Sunday, April 13, 2014

Liverpool v Manchester City
jamesbarker6:33 AM 0 comments

Liverpool versus Manchester City, April 2014 
Full Match Review - Final Score 3 - 2

First Half update 
This author would certainly dub this match as the most crucial and exciting one in the season as it could be the turning point for either teams. If Liverpool wins this match against City and go on to secure victory for their remaining matches, the title is finally theirs for the keeping. The same goes for City. 

Fellow title contenders Chelsea will be aiming for a draw though that does not seem likely given how Liverpool took the lead in the first half. A calmly taken shot by youngster Raheem Sterling in the 6th minute and a header by Martin Skrtel soon after gave the home side a much needed boost.

Joe Hart made a brilliant save from a header by Steven Gerrard who was astonishingly left unmarked right in front of goal. Not to be outdone, Mignolet later saved a shot from Fernandinho. 

A plaintive sight, and definitely a notable miss, for the City side was the departure of Yaya Toure, the key figure of City's midfield, who seemed to have some difficulty with his groin injury. He had shown signs of difficulty early in the match, and was later substituted by Javier Garcia. His departure from the field in a droopy form, clearly disappointed to be out due to injury, was applauded by both sides of the bleachers. After all, no one likes to witness such a sorry sight of a great footballer leaving, especially in a titanic encounter. 

In the later part of the first half, City showed signs of retaliation in their counter-attacks, giving much trouble to the Liverpool defence. A corner in the 42nd minute saw keeper Mignolet missing a punch on the ball which was later cleared by consecutive headers from Sterling and Glen Johnson before Mignolet finally took control of the situation. 

The remaining 45 minutes look to be a stern test for Liverpool.

Second-half update: 
City clawed their way back to equalise following a disallowed goal earlier from David Silva as the ball had drifted past the line. Nonetheless, Nasri and Silva combined to ensure that City remain in the running for the title.

But Coutinho ensured that his side was secured victory with a perfectly aimed volley upon first touch, leaving Vincent Kompany shaking his head in vain as the Liverpool players sped towards Coutinho for a triumphant celebration.

Yet, the drama was not over. Jordan Henderson, perhaps in a rash attempt, took a two-footed lunge which cost him a red card in the 92nd minute, leaving Liverpool with ten men with 3 minutes of injury time left to play.

Manager Brendan Rodgers helped stall some time, choosing to substitute the hero Coutinho with veteran player Lucas.

As the whistle blew to signal the end of the match, the Liverpool players once again rejoiced in celebration together with the boisterous home support which possibly played a huge role in the game.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Premier League Weekend Update
jamesbarker7:04 PM 0 comments

Just as Manchester United's match was postponed yesterday, Arsenal's match against West Ham has been postponed following Arsenal's victory just yesterday in the FA Cup Semi-finals shootout against defending champions Wigan. 

It was a shock defeat given how Wigan has placed considerable emphasis on attempting to win the title for the second consecutive year but it was not to be. 

Liverpool looks set to take on fellow title contenders Manchester City in what is seen to be a titanic encounter between the two sides. This match could possibly determine who the eventual league title holders will be. 

If Liverpool defeat City and go on to win their remaining matches, the title will be theirs to grapple, in what will be Anfield's pride in more than two decades. Yet, the prolific City team, under Pelligrini, are no easy opponents given how they pushed aside opponents with wide goal margins in matches. 

Following the Liverpool-Manchester City clash, Chelsea takes on Swansea, also in an attempt to fight for the title. Mourinho and his team are on morale-high, given how they beat Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League days earlier, and have advanced into the semi-finals to face Athletico Madrid who delivered a stunning victory over favourites Barcelona. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rise of the Manchester Clubs
jamesbarker9:05 AM 0 comments

In an early afternoon match, Manchester City slaughtered Southampton 4 - 1, with City taking the lead 5 minutes from kick-off with a penalty converted by the ever-reliable Yaya Toure.

Half an hour after City's dominance shone, their fierce rivals Manchester United proved their mettle by defeating a sluggish Newcastle 4 - 0 with Kagawa, Mata and Chicarito combining well in strike efforts.

