tried to climb out of the Championship League.
Will Charlton Athletic Football Club get promoted?
Now cast yourself forward to the 2007/2008 season as United take the field against a gutsy lower team from the Premier League called Home Team FC. (take your pick from any side outside the top 4 or 5 elite premier league sides).
Manchester United field their strongest side with Tevez, Ronaldo, Saha, Hargreaves, Scholes and Giggs providing devastating rapid passing and moving, honed by their pre-season football training sessions.
At home Manchester United find it more difficult to break teams down because the opposition play with a more defensive attitude. But Home Team FC are the hosts and under pressure from an expectant crowd they have to attack the Reds.
Manchester United play with a sense of freedom and after 5 minutes Ronaldo puts them 1 up. Ronaldo is getting baited by the home team fans who still can't forgive him for his 2006 World Cup antics, but needless to say the PFA player of the year rises above this and continually eludes his markers.
Several late tackles by Home Team FC defenders earn them yellow cards. After just 15 minutes another bad tackle, this time against Tevez reduces Home Team FC to 10 men. Manchester United are in full flow scoring several more goals before the half hour mark.
Billy Bulldog, the heart and soul of Home Team FCs midfield and player of the year from the previous season is charging around the field trying to get close to Manchester Uniteds superstars. Home Team FC's own foreign imports are conspicuous by their absence and not "digging in" for the teams cause.
"Twat the dago *&$@&*? " (fill in the accent) bellows a Home Team FC fan to Billy Bulldog. Billy, frustrated by his teams inability to get into the game, rallies to the Fans cry and smashes into Tevez, leaving the Argentinian in agony on the floor. Another Red card for Home Team FC.
30 minutes gone and Home Team FC are 4-0 down and with only 9 players on the field they are in a desperate state.
Manchester United score another 3 goals before half time and relax in the dressing room with a 7-0 lead.
Home Team FC substitute their star foreign striker who has not touched the ball all day and play with a 4-4-0 formation in the second half. It doesn't stop United from notching another 2 quick goals after just 10 minutes of the second half. 9-0 to Manchester United.
Manchester United, full of players who need little coaching or encouragement to keep the ball, pass the ball from left back to center half to right back, back to center half, into midfield, back to the right full back and so on, exhausting Home Team FC's players.
The key to playing against a team with only 10 men (or 9) is to keep possession and make the opposition work hard chasing the ball. Too many times 10 men teams inspirationally survive because the 11 men teams do not move the ball and keep the penalized side working. After an hour of chasing a ball with one less player a side will wither.
United string together 172 passes and keep the ball for a full 5 minutes of play. At one point Rio Ferdinand actually sits down on the center circle, only to be lectured by Alex Ferguson for his arrogance and disrespect to Home Team FC.
Ferguson brings on Solksjaer for the final 15 minutes of the game and the little Norwegian scores 4 goals in just 9 minutes of play to bring the scoreline to an unlucky 13 for Home Team FC.
Van der Sar, Manchester Uniteds Goalkeeper, scorers their 14th goal from the penalty spot in the final minute of the game, after a tired and desperate Home Team FC defender lunges at Tevez and brings down the diminutive Argentine striker.
The stats show United had 78% possession in the first half and 84% possession of the Football in the second half.
Ok, so this is all fantasy but I really think that Manchester United could do this to an unlucky team this year, especially if they do secure the services of Tevez. What do you think?
Could Manchester United beat a Premier League Football Team 14-0 this season?
Is Messis goal better than Maradonas v England in 1986?
Messi's Maradona style goal vs Getafe
Lawyers from Manchester United United, West Ham United, The Premier League and Media Sport Investment (a subsidiary of a secretive investment firm registered in the British Virgin Islands, who initially brought Tevez to the Premier League) will be fudging their way through Tevez's affairs including who owns his registration. Read about the murky side of Footballs agents and middlemen in the Tevez and Mascherano transfers : Click here.
