Charlton Athletic and Arsenal lose their Football superstars

Footballs longest running summer transfer sagas are over (except perhaps Michael Owens Football transfer) as Thierry Henry and Darren Bent make their moves to Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.

Fans of both clubs must be absolutely devastated about both losing these players. On reflection I think that Arsenal fans must be more disappointed.


Darren Bents Replacement

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.




How do you replace Henry?


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.


Who got the Best deal?


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 Pre-Season Training is coming

The end of June or early July marks the start of pre-season training for Football teams across the country and believe me there will be a lot of reluctant players trudging back into the training grounds.

Football Training Techniques


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.

Beer Bellies

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.

Warming up, Warming down and Puking


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.

Relief


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.

Curfew


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.

Ready for the Football Season


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

40 Yard Football Free Kick

El Salvador vs Trinidad & Tobago. Amazing considering the Footballer took such a short run up.

40 Yard Free Kick - Football Video



Even Roberto Carlos would be proud of that

Roberto Carlos best Free Kick ever

The Collapse of the Premier League Football Empire

What is going on in the Premier League? Just as the Roman Empire spread itself too thin on the ground and collapsed amid much corruption and double crossing it seems that the English Premier League is awash with dirty deeds and mis-appropriated funds.

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.

Football and Golf cheats - Are people just born to bend the rules?

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"




Golf Cheats

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.


The numbers don't add up

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.


Professional Footballers learning to Cheat



Competition Time

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.


Are you counting my score?

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.


Don't play Golf with Menopausal women

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.


Sports Cheats

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.


The Hand of God





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.

Resources

Telegraph - Cheating at Golf

Telegraph - Cheating at Football

Football passing to make a Coach Drool (Video)

This video shows everything that a Coach can dream of from his team. Individual players can always produce moments of magic but Team work like this is perfected on the training field. The willingness of the players to "pass and move" a well used Football mantra is evident in these videos.






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.

Beckhams Major League Soccer Mistake?

David Beckham is now being courted by Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon who in January snubbed Beckhams chances of playing for Real Madrid again.

Free Kick Genius




Get out clause


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."

BBC Article
Telegraph Article

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.

Football News

Thierry Henry is being linked to AC Milan, which would be a massive blow to Arsenal if they let him go. How do you replace a proven goalscorer like him? I felt they made a big mistake in letting Patrick Vierra leave a few years ago and Henry departing would be another big loss.


Thierry Henrys Football Skills





"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.


Thierry Henry Talking about being a Professional Footballer





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?

12 Great Goals from around the world of Football (Video)



featuring

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

Top 7 Premier League Football Players from 2006/2007



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



Top 7 Premier League Footballers


  1. Cristiano Ronaldo - Manchester United Football Club
  2. Frank Lampard - Chelsea Football Club
  3. Gilberto Silva - Arsenal Football Club
  4. Petr Cech - Chelsea Football Club
  5. Jans Lehmann - Arsenal Football Club
  6. Paul Scholes - Manchester United Football Club
  7. Tim Howard - Everton Football Club

And bottom of the list? Kevin Davies - Bolton Football Club


Resources

Last 10 Escribbler Posts

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