Rooney, Van Persie and first choice goalkeeper De Gea were rested by David Moyes in preparation for the Champions League clash against Bayern Munich. It was also especially interesting where substitute Nani carried a note in his left hand and passed it to Darren Fletcher who later placed the note in his sock after glancing at it. The note was from manager David Moyes.

The dominance of the Manchester clubs did bring back some reminiscence from last season when both clubs were competing fiercely for the title.

United have to continue their good form to compete for at least a place in the Europa league next season. And it definitely won't be an easy task as the season nears to an end.

Related: Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson secures 'long-term teaching position' at Harvard

Related Blog Posts:

  1. All About Manchester United
  2. What you need to know about Chelsea Football Club

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Commentary: All About Chelsea Football Club
jamesbarker6:33 AM 0 comments

Football Club Bio: Chelsea Football Club 

Following the popularity of my previous post, All About Manchester United, and amidst the competitive turmoil in the Premier League as the season nears to an end, I have decided to write another piece, this time on one of the league's stronger clubs, Chelsea Football Club. 

Official Website:

Mascot: Stamford the Lion (pictured above)
Home Ground: Stamford Bridge Stadium
Training Ground: Cobham Training Centre

Short Description:

An English professional football club founded in 1905, currently playing in the English / Barclays Premier League. Their homeground is located at Stamford Bridge where they have played since the club was established. The world famous stadium, Stamford Bridge, has a capacity of approximately 41,000.

Under Roman Abramovich:

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Anyone who writes the history of Chelsea football club, or at least a short piece of top tier club, will have to face the topic of bringing up its temperamental owner Roman Abramovich who has become synonymous with the club's brand.

Abramovich, a Russian billionaire, purchased the club in 2003 for 140 million pounds following a takeover of shares and buying out of major stakes from shareholders, wringing control of the club and has since maintained a tight grip even over how things are being managed at the ground level.

Under Abramovich, the momentum of things have moved so fast that if you are a casual follower of English football, you would probably glance over the name of Chelsea manager more than twice, wondering who this strange, new fellow is.

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Abramovich installed the self-proclaimed Special One Jose Mourinho in 2004 who led the club to various glories and silverware under his charge but was dismissed in 2007 following a power struggle reportedly between the club owner and manager.

The controversial Portuguese left for top Italian club Inter Milan where he once again displayed his brilliance in coaching, almost single-handedly reviving a sleeping giant. Mourinho left in 2010 after spending two seasons in Italy, claiming that he was not suited to the Italian style of football and left for another top club, Real Madrid where he is currently head coach.
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After Mourinho's departure, there were huge shoes to be filled which Abramovich realised a tad too late. His desperation for a fine replacement led to him temporarily signing Russia's head coach Guus Hiddink who took over in 2009 to lead Chelsea to FA Cup victory.

A new big-name coach was needed to take over the reins of Chelsea and Abramovich turned to Carlo Ancelotti, the man credited with leading AC Milan to various victories in major competitions.

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His tenure with the club stretched to 2 season, from 2009 to 2011, where he led the club to the a historic double in his first season in charge, FA Cup victory and Premier League victory of 2009 -2010. The Blues also won the Community Shield that season.

Although Chelsea finished a respectable second place the following season, 2010 - 11, Ancelotti was sacked by Abramovich who was unsatisfied that the Italian was unable to defend the Premier League title. They lost the title to Manchester United that season.

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Recent Results:
  • FIFA Club World Cup 2012 - Runners Up
  • UEFA Super Cup 2012 - Runners Up
  • Won the prestigious UEFA Champions League title for the first time in the 2011-12 season. They were runners-up in 2007-8 season. 
  • FA Cup Champions in 2009 - 10 season and 2011 - 12 season
  • Premier League Champions in 2005 - 06 and 2009 - 10 seasons. Finished runners-up in 2003 -04, 2006 - 07, 2007 - 08, 2010 - 11 to which they lost the title to fierce rivals Manchester United. (Read  their club's history here) 
Making the Headlines (For the Wrong Reasons)

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Chelsea's playmaker Eden Hazard recently made the headlines again, but this time for the wrong reasons. In a 0 - 0 draw against Swansea, Hazard had kicked ball boy Charlie in the ribs as the former thought that the ball boy was using his body to smolder the ball, hence a brilliant time-wasting tactic.