Any player capable of pulling the strings for the incredibly talented Argentinian side must be worth signing but with Ferguson's attacking options already bursting at the seams with Ronaldo, Rooney (http://www.waynerooney.com/), Saha, Nani, Solskjaer, one has to wonder how Ferguson is going to juggle all this talent. What seems clear is that he is building a team which will display lightning fast attacks and interplay that will at times be dizzying and breathtaking to watch. I would not be surprised to see a double digit scoreline this year in Uniteds favour if they catch a team off-guard.
No doubt this flair will be matched by the sides fiery Latino temperaments, although I doubt that this will cause Ferguson too many sleepless nights as his dream of collecting the worlds finest footballing geniuses on his Manchester United doorstep come true.
In the spirit of fair play to the rest of the premiership teams, I hope that United do not get their man, although the irresistible thought of Tevez, Ronaldo, Giggs, Hargreaves, Scholes, Nani et al, strutting their stuff is something that every Football Manager can only dream of (unless your Ferguson)
Will Signing Carlos Tevez make Manchester United untouchable
Vote on who got the best deal by signing Thierry Henry (Barcelona) or Darren Bent (Tottenham)
Who got the best deal - Barcelona or Tottenham?
Fans of both clubs must be absolutely devastated about both losing these players. On reflection I think that Arsenal fans must be more disappointed.
Bent a great goalscorer, was always going to leave Charlton, even if they stayed in the Premier League. The £16,500,000.00 they receive for him will go a long way to providing strength in depth for the club to return to the premiership next season. (Is Relegation that bad for Charlton Athletic Football Club). Alan Pardew has to build his team based on his own beliefs and as good as Bent is, his sale will not have as huge an impact on Charlton's aspirations as Henry's departure from Arsenal.
Arsenal on the other hand are one of the Premier Leagues elite clubs, challenging every year for honours. Losing Henry is an even bigger blow than losing Patrick Vierra. 226 goals in 8 seasons at the highest Football level is a phenomenal strike rate and one that will be very difficult to replace. All Arsenal fans must be wondering what the clubs aspirations are after losing one of the worlds best players.
Tottenham or Barcelona? Barcelona have paid a premium for a player in his peak, but who last season started to show signs of injury troubles. It could be long term that Tottenham have got great value signing a 23 year old outstanding English striker who is only going to get better and better. Everyone knows what Henry is capable of and Henry can certainly bridge the fine line between challenging for success and being champions. Long term though I think Tottenham have got the best deal.
Who got the best deal - Barcelona or Tottenham?
Football Training techniques had come a long way when I retired in 2001, from when I first became a Professional Football player in 1992.
Players Fitness levels are one of the first items to be assessed. Typically this would involve checking the players weight, fat levels and heart rate based upon the end of year readings from the previous season. Unlike most players I used to return to pre-season training a few pounds under my playing weight, which was about 180 lbs. The reason was that I used to find it hard keeping my weight up due to any of the muscle mass I had put on during the previous season falling off me.
Most players were the opposite, many accumulating a few inches around their bellies and butts. A sure sign of a summer of over-indulgence. In the lower leagues some players would come back looking like Darts players, although the more elite professionals would never allow themselves to become so out of shape.
Once the formalities of fitness levels had been checked and the guilty parties fined or warned by the Football club management the serious business of getting footballers back into shape for the coming season would get under way.
The first few weeks would involve a lot of running. Long distance drills up to 2 to 3 miles to get the heart, lungs and legs pumping again. Managers would have different approaches to the speed at which the intensity of pre-season training would increase but Alan Curbishley at Charlton gets my vote for the thoughtfulness of him and his teams approach to getting the players fit. They were in no hurry and would steadily build up the intensity of the running. A big consideration for the coaching staff is that they want fit players but not at the expense of getting them injured.
Very long warm ups and warm downs are an essential part of the pre-season program allowing the players bodies to adapt to training programs. Scattered between the warm ups and warm downs would be stomach burning sit-up repetitions to harden the mid-torsos of the players. It would not be unusual to pound out 600-700 sit ups in a session, inducing searing pain through a players stomach. I have seen many players give up or throw up (or both) in these sessions.
Rest after a training session is vital and in fact you don't really have much choice due to legs, stomach and body generally aching so much that you just go home and collapse for the rest of the day, knowing that tomorrow will be the same again.
