Archive for July, 2013

Coming to a Ground Near You?

Coming to a Ground Near You?

A world without war; Sky Sports News free of hyperbole; a corrupt-free FIFA – next season’s Premiership promises to trump all of the above in terms of the unimaginable: a Premier league campaign with no Alex Ferguson.

So large has Ferguson’s shadow loomed over the landscape of English football that the great Scot’s departure from the Manchester United hotseat has ensured next season promises to be the most open title race for years. Ferguson’s retirement, it can be argued, will affect the hopes of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal just as much as United themselves.

In truth Ferguson’s departure couldn’t have come at a worse time for the great soap opera that is the Premier League. With more and more of the games top stars choosing to ply their trade in Spain, Italy and nouveau riche France and Russia, the last thing the English game needed was to lose it’s JR Ewing. Whether one regarded Ferguson as the greatest manager in the history of the game or a manipulative bully, constantly found out in Europe, there’s no denying the Scot was compelling viewing. (more…)

Pheonix From the Baize?

Pheonix From the Baize?

What a difference a year makes. Only twelve short months ago Irish snooker enthusiasts were bemoaning what seemed an incurable apathy towards their sport, as they struggled to convince the counties youth to swap their games consoles for a cue and the green baize.

Senior figures outlined the struggle to unearth the games next generation, with Jim Leacy, then Chairman of the Irish Snooker and Billiards Association observing, “these days we aren’t just competing with other sports, we’re competing with iPads, Box Sets and all the rest.” With less and less snooker halls nationwide to sate the tiny appetite of an indifferent public, many were questioning the long term viability of the game. (more…)

"I Know, I can't believe it either!"

“I Know, I can’t believe it either!”

Anyone looking to measure the contribution made by foreign managers to the Premier League would do well to avoid the LMA (League Managers Association) roll of honours- a list with as much of a cosmopolitan feel as your average BNP rally. Since its inauguration in 1994 only one manager from outside the British Isles has been acknowledged by his peers as that season’s highest achiever, with Arsene Wenger winning in 2002 and again in 2004.

By contrast the annual bauble has been collected by an Englishman on a record seven occasions, with Danny Wilson, Peter Reid, George Burley, Roy Hodgson, Frank Clarke, Alan Pardew and Steve Coppell all receiving higher recognition from their peers than the likes of Jose Mourinho, Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez – all of whom won either domestic or European trophies during their time in England. It’s an extraordinary statistic when one considers that none of the aforementioned Englishmen have so much as a league cup between them. (more…)