Obviously, the highly sought after Belgian player has come under fire though the blame was also shared by the ball boy who's Twitter followers have shot to about 90,000 in light of the incident. The ball boy is coincidentally the son of Swansea's director.

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Hazard is set to face punishment with match bans in place as professional players are expected to behave and act in the manner of good conduct. Yet sometimes, in the heat of the moment, even the best can crack under pressure. Surprisingly enough, it is the first ever red card in Hazard's playing career.

For more football related news, click on the "Football" label. 

Champions League 2013/2014

Chelsea is one step closer to Champions League football success under the Chosen One, head coach Jose Mourinho. Defeating Paris Saint-Germain with a last gasp attempt by Demba Ba, Chelsea squeezed their way into the last few spots of the Champions League. Mourinho also showed his flamboyant spirit, sprinting to Ba and the Chelsea players who were celebrating the substitute's goal.

Related: Demba Ba's late goal sends Chelsea through against Paris St-Germain (SkySports)

A funny incident that took place after the fans had gone home was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was injured and witnessed PSG's loss from the bleachers, gave his former Inter coach a scare from the back before greeting him with a warm hug. It was especially amusing seeing how Mourinho got a little emotional for a moment.

Watch: Ibrahimovic sneaks up on Mourinho to wish Chelsea good luck after PSG are dumped out of Champions League

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Commentary: All About Manchester United
jamesbarker7:43 PM 0 comments

All you need to know about Barclays' Premier League's top football club, Manchester United

Official Website:

Mascot: Fred the Red (pictured above)

Short Descripton 

An English professional club originally founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878. Changed its name to the current Manchester United in 1902 and made Old Trafford its homeground since 1910. Capacity of the famous stadium stands at about 75,000.

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson (officially retired May 8, 2013 - more details below)

Sir Alex Ferguson, or more affectionately known as Sir Fergie, has been at the helm of Manchester United for many years and is considered one of the greatest, and most successful, managers of all time.

There has been talk of the club management scouting for a possible replacement of Ferguson once the shrewd tactician retires but it may be a long way until Ferguson decides to leave the much coveted job which he has been thriving on for years.

However, it must be noted that until Ferguson's (as well as his assistant Archie Knox's) arrival, Manchester United was not seen as one of the more formidable clubs it has become today.

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When the young Ferguson took over in 1986 following the dismissal of his predecessor Atkinson (pictured with his team above), he guided the club to a 11th place finish that season.

The following season (1987/88), he managed to steer them to 2nd place but the glory was short-lived as the club slumped to 11th place the season after, 1988-89. Ferguson's first trophyware was the FA Cup when a replay with Crystal Palace following a 3 - 3 draw allowed Ferguson time to regroup and lead his team to victory as well as save his career.

Recent Results:
  • Finished as runners-up to long time rivals Chelsea in  the 2009 - 10 season
  • Secured a record 19th Premier League title in the 2010 - 2011, beating the record that Liverpool held
  • Lost the Premier League title to derby rivals Manchester City who beat them on goal difference. Ferguson vows to win the title back this coming season (2011 - 12). 
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Alex Ferguson is looking to replace the United veteran players who have stayed with the team since their days in the youth academy and have stayed faithful to the club and their manager through the years. They are none other than the familiar faces of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes who retired at the end of the 2012/13 season along with Ferguson. 

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Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, two star players who played together with David Beckham in their younger days, are said to be retire for good at the end of the season following irregular starts to the first team and the increased competition in the ranks.