A Football might appear as a gift from the coaches to lift the spirits of the exhausted players. After all we are called Football players and the incentive to play a bit of "ball" was often needed to get players through the weary fitness training.
Another incentive was the pre-season tour. I think the whole club looked forward to this as it was a chance to escape the daily routine, press and have a bit of fun a long the way. Pre-season tours are notorious for players getting into trouble.
I saw the captain of one of my teams revived on the 18th hole of the golf course at 7am by some of our players after falling asleep on his way home to the room at the hotel.
The Manager had put a curfew of 10pm on the players, allowing us to go into the closest town for a few drinks and watch a movie. The bus driver waited for us and a happy and slightly inebriated bunch of footballers got back on the team coach at 9.45pm to get back to the Golf Resort we were staying at in Cornwall. The manager was waiting for us and after checking the numbers was satisfied that we had all returned. Little did he know that a small group of our squad had ordered taxis for 10.30pm to come to the Hotel and take the players back into town. Our captain (no names) and this small group spent the night in the club and enjoying the local beer. The rest of us woke up early the next day and found him asleep in the bunker of the 18th hole.
Not wanting to get him in trouble we took him back to his room and did our best to sober him up but our manager had already caught wind of his escapades. He was not pleased and although we pleaded with him to leave the player asleep he insisted he trained with the squad. We all took it in turns to hold him up as we went through our running exercises, a player on each side of our captain, dragging him around the training field.
Apart from the occasional indiscretion most players would be respectful of the job in hand and enjoyed the pre-season tour. The training is intense but lots of games would be organized so the players could start honing their skills for the season. I always felt like I needed 6 or 7 full 90 minute Football matches in the pre-season to gain my full fitness. Some players would be up to full speed and ready for August kick off in as few as 3-4 full games.
I would find myself running for the sake of running in pre-season games just to boost my fitness levels. The results of the games were not so important for the players as they would be for the fans, who would be devastated if Newcastle United lost to Gateshead or West Bromwich Albion lost to Halesowen, in local derbies.
4-5 weeks into the pre-season and players get an inkling if they will figure in the managers plans for the upcoming season. If you had played in most of the pre-season games then everything looked good. If you had been left out of a few matches, the little voice inside your head would start to question you whether you were in with a chance of making the starting line up in August. As a striker goals make a huge difference and a hatful of goals in pre-season would be great for a strikers confidence.
My professional career lasted 10 years and I only ever missed one pre-season. This was at Newcastle United when I broke a metatarsal in my foot. I missed the pre-season fitness program and found it very difficult to catch up, something that a lot of players will testify to. Pre-season football training is an intense, grueling 4-6 weeks of hard work but well worth the effort and players that survive the program will be in great shape for the upcoming season.
A Typical Football Players Training Day
Plyometrics and Football Training
Many of the top Football Clubs have been snapped up by mega-rich billionaires, with the appeal and prosperity of Europes wealthiest league dependent upon it's ability to reach further into the corners of the world, just as the Roman Empire did, to fund the ever increasing salaries (£200,000/week anyone?) and dreams of the clubs.
It seems to me that Football in England is now falling under the same hype and copycat behaviour as the crazy Dot-com boom and bust or the Californian Gold Rush. Why on earth are wealthy benefactors buying into the Premier League Football teams.
After Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool have been snapped up, Arsenal are sure to follow. After that though reports of other teams being bought are appearing all over the news.
West Ham have been bought and are being accused of driving Premier League wages sky high, reaching an all time high of £1.1 Million Average Salary for a Premier League Football player. West Ham are a long way from being a top 4 club and the investment needed to reach this plateau is enormous. Yet the hammers are not alone. Blackburn Rovers are reported to be in talks with an anonymous US investor, Manchester City are being courted by the former Thai Prime Minister and Birmingham City are thought to be in talks with Lakshmi Mittal, the worlds 5th richest man.
With all due respect to all these teams, there can only be one Premiership winner and only a few clubs who will make it into Europe where they can boost their Broadcasting Revenues. Manchester City, Blackburn and Birmingham City are not going to leapfrog Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal in the near future unless the worlds 5th richest man does decide to duke out, head to head with Abramovich. That would be a battle worth watching. Maybe Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft could join the battle also after his reported interest in buying Southampton. He is Americas 5th richest man and between them these 3 could fight a great Premiership Cash match, pushing the salaries of the premier league football gladiators closer to the £200,000/week mark.
A book about the Leeds United fall from grace should be posted to all prospective Football Club purchasers, with West Ham and Newcastle United surely the most vulnerable.
Newcastle United Football Club in constant crisis and flux is destined for a choppy future, with millions wasted on players, and manager after manager coming through the door. Jean Alain Boumsong, signed from Rangers for an incredible fee of £8 Million seems to sum up the ludicrous amounts of money flowing through and out of the game into the pockets of the Premiership Emperors. Quite incredibly this £8 Million player was signed by Rangers for NOTHING and sold to Newcastle for a handsome profit.
United, a club that attracts a massive fan base is caught up to its neck in the corruption scandal, with one of its former managers (Graeme Souness) and its current manager (Sam Allardyce) both implicated deeply in the corruption and the club itself guilty of inconsistencies in its evidence to the report. Mike Ashleys continued purchasing of Newcastles shares must be seen as very risky.
And the agents who have played a pivotal role in this upward spiral of benevolent behaviour are now being pulled up by the independent report from Lord Stevens, targeting numerous mis-handling of transfer by Football Clubs, Managers and Agents alike.
It seems that the foundations for the fall of the Premier League Empire, although not imminent yet are being laid and the "House of Premiership" is on shaky grounds.
When the dust settles on this latest round of inflated cash incentives for the clubs, we will see a lot of losers and I fear business as usual for Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Many successful businessman will be licking their wounds over bad Premier League investments ruing the day they joined the 2006/2007/2008 Premiership Boom.
Leeds Uniteds and Ken Bates incredible stunt to go into administration and receive a 10 point penalty in the 2006/2007 season after already being relegated made me wonder about the nature of sports and our willingness to bend the rules. Loophole closed by Football League.
More recently Lionel Messi, successor to Maradonas throne, produced this amazing piece of handy work against Espanyol at the Nou Camp. What is it about them little Argentinians and "The Hand of God"
I have played a lot of golf in the last few weeks (improving at Golf by learning from Football) with my playing partner and his friends, enjoying their company and improving my golf in leaps and bounds.
I was invited to play with someone else a few days ago and so the 2 of us set off for our round. He is a good golfer, playing off an 8 handicap, and in fact gave me some decent tips in a previous friendly game on how to improve my golfing skills.
After a few holes in I noticed a discrepancy in his scoring. Wildy mis-hit tee-shots and lost balls seemed to have no effect on his score as he bogeyed and even made par on several holes where he should have been scoring 7s, 8s and 9s. His mathematics seemed to make no sense to me even though he only had to count in single digits. I probably should have said something as another lost ball resulted in a par but this was just a friendly game and I didn't really care what his score was. He completed the course in a respectable round of 86 vs my 95.
I was a professional Footballer and so I have a fierce competitive spirit inside me and losing is not in my vocabulary. I like to win even friendly games of golf so I am sure I would have beaten this 8 handicapper had he scored correctly. This was my first introduction into the world of the golf cheat.
My second introduction was more of a confrontation. Only a few days later I was invited into a Tournament, I was partnered with a Lady golfer and another man. He was terrible and knew it. Nice fellow though and we enjoyed a bit of banter around the course.
The woman on the other hand was a pain in the butt. She was a decent golfer similar in standard to me, so we had a small competition between us as our scores tallied most of the way around the course. Yet again her scores were wayward. The 6th hole she triple bogeyed for a 7, but confidently claimed a 6. I asked her again for her score and she repeated "6". Ok, I thought I am going to have to watch her score now.
A few holes later she called a 6 again when she had a 7. I questioned her and she started to get frosty with me and was adamant she had a 6. She was pissing me off now and the friendly smiles had disappeared and we were now at war.
Half way through the next hole I asked her how many shots she had taken. "Are you counting my score" was her response.
"Yes" I said firmly.
"Well please stop, It puts me off my game to count".