Ferguson and his team of associates have been aggressive in their bid for talent, evidently making clear their intentions of staying as one of the top clubs in England and the world despite accumulation of huge debt.
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Notable star buys before the start of the season include Japanese playmaker Shinji Kagawa and Arsenal's top player Robin Van Persie who disappointed the Gunners following when he decided to leave for a rival club.

Nonetheless, both have excelled in their roles for the club. Robin Van Persie currently stays top of the table as top scorer in the Barclays Premier League while Kagawa returns to action after being ruled out for injury in the later part of 2012.

Is Rooney telepathic?

England star striker Wayne Rooney together with fellow international Danny Welbeck and United playmaker Hernandez were part of a football sports program where former United greats put them to the test, this time with blindfolds on. Watch how Welbeck and Rooney connected even when the latter had put on a blindfold.

United seizes League Title for 20th time

It was a moment to savour for Sir Alex Ferguson and his players who worked hard all season to secure the prestigious Premier League title.

With just four games remaining, United secured their grip on the title with a wide gap between themselves and last season's winners Manchester City, which they lost the title on goal difference.

With last season's narrow and disappointing defeat fresh in his mind, United veteran coach Ferguson had vowed to build a stronger squad at the start of this season, with signings such as Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie proving vital to the team's development and victories through the course of the season. (Below: RVP seen entering enjoying the Manchester nightlife after United's victory)

He would have been extremely proud of himself and his team for having accomplished that towards the end of the season. And it seems that the coach and his management team decided to give his players a break by allowing them to hit Manchester's top nightspots.

And what's hilarious was that the players, unconfirmed whether it was intentional, hired a customised Manchester City taxi to ferry them in the late morning. (MORE: Man Utd Players Hire a Customised Man City Taxi as They Party Till Early Morning)

End of An Era - Sir Alex Ferguson Retires

The announcement came as sudden as the bursts of firepower in the United strikeforce. The enigmatic and most celebrated manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson, has announced that he is officially retiring as the coach of Manchester United.

The shocking announcement came after United seize the Premier League trophy and caught many by surprise, including current and former players.

But perhaps it's the right time to retire, and he did that on a high though he would not be leaving Manchester United any time soon given that he has been appointed director and ambassador of the club.

Veteran players Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes who are said to retire at the end of the season together with Ferguson are expected to form part of the back staff.

Ferguson is most feared for his 'hairdryer' outbursts, often at high profile players during the break at half time for not performing up to his standards and has gained the respect of not only those under him, but also that of his opponents, having won nearly 900 matches out of his 1,498 matches whilst in charge of United.

Most significantly, he has won 13 Premier League trophies with United, the most ever in the league and only with current Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho having a higher winning percentage (70%) in the league than him (65%).

And so, with all the admiration surrounding the shrewd tactician, the question is going around the football world - who is going to Ferguson's successor?

With bookmakers eagerly watching, the likes of David Moyes, Everton's coach, and Jose Mourinho, who had earlier sounded that he would like to return to England 'where he is loved' after Madrid's loss to Dortmund, have surfaced.

MOREFerguson's legacy transcends time

End of the Ferguson Era

It has been an emotional week for the world of football, especially with the departure of several Premier League managers and players who have given their all, sweat and blood, into the very sport that dominates the television every Saturday night.

Sir Alex Ferguson, who has been in charge of Manchester United for 26 years, is one of them and his decision stunned many in the football world though his family was already in the know.

The reason as revealed by the man who likes to keep his cards close to his chest is that he wanted to stand by his wife who lost her best friend, her sister, and has dedicated her time and efforts to Ferguson and their family. Ferguson and his wife, Cathy Ferguson, have three sons.

It is certainly a heartwarming reason to compel one of the greatest managers of all time to retire though Ferguson noted that it was also important to retire on a winning note.

Related News: Ferguson's Farewell Packs City

So, what now for United which just attained their record 20th title after overtaking Liverpool's record of 18 titles? Will they still be able to hold the title under the reign of a new manager?

Start of the Moyes Era

It has been revealed that David Moyes, currently the manager of Everton, is set to take over. Ferguson was reportedly impressed by Moyes's record of running on a tight budget while keeping Everton in the top ten positions in the league.