"Well, we seem to be counting the scores differently so we should keep a track as we go along" I told her. Deathly silence from the lady and we continued to play.
She played a good round of golf however and there were no more problems until the 15th hole. She was in with a chance of winning the tournament and we seemed to be getting on a bit better. Then on the 15th hole she totalled screwed up, ending up with an 8.
I knew her score but thought I would ask.
"What did you get".
"Oh, I don't know".
"It was an 8" I said.
"7 or an 8" she mumbled under her breath, pissed off with herself for screwing up but still wanting to cheat and get the point for her Stapleford score.
"It was an 8" I said and went through her shots.
That was it. She had blown up now and started ranting about how she didn't need to win this tournament, and that the money wasn't important to her. She was especially annoyed as I described one of her shots as a mis-hit. I ignored her and carried on the rest of my game.
Anyway on the 18th hole she apologized to me for being so horrible and said that she was in menopause and that she was irritable and couldn't concentrate. She shook my hand in apology but it didn't excuse her from cheating her way around the course.
I started wondering about the inherent nature of people to cheat. In 2 instances, one in a competitive match and the other in a non-competitive golf game I played against 2 people who seemed to have no guilty conscience about blatant cheating. And I have only just started to play golf seriously so I wondered how many more people actually cheat in Golf.
A survey in America in 2002 among some of the country's leading chief executives asked Two questions : 1. Have you ever cheated at golf? 2. Are you annoyed when other people cheat at golf? 82 per cent answered "yes" to both.
Now, I am standing on my soapbox, discrediting a couple of golfers for cheating as if I am a saintly do-gooder. Yet when I played football I was happy to get away with whatever I could. In training I would always try and cheat to win sprints, jumping the whistle, pushing people out of the way. In Professional games I would push and shove and hold defenders shirts, punch or elbow a player if needed be. I would argue that this was not blatant cheating, a more suitable description might be called professionalism, which means "doing what you can within the boundaries of the rules to gain a competitive advantage". aka Messi and Maradona.
In Football you are constantly battling to gain the edge in training and on Match Days. However a referee will pick up most infringements as all players are trying gain the competitive advantage. Occasionally decisions are missed such as the infamous Maradona incident who declared that this was the hand of god, not in fact his deliberate hand ball to score against England.
Amateur Golfers are a bunch of Cheating b*******
Football cheating pales in significance to Golfers. Especially Amateur Golfers who are able to drop balls, pick balls up and move them, conveniently find them when the ball is quite obviously lost and many other infringements of the game. It seems that Amateur Golfers are indeed a bunch of cheating B******s.
Telegraph - Cheating at Golf
Telegraph - Cheating at Football
What is so clear is the awareness and unselfishness of the players and the cohesion of the team.
On the training ground one touch football as seen in these videos is the mainstay of practice sessions and it must be an absolute joy for the coaches of these teams to see this type of football transferred from the Training ground to a match day game. Every Manager I played for had a different approach to the game of Football but one thing they would always agree on was this philosophy of passing the ball quickly and moving. When all 10 outfield players do this effectively there is no stopping a team.
Real Madrid have hinted there is a get out clause in Beckhams contract with LA Galaxy. I suggested that after Beckhams fantastic return to form that the top Football clubs of Europe would start to show interest in him and seek a way round his LA Galaxy contract. The Real President is reported as saying "We need to sit down with Beckham, his representatives and with (Real sporting director Predrag) Mijatovic, look at this clause, and decide between us."
Beckham has been inspirational in driving Real Madrid towards another La Liga title and has also proved himself again for England. After showing what he is capable of at the highest level in Football, surely playing MLS Soccer is going to be a huge come down for him. No matter how many titles he wins at LA Galaxy nothing he will do in the USA will really compare to winning La Liga with Real Madrid or returning to the Premiership for the final few years of his career with a team like Chelsea FC.
Beckhams mega bucks Football deal in the USA cannot be his motivating factor and I believe he will be torn when it finally comes to moving across the Atlantic. A player with his passion and now a rejuvenated belief that he can still perform at the top level will surely have second thoughts on playing in the below par MLS Soccer League.
Players of Beckhams quality do not become available very often and I would be very surprised if the top clubs are not moving heaven and earth to get him.
"So the only thing I can tell you is right now I am an Arsenal player but I cannot deny it's nice to hear about Milan." said Henry, leaving the door slightly open. I hope he stays at Arsenal as Wenger has been slowly rebuilding his squad and a fully fit Henry could spearhead a great season for the gunners.
More Football club owners sell their shares. Alan Sugar has cashed in to the tune of £25 million with Freddie Shepherd getting £37.6 Million for his 28% of Newcastle United Football Club. The Premier League Football Gold Rush continues.
Xabi Alonso has signed a long term contract at Liverpool joining Gerrard, Carragher and Reina. Liverpool seem to have been a bit slower at making new summer signings but keeping their current players is equally important
Chelsea have not done much in the Transfer market yet and even look close to losing Arjen Robben to Real Madrid. I always thought Robben provided great variety to Chelseas game and I hope he stays.
You tube continues to be sued by everyman and his dog. The English Premier League have now been joined by Cherry Lane Music Publishing (owners of Elvis Presley copyrights), French Football and the Tennis Federations. Viacom, owners of MTV started the legal free for all and the German football Bundesliga seem set to follow also. Google, owners of You tube don't seem to be too bothered with CEO Eric Schmidt claiming these are just Business Negotiations. Google will probably cut deals with all these associations to share advertising revenues from all of the unlicensed sports videos now showing up on You Tube.
Scott Parker joined West Ham and I am very surprised that Sam Allardyce let him go. Curbishley must be delighted to get Parker for £7 million, good value in the current market and with Dean Ashton returning to fitness I doubt West Ham will be Premier League struggles this season.
David Beckham must be regretting his move to LA Galaxy (Of course he is earning a fortune but then he is already a multi-millionaire), even though Alexi Lalas said they will drive him to the airport for his International flights back to the UK. After returning to the England team in fine form a career in the MLS is hardly great preparation for top class football. It wouldn't surprise me if he returns to the Premier League next year.
The top clubs and managers must have looked at Beckhams performances and wonder if he could be lured back to the Premier League. Chelsea would suit him as his superstar appeal would do wonders for Chelsea Football Clubs Global branding. And if anyone can afford him it's Abramovich. I wonder what the get out clause is on Beckhams LA Galaxy contract?
Fernando Torres - Atletico Madrid
Amantino Mancini - Roma
Giuseppe Rossi - Parma
Scott Sinclair - Plymouth
Peter Crouch - Liverpool
Juan Pablo Arenas - Chile
Shota Arveladze - AZ Alkmaar
Thierry Henry - Arsenal
Zaltan Ibrahimovic - Inter
Wayne Rooney - Manchester UTD
David Nugent - Preston North END
Pato - Brazil
The Fink Tank Predictor provides Forecasts and Ranking systems for Professional Football Clubs in Europe. It is a statistical model based on more than 5 years of scores. Player rankings are calculated by simulating the season repetitively and removing players from the equation and replacing them with players of an average score. Then they were able to calculate how many points each individual player added to his team.
By also factoring a players injury record (after all, what good is a player if he only plays 10 games a season) a computer model of the top players in Europe was made.
No prizes for guessing who came top in the English Premier League. The PFA voters were right to give the accolade to Cristiano Ronaldo (voted PFA Player of the year and PFA young Player of the year). Listed below
- Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United Football Club
- Frank Lampard - Chelsea Football Club
- Gilberto Silva - Arsenal Football Club
- Petr Cech - Chelsea Football Club
- Jans Lehmann - Arsenal Football Club
- Paul Scholes - Manchester United Football Club
- Tim Howard - Everton Football Club
And bottom of the list? Kevin Davies - Bolton Football Club
It sounds astonishing to think that a Premier League player can command £200,000 a WEEK, yet this is the figure that is being talked about by the Deloitte Report on the Financial state of the Football.
Television Rights Deals are spiralling upwards, inevitably pushing Players wages upwards and the author of Deloittes report suggests that it will not be long before a player commands a £200,000/week Salary. The mind boggles that an average Premiership player and Journeymen (players who move from Club to Club) could then earn £50,000/week. Far fetched I hear you cry. Yet the money continues to pour into the game at a breakneck speed as the Premier League Football appeal spread across the world.