It was also revealed by Moyes that he did not have any hesitation when the phone call came though he admitted that it was difficult to put forth his decision to leave the club to the owner of Everton who had given him much support during his tenure as Everton's manager.

With impending news of Rooney bound to leave United after being said to be unhappy at Old Trafford, his former manager Moyes may be able to persuade Rooney to stay on after the latter was constantly being overshadowed by the likes of major signings Shinji Kagawa and Robin Van Persie.

Rooney was also taken off in recent matches and was left out in Ferguson's last match in charge against Swansea. Will the highly talent England international leave the club where he has built his career?

OTHERS: Angelina Jolie has her breasts removed (From The Sun website)

Ferguson's last match in charge was against West Brom in what proved to be a thrilling match with a scoreline of 5 - 5 despite United having won the championship and West Brom having nothing much to play for except for the taste of victory and the refusal to end the season in the Premier League without a fight.

For twice in the match, the home side was down 3 goals. United had long dominated the match, pushing the score to 5 goals but West Brom came stronger in the dying half an hour of the game, causing Sir Alex to have a glum face when the match finally became a draw.

OTHERS: Eva Longoria makes fun of her wardrobe malfunction on Twitter

Nonetheless, it could have been a better performance by the United players. Ferguson was given a standing ovation by the away fans as well as his own players as the veteran manager said his last words of 'thanks' to the fans who have stood by him in the last 26 years. It will be difficult to find another to rival his accomplishments.

MORE: Michael Carrick says Man Utd's ready to move on (BBC)

MOREManchester United draws in Alex Ferguson's final game

Ferguson's fledglings retire as well

We found an interesting picture online (below) which depicts the young selves of David Beckham and Paul Scholes. Beckham was then playing for United, training under coach Ferguson whom he still maintains a lot of respect for.

Beckham and Scholes, both 38 and 37 respectively, announced their retirement at the end of the football season, sending a flood of tributes to both players who have amazed fans and troubled defenders for years on the field with their undeniable talent.

Beckham retired after winning the league title with Paris Saint-German club this season. He had earlier played for top clubs such as Real Madrid and AC Milan where he often played decisive roles in his familiar midfield position.

All hail the football greats!

OTHERS: Rihanna Takes Off Bikini Top, Smokes a Cigar in Latest Half-Naked Instagram Pics

Beleaguered United manager David Moyes admitted that legends of United have been right to criticise (December 2013) the club's recent poor form in matches, having registered losses to Everton (1-0) which have not beaten them in a long while until December 4th came and to Newcastle (1-0) on December 7th.

Perhaps the only consolation in recent weeks came when United beat Shaktar Donetsk 1 - 0 in Group A of their Champions league group, relieving some of the pressure that Moyes has been facing in recent weeks from fans calling for his resignation.

It is thus of no surprise that Moyes is desperate to bolster the club with new major signings in the January transfer window, having only brought Marouane Fellaini from Everton during the hectic pre-season period.

Meanwhile, Rooney, on the other hand, has consistently been in good form and often ran himself to a stand-still during matches in a lone attempt to save his club but often to no avail. To make things for Rooney (and Moyes), his strike partner, 30-year-old Robin Van Persie is out for a month with a thigh injury as reported by Man United's website.

Related news - The Guardian: David Moyes has four games to save United's season 

Update (January 2014) 

Having seen United finished in the top four positions in previous years, it was therefore unusual to see the wealthy club languish in the doldrums of fifth to eighth positions. United have not performed well under the guidance of Moyes. Liverpool, on the other hand, remain in contention with both Arsenal and Manchester City for the league title.

It was recently reported that Rooney, who had been in top form this season, is reluctant to sign a new deal with United if the club fails to secure a Champions League qualifying spot.

Van Persie, who is currently out with an injury and is sorely missed, will be difficult to retain in the club if Rooney and other players start to leave.

Will Ferguson be forced to come out of retirement and personally take charge at the club once again?

OTHERS: Justin Bieber Caught Speeding, faces charges?

To be continued..
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