The English league is dwarfing its Italian, German and Spanish peers, with Match day, Sponsorship and Broadcast revenues reaching £1.4 Billion in the 2005/2006 season. The Serie A Italian League generated £1 Billion, falling well short of the English games financial windfall.
Perhaps these numbers explain the success of English clubs in the Champions league with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all reaching the final 4 this season.
Chelsea have spent big over the last few years backed by their owners generosity, yet Manchester United are not falling behind, having already spent £35 Million this week on Anderson and Nani, plus quite probably another £17 Million on Owen Hargreaves and the 2006/2007 season has only just ended.
With the newly negotiated TV deal kicking in this season the premier league clubs will be receiving £2.7 Billion over the next 3 years and the spending will not be stopping yet. The highly lucrative Television Rights from abroad will boost even further the amount of money the clubs have at their disposal, pushing towards the first predicted £10,000,000 a year salary.
- In 2005/2006 Football Agents scooped a noteworthy £50 Million for brokering all these deals.
- The general opinion is that Derby Countys victory against West Bromwich Albion is worth an extra £60 Million to them.
- Manchester United sell Match day suites for up to £150,000/season
- Match day attendance in the Premier League is 92%
- Manchester United have an estimated 75 Million fans worldwide with 41 Million residing in Asia
- The Premiership had a weekly global audience of 78 Million Football fans in the 2006/2007 season
- 650,000 South Korean Football Fans have signed up for a branded Manchester United Credit Card
It's very hard to get an understanding of all these numbers and what they mean in real terms. My dad has been telling me all his life how it's not a fair game and that it cannot continue (referring to wages of players) and that ticket prices are too expensive. Yet is does continue and in fact Match day income is not the biggest earner for the Premiership Clubs anymore with Broadcasting rights providing the bulk of their income. Football has come a long way since the cloth cap days and there is certainly no turning back to these bygone eras, ridiculed in the Harry Enfield Video below :
He has made his decision to stand up for the small club, not because he doesn't want to watch the big games but because he believes it is just plain wrong that people earn this kind of money. He quit watching Premier League Football, cancelled his Skysports subscription and now follows Kings Lynn Football Club week in and week out. The football isn't so good but it is still exciting and it doesn't cost him a large chunk of his weekly pension to see the games.
Perhaps it isn't fair anymore. Only as far back as 1992 the TV income was split between the 92 Football League Clubs. Today a staggering 90% goes to the Premier League, with 7% going to the Championship and 3% to League 1 and 2. (Barnet Football Club Chairman - Tony Kleanthous on the state of English Football)
Maybe though nothing has really changed. The big clubs still have to get their players. Of course their net is cast ever further looking for the best young recruits and this is not so good for the small English clubs as the money leaves the country. However money still pours down to the lower leagues through Transfers. This is where the smaller clubs have to be run well and managed efficiently.
This is also the lifeblood of football. Without the small clubs, managers do not learn their art, players do not build their skills and perfect their trade, coaches do not gain experience. After all Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce, Michael Owen, Frank Lampard et al, did not just appear from thin air. My Father may have lost faith in Football but it may be just that the structure of the game has changed. The smaller clubs will be feeder clubs to the big clubs, and in effect this is what has always happened, as the best move up the Footballing ladder and the worse slide back down, whether you be a club, manager, player or coach.
It will take longer to break into the imaginary elite of football for the rest of the clubs as the gap between the Premier League and the rest of the English Clubs continues to grow. Nevertheless the state of the English game, relative to the rest of Europe seems to be positive, with the Championship being declared the Fifth Richest League in Europe with an annual turnover of £318,000,000.
It's not just the smaller English clubs that can cry foul. The massive buying power of the Premier Leagues elite is also giving them a huge advantage over the rest of the European clubs. It looks like Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have very healthy futures ahead of them. So long as they keep one eye out for the less fortunate teams all should continue to bode well in the English game or Football will simply cease to exist without the whole Footballing structure in place.
And is it worth it? Well you be the judge.